Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Road Trip!

Author's Note: Last weekend I went on a road trip with a friend from here to Chicago. Here follows an account of the trip.

The adventure begins on Thursday, August 12th. My friend Eehern is moving from Cambridge, MA to San Jose, CA by way of a convoluted path across the country.

I am the designated passenger for the Cambridge - Chicago leg. Note that I am not a designated driver, because Eehern doesn't believe I can drive stick shift. Somehow farm truck != beloved Subaru in terms of driving skill. I maintain that if I can navigate cow fields, I can totally manage highway driving, obviously. Same thing, right?

The plan called for leaving at 7am, but he and friends were out celebrating late the night before - so I had my doubts. So despite myself getting up dutifully at 6:45am, I heard not a peep from Eehern until 8:30am. Turns out after celebrating, he had been working from 2-4am the night before, taking care of such important tasks as delivering odds and ends to lab.

So at 8:30am he tells me: "I'll be over in twelve minutes."

Twelve minutes later he calls, "Did you remember your passport?" Yeah. Got it.

At 9:10am I see the Subaru pull in front of my building - longest twelve minutes I've waited in a while. :)

Figure: The car, packed to the brim. I was allowed one carry-on and one personal item.

We stopped at a gas station, and headed out. I always road trip with a beverage. To me, it's a part of the experience. I have nostalgic memories of driving from Stillwater OK to Tulsa OK, which takes exactly the amount of time to drink a Dr. Pepper.

Figure: Miss Outlier's road trip beverage, morning Day 1.
We drove from Cambridge MA to Springfield MA, where our first stop was the basketball hall of fame.

Figure: My grandfather would be proud. He was a basketball coach.
We wanted to, you know, actually SEE the museum, but it was $17 a person.

Figure: So this is what we did instead. Eehern insists there wasn't much there to see, I think that made him feel better. 
Now, before we go much further - let's establish what I was in charge of. My job consisted (since I wasn't allowed to drive) of the iPod, the EZPass, and the GPS.

Figure: So basically, if we didn't make it to Chicago, it was either my fault or the GPS lady. I'm sayin' the fault would be with the GPS.
But instead of relying wholly on the GPS, I thought it prudent to, you know, have SOME idea where we were headed.
Figure: Thus, I also had maps.
We headed out past Springfield, taking I-90 all the way to New York. About noon, I started to get hungry.

Eehern wasn't hungry. As I would come to find out, the boy doesn't need anything. No food, no water, no rest, no - ahem - bathroom stops. Apparently, I'm a high-maintenance passenger. He's always fine.

But he's also a gentleman, so we stopped for lunch.

Figure: Miss Outlier's road trip beverage, afternoon Day 2
We pressed on, heading to Buffalo and the promise of wings.

But Albany comes before Buffalo, and Albany had the following in store for us: rain!

Figure: Putting the RainX to work. Eehern has a devotion to RainX, to the point where he no longer uses wipers. Out of principle. And because his wipers aren't very good.
In fact, I recorded the occasion (and I was bored, having NO DRIVING to do - ahem). For your viewing pleasure:

At 3pm, we took a break. Once again, Eehern didn't need anything. But I needed to stretch and take a bathroom break. Perhaps those road trip beverages have something to do with it...?
Figure: Didn't stop me from getting another one, though. It's the principle of the thing. Miss Outlier's road trip beverage, late afternoon Day 1.

At this point I'd like to take a side tangent - it was at this rest stop I discovered another quirk. Eehern records all gas purchases.

Religiously, in fact. There is a whole lot of data here.

In face, Eehern once considered making a homework problem out of it - and making the students enter in all that data for analysis. At first I thought that was an awesome idea, then I realized he was my TA, and I would have hated that. In any case, there is a gold mine of transportation data here waiting for some industrial soul. Until then, we have absolutely no idea what all this data means.

Moving on.

I am including this just for A.J. - look what we passed on the road!

According to A.J., the world's best grocery store.

Moving on again.

We made it to Buffalo! Home of the original Buffalo Wing. Obviously, we stopped.

We wanted two toppings, and went for the Original and Mild. I think left to his own devices, Eehern would have gotten Original and Suicide, but we were going to be riding in a car for the next 24 hours. I insisted on Mild. 

It was delicious. We polished it off, with no sides needed save for a few measly celery sticks.

The carnage afterwards.

Full and happy, we checked off the first stop on the trip. Buffalo, been and done. On to Niagara...

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