Andrew Que Sites list Photos
Projects Contact
Main

March 02, 2015

Road trip day 9--The Return Home

East Chicago

East Chicago

   Turns out my accident yesterday bent a strut and there was no way to correct for the alignment.  I decided to wrap the trip up and take Eve home where I could take her to a shop I trust to do the repair work.  She handled fine, and despite having a pretty good ding in the front driver side tire rim I had no vibrations.  In fact she handled just fine the entire drive home.
   It was a nice drive through the mountains of southern New York/Northern Pennsylvanian.  I pulled into the drive way around 2:00 am.  Having marked the odometer before and after the trip I logged exactly 3067 miles. 
   Although cut short it was a good trip and I enjoyed each of my stops.  I picked up a new hobby, got to see a few things I had wanted to see for a long time, and visited several people I had not seen in a very long time.

1 comment has been made.

From colleen

Philadelphia

March 05, 2015 at 12:19 AM

Was so good seeing you! :)

March 01, 2015

Road trip day 8--Philadelphia

Colleen

Colleen

   Visited Colleen in Philadelphia and spent the afternoon with her.  Freezing rain began as I departed north.  After fighting for hours in extremely poor traffic conditions I got a chance to speed up.  Did fine until I lost the lane and veered into a guardrail.  Estimate I was traveling around 40 MPH.  Knocked out my left headlight.  Upon inspection I found my door was hard to open.  The front quarter panel was bent, the headlight fixture displaced but intact.  I bent the front panel a little and was able to fully open the driver side door.  Replaced the head light.  Noticed my steering and think I messed up my front-end alignment.  Going to have to have this looked at as I don't want to drive several hundred miles with it messed up.

February 28, 2015

Road trip day 7--Aquarium

Jellyfish

Jellyfish

   Visited the National Aquarium in Baltimore this afternoon.  I always enjoy a good aquarium, but didn't enjoy the massive crowd.  It was a slow process to see the displays, but the aquarium had an interesting layout.  I visit the Shed Aquarium in Chicago every few years and it was nice to see an other layout on about the same scale.  After the aquarium I did a little photography in some of the part of Baltimore that are undergoing restoration.  I was told it looks like a post-apolitical movie set, and tend to agree.
   In the evening I drove to Newark, Delaware where I had found a skating rink.  Must be an mid-Atlantic coast thing, but I was yelled at for skating backward.  I have skated dozens of rinks, coast to coast, and only here in Delaware and once many years ago in Philadelphia have I been told not to skate backward.  Once neutered, skating lost much of it's appeal.  We went in circles, and unable to dance I just didn't care to continue.  In addition it was us that couldn't skate backward—the floor guards did whatever the hell they wanted.  I hate double standards, and whatever aspirations I had quickly vanished.    I think any rink that has rules like this must publish this fact on their website so real skaters know not to bother stopping by.
   No rest areas in Delware that I could see.  Found that you can't search for them with google, which is a shame.  I did find a truck stop in New Jersey, and along the way I found a welcome center/rest area.  So I decided to bed down there for the night.

February 27, 2015

Road trip day 6--Discovery

The Orbiter Discovery

The Orbiter Discovery

   Got up about 8:00 am and departed for the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.  Arrived just before it opened.  Found it amusing that the museum is free, but parking is $15.  The museum was amazing—far better than I had anticipated.  I had gone primarily to visit the Space Shuttle Discovery.  As soon as I walked in I could see the tail of Discovery in the distance.  As I approached I saw an SR-71 Blackbird in front of it.  In fact, they had several impressive aircraft I had always wanted to see.  An Air France Concord—the fastest commercial airliner in the world.  The F-35 Lightning—the latest in ridiculously over-budget jet fighters.  The infamous Enola Gay—the airplane the dropped the first atomic bomb on the city of Haroshima, Japan.  In addition they had the Apollo 11 module from the first moon landing, a Mercury spacecraft, and even the model for the alien spaceship from Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  But nothing couple compare to Discovery.
   The orbiter Discovery is a beautiful bird.  It is much larger than I had imagined and sits proudly as the center piece of it's hanger.  It has been left pretty much in the state it was upon finishing it's last mission.  Only the items that the toxic fuel components for the monomethylhydrazine and dinitrogen tetroxide (which explode when you mix them) were removed.  Discovery contains all the scorch marks of reentry, and the dirt accumulated from 39 launch/landings.  Despite these marks of regular use, the orbiter gleams proudly as a tribute to the marvel of engineering it is.  When you see this vehicle and actually stand next to it, and then see the Apollo module just across from it, you realize what an amazing leap was made in space travel technology.  There is nothing else like the shuttle, and what is slated to replace it, namely the Orion, is clearly nowhere near as large.
   My first pass around Discovery was just spent in awe.  I was approached by a man who was a tour guide, and he asked me if I had any questions.  I could hardly respond due to lack of words.  I grew up with shuttle launches as a kid—they were fantastic to watch.  As an adult I continued to enjoy watching the launches, reading about the shuttle missions, and the details of how the orbiter worked.  But actually standing there next to one, being next to the reality... it really did a number on me.  I smiled the entire time.  
   Latter an other tour guide asked if I had questions, and by this time I had my brain back.  I queried him about every details—the fuel ports, the maneuver thrusters, parachute location, space debris avoidance, heat shield tiles, and on and on.  The man seemed to enjoy responding to my questions and I enjoyed asking them.
   I walked the museum until my feet wanted to give out.  Initially I wanted to visit a second museum that day, but by the time I left the Smithsonian it was too late.  So maybe a trip an other time.  But I hardly feel bad about it.  I could have driven all this way just for this museum and returned home, and it would have been worth every bit of time spent.

February 26, 2015

Road trip day 5--Annapolis

Liz

Liz

   Woke at 6:30 am and told the alarm to shut-up.  Pulled my pants and glasses into the sleeping bag with me and dozed back off until 6:45 am.  There was a few inches of snow on the ground and snow still falling.  Decided to hang out at a Denny's for a couple of hours to let the snow pass.  Used the time to search for places to visit in the D.C./Baltimore area and make plans with people online.  After two cups of coffee they forgot about me.
   Departed for Annapolis and visited Liz J.  Tried a crab cake.  Didn't dislike it, but wasn't terribly impressed either.

February 25, 2015

Road trip day 4--Heck-Andrews House

 Heck-Andrews House

Heck-Andrews House

   Slept at a rest area about an hour from Raleigh and woke about 5:45 am.  Found the second empire house I've wanted to see in person—the Heck-Andrews House—for a while and took tons of pictures.  Then worked my way to Virginia.  Decided I'd rather drive along the coast with switch my course to Norfolk, VA.  Got an oil change in NC but they didn't put the cap back on.  Smelled burned oil around Norfolk and decided to investigate.  Replace cap and continued on road.  Cross long bridge/tunnel system over the mouth of Chesapeake Bay to the Delmarva Peninsula by late afternoon.  Made it to Maryland shortly after dark but had trouble finding a place to bed down for the night.  Forecast called for heavy snow.  I wanted a rest area, but all the rest areas close and don't allow overnight parking.  No truck stops either.  Had to spend the night at a chain store parking lot.

February 24, 2015

Road trip day 3--More Snowboarding

Ready to Go

Ready to Go

   Woke at 8:30 am and slowly got out of my trunk bed, a little sore but ready to go.  It had snowed during the night and light flurries were falling when I awoke.  The ground had accumulated about 4 inches.  Shane's road is gravel and was unplowed.  I allowed him to drive my car to try and get back to the main road.  We got stuck on one big hill.  Shane was able to get a neighbor to pull us the rest of the way.  A plow came by about this time and had the main road clear.  That made the rest of the drive back to the highway nice and clear.
   We had breakfast at the Awful Waffle (a.k.a the Waffle House) and then went back for more snowboarding.  This day I continued to work on technique, and in particular my toe turns.  The hardest part for me is the transition from a heal turn into a toe turn, but is the key to the steeper hills.  Shane had me go down an other hill at the top more challenging than the one yesterday.  I did poorly my first run, but continued to improve with each additional run.  On the main hill I wasn't falling much at all.  Only a couple of times did I mess up and dump, but most of the time I could make the main run without incident doing long S-turns.  The tall hill I never finished flawlessly, but the mistakes were often due to my inability to work around other people.  I would dump rather than risk getting too close.  I finished the day with a good run of the tall hill, and a very fast flawless run of the main hill.
   Shane and I went to dinner again and chatted to about 8:00 pm.  I got on the road and started toward Raleigh, NC.

February 23, 2015

Road trip day 2--Introduction to Snowboarding

Shane

Shane

   Woke up around 7:30 am, ate some breakfast and departed for the ski resort.  Arrived at almost exactly 9:00 am and I was trying to figure out a place to park when I got a call from Shane wondering where I was.  It has been at about 15 years since I had seen Shane in person, although we chat from time to time online.  After he had some breakfast it was time to start my lessons.  First we suited up and I was assigned all the equipment I would need: boots, helmet, and snowboard.  In addition I had two pairs of socks with the second layer being wool, thermal pants, a moisture wicking undershirt, a few layers of outer shirts, a balaclava, scarf, hat, coat, and gloves.  I declined snow pants the first day as I've never really worn them.
   Once outside Shane taught me the basics of the snowboard.  How to keep the board from moving while strapping yourself to it; how to move it with one foot connected, one foot disconnected; the fundamentals of steering, balance, and stance; ext, ext.  Then it was to the top of the bunny hill where I would see what it felt like to actual move with this device.  I discovered I felt pretty comfortable with the motions needed to control the snowboard.  I have 20 years of roller skating experience, and I have enjoyed playing with caster boards.  I'm not sure how much these two facts helped, but I found moving the snowboard came pretty natural.  Shane did say I was being a little aggressive trying to move the back end of the board around, which I attribute to my familiarity with caster boards.  But the basics were obtained quickly: heal turns, and toe turns.  I found doing a heal turn so the board was perpendicular to the direction of travel led to a quick stop and would turn into my fallback when I felt I didn't have total control.
   After a couple runs on the bunny hill Shane recommend I try the main hill.  I found I felt comfortable doing heal turns, but not so much with toe turns.  The first stop on the main hill had a fairly narrow path before reaching a larger area.  The first few runs I found I could "feather" this area, rocking back and forth using heal turns to navigate this section slowly.  Shane pointed out it was actually easier to do techniques in when going faster rather than slower, and I found this to be the case. Whenever I felt a little out of control, I could turn the board to the side and slow to a stop rather quickly. With this safeguard I was able to focus on toe operations.
   When I started getting the feel of toe turns, Shane wanted me to step it up and go to the top of the hill. There the angles were higher and thus the speeds higher. I feathered much of my first run, but started to feel more confident with continued runs. Although I still dumped at speed on each run, it was becoming less frequent.  Shane took a break for awhile and I continued my work. During this time I made a couple of runs of the main hill without dumping. Each time I worked on S-turns as a way to manage my speed. Near the end of the day I was very sore but did a few more runs with Shane. This time I kept my speeds down and focused on technique.
   In the evening, Shane and I went to dinner and then back to Shane's house.  I was sore, but slept quite well. 
   Pictured is Shane at dinner.  He looks about the same as when I met him over 20 years ago.
Over the rivers and through the mountains

Over the rivers and through the mountains

   The car is packed and we departed around 8:00 am.  A stop at the grocery store fills our cooler with food for travel.  Our phone acts as a GPS and I downloaded several off-line maps for areas I thought might have spotty service.  An inverter powers my laptop, camera battery charger, and a couple USB chargers.  It's a backward system to go from 12 VDC to 120 VAC and then 5 VDC, but functional.  A second power port feeds by portable media device so I can listen to my book while driving.
   This first day has about 12.5 hours of driving scheduled and is calculated to get me to a rest area just shy of North Carolina.  My first destination is a ski resort where if all goes well I will be taught by my old friend Shane how to snowboard.  For this part of the drive I finish off two books: Newton and the Counterfeiter, and Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!.  Right on time I stop at a rest area Tennessee just a few miles from the border.  The temperature is around 40° F (4° C) which is significantly higher than when I left Wisconsin at 1° F (-17° C).  After using the facilities at the rest area to brush my teeth and remove my contacts, I slide into the sleeping bag in my trunk through the opening from a folded down seat.  Once in the trunk, a covered the opening with my coat so Eve looks as if there is no one inside, put in my ear plugs, bury myself under blankets, and sleep comfortably.  I do enjoy sleeping in my trunk.