Jump to content

  • Log in with Facebook Log in with Twitter Log In with Google      Sign In   
  • Create Account

Welcome to BZPower!

Hi there, while we hope you enjoy browsing through the site, there's a lot more you can do if you register. The process is easy and you can use your Google, Facebook, or Twitter account to make it even faster. Some perks of joining include:
  • Create your own topics, participate in existing discussions, and vote in polls
  • Show off your creations, stories, art, music, and movies and play member and staff-run games
  • Enter contests to win free LEGO sets and other prizes, and vote to decide the winners
  • Participate in raffles, including exclusive raffles for new members, and win free LEGO sets
  • Send private messages to other members
  • Organize with other members to attend or send your MOCs to LEGO fan events all over the world
  • Much, much more!
Enjoy your visit!

Posted Image



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

Posted by Sumiki , in Life, The Great American Road Trip May 15 2013 · 64 views

Posted Image


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 · 109 views

Posted Image

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.


The Great American Road Trip - 28 - The Journey Home

Posted by Sumiki , in The Great American Road Trip Jun 12 2012 · 158 views

Posted Image

Today, seeing that the storm system we outraced in St. Louis was catching up, we got up early and on the road quickly. Our first stop of the day was backtracking to the stadium of the Lexington Legends, the first team we met that is so disorganized as to not have a pennant. (At least the Missoula Ospreys had a pennant, except there, we just couldn't find it for a long time.) However, they did have "circular pennants" as the fellow called them. He was most likely unaware that pennants are pennants because of their shape and a circular pennant is impossible. We got one, as their mascot is a guy with a handlebar mustache, and handlebar mustaches are cool.

We got back on the road and headed all the way into Charleston, West Virginia. We made the obligatory stop-by-to-get-a-pennant deal at the stadium of the West Virginia Power.

Now, this was a funny story, and a lesson in how not to run an organization. Their team store had a sign on it, which told us to go up to the next floor to find the Power offices. We went upstairs and found the offices, where the woman there redirected us again ... back downstairs. We went down again and knocked on the door, where a lady opened the doors.

She was the textbook definition of someone who was totally and utterly spaced out. (I have no reason to believe that she was mentally impaired genetically.) The conversation went something like this:

"Hi! We'd like to purchase a pennant from your shop."


"We've been all over the country and are heading home now, but we collect these things. We must have about 15 of them in the trunk."


"Do you have any pennants here?"

"Sure ..." [turns around and points out window] "They're in storage."

"Oh, that's too bad. Do you have a key or something?"

"Yeah ..."

"Looks like there are video game consoles out there."

"I can't move them ..."

"That's alright, we can move them."

"That's not a good idea ..."

At this point, she walked out of the room, muttering something about storage. We followed her into a storage closet, where she told us in the most forceful tone we could elicit from her to get out, we weren't supposed to be in there, etc. Other strange and otherwise awkward moments occurred in the rather one-sided conversation we had with her as we checked out - but hey, we got our pennant (and a hat to boot).

While the stadiums of both the Princeton Rays and the Bluefield Jays were both along our route, Princeton was too far off of the road for us to bother with them. However, Bluefield was not, and we got into the Bluefield parking lot at 3:59, one minute before they closed up. We got in, and while they did not have a pennant, their hats were very cool. The folks there were very nice and apologized for their lack of a pennant. We shared some of our pennant collection stories with them, and they didn't seem surprised when we told them the gritty details of our experiences with the teams that are not well run. The Ospreys and the Power must have infamous reputations around the minor leagues

We stopped for a quick bite to eat in Bluefield after we walked around a tank that, for some reason, is parked outside the ball park. After that, we didn't stop until we got all the way back home. We ran into some rain on the way, but nothing that slowed us down considerably.

Our total trip distance came out to a staggering 8,355.4 miles. Going along Interstate 90 - the longest Interstate - from Seattle to Boston and then back to Seattle again is a mere 6,198 miles. Interstate 40, which runs from the North Carolina coast all the way into California, is 2,559 miles, could have been traversed three times with our distance (7,677 miles) with 678 miles left over. The discontinued but still famous Route 66, which covered 2,451 miles in its day, could have been traveled three times over as well, with 1,002 miles as a remainder.

Overall, the distance we covered is equivalent to 5.6 percent of the combined distance of all the U.S. Interstates.

Are we crazy, or what?

Tomorrow, we get to sleep in, and wake up in our own beds. Tomorrow would have started our fifth week, which might have been too much to bear.


The Great American Road Trip - 27 - Illinois, Indiana, And Kentucky

Posted by Sumiki , in The Great American Road Trip Jun 11 2012 · 173 views

Posted Image

When we woke up, we saw the radar and knew that hailstorms were on their way. Fortunately, they were west of St. Louis, and we were safe from the potential threat that they would so intrudingly impose. We made good time into Illinois, then Indiana. I drove all the way from somewhere in Illinois, through Indiana, and then into Louisville. In Louisville, we stopped by the stadium of the Louisville Bats. The Bats, of course, were out of town, but we were able to get into the stadium, where we got a pennant and hat. (I have officially lost count of the number of pennants we've gotten.) The lady who checked us out directed us to the Louisville Slugger museum down the street, so we went down there - and it was cool.

I never knew exactly how they made baseball bats, so the tour we got through the factory was highly interesting. We handled some game-used bats of famous players before heading into the factory, where loud machines whirr. Minor league players have to use their own money to get their bats, while the major league teams supply the money for their players to use. Bats used to take 30 minutes to carve, and now it could be done in about thirty seconds. (Major league bats take 45 seconds.) Their famous logo is burned into the sides of the bats which aren't used to hit the ball, as the grain has to be tight to get the most power. Some bats get colors while others receive a quick flame to bring out the individual grains in the wood. At the end, they gave out mini-bats to everybody.

Outside the building, we talked with a guy who was sitting in a golf cart to ask him about places he'd suggest to eat. We followed his directions and found a place called Another Place Sandwich Shop. The interior is multi-leveled and eclectic. Norman Rockwell paintings adorn the walls, the menu is made of chalk, and the stairs creak ominously as we walked on them. I learned that I'm apparently a pastrami fan now. Pastramis are cool.

It was getting later, but we wanted to get as far along the road as possible. While we wanted to get all the way to Charleston, West Virginia, we got to Lexington before our GPS started to become homicidal once again and got us off on what may or may not have been the wrong road. We exited and called the phone number for the hotel. We asked about other hotels in the area, and apparently, everyone was booked. (What is it about West Virginia that prevents them from having hotel vacancies? I mean, seriously. I've been through more than half of the states that make up the US and West Virginia is the only one that never seems to have a hotel.) We actually had to double back a bit to get to our hotel, but it wasn't too much of a stretch

Tomorrow, we get home.


The Great American Road Trip - 26 - St. Louis And The Gateway Arch

Posted by Sumiki , in The Great American Road Trip Jun 10 2012 · 167 views

Posted Image

We got up in Kansas City, and we thought that we might be able to hoof it over to St. Louis in time to catch the beginning of the Cardinals game. We got up too late, however, and we needed that sleep. Plus, the temperature and humidity both were going to be high. Considering these, we got a later start, eventually getting to St. Louis.

While we didn't get to see any of the game, a nice man at the gate let my dad in to get our obligatory pennant so as to further add to our already bulging collection. I had to signal to him which one was better from a distance, but we got one in the end, thanking the man who let us in for his trouble. (He thought we were kind of crazy for being on the road for so long, but I sensed that he was glad when he heard that we were heading back.)

After this, we walked over to the Gateway Arch. Its top is over 600 feet in the air, and to ascend we had to stuff ourselves into five-person balls which ascended, adjusted, and creaked its way from under the base to the very top in four minutes. In the ascension, my dad and I made various faces at a baby girl who was on the lap of one of the other folks who was in the ball with us, but we could not get any sort of reaction from her. The top, when we got out on to it, was curved along with the ceiling, so you have to walk uphill to get to the very tip-top. The windows are tiny, and everyone was leaning over onto angled railings to peer out of them. I suppose I was looking for more glass, like the CN Tower in Toronto was full of, but since it was made in the 60s, it was not. The views out, however, were stunning. You could see far into Illinois from one end and far over St. Louis and its suburbs from the other.

At the base, looking up, the view is vertigo-inducing, as is seeing the base when I leaned at the right angle when I was peering out the top. But it was getting more and more crowded as it went, and since there were no other different views to see, we headed back down.

We then went into a historic section of St. Louis, where the asphalt gives way to cobblestone, the sidewalks turn to brick, and the facades of the buildings look like old, old factory buildings. We poked around the fronts of a few restaurants before deciding on Hannegan's, where the interior was a cool change from the mugginess of the outside. We were one of the few people in there, and as such we'd get nearly immediate refills of our three lemonades as soon as we'd taken about four sips. We tried the toasted ravioli - which, apparently, is a St. Louis institution about which we were unaware - and were impressed. We had Key Lime Pie and Mud Pie after our entrees were served. The former was delicious while the latter was not nearly as big (or as good) as the massive one we got in Spokane.

Tomorrow: Lexington, KY.


The Great American Road Trip - 25 - Archway Monument And Kansas City

Posted by Sumiki , in The Great American Road Trip Jun 09 2012 · 156 views

Posted Image

Our first stop of the day was the Archway Monument, a building that Interstate 80 goes directly under. It is at - or at the very least, near - the geographic center of the United States. It opened in 2000 and had to be lifted over the highway in one piece, shutting down I-80 for eight hours as they used specialized equipment to place it in its proper location. Its interior is a well-done museum dedicated to the pioneers going west, from the Oregon, California, and Mormon trails, to the Pony Express, to the Transcontinental Telegraph and the later Transcontinental Railroad, all the way to the first tourists who toured the country from their cars and, finally, the creation of I-80 itself. We were greeted by a man in period costume who must have had more than his fair share of professional acting lessons, for his long, scraggly, white beard, his semi-waddling gait, and his goin'-west semi-southernish accent all added to the feeling of going back in time. (The others who were there in period costume were not as hilarious as this guy was.) We were presented with wireless headphones that changed what they were playing as you moved from room to room.

I've always considered the pioneers who went westward as being a little nutty, and this didn't change my perspective on them. However, I also knew that they had to be brave to tough it out over the vast distances which they had to cross. Their life back east was hard, and life in the wagon trains, while somewhat tougher, was not the increase in toughness that I had expected. After all, they had to have had a pretty hard life in the east to want to go west so badly.

Those who came out looking for gold often ran out of luck. The traders, who sold them supplies, were the smart and shrewd ones. While supply was low and demand was high, they still jacked up the prices of various foodstuffs to absolutely astronomical levels. The price of one egg was regularly set at fifty cents, which is about double the price that they are today - and that's not even accounting for inflation. But the 49ers had to eat, so they paid up or perished. Even the ones that found gold often were forced to use it all on necessities. Often, the ones that went to California ended up in San Francisco, which, in its day, was booming. It was mainly a city of tents and houses of ill repute. It would regularly burn, but its citizens would work the next day on building it up again, just so it'd burn down again.

Exiting the monument with more knowledge than we had entered with, we got back on the road. The wind was, once again, quite brutal, and I am unsure as to whether or not it ever dies down. We briefly went into Iowa before coming down into Missouri, where we reached Kansas City. The place we had investigated online was called Woodyard BBQ, and was on the Kansas side of Kansas City. (Kansas makes this our 20th state thus far.) Woodyard started out as - what else? - a yard full of wood, where the proprietor would sell folks various kinds of wood. Eventually, he decided to throw a piece of pork on a smoker and let it cook low and slow throughout the day so he'd have something to eat by the end of the day. He ended up giving out free food to his customers, so much so that they told him to open a restaurant.

He didn't - but his descendants did.

It's not a very nice looking place; it looks like it's been used over and over again, an indicator that it's pretty good. It is two buildings, one a home and one that appears to have been a building that housed wood. We walked around for a little bit before someone who worked there gave us some menus, and we decided what we'd get. Having never been there before, it was rather hard to figure out, especially considering that everyone assumed that we had. After the food is prepared in the back, someone comes out and calls the name that you provided to the counter. If you're not around, that person had to go outside to find you.

While I didn't particularly care for any of the sides that we got, the pork was soft and delicious. it was served piled high in what appeared to be a bizarre fusion of a hot dog bun and a hoagie roll. I finished it off in short order.

Tomorrow: On to St. Louis, where we'll see the Gateway Arch as well as maybe catch a Cardinals game.


The Great American Road Trip - 24 - Scotts Bluff And Through Nebraska

Posted by Sumiki , in The Great American Road Trip Jun 08 2012 · 87 views

Posted Image

Our first stop of the day was Scotts Bluff. Because of a scraping noise that we had heard emanating from somewhere within the vicinage of the front wheels, we took the shuttle up there. We saw for a long way up there, across to some small badlands that are around a portion of it, as well as all the way to Chimney Rock, which was small and barely discernible from the sky, but we saw it nonetheless. The bluff, while not the highest thing that we've seen, was stunning in the fact that it rose up out of the prairie with no warning. After getting back to ground level, we walked along a stretch of the old Oregon Trail, where the ruts where the wagons and oxen went can still be seen.

We got back on the road, but the car's steering was acting a little funny and the scraping, tapping noise was getting progressively sharper. so we pulled into a small Nebraskan town named Kimball. While the dealership was slammed, the folks who worked there must have felt pity for us or something, because they worked us in. Within two hours, they'd replaced a ball bearing in one of the wheels, telling us that "we'd never have made it home if they hadn't replaced it then." My dad kept threatening to trade it in for a new one, but I reminded him that the process would take too long, for he would invest more time and money in getting a new one than he would if he just paid for the repairs, because he'd have spent twelve hours at the minimum at the dealership if he'd decided on the former, as is his car-buying custom.

Back on the road, we got across a significant portion of Nebraska, past both deer and more prairie dog colonies. While the wind was bad at first, it died down soon enough. Getting back into Central Time, we got to Kearney, where we stopped at a restaurant called the USA Steak Buffet. I can't say that the food was excellent, but it was alright. One could order steaks however you liked at a counter, and while I ordered mine medium, it came out well done. The next one I got was laced with fat. However, their fried chicken was pretty decent and I learned that I liked catfish. (Also, their peanut butter pie was positively glorious.)

Getting into the hotel, the lady who checked us in was surprised that we had earned so many points with our consecutive stays, and "climbing up the latter that fast." But my dad misheard the last two words, thinking that the lady said something about coming to an event known as Fat-Fest. This led to much hilarity and laughter.

Tomorrow: Kansas City, Missouri.


The Great American Road Trip - 23 - Hail, Buffalo, And Nebraska

Posted by Sumiki , in The Great American Road Trip Jun 07 2012 · 112 views

Posted Image

After breakfast in Rapid City, our first stop of the day was at Mount Rushmore. The famous heads of the four Presidents is just there in the side of the Black Hills. We discussed the construction of the sculpture with a park ranger who didn't quite know what he was talking about, but we got a few tidbits of information anyway. The sculptor of Mount Rushmore, Gutzon Borglum, originally wanted to build even more of the featured Presidents than what the final product turned out to be - Washington, for example, would be completed down to his waist, and Lincoln would have his hand on his lapel on the end. (I could see the lapel and a knuckle from the right angle.) Borglum died before the work could be completed, but there was no way to complete it anyway, considering that the quality of the lower-down rock was poor. I did not realize this beforehand, but Borglum intended for there to be a "Hall of Records" behind Rushmore, containing information, busts, and historic documents related to United States history. This too was left incomplete.

It really is epic to behold, though it's only about 500 feet up from the trail that skirts the base of the rubble that piled up from the dynamite blasts that carved 90 percent of the rock. The rest was smoothed away with jackhammers wielded by workers who dangled on flimsy-looking apparatuses. Work was done over 14 years, but only six years altogether if you count up the months in which they were able to work.

And yes, in real life, Teddy Roosevelt looks like he's hunching over Jefferson's shoulder, staring intently at Lincoln, just as he does in pretty much every single picture of the sculpture.

After getting turned around outside of Mount Rushmore, we headed on into Custer State Park. We got onto a wildlife scenic route and nearly immediately ran into a massive herd of buffalo. The adults were molting, eating, scratching, and occasionally grunting, while their young were staying around their mothers, feeding off of their milk or walking behind them. They crossed the road but they didn't stay there, nor did the car get surrounded. We also saw donkeys that were feeding by sticking their heads into the open windows of cars and licking those that were inside until they got food. A couple of morons got out - this is after signs warning not to do this, mind you - and put their arms around the neck one of the donkeys for the sake of a picture! While the donkeys are no doubt domesticated by now, considering how many people have fed them over the years, they're still wild creatures, and if something makes it jump ... well, those people would just wish that they weren't so idiotic.

After this, we saw pronghorn and deer mixed together, as well as a few more prairie dog colonies, before running into (almost literally) another herd of buffalo, who were taking their time getting across the street. One was on the other side of the hill and ran down across the street, nearly colliding with a car that was coming the other direction.

But a storm was a-coming, and we foolishly thought that we were going to make it out of there before it hit. We'd checked the weather predictions earlier in the day, and we'd seen that there was a high percentage of thunderstorm activity in the area.

What they didn't tell us was that there was ferocious, very-small-marble-sized hail that, when mixed in rain and dense fog, made the roads absolutely impassable and impenetrable. Desperate to protect the front windshield, we pulled off, but we then realized that we were just sitting ducks. Making progress, however slow it was, was universally better, and we did eventually run out of it with no car damage. (As we went through the rest of the Custer, we saw piles of ice on either side of the road, an indication of how thick the hail came down.)

As we exited the park, we went through a series of hairpin turns and blind one-land tunnels and somewhat less blind one-lane bridges which we had to honk in to let others know we were there. Others did not provide us the same luxury of advance warning, so we slammed on the brakes more than one time as people exited. (It was like this entering the park as well.)

Anxious to get out of the rain, we ran into more rain and hail when we got into Hot Springs. We let it subside while under cover before getting back on the road, where we ran into it once again. However, it was mostly rain, and once solidly in Nebraska it subsided. We got to Scottsbluff before checking into this kind-of-lousy-but-not-really-all-that-bad hotel, where the shower head sounds like a chainsaw, steps from other rooms can be felt through the floor in the form of small earthquake, and whose staff apparently never leave Scottsbluff for any reason whatsoever. (You can check out any time, but you can never leave ...)

However, this did not end the day's adventure. We walked over to an adjacent restaurant to eat. They give you the most menus per person of any joint in the free world. It took me a minute just to sluice out the main one and read over it. After we ordered, we started getting punchy. My mom stacked the small vials of cream they supply for coffee alterations into a pyramid, while my dad and I kept laughing heartily at the placing of wadded-up straw containers at the very edge of the table. (Upon second thoughts, I am unsure why this struck us as so inordinately funny.) My dad invented the Pie Dance after we sampled their delicious peanut butter silk pie, and my mom got the obligatory picture of the pie (her first attempt saw my dad stick a fork in the frame at the last second), as well as us doing the Pie Dance in tandem. (We also did the "Safety Dance" - as made semi-famous by the music video of the song of the same name by the 80s group Men Without Hats - in tandem. We all literally cried from laughter after this, and our waitress thought we were crazy at best.)

Tomorrow: The actual Scotts Bluff, for which the town is named, then on through Nebraska as far as we think we can go.


The Great American Road Trip - 22 - The Badlands

Posted by Sumiki , in The Great American Road Trip Jun 06 2012 · 67 views

Posted Image

I forgot to mention yesterday that my dad ran over a squirrel which was limping across the road. Another car, which passed by us, spooked it, and while he swerved to avoid it, the right front tire clipped it with a thud. Like many of its kind, it had a death wish, and we can only hope we served a purpose in putting it out of its misery.

Today, we did some planning over delicious omelets. Originally, we wanted to go to Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills as well as the Badlands, but since we're basically right between the two, we had to decide between them. Because we knew for certain how long Rushmore would take, we decided to see the Badlands today, stay another night, then see the other two tomorrow when we go down into Nebraska.

On the way to the Badlands, we saw sign after sign after even more hilarious sign for the most famous tourist trap in America: Wall Drug. Why any drug store needs a massive dinosaur statue in front of it, or an art collection to rival those of some museums, I will never know. It's entirely possible that Wall Drug does not even have a drug store any more, though they advertise free ice water and five-cent coffee - except to honeymooners and veterans, when it's free.

The Badlands are strange. I likened them to the Painted Desert which we saw around the Petrified Forest, but they are on a much larger and vaster scale. The prairie stops right where the Badlands begin, dropping down into massive stone curves and structures. We walked out into them, from marker to marker off of the trail. I'm glad I got as many pictures as I did, because I don't know how well I can describe it. The stone is like natural concrete, and takes a toll on your feet if you walk on it for too long. I rubbed on bits of broken-off stone and it basically came off like chalk in my hand. The ones that do not look like that look like swiss cheese concrete, as there are holes in them.

The landscape itself undulates - every bit looks the same until closer inspection reveals it to look different. Walking out onto the Badlands is easily disorienting, and if they didn't have the yellow poles cemented into the ground, we might have gotten lost out there. Canyons just drop off out of nowhere, and mesas at prairie level jut up, featuring grass on their surfaces. It's easily discernible where the surrounding Badlands have been carved away from them.

We walked around a few trails, including one that went up 200 feet in elevation around some juniper trees. I wish we could have stayed there for longer but the bugs were eating us alive. ("Look, some humans! Lunch!") The trees were beautiful, though, and kind of soft to the touch. My dad spotted a rabbit off of the trail - it might have been sleeping, since its breaths were barely discernible.

Getting back to the car, we headed on down to a small store/restaurant near the park visitor's center. We ate at the table next to the one where, on a trek my parents made with my maternal grandparents well before I was born, my late grandmother put her half-eaten buffalo burger inside her purse. (I'm sure it didn't make sense then, either.) History did not repeat itself, however; my mom had no purse on her person. (She did not purseonify that statement. I think that it's a purseonal preference.) After that, we saw some intricately made, multicolored clay sculptures of various wild animals, as well as carvings made from bone, in the gift store. We bought none, but from my pursepective, I'm still amazed that people can do such things.

As we wound our way out of the park, we noted two wild turkeys, two bighorn sheep that were unafraid of clamoring around on top of sheer cliffs, more absolutely adorable prairie dogs, and more deer and antelope. The only critter we didn't see a specimen of was the one species which we were warned about from the signs time and time again: rattlesnakes. This didn't stop us from hearing any, for as we walked along the boardwalks which some portions of the trails were made from, the grass along the sides would shudder with rattles all around. If you stopped, then the rattles would die down. If you walked again, then they'd start on up again. Despite all of this - which was very hard to miss - people still took their kids through the snake country off to the very edges of the cliffs - cliffs which are well known for occasionally giving way under pressure. It's stunning that some people are that dull.

It was a little after 5:00 that we got out of the park, conserving what very little of the camera's battery remained for the last sight of the day: a Minuteman II missile silo, situated off a dirt road off an exit off of the interstate. We had gone by the visitor's center earlier, seen some memorabilia, and a funny sign which parodied the Domino's Pizza logo, but had a rocket on the logo as well as "Delivery in 30 Minutes or Less, or Your Next One's Free" - referring, of course, to the nuclear warheads contained within. They apparently allow people in the old silo now - but we couldn't get in. The park service had posted up a sign on the fence which told us to let ourselves in, but to remember to lock the doors behind us to keep the cattle out.

This was all well and good, except for the fact that they didn't exactly provide a key. My dad and I struggled with it for a little bit, trying to see if the padlock was stuck, but alas, we could not get through. We got some good pictures from the outside before leaving, passing more signs advertising Wall Drug.

Tomorrow: we see Mount Rushmore and the surrounding Black Hills, then make our way down into Nebraska.


Posted Image


Posted Image

Posted Image

Posted Image

Posted Image

Posted Image

Posted ImagePosted Image

Posted Image

Posted Image

Posted Image


Posted Image

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

Sumiki - hat-wearing ladies man. - Black Six

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


Posted Image
Posted Image
Hat Enterprises CEO
Posted Image
Group: Premier Forum Assistants
Posts: 11200-11300
Joined: 4-September 06
Premier: 9-October 06
FM: 20-February 12
FA: 29-August 12
Member No.: 45057
Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image
25th All-Time Poster

17th All-Time Premier Poster
3rd All-Time PFA Poster

31st Most Profile Views
Cryoshell Album Winner
Posted Image
Posted Image
Posted Image
Posted Image
Posted Image
6th Most Commented Blog
4th Most Viewed Blog
9th Most Entries


Posted Image

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
10/7/14 - Fire Snake


Posted Image

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
Click to join!

Recent Comments

0 user(s) viewing

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Posted Image

Posted Image


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.


Posted Image


Posted Image