Life’s an exciting adventure, isn’t it? Even though I’ve been in San Francisco for two days, I feel compelled to blog a wrap up my cross-country account.

On Day 2 we took a detour to see the House of Worship just outside of Chicago. Unfortunately, we were foolish enough to trust technology to direct us on our way. So, when we searched for 100 Linden Ave, Chicago it gave us directions to Linden in Oak Park, not Wilmette. Eventually we found it, but in the pouring rain. I picked up some reading and tunes at the shoppe, and spent some quality time in the corner stone room and the auditorium.

Later that afternoon we stopped for lunch at Quiznos in North Aurora, IL. When we got back to the car, it refused to go faster than 20km/h… downhill. Turning again to the GPS, we found the name of a local-sounding mechanic. At the nearby Motel 6 we used the phonebook to also look up a “discount” towing service. I suppose if they’d’ve flown the car to San Francisco for us, it would have been discount. Anyway $422 later, we met up with Eli, a Mexican-American mechanic that assured us we wouldn’t pay a cent for his services unless the car got fixed. He even had a friend/colleague of his to drive us to a nearby hotel–the drive refused any tip.

Unfortunately, our bad luck had not run out yet, and our ride drove away before we found out the hotel was booked for the night. So, we took a cab back to the Motel 6 that gave us the phone number to the not-much-of-a-discount towing service and checked in for the night.

The next day we walked to the neighbouring outlet mall which was not an easy task. This was one of those outlet malls that are just off the highway where, aside from a narrow entrance ramp for cars, nature is frantically attempting to reclaim every inch of the land surrounding the commercial sprawl. After a couple of hours of pretending to be interested in buying electronics and playing Worms on Val’ls laptop, Eli called saying that the car was ready. So, a cab drive and a reasonable fee later we were on the road again.

However, our bad luck still hadn’t quite run out. The first time we stopped to get gas and lunch, we miscalculated a turn, crossed the opposing lane of traffic and scraped across an SUV. There was no serious damage to either vehicle, but we still needed to wait around for the police report to be filled out. We also had to pay “bond” and sign a sheet that was apparently not an admission of guilt, even though it certified our payment for a bond fee associated with an illegal right-hand turn.

After determining that the only thing leaking from the bottom of the car was water from the A/C unit, we set out again to spend the rest of the trip having to both weasel our way out of the driver-side door. The rest of our trip was largely uneventful. We didn’t stop at as many sights as I would have liked on account of having lost almost a day and a half to setbacks. Along the way I learned that all the States East of Wyoming (and West of Michigan) are absolutely dull geographically, but I never new that Nevada was so mountainous.

Anyway, the journey to California has finally ended. I started work yesterday at the usual slow pace; still waiting on this and that to get everything fully set up to start work; still lots of learning to do before I’m fully comfortable with the work environment. We will see what the rest of the semester has in store…


It has begun! Mark and Val’s Excellent Adventure: Road Trip to San Francisco is a go!

Left from Kitchener at about 11:30AM. After a quick stop in London to pick up a couple of things we foolishly trusted the GPS system to guide us.

We set the GPS to get us to Flint, MI; the GPS figured the best route was to go via Buffalo. Of couse, when we noticed this, we paid it no attention and continued to Sarnia/Port Huron. However, the GPS could not be pursuaded; after each exit we passed, it recalculated a new route that was the same every time: pull a U-turn at the next exit, drive to Buffalo, and then turn around and head for Flint.

Unfortunately, the system didn’t improve much once we crossed the border either. Its latest bright idea was that we should drive through Detroit to get to Flint, rather than take the straight and uninterrupted route via I-69. I am seriously concerned about when we enter parts of the States where I haven’t been.

Crossing the border was relatively uneventful. We waved a bunch of pages with signatures on them around while customs officials looked for fruit and yogurt stashed in between our laptops and our clothes. We did arrive right when our officer was about to change his shift though, so when the computer system froze up half way through processing us he got tagged out by a seemingly more attractive and experienced one.

Finally, we stopped in Flint to pick up my new Peek, which turned out to cost a fraction of what I expected; I’m pretty sure it’s an older model, which is fine by me. Our hotel appears to be a T-Mobile deadzone though, much to my chagrin.

Now we’ve stopped in Kalamazoo, MI for the night, mostly because I like the name. According to Val, that’s about 1/6 of the way, which is not bad for a half-day of driving with delays crossing the border. I took some pictures today, but I left the photo cable in my big luggage; hopefully I’ll remember to dig it out tomorrow and transfer some photos.

Anyway, I’m off to contact people I’m supposed to contact, blah, blah, blah. Sleep eventually. Stay tuned tomorrow for more updates–from on the road if I can get my Peek to work correctly!