The Mini Implosion Tour

Updated April 25, 2009. Log continues here.

New stores visited: 124 photos
Coffee consumed: (X - 21) * 4 + 32 = 448 oz drip coffee + 10 DoubleShot + 8 solo espresso + 4 oz French press + 8 oz Clover + Danielle's special (3-shot Americano w breve and ice)
Miles driven: 8520 - 235 (Scrabble) + 150 (Hawaii) + 49 KM (Whitehorse)
Speeding tickets: 1
Spent on coffee: $39.94
Spent on gas: $567.84
Spent on airfare: $982.76
Spent on rental cars: $215
Spent on ferries: $96.95
Spent on taxis: $9
Spent on tolls/parking: $63.00
Medications: 12 fake Excedrin + 2 fake benadryl (to sleep)

April 24, 2009

3:00 drive to store, colbert daily downloads in two hours, van guy, go gas, park on other side of tree and car, delivery guy black bear, stupid ban hiuy mobies next to me cjattiung maybe about me wundow down, smallville, move front, 6:55 still few minutes to go black bear , about t shoot have a funny feeling, AARGGH!! ! wrong store, livid, rush to other,

1040 to go

five store blitz

massage detour longer that expected

4:55 (central time), C-470, 730

$7.5 yoicks

5:55, I-76 mile 60, just 73 miles in first hour b/c of tolls,

6:55, miles 142, 81 miles for the hour despite brief construction zone and highway striping

Yay! Nebraska 75 MPH--I wasn't sure.

Preemptive fake Excedrin.

7:55, 237 miles, alomost at 80 MPH average. But gassing up would blow my gains.

8:22 exit 177, better to get food once I poop out

8:29 back on I-80 reach 80 mph

8:55, 310 miles

9:55, 386 miles

10:55, 466

11:55, 529 miles, lost a ton of time in construction

April 23, 2009

B 2039 miles

6:29, 6:49, 6:55 hit interstate, 1860+ to go if I skip Kingman and Las Vegas. Could still do Kingman if I could do 1000 miles on Thursday. Problem was, I had to make that decision quick, just an hour away in Yuma.

Actually, those calculations weren't completely correct. Microsoft Streets ^ Trips does not always choose the shortest route. By default it favors interstates. By plotting manually I discovered going through Kingman was actually just 1825 miles. I'd have to skip two stores in Phoenix, but Kingman was older--I needed to visit that one more. Problem was 215 miles from Yuma to Kingman would mostly be off interstate, US-95 and then AZ-95. From experience I knew those highways out in the desert would move quickly in spots, probably 60+, but also slow down thru towns. And since the route went through Lake Havasu City, I'd have to reshoot that store. Couldn't pass that up. Might be my only opportunity ever to drive that route again.

Grrr... slower-than-usual start to the morning b/c I was driving into the sun and thus could not see far and thuse could not sspeed too much.

Yoicks--dropped a dime in my kiwi cup!

Stealth Yuma to try and save minutes.

Grrr... stupid border inspection guards, well away from the border on US-95, wasted my time asking stupid questions and for my car registration.

9:55, well short of 210 miles driven, still short of the 70 MPH average target. Hopefully interstate speeds will make up for that, but there is still the Hoover Dam delay.

11:22, finally I-40, 4.5 hours driving, 245 miles, way too slow, need to make up tons of time.

Had to spend a little time in Kingman saying hi to the manager who happened to be across the parking lot at the hair salon. I had spoken to her the previous summer when trying to find out which stores closing, and she asked me to say hello when I visited. Plus, the barista who was actually at the store took my water cup and then turned around and said, "what's your name." When I replied "Winter" she beamed and said "I knew it was you." She had seen my movie. She made me wait a bit before I could leave, to take a photo, to sign a cup, and to receive a special drink concoction.

Wow, what is that they are building???

1:55, 366 miles, 7 hours, hadn't yet made up any time

Despite my hurry, upon exiting the interstate in Las Vegas on Tropicana Ave, I suddenly remembered the Cuban restaurant I had found the previous summer, and I started to get cravings. I wasn't hungry really, but there would be slim pickings between Las Vegas and Grand Junction, so I figured I might as well try to find the place. As I was driving down the street looking for wi-fi I spotted Cuba Cafe and headed there instead.

Grrr... wi-fi available for customers... but it didn't work!!!

3:25, I-15, 505 miles to Grand Junction, plus time zone change

3:40 finally cleated constyruction, just 10 miles in 15 min

crazy wind

118 miles in 90 minutes--much better!!!


exit #s seem off, have to drive farther to Colorado border, struggle to stay awak, around 11 rest area

April 22, 2009


More peaceful and joyful feelings.

AARRGHH!!! FORGOT TO PUT ON MY BLACK SOCKS BEFORE GOING INTO THE NIPOMO STARBUCKS. Went in with white socks, and white socks make me look like a dork. And you all know how I hate to look like a dork!

Jeez, it hadn't even occurred to me, but as it turned out there was no Lost that week. Actually a good thing, because I'd save time

Menifee awkward

asking around about tj info

unyay, cloudy skies as i approahc mexico

info bldg, recommend taxi, 5 to zona rio , alsea not slip, take american currency, walk to next two stores, no time for beach store, 4 taxi back, phone works, mothe rfreaks out thinks danger

Say what what what??? Tijuana gets X-Men Origins: Wolverine a day before the US???

clear border shortly afgter 7, back car 7:15, confirm Scrabble, 2000 miles if skip kingman/vegas, 22000 orherwise

Santee sub, Italian Pizza sapgaetti medicroe bag grrr

Calexico weak signal slow download, 2:30 AM cop in front of Wal-Mart but eventually finishes shopping drives of

April 21, 2009

6:35, 7:15, 3280+ miles to go. Not as amny miles driven on Monday as I hoped, but I didn't leave Lacey until pretty late, plus that detour to Hillsboro heartbreak. Today would be better.

MOSQUITO INVASION!!! MOSQUITO INVASION!!! Okay, maybe it was just one mosquito.

delays in Redding

Finally Ukiah, wait for Amie! Mexican place


O'Farrell, Majahual

more bikes in SF?

I-280 to San Jose ridicufast

90 miles to Kettleman move really fst

rest area short of Kettleman City, 1:45 am drive in to download, Mobil girl says people sleep in back all time when i ask about cops

April 20, 2009

Up at just the right time, 7:37, b/c with the line and washing my face I left my 2nd & Lenora parking space with just 1 minute to spare.

peaceful easy feeling


11:40 hit I-5, 3700+ miles along my desired Starbucking route to Scrabble Sioux Falls in 4 days, 19 hours.

Well, there it is, the Cornell & 188th - Hillsboro store, the only one I missed during... wondered if there might still be coffee residue

Roseburg, taco truck

Whitehoruse connoseiriess

beautiful weather, feeling joyous

barely Medford, article, saolid

first rest area, catch on on sleep

April 19, 2009

Couldn't sleep past 7:45, but it wasn't a good idea to sleep late even if I did need the sleep. Best to take advantage of the early-morning light to see what kind of photos I could get, and to get to the Starbucks before cars parked in front. Not that I expected too many people hanging out at Starbucks in Whitehorse on a Sunday morning, but you never know.

The store manager happened to be at the Chilkoot Centre store, and I asked if someone had told her I was going. Nope. I thought it was a possibility given the remoteness and "exotic" nature of the Yukon, that somebody might have seen on my blog that I was going and passed the word along. Unlikely, but possible.

After taking some photos of the other store I discovered it closed, but that was fine--I didn't want more coffee until after breakfast. I then spent around 30 minutes, a ridiculous amount of time given the size of Whitehorse, driving around looking for "Dog's Diner" (actually Doc's, but I didn't see either sign). I finally asked at the Starbucks now that it had opened, and the restaurant was fairly obvious on 2nd Avenue. How had I missed it???

Passed the same guy from the rental counter, the one who's card had been declined and who did not accept my offer of a ride into town. Spotted him walking in the opposite direction, didn't have a chance to lower the window and shout out.

Ah, they have squirrels in the Yukon Territory--it's not so different from regular Canada after all!

Lambert St.

Took advantage of the extra hours I had to enjoy my first sit-down meal of the trip. The Skookum, it was called--pancakes, eggs, potatoes, and bacon. Not bad, not bad at all.

On the radio, a commercial repeating "Pepsi, the Yukon's choice." Somebody recorded a Pepsi commercial specific to the Yukon???

A sense of relief now that I'd visited those Yukon stores on top of clearing out most of BC. And having seen Whitehorse, a third store just seemed unlikely.

GODDAMN IT!!! STUPID SANYO PHONE!!! I had charged it Saturday morning specifically so that I wouldn't need to bring my charger, and I had not used it to make any calls all day. Despite this, just one night in the cold drained the battery and left me vulnerable. I didn't expect to need the phone before heading back to Vancouver, but I felt vulnerable without it.

Cool ship.

Tried for some more reshoots, but didn't really get the shots I wanted. Sun in the wrong place, and cars parked in front of the Chilkoot store. Could have waited, but decided not to take any chances and headed over to the airport to return the car. Except that there was no one at the counter to tell about the cracked windshield. I grabbed the phone that said "EMPLOYEES ONLY" and it began dialing automatically. Somebody picked up and said an agent should arrive by 1:00. I then went over to check in and learned there were no kiosks at that airport, so I had to go to the Air Canada counter. Agent was confused by my name but figured it out quickly enough.

With an extra 25 minutes, I headed back to Chilkoot to try for a better shot. When I returned to the airport, still nobody at the National counter. Went to the restroom, and when I checked again finally an attractive young agent had arrived. Turned out the other guy had indicated the cracked windshield, but I had not understood his notation.

Most intensive pat-down ever by a security agent. No idea what he was looking for.

A rare early departure put us in Vancouver ahead of schedule. After a delay locating where to wait for long term shuttle, I was still back in my car by 4:31. Didn't figure out the correct airport exit and ended up heading north towards Vancouver, so went ahead and reshoot Oak & 67th before visiting the Sea Island Way store. There I was visually recognized by a barista for the first time in the 99 stores I'd visited that trip, and I was tickled pink. Not so tickled though by the signs warning of a TWO HOUR DELAY AT PEACH ARCH, and 50 minutes at Pacific Crossing. Of course I took the latter route, but the delay was still over an hour. Grrr...

Still managed to make Seattle in time for oxtails from Thompson's POV. Hmm... hmm... good! Didn't make it in time to visit the Frederickson store, still a ways south of Seattle, but I actually didn't mind having an excuse to stay in Seattle for the night, and sad that I have to leave and return to Wisconsin. If I had my druthers I'd like to stay a few days.

Battery St signs, girl

life just so good

April 18, 2009

At 5:23 I drove back around the corner into the ferry terminal, but the toll booths were still closed. There was a line, though, of about seven cars, and a couple of agents who said the booths opened about a quarter of.

GODDAMN PHONE!!! Tried to set it for 8:00 AM twice, but it kept going off a minute later. Turned it off, back on, nothing. Fuck. Don't need the alarm for this particular flight, but I might have been of it at some point, and since I'm giving up Sprint in June/July for AT&T ((to get a better wi-fi price), I'm not getting a new Sprint phone!!!

Because of all the store I hoped to visit in greater Vancouver before catching my flight, I went ahead and downed the sample from the Departure Bay ferry terminal. Result--as expected, weird, weird dreams.

Feels like Sunday.

Finally, the mystery of Pinetree Village resolved!

Bentall 4 - Burrard & Dunsmuir closed. No surprise.

Heh, it had been a while since that happend. While reshooting Manulife a passerby glanced at me a couple of times and then said said "I saw your video." Cool.

Okay, had to do some running around (no phone # listed), but I found out The Hudson store is licensed. Good. One fewer coffee for my overcaffeinated body.

Burrard Building open, but Georgia Street was crazy. I had to park a street over, and the meters were also crazy--25 cents bought me just 3 3/4 minutes!!!

The good news, Shaw Tower open. The bad news, Shaw Tower open, and I was really hurting from all the coffee. I was kind of relieved that other store was closed, b/c it gave me an excuse to drink one fewer sample. The number of stores I had visited that day wasn't even 15 yet, but I still felt sooooooo bloated and a headache was threatening to develop.

Dang, parking guy right when I wanted to photo Shaw Tower, so I had to drop coin. Actually, no. Was about to, when he came up and asked me about my Fit. I chatted with him quite a bit about it and my travels, and when he walked away I was able to forgo dropping any coins.

Worked the social engineering inside, chatting up the guard. I asked about the height of the building (2nd tallest) and where he was from (Bulgaria) and then I ducked behind a column blocking his view and shot a few pics.

Movie filming on Georgia, if the old police cars were any indication. I think the filming was screwing up Pender too--forced me to u-turn and take another route.

Well, that wasn't too bad at all. Discounting two stores that are licensed, plus one that was closed, I only had to visit five stores in the downtown core (there's actually a name for this, Granville Island), and I was able to do so in just about three hours and without throwing up.

Spanish/Mexican restaurant named Pepita's, sopa de lima and rice. The soup was okay, but I didn't really care for the lime. Gave it a strong flavor I didn't like, but adding the rice made it more palatable.

4th & Bayswater, customer overheard my spiel and googled to find an article about me. As I was leaving he showed me his laptop and asked if that was me in the photo. Ain't the Internet great? Except the stupid article had that stupid fake name for me. Grrr...

It had to happen. After 16 stores. Splorg. Felt much better, actually, and was glad to splorg now rather than on the plane. To avoid this, and to sleep, I was saving the coffee from the last 7 stores until I returned from Whitehorse. And even if my car was stolen, those would be the easiest stores to go back to.

Are you fucking kidding me? Another Starbucks coming soon on Broadwa, in the 600 block, less than a mile from the one I was about to visit.

Actually, it wouldn't be a new store. It was just Broadway & Heather, which had blown up and was being rebuilt. As long as it doesn't get a new listing, I don't need to revisit.

Managed to complete all the stores I wanted, leaving just two that were very close to the airport. Assuming I didn't stick around to visit that one downtown store on Monday (didn't plan on it), I'd be on my way to Cali pretty quick.

My only slightly negative baristas experience of the day was actually not asking for a sample, but asking to put $5 on my Starbucks card. The barista said he couldn't take the $20, that it didn't look real. Grrr... I didn't have time to argue, but I wanted more Canadian cash in case I needed it in Whitehorse, so I went back to the car and got my DL and passport and envelop full of 50s and 100s. I went back to the store and dropped the IDs and the wad of 50s, 100s, and 20s and told the barista he ought to be able to find one he liked there. The barista seemed scared to touch all my cash, but he assented and took one of my 20s.

First time flying from a Canadian airport since '99, which was pre 9/11. I wondered what the security differences would be. The laptop still had to be taken out, but I did not have to remove my tennies shoes, nor my long-sleeved shirt (just my coat). And they let my yogurt go through.

Stopped my coffee intake four hours before the flight worked--I only had to use the restroom once. Still, I could not really sleep. I was exhausted when I deplaned and walked out into the terminal. Small, as expected. Maybe a bit smaller actually. I looked around for some place to sleep, but I had a feeling that wasn't going to work. I asked an Air Canada agent, and he confirmed that the airport would close and all passengers would be kicked out ("but in a nice way").

I was surprised to see an agent at the National counter, and he reported they had a car available for $50. I thought about it as I walked outside and took a look around. I went ahead and walked across the highway to the motel to find out their price--$85. Not that much money given all I'd spent already, but I just hated to waste money on something that wasn't strictly necessary. I really wanted to see if I could sleep out in the woods, despite the cold, or perhaps in town in some unseen corner. Problem was the risk. An $800 laptop. A $1200 camera. Couple of hundred in cash. Boy, would I feel like a putz if I was robbed of all that to save less than a hundred bucks. No, sleeping out in the open was really an option only for those with little or nothing to lose, not people with thousands in expensive equipment.

The choice between the car and the room was almost a no-brainer. It wasn't the price difference so much as the fact that the car would give me options, like driving around town. Walked back across the highway and over to the rental counter, and when the agent turned to me, asked if that $50 car was still available. The agent looked at some document and reported that the man he was attending had actually rented the last economy/compact car--the next cheapest was midsize at $55. But then the situation changed, because the man's credit card was declined, and he was not able to rent, so I got the cheaper car. I offered the man a ride into town, but he said he would just take a taxi. Sure buddy, suit yourself.

First thing I did in the car was crank the heat--the pilot had reported 10 degrees (Celsius), but it felt colder. I then looked at the map the agent had given me (to preserve laptop power since I'd not brought my inverter). Finally I noticed a pretty large crack on the windshield. I looked at the contract, and it described a chip on the mirror, not a huge crack. I quickly rushed back to the terminal to report this, but the guard had just locked the door. I pounded on it as he walked away, but he either did not hear or ignored me. Nothing else to be done, I supposed, so I just went back to the car and took several photographs of the crack.

Grabbed a muffin and juice from Tim Horton's and then located the two Starbucks and took some night photos before finding a dark place to park next to a van. At the 1:00 AM hour there were plenty of people milling about town still, including sketchy looking characters. Who knows what these people do in the wee hours, and what the likelihood would be that I'd be discovered if I tried to hide myself somewhere in town and sleep behind a building, dumpster, in a corner, etc.

As expected, difficulty sleeping and more crazy dreams, including one in which the rental car was stolen and another in which coworker Don told me I couldn't do anything right.

April 17, 2009

Shortly after 6:00 I heard a car pulling up, and I quickly threw on my shoes, put on my coat, and went to the door. I figured the truck was just there to finish building the Indigo, but I didn't want to take any chances since I'd altered my plans just to be the customer. Had to stand outside reading Angels & Demons for the full 25 minutes, but I got in right 6:30... and I won a gift basket for my trouble!

Wanted to clear Vancouver Island and return to the mainland that day, but I still couldn't resist reshooting a bunch of stores while on the island. Especially since the price had gone up--$58.50 Candian to cross!!! Plus extra money spent on the expensive ferry breakfast in order to save time on getting food in Victoria.

Ooh, the basket contains a $5 Starbucks card!!! Plus a small bag of Verona, some coffee almonds, cookies, and a mug!

I know you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover, but in this case I was right about the man in the Hummer parked next to the Starbucks at Woodgrove Center. He was not in an actual parking space, so I figured he was just waiting for someone, so I went over to reshoot the Chapters location first. When I returned, the Hummer was still there. I still had a faint hope of making the last ferry, so I asked the youngish-baseball-capped gentleman if he could move the car for a minute. He did, but I could tell from the look on his face that this guy was an asshole. Like I said, you shouldn't be prejudiced, but in the case of Hummer drivers, you're probably right to prejudge them as assholes.

Made some incredible time to Campbell River! A couple of small red cars traded off doing 80 MPH, and I began to have real thoughts of making that ferry. I couldn't waste time finding the store, though, and given the size of the city, it never occurred to me to call Campbell River for directions. But had I done so, I might have saved as much as 10 minutes that I wasted traveling the entire length of Dogwood St. Those 10 minutes might have allowed me to make that ferry.

Since I blew the ferry schedule anyway, I went ahead and stopped in Beijing House. They actually had some cream corn and egg soup on the menu, to go with my leftover chicken fried rice. A little bland, the soup, not nearly as good as the stuff from Twin Lakes, but it made the fried rice a bit better.

Stupid cat! At least I think that's what it was. Regardless, I could only slow down so much, and the definitely struck the creature. Didn't kill it though, at least not right away, because when I looked in the rearview I'm sure saw it hop up onto the median.

No luck with the wi-fi connection at the Country Club store, so I drove on to find a neighborhood not far from the ferry terminal. When I finished downloading in the wee hours, I drove over to the terminal, but, as I figured, the ticket booths (they call them toll booths) were all closed. There was a line of trucks in one lane, but with no agents around I was unsure where to go, so I just turned around and headed back out to the neighborhood around the corner. Set my alarm for 6:00, but it went off a minute or two later. Repeated. Same thing. WTF??? I turned the phone off, turned it back on, set the alarm again, and this time it didn't go off.

April 16, 2009

First order of business, drive to the nearest Starbucks to start downloading Lost while I slept a few more hours. Unfortunately the download was really slow--three other shows finished during the two hours, but Lost was not even at 50%. Fortunately I had been watching on the ABC site while I changed and checked e-mail, and when I woke up again I had to just stay there and finish. Can't do anything without watching Lost!

AARRGHH!!! I knew it! Despite what several Canadian baristas said, that Canada was probably safe from an implosion, if this article is correct, many closures are coming. So it's a very good thing I decided to skip Scrabble in Laguna Woods so I could clear out Vancouver and Vancouver Island, and go up to the Yukon Territory. Of course that still leaves a bunch more stores that did not fit into my route to the airport--not sure what to do about those.

Here's the thing though--I had felt such a sense of relief now that I'd met all my schedule in Hawaii and returned with no particular rush to get anywhere. All of a sudden, with the knowledge that Canada would implode too, I felt pressure again.

With some extra time, I finally went back to the SODO Lobby store which had been remodeled years earlier. Wondered if anybody would recognize me, but the only person who did was an employee I'd met years earlier in PA.

Ah, there it was, the Seattle glow. Took a while b/c of my schedule pressure and fatigue, but once I reached the Queen Anne neighborhood and found the new Top Pot Doughnuts location, I finally felt the glow I usually feel when I visit Seattle, on of my favorite cities.

Yay, a fourth Top Pot Doughuts location visited. That leaves the one on the Eastside, hopefully to visit on Monday.

Finally had time to seek a massage, and after sorting through several options I lucked out and picked one that exceeded expectations!

Ladybug in my car!!! Shoo!!! Shoo!!!

What the hell??? How did that happen? After missing my exit and going many miles out of the way, and then exploring three of the four corners of the intersection, I finally found the Indigo at Grandview Corners... only to learn the Starbucks wasn't yet open!!! It was just friends & family!!! The store wouldn't count until morning!!!

Doesn't feel like Thursday.

Wow, on top of the irritation of accidentally getting on the freeway and having to drive 6 KM east and then back, I had my unfriendliest barista interaction of the trip, and in a long time. The blonde barista at Thunderbird II denied my request for a sample, and her tone indicated she didn't believe me.

I immediately went out to my car and returned with my Starbucks card, and I as I waited at the counter for the the other barista (so I wouldn't have to deal with the blonde-haired one), Blondie said dismissively, "can we help you with something?"

The other barista then came back to the till and I asked for a short coffee, and asked her to put it in the sample cup. While she did so it occurred to me that Blondie's reaction was way too unusual--something seemed up. I had to wonder if she was somebody who had seen my website and disagreed with my philosophical viewpoints. I turned and asked if she knew who I was, if she had an issue with me. She shook her haid, and I proceeded to explain that she was one of the rudest baristas I'd met in 9000 stores. At that point rather than becoming apologetic she became somewhat accusatory and made it clear she thought I was lying.

I mentioned I'd just met the DM at a new store opening in the Indigo down in Surrey. I mentioned a couple of other details, that there had been a coupl e of DMs there, that they were having Friends & Family, that the store would open on Friday at 6:30 AM. Her immediate reaction? To say that I could have gotten those details off the Internet.

Now, does that even make sense? Who would search the Internet for details about a new store in another city and then try to use that info to get a sample coffee???

At this point Blondie developed a smirk and decided to quiz me. She proceeded to asj me the DMs name, which I couldn't remember, but I referred to the person as "her", to which Blondie replied that it was a male, not a female (Langley must have a different DM). She also accused me of asking for the sample in an unfriendly manner, even though I'd said the exact same thing I'd said to dozens of other baristas in recent days. And even though I kept telling her over and over about googling Starbucks Everywhere and my name, Winter, she kept asking in that incredulous tone. Definitely the rudest barista I'd encountered in a long time.

Rushed to trhee more stores, baristas friendly at all.

Stayed parked outside the Burnaby store downloading Lost. Yes, I'd already seen it on the ABC site, but I need to watch every episode at least twice to fully appreciate the show.

April 15, 2009

Around 1:00 AM I woke up and noticed the car parked next to mine was gone. Rats. If it was there all night, I'd feel better about doing the same. Then I saw a man with a leaf blower in the parking lot. I figured sooner or later he could come in my direction and wake me, so I headed over to the Wal-Mart. Even though they had closed at midnight, the parking lot was full of cars and seemed active, so I did not bother to look for signs prohibiting overnight parking. Maybe there weren't any, but regardless a old white-haired security guard knocked on my window at 3:00 AM and said I couldn't sleep there, something about the manager having told her to inform me. I waved okay, okay, and quickly left. It was 3:00 AM and I didn't much care where I slept. I went back to the parking lot near the Sack n Save, where I had slept during my first visit to the Big Island, but before I got into the back I noticed a bright light coming on, and when I looked around I saw grocery store staff across the lot. They probably didn't care, but I didn't want to be woken up again so I drove across the street to the Starbucks. The leaf blower guy was gone, but one of those sweeping machines had taken its place, so I left again and found a side street a minute away.

Around 5:50 I drove back over to the Starbucks to continue downloading, but after about 20 minutes I decided I wouldn't be able to sleep any more. It was, after all, past 9:00 AM on the West Coast, and I had slept nearly 8 hours anyway.

Used the extra time to walk down the road to a deli I had spotted. Walked in and asked for the menu, and a very surprised cook turned around and told me they did not open until 7:00. I then walked over to the Sack n Save for some of that delicious Brown Cow yogurt, and I spotted some a deli that was actually open. The Sumo Deli clearly catered to locals, as fried rice was the default option with all breakfasts--toast was secondary. I just cannot get used to rice for breakfast--I went with the toast.

Because the airport was just 7 miles away I hung around in the car watching Fringe while eating my breakfast. Checked in with my manager while I had extra time, and I departed for the airport around 6:50... and promptly took the wrong road!!! Did not realize it for miles, at which point I had to drive another mile or two before I could turn around. Meanwhile, I experienced a moment of panic because while bringing up Streets & Trips the Windows Installer started asking for the DVD!!! Why? Because the night before I had uninstalled Autoroute to free up disk space, and Microsoft sucks. Two separate programs, but they couldn't get the installation/uninstallation correct--probably because one product is for the U.S. and the other for Europe.

Fortunately all I had to do was cancel out of three dialogs and I was able to see my map. Without it, I would have been screwed for the duration of my Hawaii trip--I would have needed to waste time asking for directions to the remaining 4 stores, and my schedule was already tight. Once I got back to Seattle I would have had my backup laptop, though that would have been inconvenient.

So I arrived at the airport at 7:11 instead of 7:00, but that still left me plenty of time for check-in and security, both of which were a breeze.

Whoa, that was surprising. I could not get any water out of the sink in the bathroom, and when I informed the flight attendant she said that none of the Go! (Mesa) jets kept sink water in the bathroom!!!

Just a 20 minute flight from HNL to Lihue, on the ground at 10:04, off the plane at 10:05. Found the Alamo kiosk at 10:10 and on the shuttle at 10:13. Why the hurry? Two different Mesa agents had confirmed I could take the 12:35 flight back standby instead of the 2:35. Doing so would significantly ease my schedule in Honolulu, three stores plus a reshoot, if time, plus a massage from Rebecca if she was still there and taking appointments.

Couple of glitches, finding a compact (none available, so I got a free upgrade), then exiting the lot b/c I had misplaced my contract (in backpack). Cost me a few minutes, but I still exited the airport at 10:24.

35 MPH!!! Better not be the speed all the way, I thought. Ah, 40, then 50 , better. But 25 MPH through Koloa. Grrr...

Massage office in Koloa, coulda used it for real for real, but no time.

Reached store at 10:45, but there was line. Furthermore, both coffees were out, bold and medium. So not only did I not get a sample, but I paid extra, for a solo, so I could get out of ther. 10:54 left store and faced more traffic on the way back, but still reaced the airport by 11:10.

Grrr... WaMu--auto-blocked my car when I was in Canada--finally remembered to call and get it unblocked. Unlike HSBC, they didn't even try to call and let me know. Assholes.

A line at the Alamo office this time, but it moved quickly. Was out by 1:25... well, 1:29 by the time I got across the traffic light. A Toyota this time, not as fancy as the Hyundai Sonata--manual windows and door locks. But hey, at least it's not American.

Oh, well, no massage from Rebecca. After three years, her number had apparently changed.

Famished, but found nothing appealing on Kamehameha Hwy in Kaneohe, so I sucked it up and got on the road to Pearl. I wasn't really in the mood for a burrito, but dizziness was setting in, so once I spotted Diego's Taco Shop I had no choice. Not a bad burrito.

A BLUE STOP SIGN??? WTH??? In the parking lot of the Windward Mall.

A bit of a surprise/treat when I revisited the Kahala Mall. I was looking for a way to take the photo without being seen by the vigilant guard, when I passed by a table of people playing Scrabble, one-on-one. I asked, "Are you all NSA", and it turned out it was the Honolulu Scrabble club!

Next to the Chevron where I gassed up was Byron's Drive-In, and I figured that would be the quickest way to get a bite to tide me over 'til morning. Mistake. Absolutely awful hot dog, and awful fries. Had just a few bites before I tossed it.

Boarding took an extremely long flight and takeoff was around 40 minutes late or more, but somehow we made up the time and arrived right around the scheduled time of 5:52. The flight seemed full, and I was wedged between and old man and an extremely cute and chatty young woman, but I managed to sleep through most of it.

April 14, 2009

When I woke up at 2:30 AM and saw that it was snowing, I was convinced I'd never make my flight and would blow all that money... again. Yep, the last time I had a flight to Hawii, also from Seattle, and I had also cut my drive too close. I had missed the flight that time, and thus blown $500 or more. I couldn't believe I was going to do it again, but given the snowy conditions I did not want to risk driving overtired and set my alarm to 6:00 (cutting it much to close).

Miraculously however when I awoke at 5:00 I felt somewhat okay to drive and decided to give it a try. Once that DoubleShot kicked in, I felt fine. Well, as fine as one can feel when navigating a snowy/slushy/wet, possibly icy, mountain highway in the dark with a crazy trucker going way too fast and catching up. Finally had to give it up and let the truck overtake me and get well ahead so I wouldn't catch all its spatter.

The snowy conditions soon turned to mere drizzle, and then dried up, and I made good enough time that I decided to risk stopping in Chilliwack (to avoid having to backtrack to that store later). Imagine my surprise when I walked up to the door and found its glass... missing! The manager quickly explained they were closed because the store had been broken into. The DM was also there, and I rapidly explained my mission, pulled out some coins, and asked to buy a DoubleShot. Even more surprising, the manager just gave it to me, and I was on my way.

I was feeling much more confident about making my flight, so I also Also stopped at the new Abottsford store which happened to be on the same highway as a border crossing. No border delay, much to my relief, and so I was able stop at the Lynden store. My greatest delay of the morning turned to be highway 539 down to I-5. There was some construction, but the real source of the slowdown was the ridiculous number of cops, both local and state, with people pulled over a few miles. The speed traps continued on I-5 south of Bellingham while the speed limit was 60 MPH, and I was greatly relieved when it kicked back up to 70 MPH.

Amazingly, I saw no traffic jam going through Seattle. Though not light, traffic was not nearly as heavy as I would have expected, and I reach the airport around 9:15. Still, that was too late to risk a shuttle for the off-airport parking, so I had to go for the daily parking lot. OMG... $26 a day!!! I had not expected it to be that expensive.

Ugh. Something really wrong with the AT&T wi-fi at SEA near my gate, and I was not able to pull up any of the travel sites. I had to go directly to Air Canada to book my flight to the Yukon Territory, but after going thru the entire process the authentication page never completed before I had to board. I got on the plane wondering if my card had been charged. When I got to PDX I checked but saw no authorization. That was actually a good thing, because I noticed that I could save over $130 (plus tax even) if I went on Tuesday or Wednesday, and I started working up an alternate itinerary that allowed me to play Scrabble that weekend.

OMG I had such a horrible seat on flight to Honolulu. I thought I had gotten lucky that I was able to move from a window to an exit row seat, but it turned out to be positioned such that my left shoulder was bumped by most people who walked by. That meant that every time I was about to fall asleep, I'd be awoken. Catching up on sleep during the flights was a critical part of my itinerary, and thus I was extremely irritated. On the other hand, I didn't pay an extra $30 for the row like the lady next to me.

Had nearly two hours until my flight to the Big Island, so I got me some crappy overpriced Chinese (one of four options in the "food court") and finished watching 24.

When I went to find Mesa Airlines to check in, I realized I needed to take a shuttle. Thought I might have cut it too close, but I was more than fine. These Hawaii airports seem to be more laid back, and at the same time chaotic, than the Mainland airports. The gate agent was extremely frazzled as she processed a line of passengers. When it was my turn, she had to walk me out onto the tarmac and to the plane, but halfway there we had to stop and wait. The agent explained that there was an "important person" who needed to be taken care of first. When I finally did board, I saw only three other passengers--they did not look very important. The flight attendant either did not know about any VIP or did not want to say.

I chose a seat on the first row and set my backpack in the adjacent seat. I knew I would not be able to stow it on the floor for take-off and was about to put it in the overhead bin when the flight attendant said I could just strap it in to the seat. That was a first for me, and it looked so cute, seeing the backpack there with a seatbelt around it. I almost felt like the backpack was my child.

I'm guessing during my first trip to the Big Island I landed in Hawaii, because I seemed to remember a "real" airport with covered buildings and such. Not so in Kona, and it was quickly evident that taking a taxi to the store and then sleeping at the airport wasn't going to work even if it was cheaper than the $72 (plus tax and gas) I'd pay for the rental car.

No PT Cruiser or HHR, but no compact cars either, so I got a free upgrade. Picked a Hyundai Sonata, and it turned out to be fine for sleeping (as fine as it could be given the seats don't go down).

At the Queens Marketplace store I finally had time to chill out for the first time since I left Wisconsin, to watch Heroes and The Daily Show. And to focus on my plans for Whitehorse. After doing a much of math I decided I had to skip Scrabble and schedule my Yukon flight for the weekend.

Hung out at the store past 8:30 PM and then headed back south, past the airport, and into Kona. A barista had mentioned a 24-hr Safeway, but before I found it I spotted one of the Starbucks I'd visit in '07, and since it was still early I figured I could get a few hours of downloading in before (if) I had to leave.

First though I went over to Sack n Save for some fruit/yogurt/juice. They have Brown Cow--cool. Hadn't had Naked Juice in a while, so I picked up a combo flavor. Cripes, but it was expensive!!! A coworker had asked if food was more expensive in Hawaii, because it had to be important. I had never really taken notice, but I sure noticed the $4.59 price for the juice. I guess it was worth it, because the heat caused me to feel a mighty thirst throughout the night. Believe it or not though, it felt cool around 9:30, and I put on my pajama bottom, a t-shirt, and pajama top. After a few minutes I even grabbed the light blanket. But after a couple of hours, I woke up dripping with sweat, and I quickly ditched the pajama top and downed most of the remaining juice.

I also turned on the air so the car could cool off while I kiwied. During the process I noticed a mangy-looking cat walking across the parking lot, with a sort of limp. I named him "Limpy Kat" and watch him explore some apparent food in the Wendy's drive-thru lane.

April 13, 2009

Despite the inconvenience of having to wait until Monday to visit all those downtown stores, the process went as smoothly as I could hope for. The parking spot I'd found right in front of the Canterra Tower was golden--no restriction during the rush hour. Even if there had been a 7:30 AM restriction, I would have been fine because I started at 6:30 and managed to walk to all four stores in less than an hour. I even managed to get decent shots of all the stores after ust a few frames.

The previous evening, while waiting for my soup, I was looking through the local free weekly and spotted an ad for Body Assets, a massage studio offering an early-bird special of $25 from 7-10 AM!!! Conveniently enough, the studio was located on 17th Ave just a block east of 52nd St, basically a minute from my route out to Great Plains Plaza. Though the ad specifically said "massage", the "therapist" repeatly explained that this was not massage, but rather "adult" (entertainment) and that she was not a therapist. Despite this, the non-massage was almost tamer than what I would have expected from a chiropractor's office. When I mentioneed this, the lady explained that Calgary was the "Bible Belt" of Canada. I'd heard that Alberta was a conservative province, but I'd never heard it described that way. Regardless, for $28 (including a minimal tip and the exchange rate), my 30 minutes were not waste, and I was glad for the shower. I suspected my seatmates to Hawaii would be glad for this too.

Right around the corner was another disappointment, the discovery that Sobeys does not carry individual-sized yogurt containers. A manager who happened to be checking the stock said this was the case at all Sobeys. What I found more disappointment was his attitude--he didn't seem at all fazed by the disappointment that was evident in my tone.

And a third disappointment in a row, at the final store visit in Calgary, the rather pretty Newport Village, a rather apprehensive reaction from the manager. Up until that point the several dozen other baristas I'd met in Canada had all been really friendly.

Always in the back of my mind was concern about snow, but what made my drive to Lethbridge difficult was the wind. Kept trying to push my car off the road. The wind kept distracting me from an important task (more important than the driving), calculating my itinerary for the day. Needed to figure out whether I even had time to visit Lethbridge and Cranbrook, and then whether I could head out to some other BC stores or take a direct route to Seattle. Grrr...

More grrr... screwed up in Lethbridge and wasted way too much time reshooting two stores, getting on wi-fi, and getting food. That time would prove to be significant later in the day.

As I approached Cranbrook I waffled a bunch of times before heading straight to the US border and Seattle or trying to reach two stores in Kelowna. By straight distance, I'd make it, but I didn't know how fast the highway through the mountains would move. If I drove the extra 175 miles but did not reach Kelowna in time, I was going to be really pissed (since I couldn't wait until morning b/c of my flight).

Changed my mind at the last minute and decided to go for it. Lucked out and the road moved quicker than I expected. Still, being in such a hurry sucked. In Castlegar I passed an attractive young woman walking on the road. My policy is to always offer a woman a ride, unless she looks scary, because you never know when she might decide to be really friendly, but I just could not spare the time.

Lucked out and reached Kelowna far enough ahead of 9:00 PM to visit both stores. Good thing, too, because I'd been told the other store closed at 10:00, but it actually closed at 9:00. Grrr...

Wolves? Were those wolves on the side of 97C heading west from Kelowna?

Didn't make it to Merritt in time, though, but I had greater worries. It was raining, and the highway was really dark, and I was starting to crash and get dizzy. I reallt wanted to drive all the way across the border in case of a delay, but when I spotted the rest area I decided I valued my life more than making the flight.

April 12, 2009

With three samples, 12 oz, consumed during the night, I easily awoke at the right time, 6:40, so I could visit the first store of the morning right at 7:00 AM.

By the fifth store, I was really feeling it, the samples from the five stores from Saturday night plus four from the morning. 36 ounces were really hitting me hard.

A few stores later it occurred to me that in retrospect I had make a mistake by saving the samples from the five evening stores to drink during the night. I should have drunk them right away, even if I had trouble sleeping. By saving them, I increased the amount of coffee I would have to consume the next day to nearly 30, an uncomfortably large amount.

Reached Calgary hungry, but bloated. Popped into Spice House, and East Indian restaurant. I wanted meat, but all the dishes were at least $7 and none included naan, which I really wanted. I knew I wouldn't be able to eat much for feeling so bloated, so I skipped the meat and just ordered egg fried rice and naan. Yeah, I missed the meat, but it was a decent lunch nonetheless.

At the London Towne Square, 3:30 PM, I'd consumed 17 samples, and I visited the toilet for the 3rd or 4th time. This time though, my bowels just exploded like they had not seen my stomach virus. I surely felt better for the experience, I have to say, though some bloating persisted. There was much belching as I drove on to the next store.

HOLY COW!!! I wish I could have filmed that. I was taking my sample from the Memorial & Edmonton Trail store out to the car when I noticed a lot of dust blowing out in the street, kind of like a mini whirlwind. Suddenly it started coming towards the gas station parking lot really quickly, right through the cars and people, in my direction. I quickly got in my car so the coffee wouldn't blow away, and I wanted to see if I could get a photo/video, but just like as quickly it was gone.

Aw, nuts!!! All four of the new stores in the downtown core were closed. On top of that, while I located those first four, the Genco Place store, which I could have actually visited closed at 4:30, 6 minutes before I arrived!!! Five stores closed changed my calculus significantly. What was the point of driving out to Medicine Hat and Lethbridge to visit two stores if that meant missing out on five??? Trying to drive from Calgary to Medicine Hat to Lethbridge to Seattle in time for my flight was too risky--I had to choose on or the other.

6th or 7th toilet. While on the toilet I felt a hunger pang, and all of a sudden I realized my list of discomforts was growing long: headache, thirst, hunger, bloating, anal chafing, bowel pressure, leg cramping.

OH... MY... GOD!!! A SIXTH STORE CLOSED!!! The Great Plains Plaza store closed at 6:00 PM, 40 minutes before I arrived. Except with this one I had gone a good 15-30 minutes out of my way and would have to return. AARRGHH!!!

Jeez Louise, I almost missed out on the Sundance store too, because they closed an hour early for Easter. Luckily the doors were still open, and I was able to buy a DoubleShot

And if that weren't enough, Newport Village also closed, 35 minutes before I arrived!!! That meant I'd need to visit SEVEN stores on Monday before leaving Calgary, and that would have a dramatic impact on my schedule.

Ah, here's why you should always ask even if you don't see the item on the menu. Spotted a Chinese restaurant on McLeod Trail and immediately looked for the egg drop soup. Not on the menu. I asked anyway. And guess what, they did have it. Didn't look anything like any egg drop soup I'd ever seen, but it was fine. Threw in the leftover rice from lunch, and that was a meal.

April 11, 2009

Highway 16 to Saskatoon was 30 miles shorter, but I figured I'd be able do drive faster by staying on the Trans Canada as wells a more easily find a place to sleep, probably in Brandon. Sure enough, the the Home Depot parking lot turned out to be a great place. There was already a camper in the lot, and the far parking spot was close enough to the Starbucks to get wi-fi. Caught up on sleep some, about 9 1/2 hours.

In the morning left the car where it was downloading Dollhouse while I walked across the parking lot to the Safeway. Yes, time was important, but I figured the walk would do my left leg good.

Pit stop in Regina, and while waiting for cars to move so I could reshoot the lone store there, I asked a barista to confirm that there was only one company-owned store in the city. Given the proliferation of Starbucks in Canada, I can't believe a city the city of Regina, the capital city no less, only has one store.

Holy multiglasmic hedgehogs!!! The first Chinese restaurant I encountered in Lloydminster did not serve egg drop soup. I asked the hostess if there were others, and she said none would have that soup on the menu. Woo's kitchen was even worse, lacking the soup and also charging 8.75 for the chicken fried rice. I asked the hostess why there was no egg soup on the menu, and she said the cooks didn't know how to make it. What??? How does any cook not know how to make egg drop soup? Where the heck are these people from that they don't know how to make egg drop soup???

Whew!!! Made it to Edmonton just in time to visit the five new stores north of the city by the time the last store (St. Albert) closed at 9:00 PM. That was great for my schedule, as it allowed me to drive close to the next store, south and west, and stay the night there.

April 10, 2009

Oops, I had suspected it but I missed the sign. Thunder Bay is in the Eastern time zone. Not that the actual hour was that important, but the sun was getting high in the sky, and I decided to cut my sleep short at 7 1/2 to improve my chances of photographing the store in good light. I wouldn't be able to short-sleep for all five days of my drive--I'd need to make it up, hopefully tonight.

Holy monkey nuts!!! I got my tax refund already!!!

Bah. The manager at the Starbucks recognized me from a visit to Winnipeg and acceded to my request for a sample. But then, upon learning that I would not find any local restaurants open on Good Friday, I decided on oatmeal. When she other barista rang me up, she not only added the coffee, but she made it a tall instead of the short I'd actually been given.

Well, it had to hapen sooner or later. After then years and tens of thousands of miles driven in Canada, I finally got a speeding ticket.

As I drove away from Dryden, I had a flashback to an iconic 80s commercial, except the phrase was "where's the chicken???" What I'd hoped would be a 5-minute stop at Tim Horton's turned into a 10-minute wait in line. In between pages of Green Lantern I noticed that the menu board included soup, and I decided to try the chicken noodle. Tasty enough, but there was hardly any chicken!!!

Huhn--just east of Winnipeg is the "longitudinal center of Canada", as proclaimed by a sign that some people were photographing.

Un... fucking... believable!!! Of all the weeks Starbucks picks to announce the closures, it has to be the same week as Good Friday, and my route happens to take me through three new downtown-area Winnipeg stores that are ALL CLOSED!!! AARRGHH!!!

Bah. Despite its pretty exterior and location in a seemingly popular neighborhood (Osborne St. south of downtown), the spaghetti from Buccacino's was rather bland, and not even enough for two meals despite the price.

Oh, and add the Kenaston Indigo to that list. That means I only get 6 out of 10 new Winnipeg stores. That sux hrd.

April 9, 2009

The day got off to a rough start with a work emergency that got me up around 7:15, much too early. When I finally left work, picked up lunch, coffee, and comics, and left Lake Geneva at 1:50, I was unsure that I would be able to drive the 585 miles to Thunder Bay before I pooped out.

Saw on my iTunes that there was a new Lost podcast that had not downloaded, so I make a brief stop in Mauston where I knew the Country Inn has wi-fi. Took advantage of the break to stretch my right leg in the hopes of easing the cramping that had already begun and I expected to get worse.

Not sure if the stretching helped (not that I did that much), but I tried it again at a gas stop in Gordon.

Nearing Superior around 7:30. I wasn't that hungry, but I figured I'd best get something before it got too late. It was going to be cold that night, after all, and I needed the calories to burn for heat. The sign for Gronk's Grill caught my eye, and when I entered the parking lot I discovered wi-fi. That was good enough for me, as I could check e-mail and download stuff while I waited.

As far as 600-mile drives go, this one wasn't too bad. The cramping persisted but did not become exceedingly painful. I made great time most of the way along US-53. It wasn't 'til MN-61 that I had to cut back on the speed for about 140 miles. Still, I was not delayed at the border, and I made it into Thunderday about a quarter to midnight and soon found a suitable parking street next to an apartment complex.

April 8, 2009

Well, they finally did it, they published a list of the second wave of stores closing... but only of U.S. stores. That hurts, because it means I can't plan my overseas travel to visit as many closing stores as possible. But the good news is that I won't miss out on the two U.S. stores closing that I had not visited, in Calexico and Honolu. The bad news is I had to scramble to change my plans to finish my contract. I got the okay to take two weeks to travel in exchange for staying longer into May for a second deployment. Unfortunately, because of the rushed nature of my travels, I could only find a flight from Seattle, and only leaving next Tuesday. That would mean I would not be able to clear out all the stores in that part of Canada like I wanted to do, not in 4 1/2 to 5 days (depending on when I leave work Thursday).

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