Random Stuff from My Life

Monday, December 29, 2008


Oh yeah, we stuck to the original route for today's trip.

Also, our room for tonight is on the third floor and is ridiculously hot. We have the air conditioning on!

And yesterday we drove by the house where I lived from fourth through seventh grade (accidentally; we were looking for something else).

More adventures on the road

I had a thought tonight as I was stuffing myself with fajitas: I love this country. Driving across the western half of the United States in the wintertime, you get to experience a bunch of different climates, a bunch of different terrain, a bunch of different food, a bunch of different radio stations... I love small towns in the middle of nowhere. I love big cities with chain restaurants. I love plains. I love deserts. I love mountains. I love oceans. I love thunderstorms (more about that later). I love snow. I love warm days. I love pop music. I love country. I love rock 'n roll. I love NPR. I love Christmas music. I love Italian and Chinese and Mexican foods that would be unrecognizable in the countries where those cuisines originated. Basically, I love the variety that only the U.S. offers.

Okay, other stuff: We got to experience a real live, honest-to-goodness Kansas thunderstorm! Yeah, I know; this is so NOT that time of year. But I mentioned how the 26th had a record high and the 27th had snow? Well, in between (about 1:30 a.m.), I awoke to hail! There was thunder and lightning, and an actual tornado watch!

You have quite a bit of time to think on a trip like this. Especially across western Texas and eastern New Mexico. I've come up with my next life. After I retire early, I will pay COBRA for two years, go back and get my Master's in poli sci and then go into community college teaching.

So far, we've eaten at Sonic (only once), Long John Silver's, Dairy Queen, multiple McDonalds, and Chili's (tonight's fajitas sadly weren't in one of Las Cruces' historic Mexican restaurants). We've also eaten at several good (and one that seemed good initially but resulted in some intestinal discomfort later) local restaurants. And of course Mom loaded us down with food, both while we were there and for the return trip. We did, however, managed to get rid of the rest of the Chex Mix before we left Mom & Dad's (partially as a result of my aunt dumping a big bowl of it onto the kitchen floor).

Today's highlight was the White Sands National Monument. Lacking the variety of the Petrified Forest, but worth seeing nonetheless. Unfortunately, it came near the end of the day's travels, so the experience was tainted by the desire to just be done with the car for the day.

We took another nap after we got to our room. We haven't had any trouble getting up and on the road early, but we both get tired after lunch and fight about whose turn it is to drive. Tomorrow should be a shorter trip, and then we have one whole day without driving, followed by another relatively short trip.

Not sure if I'll blog again the next couple days. Our timeshare has high-speed Internet, but they charge for it. So, if this turns out to be my last post for 2008, Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Return

Ever wonder why "National Lampoon's Vacation" didn't show the Griswolds' trip HOME from Walley World? What further adventures might there have been? Well, just for you, Sports Fans, I present Road Trip 2: Reverse Commute.

Yes, I am a bit punchy. It comes with the territory after a Christmas complete with family drama. As The Husband said to me somewhere in Oklahoma: "Three days was long enough."

OMG - I'm watching the Independence Bowl and ESPN just showed a crowd shot. There was a woman with what looked at first glance like a Chuckie doll on her lap. I guess it was actually a child in Louisiana Tech face paint.

Anyway, Christmas was about as good as could be expected. The drive into Kansas was not nearly as cold as I had anticipated. And Friday was actually a day of record highs! But yesterday it dropped 30 degrees and snowed most of the day. It was 24 degrees when we left this morning, and the first 30 miles of road were icy. Since then it has been smooth sailing, with a high of 60 by the time we made it to Amarillo for the night.

And despite the requisite drama, the family was largely okay as well. I got to see all six of the nieces and nephews, their spouses and children over a two-day period for the first time in... ever, maybe? Mom & Dad loaded us down with a bunch of presents (in addition to the stuff we actually drove to Kansas to retrieve from their house), so the car is even more packed now than it was on the first leg of the trip. Oh well, that's what side mirrors are for, right?

Speaking of Mom & Dad's gifts, this morning over breakfast they offered me cash. No, that's okay... they have these new-fangled things called ATM's. It's not like we're destitute. But by the time we went to buy gas in Amarillo, I was re-considering their offer. My credit card was declined! Turns out their "Fraud Pre-Warning Department" had flagged my recent activity as suspicious. Hmm... a trail of receipts leading from my current address to my former address and a new trail leading back westward. Yep, sounds like someone else stole my card and visited my parents! On the other hand, maybe they were just questioning the sanity of anyone who would make a cross-country trip in the middle of winter; everyone in California certainly did.

We ate at the Big Texan Steakhouse for dinner. There were three guys attempting the 72-oz. steak dinner. None of them made it. Tomorrow I am debating eschewing our pre-printed route map in favor of another highway. The advantages are more four-lane and new scenery. The disadvantages are that it takes us over higher terrain (but the New Mexico Department of Transportation says there are no adverse road conditions on that stretch) and that it is more total miles (though we have less ground to cover tomorrow and we gain back an hour). Decisions, decisions.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tucumcari Tonite

Well, we're back in the land of Wi-Fi. (Technically, Harrah's had Wi-Fi, but they were charging $10.95/day for it; that's almost as much as I paid for the room!) This will probably be my last post until after the big family festivities, as Mom & Dad do not have a wireless network. ROTFLMAO!

The Husband and I have managed to avoid a divorce thus far, but it was touch and go for awhile tonight. This was our latest night arriving to our final destination (just after 6 p.m.) so we were pretty well fried (and the nerves pretty well frayed).

We had a lovely dinner (God, I miss good steaks!) and completely unpacked the car so we can re-pack it tomorrow in a manner that allows us to actually find things when we get to Mom & Dad's.

We had a little more snow today in western New Mexico. I'm hoping tomorrow will be clear, though I'm prepared for it to be COLD.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 20, 2008


So far, so good.

We had my office holiday party last night and there was wine involved. Not so much that I made a complete fool of myself, but enough to give me a restless night of sleep. I was up from around 3:30 on, so at 5:00 Stan gave up and we got out of bed. We left town at exactly 6:30. There was light traffic and no icy roads, so we made it to our motel for the first night at exactly 2:00. Uh, okay, guess we could have driven farther today. Except, no, that was enough being in the car. We took a nice nap then got up and went looking for dinner and cheap gas. Now it's just after 6, and we're in for the evening.

Tonight's Travelodge is clean and the Wi-Fi works. We've been on an all-fast food diet - hopefully the buffet at Harrah's will have a good salad selection tomorrow night. Speaking of Harrah's, I think we'll be Wi-Fi-less for two nights, so for the latest adventures check the Mobile Blog.

Last but not least, why is it that the cheapest gas station you pass during a trip becomes the benchmark for all successive gas purchases? Sure, gas in Merced may be 20 cents a gallon cheaper than it is at home (and $2/gal. less than what we were paying not so very long ago), but the fact that it's 20 cents a gallon MORE than some random place 50 miles north of here is just absolutely unacceptable.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Variety is the spice of blogging

Time with the Husband
So I had Monday off work. We needed to have some work done on the car before our big trip. Instead of just letting Stan deal with it and staying home to play on the computer or something, I went with him to the auto repair place. Then, being sans auto for three hours, we just walked around town. Together. We never have a chance to do that. Usually when we're both home at the same time, we're both busy. It was nice to just spend an afternoon together with no plans, no pressure, etc. Plus, it was probably good practice for all the time we're going to be spending together on our trip.

The best ad ever
Speaking of our trip, I got a bunch of McDonald's gift certificates for us to eat various non-Sonic meals on the road. Have you seen these new "Nuggnuts" commercials that Mickey D's is running? They are stupid, but I think they must be the most effective ads in history, because they've actually made me hungry for Chicken McNuggets. Those things are awful!

Always an adVENTURE
And speaking of good advertising, they ought to bring back Venture stores.

God knows, my Husband calls Tar-zhay "Venture" ALL THE TIME.

Fin de semana de las nueces pimientas
Someone at the office had the bright idea that we should all make homemade cookies to distribute to other departments. Four dozen each. I decided that Stan and I should make peppernuts, another Midwestern specialty of German extraction (like bierrocks) that none of my California colleagues had ever heard of. What I failed to adequately convey to Stan (who, despite his supposed German grandparentage, was just as clueless as the Golden Staters) is the time required to make a quantity of these equivalent to four dozen regular-sized cookies. We have spent most of the last two days in an assembly-line-style kitchen production, with me rolling and slicing the dough and him taking one pan out of the oven and sliding another in to replace it. It's gone relatively well, but I don't think we could ever be one of those couples (that you see on Oprah; I've never actually met any of these people) who enjoy cooking together.

Noche de luces
We did take a break from baking long enough to go sit in the rain and see the local electrical parade. You'll have to forgive the picture quality; I used the real camera last year, and it's no better and capturing lights at night than the cell phone is.

Friday, December 05, 2008

That sucks

Most tragic story EVER

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Go Doogie!

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Dandrew and the basic unfairness of life

The frat boys are probably going to win the whole thing! Makes you wonder why you should bother working hard when some people can succeed just by the luck of having others around them screw up.