For those that follow my blog closely you probably remember my epic roadtrip from Irvine, CA to Baltimore, MD. On my roadtrip I saw a lot of really cool places, people, and things. One of the highlights of the roadtrip was my visit to the Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park, Colorado. A truly beautiful place!
Even though I took a lot of pictures at the Rocky Mountain National Park, some of which you can see here, I finally uploaded videos I took during my visit last summer!
All the videos were taken driving up Trail Ridge Road and as I took in all the sights, sounds, and views of the stunning park. Getting higher gave you a better view and experience of the nature and surroundings. Of course driving up the narrow roads with 300 foot drops off the side can be a little nerve-racking. It was fun as well though! I highly recommend you go visit if you ever get a chance.
Took me long enough and hopefully I will get around to uploading more pictures and videos I that have languished on my laptop for a long time. Watch the videos below at least and let me know what you think!
Back in September I took a roadtrip with my brother Aaron to Brooklyn. He needed to transport paintings for an art show he was part of. It was very exciting for him as an artist since it was the first show he had in New-York. He's how it the roadtrip went.
We got going late around 10:45am or so. We rented a Uhaul the day before and got the paintings all packed and ready to go so we wouldn't have to worry about it in the morning. Aaron and I decided instead of spending money on tolls on I-95, we would avoid them. We set our GPS to “Avoid Tolls” and off we went. The nice thing about not driving along I-95 is that it's a little more scenic. You tend to see more interesting things, like a Hydro-Electric plant we passed along Route 1. One side of the dam was extremely high due to all the rain. The water was deep into the forest and we saw cops had blocked off a road leading down to that area.
Aaron was doing most of the driving, so my duties mainly were navigating (well making sure the GPS wasn't throwing us completely off track). For the most part not taking 95 up to New-York was working out well. Sure it was more slow going, but it gave us a chance to see little towns and places you would never have seen otherwise. Like a Harley-Davidson dealership, antiques stores, cows, and the countryside. Driving up 95 is kind of ugly, especially the Jersey turnpike.
Avoiding tolls surprising only took probably about 1 hour longer than if we had taken 95. Finding Gowanus Ballroom, where Aaron was showing his paintings was fairly straightforward, and dropping off the paintings didn't take long either. Gowanus Ballroom is an interesting place to show art. It is a metal fabrication shop, but they also use the space to display art. They move all the heavy metalworking material away for showing art, then back when they are done.
After we left Gowanus, we had to return the Uhaul truck. We went to the Uhaul center, which was a few blocks away, and then the attendant pointed out we had not filled the tank. I think it was a $50 surcharge to fill it, so we decided to find a gas station. We found this run down on nearby, and to my delight there were a few cool and interesting cars there.
After we returned the Uhaul truck we headed to the train station to go into the New York City to catch the Bolt Bus back to Baltimore. For $19 bucks 1-way, it is not a bad deal. Only thing is we didn't realize how long we had to wait to catch the train into the city, and that it took us about 30 minutes once on the train to get where we needed to go.
When we emerged from the dirtiness of the NY subway system, we had a little trouble finding the stop on 7th and West 33rd. Aaron kept trying to use his smartphone but it was not loading the map or something. It kept getting closer to 6 and our bus was leaving at 6:15pm. I was getting nervous and was saying “Let's just ask someone!” after trying to ask several people on the street who ignored me with a New-York attitude, I went into a Gap store. I asked a clerk folding clothes “Where is 7th and 33rd?” he pointed and said “That way!” We got to 7th and 33rd no problem. Smartphones are not all that!
When we got to the bus stop, it was in front of Sbarros. I hadn't eaten lunch and went in to get 2 pieces of cheese pizza. Aaron went to get some snacks at a convenience store close by. I think at that point it was around 6:10 or slightly later. There were tons of people waiting for different buses there. So many that they were blocking the sidewalk, so the bus moved down a block. Then we got on, and the bus left later than 6:15.
The buses are ok, but my expectations were higher from what I had heard. I thought my seat was a bit uncomfortable. I noticed that every other seat had a power plug, while I got stuck with a seat without one. The nice thing was the bus had Wi-Fi, so I checked my email. Then I attempted to sleep, but you are always in that half-awake mode on a bus. We stopped once in Delaware, then continued on to Baltimore. I think we got in around 11, and the bus drops you on Saint Pauls right near Penn Station. So it is easy to get a cab to where you need to go. We had a family member pick us up from the train station, then went home.
I finally made it back to Baltimore! I must say it was not all easy but it sure was fun and exciting. I am so glad I was able to see so many different parts of the country.
I started off the day setting off from Cleveland. I set my GPS to head toward Canton, OH to a shelter called Angels for Animals. I had arranged to pickup a dog that needed transport from Ohio to Virginia with the National English Shepherd Rescue. It took me about 1 hour and 30 minutes to get there from Cleveland. When I got to the shelter it took them awhile to figure out which dog I was transporting. I told them “Bear” but I should have specified “Mr. Bear” because apparently there were using variations of the name Bear. I was at the shelter for almost 1 hour before the dog was placed in a crate and then into my car and set off to head back home. Mr. Bear was clearly scared and not Instead of my having to drive to Virginia to drop the dog off I was going to meet the person who was going to foster the dog in Hagerstown, MD. It was a convenient place to stop along I-70 on my way back home.
In the car the dog was quiet. He came from a hoarding situation with 19 other dogs in deplorable conditions. The person at Angels for Animals told me he had not had much human contact but he had come a long way. I talked with the dog for awhile told him about myself and where we were going. Then I put in the last tapes I had of the Bourne Series “The Bourne Supremacy” to keep myself entertained and the dog used to human voices. I drove the 4+ hours to Hagerstown without stopping much for myself. I did pull over once on the side of the road to keep because the dog was getting anxious and pawing at the crate. I opened the crate door careful to not let him out. To my surprise he let me pet him and he even almost put his head on my lap when I was sitting in the car next to the crate with the door open. I could tell the dog was trying to feel comfortable but was unsure of what was going on. I stopped again only for a few minutes to let myself have a snack and let Mr. Bear know everything was going to be ok.
I thought this would be an easy drop-off… I was wrong. I got into Hagerstown around 4:30pm. I felt I had made good time. Bonnie, the lady was going to foster Mr. Bear didn't seem to be around the Cracker Barrel. So I waited for awhile and tried to comfort the dog as much as I could. I wanted to let him know how much he was going to be going to a nice place. I finally texted Bonnie and she got out of her Lexus and walked over to me. She had parked in a different area of the parking lot and just hadn't seen me pull in. I then preceded to tell her about how Mr. Bear was good in the car, what the shelter people told me about him, and gave her the paperwork on him. She saw the crate and exclaimed “How am I going to get that in my car?” she was not enthusiastic about transporting Bear, as I called him, in the crate in her car. I assumed he could be transported without it but said, “The shelter said to not let him out of the crate.” She was intent on getting him out of the crate and into her backseat with a dog hammock. Since I actually thought at that time that she was adopting him, I let her pull him out of the crate. Soon after we got him out of the crate he started freaking out and pulling on the leash… then… he slipped out of his collar! It was ridiculously loose and really not for handling a dog. He started running around the parking lot and I was frantically chasing him around. After a few minutes of chasing him down I finally managed to catch him. I was holding in him in a hug and was letting him know “It's going to be ok!” at this point he seemed to have calmed down. Bonnie then walked up and I handed her my keys, “Here go get my car and we will put him in the crate.” She for some reason did not like this and did not want to get my car. She then tried to put the collar and leash on Bear and he freaked out again… and bite her. Bear then was running around the parking lot again. I asked Bonnie “Are you ok?” but honestly was more concerned with the dog. I was extremely angry because I had Bear! Wtf? I then followed him all over the area. He crossed the street into a Park & Ride and was running around the bushes. I followed him for about 30-40 minutes then he went into some bushes and I couldn't find him. I tried combing through some of them but just lost sight of him.
I washed my headlights with the sqeeue for windshields. They were incredible dirty because of the bugs hitting the front of the car. Difficult to even see out of them.
After I drove around the Hagetsown Outlet Mall for awhile.
Later when I was driving home I was immensely upset. I couldn't believe I had lost the dog. I stopped to get some gas before heading back and got stopped in at Subway in the gas station. I got a Meatball Marinara 12 inch sandwich for $4 because they were having a special that day. It felt like one of the best sandwiches I had ever had. I don't think it was that good, but I just needed something that made me a feel a little better.
On Monday I set out from Chicago around 9. The Windy City is great and I would have loved to stay longer. I had to get going back home for the Baltimore Grand Prix and a dog in Ohio that I am going to transport to Maryland. It was actually good to leave Chicago to get away from the ridiculous gas prices. The most expensive in the country! The average price seemed to be around $4.10. Luckily I did not drive much and did not have to fillup my car in Illinois.
Driving through Ohio was fairly uneventful. The only real events happening was stopping at tolls! They are a killer. I think I spent more on tolls driving through Illinois and Ohio in 1 day then I have ever in my whole life. It must have amounted to about $20 or more for the day. I will have to check all my receipts I got to see exactly how much. At least Ohio's rest areas are nice. Most are clean bathrooms and have some sort of convenience store or food court. Overall Ohio is not bad.
For some reason today I was not up for driving much. After about 4-5 hours of driving I got really tired. Driving by yourself can be difficult. I listened to Pimmsler's Speak and Read Russian tapes again trying to learn Russian. Don't ask me how to say anything in Russian because I can't even remember much if anything that from those tapes. To a certain extent trying to listen to make you mind think too much is not good for driving because you need to pay attention to the road. I found Audiobooks to be the best. So I put in “The Bourne Supremacy” by Robert Ludlum and listened to that for the majority of my driving. There are great movies and books. Especially listening to when you are by yourself in a car for long periods of time.
Originally I got a call from a very nice guy in Youngstown, OH named Andrew from Couchsurfing. He said I could stay at his place, but when I was getting closer and closer to Cleveland I realized driving another 2 and half hours to Youngstown from where I was would not be safe. Another girl from Couchsurfing, Alissa, called me back after confirming my request and said I could stay with her and her roommate in Cleveland. I decided to go with Alissa because I was too tired at this point to drive much more. Cleveland was only 1 hour away.
I got into Cleveland and was driving around. Man, Cleveland feels a lot like Baltimore. A lot of bad neighborhoods next to good neighborhoods. A city in change with lots of new construction going up. All it mainly geared toward gentrification, yuppies, and colleges. When I got into Cleveland I finally meetup with Alissa's roommate David. We started talking and were talking about where we are from. Turns out we are both from Newton, MA. Small world.
I stayed in Chicago an extra couple of days because of Hurricane Irene. When I would have been driving back would have put me in the middle of the storm. Baltimore apparently did not get hit that bad, but the power outages are wide throughout the city. You can always look at the positive, since this enabled me to explore and do more in Chicago.
First I went to Millennium Park and saw the famous bean, Pritzker Pavilion, and some other cool art pieces. There is an area with glass structures that have water coming out of them. Kids play in the water and people seem to really enjoy themselves in that space. After that I went to the Art Institute. I saw some very interesting and cool art. None of which I remember the name of! After walking around there for a little over an hour I headed to the Chicago Architecture Foundation to do a walking tour. We went to the Marshall Field building, a hotel, Millennium Park, and few other places. The tour guide was ok and not quite as good as I had expected. My relatives here in Chicago said the tours usually are very good. Supposedly the legend is if you have a Firefighter give you a tour that is the best person to get a walking tour from. They know building construction in and out. After the walking tour was over around 3:40 I went back to get lunch at a place called Al's Beef. It was a very Chicago place with hot dogs and sandwiches. I got a Buffalo Chicken sandwich that was good but a little gross. After my late lunch I went back to The Art Institute until it closed around at 5.
I am glad I got to explore Chicago more. It's a great city.
Last Friday I went around Downtown Chicago. It was awesome. Chicago is a great city.
Public transportation is really easy. I took a train from 91st – Beverly Hills to LaSalle Station right downtown. I got on the 12:35pm trains and came back on the 5:20pm train. For the most part the trains are clean and comfortable. The trains are actually Double-Decker so you can sit up high. It's nice, easy, and efficient. Wish Baltimore had good public transportation like Chicago.
I mainly walked around downtown with no finite plan on what to do or what to see. First I was aimlessly walking around then saw the Chicago Public Library building on State St. It's an absolutely beautiful building. I would recommended stopping in there. I did walk and see Buckingham Fountain (pictured above) and stopped in at the Chicago Architecture Foundation. I wanted to do a tour, which is a highly suggested thing to do in Chicago, but it was too late in the day. I also considered going to the Art Institute of Chicago but you know it was 3:30 and the museum closes at 5. I did walk around the to on the “Magnificent Mile” which is the shopping center of the city. It's got some great stores, most which I would not go into, but it was fun to see it anyway.
What do I not like about Chicago? Gas prices! They are ridiculous. Over $4! No thank you Illinois. I will not be moving here. If there were lower… I might consider it.
On Thursday I drove from Lincoln, NE to Chicago. This was about a 500 miles drive. I was rejuvenated in the morning with a good breakfast at a Staybridge Suites in Lincoln, NE. I had a waffle, eggs, 2 sausages, and some coffee. Usually I am not a coffee drinker but I needed a little something. I also got into the Jacuzzi for a little while before getting on the road. It felt relaxing on all my muscles. I tried to stretch the night before and in the morning. Overall Staybridge Suites are nice and I would recommend them. However, I was a little upset when I was checking out of Staybridge as they had a “Arena Tax” and “Room/Occupancy Tax!” Wtf is that? Seems like a fee not a tax to me.
I mostly drove through Iowa all day on I-80 East. Iowa is not as bad as one might assume. They have Free Wi-Fi at a majority of the rest areas. Over 30 minutes though, then you need to pay. At least the rest areas are nice compared to a lot I have seen. The nicest places it seems to stop for a bathroom break I have found is state Welcome Centers. It makes sense since they want to encourage tourism.
I listened to a few things. Pimmslers Learn & Read Russian program which I got for Free on cassette at the Bookthing. Don't ask me why I want to learn Russian… you know… if it's Free it's for me! Russians is hard but I sort of learned a few words. I did need to do the first tape twice, but a little everyday. I also listened to Guns N Roses. Any Rock music is great for a roadtrip. When I was heading into Chicago I listened to James Herriots Animals Stories from the book All Creatures Great and Small.
I almost had a bit of a heart attack at rest area. When I opened the passenger car door to get out a drink… my nice camera, a Canon Rebel, fell out of the bag onto the pavement. I thought I might have broken it! Luckily I did not. The damage was just small scuffs.
When I was coming into Chicago I got a little lost. The GPS kept throwing me in weird directions then loosing the satellite signal. It was late, dark, and I was in a bit of a bad neighborhood. I thought I had gotten a map of Chicago before I left, so I pulled over and looked in my trunk… uh… oh … shit… no Chicago map! Argh! Well I called my relative and asked to GoogleMap it. Should have had a map. You can get Free ones through AAA or at Welcome Centers. They are quite useful to still have when mapping out routes through states and figuring out faster routes when there is traffic. Especially your GPS goes on the fritz!
I stayed up late the night before writing. Until about 2am. It's hard writing on the road and finding the energy. If you are a traveling writer, you need to get used to writing when tired or find a good day to write.