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Road Trip Blogs

 

The Road Trip blogs are documentation of the four muppets crossing the United States (from February 16th to February 27th, 2009). The journey starts in Daytona, Florida and ends in Las Vegas, Nevada. The trip is something that we've all wanted to do and the timing sort of worked now. Given that Mr O and myself are into motor racing, the trip starts with the Daytona 500 and ends with the Shelby 427 in Las Vegas.

There are three maps on this page - the first map shows the initial planned route. The second is simply a widget that allows you to find my current position (which, depending on when you look at this page may be whilst we are on the trip). The third map shows the actual route taken and has photos tagged to it to show some of the main sites that we saw along the way. Each map is interactive and can be clicked and poked with.

Planned Route


View Larger Map

Key

     
A - Daytona Beach, FL B - Kennedy Space Center, FL C - Nashville, TN D - Graceland, Memphis, TN
E - Bald Knob, AR F - Springfield, MO G - Cawker City, KS (largest ball of twine) H - Lebanon, KS (mid point between New York and San Francisco)
I - Kinsley, KS (mid point of the 48 contiguous states) J - Amarillo, TX (Cadillac Ranch) K - Roswell, NM L - El Paso, TX
M - Tucson, AZ N - Lake Havasu, AZ (London Bridge) O - Four Corners, AZ, NM, UT, CO P - Grand Canyon, AZ
Q - Boulder City, NV (Hoover Dam) R - Las Vegas, NV    

Blogs are written by both Rag and Mr O. Double clicking each picture should open it in a bigger window.

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Road Trip Blogs

(Posted 17:42:52 on 29th January 2009 by Rag)
Welcome to the road trip blogs! The blogs on this page are to document the road trip the Mr O and myself are taking across the country, accompanied by my dad and brother. This trip is due to take place between February 16th to February 27th and take us from Daytona Beach, Florida to Las Vegas, Nevada. The start is the Daytona 500 NASCAR race on February 15th and the end is the Shelby 427 NASCAR race on March 1st just in case you were wondering.

Now, first things first. If you're reading this by clicking on a link from the weekly email, you probably want to click this next link to take you to the Road Trip Blogs so you can now see what I'm going to talk about.

Now, second things second. If you clicked that link and read the stuff on the page on the way down to this article, then most of what comes next is pretty redundant - but I'm going to say it anyway. This page has three maps above. The first shows our planned route. The second map shows my current position. The third map shows our actual route along with some photos tagged to the route. Pretty cool eh?

Now for the smart ones amongst you ... I seem to be pausing as that probably doesn't account for many does it now? Anyway, the point I was going to make was that if you're looking at this before February 16th, the actual route map will be showing whatever map I've plugged in there and the current location will be showing the last location I've made public from my GPS recording. If you're looking after March 1st then the actual map should be good, but the current location will still keep updating for the last location I've made public.

OK - now that's that out of the way. In preparation for the trip I've also created a Road Trip America Photos Page that you may want to look at for more photos than are recorded on the map above.

That's about it for the boring stuff. Now to put a few blogs together for the trip planning and wait for the next two weeks to zip by.
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Sights and Sounds Along The Way

(Posted 18:52:27 on 29th January 2009 by Rag)
One of the things I'm looking forward to (and I think the rest of the group are also looking forward to) is to meet some interesting people and see some fun things along the way. I was provided the linked document as some things to look for:

Rednecks

... Lets hope we see some of these.
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If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire .....

(Posted 11:36:55 on 7th February 2009 by Rag)
..... four blokes in a Dodge Durango traveling across the the US. I suppose that's a little less dramatic than a crack commando unit being tried for a crime they didn't commit and surviving as soldiers of fortune in the Los Angeles underground after escaping from a maximum security stockade. But anyway, The A Team is definitively the best TV show ever and we're just four regular people. Well, maybe the best TV show ever except for Star Trek, Stargate, Red Dwarf and a whole host of others.

So, we can say that The A Team is definitively the best TV show ever except for those TV shows that are better. Which brings me to the four muppeteers that are going to embark on this road trip an about a week. Which ones of us represent which member of the A Team? Well, given that I'm writing this and that I've done a lot of the planning, I guess my character is pretty well defined. I also don't think there's any doubt that Dad fills the “Howling Mad” position, which leaves Faceman and B.A.

Initially I had Mr O down as B.A. given that he's likely to be doing most of the driving, however, I've just found out that Hog has had to get tranquilizers for the flight. If that doesn't tie Hog into bein B.A. then I don't know what does. Only difference being that he'll take the tranqs voluntarily as opposed to someone going - here hoggy boy, drink this nice glass of milk. Which in turn would probably have to be adapted to - here hoggy boy, drink this bucket of beer. “I love beer, fool!”

So that leaves Mr O as Faceman. I initially had a hard time with this as I just couldn't picture Mr O with a nurse on each arm, but then I got to thinking about the scamming and I'm getting more and more used to this idea. Particularly given Mr O's poker playing, I think I can see him walking into somewhere with a clipboard pretending to be an inspector, then walking out with fork lift truck or something similar.

I guess the worrying part is that, if we follow this scenario, our B.A. is not the most reliable of mechanics. The last trip I did with Hog in one of his automobiles, it broke down before we got out of the car park - a total distance of about 10 feet. Lets hope we don't get captured and put in a barn with some welding gear and an old tractor as we may not be able to fashion it into a potato throwing tank.

I suppose it's time to break the old man out of the asylum (a.k.a. The Stag). I love it when a plan comes together!
2 comment(s)back to top
Colonel Decker
08:52:31
9th February 2009
Very amusing!
Dave Rayment
13:16:40
13th February 2009
That’s flippin good. Looking forward to reading more about the scrapes you get into.
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T-Minus 2 and counting

(Posted 04:07:38 on 12th February 2009 by Mr O)
I don't think we can really say the road trip has started officially until the 4 muppetteers are united, in fact I am the first intrepid traveller to commence their journey.

So here I am sitting in the Clubhouse at Gatwick airport having polished off my second free bacon sarnie contemplating the fact that I am about to become an ambi-turner. If you've not seen the film Zoolander I recommend it, however the title character was a male model who an inability to turn left, and until today I also had the same problem when it came to boarding aircraft. Not an inability as such just never had the permission to turn left.

Well among many firsts on this trip, it'll be my first in Upper Class. I have to thank Virgin for reducing the flight costs by 70% to make this possible, but possible it is.

I guess the next chance to blog will probaly once I've checked in tonight having picked up the muppet-mobile.

Happy days - oh no that's a completely different TV show and I don't think any of the four of us fit the Fonz bill.
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Back to earth with a dump

(Posted 18:08:47 on 12th February 2009 by Mr O)
I don't know what it is about long haul flights but they don't half make you constipated. Good news is that I've checked and we've got an all clear.

However talk about coming back down to earth with a bump, let's just say my experiences after landing in Orlando were less than upper class.

Before I go into that, let me tell you, you've got to try upper class at least once in your life, jeez, food you can eat, served on proper crockery with metal cutlery, none of this plastic trays and plastic forks and plastic food business. Plus the leg room and the fact that they take time to learn your name, ok so there were only the 14 of us in upper class, but it's a nice touch.

I do have a couple of disadvantages being a lone traveller and a shy one at that, I rarely get engaged in conversations with anyone. Obviously it's easier if you are in a couple as you can talk to other couples. Anyway, I have to make do with listening in on other people's conversations to get my entertainment. Funnily the guy behind me came up with a corker of a Freudian slip, he was in upper but his travelling companion was in economy, he referred to her first as his girlfriend and then quickly corrected himself and said daughter. I think he was on the level and it was his daughter, but that's one hell of a Freudian slip. (And yes Dan, you would have)

Anyway, the flight itself was uneventful, just 9 hours of tedium interrupted by food. It was when we landed at Orlando that the problems begin. It didn’t help that it was 28 degrees and humid out when we landed, always makes for frayed tempers. So we pull up to the gate, get up and head for the door and nothing happens. I look out of the window and there’s the sky bridge thing, not quite bridging across the sky. It was stuck, a guy comes out with a hammer and taps a few things and it starts to move up and down but not forwards towards the plane. Another guy comes out and takes a look and shakes his head, it was only when the third guy came along and kicked something did it jerk into life and connect up, for a short while I thought we were going to have to jump for it. That was a nice 15 minutes standing in a humid plane when the last place you wanted to be was on a plane.

Next came my favourite part of travel to the US, immigration, made worse by the two groups in front of me being extended families, it took bloody ages in the non air-conditioned immigration hall to clear. Fine I thought, not knowing the set-up at Orlando, I quickly grab a trolley and identify my bags (another advantage of upper class, a separate conveyor belt) head through customs only to be greeted by a set of escalators and a couple of old Doris’s telling you that trolleys stopped there. Apparently we were in terminal B and the baggage pick up was in terminal A, so I had to dump them on another conveyor belt and wave them goodbye whilst I got the unmanned train to the main terminal.

After searching for 10 minutes to find the right carousel (fortunately near the car hire desks) another 10 minute delay whilst I waited for a second time for my bags. By this stage I’m pissed off, tired and gently perspiring. So I queue for the car hire, and I queue and I queue. I had enough time to switch on the blackberry and wade through all of my e-mails and then some before getting served. Of course they didn’t have the car I’d booked and tried fobbing my off with something much smaller to which I pointed out that there’d be 4 adults with luggage to last all 4 adults for nearly 3 weeks and I’d need something bigger. So the guy calls up and arranges a Chevy Aspen which he told me was much bigger. Well it was, it had a step to get up into the drivers seat. The only problem was that there wasn’t enough room in the back for my luggage let alone that of anyone else’s, my case ended up on the back row (of three rows) of seats. The car is perfect if you’ve a family of two parents and 5 kids and are just heading to Disney, it’s not going to suffice for four big blokes for 3 weeks doing a road trip. Plus it has a 5.7 litre engine which will be a tad thirsty methinks. So I am discounting this vehicle as the Muppet-mobile or the mystery wagon depending on what we decide to call it. I don’t think we can call it the mystery machine only because I wouldn’t like to assign the four characters out of Scooby-Doo (excluding the dog) to the four of us, so the muppet-mobile will have to suffice for now. I’m hoping that when I pick up John and Ivan and add them onto the car hire, we can exchange for something more suitable.

To top that I had the fun task of trying to find the hotel from the airport with no map and only a two line description of how to get there. Amazingly I managed it, otherwise from reading the first line of this entry I may be faced with an unwanted cleaning bill.

I can say that the hotel is not the best I’ve stayed in, but not the worst either, and the reviews on trip-advisor were a little harsh, however I did turn up at night and things could look very different in the morning.

Plans are for an early night, breakfast and shopping in the morning. A polite conversation with the rental company and then a mission to Daytona to see if my ticket for the trucks really is at the pick up window, if so an evening of motor racing is on the cards, by which time intrepid traveller number 2, Rag himself will have arrived on scene.

Happy reading.
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Dilemma time

(Posted 04:59:28 on 13th February 2009 by Mr O)
Not that I know anyone called Emma, and even if I did I wouldn’t call from here, think of the cost! (sorry it’s the law, at least one bad pun per post)

Quandary number one is all about this, blogging, how much to blog. I am already conscious that I’m saying too much (especially after my constipation thread) but then isn’t that the point? I guess it’s getting the balance between verbal, sorry textual diarrhoea and not saying anything informative. I don’t want these entries to become Twitter like and have me enter every two minutes “I’m in a queue”, “I’m still in a queue”, or “I’m glowing”, followed by “I’m gently perspiring” to “I’m sweating buckets here, where’s the nearest shower?” And although I also use Facebook, I don’t want this to be an extension of the status updates, although strictly speaking my status update on Facebook should always read “Owen is updating his Facebook status”. Then if you are on both Facebook and Twitter, you end up in an endless loop stating that you are either just updating itself or the other. See textual diarrhoea.

Onto the real dilemma, who to support in the race this weekend. Following up on Rag’s question last week, will he forget something, well I did, I own two NASCAR related baseball caps (not something to be proud of as a UK resident, but fortunately I’ve not been out in the sun long enough to turn my neck the requisite colour yet) but I left them both behind. So I need to decide who to support so as i can buy the correct baseball cap. With the list of 40+ drivers you’d have thought that it would be easy to pick someone out, but as I’ve only heard of one of them, Juan Pablo Montoya, and Rag has already bagged him, it’s not so easy. I thought about going on numbers, but Montoya drives the 42 car, so that is out of the window, so it comes down to glory hunting. I could pick the three time champion Jimmie Johnson in the 48 car, but that’d be like picking Man Utd. I could pick Carl Edwards in the 99 car, he always comes across as genuine in interviews, and did a good job when he came over to Wembley last December for the race of champions. But at the moment I’m being swayed to Kyle Busch, he’s from Las Vegas, my spiritual home, he takes risks and won a load of races at the start of the season only to fade away towards the end, very much like my beloved Liverpool. Plus he is sponsored by M&Ms, so it can’t be bad.

It’s an early blog today as the jet lag has kicked in and I can’t force myself to sleep any more. It’ll be a nice leisurely day before I head off in the afternoon. After doing some research, the pick up race doesn’t start until 8 pm here, so I doubt that I’ll be back in the hotel until the early hours which means I ought to try and nap around lunch time. So I’m going to leave it at that for now, leave you to ponder both dilemmas and tell me whether to shut up and stop writing so much and whether I should be a Bush man or not.
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Unorthodox picnic

(Posted 09:19:08 on 13th February 2009 by Mr O)
Seeing as my hotel room has a fridge in it and I was going to be staying for a few days I decided to venture out and get some supplies. Strange things American supermarkets, 4 billion sq ft in size, 2 aisles of grocery items.

So I bought my self some spread (they don’t call it margarine here) and some rolls and some processed cheese. To say it’s processed is an understatement, since when have you ever since cheese with a 9 month shelf life. Of course, the spread is white, in the UK we must add something to turn it yellow to at least make it look like butter, in fact I can’t believe the stuff they call I can’t believe it’s not butter, is in fact not butter and the stuff they call I can’t believe it’s not I can’t believe it’s not butter is also in fact not butter (spot the TV reference folks).

Of course what I forgot to do was steal any of the plastic cutlery from the breakfasst room, so here I am spreading spread with my fingers onto my buns for the cheese to follow.

I'll let you know how it goes.
2 comment(s)back to top
Noxious Maverick
09:42:36
13th February 2009
.... not forgetting of course that ’Buns’ can mean something entirely different in your current location - mind where you sit!!
Dave R
13:24:09
13th February 2009
I was thinking of another reference to buns to be honest. Probably not the best ever thought I’ve had in my life. Sorry Owen.
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Friday the 13th part 42

(Posted 09:02:17 on 14th February 2009 by Mr O)
Luckily I didn’t encounter Jason at Camp Crystal Lake so on a day that could have spelt disaster (d-i-s-a-s-t-e-r there, that spells disaster), the superstitions of Friday the 13th failed to hit. I did have a near miss at the ticket collection window at Daytona when I went to collect my ticket which they had previously assured my that they hadn’t posted to me, when they checked and couldn’t find it they decided they had posted it, so they had to print another one off for me, so all was fine.

After a morning of pootling around I decided to head for Daytona just after 2, fortunately the hotel I’d booked was ideally placed for getting to Daytona, literally one turn and then onto the interstate and then head in the direction of Daytona for 40 miles. The biggest problem with doing the journey solo is that you have to read the directions whilst doing (ahem) 70 in the outside lane, which meant I missed the suggested route into the circuit, but I knew that I was still heading in roughly the right direction, and in the end I reckon I had a smoother journey in than most.

Being a veteran of motor racing, I was a little surprised at the set-up for the parking but I reckon it worked. Basically the general parking was about 2-3 miles from the circuit and they’d opened up a cross country dirt-track route for courtesy buses to take to avoid the traffic. Fine except the drop off point was still about a ¼ of a mile from the circuit on the other side of a 4 lane highway, so we had to trudge our way over the bridge.

Daytona is big, but then for a 2.5 mile tri-oval what do you expect? I found the ticket collection window, ¼ of a mile in the wrong direction from my seat, I found my seat (after over shooting and climbing too many stairs for my liking) and I found the merchandising area another ¼ of a mile past the ticket collection window, so did a fair bit of walking, but I guess that’s not a bad thing.

The one thing I hadn’t properly accounted for was the drop in temperature when it got dark. The race itself didn’t start until 8 pm, so when I left for the race in the afternoon it was in the mid 20s and t-shirt weather, by 8 o’clock it wasn’t. Fortunately there were a lot of people in the stands and we were a bit crammed in, and the girl next to me had a fleece so at least my left arm was slightly warmer.

The race itself was pretty spectacular, two major incidents and some extremely close racing with both the first two finishers having fought their way through the field to get to the front.

The journey back was a lot smoother than expected, after using some pretty impressive drafting and overtaking manoeuvres to get back to the bus queue and spotting a new line opening up just as I got there, I must have been in the first set of buses to get back to the car park. As the numbers of people getting back to the car park was regulated the queues to get out were non-existent so was back at the hotel within an hour of getting on the bus, which compared to most motor racing events is a minor miracle.

When I got back Rag had arrived so we had a chat and we bought some beers for him and toasted the journey to come.

Today is another chilled start with the fun to come later when the final two arrive and I have the task of trying to get a bigger vehicle.
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The Dynamic Duo

(Posted 12:56:07 on 14th February 2009 by Rag)
I guess Owen gave a little away to the background of this trip on his Oblog “has it really been over 4 months?” so I guess it's my time to add a little flavor to the story. Indeed, before there were four, there were two. We originally started as Batman and Robin before the onset of the A-Team status.

As with Mr O, I'm not going to go back and fill in all the gaps since 1990 or even talk about various Formula 1 or other motor racing events that we've ended up at. As he pointed out, there had been some talk about road trip and I guess we did potentially look to do something last year. One thing after another and we ended up looking for something the other side of Christmas.

Rag_2009-02-14_124615.jpg

(Do I hear a groan yet? It's going to get worse!)
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F.A.B.

(Posted 15:59:16 on 14th February 2009 by Rag)
All was quiet on Tracy Island. Jeff and Brains were running a series of system checks preparing for the upcoming trip. Then it suddenly dawned on them:

Rag_2009-02-14_071550.jpg

“How the fuck were four fat bastards going to get themselves and their luggage into this car to travel across the States?” It was clear it wouldn’t work. It was also clear they needed help.

5….4….3….2….1….

Faster than you can say “International Rescue”, Thunderbird 2 pulled up at Orlando International Airport and out stepped Virgil and Gordon (from that little yellow thing that came out of the back of Thunderbird 2 but didn’t really do a lot).

Rag_2009-02-14_155118.jpg

Jeff and Brains briefed Virgil and Gordon on the situation. It seemed hopeless. But then Brains, using the brain power of his might brain realized that he was not just a character from a 60’s children’s series, he was also a soldier of fortune surviving in the Los Angeles underground. Mustering up his best disguise as a health inspector, Faceman Brains went to the car hire desk and told them there was an outbreak of salmonella in a Dodge Grand Caravan we’d spotted on the way in.

Rag_2009-02-14_155246.jpg

Apparently it was reserved for a foreign dignitary that was due to arrive later that day. Using all his cunning, the cartooned fugitive told the agent at the desk that he wouldn’t want to go spreading salmonella to a foreign dignitary and that we would take the Caravan off their hands and get it decontaminated.

It worked. The Caravan was commandeered.

Rag_2009-02-14_155412.jpg
Thunderbirds are go! The only question that remained was “how many more alter egos can I dream up for the four of us?” The quest begins.
2 comment(s)back to top
Karen
16:39:49
14th February 2009
Surely Captain Kirk, Mr Spock, Dr Macoy and Scottie need to show up somewhere :)
Ross
11:32:09
15th February 2009
it wouldnt be a true Draper trip if you didnt order a hire car thats too small for the job !
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Grand Caravan of Love - Stand up, Stand up

(Posted 20:07:56 on 14th February 2009 by Mr O)
No don’t worry, we’ve not all joined the Housemartins, although given that John looks like Bill Oddie and Rag may as well be Bill Oddie, Ivan and I maybe better off as birds (of the feathered variety). It is just a reference to the fact as Rag has stated above we are now the proud, if somewhat temporary, owners of a Dodge Grand Caravan and today is Valentines day.

I love how car manufacturers come up with names for some of these things, it is neither Grand nor is it a caravan in any sense of the word. Although it is more practical than the Aspen, it does have a few less toys. Oh well, given how easy it was to scam this one, maybe we can exchange it for a different one when we get bored of this in a couple of days.

It has been a strange Valentines day with Rag and I making it to Christmas and back in one day, the vehicle exchange, the four muppeteers actually together in the same place at the same time everything is starting to fall into place for the Road Trip to start proper.

I do have to mention the fact that the four of us headed over to the TGI Fridays that is just across the road from the motel (although I was actually coerced into driving us across as the crossing only had a 46 second timer and we didn’t want to risk it). What none of us had twigged when we first got there was that it was valentines night so hadn’t expected it to be quite so full. What was amusing was the amount of couples for whom this was their romantic night out, the height of sophistication in Altamonte Springs must be a meal at TGIs. I even saw one couple exchanging cards and gifts at the table, and we were half expecting a proposal somewhere in the restaurant. At the end of the evening we all retired to our separate rooms, well apart from Ivan and John who were both equally bemused quite how they’d managed to pull each other.

Getting back to Christmas though, those that know me know I hate Christmas, but not this one, this was a town, well not really a town, more a collection of random buildings collectively known as Christmas and one I took an instant liking to. My brother had pointed out that this place existed and as Rag and I were at a loose end we decided to check it out. Not knowing quite where it was, we got our motors running and headed out on the highway looking for adventure and whatever came our way, well Christmas came early and we found it by the side of the road. Actually, for anyone looking on it must have been a strange sight, us pulling up sharply at the side of the road, quickly setting up the tripod and then standing by a road sign with a town name on, but then that’s the point of the trip. Christmas didn’t disappoint this year and delivered everything we were expecting, Americana. On our way back we did stop to visit Swampy the world’s biggest Gator, but when we realised it was going to cost us $20+ each to see him, so we took a picture of the plastic model outside and drove off.

Hopefully you’ll find the pictures from this afternoon on the Road Trip pictures page and you’ll see what I mean about Christmas. If not, blame our host, Rag, as he hasn’t worked out quite what he’s going to do with all of the pictures yet.

Tomorrow is the Great American race, so it could be a late finish, I have no idea how much traffic we are going to encounter and how close Rag’s disabled badge will actually get us, but it could be a long old day. That is of course depending on the weather, our entire plans could be changed due to inclement conditions.

I’d best go before this blog jumps the shark. (Look it up in Wikipedia - unfortunately the website that used to list all of the shark jumping moments has been bought out by TV Guide and a whole load of mindless trivia has been lost, gits.) Some might say too late.
2 comment(s)back to top
Rag
20:25:12
14th February 2009
The Rag delivers - click for Road Trip photos for the menu to road trip photos by day, then select the day of interest. After chortling to myself at reading Mr O’s post, I have to agree - there’s nothing Grand or Caravan like about our vehicular transport. Instead of looking like four macho fugitives fighting our way across country, we’re going to look like four soccer mums heading out to pick up the kids.
Noxious Maverick
02:38:37
15th February 2009
Well, if the ‘Village People’ on tour 2009 happens to be going anywhere near Alabama then just watch out – they don’t take kindly to four blokes travelling in a love caravan – grand or otherwise!
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The Great American Farce

(Posted 22:10:49 on 15th February 2009 by Mr O)
They call the Daytona 500 the Great American race, well we saw the Daytona 383 and it wasn’t that great. I guess it depends upon whether you are a glass half full or half empty kind of person to be able to gauge the day as a whole. Personally I don’t feel too bad as when I had seen the weather forecast I didn’t think we’d get any racing in at all and we’d spend the day watching the ran from the stand/car and have our plans for the fortnight scuppered on day one, so the fact that we got to see over ¾ of the race was not a bad thing.

Apparently, according to the pissed up guy in the queue for the shuttle bus, this was the first time in the 51 years the race had been held that it had been stopped early due to rain, it’s too late for me to research so I’ll have to take his word for it.

For those uninitiated in NASCAR they don’t race in the rain, as soon as the slightest drop hit’s the track, they run behind the safety car for a while, and if it doesn’t stop, they red flag the race and either wait for it to dry or call it a result if it has gone past half way. So when the heavens started to open around lap 150 we knew it was game over.

The day started with a supplies run and 18 cans of Bud being purchased along with a couple of bottles of water, what more do you need. The plan being to head over to the track in plenty of time but not too early. We decided to set off around 11 and got onto the interstate no problem, but then 10 miles away we hit traffic, fortunately this was just before the intersection with another instate that I’d read up on as an alternative route, so we scooted down there. We were a little confused as not many other cars were coming this way so we checked the map, realised we were ok but spotted a bit of shortcut and took that, great we were at the circuit within an hour of leaving the hotel, that’s when our trouble started. We were actually outside the front gates with ages to go, but unfortunately the disabled parking spaces were all taken and we were directed elsewhere (in case any of you are wondering, no it isn’t our mental disabilities that we were hoping to use to blag a disabled parking, Rag is actually a bone fide holder of a blue badge and needs to use crutches to walk - pay attention, that information will come in handy later). Whilst sailing past what looked to be extremely convenient parking spaces we ask one of the police officers on traffic duty what our option were, we could either continue on and swing round to the right but the traffic looks heavy or you can cut across four lanes, hang a u-turn and head left at the next lights, a Uey it was and we turned left, what a mistake. Chock a block traffic as far as the eye can see. Even worse the guys were getting through the beer.

After about an hour of queuing and slow moving traffic we make it into the overflow disabled parking which was actually off circuit. We managed to get the last available spot in the disabled section and then survey our surroundings. First thing that hit us was the distance from the parking spot (over fields with drainage ditches) to the courtesy shuttle bus stops, quickly followed by the realisation that there were no port-a-loos anywhere near the car either. We decided staying in the car was pointless so we started our trek to the bus. What we found next dumbfounded us, in between the disabled parking and the bus stop was a three foot high fence. We all got over one by one, with Rag unceremoniously throwing himself over and found the toilets and the information desk to work out how we got to our actual seats. The plan was that we had to catch the bus, then get a golf cart from the bus stop to the tram stop, get a tram then at the other end get a golf cart to the stand with our seats in. Sounded easy, especially for the A-Team.

Problem was, when we got off the bus at the other end, no golf carts to be seen, not even one we could blag so we meander off in the general direction of the tram stop in the vain hope of flagging one down as we went. We probably got two-thirds of the way before finding and collaring one. The tram itself was uneventful, but again at the far end, no golf carts to be found, so we decided on walking to our seats. By this stage Rag was knackered so this was a slow trudge, made worse by the realisation that we had three flight of steps to negotiate before getting to our seats. Once in the seats, that was it, both Rag and I were rooted to the spot, we didn’t fancy the flights of stairs or any other kind of walking after that. Fortunately the seats were good ones with good views of the start line and the pit exit plus the first turn, and there was a video screen directly opposite, so we were sorted. We got to the seats with about 45 minutes to spare, which was ideal really.

What happened next can only be described as a wild goose chase. Rag wanted a new Juan Pablo Montoya baseball cap as he has new sponsorship this season. I’d looked on Friday when I went to the trucks and couldn’t find one, but Rag was determined so sent his brother and his dad on a shopping trip. Also with the instruction of bringing more beer and a hot dog back. 35 minutes later they return with beer and nothing else. It turns out that they haven’t even made any of these baseball caps yet so the guys were never going to find them. What did happen though was that the guys sitting behind us had picked up on Rag’s request of a hot dog and kept heckling Ivan every time he left his seat to get beer, or have a cigarette or go to the toilet asking him to bring them back a hotdog each time. That is one thing about the fans in NASCAR, they are very fanatical and hard-core in their support of one driver, but they have a great spirit and will join in with the banter, it’s never threatening like football can be at times.

The race itself was good, Kyle Busch (yes my pick) showed his supreme driving skills. It takes some guts to drive bumper to bumper, sometimes three wide at 200 mph, and these guys have guts in abundance (in some cases quite literally). He was unlucky to get collected up in an incident just after halfway. With that 9 car incident (can’t call them crashes, that’s not pc) three of the four guys we’d picked out in the sweepstake had been involved in one way or another leaving only my pick with a fighting chance of finishing highly, and given that the money paid to the highest placed pick, I was laughing.

Once the heavens did open we knew that it’d be race over, and we were proven right when they first red flagged the race and called the result with Matt Kenseth taking the victory. Of course our journey back was made worse by the fact that still no golf carts could be seen, everyone was trying to make the same journey at the same time and it was still raining. By the time we’d go off the tram Rag was completely gone, so his brother kindly offered to piggy-back him part of the way to the buses. It was a sight to behold, if nothing more than the fact that Rag was mooning everyone as his trousers were falling down and he needed his arms to hang onto his brother. We queued for the bus, had a couple of chats to the folks around in the queue, hence the conversation about the first ever rained off Daytona 500 and made our way back to the car. By this stage part of the fence had been kicked down so it was slightly less inconvenient, but overall the transportation policy was a complete farce.

On a bright note to end the evening we ended up in Ker’s Winghouse across the street from the motel, it’s a kind of a Hooters rip-off. We were served by the lovely Brandi, who wouldn’t have been out of place in a Hooters, so it wasn’t all bad. Although when asked for her number she said she was engaged, which is better than the usual response. I won't say who actually asked for the number as it may incriminate one of the crew (however if any of their wives/girlfriends want to e-mail me privately I may divulge that information).

You could look at the day and say we were robbed of a grandstand finish due to the rain, but you could also say that we were lucky to get any racing in at all and at least our plans were not thrown into disarray straightaway.

Now, this could be the last entry from me for a couple of days as I’ve no idea where we will be staying tomorrow night and have no idea what kind of internet access it will have. If it’s part of the same chain as the one we are in at the moment, it will have free wi-fi but dodgy cleaning routines.

Goodbye from Florida and well done for wading through all that drivel.
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Rock Bottom

(Posted 18:52:28 on 16th February 2009 by Rag)
Well, thought I'd get a quick blog in before Mr O writes another dissertation on today's events (although he may have already beaten me to it). There's not a lot left to say about yesterday - very disappointing that we didn't get to see the race in its full glory and very disappointed in how poor the facilities were. I thought my gate vaulting days were over, but apparently not. Hmmm.

Anyway, today saw us hit the road in anger. First south to the Kennedy Space Center and then north into Georgia where I find myself now. We've ended up in the middle of nowhere, basically in a truck stop with nothing more than fast food places to each. I have to say, it really is the pits.

Rag_2009-02-16_184538.jpg


Seriously, we were out having a beer, which we had to do in a mexican restaurant as, according to our Inn Keeper it was the only place that served alcohol as the county was dry until recently. There is actually a truck stop right outside the front of our rooms. I said I wasn't going to be able to get much sleep given the noise the trucks make. I was wrong - a train just came by with its horn blaring, so I'm not going to kept awake by the trucks as their noise is being drowned out by the trains.

On another note, you will probably notice that the track is not uploading real time. I'll try and upload it once a day either at night or the following morning depending on time.
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Coast to Coast - I should Cocoa

(Posted 19:46:20 on 16th February 2009 by Mr O)
As I lay here in my cheap motel I do now question the sheer task taken on board. A decision was made that seeing as we were so close and that this was a proper road trip we should do it properly and actually go from coast to coast.

We were a little late checking out of the motel this morning and it meant we didn’t get to the Kennedy Space Centre until 11:30, given that we’d hoped to be out of Florida today, we knew we didn’t have long to spend there. In the end Ivan and I did a quick wander around the rocket garden and the mocked up shuttle along with the shuttle launch experience (which I recommend) whilst Rag and his dad did the Imax film. We probably should have planned to spend more time there and done the bus tour, but we didn’t. Which takes us onto the next stop, Cocoa beach, although Kennedy is near the Atlantic, the visitors centre is not actually on it, so we decided to head down the coast a little and actually get onto the Atlantic and touch the beach, this we did at Cocoa beach, a real surfer’s town. That mission accomplished (along with a sneaky one for Dan) we headed for Georgia.

6 hours and over 370 miles later we arrived in the Pitts. Well actually a truck stop just outside of Pitts, Georgia. Not our finest hour, but as we’d been on the road for a long time, we were tired and hungry we just needed to stop. The motel has a dodgy internet connection and there is a truck stop just across from our doors. I doubt any of us are going to get much sleep, so an early start and an earlier finish are on the cards if nothing else to give ourselves a fighting chance of finding a slightly better located hotel with some kind of eating establishment other than a Taco Bell across the street (although Ivan was ecstatic about this as he’d been craving one since he got off the plane).

It’ll be interesting to see how many miles we can cover tomorrow as we are heading North and then West which is a bonus as the Pacific is over there somewhere. Again, the next entry depends upon the availability of internet.
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Cold or Scold

(Posted 04:36:58 on 17th February 2009 by Mr O)
It's one of those fun games you get to play when you stay in a different motel each night, how to work the shower. Well this morning I was able to play the game "cold or scold" (sounds like a good name for a gameshow).

You're never quite with it first thing in the morning when you jump into the shower, and neither was I this morning, so I just got in and turned it on without first investigating the controls from outside the cubicle. So first I was hit by an icy cold jet stream of water, so I quickly turned the temperature lever thing to hot and was then almost knocked off my feet by a blast of steam, and no matter how much I turned the lever back the other way, nothing but boiling water was being fired at me. I had no choice, I had to get out and try and work the controls from the outside whilst holding up the shower curtain so as to deflect the water back into the cubicle to avoid flooding the bathroom any more than it already was.

Good news is that I am now showered and just packing for our next leg. If we acheive everything we want to acheive today, it could mean four more states and 700 more miles. ROAD TRIP!!!!!!!!!!!
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Twin Peaks

(Posted 04:13:25 on 18th February 2009 by Rag)
I feel strangely drawn in this direction.

Day 2 we set on our way following the planned route, but it didn't seem right. Something smelt fishy
Rag_2009-02-18_033819.jpg

So we decided to break free
Rag_2009-02-18_034242.jpg

We had hung a right and deviated from our track. The intention - to hit both the Carolinas and add a couple of States to our journey. We got off the major interstate and started driving down some of the local highways. Very pretty, but very bendy. Yesterday's blog was titled “Rock Bottom“ but today we really did get closer to it
Rag_2009-02-18_035319.jpg

as we traversed through the Smoky Mountains. It had also become cold. Real cold. It was as if some awful being were stalking us waiting to suck the very blood from out bodies,
Rag_2009-02-18_040503.jpg

but still we pressed on. It was getting late, so we thought we'd break for the night in the first town we came to after crossing the mountain. The place was called Pigeon Forge and none of us knew what the place was - seriously. There were a couple of very big surprises waiting for us in Piegeon Forge. It was time to ditch the car and take the train to see them.
Rag_2009-02-18_040857.jpg


P.S. Vicky - this one's for you. I have no idea what it means - Hog asked me to take the picture and post it.
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Hooray for Dollywood

(Posted 05:51:45 on 18th February 2009 by Mr O)
Like all the best episodes of Columbo I have given away the ending at the start, except this isn’t a who-done-it, more a case of where-is it? Well actually Rag's post above has given away the ending but that's because he has the mobile wireless internet device and I have to rely upon the hotel offering free wi-fi.

So how did we get here, 4 states and 393 miles away from our last over night stop? Your guess is as good as mine. It was a case of suck and see today, we kind of knew where we wanted to end up, but how we got there didn’t really matter. We had planned on moseying on up to Tennessee via Alabama, but we realised that where we stayed last night wasn’t that far from South Carolina and that North Carolina was virtually next door so we headed north, well actually we headed north-east, which when you are trying to go east to west coast does seem a little strange, but there you go.

Our first port of call was a tad fishy, in fact it was a town called Haddock, chosen purely on name but it was kind of on the way to the Carolinas and it meant we could leave the soulless interstates. Next on our list was Liberty SC, again chosen for the interesting name, but to get there we had to trawl through the rest of northern Georgia.

***Warning anti-religious diatribe - contains strong language and strong opinions. If you wish to skip this, look for the next stars****** (not these ones you fool)

I knew before this trip that America really was built on religion, but jeez, how many fucking churches do they need. It’s like every other building in some of these two-bit towns is a church. There are the residents living in run-down shacks and right next door is the sparkly church, but not just one but two or three. There are so many different flavours of the same religion it’s untrue, whether it be Lutheran, Presbyterian or Baptist, you have your pick. Surely it’s got to be morally wrong for the people to be in ruins let the church be stinking rich. I have always been against religion, it is the root of all evil, it is the cause of so much conflict you have to question the motives of some of the people behind it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for freedom of speech and everyone having the right to choose, but sometimes the stupid need a helping hand. They may as well spend their money on lottery tickets rather than giving it to the church, they have as much chance of winning as a god answering their prayers. I’m sorry but it gets me so mad, much to the amusement of my fellow passengers.

********* (yes these ones)

A quick check of the map in Liberty and we realised that we were not far from the Smokey Mountains, well given the scale of our map, not far is probably further than you think, almost as if we’d been looking at in the rear view mirror (objects in the rear view mirror may appear closer than they are - no - I suppose it doesn’t work if you have to explain it). Fortunately although this is February the mountains were not snowy or icy so we were able to start negotiating our way from South Carolina into the North and hit Transylvania county. The route took us through the edges of the Great Smokey Mountains, which although picturesque was very twisty and turny and undulating, which after a while took it’s toll on the brakes. We were coming down the side of a mountain when the brakes started to scrape a little, the noise was getting progressively worse and the brakes were getting progressively spongier. We were trying to work out where the nearest town with a rental office was and whether we could get the car there, but with some careful driving and excellent use of the automatic transmission from my co-driver Ivan he was able to nurse the car over the mountains.

We did pass through Cherokee on our trip through the mountains which reminded me of Matlock Bath in Derbyshire, it had a river, it had cheap and tacky shops, a cable car and even a casino (probably more impressive than the 2p slots in Matlock). We are assuming that this is the home of the Indian tribe that gave it’s name to the Jeep, and not that the town was named after the Jeep.

We had decided that once we had gotten over the mountains into Tennessee we would stop at the next big town, which would either have been Pigeon Forge or Sevierville. We hit Pigeon Forge and thought that there were an inordinate number of motels and restaurants, which is when we saw the sign to Dollywood. I could have probably guessed that Dollywod would have been somewhere in Tennessee but couldn’t have named the actual location, well we found it. It seems like a poor man’s version of Vegas without the casinos, cheap, tacky but all in a Dolly Parton theme. I don’t think that we’ll have time to explore Dollywood itself, but I’m sure we can find a tacky souvenir shop somewhere.

We are staying in a very nice looking motel, but it has no wi-fi hence the delay in the posting. Plan is for a bit of lie in based upon the lack of sleep last night and then head across Tennessee possibly dipping into Mississippi if time permits.

Oh before I leave I have just one more question….
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Mark W
08:08:16
19th February 2009
WRT the piece within the stars:

Well said. Driving around rural Virginia I was shocked at there being church after church after church all along the road sides. They were all immaculate, all large, and all had full car parks. They should do what we do and turn them all into pubs & museums.
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Running in Memphis

(Posted 21:51:59 on 18th February 2009 by Mr O)
You know when you’ve ended up in one of those areas where you know you shouldn’t be, well we’ve had a very squeaky bum moment in one of those areas after dark in Memphis.

Let me take you back to the beginning of our 500 mile and one new state day. The day started in a very rainy Pigeon Forge, very very rainy. I’d spotted in the yellow pages that the local helicopter museum had the helicopter from Airwolf as one of it’s exhibits (yes I do lead an exceedingly exciting life, thumbing through the local yellow pages wherever I stay) so we tried briefly to find that but couldn’t see it through the rain and I didn’t fancy the mad dash to a tacky souvenir shop to get any Dollywood tat as I’d already got soaked just packing my things into the car, so we headed across Tennessee. If you are interested, we stayed at the river chase motel in Pigeon Forge - www.riverchasemotel.net

When we got to Pigeon Forge last night we’d been a little confused as we thought that Tennessee was in the next time zone, Central time, but when we asked at the restaurant and checked the clocks in the motel they were showing the same time as we had on the east coast when we started. We then realised that the time zone actually split the state of Tennessee and half was in Eastern and half was in Central and spent the next part of the journey looking for a sign by the road telling us that we’d changed zones, no such luck.

The drive over to Nashville was pretty nasty really, if it wasn’t for the rain it was the wind that was buffeting the brick formally known as the grand caravan but as we headed down town the weather picked up. Fortunately Ivan and his dad had decided to find a bar in Pigeon Forge and had got chatting with the locals and had explained our plans, they had suggested a bar called Tootsies in downtown Nashville and what a result (http://www.tootsies.net/). We were able to park just across the street and once a quick shower had passed we hopped over and went in. There inside the door were two guys playing live music at lunch time and a bar full of people listening along appreciatively. Although I didn’t recognised any of the songs, it was easy to tell they were pretty good and they were entering in with some banter with the crowd. They even regaled a story of how some guys had left his business card for a Santa for hire as a tip and they decided to call him on their phone and put him on speaker phone so the bar could hear, it was like a radio show prank call done live in front of us. I hope that was authentic and not just put on for the tourists as I hope that is just what Nashville is like.

We stayed for a couple of drinks but knowing we had a long drive, decided to head off back on the interstate. This is where I made a new friend. Some guy had been indicating right in the right hand lane and then pulled left in front of my to over take a lorry, no problem. Once he pulled in I accelerated slightly to get past. What I had spotted but he hadn’t was that by pulling in he was about to encounter merging traffic so I accelerated a little more to get past to give him enough time to pull in behind me, but instead he just started to pull out alongside me, so I had to brake and he had to brake more. No damage done so I though nothing more of it. A couple of miles further down the road I noticed that he had caught up with me and had started flicking me the bird. I ignored him and kept driving, but he just kept sitting on my tail flicking the bird. I eventually pulled away and thought nothing more of it, however another 10-15 miles down the road, I had got caught behind a lorry in the outside lane when I looked in my mirrors and there he was again, this time honking his horn and flicking me the bird with both hands, again I ignored him. Eventually he gave up, but I’m not sure what he was trying to achieve, let’s just hope he didn’t have a gun.

In our quest to go coast to coast we also want to visit as many states as we can as well so instead of heading straight for Memphis we decided to drop into Independence Mississippi, chosen only for it’s name (an Independence that Dave Gorman didn’t go to on his trip- If you are not aware of this, check out his book/DVD of America Unchained, a road trip but one avoiding using chain hotels restaurants or gas stations). Independence MS was also chosen for it’s believed proximity to Memphis, but as the sun was setting and we still hadn’t got there we were a little concerned.

As you will remember Monday night was a lesson in not stopping at a motel at a truck stop (or one with railroad tracks nearby) so we had set our hearts on not doing the same again today, but not knowing Memphis we didn’t know what to do. The previous night’s conversation in the bar had pointed us to Beale street downtown Memphis but we weren’t sure of the exact location or where we could stay so we headed for down town. By this stage it was 7 o’clock and dark. We went down a couple of streets and then a couple more and realised that it was looking more and more estate and slum like and no bars or hotels could be seen. In fact all we could see were gangs on corners or the odd black guy hanging around. After a couple of more turns and passing by a freight yard we found the Liberty Bowl football stadium and headed the hell out of there. For the second time, and certainly more real time we felt in actual danger. Those are the scenarios you read about, 4 white guys in a car with Florida plates in the wrong part of Memphis reading a map is a recipe for disaster. As we were heading out of town for the ring road and the relative safety of a truck stop we passed a crime scene with about 4 police cars and an ambulance, we had assumed that a store had been robbed.

We made sanctuary of the hotel in Lake Horn just over the border in Mississippi, and although the rooms have free wi-fi, they also have very thin walls so am having to type this under the duvet to keep the noise down. We decided to dine at Hooters, as you do, and I have to say I was greatly disappointed, not what I would call Hooters grade girls, Brandi from the WingHouse would knock spots off of any of the girls tonight (which I'd pay to see). We did see on the news though that there’d been a fatal shooting at a restaurant in downtown Memphis around 7 pm this evening which made us all a little uneasy in our seats. Rag and I have left Ivan and his dad back in Hooters to get some intelligence on the day ahead, either that or they need more beer.

Tomorrow is a key day on our trip but I won’t spoil it for you (although you’ll see it on the planned route if you do want to look ahead). Let’s just hope it’s a safer day and we make it through without having to change our underpants too many times.

(Oh and sorry for the large amount of text and no pictures, but it’s difficult taking pictures when driving or you are about to get shot. See Rag’s post or the separate road trip photos page if you want to see more.)
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Noxious Maverick
10:18:46
19th February 2009
Where's your sense of adenture then? Surely if your new friend can drive with neither hand on the wheel I would have thought you could have managed a picture or two whilst steering with the other hand?
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Hunka Hunka Balding Knob

(Posted 20:28:07 on 19th February 2009 by Mr O)
Well this morning we awoke to the two Draper boys feeling below average. With a visit to Graceland first on the cards, it meant that just Grandpa John and I were up to the tour whilst the other two waited it out in the car. First shock though was that we were charged $10 just to park in the car park, but I suppose as they pump out Elvis music all day you have to pay the price.

My first view of Graceland from the outside is that it was no where near as big as I expected, but we had to pay $28 each to find that out. They start you off with an audio tour very much like the one at Alcatraz, except I dropped mine before we even started.

The tour itself is one of those things that you have to do once in your life, even if you are not a big Elvis fan, I think you'll find John's pictures in the roadtrip pictures section whereas mine are on facebook. It was a shame that we didn't have time to go and tour the car collection and the aircraft, but we knew that the boys were in the car waiting. However, not wanting to be left out, just as we were leaving John dropped his audio tour set, making sure we'd both broken one each. Worse still, John purchased a CD of music from Elvis' early days which we had to listen to in the car, but fortunately I was driving and we set the balance to the back so I couldn't really hear it, I am more a fan of his suff from the later years.

Next on our list was our next state, Arkansas and a location I'd wanted to visit for almost 12 years. It dated back to when I used to work night shifts in a call centre and on those long and dark nights when the calls were failing to come in we resorted to looking through the Western Union directory for the strangest location for cash pick ups, our mind was made up that the ultimate was a branch of Piggly Wiggly (a supermarket chain) in the town of Bald Knob Arkansas. Since then I've always wanted to see this place for myself. A bit of research prior to the trip showed that the Piggly Wiggly had since closed and that Sexton Foods was the Western Union outlet, but Bald Knob still intrigued so we added it to our list.

Well when we got there, it was like any other hick town we'd encountered, but we had to stop and take a photo of the town sign all the same.
Oblog_2009-02-19_190520.jpg

The house we stopped out side of had a broken old leather sofa outside on the front porch of the trailer and a broken down shack in the garden, we were half someone with a shotgun to come out and tell us to get off their land. We got our shot and headed into town. It was very disappointing, there was very little to distinguish this place from any other, but as it was lunch time we decided to find an authentic diner and have lunch. Well it looked like an authentic diner from the outside, but when a Chinese lady greeted us on entry we were a little taken aback. We decided to stop and John and Ivan braved the buffet, which I guess adds to our list of near death experiences on our trip making 4 thus far. I guess I can say I was disappointed with Bald Knob, in fact you can say it didn't measure up to expectations.

After leaving Bald Knob far behind we headed as far across Arkansas as possible passing by Little Rock and skirting through the Ozarks before ending up 330 miles and one extra state later in Fayetteville still in Arkansas.

As Rag was still feeling under the weather he decided not to risk another Hooters meal, so he got supplies in the local supermarket and I dropped John and Ivan at Art's bar. Let's see what time they get back tonight and what intelligence they have for our future adventures.

Oh I guess you can't add eating a McFlurry whilst driving at 85 mph in the outside lane of the interstate as a near death experience, but trust me it got tricky at times, however I'm sure I'll make up for it later in the trip.
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Martin M
15:13:47
21st February 2009
You just know you're entering a desparate town when it still proudly proclaims being "Volunteer Community of the Year" 8 years on.
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From Bald Knob to No Knob

(Posted 06:07:44 on 20th February 2009 by Rag)
After a great night's sleep, which was much needed to feeling a little under the weather, I awoke to find that my knob had gone. It appears the knob fairy had come in the middle of the night and removed it.

My shower/bath is missing the knob you pull to make the water come out of the shower, so I had to have a bath. Rather annoying, but I appear to have survived this minor setback unscathed.

Back to Bald Knob and, thankfully I wasn't feeling too well as the dining facilities were a little poor to say the least. For those of you that were wondering, the house referred to by Mr O is pictured below:
Rag_2009-02-20_060026.jpg

(Remember you can double click the pictures to see them better). This is the first house you come to across the Bald Knob city line. Just cries out for you to come and visit doesn't it.

Anyway, given that I didn't eat in the town, I can say that I didn't end up with any Bald Knob inside me which is something that the other three can't say. Hopefully you Mr O fans are ahead of me and can welcome him back to Blighty by asking him what it was like to get some bald knob inside him?
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Mrs Rag
08:44:31
20th February 2009
Hope the bath was bigger than ours!
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Unlike Dorothy we are still in Kansas - Unfortunately

(Posted 20:37:06 on 20th February 2009 by Mr O)
Today was one of those ROAD TRIP days, lots of miles with few breaks. In fact we racked up 4 new states and over 630 miles today and only stopped as we were tired. That said as we have all holed up in the Waconda Motel in Beloit Kansas we are beginning to question that decision.

Our plan was always to end up either in Southern Nebraska or Northern Kansas tonight so in some respects we did what we set out to achieve. We started early knowing that we’d be on the road for a while and coincidentally passed our 2,000th mile in the caravan driving past a place called Nevada in Missouri quite early on in the day, I wonder what the final mileage will be when we drop the caravan off (if it makes it that far). Apart from a couple of quick stops to either refuel the car or ourselves (in fact we munched lunch in Mound City MO) we ploughed on through Missouri and into Iowa not even pausing for one of our now infamous tripod moments in front of an obscure place name. We did pass a few and hopefully Rag will have posted those pictures in the road trip section.

Our visit to Iowa was brief, very brief, if we were there for more than 10 minutes I’d be surprised, again no tripod moment, but we’d visited Iowa all the same. It was as we were crossing the border that we first started to see the remnants of snow, and this was also the case as we crossed into Nebraska. In fact the only other real evidence of any “proper” weather was the damage we’d seen to some of the trees in the Ozarks, but we weren’t too sure what had caused those.

As we were making good progress through Nebraska and had no tripod moment planned we decided to plough on into Kansas for our scheduled stops. However before leaving Nebraska we did spot the winner of the billboard for stating the bleeding obvious (hopefully you’ll work out which one I mean from those pictures posted for today). We needed fuel and were beginning to think about places to stay once we got across into Kansas and found a town called Mankato. It had a proper old fashioned cobbled main street and everything. What did concern us slightly was the sign outside of Bob’s bar that said “no guns allowed inside”, but as we’d been downtown in Memphis, a small bar in Kansas was child’s play.

Next stop was a place just outside Lebanon (no not THAT Lebanon) but one in Northern Kansas that boasts to be the geographical centre of mainland USA. For such a location it was surprising that there were no tacky souvenir stands or anyone charging you to be there, but no, all that was there was a small stone monument and an even smaller church (maybe someone has been reading my previous blogs) Time for a quick tripod moment as it was starting to get cold, especially in the wind. This monument was about two mile north of the town of Lebanon which was a good thing as the town itself looked about as ravaged as it’s namesake in the Middle East.

As there was nowhere to stay in Lebanon we did the only thing we could which was head for our next scheduled tripod moment in the town of Cawker City. This town boasts the biggest ball of twine record. Now if you were to believe the Weird Al song (look it up on You Tube), this is in Minnesota, but apparently the Minnesota twine ball is the largest created by one person, this one in Cawker was started by one person trying to break the record, but when he died he was so close the townsfolk decided to continue his work and have an annual event where they add further twine. Again, blink and you’d have missed it, this time there was a tacky souvenir shop but it was across the road and closed, but the ball itself was free to view, result.

Oblog_2009-02-20_202241.jpg


Again nowhere to stay in Cawker so we took a quick look at the map and plumped for Salina as it looked pretty big, problem was that it was 50 miles away in the wrong direction from our next stop and we’d been on the road for 11 hours at this point but we had no choice. That was until we hit the next town, Beloit, we’d seen a billboard for a Motel 8 (one of the many cheap chain motels) but as we entered the town we spotted an independent motel, the Waconda. It looked ok from the outside but before going in we took a quick scoot up the main street to try and find a bar and somewhere to eat. We found eateries but a bar was less forthcoming but by this stage we were so tired we didn’t care.

When the guys went to check in they asked the guy if there was a bar in the town he said yes but when his wife came to the desk she didn’t think there was so we left them arguing as we went to find our rooms. Interesting is the best word I could use, bloody awful are two more, but by this stage it was blowing a gale and we just wanted to get out of the wind. However we still needed to find food and beer so we ventured out to the local supermarket whilst trying not to get blown off our feet only to find it didn’t sell beer, so found a garage that did (over priced of course). Next was food and we ended up at Sonic burger. If you’ve never been it’s like the restaurant in the opening titles of the Flintstones, a bit like a drive through except you park. I.e. you park in your bay, order through a microphone, swipe your card to pay and then they bring it out to your car for you (admittedly not on roller skates, but it was a good job in this weather or they may have been blown back into Nebraska). We decided to eat back in the motel so we skulked back and ate a god awful burger whilst all looking miserably at each other. An early night was on the cards, but with an early start also (weather permitting) as we don’t want to stay here any longer than we have to. Another lesson to learn.

Tomorrow may bring two more states or pneumonia if I can’t get this room to warm up any more. It may also bring further car issues as it is now saying it needs an oil change, it can beep all it likes, I’m not paying for it.
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This Little Piggy

(Posted 05:53:23 on 21st February 2009 by Rag)
This little piggy went to market ….
This little piggy stayed home ….
This little piggy had roast beef ….
This little piggy had none ….
This little piggy went “wee, wee, wee” all the way home

“Hey! You’s got something wrong with you boy. You’s only got five piggies. Where’s the one that shagged his sister after running home?”

“I know boys. Lets take the pretty one with the long blonde hair into the back room and see if we can get him to squeal like a pig.”

Or so the story goes. As you might have guessed, we have landed somewhere well …. lets just say somewhere that’s not got a lot of diversity in the gene pool. After an endless day’s driving, we just ended up stopping at the first place we found which probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do, but it all builds character as they say.

The good news (for me anyway) is that I was once again able to pull my knob in the shower. It appears that I was incorrect in my assessment of the shower in the previous nights lodgings as Hog did the smart thing and called reception to find out how to make the shower work. Apparently it is of knobless design. Rather than pulling one’s knob, one has to tug sharply downwards on the spout. I guess I’ll find out if we end up staying in another motel with similar shower design.

Back to the trip and I’ve been taking at least one photo in each State that we’ve passed through which was a little challenging yesterday as we didn’t stop anywhere except for McDonalds and gas stations. Regardless of my pleadings to stop and take pictures of some great birds that we passed, the drivers decided to just press on. Now, for the most part the roads are just lined with bill board after bill board advertising fast food, gas, fireworks or porn. Our brief stint into Nebraska did, however, yield a different sign:
Rag_2009-02-21_054753.jpg

I’m sure there’s a serious message here, but it does invoke an automatic reaction of “no shit, Sherlock!”

I think I’ll stick to pulling my knob in the shower.
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Update on the Wanconda Motel

(Posted 15:49:21 on 21st February 2009 by Mr O)
Well as you can tell, we all made it out alive this morning. In fact the wind had died down by midnight and we got a relatively decent night's sleep, well apart from Ivan who was paranoid and when he heard a noise in the bathroom in the night almost crapped himself.

Speaking to rag this morning I may have got my facts wrong about the two folks on reception last night, they may have been brother and sister, not husband and wife, but then again around those parts, that could have been one in the same thing.

I must say the hotel was a bit dodgy, I felt dirtier after getting out of the shower than when I first got it in.

I have some advice if you ever come to see Cawker's biggest ball of twine, don't stay at the Waconda Motel. It is like a relic from the 60's that hasn't been updated. Look at the sign that was in my room
Oblog_2009-02-21_054449.jpg
Actually my advice is to go and see the string ball in Minnesota, at least it is in a gazebo.
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A day filled with song

(Posted 16:50:42 on 21st February 2009 by Mr O)
Well it should have been if any of us had had the insight to bring any appropriate music on the trip. On previous days we'd missed many an opportunity to guide us along our way with music themed or based upon our current location, and today was no different, however as we were all dingbats we had to listen to the world's worst country music (is there any other kind?) on the radio.

When I'd last left you we were sheltering in a crap Motel in Northern Kansas. Well today we racked up two more new states and just another 430 miles on the clock.

We started early if for no other reason than to leave Beloit behind and headed for Kinsley. The visit to Kinsley was inspired by Dave Gorman as he had encountered it on his own Road Trip across America, and as we were going to be nearby I couldn't not visit. Kinsley is yet another point that claims to be midway across America. This one says it is 1561 miles from both New York and San Francisco. But what this point has that the other one doesn't is a collection of barbed wire
Oblog_2009-02-21_162143.jpg
impressive isn't it. It also has a train and a Sod House whatever one of those is (we couldn't check as like most other places on our trip it was closed). We didn't hang around too long as it was still only just above freezing.

Next we visited Dodge City and Boot Hill. Again I'm sure if it had been tourist season it would have been packed, but we were the only car in the carpark and it was closed. We decided at that point to get the hell out of Dodge and head south in search of warmth.

Throughout the last couple of days whilst in Kansas we'd been making constant references to the Wizard of Oz and Dorothy (see previous blogs and Facebook Statuses), well we hit gold just as we were leaving Kansas. We found ourselves in the town of Liberal, and we entered the town we saw something on a billboard referring to Dorothy but just ignored it, however just across the next intersection we saw something off to the right and had to stop. It was a Wizard of Oz theme park (check out the pictures in the road trip section for some corkers). We even saw someone duck in and out of a building dressed as Dorothy, ruby slippers and everything. It must have been open, but being tight on time and pocket we decided to head on and leave Kansas behind, as we crossed the border we all said "we're not in Kansas anymore", ok so only Rag and I did, but the spirit was there.

Next we hit Oklahoma (where the wind comes sweeping down the plains apparently) Ok so we only hit the pan handle of Oklahoma, but enough time to see a Hooker and drive through the inspirationally named Texhoma which is on the border between Texas and Oklahoma so goodness only knows why they named it that.

In Texas our first point of call was Amarillo - cue the Tony Christie song. Actually we found Cadillac ranch just outside first, which is just 10 Cadillac cars buried into the ground on a ranch just outside of town. Another free attraction and another pointless piece of Americana.

We have now holed up in a motel just down the road from the Big Texan steakhouse, I think we are all going to wimp out on the 72oz steak challenge, but if the boys make it back in one piece after their buckets of beer I'll let you know how we got on.
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Texas Steak Depository

(Posted 20:44:54 on 21st February 2009 by Mr O)
Well we made it back alive, for now.

We wimped out of the 72oz steak challenge, me mostly as you had to eat the side dishes that came with it including salad, yuk. If you decided to take the challenge on it cost $72 if you failed to eat the 72 ounces within one hour, but you have to do this at a table on a raised stage. If you did manage the whole steak, it was free.

Whilst we were there one guy took on the challenge and managed it with just 4 seconds to spare. Apparently the same guy keeps coming back to take on the challenge so now they only allow repeats every three months. Looking on the wall of shame 8,516 have succeeded thus far, with 10 in the last 3 weeks.

Personally I think Ivan and I did pretty well packing in over 30 ounces each plus a desert each aswell. Rag and John did fair quite so well.

Am now back in the hotel and all is well thus far, let's see how things are once they've worked there way through the system in the early hours.

If you are in Amarillo, or doing the old Route 66 thing I recommend a visit, it was a bit cheesy inside, but came across as a real Texan steakhouse experience, but then we are tourists so maybe that's what it suits best.

****UPDATE*****
The cows got their revenge at 5 am. I'd hate to think what the bathroom of the guy who did the whole 72oz looks like.

Depending upon how the day goes we could be making further Texas, New Mexico and Arizona Steak Deposits.

Must go, no really must GO.
2 comment(s)back to top
Amy
06:08:59
22nd February 2009
I hope you've got a picture of the monster steak and the guy taking the challenge. Not as exciting as Dan's picture requests but half a cow on a plate is something I have never seen
Mr O
06:12:38
22nd February 2009
Unfortunately not, we went to Steakhouse not really expecting it to be quite so big and Texan (although the name should have given it away) so we didn't have our cameras with us. It wasn't that big in circumference, about the size of a dinner plate, it was more the thickness of the thing, and the fact you had to eat two bread rolls, 4 shrimp a salad and mashed potatoes with it as well all within the hour. The guy with the mullet who did it also polished off a couple of 4 pint jugs of beer as well.
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Grumbleweeds

(Posted 18:40:57 on 22nd February 2009 by Mr O)
Well it had to happen, 7 days, over 3000 miles and four blokes in a car with dirty laundry, the cracks are beginning to show, and I don't mean the one from Rag's trousers slipping down.

Today was tough, another 520 miles, one new state and one new time zone. We have made it to the far border of New Mexico and into Mountain time.

We are all beginning to get tired from the constant travelling and the unknowns of a different motel each night, plus a lot of beer was consumed yesterday. Rag's GPS tracking tool had failed last night as you can probably tell from above, we did escape the hell hole that was Beloit, unfortunately the tracker doesn't think so, which was annoying him. Ivan was beginning to get bored of the constant travelling and the failure to jump on a train for a change of scene for a day or so this was also beginning to take it's toll. I was also getting concerned that all of the additional stops along the way were making our arrival time in Vegas quite late, plus with the weekend taken up by the NASCAR, I'd have no time to gamble.

Anyway we set off and took a last look at the steakhouse to see how many body bags they were unloading in the morning and headed off towards Roswell. To say that drive was dull was an understatement, the only highlight was for me as I managed to get the caravan up to 95 mph. Trust me, on a Sunday morning there was no one else on a road so straight it disappeared off the end of the horizon. In fact I did get some enjoyment from driving through the tumbleweeds blowing across the road, when you hit them at that speed they totally disintegrate.

We did pass through a couple of interesting towns, they all seem to have at least one or two mottos, we liked the one for Portales (See Day 7 Road Trip Photos). We also passed through Friona in Texas which claimed to be the Cheeseburger capital of Texas. What amazed us was that other than a Sonic burger outlet (see previous posts on thoughts of their fare) we could not find anywhere that actually sold cheeseburgers.

Oblog_2009-02-22_182342.jpg


Doing a bit of research it is because they hold an annual cheeseburger festival and have more head of cattle within a 50 mile radius than anywhere else.

Anyway, we arrived in Roswell just before lunch and were driving down the main street and were failing to find anything alien or crash related whatsoever. We decided to pull in and do a quick Google to find that there was a UFO museum that was free to enter but a $2 donation was suggested, but nothing much else listed. We found the museum and parked outside, went in and found that we had to sign the guestbook, so decided just to go to the gift shop only to find that we needed to sign the book for that also, so just went up the road, found a tat shop, bought some tat and went back to the car. Within 15 minutes we’d turned the car around, taken a couple of photos and headed back out of town. If we thought Bald Knob was disappointing, this was even worse. We weren’t sure what to expect but we expected more. Here was another opportunity to cash in and the mettle had failed to be grasped.

Our next port of call was Tucson Arizona, but we knew that was out of our reach for the day so just headed out as far as we could towards the border. We had to make a quick stop at the Billy the Kid museum where we found an interesting guest in the toilets (See Day 7 Road Trip Photos), but other than that, it was a pretty long drive through some very interesting but very samey type landscapes. We hadn’t really associated New Mexico with mountains and snow but that is what we found, it is quite picturesque in small doses.

We have ended up in Lordsburg a few miles from the border with Arizona, yet another town made up of broken down houses and closed businesses with a few chain motels and fast food outlets next to the interstate, kind of what we are now used to on this trip.

Tomorrow is an Arizona day, with the plan to end up on the far border with California at the end of the day. At that point we may split the party in two, but that is still to come.

As today was a quiet day, I will fill in a bit more detail of incidents I had previously failed to blog.

When we landed in Beloit (yes there again) we were looking for somewhere to buy beer so I looked in the Yellow pages, I found a shop called Richard Liquor which made us laugh (what is the shortened form of the name Richard - look if I have to explain it further the humour is obviously above you).

We also had an interesting phone call yesterday morning. It was the Days Inn from Fayetteville asking if we’d accidentally packed one of their pillows when we’d left Friday morning. Hmmm, how do you accidentally pack a pillow? Again I won’t incriminate the culprit, however we did do a good job of convincing the poor lady on the other end of the phone that we didn’t have it. We’ll only know for certain if they believed us or not when Rag gets his credit card statement and we see if an extra $10 has been added or not. I suppose it wouldn’t count if we left it behind in the next Days Inn that we stay in. I suppose if we are not endangering our lives on this trip we are becoming petty criminals, it wouldn’t be a road trip without a little rule bending.
1 comment(s)back to top
Mr O
21:39:22
22nd February 2009
Good old Rag has got the GPS tracking working again, good on him. You can now see where we are and have been.
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Do bears shit in the woods?

(Posted 06:07:16 on 23rd February 2009 by Rag)
Well, I'm back. Not just the imposing threat of Arnie that “I'll be back” - I actually am back. Anyone who's been following our progress may have noticed that the track has stopped working for the last couple of days. It's still not working as it appears that the gps tracking file has corrupted somehow - the file is proprietary coded, so I can't get in to edit it. That said, after downloading multiple programs I have managed to find a way to create my own track from a map. This doesn't time stamp, so I can't attach photos to it, but at least it is possible to show where we are and where we've been. The map is about as accurate as I can get it without the full gps, so lets hope the support folks can figure out what's gone wrong with my file.

OK - so Mr O has more than adequately filled in the details of where we are and where we've been. Just for the benefit of Ross, I feel the need to repeat a couple of puns:

“We got the hell out of Dodge”

and

“We're not in Kansas anymore”

Before leaving Kansas, we did find Dorothy on the Yellow Brick Road, but we also found four Munchkins:
Rag_2009-02-23_054733.jpg

I suppose Munchkins is one word - I'm sure you can think of many more. One giant steak and miles of endless straight roads later and we came across the Billy the Kid museum. Not one that I'm going to recommend, however, we did get a little closer to answering that all important question of “do bears shit in the woods?”
Rag_2009-02-23_060348.jpg
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The 3:10 to Yuma

(Posted 21:20:07 on 23rd February 2009 by Mr O)
Well we didn’t quite make it to Yuma by 3:10, but then again the film was called 3:10 TO Yuma, so your guess is as good as mine as to what time it was due to get in. Knowing how the current Amtrak timetable works, probably 6 am the next day. Whatever time it is, don’t ask Ivan to look it up for you as he’d tell you the time for the train in the opposite direction. Bizarrely one of the rooms we got was 310, how serendipitous, but despite all the references to the film, there is no way any of us could be mistaken for Russell Crowe (although my holiday beard is coming along nicely).

The mention of trains and Ivan brings me to the big news, the party is going to split tomorrow lunchtime. As the guys were not able to get a train at any stage on the trip Ivan had decided he didn’t want to go to four corners and wanted to spend a couple of days in LA. He spent a good couple of hours in the car this morning using Rag’s air card to book a car and hotel in LA for them to then catch up with us again in Vegas.

However back to today, and again I have given away the ending in the first paragraph, but yes we did end up in Yuma, Arizona, adding an extra state and another 460 miles onto our journey.

We started the day by jumping states quite early on and hit Arizona first thing. Our destination, Tombstone. We weren’t sure whether to go there or not, but a little research on the internet suggested it may be worth a try, although we were concerned that it’d be shut like most places we’d been to. Either that or be a huge disappointment like Roswell.

The good news is that the weather had warmed up and it was sunny so we were all in good spirits when we arrived in Tombstone to find what we’d hoped for, an authentic looking cowboy town. They had a main street all done up to look like it might have done back in the days of the Wild West. Ok so it was a bit tacky and OTT, but that’s what we’d been looking for. It was a shame we didn’t really have the time to explore fully, I’m sure I could have happily spent a day or two there touring the museums and watching the shootout at the OK Corral etc. If you are ever down Tucson way, I highly recommend spending the day in Tombstone. However we knew we had some miles to cover and we moseyed on out of there.

Next we tried to find the aircraft bone yard, something my brother had mentioned was in Tucson and as we were zinging by on the interstate we should check out. This one we didn’t research so well so guessed it would be somewhere near the US Air Force Base. As we approached we could see lots of planes so headed in that general direction. Again not wanting to spend any money we didn’t look at the museum or try and find the tour, we just drove around the outside for a bit getting frustrated that we couldn’t see anything so turned around and got back onto the interstate.

From there it was just pretty constant driving into Yuma making sure we hid all the fruit and Mexican immigrants we’d been smuggling along with our pillows past the border patrols.

Yuma itself, like many American towns has some right shit holes, and we drove past those, eventually ending up at our most expensive motel thus far. Not that it’s any better quality than anywhere else, just that Yuma seems to over charge. We did end up in a bar & grill for dinner tonight and they were running a sports quiz in the bar, as it was free to enter we took part thinking we’d be lucky to get any answers. Ok so we only did get the 5 out of the 30 questions, but that is 4 more than I thought we’d do at the start and at least we took part. Plus that was our last night as a group together until Vegas or possibly for the entire trip.

Our final challenge as a four is to hit the beach at San Diego to finish the coast to coast and to rack up 4,000 miles as a foursome which should be achieved well before lunch. Then we can work out how we are going to pick up the car at the airport from a company none of us have heard of and separate the luggage.

Once we do split, Rag and I will continue to blog and treat the remainder as a road trip as we had originally planned on it being just the Dynamic Duo but we may not get to see four corners as it will mean an awful amount of driving for little ol’ me. Let’s see how it goes.
1 comment(s)back to top
Mr O
21:49:29
23rd February 2009
I've just realised that if you've not seen or even heard of the film 3:10 to Yuma you won't have got the references. Then again I've not seen it but IMDB is such a wonderful thing.
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Them's Fighting Words

(Posted 06:02:05 on 24th February 2009 by Rag)
“Howdy Pardner. I can tell from your accent that you's not from around these parts.”

“Interesting - I can tell from your over the top costume, commercialized store fronts and over priced merchandise that we've arrived at another road side attraction.”
Rag_2009-02-24_055107.jpg

I have to be honest, as far as it goes, Tombstone is by far the best attraction that we've come across. It is way over the top and I'm sure if you come in the height of season it would be very busy, but it's done really well. I'm happy that I got to have a beer in a saloon (Big Nose Kate's pictured above). There are load's more photos of Tombstone on Road Trip Day 8 photos.

The rest of the journey was pretty dull, but I do think it was cool that the boys got to stay in 310 at Yuma.
Rag_2009-02-24_055226.jpg
2 comment(s)back to top
Vicky
08:57:02
24th February 2009
have a word with the shorts and socks gang!! Particularly if they are heading off to LA, its not a good look!
ross
12:05:40
25th February 2009
folks from round here aint from round here .... Mad Dog, you dont stand a chance ! You better get lucky or you're gonna be dead ... JD, its time to take those white socks to Boot Hill ....
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Shower shenanigans

(Posted 07:30:06 on 24th February 2009 by Mr O)
I always make the same faux pas when I travel to the US. I never pack shower gel thinking that I'll be ok as the hotel will provide that kind of thing.

Well they do and they don't, usually it's just shampoo and a bar of soap. Always being in a rush I think that the shampoo will do for all over. That is fine until they provide combined shampoo and conditioner. Knowing what that does to the hair on my head for the rest of the day you can imagine what else it does.

I'll leave you with that thought over your dinner.
2 comment(s)back to top
Mark W
14:54:36
24th February 2009
Yeah, thanks for that.
MarkH
15:04:09
25th February 2009
Yeah ta for that....need some "straighteners" for your curls ?
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Happy Birthday To Me

(Posted 06:43:04 on 25th February 2009 by Rag)
First I feel the need to thank all the BNSF train drivers for tooting your horn to say happy birthday to me. Seriously, you didn't all have to do it, but it was a nice touch and you all did. Every one of you.

Now, for anyone who doesn't understand, there are massive freight trains (we clocked one at a mile and a half long) that move stuff around the country. The biggest we saw had seven engines on it, but the normal configuration is three or four with two at the front and either one or two at the back. The picture below is of one I took more or less on the California / Arizona border.
Rag_2009-02-25_053014.jpg

So, these beasts honk their horns every time they pass through a town and their horns are loud enough that you can hear it above a car stereo. Now, I'm not saying that our hotel was close to the track, but the 2:30am passed through my bathroom and the driver of the 3:15am lent out the window and nicked one of my pillows.

So, you've probably got the point that it wasn't the best night's sleep. OK - back to the day. We started in Yuma and made the run to the coast to say that we'd done the coast to coast bit. We achieved this mid morning:
Rag_2009-02-25_053146.jpg

And then headed for the airport to drop off two of our party. The drop off went without a hitch and we said our goodbyes:
Rag_2009-02-25_063837.jpg

I reckon that's it for seeing those boys on this trip. After we dropped them off, we cranked up the tunes and hit the road travelling more without them than we have with them. With the stereo blaring heavy metal full blast, the car was half as noisy as it was before the split. For some strange reason the annoying whining noise in the back of the car had gone.

The last thing the boys were doing was to try and find a pub where they could go watch the rugby. It appears their current plan is to go on a seven day bender for the rest of the holiday and watch the rugby - so pretty much the same as having a long weekend in Grantham then.

We managed to pass through Lake Havasu City on our way to take a quick look at London Bridge - and no, it wasn't bought by mistake. That said, it was another one of our truly underwhelming sights along the way.
Rag_2009-02-25_053411.jpg

It's about time we hit the road again to make our way up to four corners. I think this is particularly apt as it really does mean that I don't know what state I will end my birthday in.
1 comment(s)back to top
Mark W
15:00:14
26th February 2009
So, Grantham is just like LA? That's really put me off visiting Grantham.
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Fatman and Hobbling ride again

(Posted 08:56:09 on 25th February 2009 by Mr O)
Yes the dynamic duo are back together again facing possibly their most formidable foe - a Motel six within a couple of hundred yards of the railroad. Yes it’s those pesky railroads again that may be the undoing of our heroic adventurers. This is after a day of 11 hrs on the road covering over 600 miles with only a few brief stops.

Our first stop was at Ocean Beach, San Diego in yet another new time zone and another new state. At this point we completed our coast to coast in just under 4,000 miles and 8 days on the road. I guess we could have achieved this in a lot less time if we hadn’t have stopped at all the places we did, but that was the point of the road trip. I am talking all past tense here, but the road trip continues if only a couple of men down.

We dropped Beavis and Butthead off at their car rental place outside of San Diego airport, waited to make sure all was ok and went off on our separate ways. Although we are going to be in the same hotel in Vegas as them from Friday night, I doubt we’ll see them until Monday as we’ll be at the races both days and they will either be trying to find somewhere to watch the rugby or be on a 24hr bender. We actually waved them goodbye on the interstate as the wind blew in their hair and showed off John’s bald patch as we took photos and then we split off as they went downtown into LA, we did our best to avoid it.

A good 5 hrs later we hit Lake Havasu city for London Bridge and I have to say this was yet another disappointment for me. For some reason I had imagined a bridge in the middle of the desert with nothing around it so as you could see the bridge from all angles, a true folly, but no, they are actually using it to connect the mainland with an island in the lake, we actually drove past it without realising before seeing the signs. We parked up and took a couple of pictures from along side, and I am sure if we had arrived earlier and had more time it would have been worth hanging around, but we wanted to make some more progress before calling it a day so hit the road again.

We made it as far as Kingman before calling it quits but as I took a slight wrong turn we ended up heading out of the town into what we thought was the middle of nowhere but we saw a whole load of houses and businesses in the near distance, but these were not showing on the map we had. I managed to turn around after about 6 miles and we managed to check into the Motel 6. Unfortunately the place is full of Belgians (not that I have anything particular about Belgians) but they have booked out all of the rooms within wireless internet range so I am having to type this offline and will upload in the morning. However, just as I was unpacking the car I happened to look across the back of the car park and saw a train, and then I heard it. It brought back memories of Cordele on night one, but hopefully after all the driving I’ll be tired enough not to notice, either that or we’ll be on the road at 2 am. All things being well we’ll make 4 corners tomorrow for Rag’s birthday.

As I type this I have just finished my bread roll and processed cheese dinner as Rag eats his Philadelphia and bagel dinner a couple of rooms up, we certainly know how to live. Oh and I looked in the Yellow Pages in the room (a habit I need to break) and the lights we saw were not Area 51 but Santa Claus, yes there is a town in Arizona called Santa Claus.
3 comment(s)back to top
MarkH
15:06:02
25th February 2009
Ah Motel 6,,,,brings back fond memories of Formula 1 in good old Pboro,,,,especially "by the hour"...... lol
MarkH
15:08:03
25th February 2009
And just what is the Yellow Pages obsession?? I do the same ! and can't work it out either....but I guess it beats Gideons and a candle....
Mr O
17:51:50
25th February 2009
As an update what we saw was not Santa Claus but more of Kingman (Google Maps to the rescue). What can I say?, I was lost and it was dark. Oh and the entry above was posted from McDonalds over Breakfast in Flagstaff
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Tuba Smarties

(Posted 21:17:45 on 25th February 2009 by Mr O)
Today being Rag’s birthday we decided to take it easy, when I say easy I mean of course that we had our earliest start of the whole trip. It’s a bit easier when there are just two and neither of you need to spend half an hour doing “the crossword” after breakfast before heading off. So we’d packed up and were set to get away at half 7, well that was the plan until I lost the car keys. Not sure how I did it, but somehow I’d put them in the back of the car and had slid Rag’s case over the top. At one point I was about to trawl through the bin as I’d throw some stuff away whilst waiting for Rag to finish packing. Anyway, keys found we were on the road and had made our way to Flagstaff by just after half 9.

For some reason I’d had this vision of Flagstaff of being a desert town, how wrong I was, it was in fact a mountain town with loads of slow. In fact it was probably one of the nicest towns we’ve visited, maybe we just didn’t see the trailer parks, or it could just be genuinely nice. Anyway we stopped off at McD’s and had a celebratory birthday breakfast and to use their wi-fi (which didn’t actually work properly).

Next we headed off down the I40 towards Gallup when we had our second closest encounter with the Authorities in the last couple of days. I was doing *ahem* a little over the speed limit as was the car alongside me when we both saw a Police car in the central reservation, we both applied our brakes but as we drove past we saw the car join the carriage way and I’m sure the other guy was as nervous as me as he tucked in behind and we both were glued to the limit. As we saw the car drive past we knew we were safe as he pulled in the pick-up just in front of us, obviously he’d infringed just before us and the cops had already decided on picking on him. Still not sure how it works if I can get pulled over, but let’s try an avoid that. Our other brush came yesterday morning quite early. We were approaching a section of the interstate where it was filtering into one lane for a border patrol when all of the cars were jumping into the one lane early so I decided to barrel down the inside of all of them (perfectly legitimately) when a car from the other lane pulled out in front of me and stopped, out stepped an official of some sort who flashed a badge at me and pointed into the other lane. I’m sure it was just some jobs worth who was late for his work, but we complied and left it at that.

Anyway once we’d cleared the pulled over pick-up we continued on our way when we saw signs for the Meteor Crater, not knowing what it was but realising it was only a few miles off the beaten track we headed for the crater. We got to the visitors centre only to find it was $15 to get in. As you will know by now, we don’t really like paying for anything and decided this was too steep. I’m sure if we’d wanted to stay and make use of the guided tour and movie theatre then it may have been worth it, but not for just a couple of pictures, and that was $15 each!

After Gallup and a slight detour for a missed turn, we headed into out next new state, Colorado, ok so we only did about 10 miles there but we visited it and rolled into Four Corners. Four Corners is the only point where 4 states intersect with each other. Ok so this cost us $3 each to get in, but we decided as we’d driven 1,000 miles extra to get this far we paid up and went in. It was as expected, just a plaque with the four state names around it. As you can see Rag didn’t know which state he ended up in but at least he looked happy.
Oblog_2009-02-25_210844.jpg


After Four corners we headed East yet again and decided to push as far as we could. We did get a bit nervous when the road ran alongside the railway for a while given our previous encounters with motels next to railroads but fortunately that peeled off and we ended up in Tuba City 650 miles later. We did ask, and it is pronounced like the musical instrument.

Tomorrow yields the last big thing on our list, the Grand Canyon, I suppose you can’t get much bigger than that. Happy Birthday Rag.
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Yellow Pages

(Posted 21:25:53 on 25th February 2009 by Mr O)
As an aside. It seems like I am not the only one who turns to the Yellow Pages (or equivalent) when staying in a new town. Although I shouldn't have to justify it, let me explain, you get maps of the area, you can find out where the nearest restaurants and shops are, plus you can laugh at any funny names or ads (hence Richard Liquor in Beloit).

There, are you happy now, I'm not a freak, well not that big of a one anyway, I urge all of you fellow Yellow Pagers to own up and join my new Facebook group.
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And The Bands Played On

(Posted 06:05:53 on 26th February 2009 by Rag)
Well, I have to say, there was a real fanfare about my birthday as we rolled into Tuba City to spend the night. That said, it was almost disappointing not to spend the night alongside a train line. Instead we stayed somewhere more like a proper hotel and went out for a decent meal. Rather than cardboard burger, I tried a Navajo Roast Beef wrap (as we're on an Indian reservation and this was the local food), which was really good. The best bit about it was that it came with chili cheese baked beans - I'm Popeye the sailor man - toot, toot! Maybe that's the reason the town is called Tuba City.

Yesterday was another big day of driving. We detoured a little to see the meteor crater, but decided not to pay the admission price (as Mr O mentions above). Instead I took this photo of a mountain in the opposite direction.
Rag_2009-02-26_054839.jpg

If you're interested in what the crater looks like, here's a picture I downloaded off the Internet.
Rag_2009-02-26_054223.jpg

We drove though the petrified forest which was somewhat confusing as there weren't any trees there and nothing looked scared at all, so we decided not to stop and to press on to four corners. Four corners totally lived up to all expectations being a monument to where the four states touch surrounded by gift shops. What more do you need?
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More shower shenanigans

(Posted 06:06:20 on 26th February 2009 by Mr O)
Don't worry, this post won't leave you with stomach churning mental images.

It was something I forgot to mention about our hotel rooms in Kingman Tuesday night. We'd both been given the disabled rooms (not that the rooms were disabled but they were for disabled people). I hadn't realised this until I walked into the bathroom and wondered why someone had left a sled propped up in the bath and why someone had let the local high school shop class loose with their metal work practice. Ok so it was a wooden bath seat and half a dozen grab rails, but you get the picture.

I thought nothing more of it until the morning when I stepped in and turned on the shower only to find that the stream of water only reached as high as my bol, as high as my mid-riff, obviously designed to work if you are sitting on the bath seat, not if you are standing over 6ft tall. With a bit of twisting I managed to get the job done but nothing is ever straight forward is it?
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Hot, Cold and ....?

(Posted 06:41:05 on 26th February 2009 by Rag)
Although it initially seemed disappointing that we'd left the trains behind, I was excited this morning with the new bathroom challenge. Having mastered the knob pulling of previous showers and the disabled shower of Kingman that Mr O mentions above, this one simply left me wondering how to get turned on?
Rag_2009-02-26_063503.jpg
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More bathroom notes

(Posted 19:23:29 on 26th February 2009 by Mr O)
I think I can out do Rag's three knobs tonight. We are staying in another Best Western, but this is more like a hotel rather than a motel. If you don't believe me, see how many different items were lined up in the bathroom.
Oblog_2009-02-26_191303.jpg

We have volumising shampoo, volumising conditioner, shower gel, body lotion, mouthwash and a coconut lime verbena moisture-rich cleasing bar infused with real coconut extract (why they couldn't just say soap is beyond me).
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Best laid plans of fatman and hobbling often go awry

(Posted 20:30:04 on 26th February 2009 by Mr O)
Thank goodness for Google and free in room wi-fi otherwise we may have had quite a detour on today’s journey. In fact we ended up with our shortest day of the trip time and distance wise. I’d logged onto the Grand Canyon website to get a weather forecast so as to gauge what to wear when I noticed something about the Northern Rim being closed. As our plan was to head to the Northern Rim, our original plans were a tad scuppered.

Luckily we had plan B, the Southern Rim which is where we headed. Just before we got to the Canyon proper we were swayed by the signs for the little Colorado river canyon, which was free to get a look at but half killed both of us clambering down and up the rocks to get a view.

We entered the park and paid our $25 (which is better value than the crater at $15 each) and had a chat with the park ranger on the entrance gate. We explained our change of plans and she said that the Northern Rim wasn’t technically shut, as long as we were prepared to trek 42 miles on cross country skis or snow shoes we could get to the visitors centre that way. Wow, an American with a sense of humour, probably rarer than the canyon itself.

We stopped off at the Desert View viewpoint and wandered our way down, and to say it was spectacular is doing it an injustice, it really is a wonder of the world. It is one of those things you have to do once in your lifetime. Of course, what we hadn’t really thought about was how the altitude and the walking around was going to affect us. Ok so we all know that Fatman and Hobbling are not the fittest of superheroes but you’d have thought even we would have been able to handle a bit of wandering around at 7000 ft.

We drove on to the next view point and took some more photos, and repeated this for the next couple. After that it began to get a bit samey. Don’t get me wrong, it is fantastic and you do get different perspectives but one rock does began to look very much like another after a while.

We decided to head for the visitors centre in the hope of free cake. When I was on the net in the morning finding out about our change of plans I noticed that today was the 90th anniversary of the opening of the Grand Canyon national park and that they were holding a celebration and were opening a new visitors centre. When we entered the park we were given an invitation for the opening ceremony with the promise of free cake. When we got there, there was no sign of a new visitors centre or free cake. We had envisaged us getting caught up in a media circus and appearing on TV and websites around the world, but that was just our imagination running away with us.

We did make the mistake of parking in the disabled parking area at the visitors centre. Ok so it gives you better access to the centre itself, but if you want to then get to see the canyon itself from there, it’s a nasty up-hill trudge. Worse still when we did get there, a bus load of Mexican school kids turned up so we had to fight our way through them to get some decent pictures.

We had timed our visit well, there was quite a lot of snow laying around still which made for good pictures, but we were just outside the time from when the tourist shuttle buses started, which meant it was a little less busy and we were able to get access to more of the park in our own car without having to jump on and off the shuttles. That said, by the end of the road, we were both shattered from all of the walking and decided to call it quits.

Next was our decision as to where to stay, we had Williams which was only an hour away or Kingman about 3 hours away. Given our previous experience in Kingman that wasn’t tempting, but we didn’t think we’d find anything in-between plus anything further past Kingman would take us back in the wrong direction. Our mind was made up when we both started feeling tired on the drive out of the park so Williams was our destination.

As you can tell from the above blog we ended up in a Best Western in Williams but it is far enough away from the interstate and nowhere near the railroad. The better news was that the restaurant in there was really good. I had one of the best deserts I’ve had in ages, a three layer orange, raspberry and lemon mousse, exquisite. So although we only covered 150 miles today, it was a good day all round.

I think a visit to the North Rim and Zion National park is in order next time I’m over in the summer. Just the damn dam to do tomorrow and then on into Vegas. Viva Las Vegas.
1 comment(s)back to top
Dave W
03:12:38
27th February 2009
The apple pie at Castor will never be the same.
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Rimming

(Posted 05:46:25 on 27th February 2009 by Rag)
We woke to breakfast and head on to the canyon. The only question was whether to head North or South.
Rag_2009-02-27_051803.jpg

Neither of us could remember the correct etiquette for rimming and whether one should do the North or South Rim first. Thankfully Mr O had done a bit of googling and found that the road to the North Rim was closed so the decision was easy - head South.

When we entered the Grand Canyon, we found that the road to the North Rim was not technically closed and that we could indeed make the 42 mile journey by hiking with snow shoes. I was up for the challenge. Mr O said he was too, but claimed that he could only find one of his snow shoes, so we pressed on into the park to drive round the South Rim.

I couldn't help but think there must be some kinda way out of here. And that this was said by the joker to the thief. The trouble was there's too much confusion and I can't get no relief. I put these thoughts out of mind and turned once again to sightseeing. First stop - The Watchtower.
Rag_2009-02-27_051909.jpg

The rest of the day was spent photographing the Grand Canyon. None of the photos are brilliant and they're all probably much of a muchness. Here's a sampler:
Rag_2009-02-27_052232.jpg

For more, see day 11 photos.

End of the day in Williams. Friday we're going in .... in to Sin City ....
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Getting my kicks on Route 66

(Posted 08:08:19 on 27th February 2009 by Mr O)
Many people (well two) have asked what my inspiration was for this road trip. Was it the song about Route 66, was it a book, a film or a documentary? The answer is a bit of everything and a bit of nothing.

However let me talk about Route 66 first, it doesn't exist. Well as a recognised road across America it doesn't, in fact it was closed in 1985 and replaced with the I40. Bits of the route still exist and are clased as historic route 66, but you would struggle to do the entire journey on that. That said, we have stayed at placed and visited stops on the old route, going in both directions, so I guess you could say that has been an influence.

I guess I'd have to say Dave Gorman's America Unchained was a big influence, a couple of the places we visited were on the list because of him, including the collection of old barbed wire, thanks Dave.

Otherwise it has to be National Lampoon's Vacation and Beavis and Butthead Do America that are the other main points of reference. Let's face Rag and I are in fact Beavis and Butthead head-banging along to heavy metal in the car, visiting places like Bald Knob and about to visit the damn Dam. Let's just hope we don't manage to switch off the entire electricity supply for Nevada whilst we are there (you'll have had to have seen the film to get that reference, and if you've not seen it, I recommend it).

I do sometimes think that I've turned into a film critic making references and recommendations of films, but you need to link things back to popular (or not quite so popular) culture.

I also understand that I am 2 down on the gag count in my blogs compared to Rag, not sure how I'll make that deficit up, but I'll try my hardest, but when he's making rimming gags, how am I meant to come in there?

Not sure how much sinning we'll do in Sin City, we'll leave that up to our now separated travelling companions who were last heard of in Santa Monica. I'm sure I'll see them at some point, I've got to, we are flying back on the same plane.
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Vegas on a budget

(Posted 15:48:14 on 27th February 2009 by Mr O)
(and no I don't mean that mightily fine auto insurance comapny based in Peterborough England)

Don't get me wrong I'm no snob, but this place is a shit hole, not Vegas I hasten to add, but the hotel(?) I'm staying in. I know when I normally come I don't stay in the Bellagio or the Venetian or anything, but this is worse than some of the motels we've stayed in enroute.

Maybe it was our arrival that has swayed my opinion somewhat. We are driving down the strip towards where we thought it was, and we are driving and going past Paris and the Flamingo and we nearly miss the entrance, it is literally just a hole in the wall to get to the valet parking and the front door. Now I made the first mistake in not dropping rag off there and then, rather deciding to go and park and then go and check-in. So we parked up.

Next we had to drag our bags all the way back through the entire property to get to reception only to find that our rooms weren't ready and that when they were, they were all the way back around next to the parking garage. We were both mightily pissed off at this stage, compounded by the fact when directed to find someone to look after our bags whilst we waited for the rooms no-one could be found. I eventually grabbed someone, thrust our bags in his direction and took my slip of paper.

Fortunately we only had to wait an hour, not the two and half we thought we might have to, however when trudging our back to our rooms (minus bags) we noticed a checkin desk right near where we came in (second mistake). Anyway we arranged for the bags to be brought up to Rag's room and then i trundled mine back down a level and along a bit.

To add insult to injury they are even charging for internet access.

I shouldn't whinge (although we all know it's something I'm good at) as we are here safe and we have the racing tomorrow. Time for a little gamble now and then some dinner. Wish me luck.
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Genealogy

(Posted 07:24:58 on 28th February 2009 by Rag)
So, we're at the end of our journey as far as driving to new destinations. We've reached Las Vegas and pitched our tent on the strip. The good old Grand Caravan of Love appears to have made it - just the races to go now.

Right, so lets update you on the trip. We got up and drove to Vegas. That's about it. Oh yeah - we went across this big dam thing on the way:
Rag_2009-02-28_065736.jpg

Not a lot else to say, so lets move on to Vegas itself. Mr O doesn't seem too enamoured with our choice of lodging, although I think that may change a little as he had a date with Lady Luck last night (I'll let him update you on that). I, on the other hand, have been looking for more positive things to say about our accommodation. I didn't think there was going to be anything, but during the wee hours of this morning I think there's a little known fact that this place can help you determine your ancestry, for it was only just in the room above me that I heard the following conversation:

“Oh yeah ...... Oh yeah .....”
“oh-yeah-oh-yeah-oh-yeah”
“yeah baby, that's it”
“oh-yeah-oh-yeah-oh-yeah”
“yeah baby, who's your daddy, who's your daddy” (I kid you not)
“yyyyyeeeeeaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh!”

At first I was thinking that if she didn't know who her father was by now that she would never know, however the accompanying noise of their elation made me think that they'd found the answer. They must have been really excited because the accompanying noise was them seemingly jumping up and down on the bed which had rather noisy springs.

Now, I know Mr O complained about having to pay for Internet access, however, if the person in the room upstairs was researching this lady's family tree online, I hope he negotiated a rate by the hour (or even minute) rather than a daily rate. Lets just say that he must have been using a particularly fast search engine as the lapsed time from the first “oh yeah“ to the last elongated groaning “yeah” was only in the region of 15 to 30 seconds. I was expecting it to start up again, but it never did.

Well, that's enough earwigging for me. Time to head off to the Nationwide race.
1 comment(s)back to top
jonno
03:18:53
4th March 2009
as someone once said, "you boys been whacking off in my trailer...?"
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Not so noisy neighbours

(Posted 09:00:54 on 28th February 2009 by Mr O)
You’ll be pleased to know that I did not have quite the awakening that Rag did this morning. I think the people in the next room know exactly who the daddy is as it is occupied by our long lost travelling companions John and Ivan. I would be very worried if I heard similar noises from there as it could only mean one of two things and I don’t wish to think about either of them to be honest.

It was by pure chance that I saw the boys as they were getting to their room as I was about to head off to find some slots. They’d had a great time in LA but Ivan had caught a touch of the sun and had a cold so went straight to bed on arrival. John and I had a drink to catch up and Rag joined us later. Whilst waiting for Rag, I tried my luck on the slots and won $900 within the first hour (which is the Lady Luck Rag is referring to, either that or the appointment I have booked for this evening but I didn't think he knew about that…)

Feeling a little rough around the edges this morning, combination of tiredness, a dodgy burger last night and a touch of a cold coming on. I think my body has decided that now we have no more travelling to do, it can switch off a little. I may end up falling asleep in my seat at this rate.

On a brighter note, I think Ivan is feeling better as he and John headed out just after 8 this morning in search of the rugby. I wonder what state they'll be in later after starting drinking that early, who knows?

Anyway, time to get our engines started and head over to the LVMS.
1 comment(s)back to top
jonno
03:20:19
4th March 2009
O, I think you need "tee pee for you bung hole..."
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Nationwide is on your side

(Posted 09:38:11 on 1st March 2009 by Rag)
Rather than bore you with the details of the Nationwide race other than to stay it was a very bad first half with a lot of yellows and a couple of reds. Great finsih though, so overall it was a good race. If you're interested, there are plenty of pictures from the race.

The one thing I did think you might be interested in is this picture where I spotted Uncle Jesse at the race.
Rag_2009-03-01_072644.jpg
1 comment(s)back to top
Mark W
04:09:34
2nd March 2009
Owen said his holiday beard was coming along, but I didn't realise by just how much.
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The End of The Road

(Posted 18:51:08 on 2nd March 2009 by Rag)
Well, it's the end of the road for me. I'm back in the San Francisco Bay Area after a rather bumpy flight home. Ironically the weather here is pretty bad - gray sky and raining (so English weather really). It seems we did really well to miss the worst of the weather during our travels which is fine by me.

The last photos of the Shelby 427 NASCAR race were posted earlier today and I have no more that will be associated with the road trip.

The last road trip related vote question is on the vote page, although I suspect the early predictions will be correct in that we will embark on another such trip sometime in our lives. Europe perhaps and maybe one that takes us through Monaco during the May time frame.

Interestingly, I was looking over the shoulder of the person seated in front of me who was reading an article in USA Today about Arizona using speed cameras on all of its roads. A little worried (although I didn't do any of the driving), I looked it up and the article is of the fact that AAA will be providing its members with the location of them once they are put up so I don't think there are any currently in use. It did say that there are some on stretches of I-75 in Georgia, but I don't think we saw any there either.

Hopefully my fellow travelers will have a less eventful flight home and if they're having one last flutter, I wish them luck. Until next time ..... Viva Las Vegas!
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Not quite full circle

(Posted 14:27:05 on 3rd March 2009 by Mr O)
As I sit here in the upper class lounge at McCarran airport I guess this just about completes the circle on the road trip for me. I will probably want to digest the trip and post a retrospective at the weekend, but it seems strange that it is all over.

When I dropped off the hire car, the guy asked me if there was anything to report, well I said, "apart from the brakes scraping, the oil light, the ESP/BAS and car with squiggly lines lighting up, nothing much". He said that he thought it may need a service, scrapping more like. I did go over it thoroughly yesterday with half a can of deodorant clearing the smell of cigarattes, BO and old laundry, but I think you can tell that four blokes had spent nearly 3 weeks in it.

I worked out that the not so Grand Caravan did 5704 miles with us at the helm, with the added 254 that the Aspen did, it means I travelled nearly 6,000 miles on this trip, and to be honest it feels like it, I'll be glad to get back to work for the rest!

It was Ivan who said at the airport that he wouild be staying off the booze, fags and burgers for a while, although I don't do either of the first two, I do agree with the sentiment whole heartedly. No matter how hard you try, you just can't avoid eating junk in the US. That said, one of the better dining experiences we had was in Vegas surprisingly. It was a tip that John and Ivan had got from a taxi driver for a locals casino/bar, where the food was cheap and reasonable and the beer was only $1.50 a pint, plus it's only a couple of minutes walk off the strip. Now don't expect haute cuisine, but it was worth it for the friendly welcome we got clearly as outsiders.

Hopefully Ivan will feel better when he gets back, he certainly didn't enjoy his 36 hours in his bed at the Imperial Palace due to a cold combined with sunstroke. I know he was suffering because I could hear him coughing in the early hours of the morning.

Time to experience how the other half live for one last time (well until Virgin do another special offer on flights) and as Rag says, I'm sure if the votes fall right there'll be another road trip on the cards at some point, however it is as he suggests to Monaco, we both ought to brush up on our French a tad.

Back to the infrequent blogging in the OBlogs section after next week. Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed, and if you wish me to regale any of this in any greater detail, you are sadder than the four of us who did the trip in the first place.

Mr O
3 comment(s)back to top
Ross
01:37:05
4th March 2009
put me down for the france trip, je suis fluent ! i will teach you many useful phrases to get you through the hard times 'j'ai les dents du fond qui beigne' .... exact translation is 'my back teeth are swimming' literally meaning 'i am about to chunder' ... i am sure it will come in useful ---- great blogging you two, pure comedy and i feel i have experienced the trip at every turn and unfortunately in every shower, which has now totally put me off ever going anywhere with any of you, take my name off the list for the french trip !
jonno
03:21:51
4th March 2009
congratulations, you are indeed the "great corn-hoolio"
Amy
08:22:04
4th March 2009
Have loved the blog. Almost a shame you are back, blogs of days at work won't be half as exciting. Maybe you could start adding quiz questions to keep me entertained :)
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Dollar get an F for Math

(Posted 11:32:35 on 4th March 2009 by Mr O)
Am now home and going through my receipts and the car rental one caught my eye. It said miles out 8743 (I clocked it at 8746 but hey) and then miles in 14451. Therefore we drove 5708 miles, however according to the receipt from Dollar rent-a-car we drove 6155. They must have a unique tracking device that picked up the 447 miles I did in reverse.
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Post road-trip blues

(Posted 13:55:10 on 9th March 2009 by Mr O)
No don’t worry, I’ve not been influenced by our trip in the deep South, haven’t taken up playing the harmonica and writing songs about my dog running off with my woman whilst my sister is run over by a steam roller, it’s the promised retrospective of the trip now the dust has settled, the bags have been unpacked and the washing done.

So where do I start? I guess having been back at work for a couple of days, I start by planning the next trip and working out how I can get someone else to pay for it. However, knowing that it’s not going to happen I’d better tie up the loose ends on this one first.

So, would I do it again? Yes. Exactly the same way? No. That’s for a couple of reasons, firstly as I’ve now done that trip, secondly as I would do some parts differently. It was a strange trip although we had a semi-plan we didn’t have a mission as such. The coast to coast element got introduced in day one and then we half adopted an idea to find a strange place name in each state we visited and to also visit as many states as possible, but the latter two were almost accidental. If I were to do something similar again, I may adopt those two ideas and expand ensuring we had a tripod moment in each state (and obviously a bad pun about the place name).

I’d also liked to have spent more time on the road perverse as that sounds. I was prepared for earlier starts and later finishes. However that said, I would have had a rough idea where the end point for the day would have been to enable a bit of research on places to stay to avoid a couple of those places right next to train lines.

Would the trip have been better if it was just Rag and I? Tough question, that was the original thought, and if that had been the case we would have had the car fitted with hand controls so as we could have shared the driving, but would we have had the same experiences? When we did split it did allow Rag and I to crank up the stereo and stick Octane on the car’s satellite radio, plus we were able to get the early starts and the miles under our belt, but it felt like something was missing. It was difficult for John, not driving or navigating, he was always in the back looking out of the window, but that was always going to be the way with the road trip. What he and Ivan did bring was some local knowledge from chatting to folks in bars and taxis, without them we wouldn’t have found Tootsies in Nashville or the place in Vegas, or indeed have visited as many Hooters/Winghouses as we did, but Rag’s doctor may see that as a bad thing. I guess I don’t know what idea they had at the outset, but I was happy just covering lots of miles, eating and holing up in the hotel and blogging in the evening. I know that isn’t most people’s idea of a holiday, but it was a road trip and the holiday part came in Vegas, although I could have done with an extra day or so there (my bank manager may disagree).

I hope John and Ivan got something out of the trip, I know they had a good time in Santa Monica; it was a shame that Ivan was so ill in Vegas. I know how he felt; I’m still recovering from it now.

Ok so how about places I’d go back to? Tombstone would be good for a whole day, as would the Kennedy Space centre. Not sure about Pigeon Forge, intriguing, looked as if it could be worth another look but it’s not near anything else other than Dollywood and I don’t plan on visiting that.

What about Route 66? It’s a bit of a cliché now, as mentioned in a previous post, it doesn’t exist as a road in itself so is it worth travelling along? Probably not, it’s been done before, the one thing you can guarantee about our trip; no one has done that route before.

So what about the next trip? As Rag said in his posts and the vote page, we’ll look at doing another and no doubt base it around a sporting event, but we need to think about where and when. At least I don’t have to worry about getting a pass out to spend two weeks away from the missus and the kid, however knowing Mrs Rag I’d no doubt she’d pay me to take him away and give her the break.

What about future blogs? Well there is the OBlogs section on this site, but unless work suddenly becomes like a road trip with a new adventure each day, the frequency may be slightly less, but if there’s an opportunity for a bad pun I’m sure I’ll find a way of working it in somehow. So happy reading if you pop back once in a while, otherwise we’ll see you for the next trip.
1 comment(s)back to top
jonno
04:38:24
10th March 2009
having completed your own take of "beavis & butthead do america" (or was it "planes, train lines and automobiles"..?) how about you do your own take on other films, "the italian job", "cannonball run", "bullitt" or "the getaway" to name a few...
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Tracking Map

The tracking map shows the actual route that we took on our trip. If you are viewing this page whilst we are on the journey, you should see the route progress as we move along. I've noted various waypoints along the way and attached some photos so you can see the things we saw.