A day of two halves. The Professor travelled incognito from SFO to JFK with the masses on a rammed overnight flight. Arriving sleep deprived he found that due to Virgin Atlantic only having one flight out of JFK that day the lounge, and baggage checkin, would not be open till 2pm.
The Professor cut a somewhat bedraggled figure sitting on his suitcase from 8am till 2pm. It took the Virgin Checking staff a full hour to set up checkin (hands up who knows that often airlines share checkin real estate and completely set up and dismantle their operation). The checkin staff treated the early checkiners with general disdain. When finally they showed pity 5 minutes early: “you can start queuing now sir”, followed by “oh sir you should have told us you were flying upperclass …”. Their mistake was immediately recognised and fixed. The hover pad arrived for the Professor and he was ushered off to the lounge for a shower and change of clothes.
We leave the Professor snoozing after eating his cheese and biscuits, on his 5th glass of champagne, and two clubhouse burgers the heavier.
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To be frank I am ready to come home. All energy reserves pretty much depleted. Despite being 5371 miles from London I am unable to avoid domestic duties and received via Skype instructions from Shermin to buy two packets of Chips Ahoy cookies (I think Leandra our niece brought some with her from the USA when she came a couple of weeks ago). I had no idea how to discharge this duty but when driving about in the morning I had a brain wave and searched “places of interest” in the copilot GPS database and found the nearest Safeways. 10 minutes later I was in the supermarket, 2 minutes to locate the “cookie” isle (note not the biscuit isle it really was the cookie isle), and job done.
Apart from that I had a cliff side walk, a drive down the coast, and treated myself to a trip to an Apple store where I resisted the temptation to fill my boots with Apple gear at $ prices. I did buy a dock/stand for my iPad, and very nearly got a bluetooth keyboard, but in the end was not sure I wanted the agro of a US keyboard layout.
Hertz drop off was a doodle, it was so busy cars were arriving like honey bees at a hive. They did not even inspect the car. Now just have to sit a wait for six hours for AA 18 to JFK departing from gate 57.
Day 8: 28-July-2011 end Total miles: 241
Seven days and two hours, 3290 miles, a whopping 97 gallons of regular unleaded gas later the Professor completes his insane road trip by reaching the Pacific Ocean:
with all four limbs and his sanity intact. Burning that much gas has contributed 843 kg of carbon dioxide to global warming.
The final 241 miles of the journey was uneventful. Interstate 80 all the way through Reno, Truckee, Sacramento, Vallejo, over the Carquinez Bridge, through Berkley, over the Bay Bridge to San Francisco. Final stop Pacifica.
The weather has changed completely. Blustery, low 60’s.
There was still plenty of nice scenery though, but the traffic was a nightmare once about 50 miles from the coast. Going the other way it was even worse.
Ian asked for a live webcam, Steve mentioned The Doors. With the limited field kit I have I was able to produce the following rough edit. Final cut needs my full studio.
Warning this is rated 18 as Jim Morrison’s lyrics to An American Prayer are post the watershed:
Day 7: 28-July-2011 end Total miles: 259
Well today I did battle with the Nevadan desert sun – and pretty much fried my brain. Baking hot, dry air, and mile after mile of desolation. One reason why I wanted take this route was to find somewhere I could get some idea of what it would be like to be the only human being on the planet; and today I found such a spot.
I saw a sign leading to the Hickson Petroglymph recreation area. I was the only visitor and wander ed down the trail leading to a viewing platform – this chunk of rock:
The view from the top:
The most alone I have ever been – and will probably ever be. Tricky to take a self portrait but sort of managed it:
The site itself was quite interesting.
Also check out this incredibly well camouflaged lizard;
The 200 miles or so of desert that remained only took me through two towns, Austin and Fallon. The landscape was if anything more desolate than the half of Nevada I had already covered. I am not sure if these snaps can convey how vast an area it is. I am now in Sparks have the Sierra mountains to cross and am then I am in California. I think I will drive all the way to the coast tomorrow.