Map for My Post-Dissertation Road Trip

Although it’s also sort of a during-dissertation road trip.

2014 Road Trip

Not pictured is the flying from San Diego to Pittsburgh and back. Long may it remain unpictured!

Presumed worst parts (in chronological order):

  • Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois
  • OK to the Rockies
  • I-80 across Wyo (time permitting, maybe I’ll drive the Colorado route instead)
  • North Texas


Arrival, Move Day 4 (Terre Haute to Pittsburgh)

  1. It was only 7 1/2 hours on Day 4.
  2. If I’d had running lights on the trailer, this really could have been a three-day trip — it was about 40 hours total.
  3. Ohio has nice rest stops. I mean almost shockingly nice.
  4. The Ohio River Valley (WVa in particular) is pretty.
  5. You can get really good hotel deals out at the airport via hotwire and priceline (Holiday Inn = $40/night).
  6. The house was here when I got here and mostly how I remembered it.

Anti-climactic, I know. Here’s a photo of Pittsburgh from Carson Street.

Bis später,


This Missouri Compromise, Move Day 3 (Dodge City to Terre Haute)

I didn’t make any compromises in Missouri. Unless just not stopping is considered a compromise. Come to think of it, I *did* come to a complete stop on the 270 (freeway north of St. Louis) a few times, but that was just because of traffic. And there was a ’94 Corolla that just about compromised the front end of my truck — that was also near St. Louis.

Got out of Dodge (har!) around 7, bought gas in Olathe, Kan., then again in Greenville, Ill. Mileage is off a little bit (15 and 16), but still, I’m averaging 16 for the trip and if you had told me a week ago I’d be getting 16 mpg pulling a fully laden trailer, I’d have been, you know, pleasantly surprised.

Here’s a photo I took since photos make everything better:

Although maybe not this particular photo so much.


  • I think crossing Kansas is probably more interesting than crossing Nebraska. It’s a low-set bar, yes, but in Nebraska everything’s awful until you hit Lincoln. In Kansas, things start getting a little greener and hillier around Hutchinson, which beats Lincoln by over a full degree of longitude, ergo Kansas ftw.
  • 742 miles total.
  • There seems to be a Pabst Blue Ribbon-drinkers convention going on at the Days Inn in Terre Haute tonight. Possibly also tomorrow, I’m not sure.
  • Driving through Southern Illinois is more pleasant than driving through northern. It’s like an extended remix of eastern Kansas and there’s no rat’s nest of under-construction tollways to navigate.
  • And it’s looking like I’ll be able to finish the trip without having paid a single toll.
  • Missouri’s a pretty state to look at from the freeway..
  • Except that I-70 from Kansas City to St. Louis is choked with semi-trucks. They dissipate once you hit St. Lou, but till then, man!

And now there are only 7 1/2 more driving hours till I reach the job site. Hopefully I can get water, power, and gas activated on Friday.


Bloody Kansas, Move Day 2 (Holbrook to Dodge City)

That’s right, Kansas. More importantly:

  1. I’ve lost my sunflower seed inner-cheek callous. There will be a few more days of pain as the tissues rebuild.
  2. Got on the road before 6 this morning.
  3. Covered 697 miles today.
  4. If you want to know what a place looks like *right before* it turns into a ghost town, I recommend taking a drive down Main Street in Tucumcari, N.M.
  5. When you put a lot of cattle together in one place, it doesn’t smell very good.
  6. One day I will write a critique of American drivers. It will be entitled Brave Enough to Tailgate, Too Scared to Pass. There will be at least one chapter dedicated to Arizona.
  7. Mileage: 15, 19 (!). The 15 was driving primarily uphill and the 19 primarily downhill. But still. My truck seems to appreciate being given a real truck job to do. It handles the trailer like a champ.
  8. Bought gas in Gallup and Santa Rosa.
  9. Having now been to Dodge City, I realize I may not have given Deadwood enough credit.
  10. I’m surprised by how much of Mexico currently resides in southwestern Kansas.

Behold, the once-wild West!:

Dodge City Boot HillDodge City’s Boot Hill, aka the parking lot next to Applebee’s.

I’m also impressed that New Mexico’s rest area authority is so interested in voice-of-customer data:

We refers to “men”, I imagine.

I didn’t vote. It looked like there were germs on the buttons.


Big Move, Day 1 (San Diego to Holbrook)

It begins!

shadow of truck and trailerThat’s my truck(‘s shadow).

Miles Driven: 521

Gas Mileage: 16 (!) — kind of ridiculous. It’s the same mileage I got on the cross-country road trip, only this time I got the bed of the truck full to the gills and am pulling 2,000 lbs. worth of crap in a U-Haul trailer that’s older than I am. Next time I take a 22,000-mile road trip, I gotta make sure the tires are inflated I guess.

Best Song: Johnny Cash’s “Man In Black” seemed really good when it came on. I think Johnny Cash probably just sounds good on road trips though.

Best Stretch of Road: Hwy 260 from Payson, Ariz. to Heber, Ariz. Awesome roadscape, kind of reminded me of the area around Flagstaff (I guess that kind of makes sense). Mountains, tall trees, reddish rocks, surprising road-side lakes — really pretty drive.  Couple pics (cell phone while driving):

Highway 260 in Arizona

From Payson to Heber, ArizonaThere was construction.

Best Thing Consumed: The Del Taco in Yuma was a little disappointing, but then the Indian reservation convenience store in Mesa had Code Red on tap and, man, I’d forgotten how good fountain Code Red was.

What My Rig Looks Like:

Full Truck and TrailerAlso sort of what my brother’s driveway looks like.

Next Up!: I dunno. I’m thinking I’ll go ahead and add an hour to the trip (taking it from 38 hours driving to 39) and head up into Kansas instead of running through Amarillo and Oklahoma-OK again. Haven’t driven through much of Kansas (I’m sure it’s fascinating). Maybe Salina tomorrow night? Couldn’t find any blown fuses this morning that would explain why the running lights on the trailer don’t work, so I’m trying not to drive in the dark, which is kind of constraining.

And I might change my mind in the morning and just try to make it to OKC. Mal sehen.


Reading Angle of Repose While Moving Back East: The Sequel

Was reading Angle of Repose when I was in Pittsburgh a few weeks ago (the house-hunting trip) and realized where/when I’d last read it: when I was moving to NYC back in 2005. I remember sitting in the airport in Cincinnati (where I was making a connection on Delta) reading it and thinking it was particularly odd to be getting so wrapped up in The West while abandoning it for the most East Coast of east coast cities.

It also struck me as probably a really bad way to begin the NYC adventure — by longing for the wild, open spaces of the west.

There’s a lot that’s different this time around, though, in particular:

  1. Pittsburgh is not New York City. You can drive in Pittsburgh. There are grocery stores with parking lots. Stuff is CHEAP. I’m going to be living in a house with a yard and a garage. I’ll be working with a group of people and I’ve already met some that are cool while at the same time not manic-depressive.
  2. Pittsburgh is sort-of the West. Definitely through the Angle of Repose lens Pittsburgh would have been considered more like the wilderness that it would have been like the civilization of New York. And it’s sort of a frontier town anyway. Once you get out of downtown and Oakland, Pittsburgh starts looking and feeling like the capital of Appalachia, more like a part of West Virginia than part of the same state that includes Philadelphia.
  3. The west isn’t The West. Maybe there are parts of Montana and Nevada that shouldn’t be painted with this gloss, but the modern-day west has nothing to do with the frontiers and taming-the-wilderness values and lifestyle of Angle of Repose. That’s one of the things the road trip taught me — the romantic West is pretty dead. In fact, it seemed more controlled and less “rugged individualist” than a lot of other parts of the country. Wyoming had the most offensive, threatening road signs in the country (e.g., “if you don’t wear your seatbelt, we’ll find you and it will cost you”-type messages) and most of the west was similar. Granted, I tend to perceive the world almost exclusively through a windshield, which might not always be an accurate reflection of reality, but still — driving in Michigan, for example, felt considerably more free. And after you’ve been on the trail to Half Dome for an hour and a half, you realize that the freedom and solitude and therefore to a large extent the bigness of the western wilderness is likewise little more than a matter of legend.

So basically, I think Pittsburgh will be much better than New York. And I don’t think it fits my ideal place to live, but after that road trip, I don’t know that a close approximation of my ideal exists anyway. Oh well.

And I still think that the book ends too quickly and/or that the author should have spent a little more time on the framing story to better justify its existence. And it’s still one of my top five books of all time.


(A photo to keep the front page concept from breaking:


A Personal History of Moving, the Post-BYU Years

The odd thing about looking at the below list of moves is that it leaves me realizing how many places I *haven’t* lived and makes me feel like I’m probably missing out on a lot of residence-oriented experiences. And that I should maybe try out some more options.

2009 – Moved from Mission Viejo (by the lake) to Mission Viejo (by, uh, Taco Bell)
Because it’s like having $1,150 a month cash drop from the ceiling. Plus the old place was gated (don’t get me started), had sub-competent gate guards, too many speed bumps, old people who stared at you from their windows but never came outside, had some weird tiles (well it did), and sound carried way too well across the lake. And the bathroom was carpeted.

2007 – Moved from Foothill Ranch to Mission Viejo (by the lake)
Because the new place only cost 30% more despite being twice as big, having twice as many bedrooms, and having a pretty nice view of the lake. And the old place was pretty scrappy. And gated. With speed bumps and too-narrow parking spaces.

2006 – Moved from New York City to Foothill Ranch (via Michigan)
Because I got the job in California and didn’t really ever quite adapt to life in the Big City, in no small part because of the outrageous expense and constantly having to walk through the snow/wind/sleet/rain to get to/from the subway station. ‘Course, I think if I’d carried more accurate expectations into the job, found a roommate out in NYC (or thereabouts) to cut down on the cost of rent, and/or there’d been a few more people in the End Point offices, I might have stuck it out for another year.

2005 – Moved from Lehi to New York City
Because I got the job in NYC and sitting around that house by myself all day every day was making me crazy. Or crazier faster I guess would be more appropriate to state. And stuffing my 1,700 s.f. Utah lifestyle into a 430 s.f. Downtown Manhattan apartment offered an interesting challenge…

2004 – Moved from Mission Viejo (The Condo) to Lehi (The House)
Because I wanted to buy a house, thought that I knew a lot of people in Utah that I could hang out with, and because working at Epson seemed to have run its course and if I was going to start a business, Utah was an easier/cheaper environment for that.

2000 – Moved from La Mesa (the studio on the lake) to Mission Viejo (The Condo)
Because I started business school at UCI in 2000. Went back to the studio’s neighborhood over Christmas and drove around — it was kind of a cool area, I think.

1999 – Moved from La Mesa (Mellmanor) to La Mesa (the studio on the lake)
Because the studio on the lake was pretty cool and its owner was a friend from work who really wanted me to move in there. And the Mellmanor place was a pretty funky apartment — seemed more like a hotel, but without any elevators or lighting in the hallways. Althought it was the site of the Miracle of the Fish that I should probably chronicle some day. It made for a good church talk.

1998 – Moved from El Cajon (Rick’s House) to La Mesa (Mellmanor)
Because after a couple months of living in your brother’s house it’s hard to feel like you’re doing a good job of maintaining your dignity, let alone advancing it. Sadly.

1998 – Moved from Twin Falls to El Cajon (Rick’s House)
Because I’m not a farmer and I’d heard the job market in San Diego was promising.

1997 – Moved from Rupert (C&A’s apartment) to Twin Falls
Because I was working in Twin by that point, so it didn’t make a whole lot of sense to still be living in Rupert.

1997 – Moved from Boston (Allston) to Rupert (C&A’s Apartment)
Because after arriving in Boston to pursue my masters, I realized that the degree I was going after would probably over-qualify me for any sort of meaningful job, plus the other kids in the program were not quite as brilliant as I was hoping they’d be (“Utah’s one of those Great Lakes states, like by Michigan, right?”).

1997 – Moved from Provo (the house of low ceilings) to Boston (Allston)
Because I was starting a masters program in writing and publishing at Emerson and, really, it was high-time to get out of Provo.

So I’m not sure what would be next anyway. I’m thinking maybe I ought to buy a house or some property somewhere, call that home base, then just keep on living cheap wherever I end up finding work. Or else living out of my truck. Man — that just seems so romantic. Oh well. Mal sehen was wird.



I Moved!

And I’m now really tired of carrying stuff. Big thx out to DLF and DDF/DLF-Prime (whatever she’s going by these days). It was, actually, better than being at work for the last three days. Huh.

And as a result of the move $1,150 cash will be falling from the ceiling of my new bedroom every month. So cool.

Things I Won’t Miss About the Old Place:

  • Those stupid, giant birds and the crab carcasses they’d always vomit onto my deck. Ugh. I’ll post a picture one day. Of the birds, not the carcasses. Sadly.
  • The tiles in the entry way and the chandelier.
  • The stained glass.
  • The sound of sirens echoing off the lake.
  • The lake’s Summer Jazz Festival.
  • The gate guards — they had a greater than 50% failure rate at letting my guests in.
  • The speed bumps.
  • The old people who would sit in their living rooms watching — although it did make me a little nostalgic for East Germany.
  • The stunning lack of cash falling from ceilings.
  • Paying for utilities.


I Moved!

Moved to a new place. Still renting. The new place is on Lake Mission Viejo, which is pretty cool except that, as it turns out, sound travels across water. Right now some house across the lake is hosting P-Diddy’s comeback party and he’s doing a cover of “Twist and Shout”. So sad.

Frankly, I can’t believe that this isn’t against the CC&R’s. Those aren’t cheap homes over on the other side of the lake. OTOH, I suppose it *is* P-Dids. He’s now covering “867-5309/Jenny”.The condo is a top-floor, ground-level unit. Two-car garage. Garage isn’t attached, though. 2/2. Listed as 1,400 s.f., but I’m thinking it’s more like 1,200. I need to get some furniture. Has a huge deck with the view over the lake. You should come over some time, I’ll barbecue up some frozen burritos.

We’ll see if I stay here more than a year. It’s a great place, but you’d think I’d want to buy a house again some time. Or get off the grid entirely and travel the world. Either. Or. Nothing in between.


PS, I was going to mention some amount of distress about receiving an email forward from my dad that dredges up Hilary Clinton’s connection to the Black Panthers in 1969 and then makes up some more stuff to go along with it — but I don’t want to damage my arch-righty credentials. But even if she ever had represented accused murderers, wouldn’t you think that 38 years later it might be time to forgiver her?

Answer: NO! Bdunn: Arch. Righty. (Ah heck:

PPS, Given that he’s now covering “My Sharona”, I’m concerned for the success potential of the upcoming P-Diddy comeback.