Job Market Be Damned: Quitting Our Jobs and Hitting the Road! - Page 5
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Thread: Job Market Be Damned: Quitting Our Jobs and Hitting the Road!

  1. #61
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    Phoenix, AZ

    So today has been a relatively long day.

    We woke up amongst a bunch of real campers in the Wal-Mart parking lot. Since it's Easter Sunday, nothing good was open including the YMCA, so we headed out early to the Grand Canyon.

    Grand Canyon

    Not really a whole lot left to be said about the Grand Canyon, anymore. I seen grander...

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    The Canyon was well worth the visit and the $25.00 per car entry fee. I was really looking forward to the Skywalk, but the ranger who gave us our pass informed me of the following:

    1. It's about 250 miles Southwest of where we were.
    2. It'll total between $80.00 and $90.00 per person to walk out for 15 minutes
    3. It's PRIVATELY owned and operated outside of the Parks, which left a particularly sour taste in my mouth for some. And...
    4. No cameras are allowed on the glass.

    So... I guess the view from the South Rim is good enough!

    Red Mountain

    On the way to Phoenix, we also stopped at Red Mountain. A unique monument in the Coconino National Forest, aptly named for its eerily colorful sandstone. Also worth the trip.

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    Southbound, we also hit Sedona, which while the town is completely tourist, the countryside is uop there with some of the most beautiful and enjoyable we've yet to encounter on our trip thus far. Thanks again for the suggestion, moneypit!

    Statistics:

    Miles driven: 300
    Avg. MPG: 28
    Music: PJ Harvey, Depeche Mode, Joy Division, and Tori Amos

    I'll keep you posted about Phoenix...

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  3. #62
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    Phoenix, AZ

    What can I say about Phoenix that the moderators won't replace with asterisks, ampersands, and dollar signs? It wasn't our favorite city, I'll say that. Here's some quick things we took away from Phoenix, Arizona:

    1. We hit the city more or less on a Monday and the traffic was reminiscent of Chicago (albeit, not quite so bad).
    2. The city is geographically very expansive, so anything interesting is always a drive away from wherever you are.
    3. The average daily high is a trillion degrees.
    4. For a university town, we expected a much greater cultural diversity.
    5. The downtown felt more than a little steal-y.
    6. There must be a city ordinance against shade.

    Also, we managed to lose track of Marissa's set of keys while in the area. Combined, this turned out to be reason enough for us to never revisit Phoenix or anywhere else in southern Arizona. We originally had planned to visit the famous Phoenix Zoo, but with our present luck in the the city, we figure I would either be mauled by a tiger or Marissa would fall into the snake pit or something. So we saw the saguaro cacti that surrounded the city, grabbed some food, filed up our water jugs, and decided to leave.

    We're sitting in a coffee shop in Lake Havasu now, but we're going to be heading to Vegas tonight to see the Hoover Dam and The Strip. Probably try to find a WalMart to sleep for the night.

    Miles driven: I can't remember
    Avg. MPG: 28.2
    Music: More PJ Harvey - she's a badass
    Mechanical issues: Check engine light came back on, had a diagnostic run and it came back the #2 O2 sensor, which I had suspected because of the exhaust leak. The engine is still running right at regular operating temperature, the mileage is still good and the fluids are staying right on-level. When I finally stop to change the oil and do a service flush or two of the ATF (and probably rotate the tires), I may disconnect the battery and reconnect it to see if I can't get the light to go off for another 3000 miles.

    The more concerning issue - the cupholder situation in the front is unacceptable. Nothing really fits in the tray and you're not supposed to keep them there while moving, anyway. Worse than those pathetic springloaded, brittle-plastic, deployable things in my old 5th-Gen Civic.

  4. #63
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    I agree with your assessment of Phoenix and Arizona in general sans eastern Arizona and a select few little food joints down along the border (YUMMY mexican!!)

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  6. #64
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    Cathedral City, CA

    Hoover Dam

    The Hoover Dam is much to be like the Grand Canyon - quite stunning, there's just not a whole lot more to say about it. I was unaware of it's beautiful Art Deco design elements which I enjoyed. Other than that, we didn't take the tour but it's quite obviously an astonishing feat of civil engineering.

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    We walked across, took some photos, used the probably once-elegant restrooms, and headed for Vegas.

    Sin City

    We didn't experience Las Vegas to its fullest-available extent, but I'm not sure if anyone has and survived. There is clearly a tremendous layering of culture that has compressed into its own glamorous, absolutely over-the-top aesthetic. There is simply too much to see and do to get even a minute percentage accomplished, so we decided to make a pass or two down the strip, take some photos, and find something to eat. We ate at an advertised-vegan/vegetarian asian-fusion place in Chinatown.

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    We slept in Vegas, worked out at a fantastic YMCA in the Meadows, and hit the road to try and make Marissa's uncle's house in Cathedral City at a decent dinner-time.

    Mojave NP, 29 Palms, and Cathedral City/Palm Springs

    To make it to Cathedral City, we planned on routing through the Mojave NP and Joshua Tree NP. The trip through Mojave was nice, though the winding road lends itself more to my DR-Z400 than the Odyssey. Though, as I noticed in Sedona, the Odyssey really does just handle like an Accord with maybe a titch softer ride and a few more pounds to pull up hills.

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    We had timed our trip just right to give us some time to play around in Joshua Tree. However, our plans changed just outside of 29 Palms. We past a moderately-sized white Pitbull on the side of the road that responded well to our calls. We figured such a sweet, sociable dog must've been a runaway so we spent some time taking the dog to the 29 Palms shelter. Evidently, the Mojave is notorious for dog-dumping, Pits in particular. What we figure is if the dog isn't claimed by an original owner in for the required retention time of six days, Marissa and I will have another travel companion for the remainder of the trip. In an attempt to avoid unnecessary attachment to the dog in case she's claimed, we did not take any photos.

    We pulled into Cathedral City last night where Marissa's uncles have very generously taken us in. We've been eating out, taking regular showers, sleeping in a queen-size bed, and trying to lounge around the recliners as much as possible. I was also able to change the Odyssey's oil and filter.

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    Tomorrow, we are heading up to Bodie, CA, a ghost town that Marissa read about on the inter-tubes months ago. We'll probably try to explore California for the next four or five days or so to see how the dog thing plays out.

    Miles driven: about 500
    Avg. MPG: 27.0
    State lines crossed: 2
    Ecosystems entered: 3, if Las Vegas Boulevard doesn't count as it's own.

  7. #65
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    Quick Update

    Well, the Pitbull was claimed by her owner who has evidently been out of town for the last couple of days and came home to find his beloved "Tuffy" had hopped the fence. She's home safe and sound now which has left a bittersweet residue for Marissa and me.

    Having gotten the call, we've no reason left to return to SoCal as we've really no interest in L.A. We slept in Visalia last night as a sort of midway between Cathedral City and ...anywhere. California, at least North-South is just tremendously huge. Not unlike Texas, except for the greenery and men without handlebar mustaches. Replace a few of the expansive cattle-ranches with orange groves and you're pretty much there.

    We're thrilled about heading up to San Francisco, but probably won't be there tonight. We're planning on driving east to Sequoia National Forest, as we figured you can't have a full-blown USA-tour without driving through a couple of Redwood tunnels. Afterwards, we might hit the YMCA and spend another night before aiming for The City by the Bay.

    Currently, I'm typing in a coffee shop in Exeter. Ordering my Dark Roast, I realized the music playing overhead was Christian Rock. Not my bag, but certainly not a problem. It was around the second full stanza of the singer repeating "Jesus" that I noticed several of the patrons wearing faith-based graphic tees including one gentleman who's shirt just read "THE CHRIST BOX". The apparent Bible Study group at the large table gave it away. A Christian coffee shop... well that's something different.

    They make a mean Dark Roast.

  8. #66
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    Rohnert Park, CA

    Yesterday we spent driving to and from Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park. We left Visalia on the 198 without much idea what we needed in advance. Upon arriving, the ranger station requires that all vehicles entering the park have tire chains handy as they may be required at any time while visiting. We rented a set from one of the service stations in the valley for $40.00+. They must see the tourists coming a mile away because for stupid saps like myself, you've no option if you want to go in.

    Sequoia National Park/Kings Canyon National Park

    SNP is home to the world's largest tree when measured by total wood-volume and some of the world's tallest trees. A lesser known fact, Sequoia National Park is also home to the most inconvenient parking arrangement of all the parks in the country, be they National, State, or City. Other than that murder-inspiring fun, the park seems to serve as a model for how National Parks should be laid out and kept up, which has a certain logic since it is also the second oldest National Park in the U.S. - founded in 1890. The lowlands were terrifically beautiful and the Giant Sequoias were unbelievable.

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    The distortion of the image belittles the impact of this, the largest tree in the world, known as General Sherman. Look carefully and see Marissa standing at his base for perspective.

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    We were asked to put the chains on the tires at one point as the road conditions demanded it (at about 6700 ft the snow was about two feet deep). The chains that the gentlemen had given us per my tire size were the wrong set, so were too wide for the tires. Luckily, I had some safety wire on board to take up some of the slack to avoid damaging the rented equipment. Just as I was finishing correcting their mistake with my own tools, the ranger came around to inform us that, alas, the road conditions had improved so I could proceed with or without chains. I chose without.

    We drove to Fresno to sleep for the night and to get a bit of a jump on the drive to San Francisco.

    San Francisco

    Both Marissa and I thoroughly enjoyed San Francisco. Lots to do, very hip, naturally beautiful, and everyone bustling provokes a feeling of productivity. We hung out there all day today, mostly in the Mission district. Their YMCA's weren't very helpful, when asked if any of them participated in the YMCA Away Program (free admission to members across the country at participating locations), they each responded "Oh, ...yeah. You can use the facility! It'll only be $10.00." No, thanks.

    We ate lunch/dinner at a vegan restaurant called Herbivore on Valencia near 19th. Service wasn't as good as the food. I ate my ravioli too fast to get a picture, but Marissa had a Seitan/Soy Philly Cheesesteak.

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    Between the YMCA situation (we both are in just a desperate need of a shower), the lack of any Walmart parking lots to sleep within all of San Francisco, and a suffocating population density that doesn't cater well to a couple of folks living in a van looking for a free place to park, we decided that although we liked the city, we should leave after seeing some of the sights. I feel like we got a good pulse on the Mission district (a lot like Milwaukee Ave in Chicago's near-west side), we drove a bit downtown, and of course we saw the bridge. In the panoramic, you can see the Golden Gate, Alcatraz, and the downtown area.

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    Crossing the bridge, we had to listen to the Scott MacKenzie song, to which Marissa shamelessly and talentlessly sang along. So we headed north in search of a place to sleep, and hopefully shower and we found one of those here in Rohnert Park. Gonna be sleeping in the Walmart lot again tonight (unfortunately this has become a comfortable habit) and it looks like a thorough Elvis Bath in the Starbucks bathroom will have to suffice.

    Miles driven: about 450 from Visalia, via Fresno and SF
    Avg. MPG: 26.6 including SF hills and the stop/start elevation gain of 5000 ft in SNP
    Music: a lot of Neko Case
    Last edited by no_code; 04-16-2012 at 12:38 AM.

  9. #67
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    Redding, CA

    Santa Rosa/ Napa Valley

    We spent a good while exploring Santa Rosa. Nice city parks, cool arty district (we also saw The Secret World of Arrietty at a smaller cinema). Having left, we concluded that we should've stayed and explored longer. It was a nice town. We didn't take any pictures while we were there.

    We left Santa Rosa early to work our way up the coast, but first I wanted to see Napa Valley. Cruising north from Napa along Route 29, we took in the sights of some just unbelievable wineries, enjoyed the fresh air, and I again longed for my dual-sport. Napa itself was almost-sickeningly Mayberry-esque, but we had some hash browns and coffee at a diner, fortuitously called the Butter Cream Bakery. We took the Silverado Trial 'til near Yuba City when we redirected west to the Pacific. Every bit of road we drove over, with the exception of various antique-mall parking lots and overlook turnoffs, was deemed Scenic Route.

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    The Pacific

    We cut over to Route 1, the Pacific Coast Highway, which I couldn't more highly recommend a trip on. Mile after mile, turn after turn, of unbelievably diverse and gorgeous vistas that alter your very idea of what a beautiful road is.

    It was my first time seeing the Pacific Ocean in person. I took dozens of basically-repeat photographs and Marissa did the same.

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    We tried to stay the night in Eureka, but found no acceptably cheap lot to thwart the city police's apparently strict overnight parking laws. I suggested and campaigned for what was obviously the only rational solution: a coffee-fueled death-drive three hours east, beginning at dusk, through 156 miles of densely foggy, thick-wooded, shear cliff-lined, winding National Forest roads littered with a veritable horde of representatives from the entire animal kingdom hell-bent on hurling their bodies into my exact trajectory. Doing so already fatigued in a completely unfamiliar region of the now-ironically beautiful California countryside where cell phone reception is not even a luxury, but an illusion. And all of this to reach our next nightly promised land: Redding, California. Wow, so worth it. With a moving average of 37 mph, we reached Redding at somewhere between midnight and when I woke up this morning at 8:30AM. It's noon now, and I think I've not only regained consciousness, but somehow my entire memory of last night is still intact despite the stints of mind-numbing terror and regret.

    We may spend a day here to work out, shower, and relax before heading to Oregon.

    Miles driven: something ridiculous like 500, yesterday alone
    Avg. MPG: 26.3 - 27.0
    Music: Neil Young, Belly, and Throwing Muses. We also listened to some fascinating NPR stories on holistic-dentistry and future UAV privacy concerns.
    Avocados eaten: between the two of us, I think that we are responsible for an embarrassing percentage of Mexico's GDP.

  10. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by no_code View Post
    Sequoia National Park/Kings Canyon National Park

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    IMG_8698.jpg
    The distortion of the image belittles the impact of this, the largest tree in the world, known as General Sherman. Look carefully and see Marissa standing at his base for perspective.

    100_1471.jpg
    Awesome pics. Out of the places you've traveled that is one place we've (or I've) not been to. As the kids grow older we'll definitely need to get there, it seems to be a great experience.

    BTW, Who is that bearded fellow? Found it in the wild and let him play with the camera?

    Thanks for sharing

    - 2011 Honda Odyssey EX-L w/RES (theirs)
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  11. #69
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    I wanted to finally post after following your journey for 5 pages now and say that I really enjoy reading about your trip.

    I have only briefly visited the Red Wood forest and it was unbelievable. It felt like I either was on a different planet, or was shrunk to a fraction of my original size. The trees and everything looks familiar, but they are taller and with more distance in between them. Everything seemed so proportional and familiar, with the exception that I felt much smaller. That is definitly a place I want to go back when the kids are older. If they aren't impressed, too bad, I know I'll still love it

  12. #70
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    Grants Pass, OR

    Quote Originally Posted by BigBoat View Post
    BTW, Who is that bearded fellow?
    We found him in Sequoia, he seems to dwell in the more isolated mountains there. Obviously hideous and slow-witted, I suppose we felt more sorry for the poor thing than anything. He kept mumbling something like:

    "They call me a troll,
    moon of the earth-runner,
    the giant's wealth-sucker,
    destroyer of the storm-sun...."


    He continued, but we got pretty bored listening to him and were afraid he was about to rattle off a prepared limerick or something, so we offered him the camera to keep him distracted so we could enjoy the scenery. Regrettably, we unknowingly tricked him to come out into the sunlight and shortly after the picture was taken, he turned into stone. I'd say we are going to miss him, but I would be lying. We pried my camera from his cold, dead hands and moved on.

    Quote Originally Posted by PhilZJ
    I wanted to finally post after following your journey for 5 pages now and say that I really enjoy reading about your trip.
    Thanks for the subscription! I'm pretty happy about the trip so far, though there are a few things that i would definitely do differently next time. I'm trying to keep good notes about tricks and lessons learned to make a Recommendations post when we're through. Hopefully it helps people like us in the future or at least gives you all something to daydream about while Remoted in to a conference call.
    Grants Pass

    We just arrived in Grants Pass. I'll keep you posted when something interesting happens.

  13. #71
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    Bend, OR

    We arrived in Bend last night, following a fun-filled (read: painfully exhausting) day in and around Umpqua National Forest. Which was Colorado-esque and gorgeous.

    Grants Pass

    was a surprisingly nice gem, of which, neither Marissa or I had never heard. We spent Thursday afternoon strolling around the downtown area, hitting up antique malls in search of old Brownie cameras and finalized the day at a Thai restaurant in town called Pongsri's. The food was to die for, if you're ever in the area, check it out (I recommend the Tempura Broccoli).

    Toketee Falls

    If in the state, don't pass up Umpqua National Forest. At basically no cost, we visited a few of the many attractions within the park. First up was Toketee Falls: a waterfall accessible from a well-worn 1/2-mile trail that is located near a small hydro-electric generation plant. Take a look at the massive 12' diameter wooden pipe that runs 1500' from the generation plant's reservoir to an underground concrete viaduct.

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    The falls were worth the little side-quest, but the Hot Springs were really awesome.

    Umpqua Hot Springs

    This was definitely something to see that we were told to check out by one of Marissa's family-friends, with whom we'll be staying when we reach Portland. The geothermal springs are perched cliffside to the churning white-water river below. They sit at about 112F and are open to public use. Upon approach, we found this placard at the trailhead board:

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    As they say, "When in Rome, shield your eyes and keep to yourself". Good advice. We did dip into the pools in our bathing suits, they were definitely worth the experience. Highly recommended.

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    We dried off and worked our way further into the woods to see Crater Lake.

    Crater Lake

    The North (the ideal, and only even remotely convenient) entrance to Crater Lake was closed for snow, so we took what amounted to a 140 mile detour to see the lake and get back on track. Take a look at the snow accumulation alongside the passable roads. I put the Odyssey in the photo for perspective.

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    The lake was beautiful. We didn't get down to the coast, but from our vantage the water looked meticulously clean and reflected the sky blue like a sheet of glass. We stood on give or take 10 feet of snow, and there were downright comical falling hazard signs all around. See Marissa modelling her best impression of the unfortunate figure on the signs.

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    The most impressive part of the Lake to me was the restroom setup. Evidently they just conceded architecture to the snow and designed the houses to withstand feet of snow. They more resemble fallout shelters than toilets, so that was pretty cool.

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    We left and headed for Bend around 7:00. Somehow we managed to miss any pot-smokers on 4/20 at 4:20 in Toke-A-Tree, I mean Toketee. There's always hope in Bend, I guess.

    Bend

    I'm excited. Beautiful de-facto-metropolitan area in the mountains known as a gateway town for mountain biking, paddling, and ski-sports. There's an Earth Day parade today that we'll probably check out as well.

    Miles driven: about 330
    Avg. MPG: 28.2
    Music: OMD, Joy Division, MGMT, and some others I can't remember off-hand.

  14. #72
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    Salem, OR

    Been a couple of uneventful days. While in Bend, we visited the local record shop on Record Store Day. I purchased an album by a group called Washed Out and an older one by The Chemical Brothers. Record Store Day happened to coincide with Bend's Earth Day festival, so we were able to peruse a couple of eco-trend business stands and sample a few bits of food here and there.

    We left the next morning to head for Salem. Not a very interesting day yesterday. We checked out a few antique shops and gear stores downtown, drove around the city, got pulled over and received a written and verbal warning by local law enforcement, and took an extended and hellishly-hot nap in the van. This morning we woke up and headed to the gym. Shortly we are going to head up to Portland to hang out with Marissa's family friend, Mary Ann. Not much to post. I'll keep you updated!

  15. #73
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    So what mischief have you deviants caused to get warned

  16. #74
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhilZJ View Post
    So what mischief have you deviants caused to get warned
    I may have cut off the officer, signaled my turn too late, turned into a lane that was not the nearest one, then cut across three lanes to "duck" the officer as he was riding me to get my plate number... within a 20-second window. Maybe...

    But anyway, he spared me a citation and I'm happy to say that I learned no lesson from the whole theatric except never get pulled over with your girlfriend present, as the legal system wishes they had a punishment so effective as perpetual nagging.

    We're still in Portland, hanging out with Mary Ann. Having a good time and all sorts of adventures. Posting this from my iPhone, so when I get my computer to wifi, I'll make a real update. Stay tuned!

  17. #75
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    Really enjoying your trip.

    Keep on truckin.
    Mike.

    07 White EX.

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