Thursday, January 28, 2010

On to Colorado!!!!

So Wednesday morning, I'm awoken by my alarm.... 5 a.m.... snooze..... 5:10 a.m. snooze.... 5:20 a.m. Enough already! I reset the alarm for 6 a.m.

6:00 a.m.: I gotta get going or I'll never make it to Chicago on time. I had about 800 miles between me and my cousin, Karen, in Chicago. This is it. The start of another journey. I wouldn't see New Jersey, my family, or friends for quite some time. I imagine 6 months after my stay in the Rockies. The goodbye was simple. If I had to say goodbye 2 days earlier, I probably would have gotten choked up. For some reason, 2 nights ago, I had doubts about leaving my home in West Orange. I was okay at that moment though. Some words of wisdom from both my parents, some hugs, and begin. Car loaded with almost all my clothes, a couple pairs of shoes and boots, an awkwardly placed pair of skis that jutted into the passenger seat area, and gifts for my uncle in Colorado and cousins in Chicago, my car felt a bit sluggish.
The plan was to go to Chicago and see my cousin's Karen and Edwin. It's been more than a couple of years since I've seen them. Have a nice dinner and catch up with them. Then drive a couple more hours into Iowa to hit the midway point. Why not take my time? Well after much internet research, I only found a handful of places not far off track that I was interested in. Unfortunately, most of those places need to be visited in the summer, like state parks and lakes and such. I was considering going to Punxsutawney, PA, where they have the groundhog. Even though I wasn't going to be around the ceremony, I wanted to check it out. I mean, come on, who didn't love Groundhog's Day with Bill Murray. I skipped it though. There just aren't many points of interest. On top of it, having delayed my trip out to Colorado by 10 days, I was ready to get there and stabilize myself.

12 hours later.... I arrive in Chicago. There really isn't anything worth mentioning about that drive there. It's just plain boring. Nothing in PA or Ohio or Indiana... it only gets interesting close to Chicago. So Chicago is really nice in the winter. Lights are hung on the trees along Michagan Ave. There's people in there winter coats along the streets. Plenty of ritzy shops. I passed some kind of ice sculpture display in a park. No sculptures were complete the. I guess they were just setting up. I'd like to return and hang out there sometime. Though I'm not one for cities after my stay in Hawaii, man made wonders can still amaze me.

So my cousin Karen's place is this beautiful 4 level apartment. It was so spacious and just gorgeous. She's an orthopedic surgeon by the way and really bright. I haven't seen her in almost 2 years. The last time, I believe, was at a Chinese New Year party at my house. She looks the same. Actually, in my opinion, both Karen and my other cousin Edwin, always seem to look the same as when I was growing up. They're about a decade ahead of me but still look young. Anyway, the entrance is from the street, and leads into kind of a furnished basement, foyer area. The living room and kitchen on the second. Then 2 more floors of 4 bedrooms. She says that from the 4th floor they can see the fireworks that Chicago has in the summer and holidays. So after a quick greeting, I see Michael, her husband, Melia, their 2 year old, and for the first time Annie, the newborn. One of Michael's first comments was, she looks like a boy. Doesn't she? It was the last thing on my mind but yeah, you're right. Soon enough, Edwin comes with a deep dish Chicago style pizza. Just what I had in mind. I had thought earlier, I'm going to Chicago, what food are they known for. We just stayed in and I decided to stay the night. I was so tired and asleep by 10 am. Thanks Karen, Michael, Melia, and Annie for having me! Hope to see you soon!

 Somewhere in Ohio.
 Nebraska. As you can see, not much of anything along the trip.

So 6:30 am, I depart Chicago. Could I make it in a day to Avon, Co? It's like 18 hours. Actually it is 18 hours. So yes I made it here. The drive had some highlights. I crossed the Mississippi! Don't know why I'm excited by that but whatever. Iowa and Nebraska are plain old boring. Rolling hills of farms and farms. There was a windmill farm at one point, which looked pretty cool. Also there was a nice sunset along the way. Most of the day was just overcast and extremely cold. It was in single digits and the windchill brought it to below freezing. I was outside for a couple of minutes, putting more air in my tires and my ears were like frozen when I got back into the car. I guess the temperature drop deflated my tires. I started to recall a chemistry formula that would allow me to figure out the pressure change. PV=nrT. Pressure * Volume = (number of molecules or something) * (some constant) * Temperature After a bit, I figured out how to calculate it. So P1/T1=P2/T2. Then I remembered temperature had to be in Celsisus. I forgot the conversion and couldn't figure out the pressure change. It kept my mind entertained for a bit while driving. I also found out there are interstates with speed limits of 75 mph. I80 in parts of Nebraska and Colorado have it. I didn't know that. I always thought the max was 65. Of course, I still go 10 over. It's just my New Jersey rule of thumb. Luckily for me, I didn't get pulled over. Well not until the very end. As I'm rounding the corner, maybe 2 miles from my uncle's house, this truck begins to tail gate me. I get annoyed and just speed up. Then the lights.... jeez... after talking with him, he pulled me over for not stopping at a stop sign and speeding on another residential road going 40 mph when the limit was 30. After explaining that this is my first time driving in the area and that I've been driving for 17 plus hours, he takes my ID and stuff and heads back. When he gets back, no ticket!!!! He gives me a warning and his business card (he explicitly stated that he has to give those). I'm thankful and shake his hand. He has a nice guy.

So almost 1900 miles later, a total for 30 hours on the road, I'm in Avon, Colorado. I've never eaten so much junk food in such a short period of time. McDonald's was a staple plus some other road stop food. I'm tired and going to sleep. Here some pics of Avon and Vail for those who have never been in a ski town or the mountains.

 Avon, Colorado - Town Center
 They have a lot of circles like Europe. I haven't really seen any stop lights in the area.
 View from town looking at Beaver Creek

 Sunset from my uncle's house in Avon.

 Vail Village
 Ice rink in Vail Village

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