Monday, December 31, 2012

Reflections

I have read many comments in the last day or two about good-bye and good riddance to 2012, about how bad the year has treated people, about how nothing good ever comes about for them... and I notice these same comments are usually said by the same people year after year. 

Makes one consider the common denominator, doesn't it? 

I was one of those people often frustrated by my situation in life.  But I'd like to report that 2012 was a really, really great year for me.  It wasn't because of things that happened or didn't happen to me... it was because I finally tired of the same old, same old and dared to step out of the box.  I decided that I didn't want to continue doing things that I had been doing, the things that I knew weren't satisfactory, the things that made me unhappy and unsettled. 

The common denominator was me.  And something needed to change.

With the support of those near and dear to me, I took that necessary leap of faith to leave a career path that was no longer doing anything for me, and that was the cause of a lot of my self-induced misery.  That leap lead me to lands unknown, onto the doorsteps of strangers... strangers that instantly became fast friends.  Looking back, it was honestly the best thing for me.  It was that push out of my comfort zone that made me appreciate simpler things. 

I find that I am living my life a little more simply now... and it's continually a work in progress.  I don't desire or require the "things" that most people tend to want.  Lately life has been very much about purging - physical things, negativity, judgements, unnecessary stress.   I have become more about the experience - observations, discovery, learning... the things that allow one to continually move forward in life.  These are things I want for my life. 

And these are also things that I've found are easily attainable if you have the courage to step outside of your own confines into that better version of yourself that you think a year has in store for you.  Next year does have that in store for you... if you take the initiative to look for it.

Wishing the best for everyone in the new year...and all the ones that follow.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Leftover HDR images from the Route 66 trip

A few more images... these are the HDR shots that I didn't get around to processing till today. I'm not entirely happy with them yet (the first pic is the better of the the 6) - they are a work in progress. I don't work in HDR much, so I'm learning.

From the campsite near Moab
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These are from the morning at the Grand Canyon.
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Sunday, December 16, 2012

2012 Route 66 Road Trip - Day 16 & Recap

We left out of Lebanon, MO that Sunday morning en route for home via the interstate. We were none too pleased that we ran short on time and were unable to finish the drive the way we had planned to.

There are no pictures this day because... well, when you've seen one interstate in the Midwest, you truly have seen them all. It took us about 8 hours to get home... the most boring 8 hours of the entire journey. So, instead I thought I'd do a quick recap of this whirlwind trip. :D

Some fun facts and notable information about this trek include:
- KJ rolled over 200,000 miles on the first evening out of IL, somewhere in the middle of corn-country, Iowa.
- 2 trips to Pasta Jay's
- Roughly 5000 miles traveled.
- 1 super-scary experience of almost running out of fuel in the middle of nowhere, Utah (on a 18.5 gallon tank, we put in 18.416 gallons :shock: )
- 1 sacrifice of a power pump to the Jeep Gods - with 2 attempts to repair it. :roll:
- an unsolicited upgrade of our room at Circus Circus in Vegas
- We were standin' on a corner in Winslow, Arizona... :jester:
- 13 states traveled through (including Illinois)
- 12 nights spent sleeping in the back of the Libby
- 2 hotel room stays
- 2 nights we stayed with friends
- a discussion of politics, guns, and spirituality with a Native American chef
- Elvis spotted on a bicycle east of Tucumcari, rockin' a pink jumpsuit in honor of breast cancer research - https://www.facebook.com/elvisrides4cancer
- 2 roller coaster and a ferris wheel ride on Santa Monica Pier
- vegan spaghetti and microwaved vegan s'mores
- 1 very cold dip in the Colorado River @ the Grand Canyon for Aaron (I wussed out). :D
- 1 deteriorated cow carcass (with coyote stalking nearby)
- 2 lost lug nuts
- 1 screw in a tire... but not in such a way where we lost air. It came out on its own.
- 1400 photos taken.
- Many, many stops for coffee.
- Friends visited: 3 (2 existing, 1 new)
- Gallons of fuel - TBA

We had a fantastic time! And because we had to cut the trip short, we are talking about taking a long 3 or 4 day weekend after the first of the year, driving back down to Lebanon, MO and finishing the trip the way we should have. So there may be more to this story in the future... but for now, it's done.

I do recommend this trek to anyone who has the time and interest, and enjoys a good road trip - you won't be disappointed! What I've reported is just barely scratching the surface of what there is to see... and such an amazing way to see this country is to get away from the interstates! Take the state and county roads and experience a little bit of this country's flavor.

Thanks for looking! :D

Saturday, December 15, 2012

2012 Route 66 Road Trip - Day 15

This was to be our last day of real exploratory travel of Route 66... and a little bittersweet. We'd had such a great time thus far, and were sad that we wouldn't be able to finish it as we'd hoped.

We left out of Tulsa and into Chelsea, OK where we visited the Totem Pole Park.
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And found this little gem before leaving town. It's the Pryor Creek Bridge, also in Chelsea.
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We drove the length of Rt. 66 that they dub the Sidewalk Highway that runs from Afton to Miami, OK - it's called this because when it was constructed, they only paved a 9' wide section... passable for 1 car width.
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Miami, OK
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"Merry Christmas, movie house!" :D The old Coleman Theater.
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We found another old restored service station in Commerce, OK... only this one had turned into a gift shop as well... although it was closed when we got there.
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Aaah, nostalgia. :D
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Across the street we found the Dairy King restaurant... complete with homemade Rt. 66 sign-shaped cookies. 8)
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There's really only a few miles worth of The Road that passes through Kansas, but we still stopped and saw a couple of neat things. The first was the Rainbow Curve Bridge in Riverton, KS.
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And then into Galena, KS... where the real tow truck that was the inspiration for Tow-Mater from Disney's "Cars" movies can be found.
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We passed into Missouri and didn't stop too much until we reached Lebanon, MO... it was nearing dark. We had missed a lot of the old neon signs lit up at night during the duration of the trip, simply because we were in the wrong places at the wrong time. But finally, we spotted one. :D
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That was it. Lebanon is where we called it off. We had one whole day now to drive the interstate back to Chicago. :|