Final update August 18, 2005. Log continues here.

August 18

Down to two e-mails in my Inbox. It looks so empty.

August 17

YAY!!! Only three more replies to go, and I'll be caught up on all the e-mail I received from the AP story. Whew!!!

August 16


Possible book deal.

August 15

Your Morning on CN8

August 14

Dayum! I been all up in this mufuh over two hours answering e-mails, and I'm still not close to done!

August 13

After leaving work pretty late, to make up for the time lost in NYC, and grabbing some dinner and then hanging out at Starbucks answering e-mails 'til nearly 11:00, it was almost midnight by the time I picked up US-30 in York towards Lancaster. Just for grins I stopped at some nude club in a small town called Columbia--nothing usual, except I think the chair the dancer chose for a dance was shaped like a big shoe, maybe. I drove around Lancaster too and quickly decided I hated the city because all the lights seem to have turn-on-red prohibitions, which are just stupid late at night when there's no traffic. I rolled into Reading sometime before 3:00, with not much time to sleep before it was time to stake my claim in line.

First task was to find the Starbucks, and that was tricky because I couldn't see street addresses. After going too far down State Hill Road (which, BTW, is a lot more developed than it had looked like from the Google satellite image), I turn around and tried the Wal-Mart lot. Nothing, but across the street I finally spotted the Starbucks, in a parking lot too well-lit for me to sleep. I considered the Wal-Mart lot, but it didn't seem like a 24-hour store, and after driving around a bit I noticed an employee far off sitting outside, maybe smoking, and I figured he had seen me driving around and might have gotten suspicious. So I went to the residential neighborhood on the next street and found a dark space.

I awoke shortly after 5:00 AM, about 15 minutes before my alarm would have gone off, and I headed over to the Starbucks, where the manager was getting things ready and said hello. I had a feeling that I needed to stake my claim early, so I grabbed a thick blanket and my pillow from the car and literally camped out in front of the store to try and sleep again. When some bug landed on my face, I had to cover myself in another blanket as best as I could.

My Starbucks sense kicked in, and I lifted my head to see a man walking towards the store. I told him, "not quite yet", not until 5:50 and asked what time it was. He said 5:51! I quickly reached for my shoes at the same time that the manager unlocked the door, and I also noticed a security guard from the bank across the street looking over at me. I thought I might have to push my way past the wannabee fist customer who was standing at the door, but he was smart enough to recognize the visual clues and asked if I had been waiting for the opening. I said yes, and he "offered" to let me go first.

The store hadn't received any t-shirts to give away, so they were handing out $5 Starbucks cards instead, and I got me two of them.

I bought my coffee, grabbed my receipt, and then excused myself to go back out to the car and sleep as much as I could, for I had Scrabble later in the day.

After going 3-3 at the practice tournament, I got a call for the 7:30 interview I had completely forgotten about. It was with The Business Shrink, a guy named Peter Morris. His questions were of a different nature, and pretty interesting. After talking to me, he interviewed Bill, and I got to listen in. During the question, he made a comment I found very interesting, that my attitude towards my project was "nihilistic". Now I majored in philosophy, and while my understanding of Nietzsche is very limited, almost non-existment, I didn't see how nihilism could be applied to my project, or my attitude. So as soon as I grabbed dinner and got to Starbucks, I googled. These are a couple of links...

Now I'm sure this Peter Morris is a smart, educated guy, but after reading the overviews, I'm not so sure he was on the mark with his comment.

After a couple of hours working on my site and answering e-mails, I was starting to feel lonely. I got an e-mail from a girl in nearby Brookhaven who had indicated she might go up to Reading to meet me and be the second customer--she said she liked adventure. She never showed, and in her e-mail she said 4 AM was just too early after staying up late. I e-mailed her back and suggested meeting for a drink or coffee.

One of the females that had e-mailed me during the flood sent me her phone # and indicated she wanted to talk some more. I needed a break from answering e-mails, so I decided to give her a call. A man answered. I asked for her. There was background noise at the Starbucks, so I couldn't hear his response. The phone went quiet, and then I heard him engage in conversation with someone else, possibly about some business deal. The man used the f-word a lot. I wondered where he had put the phone, and if he realized he had not hung it up. Finally, my friend Michelle called, and I hung up.

August 12

Man, this film better be wurf it. I had to get up at 5:30 in the AM to grab a quick shower at the gym and then race over to nearby BWI airport to catch a flight to Newark to shoot a segment for Inside Edition. Besides getting up at the ass-crack of dawn, the whole process of scheduling the shoot was stressful, because of this thing that the big networks and shows have about wanting to be first to air a story and requiring subjects to agree to exclusivity until the story airs. So while I was talking to Inside Edition, I was literally on the other line with Nightline, and I was waiting to hear back from Good Morning America. The IE producer was more pushy and willing to commit to a shoot immediately, so I went with her. Bill didn't seem to care either way.

Even though I'd left Scrabble club after only two games so I could sleep, I had trouble getting to sleep for hours. I first tried in the parking lot of an auto shop near a Starbucks so I could check my e-mail in the morning, but the back of my car was still too hot. I would lose and hour or more going back to Silver Spring, so I headed over to the gym near work, driving with the windows all the way down in hopes of cooling off the car. It took another hour I think, but I finally got to sleep. When my alarm yanked me awake, I felt completely zonked!

After considering the economy lot and then a taxi, I finally decided that parking in the hourly lot, right next to the terminal, wouldn't be that expensive, a maximum of $20, well worth the extra sleep. Check-in at the kiosk worked fine at the kiosk with a swipe of my drivers license. The line at security was surprisingly long given it was 6:00 AM, though I did remember hearing on the news that BWI had one of the longest security waits in the country.

A weak T-Mobile signal at gate D12. It was offered to the members of the United Airlines Red Carpet club, but (unsecured) Wi-Fi knows no bounds.

The plane, flown by Continental Express, was tiny, and required passengers to walk out to the tarmac. It was also cold, perhaps more so because it was less than half-full. I had misplaced my long-sleeved shirt, perhaps left it at work, but there were blankets--I grabbed a lot.

I had received no further instructions about where to meet the car they had ordered to take me into the city and the Inside Edition studio, so after walking around puzzled, I headed towards ground transportation. In the concourse I picked up a weak Wi-Fi signal and tried to e-mail Kim but couldn't get a web page up. I walked outside and looked around--nothing. I walked back inside, and then I noticed a group of men that looked like they might be drivers, and I spotted the sign for "Winter". The driver, Eastern European and walking with a pronounced limp, was rather unfriendly. He was engaged in conversation in some foreign tongue during the entire drive, but at least he remembered to stop at a deli so I could get some food.

The Kingworld/Inside Edition offices are on the 13th floor of a building on West 57th. During the elevator ride up I noticed a video monitor. At the bottom of a screen was text that read something like "brought to you by the Capitvate Network". Cute.

Kim came out to meet me. She was cute, but very young. I immediately thought that her youth might have contributed to the level of persistence she exhibited in getting me on the show ahead of Nightline and Good Morning America.

The segment quickly turned into what I would call a disaster, despite the producer's entreaties to not worry about it. The interview in the studio went fine, but then I learned they had not gotten permission to shoot at the new Paramus store, so we weren't going out there. They just wanted some B-roll of me getting coffee at a local Starbucks on 57th. The producer said Starbucks knew we were going there and had to shoot from outside.

The cameraman wanted a shot me at the condiment bar and then walking out, but after the failed to get the shot the first time because of the tinted windows, he wanted me to do it again. But when I went back in, the manager said they hadn't gotten permission to shoot through the window and wouldn't allow it. To make matters worse, even though I had walked out of the Starbucks about three or four times already, the cameraman had not managed to get what he needed and wanted me to do it yet again, even though I knew we needed to cool it. The manager didn't even want me filmed walking out of the door, and she threatened to call 911. A total disaster. The producer kept saying "don't worry about it", "don't worry about it", oblivious to the fact that I had to continued visiting Starbucks and needed publicity for the movie and couldn't afford to have Starbucks stop cooperating flat out with the media, although it was starting to look like the arm's length at which they had been keeping me was turning into a cast-iron stiff arm, if a national show like Inside Edition couldn't even get approval. I wondered if Nightline would have had better luck.

But that's not all. The production assistant, I guess, showed up at the scene to talk to the producer and report that somebody (editors?) wanted me to redo the in-studio interview with a collared shirt. That was something I flatly refused to do, because it wouldn't be real. I always wear my Starbucks shirt. The producer didn't try to pressure me into it, but I left wondering if the segment would even air. If it didn't, I'd be really pissed, because I'd passed up Nightline and Good Morning America.

Meanwhile, there was drama at the Starbucks where I was waiting for the car to take me back to the airport, a confrontation between some guy, perhaps homeless, and the manager who was asking him to leave. Another partner I think went outside to get security or a cop, and a third partner, off-duty and not in uniform, looked like he was itching to toss the guy out of the store. I think they are not allowed to get physical when on duty. That's New York for ya!

I arrived back at Newark with plenty of time before my flight, and I wanted to use it to catch some ZZZs, but I just couldn't get comfortable.

August 11

00:55 - 5 more, including 1 media request

So far behind answering e-mails it's not even funny.

8:18 - 3 more (total 278), including 1 media request

10:10 - 2 more, including 1 media request

After an in-person interview for local radio down at a Starbucks in DC, I headed to CNN's DC studio to appear on CNN Live Today. Once again I forgot my ID, but at least I remembered before I got too far out of the parking garage, and I had arrived with plenty of time to spare anyway. Unfortunately, Bill was not able to get them any footage to use because the download would have taken too long (12 hours!!!).

With the CNN interview having aired, I have to stop tracking e-mail generated by the AP article, at 280, in a 64-hour period, because now I can't distinguish which came from CNN and which from AP.

AARRGHH!!! I was trying to keep up with e-mails, and both the T-Mobile and Panera Wi-Fi signals kept flaking out! I had to keep bouncing between the two before I finally gave up. I don't have time to waste!!!

When I returned to my car, so guy point and said "you're the Starbucks guy!" He had just seen me on CNN. Totally random, and totally cool

To my great relief, new e-mails slowed to a trickle, and I was able to actually focus on work.

Ugh. Chick-fil-a again. Nasty, but I was trying to save as much time as I could so I could update my site and answer e-mails.

Whoa! Check out all these media that picked up the AP story!!! Google News

August 10

9:00 AM - 17 more overnight (total 223), including 5 media requests, 1 about the Iraq hoax

10:10 - #224-#231, including 3 media requests

15:05 - Aw, jeez--I just realized I've been burning through Sprint PCS minutes like a mofo, and checking my usage I find I'm down to 95, with four weekdays to go!!! Now I'm going to have to start rationing and trying to get people to do more over e-mail, and also begging off on interviews until the 17th.

17:20 - #232-263, 14 media requests, and yet another e-mail from some dumbfuck who believes urbans myths (the Iraq thing),

23:07 - #264-270, including 3 media requests

August 9

6:21 AM - 10 additional e-mails in 6 1/2 hours

9:05 - 51 more, including 8 interview requests, 1 dontation, 5 negatives, and 1 about the Iraq hoax

9:09 - 1 more

9:11 - 2 more

9:16 - interview request

9:19 - #90

10:14 - #91-100, including 3 interview requests

Whew! My car only needed a new battery. What a relief.

13:53 - #101-144, including 9 interview requests, 1 donation, 1 offer of a place to stay, 2 negative

17:20 - #145-177, including 9 interview requests, i donation, 1 really negative...

I have come across many bizarre, strange, rare, or (whatever adjective you want to use) so-called quests, but this nearly takes the cake. Forget the words by which you describe your nitwit idea; your a flat-out dumbass with no scruples. You could hold a PhD from Harvard and I would still have no compunction for referring to you in this fashion. So much there is to experience in life and you make it a point, self-admittedly might I add, to be a perpetual and professional panhandler under the guise or moniker of "quest seeker", e.g. your shameless website,

By the by, stay out of the Kool-aid, if you know what I mean. Really, what the hell kind of name is "Winter". I have two theories as to how you came across this alias; (1) you stole it from a porn star or (2) you found it in a book of baby names for gay couple who want to adopt.

Yes, you will get to see the world and all those wonderful things, but the fact remains that your lazy ass does it on other people's dime! Let that sink in. I hope you are enjoying your fifteen minutes, because I have a distinct feeling this inane and fraudulent scheme will come back later in life to bite you in the ass and I hope it leaves a scar. I can't understand why if you want to be such an adventurer, quest seeker, or whatever other name wets your panties, you can't finance this buffoonery yourself rather than depending upon handouts from others. Before jackasses in Hollywood and Libs in D.C. forced political correctness on this nation there was a name for people of your ilk, BUMS! I'm sure you get lots of support from many people who for whatever reason think this is a noble and fulfilling endeavor, but all that means is that you've proven there are many morons just like you. It most certainly does not legitimize this idiotic undertaking.

Another thing, you should reconsider your occupational title, perhaps something like swindler, trickster, or con would be more fitting. Here are some last words that will either give you some clarity or send you into a downward spiral...Starbucks is a corporation and a global one at that. By virtue of being such, individual Starbucks outlets open and close all the time. In short, you will never achieve your goal of visiting every Starbucks store...think about that before you accept more handouts from those poor idiots who sheepishly contribute to your fraud.

Tad H.

Always remember that you are unique; just like everybody else.

22:06 - #178-206, including 12 interview requests, 1 negative, and yet another one about that @#$%&* Marines urban myth.

August 8

So it begins. Again. The Kearney Hub finally printed the story that they interviewed me and Bill for a month ago, and this triggered an interview with the Associated Press. After a long negotiation about my name, I finally agreed to talk to the reporter, and the story hit the wire a few hours later. Five e-mails so far. I expect my inbox will be full in the morning.

6:27 PM (EDT) - Story hits wire.

8:26 - 6th e-mail

8:38 - 7th e-mail.

8:44 - 8th e-mail.

8:45 - 9th e-mail.

8:49 - 10th e-mail.

8:55 - 11th e-mail.

8:57 - 12th e-mail.

9:05 - 13th e-mail.

9:26 - 14

9:38 - 15, hate mail, the observer effect kicks in. That's the exact reason I don't post my hate mails, to avoid encouraging them. Decided to change my policy of responding to all e-mails. From now on I won't respond to e-mails sent for no other reason than to elicit a response.

10:10 - 16

10:22 - 17

10:35 - 18

10:48 - 19

10:49 - 20

11:20 - 21

11:21 - 22 - interview request

11:50 - 23

11:52 - 24 - The same @#$%* Marines urban myth!

August 7

In the morning, I tried the ignition anyway and I was amazed that it worked. Couldn't understand why, though. If the battery was dead at night, why would it have enough charge (barely) in the morning to start the car. Do car batteries somehow generate a charge from the chemicals?

I was mighty hungry by the time I reached the Salisbury area, and I wanted a good breakfast. Streets & Trips showed a few places along business US-13 through town. First up was the Highway Cafe, but when I called the phone was disconnected. A few seconds later I passed the building, and sure enough the place had closed down. Further down were the Lighthouse Diner and Benny's Restaurant. Well, not Benny's--it had turned into the Lighthouse. Apparently the Microsoft Streets & Trips team had not been doing a diligent enough job of confirming that restaurants in their database are still open for business.

While I waited for my to-go breakfast and typed in my log, about my car, I suddenly remembered that in my rush to beat a family into the restaurant I had turned the car off! Crap! I rushed back out and crossed fingers. It started, barely, with some pumping of the gas as I turned the ignition. Whew! Cause where I had parked it I would have had to do some pushing to get it rolling.

didn't look at the route and started taking US-50 back towards Baltimore instead of staying on US-13, a slightly shorter route. The turnaround probably cost me the distance I would have saved, but at least I checked that portion of US-13 off.

August 6

Before heading out to Lynchburg I went over to the Starbucks to check my e-mail. Next door was a bagel shop, Bodo's Bagels, and I picked up some breakfast. I spent maybe 15-30 at most, and when I got back to the car I was shocked to find it wouldn't start!!! What the...??? It had started fine just an hour earlier. Aw, crap--not an alternator problem again! I was afraid that was the beginning of the end for the Civic.

University Avenue is on a hill, but my car was facing the wrong way. A couple of guys had to help me get it turned around so I could get it rolling and bump start it. I made a mental note to leave it running the rest of the day. When I reached Lynchburg, I promptly forgot and turned it off. Had to have the manager and another partner help me back it out of the space, then push it around a curve to the incline. Okay, no more turning the car off!

From Lynchburg I drove east towards Newport News and Virginia Beach. I passed a town called Appomattox and noticed it has the same name as a Civil War Battleground, I think.

When I hit Richmond, I stopped the at the first Starbucks I passed and got online for a while. I looked up Richmond restaurants on CitySearch and found a place near downtown called Kuba Kuba. The name made me suspect it was one of them trendy fusion places, not authentic, so I gave them a call. An overly enthusiastic girl answered and said the place was authentic. I still had my doubts, but they serve tostones, so I went.

The same girl, a waitress (her voice was unmistakable), told me to "sit anywhere you like." The place was only half full and it was 3:00, halfway between lunch and dinner, so I picked a booth. She came over and told me the booths were reserved for bigger parties. Very annoying. What she should have done is let me sit there until the booth was needed.

The lemonade was fizzy--ugh. I squeezed in the lemon in glass, plus the one from my water, and then added water, and it tasted better.

The "moros" were like none I had ever seen before. They were basically just red beans over rice, not mixed and cooked together. And they were accompanied by cornbread--not sure how Cuban that is, but I couldn't remember cornbread with my moros ever in the past. And there was no pork--I've always gotten pork in my moros.

I got on I-64 towards Norfolk to meet Dawn for dinner. I was originally going to kill time at a Starbucks while I waited for her to return from canoeing, but suddenly the sky broke wide open and a heavy rain brought traffic to a crawl. No sense sitting in traffic when I could be catching up on sleep, so I pulled into a gas station to find it out of power, and the restroom out of order too (what's up with that, why does it need power???). I went to the McDonald's next door and parked in the back behind a tree for an hour or so. Around 6:00 I started driving again, and traffic was still slow, but it picked up, and I reached the Newport News area not long after.

Traffic was slow around Newport News, so I figured I might as well exit US-60 and see if the surface road was faster. Maybe, maybe not, but I did discover a strip mall with a Filipino restaurant (never seen one before) and a Jamacian one too. Need to make a mental note, US-60 around Bland Road.

After visiting the Starbucks I got back on I-64 and grumbled a bit that it still wasn't moving fast even though it had stopped raining. Worse still, there was a delay crossing the tunnel. A sign "warned" me of the delay, but only after I had passed the I-664 split. How very useful. And the kicker--a truckload of assholes who thought it would be funny to scream and holler inside the tunnel and go "AAH" like if there was some emergency. Yeah, that's what people want to hear in a tunnel, in the age of terrorism, and after that Stallone movie Daylight.

I beat Dawn to Siam 21, where she arrived about 20 minutes later with a friend. I'm not into Thai food, but I found a chicken dish with rice and vegetables that was edible enough. Afterwards I headed to Virginia Beach, to visit the store closest to the ocean. As expected in summer, the area was packed with people, but I go in and out with losing much time. I had wanted to sleep before crossing the channel so I could enjoy the view in the morning, but I couldn't find a suitable place to park that was on a hill, so I ended up just getting on the bridge-tunnel. On the other end was a rest area, and towards the back I could see a gradual downward slope that would allow me to pick up some speed in the morning and start the car.

August 5

No Scrabble, so I started thinking about visiting new Starbucks in Charlottesville and Lynchburg, and possibly driving father or just heading to Virginia Beach to visit a couple of new stores and visit Dawn. During some idle time on Thursday I started browing the rides section of Craig's List, and I responded to an ad for a ride to Charlottesville. The reply was from a girl (Holly)--excellent. I told her I'd decide on Friday. By Friday morning I was sure I was going and called Holly, but I wanted to wait until after the rush hour. Around 2:30 I called Holly to touch based, and she really wanted to leave before 5:00 or possibly take a bus. I was looking forward to the company, plus there was a massage therapist, also from Craig's List, that I wanted to try out, and she had indicated 9:00 would work for her. If I left after 7:00, I wouldn't make it, not with residual traffic plus stops at a couple of Starbucks on the way. So I left work at 3:00, stopped by the house, then picked up Holly near the Silver Spring metro.

I knew immediately there would be any hanky panky, just from the look on her face when she saw me. I think the fact I was shirtless fazed her, but I couldn't help it, not in 95-degree heat and no A/C. When we got on I-495, I asked why she needed a ride, if she had a car. She replied that her car was in the shop, and that she went down to Charlottesville every weekend. I guessed immediately the reason, a boyfriend. Furthermore, it was his birthday. So I definitely wasn't going to get any play. Oh, well, maybe she'd be interesting company, and there was always the gas money.

Things quickly turned sour. Traffic slowed to a crawl, and the radio reported nothing but delays. Earlier, on the phone, I had mentioned that I'd need to take a slightly longer route (10 miles) to stop in at a Starbucks in Fredericksburg. She had the option still to take the bus, but she agreed to share the ride. But in the car, she started to waver and wanted me to take I-66 to US-29, the more direct route. I had to explain about my Starbucks project and how I needed to check the store off my list because I wasn't sure if I'd have time to hit that stretch of 95 again before I finished my contract and left the area (heading northwest). It was hot as blazes, and with traffic not moving, Holly started to sound a bit irate.

First stop was Dumfries. Holly had said she didn't need anything to drink, but while I bought my coffee and used the restroom, the pull of the siren drew her in, and she decided to try a mocha latte. She was hooked, and at the Fredericksburg store she bought another one.

I stopped at a gas station to heat up my leftovers. While waiting in line to buy a soda I experienced a total "male" moment. A girl in a low-cut black top came running towards the store, jiggling all the way. After she left, we guys had a chuckle, because we knew we were all thinking the same thing. Holly was not amused by my anecdote. And I think she really held a grudge that I had not taken the shorter route. Our drive took five hours in all, and we arrived in Charlottesville to see the bus pulling away from the train station. She saved quite a bit money, spending only $6 for gas, but I'm guessing, the way she slammed the door when she left, that she didn't much care about the money.

On the way to Charlottesville I called the new store to get directions. No answer. I suddenly realized that, with all the new stores to track, I had forgotten to call that one. It wasn't even open!!! The detour was totally wasted!

As it turned out, the detour was not wasted in the slightest. I had my best massage experience in a good long time, possibly ever, and I left regretting that the girl lived hours away in Charlottesville instead of the DC area.

Instead of leaving straight for Lynchburg I camped out in a neighborhood off Jefferson Park Ave near the BP station. I secretly hoped that the girl would call me in the middle of the night, after returning from having drinks with her girlfriends, and invite me to stay the night. A pipe dream, of course.

July 30

Took advantage of a weekend without a road trip to knock off some DC and Maryland stores. Near the Gelman Library I spotted this curious feathered friend that had found what must be cozy place to park his little birdie behind.

July 25

Couldn't think of a good reason to push myself, so I slept as much as I could before continuing on to State College. After visiting the new store I headed downtown, first to the original store to check my e-mail, and then to Irving's for a breakfast bagel that turned out to be decent.

As I approached Harrisburg, I realized I had planned my trip wrong from the start. Had I not lost 30 minutes visiting that store I could have made it to Victor on time, a store that was more important because it is more out of the way and has limited (mall) hours.

The sun warmed up my car, and I took off my t-shirt. I started to feel the discomfort on my back again, and itching all over. It wasn't the Boston Market food, or the Nestea, then. Was it the fabric on my seat, or was it the coffee? Was I developing an allergy to one of the two???

These people have no pride.

Cute--Harrisburg refers to the sort-of loop around the city as the "Capital Beltway"--a DC wannabe maybe?

"telescopic. Grab the glock and cock it."

July 24

I left my Scrabble tournament immediately after my last game, to try and drive 180 miles to Victor by 6:00 PM. I was at the car at 3:06, but I stopped at the corner Starbucks to dump my extra Canadian currency onto a card, which cost me 5 minutes, and then another 5 to get to the freeway. A spot of heavy traffic before I got to the 427, and down to the QEW, and then I really started moving. It was close to 4:30 when I approached the decision point, where I had to choose among the closest of three border crossings. My mind had been set on the Niagara Falls crossing, because it is closed to trucks, but then I started thinking about summer traffic to the falls and decided to go for the Lewiston crossing. No sooner had I taken the exit than I spotted electronic signs warning of delays. So I took the exit and took Stanley Avenue, a surface street, down to Niagara Falls. A portion of the street was closed, and the detour cost me time, but it was the right decision--traffic to the Falls was heavy, but not across the bridge or at the border crossing.

I wasn't inspected, but I was still too late. By the time I got on the freeway in Buffalo I knew I wouldn't make it, so made straight for US-219, down towards Pennsylvania and State College. I needed gas and food, so I detoured to reshoot the Delaware & Kenmore store, and then I went ahead and checked my e-mail. I grabbed to-go from Boston Market, but I wanted a drink from a bottle or can, not a fountain, so I stopped again, at a liquor store. The delays added up, and after an hour or so of driving on the US and state highways I realized I wasn't going to reach State College by 9:00 PM. So when I spotted a Wal-Mart Supercenter, in St. Mary's, I went ahead and stopped for the night.

July 23

It's hard to say whether I was actually sleeping or not, but around 6:20 the sun was bright and yanked me awake. I went over to the parking lot of the Chapters and shot the heck out of the Starbucks from all different angles, wishing I had a better camera to take advantage of the empty lot and clear shot.

"Every Time I See Your Picture I Cry"

It wasn't quite 7:00 AM yet, so I stopped at Tim Hortons--it had the ham and cheese tea biscuits. I ordered a grande from the Starbucks (I'd need it!), and then I had to wait for a barista to unlock and set out the tables and chairs. I didn't mind, because in the corner was the sweetest sweet young thing I'd seen in a while, cute and confident in her consumate Canadianness. Why was she up so early on Saturday, I wondered. Kids her age usually have to be dragged out of bed.

The barista finally finished and went back inside. I had the light in my face, so I didn't see her come back outside as I took the photo. I first thought she hadn't spotted me, but as I was getting back into my car she rushed up and asked if I was with the newspaper. She started going on about how they weren't supposed to "allow" photos to be taken, and how earlier the store's picture had been in the paper "without our permission"--like somebody in a free country (like Canada) needs permission to take a photo out in public!

"hey, Goliath, you're no bigger than me"

I detoured to reshoot the Burlington Chapters store, and a few doors down was a place called Buka's Bagels. They did things a little differently than every American bagel shop I'd been to--customers grab their own bagels and set them up on a counter where a worker grabs them for a sandwich. I don't think that would pass health regulations in the States. A sole worker was rashing to prepare a backlog of sandwiches, and as I waited I couldn't help but think of the third chapter of Fast Food Nation that I was in the process of reading, that talked about how fast food restaurants were designed for speed and maximum throughput

Ooh, a new quote cup, #48!!!

July 22

Work was getting busy, I'd already taken most of Wednesday off to go see Springsteen in Connecticut, and I needed to work as many hours as possible to help get a new camera and make other trips required for the film, so I cut it as close as I thought prudent and left Elkridge at 1:52, giving me 8 hours and 8 minutes to drive 435 miles to the Starbucks in Victor, NY. On the way I'd have to stop once for gas, once for food, and at three new Starbucks. Doable.

It took 29 minutes to drive 23 miles around Baltimore to I-83 northbound where speeds picked up. It took 52 minutes to get back on pace for a 55 MPH average. I hoped that if I got lucky the detour to the new Harrisburg store would only take 15 minutes. I didn't get lucky. I'd lost 20 minutes by the time I got on the freeway, and then I hadn't drive but a few miles before traffic slowed to a crawl. I cursed and wondered the fucking problem was--it was too early for rush hour, and Harrisburg's not that big anyway. Turned out there was a collison, three fucking morons, in a sports car, an SUV, and an eighteen-wheeler, who had decided to fuck things up for everybody by colliding just where the freeway was cut down to two lanes.

No sooner had I stopped cursing them and resumed my proper speed than traffic came to a crawl again. This time it really was just volume. Why, why, why??? Harrisburg isn't that big!!! I ended up losing 35 minutes before traffic got back up to speed.

Traffic just as quickly returned to a crawl as I approached the I-81/I-78 split. A highway advisory sign said something about a detour, but a vehicle in the right-hand lane blocked my view before I could read the entire message. It had seemed to say that cars heading east on I-78 had a detour option, but once I got closer to I-81 I could tell that it was really warning cars to take I-78 to detour around the construction on I-81. AARRGHH!

By the time I hit I-81 again my time loss was up to 50 minutes, dangerously close to all the time I had to spare. Around Hazelton I hit another dead stop, at exit 138, so I detoured through three towns, McAdoo, Treckson, and Hazelton. Who knows if I would have been better of staying on the interstate, but by the time I got back to I-81, only 16 miles past the exit, I was down to a little over 4 hours to drive 250 miles. My timetable just couldn't take any more delays!

I had no choice, I had to stop for gas and food. I chose the wrong exit and lost another 20. To make matters worse, as soon as I got back on the freeway it started to rain. Truly were the gods conspiring against me.

As I approached Fayetteville I thought I'd passed up the exit and pulled over to the shoulder. A truck passed me so close and fast that the suction pulled the door to my gas tank open!

The Fayetteville visit went fine, and I still thought I'd make it to Victor by 10:00, but then the downtown Syracuse store visit turned into a nightmare. The Syracuse Orchestra was performing in Armory Square, right across from the store, and so streets were closed off, parking was tight, and there was a long line in the store. I lost more than 20 minutes, and that blew my timetable.

Unbelievable, that I couldn't manage to drive 435 miles in a whopping 8 hours! Thanks to a host of fucking fuckheads who don't know how to drive, plus fucking idiot state and city planners who don't have the sense to avoid construction on a Friday afternoon in the middle of summer when people have weekend plans!!!

Thankfully, I did catch one break that calmed my nerves and kept me from killing everybody--a new store had opened in South Greece the previous Friday, and with the two Syracuse stores this made my detour (from the more direct route to Canada) more worthwhile.

I stopped at a service area some 30 miles from the border to sleep for a few hours. Less than an hour later I was finally drifting off when I was woken up by a call. I went into the bathroom, and when I returned to the car to get in the back I spotted a flying insect there. I opened the trunk and got it out, but I wasn't sure it was the only one, so I kept driving.

An electronic sign reported that I-290 towards Niagara Falls was closed at exit 7 and required a detour, so I thought I might save some time by going through town. Nope. Ended up on Chippewa Street where all the bars were and then took a bunch of wrong turns before finding the Peach Bridge. Heck, even when I found the bridge I was still lost, not able to figure out which side of the construction to drive on.

July 13

I received confirmation that my project is going to get a lot harder and more expensive, even as far as North America is concerned. Starbucks opened a company-owned location in the Yukon Territory. Whitehorse is 1000 miles away from Prince George. A flight will cost me hundreds of dollars, just for that one store. Or I could drive, and then another 700 miles to Anchorage. That's a hell of a drive. And then the return, 1700 miles!!!

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