1 November: I woke up again lamenting my good faith attempt to become part of a ridiculous organization and do some good. Glad for the people I met, I nevertheless felt desperate to get the hell up out of that bitch. I had NO idea that would be the day I ETSed.
Here I am with my Post Clearing Checklist. Waiting, just minutes from signing my DD-214 and handing over my ID. KDC and I were together, and she and I were planning to head for Atlanta and have a much-deserved beer.
At the place where we signed out, we laughed at the "No Running" signs on the stairs. Seems we're all really, really ready to get out of there.
The next morning I dropped her off at the airport and cried like a baby. She is important to me. She kept me sane, and kept me from flinging myself off the roof. I miss her.
Above, KDC looking out of our prison.
So I waited for the next chapter to begin. Picked up my mom at the airport a few days later, and we began an epic road trip. We ate waffles in Corbin KY:
We continued on to see MI. It was fall when we left GA, and it felt like late fall when we arrived in MI. We stopped at the Creation Museum [sic] in KY, and felt righteous.
MT showed us an amazing time, and I really didn't want to leave. We went to the Rouge Ford plant, and I actually really enjoyed the tour. I had no idea how hand made cars are, and I liked being in a place where union membership isn't suspicious. Then we went to get really good Arab food.
On to Chicago:
We stayed with LL for a few days. I really liked Chicago. The people were really nice, and the city is beautiful. We were there for most of the pretty colors of fall.
Then on to Wisconsin, or some other place in the Midwest. It all started to look the same. Pretty, but flat.
We encountered our first snow in Minnesota. It was pretty predictable, I suppose. We went from Georgia, up north to Michigan and planed to head west along a northern route in November.
This is Albert Lea, MN. Or something like that. We were stuck there for a day after only making it about 30 miles from where we began.
The above is in South Dakota, the first time we saw sun for a while. SD also marked the point at which the landscape transitioned into something other than flat+barn. The rolling hills of the Bad Lands welcomed us.
From Rapid City, home of the largest Best Western in the world, or something like that, we discovered that we were quite close to Mount Rushmore. I had no idea. Rushmore and Deadwood are about 30 miles apart. Double score.
It began snowing at Rushmore, and by the time we ascended to Deadwood, it was pretty slushy. I was rather nerve wracked from the drive. Deadwood in November is soooo off-season the waitress asked us if we merited the locals discount for our lunch. We hunkered down for the night and hennaed (sp?) our hair.
Everything in Deadwood is for lease. It's a gambling town.
On to Montana, my favorite state, and the day of the most treacherous drive.
By the time we made it to Lame Deer, or Deer Tick as I like to call it, we'd made it through the worst.
Montana is just the coolest state. I had no idea, but I really liked it there. I think we agreed that Missoula is a really great town, freezing, sideways snow not withstanding.
Another mad dash through a pass. We drove from Missoula to Seattle in one day. Above is Snoqualmie pass, important only because it's where Twin Peaks was filled, or as we say in Jordan, Twin Beaks.
Seattle is a horrible city, and I curse that place. With the exception of P and K, who showed us a great time, I was ready to go. It was the low point of an otherwise great trip.
Then on to Portland, and another mad dash through snow.
Portland is a great city. M and J hosted us, and fed us well. Man, they make some good coffee there.
Did you say you wanted to read about another crazy race with the snow through an unsafe mountain pass? Well, wait no more, reader. We drove from Portland to Berkeley for our last day. We passed a sign on the highway nearing the CA border telling us we needed chains, and there would be a chain check ahead. I looked for a place to turn back, but not only was there no way to do so, but there was no chain check. So, on we headed up the grade that turned increasingly slushy. Onward little German car! That GTI is a beast. Here is the traffic headed up, as we head down:
Then finally to California!
Somehow, literally as we crossed the state line into California, the sun emerged for the first time in a few states. Above is Mount Shasta.
Back in San Diego:
K stocks up.
This is necessary in order to enjoy his stash from Shatilla in Deerborn. We think they put crack in the bird nests.
All in all, with the exception of Seattle, the trip was amazing, and I really enjoyed the chance to spend time with my mom. It was good for me to see the country. I'm too California-centric. Not that I feel too bad. It's 65 degrees here today on the coast. But, I am so glad we headed north and I saw something beyond the south west states.