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Bforoad

Posted by Sumiki , in BIONICLE/LEGO, BZPower, HATPILE, Life, Sumiki's Dad, The Great American Road Trip May 30 2014 · 136 views

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We explored our Mount Washington hotel thoroughly. We saw the Gold Room, where the setting up of and signing of the International Monetary Fund took place, and a few old fuses - well, I thought they were old. It turns out that the fuses, part of the original wiring put in by Thomas Edison, were actually still partially in use.
 
Honestly it sounds like a fire hazard, but I'm not an electrician.
 
We decided to skip the treacherous Mount Washington Auto Road due to the fact that it's a private road that doesn't have guardrails, and doing so in a car that has well over 100,000 miles on it and has just come off of its fifth road-trip repair in three years is just kind of asking for trouble, especially when the road is notorious for burning out transmissions and brakes.
 
It was just as well, since that was well out of our route.
 
We worked our way through sleepy towns in rural New Hampshire as we wormed our way back down amidst the towering granite faces of the mountains. As we kept on the route to Portland - towards the stadium of the Portland Sea Dogs (or, as my dad called them, the "Portland Dog Drips") - the towns increased in size and had signs that designated earlier and earlier dates of incorporation.
 
The roads leveled out as we neared the Maine border, but we could still look back and see mountains - some still with traces of snow near their peaks.
 
Conway was one of the towns we passed through, and its quirks included a motel with different "themes" for each room like storefronts in the Old West as well as bizarrely funny shop names.
 
Around 12:30 we entered Maine, and got some literature at the welcome center from a guy who was born in North Carolina but moved to Maine when he was young. He'd long since lost any southern accent he might have once had, replacing it with a thick northeastern accent that turned "Bar Harbor" into "Bah Hahbah" and "Bangor" into "Bangah." I didn't hear anything close to that in Boston, where I thought I would.
 
The potholes got really bad as soon as we crossed the Maine border. Only a few were absolutely unavoidable - the fault lines - but these were eased over as best we could. We slalomed through the rest, only hitting one - which was pretty good considering that there were as many potholes in one mile as there are living humans on Earth.
 
It didn't slow us down considerably, so we stopped by the Sea Dogs and got our customary pennant, then set off for the Portland Head Light. Before doing so, we ate pizza at a local place called Otto's, which converts old gas stations into "filling stations" - for your stomach.
 
The crust was flaky and buttery - one of the few crusts I actually liked. Onions, sausage, and marinara sauce gave it a little bit of kick. It was a filling and delicious late lunch.
 
We then got to the Portland Head Light, which was absolutely gorgeous.
 
The Head Light was built at the directive of George Washington and is now part of a municipal park complex encompassing both it and an abandoned fort. Rolling green grass saw much use from local citizens, but our main objective was to see the Head Light.
 
We saw so much more than that.
 
The Head Light itself was interesting - especially since it's still in use! - and the high-intensity fog signal that blasted out was close to deafening if you got too close to the lighthouse. We spent most of our time down on the rocks below, climbing and clamoring over the jagged rocks that claimed so many ships, even after the Head Light was fully operational.
 
Seaweed and assorted flotsam would get tossed up into the rocks. Most of it would just run off back to the ocean, but in a few places, it would pool up in large rocks. An algae that looked like grass flourished in these tiny ponds, anchoring themselves onto the rock bottom of their little world.
 
We were out on the rocks for the better part of an hour, enjoying the challenge of navigation, investigating interesting details in the rocks, and getting as far out on the rocks as was safe before heading back, taking care to avoid the slippery bits.
 
After this rather extensive exploration, we headed back to the car, over a curved drawbridge, and back onto I-295, which eventually merged quite unexpectedly with I-95.
 
Our destination was Bangor, just a short drive away from Bfahome. (He says that it's pronounced "B-F-A-Home," but I pronounced/sneezed it a little more as it's spelled.)
 
My dad and I met him at a bar & grill in Orono. By the end of the day, we wanted to keep him around to be our new GPS, found out that he owns every university from here to Kingston, Ontario, recited bits from old BIONICLE games and the asdfmovie series, discussed the fun and hats of BrickFair, and generally had a blast. 10/10, would Bfahome again.
 
Tomorrow: Acadia National Park.



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Thoreau-breds

Posted by Sumiki , in Life, The Great American Road Trip May 29 2014 · 109 views

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We left the labyrinth disguised as a hotel at 11:00, having traversed 1031.5 miles at that point. By 11:22 we'd found our first stop at the Lexington Commons, site of the first skirmish of the Revolutionary War. Green troops on both sides panicked after hearing a gunshot somewhere, and began opening fire around the Commons. Only a handful of people were even harmed, but it nonetheless marked the beginning of the Revolution.
 
We visited the tavern across from the Commons, which houses the original door - a door which gained significant fame by having sustained a bullet hole during the skirmish. It's no longer the door, but is hanging inside, protected by a sheet of plexiglas. According to one of the tour guide ladies, most visitors to the tavern do so to see the door, not to stand in the very room the militia gathered in before heading out into the Commons on that fateful night.
 
The next stop was at the Minuteman National Historical Park, which runs along the road between Lexington and Concord and chronicles the events between the battles of both towns.
 
After a brief tour of the area, we drove around Concord to see the homes of the great Transcendentalist authors - first, the house of the Alcotts, then of Emerson, then Thoreau's Walden Pond (which is honestly more of a lake than a pond), and finally "The Old Manse" - the home of Hawthorne.
 
Between our visits to Walden Pond and the Old Manse, we stopped in downtown Concord and ate lunch at a café. They served what was possibly the best reuben in existence, despite having a typo on the menu that flipped the word's consecutive vowels. This time, it was my dad's turn to have a massive sandwich - a gigantic club that could have fed any lesser man twelve times over.
 
He ate it all.
 
We then headed back out to see the Old Manse, which was next to the North Bridge, the final part of the Minuteman Park and where the British were sniped heavily by the Americans in their retreat to Boston. Seeing this after Bunker Hill means that we're working backwards, chronologically speaking.
 
After this final Concord stop, we headed up the back roads to Lowell, the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, the city with the second-most canals in the world (this side of Venice, of course), and the home of the Lowell Spinners. We stopped in for our customary pennant and hat, talked with the sales guy, and then got back on the road towards New Hampshire.
 
We entered New Hampshire (only two more states to go until I've been in all of the 48 contiguous!) at 4:00, and almost immediately saw the White Mountains - a hundred miles due north but still clearly visible. We went through a few toll plazas and exited in Manchester to get a pennant at the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.
 
Of course, that was before we realized how backed up the traffic would be. All the traffic fed over a bridge, and even though the stadium wasn't but a mile or so away, it took us ten minutes because the traffic coming into the city not on the exit would keep going until it backed up through the intersection, regardless of the light. Once we got in, though, it was easy to get back out again.
 
We talked with the guy in the team store for a little while about our travels to minor league stadiums around the country before leaving. Though getting into a little bit of traffic, it wasn't anything like trying to get in.
 
On the road again at a little before 5:00, we passed through the second Concord of the day - this time, the capital of New Hampshire. The traffic on I-93 was busy, but not slow, and it gradually thinned out as we traveled northward.
 
We stopped at a rest area, and then for gas in the community of Northfield. However, there was no re-entrance to I-93 northbound, so we had to go through the sleepy downtown of Tilton to access the highway again. This didn't put us back very much, and we saw more of rural New Hampshire than we expected.
 
After an ominous-looking "MOOSE CROSSING" sign, we entered the White Mountains. The White Mountains are unlike many other mountains - sheer granite, poking straight up or curved. Many seemed unnatural at first glance.
 
We never saw a moose, though - it figures. The moose never find us we find them.
 
It took us a while on a road with little to no people, but we wormed our way through these scenic mountains all the way to Bretton Woods, where we checked into the very same hotel that the Bretton Woods Financial System was agreed upon in 1944, with the end of WWII imminent and the world in the need of a new monetary order.
 
The only downside to this historic and fancy hotel is that they're hosting a prom from a town an hour farther north, and thus most of the four-star dining establishments in the hotel are booked. We did, however, get 8:45 reservations at a place with the same food but a little more casual dress code, which was appreciated - although we brought along suits and assorted nice bits of clothing, we really didn't want to get overly dressed after a long day on the road.
 
It was, quite simply, one of the best meals that I have ever had.
 
It was easygoing, unpretentious, quiet, and serving four-star food without necessitating getting all dressed up. We took a shuttle over to a small cottage-like converted house, originally build in 1896. The server was polite, knowledgeable, and agreeable. My dad and I had a melt-in-your-mouth filet mignon, served with a bacon-sweet potato hash, roasted asparagus, and a delicious Vermont blue cheese fondue - a cold, brown, delicious cheese sauce on the side. My mom had the Israeli couscous salad - a warm mixture of pearl couscous, tomatoes, summer squash, asparagus, and green onion.
 
Before the main course, we were served some kind of polenta-based concoction served on a demented-looking spoon. It was the only part of the meal I didn't like - it was followed by two kinds of bread with butter sprinkled with brown Hawaiian sea salt, and then a small dollop of apple sorbet to cleanse the palate before the main course.
 
Afterwards, we split a marvelous maple crème brûlée and were served two rounds of peanut butter fudge as another palate cleanser - but it was hardly necessary. The brilliant, succulent, and buttery filets were enough to serve as dessert in their own right.
 
We took the shuttle back to the hotel and looked around. The loud music and general busyness on the prom-hosting wing of the hotel precluded us from seeing the room where the Bretton Woods deal went down - we'll see that tomorrow morning - but we looked around the parts of the sprawling hotel that we could. They have multiple restaurants, an astonishing attention to detail kept up through the years from 1902 to the present, with unique features in every room - from massive pocket doors to curved chairs that look like they're from the set of the villain of a late-60s Bond film.
 
Poking around the basement a little - and even ducking into a former speakeasy known as "the Cave" - we eventually decided to head back to our room in preparation for tomorrow's travels.
 
Tomorrow: the possibility of Mount Washington, en route to Portland, Maine, and then possibly the Bangor area if we feel up to it.



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Get a Piece of the Rock

Posted by Sumiki , in The Great American Road Trip, Life May 28 2014 · 137 views

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my parents' 31st wedding anniversary

 
We had a small breakfast at our Hyannis hotel, then checked out, loitering in the lobby at the business-center computers looking up routes to Boston until the dealership called. They called, and we left, the last time I'd ever be in that terrible excuse for a car, the loaner Saab. As always, it barely turned over, but it got us to the dealership amid rain, wind, and cold blowing in off of the Atlantic.
 
Back in our car by 12:15, we rolled out of the dealership and made good time off of Cape Cod. We stopped for gas a little before 1:00, knowing that we'd likely get snarled up in traffic as we approached Boston. We'd looked at several different routes, but there was little difference in time between them - going up secondary roads or just sucking it up and going up the Interstate into Boston would get us there at the same time. As such, we just decided to go up the Interstate, which would be the most direct route.
 
Our first stop, however, was the town of Plymouth, site of the famous Plymouth Rock. We found some parking and got out to see the rock, which is underneath a neo-Gothic façade which keeps people from touching it yet keeps it on the beach, near its original location. While it has shrunk in size to about a third of what it was - due to tourists grabbing their own chunks, as well as the natural forces of erosion - and has been moved from its original location for display elsewhere, it's still there to see.
 
I wish I could say that it was impressive, but ... well, it's just a rock. There's really not a whole lot to it.
 
Plymouth Rock itself is in a complex also housing a replica of the Mayflower, which we would have gone to - but the weather was very bad. It threatened to rip hats off and send us flying into the air aloft on our umbrellas à la Mary Poppins. The cold - about 50 degrees - turned into a biting chill with the help of the wind, and the rain, while not hard, sliced diagonally at anyone unfortunate or insane enough to be walking around.
 
We made surprisingly good time out of Plymouth and onto the Interstate up to Boston. Traffic increased and there were some slower sections, but we never came to a complete stop. Along the way, the most interesting thing was a truck built to re-arrange the concrete barriers along the side of the highway. It'd roll through the lane, feed the barriers through its body, and deposit them on the other side, thus marking off the lane.
 
At 1:49 we crossed over the river into the Boston city limits, and a little after 2:00 we'd parked in a parking deck in Cambridge, just across from the U.S.S. Constitution. The ship - "Old Ironsides" - was our first stop of the day, although we tried to keep our time spend outside to a minimum. The Constitution was never officially decommissioned, and thus could still officially be sent into active duty - although her weaponry is over 200 years out of date.
 
We toured around above and below deck, saw some things, asked a few questions ... but all in all, there was nothing particularly special or mind-blowing about this ship as compared to other old ships I've been on. As far as history is concerned, the Constitution has a long and gloried one - many victories in the War of 1812, a trip around the world in the 1840s, and has sailed under her own power in 1997 and 2012.
 
From the Constitution, we hoofed it over to Bunker Hill. Though the celebrated Battle of Bunker Hill was a victory for the British - a fact sometimes overlooked or downplayed by jingoistic historians - the casualties for the British were immense. The American loss was due to lacking another round of ammunition for their muskets - when the ammo was out and hand-to-hand fighting commenced, the British were the only ones with bayonets.
 
One of the more interesting characters in the battle was Joseph Warren, a doctor who was commissioned as a Major General in the Massachusetts militia shortly before the battle began. He opted instead to enter the battle as a private, and was killed during the final British assault. His death served to spur on the movement for independence, as he was the first real martyr of the Revolutionary War.
 
After the battle, his mangled body was identified by none other than Paul Revere, who organized a proper Masonic burial. Despite having relatively little impact while alive, he was immortalized in statues and in town and county names across the nascent nation.
 
Ironically, most of the fighting at the Battle of Bunker Hill didn't actually take place on Bunker Hill, but rather on nearby Breed's Hill. While most of these hills are now taken up by quaint houses, the spot where Warren was killed now has an immense stone obelisk. We got our tickets inside the Bunker Hill museum and proceeded to walk up the hill.
 
For the obelisk is not a solid structure - it's hollow, with 294 granite steps to the top.
 
It was a long walk - one which I made much faster than my parents - but the views from the top were excellent, although the windows were rather small. After resting from the climb at the top (and looking down the grate right down the center of it), we went back all 294 steps, which was a considerably easier endeavor.
 
With some light left, we headed back out into Boston itself - technically these first two stops were in Cambridge - along the Freedom Trail, a link between historical sites in and around Boston denoted by red bricks in the pavement. Getting to Boston meant walking over a bridge. The walking surface was a massive grate, which meant that one could look down all the way into the water below ...
 
(At the beginning of the bridge, there's a spray-painted sign on the ground: "Acrophobia Friendly Zone." I don't think they're kidding.)
 
Once across the bridge, we decided - a little on the spur of the moment - to eat in an Italian restaurant. It was exceptionally authentic - I'm pretty sure our server was the owner and a first-generation Italian-American. I got a dish of calamari (tentacles and all - yum!) served with a rich tomato sauce over linguine. My parents got the same thing, some sort of crab-farfalle concoction which was a little bit of a let-down. Despite this, we enjoyed the authenticity, appreciated a little time away from the bustle of Boston, and really came to appreciate the quick service.
 
We got to the Old North Church five minutes before they closed up. It's still in use today, and you can tell that they've kept it up - the pews are boxed off and rented out to families, who could, historically, do what they wanted to do with regards to decorating them. The pulpit was accessible by spiral staircase, the week's hymns were put on a board for all to see, and the place, in general, looked simply divine - pun intended.
 
Leaving the Old North Church, we continued along the trail to Paul Revere's house. We got there just a few minutes before it closed as well, and were able to have enough time to leisurely work our way through the four rooms of the house open on the tour and pick the brains of the two ladies who served there as tour guides.
 
We learned interesting information on the production of accidental stained glass, the fate of Paul Revere's manufacturing company, his immense family, and architectural trends of different periods, as the downstairs was decorated like the 1690s, when the structure was built, and the upstairs like the 1790s, when the Reveres lived there.
 
Working our way back, we noticed something - we were in Little Italy. We heard Italian spoken on street corners, saw dozens of Italian restaurants, and saw three shady-looking characters dressed in all black, loitering outside a building. I generally like to assume the best in people, but I'd honestly be surprised if those guys weren't involved in some kind of black-market dealings. They were simply too stereotypical.
 
With the wind and rain having long since stopped, we worked our way back through the quaint and surprisingly quiet little neighborhoods, then back out over the bridge and finally to the car. We'd managed to do everything we'd come to do in a little less than four hours.
 
At 6:00 we left the parking garage and began worming our way out of Boston. This was insane, mainly because we had to go through a traffic circle. Now, traffic circles are generally not that bad. In fact, for most low-traffic intersections, I'd like to see more traffic circles. But this one had about a million people in it, a million people trying to get off of it, a thousand people cutting a thousand other people off, and exactly zero demarcated lanes.
 
You read that right - there were none of those handy dashed lines to mark off the lanes, which turned the traffic circle into a road-rage-fueled free-for-all. After getting through this mess, we were confronted with even more roads without lane markings, until we finally were back on the Interstate, with the same start-stop traffic as earlier.
 
After a few interchanges, we made it to the hotel.
 
Now, most hotels are generally built as a solid block, with the lobby, amenities, and maybe a few rooms on the first floor, with the upper floors devoted exclusively to rooms. This hotel is built nothing like that - it's sprawling, spreading its wings and floors out to fifteen different counties and three time zones. It took ten minutes of walking to get to a room only a floor above the lobby.
 
After a long day of walking - not to mention up and down those 294 steps - we really weren't looking forward to walking anywhere, but we were still hungry and we knew we had to. With the traffic of the day, it was an easy decision to eat at the hotel. My parents split a lobster roll, and I got the second-largest sandwich that I've ever seen, which consisted of a massive hunk of fried cod, garnished with massive slices of vegetables - but, despite the immenseness of both tomato and lettuce, they just seemed puny when compared with the enormousness of the fish.
 
I ate it all.
 
We finished it off with a cheesecake garnished like a turtle - caramel and chocolate sauce over the top, with three chunks of walnut over that.
 
Tomorrow: more history at Concord and Lexington before heading north to New Hampshire. The second leg of this trip is about to begin.



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Saab Story

Posted by Sumiki , in Life, The Great American Road Trip May 27 2014 · 110 views

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Early this morning, my dad went and got the car looked at. The steering was funny when he drove in, with some terrible sounds emanating from the steering vicinity. Sure enough, the power steering system had a few leaks in it, necessitating a full overhaul.
 
As a courtesy vehicle, the dealership loaned us practically the only car they had available for the purpose - an ancient Saab which didn't have back lights, had trouble turning over, made funny noises, and sounded especially bad if you tried to go anything over 30 miles an hour.
 
By the time we'd straightened all of these things out - including a futile attempt at canceling our Boston reservations - we were ready to get lunch, which is where my mom and I had our first experience in the infamous Saab.
 
We ended up at the same place we had dinner at last night. I had the same thing - lobster ravioli - except this time I had a clam chowder all to myself. My dad copied my order and my mom opted for a salad and a bowl of lobster bisque.
 
After lunch, we got back to our rooms, where my parents took naps. I could tell they were tired, as they kept finding the most mundane things inordinately funny - "Cape Scrod" was one of the things that kept my mom rolling. Eventually they fell asleep, and were out for about an hour and a half.
 
Upon their return to normal consciousness, we all felt a little hungry, so we debated where to go. None of us really wanted to get into that dang Saab any more than was absolutely necessary, so we went to the small hotel restaurant. I'd heard good things about their clam chowder, and it didn't disappoint - it was more peppery than the award-winning chowder I'd sampled previously, but I'd have to rate them pretty much equals.
 
After dinner, we went out for a bit of exploring. In hindsight, this was a particularly ill-advised decision, although we did not know it was at the time. We didn't have the right light or the right car to go any farther eastward down Cape Cod, where it's said that the beaches are the best in the country, so we just decided to go south to see what we could of the sea.
 
En route to the sea, we saw a store called a Christmas Tree Shop. I'd seen a few of these elsewhere on the Cape, and I thought that it was sort of a strange thing to base a year-round chain on. As it turns out, Christmas Tree Shops don't have Christmas trees ... or anything Christmas-themed ... or any trees. It's essentially the Cape Cod equivalent of a Dollar Tree, as we found out when we looked around to see if we could find an ornament for my mom's Collection.
 
With that out of the way, we found the sea. With the sun rapidly setting, the temperature at 55 degrees and dropping, and the wind billowing in at a steady 30 MPH, we bolted out to the beach, got a few pictures, and bolted back to the safety of the Saab. We wondered if the car would fall apart upon our return journey, but it made it back, despite many desperate squeals from the engine region.
 
(Side note: it turns out that there is a strong Brazilian community here near Hyannis. Brazilian markets, churches, and pizzerias abound along one particular area of our route between hotel and beach. We asked the lady at the front desk about it, and she said that, though many nationalities visit, the Brazilians have made a permanent home in Cape Cod.)
 
We're now winding down, enjoying what's left of this off day before we get back on the road tomorrow. We'll be going through Boston as opposed to staying in Boston, as there are literally zero available rooms anywhere in the greater Boston area. I don't know what's going on there, but our plan is just to see history and move on through to New Hampshire.



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Chowderheads

Posted by Sumiki , in Life, The Great American Road Trip May 26 2014 · 108 views

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We got on the road a few minutes after 11:00. Our hotel breakfast - at least for my parents - consisted of sliced sausages called "pork ham." This is, of course, repetitive, so we thought that it was probably something we could chalk up to some local custom. A brief Google search tells me that it isn't. My faith in the overall intelligence level in human society took another hit.
 
Before noon, we found ourselves in New London, home of the US Coast Guard Academy. It's a lot different in look and feel to other service academies - its layout and architecture are much more like a small college than the austere gothic structures one associates with service academy. We were warned by the security guard that some of the cadets were about to begin a 21-gun salute for Memorial Day. With that in the back of our heads, we drove around. Mom, in the backseat, rolled down her window for a picture, when
 
*BLAM*
 
the first three shots of the salute, fired simultaneously, thundered out across the grounds and rebounded six seconds later off of the other side of the Thames River (in keeping with the London theme). My dad knew what to expect with regards to decibel level, but my mom and I got seriously spooked by that first volley.
 
We picked up a Christmas tree ornament for my mom's collection and then rolled out, our eyes on a restaurant in Narragansett, Rhode Island, called Crazy Burger. We made good time getting out of Connecticut and into Rhode Island.
 
Rhode Island is, of course, the smallest of the fifty states. It still took about fifty minutes to get from the border to Narragansett, where one of the Atlantic's many inlets takes over. We found Crazy Burger, and getting in was, as they say, crazy.
 
To say that Crazy Burger is a hole in the wall is to complement its size. The building was what appeared to be a converted house, with four booths arranged in a square in its center, a bar-like area on one side, three more booths on the other side, and four more tables squeezed in wherever they could fit. Even that wasn't enough, even more seating was available on the patio, which we did not see.
 
It took thirty minutes for us to get in, and then about that long from getting in to actually eating. In the meantime, my mom and I went down the street a little ways to look at a local art gallery, ranging from thought-provoking paintings of native Alaskans and bear trapped in a vacuum-sealed bag to surrealist photography to splashes and splotches reminiscent of Jackson Pollock.
 
In the end, Crazy Burger delivered, and, as it turns out, their burgers all had some kind of twist to them. My parents got burgers that came in a wrap, with some interesting side dishes such as "Bangkok slaw." My burger was a blue cheese burger ... but the blue cheese (and caramelized onions) were inside the meat. The bun was a homemade English muffin, and even more gorgonzola came alongside.
 
They were definitely interesting. They were delicious, but I'm not sure they were quite worth the wait. In my list of Top Burgers, I'd rate it the fourth-best.
 
It was filling - at the time. It didn't quite stick to our ribs, as we found out about an hour later.
 
We crossed over onto Conanicut Island, then off of it onto Rhode Island - the actual island for which the state was named. We turned south to Newport, famous for its many mansions.
 
The traffic was horrendous getting through downtown, and everyone seemed to be parading a dog around as a status symbol. I got a sinking feeling that most of these dogs, if they were not named "Fifi," were named something pretty close to it.
 
One guy was on a bike, towing a little trailer with one of these stupid-looking dogs in it. If that's all you need to know about the ritzy nature of the place ... too bad, because I'm going to keep talking about it.
 
We finally got out of the traffic jam - a jam that extended through six consecutive stoplights - and out into more of the countryside. We located the mansions - some still private, some bought by the local preservation society and open to any member of the public willing to pay through the nose to ogle at their gaudy interiors.
 
After driving around on roads with a surprising number of pot holes, especially considering the money inherent in the region. Most of the mansions were obscured by carefully manicured hedges and only visible through fanciful wrought-iron gates, and then only for a second or so. The only mansion we got a real good look at was The Breakers - a summer cottage originally built by a member of the Vanderbilt family for his growing number of extended relatives. (His father, the original Cornelius Vanderbilt, built the Biltmore Estate outside of Asheville, NC.)
 
It was like the Biltmore crossed with the White House, with an impressive and detailed exterior. We circumnavigated the mansion and then went into the gift shop on the lowest floor.
 
The gift shop was quite thorough and extended over about five rooms of the basement. I'm pretty sure that we could have snuck into the rest of the house without anyone caring - in the same manner of how we got into the stadium in Scranton - but we didn't particularly want to.
 
We got back on the road, skirted Newport, and traveled up until we took a bridge off Rhode Island (the island) and then exited Rhode Island (the state), entering Massachusetts a little after 5:00.
 
(Side note: throughout the day, on major thoroughfares, have - with the exception of Newport - had incredible luck with our timing. As traffic gets backed up for tens of miles going the opposite direction, we make good time heading into the places coming out of the Memorial Day rush. If we'd left earlier, we'd still be stuck in Connecticut.)
 
A half-hour later we entered Cape Cod - at least, according to the sign; we'd not yet crossed over the Cape Cod Canal. As we did so, we saw the most incredible traffic buildup of the day - thousands of cars headed west on Route 6 out of Cape Cod. Around us, on the eastbound side, there was one other car in our sight for the longest time.
 
We got to Hyannis and checked in a little after 6:00, and got some restaurant advice from the front desk. They recommended two places downtown almost right across from each other. We parked in a nearby lot and chose the one that looked more interesting.
 
There was no disappointment in the quality of the food. I got lobster ravioli, served in one of those bowls that looks like it doesn't have much food in it until you get about a third of the way through the meal, when you realize just how much food there is in the bowl. My mom got a seafood sampler, and my dad got some pan-roasted scallops. We all sampled some of each other's food, and we came to the conclusion than mine was definitely the best. My mom got some of the place's award-winning clam chowder. We all tried it, and we all loved it. It was the first time I've ever had clam chowder (or even clam, for that matter), so I guess it was a good place to start.
 
Our waitress was very pleasant and even posed for a picture with that perennial trip mascot, the one and only Yoder the Duck. It was a sight to behold ... especially for the confused patrons sitting around us. We also learned that the insane build-up of traffic isn't just a Memorial Day thing - it's like that on every weekend.
 
We got some ice cream comes and walked out around the dock area before getting in the car and heading back to the hotel. But getting back, the car made noises between scratching and squeaking with every turn. These sounds got progressively worse en route to the hotel.
 
With the drive between Hyannis and Boston only about an hour, Dad will have a chance to get the car looked at in Hyannis next morning and still get to Boston on schedule.



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Is Bacon a Vegetable?

Posted by Sumiki , in Life, Music, Sumiki's Dad, The Great American Road Trip May 25 2014 · 135 views

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We got on the road at 10:30 bound for Harrisburg. We wanted to avoid going through the gnarly traffic of New York City - we consider that a trip unto itself, to be done at an undetermined later date - so we decided to go up all the way to Scranton before cutting through upstate New York to Connecticut.
 
At 11:30, we entered the parking lot for the Harrisburg Senators, the Washington Nationals' double-A affiliate. The Senators' stadium is located on an island in the Susquehanna River, accessible from both sides by bridges. We drove on one of these bridges onto the island, then walked from the parking lot up to the stadium. This would have been an easy proposition if there weren't throngs of people traversing a footbridge to downtown Harrisburg, where an arts festival was being held.
 
We got into the team store, got a hat and a pennant for the esteemed Collection, learned valuable information on the mayflies that torment summer night games at the ballpark, and nearly walked over the footbridge to get a bite to eat. At nearly noon, the throngs of arts-lovers were peaking, and we knew it'd be nearly impossible to get anything to eat.
 
So we kept northbound, looking for a good stopping point on I-81. The thing about that stretch of I-81 (as is true for most stretches of that road I've been on), is that there really isn't much on it if you're not in a major city. The stretch between towns and exits is vast.
 
We got off at one of the few stopping points, a town with the rather unfortunate name of Frackville. We entertained the employees at the local Subway and filled up with gas.
 
A little after 2:30 we located the stadium of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, the Triple-A affiliate of the New York Yankees and known as the Yankees themselves until last offseason. Their stadium certainly isn't major-league size, but it is a quality park. We entered the team store, got our requisite gear for the Collection, and then walked into the park.
 
If they noticed, they didn't care. It was the sixth inning, and the Rochester Red Wings were beating the RailRiders. We gave ourselves a quick stadium tour, saw the control booth where they were broadcasting the game on a local network affiliate, and encountered their mascot - something akin to a mutated hedgehog. It surprised my mom with a hug.
 
We contemplated getting something else to eat, but with the subs still in our stomachs and the portions generous, we headed out of the park, having caught a few innings without having to pay the price of admission.
 
Leaving the park at 3:00, we headed out of Scranton and headed for New York on I-84. We went through some tedious sections of road work and evaded some nasty pot holes. (A few fault-line-style potholes were entirely unavoidable, but it didn't screw up our alignment.)
 
I-84 curved along the New Jersey state line before traveling into New York. The "I ♥ NY" logo was emblazoned on a hill as we entered the Empire State.
 
We pulled off at a "text stop" - a feature peculiar to New York and something that has left me with even less hope for humanity as a whole. Every few miles, they've built a turnoff - basically a rest stop without any buildings - so people can stop trying to text and drive - instead, they can text at the text stop.
 
I guess this is good for keeping the folks stupid enough to text and drive off of the roads, but it wouldn't do any good if the texters are looking down at their phones and miss the sign that says "text stop."
 
The views from atop one of these stops, especially when the road is already on a mountaintop - is stunning. I took over behind the wheel at this point, and the traffic increased around me with every mile as we traveled to Connecticut.
 
A little after 5:00 we got to the Connecticut welcome center. This is the first time on this trip that I've been to a state that I've never been to on any previous trip. We talked with the friendly fellow who gave us all kinds of maps, as well as one sage piece of wisdom about traveling in Connecticut: don't go on Interstate 95.
 
Guess what road we'd later find ourselves on?
 
He advised an alternate route from Danbury to New Haven which involved state highways. We were perfectly fine with that, and went on picturesque, winding, river-paralleling Route 34. We started to get quite punchy as we wound our way to New Haven, culminating in my mispronunciation of Fort Sumter as "Bacteria Bulge."
 
They've not let me forget it since.
 
On Route 34, there are a series of small towns, filled with Cape Cod-style domiciles. Some were incorporated before the Revolution, like the town of Derby - incorporated in 1675.
 
(Side note: the fine for littering in Connecticut is $219. They make this fact well-known on their signs, which is kind of hilarious, because it's not $200, or $250, or even $300. It's $219. I can only imagine how this came to be set as the maximum fine for littering.)
 
A little after 6:00, we got to the outskirts of the Yale campus. We needed something to eat and wanted to see a little bit of the campus, so we drove around quasi-aimlessly until we found it.
 
It's a masterpiece of gothic architecture encased in one-way roads and dotted with enough modernity to keep you rooted in 2014 and not 1814. The detail and beauty everywhere we went was astounding.
 
We found a parking spot near an ornately spired steeple and began to walk around. After asking around, we wormed our way over to where we thought the School of Music would be, but ended up finding one of the coolest bits of architecture on campus: the Rare Book and Manuscript Library. If we had been here on anything but a Sunday, on any weekend but Memorial Day weekend, I could have gone in and seen the manuscript to Leo Ornstein's Piano Concerto.
 
This Library was part of the greater Student Commons area. It stood on a plain of gray textured stone, and looked as if it was being held aloft by four pyramid-shaped structures on each corner. Much of the face was of the same monolithic stone, engineered into a geometric pattern. The entrance was on the bottom, underneath an imposing overhang of stone.
 
On the other side was the Student Commons, an ornate L-shaped building with the names of World War I battles etched on one side. Below was some temporary set-up, presumably for Memorial Day.
 
The in the "elbow" of the L stood a flag pole forged in New York in 1908, and between that and the Library was a hole in the ground - a rectangular hole which looked down on a courtyard area for the subterranean offices.
 
Since it was one of the only open buildings on campus, we walked into the Student Commons building. Most of the doors were locked - you could really only use it for its bathrooms and as a cut-through to the other side - but the interior was intricate and ornate. If it were a new construction, I'd consider it an ostentatious display of gaud.
 
Inside were the names of Yale alumni that gave their lives for the United States in war. Their names were carved in marble on the concentric walls of the interior. Other jaw-dropping details included the relief work, a tile mosaic on the ceiling, and old-fashioned stalls in the bathrooms.
 
We went back to the car to get some hand sanitizer, then headed in the opposite direction for food. We didn't go far before my dad spotted a place to eat - Claire's Corner Copia. Now, this was a vegetarian restaurant, which I saw upon arrival, but somehow this fact escaped my dad as he went through the motions of ordering. We both got the special - southwestern egg rolls - while my mom sprang for some nachos. I began thinking about the fact that we were going to eat vegetarian Mexican in Connecticut when the waitress came over and told us that there was only one batch of southwestern egg rolls left.
 
With no immediate back-up, I mentioned the mac and cheese that I'd seen in the display case. My dad looked the waitress in the eye and asked if it came with bacon, loud enough to shock some of the more sensitive patrons.
 
I was somewhat mortified internally, but I laughed my head off when it happened. The waitress thought he might be referring to soy bacon, which made it even funnier.
 
The nachos were rather plain, and accounts from my dad with regards to the state of his egg salad sandwich were good (although he ate the individual layers of the sandwich off of the bread with a fork and knife, leaving bread and what appeared to be arugula detritus on the plate by meals' end.)
 
But those southwestern egg rolls were something else. Spicy beans and corn inside what appeared to be some kind of rye wrap, served on an abundance of greenery with some sort of sauce over the whole thing ... it was a glorious experience. The portions of it - and the other things I saw, brought to our table and to others - were massive. I couldn't finish mine, a third of the nachos were left, and the lump of hardtack they tried passing off as bread saw little action until we felt like we had to do something with it at the end.
 
We did not book a room in advance since we didn't know where we'd end up - Danbury, New Haven, or even New London - so we looked into it when we got to the car. The only property available anywhere close to our route required a wee bit of backtracking.
 
In the context of how far we'd traveled, backtracking really wasn't a deal-breaker - it was only about three miles, as the crow flies, from the Yale campus - but getting to the hotel meant that we had to face those three miles on Interstate 95.
 
It was bad, but it could have been much worse, and I was thankful that we didn't try 95 when we needed to get from Danbury to New Haven. We entered West Haven and then exited, nabbing a room at a hotel that, despite being Memorial Day weekend, doesn't have an insane number of visitors. I guess that's because no one has ever said "hey guys, we're going to spend our Memorial Day in West Haven, Connecticut!"
 
Tomorrow: New London, CT, Narragansett and Newport in RI, and Hyannis, MA.



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The Hatpile of Hagerstown

Posted by Sumiki , in HATPILE, Life, Sumiki's Dad, The Great American Road Trip May 24 2014 · 138 views

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After a protracted breakfast, we began the day at 11:30 and headed away from Winchester on Route 7. We rolled through rolling countryside and a half hour later found ourselves in West Virginia, on one of its little nubs. Our destination: Harpers Ferry, made famous by John Brown's 1859 abolitionist raid on its US Armory. After Brown's raid, Harpers Ferry continued to be an important stronghold during the Civil War, sitting at the confluence of two states at the war's beginning and three by war's end.
 
Sitting on the tip of West Virginia and separated from heights in both Maryland and Virginia by rivers, Harpers Ferry is now a historic town, with cobblestone streets, a mix of carefully preserved and even more carefully reconstructed buildings, and a fascinating terrain. Its strategic location has made its history complex - before the Brown raid, the location was selected by George Washington himself to be the location for the US Armory - essentially the Fort Knox of weaponry for the United States government.
 
The rivers there were so important as a jumping-off point that Lewis and Clark stopped there en route to the West. One of their favorite boats - a collapsable boat - was eventually ditched because it couldn't handle the waters they found themselves in, but a replica proudly stands near the Potomac.
 
Harpers Ferry continued to serve as the armory through the Civil War, which made it a common location for raids and battles as the supplies changed hands. After Virginia seceded, General "Stonewall" Jackson secured the supplies by placing cannon on the heights that surround it, and sent the supplies further south to be used by the Confederacy.
 
All in all, Harpers Ferry changed hands eight times during the course of the war. Later in the war, General Jubal Early did battle at Harpers Ferry, but in doing so, lost too many men to continue on. The usually aggressive Early did not know that there were not enough men to stand between his army and Washington, D.C. ... a route that, if taken, could have prolonged the war.
 
Harpers Ferry, with its heights and twists and turns, is a small but geographically interesting town. The iron moorings that once latched a pontoon bridge across the Potomac River are still in place, embedded in stone structures on the river's shore. Grimes Davis, a southerner who sided with the Union and the commander of the Union cavalry, once used the pontoon bridge to escape back into Maryland.
 
I had to navigate some wary geese, their droppings, and what appeared to be a mud-quicksand mix, but I found my way from the heights where the railroad used to go down along the stone infrastructure, which held the curved iron bars solidly at its base. Successful, and about to turn back, a train blasted its horn twice as it chugged across the Potomac on a railroad bridge of slightly newer construction.
 
Another quirk of Harpers Ferry was the John Brown building, probably the least important building in the town until his raid. Originally on the heights, quite near the pontoon bridge moorings, it was of enough historical significance that the whole thing was moved and displayed at the Chicago World's Fair. When it returned, the residents were rather disinterested in the building and now stands about 50 yards from its original location, which now has only an obelisk to mark its original foundation site. (It could not be moved back to its original location due to the proximity of the railroad ... which has since been re-routed over the river.)
 
It was there that John Brown was wounded in an exceptionally peculiar way. When the troops had surrounded the shed he'd barricaded himself into, he busted out - probably resigning himself to death. The soldier that he first encountered thrust his sword into Brown's gut ... only to have it hit his belt buckle and bend upwards, as the sword was made of a soft material. Thus, the soldier did what any soldier would do in that situation: bang John Brown over the head with the thing.
 
We explored all of Harpers Ferry that we felt like, then headed back to the car. Our next stop was along a famous route, one that connected Harpers Ferry to the bloodiest single day of the Civil War: Antietam.
 
But getting to Antietam isn't as straightforward as one might imagine. After getting to Maryland, roads hook around and follow the Potomac on the Maryland side. They were quaint, historic, and vertigo-inducing. Going from the Potomac - roughly sea level - up through mountainous terrain to Antietam was an absolute chore. The road bent this way and that, going up and down on blind curves, hitting you with blind entrances, and wavy hills that would make you feel weightless and twice your weight in the span of about five seconds.
 
The roller-coaster road was seventeen miles, and played an important role in the battle of Antietam.
 
We finally made it to Antietam - although I'm not sure my inner ear has caught up yet - and poked around the visitor's center, watching a film about the battle as narrated by the golden tonsils of James Earl Jones. Most of it - well, all of it - was already in my dad's head. He'd be an excellent park ranger, as he's read up enough on Civil War history to go toe-to-toe with any ranger. (In fact, he knows more about the Civil War than most of them know about it - or even the backs of their own hands. Fortunately, the historically ignorant on the payroll are generally stuck in the tiny admissions booths at the entrance to the various parks.)
 
We then began the driving tour around Antietam, crossing over and paralleling Confederate and Union lines. The Confederacy had invaded Maryland in the interest of bringing the war to Union soil in order to destroy what was left of the Union troops' morale, legitimize the Confederacy in the eyes of European powers, and bring the war to an end. After a skirmish or two, the armies collided around Antietam Creek, near the town of Sharpsburg. The carnage in about a two-mile area outnumbered the total casualties of the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Mexican-American War combined.
 
And it all happened in one day.
 
Dunkers Church, behind the Confederate lines, was damaged by the hail of bullet fire, which contributed to its collapse in a wind storm just a few decades later. (It has since been rebuilt, though it is no longer used.) General J.B. Hood led his notoriously rowdy Texans to save the day at Dunkers Church when the Confederates were being pushed back by the Union. (Hood would lose functionality in one of his arms at Gettysburg in 1863, and would lose one of his legs entirely at Chickamauga later in the same year.)
 
Three of the bloodiest areas were the Cornfield, Rohrbach Bridge, and the Sunken Road. Rohrbach Bridge which has since been renamed to Burnside Bridge after Union General Ambrose Burnside, whose impressive and precariously manicured facial coiffure let to the coining of the term "sideburns." (More on Burnside in a moment.)
 
The Cornfield is not a large area, but it was an absolute bloodbath. The date of the battle - September 17, 1862 - meant that the cornstalks, though dead, were still high and thick. When the armies clashed, confusion rippled through the lines. All you could hear was the din of cannon fire, and all you could see were the guys to your right and left and the flag of the regiment somewhere in front of you. Shooting blind, control of the Cornfield went back and forth as casualties piled up. One of the survivors - Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. - went on to become a Supreme Court Justice.
 
Now, as promised, more on Burnside. The only thing that could outshine Burnside's sideburns was his incompetency as a commander. At Rohrbach Bridge, he was tasked with taking the other side. With a wide river and a steep hill on the other side, his men were forced to cross the river on the one bridge available. This may have worked if his men had charged and overwhelmed the thin Confederate line, but he sent his men off in smaller groups, which were handled by the Confederates. After enough waves, the Confederates were eventually worn down, but not before Burnside had wasted an unnecessary amount of manpower.
 
(This, however, does explain the tactic that Burnside used in December of that year at Fredericksburg, when he sent wave after wave of his men at the high ground held by the Confederates at Marye's Heights.)
 
A third bloody part of Antietam was the Sunken Road, visible to this day. The Confederates, under the command of North Carolinian D.H. Hill, post-war Davidson College professor, and his subordinate John Gordon, who got shot five times at the Sunken Road and only survived because his hat kept him upright just enough to keep him from choking on his own blood. He got hit four more times through the rest of the war and manage to see the end of the war alive and without having lost a limb or an eye.
 
Backed up against the river and with no place to go, Robert E. Lee had to think about the possibility of his invasion strategy backfiring and ending the war then and there, before Gettysburg occurs. But A.P. Hill's famous Light Division, so named because they could out-march anyone else, marched the seventeen miles of hilly terrain between Harpers Ferry and Antietam - on the same road we traveled on - in one day. Like a moment in a Hollywood script, his reinforcements held off the Union.
 
But the Union still had a chance to annihilate Lee's Army of Northern Virginia ... if they'd simply attacked on the very next day. But the Union, under the command of notoriously cautious, extremely egomaniacal, inexplicably popular, and newly reinstated General George McClellan, didn't push onwards, allowing Lee to slink back into Virginia, preparing a second invasion that would end up on the fields of Gettysburg less than a year later.
 
After that tour, we went back through Sharpsburg - which had a parade going through it when we passed through earlier - and looked for something to eat. The only place we saw looked like a bar, so we kept pressing on to Hagerstown, home of the Hagerstown Suns, a single-A minor league team affiliated with the Washington Nationals. They were playing the Asheville Tourists at 7:00. We entered the park at around 6:00, got free hats in their Memorial Day giveaway, purchased a medium-sized pennant for the ever-expanding Basement Collection, and got some food. I got a Cheddar Jalapeño hot dog (not as spicy as you might think) while my parents ate burgers.
 
We got some seats underneath some cover. It sprinkled a little bit and the wind brought a few drops to our legs, but these passed. Before the game could begin, the National Anthem was sung ... by two little girls.
 
They had heart, and they had the lyrics down (which can't be said of most adults who sing it), but they were both badly off key and in different keys - the closest they got to singing in unison was a wavering quarter-tone dissonance. Still, their attempt was valiant, and they were applauded greatly.
 
Since my parents had entered the park with hats, and they had given all of us hats upon entrance, a hatpile was a must. We piled five caps on my dad's head.
 
(hatpiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiile)
 
The Hagerstown faithful got into their hometown team, cheering the Suns on with all manners of whooping and hollering. One large black fellow had a proclivity to shrilly whistle the notes that precede the "charge!" cheer, much to the annoyance of a great many people in our section, including myself.
 
The Suns, from a better farm system than Asheville, scored early and then poured it on from there. Two triples with two outs helped them to a six-run lead. We split chicken tenders and fries and split before it got too dark, as we needed some light to get our way out of Hagerstown.
 
This early exit was necessary, as we had to navigate one-way roads in the less savory parts of Hagerstown in order to get to I-81, which got us to Pennsylvania a little after 8:30. Before 9:00 we arrived in Chambersburg and settled into our room.
 
Tomorrow: we're still planning the route. We're debating when to to Valley Forge - now, or on our way back. The route still isn't settled and likely will not be until the morning, but we're trying to figure out the fastest route to Connecticut and Rhode Island without having to navigate traffic-choked places like New York City.



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The Road So Far

Posted by Sumiki , in The Great American Road Trip, Sumiki's Dad, Life May 23 2014 · 108 views

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This was perhaps the most uneventful day one of any trip. We didn't know if we'd even get on the road today, as we had to wait for a package to show up through FedEx before we could leave. FedEx said that the package would arrive at 8:00 PM, so we spent the morning and early afternoon leisurely packing, thinking that we'd have to delay our plans by one day.
 
The FedEx guy showed up a little after 3:00. We sprung into action, immediately panicking. My mom was in the shower, so my dad and I did everything that we could and got the packing finalized.
 
We left a little after 5:00, traversing scenery up through North Carolina and crossing into Virginia. After merging onto I-81 in Roanoke, we kept making good time en route to Winchester.
 
A little before 8:00, a truck with a kayak in its bed flew past us going about a zillion miles a second. My dad looked at it and said, "look, that's a Himalayan."
 
There you have it, folks - a truck carrying a kayak is, apparently, a Himalayan. We tried not to think about the fact that our lives were in his hands as we careened down the Interstate.
 
At 9:00, we pulled off the road and nibbled at a Jimmy John's. While this didn't fully alleviate our appetites, we felt re-energized enough to get gas and get back on the road.
 
An hour later, we pulled into the hotel in Winchester. Still hungry, we saw an interesting restaurant nearby. We inquired about its quality when we checked in, and after getting positive feedback, we decided to have Dinner #2 over there.
 
I can't speak for my mom's half-salad or my dad's fried fish concoction, but I got a blue cheese burger and it was merely mediocre. But I was only looking for sustenance, and sustenance is what I received. Perhaps it was the lateness of the hour, perhaps it was a lack of taste buds in the mouths of the folks who staff the front desk ...
 
Tomorrow: the battlefields of Harper's Ferry and Antietam before traveling towards Harrisburg.



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The Great American Road Trip III

Posted by Sumiki , in The Great American Road Trip, Life May 22 2014 · 151 views

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Well folks, it's that time of year again - Sumiki's annual whirlwind tour around North America, and the third year in succession in our evil plot to turn a continent into a backyard.
 
After over 16,600 miles in over 60 days in the first two Great American Road Trips, not to mention the sanely paced road trips of my younger and more vulnerable years, I have been in 42 states and exactly half of Canada's wonderful provinces. Looking at a map and checking off the places I've been in leaves a conspicuous gap: the northeast. I've not been any further northeast than upstate New York, which I last visited in 2011 en route to Toronto.
 
It was therefore a given that a trip to New England and the Canadian Maritimes must be taken. In fact, that destination had been talked of long before the "out west trip" that ended up spawning the first two expeditions. But I'd never given it that much thought until recently - I mean, after all, those states don't have too much land area to cover. A trip there would not be on the imposingly grand, nigh-impossible, and totally outlandish scale of its immediate predecessors.
 
I was wrong. There's a lot of stuff to see, and a surprising amount of mileage to cover. It's not going to be in the 8,000-mile range, but it'll likely be well over 5,000 when it's all said and done. By trip's end, I will have been in every one of the 48 contiguous states and at least nine Canadian provinces. (Newfoundland is very iffy at this point due to time considerations, but I'm holding out hope.)
 
We also just might find ourselves in France.
 
I, for one, am not swimming across the frigid waters of the north Atlantic, if that's the mental image you got. Off the coast of Newfoundland lie some 100% French islands, a colonial holdover in archipelago form. They use the Euro and European electrical outlets, and French culture and food abound. They're in the Greenland Time Zone, and they even have a guillotine. The chances of doing this are profoundly slim, but ... there's still a chance.
 
So, as it was last year and will be again, when I say "American," I really mean "North American."
 
Of course, a Great American Road Trip isn't a Great American Road Trip unless I meet some BZPers. In 2012 I attended the first public day of Bricks Cascade in Portland and in 2013 I met Paleo and Takuma Nuva in the Twin Cities, so I'm anticipating another BZP meet-up this time around. If you live in that neck of the woods, shoot me a PM and we'll talk!
 
So buckle up, BZPower. It's shaping up to be the strangest trip so far.
 
P.S.: I set up a Tumblr to supplement this blog. In addition to reaching a larger audience (as well as the sizable BZP-Tumblr overlap), expect pictures and assorting musings there as well. There's not much there as of this entry, but rest assured that there will be.



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Adventures in French

Posted by Sumiki , in Life, Other Stuff, Sumiki's Dad, The Great American Road Trip May 16 2014 · 160 views

My dad and I started brushing up on our French, for semi-obvious reasons.
 
Never before have I suppressed the urge to say "hon hon hon baguette eiffel tower" so much.







    

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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


LISTEN TO SUMIKI - Cholie


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


EAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH - Kakaru


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

    

Sumiki
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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
9/23/14 - Avohkah Tamer
9/30/14 - Special - The Havoc Wreaker

    

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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.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
Leaders:
Sumiki
Waffles

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
Members:

ChocolateFrogs

ToM Dracone
xccj
Uzmakikunai
Novek
Nukaya
Overlord
Kaymac
(((DARKNESS)))
lunaticCircuitry
-Toa Lhikevikk-
DeepFriedZombies
Dirk Strider
GUYUGKUYG
Toa Flappy
Lime Paradox
McSpit
RotationalBasis
Mesonak
chunkeh!
Toa Robert
The X
Nuparu574
Dave Strider
Akuna Toa of Sonics
Commander Helios
Popup2: The Camel
~Shadow Kurahk~
Luna
Rho
~System Of A Down~
Kohrak Kal17
Brickeens
Jackson Lake
Thunder on the Mountain
McBobby
Ackar's Follower
Rahkashi
Bitter Cold
Tobi
Vinylstep
Nidman
Doc Scratch
Mendicant Bias
Eyru
Kagha
Darth Eryzeth
Millennium
Tschurtlschnatchen
kopakakid
Toa of Vahi
~Legoman~
noob
Makuta GigaDon
WORT WORT WORT
~Toa Drokonas~
Kwydjybo
Progenitus Worldsoul
Toa Kuhrii Avohkii
-Morgoth-
Bohrok Kal
Toa Neya 2011 Edition
~prisma son of dawn~
Nidhikiandco
.: WoLVeRINe :.
Zokau
DragonxFlutter
Lebon
ChocoLvr13
Uzumakikunai
Dokuma
Carnifex
Xetra
Metrongana
Alternate Velika
HercuLesss
Absol'd
SquishyFrog
Ynot
qUESTIE
SonicBOOM XS
Tavakai
Schnee 1
Brickeens (again!?)
Kakaru
The Great Forgetter
Kylus
Thomas the Tank Engine
Roablin
Aho-Chan
Jonah Falcon
~MatoroIgnika~
Vocals
Oh my miru
Element lord Of Milk.
e=mc^2
Lexuk Toa Of Insanity
Michael J. Caboose
GlatorianJaller
knuckles chaotix
The Bean
Kyronex
Lord Kaitan de Storms
Jaicho
Toa of Dancing
/Got_Your_6/
ZamorBob
Daiker
Toa Arzaki
The Oncoming Storm
Darkrylles
Lego Obsessionist
Toa of Pumpkin
christo1096
Unit#phntk#1
Teal Armada
Toa Zehvor Blackout
Mr. M
Chibinuva
Vohon
Mylo Xyloto
Lord of Ice
Celu
Architect
Rix
.:ENCRYPTION:.
~~Zarkan~~
TornadoToad
Fantasia
Gamzee Makara
Zarayna: The Quiet Light

Paleo

Xaeraz

Vorex: Keeper of Time

Roablin

Toa of Smooth Jazz

fishers64

Zeene

Dual Matrix

rahkshi guurahk
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Recent Comments

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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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