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The Great American Road Trip

a travel blog by JRadhirsch


I'm embarking on the Great American Road Trip. I have 3 weeks to get to Washington DC to pick up Justine from the Airport and we have 2 weeks to get back to California. I'm keeping my schedule and itinerary loose, but check back here to see where I've been and where I think I may be going.
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Mind Trip

Oakland, United States


On August 1st I quit my career. Below is an edited version of the email I sent out to my collegues at ACT on my last day.

I've been working in this business professionally since I
was 10 years old and I've done just about everything there is to do on
both sides of the stage and across most of the performing arts. When
I look back I realize that I've been in tech for most of that time and
frankly 23 years in tech is about all I had in me. The 10 year old
Jared got his wish and was fortunate enough to have worked on and with
some of the most inspiring, beautiful, moving, thought provoking and
life changing experiences this world has to offer, but it's time for
the 33 year old Jared to get to explore his dreams. My long term
strategy is to open a space for the dazzling community of artists in
this town and to subsidize it by selling them booze. I'm going to open
a bar. I don't know when, and I'm not sure how, but it's time to find
out. Somehow in my life people
and places come, go and come back again. When they're gone, it's as if
they were never there, but when they're back it's as if no time had
passed. So many of you have touched my life in ways I can never begin
to understand and I hope that I've done the same for you. This is the
hardest decision I've made in my life and I'm not entirely sure that
it's the right thing to do, but I have to try. After today, you can
email me at jradhirschATsbcglobalDOTnet and call me at 510.290.9726.

until then,
Jared


permalink written by  JRadhirsch on August 30, 2008 from Oakland, United States
from the travel blog: The Great American Road Trip
tagged Theater, ACT and Life

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Landmark

Oakland, United States


Every year for the last 3, during the last week in August I've gone to Burning Man. If your reading this, you probably know all about it and the place it holds in my heart. At my first burn, my wife and soul mate of 10years Heather and I agreed to separate. At my second Burn, I solidified my relationship with my girlfriend Justine whom I had met 5 months prior. My third burn was anti-climatic, though I did have to rescue a friend who overdosed on something we still aren't sure about while the Man was prematurely burning Monday night via arson. It was during the Burn last year that I decided that I needed to take a year off. Burning Man consumes so much of my life during the year and it drains my vacation and savings account that it leaves me without the ability to do other things. Justine and I planned on taking a trip abroad, but as the year progressed, I came to the decision about my job and with the value of the dollar, I decided to get the most bang out of my buck and embark on the Great American Road Trip. I had driven straight through the middle of the country when Heather and I moved to California, but I've never been to the Great Planes or the South before and I knew this would be my opportunity to do so.
One of the things I learned from my divorce was what it meant to be me. I had never lived by myself before and really didn't know how to make decisions without having to consider someone else. In short I didn't know who I was without someone else. When I decided on the road trip I knew that one of the things I wanted was to have a part of the trip be solo. I wanted to wake up when I felt like it, go where I felt I wanted to go, see what I wanted to see, eat what I wanted to eat, and leave when it was time for me to leave. I also knew that I wanted to do a lot of traveling with Justine and figured the best way to do that was to have her fly out mid trip and we would travel together for the last half. So that's what we are doing. I will take 3 weeks to get to Washington DC and then we will have 2 weeks to get back. We have points along the way, but we're keeping things flexible for now, letting the sun and the muse take us where she wants us to go. I've put $1300 dollars into my car and as a going away present, my friends at ACT presented me with an awesome road trip package full of things like flares, clothespins, a AAA membership and lots of jerky. I'll(we'll) be couchsurfing http://www.couchsurfing.com and camping along the way to save money and to get the insiders view of the great land of ours. I'm really fascinated to learn about new people, places and things to eat, but most importantly, I looking forward to hearing people's stories. I hate this Red State/Blue State nonsense and will do my best to hold space and listen to as many people who view life in a different way than I do. America, here I come.


permalink written by  JRadhirsch on August 30, 2008 from Oakland, United States
from the travel blog: The Great American Road Trip
tagged America, BurningMan and Jerky

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Day 1

Sacramento, United States


152,674 read my odometer as I pulled out of the gas station near my house in Oakland. $4.05/gallon was the price. 11:42am was the time. I was on my way. There is something momentous about taking your first steps toward an unknown adventure. The theme from 2001 hanging in the air. Chauncy Gardner walking out the door. I beamed. I was also scared. I kept finding things I needed to do before leaving as if delaying a 5 week road trip was truly possible by random 5 minute chores. One of the things I am embracing in this new life of mine is Courage. I have felt the fear and been held back by it. Now I want to feel it and have it help propel me forward. Quitting my job was the first experiment in courage. leaving the house and hitting the road was another.

My plan was to drive half way to Boise today and finish the rest of the drive tomorrow. Winnemucca, NV was a place I had heard about as the place if you get arrested at Burning Man, that's where the county seat is and where you have to go to face the music. Winnemucca is that half way point. About 30 minutes into the trip I placed a call to my sister to chat about life and things and that conversation resulted in my first detour of the trip. Turns out in all of my research and planning I overlooked my own backyard for something to do. Cara tipped me off to the California State Fair in Sacramento. Now I had been looking up other state fairs, but they are all gone by September so i scratched them off my list. I am so grateful to her for that suggestion. The State Fair is amazing. The Cal State Expo grounds for one are really cool with all the pavilions and grand stands, and whatnot.

The livestock displays were awesome for a city boy such as myself. Cute food, some of it still alive and in a pen and the rest of it either on a stick, or deep fried. I had to get a deep fried Twinkie. I just had to. Disgustingly good. Exactly as it should be. They also had a pretty impressive visual arts pavilion with a wide range of mediums that reflected pretty diverse disciplines. But the best part of the California State Fair were the County displays. Not all of the counties were represented (including none of the Bay Area counties,) but the ones that were there ranged from cheesy to cheese fest with a side of slaw. We're talkin the good kind of bad, not bad bad. Someone had an idea and someone else gave them the money to build it, and someone else pinned an award ribbon it. Seemed like everything there at the fair got a ribbon. What's up with that? There were an awful lot of first place llamas. Not to mention 100 different award winning jams, jellies, and preserves because boysenberry and boysenberry/blackberry count as two different categories. What must really suck is if you enter something your proud of and in the face of all those ribbons that you got none. FAIL. State wide FAIL.

I could have spent all day at the fair, but I had a county set in the middle of Nevada to get to, so after 2 hours, a hot dog on a stick, an ear of corn, a lemonade drink and the before mentioned battered and fried Twinkie (with Strawberry sauce) I hit the road.

permalink written by  JRadhirsch on September 1, 2008 from Sacramento, United States
from the travel blog: The Great American Road Trip
tagged CaliforniaStateFair, DeepFriedTwinkie, Jams, Jellies, Preserves and BeingThere

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Reno or Re-yes

Reno, United States


Driving through Reno during Labor Day was weird. Normally, I would be covered in Dust and driving home to Oakland after a week at Burning Man. Not this year. I watched all the cars heading the other direction their American Dreams dreamt and spent. I passed Hwy 447 and it's promise of tabula rasa, shed a silent joyful tear and kept on driving.

permalink written by  JRadhirsch on September 1, 2008 from Reno, United States
from the travel blog: The Great American Road Trip
tagged BurningMan and Joyfultears

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Lock your love in Lovelock

Winnemucca, United States


The drive to Winnemucca was pretty, but uneventful. I stopped in Lovelock for some gas and cause it looks like they hired a fancy PR firm to design the town banners. Lock your Love in Lovelock.

I got to Winnemucca a little later than planned what with the deep fried detour and so missed the Basque restaurants. Did you know that Winnemucca is home to the largest contingent of Basques in the US? Well, now you do. Instead, I ended up eating at a Casino and had a Casino Monday night special. NY Strip, Fried Shrimps, mashed potatoes, asparagus, and all you can eat salad and soup bar for $18. Not too shabby, pretty good, and I lost about a buck fifty in the slots. Oh well.



permalink written by  JRadhirsch on September 1, 2008 from Winnemucca, United States
from the travel blog: The Great American Road Trip
tagged Fried, Casino and Basque

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Day 2: Who Da Ho? IDAHO

Boise, United States


153,124 miles on the ole Carolla to start the day.
gas $4.88/gallon
8:49am

My day actually started at 1:30am when the fire alarm in the motel went off. I hurriedly threw on clothes, grabbed my bags, opened the door and smelled nothing burning. I hung in my doorway as people lazily sauntered around looking for the fire. There was no fire. There was a dusty heater that hadn't been turned on in months that set off the alarms. Joy. Back to bed.

The theme for today is Basque. After being denied Basque food last night, I was encouraged to seek out Basque breakfast. Alas, it was not to be. half a cup of bad coffee, or should I say continental breakfast jolted me down the road as I passed the same closed restaurants. Yesterday was Hwy 80. Today was a new one for me Hwy 95. What a beautiful drive.

There are about 3 towns between Winnemucca and Boise, none of them worth mentioning, but the hills, oh the hills. and the wildflowers. And the lone tree every 10 minutes. You gotta wonder how such a lonely tree got there out by itself.

to get from Nevada to Idaho you have to go through Oregon, though looking at a map you would wonder why. Nevada and Idaho share a border. After hundreds of miles cruising at 80mph, Oregon is a different story. 55mph and you better stick to it. So I did.

You know those ear worms you get? One of mine for a number of years has been the B-52s song and theme from the movie Your Own Private Idaho. I haven't actually heard the song in a long time, but during the drive, I played a playlist (a mix tape for those you who are romantic about such things) that Justine put together for me and that song popped on about 20 minutes from the Idaho border. Perfect timing alone on the road to Idaho. Who the ho? I the ho. It's just so much fun to say.

Boise is fascinating. the downtown is awesome. A State capitol, a big college town, and Northwest spirit. Great shops, cafes, restaurants, you name it. 5 minutes outside of downtown Boise is SPRAWL with a capitol yuck.

But let's get back to the theme for the day. Do you remember what that was? That's right: Basque. All through the drive, Basque this and Basque that kept creeping onto signs and names of streets. Someone posted on my blog yesterday that Boise should have some Basque food, so thanks to my handy Knowledge Box (my iphone) i found an AWESOME Basque place for lunch, Gurnika Bar. Lamb stew and these croquettes (they pronounce them croquettas with a long a) that were oh my god good.

After lunch I wandered around downtown and found their park which is about to undergo a centennial facelift. Justine I wish you could have seen it. It looks like it should be really nice. The onle thing that the park already has and I hope they are keeping is a beautiful rose garden. Huge. I was a bit confused by the drano blue fountains (water features, right Justine?) so I grabbed a picture of them. I took a picture of a rose, but only Justine gets to see it, cause it's for her.

I'll drive over to the couch surfer's I'm staying with in a little bit and fill you in on what happens with that tomorrow. I was going to stay in Boise tomorrow, but I think I just did the whole town in half a day, so maybe I'll hit the road.

Ha! I went a whole post without mentioning Burning Man. Oh crap. Well, here's a picture of me eating some corn from yesterday



permalink written by  JRadhirsch on September 2, 2008 from Boise, United States
from the travel blog: The Great American Road Trip
tagged Basque, Notburningman and Drano

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Day 3: I lied

Boise, United States


After posting yesterday about how I had done Boise in half a day and how I would probably not be staying another night here as I had planned, I changed my mind. I'm a liar.

I drove to my hosts Abby and Jill's house just outside of downtown and got a chance to hang out with them and another couchsurfer staying with them, Charlie. Talk about awesome people. Friends for life. Charlie had just come back from his first Burning Man (ha ha- It will follow me across the country. Look out America!) and we had much to talk about. Both Abby and Jill were getting off work at 3pm and Charlie and I had the day to pal around. I decided based on all this that it was worth really exploring the other side of this couchsurfing experiment. The social side.


Boise has what's known as the greenbelt which is a network of paths, bridges and tunnels around the greater Boise area that connects downtown with the burbs. Charlie had his bike with him and I borrowed a bike from our hosts and took off on a really stunning bike ride towards downtown.

Downtown Boise as I said yesterday is a state capitol mashed up with a University town. As such, it has great coffee shops . Dawson Taylor would be our home base for the day, sitting on our computers, drinking caffeinated beverages, writing postcards, eating lunch: you know: things you do when you have no job but want to contemplate your place in the world and how progressive you are. Check.


Charlie's mission for the day was to figure out how to get to Washington State without a car. He had the crazy idea that he could ride his bike clear across Idaho and halfway into Washington. Charlie's the kind of guy who sees only obstacles to overcome, not problems. I find a lot of admiration in that way of living. We ended up riding a few miles out of downtown to the Idaho Department of Transportation building so that he could pick up some bike route maps. It's the kind of thing that would never have occurred to me: Using a state agency for information about it's intended purpose. I need to get to know my municipalities and its services more. They were so helpful and we wound talking to the security guard and receptionist there for an hour about a variety of topics including what it is like driving through Texas with out of state plates. I can't wait! Charlie took me to some random Pizza joint that he had made friends in the other day and they made us a pretty good pie and charged us very little for it. Did I say how much I liked Charlie? We took the pie back to the house and were greeted by two new Couch surfers form Virginia who were on their way to Portland. Charlie seized on the moment and they repacked their car to fit him in for their ride tomorrow. No need to ride his bike clear across the mountains. I have a feeling that had we not gone to the Dep't of Transportation today that there wouldn't have been a ride waiting for him when we got back. After the getting to know yous the six of us went downtown to a mid week after work summer time music festival, had a few beers and then got dinner at a decent pub which featured the best middle aged white women's blues act I've never dreamed possible. She sung her heart out and her backing band never missed a beat. The whole table of us were tapping out the rhythm and bobbing out heads in unison. After that we drove home and sat here swapping travel stories, sharing travel tips and advice on what things to see where. I love Couch surfing. I'm also about 8 years older than anyone else and have gotten to act the wiser older friend to these upstarts which if you know me is a real treat.

Tomorrow- Idaho>Yellowstone. I'll probably be out of communication for a few days (3?) as i camp and disconnect from civilization. I'll be back though. Miss me. Really. I want tears.

permalink written by  JRadhirsch on September 3, 2008 from Boise, United States
from the travel blog: The Great American Road Trip
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Day 4- Failed attempts to cross Idaho

Twin Falls, United States


The plan as you may remember was to drive to Yellowstone. Well, that didn't happen exactly, and it's a good thing cause I saw a lot more of what I came on this trip to find. More on that later. My failed attempt to cross Idaho was eerily predicted by a person much braver than me at my first stop at Twin Falls Idaho: The site of the late, great Evil Kinevil's failed attempt to cross the Snake River via rocket.

The lovely guide at the Information booth kindly explained that his parachute deployed earlier than expected, but that he was unhurt. Along with this washed out drawing of what they hoped his rocket would look like as he arced his way across the Canyon, there is a lovely walk along the Canyon wall where I took this picture of the bridge that successfully does what Evil could not.
As it is America that we are in the view 180 degrees behind me taking this picture was of a strip of Box stores.
. The Canyon hike actually crossed through the parking lot. Also was this nice sculpture of The Twins in Twin Falls


permalink written by  JRadhirsch on September 4, 2008 from Twin Falls, United States
from the travel blog: The Great American Road Trip
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It's cold in this barren wasteland

Shoshone, United States


I wanted to see the Crater's of The Moon National Park before hedding into Yellowstone and the half way point along two lane highways was The Shoshone Ice Cave.
most of this section of Idaho are "active" lava flows. Active as in there could still be an eruption from the volcanos that made them, but haven't done so in 2000 years. The Shoshone Ice Cave is a great road side attraction in that the attraction is truly stop worthy and it combines it with that great American need to sell something. Anything. As if descending into a cave filled with ice (even during summer!) isn't enough, they have the ubiquitous cement dinosaur
and gift shop selling rocks, Indian arts and crafts and this little piece of kitchy Americana
. After waiting 45 minutes for the tour the group of 4 of us were led over barren fields of volcanic rock, down cement reinforced steps to a creeky wooden door. It got cold really fast as the wind from the caves dropped the temp about 30 degrees in as many feet. The guide told us that the early settlers in the area knew about the caves and mined the ice to sell in local taverns as the only cold drink west of the rockies. The gov't got their hands on it in 1937, "ruined" the place and sold it to some guy in the 50s who restored it. What remains is a large cavern with a 20' thick ice floor. I tried taking pictures, but they didn't come out. I bet you can find some on the interwebs if you look. Okay fine I'll do the hard task of searching for it for you here: http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&hs=YCh&q=Shoshone%20ice%20cave&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wi


permalink written by  JRadhirsch on September 4, 2008 from Shoshone, United States
from the travel blog: The Great American Road Trip
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Courage defined

Arco, United States


The clock was ticking and I was still at least 4 hours away from yellowstone. After consulting with Justine via phone, I decided to camp instead at the Crater's of the Moon National Park. 3 "active" volcanoes (remember what I said active meant in the last post) and their lava flows is the main reason this is a National Park. I set up camp and took of on their featured hike visiting all three of them. The is where courage kicked in. Many of you know that I have an irrational relationship with exercise of any sort. It has dogged me since as a child I was picked last for every team sport. I tried in my twenties to thwart this by enrolling with Heather in Team In Training and training to run a marathon. It worked gloriously for her, but I quit and burned that psyche scar all the deeper. Yet again I was a failure and would never be good enough to be feel confident in physical activity of any sort. After taking a three day seminar course called the Landmark Forum (you can ask me about it privately if you wish) I resolved to walk through my fears with courage. It was here in Idaho that I walked through that fire (get it?). The hike was about 4 Miles round trip and most of it was vertical. (Beautiful by the way and educational to boot. I highly recommend doing it if your ever in Eastern Idaho.) After the first breathless mile I was ready to turn around. I keep trying to justify why I should go back. The sun was dropping, I might get hurt, I was out of breath, etc. instead, I paused, thought about courage and kept on going. It was hard, both physically and mentally, but I made it.
I was sore the next day, but it was worth it. I walked through my fear, was rewarded with breathtaking vistas and got to tell you all about it here.


permalink written by  JRadhirsch on September 4, 2008 from Arco, United States
from the travel blog: The Great American Road Trip
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