When I first heard Phish were going to play Atlanta on Halloween, I figured I would have to go. After all, not only would the show be great, but I'd get another chance to hang out with J. Elizabeth Smith. Of course, if I had a few days to kill in Atlanta, and Phish were going to play Gainesville, what would be the reason for not going?

On the morning of November 3rd, the reason seemed obvious. A policeman knocked on Elizabeth's door to let her know about someone breaking into her car that morning. While the initial reaction was "We're not going to Florida," an improvised window made from duct tape and a Simple box

served the purpose of keeping the wind out, although it was less successful in letting us see through it.

Those who know my rules of roadtripping know that I would only stop at the most sacred of places. However, I was not travelling alone. When in crnflkgrl's car, one stops where the crnflkgrl stops. And one of those places would be
jpg of Elizabeth in front of the Stuckey's 

Stuckey's is an amazing place. I haven't been there in a long long time. I had forgotten just how cool some of the things you can buy there are. I bought a
bumpersticker jpg
cool bumpersticker and for one brief second was able to

Confederate ZZYZX

transport myself into an alternative universe. In that version of Earth's history, I was not ZZYZX the tech support person from Seattle; I was Rebel Zed, Warrior of the South! Alas, the relevation was shortlived. I soon was transported back to the world of I-75.

It must be said though that the world of I-75 in Southern GA and Northern FL might as well be in an alternate universe. We passed by a strip bar with a huge banner saying

"Butt Naked"

. It seemed that every exit had a Florida Welcome Center promising discounts to Disney World and

Free Orange Juice! We learned that Beef is the new health food and saw what appeared to be a Church/Seafood restaurant.

We stopped at the Florida State line, to take the traditional picture under the Welcome to Florida sign.

duh read above

. A nice old man took the photo for us. This was good because not even my amazing powers as The Timer could let us pretend a disposable camera could take a delayed picture. The rest of the trip then passed quickly and there were plenty of tickets to be had. The pre-show was spent playing hangman. I quickly proved myself to be nigh unbeatable, guessing such "words" as schwag and Hamburglar. The show itself was very good with an amazing Tweezer. However, then we had to drive home.

I pride myself on being a road warrior. All night drives don't faze me. Bad weather doesn't faze me. Yet for some reason, despite cool New Orleans and Cleveland talk radio stations, I could only make it as far as Macon. I had to wake up slpngflkgrl so she could drive the last 100 miles. Quite embarassing...

The Washington Saga- HASN'T ANYONE HEARD OF A SNOW PLOW?!?!!?

hand drawn map o' disasters
I should have seen this coming. Seattle got a rare snowstorm 3 days before I was going to go over the Cascades. I thought I was prepared. I even rented a safer car. However, I was not ready for the disaster that was I-90.

Sure the patchy ice over the Pass was to be expected. For the most part they managed to keep one lane clear and life was good. Around Rosyln though I saw the sign that warned me of ice on the road... until Vantage... another 60 miles away. It became time to play the ever popular "The other lane looks slightly clearer, let's try it" game. Finally, finally, when I gave up all hope, I saw the Vantage exit. Free and clear, right?

Ummm wrong. What I saw as soon as I drove on the bridge over the Columbia River was that, while there was no ice on the road, both lanes were snow covered. Mind you, I'm not talking a dusting of snow here; there was at least 4 inches of snow on both lanes. I personally blame the Apple Cup for this abomination. This traditional game between UW and WSU was played at the WSU campus in 1996. The interstate got bad right after the Pullman exit. Coincidence? I don't think so.

By the time I reached Moses Lake, a town renown mainly for an incident where a middle school student opened fire in a classroom, I was wondering about the sanity of pressing on. The once clean rental was now covered with ice, salt, and mud. I was getting tired and cranky. I still had another 100 miles to go. The only thing I was happy about was the brief patch of clear pavement through the town... the brief patch of clear pavement through the town and apparently a few miles outside of town...

The brief patch of clear pavement lasted all the way to Spokane. I was in shock. However, upon arriving, I encountered another causalty of the storm- Spokane's power lines. Open motels were non-existant and open gas stations were almost as rare. Fortunately the downtown area had power so I could get out of the cold. After whining for a while about how my last show was in

another florida jpg

Florida, I just tried to hunker down. A mere 2 hours later, doors opened and we were treated to a very underrated show. Most of the set list was from Billy Breathes, but the jams were quite nice.

The advantage to driving out that day is that I was prepared. Before the show even started I made a reservation at the Moses Lake Motel 6. I got there at 1 AM and placed a wake up call for 9. Despite the rough day though, sleep was not really to be forthcoming. Three times I woke up, looked out in the parking lot, and saw it was still dark. The fourth time though, the sun was coming up so I decided to hit the road.

The clerk informed me that the pass would be a mess, so I was expecting the worse. That was quite wise. About a mile out of town, both lanes still were covered with 4 inches... but the 4 inches were ice. To add insult to Hell, there also was a thick fog. Somehow though I made it across to Vantage to discover... clear roads. The entire trip to Seattle acroos the pass was bone dry

After picking up my coworker Toby in Seattle, I swung north to Vancouver. I-5 was fine until we got to the Canadian border. For some reason, there was a blockade on people leaving the country as well as the usual Canadian customs check. Oddly enough I was waved through both of them.

Vancouver, BC has a weird quirk. They decided that they didn't want any expressways in the city. So the Pacific Coliseum, which normally would just seem to be on the outskirts of town, gave the impression of being somewhere in Ontario due to the sheer length of time driving on surface streets. When we finally got there, we were greeted with the pronouncement of 6 inches of snow was expected. Even after the way cool second set that night, I doubt I could have handled it. Fortunately the we stayed above freezing until we hit the States. Besides, after Spokane, the few patches of ice caused the reaction, "Isn't that cute? That little bit of ice thinks it's a hazard. Awwwwwwwwww."

Portland was supposed to be the easy drive. Straight shot down I-5, no prob right? Well the typical Pacific Northwest day might have some rain; this Sunday gave us a downpour. Once again, staying on the road was a problem. The trip back up was even worse of course, with some black ice in addition to pouring freezing rain. I got to pull an allnighter that night as I was scared that if I went to sleep I would oversleep 10 AM and have to pay for an additional day on the rental. As I rode the 71 bus back home, falling asleep the whole time, I asked myself if it was worth it. Well without adversity you can't have adventures. And without adventures, can you ever really

jpg of me looking goofy

be happy?

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