Get 500 or Die Tryin' (December)
January 1, 2006
Slept as much as I could, but around 5:00 I decided I'd make better use of time by heading over to the new Chino store. I had been told it opened at 5:00 AM, even on Sunday, but I had my doubts. I was right. I wouldn't open 'til 6:00.
After visiting the store I felt really sleepy, so I closed my eyes for a bit longer until the sky lightened and then went back to take a photo. From there I headed to Norco, where a partner worked who supposedly had a good Tazo drink dubbed "Jacob's delight". He wasn't working that morning, but the manager was rather enthusiastic about my presence and offered me a French press of sample of a new Kenyan coffee. Since I still had time before Scrabble I stuck around and let the sky lighten some more and uploaded files, which was taking longer and longer because of some undetermined problem with the web server. I couldn't complain, because it was my father's account that had been bought out by a larger company, and the web pages were no longer supported.
Norco, Jacob's delight, made manager's day, French press
guy visit nyc bars on npr
Back to the war, comic book break
The rain continued, and after finishing up at the new La Habra store at around 7:30 I decided that if I slept about 10 hours, by the time I found a place and then made my way back to La Mirada it would be around 5:00 AM. No point in pushing myself past the fatigue, since I expected to be on the road for at least two more weeks. I just can't push myself past the point of exhaustion for that length of time.
About 18 hours later, the 20 or so ounces of water that I had spilled on the floor of the car had still not dried, which meant I had to continue to keep my feet up towards the pedals when changing so my socks would not get wet.
Woke up at 5:26. Wow, from 7:40, that was some deep sleep. With disturbing dream at the end, in which I lost my car and all my possessions while on the way to play in the National Scrabble Championship and ended up forfeiting the first to games. Or something like that. Might have been several dreams combined.
Sleep was a good call. In the morning the rain had most ended, though streets were still slick. Traffic seemed lighter than it should have been for SoCal on a Monday morning, and then I remembered that many businesses would be closed because the 1st fell on Sunday. That would enable me to finish off the dozen or so areas in the area in short order and head north. But the radio reported that it would rain all day, with flash food watches, so I was concerend about what that drive would be like.
Another NPR report discussed a proposed plan to try and alter the weather to reduce the impact of hurricanes. Bad, bad, bad idea, if the side effects all over the globe are be understood. And can they really be?
In Baldwin Park I updated my site while waiting for the sky to lighten while the store's regular homeless old lady (I guess from the bags outside the door and then confirmed by asking the staff) coughed repeatedly behind me. I stepped outside to check the mileage on my car and caught her eye, so I said "good morning". She smiled and replied, and I rushed out to my car before she had a chance to start chatting.
Meanwhile, my average food expenditure per day, after only buying an apple and banana on Sunday (but not eating them) went down to $10.44. If I could survive the day on just the pizza, pie, and cake from the Scrabble tournament plus the fruit, I'd be down to $10.18. But once I got closer to Los Angeles, there would be the temptation of moros from Versailles, and I doubted I'd be able to pass that up.
Anyway, the store in Downey is on Stewart & Gray Road ("and" used instead of "&" in Streets & Trips)! Why the fuck do city planners do shit like that??? Isn't that just a little confusing to someone not from the area? Is it Stewart, or is it Gray? WTF??? Make up your goddamned mind!
While I sat in front of the store and typed out my rant, one of the patio umbrellas was knocked over by the wind. The drizzle had disappeared, but the wind continued to kick up. Then outright rain arrived. Then a downpour.
I caught the tail end of a NPR report that was relevant to me, on multimedia in cars and laws against it.
Whew! That was a close one! I reached the new Compton store minutes after the power went out. Thankfully, they still had coffee brewed.
coffee tasting in Hawthorne, partner trying to make me smile, leftover samples of zucchinni walnut cake
Aw, curse this rain!!! In an attempt to keep it out of my eyes, I ducked my head and whacked myself in the forehead when I opened the door of my car. Damn, but that smarts!
From Marina del Ray I decided to take Slauson all the way to Huntington Park (the shortest route).
lights out along Slauson
At the first new store in downtown L.A. in a while, I met a breathtakingly beautiful barista, and I couldn't decide if she was Latina or part-Asian. She kept looking at me, and I couldn't decide if she was suspicious of my story, if she was into me, or if she was staring at the red mark on my forehead from when I hit myself with the door.
I wanted to heat up the leftover pizza,
shell gas rain v-power micro ethiuc
Ohhhh... caught off guard again! Moros and tostones at Versailles in L.A. was $7.85, not the $5.25 I paid in Miami. Gotta watch out for that!!!
I googled for $10 lap dances and came up with two clubs. One was closed on Sunday, and by Monday I was north of it and didn't want to double back. The other was named Oz, and in South Gate, pretty close to the Huntington Park store, but at noon there were no girls, and in retrospect is it really a good idea to visit a club snamed after a prison. From South Gate the most direct route to downtown L.A. was Alameda. I passed another club randomly and popped in. A vanful of Latinos arrived ahead of me, and the security guard with the Eastern European accent patted them all down. And then he had to turn one away for lacking ID, even though he was clearly no younger than 30, probably 35 or 40. The guard patted me down too, while denying that the neighborhood is dangerous.
Checked out Thirsty's in Van Nuys
but I wasn't going to pay $6 for a drink on speculation that one of the four girls would be to my liking, especially since the two that I could see from the doorway weren't.
At the Simi Valley Town Center I had trouble finding the Starbucks and ended up parking a good ways from it. I was offered a pwastry, and so when I walked back to the car I had a scone in one hand and a sample coffee in the other and could not hold my camera. As I walked quickly, it bounced against my pot belly. Unlike Bruce Willis's girl in that scene from Pulp Fiction, my pot belly is not cute. Blop, blop, blop. That's the sound that would have been recorded had I swallowed a microphone.
Oh, oh, oh--craving for Togo's chili. Must... resist.
Meanwhile, the starter continued to scare me by failing at least once a day on a key turn.
Ahhh, yes, a second chance to hear the Bruce Springsteen interview on Fresh Air. I had missed at least half of it during my hops out of the car to visit Starbucks.
Oh, getting old, getting old, getting old. I sat in front of the Starbucks for at least 5 minutes trying to remember what it was that I needed to look up on the Internet. It had been fresh in my mind no more than 15-30 minutes earlier while on the freeway.
HAH!!! It appears I lucked out by not getting a massage from Bridget! I took my log entry and posted it to Craig's List as a warning to others, and by the end of the day several people had posted negative experiences of their own.
She posted a reply full of lies, I posted a retort, and the drama continued...
In Oxnard I backed into the effects of the powerful winds.
At the Arco on Oxnard Blvd I ran into only the third attendant ever who refused to let me use the microwave if I bought gas. He just shook his head and looked at me like I was crazy for wanting to heat my food. And one of them had only denied me afterca asking whether there was any pork in the food (their was).
In Santa Barbara I asked a barista about a rest area on US-101, and a customer chimed in and said there was one before the exit to Lompoc. When I got on the road I immediately felt sleepy and a little dizzy, but counting down the 21 miles while glancing at porn helped me to stay awake, thus proving that pornography saves lives.
I woke at 5:28 and felt fine to drive. I checked the oil level and, as expected, it was low. But I had no more oil in my trunk because I had not passed a convenient Wal-Mart (on my side of the street, or next to a new Starbucks) since Arizona. I drove the 20 miles to Lompoc and found that it was such a sleepy little town that the Wal-Mart was not yet open at 6:00 AM (according to the supervisor). The cheapest oil at the Circle K was 1.99. 83 cents more expensive--unacceptable. So I waited until 7:00, killing time updating my site and updating my resume and searching for jobs, because now that it was the new year, it was time to get cracking on finding employment!
After maybe 15 minutes, a man, presumably the driver of the big SUV blocking my photo
When I got out to the car I glanced out of the corner of my eye, and, sure enough, the guy was staring at me. But on the bright side, I found a dime in the parking lot.
Motor oil at the Wal-Mart (which actually opened at 6:00) was $1.20, not $1.16. Seems unusual, because I've found Wal-Mart prices to be standard across the country. The Wal-Mart offered lube service, and that early in the morning in a small town was a great time for an oil change. Unfortunately I was already running late to shoot a news segment with a station in Bakersfield.
Whoa! On an oldies station near San Luis Obispo, the original (I think) version of "Last Kiss" covered by Pearl Jam.
Okay, is it "Paso Robles" like on my map, or "Paso de Robles" like on the signs welcoming visitors to the city???
Upon leaving Paso Robles I called the TV news station in Bakersfield as promised. My initial contact, Justin, was off on Monday and Tuesday, so he had handed the story off to someone else. The lady I spoke to did not seem to know much about it, and I tried to impress upon her the importance of calling the Starbucks and getting clearance. I had to wait about 10 minutes when I reached the store, but the shoot was easy.
That Unwrapped segment from three years back continued to pay off...
From Bakersfield I took SR-178 through the Sequoia National Forest to Ridgecrest. Were those roadrunners running across the road?
Wow! Las Vegas NPR in Ridgecrest!
One of the baristas recommended the Now You're Cookin' Cafe, but she seemed to think the customer needed to cook the food himself, and she was right. Of course that wouldn't work for me, so I popped into Charlie's Grilled Subs. The cheese steak and fries for $5.35 looked like a decent value. I gave the cashier 35 cents and discovered I had left my bills in the car. I quickly told her I had to go get the money, and as I walked out the door I heard her say "don't make the sandwich." When I returned she was in the process of calling out several other sandwiches. I asked if she had told them not to make it, if mine would get pushed back behind the others, and she says yes. That fucking whore!!! What the fuck kind of ghetto people (in posh Ridgecrest???) is she used to dealing with that she thinks I'd order a sandwich, leave 35 cents on the counter, and then not come back. And I even had my laptop and car keys in my hand. What, a guy with a laptop and car can't afford $5 for a sandwich??? And if he can't afford $5, why would he leave the 35 cents? That's just stupid. God, why do I have to share the planet with these fucking retarded wage slaves who are incapable of thought!?!?
With food on the brain, I pulled into this Mexican place because the name sounded like one of the barista's recommendations. I received a cheese enchilada, and I might have actually said "cheese" instead of "chicken", so I didn't make a stink. The waitress did have a lousy attitude though. Maybe she was one of those that has no interest in dealing with a customer only buying a two-dollar item. And it was a crappy two-dollar item at that.
I should have waited, because when I reached Barstow and drove down Main Street I passed a place called Juan Pollo Chicken. For $3.20, just a leg, beans, and rice would have been a good deal, but I think the girl saw hunger in my face and threw in a free breast. Or maybe that was a secret symbol that I should have stuck around and asked for her number.
I slept for a few hours in a quiet neighborhood before driving back down Main to see if a club I had spotted, Odyssey, was still open. Things must shut down early in Barstow, because it was only midnight and the club looked long since closed, so I never got to even see what type of club it was.
I reached the first (and only, in CA along I-40) around 2:00 AM. Because of the four hours I had gotten I felt fine to keep driving, but it made more sense to sleep while the sun was down.
At 6:45 I was woken by a call from a recruiter (3 hours ahead in Florida) to inquire about setting up an interview. At 7:30 he called again to say he had set it up for a few hours later, and I decided I felt well enough to get moving towards Flagstaff where I would have better reception.
View heading east on I-40.
When I saw the sign for Needles I quickly calculated the distance to Sedona. More than three hours. If I tried to make that drive on the last two leftover pastries given to me at various Starbucks I'd feel really bad, so I pulled off the highway and into the Wagon Wheel Restaurant. $6.25 was close to my budget for the day, but with one interview lined up already and another possibility, I was feeling pretty good about the chances of finding a job. But that first interview ended quickly after the first three questions were ones I could not answer, and I began to worry whether my lack of book knowledge about C# would hurt my chances.
After stopping at the Flagstaff store to check e-mail, I headed towards Sedona and promptly missed exit 337 for SR-89A. According to my map, at exit 333 there is a road that cuts across to 89A, and so I took it. The road cut through a forest, and was unpaved, but it did not get really bad until I was too far into it to turn around (or so I thought). Turns out I should have turned around, because the road was the worst I had ever driven. On some stretches it was more like pure rocks than a road, and I feared for my tires. Took me over 30 minutes to drive just a few miles. But once I reached the town, the views made it all worth it.
I lost more time in Sedona chatting with the manager of that store, and also the manager of the Camp Verde store who happened to be there, and then a customer outside. And then taking a call from a recruiter. The upshot is that once I lost even more time getting a Quizno's next to the Starbucks in Camp Verde and answering more e-mails, I calculated that I would not be able to reach Los Lunas before the store closed at 9:00 PM and would have to stay the night in Albuquerque.
Incidentally, the customer was a lady who recognized me from my Inside Edition apperance (she thinks). Her daughter overheard, and she came over and seemed fascinated with my project. The daughter was all cuteness, though I was completely unable to even guess at her age, whether she was adolescent, a teenager, or in her early 20s. Regardless, I did my best to avoid staring, at least while her mother was there.
The number I had originally pulled off the Starbucks web site for Los Lunas was wrong, and so were the numbers I was given when I called two other Albuquerque stores. But a barista at one gave me the number of the district manager, something I'm pretty sure she was not supposed to have done. But oh, well, I had the number, so I went ahead and called. The DM seemed surprised and maybe a bit taken aback, but I got the store closing/opening hours, and then she surprised me by calling me back with the number in case I needed it.
Aw, goddamn it!!! Really cute girl (at least from a distance) walking along SR-260 on the way to Camp Verde, and she looked like she needed a ride. But a guy in a black pickup truck pulled over first, and I missed a chance at possible adventure.
Oh shit. Ooooh shiiit. Kris Kross on the radio in Gallup, NM. Damn, that takes me back to an argument I had in college, when I insisted that
As many times as I had visited Albuquerque, I don't think I'd ever approached the city from the west at night. Around mile 145 I crested a hill and saw the lights of the city. No matter how many times I've seen similar views on the approach to different cities, it never gets old.
It's about perspective. I was grumbling because construction had I-40 closed at Coors and required a detour onto surface streets, but my delay seemed like nothing compared to the backup westbound, presumably a residual effect of the evening rush.
I was suprised to see a Wal-Mart Supercenter right along the main drag, Central Avenue, at San Mateo. I don't think I usually see them along older primary streets like that in the bigger cities, presumably because it's hard and expensive to get all that land.
Sometimes I am amazed by mine own genius. I finally learned from past experiences at the Frontier Restaurant, when I would order three pancakes and then have trouble finishing the meal and felt bloated afterwards. This time I tried something innovative--I ordered two.
I went farther down the east end of Central to where it seemed free of possible trouble and cops and slept for a few hours. Once again I was starting to feel dizzy, and this dizziness that was coming more and more when I got really tired was starting to trouble me. After several hours sleep I felt better and went back to the Frontier Restaurant for some more pancakes before heading down to Los Lunas. I arrived just in time to witness to knuckleheads wearing Longhorns t-shirts getting "escorted" out by two female security guards, neither of whom was very big, though of of them had a serious look on her face. On the bright side, I did find out that Texas won the national championship.
By coincidence, the Starbucks in Los Lunas was across the freeway from a Wal-Mart Supercenter that offered lube service. I drove straight to the Tire & Lube Center and parked right in front of one of the bays. I hoped that the security guard would have the presence of mind to realize that I might want an oil change. But noooo, this dottering old food had to go and disturb my sleep.
But taking my place in line was the right decision, because when I awoke around 7:40 their were already three cars in line behind me, and one man had arrived around 7:00 because the Tire & Lube Center used to open that early. So I got my car in first, but I blew the time savings by making the wrong decision to walk across the freeway to the Starbucks. I vastly underestimated the time it took me, and I did not return until 8:37, certain that the oil change had probably finished 10-15 minutes before.
At the Starbucks itself I had an unusual experience. The barista recognized me from a visit to an older store, but instead of being friendly she gave me a look of suspicion, perhaps tinged with hostility. And after she handed me the cup of coffee, she went to the back. When she came back out, I heard her saying to someone "I gave him a short." Was the manager back there?
Interesting. A sign for "Pre-1937 Route 66". I know good and well that Route 66 is Central Avenue up in Albuquerque, so what is this road running through Los Lunas?
Okay, why do people keep laughing when I mention I hit a deer???
8:01, later than I had expected. I hoped to reach my cousins in Georgia no later than 10 or 11.
The route to the Fort Smith store took me off the interstate and through town. I passed the White Spot Cafe and popped in to find the flimsiest and most worn paper menus I'd ever seen.
USA Today article up on the wall in Fort Smith.
Checked off one of the few remaining stretches of a principal interstate that I had not drive, I-40 from the Muskogee Turnpike in OK to Little Rock, but skipping a stretch to detour to Fort Smith.
Okay, whatever happened to Hootie and the Blowfish?
At the second Conway store the supervisor was initially just mildly interested, perhaps a little bemused, and then a curious thing happened. A lady who had exited the store with her boyfriend as I entered came back in and asked if I was from the area, and then if I was the guy visiting all the stores, and if she and her boyfriend could take a picture with me. And, just like that, a smile widended on the supervisor's face, and her attitude changed. Bemusement turned to enthusiasm. I went outside and chatted with the couple, and a few minutes later the supervisor came up and wanted to set up a photo with the staff. It turned out to be the most elaborate yet, as they moved furniture and got all the staff together, but it also set me back about 15 minutes. My delays to Atlanta were really starting to add up.
I made great time to Memphis by following a silver Porsche moving so quickly that I had to hit 105 at times to try and keep up. I would never have kept up, though, had it not been for all the times he had to slow down for left lane blockers and trucks passing. It happened so many times, that a truck would decide to pass another just when the Porsche approached. That begs the question... are the truckers doing it on purpose?
I lost more time due to the wrong address on the web site for the Germantown & Poplar Store. The address was listed as 7570 Poplar Pike, but it's really Poplar Avenue, and furthemore it's not even at Germantown Rd, but rather Farmington Blvd! Oh, why oh why is it sooooo hard for these people to get the addresses of their own stores correct? Or, or, or is it the Cabal at work again?
It had been so long, a couple of weeks in fact, since I had entered Florida and stayed pretty far south, that I had almost forgotten it was
Winter winter. But in Tupelo and later Huntsville I could really feel the chill and had to pull out my coat.
Despite my hurry, I just couldn't rush off given the enthusiastic reception I received in Tupelo, which included free cake brought in by a partner to celebrate another's promotion. But the delay was made up by the good advice they gave me, not to take the Natchez Trace Parkway because of the 50 MPH limit. Instead I took US-78 as far east as I could before exiting to head north, and I made great time. But then, and this one was my fault, I missed my exit off US-78 into Hamilton to pick up US-43. But then SR-20 west towards Decatur surprised me by moving really quickly, and it looked like I would reach my cousins by about 12:30. But after Huntsville the fatigue came on strong.
I had not realized it before, but Hunstville is home to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.
The drive from Huntsville to I-75 was the hardest drive in a while. All US and state highways, dark and curvy much of the time, and all the while my level of fatigue increased to the point that I had to drive around several small towns looking for a place to sleep. But each time I decided I didn't want to risk coming across backwoods Southern cops, which I'm regarding more and more as little more criminals, or perhaps bullies, with badges and guns.
No new Starbucks because of the wedding, but I had to have my coffee, so I pulled out a coupon and got some calories and protein in the mix in the form of a venti soy latte. First time trying to soy. Didn't like the taste.
Ohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygod!!! Ijustnoticedonmyventicupthatthequoteisfrom Mary Chapin Carpenter!!! I LOVE HER!!! She is my favorite artist ever!
During the next 24 hours I gorged on any and all food offered to me in the hopes of finally getting my food expense average down to the target of $10. Despite the abundance of victuals at my cousins and at the wedding, I almost blew my budget. The wedding venue was down in Atlanta, and just a few miles from the Flying Biscuit cafe on Piedmont. My mouth started to water as soon as I saw the location plotted on my map, and as I drove down there with my cousin Raul I kept thinking "biscuits, biscuits, biscuits." And all during the wedding and reception I kept thinking "biscuits, biscuits, biscuits." But I knew I'd get breakfast and more sancocho the next day, so those biscuits, yummy yummy yummy though they are, would have been an extravagance.
After saying goodbye to relatives, I finally left around 1:00 and headed north to Cleveland (TN) and Chattanooga. I exited I-75 in Dalton for a shorter route to Cleveland, and I passed this place, that teased me by not being open.
As I drove I used the time to call stores recently listed to see which had opened for business. It was a little sad, after the six weeks I had spent clearing much of my map of dots, to have to add dots again in those areas I'd already covered.
Aw, man! I walked into a gas station to pay for $5 worth of gas and spotted a penny on the mat at the entrance. I meant to pick it up on the way out, but an old man with an arched back beat me to it!
Something called E-85 (ethanol) sold along US-41 Alt in Hopkinsville, KY.
Along the Pennyrille Parkway I thought I saw something unique when I spotted gas pumps in the same parking lot as Dusty's Adult World--an adult shop that sold gas! But no, they were separate, and the reason for the confusion is that the gas pumps are unattended, strictly pay at the pump. Well, that's actually fairly unusual.
In Evansville I learned of another secret store, also on the Lloyd Expressway like the other two new ones. It was next to a Borders, and the next store, an hour away in Vincennes, would not close 'til midnight, so I took the time to catch up on some comics. Then I called a barista who had given me her number, the first to do so since Jodi. We spoke for over 30 minutes, maybe longer, and while there couldn't possibly have been the same level of connection as with Jodi, I felt some compatibility.
By the time I hung up it was 10:00, and there just happened to be a Wal-Mart Supercenter across the street, so I figured I might as well stick around and photograph all three stores in the morning. The Wal-Mart parking lot was well-lit and free of campers, so I went back to the Starbucks parking lot until 12:43, when I awoke to find the baristas had finally left. Then I moved over to the parking lot of the Steak 'n Shake, which was still open, until sometime around 3:00 AM, and then finally over to the Wal-Mart lot.
Aw, hell yeaaaah! 91.1 near Vincennes playing Eddie Murphy's "Party all the Time"!
Ah, good 'ol Indiana and its freaky multiple time zones making me change the time on my
@#$%^& map! Or maybe it's just Bloomington that's fucked up. All I intended was a quick 5-10 minute detour through Bloomington to reshoot a store. Instead, I spent about 30 minutes making wrong turns around the university and doubling back before I found the store, and the another 5 just finding the right exit out of the parking lot.
In the other Nashville, between Bloomington and Franklin I saw my first Speedway in months and immediately thought "Tradewinds!!!" But at $1.30 tp $1.40 per 16 oz bottle, what would that do to my budget? What a dilemma!
By coincidence, or perhaps fate, I made a wrong turn where I saw the Speedway and had to double back and pass it again. I took it as a sign from above that I was meant to buy some tea. I bought two. Cost me $2.73, but that first sip tasted soooooo good. Almost better than the touch of a woman. In fact, actually much better han some of the women who have touched me.
Curse my weakness, but it tasted so good that I had to buy more bottles. But not every Speedway carries Tradewinds, and those that do sometimes run out of the extra sweet flavor. And some are on the wrong side of the street. And so the hunt began.
Oh, my, god, this speaker, whoever he is (might have been Alito himself, but I think it was a senator), is on crack, to say that America is stronger when it helps its weakest, in reference to his claim that a certain percentage of fetuses that test positive for the gene for Down's Syndrome are aborted. He claims America is the poorer for it. What a blind, blind, man.
Weather weather weather weather! Back up north, and with grey skies, I needed to pay attention to the weather.
Curse their bones! In Indianapolis I detoured to Island Delight for some Carribean yumminess to go with my Tradewinds, but they had different winter hours, closing at 3:00 Mon-Thu. Rats!
Brownback! That fucker's name is Senator Brownback who brought up the aborted Down's Syndrome fetuses. Oops, I didn't mean to use inflammatory language. I meant "that ignorant man's name".
Score!!! After my disappointment at Island Delight I spent the next hour wondering what to do about food. I didn't want to spend a lot on something generic in the Indy burbs, but I was craving a good meal. Scoring a cheese danish and a crumble coffee cake allowed to defer my decision until I found something that looked really good.
Whoa, an Indiana state trooper (I think) changing a tire. I didn't think those guys helped people out like that.
I noticed a dimly lit sign for the James Dean Gallery around Gas City or Fairmount, IN, and remembered an NPR report about how it had the largest collection of Dean memorabilia but would close down on the 31st of '05.
The rest area on I-69 northbound before Fort Wayne, like others I had seen southbound, prohibited overnight parking. I arrived around 8:00 and decided not to push on towards Detroit. I slept until about 12:30 and then went up to Fort Wayne to update my site.
Around 7:30 the sky had lightened, though not completely because of the higher latitude. Felt sleep, wasn't sure why, because it seemed I had slept enough. I wondered if fatigue was an effect of the lower caloric intake I was imposing on myself. Anyway, I barely slept 30 minutes before I was woken by a text message from Michael asking if I knew I was mentioned in an article in The New Yorker. I had known, but I had forgotten, and it was supposed to have been on the 2nd anyway.
Don't know why so many people send me text messages. Maybe it's free for them, and they don't realize every message cost me. Maybe a dime, maybe more. I wonder if I could set my phone not to receive them, but would the sender be notified or just assume I had received it.
I set off along US-24 towards Toledo, or so I thought. After driving a couple of miles I noticed that I was paralleling a railroad, which was strange because there was no railroad denoted on my map along US-24. Yep, I was on the wrong highway. There were plenty of north-south streets that I could use to get back on 24, but the problem was that unless I doubled back to the point where the highways diverged I'd miss a short section of US-24. I decided that it would be "unnatural" to double back. Later, when I saw Waterville on the map, I realized the whole issue was moot, because I'd already drive the stretch of US-24 between Toledo and Fort Wayne. Problem solved, and I can sleep easier.
Heh. An NPR report about problems with online directions sites like MapQuest. Hit me close to home, because Streets & Trips makes the same mistakes, which is why I like to reevaluate the route myself.
101.5 The River in Toledo mixes pop and country (Lone Star).
Didn't find any mention of Starbucks at the issue of The New Yorker on sale at the Barnes & Noble in Toledo, but when I got online I quickly found in the article in the online version of the previous week's issue. It was just a couple of lines that mentioned me, not even worth trying to find a copy. So I spent 30-45 minutes sending out resumes in vain before I saw an opportunity to get a better photo, took it, and left before I was questioned by the staff or by the Asian man who looked at me suspiciously. He was wearing a baseball cap and a blue jacket emblazoned with the logo of some sports team, in case you know who he is.
Anyway, I say my resumes were sent in vain because, for the last five years, I have not gotten a single job from a resume I sent out in response to a job posting. All my jobs have resulted from existing personal contacts or a recruiter contacting me proactively.
A barista directed me to Barry Bagels, a bagel shop unusual for several reasons. First, it had the coffee bar in a separate room. It might actually have been a separate business, Beaner's Coffee, but I did not ask. Then there was the full-sized dining area. But what really flummoxed me were the "eggel" listings on the menu board. I guess I was tired, because it took me a good 5 minutes to realize that it was a combination of "egg" and "bagel". Duh.
Ow, ow, ow. The water at my first Starbucks took a long time to warm up, so I had to do most of my much-needed shaving with cold water. Never fun. It would probably haved helped if I switched out blades more often, but I'm cheap.
On the way to the next store on Michigan Ave in Dearborn I passed BT's Female Entertainment. I popped in, but just to window shop really, since I was in a t-shirt and jeans (a no-no) and didn't even have any cash. I was tempted to get cash and go back, because I'd just gotten a substantial loan from my mother, to go to the wedding. And Brie sure was cute, even if she did admit up front that she was not one of the "naughty" dancers. But the loan was supposed to be for gas money, not ass money. In the end the tipping factore, besides the though of spending two days food budget for what might be a bad dance, was the aggressive bartender/waitress factor. The way she accosted me as soon as I entered, I was sure if I returned she would insist I buy a drink.
Indecently, across from the Starbucks itself was The Pantheion Club (A True Gentlemen's Club). Pretty unusual to find a Starbucks across from a strip club.
I pulled into the parking lot of the New Hudson store to find a big honking old SUV straddling three or four parking spaces. This was actually good for me, because once it moved I'd have a great shot with subdued sunlight on pretty red brick. I walked in and asked for the manager, who was on the phone, and then a man left and got into the SUV and pulled away. I told the petite blonde barista, the cutest one in the store, who I was and I ran to my car. She thought I was leaving for good and ran after me shouting "wait, wait, don't leave!" I shouted back "I'm not leaving" as I pulled out my camera and rushed to take photographs of the store, which soon included all four baristas on duty, all excited by my visit.
On the way to Grand Rapid I did my due diligence and verified the map location of upcoming stores in IL and WI. I had to call the store in Oconomowoc to confirm that "Pabst Farms" is not a grocery store, and to get directions, and I was amazed by the breathtaking ignorance of the baristas who claimes that "Starbucks operates all its stores." I explained about the 3000+ licensed stores. She said nothing. I doubt she cared.
Ah hah! I'm not the only one who make strange noises. I exited the Woodland Mall in Grand Rapids behind a pair of girls who did not realize I was there. They started trying to sing, but it came out sounding more like random off-key screeching. After a few seconds I said "Wonderful harmonies", and the girls turned and looked so embarassed. I was lovin' it!
At a gas station on the way out of Kalamazoo a lady failed up to pull ahead to the first pump, thus blocking me from pulling up to the second. I had to do a 3-point turnaround to use one on the other side, and as I walked into the store I politely explained that it was considered good etiquette to pull up all the way. She just looked at me without responding. Making a mistake is understandable. That just means she's human. But failing to apologize. Well, that just makes her a bitch.
Sometimes the front window is fogged up so heavily that it takes 5, even 10, minutes to defrost enough for me to start driving. I haven't figured out what accounts for the different, but on Wednesday I lucked out and it only took a couple of minutes. By 5:19 I was out of the parking lot, but I had grossly misquackulated how long it would take me to reach the Plainfield store and did not arrive until 5:40. I rushed in, asked the barista behind the bar for the manager or supervisor, and then headed to the back where she was. As soon as I explained who I was, the first baristas suddenly dropped the large cardboard box she was holding and exclaimed "it's you!"
I kept the chit-chat to a polite minimum and rushed out to take the photo, and then I rushed off to get on I-55. I reached the on-ramp at 5:58 to find that traffic was already slow. And I was over 30 miles from the loop! That's so wrong! After a few miles speeds picked up to 60+ MPH, but I was already sunk. I had calculated I needed to drive 80 MPH all the way to reach the Loop by 7:00. But as it turned out, I had been on crack when I worked out those numbers. At 6:06, with less than thirty miles to drive, it dawned on me that I had plenty of time.
But not so fast! Traffic soon slowed, and slowed further as I neared downtown. With less than 10 miles to go, I lost all hope. I didn't hit the Loop until 7:05, and after missing a couple of turns (because store is named State & Adams, but the address is 131 Dearborne), I finally reached the store at 7:13. Of course parking that was both legal and free was out of the question, so I risked it all and parked right across Adams behind a delivery van (for cover) and rushed into the store. I ran through my spiel at breakneck speed, and the supervisor gave me a look of doubt (lots of homeless downtown) tinged with indifference and said "normally I don't, but I will." Thank goodness, because I had not a moment to spare. Back out at the car, the parking trolley was near, and when I backed up the car to get closer to the intersection and take a photo, I heard a loud horn blaring. I moved forward, heard something from the speakers, and thought he was going to ticket me so I stopped. But he just said "move along", and so I did. I couldn't get over to turn right, so I had to go two blocks west, two north, and circle back to the store. I still couldn't stop and had to circle around again, this time making the right on Dearborne and cutting through the alley, where I had to wait because I could not squeeze between a van and a white pickup that had stopped to make a delivery. In an unusual reversal, I hoped that the light would be red, so I could stop and take a photo.
I missed the first two opportunities to get on the freeway and had to drive down Madison a ways. When I finally turned and approached I-290 I grumbled. Heavy traffic outbound??? Heavy traffic outbound??? What is wrong with this city??? And to top it off, I realized that the Forest Park store is on Madison, the street I was already on. I should have just stayed there. At least at traffic lights I can get some blogging done.
Ugh! Why the the best angle for shooting the Lyons store have to be from the middle of a patch of dirt, unlandscaped with grass because of the newness of the strip mall, after it had been raining all night.
I was doing good at $10.00/day on food (and with four bottles of Tradewinds remaining), so on a whim I pulled into the Honey Bee Cafe Restaurant & Pancake House. But when I saw the that menu read "gourmet pancakes" and saw the price, $4.95, I decided it was not the type of low-cost diner I was looking for.
Besides a bagel shop, I was also looking for a barber shop so I could clean up my mess of hair before being photographed for an article in The Daily Herald. Spotted one near the Elmhurst store, but $13 is too much. In Bloomingdale I passed another beauty salon that had its number on the sign, and after calling I decided that if I only tipped a buck, the total would be $13, and while much more expensive than the $6 + tip I might pay at a place in Houston on Wednesdays, it was still work it to have a better photo in the paper. The barber turned out to be the owner, so I thought about not tipping her at all, but I decided I couldn't be that cheap.
At the Stratford Mall the Starbucks was near a Panera, and while their sandwiches and soup would be cost-prohibitive, I decided I'd have to eat something and went for a plain blueberry bagel. A bagel by itself is generally a good value. Add cream cheese and it's a lousy value. But add egg, bacon, and cheese, and for $3 or less it's a good value.
Aw, for the love of Pete, why are these senators going on and on about whether the chairman did or did not receive a letter from Kennedy?
It would have been a shorter route to go out to De Kalb from the Stratford Mall, but it would make it harder to predict when I'd be able to meet with the reporter. Continued publicity was important because of the movie, so I opted to meet with her first. Very good choice--she was the most attractive reporter I've ever spoken to! She kept on saying, as we wrapped up, that she didn't want to take up any more of my time. Well, truth be told, I would have been glad to sit and chat with her all afternoon!
Film accepted to Omaha Film Festival!!! Much excitement, though muted because of the little sleep I got.
Had to take a break for about 70 minutes for two back-to-back job interviews.
After going all day on just a bagel (plus the calories in the sugar packets, a few ounces of OJ, and a Tradewinds), my ravenous hunger could no longer be denied. I settled on a place called Brown's Chicken & Pasta. I learned the chain was run by Frank Portillo, brother of Dick Portillo, who ran Portillo's Hot Dogs. The two don't get along, and a sign loudly proclaims that Brown's is not affiliated with Portillo's Hot Dogs. The special was an Italian sausage sandwich, and I ordered small fries as well. After returning from the bathroom, where I spent an unusual amount of time scraping dead skin off a certain body part, I retrieved my food and promptly tipped the bag over and spilled some fries. So extreme was my howl of agony that a cashier took pity and gave me a second order. I was positively gleeful as I skipped away with my extra fries, and as I continued on I gorged myself. Perhaps a little too much, because the headache that had only been threatening to come finally arrived full on. I guess it was the shock to my system. Later I started to feel dizzy too.
At the next store the supervisor or manager was extremely welcoming, and so I felt doubly bad that the whole time we spoke I was mostly wondering whether she used to be male.
Ah, cool! A free Wi-Fi hotspot accessible (barely) from where I was parked at the rest area in Wisconsin.
Around 2:00 AM I drove up to Milwaukee, remembered I needed to respond to e-mail from a recruiter, found an older Starbucks, then parked nearby. Behind the neighborhood I happened to notice a Wal-Mart, and a quick drive over there revealed that it had a lube center. It isn't open 24 hours, so I returned to the neighborhood, but I set my alarm for 6:30. Around 5:39 I woke up and decided it was well enough into the morning to park in front of the lube center without being hassled. Almost.
Around 6:29 I heard sounds inside the garage. Some time later I heard voices, "...I think he's sleeping in his car." I peeked my head out from under my blankets and saw on one side a mean looking dude, but on the other a hot, hot blond assistant manager. She rapped on the window and I asked, "are you open yet?" She asked, "are you just waiting for us to open." I replied, "yes, I need an oil change." She said, "we open in about 10 minutes." I said "I have my alarm set," and I crawled back under my blankets. Man, but she was hot. Too bad she works at Wal-Mart.
At 7:00 nobody came outside to attend me, so I tried the door. It was locked. I walked around the building and realized my car had been parked at the exit, not the front. I grumbled, because that assistant manager should have told me. See, that's what I mean by "too bad she works at Wal-Mart". Lacking in ability to think creatively, probably.
Inside, there was a older man who was waiting to see if the tires he had ordered online had arrived. He said he had been waiting for them for a month. I told him that's what you had to deal with to save money at Wal-Mart. Just like me, like I had to deal with the fact that it wasn't until about 7:20 that I was given a work ticket, and until 7:30 that my car was pulled into the bay. I noticed it was facing the direction I had originally parked, and I, against my better judgement, tried to get an explanation from one of the attendants about where the entrance is. Turned into comedy of misunderstanding, as they couldn't get it through their minds that my intention was to be first in line.
On the topic of uncreativity, I almost committed that sin myself. I had been planning for days to drive into Minneapolis to be the first customer at a store at 6:00 AM, and then to drive up to Duluth and back. Don't know how many times I'd glance at my map of Wisconsin and Minnesota since then, but I finally realized that it would be shorter to head to Duluth first from Eau Claire, and then down to Minneapolis. A full 100 miles shorter even. And I'd get to check a stretch of US-53 off my list.
Solid Gold McDonald's??? What the heck is that?
"N112W16510 Mequon Rd." Okay, what kind of fucked up address is that??? Why do these city planners think they can do better than the standard street address format that works just fine almost everywhere else in the country?
Meanwhile, the good luck with the weather I'd had for most of my 7-week trip continued, as the temperature in WI was very mild.
Aw, nertz! No way I'll reach Duluth in daytime.
near exit 244, golf coyrse, baseball cap, tiger woods, but he was white
pizza slices $2.11
My plans changed abruptly when I approached Eau Claire and called the mall store to ask if the other store had opened. Friday morning, I was told! Holy moley!!! If I waited until 5:30 AM, I'd be able to check that store off my list, and since I can't be in two places at once, it didn't matter that I could be the first customer in Lakeville as long as I was the first in Eau Claire. I quickly called MPR and left a message with the journalist who was supposed to meet me in Lakeville to get some audio, and I hoped she would check her voice mail before heading out there at the crack of dawn.
The location of the Oakwood Mall store worked out great for me, because just down the US-53 there was a Wal-Mart Supercenter where I could sleep, and across from the mall there was a Borders where I could hang out and update my site until I tired, when I would need to try and get to sleep so I could start driving at 5:30 and make it all the way to Duluth and then Minneapolis.
I updated my site and then looked on stripclublist.com to see if there were any in Eau Claire. None. But one in Elk Mound, not too far, with $10 dances according to the web site. I called to make sure, since it was 15-20 miles away.
St. Louis Park, then off to my marathon Scrabble tournament to win some gas money!!!
Well, the tournament sucked hard. No gas money for me. At least I stuffed myself on the breakfast buffet. As soon as another Scrabble picked up his winnings, I drove him to his grandmothers in St. Paul in exchange for letting me watch the season premiere of 24.
I woke up with the memory of a dream fresh in my mind, my first dream in which I was visiting Starbucks in Mexico. Only instead of being in the center of a busy city, I was out in the suburbs. And instead of flying, I had actually driven. It was very dark on the road, and the Starbucks parking lot was pretty dark too. And even though in the dream I was in Mexico, I was also in Chile too, probably because the final news report I had heard before going to bed was about the new Chilean president, a woman.
Reports of snow and ice in western Minnesota caused me to worry as I headed west myself.
I made it as far as Fergus Falls, about 50 miles from the border, before I had to stop to ensure good reception for an interview with a company in Salt Lake City. Obviously not my first choice of locations, but I need the work. Interview took almost an hour, during which time I started to see snow. Or maybe it was just flakes that the wind was blowing around. There was a lot of that the rest of the way into Fargo, but when I arrived snow started in earnest, but did not last long. I was eager to get online and check weather.com.
At the second new Fargo store the manager asked what was my favorite blend. I replied that I thought it was House, but that I also liked Verona and had never done a side-by-side comparison. So she offered to French press both, and I tried them. Even though I had more positive memories of House, based on that test, I'd have to go with Verona over House.
As I approached Grand Forks I started to feel dizzy, and I thought "Uh-oh, maybe I shouldn't have eaten that 3-day old bagel."
At the first Grand Forks store I went straight to the restroom and noticed the USA Today article on the community board. So instead of even saying "I'm Winter.", I just said "I'm here." Neither of the first two baristas recognized me, but then another came out from the back and said "It's you." She was very excited, as was the manager, who came back with a fitted cap. Cool. Except that outside I still have to wear my wool cap, because for the love of Christ, is it cold here!!! And next is Winnipeg, supposedly the coldest city in North America!
Finally got around to looking up locations of Access stores, so I could return the infamous suckpack. Unfortunately, there are none in Manitoba. I'd have to wait until BC, unless I wanted to go directly to a Roots store and give the manager a sob story.
Something slightly different at the next store. The manager from the previous one had decided she wanted an autograph and phoned ahead to ask the barista to ask me for one.
I saw no snow falling on the way to Winnipeg, but sheets of white continued to blow across the road, and I had to watch out for ice the whole way. When I crossed into Manitoba, the road became really rough, and I wasn't sure if it was because of buildups of ice, or simply because the road was poorly maintained. As I neared Winnipeg, the quality of the road improved dramatically, and there seemed to be little snow on the ground, presumably because of plows and traffic.
At the border crossing the agent at the booth asked me quite a few questions and then sent me inside, where the immigration agent asked me even more questions. I asked why, just like last time, I faced more questioning in Manitoba as opposed to Toronto and Vancouver, and the explanation was simple enough--just that the lighter volume of traffic allows them the time to interview everybody, which would be impractical at the heavier crossings. I also asked him about what would happen if I was arrested, and he explained that any arrest would cause Canada to deny me entry until the issue was resolved in court, and that any conviction would deny me entry unless I obtained a special permit. Of course I'd have to look all this up later, but if true, then getting myself arrested by a rogue cop so I could sue the department was going to pose an additional problem.
At the second store in Winnipeg I noticed something that looked like yogurt but turned out to be cottage cheese. I had never had some in my life, so I decided to give it a try. Kind of nasty, really, but I had no choice but to eat it, since I had spent 1.99 Canadian. No, not kinda nasty, but really fucking nasty. I wanted to heave after every bite. In fact, I feared that I would heave and lose not only the cheese but also the apple I had eaten. I related my plight to a barista at the next store, and she was kind enough to offer up a muffin of some sort to help settle my stomach.
Aaaaah!!! A possible low of 5 degrees!!! My nuts will freeze!!! But actually, my amazingly luck with the weather continued, because, according to a barista, the typical temperature for that time of years was -30 F = -26 F. I seriously don't know if I could survive in the car in that type of cold. I suppose I could run the heat all night, but I've never had to do that.
After four stores, with four to go, I decided to call it a night and do the other four in the morning, so I would have more caffeine for the long road to Saskatoon. I found a space next to a park not too far from the Broadway store. Because of the cold, I had to alternate between running and turning off the heat every two hours or so, with shorter durations of non-heat as the night progressed.
Around 6:26 it felt like I'd slept enough, and I decided to head over to Kildonan Crossing and work on my Scrabble tournament log while I waited for the sky to lighten.
After plenty of suspiciously driving down residential streets and alleys, I finally found a strong Wi-Fi signal on Carpathia at Kenaston.
I had one bagel left, and I guess the dizziness I had felt the day before was unrelated, because I had not died. So I decided to give those 290 calories a try, but only after sniffing long and sniffing deep, just in case.
Heh, a town called Starbuck.
The Esso station in Brandon still had the two computers connected to the Internet, but it still didn't have pay-at-the-pump.
The road to Saskatchewan was reasonably good, but passing semi trucks was extremely dangerous because they kicked up slush onto my windshield, and the jerks refused to slow down so I could pass more quickly.
With 267 miles still to go from Russell to Saskatoon, and with me having consumed all the food I had remaining and hungry again, I had to abandon my hopes of getting some cheap spaghetti in Saskatoon and settle from a bacon cheeseburger fom the Chicken Chef. Before I got to the door, I gave the patrons (all elderly) a show when I slipped on the ice, picked myself up, and then proceeded to dance around wildly trying to get my balance. For all that trouble, the burger and fries turned out strictly mediocre.
It felt bittersweet as I drank my last bottle of Tradewinds tea.
Aw, heck yeah, Kelly Willis on CBC1 between news reports.
Fucking deer! Get the fuck out of my way!!!
Shit. 40 KPH limit heading into Sturgis caused me to hit my brake too hard and start into a skid.
Are you fucking kidding me!!! I was heading the wrong way for an hour!!! I accidentally exited 16 in Yorktown, and when all was said and done I had blown over and hour and gone nearly 100 miles out of my way. By the time I got back to the Transcanada I didn't drive too long before I felt knackered and knew I wouldn't make it to Saskatoon. I chose Wynyard
Had a pretty strange dream, that my family in Houston had up and moved to a small house in Birmingham. Probably triggered by an e-mail about a job in Birmingham, but it still doesn't make sense.
Started driving again at 6:36, and was glad to find the roads clear, especially since I had to fight off a bit of sleep inertia.
A town called Kandahar.
At 8:00 AM it was still dark, and I was like, WTF??? Am I in Alaska here? When is it going to get light out???
An exceptionally warm reception at my first Saskatoon store was just what I needed after the rough drive.
A couple of doors down from the Broadway store was a very cute girl (but smoking, yuck). She asked me what I was doing all the way from Texas. I told her who I was, and she had heard of me. We chatted for a bit, and I got the urge to snap a few photos, a shift from my usual disinterest in photographing people.
The manager at the first store had suggested the Broadway Cafe, and another barista and the girl had concurred that it is decent, so I dropped by to look at the menu. Since I already had a complimentary scone, I decided to just go for scramble eggs. I stopped back at the Starbucks for some of that tasty tasty (but expensive) Happy Planet juice. Could have done without the juice, since Wal-Marts is half as expensive (but not as good), but the purchase had the added benefit of getting me some more Canadian currency so I could keep around $10-20 in my pocket for emerengies. This far from the border, I wasn't sure how many people besides Starbucks would take American currency.
Battleford, gas, coupon. Real Canadian Wholesale Club, -55 back, accouting dilemma, credit vs cash, diff exchange rate
Lloydminster, border city, one government, RCMP
Heh, the Canadians refer to us as "south of the border."
Another Gas Bar in Sherwood Park, attached to a "the real Canadian Superstore" instead., pizza, wait 4 override.
Finally!!! 3 1/2 years after my visit, I finally confirmed that one of my photos was indeed of Sherwood Park, not South Pointe/Chapters, as an e-mail had indicated. That meant that my "unknown" store might be the Chapters location. Whoo hoo!!!
At Whyte Avenue I chatted for too long with the manager, and when I stepped outside a parking enforcement officer was writing up a ticket. Well, I got lucky and it wasn't a ticket, but a warning. Whew!
Strange City, offering a "Body Modification Experience"--what the heck is that?
Two closest new stores were downtown, so parking continued to be an issue. Next to one there was 5-minute loading zone parking. According to the baristas the City Centre (Edmonton Centre) store was just down the block and down the stairs. Not so. I had to sprint several blocks and worry the whole way if I'd get a ticket.
At the next store I chatted with the manager, who had actually been the one to e-mail me about the Sherwood Park mislabeling. At the next table were two Edmonton police officers, and one seemed to be giving me the eye. Or maybe he was just looking at the door and waiting for someone. Well, when I got out to my car I didn't leave right away but stopped to type a bit, and the officer came out and stood next to my car. I opened the door and said "can I help you officer." He said, "So you're trying to visit every Starbucks." I replied something like "...yes, sir", and he said "you don't have to call me sir." I guess at that point he had shifted into a personal, not professional role. In the course of the conversation, he assured me that in Canada there was no law preventing me from taking photographs of the stores.
Ohhhh, it's a Canadian thing, I think, the expression "Bye for now."
Bad Edmonton! Bad Edmonton! Bad Edmonton! Street addresses not visible from the road. Very annoying. And very dangerous! Fucking bastards!!! A can't find the fucking store, 140 140 St. Albert Rd!!! Finally had to go into the other store, with a look of complete exhasperation on my face, and ask directions. Of course I had passed it up, a few miles back. And to top it all of, when I finally found it, I had to face an incredulous supervisor. For the first time in many, many stores, I was asked for my partner card (even though I had specified I was on a personal mission to visit every Starbucks).
I found a web site that listed some 30-40 massage parlors in/around Edmonton, a number that seems ridiculously high for what I think is a small city. Many of them had web sites, some of the sites listed prices, and a few charged $25 for up to an hour. With the exchange rate, I figured it was working spending a bit of my remaining travel budget, if I could find a girl who actually gave a decent massage and wouldn't rush to get me out the door. The Wild Rose Oasis was just off St. Albert Trail on my way back down to the city, and while I couldn't stay because I needed to visit four more stores by 10:00, I dropped in for information to see if it was worth returning. Well, based on the way the girl who greeted me rushed through the information, and would not discuss whether any of the girls actually gave a good massage, I wasn't inspired to want to return.
I had a little over 90 minutes to visit the four remaining stores, so I felt safe to make a quick stop at the West Edmonton Mall to reshoot the store there. I had only shot the sign in 1999, in part because I was still smarting from my experience in Aventura, FL, with the evil wench of a barista who called security to prevent my taking a photo. When I pulled out of the mall though, it had started snowing, and I became concerned about making it in time.
Cool, new duet by Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood. I guess now that they've gotten married, we'll hear a lot more of those. I'd been wondering for over 10 years if those two would ever get together. Kinda glad they did, but kinda sad too, because I kinda hoped that I'd be invited onto a talk show the same day as Trisha, and that she'd be impressed with my Starbucks project and we'd start dating.
Made it to the Indigo with 30 minutes to spare, in time to face another suspicious supervisor's piercing gaze.
One task left, to verify South Pointe. It was just up Calgary Trail from the Indigo, and... NOOOOOO!!! The store didn't match the photo. That meant two things. One, I still had an unknown store to account for. Two, I didn't know if I had ever visited South Pointe. So I had to drink the coffee again, to be sure.
One of the massage parlors with a $25 door fee was just minutes from South Pointe, but because of my delay having to go in and get coffee, I did not reach the suggestively-named G-Spot until past 10:00. The sign inside said the fee was $30, but a girl said they would honor the $25. Unfortunately, they could not stay open later even if the girl was willing, because the law stated they had to be locked up by 11:00, or face a $10,000 fine. Wowsers. So even though Tiffany claimed to give a real good massage, I wasn't going to pay $25 + tip if I wasn't getting my full hour.
Next challenge was to find a strong Wi-Fi signal in a business or residence where I could park in front without attracting attention, so I could download The West Wing and 24.
I had hoped to be able to sleep until 8:30 or 9:00, which would allow kill time until the G-Spot opened at 10:00 by writing and reshooting some stores in daylight. Unfortunately, around 4:30 I awoke and felt almost alert enough to drive. By 5:30 I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep much longer, but I closed my eyes anyway and tried because the download that had progressed the furthest, The West Wing was at 83% and I wanted to go ahead and finished it. Around 6:10 the download was over 90%, so I decided to finally get up and write while I waited. I killed the other downloads in the hopes of speeding up the remaining one, though I don't really understand Bittorrent enough to know if it makes a difference.
Humpty's was too pricey for breakfast--their bacon and eggs special was only valid with the purchase of a drink. A ham and cheese biscuit from Tim Horton's was a much better value.
Stopped in Red Deer to reshoot the store, and also to try and get a list of Chapters down around Calgary to identify the mystery store. But the Chapters did not open until 10:00. I talked to some baristas and the manager, but they had no idea.
What timing. Upon reaching the first new store in Calgary I found a signal, checked my e-mail, and find a request for an interview from the Edmonton Journal. Answering their questions was easily done via e-mail, but
Excellent! "Night Swimming", one of my favorite REM songs, lauded on a CBC show called The National Playlist.
I stopped at the Crowfoot Chapters and spoke to the manager, but he had no idea what the mystery store was, or if any had close. But he did suggest two things, that a store might have been remodeled, and that I might e-mail the corporate headquarters and try to get ahold of someone in real estate.
I was asked to coordinate the photo shoot with the photo editor. I called from Tuscany Drive Market, but she was on the line. At the Market Mall when I tried to use their phone, someone else was on the line. So I hovered near a pair of ladies chatting, eye on one's phone. After a few minutes neither lady had looked at me, the invisible man. So I sheepishly interrupted and asked to use her phone for a toll-free call. She gave me a look of disdain and suggested using the Starbucks phone. I said it was busy, and then she suggested using the pay phone. I was pretty disgusted with her selfishness. I had never in my life declined to let someone use my phone. I could hardly believe the bitch wouldn't let me use her phone. I walked over to the store directory to see if the customer service desk might have a courtesy phone, and after I finished mentally cursing the bitch it occurred to me that the toll-free call might be free at the pay phone. I was so used to paying for the air time on my mobile phone regardless of whether it was a toll-free number that it hadn't even occurred to me.
I arrived at 1210 8th Street SW and the manager was on the phone, with the Herald in fact, who said the photographer was on the way. I had hoped he would have given me a time so I could visit some more stores, but they did not. Thankfully, he arrived just as the free 25 minutes I had found on a meter expired, and more thankfully there was another 5 on the meter behind it. And thankfully the shoot was quick, and a little different y
Curses, downtown is always tricky with the parking. I got away with free parking for the TD Square store, but I finally had to pay, 50 cents, to visit the two Petro Canada stores.
Brief tour of Calgary's Chinatown, courtesy of a wrong turn.
Address for "The Bridges" store, in the Bridgeland neighborhood, could not be plotted by Streets & Trips. A manager gave me directions that involved turning right at a gas station. At the corner I spotted a Carribean restaurant and popped in, but the prices were way too high, about $10.
I had been debating between heading down into Montana and heading west into BC. My decision was made for me by a company near DC that wanted to interview me Friday morning, which meant I had to be back in the States to use my phone.
Wow. That was an expensive mistake. I thought Chinook II would be on the other side of Glenmore Trail from the original location, and I lost a good 15 minutes just getting back across the street and into the shopping center.
Because of all the time I lost, I was spared from having to decide whether to backtrack 25 miles to Cochrane. I couldn't be sure
Final chance for food before heading to Lethbridge, a place called Extreme Pita. Worthless.
Tired out before reaching Lethbridge and stopped in Fort McLeod. Took me a while to find a suitable parking space with a Wi-Fi signal. After several hours, the download seemed to be going slow, plus a resident had just arrived and noticed me sitting when I got up from the back, so I moved on down to Lethbridge and found a stronger signal next to a park.
I was treated to some excitement around 2:00 when I heard yelling. It was hard to make out at first, but the voices moved closer, and I could tell it was a couple arguing, apparently about infidelity, because the female kept screaming at the top of her voice "I DIDN'T FUCK HIM!!!" Ah, that's the kind of entertainment you can't get if you live in the burbs. Residents of urban apartments can experience this, but suburbanites will miss out.
At 6:06 I decided I was good to drive and headed over to the Starbucks, but as I had suspected it didn't open until 7:00, so back to try to sleep it was. When I finally
I was in the door right at 7:00, but it took 15 minutes for the supervisor/manager to come out, by which time my spiel was moot because they had already started a French press to sample.
Wow. 750 miles from Salt Lake City, I picked up what I assume (based on all the references to the state and SLC traffic reports) is a Utah radio station, AM 1160.
Timed the gas pretty much on the nose--my low fuel indicater lit up right when I was waiting at the border crossing.
over 30 min
still on roaming
noting of interest
gas at the top of the hill. I might have missed it , or he might have been referring to Sunburst. Regardless I had to drive almost 10 miles and try to keep my speed at 60 despite the 75 MPH limit
credit card only CFN
soapy pills, stomach irritation
about 10 miles from Shelby I finally got coverage
interview waste of time give up sbux 4 nothing
I exited the interstate one exit early to give me a better chance to find Wi-Fi and food. I popped into Lippi's Kitchen, where the sign proclaimed "cell phones welcome" and found the price structure to my liking--one biscuit for $1, but two for $1.50, and one egg for $1.25, but two for $1.75. I asked a waitress about the sign, and she explained that the previous owner didn't allow cell phones or laptops, and that people stopped going for that reason. got order wrong. starving and nearly broke or not, I just couldn't steal those 50 cents. since she wasn't getting tipped anyway, and $3.25
cheap juice cashier look
WTF??? Is every other radio station around Great Falls a Christian one???
Still getting e-mails from Jodi. I usually ignore them, but this time I sent her back these links:
Heartburn??? But I don't get heartburn.
Tleepy. Tlo tleepy.
Fred's Lounge, second Death Star, truckers, worthless
felt like grandma
rough, rough drive
so glad to be out of the car that I dawdled, not hurry to get back on the road, missed movie show
but once the pump wouldn't take my card, then I figured they owed me for having wasted my time
Instead of going over to the new store at Sprague & Pines, and exited Sullivan to see if that Starbucks was convenient for me to park and download for a few hours. It was dark and quiet behind the store (except for the loud drive-thru speaker), and I stayed there until about 10:30, when I awoke to find all cars gone. I then headed down to Sprague and west towards the Starbucks, driving slowly looking for Wi-Fi. I couldn't find anything suitable in the surrounding neighborhoods, so I ended up parking at the edge of the Walgreens lot, close enough to get a good signal. I went inside to buy something and justify my presence. Power Bars were way too expensive at 1.59 (versus 96 cents at Wal-Mart), so I figured if I was going to spend extra I might as well derive some pleasure and bought animal crackers for 1.19. Only 130 calories, but they sure were tasty.
Around 5:30 I remembered that I needed an oil change. I checked the Wal-Mart site, and in fact the store down Broadway had a Tire & Lube Center. I called to find out when they opened, but the person who answered the phone did not know. After holding for a minute or two I hung up and drove over in front of the Starbucks and went in to give my spiel. I mentioned how bad the drive from Missoula had been, and once again I was told to expect a difficult drive to Seattle.
I drove down Broadway towards the Wal-Mart and tried calling again. Someone else answered, and he said the Tire & Lube Center opened at 7:00. I asked the employee to alert the manager that I'd be parking in front so they wouldn't freak out like had happened in Albuquerque and Milwaukee. Then I tried to guess what time I needed to park in front to be first, and how long I could wait behind the Starbucks and continue my Smallville download (both hours of 24 had finally, after three nights, completed).
I finally found info about the Snoqualmie Pass and learned that traction tires were recommended, but not required. I hoped that by the time I finished around Spokane temperatures would have risen above freezing to make it easier, assuming I headed there instead of up to BC.
Well, 6:45 wasn't early enough in Spokane--one guy in a pickup truck beat me.
Ho! Wat dis? Found the receipt for the motor oil I had bought in Canada, and I noticed a 10-cent "ENV. H. CHARGE".
While I waited for the center to open, I looked at my map of the area and struggled to decide in which direction to head. Straight to Seattle? Up to Eastern BC? South towards the Tri-Cities and then towards Portland in the hope of safer roads?
Turned out not to matter that I wasn't first one. It took so long for the attendant to put me into the computer that by the time I got my groceries the car was done.
Noooo!!! In the light of day I found animal cracker on the floor. Wasted calories! Wasted calories!!
After days of rushing and the hectic drive from Missoula, I was of a mind to take it easy. I didn't rush past the five new Spokane stores. The fact that Smallville was still downloading was a factor. I even wanted to hang out and watch the latest episode of Lost I had iTuned, but that was just a little too much dawdling given that daylight wouldn't last long.
Uh-oh, I must be slipping, libido-wise. I had driven right past Deja Vu on Sprague the night before without noticing it.
I was eager to watch 24, but the volume level on the download was very low, too low to hear if the car was moving faster than a crawl, and this caused me to alter my routine slightly. I did as much as possible in the car, like sugaring the coffee, prepping the camera, deleting the bad photos. Every time I approached a traffic light I had to turn down the radio, turn off the power converter (the fan made noise), and even turn off the heat to kill that slight noise. And I had to watch for police who might be behind me or nearby, who would not understand that I am possessed of special driving abilities.
At the next store the supervisor, or maybe assistant manager, had read an article about me. But the manager, who was not there, had not. So when the manager pulled up just as I was taking my photo, I knew what was coming next. I went ahead and pre-empted the questioning that was about to ensue, and as I explained I got back a rather incredulous look.
changed mind again and again, cut across lanes of traffic, clidy sky influence, not more gas-efficient if I'm stuck moving at 30-40 MPH for hours
A restaurant on Division called The Onion--is the food made up?
Oh, no, the terrorists are going to kill Derek! What's Jack Bauer going to do???
too bad Bill not with me cacophony bird noises
forgetting sugar spit back inn cup
I'd passed the Kalico Kitchen on the way up Division, and on the way back I popped in to see if they had a suitably-priced breakfast.
Oh, close call. While I waited for breakfast a customer alerted me to the fact that I had dropped my spare car key.
good biscuit, bacon, missing egg
Cheney changed official pronounce
wrong 127 shield 8 miles south of 26
confess to mgr tired
Yo, yo, hear me prattle, cuz I'm finally back in Seattle. 18 months of new Starbucks await my for battle.
checking for closed stores, financial BD, big apple, Marlborough, Howe Street, Marlborough, South Bolton St, lost a store from my count
And another store lost. Easton - Macys is the same store as Easton - Lazarus. The department store changed over, but the
Lots of great country songs, with great melodies, but with insidious messages hidden, or sometimes not so hidden, in the lyrics. Like that song "God's Will" by Martina McBride. See, with rap songs touting violence, no one really expects that people take them seriously in the sense that kids might think that drug drealing and gang banging is the correct way to live one's life. A kid might glorify a gansta rapper and want to live the life and have all the money and women depicted in videos, but that kid is not going to argue that that is the right way to live. But with these country songs, plenty of unenlightened country people are listening and nodding their heads and thinking that the existence of this kid with the birth defect is a blessing. And then some of them my go off and do something destructive like not having that abortion, as, according to Senator Brownback (and the Washington Post), many women are doing for fetuses that test positive for Down Syndrome.
Hmmm... no Noble brand orange juice at the Wal-Mart in Spokane, or in Kennewick. A Washington thing? Or just a coincidence? Well, at least I don't think it's a conspirary--that would be a little too nutty for me.
The One Where the Manager Overreacted
The reporter for the Edmonton Journal, or maybe it was for the Chicago Herald, asked me what my biggest challenges were in accomplishing my project. Appropriately enough, I ran into one such challenge just a couple of days later. I guess you could say it was my fault, for having trusted what the baristas at the Valley Mall store told me, that the 40th Street store closed at 10:00 or 11:00. So I hung out at the Borders and watched Lost while continuing my agonizingly slow download of Smallville. A bit past 9:00 I headed over to the store, arriving around 9:25. I got all the way to the door before I realized they had closed. As luck would have it, the manager had never heard of me and was a stickler for the rules, to the extent that she wouldn't even open the door and I had to yell through the glass. A safety procedure, you know. Even though I explained my purpose, she clearly did not understand, because she kept directing me to the Chalet Mall store, which I had already visited. She kept coming up with reasons not to help me, like they couldn't pull espresso shots (gee, like I don't know that), like the registers were closed (gee, like I don't know that either). It was like pulling teeth, making her understand that I just needed any coffee beverage, that a canned DoubleShot would do, and that she, being the manager, could ring it up in the morning. Finally she acceded to bring it out around 10:00 when they finished closing down the store.
I went back to my car to wait, not really a problem because I had plenty of web site updating to do, as well as finally finishing that download of and listening to the Lost Podcast. While I waited I wondered if, based on the look on the manager's face, she was going to do something extreme like calling the police. Well, 10:00 came around, and I continued to wait, and then around 10:09 what did I see but a Yakima police car pull up to the store. An officer hopped out and walked up to the door, and the manager let her in. Could have been a coincidence, I suppose, completely unrelated to me. But I glanced over a couple of times, and through the window I could see them glancing at me. After a few minutes the officer exited, and as he walked back to his car he shined his flashlight in my direction, hitting me in the face with the light, from some 50 feet away. He got in the patrol car, and after less than a minute drove off. I assumed that he was still in the parking lot.
After a few minutes he returned and pulled up next to my car. I lowered the window and said "can I help you officer", and Officer Garcia asked what kind of shirt I was wearing. I wasn't expecting that question, and it took me a few seconds to realize that description he must have been given was of a person wearing a Starbucks shirt. He clarified and asked what was on my shirt, and he might have even asked if it was a Starbucks shirt--can't remember. Either way, once he confirmed that I was wearing a Starbucks shirt, he said that he needed to see some ID. Since the police had evidently been called, protesting would have been stupid, so I reached for my ID and asked "what's the problem officer". He replied "the problem is Starbucks" and then started in on the questions, which I answered politely, while pointing out that the manager had indicated to me that if I waited she bring the DoubleShot out. He asked question after question: "What are you carrying in the car?" "Are you currently working?" "How can you afford to travel?" "What are you writing on your computer?" "Were you at another Starbucks earlier?" "What did you tell them?"
I finally said, "would you like to see an article." Officer Garcia replied "I'd love to." I dug out two. He took them over to the manager and other partner, and they chatted for a bit. Finally he came back with the DoubleShot and a bemused look on his face, like "okay, whatever" and a flimsy explanation about how their had been break-ins in the area and the manager had been leery of me.
So there it was, after 5600 stores, a Starbucks partner had, for the first time, to my knowledge, called the police. I'd seen other partners come out and give me the evil eye after I'd photographed a store, but if they had called the police, I wouldn't know about it. Oh, there was the evil barista in Aventura who threatened to call the police if I tried to take a photo, but I just took it from outside the mall. But I didn't expect the police to be called, at least not here in America. In China, maybe. But not here.
After two days of downloading, the Smallville file turned out to be unplayable!!!
Because of the delay, I only made it as far as the rest area in Yakima.
Around 6:30 I saw the faintest hint that the sky was lightening, and I figured by the time I reached the pass I'd have visibility. When I finally did reach the pass, the road was wet, but there was no snow, and the trip was smooth, albeit slower than it would have been during the summer because I was fearful of even the smallest patch of ice, even though the other drives passing me up weren't
After visiting the Mercer Island Drive-Thru that I had skipped 17 months earlier for lack of time, I headed to downtown Seattle wondering if I'd have trouble with parking because of the playoff game that I'd heard announced on the radio. Even though the game wasn't 'til 3:30, at 9:45 I could see crowds of Seahawks fans already. At the Starbucks I asked why, and a customer explained that the fans had arrived early to get free parking. Well, given the sign I had seen advertising $50 event parking, it made sense to wait for 6 hours.
The manager knew who I was, but he, because of all those stupid articles, thought that my name was "John the Winters" or something like that. Grrr...
While reviewing the new Seattle-area stores on my map I noticed one that was oddly named, Pine Street. Odd because new stores would usually be named with an address or intersection given that there are so many stores in Seattle. I called the store, and I was told it was 11 years old. What the heck??? How could I possibly have missed it? I worked in Redmond for 6 months and spent a lot of time in downtown Seattle, and I surely would have passed that store a bunch of times. I looked through my unlabeled photos from the same period as my Seattle visits, and sure enough I found one that matched the store, DSCN0367.JPG, from my 1999 trip to Seattle. So what the heck had happened? I must have deleted the record from the database, but when and how? I was sure I must have had coffee from the store, but I went in and got a sample anyway, just to ensure that the prophecy would be fullfilled.
My greatest fears in life, for years, have been tripping and losing an eye to a railing, tripping and hitting my mouth on a concrete staircase and losing teeth, and dropping my keys down a sewer grating or other opening in the ground. Well, it finally happened. I parked in an alley to visit Pine Street, locked the door, and promptly dropped my keys on a manhole. Thankfully, the cover was solid, and the keys did not fall down into eternity. But the incident shook me to the bone.
maybe carry ir ariybn in myr rectum
finally dropped key on manhole, one of my greatest fears
Occasionally I'll hit a button by mistake and put my camera into timer mode. When it happened in front of Pike Place, I decided to take another self-portrait.
reshoot original store, musicians, tourists also getting photos, buy special card for heck of it
Virginia St. east from Pike Place, one of steepest hills
not so much the glow, muted by cop incident?
Denny & Aurora
Finally, after days of starving myself in anticipation, I reached Thompson's Point of View, one of my favorite soul food restaurants. Unfortunately they were out of meat loaf, so I decided to try the hallelujah chicken. It was good, albeit a bit spicy for me, and very very messy to eat in the car, because they were essentially hot wings. The beans and rice were excellent, but smaller portions than I remembered, probably because the styrofoam to-go cups held less than what can fit on a plate. First thing I had to do at the next store, before touching anything, was to rush to the bathroom and scrub my hands. Even so, when I left the Starbucks I could still smell the spicy chicken on my fingers.
Up near the university the supervisor gives me a look that bordered on disdain. She took my sample cup, tossed it in the garbage, and returned with a new one about half full. I asked for her to fill it just shy of the top, and she again gave me a look that reminded me of whenever I ask a particularly good-looking girl out, like "how dare you speak to me". She still did not fill it, and I didn't want to deal with her looks again, so I just went back to my car for my Starbucks card and bought a DoubleShot and dumped the partial sample when I was back at my car and out of sight, so she wouldn't see me and call the media and report that I wasn't really drinking the coffee.
As I headed up to Bellingham noticed that I had been feeling disoriented all day. For one, I kept having to remind myself of the day, Sunday. I also had a feeling of being unsure of my physical location. And some dizziness, maybe. And this after I had told a fellow Scrabbler on the phone that I was impressed to have been on the road for two months without getting sick.
In Bellingham I rendezvoued with a partner who had e-mailed me, and she, besides being very attractive, exceeded all expectations of hospitality and arrived with a pan of cookies, a Starbucks card, and a Mary Chapin Carpenter CD that I had to decline because I already have it, since she's my favorite artist and all. We chatted for a while, and I though I wasn't going to ask, when I mentioned that I doubted I'd reach BC in time to visit any stores before they closed for the night, she offered me her couch.
I had not set an alarm, figuring that if I overslept until the partner's alarm woke me, that I'd just enjoy that much more sleep on the couch, which was of course more comfortable than my car. But my phone ended up waking me anyway at the right time, 4:27, when the low-battery chime went off.
Just a couple of questions at the border, showed article, agent asked me to have a coffee for him. I said I'd have 18.
Election day in Canada, and I killed time to pace my coffee intake and give the sky time to lighten by chatting politics with a barista who was staunchly in support of the Conservatives and of the opinion that drugs would never be legalized in Canada.
After four stores unrecognized, I finally got the squeal of delight from a pretty young thing of a barista. Isn't that what every man lives for, to have a pretty girl excited to see him? Even if she will forget him the next day.
After five stores I had traveled counter-commute as far as I could go and had to sit in traffic on the freeway inbound for a few exits. At 8:00 AM, and as far out as Surrey, the Transcanada was stacked pretty solid and crawling. So I got off an exit early and hoped to save time by taking 96 Ave to 152 St, and as luck would have it there was a serious collision at the intersection. Great.
For the second time I arrived at the Guildford Town Centre early, but this time around it was only by 15 minutes, so I waited.
By the time I reached Burnaby it was about 10:00, and it had been 5 1/2 since I woke up, in which time I'd only had two cookies. I was feeling weak. Above the Starbucks was a Save On foods, and I went in for some grub. I set my things down at the only open register, and a dottering old man walked up and put his carton of buttermilk ahead of mine things and gave me a crazy look. I didn't care. I didn't feel like moving, let alone protesting, and moreover I just didn't care. Sherry the cashier told the man, "you need to learn to go to back of the line." I guess it was a usual thing for him.
In the mall I found a cool shot of the plain kiosk from across a lighted bridge. Particularly proud of the photo, I showed the manager, who seemed to think it was cool. But the other partner on duty started lecturing me about how I could get in big trouble for taking photos of Starbucks. The manager seemed to understand, but she kept going on and on about how Starbucks was afraid I'd sell the photos to be used against them by a competitor like Second Cup, and finally she said that she didn't
Aw, nuts, I'd been going on the assumption I had just 18 new stores to visit around Vancouver, and 8 stores into the day I realized I had forgotten to plot my "coming soon" stores after a manager told me of a new one that had just opened a few weeks earlier. Five possible additional stores total, and if they were all open it would be a bear of a day.
Finally, after nearly two months of dread and anticipation, I found an Access luggage store at the Richmond Centre
After getting my money I went to the restroom, and I noticed that my hair in the mirror was looking mighty fine, even after over a week since my haircut in Chicagoland. Maybe I can get laid now, I thought, because, well, that's all women really care about, a man's hair.
"Where are you originally from?" "Where are you originally from?" "Where are you originally from?" I've been asked that question every few days, and it always includes the word "originally". Why is that? I would simply ask "Where are you from?"
Yay!!! Two of the new UBC stores are licensed, which means eight fewer ounces of coffee for me to drink on this heavy, heavy day.
From bird noises a few days ago to strange farting noises today, my mouth was a veritable beat-box of melodies.
craved meat, sample, Siegel's Bagels Montreal smoked meat chili
didn't make it downtown by 3:00, At Davie & Seymour a partner and some customers said they were impressed by my mission. I replied that if I made it through the next few stores without a ticket that would be impressive. Famous last words, because when I stepped outside guess who was standing behind my car but the Parking Ticket Mistress.
I was going to take no chances and head to North Vancouver and West Vancouver until the parking restrictions lifted, but down at 1160 Davie parking was allowed on the inbound side. I dropped a quarter into the meter for 7 minutes and sprinted a block to the store. Out of breath, I slowly gave my spiel to the manager, and despite my obvious exertion he came back with less than half a sample and returned to the back. I asked the other barista to fill it, and she said she didn't know if she could. So I pulled out change and asked how much a refill was. She replied "for that?" and went ahead and took it and added some, but not enough. I gave her a look of befuddlement and asked for more. She looked exhasperated, but did it anyway.
Back at the car, I had to relax a bit because I was really hurting, and I wasn't sure if the two soapy fake Excedrin were going to stave off the headache.
Davie St was blowing up, with yet a third new store farther down, where the staff was mean, mean, mean. The assistant manager impatiently asked what I wanted, and then came back with two partial samples, one of the bold and another of the mild. Together they formed almost the amount I needed. I stood around wondering who to ask for 10 drops more, and another barista glanced at me and spoke to another partner in a different language. That other partner then also leered at me. My 3 minutes on the meter were up, so I went ahead and asked her for a tiny tiny bit more, and she acceded, but gave me the icy stare of death.
Only 21 stores, but wanting to hurl. And craving more chili. And fries.
As fine as my hair was looking, cap, shirt, stylin'
Hmm... good fries, too.
Really didn't want to visit those four more stores.
Vancouver police suggest not leave laptop, Civics easy to break into, all around Vancouver
lady crossing street put up hands no photo, boyfriend scowls
All cars gone, download had stoppeed, curses
Article, no inspection
Around 7:00 I got up and checked the oil, and sure enough it was pretty low because I had not checked it since Saturday's oil change, three days, and much too long. I headed back over to the Starbucks and waited until about 7:30 for the sky to lighten enough for a photo, and then I rushed off so I could try and reach the Stanwood store and be situated by 8:00 for a phone interview. Didn't quite work, in part because of the fog and in part because I got lost. I hoped that my having been disconnected wouldn't affect their decision to hire me, but I wouldn't care if I got the other job I really wanted, the Houston one, for which I'd interview at noon.
As I drove south I felt a great sense of satisfaction over having completed all but one Vancouver-area store and to be finally heading south, closer to Houston. After 8 1/2 weeks, I was tired!
$2.95 for a biscuit??? Dude, I got ripped. Back when I worked for Microsoft, and on a couple of other road trips, I guess I hadn't paid attention to how much the (admittedly large) biscuits cost at the Brown Bag Cafe. And the biscuit was good, but still, $2.95--damn!
After nearly three weeks without a good and reasonably priced massage I finally scheduled an appointment for an introductory $30-minute session from an ad I'd found on CL on Sunday. The location was conveniently located about 2-3 minutes from the Redmond Center relocation, and the timing sync'ed up almost perfectly. Almost, because I was a few minutes late because the phone interview scheduled for 12:00, which I had expected to last 30 minutes at most, actually ran from about 11:57 to 12:59. The manager and then two programmers grilled me for the nearly the entire hour, and I only failed to answer a handful, maybe 2-3, questions, so I was confident that they had to offer me the job, which would be great because it was in Houston.
"Five years is a long time."
$10.90 wasn't that much, really, for two meals, so I stopped at Thompson's again, and they had the meatloaf this time. But I forgot to ask them to hold the gravy. Rats.
Finally! Years after originally hearing a clip of the song in a movie, Amores Perros, and in a Levi's commercial, I hear the entire "Si Senor" by Control Machete. On KEXP of course.
It had been at least five years, maybe longer, since I had worn a baseball cap. The Starbucks cap given to me in... shoot, I can't remember. I'm getting old! Anyway, the cap seemed to fit pretty well, and I was starting to get used to how I looked with it. I'd have to wear it for media photos. I was also having fun in the bathroom turning the cap in various angles and pretending I was a rapper. I really wanted to go into a Starbucks and free-style my spiel, but it would probably just come out sounding dumb.
These people are such fucking morons!!! It almost never fails. I cut a u-turn or just a turn close, timing it so that I slide right behind an oncoming vehicle. The driver notices, and, amazingly, sslows down and stares at me! Dumbass! If you want to avoid a collision, don't slow down, speed up! Staring at me isn't going to stop my car if I'm not paying attention. Oh, why do I have live on the same planet as these people.
Outside the next store, I brushed a car's bumper with my leg upon exiting my car to take the photo. I startled the driver who sat up in his seat and observed me as I took the photo. When I returned to my car he asked if I had hit his door with mine. I said I didn't think so and would check, and proceeded to demonstrate that even if I opened my door wide it would not reach his car.
Meanwhile, inside the store were throngs of high school students, many of them of the female persuasion (and wearing thongs, no doubt), studying for finals. Ordinally, I would have been salivating, but all I wanted at that particular moment was low-level telekinesis so that I could sugar my coffee without using a stirring stick.
Dude!!! Benson Plaza- Relocation??? It's not bad enough that they build stores like mad in the Seattle market, but do half of them have to relocate every few years?
So disoriented. Dizzy.
In Kent a barista asked me where I was going next. I replied, "out to the parking lot to sleep. I'm done." That was only my 10th store, and I could have easily gotten to 2-3 more within 1-2 hours, but I was beat.
The combination of only a cookie, a (big) biscuit, a banana, and half a plate of meatloaf, beans, and rice, plus the 10 samples coffees, had my stomach in a tizzy. The effect was rather stinky, and that is one of the disadvantages of having to cover myself up completely in blankets to keep the heat in. It also keeps the stink in.
I hadn't received any e-mails about the Edmonton Journal article, which made me wonder if it had ever been printed. Same for the Minnesota Public Radio interview, whether it had ever aired. I wondered if I had just been boring, or if there had been something more insidious going on, whether the whole interview was just a facade so that Mary person could asked me what my ultimate goal was and report back to Starbucks.
Kent Crimnical code, not in Kent?
What the...??? Am I retarded??? A friend had told me days earlier, on Friday actually, that I needed to watch the latest episode of The Boondocks. I had assumed it was episode #7, because I hadn't heard anything prior about new episodes resuming after the reruns began. Well, that was a bad, bad assumption, and it turned out four new episodes had aired. And the way Bittorrent seems to work, the older the episode, the slower the download, so who knows if I'd be able to get #7, or #8.
Before driving off I went back across the parking lot to the gas station where I had found $2.14 gas. I had already filled the tank, but I wanted to see how much I burned in the 3-4 hours I estimated that I had run the engine throughout the night. $1.60 was were the nozzle clicked off. Would have seemed reasonable if I had actually gotten all of 24 and a few eps of The Boondocks, but the latter was my fault for not remembering to start the downloads at the beginning of the night.
I couldn't have asked for a better way to start the morning. First, in Kent the cutest, perkiest barista was gushing over my project and asking question after question. Then, back at the car, I received a call and e-mail from my recruiter of the past two years telling me I had the Houston job if I wanted it. Rate was lower than expected, lower than the Unitec job even, but the mitigating factors were that it was 4 miles from my house in Houston, that my mother really wanted me to work closer to home for a while, that I'd have an opportunity to work with C#, and that after 9 weeks I was ready to get to work, and it didn't make sense to hold out for what could be weeks for only $5-10 an hour more.
Jenn the massage therapist had already mentioned she was working at a different job on Wednesday, but I call her anyway and left a message to see if she could see me again, because her massage had been so good I wanted another dose before leaving the area. The regular price was $60, but that was a completely reasonable price now that I'd found a job and knew I had enough gas money to finish my trip.
As I drove on to the next few stores, I felt a great sense of relief, and just the tiniest bit of elation over finally having found a contract that was nearly ideal.
Oh, it finally arrived. After a picture-perfect Tuesday, unusual for Seattle in December, the rain that had been warned about finally started.
Pacific Hwy was fucked all the way west towards Tacoma from Fife, but I didn't care, because I had finished downloading 24 plus two episodes of The Boondocks. So let traffic crawl along. Huey's description of Christmas's origins as a pagan holiday where Roman men would beat their wives and have sex with each other instead--that is some funny shit!
Holy cow! Free street parking in towndown Tacoma??? Wow!!!
According to the DJ (in reference to the Loretta Lynn song), Portland has the most bars and strip clubs per capita. And I've never been to one, in at least 10 visits since '98. How the heck did that happen??? Oh, wait--I did go one, near the airport, back in 2000. It sucked--that's probably why I never went to another.
Nooooooo!!! Starbucks bought out the Hawaii "franchise", which means my % instantly drops from 96 to 95%!!! @#$%&!!! They couldn't have let me taste the sweetness of 98-99%??? All I needed was one more week!
Ezell's mashed potatoes built in gravy deal breaker.
My route to Sumner took me through downtown Puyallup, where I passed Mrs. Turner's Hometown Cafe. The menu, with "no substitutions" scattered all over, was tricky for me to figure out, but I was mighty hungry, and I'd gotten a job, so I felt I could afford a little extra. Turned out to be worth it. The biscuits were huge, and tasty--made me go "ungh, damn!" Plenty of eggs and bacon too, enough to save for the next day's breakfast, making the $8.10 cost more palatable.
Grrr... stupid Washington rest areas without mirrors for shaving.
Two days and the oil level was normal, confirming my suspicionst that the problem was not a leak, but that it actually miles driven that caused the engine to consume oil.
I had opted to sleep well at the rest area that was fairly quite and had some darker spots at the edges (less light in my face) rather than driving down to Vancouver in the hopes of starting the download of Veronica Mars (first new episode in over a month). So when I reach that first Vancouver store in the morning and discovered that the download was going quickly (because of all the peers and seeds active, which is what I would have expected the morning after the show aired), I decided to hang out and wait a couple of hours for the download to complete. I had plenty of site updating to do anyway, plus listening to a couple of Lost podcasts and watch the previous night's episode, which was already up on iTunes.
Interesting. About a month after meeting a person in California and writing about her in my log, I received an e-mail from her. Makes me wonder just how many people ever read what I write about them.
1st Wal-Mart store in a while
redhead, ponytail, 30s, black overalls, dock martens, paint, hairs like from big dog, scowl n smile, odd walk, man in pickup, too old for school? bottled water
2 alternative stations, such good music I had to keep switching back an forth, balancing my comic books, TV shows, ohg, and figuring out how to get to the Starbucks
got to try Top Pot
cut it close, as usual
Shit!!! Weather map looked clear in the morning, so I stopped worrying about storms, and then I heard on the radio about storm in the passes. Turned out to be moot, because stores seem to close early all around the Portland area, so by the time I finished up in Clackamas it wasn't worth heading south. I might have gotten Wilsonville, but what was the point. I preferred to hang out in Portland, try to find some good food, and have an easier time of finding a place to sleep next to a Wi-Fi connection.
ATC report on homeless in L.A. and wealthy communities like Beverly Hills. The report ends on the note that in L.A., many of the homeless have TVs, and some are even connected with mobile phones and laptops.
Oh, wow, an honest person, a lady in Hillsboro, who waved to me after I left my ATM card in the machine.
who reminded me of Michelle
#%&*!!! Got knocked off T-Mobile, but it thought I was still logged on and wouldn't let me back, and I needed to find good food!!!
seeking food, Karma Cafe 82nd, only bread, too hungry to keep searching, Jin Jin, Euro Pizza, kids, Hawaiian
unsure of where I was inside my own car, disoriented, unsure of which direction, first time
despite 8+ oz right before, didn't wake up 'til 2:09 five hours, still rain, chill
Aw, yeah! Couldn't have come at a better time, 196 smackeroos deposited directly into my account by Google AdSense!
Super! Starting the download the same night worked, and when I awoke around 7:00 to find the laptop almost out of power, Smallville was complete, the special 100th episode in which someone important supposedly dies. I wanted to watch it right away before I stumbled across a spoiler.
Creepy guy sitting at one of the soft seats next to the only available power outlet in Wilsonville.
With a job lined up, $196 extra dollars, and less than 200 stores left unvisited in North America, I was feeling very much more relaxed.
I started off the day planning to continue my relaxed pace, as I did not have to be in Northern California until Sunday for a Scrabble tournament, which would still leave me a week to make it through Utah and Colorado, and maybe even Kansas, before arriving back in Texas. But I remembered to look at my map of 'Media & Invites' and found an e-mail for a news station in Medford. I e-mailed and got a quick call back and made tentative plans to shoot a news segment Saturday morning, which meant I couldn't dawdle too much--500 miles to drive from Wilsonvile, detouring to McMinnville and then in the opposite direction to Bend.
But I had to make time for food, especially after only having spent $2.50 and hardly eaten the previous day. After visiting one new Salem store I drove down Commercial St and then up Liberty, then around the block and spotted an ATM. Got more money out, as a precaution, in case any of the massage therapists who had agreed to hold my checks until I got my first paycheck decided to screw me. Spotted the Arbor Cafe, and decided I could afford the $6.00 for 2 eggs, a biscuit, and bacon.
Unpleasant news, my mother called to report the murder of a second or third cousin in Colombia.
What the hell??? Why, five days after leaving Canada, am I trying to mentally convert the speed limit to KPH???
After two unsuccessful e-mails to Indigo/Chapters, I finally got pissed off at getting the runaround and went off on them on my home page.
Interesting. Keith Urban on the same station as Michelle Branch (or is that a cover?) between Corvallis and Eugene (102.3).
Threw my budget out the window in Eugene, trying a Top Pot maple bar, and then some New Orleans style chicken gumbo from a place called dish. But it saved me, because I had forgotten to take a photo of Broadway & Pearl, and did not remember until I glanced back at the store while waiting for my food.
The crazy-eyed Hummer-driving ex-alcoholic in the Hawaiian shirt might have been wrong in his insistence that there are only two real Starbucks in Bend, but he was right about the fact that it was snowing in the pass. A webcam view of Santiam Pass revealed it to be covered in snow, and the temperature was reported at 27. Grrr... I had really hoped to be done with the snowy mountain driving. But I had little choice, as I had not been to Bend in over five years. But it was already nearly dark, and I would not make it to the pass before nightfall, so there was no point in hurry. So I took the opportunity to go back into the Starbucks and have me a long, healthy, theraputic bowel movement. Would make the drive a little more comfortable, at least.
past Blue River, gas station, sign, Shell, chains required, traction tires, $300 ticket, 242 closed
hoping for parking area at Santiam Junction, but not really a town, already getting stuck where others chaining, given that, there isn't enough crack in thw orld to have made me tackle the pass, turn around, 20 miles, Ranger Station
dream, day arrived, ppl in parking, cleaning lady and kid no speak good English, guy with mobile phone, Indian guys put funnels on roof of car, lady and friends draw smiley faces, TELEKINESIS
Shortly before 7:00 I noticed it getting light out, and I decided to get moving and give the pass another try. My hope was that the snow had stopped during the night, allowing the plows to keep the road clear, and that with the smaller amount of traffic and the sunlight I'd be able to negotiate the pass. As long as I didn't get caught. Took a while, but I made it. Whew! And just as I saw the sign for the chain removal area, I also saw a pickup with a light bar and star, a sheriff or trooper maybe. For a few seconds I worried he might turn around, but either he didn't notice or wasn't on the lookout for that or just figured that since I'd already made it over the pass what was the point of pulling me over.
I was past the pass
still slush slip
2 feet snow coming
Apparently the squeaky wheel gets the attention. I did not receive a response from the Indigo Corporate Office, but somebody who works for Indigo did notice and confirmed that he was pretty sure that the mystery Starbucks/Chapters was West Hills.
The Breakfast Club, which turned out to be about half as large as it originally appeared because of the wall-sized mirror at the end. No Ally Sheedy or Molly Ringwald were to be found, but the biscuits, eggs, and bacon were decent. Pricey, $7.20, but in part because I took the hot cakes that came with the bacon/egg breakfast and ordered a biscuit on the side. But if I could make the meal last all day
The snow had stopped, but the ground was still covered, and with the sun out, its reflection on the snow meant my drive south on US-97 was made uncomfortable by a near-constant bright white light in my eyes. By te time I reasch SR-230, near Crater Lake National Park, clouds were blocking the sun, but a new hazard was replaced, snow blown by the wind to create near white-out conditions.
Close one, signs covered in snow, almost missed exit to 230 to Medford.
Whoa, Nothing like nearly ending up in a snow bank to wake you up.
Prince, "Could this be, the most suckiest drive in the world."
Grrr. Hate dealing with these news people that haven't actually brushed up on my project and/or don't care, like when its delegated from the person who originally contacted me. This girl from a station in Medord is, like, "...we'll either meet you, or we won't." I tell her she needs to call me if she's going, or else I'm not going to wait. I'd lost so much time detouring to Bend that I was goin gto have to rush o and through Northern California in order to minimize the distance that I would need to backtrack north in order to visit stores I bypassed in order to reach Scrabble in Los Gatos by noon Sunday.
So once again I reached the Starbucks and... no news to be found, though according to the manager they had called an hour earlier. I waited about 15 minutes and then called the station. The girl explained that the mall had refused to let the cameraman in. Of course, since local TV news personalities are always so considerate, she called right away to let me know so I wouldn't waste my time... NOT!!! So then I had to take my photo, and I only got one shot, because there had been a security guard milling about earlier. I had wondered if he was tehre because of the news--if so, he'd certainly give me static about my camera.
Failure to work out the logic quickly enough cost me almost a buck. I spotted $2.37 gas right before I left Medford (the same price I'd seen throughout town), but by the time I decided that it would probably be more expensive in Ashland, a tourist town, I had already crossed over to the other side of the road, and it would have taken several minutes waiting at various lights in order to get the cheaper gas.
The highway advisory station reported chain control even in California, warning that vehicles would be turned back at "chain control checkpoints" and that they should not wait on the shoulder for restrictions to be lifted.
About an hour into California, the craving for El Pollo Loco began. Then it shifted to a craving for independent Latin chicken, like what I used to eat in Silver Spring. I rationalized busting my food budget by determining that I needed to keep my energy up for the Scrabble tournament, and by determining that as long as I had enough gas to get back, that I could spend more on food.
Are there Jews in Pakistan?
I said, as I always do, that I don't really do that, but when a group of hot chicks
Mi Pueblito, gordita, GORDITA
pregnant rainy ice cream lady, PT Cruiser wreck, makeup sex, hep C affect baby?, creepy hooptie
6:37, rush, rush. rush, before my brain turns into mush.
Curse you, Chico. for your wacky streets!!! Lost too much time!!!
A barista in Willows seemed really interesting in meeting me and having me sign her copy of Pour Your Hard into It, and I felt obliged to oblige. By the time I finished up there, I had to positively blaze south towards Los Gatos. I made good time, so I couldn't resist stopping to visit the store in Pleasant Hill, just minutes off the interstate. But I continued to blaze
Biggie lives! On 106.1.
Sucky tiles continued to plague me, and I only won 2 out of 6 games. On the bright side, the tournament finished while it was still light out, and I was able to get a pretty picture of the new Saratoga store. And the pizza from Tomato Thyme, though an expensive $10.01 for an individual size, was pretty good.
My route from Aptos to Morgan Hill took me conveniently past the Watsonville store where I needed to drink 1/2 to 1 1/2 oz of coffee in order to insure that the prophecy will be fulfilled.
Holey mazoley!!! I didn't realize San Jose was so big. I plotted the Starbucks locations just in the city of San Jose so I could find one nearby with T-Mobile, and I came up with 42!!!
AARRGH!!! MOTHER FUCKERS!!! El Pollo Loco in San Jose didn't have black beans!!! Serves me right anyway, for giving in. The pizza from Tomato Thyme should have tided me over for the entire day. But I caved and went with the mashed potatoes, which sort of defeats the purpose of going to a Latin American restaurant, since mashed potatoes are white-people food, aren't they?
Well, duh. After checking for uploads of the latest episode of The West Wing and The Boondocks every time I woke up, it occurred to me that new episodes might not have aired that day. I checked their respective web sites, and sure enough they were in reruns. Oh, well, it didn't matter because the Starbucks at Tully and Quimby that happened to be well-suited for sleeping and downloading also happened to be across from the last store I needed to visit in San Jose, in the mall.
The decision whether to wait for the mall store to open at 8:00 or to visit some other stores 20 miles away and then double back was made easy for me--I just didn't want to get up, not until around 7:07. After I dressed, checked and added oil, added washer fluid, checked the coolant, cleaned out the car, and then went into the Starbucks to shave, I didn't have long to wait. In fact, I didn't even finish updating my site until 9:00.
It had been over a week since I had found a bagel sandwich, and so when I spotted Izzie's Brooklyn Bagels in Palo Alto I was rather pleased. Unfortunately, the place was not just kosher, but vegeterian, and there was no meat to be had, so I settled for just egg and cheese on my plain bagel.
AGH!!! Spider attack, in my inner sanctum, my car!
15-minute interview with 60 Minutes producer.
Meanwhile, three weeks after I last washed them, my jeans were looking decidely grimy. On top of that, the top half of my right pant's leg ended up soaking wet somehow. I have no idea how. I noticed while I was waiting for a crazy old man who had been pissing next to a brick wall to pass, slowly, in front of the Starbucks, so he wouldn't think I was taking a photo of him and start yelling at me.
Author of How to Read the Bible interviewed on Fresh Air, and then a film critic who covered Sundance. That interview made me feel a little wistful, and sad that the film didn't get into Slamdance, or into South X Southwest, as I learned earlier that day.
As I photographed the South San
flew past her left shoulder, and she was clearly startled
A little dawdling and a few wrong turns, and by the time I reached the South San Francisco store it was much later than I had expected, and nearing the rush hour. I feared getting stuck in traffic on the Bay Bridge, but I craved some Latin American food. I decided to go for it, and when I exited the 101 at Vermont I spotted this view of downtown.
I wandered down Mission Street wondering where that restaurant was I'd found before. I stopped in front of a Salvadorean place, and a Nicaraguan place, and each time called the number on the awning, but neither served tostones. I cut across on 23rd to Valencia and quickly spotted El Majahual, a Salvadorean/Colombian place I had found years before. At $11.88 the bandeja paisa was pricey, plus 85 cents for a Coke at the liquor store down the street, but the food sure did hit the spot and of course served as dinner too.
A determining factor of the character of a radio station? Whether it plays the Trisha Yearwood or the Leann Rimes version of "How Do I Live".
Like pulling teeth, but I was able to learn the Martell (not Martel) store had not yet opened, an important fact b/c the town is out of the way. Many of the new California stores were far enough off my main travel route that I needed to call and make sure they really existed.
Holy cow!!! A reporter on Marketplace said "...start his own business." She used the grammatically correct pronoun. She is now my hero!!
A news item on Yahoo! alerted me to the fact that Bubble, Steven Soderbergh's new film, experimental for two reasons. One because it did not use actors, but rather "real" people. Two, because it was simultaneously released in theaters, on DVD, and on cable television. I saw that it was playing, but all the way back in Berkley. Actually, not a complete detour, because I had stores to visit in that direction as far as Dublin. I mulled it over while visiting the next two stores and then decided to go out there. While using real people instead of actors seemed to work, the subject of the movie itself was not that compelling. What was more interesting was the digital project, which I had not been expecting. I had heard on Fresh Air the movie had been shot with the same digital camera used for the last two Star Wars movies. The image was crystal clear. All in all, not sure if the movie was worth 9.50, but at least I got to take a break, and I ended uo
Whoa! West on I-580 into Livermore, hill, wave of nausea mscared lose control car.
Called Mammoth Lakes and spoke to the manager, who was very helpful in providing whatever information she had about road and weather conditions in the area. Whether or not I would make it to that store and nearby Bishop would be entirely weather-dependent.
Quick, quick, quick, take the picture before the obscenely obese lady enters the frame, because then she'll take forever to cross the parking lot as slow as she's waddling!
Bright yellow biplane, crop duster.
In Patterson I drove around the plaza and checked out a couple of places, settling on the motorcycle-themed Harley's Grub Shack, even though the menu advertised freedom fries. I thought about leaving, but decided that might have been a bit too judgemental. Glad I didn't leave, because for $2.95 I got a darn good dog, a heaping helping of yummy fries, and even a Pepsi. That was such a good value I forgave the fact that it was a fountain drink.
First Lisa, then Rob, and now a Starbucks from yet another Indigo customer service rep, Franklin, who, like the others, gave me the snail mail address of the Corporate Head Office, a totally bullshit response given that I'd already asked twice for an e-mail address. Lisa, Rob, and Franklin can all go fuck themselves on their suck-ass minimum wage salaries.
Office Space yeah, I think it's time to take the gloves off.
This war on terror has gone too far. Now I've got precocious high school girls interrogating me about why I'm taking photographs.
Hottie at the Lenmore store, studying by the window. For whatever strange reason I decided to try to chat, asking what she was studying, where she went to school, etc. Psychology. CSU in Visalia. She smiled and answered politely but quikcly went back to her book. I think that's called a hint.
she agreed, among other things
Still craving south or central American chicken, or spaghetti, but after a few minutes of looking without finding, I settled on a Texas-themed burger stand named Daily Delight.
trouble staying awake, but then I felt an unusual vibrating sensation
so tired I didn't even think to check for a Wi-Fi connection. Around 3:55 I woke up and was set to drive off to the rest area on I-99 when I noticed not only a Wi-Fi signal, but a fast computer online feeding me a show at a fast rate.
I had one of those dreams in which I could feel myself longing for a girl. The context is fuzzy, but I think we had begun...
Julie, aliens, call, movie, shower