Things I Love About Road Trips

Hi again!

I wanted to make a separate post for this, because it definitely deserves it.  Here's a short list of things I <3 about road trips, c/o my coast trip.  Enjoy :-)

  • Not using a GPS
  • 'End Speed Limit' signs
  • Alternate routes and detours
  • Lighthouses
  • Tourist traps
  • Towns that only consist of a street corner
  • Foggy, cool mornings
  • An empty road
  • Seeing old friends and making new ones
  • Quiet places to read
  • Random in-car dance parties
  • Not being asked for ID
  • Chatty waiters/waitresses
  • People pumping your gas (I know, I'm surprised I liked it too!)
  • Driving stick on windy, curvy roads
  • Road signs in other states
  • Awesome hole-in-the-wall restaurants
  • Cool bridges (read: engineer)
  • Silence
  • Feeling insignificant (an all-time fav of mine)
  • Festivals
  • Free continental breakfasts
  • Wi-Fi in the middle of nowhere
There you have it, my list from the trip.  I'm sure I have tons more I could add, but this is what I thought of as I traveled the coast.



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The Most Northwestern Bathroom in the US

Sorry guys, kinda got swept up with this whole Seattle thing that I totally forgot to write up my second half of my trip!  Well, now there's a bit of a lull before all the craziness begins Wednesday, so let's sit down here and have a chat.

The title is only one of the many random things on the way from Oregon into Washington along the coast.  As I got farther along, I realized I sped up a little bit each day, eager to make it to Seattle.  Although that's the case, I'm happy to say that I think I've covered most of the western coastline, at least for now :-)  Okay, so here we go!

Day 4: Lincoln City, OR to Portland, OR

  • Got up early and before I knew it, I had crossed the 45th parallel.  The tiny sign came up so quickly that I missed it and turned around for a quick blurrycam pic.
  • Stopped at my first Oregon gas station.  MAN it's weird having someone pump your gas.  At least I got out and did my own windows :-P
  • Took the 3 capes loop off of 101.  A bit foggy, but it was a pleasant drive; it reminded me a lot of a resort town near Traverse City or something, lots of wooden condos hidden in the woods.  Unfortunately, the road was closed to the Cape Meares Lighthouse, but I just took the detour for fun.
  • Drove into Tillamook and got my cheese fix.  A very cool, *free* factory tour.  I even bought a few random gifts for the old SLO roomies (hope you guys enjoyed the poop paper lol!)
  • After stopping here and there for some coast pics, I drove into the packed vacation town of Cannon Beach.  It was nice to start seeing more WA plates, made me feel at home.  I grabbed a quick lunch and did some reading in the bustling little town.
  • Stopped by Ecola SP to see this grand view of the coast my book talked up, but I pulled a U-turn after I found out it was $5 to see a fogged out coastline.
  • Jumped on the road to Portland, where I got stuck for an hour in a crazy traffic jam.  Hell, I turned off my car 3 times and friggin' READ while I waited.  Good thing I had nowhere to be lol.
  • Made it to Portland, woo!  Hung out with Carrie at her new digs and talked over tea and vegan curry.  We spent the night roaming the streets seeing the funkiness that's Stumptown, stopping to grab a huge waffle cone from the food trucks parked in a lot in her neighborhood before heading to the park.  We talked about our new lives (she just moved from SC) and I even got to meet her gf and learn about "vegan rollerskates" lol.  Thanks again Carrie for putting me up for the night!
I'm excited for Seattle, but I'm also so happy Portland is so close.  I mean, it's about a 3 hour drive or a 3 1/2 hour train ride for $60.  I can't wait to head back!  See you guys in October 8-)

Day 5: Portland, OR to Astoria, OR

  • Hung out with Carrie and Sarah all morning.  Grabbed a vegan lunch in Belmont before heading back up US-26 to the coast.  Don't worry, I'll be back :-)
  • Walked around Seaside for a bit, though it was a bit cloudy for a day at a beach town.
  • Headed up to see Fort Stevens, but there was a crazy accident involving a school bus blocking the way.  Found a detour around it and eventually saw a really cool bunker, the only place in the continental US bombed during WWII
  • Fort Clatsop (endpoint of Lewis + Clark) was closing at 5 p.m. so I headed into Astoria.  MAN it's annoying how stuff closes early, but oh well lol
  • Walked along the RR tracks in Astoria for a loooong time, taking bridge pics before realizing I went the wrong way lol.
  • Went up the Astoria Column, which has an AWESOME view of the rivers and the ocean.  Lots of stairs though haha.
  • Drove to my motel (complete with an awesome view of the Columbia and the bridge to WA) and then to a good seafood dinner.  I was amazed how chatty people were, both the gas attendant (admiring my bike) and the waiter at dinner.  It was nice to chat with some folks.
I may not have gotten far that day, but it was a ton of fun!  Now I was really getting anxious to hit WA, so the next day I vowed to push it and get far...and I did :-)

Day 6: Astoria, OR to Port Angeles, WA

  • After admiring the view from my motel a bit, I stopped back at Fort Clatsop to snoop around before grabbing Starbucks and driving over the bridge.  Washington at last!
  • I tried to go to the North Head Lighthouse, but the pay-to-park thing was $10 and I only had a $20.  I didn't feel like breaking the honor system and I had seen enough lighthouses, so I skipped it.
  • Went to Long Beach, admired the random stuff in the Free Museum (complete with crocodile man!) along with the world's largest frying pan and a reconstructed whale skeleton.
  • Sped through Willapa Bay, Grays Harbor, Lake Quinault and Kalaloch.  Not much to see lol, towns are a bit smaller and farther in WA, which was a nice pace from OR.
  • Hit the Hoh River Rainforest.  Simply amazing!  I liked it (and Olympia National Park) so much that I bought a year pass.  I will be back!
  • Took the alternate route up highway 113 and 112 to Neah Bay, the most NW point in the US.  Yes, that's where I found the bathroom lol (as pictured), though I never found the running fish statue :-/
  • Now it was dark, but I pushed on, speeding past Lake Crescent and the rest of Olympia before getting stuck for 15 minutes at a one way road lol.  Stupid construction...
  • Hit Port Angeles, where I grabbed a motel and walked to Michael's, an awesome seafood place recommended by the hotel clerk who used to work there lol.
I did it, I was almost to my new home!  The next day it was Seattle baby!
Day 7: Port Angeles, WA to Seattle, WA

  • Woke up and drove up Hurricane Ridge in Olympia, even though it was fogged out on the webcam.  I found the crazy Deception Point road, which is a curvy dirt road with no guardrails that goes for 8 miles.  I thought I had the balls to do it, but apparently not...especially in the fog lol
  • Hiked really quickly on the ridge and took some pictures of deer before heading back down and speeding towards Seattle, burned out and ready to be done.
  • Skipped Sequim and Dunguness and went straight to Port Townsend, which has a ton of cool shops and restaurants.  Again, I was a bit anxious to be done, so I definitely will be back, although I did find some cool bike shops along with a good lunch.
  • Excited, I drove to the Bremerton Ferry and sailed into Seattle!
Woo!  I had made it; after about a week, as I expected; I was at my new home.  The route was quite impressive; be sure to check it out:

I drove straight to my new house, where I have been ever since, exploring my new surroundings.  So far, it's been about a week and a half and I love the weather and the city!  We'll see about's starting Wednesday haha.

Be sure to stay tuned, I will be keeping my blog more up-to-date now that the craziness of getting moved in and settled has calmed down, I promise.  After all, I need a break from the grad work once and a while, right?

I leave you from my spot in a cozy coffee shop, soon to write again.

Until next time!


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From Bay Area to Bay Area and Beyond

Well folks, it's three days into my PCH trip and if y'all been watching my Facebook then I'm sure you're all up to date with where I'm at on my trip in terms of pics.  However, that's only part of the story.  Here's a quick update on the past three days:

Day 1: San Jose, CA to Eureka, CA

  • Tripled checked everything in SJ after my rough night out with the HGST peeps Tuesday (thanks again guys lol!) and sent off the packing cube.
  • Ate one last meal at our hole-in-the-wall, The Breakfast Place, before taking off at 10 a.m.
  • Made my way out of the Bay, listening to all my fav radio stations as I cruised up 280, across the GG Bridge and up 101.
  • Stopped at a deli-mart in Ukiah for lunch where it was friggin 95 degrees!  Ugh, it was like that most of the way up to the PCH.  The cooler weather couldn't come sooner!
  • Hit the redwoods and tourist traps galore!  Checked out the One Log House and Drive Thru Tree (where I had to take my bikes off to fit and then scratched my mirror on the tree, oops!)
  • Cruised the Avenue of the Giants in Humboldt State Park.  Wow.  I was a little freaked out b/c I was low on gas, but I still had fun hiking the Founders Grove and learning about Dyerville, which apparently was totally wiped out from earthquakes and floods.
  • Checked out Scotia, the last company town in CA, followed by Ferndale, a tiny dairy town off the track from 101.  It was a cool place, but like all towns, it was shut up by 6 o'clock.
  • Fogged rolled in and temps dropped into the 60s as I rolled into Eureka, yay!  Found a motel and ate at a local brewery, although I still didn't really feel like beer lol.  Surprised by how large a town it was.
Most of this day was mileage since I was trying to get to where I left off on the PCH at Leggett, so I covered about 325 miles!

Day 2: Eureka, CA to Gold Beach, OR

  • Everything was closed in Eureka until 10, so I wondered over to Samoa looking for some lighthouse ruins, got lost in the fog for a bit, then finally drove up to Arcata to bum around Humboldt State like a student.  Seems to be a big environment/forestry focus, props to that!
  • Cruised the town of Arcata, looking at books and antiques before grabbing food at the co-op.  Someone almost hit me with their car and surprisingly stopped and said "Sorry".  Man, people are nice up here, AND they drive at or below the speed limit!  I'll have to re-learn how to drive lol.
  • Headed to Trinidad where I checked out the lighthouse and beach trail with a TON of stairs.
  • Drove through Redwood National Park and St. Patrick's Park searching for Elk on the alternate route.  Didn't find any :-(
  • Popped into the Trees of Mystery tourist trap.  Probably not worth $14, but definitely cool to see, especially with the talking giant Paul Bunyan lol.  The skyway tram freaked me out a bit; it comes to a complete stop everytime a car is loaded/unloaded, so you're just stopped, hanging over the forest.  Nice view though.
  • Hiked in Jedidiah Smith Park for about an hour.  The road in was crazy in itself.  A nice, bumpy one-lane dirt road.  Absolutely quiet; it's just you and the giant redwoods out there, very relaxing and peaceful.
  • Blew through Crescent city and then grabbed gas right at the border.  I like pumping my own gas :-P
  • Oregon!  Drove through the SW coast through towns like Brookings, taking pics every once and a while.
  • Stopped in Gold Beach and debated going to Bandon, but after struggling to get an answer from people up there I gave up and stayed in GB at a nice motel (thx AAA!)
  • Ate at a pricier seafood place called Spinners, watching the sunset while drinking wine and eating crab cakes lol.  Of course, I had a 15% off coupon :-)
Covered a lot less that day (~125 mi), but there was a lot more to see, and I was already on the coast highway.  Still wondering, do you tip the gas attendants in OR?  Based on what I've read, I guess not. Just feels weird...  Oh, and my motel manager used the term "pop" for soda.  Strange lol.  But hey, things are SO much cheaper, I can't complain!

Day 3: Gold Beach, OR to Lincoln City, OR

  • Started off at the Prehistoric Gardens looking at concrete dinosaurs.  Blake, you'd be in heaven!
  • Ran into a parade and the Cranberry Festival blocking 101 in Bandon.  Bummed around for a bit looking at the fair and the shops.  Lots of free chocolate samples at the Cranberry Sweets & More shop.
  • Marveled at the huge piles of woodchips and logs in Coos Bay, labeled strangely as "Oregon's Bay Area"
  • Passed by the dunes, lots of opportunities for ATVing
  • Grabbed some good pie in Reedsport at Don's.
  • Paid $10 at the Sea Lion Caves to see nothing, although I got several good shots of the Heceta Head Lighthouse, which was closed for construction.
  • Hiked on the top of Cape Perpetua to take some pics, although a longer hike would've been nice.
  • Skipped Newport and went searching for the Otter Crest Loop for biking as suggested in my guidebook.  Found a 3 mile stretch of old 101 with no view leading to Cape Foulweather, so I just drove it and took pics.  Later that night, I found the stretch my book mentioned to bike.  Oh well, can't do it all!
  • Went back to Newport and walked up and down the main port area.  I still wasn't hungry, so I took the short journey up to Lincoln City where I checked in (luckily I reserved early for Saturday!)
  • Got some Thai after wandering around for a bit.
  • Back to my plush room to blog away :-)
Today was about 200 miles, not bad for one day, although it was a lot more rushed.  There weren't as many good things to see today unless I had planned a bunch of stops for hikes, etc.  I've noticed that although I don't have endpoints planned, I stress when I try to do one of the hiking/biking things on my "Things To Do" list, because it takes time, and a lot of the time it's already evening when I get there.  For future legs, I think I might drop those unless I have extra time and they're in the morning.

I flew through lots of Oregon coastal towns and parks, including Yachats, Waldport and Depoe Bay.  It was all beautiful, but after a while I had my fill, and there are just SO many (about one every 10-20 miles lol).  I could be on this trip forever, and although I need to chill out and keep my pace, I really don't want to be out more than a week.  I wanna see my new home (and Tami and  Alex :-) )

Tomorrow is a quick alternate route before sampling cheese in Tillamook and then it's off to Portland to visit Carrie and Sarah.  I can't wait!  Afterwords, Monday looks like I "may" make it into Washington, on time for my one week trip, although there may be another day in there give or take.  We will see.

Until next time!


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My Six Year Vacation

Well it's about that time, eh chaps?

Nearly six years ago, I sat in a crammed van with my parents driving my entire life 3,000 miles west across I-80 from Michigan to California. All I remember thinking was, what the hell am I doing? After living my whole life in Grosse Pointe, I decided I wanted to move as far away as possible from GP for college. And so I did...alllll the way to California.

So now it's six years later, and I'm readying my exodus from The Golden State, packing a shipping cube and driving to my new life in Seattle. How's Cali treated me? Well, it has been quite an experience and that's what I wanted to chat about today.

California has definitely changed me. I went west a quiet, shy, unadventurous computer geek and came back an outgoing engineer (who's still a geek lol) that loves to bike, hike, volunteer and explore the world.

Who the hell is this guy? And what's with the long hair? I'd never in a million years guess I would've changed this much, but I'm very thankful for it and for the most part have CA to thank for it. So what do I have to say about California? A lot.

My four years at Cal Poly alone changed me drastically. The California culture melded with my midwestern charm, creating a weird hybrid that is my personality. I spent the first two years being told I had an accent, and now I can hear the difference between my voice and my mom's when she says "box". I learned about the civil war brewing between the North and the South (sections of California, that is) and how ridiculous it sounded. Now, I'm a true NorCal kinda guy (sry Brian, I'm a Norkie :-P) and I've loved it! Oh, and In-N-Out is awesome (props to Mike for rushing me up to A-Town ASAP when he found out I never tried one) and I will definitely miss it in Seattle.  Maybe Dick's can take its place?

To all my Poly friends: you're awesome, I wish you the best, and be sure to keep in touch!

Let me say that this state has to be one of the most beautiful places in the world. The parks are gorgeous, and I've thuroughly enjoyed hiking through them. Yosemite was probably the most beautiful park I've ever been to, and it was only three hours from my house! Heck, just having sun all the time has been nice, although I do get bored of it sometimes lol. I'm not a beach goer, so it's not as big a deal to me, but it's a plus. Roadtripping has been a blast too.

Driving up the PCH, cruising through the redwoods, and even battling traffic in LA, they have all been experiences. I've explored cities from Leggett to Laguna Beach and a few more on top of that. I've covered a lot, but I'm not sure if I could ever cover it all lol.

The people are also extremely friendly.

Strange at times (sorry guys!), but friendly. I think it has something to do with all that sun, it makes people always smile. It's true what they say about long Michigan winters, they can kinda get you in the dumps when it's cloudy for days on end. Everybody I've met has always said "Hello" and given me help when needed. Two weeks ago, I fell off my bike at a red light (it happens) and a guy in a truck next to me asked if I needed help.

Going from the fattest city in America to probably one of the healthiest spots was also a switch. Of course, I've always been one of those skinny guys that everybody hates because I can eat whatever I want, but still. It's nice to see people exercising and trying to eat right. I know I've definitely started exercising more and eating better since moving here; it's infectious. I'm sure the weather has something to do with it too; those winter months in MI can be tough. Shoot, I bike 30 miles roundtrip to work now, that's nuts! I've always been a biker, but even when I started small with my 5 mile ride to Poly I thought I was crazy. Now it's like no big deal.

One of the biggest impacts of California on my life has been its dedication to sustainability and the environment. I have both the state and Braun to thank for getting me more into “bring green” and I am forever grateful. I hope I can continue to make an impact in the Evergreen State with my research, my career, and my everyday life. I wouldn't go as far to say I've become a hippie (I think they'd be offended). Rather, I've become more environmentally conscious, one who believes in little changes that are needed to make a big difference in protecting our planet.

So why move away? It all sounds so great. Well, like I said, it's been a vacation. I mean, going to California or Florida or South Carolina was always a real treat as a kid. Even though I've lived here six damn years, I still don't call myself a Californian. When people ask, "Where are you from?" I always say, "Oh, well I'm originally from Detroit and now I live here in California." It took me a while to figure out why I do this. Why I have never truely adopted this state as my home. Like a vacation, it's great at first, relaxing, a new adventure. However, after a good stay there (in my case, probably around the 5 year mark), I'm ready to ship out. Now, I'm not saying I want to move back home to the D (don't worry mom and dad), but I'm ready to continue trying new things and searching for my home.

I'm tired; that's all there is to it. California is a crazy place, and after six years of trying to fit in, I need a vacation (at my new home haha), at least that's how I see it. The traffic everywhere, and some of the drivers, man! They're called blinkers people! And don't even get me started on the people merging across four lanes and exiting lol. I love being liberal, but all the antics in the state government get a little ridiculous and everytime I check the paper, we're out of money. I've never been into politics, but I mean come on, an IOU for my tax refund, really? People are nice, but it's hard to nail many of them down. We live the land where “people are flakes” as my good friend puts it. That's not very pleasant if you're an ISTJ like me haha.

I'll be honest: most of this I can deal with. Hell, I'm sure I'll run into this sorta stuff wherever I live. However, based on six years of solid research as a guy, I'm pretty sure I'd never meet someone in CA. I'll admit it, I'm a bit rough with signals, flirting, relationships, dating, etc, no question. But, I have yet to meet someone I think I could be in a stable relationship with. Well, there's been a few girls, but usually they're already in relationships, and I'm sorry, but I'm not the type of guy to go around splitting up couples. Many people have background stories and drama I just rather not deal with. I'd like to meet someone who listens, someone who is willing to put forth the effort to make things work. Sounds weird coming from a guy huh? Well, believe me, I've run into plenty of situations where I'm stuck trying to make things work and I'm tired of it; if that's your game, “Check, please!”

Those who know me know that I've never really been into the whole online dating thing. I'm not boycotting it or anything, I've always wanted to meet someone the old fashioned way. Well, I've changed my mind. If I don't meet anyone during grad school, and who knows what will happen up there, then I promise I will try online dating. That's my pact, you all have it in writing. I'm not really hot to trot on the whole dating/relationship thing; I love being a lone ranger. I just figured I'm so sluggish that I might as well force myself to get the ball rolling lol and put it in the plan.

There you have it, that is major force driving out of the state; that's what might keep me from coming back. California is an awesome place to be young and on the go, but I think for my future's sake, another state might be a better fit for me. Yes, I'm still young and yes I'm still exploring, but I can see the writing on the wall and I think it's time to leave and keep looking.

My past two years in San Jose have only reenforced my desire to leave. Although it's probably a much better fit than the craziness of SF, the sprawling family towns of Silicon Valley are not the best match for me. I love the variety of food and culture in the South Bay, not to mention the easy access to hiking/biking and all the latest tech I could want. It's the little things: sitting in lines of traffic, dragging my ass up to the city to have fun, getting honked at and swiped by drivers on my bike, staring at the orange street lights that paint the streets an eerie color at night. Not to mention that “Man Jose” isn't helping my odds either.

I moved back to SJ to work at Hitachi, and although I will forever be thankful to Steve and Roger for getting me the job when the economy tanked, I have to admit that it wasn't the best fit for me and I'm ready to move on. I will miss the SoC team, along with trips to the Korean BBQ, Juicy Burger, Chavez Super, and even the fun club (the snack room for all ur non-HGSTers, nothing shady lol). No, I'm not probably cut out for a startup writing apps or software, but maybe a smaller company, one that is working on something that I am passionate about, like the environment or volunteer work...

Ah, SVV, that has been my one saving grace in San Jose. Volunteering with Avni, Aravind, Denise, Jose, Lesley, Melisa, Michelle, Shailendra and all the volunteers has been a blast and I thank you guys! I was getting a bit stir-crazy in SJ by early 2010 and thank God I found our Meetup group. It's been so much fun working with so many great people doing something that before that point, I had almost no experience with. I'm totally honest when I say I will miss you all and I hope to start up a new volunteer Meetup in Seattle. Volunteering has been an eye-opening experience and I hope to continue helping those who have needs. Oh, and I'll totally be Skyping SVV meetings when I can :-)

So Seattle...what's up with that? Well, I've visited only twice, but both times I loved it. Touring was a blast, the city reminds me a lot more of back east. However, the hills give it a bit of a SF feel, which is great because I've always wanted to live in SF, although I realize now that I'm probably not cut out for it. Crusing the neighborhoods, I got a real feel for the city, and I liked what I saw. Not to mention UW is an awesome school. There's a view of Mt. Rainer from the quad right next to the EE building. Crazy! Oh, and no surprise, but everything (food, transit, houses, etc...) is so cheap compared to Cali. I loved the real estate agents I called:

Agent: “Well sir, now rentals in the city [Seattle] are a bit pricier than the rest...”
Me: “I'm from California.”
Agent: “Oh! Well no problem then, you'll love the cheaper rents!”

“Do you know it rains in Seattle?” YES, and I'm looking forward to it haha. For the record, it doesn't rain as much as people say it does. Sunny all 5 days last March when I went. Weather in CA is boring; too much sun, if that's possible. I miss seasons, snow, and even tornados. No, I'm not crazy, I just like a little variety. It does rain more often and there's a (small) possibility that it will even snow. Of course, SEA shuts down when it snows, but so does SoCal when it rains lol. It's also much greener; the brown, grassy eastern foothills of the Bay are not my fav.  This might affect my exercising a (tiny) bit, but that's what the rollers are for :-)

Seattle also seems to be with it when it comes to many of the things I love about California. They're friendly, healthy, liberal, and green. Not to mention all the opportunities for biking and hiking, I can't wait! I'm all about the west coast lifestyle, but I figured it's time to try moving a little north and checking out the PacNW. I've spent the past two years getting into the whole coffee shop thing too (fine, Chai tea) so I can't wait to check out all the indie places Seattle has to offer. There probably aren't as many awesome sandwich shops as the Bay, but hey, at least they have Jimmy Johns lol! Sure, the Frys is now 30 minutes away instead of five, but I can deal. Oh, and I guess I'll need to take up listening to grunge too :-P

Grad school has always been on the periphery of my mind since graduating in '09. I applied for three years straight, and finally I made the call this year. That and my GRE was about to expire. My goal has always been a masters. Yes, I am an academic (insert Tami laughing about my GPA here) and I'm sure I could be a PhD student, but I think I'm cut out more for the working world. I am excited to teach and do research, and who knows, the option's always there, maybe someday I could be Dr. Staniszewski (God, that would be weird!) For now, however, I am sticking to my two years of graduate work and we'll see how it goes from there.

My one regret about undergrad was not cutting back on the studying to go nuts once and a while in the "Happiest Place in America". Too much time spent behind a book and not enough exploring and being a college student. That's why I have vowed to not revert to my bookworm self when I go to UW. I hope to have a lot of fun in grad school, both learning things and researching fields I'm actually interested in (rather than doing busywork) and I hope to have a good time in Seattle while doing it. I'm sure I'll be swamped with work, but I hope it's work I'll enjoy and that I can take with me to a coffee shop (there's only 10,000 or so of those in Seattle lol) Tami, I'm counting on you to help me out!

So...after grad school, what's next? Oh, who knows lol. I'm using grad school as a two year trial period in Washington. All my residency stuff will still be California.  Afterwords, I need to make a call, and so far I'm riding on 3 separate plans (after all, I'm Stan the Man with the Master Plan :-) Either:

1) Stay in Seattle
2) Move back to the Bay Area
3) Move back to Detroit

Both 1) and 2) are in the realm of possiblity, although I have to muster up the strength to put my effort into making 2) work again. This time round, I'd live anywhere but SJ, most likely north of Mountain View. Peninsula? SF? Marin? I don't know, but I will not live in San Jose again.

Yea 3) is a little out there, but I'm considering it. Of course, there still aren't any jobs really for me in Motown. If I moved back to Detroit, I'd definitely start up my own business, maybe in downtown somewhere in the shell of a former auto factory. The incentives are there, the labor is there. All I need is an idea. And in order for that to happen I need time. Hmm...time, where the hell will I find that haha? I don't know, I hope to come up with some cool new cleantech idea that I could work on from the D. Shoot, maybe it won't even be related to engineering. There's a lot of people moving into downtown and I'd think it'd be badass (to use my new catchphrase) to be a part of the revitalization of the city.

What's in the future plan? Well, of course like most people, I'd like to be able to live comfortably someday and meet someone. I don't want to be rich; I just want to be happy. I'm definitely not ready to settle for a while, but I do want a house someday, you know, to putz around with? I stood in Home Depot a week ago watching all the happy couples buying stuff for their DIY projects. Is it weird that I want a place to mess with more than a girlfriend? I like to mess with stuff, that's how I am. This all comes after my barage of traveling and then finding a place to stay of course. Maybe that city is Seattle...I don't know. All I know is that right now I want to travel as much as I can and I will find my city someday.  In the meantime, I'll keep running on hope.

I do feel bad about moving away because I have met so many wonderful people.

[Insert friends list here]

I feel like with leaving Michigan, once I meet good friends, I seem to run away. Granted, I've only done a big move like this once before, but still, I basically uprooted myself, and although I had a blast and met all sorts of new people and ran into many new situations, it was hard to let everyone in Michigan go. Why would I have to do that? I didn't, you're right, and I don't need to do it when I leave California either. I'm just reallllllly BAD at keeping in touch. I know it. You know it. The world knows it. So please, all my Cali friends (along w/ everyone not living in Seattle lol), make sure I keep in touch. Harass me, email me, fb me, Skype me, I don't care, just make sure I stay on the ball. I know I tend to do it, and I'll try my best to not fall back on old habits, but I could use your help. I'd love to hear from ya at all hours!

To everyone, I wish you the best of luck in all your adventures. Keep safe, have a good time, try new things. I'll keep you posted as I meander 1,200 miles up the west coast and on life in the Emerald City. Drop me a note, stop on by and keep on reading...


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Being a local Tourist

Hey everybody,

Today I took my last really free Sunday before the crazy move to Seattle and toured SF one last time. I know, everytime I do this people ask "Why the hell do you act like a tourist?"  I've got my reasons haha.

Yes, tourists can be annoying, but I always find it fun to be surrounded by tons of people all speaking different languages.  It makes me feel like I'm back in Europe.  I even got to play tourguide, as I often do, showing a group of people the way to Ghirardelli Square.  I guess it must be my determination when I'm walking from place to place.

So where did I go?  Well I had a bunch of Clipper credit to burn, so I took BART to the Ferry Building and then from there I boarded the ferry to Sausalito to peruse the galleries and grab a good sandwich. I even bought one of those cool welded metal sculptures of a road bike.  The pedals even work, so cool!

Next up, I got back on the ferry to the city and then walked the Embarcadero to Pier 39, Fisherman's Wharf and Ghirardelli Square. After grabbing my free chocolate, I walked down Columbus into North Beach where I sat in Washington Square and attempted to read a book on my new toy, my HP Touchpad (more on that later)

After trying that for a bit, I stopped for a nice dinner at Calzone's at Rob's recommendation before strolling back through Chinatown and Union Square on to BART.

So that's my story.  Now that I think about it, I've always felt like a tourist in SF and I don't know if that would ever change.  I've thought about living there, but now I'm not sure if I'll come back to the Bay.  Let's just say its a maybe.  I got a whole long post on Cali coming up, so just stay tuned.

I've missed all of you guys.  With all the housing craziness and my book, I let my readers down.  I will try and be more up to date, but no promises.  It's gonna get busy here in a bit.  I do enjoy writing though, so I will make time! :)

Oh, and I have lots of posts waiting in the wings, so don't you worry!  Not that you care haha.  I just wrote this (relatively short) post on my Touchpad...I think I might try and take the "tablet challenge" and try to use jt for a week.  I'll report back with a full review later.  So far I've learned I need more apps, an anti-glare filter, and to not try typing this much again lol, too many mistakes!

Until next time!


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When Talking Green, It's the Little Things...

"Being Green" is a term that has been thrown around a lot in the past few years.  I tend to agree with TreeHugger that the green marketing campaign, while a great catalyst for getting people to be more environmentally responsible, is starting to overshadow the true message of what it is to actually "be green" with clever ploys to get people to buy more expensive things that may not even really be better for the Earth.  And people are smart; marketing really hasn't made that many people switch to become more sustainable.  They still drive the same cars, toss everything in the trash, and hope that someone else will take care of our problems.  Environmentalists paint a bleak picture, citing big changes that need to happen soon.  While I agree with them, people don't like change, and telling them that they must stop driving cars, buy organic, and use less resources just scares them away from the whole idea.

So what can I person do?  For me, living sustainably has been a gradual process with a slight learning curve.  I by no means am truely "green"; I think very few people can say they are.  I do hope to someday buy everything locally, use public transit or my bike to get around everywhere, use renewable energy to power the place I live and reduce my water usage to barely nothing.  And yes, we all do need to make drastic changes in our lives for the future of our planet.  However, I think there's another path than instantly converting their entire lifestyle to be completely sustainable.  How?

Sustainability is like learning to walk; you have to start with baby steps.  Every little thing we can do to change ourselves to be more aware of our environment helps.  I mean, right now the US consumes 25% of the world's resources.  Can you imagine how that would change if we just stopped using bottled water containers? Or walked to the post office box instead of driving? Or used cloth bags to shop?  We need to teach people that by taking little steps to becoming more eco-friendly, we can have the same quality of life (or better) while reducing our footprint.

Blah, blah, blah.  I know I sound like I'm all rhetoric.  I try to "walk the walk" and that's why I'm writing this post today, to show you that by doing a few simple things in your life, you CAN help make a difference.  Sure, some of these seem a little odd and others might just seem absolutely ridiculous, but remember that you must start with the simplest things and work your way up.  I've spent several years working up to some of these, like biking to work, and I'm sure that you'll find that as you start on your green journey, that cleaning up this place we call home is addicting, and soon you will find yourself dreaming bigger and bigger.  This is what will get us to those lofty goals we aim to meet.  This is what will eventually save the planet.

Alright, enough with my sermon.  Here are some tips from my daily life that I hope you will consider in becoming a little more "green", starting with the general "Well, DUH!" ones:

  • Recycle.  Seriously.  It doesn't take that much time out of our day to toss a bottle in a different bin, so why not?  For places like California, you can recycle SO many things too.  Check with your local trash service to find out what can and cannot be recycled.  True, it may be more annoying to take apart a coffee cup to separate plastic and compostibles, but I just say make a game of it.  See how much of the stuff you used to toss you can recycle; my blue bin is always full!
  • Turn off the lights.  Remember when your dad always used to say, "Turn off the lights, you're wasting electricity"?  Well guess what, he's right.  Turn off lights when you're not in the room, even if it's just a couple of minutes.  During the day, we have this great thing called the Sun too; use that for light!  
  • Unplug those electronics.  How much electricity do they actually used turn off?  Yes it's true, "Standby Power" isn't one of those huge energy-saving techniques, but a few watts here and there times millions of people, THAT is a lot.  Unplug devices when you are gone for a long period of time; heck, unplug them anytime when you're not using them if you can.  I know this can be a pain (I get tired of doing it), but there are devices out there that totally cut off power for you, like SmartBits Surge Protectors.
  • Use rechargeable batteries.  That way, you don't have to keep buying batteries, which costs a lot of $ over time AND you won't be tossing as many out (that's IF you can't dispose of them properly)  I just switched to them and it's awesome.  I always have batteries and no more piles of dead ones.  The cost is a little higher getting started, but it's worth it.
  • European or sailor showers.  This one is kind of a foreign concept (hah, get it?) to us in the US, but it does save a ton of water.  When showering, use the water only to lather up and rinse off; turn it off in-between  Believe me, it does just as good a job and saves gallons.
  • Reusable bags.  At first, you forget them every time you go to the store (I did like a year), but eventually you get used to them and they're great.  No more piles of plastic or paper bags in the cupboards!  If you can, try reusing the plastic bags you package fruit/veggies in to cut down even more or get reusable ones too.
  • Reuseable containers.  They're great for all sorts of stuff.  Water bottles.  Lunch boxes.  Even coffee cups.  Using reusable containers saves a lot of waste and money too.  Places like Starbucks even give you 10 cents off for using your own cup!
  • Donate and sell your stuff; it goes to a good home and is Earth-friendly.  Hell, I've made some major money with my old stuff on Craigslist too.  E-waste is especially bad, so sell your old gadgets, don't just toss em.  Give clothes away to the those who need them.  I love having less stuff packed in my room.
  • Try to reuse what you can't sell.  For example, I took a page out of my mom's book and reused old undershirts as rags.
  • Get a reusable water bottle.  Make sure it's a BPA-free one too; I use a Klean Kanteen, although if you're not a fan on a little (VERY little) metal taste, then I suggest one of the others.  This will save you from buying tons of plastic water bottles that often end up in the ocean.
  • Cut down on the paper.  I use a salad spinner instead of paper towel to dry fruits and vegetables, and it's awesome!  In the bathroom, flick off the water on your hands before grabbing the paper towel; you can probably do with just a small piece rather than stealing half the roll.  Use technology in place of paper; read PDFs instead of printing them, use your phone to look at a map or show a coupon to the store owner.  Paper is dead, get with the future man :-P
  • Cleaner transit.  This one has been a big item for me.  Either using public transit or your own two feet can greatly cut down on pollution.  I bike 30 miles roundtrip to work 3 days a week.  I'm not asking you to do that, but try and find an alternative to your car.  And for those small trips to the store or the coffee shop, biking or walking it is so much more peaceful and rewarding.  If you start out with small trips and work your way up, you'll be amazed at the distance you can cover without your car.
So that's it, my two cents in all-things-green.  I hope you consider my ideas and come up with some clever ones of your own.  Let me know the things you do to make your lifestyle more sustainable!  I wish you all the best of luck in becoming more eco-friendly.  

We all share the Earth; let's all do our part to keep it going!


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A Week without Social Networking

So...what was it like without Facebook, Twitter, or Foursquare for a WHOLE week?  One word: peaceful.  I love Facebook, I really do.  I feel that there are two types of people on Facebook: 1) Those who generate and post information (i.e. me) and 2) those who use it to "stalk" or look up info on other people (I won't post any examples, but you people know who you are! :-P).  My problem, however, was with how distracting all these tools became.  I was ALWAYS updating my status, ALWAYS tweeting, ALWAYS checking in wherever I was.  It's very time-consuming, and I'm sure everybody got sick of all my "feed-vomit", if they hadn't already deleted me from their feed or de-friended me.  You know what I mean, the endless posts, check-ins, etc, they fill people's feeds, which I'm sure wasn't appreciated by all lol.

What did I do instead of fb/twitter/4sq?  I was more productive at work; I rode my bike more; I friggin' FINISHED the first part of my book, all 140 pages of it!  The week was just peaceful; I wasn't constantly being bugged by emails and posts.  I don't really feel like I was more disconnected socially because of it; I was relieved because I wasn't always checking this stuff and wasn't stressing myself about whatever drama was happening online.

I will admit, however, that I did miss Facebook.  There were times when I had something to say, something to post, something I wanted to check on.  But other than that, I didn't really care.  I was trying to remember how I got by with only checking Facebook once and a while during college, and then I figured it out: notifications.  FB notifies you for SO many things nowadays, it's ridiculous.  I cannot count how many emails I get from it each day.  It took me ten minutes just to turn off each one individually!  Without those notifications, however, I only wanted to check it when I thought of something, which was maybe once a day, which is how often I logged in before.

With all that said, here's my verdict.  I'm going to become active on Facebook again, but I'm leaving all notifications off.  That way, I'll just check it when I remember, instead of when I get harassed.  Twitter, I'm sorry, but you're useless: DELETED.  And Foursquare, well you do kinda make it a competition to see who gets the most check-ins each week, so I'm backing off.  I'm going back to only using it while I'm traveling.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.  Later y'all, see ya around Facebook!


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"It's not about me. It's about you."

Hey guys,

Since I'm off Facebook/Twitter/4sq this week, I've been enjoying my peace and quiet (more on that in another post). In the meantime, I've definitely missed it for posting random things, although I'm sure people are happy I'm not dumping on their feeds this week.

Anywho, while taking a break during my "writing day" (more on that later too), I decided "Huh, I wonder if is available again for me to buy?" Nope. However, I DID find this councilman's campaign site and a few articles, so I thought it'd just be fun to share!

Btw, a prothonary is defined as 'principal clerk of a court' (Wikipedia).

I love the the slogan haha.  I need to order a bunch of these signs just to have lol.  More on the councilman's story here:

That was fun writing a short post, maybe I should just put all my random stories up on my blog :-)

Now time for lunch and then back to the novel!


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Who has the time?

I mean...seriously?  These days, everyone always seems too busy.  We all have a million things going on, not to mention we're constantly in touch.  Facebook.  Twitter.  Fourquare.  It all takes time out of the precious minutes we have in a day.  And I'm definitely no exception to the rule.

Now that we're all growed up, it seems like no one has time for anything anymore.  Well, I guess there's one 8-hour-a-day reason I can think of: work.  But even when people come home at night (myself included), we all start our second job: completing our to do lists.  Now, maybe not everyone is as busy as me (more on that later), but everyone has things to do.  Exercising.  Reading.  Walking the dog.  Dating.  There's a lot on our plates, and we do our best to do as grandma always said and "clear our plate".  Yea, like THAT will ever happen :-)

If I may get a little nostalgic on ya, I wonder what it would've been like growing up in, I don't know, 1911 instead?  Yea I know, it's weird for a tech guy to be saying this, but just bear with me.  Electricity was still in its infancy.  No TV.  No computers.  No phones (well, there was the telegraph).  Things moved slower back then, just because they didn't have the means to go faster.  They took their time (funny word, huh?) and went about their daily lives.  You had to actually talk to someone in person back then, wow.  I know we still do it, but just so much less.  People might have only known the people in their towns, but they knew them so much better than I bet I know 90% of the people on my friends list.  We have advanced in many ways since then, but I think we may have receded in a few others.  Friends.  Family.  Relationships.   These are some of the most important things in our lives, yet they require something we just don't have nowadays: time.  

Personally, I always thought there was something wrong with me when I had a moment to spare.  A passing five minutes where maybe, just maybe, I could take a break and catch up on it all.  However, instead of taking a moment to stop and appreciate the subtle things that surround me every day, I plugged that free time full of other activities or surfed Twitter.  I felt guilty about having a free moment.  After all, I must be doing something wrong if I have free time, right?  It seems uncool to have free time, like there's something wrong with you.  Am I supposed to be out on the prowl looking for girls when I have free time?  Should I be writing my novel?  Should I be biking? Gah, what the hell am I supposed to do?!

Of course, many people that know me will say I'm busier than most people they know, and I totally agree.  I can't tell you how many times I've told someone "I'm booked", "My calendar's full" and "Sorry, not tonight."  Excuses after excuses, and I hate doing it.  I've always prided myself on being punctual, and this way of life is not cutting it.  No wonder it's so hard for me sometimes to find people to do stuff, I'm the "boy who cried busy" whenever someone approaches me with something to do.  Shoot, my to do lists (yes plural) just continue to multiply and expand.  Hell, do you know how many blog posts I have outlined on there?  Four!  One of which is this one about time...irony.

Truth is, I like to be busy.  Hell, I guess I could even be considered an addict based on Wikipedia's definition.  Still, I never really thought of it as a bad thing until only recently.  Over the past week, a few things have made it to my to do list that just don't seem like they'll work out.  Things like "work on research ideas for grad school" and "circuit board project for road trip".  I mean, normally things on this list can be done quickly and I can complete a bunch in a day (always a good feeling), but not doosies like these.  No these require...something.  Time?  Well sure, but there's something else missing.  I was feeling a little down about these things and others, mainly because they required...thinking?

What the hell was I saying?  People have always told me I'm a smart guy, and though I'm confident enough today to say I think I am fairly bright, the idea of thinking about these things seems SO taxing.  Why?  I like doing circuits, I want to come up with a research idea.  However, the idea of trying to find a time slot for activities like that just seems out of this world.  "Oh well," I thought, "I already have a million hobbies, why not just pencil it in for bits and pieces here and there?"  Because Matt, that just doesn't work.  I've already tried to do that with my novel, writing 30 minutes a night (already enough of a crunch) and the result has been a very slow and fragmented creative process, if you call forcing yourself to write creative.  No, something's gotta change, but what?

And then I finally found a moment (dunno where) to sit down and start on my latest eBook, another hobby on the back burner.  It's a book I found randomly in Half Moon Bay one day called "Hamlet's Blackberry" and it discusses dealing with living in the connected world of today.  I'm by no means recommending it yet, since it could get preachy, but so far it has hit all the points I've been trying to understand.  Mainly, having all these various activities spreads us so thin, that we lack depth in many of the things we do.  That's it!  When we lack depth, we just scrape the surface of the things we do, not getting the chance to experience the deeper enjoyment out of becoming engrossed by an activity.  Ah ha!

So what is a guy (or girl) to?  Well, I have to read another 200 pages before I find out, but in the meantime, I've determined one thing: I want time.  Time to screw around again, to enjoy those things I love, to hangout with people and perhaps connect with them much better.  All these years I thought I had to keep busy to enjoy life.  Maybe I had it backwards.  No, I'm not going to become a hermit :-P, but I AM going to try a little experiment.

First of all, pair down my activities list.  Just thinking of my friends' interests, I don't think anyone I know really tries to do the wide array of things I do.  I started to write a list of things I do and things I enjoy and it just kept going:

  • Road Biking
  • Hiking
  • Traveling
  • Writing
  • Volunteering
  • Being "Green"
  • Working with circuits
  • Blogging
  • Inventing/thinking of stuff
  • etc...
Shoot, "social life" isn't even sad.  Most people that I know seem to really focus on one thing they really like to do, and they dedicate most of their to that thing (or even that person).  I think I need to try that as well; no more having my hands dipped in a million things.  Time to submerge myself into a few things I really like.

Second, Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare, time to shelve you guys for a bit.  Why? Well, our age group has it especially bad.  With the Information Age, we have also been exposed to an unlimited channel of data through our phones, computers, TVs and all the other fun gadgets we can waste our time with.  Not to mention the myriad of websites out there that will gladly take a few minutes of our time.  What's even more amazing is how connected we are.  It still amazes me that I can login to Facebook on any given day and see 6 posts from friends all over the world who I met in Europe.  So cool!  However, all this information processing on a day-to-day takes time and makes us reliant on that information.  Yes, I totally agree that Facebook is an addiction (and frankly I'm afraid I'm heading for that route).  We crave every little tweet, every txt, every 'like' that comes floating our way.  John just wrote he's taking a crap as his status...sure it's stupid, but did you read it?  My point exactly, we crave all this information even though we might not like it.

Now, I'm not here to denounce all technology.  That's ridiculous; I'm a gadget guy for pete's sake!  I know how cool all this stuff is and it HAS helped us in so many ways.  However, I think it has taken up even more of our precious time and it all needs to be taken in moderation.  Facebooking once a day, not logging in every 10 minutes to check your wall.  Sending a text message here or there instead of firing off 10 in a row.  Maybe just taking a break and enjoying dinner, not rushing to check in to get the latest badge on 4sq.  Social networking and technology is awesome, I just think we need to tune out every once and a while.  Call me depressed, socially awkward, "old school", I don't care.  I'm not, I just find this whole issue fascinating.  Not only by how much people mull it over, but how much it effects my own day-to-day.

Starting Monday, I'm not going to login for a week and see how it goes.  Who knows, maybe I'll even extend it :-)

Again, this is just something I want to try.  It's not because I'm depressed or sad or something else.  I'm curious to see what it's like to go back and live like it's 2003 :-P

Whew!  Okay, now only 3 more blogs to go!  I'll be in touch on my blog, and you can always IM, call or text me (or even talk to me in person!), but don't expect me to respond to tweets or posts.  I know nobody really will care, but that's not the point :-)  This is not about making a statement, it's about seeing if I can actually live a better life when I have more time and less distraction.

See you on the other sidel :-)


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Testing a post

Hey guys, I know it's been a while.  This month has been crazy so far.  I have like fice friggin blogs floating around in my head and hopefully I'll get to them soon.  For now I'm just testing to see if my blog will publish to Facebook.

I guess all I have to say for now is "Testing...1...2...3!" :-)


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Where's the sign for Highway One?

Guess I've left y'all a little in the dark lately huh?  Good news is I've started working on my novel everyday for a half hour now (well, minus this last week), but the bad news: less blogging.  There's only so much time to write, you know?  Well, we're up to 90 pages in the book so far, and I'm hopeful (VERY hopeful) that I'll have a draft out by late summer.  In the meantime, I'll be sure to check in with some posts here and there.  I actually have another one that I've been meaning to write, so I'll get on that.  In the meantime, lets backtrack to the story of the post today: road trips!

Ah, road trips, there's just nothing quite like em.  Sure, it's probably not the "greenest" habit of mine, but I don't think I'll ever be able to shake it.  Give me a car, a stretch of lonely road and lots of random stuff to see along the way and I'm set.  What was the occasion for this trip?  One goal: finish driving Highway One.  This idea started in my head less than a year ago when I drove the northern stretch of the highway while coming back from Mendocino and suddenly realized, "Man, I've almost driven this whole road, maybe I should drive the whole thing."  Ever since then, I've been on a mission to finish Highway One and after Monday I can proudly say I'm done!

This trip covered the section between Santa Maria and Dana Point, where Highway One ends.  And the scene? Everything from the wine country of northern Santa Barbara to the beaches of Orange County with everything in between!  I broke this trip up into a 3-day weekend with an option to hang a fourth if I needed (more on that later).  The scenes were great, but let's just cover the highlights:

  • Checking out an old abandoned movie theatre north of Lompoc.  It's too bad most of these are gone now, though the one in SLO is still going strong, double features and all!
  • Stopping at a random winery in Lompoc (Palmina Winery to be exact), doing a tasting, then buying two bottles of wine.  Sure it was a bit pricey, but I considered it a tasty souvenir lol. 
  • Hanging on the RR tracks north of SB.  A great opportunity for pics, though I'm still a bit rail-shy after Carmine, Rob and I almost got hit in SLO by a train we thought we'd hear coming haha.
  • Scooted through SB before stopping by Ventura.  MAN there are a lotta thrift stores!  It's nice and quiet compared to SB too.
  • Santa Monica was awesome; I loved the pier and the hostel I stayed at.  Thanks to Gretta and my two Australian roomies for hanging out, it's always a blast!  Course I had the loud snorer in the bunk above me who got in at 4 a.m., but hey, it's the hostel way!  In the future, I think I'll try Couchsurfing or just motels.  You really need a few days in a place to enjoy the people's company at the hostel.
  • Glad to see the spiffy new bike lanes in Long Beach and all the surfer dudes in Huntington.  Newport was a little too pricey for me to stop by lol, but Laguna was cool, even got my dad's Father's Day gift.  Now if I can only remember in June...
  • Nick and Becca, it was awesome hanging with you!  It's great to talk to another hardware guy from school and catchup.  Thanks for the great Mexican food (best the farther south you go) and the eggs in a basket for breakfast!
  • Brenna, what can I say?  I am absolutely STUNNED that you made it out here!  The first person to visit me in 5-6 years out here.  Wow.  Great times with you and Carolyn.  Yes, ducks can fly lol and I still can't believe a tree fell on your parent's car!  I only wish I coulda stayed longer and helped you out with the beeramid lol.  But hey, you'll be back this summer, and you'll be in the Bay, which is awesome!
Of course, the crowning moment of this trip came Saturday afternoon when I arrived in Dana Point.  My mission: find the "CA-1 Ends" sign, just like I did in Leggett up north (see my previous CA-1 post)  After a half hour of driving down the wrong stretch of the road (at that point called the Coast Highway) and getting on I-5 (excuse me, "The 5" down there :-).  Where was the damn sign?  Well, like everything else on much of this SoCal strip, I just chalked the missing sign up to the building up of the surrounding area.  In the end I settled for a CA-1/I-5 sign and I was set to drive down to SD to hang with Nick.

When Sunday afternoon came, I decided that rather than wait for Carolyn's roomie to come home and see if I could stay and find out I'd need a hotel, I decided to drive 8 hours STRAIGHT from LA to SJ.  Good idea?  I don't know about that, BUT it was fun.  I got a great sleep on Saturday night so I was all good.  Give me some techno and a Starbucks double shot (no not a real shot Tara :-P) and I was set.  Of course I got in at 3 a.m. and went into work at 9 a.m., but hey, that's just how I roll.  Oh, I had a passenger too!  Vlad finally decided he needed a ride from Marlize's place in SB to Kristen in Sunnyvale.  He was a great guess, although I drove slower so that a cop didn't pull over and think I had a dead body in the back lol.

So what did I think?  Well, I've put together a nice graphical Google Map to show you my vote for the best stretches of Highway One.  Check it out. 

Green = definitely do it!, Orange = meh, you can skip it, Red = skip PLEASE.  Monterey to SLO is still my #1 vote, although part of it still is missing right now :-)  Ok, as for sections (compare to my previous post above):

Santa Maria --> Lompoc: Eh, not much going on, but a nice peaceful, open road.  Lompoc has some cool little shops and wineries.

Lompoc --> Santa Barbara: The inland part's okay, but you can skip it and just do the US-101/CA-1 stretch to SB along the coast.

SB --> Oxnard: Right on the water and a bunch of cool picture spots

Oxnard --> Point Mugu: SKIP, nothing to see and lots of traffic (esp at rush hour lol)

Point Mugu --> Santa Monica: Pretty cool and right along the water, although not as intense of a drive as my fav part.  Malibu is cool but gets backed up.  The pier at Santa Monica is worth it.

LA --> Seal Beach: SKIP.  Although it's kinda cool to drive through all the little cities in LA, it's very slow going and most of the time there's nothing to see but sprawl.

Huntington Beach --> Dana Point: Check it out, gives you a real taste of SoCal.  All the various beach towns have their own style and lots of stuff to check out.

I may be biased, but I like the NorCal/CenCal portion much better.  To me, Highway One is about an open road with barely any cars on a winding route, not driving on a 4 lane highway in a city.

So what's next?  On my way back, I just so happened to drive all the way up US-101 from the beginning, so now I feel like I should drive all of US-101.  Also, now that I'll be in Seattle, I can take one of my vacations and drive the whole rest of the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) down to SF.  Yes, Highway One is part of it, but not the whole thing.

Before any of that though, I'm thinking Route 66 this summer in August?  You in?  I'm looking for someone (or someones) to drive from LA to Chicago on 66 with me.  I want to go home for my bday before I come back out to Cali and move north to Seattle, so I thought this might be fun.  Trouble is cars are so expensive for a one-way rental, so it's just a thought at this point.  One thing this road trip definitely taught me was to not make plans for each night.  I mean, I know I don't have to make it to my friend's house or the hostel, but it just always nags at you, you know?  Yea, definitely doing the cross country road trip with no end points.

We will see how all this goes.  After a week off from biking and writing, it's back to routine this week.  Off to pack a lunch, later kids!


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100 Things I Love

Man!  I must say, I wasn't expecting to write to you, my readers, so soon, but can I just say that what a relief it is not to be on the college hunt anymore?  Whew!

With all this time that has opened up in the evenings, what is a fella to do?  Well, you know me, I always have hobbies waiting out in the wings, ready to fill the void :-)  In this case, I FINALLY picked up my novel again, after months of being off the job.  Today has been very productive, although I'll admit that it has taken quite a while tonight to get the juices flowing.  That, and the girl next to me at the coffee shop is a bit distracting ;-) but hey, back to the book!

I've spent a good chunk of the evening rereading all my notes, charts, outlines, and rough drafts.  First, I just have to say, this thing is a lot better than I remembered.  I can't wait to share it!  I just hope the details flow as freely as they did before, as it has been a while.  Who cares, it's fiction, I can just make up stuff right?  That's part of the creative process haha.

Well, today has been pretty productive so far, but I'm on a short break for now.  I thought while I was taking it easy, I'd post one of my writing exercises I found.  If you can believe it (I'm sure you can), I bought a book on writing a book a while back, which I have since given up reading.  However, one of the cool exercises that it suggested was writing down 100 things that you love, and then using those in your novel, since you tend to write a lot more passionately about the things you love.

So what are my 100 things?  Here you go, enjoy!

1.    snow
2.    road trips
3.    exploring
4.    In-n-Out
5.    hiking
6.    biking
7.    telling stories
8.    being awkward
9.    sarcasm
10.  being on time/schedule
11.  finishing a project
12.  Michigan/Detroit
13.  thunderstorms, rain
14.  getting packages
15.  shopping
16.  computers
17.  fixing stuff
18.  manual labor
19.  clocks
20.  road signs
21.  traffic maps
22.  trying something new
23.  Frisbee
24.  Pandora
25.  fish/coral
26.  doing stuff for people
27.  gadgets
28.  spies
29.  modern history
30.  short lines
31.  rap/techno music
32.  errands
33.  being an early bird
34.  having good luck
35.  meeting people randomly
36.  Coney Island
37.  my beagle, Chase
38.  being green
39.  hanging out with friends
40.  guilding circuits
41.  figuring it out
42.  blogging
43.  impulse buying
44.  fortune cookies
45.  sushi
46.  fall
47.  Black Friday
48.  giving advice
49.  Craigslist
50.  cleaning
51.  navigating
52.  singing in the car
53.  multitasking
54.  flip-flops
55.  jeans
56.  getting a deal
57.  pulling a prank
58.  being sorry
59.  learning new things
60.  accents
61.  cars
62.  fog
63.  change
64.  random math
65.  a quiet landscape
66.  taking pictures
67.  seeing my family
68.  seeing old friends
69.  speeding (a little)
70.  tools
71.  avocados
72.  California
73.  binary
74.  cooking a good meal
75.  giving gifts
76.  compliments
77.  grilling
78.  socials / get-togethers (not parties)
79.  black
80.  my iPod
81.  the Internet
82.  technology
83.  blue eyes
84.  being a leader
85.  making decisions
86.  being exhausted
87.  other cultures
88.  being cozy on a cold day
89.  cutting grass
90.  Linux
91.  Sudoku
92.  news
93.  a cool breeze
94.  being surprised
95.  my grandma’s chicken soup
96.  picking blueberries
97.  making movies
98.  finding my way
99.  driving
100. sea air

I hope you enjoyed reading this list as much as I did again tonight.  I think there are some duplicates, but whatever.  Some of these things are REALLY random haha.

Alright, enough break time, back to work!  Not sure if I'll keep hanging out at the coffee shop or head back home to work on this, but I'm on a roll tonight.  That and let's just say I'm not to motivated to move my seat at the moment lol.

Until next time, stay classy readers!


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