Well, I made it to Austin in one piece (and my car survived the trip). Just for kicks, I kept a log of my trip, which I'm going to transcribe here. I should note here that all of the times listed are Pacific times.
This is my last night in Livermore. I went to dinner with my roommates, Ian and Scott at the Casa de Orozco. I had a "Chile Coloroda" and a strawberry Daqiri. The only reason why I'm actually counting this as a part of the trip is that Scott and I convinced Ian to drink a beer (albeit a Corona). Interestingly enough, he said that he liked it. After all those wonderful McMennimen's microbrews that he disliked, we find that he likes the piss beer (granted, the best of the piss beers, but still...).
8:00 Having packed all of my stuff into the car and taken a brief nap, I'm now out of the chute. With luck, I'll be able to get past LA tonight and maybe even not have to deal with too much traffic. This should take around 6 hours of driving.
9:00 Stopped at a rest area. It's dark and uneventful so far. Not very scenic, as there's no daylight.
11:00 Stopped at a rest area somewhere south of Fresno. I'm over 1/3 of the way to LA. I'm feeling a little sleepy, but I have a caffeine source (Pepsi). It's too dark to be taking pictures, and the lights from the Californians are annoying. These stupid people have a wierd herd instinct when driving, wherein they will speed up until they get right behind (as in, tailgating) the car in front of them. Then, instead of just passing the car (using the open lane), they will slow down and follow the car with their annoyingly bright lights. I thought at first that this was just one idiot in his raised truck. It turns out that most people from this state will drive like this. I should note for the record that the only reason that I didn't know this before is that I haven't done much driving in rural parts of California, let alone at night. Northern californians (north of Redding and Chico) don't do this, in any case. On the up side, the stars are really pretty.
12:00 Stopped at a rest stop and talked to my parents. I've made good time, only about 120 miles until I reach LA. With a little luck, I'll make it through.
2:00 Passed the LA city limits sign. I can't believe that LA's city (not the metro area, just the city) has the same population (~3.3 million) as the entire state of Oregon. Why would you want to live like that?
2:30 Stopped for gas. Virtually no traffic (I got lucky there), but I'm still in the city/suburbia-- it seems to go on and on and on. There's even a Grand Avenue (why is it always "Grand Avenue," and never "Grand Street" or "Grand Boulevard?"). If this comment doesn't make sense, ask Ian about taking Grand Avenue in Portland (and about how evey city has their own Grand Avenue). Needed to pee, the bathroom was locked, but I saw a Planned Parenthood building, and so I thought, ah, what the heck. ok, I didn't go urinate on their window, but I did shake my fist at that cursed building, and then went on my merry way.
3:15 Stopped for the night in Banning. I'm hoping that this is outside of the suburbia hell that is LA. I'm going to get some shut-eye at the Day's Inn, and then start again tomorrow morning. 400 miles down, 1300 to go!
10:00 Depart from hotel. It's already fairly warm. Palm Springs is about 25 miles from here.traffic is ok, so I must be close to the end of LA. I'd like to try and get some distance before it gets to hot. I have taken some pictures of some of the mountains in the area.
10:50 Stop for gas in Palm Springs. I've hit desert-- it's hot, dry, arid, and there are lots of rocks and few trees. I also see lots of windmills.
11:30 Rest stop in the California desert. It's quite hot and arid. Took some pictures, including a couple of self-portraits. I should have about 2-2.5 hourse left befor it gets too hot to continue. I should stop for lunch soon.
12:30 Stopped for lunch in Blythe. I'll be in Arizona soon. It took a while for them to get me my food (I ended up getting a free peanut buster parfeit out of it). I'm going to try to get to the second rest area from here and then stop and wait out the heat. I have a little over 120 miles to go before I reach Phoeniz. According to the weather forecasts, this will be the hot leg of the journey-- reaching up to 106 or so degrees. After Phoenix, it's supposed to be a lot cooler for the rest of the trip. I talked to my fatehr for about 10 minutes, and will call again when I stop to rest. I also saw a sign that said "State Prison This Exit." Under it, another sign added "Do no pick up hitchhikers."
1:30 Welcome to Arizona.
2:20 Stopped at a rest area. Will wait 3-4 hours before starting up again. The weather should be cooler by then. I started to see cacti within 5 miles of the Arizona border. I'm pretty much in the middle of nowhere, as evidenced by the road signs giving distance to Phoenix, Tucson, and next nearest rest area (from 20+ miles away). It's about 80 miles until I hit Phoenix (a little less, actually). FOr a while there I thought that I may have been in Mexico-- I couldn't find any radio stations in English, but found a couple in Spanish.
6:00 It's colled down quite a bit, so I'm getting back on the road again.
6:30 Stopped for dinner.
7:30 I've made it through Phoenix. I'll be in Tucson in about 80 miles, and am now at a rest area. I've said a little prayer and made some phone calls (one to my parents, to let them know that I'm still ok, and another to Madison, my friend stationed at Ft. Bliss in El Paso).
9:00 Lightning storm begins.
9:30 Stopped for gas-- I was almost out. I got lucky though, as the price was "only" $3.10 per gallon. Still, it's less than the prices have been since leaving Oregon two months ago. I'm about 260 miles from El Paso, and am planning to try and make Las Cruces tonight (will stay there, it's about 50 miles from El Paso). Will probably see Madison tommorrow morning. I've also passed the "halfway there" mark: 860 miles.
11:30 Stopped at a rest area. I have 82 miles until Las Cruces. The Lightning storm is now in full force, and I even got a few short video clips. It is very odd to see lighning striking the area ahead of me while at the same time seeing stars above and behind me.
1:30 Have arrived at Las Cruces. All of the hotels are full. There are some motels in a more run-down part of town, but I'm a little afraid to stay in them-- there are a few suspicious-looking characters walking around the area. I've decided to sleep in my car near the hotels in the nicer part of town. My P-111 is close at hand, thogh, just in case. The weather outside includes very bright lightning and a monsoon. There is little visibility, so I can't really go to the next town to find lodgin there. On the bright side, I did meet my 650 mile goal for the day, putting my on schedule to make Austin by tommorrow (late night). As and aside, I found an interesting radio station that plays a bunch of music in English, with the occasion al mariachi band in Spanish; however, the dj's were all speaking Spanish.
8:00 Woke up in my car feeling a little cramped. Decided to go for a walk/stretch break, as I am not planning to meet up with Madison unti laround lunchtime. Went to a coffe shop and got a tea/smoothie. I also used their restroom to give myself a sort of sponge bath.
10:30 I'm on the road again. I should be in El Paso in about an hour.
11:30 I've stopped in El Paso and am wating for Madison and her friend to come meet me. While waiting for them to meet me, I saw a Driver's Ed car pull into the parking lot. My first thought upon seeing the student driver was, "Wouldn't it be funny if Jon (my little brother) or somebody else jumped on the hood of the car as if they'd been hit at high-speed and then, screaming in pain, pressed his/r faced agains the front windshield and then began to make faces." Nobody did, though.
2:15 I've had a nice little visit with Madison. I don't think I've seen her since she joined the army. We had lunch at a little steak house, and then she gave me a tour of Ft. Bliss. THere were lots of decorative (gutted) vehicled (artillerry, APCs, and a couple of tanks). No bombs, though (thus, no "Slim Pickens" pictures; I wore my hat...). Madison also let me use her shower, so I feel a bit more refreshed. I'm now on the road again, fighting El Paso's traffic, and I probably won't see Madison again until around Christmas time. Her son will have been born by then. I still have about 600 miles to go unitl I reach AUstin.
3:15 Stopped at a rest area. I've made it through El Paso; there's still lightning storms,so I should probably try to get some miles before nightfall. Interesting signs in the last hour include that there is a different speed limit depending upon whether it is daytime or nightime, and that El Paso has a posted minimum spee of 45 miles per hour. Now that El Paso is behind me, it should be most dessert, fields, and mountains between me and Austin-- very few people. Only about 550 miles to go.
5:00 I've stopped at a rest area. There have been maybe 2 towns in the last 100 or so miles. The speed limit out here is 80 miles per hour, but that falls to 65 after nightfall, so I should try to get as much distance as possible befroe then. I found a Catholic radio station. They were discussing the connection between euthanasia, abortiopn, and birth control. One item mentioned was that birth control requires abortion as a "backup" option-- this is a good point, and all too true.
7:00 Stopped at a gas station to refuel. The station was empty, derelict. The pumps were active, but they wouldn't read my car, so me and some others headed to another station about 6 miles up the road. Lucky thing that the next station was so close, they've been over 30 miles apart on average.
7:30 Stopped for dinner at Ft. Stockton. My lastest estimates would put me in Austin at around
3:00 AM (local time; 1:00 AM P.T.). Jon says that he's on duty (as a Resident Hall Assistant) tonight, so he may still be awake, and I'm planning to stay with him for tonight. I talked briefly to my parents and my brother, but since I didn't get to charge my phone last night, the battery is nearly dead.
8:30 Stopped at a rest area. Haven't been able to use my phone, because I'm saving that last call for an emergency or to call my brother when I get to Austin. A little over 300 miles to go.
12:30 I stopped at a rest stop, got out, and heard a hissing sound. Not good. I grabbed my flashlight and found that my rear driver's side tire had been puntured and was going flat. I had to dig all of the stuff out of my trunk to get to the spare, and some guy at the rest stop helped my change tires. I'm about midway between Fredericksburg and Johnson City. I won't be able to do anything more about it tonight, so I'm going to sleep in my car at the rest stop. The P-111 will be close at hand again. Ugh, two nights in a row sleeping in my car, which is full of stuff. I don't even get to stretch across the entire seat or recline my seat! Luckily, there are power outlets on the lamps at theis rest stop, so I can recharge my phone. At least there's that.
5:30 I woke up stiff and cramped. It's time to limp my car to Johnson city to get that tire fixed (or replaced).
6:15 Made it to Johnson City, and stopped at a gas station to aks for directions. The attendant says that the only place in town that might be able to help me is closed today, so I'm going to have to backtrack to Fredericksburg, about 30 miles away. Ouch.
7:30 Arrive at the only place in the area that can halp-- Wal-Mart. I'm really glad that there's a Wal-Mart in Fredericksburg, otherwise I would have beecn stuck until tomorrow. Yay for Wal-Mart. Unfortunately, they couldn't reapair the tire, and so I had to replace it. Apparently, the puncture was due to running over some animal-- the guy pulled some bones out of the tire. It must have been that roadkill that I ran over around the blind turn just before the rest stop. I ended up spending time reading the "Conservative Mind" by Russell Kirk while they changed the tire. Well, I've only got 70 miles or so to go, and I need to ge tthere after 1:00 (local time;
9:30 On the road again.
9:35 Saw a great anti-littering sign. The sign read: "Don't mess with Texas." It then gave the penalty ($1000) for littering.
11:30 Finally arrive at my apartment in Austin. Checking in took some time. It looks like my roommate has already moved in, but he is also out of town. Based on the calender that he had hangin in the hall, he probably lived here last year, too. And based on the books on his shelf, he is a business major (or possibly an economics major). I guess I'llfind out whenever he gets back, but in any case, it's time to go visit my brother.