Get 500 or Die Tryin'

Updated February 7, 2006, 12:30 CST. (Trip ended Feb 6).

Time traveling: 10 weeks 4 days (includes 3 days Scrabbling + 29 hours pit stop in Houston + 3 days radiator/headlight repair)
Miles driven: 25040 - 640 non-Starbucks + 570 England + 190 Christmas Day = 25160
New North American stores: 509 (7 secret)
Stores missed because they weren't listed: 8 (at least)
New International stores: 6 (Montreal), 87 (England)
States: 37 + 5 (no stores visited) + 6 Canadian provinces
Recognition ratio: 269/507
Visual recognition: 30 +- 1
Coffee consumed: (X - 35) * 4 + 62 oz = 2330 oz + 3 shots + Americano + tall Latte + 92 oz French press + venti egg nog Frappuccino + 7 DoubleShot
Spent on coffee: $12.40 - $18 (gift cards) + $12.37 loss of card (should this count???) = (-$5.60)
Spent on victuals: $750.88 ($10.15 per day
Spent on gas: $2,106.25 (includes $114.65 in England, for 581 miles)
Spent on tolls/parking/tube: $272.27
Tickets: $35.80
Car repair/maintenance: $860.44 (includes oil changes and oil)
London trip: $766.58 (airfare, 2 backpacks, hostels, car rental, misc (excludes gas, parking), [exchg: $119.20 = 60 pounds (Logan) + $111 = 60.33 pounds (Post Office) + $60 = 29.46 pounds (Heathrow) = 1.93]
Encounters with police/security: 10 (1 informal, 3 tickets, 1 warning, 1 incident initiated by Starbucks)
Fake Excedrin tablets: 30 +-2







January 2006

February 1

Retarded barista in Alabama who couldn't seem to understand that I was asking for the date on which the store opened.

Calling coming soon stores, learned several stores down around L.A. had already been open when I was down there. Drove right close to them without knowing. Marge Grrr.

With a name like Waffle Square, how could I not give it a try?

AARRGHH!!! Balancing a tray of eggs and bacon, a tray with a waffle, and a tray with a biscuit ended up being beyond my powers, and I ended up having to pick hair and grime out of my scrambled eggs. At the next Starbucks I discovered I had also spilled syrup on my shirt (easy to get out) and jeans (not so easy). Sticky, sticky. Winter hates sticky

Amtrak building, watch out for police

Whew! Thankfully it was only a few drops of coffee from 56th & H that I spilled on my pants leg, and I deemed it sufficient to suck most of it up, which required a bit of acrobatics since I didn't want to take my pants off.

could smell the yummy waffle

finally massage shower 8 days check

The drive from Nevada City to the interstate might not have been the worse, it was frought with hazards: rain + fog + sky darkening to night + curves + hills + fatigue = I'm lucky to be alive. The radio reported snow over Donner Pass, but no restrictions, so despite my fatigue I was determined to push on and get over, fearing that if I stopped the a serious storm would roll in and trap me.

last dance with Pollo Loco, New Orleans

February 2

As much as I wanted to check Mammoth Lakes off my list, the numbers just didn't add up, and it made much more sense to head straight to Salt Lake City and do Mammoth and Bishop another time, when my route took me straight up US-395 from SoCal.

With a 520-mile drive ahead of me, I had to at least keep my stomach full to lessen the discomfort. I'd spent a bit longer updating my site than I'd hoped and didn't want to waste more time looking for a good bagel, so I went back to My Favorite Muffin where the bagel sandwich I'd had during the NSC had been merely mediocre. Actually, I went to a lesser version of the place, on Plumb at Virginia, instead of the cuter one on California. The girl behind the counter was kind of cute, though, in a low-rent maybe-trashy kind of way, and she smiled as she gave me my sandwich.

longest drive, the technical term, among truck drivers is "a long-ass drive"

Interesting. Oil level was full in Reno, but not barely 100 miles east in Lovelock it was low. What was the difference between that drive and what I'd done earlier in Northern California? Steady 80 MPH+ driving?

Finally, 135 miles and two hours east of Reno I was passed my an Audi blazing along at 90+ MPH. A good thing, becasue the thought of having to keep it under 90 for most of the 520 miles

Another 125 miles, oil just a little bit low. Puzzling. I wasn't sure how long the engine needed to sit before I got a good oil level reading.

WTF? A Starbucks billboard??? Ah, just as I figured, it was for a fake store in the Red Lion Inn and Casino.

With my map showing scant pickings the rest of the way to SLC, I stopped in Elko to find some grub. After a few loops around a few blocks, I found the 11th Street Deli to be right where Streets & Trips pinpointed it. As hungry as I was getting, I still had to stay in the car and listen to Bryan Adams' "One Night Love Affair". Hey, call me a sentimentalist. Anyway, the cheese steak and "deli fries" were strictlty mediocre.

Basque??? A Basque restaurant in Elko???

I hoped I would not have to cross these mountains. I was sick of mountain

25 miles from SLC.

At West Valley City I dawdled, chatting with the manager, checking my e-mail, calling my mother to tape Smallville. Then I headed over to the Wal-Mart, the first Supercenter I'd been in since Spokane. Then it dawned on me that, the time being 6:25, I might not be able to make it to all the new SLC area, including Riverdale 41 miles to the north and Orem 45 miles to the south, before 10:00 PM.

But hell yeah!!! Got accepted to the Sonoma Valley Film Festival.

But bad news too--the Wal-Mart didn't have the Noble orange juice. According to my database, the 16th was the last day I found that brand of orange juice at a Wal-Mart Supercenter. What was going on, I wondered???


Schedule allowed me to wait until morning, but I wanted to drive as far as possible and cut the distance

Rushing!!! Call Park City hope to avoid police. But of course if I keep writing while driving these windy roads I'm going to get pulled over.

In sharp contrast to Yakima, the supervisor did not call the police, but instead had a DoublShot waiting for me wrapped in a piece of yellow paper decorated with snowflakes.

Stayed open, bless you girl.

Ow! Snowflake in eye.

DJ going on and on about how great the snow is.

Stopped to sleep at the TA in Fort Bridger, and discovered something new, a 1/2 pound bar of Hershey's chocolate. The cashier claimed that they make a 3 pound bar, but I found that really hard to believe. Anyway, in terms of raw calories, the bar for $2.40 was a heckuva value, about 1150 calories. Word up, gangsta!

February 3

Curses! Forgot to buy oil at the Wal-Mart and thus had to pay 85-0 cents more at the TA.

Excellent speed through Wyoming, the flatness was beautiful.

Aw geez. I stuffed an old receipt into my DoubleShot can to throw away, aand later when I picked it up to stuff more litter in I realized I had not finished the drink. At least it wasn't anything yucky and I was able to finish. Could have been worse, like when i pissed in the cup back in Washington that might have contained a couple ounces of coffee from Yakima and Richland, meanig I have to drink some more from those two stores to ensure fullfillment of the prophecy.

91.9 Laramie. Bill Miller, "River of Time". Interesting Prince, "Amor Corazon'.

Oops. Guess I can't put the choco on the dash when I run the heat.

WTF??? I couldn't get a Sprint PCS signal through Laramie, nor even 20 miles from Cheyenne. 17 miles, 3 bars, but still no call. No, wait, 2 bars. One bar? Even as I get closer? Ooh, for bars at 11, over the hill, then five. Finally, between 347 and 348 my call went through.

R & B Breakfast Club. Decent biscuits.

D'oh. Threw the fork away instead of the knife. Thankfully I had an emergency plastic fork under a back seat.

Ho! What's this now? A new Denver-area freeway, or extension, not on my map, NW Parkway sporting a a funky shield.

NOOOOO!!! I l learned that Starbucks had bought out a coffee chain in Denver, Peaberry, and would be converting some thirteen locations. Just when I thought Denver was saturated and that I would have relaxed trips through the city, I was facing an upcoming blitz!

Aw, goddamn Woodland Park!!! Closes at 8:00!!! I had scheduled a massage appointment for 6:00, at a place that advertised an unbelievably low introductory price of $20. I was loathe to past that up, but even assuming I was in my car right at 7:00, it was going to be tough to drive the 76 miles to reach the store by 8:00. Since the price was so low, I was considering asking the therapist, but the whole issue was mooted by a series of delays. First, I decided to go find a Peaberry and take a photo for a record of what it looked like before the conversion, and of course without the address I got lost. Then, when I got to the new store downtown, I discovered it was FAKE!!! FAKE!!! FAKE!!! Or as they would say in Donnie Brasco, fugazi. Atrium @ 1700 Broadway is fake, despite what I was told by the manager of another store!!! Since I was downtown, I decided to settle once and for all the issue of whether the REI store was fake or real. I went over there and had them run my Starbucks card and verified that the receipt looked normal and had a store number. For good measure, I spoke with the manager. It was good news that the store is real, but as soon as I got onto the freeway I began to regret having visited so close to the rush hour. A more direct route to the new Aurora stores would have taken surface streets, which couldn't have moved much more slowly than the freeway.

WTF??? It's 5:00 PM in Denver. Where is All Things Considered?

Dumb Friends League???

By the time I reached the second new Aurora store it became apparent that I'd be late for the massage, and even if I skipped it by the time I visited two more new stores in Lone Tree and Castle Pines, I would probably not reach Woodland Park in time. So I figured I might as well get the massage and stay the night down in Colorado Springs, which I had been considering anyway so I could finish downloading Smallville. I was eager to find out what Clark would do in the aftermath of his father's death.

"A worn out tape of Chris LeDoux." After hearing Garth Brooks' "Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)" countless times for over a decade, I finally understood the lyric. I had always thought it was something about a "prissly dude". I guess I figured it out in part because of Garth's latest single, "Good Ride, Cowboy", in which he sings "...just LeDoux it." Never heard LeDoux's music, but since he died in '05, I heard about him in the news.

I stayed outside the new C-Springs store downloading until around 2:00, and then I drove towards downtown. I passed a Wal-Mart Supercenter, and sure enough it was lacking the Noble juice, but at least I remembered to buy motor oil, and I also got a little bit of amusement over the loudspeaker when somebody paged the "Master of Disaster". I wonder what that's a code name for.

February 4

It was just as well that I didn't make it to Woodland Park Friday night because the drive during daylight was much prettier (and safer).

I waffled back and forth, but finally I just couldn't bear the thought of wasting all of Sunday with so many Starbucks left unvisited. I decided to head to Kansas, which meant I'd be rushing for the rest of the trip. But the 500-mile drive demanded food, and a barista recommended Grandmother's Kitchen down the road. The place looked charming enough, but the waitress/hostess admitted there would be a 15-20 minute wait. Too long. But she suggested the Donut Mill up the street, coincidentally right next to the Starbucks. I usually cringe when I am waited on by an old man or lady who seems dottering, because they tend to be slower, but in this case it worked out in my favor--she gave me three biscuits instead of two. And they were goooood. Just melted in my mouth. Made me howl.

I'd kinda had a feeling about the massage place, but the therapist Melissa was 20, and really cute, and seemed easy-going, but not easy-going enough apparently. I received a call from the place saying I wasn't allowed because of "inappropriate behaviour". Actually, she pronounced it "behavior". Guess that's not the place to put the moves on the the therapists, and I shoulda figured given the low price. Oh, well, it wasn't that big a deal, since I only hit Colorado a couple of times a year at most, and plus it presented a new opportunity. I was curious what would happen if I tried to go back with an alias an a disguise, like a fake moustache, glasses, and silly nose. Maybe a pillow stuffed in my shirt to look fat. And a hat. A limp maybe. The possibilities were endless.

The bustling metropolis of Simla, CO, was busting out with construction. I passed a very cute-looking place advertising home cookin' called the Hen House, but when I entered I learned it would not open until Wednesday. "Come back," a lady beckoned. Not likely, that I'll drive that stretch of US-24 anytime soon. Just down the road though, was the Country Ccorner Cafe, where I was able to order bacon and eggs to go with the 1 1/2 biscuits I had saved. The waitress misunderstood me and came out with a full breakfast order toast and potatoes too. I brought this to her attention and received a refund, and the net result was a goodly portion of food for only $2.52.

half yellow pill

Interesting. I had assued all of Kansas was in the Central Time Zone, but that is not the case. I assume the county line (Sherman/Thomas) is the boundary.

SUV or suburban carried me

Man, I hate these stores that open in the middle of nowhere because its often a tortuous process finding out i they have opened, "probably not", "no one working today would know", "80% sure" "not listed on the Portal"

WTF??? The rumble strips from hell, on US-56 approaching KS-150.

Wow. A Chicago station, AM A890, in te midle of K, but with announg wgine


Finally! Noble orange juice in Emporia. But they tax groceries--dat's wack!!!

Spangles, for giggles, and maybe shits, later, "prepare to get nastified", 1st fast burger long time, progress nasty, grabbed left nut

choco to cleanse palate

Grrr... in St. Joseph the supervisor recognized me from a glimpse when I walked in and to the restroom. But it was from the Parade blurb that got my name wrong, and so he called me "Mr. Smith". Grrr... I keep telling these stupid media people that's a primary reason they should only refer to me as Winter, because my name is not Smith, motherfuckers!!!

Promoting film, knock on window, hotel offer

February 5

I had planned on getting breakfast on the way to Pittsburgh along US-69, but I am psychologically compelled to stop at any restaurant with "biscuit" in the name, so when I spotted the Big Biscuit, just down the street from the Starbucks, I had to pull in, despite the obvious presence of the entire population of Blue Springs, evident from the crush of cars in the parking lot. I quickly wove my way through the masses to the back and was able to get the attention of the waitress in charge of to-go orders. The biscuits were right there on a tray, visibly huge, but I still had to wait for the waitress to gain access to one of the three registers. I wondered out loud if the restaurant was so crowded because it had just opened, but the waitress said that this was typical for Blue Springs and nearby Independence on a Sunday. The wait was worth it--hmm... good biscuit.

Um... okaaaay. Finally had a chance to hear a Mariah Carey song from her new album uninterrupted, and she sounds nothing like the Mariah I fell in love with back in 1990. Her debut album was actually one ofthe first six CDs I bought the same night I bought my first CD player. Seems like so long ago, now that I don't even buy CDs anymore.

"If there was a problem, yo I'll solve it. Check out the hook while the DJ revolve it."

Yet another store, Old Grove & Mission, Oceanside, the fourth or fifth I think, that I could have visited had it been listed.

In OKC on the ramp from the turnpike to I-35/I-44 I spotted a stalled car and then realized two people were pushing it up the incline, with a third in the car. I wanted to help, but I quickly made the determinaton that it was more important, in a universal sense, for ne to try and reach NW Expwy & MacArthur to take a

After my stop at Chinamoon I was left with $51 in bills, some $10 in quarters, $20 in my checking account, maybe $20 available on my credit card, and maybe $20 available on my PayPal card. With another $50 to spend on gas to get home, I'd pretty much worked out the budget correctly, to make the most of my trip by spending all I had. Then I put on my long-sleeved and found $20. Aw, heck yeah!!! That's like free money! I felt so happy I splurged and stopped at Jason's Deli. complaoin

Memory associations are interesting. On the way down towards Texas I heard Blink 182's "I Miss You" on the radio, for the first time since I saw the video at the Globetrotter hostel in London. The song immediately brought back memories of how I had sat in the bar typing for an hour or so without ever being spoken to by any of the other hostelers. Had made me feel a little lonely and disappointed.

I pulled into the Gainesville store and parked. Almost immediately I saw flashing lights, and I thought, "damn, the staff had called the police ahead of time, and they were waiting for me." But the officer was just pulling over a red pickup truck.

I had $21.23 left in my PayPal account, and by coincidence I was able to fill my gas tank with just that much. Some people might take that as more than coincidence, perhaps as a sign of great things to come.

After the Jason's Deli sandwich and beans and rice, I could have skipped any more food, but when I discovered the Denton Starbucks was across the street from DoubleDave's, I threw budget and weight control out the window and ordered a couple of delicious peproni rolls. I even paid a dollar for a 20-oz Coke bottle, signaling a true shift back into big-spender mode.

On the way out of Dallas, a crazy trucker worked in my favor for once, but only 10-20 miles before he exited. Made sense. I would have been surprised if he had sustained 85+ MPH in a 60-65 zone for long. Would get a ticket for sure.

Reaching Houston that night had obviously been a pipe dream, as I started to poop out just south of Dallas and had to struggled for 50 miles to reach the first rest area. I worried that I would get stuck in traffic in the morning.

February 6

I left just before 7:00 with 180+ miles to downtown, and by the time I approached Houston traffic had lightened--I only slowed down a bit before I reached downtown, and then some more delay on a stretch of US-59 that never seems to get fixed. But I still managed to reach work just before 10:00 AM, making my trip 74 days exactly.

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