Thursday, July 31, 2008

Greetings from Hanoi

I made it!

I'm tired and a little disoriented because the sun never came up on Thursday and it's about 36 hours past my bed time, but it's a lovely Friday afternoon here in Hanoi, a nice lady just put a mosquito net on my bed for me, and I can't wait to use it tonight. I'll have pics and more soon. Just wanted to let anyone that's wondering know that I made it safe and sound.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Last road trip post

On Friday, I finally finished the Mexico-to-Canada leg of my trip. Oh Canada...
I really just wanted to cross the border to say I did, so I got in, stopped at a gas station, topped off the tank, and headed back. Gas was only $1.38.

I took this as I was waiting in line to get back into the US. 5,112.2 miles total for the whole trip. And there was a much longer line to get into the US than into Canada. Obviously, our country is better. U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!...
At the border, they looked at my passport and asked me about my trip. I told them that I was really just crossing the border because I'd worked my way up the coast and wanted to go all the way from Mexico to Canada, so I just stopped for gas and turned around. The officer said "You bought gas in Canada?" and handed me a slip of paper. He told me to park and take it inside with my passport. I looked at the paper on the way in. He had horrible hand writing, but across the top it said "*Bought gas in Canada?*". Apparently this was cause for suspicion. Now, I know that gas in Canada isn't really $1.38 a gallon. Their $1.38 might not be the same as ours, and it's not in gallons. I knew it was probably more expensive, but when you're only putting in a gallon or so it doesn't seem like a big deal. Well I guess that's just what terrorists think too, because it got me stopped.

When I went inside, there were 8 officers milling around behind the desk. Some of them were laughing at something one of them found online. There were 2 at the desk, but only one was actually helping people. When I finally talked to someone, I handed him the piece of paper and he said, "How the hell am I supposed to read this?" (TERRORISTS - DON'T READ THIS PART) He asked me a couple of questions about my trip, told me that the computers were down, and drew a big letter "A" on the back of my piece of paper. I showed it to the guys outside and I was on my way. I could have saved a lot of time by writing an "A" on the paper myself, but I didn't know their super secret code beforehand. Man, those guys are clever.

After that I headed down to Burlington for lunch with my Aunt and Uncle and their two pugs. Such majestic creatures...

There is such a thing as free lunch. And I got some good stories too. One about my dad breaking some poor girl's arm on his first motorcycle. probably not the best move. If there is one thing I know about the ladies, it's that they don't like getting their arms broken.

After that I was done with interstate for the day, and I took hwy 20 over to Whidbey Island. This is the bridge at Deception Pass.
I took a couple of little gravel roads looking for some dirt to play in, and I found these guys...
Then a few bucks...
And then these!
This kind of equipment can only mean fun. So I turned off and found an area where they were putting in a new housing development, which means unpaved roads. Someday I want to build a clubhouse here and put a sign on it that says "No girls or Harleys allowed (except for the girls part)."
I explored a little, got dirty, dropped the bike trying to get over a little tree, messed up my back, and rode the rest of the island down to the ferry. It was great.

I got right on the next ferry with my motorcycles-are-cool pass, and crossed over to Everett. There was a HUGE line of people coming the other way when I got off. A lot of people head up north for the weekend and it was about rush hour on Friday, so the line to get on the ferry was probably about a mile long.

When I got to Seatte, I found Karla's place and we waited around a little for Jay to come home (I was early). Then they bought me dinner. I found a free parking spot too. And they had a couple of nice dogs for me to pet. Pretty sweet deal.
After that I went back to Mom's for the night.

So, here are the final numbers:

Total Miles: 5,112 (I snuck over to Wenatchee, WA somewhere in there too)

Animals Spotted:
13 Deer
4 Sea Lions
4 Rabbits
3 Elk
2 Prairie Dogs
2 Road Runners
1 Skunk (Non-rabid)

New Stickers: 7

Altogether it was a great trip, and a great way to see a bunch of this country and the people that I love before I leave for a while. People took me into their homes, fed me, and flashed their high beams at me when there was a deer around the corner. I saw desert, ocean, mountains and cities. I made amends with Iowa. I had frybread, vegemite, pho, and saladitos. I evaded attacks from dinosaurs, deer, pugs and slugs. I got a new hat. And, rode the best roads I've ever seen, in 12 states, and from border-to-border. This is a pretty great country.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Road Trip post for Saturday 7/19

So Saturday morning I got over to my cousin Kyle's and we headed down to the Mariner's game. We were planning on getting there for batting practice, but there was a lot going on in the city. We spent some time sitting in traffic. We were sitting a while, and I could feel other people getting retro 80's baseball baps while we sat there. Every second was one less chance of me getting my hat.
When we got off the interstate he wanted to look around for parking. After years seeing people spend $50 to park at Cubs games, $15 for parking across the street from Safeco Field seemed like a joke, and I wasn't going to miss getting my hat to save a couple of bucks, so I convinced him to park in the lot.

And we got our hats...A dream come true. So it is possible sometimes to go back and set things straight. And we look just as awkward and goofy as the pre-teens we would have been if we would have made it to the original game in the 80's, so it's perfect.

We took our seats right under the jumbotron, and got to see what it would be like to be famous everytime they showed something on it. It seemed like the whole place was looking at us.
With the Mariners loosing at the top of the 9th, some thoughtful fellow decided to take it upon himself to provide some entertainment, and ran out on the field. When security got close, he was smart enough to lay down, so they wouldn't clothesline him. They hauled him off and we went back to the game.

We stuck around for the last out, and got to see a couple of more runs, but final score was Mariners 6, Indians 9. I didn't care. I got my hat.

After that, was the annual block party in Kyle's neighborhood. And good time was had by all.The only thing left in my big trip was to cross the Canadian border.

road trip post for Friday 7/18

Friday I got up like someone with a job and I followed Maureen to her workplace, the Portland Japanese Garden. I got a private tour before it was open to the public. Maureen walked me through it and it was absolutely beautiful. Another one of the places on my trip that I couldn't really capture in pictures. But of course I tried...
Then I went back to the Conservatory and followed Chris home, where I got to hang out with him, Beth, and Akito. Akito looks like a pug, but is probably really some kind of space-aged , cold-fusion-powered, gyroscopic, robot. She vibrated like a jack hammer and I would have sworn there was 4 of her when she attacked me. I had a really hard time getting her off of me because she had paralyzed me with laughter - probably with some sort of hypno-ray. The only time she stopped buzzing was when she sat on my bike. There was a moment of profound silence while she whistfully looked into the distance as if to say, "That's my home, friend... the horizon..."
She was a noble creature indeed.

Before I left town I stopped at Pearl District Tattoo to get a little ink. I wanted to get something in the northwest corner of my compass rose tattoo. The northwest is where I'm from, and Portland had a lot of important firsts for me. I thought about a couple of different designs but then decided that filling it in with a nice cloud-grey would be the most appropriate. It seemed a little darker than I wanted at first, but then, that seemed pretty appropriate too.And yeah, I'm wearing a bandana around my neck. What about it? I'm a cowboy. "On a steel horse I ride..."

I headed up toward mom's, but stopped for lunch just over the Washington border. People who aren't from around here think I'm joking when I talk about Marion Berries. A Marion Berry isn't a crack smoking DC Mayor, it's an actual berry. It's a kind of blackberry, sometimes sold out of SUVs in parking lots, it was developed in Marion County, Oregon, and it's delicious.
So I slowly made my way north through rush hour traffic (which was just as bad as Chicago or LA), and finally made it to mom's place.
(I actually washed the helmet liner before we took this pic. It was getting a little funky.)

road trip post for Thursday 7/17

Thursday morning I had breakfast with Lark and her friend Lisa and then started toward Salem and Portland.There is beautiful scenery all the way up the coast.
I got my Oregon sticker at this surf shop. For free!
I made it to Salem and got a charger for my phone. She also gave me a new cover for it, because she was going to throw it away. I guess they aren't making it any more. Which kind of explains why it won't charge up and I can't use it without the ear bud. But it's got patriotic swagger!

I hung out in Salem for a few hours. The Barista at the coffee shop talked about getting out of Salem and I tried to assure her that it really was possible.Found my way up to Portland to the Portland Actors Conservatory for the graduation showcase. I was part of the first graduating class there back when acting was first invented.

I met Maureen and her husband Philip there and they put me up for the night. It was pretty great to roll into the rose city and feel at home after being gone for so many years.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

road trip post for Wednesday 7/16

When I woke up this morning, this little fella was trying to sneak into my tent...
That'll put you off breakfast.

I only had about 200 miles to go today, so I had time to stop for pictures of motorcycle-attacking dinosaurs.

I got to Florence and met my stepmom Lark. We ran some errands and had dinner. She's moving to central Oregon, so she's in the middle of a lot of packing and coordinating. I can sympathize. But I didn't have to figure out how to pack up any horses or dogs.
This one reminds me of the 3 stooges. Hello, hello... helloooooo... Hello! The house was partly packed, so she put us up at a hotel, and she fed me too. As I understand it, some people have a very hard time being homeless. For me, it's working out great so far.

Lark gave me a few things that were my Dad's. Including some loose Vietnamese coins that he'd had for all these years. I counted them up, 65 Dong, and looked up the exchange rate. 65 Dong comes out to about .oo3 dollars. Not quite half a cent. 1 Dong coins might have more conversational value than monetary value. It'll be interesting to see what the Vietnamese folks think of the 1 Dong coins. Do they collect them like we collect pennies? Instead of empty water cooler jugs, do they keep them in empty grain silos or tanker trucks until they've collected enough go to the movies? Am I going to need a dump truck to carry around my loose change? I'll find out. She also gave me some US currency to help me along. It was much more compact.

Before bed, I walked down to the beach. The Oregon coast is my favorite place on this planet. It felt good to get my feet wet, even though it was cold, and think about going to the other side of that ocean.

road trip post for Tuesday 7/15

Tuesday, I made my way up to Redwood National Forest. Heading up I-5 was one long, flat, boring stretch of interstate. I was going to cut over to 101 on CA 20, but I missed the turn. My next chance was CA 36. As I got close there was a flashing advisory sign, so I pulled over and got out my crappy little wind up radio to see what it said. I was worried that it would be closed from forest fires, but the advisory just said to look out for crews and equipment, but it was open. When I got on CA 36 I saw a sign that said curves “next 170 miles”. If I ride long enough to have a top 10 list of motorcycle roads, this will be on it. Beautiful twisties, and nice little rises, and long curves... I had a great time in Hollywood, and San Francisco, and Sacramento, but now I felt like I was on a motorcycle trip again. Absolutely beautiful. And there were a lot of other bikes. Apparently there is a rally or race or something coming up called the GT or GP something.

There was a some visible aftermath of the fire, and it's going to take a while for the scenery to grow back, but the road was awesome.

When I got over to 101 I headed up to the redwoods. They are really impossible to get in a picture, but they are big, beautiful trees, just as you would expect. Made me feel like a hobbit - in a good way (nothing against hobbits).

This day was a highlight of the trip. I was worried that I'd wear the center of my tires totally flat, but I finally got a chance to round out the tread wear a little.

At the camp (which was almost full on a Tuesday) I was greeted by the unofficial mascot of the northwest even though I was still in California.

Cute little fella, huh?

I set up camp and enjoyed what will be my last campfire for a while.

road trip post for Monday 7/14

Monday morning, Tim and me wandered around the Castro looking for a California sticker for my bike.

We went to a little Vietnamese coffee shop and I got some pho. It's a Vietnamese noodle dish that Americans tend to call “foh” - like “oh”, but I've heard differently. So I asked the guy how to pronounce it and he said it a lot more like “fuh” - as in “uh”. So that's what I'm going with. Apparently Vietnamese people eat it for breakfast or any old time. I got it vegetarian style, with tofu, but they guy told me that beef is big in Hanoi. My pronunciation question launched a 10 minute conversation and I was worried that it was going to get cold before I ever had a chance to taste it. Really nice guy.

I found my new sticker at the HRC store, let Tripp the dog inspect it for me...

and got on the road. I wanted to ride across the Golden Gate Bridge, and Tim tipped me off to a good place to get a good shot of it. I would up the hill and found the spot. I had climbed quite a bit but I still had to look up to see the top of the bridge. It was a little foggy, but you could still see the city beyond the bridge.

It wasn't too far to Sacramento, where Saffron found me after her rehearsal.

We spent the evening taking in the sites of Sacramento. There's the capitol...

And a big mall with things like, a place to purchase jeans...

...enjoy a meal in the food court...
...and teach your children to kill aliens and/or zombies...
We saw Hancock in the movie theater (which was really lame) and called it a night.