Sounds of the Road

Along the 3,100 miles of our trip we had plenty of time to listen to Joe’s Sirius radio. I also loaded up my iPod with some fun podcasts. Here’s a list of some of the stuff we listened to along the way.

Sirius has over a hundred channels of radio programming. Some of the ones we listened to include The Pulse; 20 at 20; CNN and NPR Now.

NPR puts out several podcasts of their radio shows including Car Talk; This American Life; and Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me. They also have a podcast-only series called Planet Money which is done by several NPR correspondents.

Stuff You Should Know is a podcast done by the Discovery Channel which explores a wide variety of topics and find out why things are the way they are. Topics include “How Silly Putty Works”, “How Sword Swallowing Works” and so on.

All the above podcasts are free through iTunes, although some NPR podcasts are limited to the most recent two shows.

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The Chip Bag Barometer

We’re 2,797 miles into our 3,000+ mile journey. Along the way we’ve been having fun with a surprise gauge in the car. Most cars have useful gauges like a speedometer and odometer. Our car has a barometer courtesy of a 75-cent potato chip bag.

The barometer bag on the dashboard.

We picked up the barometer on the way to Scottsdale, AZ. We stopped into a Subway  for dinner and got some bags of Lay’s Baked BBQ chips. Neither one of us felt like eating the chips right away, so we tossed the bags in the car for later and kept driving.

A day later, we noticed that the bags had gotten a bit inflated. Our route was taking us through the mountains and up to higher elevations. Which meant the air pressure was lower, so the pressure inside the bag became greater. Higher elevation=lower air pressure=a ballooning chip bag. I stuck the chip bag on the dashboard and it became our official barometer.

The highest point in our trip was the ski town of Cloudcroft, NM at 8,700ft. As Joe drove through the winding road over the mountains, the chip bag began to pop and crackle as it got bigger. At one point it got so large it popped out of the corner where it was wedged between the dashboard and the windshield. I was hoping for a spectacular bbq-flavored explosion. Joe was just hoping it wouldn’t make a mess in the car.

The bag at its most-inflated point in Cloudcroft.

Alas, the bag held strong and refused to give in to the pressure of the atmosphere. It has since slowly shrunk back to its regular sea-level proportions as we’ve driven out of the mountains and into the marshes of New Orleans.

The bag has served as a fun way to track our elevation throughout the trip. It will be decommissioned at the end of the trip when we open it up to devour its tasty contents.

The deflated chip bag/barometer near the end of the journey.

Halfway to Florida

Hi, I’m Elizabeth and I’m the friend who was crazy enough to say yes to coming along on this little cross-country adventure. We’ve made to the halfway point of Austin, where we’re taking a break from driving hundreds of miles. Instead, we’re getting out and sightseeing a bit around San Antonio and Austin.

As Joe already mentioned, this trip hasn’t been going as planned. First it was the snow in the Sierras. I’m a third-generation Floridian. Which means I’ve only seen snow once in my life and have never driven in it. Since I’d like to stay friends with Joe, it seemed like a rather bad idea for my first attempt at snow-driving to be in his car.

So we’ve been driving the southern route instead. We’ve dealt with traffic in LA (which thankfully wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be); driven for miles of absolute nothing in New Mexico; and made it through nasty rain squalls in Texas. Plus several days of driving several hundred miles and collapsing into a hotel room after midnight.

But we’ve also seen some fun stuff. Like double rainbows. A cavern large enough to hold several 747s in. And white stuff that is not snow that Joe had fun driving donuts in.

Things are going well, all things considered. I’ll post some pictures soon of the first few days of the trip.

On the road towards White Sands National Park.

On the road towards White Sands National Park.

Adios, California

Yesterday was a long day.  I drove 11 hours from Pacifica to Indio, CA, at which point I got in the passenger’s seat and passed out.  Elizabeth took the wheel for the last three hours and got us to Scottsdale around midnight.

Right now, we’re somewhere in the middle of the Arizona desert between Phoenix and Tuscon.  Modern technology is a wonderful thing.

Today, we are planning to reaching Las Cruces, NM and possibly hit the White Sands National Monument tonight. It looks like we’re going to spend an extra day over in San Antonio/Austin to break up the trip just a bit.

We’ll post more when we reach the hotel tonight and get a better Internet connection.

Southern Reroute

It’s Day 0 of the trip and I’m waiting for Elizabeth to land in San Francisco.

Since the Sierras are snowed in and may require chains, and Elizabeth has exactly zero experience with driving in snow, we’ve decided to go south then east. This actually cuts the trip by one or two days, but it doesn’t give us the opportunity to knock out some of the square states in the northern Great Plains.

Thanks to some suggestions both online and offline, here’s the new route:

  • San Francisco (Pacifica) to Phoenix via Los Angeles
  • Then to Las Cruces, NM, White Sands and Carlsbad Caverns
  • Off to San Antonio and Austin
  • New Orleans and the Big Easy
  • Finally, back home to Orlando

Our initial plan is to hoof it to Phoenix on Thursday and take Friday and Saturday a little slower. We start the drive tomorrow. At what time we will start is still subject to negotiation.

I’m not staying at the house tonight since the furniture is gone, and honestly, sleeping on the floor is killing me.  The one nice thing about being on the road for work is collecting points.  The first four nights of this trip is courtesy of Marriott or Starwood.

I had initially planned on stopping at Apple’s Headquarters in Cupertino to take pictures of One Infinite Loop. (For those with iPhones, Apple’s Headquarters is Map app icon.) Given the incredibly sad news coming out of Palo Alto earlier today, I anticipate that Apple Headquarters will be a madhouse with press and such.

Unfortunately, there are no pictures yet from the road trip. We’ll upload them as we go along.

Off to the airport … catch y’all in the morning.

Already a Change of Plans?

Hello everyone.  Looks like we may have a slight change of plans, even before we get on the road.

The forecast for Wednesday night into Thursday is for snow in the Sierra Nevada mountains. So what?  That means getting chains for the car.

Forecast for Northern CaliforniaWhile I’ve driven in the snow before – given my six years in upstate New York and my current assignment in Illinois – I’m not sure whether Elizabeth has.

It’s back to Google Maps to determine what is a viable southern route. And because I’m going south, Mom already asked me to get beignet mix as I pass New Orleans.

I welcome comments for an interesting southern route.  The easiest thing to do is I-5 down to I-10, then I-10 all the way to Florida. Though, Austin, TX sounds like a nice detour.