Final updated June 26, 2006. Log continues here.
Flagship Starbucks during the afternoon, but at night I tried out Agora. Man, but the place was ripe with really, really hot chicks. Like, the stunningly beautiful exotic foreign-language speaking variety.
Went somewhere other than Starbucks for a change, Cafe Brasil. No Wi-Fi, as I had read in the paper, but I was able to pick up a weak signal from Agora across the street. The owner here at Brasil says he has no plans to offer Wi-Fi because he wants people interacting with each other, not their computers. Well, what a wonderful idea. And if anybody (read: a cute girl) ever came up to me and started chatting, I would gladly put the computer. But that hardly ever happens.
Because of the rain and cloud cover, I had no real desire to take photographs and hoped to sleep instead. But after most shifting and turning from 5:00 or 5:30 on, about a quarter of 7:00 I gave up and went to go reshoot Pike Place Market anyway.
I asked the waitress her name, Jean, and she commented on how I had the same computer as her. We got into a brief discussion about laptops while she cleaned up the table. Hot and tech-savvy--if I had not been flying out I would have had to think about asking her out. I wouldn't have asked her out of course, since I'm too old for that, but I would have thought about it.
I ordered the country breakfast with fruit substituted for hash browns. The platter included several slices of kiwi, and I realized that I had no idea how to eat kiwi. It has fuzzy little hairs. Are you supposed to eat those?
I noticed it light out around around a quarter past 5:00 AM, but I immediately saw a cloudy sky. I feared that my plan to spend the morning reshooting stores was going to be ruined. I went back to sleep, and when I awoke again at 6:27 I thought I saw a hint of sunlight. Before heading to the Starbucks I had to first find a gas station because my rear drivers side tire was nearly flat. Assuming there really had been kids tapping on my window, I wondered if they had flatted my tire. Thing was, the air valve still had its cap on. If the kids had let the air out, would they have taken the time to put the cap back on?
In order to put in every possible minute at work, I had not had any coffee at all on Friday (a rare event). Despite this, I wasn't jonesing on Saturday morning, but nevertheless I decided I need a cup to kick start my morning. The nearest new store to visit (of two) was in Bellevue, pretty far away, so I just bought a cup at the Normandy Park store. Near as I can remember I haven't paid for coffee while in Seattle since I started getting publicity in '02.
As I went from store to store and reviewed my old photos of each, I marveled at just how bad my framing had been in some of them. Sure, my new D50 was a better camera, but the lower-quality Coolpix alone couldn't have been responsible for some of those bad shots.
Nuts! I forgot the change the time on my camera after all.
Holy Moses! I can't believe it. I had actually missed the real Mercer Island Drive Thru store during my last visit to the island in January, and I actually revisited Mercer Island III by mistake. So when I "returned" and supposedly "reshot" it, I marveled at how I had not noticed the unique design the "first time". Then I remembered that I had read an article about the unique design, and then my jaw dropped as I realized I had never visited it to begin with. In fact, I almost drove away after photograph it without drinking the coffee. I only just now remembered as I wrote this!
tire, Firestone, walk for nothing, reset my trip meter
I was afraid street parking would be nonexistent for blocks, but I found some relatively just a few blocks from Pike on 2nd St. But that actual actu of parking took longer than it should have for the silliest of reasons--I only had two quarters and needed at least a buck fifty. I had to go find a drugstore and buy some gum (Wrigleys, 30 cents) so I could get change. Later I would try to give that gum to a group of cute girls, but they declined and looked at me like I was out to poison them.
I finally found the Market Theater after some wandering--it was tucked away in an alley. Bill and his friend, the technical advisor for the film, had arrived, and they had a mighty thirst for beers. We went over to a local pub that didn't serve any girly drinks like Mike's Hard Lemonade, Doc Otis, or Seagram's Ice. So I had something called pear cider instead, and it wasn't half bad. I should have had two or three, however because that would have helped blunt the sting of discovering that hardly anybody had showed up for the screening. @#$%^&!!! I was dumbfounded. Given the positive mentions in the Seattle Times and the Seattle Weekly, plus a radio interview and a reairing of a segment on King 5, how was it possible that hardly anybody showed? I counted about 20 or so, but later I learned at least five were involved with the short film Coda that screened before ours. I was, frankly, a little pissed not just at the turnout, but at Starbucks for not having sent out an e-mail letting baristas know. I have to imagine that with over 200 Seattle-area locations there would have been a few baristas interested in seeing the film. Heck, one barista came down from Bellingham!
After the movie I tried to put the turnout out of my mind quickly at a screening of X-Men: The Last Stand, my third time to see the film. Even though exhausted, I chose to see it because it was screening at the Cinerama, one of the few such cinemas in the country.
I was so tired I could have slept right where I had parked my car, except that it was on a steep hill (body can't get used to an incline) and in a area with too much foot traffic (Seneca and 2nd). I drove down Sixth Avenue until I saw traffic thinning out, and I parked on a side street behind the Pink Elephant and was undisturbed throughout the night.
Between section E and C.
Whoo hoo!!! Heading to Seattle for a Saturday screening of Starbucking at the Seattle True Independent Film Festival. I had mentions in The Seattle Times, The Seattle Weekly, and The Stranger, and I did a radio interview in the morning. I e-mailed every fan who had ever e-mailed me from the Seattle area. I had word of at least one partner driving down from Bellingham. I expect a packed auditorium, and I'm stoked!
REMEMBER TO CHANGE TIME ON CAMERA!
Like the decision to work skip travel over Memorial Day weekend, I made another strategic decision and kept my trip to Seattle short. International stores have become the focus, and the money I made from working on Friday plus the gas money and car rental money I'd save by deferring some stores until my big road trip later in the summer/fall would help ensure that I could spend two weeks in Asia.
An couple of articles in Spirit magazine prompted me to create a list of places to visit on future road trips. Ford's Filling Station in Culver City went on the list, as did a statue in Birmingham, AL, reported to be the second tallest in the U.S. There was also a restaurant in Birmingham, famous for "meat 'n three". I forget the name.
As we landed I had a chat with the man next to me, and he explained that he was traveling to L.A. to visit friends he had originally met in Taiwan. I mentioned that I might travel to Taiwan in August and that I was seeking low-cost flights to other cities. He said that ten years earlier he was able to fly round-trip to Hong Kong from Taipei for about $150. I made a note to look into that.
We arrived at LAX shortly after 6:00, and I went over to my gate for my Seattle flight and inquired about a boarding pass. The attendant seemed to think that when I had printed my HOU-LAX boarding pass, that LAX-SEA should have printed too. Well, as a matter of fact two boarding passes had printed, but I suffered mental lapse and assume it was a printer error, or that I had hit the Print button twice. So I tossed the second one. D'oh! It was okay, though. The attendant just printed me out a duplicate. What was scary, though, was that he did not even ask for my ID. What if I had been an evildoer?
I had plenty of time before boarding to suffer the highway robbery that are airport food prices--$12.97 for a CPK BBQ chicken pizza and a Coke. And what's worse, this time the pizza had onions!!! Yuck! I thought I'd ordered the same thing in April and not seen any onions.
Of the last four flights I'd taken, since December, all had been direct. Not only did my flight to Seattle require a connection at LAX, but the LAX-SEA segment stopped in Sacramento too. All in all, a very long traveling day. There was one good thing about the stop in Sacramento though. I was able to switch to the very front seat (where I was forced to ignore a drunk guy who kept making comments and giggling) and be second off the plane. I skipped a stop at the restroom and rushed to find the car rental area, but because I was eating a Power Bar I had to keep stopping at every water fountain I saw. There was another man, short with glasses, shirt and tie, who seemed to be in as much of a hurry. It was kind of amusing to watch him pass me up evey time I stopped for water and then to pass him because my gait was just faster.
It's a food good thing I rushed because a few minutes after I reached the Alamo counter a large group got in line behind me. Having beaten the rush, I was able to get out of there quickly and find an Internet connection so I could locate the nearest Wal-Mart Supercenter (I should have done it before leaving for Seattle). Didn't matter. The closest was too far away in Puyallup. Instead I headed to Normandy Park, where I needed to reshoot the store in the morning, and I found a spot along a street next to an apartment complex.
Because I had not brought much in the way of spare clothing, I had been able to pack a light blanket. I'm often able to create a makeshift pillow from a pillowcase and clothing, but without that blanket I would not have been able to sleep. Despite its being June and in Seattle, where I expected the warm ocean water to keep the temperature from getting too cold, the temperature dropped quite a bit. In fact I had to break out my thermal pants. I was lucky I had them, and only because I had not removed them from my duffel bag after my last trip.
I think I dream the most when I've had a lot of coffee. But I hadn't had any on Friday, and I still experienced a litany of dreams throughout the night. Realistic, not fantastical. At least one false awakening in which I imagined I had broken part of a door handle by kicking it. In another, I was at work and several new programmers started using the word "faggot". This caused me to get really upset and make a public announcement that if they didn't stop I was going to quit. But the strangest one might not have been a dream. I woke up with a start and thought I had heard someone banging on my window and then running away and laughing. I sat up and sat there a few minutes wondering if I had just imagined the event. I got out of the car and saw a car parked farther down that hadn't been there, and I thought I saw movement inside. It was about 2:00 AM. Just in case they were real, I moved my car to a darker spot between two tour buses so it wouldn't be as visible.
Oh, no. After two, maybe three years of wondering if I would ever have a chance to chat with a particularly cute barista who always seems to work drive-thru, I had a shocking realization. She might have been born male. She is a fairly small person, so I'm still inclined to think she is truly female, but there was just something about the way she was acting. I have never heard her voice clearly, because she's always by the drive-thru window, but all of a sudden I start to think it does sound kind of masculine. It's probably just my imagination, but it's still a disturbing thought, because I have no interest in going out with a male, and something about the thought of having been attracted to a former male bothers me. To be clear, there's nothing wrong with being attracted to a male. It's just not of interest to me.
Since 2002 I had used Memorial Day, and almost every other three-day weekend, to travel. But the ever-increasing expansion of Starbucks into more and more country forces me to plan my travels more strategically. Traveling this weekend would have meant at least
Film deal is definite now. Bill signed the contract and sent it to the company (don't know if he's authorized to reveal that yet).
Probable film deal!!!
The degree to which I am feeling elation right now cannot be overestimated.
I finally found the printed list of stores in Mexico that includes store opening dates. I had stuck it inside a magazine and lost track of it for weeks. As I went through the list and added dates to my database, I noticed that there was a great discrepancy between the names of the stores on the web site and the names on the list. Why don't they match? I suspect that this is going to be a problem for me and cause me to miss a store.
Interesting. Young man at the flag ship Starbucks in Houston takes his computer with him to the restroom, an indication that he did not trust me to watch it for him. What was his reasoning? Was it me? Was it the fact that homeless sometimes wander into this busy Starbucks? Was it the fact he is black and possibly raised in a place where thievery was prevalent? I have no clue. The only piece of personal empirical evidence I have is that I have often observed white patrons leave their laptops unattended, but these occasions were probably in stores that are not as busy and thus not as risky. Or maybe the guy has just read articles like this one...
It began to rain in the middle of the night. There's nothing like the soothing patter of raindrops on a window to make one want to sleep in, and so I did not end up leaving Houston until 9:45.
Despite the rain, I went ahead and made the trip because the map on weather.com showed clear skies farther south. I did not pay attention to the thick white clouds depicted farther northwest, and as I approached Victoria I realized what they meant as drove into a downpour with little visibility. I hoped that the delay would not throw me too far off my schedule, and I was relieved when the weather cleared up some on the other side of Victoria. By the time I reached very pretty Rockport and finished chatting with the manager the clouds had moved away, and I had enough good sunlight to prompt me to wait for the cars to move from in front. The green suburban finally did, and right on cue an old man took its place in his sedan. I'd between waiting over 10 minutes, so I took the unusual step of asking him to move to another spot.
While waiting in line at the Wal-Mart Supercenter I noticed the customer in front of me had a bottle of some tea named "Red Diamond". I went back to the beverage section and picked up a bottle in the hopes that it's taste might approximate that of the Tradewinds I'd been craving for months. No dice.
I couldn't find a good place to stop and get a photo of downtown Corpus Christi, so this is the best I could do.
Goddamn seagulls!!! Get out the way!!!
Pretty good country on 94.7 out of Corpus Christi, calling itself "Texas radio".
Saw a billboard for Del Mar College. By coincidence I had read earlier in the week that Del Mar was the latest college to ban mySpace.
Okay, the Staples exit off eastbound SR-358 (South Padre Island Drive) is officially one of the worst I've ever seen, with half the cars exiting wanting to cross to the right to make a right turn, and half the drivers on the feeder wanting to get over to the left. Just crazy.
Holy cow, but 94.7 isn't just "pretty good"--it's one the best country stations I've heard. I'm jealous that Corpus Christi gets a better country station than Houston.
Driscoll police on the corner in a Mustang.
Running out of time to reach three McAllen stores before sunset, and passing up the exit to the Harlingen store didn't help.
Finally!!! New Dixie Chicks! 'bout goddamn time.
Holy Moses! I should have thought of this before. It's only 143 miles from McAllen to Monterrey. Oh, never mind--there's no Starbucks there yet.
I was surprised to learn that Brownsville, belying south Texas' reputation for conservatism, is actually a growing hotbed of support for homosexuality. So much so that one politician is staking his entire campaign on the gay vote.
At the next store I asked the baristas to recommend a good Mexican restaurant. I rarely seek out Mexican food, but when in the Valley, it makes sense. They directed me towards a place named La Mexicana. The restaurant was just where the baristas had indicated, and I was please to find the parking lot nearly full. I took that as a sign that the food didn't suck.
Meanwhile, I continued to waffle back and forth between heading to San Antonio or heading to Houston and putting in some time at work in the morning. Counting what I would make working two hours before lunch plus the gas I'd save, I was looking at 100 bucks. Really it didn't make sense to add 160 miles to my trip for just four stores in San Antonio, because I expected to pass through the city again, or Austin, on the way to the US Scrabble Open in August. I had to think of allocating my travel money over the long term.
The best was saved for last. I experienced a pretty cool celebrity moment at the 10th and Trenton store. I didn't even get a chance to introduce myself before the female barista pointed and me and said "I know who you are." She fumbled her words a bit before finally saying who I was. When I confirmed my indentity, she squealed with delight and ran to the back to get her manager. I spent the next 15 minutes or more taking photographs with various staff members and also a cute but timid customer, Jill, who engaged a friend to take a photograph. The camera's battery failed before she could get the shot she wanted, and Jill looked so disappointed. I didn't end up leaving for another 5-10 minutes, and when I did Jill followed me out to my car for another attempt at a photo--boy, she was determined! Gotta love fans like that.
I drove as far as a rest area along US-77 somewhere between I-37 and Refugio. As far as I could remember, this rest area was the closest to railroad tracks that I'd ever seen. Several time throughout the night I was serenaded by the soothing sound of a passing train. I even got to see one pass by during a restroom visit. The train appeared to be moving very, very fast. I could not imagine jumping onboard while it was traveling at that speed. Seriously, while most people would probably complain about living in a house next to the railroad tracks, I really did find it kind of soothing. If it had been hotter, I might have been irritable, but the rain from earlier in the day had been due to a cold front, and the night actually cooled off enough for me to use a blanket.
Darn it, it never fails. Finally got around to reconciling my cash expenses in Mexico with the amount of cash I had obtained, and there was a discrepancy of about 60 pesos. Hate that.
When I got up, showered, packed, and then went downstairs to see that it was just past 7:30, I thought my timing was spot on. I caught a taxi (22 pesos) and arrived at Plaza Delta right at 8:00. But actually, the store did not open til 9:00. But the manager recognized me from Parroquia and brewed some makes coffee. And with no people and thus no guards, it was easy to take the photo.
50 pesos got me to Pedegral, where a barista went beyond the call of duty by not only drawing me a detailed map to the next store, but then giving me a ride too.
I dawdled at Plaza Santa Teresa chatting with a hellah cute barista, and then I walked to the Santa Teresa store. A couple hanging out with their children were curious about my project, and I took the time to answer their questions because I was making good time. It was not yet 10:00 AM, and I still had plenty of time to visit at least four more stores. In fact, I was starting to think ambitiously about visiting 6 or 7 more, but it was hard to figure out the best route without the Guia Roji. I had to do it from memory and the grid notations I had copied down.
A taxi got me to San Jeronimo quickly, and I was out of there by 10:20. Then things went sour. I took a mini bus towards the area of Gran Sur along el Periferico, but when I got off I walked in the wrong direction for a while before asking a driver and turning around. The way back was up the hill, and I needed a breather, so I stopped at one of the newstands I'd seen for two days that blatantly displayed porn DVDs. With prices of about a $1.50 and $2.00, I figured I might as well pick up a couple, as an experiment to see if they would work on my laptop.
I continued up to where I had been told to turn to find Gran Sur, and I walked to the end of the street, but I never saw it. I tried to find the address, first walking in one direction, then another, then talking a bus to the end of the street. I finally entered a mall and asked around and was told that, yes, the Starbucks was there. Whew! It was 11:40, I had lost over an hour, I was exhausted, and my ambitions had faded.
No way to get all the ones I had planned, so I settled for Miramontes and then caught another taxi to the airport to find the various locations there. I was able to get all of them except the one in the domestic departure area. Security was of course heavy, and I wasn't sure if they would say anything about photos or simply think it normal for an airport, but I didn't take any chances and made sure to shoot when I wouldn't be seen.
I checked in quickly enough and had plenty of time for a bad order of fajitas. I tried to find the best place to exchange my currency, and I can swear that at one place, I saw a rat eof 11.30 when I arrived at the airport but then 11.45 when I finally finished checking in and eating. That's wack!
Like in Europe, I was not required to remove my laptop from my bag.
Sigh. I wonder about myself sometimes. I stood by the door of the second bathroom at the back of the plane for five minutes wondering what had happened to its occupant. Finally I asked an attendant if she had any way to verify that someone was actually in there. She, with just the slightest hint of irritation in her voice, pointed to the bright blue sign that read "...temporarily out of service." I had seen the sign. In fact, I had read the words "out of service". And yet, their meaning had not clicked. I fear that that type of inattentiveness is going to hurt me very badly one day.
Back in Houston, my project continued, as I had to visit stores in Tomball and Spring that I'd been saving
It was just past 8:00 by the time I got up and showered, and this allowed me to partake of the hostel's breakfast. Unlike every other hostel I'd been in, Hostel Amigo served scrabble eggs along with the toast. No orange juice though.
Despite having David's Guia Roji in hand, I passed up Calle Gante and had to double back. In an alcove I noticed a paper flyer advertising "placer oral: vendedoras, repartidoras" at some place called "Sex Capital". Since, to my knowledge, prostitution is illegal in Mexico, I wondered what could be meant by "oral pleasure". Phone sex? This Sex Capital was on 16 de Septiembre, nearby, so I passed by, but it had not yet opened for the day.
The new Prince CD was playing at the Gante store. So far all the music I had heard was the same as back in America.
Realized that the streets named after persons, with a first and last name, are listed in the Guia Roji index by last name.
Getting more comfortable with Gia Roji.
33 ride to Polanco
On Avenida Masaryk Pasaje Polanco I saw my first "coming soon" sign in Mexico. In Spanish, "PROXIMAMENTE".
At the Masaryk (or is it Masarik?) Pasaje Polanco I found my first unsecured Wi-Fi network that allowed me to connect and access the Internet. I had connected to several others the previous day but was not able to access the Web. I had only downloaded addresses before my trip, but not postal codes. I went ahead and looked those up for six stores that I had not yet been able to locate in the Guia Roji. Except Punta Norte. No help there.
While I hung out at the store I noticed another older gentleman milling about, like at the large store on Insurgentes. This one was wearing a black suit, and he primarily stood by the front door but also paced about the store occasionally. Security, I presumed. But hired by whom? At the next store Campo Eliseos, a uniformed security guard stood outside. The store displayed a collection of signed cups. When I inquired, I learned that they were signed by "artistas" (movie/tv stars?) staying at nearby hotels. Not wanting to waste time with a hassle, I needed to take the photo without being noticed.
I put the guard at ease by proactively going up to him and asking how to get to Paseo de la Reforma, just so he could hear me speak and see that I was not a crazy. When he asked if I was from Mexico, I said I was from Texas, on a project to visit all the Starbucks. It worked. I'm sure he noticed me when I shot from the front of the store, but he did not motion to me or anything.
Between Campos Eliseos and some buildings (hotels?).
To get to Corporative Polanco, the baristas suggested I walk to Paseo de la Reforma and take a micro bus. The cost was only 2.50, and I was dropped off just a few blocks from the store, a much better bargain than a taxi. If I knew the micro bus routes, I could have saved a bit.
Security was heavy. There was one guard making rounds. Outside the main doors to the office building stood another guard, and this one had a rifle. I was able to shoot close in from behind a pillar without being notice. Perhaps I should have put my camera away when I passed by him and went across to the median to shoot from another angle, because I could see him glancing my way and speaking into his lapel radio. In the median was a young man wearing a bright red jogging suit. He was motioning to cars as they passed, and I wondered what he was up to. I was leery, but he was standing where I needed to shoot from, so I had to approach him. When he saw me with the camera, he cautioned me to be careful. He described the guards as "pesados" and explained that because of the nature of the office building, they were very serious about "discouraging" photography. He pointed out a man in a dark suit, not a uniform, as being the heaviest of the "pesados". Took me quite a bit to eyeball the right angle without using the camera, and then to adjust myself so that there was a pole between me and the guard.
I took a smaller street back out to the Periferico to avoid the guard, and I saw the first overtly Jewish people I had seen in Mexico. David had told me that there were jews, but a very small number.
The store finding fun began in earnest as I headed to what I thought was Circuito Ingenieros. I had not been able to find it in the Guia Roji, but the staff at Corporative Polanco had indicated it was near Plaza Satelite, and that I could take a micro bus straight there. The ride cost 5 pesos, and I don't know if it was the distance or because I had to cross from the D.F. to El Estado de Mexico. I had been told that taxi rides outside the D.F. would be more expensive. As I crossed over, I saw a sign welcoming me to some place called Naucalpan. I'm not sure exactly what type of municipality that is. A city? A part of the state of Mexico?
On the way I saw a seemingly homeless old dark-skinned lady covered in a blanket. To my surprise, I had not seen many seemingly homeless people, and this was in line with what David told me, that there weren't as many homeless as in many American cities. I wondered why, given that the population of the city is 20 million.
Confusion on the micro bus as the driver kept motioning towards the back. I had no idea if he was talking to me or not. Finally the bus stopped, and another bus pulled behind it, and the driver said we had to switch. I had to sit a couple of seats down from the driver at first. When a lady exited, I moved up and asked the driver to indicate where Circuito Insurgentes was. A passenger shouted out that I had just passed it an needed to get off. I asked about the Starbucks, and a lady said I needed to walk back towards the Costco and McDonalds. I got off and walked down the hill and around the next street to the McDonald's, but I saw no Starbucks. I asked a pair of ladies, and the younger one said she thought it was in Plaza Satelite. I walked towards the shopping center and asked a guard. He pointed down the parking lot. I didn't understand his instructions, but I walked in that direction and asked another guard. He said it was down the street. Finally I got to the street and saw the store. Whew!
So I was at the Starbucks, but I didn't know where I was. The baristas said it was called "Satelite", but I saw no such store in my list of 51, nor a store machine the address on a receipt, Fernando Leal Novelo No 4. Great. I'd have to sort it out later.
The manager went beyond the call of duty and offered to drive me to the next store, Bella Vista. I gladly accepted his offer, as I had already burned a lot of time and was only a 5 stores for the day. While 30+ had seemed assured on Friday, I was having my doubts.
I had to hang out at Bella Vista a bit to catch up on my writing, and one of the baristas explained something very interesting to me. At the Sheraton store the previous day a barista had been talking with David and mentioned something about student's of gastronomy being favored. Well, there is more to it than that. According to the girl at Bella Vista, grastronomy has become a very popular topic of study in Mexico, and (some of?) the schools require students to intern, for free. So this barista was working at Starbucks without being paid. I couldn't imagine such a thing in the U.S.
The taxi ride to Circuito Insurgentes was quick enough... once the driver had another taxi push him down a driveway so he could bump-start the car.
I was famished, so before visiting the Starbucks I walked down the street (highway) a bit and spotted a restaurant. Two actually, Chazz and El Farolito, sharing the same building. Despite my native grasp of spanish, there was some confusion regarding my order. I wanted a quesadilla with beef, and I thought something called un volcan was it. But when I was brought my order there was no meat. So I asked the waiter to correct it, and he thought I wanted an additional order. Gladly, we sorted it out, because the food wasn't that good, so I was loathe to pay double for crappy food I wasn't even going to finish.
At the Starbucks I inquired about what was this place called Naucalpan. I was told that it was a type of municipality within the state, something like a county. I also learned that in the state of Mexico I would not find taxis that used meters, only a flat fee. I was charged 25 to get from Zona Azul to Lomas Verdes, instead of the 15 that the barista had indicated, and I decided I preferred the taxis with meters.
At Lomas Verdes the cute fair-skinned barista described my mission as "que padre". When I explained some of the differences, like how in France and Spain the orange juice is fresh squeezed, it was also "que padre". I would hear "que padre" much over the weekend, kind of like when I was in Spain and heard "vale" over and over.
A view of el Periferico, but not a real view. According to half a dozen people, on any normal weekend this highway would be a parking lot for most of the day.
I picked up another good Wi-Fi signal, and I got back on the Starbucks web site and figured out what had been puzzling me for hours, the mystery several seemingly unlisted stores. Well, they were listed, but not under the "Mexico, D.F." section of the Starbucks web site, but rather the Naucalpan section. One of the managers clued me into this when he said that Starbucks was now in five "cities" in Mexico, while I remembered seeing more than five sections on the web site. That left two other sections that might be relatively close to the D.F. Huixquilcan was a possibility, as was Atizapan. Bottom line--I needed to learn the geography of Mexico. And if Starbucks reached its goal of 5000 stores like I had been told, there is no doubt that I will.
Scored a free bag of a special blend of coffee from Mexico that is not available in the U.S.
Two micro buses for 4.5 and 5.0 got me back down to Paseo de La Reforma.
A well-known fountain on Paseo de la Reforma near el Periferico.
Prado Norte was maybe 10 minutes away by foot. There I met only the second person who had heard of my project in Mexico, and the first barista.
5:14 PM. 9th store in 8 hours. Tired. Slowing down.
The taxi ride to Tecamacalco (Tecamachalco) got wacky when the driver decided to go the wrong way down a one-way street in order to get on Cofre de Peroto. But the wackiness had only just begun. A barista there recommended a particular taxi company to get to the next store, Herradura, which I did not have on my list. I let him call the taxi for me. I negotiated with the driver to take me to Herradura, Interlomas, and finally Bosques Horizonte.
My stop at Herradura was one of the quickest, because I had asked the baristas back at Cofre to call ahead and warn the staff of my arrival. I took my photos quickly while a security guard started to walk over, but I ignored him, got back in the taxi, and left. Interlomas turned out to be a bust--the store had not yet opened. Later I would learn that there are actually two stores at Interlomas. We had spotted the newer, unfinished one. Crap!!! And I was running out out time!!!
At the next store I took my first photo with partners in Mexico, and the barista later sent me the photo so I could post it.
I learned that "cajero", which I took to mean a bank teller, is the Mexican word for ATM. The one near the Starbucks was closed, so I had to walk over to a nearby mall. I had to try several times beforee I was able to withdraw from my PayPal account, using the the checking account option. To my surprise, I was given a 500-peso note. That's about 50 bucks. Don't think I've ever seen such large bills from an ATM in the US except at a casino.
taxi to Vista Hermosa driver offers 80 to Laliles and then Alata Vista
free veggie parrilla, guard flashes light at me, i can leave but don't want make mgr look bad, explain, even shake hand, mgr looks like he's trying to figure out what to say, calles me "un amigo de Starbucks"
club caligula closed, card to another place, 70 cover, 500 bill torn, wonder if the bouncer switched it, starbucks won't change, says need go bank, ask taxi driver, chat him up the entire ride hoping he won't check the bill
sex capital closed, wonder if taxi driver seeking me out
aussie & NZ, cute, tried to chat
smaller bottle of water, 5 pesos, Oxxo, same guy had given me larger
no headache, but congestion and blood, worried sinus infection, took pill
A ringing phone prompted me to get up and shower. I experienced some confusion because I couldn't find my my towel, which I had in a bundle with my spare Starbucks shirt and my undershirt. I doubted anybody had taken it. I couldn't remember where I had lain them, but I figured it must have been on one of two beds that were now occupied. I finally gave up and showered anyway. I dried my legs with my briefs, and I rushed back to the room and dried my upper torso and arms with the sheet from the bed. When I finished dressing, the guy in the bottom bunk woke up, and I asked him about the towel and shirts. I noticed a white towel on the bed, and he said it wasn't his. My shirts were there too, as well as something else, pants I think, that didn't belong to either of us. Strange.
It was just past 7:30, but David was not outside. I went back inside to write, but I barely sat down before David arrived. We walked to the first store, very close. My very first Mexican Starbucks experience, and it looked just like an American one. The only difference was a light in the center that looked like it was carried over from the previous occupant. I was in the historic district, so it made sense.
As I expected, the local brand of "azucar mascabado" changed the taste of the coffee slightly, but not that much. The music was in English, and seemed exactly the same as in the States.
Down the block was El Zocolo and la Catedral Metropolitana.
David wanted to save time and offered to take us by taxi to the next few locations. Worked for me. We hopped out of the first taxi because the driver didn't want to use the meter and wanted to charge 40 pesos, more than twice what the trip ended up costing. David cautioned me to only take taxis with license plates beginning with L or S, and with 5 numbers, and to refuse any taxi in which the drive didn't want to use the meter.
At the next store I tried the orange juice. It was pretty fresh tasting, though not squeezed in the store like in Paris and Madrid. I also tried a bagel, and I noticed that it came with not only a container of cream cheese but also tri-berry jelly (or jam). David said that bagels aren't very common in Mexico.
After several stores, I noticed that the design was pretty much the same as in the States. But until in England, I did not get the sense that I was in a foreign city. In England, because the design was informed by the older architecture, I generally had a feeling that I was not in America.
Street from Sheraton to Zona Rosa.
When I went to photograph the Zona Rosa store, some type of shopping center security guard waved his finger at me. I didn't feel like being assertive and argumentative in a foreign land, and I explained that I needed a photo to prove I was there and offered to take it from a different angle. He agreed with that. And than across the street I shot from a different angle still.
On the way to Torre Major, and the building itself, the tallest in Mexico City.
At the sixth store David interviewed me more in depth while we waited for a photographer, who took a different type of photo. Instead of having me stand in front of the store outside, I sat at a table inside with my laptop, and the supervisor didn't object.
David lived not too far from the Insurgentes WTC store, the start of the second route he had planned out for me, so he took me over there. He explained to me how to use the Guia Roji he had lent me, and he plotted out a couple of the stores further up the road. When he left, I had the feeling that I was on my own. It wouldn't be bad for the next five stores, but after that I'd have no idea where to go.
I sat down to write for a bit, and I wondered about a man who was hanging around the store, sometimes bussing tables, but not dressed in the typical Starbucks uniform, nor young like most of the other baristas I had encountered. I wondered what his role was. Did he work for Starbucks? Was he security? Would he give me a hard time about the photo?
I walked a block wondering where to get a taxi and decided to grab some lunch at VIPS, the third or fourth I had seen that day. I made a mental note to google it and find out if it was related to VIPS in France and Spain. I asked a host about tipping--he said it was extra, 10% was fine. When I went to the register to pay and gave the cashier my card, she asked "cerrada?" I indicated I didn't know what that meant. She was asking if I was including a tip or not.
In the bathroom I brushed my teeth and wondered if the small amount of tap water I was using to wash my mouth out would be enough to make me sick.
Walked a block and still wondered if a taxi would stop right there on the avenue. I walked into the bus platform and asked a guard about the taxi and the bus. He said the bus was 11.50, and he indicated that if I gave him the 11.50 he'd let me through. I suspected if I did that instead of putting it into the machine, the guard would keep it. I asked again about the taxi and went back out to the curb and was able to wave one down. A few minutes later we reached our destination. I probably saved at least 15 minutes, so it was worth a buck. The driver could not change a 200, but he indicated he would take what I had in change, 11.
I ended regretting the time I spent eating, copying down locations from my laptop to a sheet of paper, and trying to find locations with the aid of a barista. When I reached what would have been the 11th store, Plaza Inn, I found that it is a kiosk in a mall, and that it had closed at 2:00, 50 minutes before I arrived.
At the next store, Av. de la Paz, I felt like I was back in the States, because all three baristas were young, cute, light-haired, and fair-skinned, just like in a typical California suburb. Hey... I like my exotic Latina women as much as the next guy, but I ain't gonna complain about cute white-looking girls either.
A little confusion on the way to the next store, still farther down Avenida Insurgentes, but on the other side of the street. For some reason the addresses started decreasing instead of increasing, and I thought I had passed the place up.
Another closed store, Alta Vista. After walking for some 15 minutes to find it closed, I didn't have the energy to keep walking. Actually, given how long the taxi ride was to Olivar de los Padres, the walk would have taken an hour or more. And it would have sucked, because part of the route we took was along a cobblestone road. I'm not sure if there was a sidewalk, but if not, the stones would have been a pain to negotiate. At the Starbucks, I ran into the first person who had heard of my project, a customer who had read about me in La Reforma, some four months earlier. I wondered which article had been reprinted (and presumably translated).
The man himself was an interesting character. He claimed to have been to all but about two of the United States, and to have, when only 18, driven all of Route 66 in a brand new race car before then driving it from Chicago down to Mexico.
I had be planning to head back towards Las Aguilas, but the baristas told me that the Santa Fe area was only 5 minutes away and had four stores. I crossed the street to see if the taxi I saw was dropping off a passenger. A very cute girl exited, but the taxi driver excused himself and left. I asked her if she knew why, and she replied that he had something else going on. I asked the girl, who was wearing a Blockbuster shirt and carrying two DVDs in Blockbuster boxes, if she worked at Blockbuster. I was expecting her to be dismissive, but she actually started chatting with me about my Starbucks project. After a few minutes with no taxis, she said we would have better lot at the top of the hill, and so we walked up. I was hoping she would offer to share the taxi, but she made no such indications, so I just let her take the first one. The second one did not have the requisite license plate, and so I let it go and waited for one with the L.
That ride was my longest and windiest, ending up in 33 pesos, and at the Centro Comercial Santa Fe. A couple of people indicated that the Starbucks was not in the center itself. I had my doubts, but I started walking down Av. Vasco de Quiroga anyway. When I saw the address, 1700, I thought that I would have a hell of a walk to 3800. I would have sucked to take another taxi, since the meter seemed to start at 7 pesos regardless. Thankfully, I ran into a Starbucks quicker than I expected, and I learned that 3800 was actually the shopping center I had just left. The walk wasn't wasted--I would have had to do the walking to visit all four stores regardless.
Dude!!! What the fuck??? Almost every Wi-Fi network I've encountered is protected! I thought Mexicans were socialists.
Changuwanga!!! Spilled coffee on my pants!
On a whim I tried the cheesecake. Pretty good. Notice the unusual dish, that I don't remember seeing in the U.S.
A pretty hot bleach blonde walked in, sucking on a type of lollipop. Women who look that good shouldn't be allowed to suck on a lollipop, or anything else, for that matter, in public. It's cruel.
What the heck is this?
The mall looked just like an American mall, but with waaay more security. In fact, there was mall security, and then individual shops appeared to have their own. One cool feature, though, was an interactive directory.
I was dead tired, but I had to go ahead and visit the Superama store, up the hill, while I was in the area. My left thigh was killing me, tingling. And so it irked me that I passed up the store. It's a good thing I passed that guy walking up the hill. He not only gave me directions but walked me part of the way
Holy shit! I am such a dumbass. I can't believe I didn't think to look at this earlier. Microsoft Streets & Trips actually contains some mapping data for Mexico City. A very small amount, just major streets. But still enough to give me an idea of the layout of the city.
At that final Starbucks of the day, the baristas offered to call me a cab. Very kind of them, but it might have been a mistake to accept. The taxi they called didn't use a meter, and he charged me a flat 120 pesos, which I think was more than I should have paid to get from Santa Fe to the Centro Historico. At least the taxi driver made himself useful with information, though I was a little distracted by the fact that he kept treating red lights like stop signs. But then David had told me that in Mexico the "law" wasn't such a hard and fast concept, and that many treated it more like a suggestion.
Immediately upon entering the hostel I asked a staff member about a restaurant. He directed me around the corner, but I'm not sure if he was referring to La Consentida, a mere food stand, or the restaurant next to it. Regardless, I got a plate of flautas and a Coke for only 25 pesos, a fraction of what I had paid for the same plate of flautas and soda at VIPS.
I returned to the hostel to find plenty of people down in the lobby and at the bar. But the real crowd was upstairs... watching Los Simpsons. Now, am I the only one who thinks it a waste to go all the way to Mexico to watch Los Simpsons.
Dude!!! Why does my laptop had to lose a screw in Mexico of all places. Why can't it happen on a light-colored flat surface back at home?
I finished selecting my photos and walked back down to the bar. There were about 20 males and only 2-3 females, so I went right back up the stairs and to my room.
Sleep came easier, but not by much. I still developed a headache, but it was not as strong. I speculated that it had to do with dehydration caused by increased transpiration.
It wasn't until Tuesday, two days earlier, that I learned that the company had Friday off. I immediately entered a state of panic, fearing that I might lose a valuable travel opportunity. I started browsing around for plans right away, and after a while I decided that while $500 airfare to Mexico was more than I wanted to pay, it was better than missing out on the day off. But I lucked out, and when I actually booked the flight that night with my mother's credit card, Continental had released a special for $320. Whoo hoo!!!
Once again I intended to travel with just a backpack, and I was aided in packing by the list of items I had created four months earlier before my trip to London.
The night before the trip was spent hurriedly packing up some eBay purchases I needed to ship out, and, more importantly, downloading the critical list of Starbucks locations in the D.F.
I had alloted an hour for the drive to the airport, but it only took 45 minutes. I lost a little time when I passed up the city economy parking lot because it had been renamed "Parking Cents" (cute, and cuter still because of the drawing of the pig). But the shuttle ride to Terminal E was quick enough, there was no line to check in, and the wait at security was minimal (in part because I did not have a lighter in my backpack, like the surprised-looking dufus in front of me). That left me plenty of time to enjoy a burger, which, while overpriced at $9.19 (with fries), was not priced that much higher than at many restaurants.
I saved a buck or two by ordering my buger to go, though I briefly considered taking a seat so I could try and chit-chat with a waitress who reminded me of the first girl I ever dated.
As soon as I heard the seat belt indicator chime and the speakers crackle I got up and went to the restroom. Then I rushed back to my seat, grabbed my backpack, and moved to a seat just one or two back from first class. I put my paperback in the backpack, and when I felt the plane slow to a stop I unbuckled my seatbelt (against regulations) and grabbed my backpack. As soon as I heard the seat belt indicator chime again I was up, and I managed to moved swiftly enough to get past all the other passengers and to the front of the plane.
And all to no avail. Because our early arrival was negated by a gate change that required us to be transported to customs on some type of shuttle. Just great.
I wasn't the first off the shuttle, but the walk to immigration was more than long enough to allow me to pass everybody else up. I even had time to peek around a corner to see if I could spot a Starbucks. But I saw that all the shops were closed, so I figured the Starbucks would be too, and I headed straight to immigration. The agent asked me no questions. He was more interested in the racket coming from another room. I asked, and he explained it was an illegal giving birth. Now that's something you don't encounter every day.
No questions at customs either, and as soon as I exited I spotted the restaurant/bar that David had mentioned. But no sign of him. I took that as an opportunity to get some cash. The cashier said that exchange bureaus would be closed on Good Friday and the weekend, so I exchanged $70 instead of $50 and hoped that would be enough,
I paced up and down in the front of the restaurant for a few minutes, and David soon showed up. He had offered me a ride to the hostel, so I was surprised that he didn't have a car--we took a taxi. As we left, I remembered that I had forgotten to look for a Guia Roji. David said he would let me borrow his.
At the hostel David suggested going for a beer, but I was exhausted. I couldn't go to bed right away, though, because I had also forgotten to buy a bottle of water, and the hostel was out. I unpacked some clothes from my backpack and walked the three blocks down to a market that was open past midnight (but only served customers through a window, like gas stations in rougher parts of America). As I walked, I felt disoriented because I not even the faintest idea about the layout of Mexico City.
As I expected, prices were cheaper, for 9 pesos I bought a bottle that appeared to be twice the size of one that I could typically buy in America for a dollar.
I had actually forgotten my light pajama pants, but that turned out to be fine. The sheet I was given was enough, though I found it a little narrower than I would have liked. But what really bothered me during the night was a headache that only got worse. It felt like a dehydration headache, and I kept drinking the water, half the bottle in all, but to no avail. The next morning, David would suggest that it was the altitude, over 7000 feet, and that made sense. I had experienced the same thing during one of my early trips to Denver.
Thought I caught of a hint of marijuana in the hostel, but the rules stated that it's a federal crime.
I tossed and turned quite a bit, and I doubt I slept before 1:30 or 2:00 AM. A beeping from another guest's phone woke me, and I had to walk downstairs to check the time. 6:00 AM. I had agreed to meet David around 7:30. I tried to get back to sleep, but I couldn't.
6:07, Still sleepy but had to push myself to as many Starbucks as possible and hope to make up the sleep on the plane, or even at the airport in a corner if the flight was delayed.
At the Minden store I was told food options would be slim until Mammoth Lakes, so I was glad to pass Woodett's Diner. I figured it was worth the wait for breakfast since I had to charge my laptop anyway.
I had always figured that birds always got out of the way of oncoming cars. Wrong. And at 75-80 MPH, that pigeon exploded! Feathers all over the road in the rearview mirror. I was reminded of an episode of Seinfeld in which George kept hitting animals.
Bridgeport, or Lee Vining maybe.
Bishop was a pretty little town, worth returning to. I was on a deadline, but when I saw how crowded Erik Schat's Bakkery (two Ks, umlaut above the Y) was, I couldn't resist. The signs advertised something called "cheese bread" and something called "shepherder bread", but those were on the other side of the store--the line I had chosen was for pastries. I went for a couple of glazed donuts because I could not resist the claim that they were voted best donuts in 1993. Ten years later, I'd say that claim needs to be revised. I'm glad I ordered a turkey sandwich too, on the shepherder bread. Couldn't figure out the name thought. Also couldn't figure out if that umlaut above the Y was real German or not.
Whew! called about copper hill
only had time three l.a.
I must have been on crack to even think that I could have cleared out the new stores in L.A. I didn't get to Palmdale until 1:30, but I was still hopefully of clearing at least 5 stores. Nope. Traffic plus some wrong turns chewed up my time, and I only made it to Burbank, Alhambra, and El Monte.
I reached the airport at 4:45. I had planned on 5:00, so I figured that 5:15 would be okay, and that I had time to try out this massage place, Super Spa or something like that, just a mile from the Budget rental return office. Figured I might as well get on the plane fresh, so I took a few minutes to shower. In the room, I was instructed to put on a pair of boxer shorts. That was strange--a first I think. I inquired why and was told that it was a law, specifically for all the massage parlors around the airport, that the area between the abdomen and legs, including the glutes, could not be touched. That was lame, I thought. The therapist saw I wasn't too enthused and said that I could leave if I wanted. That was also unusual--I think most other places would have wanted payment anyway. Actually, most other Asian massage parlors (that I've been to) take payment up front. The manager did charge me $10 for the shower. I thought $5 was more fair, but I didn't feel like arguing. Good thing I didn't, because I left my drivers license, credit card, and some cash in the pocket of the robe I had worn to and from the shower. Good thing I had to gas up the car, or I might not have discovered my error 'til I had already returned in, and then I would have been in trouble. Anyway, I would have felt like a real chump returning to the spa to retrieve my stuff if I had given the manager a hard time about paying for the shower.
$42.51 to fill up the car, the most I could remember ever having paid in the U.S. I didn't even bother to pump up to $42.75 because I had already spent enough. I made a mental note to pump just $2.99 for the trip to the airport (so I could have an even amount when I totalled up gas expenditures for the project).
Niiiiice! Hot blonde in line to get on the Budget shuttle to the terminal. I subtly cut in front of a heavy-set guy so I could stand behind the girl and check out the view. Sure enough, as she stepped up onto the bus here jeans came down a bit, and I got enough of a view to see she was going commando. Moments like that that make life worth living.
The heavy-set man had sat next to the girl, and I started to wonder if they were together. When we reached the terminal and waited to exit the shuttle, the woman turned and talked to the man, and I could see that he wasn't just heavy-set, but muscular. The woman decended the stairs, and I motioned to the man that he could go. He in turn beckoned me to go first and pointed to the luggage rack, where he had his bag. At the bottom of the stairs the woman pulled her pants up again, and I'm sure I would have gotten an even better view from my higher vantage point, but I had kept my gaze straight ahead, because I did not want a moment to live for to turn into a moment to die for.
After clearing security I went over to the food course, and the prices at California Pizza Kitchen were just obscene. But I figured that since I'd "saved" money by not getting the massage, I could plunk down a whopping $12.97 for a pizza and soda. At $2.99 the soda cost six times what I usually pay. Well, not technically, because it was a 20-oz bottle, and I pay 50 cents for 12-oz cans. But I never drink the entire 20-ounces, so it still felt like highway robbery.
Goddamn it! I knew they were going to pull that shit. It's not that the flight was delayed. That's just a normal part of flying. It's that I had checked twice on the Internet and also on the phone, and each time it was reported to be on time. In fact, at 4:37 I was told that the plane was coming in from Oakland, and that it was still scheduled to depart on time at 5:00. So what had happened in the next 23 minutes?
I must have zoned out while grumbling in my head, because the next thing I knew my overpriced soda was spilling all over my stuff. I must have shook the bottle, but I had no memory whatsoever of having done so.
Wow--some dude, youngish, sharing my outlet talking on the phone about a Hemingway novella, The Old Man and the Sea, and a Steinbeck one (novel?) Tortilla Flat (or something like that). I had to respect the guy for actually reading. I didn't think the young'uns (25) read anymore.
chat with dude, promised that the delay would end up being a blessing. I told him that I had not reason to blieve this was a meaningful event.
chat with passengers in line, superman guy, Searcy, Fast Food Nation
almost last customer, full flight, window seat 1st, then switched to aisle seat next to lady, hope the kids sleep
stop writing because kid has bottle of water and might spill
12:13, eevery oner slow to get off
Peet's Coffee & Tea, ethiopean, pretty good
worried lose time 2 SF stores, but first manager heard but busy, 2nd i couldnt' read supervisor/mgr, distrust, disinterest, hostiltity?
lioghts SF can tell when change by looking pedestrian ttimer
after only 2 days felt like long t7rip
lady bakery talkiung movie eaves rop
thought I was an actor
holy shit tha plane flew low
Valley Srpings, wanted to video, ass mgr nixed
Barista recommended I take a shorter and more scenic route to Mardell via the Pardee Dam. The route looked good at first, but then the road took some turns that just didn't match what was on my map, and for a while I was completely lost and hoping that I was heading towards Martell. By the time I came across a cross street and was able to plot my location, I was very close to Martell, though I have no idea how I got there.
All the time I had lost that was was really putting a crimp into my schedule. I was crazy to think I could ever have reached Mammoth Lakes before the store closed. But it was worse than that. I was in danger of not even reaching Reno in time.
renamed El Camino cost me time
I reached the store around 10:35 and stood outside the window (with an eagre grin on my face) for a few minutes before the manager noticed me. He had the DoubleShot all ready in the bag for me. He was going to offer it on the house, but I insisted he take three bucks for his trouble. He mentioned something about my having gotten people worried/excited when I was calling asking or the number to Minden, store closing times, etc. I wanted to know more, but I wanted to get on the road too.
I drove as far as Carson City and couldn't remember if the US-395 bypass was new. Anyway, I took the business route because I knew from previous trips through the town that I could pull right off the road and find a quiet street.
I woke up around 6:00 and decided that I needed to try and catch up--seven hours wasn't enough. But I couldn't get back to sleep, so I just headed for Petaluma. When I reached the store, I heard a barista talking about how "...I really want to go see it. I heard it was funny." I hoped they were talking about Starbucking, but it was Ice Age 2 they were excited about. Can't expect to compete with cute animated animals, can I. Regardless, I talked up the film to the shift supervisor.
Finally! The new espide of Lost "Dave" went up on iTunes, allowing me to abort my illegal download and skirt the ethical issue of whether I should have tried to download to begin with.
And new Ghostface, Fishscale!
Down in Novato, the manager was also unaware of the Starbucking screenings. I wondered if Starbucks had truly neglected to sent out an e-mail to area stores about a Starbucks-related movie playing in the area. Regardless of how the company feels about me, it's only reasonable to think that at least some Starbucks partners would be interested in seeing the movie.
Best Buy did right by me, because I was able to return the power converter without the receipt (which mysteriously disappeared). In fact, the cashier at the Santa Rosa location was able to print out a receipt from my purchase in Gilroy.
Near the Best Buy was a Sonoma Valley Bagel. The sandwich was mediocre, but I was pleased to find Naked Juice... until I saw the price. $3.29 for 16 oz!!! That's like rape!!!
The 34 miles from Willits to Fort Bragg were senic in parts, but I would much rather have negotiated the hills and curves in a car that handled better than that piece of crap HHR.
not the best time of year, nor the best day, but at least it wasn't raining like I kept hearing on the radio
Peg House, advice about Susanville, good hot dog grilled, gas station ambition
baristas told me 299 is treacherous
Arcata, Minor Theater
FUCK!!! FUCK!!! FUCK!!! Another reason to hate the HHR, I smacked my shin with the door for the second time! Bad, bad, bad design!
one-way controls due to slides
The McKinleyville store looked safe enough, but I still don't like to leave my laptop unattended for more than a minute, so I got creative when I spotted a power outlet next to the restrooms. I had to go into the women's, but I was able to run the power cord under the door and get a few precious minutes of power while I did my business.
Santa Rosa so can decide Dennys
I awoke at 5:43, and that was pretty lucky because I had an morning show interview scheduled at 5:50, and I had turned my phone off to conserve power. The call came through while I paid for my groceries, and it was pretty short, which allowed me to hop to the back of the car right away and try for another hour of sleep. After a few minutes I decided it was going to happen, and that I'd have to make do with the coffee I'd be drinking all the way up to Sonoma.
By the time I finished charging my laptop at the first new store it was almost 7:30, and I began to worry about reaching Sonoma in time. Oh, it terms of sheer miles from Santa Clarita, I had plenty of time. But when I factored in the detour to Paso Robles, the meeting with the reporter, time spent at each store charging my gear, and getting lost because I had to keep my laptop off.
I had to stealth the Bakersfield store because the manager was on the phone and I didn't want to waste any more time. A good thing, because I was going to be cutting it close after meeting the reporter in Paso Robles. Before leaving the city, I needed to make a quick charging, downloading, & restroom stop at a nearby store that has T-Mobile, and then things go wacky. The reporter called just as I was entering the store with my laptop in my hands. I put the laptop down on a table, answered the call, and then promptly dropped the phone when I picked the laptop back up so I could get it plugged in inside the store. As much as I curse that Nokia phone, I have to say it didn't lose the call even after hitting cement. Inside the store I fumbled to plug in the laptop while talking to Nathan, and I accidentally hit the Pause button (with the space bar) and stopped the download. AARRGHH!!! Then I had to hurry and get off the phone because my bowels started screaming, and it was all I could do to move my laptop near the bathroom, plug in my phone, and rush into the toilet before I had an accident. In the bathroom, I continued to screw things up and accidentally put the paper towel in the toilet. Combined with my prodigious coffee-assisted output, I feared I'd clog the thing.
I had told Nathan I wanted to reach Paso Robles by 11:00-11:15, but I had to call him back and say 11:15 to 11:30. He warned me that 46 would be slow, but I made good time and arrived right at 11:15. I had talked to him about taking the photo for the article in front of the new store but then driving to an older store for the interview so I could get some downloading done, but across from the new store there was the Adelaide Inn, and though the signal was weak I decided it was good enough for us to stick around. I had hoped to leave by noon, but we didn't finish the interview 'til 12:15, and after taking my photo and Nathan's taking his, I didn't get on the freeway 'til 12:28. I was really feeling the time pressure.
I passed some farm equipment that reminded me of large evil robots out to dominate mankind.
Despite my time crunch, I really wanted to be able to run my laptop in the car, so I stopped at the Best Buy in Gilroy and bought another adaptor, expensive though it was but. But it still didn't work! At that point I realized it might be the car. I should have gotten on the road right away, but I wasted 5-10 minutes trying to get Budget on the phone anyway. I finally did get on the road and reach them, and we arranged to swap the car at SFO and that 1/2 day would be knocked off the price.
It was pushing it timewise, but it still made sense to visit the three new San Jose-area stores before heading up to Sonoma.
As I sat at the light across the street from the Berryessa store I saw no fewer than four San Jose police cars. I couldn't help but wonder if they were waiting for me. Of course it didn't make sense for four cars to be there, but ever since the Yakima incident I had to wonder who the next Starbucks manager to call the police would be.
When I finally got on I-680 it was about 4:30, and I had two hours to drive the 90 miles. But traffic slowed to a crawl as I approached Walnut Creek, and I called Bill to say I might be late. Traffic eased when I exited onto I-780, and after a brief slowdown (which I had expected) on I-80 eastbound for a couple of miles, it was pretty smooth all the way to Sonoma. A little after 6:00 I remembered to call Bill to ask about the parking situation, and I was relieved to hear that a crowd was forming. After the low turnout in Omaha, I'd been greatly anxious about whether anyone would show.
I arrived at 6:23 to find quite a number of people lined up outside. They hadn't let them in yet, so I had plenty of time to snap some photos and catch up with Bill before the screening.
Plenty of laughter from the audience, exactly what I had hoped for, and I went away thinking this thing might actually have a shot in theaters.
A longer Q&A than in Omaha, with most of the questions directed towards me. No autographs afterwards, but photos with a bunch of people.
A Starbucks employee, the head coffee procurer, showed up. I had to wonder if he'd be reporting back to Starbucks about the movie.
I was shocked to learned it was 8:45 when the whole thing ended. I was famished, so I hit Mary's Pizza Shack with Bill & Erin, plus two of his friends from Phoenix. When I finally reached my car, I decided I didn't have the energy to drive to SFO and would have to survive without the power converter. I slept right where I was parked.
I left work around 4:30 for my 6:40 flight to give myself 30 extra minutes in case of traffic delays. Sure enough, traffic on the West Loop at 4:45 was heavier than it had been two weeks earlier at 3:15. After a brief return to normal speed, I drove for just a mile or two on the South Loop before traffic slowed to a crawl. The entire trip ended up taking 20-25 minutes more than the last time, and I was glad a coworker's concern had spurred me to leave earlier.
Because of the extra time I had allotted, the traffic fazed me not at all. Actually, part of the reason was also general relief over having found my bank card and my PayPal card. I had noticed them missing while doing a inventory of what I was taking, and their disappearance caused quite a bit of panic. I had a faint memory of my having put them on the dresser back in my room, but that turned out to be just my imagination--they had actually fallen between my seat and the door. Wouldn't have been the end of the world, but I would not have been able to get cash until I found a Bank of America on Thursday. That's why I keep telling a coworker (The Duke) that he should carry cash on him, and that's why I borrowed $20 from another coworker after realizing my cash reserved had dipped to a dangerous level ($10 and change).
As I continued to try and remember anything I was forgetting, I realized I had forgotten to plot the nearest Wal-Mart Supercenter along my route north from LAX. I'd need to find one before reaching Santa Barbara so I could buy a pillow and blanket.
Remembering the fiasco that was the torn parking lot ticket, I opted to leave my ticket in the car and just write down which section elsewhere.
PARKING AREA C
The line through security was light, and this left me enough time to "enjoy" some wretched and overpriced "Mexican" "food".
Aw, crap!!! Forgot my overly expensive power converter. Happens every few times I fly. I would either have to buy a new one or keep my laptop powered off while I drove and lose time at every Starbucks charing the laptop.
Despite the late departure, the plane touched down shortly before the scheduled arrival time of 8:20, but it still took at least 5 minutes to taxi to the gate. By the time I saw the Budget shuttle, it was 8:32. The man next to me was also waiting for the shuttle, and I immediately made a mental note to sit next to the door so I could get off first and be the first one at the rental counter. But I faced a dilemma, because I had hoped to find a power outlet inside inside the Budget off and get a few precious minutes of juice into my laptop. If I did this, I would surely lose my spot to not only that gentleman, but the other travelers who boarded after us.
Cripes! It's colder in L.A. than in Houston!
I was indeed the first in the door and waited about a minute to be attended. The lady got me out of there in a few minutes, so I wouldn't have gotten much charge anyway. By 8:55 I was in the car, something that looked like a PT Cruiser, and by 9:05 I was on the 405 and trying to figure out how the car worked. First how to reset the trip meter. Then how to turn on the internal light. Finally, and most importantly, how the thing handled. Not well, I'll say, and the 405 north of LAX is not the best place to feel out a new car.
I have a tendency to underestimate these L.A. distances, and it took me much longer than I expected, 30 minutes, to reach the first new Starbucks, in Van Nuys. I didn't finish up until 9:42, and I had to rush to Sepulveda & Nordhoff in case they closed at 10:00. Thankfully they didn't, and I was able to start charging my gear and looking up stuff on the Internet. Most importantly, the location of a Wal-Mart Supercenter. The nearest just happened to be located a few miles from the two stores I needed to visit around Santa Clarita. That was the good news. The bad news was that Lost #18 not was not yet up on iTunes. But it was up on Bittorrent. I wouldn't feel guilty, because I'd have gladly paid my $1.99 if the thing were uploaded in a timely fashion.
Actually, it wasn't a PT Cruiser. It was something called an HHR.
As 11:00, the Starbucks' closing time, approached, the download rate started to increased, and I was tempted to try and sleep in the parking lot and see if the download would complete before my battery charge ran out. But, to my surprise, the temperature had dropped quite a bit, and I knew that sleep would be out of the question without a blanket.
As I left the store, a seemingly homeless man sat at one of the tables on the patio, shivering. I imagined I'd be doing the same with just one blanket.
Before I drove off, I saw the homeless walking away from the store and shouting at somebody--a barista? A customer?
In Santa Clarita, I drove along Soledad Canyon Road looking for the hard-to-find Wal-Mart, and for some reason I got a craving for that chili from the bagel place in Vancouver. How odd.
I started noticing gas prices from the moment I reached L.A. First $2.95 for premium. Later 2.99, then 3.03, then 3.05. I wondered how high it would go?
At the Wal-Mart I bought the pillow, blanket, and power converter. It was a crappy brand I'd used years earlier, for a brief time. When I opened the box, I discovered the package had been previously opened, and I was not surprised it did not work. I'd have to find a Best Buy and get one I know works.
As much as a variety of the little things about the HHR annoyed me, it had one real good feature--the back seats folded down, and without the crease that my Civic has. So without need of a mattress pad I was able to stretch out and get some good sleep. The night turned chillier still, and since I had found the $4.88 blanket, I considered buying another, but I didn't feel like getting up.
Was contacted by a producer for ABC's The Bachelor. I didn't think I had a prayer in hell of getting on the show, but I was amused that she thought me attractive enough to even bother contacting. But after I spoke with her, I learned one of the qualifications is wealth, and that rules me out.
At 5:49 I awoke to find the sky already light. I had to leave right away if I was going to have time to detour to Springfield and then after St. Louis detour to Columbia and Osage Beach and also stop at Chinamoon one more time to see the girl who hadn't been working Thursday night. But I felt like I hadn't slept nearly enough, and I was unsure about whether I even wanted to visiit that girl again because knowing I was working she'd probably hound me for a larger tip. So I went back to sleep. When I woke up again and saw actual sunlight I was surprised to see that it was only 6:05. It had only been 16 minutes, but I had had at least three dream sequences in that time and felt much better. I went ahead and set off for Springfield.
Tight as the day's schedule was, I could not help detouring to Sangamon Ave, where there used to be a Speedway that carried Tradewinds. The Speedway was still there, but no tea! AARRGHH!!! Why, why, why was I being denied the sweet nectar???
I considered stealthing the Springfield store, figuring that Jodi had dropped by and told the staff about me, and that I would be delayed. But I went ahead introduced myself, and I ended up losing at least 15 minutes signing four autographs for four baristas. However, I recovered most of that time because I was sent off with some pastries.
I finally remembered to do something that had been in the back of my mind since I started buying a pillow and blanket so I could sleep in the rental car when flying into a city. It seemed a shame to always throw them away, so it occurred to me to donate them to Goodwill. I asked the baristas, and they said there was a donation center down the street I was taking, but I never saw it. I stopped to check my mail, and I looked up locations in Tulsa.
Anyway, I still left later than I had hoped. 8:18, with 97 miles to Granite City, then 44 more miles to visit three stores west of St. Louis. I hoped to be at that last mall store right at 10:00, but that was unrealistic. I didn't reach that first store until 9:40, and it took me 10 minutes to get back on my way.
Woo hoo!!! T-shirt weather again!
Took me extra time to get back on the freeway because the McKinley Bridge was closed. I had to detour farther south on Highway 3, towards East St. Louis. As I understood it, East St. Louis has a reputation for being rough. Perhaps it is deserved. Several sketchy characters waved and shouted at me--drug dealers, presumably.
I lost more time because the West Mall Kiosk is on the wrong side of the freeway--by the time I got out it was 10:32.
Despite a quicker trip to Chesterfield Mall with no wrong turns or detours, it was still almost 11:00 when I got out. By the time I left Wildwood, I had less than seven hours to reach Tulsa including stops at three stores. I didn't reach the highway until 11:30, with 450 miles left to drive. Traffic started out slow heading west, and I began to worry that I might miss my flight, let alone miss my appointment at Chinamoon. My greatest risk factor was the route from I-70 down to I-44, along US-63, US-54, and SR-5.
11:30 highway , 450 miles 2 drive, 6:30 at best, at 70 mph, but 55 until i-70, 169 miles from columbia to springfield on curvy rds,
keep reevaluate route, points 2 cross 2 i-44, called osage 4 road info
ABLE TO DO 80+ MADE UP TIME, but wrong turns out of town, nad ,ap
woulda been around 2:03, but goddamn hard to see, addresses haard to see osage beach
oh goddamn it, new Springfuekd is a mall store
Made it in time for a 30-minute massage, which was still a good value because most places in bigger cities would charge more for 30 minutes. Except the girl wasn't that good, so I guess it wasn't a a good value after all. In fact, she was so mediocre that I left a bit early, which was a good thing because I got lost on the way to the airport. Sure, the airport was clearly marked on my map, and the freeways had signs, but I got off the freeway to drop off that blanket and pillow at Goodwill. The location turned out to be a training center, not a donation center, but I went ahead and left the stuff in front of the door anyway. I figured since it wasn't something heavy like furniture it wouldn't be a big deal for someone to take it, and a preferrable alternative to throwing away some perfectly good bedding. Anyway, I ignored the voice telling me to get back on the freeway, and I took a street named Mingo up towards the airport in the hopes of seeing signs to the entrance. Nope. I had to end up getting back on the freeway after all, and I hoped the 10-15 minute delay had not cost me the flight.
But after all that momentary panic the flight turned out to be delayed by about 30 minutes. I could have gotten better and cheaper food than the over priced hot dog and fries for $7.36. But at least I got food. They shut the grill down right after my order. I would have missed out on the crappy dog if I had heeded my growling bowels and stopped at the restroom first.
No luck in the bathroom, nor at the gate--the flight was further delayed.
Up at 6:35, less than 8 hours, but the seven coffees I'd had allowed me to get moving to Cedar Rapids.
Uh-oh. A rules complication is brewing. Up until now, all the locations in the United Kingdom have been company owned. What will I do about these?
Damn Malibu! Must had had a governor, because whenever my speed approached or hit 110, the car would brake all of a sudden. Made it hard to follow the mustang that was blazing a trail for me eastward on I-88.
Oh, I can't believe this! If this bitch's (and I mean bitch in the sense of female dog, an animal who breeds without regard for the world around it) license plate is accurate, then this woman represents one of the worst elements of humanity, and she is a prime example of why sterilization should be mandatory. 7 billion people already on an overcrowded planet, and this woman is proud of eleven children???
Dude. Is that snow?
Dude! Is that sleet???
I had been deferring lunch in eager anticipation of washing it down with the sweet nectar that is Tradewinds tea. But I, to my surprise and frustration, did not pass any Speedways until I reached the suburbs closer into Chicago, and those locations were smaller and did not carry the tea. Around 4:30 I finally couldn't take the hunger and picked up a plain slim from Jimmy John's and washed it down with plain ol' water. Later, in Effingham, I would learn that Speedways were being shut down or converted to another station that bought them out. Curses!!! Where was I to get my Tradewinds!
Made it to Kankakee a few hours later than I had hoped, and this limited my options. Indianapolis was out of the question. That left me to decide whether to try and hit Peoria and/or Springfield in addition to Champaign and Effingham. I was feeling really sleepy, and I decided my best plan to be to stay on I-57 and hit Champaign and Effingham, and then at that point decide whether to detour to Springfield. Peoria was just going to be too far, plus there was a second new store set to open in a week. Curse the timing.
Ah-ha! I finally thought of who that reporter reminded me of--Billy Bob Thornton, but with a thinner face.
By the time I reached Champaign I was really craving sleep, plus kopfschmertzen to boot. But I got a second wind and managed the 80 miles to Effingham.
Good job, Winter! Turned left to get into the Effingham store and ended up on the wrong side of the street, against traffic with a car coming towards me and probably cursing me.
I was famished, and I figured since it was just a little past 9:00 I might as well get a good meal because otherwise I'd be tossing and turning instead of sleeping. Actually, I even considered getting a room since there seemed to be no lack of motels and hotels in the area. But I figured I might as well give the car a try on a full stomach. I chose the Cracker Barrell, and I suspect it was the residual influence of Jodi that led to that decision. No matter how badly I wanted to forget her, it was impossible given that I had to visit Springfield and that she was also in the movie.
Around 4:30 I awoke to kiwi, and when I peeked my head up I saw lights. A cop, patrolling the lot. I had wondered if that would occur. But since there were two trucks, a camper, and several other cars in the lot, I was not bothered. I wonder, though, if the temperature had not been in the 20s, if the officer would have peeked into every vehicle.
7:32, almost 8 hrs sleep on paper, doesn't feel like it
NPR affiliate high on the dial, 107.5, unusual, Oklahoma Public Radio
I still had sme spare time, but I chose to try and arrive earlier and maybe see a film before Starbucking, so I skipped a stretch of US-169 that would have taken me into Kansas City and instead took a route that put me on the interstate quicker.
Reached Kansas City by 9:30 as I predicted, but still concerned about time, so I went with an Einstein Bros. bagel sandwich instead of searching for an independent shop. A cashier asked if I worked for Starbucks and commented that it was funny to see me in the store wearing a the t-shirt because Starbucks is their main competition.
Damn! $31.75 gas to drive 241 miles (and run the engine at night a few hours). This Malibu gets sucky mileage!
Darn it! Gray & Smith in Houston chose to open today, so I couldn't be the first customer.
Okay, that was weird. In all my travels and dozens, maybe hundreds, of rest area stops, I had never had an attendant speak to me. And when this guy said I missed the sign, I really thought maybe there had been a sign saying the restroom was closed. But then he said something about a "50 cent pee fee", and I realized he was joking. And perhaps a little mentally slow. No... more like definitely slow. He was going on and on about how he took Visa, Mastercard, etc., and I just said I'd have to make it up next time and quickly made my exit.
The Downtown Coffee Shop in olde town Bellevue looked interesting for lunch, but they shut the grill down at 1:30, a mere 10 minutes before I popped in.
Well, that was underwhelming. I was expecting a hearty reception at the Bellevue store because a barista had e-mailed me about a month or two earlier, and I had told her the movie was screening and that I'd be visiting Omaha for that. But none of the three partners working when I arrived seemed to really know about the movie or care much about it or my presence. My visit aside, I was surprised that they didn't even care that a Starbucks-related movie was screening in town. You'd think they'd have been at least mildly interested.
Reception was warmer at the next store. I scored the new t-shirt, and also a new experience (kind of), a mini-interview on a barista's video phone.
I made it to the Joslyn Art Museum later than expect, around 3:25, but I still had plenty of time before the film started. I was disappointed to count only 16 people in the auditorium besides myself, Bill, and his friends, and more disappointed still to learn that five of those were also friends. But several factors made me feel a little better. First, the previous movie, Fatboy, had only had 9 people. Second, 3:30 was during the day, when many people are still at work. And third, this was the first Omaha Film Festival. Oh, and the population of Omaha was relatively small. Bill and I had much bigger hopes for Sonoma Valley.
After visiting the final new store, conveniently located near the museum, I joined Bill's group at Upstream Brewing Company. But time was running short, so I just got a burger to go. It was expensive. Really expensive. And mediocre.
I rushed to Des Moines to meet a reporter for the Register. The interview was pretty interesting, but I became worried when he asked me about the name thing. I realized I must not have gotten him to agree to just print Winter, and I worried about what he would print.
Damn Malibu! Besides sucky gas mileage, it handles like shit, and as a result I almost lost it on a freeway interchange.
A day from the big screen debut of Starbucking, and I was really feeling the excitement, to the extent that I had to visit the restroom every 15 minutes. I resisted a coworkers attempts to pull me into some debugging and left a few minutes before 3:00. The trip to Hobby airport took 30 minutes as I had predicted, and economy parking was indeed $6 as specified on a web site. Unlike at other airported, I quickly found the economy lot, and I discovered a difference I had not previously encountered. The lot is situated next to the terminal. This meant I didn't have to wait for a shuttle, thus allowing me to better predict my schedule for future flights. The walk was not unreasonably long, nor was the security line. By 4:15 I was situated in line waiting to board.
I was off the plane and into the terminal by 6:32, and I seemed I'd be able to make my 7:00 PM appointment at Chinamoon, but I made a tactical error. I stopped at the rest room before picking up my rental car, and this allowed a lady to get ahead of me. Gotta remember the mantra, "Car first. Restroom later. Car first. Restroom later."
Wal-Mart did not have the blanket I was used to buying, but I found a comforter that, at $14.82, can't be much more expensive than their cheapest blanket. I was still unsure of how well I'd be able to sleep. As far as I could remember, I had never sleep in freezing temperatures in a rental car. The difference is that I can't spread out and wrap myself in the blanket like in my hatchback.
After Fresh Air ended at 11:00 I started to yearn for a place to park. I wondered if I'd pass a rest area or a Wal-Mart Supercenter along US-169 before I reached Kansas City, and I started eyeing the signs outside motels to see if anyone was advertising a room for $30 or better. I was rather relieved, and surprised, to find a rest area where US-169 intersects US-400.
With Friday's paycheck I was able to book my flight to Omaha. Well, not necessarily to Omaha. Because I needed to visit a bunch of new Starbucks in Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri after the film screening, I had to consider a variety of travel options. After renting a car one-way proved too expensive for two, or even three, days, I kept looking at Southwest flights to various airports and discovered that Tulsa was very reasonably priced. And the car rental for the three days would only be $54. So all I had to do was arrive early enough, Thursday night, to give me time to drive to Omaha by 3:30 on Friday.
Later that day I left for a Scrabble tournament in Dallas, and after detouring to Austin to see my favorite massage therapist there, I detoured further to Stephenville to visit the new Starbucks. There I saw for the first time the canned Iced Coffee product that I'd read about.
It was Starbucks versus the First Amendment once again. I met with a pair of film students from Tennessee who wanted to interview me for their film project. They also wanted a shot of me entering a Starbucks and drinking some coffee. When I learned of that part of it, I suggested that they might want to get clearance, or that they might just want to get the footage on the sly, since it was so simple. When I reached the Starbucks I found them sitting on the deck, and I parked across the street. It looked like it would work out, but the kid running the camera was slow in setting up, and as he was about to start shooting a barista came outside and harrassed us. I don't think she actually spotted us, though, as we had selected an angle to be out of view of the counter. No, I think it was some meddling dumbfuck inside the store wearing a puke-green shirt who alerted the barista about the crazy terrorists planning an attack with their videocamera.
The students were meek, but I made a point of telling the barista that she was flat-out wrong, and that they had every right to film. Of course she made no acknowledgement of the First Amendment--they never do. It's always "you're not allowed to film", and then when somebody who knows the law tries to set them straight, "we would prefer that you not." They never suggest a compromise or try to be accomodating, at least not at the level of barista. The higher ups seem to understand the law better--why do they have such a hard time explaining it to baristas so that they aren't constantly harrassing private citizens?
Hmm... I wonder if there is any Starbucks policies that disallows climbing out of the drive-thru window, as a barista at one of my regular Houston stores just did.
Exchanged e-mails with a person who is a fan of Starbucks and also very familiar with Mexico City. He pretty much presented me with a plan for hitting the ground running in Mexico and visiting about 20 stores. That will probably be good enough for a weekend, and once there I can start gathering information on how to best visit the stores that are farther away.
No help from Alsea regarding my upcoming trip to Mexico City. Alsea is Starbucks' partner in Mexico City, and it's been about a week since I e-mailed them asking for assistance in visiting all the Starbucks in the city.
So while I might not be too excited about the Mexico trip, my excitement about the upcoming screening of Starbucking in Omaha grows daily.
Whoo-hoo!!! More free money! I switched shoes and found a pair of twenties that I had stashed away. With very little in the way of funds until payday and no time to eBay comics or take them up to one of the comic book shops, that $20 was like mana from heaven.
It took four days, but I was finally recognized at work. None of the initial 6 team members recognized me, not even at lunch when I mentioned the documentary about Starbucks without giving any details about my project. But on Thursday I finally met my manager who had been out of town, and on the plane he happened to read an article or blurb in a business magazine. During the morning stand-up meeting he "outed" me.
I was relieved to find an article that reported that the Starbucks acquisition of Coffee Partners will not be completely effective until April 1st. That allows me to continued to claim a percentage of 97% until then. Well, until enough new stores opened to drop that percentage.
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