Travel Notes in Chinese

環美是我一直想做的事,只是學業結束後就要找工作,找到工作拿H1後有假也是回台灣,一年也才十多天的假,搬搬手指算一算應該是不夠從西岸開到東岸再回來。

誰知道前陣子換工作,新顧主忘了幫我辦 H1 Transfer,週三下午發現,隔天早上就被停職,突然就變成個沒身份的非法移民,等著新的H1下來前什麼事都不能做。失業的第一天,無聊到去逛Wal-Mart,一個人跑去看電影,想說什麼都不能幹,於是等確定律師把H1的申請書寄出去後
,就帶了十多套衣服、幾本書、 GPS、就開始長征之旅了。

出門前本來想要做個計畫,東看西看,計畫比不上變化,所以就不計畫了,事後也證明這是對的。出門前心中想的只有要僅快離開CA,因為CA再好玩,已後週末還可以去。

我的第一站是回AZ去看前女友,第一天就開了 900 miles,在AZ停了兩晚,接著就又上路了,一開始是打算去NM邊境的white sand national park後來發現我是非法移民,邊境的一堆檢查哨我都過不去。於是只好往北延著I-40往西開。

在AZ看了幾個峽谷後,就上路往東開,本想是要在TX停一晚的,沒想到在NM一個前不著村後不著店,GPS寫著前後各30哩才有城市的地方,駕駛座的車窗被卡車噴過來的石頭幾乎砸碎,若是再大力一點,可能我現在就不會在這邊打字了。

車子停在路邊已關的加油站,找遍全車,能夠把車窗固定住的,只剩下「撒隆巴斯」貼布,了剩於無,就這樣又撐過了30哩開到Santa Rosa,NM,找到還開的商店TA買了膠帶把車窗貼住才又上路。

當時不知道換車窗要多久,以為要待料,才離開CA兩千哩,旅程就要結束了,心想,若是要等待料,也要在有朋友的地方。就硬撐著頭皮,當晚又開了五百哩去Oklahoma City去找個國中同學。

在那邊,照著書上的建議,去吃家老Bush最愛的牛排店,店址貌不起眼,不過一吃下去不得了,是我這輩子吃過最好吃的。前面有用英文寫過,就不寫了。

離開了OK,繼續往東上路,朋友的男友是從AR來,跟我說AR什麼都沒有,沒想到等我一到小岩城後,發覺被騙了,AR在柯林頓的整治下,有兩個全美前幾的企業Wal-Mark, Tyson,小岩城更比想像中的漂亮,也不如統計資料中說的,是全美最窮的州。收入雖低,但路上四處可見五年內的新車,跟本像是Irvine,CA,有錢的要死。在小岩城當地居民還幫Clinton蓋了棟紀念
館,收即他當州長及總統時的文物,細看之下才知道,原來他比我想像中的還行不少,對人文的關懷更是少件的。

這一天,一開又是500哩,晚上落腳在AR跟TN邊界的West Memphis,Memphis是個黑人都市,四眼看出去是黑人,上街還是有點怕,於是就早早入睡。醒來後去逛了貓王的家,才知道為什麼他到現在還是這麼紅,Memphis有名的還有BBQ Rib,我前一晚找了兩家店、一家沒開、一家開在貧民窟,晚上沒燈找不到,所以中午又去找了一次,叫了一份又外帶一份,先吃了Rib,的確好吃的不得了,什麼Tony Romas可以丟掉了,外帶的那份是BBQ Chicken,
車開了開無聊就拿起來啃,一啃之下又是不得了了,停不下來,就這樣一手開車,一手抓個直到啃完半份,身上滴滿了沾醬都不管;又開了兩百哩,到Nashville,這個鄉村音樂之都,晚餐就邊聽現場演奏、邊吃過去了。醒來後又去逛了鄉村音樂名人堂。才了解到原來Rock & Roll的前身竟是country music :Q

接下來的兩天,在北卡的棉花田,及維吉尼亞的海邊過去,這兩天的行程沒什麼精彩的,為一特別的就是我總算到達大西洋,喝了幾口海水,順遍懊悔自己應該早起一點的,不然就不會錯過時間,無法登上全美最高的燈塔。

看到這邊不知道有沒有人想到,東西岸有三個小時的時差,坐飛機的有聽過有Jet Lag,沒想到我開車的都會有Wheel Lag,原先計畫的日出而作日落而息,每天早上要八點出門,到最後竟是這麼難達成

在VA過了晚,便又開始上路,今天的行程是開四州,停兩個點,然後到NJ找親戚吃晚餐,前一晚打電話過去時親戚熱心的問我,要到那個機場接機,我說我開車過來的,把他們嚇了一跳。

這一天先是到Baltimore一家有名的螃蟹餐廳吃飯,當時太早到也點太急了,忘了問服務生有什麼推薦的,在菜單上也找不到書上寫的那到菜,於是點了個Seafood Deluxe光蟹肉就有四種做法;不過看到後來隔桌上菜才知道點錯了,這家餐廳有名的是蒸螃蟹,12隻30塊!!整家餐廳後來都是木鎚在敲螃蟹的聲音。

吃完後繼續上路,去位在Delaware Dupont Family的家,這個庭院式的住宅有20棟建築,前幾任的主人喜歡室內設計,所以每個房間都有不同的主題,庭院的造景更是講究,不少電影都是在這邊拍的,還有個展示間專門收及那些18世紀的劇服。晚餐是在NYC Chinatown吃的,順便享受了一下Lincoln Tunnel塞車的痛苦狀況,讓親戚等我等了數小時。

後來在NJ住了兩晚,養養已經不行的身體就又上路了,這天停了PA一個點,看了看南北戰爭死傷最慘的一個戰役,途中還經過Hershey’s Town,本還想說不知道是不是那間做巧克力的Hershey’s,窗戶一搖下來就確定是了。

從PA去MI的路上,先是去Cleveland看了Rock & Roll Hall of Fame,同時也接到公司的來電,通知我H1下來,旅程差不多到這邊就結束了,後來的兩天,從MI經Chicago往東開,整整兩天,只有玉米田。為一可說的就只有全球第二有錢人住的Omaha了。

最後四天,幾乎都是在趕路中渡過,不過仍是為了一個一年一次的行程,硬是又多開了400哩到NM去參加熱氣球節,在一小時內有750個熱氣球昇空,不過天公不做美,所以景色沒想像中的漂亮。

看完後就一路從NM開回家,24小時內開了1200哩,回到家後差點沒掛掉。週日早上到家的,隔天周一就去上班了。當外勞,還是要有外勞的本份的 😛

Day 5: The Best Steak In the World

On my way to Oklahoma City, I did not check-in any hotel. I slept two hours on highway rest area.

I arrived Oklahoma City around 9am. After arriving my friend’s place, the first thing I did is call Honda dealer. The service guy gave me the phone number of auto glass shop they usually recommended to their customers. The glass shop told me they can fix my window in a hour.

Yahooooo~~~~ I can go back to my road trip next morning 😀 I brought my car to their shop at 4pm and had it fix by 5pm. :DD
Besides visiting an old friend, the reason I stopped in Oklahoma City is because there is a famous steak here – Cattlemen’s Steak House. In the book, A 1000 place you must visit before you die, this is the only place it said you must visit in the whole Oklahoma. How could I visit Oklahoma without going to there :p

My friend’s bf took us to there around 6pm. The restaurant is in the old town Oklahoma city and looks like an warehouse. James was saying “I don’t believe there will be any good steak in this kind of place”. In less than 10 minutes, he knew he was wrong.

The restaurant is decorated in the middle 60s’ style. We sitted on a leather booth. When the waitress showed me the menu, I was totally shocked. The menu calls their specialty – The Perfect Steak. “Oooooo…… That is it. I am going to give it a try and see is it soooooo goooood”, I was thinking in my mind.

On the menu, it also explains the reason what make steaks in Cattlemen’s Steakhouse different from those you can buy in supermarkets. Usually, those we bought from supermarkets, no matter which USDA grade they are, they all have been frozen before shipping to local store. And then deforzen in local stores. However, Cattlemen’s steak have never been frozen.

We ordered two T-Bone Steak, aka the prefect steak, and one Rib eyes.

My steak was so prefect. It did not taste like any steak I’ve ever had in my life. Before having the prefect steak, my favorite steak in this WORLD is Kobe in RedHouse, Taipei, Taiwan. However, this T-Bone Steak beats Kobe.

It is so soft that once your knife touch it, it becomes two pieces. You don’t have to put any force on your finger. Everything is just so easy. Also, the chef did a prefect job, I ordered it medium, and it was medium. If it was cook a little more, it would be overcooked. If it was cook a little less, it would be too raw. Everything is just prefect cooked.

Having this steak is like eating an ice cream. It is so tender, so juicy, and so soft. Once I put a piece in my mouth, it just dissolved in my mouth. The wonderful taste of beef came out when the meat and blood flowing between my teeth. I’ve never tried a steak like this in my life!!

I would say this is the best steak I’ve ever had in my life. And probably, it is the best steak in this world. Besides kobe, I don’t think there is any other kind of steak can reach this level. Definitely on my trip back to bay area, I will visit Cattlemen’s Steakhouse again.

Day 4: Canyon de Chelly

After spending a night in Helbrook, I woke up at 6am and headed to Chinle,AZ. In my travel guide, it says through Canyon de Chelly is not amazing as Grand Canyon but it is still worthy of a visit.

After driving north 100 miles, I arrived at Canyon de Chelly at 10am. This canyon is more than 34 miles long and has few vista points. I spent 4 hours there and visited all vista points.

I would say Canyon de Chelly is not comparable to Grand Canyon at all. It is not as sheer as Grand Canyon. Also the view there is not as wide as it is in Grand Canyon. But one thing makes it differentiated from Grand Canyon is the Navajo culture. Hundreds years ago, there were Indians living here and you still can see some remains there. After spending four houses there, I thought I had enough history class and decided to start heading to New Mexico.

There are few National Parks are some amazing. Unfortunately, I have some issue with my visa status so that I have to avoid any checkpoint. For this reason, I want to pass New Mexico and Texas as fast as possible. As a result, I did not stop at New Mexico at all.

But one thing in New Mexico is pretty interesting. When I stopped at a gas station, I found they sell FIREWORKS there !!! I’ve never seen shops selling fireworks in united states. I was thinking to buy some fireworks and set it off somewhere else. But I don’t know can I bring it to other states( at least in California, you are not allowed to use it ). So I did not really buy it.

After I passed Albuquerque, NM, an bad thing happened to my car. When a truck passed by my car, something from that truck hit my driver’s side window. That object was so huge and so fast that my window is totally wrecked. At that moment, the window looked like a spider net. It was still a whole piece but kept having some cracking sounds came out. I was so worried and stopped my car at the next exit.

After I stopped my car, I tried to check how bad is the window and I shall have a temporary fix ASAP. The bad thing is I was in the middle of no where. The closest grocery shop is either 30 miles west or 30 miles east from where I was. There is a fastfood shop there, but the shop was about to close, people inside it refused to open the door to listen to my requests. Basically, I am on my own. I tried to contact someone special to help me, she listened to me and suggested me to call AAA. I called AAA asking where is the closest shop, so that I can have my car fix tomorrow morning and continue my trip. Then………. The AAA guy told me their system is down, he can not help me, I shall call them again next morning 🙁

After searching my car trying to find something can be used to fix my window, I found “Salonpas Pain Relieving Patches”. I’ve never known salonpas can be used to fix car until that night 😀 I put all the salonpas I had on my window and drove another 30 miles to next town – Santa Rose, NM.

At that moment, I thought my journey is over because it might take Honda dealer few days to order a new window for me. If I have to stop at a city for few days, I better stop in the city where I have a friend there. For this reason, I decided to drive another 450 miles to visit my friend living in Oklahoma City, OK.

Because the window was broken and the structure was so weak, I can not drive too fast. Otherwise, I might lose my window. Luckily, it did not happen and I arrived Oklahoma city safe and sound.

On my way to Oklahoma, I passed Amarillo, TX and found things in Texas are really DIFFERENT! There are lots of neon light in Amarillo. Shops are built so closed to the highway. Also highway ramps are so short, and make ramps look like drive ways to shops. Each shop has its own highway ramp! I will definitely visit Texas again once my visa problem is resolved.

Day 1: Goodbye Pacific Ocean, Here I come Atlantic Ocean.

The first day is driving day. I drove 880 miles from bay area to Tucson, AZ. I dropped by Los Angles and had lunch with a old friend.

I have spent two years in Tucson doing my master here. And my babies, tofu and popcorn, are still live here with my friend. I will spend two night here and then go to New Mexico.

Some Crazy People On Earth

There are lots of crazy people inspiring me, they are

  1. Kunlin(John) Lee. He is the craziest Taiwanese I’ve ever heard. I’ve been following his blog for more than 4 years. He drove more than 90,000 miles traveling around US in 3 years. That’s insane. If you can read chinese, you must visit this site.
  2. Jim Rogers, a world traveler and an investment banker. Jim Rogers may not be the richest person on earth. But he must be one of the person who can make the most use of his wealth. Jim has traveled around the world…. TWICE. Once by motorcycle and once by car. He set two Guinness World Records in his life
    1. He rode his motorcycle 104,710 km around the world.
    2. He drove his car more than 150,000 miles around the world.
  3. Sjaak Lucassen. Sjaak started his trip on 03/04/2001 and in the following three years, he has never spent two consecutive nights in the same place.

Introduction

I’m a python/java programmer working in bay area. Due to some reason, I have one month vacation by accident. So I decide to take a month break and drive from bay area to east coast. My ideal route would be driving from SF – Tucson – El Paso – San Antoine – Houston – New Orlean – Miami – Chicago – Route 66 – SF. In total, I have to drive around 8000 miles in 20 days.

You can say this trip is planned or unplanned. This July, I was giving myself a goal, if I can not find a well-paid job by the end of this year, I will just leave US and spend 2 months traveling around US. But (un)luckily, I got a new job offer in 2 weeks. And even more (un)luckily, I still have the chance/vacation to travel around US and then spend few months traveling around the world.

Lots of friends asked me, am I serious? Surely, I am not :p This is a long trip. I may or may not be able to finish it, but this is the beauty of (unplanned) road trip. I will spend lots of time with myself and think about my life.

I am 27 years old now and in my late 20 crisis. At my age, most of people are busy doing their business and have no time for fun. If I am looking for a safe bet, I SHALL follow the route most people do. But on the other hand, I only have one youth life, I’ve already wasted lots of it on studying. This is the last chance, before getting married, I can do whatever I want. (Yes, I am a big boy)

Lots of people have the dream to travel around the world. Most of them complain they don’t have time and money. But when they have time and money, they are still looking for other excuses. People are just afraid of change. They afraid they might not be able to finish the trip, they afraid they will not be able to find a new job once they come back, they afraid their work place will changed a lot, they afraid …. Themselves. The hardest part of starting a long trip is to step out your comfort zone. Luckily, I have already faced that question once when I left my home country and everything I familiar with three years ago. So stepping out comfort zone is not such a big problem for me.

So here I am, my first stop of my long trip – Cycle United States.