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The Great American Road Trip II - 5 - Fiery Paleontology

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We left for the Mall of America at 12:20 and arrived a few minutes later. It's strange seeing the place - there's really nothing quite like it.

It's not because of the shops. It's because they have roller coasters inside.

Roller coasters.


We walked through this gigantic area en route to the LEGO store, but had enough time to get all-day wristband passes to (nearly) all the rides. The kiddie rides are mixed in with the larger ones and the larger ones were built over, around, and occasionally inside each other. The one we rode first was sponsored by Pepsi and had no real theme to it save for a gigantic Pepsi logo.

We got to the LEGO store which we poked around a bit, discussing the modular series with employees and admiring their three-story Pick-A-Brick wall. (There was no way to get to the top levels of parts which were repeats of parts found down below; the wall is mostly for show.)

This is where we met Paleo and, briefly, his mother. (I asked him if he dreamed about farm animals.) Paleo and I went to get a wristband, but the machine proceeded to break on him as soon as he swiped his credit card and did not print out a wristband. Fortunately various employees came over, voided the transaction, and supplied him with a wristband.

As this point we all put Spongebob-themed hats on our heads for some reason and took insane pictures.

The next stop was one of the more fun rides - I forget the name of the thing, but is carries four people and spins you around as you go down hills and around tight turns. Each time we rode it was different because each car they have spins just a wee bit differently. (The second-to-last time we rode it, the car was very loose and spun around at an alarming and possibly dangerous rate. We got the same car the last time around but they had apparently tightened it up.)

While in the line for this ride Paleo found a small pile of pennies barely within reach along a small ledge on a wall. I don't know whose they were but whoever they are, they're out roughly eleven cents.

Paleo and I attempted to get on a ride where you get harnessed in and walk a series of planks and ropes up three stories. However, this ride was not included on our wristband and neither of us felt like paying more for 45 minutes of tedious walking around three stories high.

Having not eaten breakfast at this point, we got ice cream (a dairy product and thus acceptable for breakfast) and meandered around the theme park area for a while talking about various dumb things that I can't really remember at this point. Somewhere in here we met back up with my mom and dad and we headed over to do another ride themed around the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which is just about the single dumbest concept for a show in the recent history of ever.

This ride was interesting because of its uniqueness - you get locked down into seats that have wings on them. The seats can be rotated left and right by moving the wings, but the seats could neither lean forward nor spin. Each seat was attached to a large pole, which was controlled by a massive spinning hand which was set at an angle. The large counterweight would have kept the ride spinning indefinitely, as you climbed up three floors and then flew back down to your feet nearly touching the ground. To stop it, the brakes had to be engaged at the apex of the flight.

Somewhere in here we went to a Peeps store and looked around at all manner of Peeps-related items including large plushies, small hats, and mouse pads. We found a reincarnation of Toxic Waste Bunny amidst all this which we all rubbed our faces on for posterity.

Also in this store was a Mike & Ike candy dispenser. I found no difference between Mike & Ike and regular jelly beans, aside from the shape of the candy. Present in one section of the store was a display where you placed your hand with a gigantic stylized thermometer next to it to tell you how hot your hand was. I rubbed the palmprint icon like there was no tomorrow and achieved the highest level possible on the thermometer. (My dad was next, followed by Paleo and my mom at about half what I got.) I won nothing for this endeavor save for an enormous amount of disbelief in my own sanity.
(Some time before this we wore baby-sized hats and made the dumbest of faces at each other. These moments were recorded for the sake of posterity, and for emergency use if I ever begin to take myself seriously.)

After this (I think?) Paleo and I went over a bridge (over part of the water slide ride) doing Gangnam Style. We taught him my dad's "Hamster Dance" as we walked back over to the spinning ride.

Nestled within these events was a trip back to the LEGO store, where I acquired three collectible minifigures, one of which is likely the 10th series baseball player. Paleo also got a few, and we were both helped in our endeavors by a highly knowledgeable pair of enthusiastic six-year-olds.

I stopped Paleo on a number of occasions from telling me the plot of the Doctor Who season finale. All he was able to say was that "everything finally makes sense." (Please keep me away from spoilers for the next few weeks, will you?)

I know other things happened but I'm incredibly tired while writing this and I'm only remembering some bits, like when Paleo told me that the way I said something sounded British. (I wish I remember what it is that I apparently say British-like.) Also he kept telling me that I had to see the new Star Trek movie, even though it was packed with references and I have seen very little Star Trek in my life. (Two episodes of the original series, one and a half movies, an understanding of phrases that have made it into the vernacular, and the plotline to the Tribbles episode is literally all I know.)

Around 5:30, Paleo and I hopped on the Pepsi ride for the last time. This is where we somehow became interested in what US Patent No. 1 is - apparently it was given to some Senator who invented something for steam locomotives.

After departing the ride, we walked over to the LEGO store where my parents had just finished off some banana milkshakes from Orange Julius. With a little bit of time left, Paleo and I went on the spinning ride one last time before he had to leave.

On the way out we got more pictures of the place's sheer vastness. We also got a good look at a project where a bunch of people were painting old pianos to apparently get young people interested in music.

We took the shuttle back to the hotel and, being drained from being up and on our feet all day, we rested up. At 8:30 we left the hotel bound for Culver's to see Takuma Nuva. I ran in a few minutes after 9:00 and saw him (and Tom, his incredibly tall cousin) for the first time since last BrickFair. We hung out at a table, and I ate something called the S-Mizzle, a variation on the M-Drizzle (or something like that; I can't remember the exact name) that Takuma invented. It had chicken with bacon and of lettuce and pickles and mayonnaise on some toasted sourdough bread and was delicious.

Takuma could be a comedian with his sense of comedic timing. Stories of his family's trips and his experiences working at a drive-thru were made even funnier by his descriptions. (For example, he described his dad's snoring as "so loud it would vibrate you and digest things in your belly even if you were dead" and the seasons in Minnesota as "almost winter, winter, still winter, and road construction.")

Takuma was also generous enough to pay for our meal, and we promised that if we ever were within 500 miles of Minneapolis we'd make a detour. We had the first ever Cheese Curd Ceremony where I gave him a cheese curd and he ate it, in recognition of his generosity. My dad retrieved the hot dog hat from the trunk and sandwiched it in a small hatpile between Takuma's hat and Tom's hat. After this was over I donned the hot dog hat, and no sooner did I do this than a fellow who looked like a teenage Bob Costas walk of the bathroom and said "dude! I love your hat!"

(We also made a ton of puns about fire, which explains half of the entry title.)
But it was 10:30 by this time, Culver's was closing, and we had to get back to the hotel as it began to rain.
Tomorrow: Grand Forks, North Dakota. The second leg of the road trip is about to begin.



Possibly a seven-foot-tall man with a handlebar mustache and the voice of James Earl Jones and the ability to carry on an in-depth discussion about the US Patent Office.
(Only one of these is actually true.)


The Great American Road Trip II - 4 - "Did Everyone Here Remember Their Jumper Cables?"

Posted by Sumiki , in Life, The Great American Road Trip May 18 2013 · 53 views

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At 10:00 we left Wausau bound for Minnesota. By 10:40 we made it to Abbotsford, the first city in Wisconsin. The sky was overcast and very cloudy. We passed farms and saw various farm animals as well as various farms and silos. While different, the sameness of the road was tiresome after a while.

We were surprised to see signs warning of Amish buggies, and saw a farm animal pulling a plow, but did not see any horse-and-buggy combinations then. Each small town we passed through on the route featured beautiful and customized signs with the town name and motto. Wisconsin towns are clean and have a lot of pride in themselves.

Trees became a more common sight as the hills began to roll as we headed towards Chippewa Falls. The sky began to darken just a little bit more the farther we went towards Minnesota.

We neared Eau Claire as my mom read to us from her back-seat nest of a massive rivalry. Apparently, Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls had a massive rivalry as they competed for dominance in the state's once-large logging industry. However, when the forests were depleted, the towns both turned to other fields. No word on whether they're still bitter with each other.

Trees in Wisconsin are just starting to bloom, as the long winter has finally passed. A little before noon it began to drizzle as we merged onto Interstate 94 bound for the Twin Cities.

The road became very wet very quickly as trucks churned up mist. We had to pull off the highway and stopped for gas about 30 miles east of the Minnesota border. It was pouring rain at this point. Pulling out of the gas station, we saw an Amish buggy before getting back on I-94.

By 12:30 we were heading out of the storm and the rain had decreased to a steady drizzle and saw a coyote near the road. The rain stopped as we crossed the Mississippi into Minnesota (state #7). We stopped at the welcome center and saw a number of interesting characters, including a man with his shirt half-off crouched over on a picnic table, around 15 Amish men and women, and an anorexic hippy who, my mom testified, busied herself in the bathroom by washing her hair in the sink.

At 1:00 we were in the Twin Cities, crossed the Mississippi again, and tried to find a place we'd seen on TV called Pizzeria Lola. The route there did not seem hard - just go on the expressway until you exit off and go on Xerxes Avenue.

What we did not realize is that not only did the exit we were supposed to take nonexistent, but that there seems to be more than one Xerxes Avenue. In our attempts to get to our hotel we ran into this road a number of times, but we did not take it at any point for fear of getting even more desperately lost. At that point, all we wanted to do was get to our hotel.

We had seen what we thought was our hotel from the Interstate into Minneapolis, but that one turned out to be different. Thinking that was the only one, we were confused when our GPS told us to pass it. We pulled off into a Culver's parking lot and called the hotel. After a series of unfortunate misunderstandings, everything went better than expected; our hotel was right where it was supposed to be. Our confusion was due to the fact that it can't be seen from the highway. We then ate at Culver's and sipped on some milkshakes as we went to our hotel.

Heading off at around 6:45 for the stadium of the independent league St. Paul Saints, we took a detour and drove around Macalester College. The outfield fence at their field was incredibly short but also incredibly high, at they built the field into very limited space. It would have been fun to see a game there - my dad called it "arena baseball."

At 7:15 we parked near the stadium in the Lions Club parking lot, where the attendants could not believe that we had driven over 1500 miles from North Carolina. One guy even ran behind the car to check our license plate out. Clearly we need to play up on our accents and throw in more "y'all"s. 

The game was insane, and by insane I of course mean our brand of insane. One of the highest-drawing independent teams in the country, the Saints are co-owned by the grandson of famous baseball owner Bill Veeck, the mind behind such infamous fiascos as pinch-hitting midget Eddie Gaedel, 10-cent beer night, and the infamous Disco Demolition. His grandson carries on a muted version of this bizarre tradition, with such between-inning games as the tire roll race and various contestants trying to put on a frozen t-shirt first.

The Saints also have various characters who are paid to just walk around in-character to entertain (and occasionally harass) fans. One fellow alternated between French chef and train conductor, another was dressed in drag and hobbled around on a walker, and yet another was basically Elvis meets Mr. Sulu. (Oh my.)

One of the most inventive traditions the Saints have is the annual pig mascot, named before Opening Day and announced with smoke signals like they're selecting a new Pope. Previous pig names included Kim Lardashian, Kris Hamphries, and Kevin Bacon.

Their PA announcer wandered around the stadium and I'm still not sure if he was drunk or not. He asked fans dumb questions and made fun of the other team. During the "charge" cheer, he did the "charge" yell in a very small, sleepy voice the first time, then burped the next time and didn't say anything the third. He also told all the fans that he "hoped they all had their jumper cables." (If my dad were a PA announcer, he'd be that guy.)

The food at the stadium was also excellent, as it is one of the only independent teams in the country to have a VP to run the stadium food. We sampled gyros and cheese curds - both of which were fresh and excellent. We left a bit early to get ahead of the large, drunken crowd, but when we left the Saints were beating the New Jersey Jackals 7-2. (The Jackals starter got hammered in the first two innings - he had no control and kept leaving pitches over the plate.)

Tomorrow, I'll be at the Mall of America meeting Paleo at the LEGO store. We'll also go and meet Takuma Nuva later on in the day.



Posted by Sumiki , in The Great American Road Trip, Life May 18 2013 · 34 views

I'll be hanging around the LEGO store at the Mall of America around 1:00 this Sunday wearing something orange. If you live close by, feel free to show up and we can dream about farm animals together.


The Great American Road Trip II - 3 - Duck and Cover

Posted by Sumiki , in Life, The Great American Road Trip May 17 2013 · 50 views

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The day began in Mackinaw City at around seven o'clock in the morning. We hadn't planned on getting such an early start, but the northern latitude of the city meant more daylight hours and earlier waking. We checked out, gassed up, and began the day crossing the epic Mackinac Bridge.

It's a gigantic bridge. There's nothing special about it other than that it's just massive. You think it's going to start dipping down to the other side but it just keeps on going. Of course, we made it to the upper peninsula with no issue and hit highway 123 en route to Lake Superior, the only Great Lake we have not seen on any road trip.

We saw deer eating, incredibly straight roads, lots and lots of trees, and what may or may not have been a black bear bounding across the road. By 9:09 it was 52 degrees, and we saw very skinny trees. We were bound for Lake Superior, and the closest point to us was Whitefish Bay, mentioned in Gordon Lightfoot's ballad "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald." It was creepy listening to the song as we caught glimpses of Superior beyond the trees.

After our Superior sighting, we had our sights set on Tahquamenon (rhymes with "phenomenon") Falls State Park. The park is divided into the lower and upper falls, which we visited in that order. The lower falls featured a couple of waterfalls around a small island and did not have many visitors. The water that feeds the falls is colored by tannins, leaving it a rich brown-orange hue. When the water stops, the tannins congeal on top to create a white foam that flows by and looks not unlike snow-colored lava. I poked my finger in it and it came out covered in brown silt.

By 10:10 we were on the way to the upper falls, which is much more picturesque. In terms of sheer volume, the upper Tahquamenon falls is the second-largest waterfall east of the Mississippi. (The first is, of course, Niagara Falls.) This water is also colored orange-brown. You can walk out on a wooden deck almost right up to the waterfall down 94 steps, with the ominous sign "94 Steps to Brink." My dad, of course, rubbed his nascent beard on it.

(Side note: Michigan drivers often fly past you on two-lane roads going seventy miles an hour, then get right in front of you going ever so slightly slower than the posted speed limit. In addition to the terms "California roll" and "Texas turn" coined on other trips, I think I'm going to add "Michigan pass" to the lexicon.)

Around 11:00 we were back on route 123 bound for Newberry. We passed swampy areas and turned onto routes 28 and 117 through farmland and pastures ready to plant crops. (Just last Saturday, we were informed, the U.P. got snowed on.) Before noon, we were heading west on US 2.

The scenery, while pretty, was nothing that we hadn't seen before, but was markedly different from what I expected from the U.P. We'd gone back down and skirted along the edge of Lake Michigan and made bad puns.

We saw old road signs in Escanaba after crossing the Rapid River and got lunch at a Culver's, which, being a more local chain, I have never been to (though I hear there's one in Charlotte). My dad got a peanut-butter-and-chocolate milkshake as dessert and looked like a little kid when sipping on it.

(Somewhere in here we unknowingly crossed over into Central time. This is the first time I've crossed over time zone borders and not seen a sign - perhaps because we did not cross on a major road.)

We entered Wisconsin just south of Menominee - the southernmost town in the U.P. - at a town called Marinette. Our route to Wausau took us through secondary roads and a ton of cute downtown areas evocative of Norman Rockwell. The landscape was lumpy; what you see on dairy products is not unrealistic or romanticized. (It does, however, smell incredibly bad.)

Passing Shawano Lake, we took route 29 west. Barns along the road have diamond-shaped designs on their massive silos almost like pieces of a Paul Bunyan-sized quilt.

By 4:18 we had gone 1300 miles and saw large hills in the distance towards Wausau. The rain, which had been drizzling for hours, began to come down steadier as we pulled off the road to our hotel.

We got food at a local chain called Hudson's, which is kind of like Applebee's with a car theme. We tried cheese curds and liked them. My dad put an orange rubber duck that came with the hotel room on top of an old gas pump which was inside the restaurant. We have named this duck Yoder, after the surname ever-present in Amish country, and will take pictures of Yoder everywhere we go from here on out.

Tomorrow: a shorter driving day as we work our way to Minneapolis, where we're due to stay for a few days.


The Great American Road Trip II - 2 - Mackinaction

Posted by Sumiki , in Life, The Great American Road Trip May 16 2013 · 78 views

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The day started at 10:26 as I drove west to Toledo. By 11:30 we had reached the stadium of the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens.  We purchased a pennant and hat, as well as a foam hat shaped like a hot dog. Expect this wonderful hat at this year's BrickFair.
We ate lunch in Toledo across from the stadium at a place called Tony Packo's, which, we learned, has multiple locations in Toledo and is legendary in the city. It originally started as a Hungarian diner and rose to fame partially due to a number of mentions it received in various episodes of M*A*S*H. When we went there, our newness must have been noticed, as we were guided through the best of the menu by the lady at their gift shop. We ordered hot dogs (original Hungarian), "sweet-hot" pickles, chicken paprikash, chili, and some fried pickles served with ranch and spicy ketchup.
I am neither a hot dog person nor a chili person, but I thought the chili dog was one of the best things ever, only to be outdone by the fried pickles.
While most of the decor was centered around Mud Hens history, they have a peculiar tradition of getting celebrities that visit Toledo to sign hot dog buns. It started with Burt Reynolds and now includes hot dogs signed by politicians, TV personalities, celebrities, and Bob Costas.
At 1:00 we were in Michigan (state #5 thus far). My dad saw a brochure at the welcome center for a 45-minute flight in a B-17. (Being a massive WWII buff, this got him very tingly inside.) After realizing that the price of doing so would be well over 1,200 dollars, my mom and I successfully talked him down from the proverbial ledge.
We went through Ann Arbor and proceeded to work our way towards Lansing for the second minor league field of the day. Their single-A team is known as the Lugnuts, and their whimsically bizarre hat features a dizzy and anthropomorphized lugnut. (It's one of the top-selling minor league hats). We purchased their pennant and talked with the sales guy, who was highly knowledgeable about teams, affiliates, and even independent league teams.

Around 3:30 we left Lansing northbound on US-127, and got pretty cheap gas a little ways up the road. The station was not only packed, but its clientele consisted of rednecks.
Yes, you read that right - rednecks. Apparently, the more north you go, the farther south you get.
Because of the number of kamikaze bugs that have splattered themselves against our windshield and the ineffectiveness of our previously successful tactics against them, we began wiping off the windshield with barely wet wiper-things. In anticipation of this very situation, mom took her windshield cleaning game to the next level by pouring a bottle of hotel shampoo on the car. Smart.
(The rednecks didn't like it, but who cares what they think. We're immune to haters.)

One minor league team to go: the Great Lakes Loons in Midland. Around 4:30, my dad got their phone number and called, but, even though they had a home game that night, they do not open the gift shop to sell souvenirs during games. Dumb.
At 6:12, we crossed over the 45th parallel, which is the exact halfway line between the north pole and the equator. This was announced with a sign, although we all got pretty excited about this milestone. (We've been north of this line before, obviously, but this is the first time there's been a sign.)
Over 900 miles traveled and the scenery isn't all that much different than North Carolina, with the only difference being the sheer desolation of the area which reminded me of Nevada. We encountered many tree species and about three hundred different specimens of roadkill. Live animals were less abundant, but we did see spot both elk and deer.
Around 6:30 we crossed the picturesque Indian River and saw more interesting (and flatter!) terrain, complete with the occasional marshy area. After rounding a turn on Interstate 75 we saw the spires of the famous Mackinac Bridge. We arrived at our hotel just a few minutes past 7:00.
But this arrival did not conclude the day's adventures. After driving about 500 miles, I was totally worn out and the hot dog, while filling, did not last me seven hours. We walked from the hotel to a small fish camp-style restaurant called Darrow's. The whitefish and the walleye were excellent, the onion rings flaky, the salads crisp, and the desserts delightful. All we got was, of course, indiscriminately devoured. (The chocolate peanut butter pie was like Reese's cups mixed with Girl Scout cookies.)
It was only a short walk from the restaurant to Mackinac Bridge, which we walked towards and then underneath. We couldn't get into the reconstructed Fort Michilimackinac (easier to say three times fast than it looks), but our main interest was accessing Lake Huron down at the beach.
But we had a battle to wage to get there, and, though beaten, we persevered to touch Huron's frigid waters.
I'm talking, of course, about being ambushed by a swarm of ten thousand midges, annoying fly-like creatures which literally flew everywhere. I had to pull my hood well over my face and shuffle down the rocky beach to the lake. After reaching the lake we trudged back through the midges, which, disheartened by the fact we reached the lake, redoubled their efforts and tried to eat us. One impaled itself under my left eye and I believe I inadvertently swallowed another, though they are not poisonous. (I got a good look at one that landed on my finger, and I don't even think they bite.)
We've decided against going to Mackinac Island due to monetary and time constraints, plus the realization that it mainly consists of hotels, restaurants, and gift shops, and the ferry times are staggered so as to encourage you to spend lots of money getting food and trinkets. If we'd had another day to spend here, we'd probably go over there, but as it is I don't feel too bad about skipping it.
Tomorrow: Michigan's upper peninsula and Lake Superior, the only Great Lake we haven't seen on any of trip. We're going to try and make it down as far as Green Bay.


The Great American Road Trip II - 1 - On the Road Again

Posted by Sumiki , in Life, The Great American Road Trip May 15 2013 · 57 views

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We rolled out of the driveway at precisely 11:30 and made comparatively good time on a section of US 52 that is under a state of continuous road construction. After having such good luck avoiding road construction last trip, I was amazed at how much we ran into today.

Virginia, for the hour or so that we were in it, was also bogged down by road construction. The right lane was blocked ahead, but we could have made much faster time if other cars had not continuously raced ahead to try to cut ahead in the line. The vehicles that let them in slowed down the entire line, so the truck in front of us slid over halfway into the other lane so as to prevent them from doing so. In his honor, we played C.W. McCall's "Convoy" on the iPod.

West Virginia, though. Oh boy. Every time we go through there, the roads are so insane it's not even fun to try to figure them out. Entire lanes would be blocked off on the Interstate for no apparent reason and they wouldn't give you any warning but half a mile out after a blind curve - and even that wouldn't be that bad, but we were careening down steep grades in a very heavy car trying to not go 80, overheat the brakes, or get turned into pâté from the trucks that were barely staying in their lanes.

So, all in all, pretty much standard West Virginia driving.

In any event, this is the same route we took coming back on the last Great American Road Trip, where we just barely beat out the closing of the Bluefield Blue Jays stadium on the state line. Last year, however, we skipped Princeton, WV, in the interest of time. Princeton is the home of the rookie-league Princeton Rays, so, as is our grand road trip tradition, we hopped off the road into the town to see if we could find the stadium.

Short answer: No.

Long answer: No, and they don't make it obvious or even tell you where it might be. At least in Charleston they have signs telling you where the baseball field is. In Princeton, we just sort of drove around town for twenty minutes in the vain hope of finding something. (The baseball travel map we acquired last year in Sacramento does not have exact stadium addresses.)

After that derivative and wholly pointless excursion into the lives of average West Virginians, we realized that we hadn't, at that point, had breakfast. It was 2:20 and our stomachs were making noises that, in other places, would have sent tornado sirens squealing. Thus, between Princeton and Beckley, we found a small rest stop and ordered three thoroughly mediocre sandwiches at Blimpie.

By around 3:00 we were back on the road, making good time despite the unexplained patches of road construction and the occasional toll. At 5:36 we crossed the river into Ohio as we listened to Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture and felt suitably epic.

Ohio! First day into a new road trip and we're already to state #4 and a state I've never been to outside the womb. I honestly don't know what I expected, as it's quite like the rest of the scenery. Less mountains than West Virginia, and a bit more farmland, but overall more of the same sort of scenery.

At 6:10 we pulled off the road to a rest stop. We stretched out and got hotel reservations in Milan, which is roughly an hour or so from Toledo. Ohio is not only a larger state than people give it credit for, but there is no Interstate link between where we were and the Milan area. Careful map consultation left us with a route that took us on secondary roads through scenic Ohio. At this point, I was driving, and my dad was discussing how badly we needed to see some Amish people before the sun went down.

He got his wish. We pulled off for gas off of Ohio Route 39 and, lo and behold, a buggy came a-rollin' over the hill, and I witnessed firsthand an Amish man getting a gallon of gas.

(My dad said: "Amish people are like dustpans. You don't see them every day, but when you do, you don't see anything really exciting about them.")

We saw a few more Amish folks in the towns we went through, and some had some interesting and cute downtown areas. We saw a number of Amish buildings which sold things under the name of "Yoder." "Yoder's" seemed to be the common beginning of practically anything Amish. What it means, no one knows. Maybe that's why it's used everywhere - to confuse non-Amish who aren't in on the gigantic practical joke.

By 8:20 we got to Wooster and ten minutes later located a Bob Evans, where my dad decided to give the waitress a hard time about frozen foods. We were in and out in half an hour and began sucking down Mountain Dews to stay awake for the rest of the journey. We took US 250 all the way through Ashland (there's a town by that name everywhere, it seems) and Norwalk, encountering four fault lines in the road that were reminiscent of Amarillo. Everything was okay with the tires and steering as we rolled into Milan at 10:20. By 10:30 we had checked in.

Nine hours. 514 miles. Four states. One day.

Tomorrow, we're aiming to get to Mackinaw City at the very tip of the southern peninsula of Michigan. Two long days in a row will cut out an extra day, leaving another day to (possibly) take the ferry over to famous and carless Mackinac Island.


The Great American Road Trip II - Introduction

Posted by Sumiki , in The Great American Road Trip, Life May 14 2013 · 100 views

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Last summer, as you may or may not recall, I spent 28 days on the road in 25 states, and blogged about my various experiences. These experiences included, but were not limited to, impromptu hail storms, toothbrush-gets, confusing waitresses with pre-cooked bacon, creating poems about eggplant, ridiculously large potholes fault lines in the road, our GPS channeling its inner HAL 9000, grown men sharing their beers with their dogs, getting attacked by a gigantic crow, squirrels that thought they were dogs, my dad rubbing his beard on various items, and, of course, going a few thousand miles with what turned out to be a busted ball bearing nestled somewhere in the driveshaft.

After that epic journey concluded, I felt a longing to get back on the road - a reverse homesickness, of sorts. There's still a lot of this continent to explore, and my bucket list mostly consists of exploring it. North Carolina just seems so ridiculously small now.

So then and there, preliminary planning for the route of the second Great American Road Trip was underway. According to our philosophy of aiming our car in a general direction, going, and hoping for the best, we did not want to plan too much of the adventure, but the various states and provinces we want to see on this trip necessitate a bit more precision. We're still not planning ahead too much, as we might be on the road for our maximum 37 days available. (If we don't run out of money, we should be okay.)

This is The Great American Road Trip: Part II. Tomorrow - May 15th, 2013 - we shall depart from North Carolina, bound for Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, western Canada, and possibly points beyond. (My dad keeps threatening to get "frisky" in Canada, drive to Alaska, off-road it to Nome, raft across the Bering Strait, buy an old Soviet tank in Russia, drive the Trans-Siberian Highway with Vladimir Putin. I'm not sure we have enough time to do that this year.)
This is where you come in. If you see that I might be rollin' through your area, comment on an entry or PM me, and we'll see if we can work something out.

So without further ado, let the insanity begin.


My Mood Tonight

Posted by Sumiki , in AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA, Life May 08 2013 · 62 views

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How to Properly Eat Dinner

Posted by Sumiki , in Life May 05 2013 · 70 views

Pancakes ... with bacon inside.
Followed by a milkshake consisting of vanilla ice cream, bananas, peanut butter, and chocolate syrup.
Something tells me I'm doing this dinner thing right.


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He's the lord of all strangeness. - Ignika: Nerd of Life

How awesome is Sumiki on a scale of 1 to 10? - Waffles
42. - Black Six

[He's] the king of wierd, the prince of practicality, the duke of durr! - Daiker

Sumiki is magic. - Cholie

Sumiki says, "Do I creeeeeeep you out?" Yes, he does. - Waffles

Sumiki is a nub. He's cool, but he's still a nub. - Ran Yakumo

"What is a Sumiki?" You may ask. But the answer to that is still unknown, even to the Sumiki itself. - Daiker


Sumiki is best snickerdoodle. - Takuma Nuva

BZPower = Sumiki + McSmeag + B6. And Hahli Husky. - Vorex

What's a Sumi? Does it taste good? - Janus

I would have thought Sumiki wanted to reincarnate as a farm animal. - Kraggh


Sumiki: the horse_ebooks of bzp - VampireBohrok

Everything relates to Sumiki. No really, everything. - Daiker

He's in worse mental condition than I thought. - Obsessionist

I'm just wondering why I'm looking at some cat dancing ... I suppose the answer would simply be "Sumiki." - Brickeens

I was like a beast, screaming through the mind of Sumiki at the speed of sound. I.. I wasn't strong enough to stop myself. What I saw was the end of infinity, through which one can see the beginning of time, and I will never be the same. - Portalfig

I imagine the 13th Doctor will be rather like Sumiki, at the rate we're going. - rahkshi guurahk

I was quite sure Sumiki had another set of arms stashed somewhere. - Bfahome

Note to future self: don’t try to predict Sumiki, he’s unpredictable. - Voltex

Let's be honest, I would totally have picked my main man Sumiki to lead my goose-stepping night killers anyway. We tight like that, yo. - Xaeraz

10/10, would Sumiki again. - Bfahome


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Every week, I post a new "Tuesday Tablescrap", a small MOC not worthy of a topic, but something to post and inspire me to build more.

10/25/11 - Duplo Flower
11/1/11 - Slender Man and Masky
11/8/11 - Bizarre Black Spaceship
11/15/11 - 2001 Monolith

11/22/11 - My Little Slizer 50
11/29/11 - Punching Bag
12/6/11 - Thunder and Escorts
12/13/11 - Three Concepts
12/20/11 - Kaxium Alternate
12/27/11 - None (Christmas Break)


1/3/12 - Daiker
1/10/12 - None
1/17/12 - Volant
1/24/12 - Nidman's Chute Shoop Shop
1/31/12 - None (Brickshelf down)
2/7/12 - None
2/14/12 - Atomic Lime
2/21/12 - Spearhead
2/28/12 - Glatorian Kahi
3/6/12 - Seeker
3/13/12 - Skyscraper
3/20/12 - Microphone
3/27/12 - Toa Vultraz
4/3/12 - Flammenwerferjüngeres
4/10/12 - Umbrella
4/17/12 - Lime Beetle
4/24/12 - Special - Flame Sculpture
5/1/12 - None (BZPower down)
5/8/12 - Purple Ninja
5/15/12 - The Original Sumiki
5/22/12 - 7/24/12 - None
7/31/12 - Tahu
8/7/12 - None (BrickFair)
8/14/12 - Special - Chess Set
8/21/12 - Heavily Armored Wasp
8/28/12 - Spaceship Drill
9/4/12 - Scuba Vehicle
9/11/12 - Orange Guy
9/18/12 - Strange Flying Thing
9/25/12 - Goblet
10/2/12 - None
10/9/12 - Aim .............................. Down
10/16/12 - Gold Bot
10/23/12 - Teal Mech
10/30/12 - Special - Teal Mech (#2)
11/6/12 - Bits and Pieces
11/13/12 - Two Spaceships
11/20/12 - TARDIS Interior
11/27/12 - Christmas Creep
12/4/12 - Toaraga
12/11/12 - Fireplace
12/18/12 - Abstract Duckling
12/25/12 - None (Christmas)
1/1/13 - Black Bot
1/8/13 - 1/22/13 - None
1/29/13 - Handheld Rhotuka Launcher
2/5/13 - 8/6/13 - None
8/13/13 - The Hinklebot
8/20/13 - Special - Post-Apocalyptic Piyufi
8/27/13 - 8/5/14 - None
8/12/14 - Another Chro Original
8/19/14 - Kanohi Zatth
8/26/14 - Miniland Hatpile
9/2/14 - S. S. Starfish
9/9/14 - Special - Claude Hairgel
9/16/14 - Green Flame


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Formerly known as the Bring Back Teal Club, the Unused Colors Society is a club that serves to promote colors that are little-used or discontinued, such as teal, old purple, or metallic blue.




ToM Dracone
-Toa Lhikevikk-
Dirk Strider
Toa Flappy
Lime Paradox
Toa Robert
The X
Dave Strider
Akuna Toa of Sonics
Commander Helios
Popup2: The Camel
~Shadow Kurahk~
~System Of A Down~
Kohrak Kal17
Jackson Lake
Thunder on the Mountain
Ackar's Follower
Bitter Cold
Doc Scratch
Mendicant Bias
Darth Eryzeth
Toa of Vahi
Makuta GigaDon
~Toa Drokonas~
Progenitus Worldsoul
Toa Kuhrii Avohkii
Bohrok Kal
Toa Neya 2011 Edition
~prisma son of dawn~
.: WoLVeRINe :.
Alternate Velika
Schnee 1
Brickeens (again!?)
The Great Forgetter
Thomas the Tank Engine
Jonah Falcon
Oh my miru
Element lord Of Milk.
Lexuk Toa Of Insanity
Michael J. Caboose
knuckles chaotix
The Bean
Lord Kaitan de Storms
Toa of Dancing
Toa Arzaki
The Oncoming Storm
Lego Obsessionist
Toa of Pumpkin
Teal Armada
Toa Zehvor Blackout
Mr. M
Mylo Xyloto
Lord of Ice
Gamzee Makara
Zarayna: The Quiet Light



Vorex: Keeper of Time


Toa of Smooth Jazz



Dual Matrix

rahkshi guurahk
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If you learn one thing in life, learn this:

You should never, ever question why demons would possess a soda.

just a heads up - Cthulhu would probably eradicate mankind before bringing back Bionicle

so yeah, all I'm saying is, please think twice about this okay

nothing gets democracy flowing like erratic capitalizatION

[the NSA] couldn't say no when I offered them an ostrich farm in exchange

Sumiki -- nice try but we all know Toa Mata Nui stuffs its bra

You have a great understanding of history, but don't forget, war, murder and other poor decisions are also huge characteristics.

Also a long line of really great hats.

Shhh, I'm trying to focus on the negative to justify my dislike of history.

have we mentioned hats

To be fair, I am the one responsible for the invention of Mafia in the 1320s by seventeen bored italians locked in a mine shaft.

It's a long story.


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