Thursday, 1 May 2008

Where we went...

Obviously we're back. I have a slew of photos to put up and one last video. But in the meantime this is an approximate map of what we did:

View Larger Map

We drove around 5,200 miles. In spite of the title blurb for the blog, we visited 18 states (by going to St. Louis we missed Iowa), 1 district (Washington, DC) and 1 province (Ontario).

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Home again..

Home and tired:)
Kitten is still talking to me and my house is still here:)

Wednesday, 23 April 2008


So far I've slept about 24 hours in two days since getting to Florida. It's almost like a vacation! It's a bit hot and muggy here, but it beats rain! I've uploaded some video from Niagara Falls.

It's a small world after all...

Disney world rocks;)
So far only made it to the magic kingdom but so far so good:)

Tuesday, 22 April 2008


We made it. Rach and Gar head to Disney World for 4 days with the mouse and I'll spend the next four days relaxing and visiting my relatives (and mooching off wireless - like my cousin Bernie's at the moment!).

Monday, 21 April 2008

Little Dee on root beer

Apparently this is what Rach thinks root beer tastes like.

North Carolina

I figured April would be a safe time of year for a road trip, but we have had a number of "weather events" (h/t George Carlin) in spite of that hope. Today we caught the tail end of a thunderstorm going through the mid-Atlantic. So we've stopped off in North Carolina and plan to head off early tomorrow.

Rach and Gar are due for Disney World on Tuesday morning so we'll be in Florida and shopping by tomorrow afternoon.

Saturday, 19 April 2008

A Capitol Update

So we've had breakfast and learned a few things.

Rach and Diane have one room and Gar and myself have the other. I warned Gar that I snore, but he was game. What I didn't warn him about because I didn't know, is that I talk in my sleep. I know I do it if someone rings me or if a Mass. State Trooper starts talking to me while I'm napping in my car, but didn't know I did it unprompted. Apparently I kicked his bed last night, waved and said "hi" and then went back to sleep. Just like all the other times I talk in my sleep, I have no memory of this.

Redi-Whip contains milk.

Volumizing shampoo can double as washing-up liquid. Note that plates, cups and silverware don't change size when this is done.

Diane explained last night that lox are salmon - something I never learned living in Long Island (I'm very slow). This was timely info as I got breakfast at a supermarket and they only had salmon (not lox).

I finally polled an American taxi driver about the election. Amusingly, he'd vote for Hillary.

We also learned Diane doesn't read this blog. However she does think I can do an awesome Irish accent.

Enough learning! Now we're off to be touristy.

A Capitol Destination

We've made it to DC after a bit of a slow start - plus I slept in the car most of the day. No worries, Gar was driving and Rach was keeping him awake.

I've missed a few bits along the way that I thought I should mention (or other people thought I should mention). Oh, and I haven't forgotten any physical items lately. OK, maybe I forgot the US power strip in Toronto, but otherwise...

On that topic my Aunt Maureen shipped my shampoo, honey (I forgot I'd forgotten that) and some manuals (ditto) down to Florida. Which was very sweet. And no Paul, I am not leaving a trail of bread crumbs to find my way back to the start. :^p

Gwen gave us a tour of Detroit (hey, there should be an architecture section in that article! hint!) which is a very beautiful city in spite of its reputation. Plus she did a better job of conveying my reaction to corn on sandwiches and pizza than I ever have. Note to Americans reading this: in the UK and Ireland corn is offered as a topping on sandwiches and pizza. Note to Irish people reading this: that's really weird. Feel free to debate this in the comments.

We met up with Danny (and also Mike and Remy and, uh, some other people (help?)) in Toronto. Thanks to him we got to see an onion volcano and a British pub. Not all at once mind. And I think while waiting for us at one point, Danny and Mike met some interesting local talent but I'm not sure I recall the details...

On the way from Toronto to DC we stopped at a number of places. The full journey was around 550 miles and we went a different way than Google maps suggests. We went via Batavia in NY and Gettysburg in PA on mostly back roads - by this I mean US highways, not this.

We went past my old university for a quick driving tour (why are they already doing construction on the "new" Math/Chem building?). Then we met up with Nicki, Mike and Ian for dinner at Applebees. Not exactly to plan (I had meant to go to Duffs but forgot), but I finally had Buffalo wings in Western NY. My lips recovered a few hours later.

We stayed at a really nice hotel in Williamsport and did laundry until about 4am - hence my napping all day yesterday. We stopped in Gettysburg - which was OK though a bit hokey. Finally we made it to a nifty hotel just a few blocks from the White House and met up with Diane. Today the four of us will be exploring DC - or will be when everyone wakes up!

BTW our trip has been pretty well planned, but we've had hiccups and bumps along the way. Everyone we've met up with or stayed with has been great about being flexible which has been awesome. I hope we haven't been too much of a pain in postage or time off work or showing up at bizarre hours of the night or anything else.

Friday, 18 April 2008

The Keystone State

We've made it to Pennsylvania this evening. We had to make two tries for a hotel this evening - apparently there are things on in PA these days. Along the way we saw Niagara Falls (the Maid of the Mist was closed), Lake Ontario and a quick tour by car of Buffalo and the North and South campus of UB.

I've found a new way to forget things. Instead of forgetting things in rooms, I'm forgetting them on the roof of the car. So far I've left my ipod touch up there (thanks to the US Border Guard who noticed that one) and now I need to see if the donuts I left up there as we got bags out of the car are still there...

Myself and Rach are doing laundry in the lovely Hampton Inns and Gar has fired up the kettle for tea. The more mundane part to road trips.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Chasing the Pope...

After a healthy breakfast of Tim Horton's Donuts (feel the American Spelling!!!) we're off towards Niagara Falls. The Pope is in Washington DC today and in New York the following day, according to the TV, so it looks like we probably won't catch up with him. Tickets to attend the mass were compared to Willy Wonka's Golden tickets, but we've failed to get any... possibly because we've been eating donuts rather than chocolate bars?

Got a eeePC yesterday, after spending a significant amount of time jumping up and down on the glass floor of the CN Tower. Only annoyance is that despite advertising, it came with a 4400mAh battery, rather than the 5200mAh advertised. It was a sealed box though, so I'm not sure what's going on with Asus and their eeePC models.

More posts to follow, from the eeePC, no doubt ;)

DC bound

So we have about two days to go around 500 miles. Easy! We could walk that! OK, maybe not.

We plan on visiting the Falls and go on The Maid of the Mist. From there we'll head to Genesee (to visit a friend of mine) and then down to Gettysburg - or close to it.

Hopefully the large box of Tim Hortons donuts got Gar and Rach energised!

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

From the top of the CN Tower

For some reason Rach begged off this trip. According to her last text she'd found Vikings selling eeepc's? It wasn't completely clear.

Gar and I paid an extra $50 each for a parachute so we can do a BASE jump. Sadly my camera is out of batteries so we won't have pictures of that.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Entering Canada

We're waiting to get into Canada.

Forget it!

As I pack up my hotel room, it's fun to think of what I've forgotten along the way. There was the American cell phone at Ben's house (but I remembered the charger). The beard trimmer charger in Salina (but remembered the beard trimmer - sadly the cell phone charger won't work as a replacement). Some shampoo at my aunt's house.

Obviously this post is a totem to ward off forgetting something here! Here's hoping!

Oh Canada!

So we're off to the Motor City and Toronto today. Sheila (our GPS) has some funny ideas (south of Lake Erie?) on how to get to Toronto, but we'll figure this out in the afternoon.

Yesterday we wandered (ok, we got lost a lot) around Chicago and hopefully walked off one or two of our dinners!

Added link bonus: a BBC article on an Englishman learning about baseball.

Monday, 14 April 2008


Thanks to Charlie (phone a friend ftw) we escaped the freezing wind and found the Chicago Chop House. I'm still working on this one - blogging is giving me a breather!

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Playing in Peoria

We stopped near Peoria for lunch this afternoon. Arby's doesn't have the best food selections but it does have wireless! Plus next door it has a filling station called "Freedom."

Stayed in a Best Western just past the Illinois / Kentucky border. So far it was the worst hotel we've stayed in (but at 12:30 we weren't too picky). The hotel in Salina was the nicest (better than the Triton) and the hotel in Reno was the best value for money - made better by Gar's l33t gambling sk1llz.

We saw the St. Louis Arch last night. It was cool. St. Louis is pronounced wrong just like Kev's first name.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

From the road...

Best food quote so far:

"Gar, the eggs are white and they come from chickens."

We've also learned that Twinkies contain beef fat, pink lemonade tastes like happy and we've heard rumours of giant mutant chickens being transported on the interstate. We're keeping an eye out for those. Maybe Skynet will be cyborg mutant chickens?

DAY #7 - we're not not in Kansas any more...

So far, we've driven upwards of 2750km through sun, snow, rain, hail and wind. We've been blinded by the bright neon lights of Reno, and amused by the tumbleweed blowing across our path in Kansas. We've dodged hurricanes, found bargains in Target and Wal-mart, met cowboys, but no indians so far.

We've played shuffleboard, seen a pool table with rather more sides and pockets than is the norm, seen a dog do tricks, and eaten altogether far too much food.

We've been sunburned, frozen and blown about. We've seen high rise buildings and cityscapes, mountains and great flat plains.

Tomorrow we head towards Chicago, though I'm not sure the 'windy city' can live up to its name after the winds we drive through today. Another 1138km to drive tomorrow, according the the crazy Australian Lady living in Kev's GPS. Let's hope our supplies of Pretzels and Twinkies hold out ;-)

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Day 6

When I went to sleep last night it was lashing rain and then this morning when I got up the place was covered in a thcik blanket of snow.It is all very pretty.
Coleen made us lovely american pancakes complete with warm maple syrup which were yummmy:)
Today we head to Kansas in search of a yellow brick road and some ruby slippers and maybe if I am lucky a Target.
We went to Walmart on Tuesday,I was all impressed mostly because levis were $19.99 and were nice and cool t-shirts were about $6,didn't really buy anything though except a big box of lemonheads,they are the best candy that I have tried here:)

Ciara - congrats on the driving test,you rock:) *hugs*


The snow promised yesterday has arrived. But it doesn't look too heavy and the roads look clear and the drive today is a fair bit shorter - Just 300 miles.

Last night we had bison burgers and today Ben's making up some homemade pancakes. Speaking of which, time for breakfast!

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Good morning Utah!

We stopped last night at a Best Western in lovely Coalville, Utah. The weather isn't exactly cooperating, but hey, at least we're not in the south Plains - they're looking forward to a tornado outbreak. When I said I moved to Ireland for the weather I wasn't completely kidding. I should point out that we won't be in the south Plains at any point in case anyone's worried.

Yesterday we got to IHOP and Walmart - Rach is very excited about $20 jeans. Gar got the night/snow driving yesterday so we're going to switch at lunch today so he can get some non-exciting driving.

Please excuse the video - I'm just learning how to use the camera.

Nevada snow

Snow on the mountains overlooking a rest stop along the I-80. Got gas, got sweets, got GPS, got internets- look out West coast.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008


Just for the record, this wasn't us.

We made it to Reno last night and Gar drove the bulk of the way. I think he finds automatics + cruise control amusing the same way I do, "why are you changing gears that way?" You could almost get into a conversation with the transmission. Not that I've ever done that during long drives, nope. There were a lot of chances to ask it though as we crossed the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The last (only?) time I did serious mountain driving (no, not the Wicklow Mountains) was in a Ford Escort. The Toyota Sienna seems much easier.

Rach has now been to Wendy's and has learned that most Americans don't understand that chips are french fries. I haven't told her yet that cheese and onion flavor crisps are pretty much non-existent (and there's no Tayto). In other shopping news we've seen Target (didn't go in) and went to a Fry's. That last one explains why we now have a GPS - apparently Australian accents work best with text-to-speech systems.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Saturday, 5 April 2008

At the airport...

Their flight left half an hour late apparently (thanks for that 2am text Rach! ;^) ) but according to the board they'll get in 1 minute early. In fact in theory they've already landed. Hopefully their ground crew knows how to position the plane!

Meanwhile my Nokia E65 works again so now I need to search out an American pre-paid SIM that I can use for the trip. Anyone have any suggestions for this?

On the things going wrong side, my right shoe is going flat and seems to be getting louder - step, *hiss*, step, *hiss*, step, *hiss*... It's worse on solid floors so I'm waiting for airport security to ask about that. My manager suggested a mall (malls have wikipedia pages?) that we'll pass on the way out of SF and recommended Skechers. I'm assuming he never had a pair of those go flat.

Airport blues...

Didn't realise that you cannot, in fact, clear American immigration in Dublin - any time I've flown from Ireland to the States previously, it's been from Shannon. No matter. There's plenty of seating in terminal D and it's the last time my 3G card will work until I return to Ireland.

I remembered to get a bunch of extra visa-waiver forms, as I've always managed to fill them out wrong the first time. Got it right the first time this morning, but someone else didn't, and managed to use all my spares ;-)

The plane is slightly delayed, but hopefully only by fifteen minutes or so. I've brought my 'ghey-pee-ess' as Rach now calls it, so we shouldn't get lost... after all, it can navigate from Dublin to Kilkenny in a mere 7 hours assuming you take the scenic route over the Wicklow mountains :-)

Here's to a peaceful flight and a relaxing holiday in the US. See you soon Kev!

Not a creature was stirring...

It's the night before Gar and Rach get here. I talked to them on the phone as they got on the plane and they were all good to go. This is my last night in lovely downtown Mountain View (my leafy street is pictured to the right) and looking forward to spending the night in San Francisco.

We're planning on going to see an Oakland A's (vs the Cleveland Indians) on Sunday. It's nice to show people new to your country one of your traditional national sports (*cough*).

Friday, 4 April 2008

$ and €

1 EUR = 1.57210 USD

That has changed since I checked at 9am in our favour:)

Gars DS has been found thanks to Ciara:)

Bags aren't packed yet but who needs bags packed with the value of the dollar?;)

It's the last day of work...

...for three whole weeks! Everything must be completed and/or handed over by the end of today. There is no panic here.

In other news, the camera is still missing, the GPS has been located and batteries charged. MP3/Ogg players are at the ready, and I'm packing a CD writer and a few blanks in case the car only has a CD player and we can't plug an MP3/Ogg player into the radio directly.

The car has been hired, the Nightwish gig attended, the suitcases recovered from the attic and the junk tipped out of them, the clothes washed, the kitten fed, the passport renewed, and the tickets lost. With just over 24 hours to find them again, I think we'll all be okay.

Next stop, Dublin's finest airport...

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Old favourites...

So my first week back in the States and I've had several old favourites - including Cap'n Crunch for breakfast! Yum! Apparently it has something other that sugar in it. Who knew?

In other news the fabulous Rachael and the fine folks at Car Hire 3000 have found our vehicle (that's VEE-hikle by the way - hopefully folks can help Rach and Gar learn to speak proper English): a Chevrolet Uplander. The review isn't exactly glowing but it looks like it has the room we need and won't be too tank-like to drive.


So we're booked into the Hotel Triton in San Francisco for our first two nights. Still trying to figure out the car. We've been looking on Car Hire 3000 and for cars. For car models the Toyota Sienna seems good for a minivan, the Chrysler Pacifica seems good for a "crossover" (uh, isn't that just a bulky station wagon? OK, apparently not.) and for large sedans the Chrysler 300 and Buick Lucerne seem good.

Anyone have any opinions? This will be for three people, their growing amount of luggage ($1.55 to the euro? shopping fever!) over 4,500 miles so a Dodge Neon is not on the cards. Or a Miata for that matter (*sniff*).

Sunday, 30 March 2008

In lovely Mountain View, California

Made it to San Francisco. There was a lengthy argument between the ground crew and the pilot regarding the exit ramp. Sadly my cold seems worse so I'm going to break my normal advice and crash at 5pm. I suspect Mountain View at 2am on a Monday morning is even more boring!