Friday, September 19, 2008

RIP Professor Whitebread

Professor Charles Whitebread has passed away.

Those readers who have graduated by 2008 will certainly recognize Prof, Whitebread as Bar/Bri's designated Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure instructor. His methodology was at first unorthodox, as he did not provide a shorter version of the main outline. Rather, he taught us that we already knew the law, and that all we needed to do was group the particular common law crimes according to a time-tested fashion. Developing an outline subsequently from his lecture was probably time better spent than reading the entire 70-page long outline (and that's just for Criminal Law!).

Prof. Whitebread, you will be missed. Requiesce in pacem.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Bar Trip Review

It has now been more than a week since the end of the Great American Post-Bar Road Trip, and I'm here now to provide some review. We'll go according to topics as they occur to me.

When the trip was just a thought in my head, gas prices were shooting up all over the country. I had thought that, at about 10,000 miles, the cost of gas would end up being about $2000, assuming $5.00 per gallon, and about 25 miles per gallon. As it was, we got closer to 28 miles per gallon, at about $4.00 per gallon, across 9791 miles, for a total of about $1400 in gas. The least expensive average tended to be in Houston. The Pacific Time Zone seemed the most expensive, as was New York City and Ontario Province. The single most expensive fuel stop was in Eureka, CA, where we refueled for $4.499 per gallon.

At any rate, fuel turned out, as expected, to be the most expensive portion of the trip.

Food was the second highest expense (less than $1000), but was still significantly less expensive than fuel. This, even though we were often treated to meals by our hosts, and even once by a cousin in Chicago (thanks, Jannet!). Among the reasons why the costs stayed high include the facts that we would get really sick of McDonald's and eat well once in a while; and the fact that we would often buy beef jerky, Pepsi, and Monster, to break up the boredom of long stretches of Interstate. We also spent some money on water, although no tray of bottled water was ever more expensive than an average 3.5-ounce bag of beef jerky.

Lodging was the third highest expense. Fortunately, we had the gracious help of friends and family, and we also roughed it twice. On Days Four and Five, we stayed with Uncle Thomas; on Day Eight, we stayed with Hraesvelg; on Day Twelve, we slept in the car at a bright, 24-hour shop in Connecticut on the border with Rhode Island; on Day Fourteen, we stayed with Aunt Nancy; on Day Sixteen, we stayed with Uncle JT; on Day Seventeen, we stayed with Nuki06FireZ; on Day Twenty, we slept in the car in two different rest stops in western Montana; on Day Twenty-Two, we stayed with Derek; and on Day Twenty-Three, we were home.

In connection with this, we noticed that the rest stops in the Southeast were probably the most attractive; they had plentiful vending machines and were clean. Montana's rest stops were mostly under renovation, but the last one along Interstate 90 was something else: it had eight single-capacity bathrooms, and the ones for men each had both a urinal and a toilet. There was no vending machine, though.

As for hotels, the worst one was Regency Inn, in Jacksonville, FL. Sure, it was not very expensive, but it was in a terrible part of town (the Denny's there closes, and the McDonald's stores shut off their lights), the carpets were sticky, and the non-smoking room reeked of cigarette smoke.

The best deal had to be the Route 66 Hotel and Casino. There were no taxes, whether sales, service, or room. The interior was comparable to a four-star hotel in any major city. We really didn't want to leave!

The most important thing, however, is thank you, to those friends and family that put us up. We really appreciated it, and hope to be able to return the favor one day!

We often came across road construction on the Interstates, as well as on some of the national and local highways. Fortunately, we tended to avoid major cities during rush hours; even so, sometimes road construction would significantly reduce our pace. Easily one in ten miles was under construction. Even at a more conservative estimate of one in every twenty miles, that still meant nearly five hundred miles of road construction encountered along the way.

The worst roads were probably those in downtown Manhattan, with its numerous potholes. The worst highways, however, were easily rural Québec, which felt a lot worse than Manhattan. Further, we drove that highway at night, so it was impossible to see the potholes to avoid them, although I strongly doubt I could have avoided them even had I been able to see them.

Urban vs. Rural
Because we did not stay in any one place (or have enough money) to do all that much, most cities to me did not stand out all that much. The ones that seemed to have a more particular character were Houston (the humidity!), New Orleans (goes without saying), Washington, D.C. (monuments galore), New York City (goes without saying), Montréal (the Frenchness!), Chicago (the traffic), Seattle (like a clean version of San Francisco), and Berkeley (the tree sitters). There are of course other cities that have plenty of character, such as San Francisco (which I know because I've been there for much longer periods of time on other occasions), or even Boston, but we really did not explore these cities long enough to savor their character.

The countryside was likewise rather plain, particularly the corn fields of Iowa and Minnesota. However, we did get to watch some pretty spectacular sunsets (we never woke up early enough for a sunrise). Also, the family farms of northern Ohio and Indiana were very picturesque; since they are not far from large cities, they are worth visiting without having to abandon "civilization".

As for wilderness areas and protected areas, the ones that left the deepest impressions were: the Grand Canyon in Arizona; the White Mountains in New Hampshire; Niagara Falls in Ontario and New York; Mount Rushmore in South Dakota; Yellowstone in Wyoming; and the Redwoods in northern California.

This is a huge country, and to do real justice to everything there is to see and do would require a lot more time than we spent on this trip. Nevertheless, we are very happy to have had this opportunity to get a glimpse of so much.

The Soundtrack
We listened primarily to three CDs, two of which were compilations burned by yours truly a long time ago. (There were no newly-burned compilation CDs on this trip.) The third was a live recording of the Three Tenors, with Zubin Mehta conducting. The other two CDs included:

  • Queen - "Bohemian Rhapsody"
  • UB40 - "Kingston Town"
  • Big Mountain - "Baby I Love Your Way"
  • OMD - "If You Leave"
  • Cause & Effect - "You Think You Know Her"
  • Alizée - "Moi Lolita"
  • New Order - "Bizarre Love Triangle"
  • Paola e Chiara - "Vamos a Bailar"
  • Lightning Seeds - "Pure"
  • Yaz - "Only You"
  • Andrea Bocelli - "O Sole Mio" and "Nessun Dorma"
  • Colm Wilkinson - "This Is the Moment"
  • Frank Sinatra - "Strangers in the Night", "It Had to Be You", and "Blue Skies"
  • Louis Armstrong - "What a Wonderful World" and "Moon River"
  • Nat King Cole and Natalie Cole - "Unforgettable"
  • and many others that I don't recall right now

Summary All in all, it's been a very tiring experience, and fairly expensive, at about $3700. However, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bond with dad, and I will never regret having done this. Hopefully, if you try this, too, you will have the benefit of our experience.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Bar Trip Day 23

Today, Day Twenty-Three, was the final day of the trip. We left early from Derek's place, because the parking meter starts running at nine in the morning on weekdays. Since Derek lives so close to the Bay Bridge, we had no trouble getting on and finding our way to the other side of the San Francisco Bay. Since dad got to go to his alma mater on this trip, it was my turn.

There is a spot on Sproul Plaza which is theoretically not subject to the laws or jurisdiction of any human nation or state.

I used to be a regular near Sather Gate, when I used to "table" for the Chinese Student Union.

I used to have an Americano and a scone at Caffè Strada before classes. This time, I just had a cafe au lait.

When I started fifteen years ago, Underhill was a set of tennis courts above a parking lot. During my freshman year, the tennis courts were torn down, and Underhill was just a parking pit for several years. Now, Underhill is again covered, this time by a soccer field.

The dorms have grown, too. The dining commons has been relocated away from the central plaza of each complex of dorms, and new buildings have been added to each unit complex. I had to live in both Cheney and Deutsch my freshman year, because of renovations.

From atop the hill at the Lawrence Hall of Science, one gets a much better view of both Berkeley and the Bay Area.

Along the way to the freeway from the Lawrence Hall of Science, we encountered a stand-off between authorities and tree-sitting protesters. Word has it that the protesters were eventually removed from their perch.

Along the way, it seemed like locals were setting up shop near the mesmerized throngs.

We decided to take US Route 101 this time, so as to be able to get to Pismo Beach along the way. Why? To have clam chowder at Splash Cafe.

Pismo Beach is home to some nice views of the Pacific Ocean.

The locals like it, too.

Finally, we found our way back to Santa Monica Pier, which is where we "officially" started.

Icy Z has traveled 9,745 miles since leaving Santa Monica the first time around. There is also the extra distance from home to Santa Monica, adding about 40 miles to the total.

Hango was glad to see us back again.

This is the last video log entry of this trip.

Thank you for keeping up with this travelogue!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Bar Trip Day 22

This has turned out to be the penultimate day of this trip. Today, which is Day Twenty-Two, we headed south from Eugene, Oregon, to Grants Pass, where we hopped on US Route 199, which together with a long stretch of US Route 101 in Northern California comprises the modern Redwood Highway. Redwood trees depend greatly on fog or mist, as shown here along the California Coast:

With this access to water, redwoods can grow very large indeed.

When many redwoods grow close to each other to form a forest, the result is striking, indeed. It is a mixture of colors and shapes hardly visible anywhere else on this planet.

Icy Z, every bit the Fairlady, gets in on the act.

Better in color or in sepia?

Although all mature redwoods are huge, one particular tree has been designated as "Big Tree" in Prairie Creek State Park, which is part of the Redwood National and State Park system.

Afterward, we pushed ever farther south. We had originally thought we might stay in Santa Rosa so as to be able to get up early in the morning to get a picture of San Francisco, or at least of the Golden Gate Bridge. However, that would leave us too little time for tomorrow's final drive. Fortunately, Derek was able on short notice to let us crash in his living room, so we pushed on into the city. This is a view of the San Francisco base of the Bay Bridge, as seen from Icy Z, near where Derek's place is.

Check out today's video log entry for today's highlights.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Bar Trip Days 20-21

Our push toward the Pacific has come to an end. After our experience with Mount Rushmore, we began Day Twenty with a big breakfast:

From Cody, Wyoming, it was about 50 miles to Yellowstone. For much of that route, we were in the Buffalo Bill State Park, which covers the town of Wapiti, and the northern fork of the Shoshone River, which was lined with fascinating geological structures.

Finally, we arrived.

One of the first things we saw was Yellowstone Lake. At a particular point, Steamboat Point, dad discussed philosophy with a local.

The surface waters of the lake itself are bone-chillingly cold, despite the fact that hot vents steamed around the lake, as well as elsewhere throughout Yellowstone.

One of the delights was being able to meet the locals. Alvin and Simon turned out, but Theodore was probably asleep.

The Continental Divide snakes through the park. At the point where this picture was taken, the snowmelt in a shallow pool flow two ways. One way leads to the Columbia River, which flows into the Pacific Ocean. The other leads to the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, which drain the entire American Midwest, spilling into the Gulf of Mexico.

We did get to see Old Faithful. It was really cold while we waited for the geyser to erupt. When it actually did, it was difficult to see the water behind the steam.

On our way toward Mammoth Hot Springs near the North Exit, we ran into more locals, such as this buffalo.

Along the way, we saw Gibbon Falls, but no gibbons. After Niagara, though, Gibbon Falls is simply not as impressive.

When we finally got to Mammoth Hot Springs, we found that the waters were mostly dormant, making most of the terraces about as dry as Liberty Cap.

Nonetheless, there was at least one spring whose source waters were still in place.

On our way out, we finally met some elk. The rangers urged us along, but had nothing to say to this fellow who decided to cross the street without a favorable light.

As we left the park, there was a stone arch to send us on our way.

We got into Montana, and took Interstate 90 toward Spokane, Washington. We drove all night, taking small breaks here and there. We did not get much sleep; a Nissan 350Z is not a comfortable bed. Nonetheless, we did what we could as safely as possible. We got to the Columbia River Gorge, along the interstate west of Spokane, well before mid-morning.

As we kept pushing toward Seattle, we got glimpses of Mount Rainier in the distance.

Approaching Seattle meant crossing Lake Washington, first onto Mercer Island, and then into Seattle itself.

We paid for some parking in order to see Pike Place Market. Parking is very expensive downtown, so we could only afford 30 minutes. That meant most of our walk was rushed.

Because of the haste, I could not explore the brewery more than posing for this picture.

But I did feel a connection to this, the first ever Starbucks store.

The market is beautiful; unfortunately, we could neither see it all nor really linger on any one thing.

Finally, we called around and found our way to Lake View Cemetery, where Bruce Lee and his son Brandon are buried. We paid our respects. At first, given the effort it took to find the place, we were skeptical. After having seen the graves, however, and the obvious love and affection shown to the Lees, we felt touched in a way we hadn't thought possible. It was well worth the trip.

After our visit with the Lees, we headed south on Interstate 5, which we took to calling "the road home". We stopped by the University of Oregon for the sake of a cousin, and ended up calling it an early night here in Eugene, Oregon.

Before we sign off for the night, here is the latest video log entry.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Bar Trip Day 19

After a good rest last night, we began Day Nineteen by driving into Rapid City, South Dakota, and then heading south to see Mount Rushmore. Along the way, we finally managed to get a picture of the hay rolls; apparently, hay and cattle are bigger in South Dakota than corn and soya beans, which we had seen plenty of since northern Ohio.

As we neared Rapid City, we saw barren gray hills unsuitable for either farming or grazing. It was the Badlands.

Mount Rushmore is a stone's throw from Rapid City. You take US Route 16 up into the Black Hills, and go about 25-30 miles. From the road, Gutzon Borglum's monument to America seems no big deal.

Nonetheless, we decided to go in. There is no admission, but there is a fee for parking in a private parking lot. It's a rather nice lot, and it only costs $10 per car. Since we'd come all this way, we paid the fee and went in. We posed with some of the natives, since dad was born in the year of the sheep (which in Chinese (羊) could refer to either sheep or goat ...

... and I'm a Capricorn.

More than 60 years after his death, soon after which his son, who took over for him, declared the monument "complete", Gutzon Borglum stays close to the work for which he will always be remembered.

The amphitheatre is lower than Grand View Terrace and thus gives a better perspective as to just how huge the monument is.

Some friendly fellow tourists offered to help us commemorate this father-son road trip.

A final closeup of George, Tom, Teddy, and Abe.

Afterward, we decided to look for Crazy Horse. We found him, but were asked to pay $20 to see him. We decided that that was four times too much, so we turned around and got a shot of the Chief from the road.

After Mount Rushmore, we continued taking US Route 16 into Wyoming. As we approached Buffalo, we could see the beginnings of the Big Horn mountains.

At Buffalo, we decided to take the southern fork around the mountains. We've finally come to rest here at Cody, from where we plan to tackle Yellowstone tomorrow morning and early afternoon, before we head for Montana to get back on Interstate 90 in our push toward the Pacific.

Before I sign off for the night, here is today's video blog entry: