started the trip today.
went to work, got off at 4p and hit the road. first leg should get us to
barstow or thereabouts. next leg will be long and we hope to be 1-2hrs
outside of dallas so we can make the UT/OK game in time.
stressful two weeks
leading up to this and it is probably going to be stressful during the
trip. had to plan for 5 handyman type trips that i've never seen in person
and are thousands of miles away from the home base. hopefully we have all
the tools we need. gotta learn to roll with the punches. i'm not getting
paid to finish these tasks so it's less pressure in that way.
made it to barstow last
night around 11p. i voted for more driving since i was feeling awake enough
to go another couple. meryl wasn't too thrilled about being cramped in
the passenger seat trying to get sleep. so we found a place that was cheapish,
but safe-ish looking. watched some coverage of the vice presidential debate.
we listened to a bit of that before listening to the disappointing a's
game (another reason meryl just wanted to get to bed). at about 1am some
a-hole outside had his car alarm going off. it was already bad enough because
there was a light night club whose patrons were being annoyingly loud.
the alarm went off a couple other times that night so the sleep wasn't
hit the road early-ish
this morning after the continental breakfast. meryl drove first. when we
got to flagstaff we switched drivers. stopped at a place called charlie's
for lunch after being thwarted by a big crowd at diablo burgers. between
walking to places we found ourselves in the middle of a hail storm. that
was fun, although somewhat painful on my newly shaved head. charlie's had
a good taco that they called a navajo taco. it came with the usual taco
stuff on a navajo fry bread. google it. it's basically a more dense beignet.
we also got a fry bread to go with honey and powdered sugar. diabetes aside,
this was a good decision. they're tasty.
5 hours or so of driving
later and we were in albuquerque, the abq, home of breaking bad. i've been
here at least two or three times before. there are some nice pockets of
the city, including nob hill which is around the university. this time
we found the university by accident (we found a place we liked on yelp
and it happened to be near the u of nm), but we usually seek those areas
out because colleges tend to be the best part of a city. colleges and downtowns
are always a great place to visit if you're only there for a brief time.
we had dinner at bailey's
on the beach. nice place which seeks to transport you to a beach atmosphere
with a southwestern/mexican touch. so you get fish tacos, mexican food
and american food. good place.
now we're on the road to
dallas. it's 9:30p dallas time, the game time moved up to 11:07a and the
gps says we're 11 hours away, so we're pressed for time at this point.
doesn't look like we'll be getting much sleep tonight. saves on the motel
bill at least.
staying at a hotel in texarkana
last night was a lot of
driving and not much sleep. we made a little detour to cross the red river
so that meryl could cross oklahoma off her list of states visited. pulled
over at a rest area and slept for about two hours before driving the last
bit to dallas. traffic was insanely backed up to get off at the cotton
bowl exit. stayed in the exit lanes for a while and then figured we didn't
have time for that crap. got off on the next exit which had no traffic
whatsoever and found our way over to a parking spot about a mile from the
stadium. evidentally oklahoma and texas fans are sheep. that or they like
we didn't get there early
enough to get a great sense of the tailgating scene. saw a couple people
doing it, but nothing noteworthy. the texas state fair was taking place
at the same time (not sure if that's how it always is) and it was right
outside the cotton bowl. so, you have 92k people in the stadium and another
20k around the stadium for the fair. we didn't see any animosity or anything
like that. the fans are pretty much as advertised and what you would expect
from those two states. girls are pretty and made up, guys wearing big belt
buckles and chewing tobacco. the game itself was pretty pathetic. i was
rooting for texas because they're not as highly ranked and because we were
in the tx section. tx never had a chance and was dominated in every phase
of the game. 63-21, but it wasn't even that close. the stadium is functional
enough. certainly nothing fancy. food didn't look any good. nacho cheese
smelled awful. neither of the bands were impressive. overall not as fun
a game experience as the ohio state game last year. that said, i think
part of that can be attributed to the whole thing taking place off campus.
the whole "neutral location" aspect doesn't hold much appeal for me.
tomorrow we have another
long day of driving. we'll pass through mepmhis, nashville and knoxville
on our way to asheville.
after staying in crappy
texarkana we hit the road for a long trip to asheville, nc. our first stay
was at the nikki and marc's at 86nit.com. they were really nice and gracious
hosts. the project we did for them was to install some german siding in
a closed in porch. had a couple little issues, but mostly it went pretty
well. spent the last two nights at their place. my back hurts a bit which
sucks. hopefully i'll heal up in the next two days which we have off. our
next project is in michigan and it'll be installing a tile backsplash.
tonight we plan on driving
to cincinati. it's a nice city, it's about half way between asheville and
ypsilanti, michigan and meryl wants to visit the creation museum there.
we actually saw an advertisement for the museum in oakland so somehow that
advertising will have caused us to visit from 2k miles away.
niners evidently had an
awful game. 3 ints from alex smith. good to get a little smack down after
feeling great from two dominanting performances.
tennessee has some really
beautiful trees. never been through here during this time of year.
two days ago on our way
to asheville we stopped in memphis for some bbq at corky's great food and
probably the best rolls i've ever had. it's been a good trip for food so
far. their memphis style ribs were also good.
got a ticket just outside
of nashville. was on cruise control for the last 5 horus or so and the
limit changed to 60 so i got caught. i saw the guy's car and took it out
of cruise ctonrol, but didn't brake quickly enough. first ticket in several
years. that sucks. cop was a nice enough guy though.
we stayed at a livinn hotel
just outside of cincinnati. we had planned on going to the creation museum,
but it was actually in northern ky and we were in northern cincinnati by
the time we found a cheap place to stay. we decided we didn't want to have
to double back and lose a bunch of time. so we pushed onward instead. we
passed through dayton and toledo on the way to ann arbor which is pretty
close to ypsilanti - where our next project was. we drove around campus
and the downtown area. ann arbor is nice. we went to zingerman's deli which
is a sorta famous deli in town. it's expensive, but very tasty. the customer
service is great, you get lots of free samples of cheese and olive oil
and anything else you want. it's better than katzingers in columbus, but
that place was more economical.
after exploring ann arbor
and being thwarted at our attempt to play some mini golf (they were closed)
we went to ypsilanti to meet katy, brandon and kit. katy and brandon were
our next project (a backsplash) and kit lives a little outside of ann arbor
and she was our project after that. katy and brandon also invited steven
(their architect and friend) to dinner. all of them were really nice people.
real, laid back, and easy to get along with. katy and brandon bought a
foreclosed property on 3 acres for $86k. then they put 200k into renovating
the home. they live right on a river with a view of the train tracks. it's
a great setup and a good deal. of course property taxes and regulations
are also lower and more lax as well. they also have geothermal so their
energy bills aren't as high as they would otherwise be.
the next day we worked
on their kitchen backsplash. it was a small job and we were done with laying
the tile in a few hours. it was a pretty straightforward job. unfortunately
they didn't buy quick setting thinset (i didn't mention it until the day
before the project), so we didn't get to do the grout for them. we spent
the rest of the day hanging out, watching the tigers sweep the yankees,
and then going out for dinner again with kit. katy and brandon are both
science teachers at eastern michigan university so it was interesting talking
to them about that as well as the places they've lived (brandon is from
ohio, katy is from outside of boston, both went to osu) as well as what
it's like to live in michigan.
after dinner we followed
kit (diydiva.net) to her house which is in a small town outside of ann
arbor. she has 6 acres, 3 outhouses and 1 main house with 3500 sq. ft.
she lives by herself and bought the property online after it was foreclosed
for $136k and she lives by herself.. we spent more than twice that for
our place in oakland. i spent these last two days in michigan trying to
convince meryl that it was a better place to live than california.
the next day we had a list
of potential things to do with kit. the first thing was to get a big tablesaw
out of her suv. that's when i hurt my back. in retrospect doing it first
thing in the morning was a bad idea. so i spent the rest of the day being
marginally helpful. i took three aleve and it warmed up as the day went
on. i was still useful, but not as energetic as i would have liked. the
next thing we did was to remove a jacuzzi tub out of one of the upstairs
bathrooms. we removed the tile surround, disconnected the wiring and plumbing
and then carried it downstairs. that was an interesting dance and, again,
i wasn't super helpful getting it downstairs, but we got it done. then
we took it out to one of her huge barns. i suggested we put the tub on
a pallet and drag it to the barn with her car. it worked really well and
was a true hillbilly moment.
the valves under the tub
didn't shut off completely so we decided to cap off the pipes. kit didn't
have any of the supplies on hand so we made a trip to town to get them
and some lunch. when we came back i taught her how to sweat pipe and she
capped the two supply lines.
after that we worked on
installing some wood paneling on her ceiling upstairs. there is a hallway
upstairs that she tried patching, but didn't like the texture match that
she did so she decided to match the look with the paneling look that is
in the kitchen. we did several rows of that and called it a day.
that night we wanted to
see a michigan hockey game, but it sold out. then the weather turned more
chilly and rainy than we thought so we ended up just hanging out with kit
and having dinner.
now we're on the road for
lansing and kalamazoo. to see another capital and then to see another city
on johnny cash's "i've been everywhere song." after that we head to racine
to meet up with the next couple. we're not sure what we'll be doing for
them. hopefully my back is better by then. today it is stiff and being
in the car most of the day probably won't be pleasant.
edit: just passed through
lansing. nothing special from our quick tour. capitol building is nice.
there's a state building across the street named after george romney. onto
after cruising through
michigan we went chicago for lunch. we turned to yelp for a suggestion
as we've done often this trip. found a place that had a lot of reviews
and a high average. it's called xoco and it's a downtown mexican food place.
good tortas and churros. also a good lemonade. overall a nice meal. we
ordered to go to avoid the line. made a stop at a starbucks to upload some
stuff and then hit the road again.
we made it into Wisconsin
with plenty of time so we went to milwaukee for a driving tour. drove along
the lake and saw a lot of beautiful homes.
so far on this trip we've
gotten about what i would have expected in the lawn sign department - a
pretty event split between obama/romney. in the country you see more romney
and in the cities and hipster cities - asheville, ann arbor, etc. - you
see more obama.
we've had a few people
stop us and ask what we're doing - the car is wrapped in a "renovation
road trip" sticker to advertise the website and the tour. brains on fire
is the name of the company that is coordinating the trip on behalf of liquid
wrench (the actual sponsor). they haven't exactly had their stuff together
in some ways, including the fact that the car wrap has the wrong url on
it. oh well.
after kicking around milwaukee
for a bit we dropped down to racine to visit sara and shaun. they're a
really fun and funny couple. we've been really lucky with the people we've
met so far. meryl chose well. they're all friendly and happy and have nice
midwestern sensibilities. gives me some hope for the country. the couple
in asheville were both raised in the midwest - her in ohio and him in detroit.
then there was brandon and katy, one from ohio and the other from boston,
but both living in ypsilanti. then kit who was raised in ohio. and now
sara and shaun who are both wisconsin natives. there was a t-shirt from
the michigan store in depot town, ypsilanti that showed a picture of the
great lakes and it said "they're grrrrreat!" i agree. it may be my favorite
region of the country now. if i had my druthers i'd move to michigan. land
is cheap, becoming a general contractor is fairly easy (take a 60 hour
class, pass a test), people are nice, have a few contacts already, not
overpopulated, 4 seasons, living in the country is better for your soul
and i'll never be able to afford that in california.
we arrived in racine around
dinner time on saturday. we got the tour and introduced to shaun, sara,
and ashford (their baby). it was decided that we would install a storm
door and hang some shelves in the kitchen for them. the kitchen was mostly
done, but they never did the shelves because sara was nervous about putting
holes in the tile.
we went to menard's that
night and picked up a door that we hoped would fit as well as some other
stuff for the shelves and some stuff to patch a major hole they had in
the same door that was getting the storm door. the door was a 32" door
that opened up onto a flat roof deck above a garage. a bad idea in wisconsin,
if you ask me. the rubber membrane had failed near the door and so a decent
amount of rot had set in. i told them that it was a can of worms and they
agreed and wanted to just buy some time.
we had some pizza that
night from a pretty good local place and called it a relatively early night
after some good chat time. they're both great people. i was worried about
them at first because they complained a lot about their cats who throw
up all over the place and their son, who cries a lot at night. but they
handle all this stuff with laughter and i consider it an inspiration. they
remind me a bit of luke. i'm not that way, unfortunately. things go wrong
and it stresses me out more often than not. others have an attitude that
crap happens and that's life and it's just time to move forward while laughing
the next morning my back
was stiff again so it took me a couple hours to be decently mobile. we
installed the door without much trouble. i think that shaun was nervous
the previous night about new people in his house and this half-baked plan
of his wife's to invite strangers from california to work on his house.
i think he warmed up to us, though, especially as we demonstrated that
we knew what we were doing. we started having fun and the installation
took less than two hours including flashing the wood rot and caulking the
new storm door. not bad for having never done it before.
shaun claims he hates home
renovation, but i think the truth is that he hates having to do it and
not knowing what he's doing. others relish the opportunity to figure things
out as they go. i'm a mix of both. i like figuring some things, but i definitely
like to know what best practices are and how something is supposed to end
up; otherwise it's frustrating.
next we installed the shelves
in the kitchen. it was a pretty easy process. i've practiced all those
fundamentals a million times so i was in my comfort zone on that project.
we did need to stop to get a larger tile bit and longer screws from the
store, though, because we didn't bring screws and i didn't know we were
going to be drilling through tile when we started the trip. no biggie.
it was still only about
1pm, though, so we installed a few outlet covers on the tile backsplash
and used the fein to cut out a hole for a heating register in the kickplate
under the cabinets. then we finished the packers game and hit the road
stopped for a kringle,
a burger from the old fashioned in madison, and a frozen custard
from michael's in madison. wisconsin food isn't entirely healthy.
now we're on our way to
st. paul to find a place to sleep. the next two days we'll be on the road
for 30+ hours to get to portland which is our final stop before going back
not looking forward to
getting back to normal life. my inbox will undoubtedly be full of crap.
i'm sure there will be plenty of broken things for me to fix and b.s. requests
from the prima donna executive director. gotta figure a way to work for
i remember learning
about solar panels when i was 10 or so while watching this old house. having
a house and land and the self-sufficiency of solar panels was always something
that appealed to me. i think i was meant to be a farmer. don't have the
back for it sometimes, but everything else is ready for that life i think.
back in the pacific time
zone. last two days have been long. driving literally all day. yesterday
we drove for probably 15 hours. today it'll be about 13.
yesterday we left from
st. paul and got to bozeman, mt. saw TR national park along the way. quick
stop just to see his old cabin and read a little bit. crossed off one more
n.p. from my list.
saw some snow in montana.
got down to 25 degrees and it was snowing at we left bozeman, mt.
today we'll end in portland
and we plan on having dinner with the final couple on our trip. we'll be
doing some small stuff for them, no big project. small stuff is more fun.
back continues to bother
me. 28 hours in the car doesn't seem to help it. strange.
tomorrow we will work on
their place and may leave that night. either way we'll be back home thursday.
then we need to start reassembling the house which is in disarray because
of the hardwood refinishing that happened while we were gone. thursday
night we'll do that. friday morning i'll hit the road early for la. then
i'll leave for tucson with my dad to see the usc/arizona game. then back
to la and back up to oakland on sunday.
it'll be time to get back
to real life before i know it. not looking forward to that. would much
rather figure out some way to work for myself and be able to afford the
kind of land and lifestyle i've always wanted. just tired of the stressed
out rat race of the city.
montana is a nice place
from a nature standpoint. unfortunately humans haven't improved upon it
in any way so far as i can tell. in places like vermont or louisiana, humans
have created towns and other improvements that either blend into the landscape
well or improve upon a harsh land. in the parts of montana that i've been
to, though, our contribution to the land has taken away from, rather than
added to, nature.
i think in some ways i'm
living life out of balance as seen in koyaanisqatsi. need to remedy that.
went down to la and then
arizona this weekend to see usc stink the place up. totally self-destructed,
5 turnovers, too many penalties, etc. the kiffins aren't thrilling me lately.
i'm going down this weekend
to see another usc loss, this one to oregon. then another thanksgiving
weekend against notre dame. 4 losses in a year for the talent they have
isn't acceptable. stanford and arizona should have been wins.
with these two usc trips
and the renovation trip i'll have driven about 9,000 miles in a month.
the hardwood floors got
refinished while we were gone, but they're a mess. they did a piss poor
job and made a big mess. so the house is still all packed up. we had the
owner's brother out tonight and he agreed it was a crap job so they're
going to redo it starting thursday. blah.
our last stop on the trip
was in portland. heather from 'just a girl with a hammer' had a couple
electrical jobs for us. we replaced a light (simple) and tried to figure
out why an outlet wasn't working and we uncovered an illegally covered
junction box. we couldn't figure out why the outlet wasn't working and
we couldn't figure out where the switch leg in the ceiling junction box
went. kind of a downer that i couldn't figure that out in the time we had.
we did fix up her door a bit, though, and cut in a box location for her
switch so it we did get some stuff done.
we stopped in eugene that
night after getting donuts from voodoo donuts, which is a weird and famous
donut shop. we had the bacon maple bar and a mango tango jelly filled donut.
the latter was better. both sent me into diabetic shock. breakfast the
next morning was at a pancake house and they made good thin pancakes like
my grandma makes. yum.
first day back at work