Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Hanford Bay, Niagra Falls, and the Saturn

Hello everyone -- This is my first post to the blog! I hope that Carrie and I are able to update this regularly and keep everyone updated on our travels. Please use the comments section or email us directly so that we can keep in touch throughout our trip.

First off, we had a great send-off in Chicago before we left. It was great talking to everyone (and seeing many of you) before we left. I know we will miss Chicago and all of our friends there. With all of the craziness that came with moving, we didn't really get a chance to step back and dwell on the fact that we were leaving... perhaps this was a good thing because it gave us less time to feel sad. Now that I've had time to think about that moving period, here are a few thoughts / tidbits about the move itself:

- Our total shipping costs: About $300. This was worth every penny (assuming the boxes get to our parents' houses), because as you'll see later, Carrie's car isn't that large and we filled it completely.

- For bulk shipping of books / CDs / DVDs, USPS Media Mail is fantastic. You do have to wait in line and it takes a little longer to get everything shipped, but it is CHEAP! For non-media mail packages, UPS Ground is the way to go... You pay a little more, but we left 8 boxes with them, and the guy at the store took care of everything while we got some lunch next door.

- The Dan-Ryan construction doesn't seem that bad! We hit it at about 4:30 on a weekday, and we coasted through without much trouble at all.

- On the sentimental side, it's starting to hit me that we've met so many great people in Chicago over the years. I'm very thankful for all my time in Chicago and for getting to know everyone there. Please stay in touch!

OK -- On to the trip! It's off to a great start. See Carrie's post (it has been updated with a picture) for details on our drive to Hanford Bay, the first stop on our journey. Hanford Bay is where my Aunt Judi, Uncle Marc, and cousins Adam and Todd have their cottage on Lake Erie. It was a perfect place to start the trip. In Hanford Bay, the day basically consists of the following:

- Wake up and eat breakfast
- Go to the beach
- Walk 80 steps back to the cottage and eat lunch
- Go back to the beach
- Head back to the cottage for dinner
- Go back to the beach and watch the sunset
- Have a drink back at the cottage before bed

Below are some photos of our stay in Hanford Bay. If you're curious, use this link to see where Hanford Bay is on the map.

This is the setup on the beach... Very relaxing:

Here is Carrie and I in the boat on Lake Erie.

After a few days in Hanford Bay, we drove eastward to Niagra Falls. For those who haven't been, it's well worth the trip. I highly recommend doing the "Maid of the Mist" and the "Cave of the Winds" on the American Side. The Maid of the Mist is a boat that takes you right up to the American and Canadian falls. The Cave of the Winds allows you to walk right up to the base of the American Falls, and you get very wet! The Canadian side gets fairly touristy, but it does give some slightly better views of the larger Canadian Horseshoe falls. Here are some pictures and videos from the falls:

Carrie and I with the American Falls as our backdrop (aboard Maid of the Mist):

View of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls from the Maid of the Mist:

My cousin Todd, cousin Adam, and Adam's fiancee Debbie getting wet at the Cave of the Winds (the video is sideways):

View of the falls from the Rainbow Bridge to Canada:

Carrie and I also got to sample some some Buffalo food. They don't mess around with their spicy food here. We had some spaghetti with cajun tomato sauce that is spectacular, Mighty Taco with the "Super Mighty", and the greasy but delicious Chicken Finger Subs! If you're ever in Buffalo, these are not to be missed. If you're in Hanford Bay, we also highly recommend Frosty Treat ice cream!


Chicken Finger Sandwich (includes chicken fingers coated in wing sauce, bleu cheese dressing, cheese, lettuce, tomato)!

Today, we took the plunge and headed for Groton, Massachusetts. Our fear was that Carrie's car may not make it, given the fuse problems, leaky roof, and new grinding noise when we hit the brakes. As we began our trip, the brake noises got worse, and we decided we needed to get it looked at. As it turns out, the brake pads had ground down to near nothing, leaving the car doing dangerous metal to metal braking. $115 and 30 minutes later, we had new brake pads and were on the road.

After the brake pad fix, the car made it with no problems. I'm sure the over 50% of you who voted that car would make it helped provide the good karma! To those who didn't expect it to make it, I guess you could think we cheated by getting new brake pads. If that makes you feel better about your dire prediction, good for you. For anyone considering doing the drive, the section of I-90 from a little before Albany in New York through the Berkshires in Massachusetts is really quite pretty. Or maybe it just seems that way after 250 miles of flat and straight upstate New York (not to mention all of Ohio and Indiana).

Below is a video of our packed car in my parents' driveway in Groton (the cat you hear in the background is my family's loud cat Sidney):

The next stop on our journey will be California, where we audition the Bay Area and San Diego for our potential new home and office location! We head there on Wednesday. Feel free to post comments regarding neighborhoods to live in, experiences in these cities, etc. Bye for now!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Trip Begins!

We just left Chicago yesterday, and already are trip has been full of adventures! We had so much stuff to bring with us, we had to fill every inch of the car, including a cooler on the passenger's lap! Our noon departure time turned into a 4pm departure, but fortunately traffic wasn't too bad. It was pouring rain in Indiana, but we taped the left side of the car shut and things stayed pretty dry. A few days before our trip we noticed that the dashboard lights were not functioning so as it got dark, we periodically used a flashlight to check our speed, car temperature, and gasoline level.

The craziest part of our drive to New York happened while passing through Ohio. We had heard that Ohio cops were strict (especially towards cars with IL plates) so Dan was very careful to stay under 70 in the 65 zone. However, despite our efforts, the first cop we passed pulled us over! He asked us how fast we were going, and Dan very nicely told him that we couldn't have been going much over 65 because he had set the cruise control. The cop laughed and said he actually had no idea how fast we were going, but that he had pulled us over only because our back lights were out! He said it was probably just a broken fuse because both lights were out and the break lights worked fine. He suspected we were speeding because Dan had slammed on the breaks when he saw him. Dan joked that doesn't everyone do that when they see the police, and the cop was amused. He advised that we pull into a rest stop and try and fix the lights, but that if we couldn't get them back on, we should drive with our emergency flashers to the nearest hotel and wait to continue our trip during daylight. Fortunately, we managed to figure out the fuses and even found the right size replacement fuse in one of the spare slots! Fixing the taillights also fixed the dashboard lights.

We were back on the road in about 45 minutes, and managed to make it to Hanford Bay shortly after 2 am. Since then we've been enjoying the company of Dan's aunt and uncle and soaking in the beauty and relaxing atmosphere of Hanford Bay.