AstriCon officially ended on October 15th, but luckily… Yeni and I stayed on a couple of days to spend some “face-to-face” time with some of our VoIP pals (after all, it’s nice to shake hands with someone you talk to regularly but lives more than 2000 miles away).
On the 16th, Yeni and I headed to the Glendale Harley-Davidson with David Duffett, and rented a couple of bikes. We headed north through some amazing country that well, I’d only seen in pictures. We saw cactus, we drove by mountains that looked like Big Thunder, and had a great meal at a dive off the beaten path. More importantly, we got to ride with David, who although it was the first time I had ridden with him, felt like we’d been riding together for years.
To celebrate my youngest cousin’s high school graduation, Yeni and I headed to Albany to join the celebration. Instead of flying, we packed very lightly and took the Harley 650 miles east from Ann Arbor to Albany, mostly following I-90 (we were going to go through Canada, but that’s a different story).
The trip to Albany was amazing and covered parts of Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York. Cities included Toledo, Cleveland, Erie, Buffalo, Syracuse, and Albany. Normally, when traveling on the Interstate, you really don’t get to see much, and with this trip, we set that as our expectation. Gladly, we were wrong. I had never been West of Albany (yes, I’m one of those type of New Yorker’s) and
Yeni and I just got back from a quick trip to Chicago… visiting her brother as well as celebrating our first month of married life. 🙂
It was a short drive (few hours) from Michigan to Chicago, and figuring the parking in Chicago would be interesting, we chose to take the Versa instead of the Expedition. Although, if we hadn’t have needed the trunk space, taking the Harley would have been much more fun. The more highway driving I do, the less I love Michigan roads. It’s funny too, as the second we hit Indiana, the road just smoothed out and we just smiled. Then, when you hit Chicago, well… welcome back “holes in the floor.”
Coming up this week… some Twitter coding, more Asterisk work, and if all goes well, a motorcycle ride up the east coast of Michigan with the wife 🙂 (We have a new bluetooth headset to test as well as a trip to Albany to prepare for)
We’re not playing the Pyramid here, but wouldn’t that be great? Man, I miss good 70’s game shows. Give me the Pyramid and Match Game and I’m happy as can be. Anyway…
I’ve always liked Mr. Franklin. Some think he’s the only non-president on money… but those people probably think Mr. Hamilton was once a president. Anyway, Benjamin Franklin is perhaps my favorite American in history. I love his quotes and many of his thoughts can guide us still today.
Today’s the following Benjamin Franklin quote comes to mind:
It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority.
I learned that Colombian tradition places a lot of emphasis on Christmas Eve.
Last night, after eating tamales and playing Wii at Michael’s, Yeni’s family and I returned to the house, ate more tamales with friends, and then opened presents. I received some excellent presents this year, including Spider-man trinkets and a new Harley outfit for the bear.
We crashed very late and woke up to find much of Ann Arbor closed. The snow had let up and the roads, although icy, were mostly clear — so Yeni and I loaded up the family in the truck and headed outside the house.
Earlier in the year, Yeni and I stumbled upon a great little area called Chelsea (during one of the Harley rides we could take before riding the Harley would result in severe frost pain). We thought it would be great to show everyone this quaint little town and took the very long way through some Michigan side roads. After detouring through Saline and Montgomery, we arrived in Chelsea. We played in the snow for a while, looked at the Jiffy Mix factory, and headed back to Ann Arbor.
Back in town, I introduced Yeni’s family to my family’s Christmas traditions — and headed to Great Lakes Chinese Restaurant. We sat at the last available table and it was standing room only for those unlucky soles who arrived just minutes after us. The place was packed, and after finishing our delicious meal, we headed back to Michael’s for some more Wii action.
Yeni and I started early — very early — Saturday morning. After loading the truck and topping off the tank, we hit I-94 somewhere around 4 am. It was BEYOND cold with the truck showing outside temperatures ranging from 10 – 15 degrees. Normally, I make as few stops as humanly possible; combing fuel stops with rest breaks (and yes, “rest breaks” means exactly what it sounds like). I learned quickly, that while traveling with someone else (aka Yeni) brings great joy, it also requires more frequent “rest breaks.”
Our first break was near Dayton, OH. Finding a Dunkin’ Donuts, we stopped for “rest,” coffee, and an egg bagel. Mmmm, egg bagel. After topping off the tank, we heading back on the highway hitting a major traffic jam in Cincinnati, OH. After staying in place for the better part of an hour, we were able to cross the bridge, enter Kentucky, and put Ohio behind us.
When we reached Lexington, KY, we got off the main road and visited a college friend of Yeni’s (Maria Fernanda and her husband Diego). After a nice visit and a great breakfast, we dropped Mafe at the Univeristy of Kentucky and continued south. I’d never been to the University, and it’s always nice to visit a place where the Gators have dominated (this year we destroyed Kentucky, but that was a home game).
My favorite part of driving to/from Michigan is the leg from Lexington, KY to Knoxville, TN. The trip takes you through the Cumberland Mountains (southeastern section of the Appalachian Mountains) and provides beautiful climbs, views, and scenery. Although best experienced riding on a Harley, the trip is still enjoyable from the truck.
After reaching Knoxville, we called my good friend Patrick and met with him, his daughter, and wife (Jessi) at a local Italian restaurant. It was great to see their family and playing with lil’ Lil put a big smile on my face. After eating some pasta, rolls, and cannoli , we were back on the road — this time with Yeni at the wheel.
Chattanooga is only a few miles north of Georgia, and the drive through Georgia is long; very long. Did we mention construction? Georgia’s I-75 passage can be described in three words: Pecans, Outlets, Construction. Despite being on the road for more than 20 hours, Yeni was determined to drive through Georgia by herself. She made creative efforts to stay alert, such as talking to the GPS device, counting Juanes songs, and singing.
We reached Florida around 2am and I took over the wheel. When we arrived to the house in Gainesville, Yeni wisely suggested we inflate the bed, grab some shuteye, and rest for a few hours. We rested until around 7 am, loaded Grandma’s chandelier into the truck, grabbed breakfast at DD, and hit the road. Yeni had never seen Florida’s west coast or the Everglades, so I decided to take I-75 straight through to Fort Lauderdale.
When we reached Tampa, we took I-275 to visit the Tampa Bay and see the ocean. I-275 takes you over the Sunshine Skyway bridge (the world’s longest cable bridge) and the ocean view provides a great contrast to the snow we woke up to on the previous morning. Yeni seemed to enjoy the ocean, and Spider-bear was excited to play on the rocks (during one of the “rest” stops).
We continued driving (well, I drove while Yeni napped), and after crossing the Everglades reached the Casa de Parientes. I cannot wait for the rest of the family to arrive and celebrate my favorite holiday.