Where do I start? The Traveler Tour as I call it was undertaken with the goal and purpose to meet as many of my fellow travelers as I could. Everyone that wanted to meet with me I tried as hard as I could to meet with. The USA is large and I couldn't possibly meet everyone, but I think that I did my best. This is an account of the events and thoughts I had as I traveled the country.
My journey started out in Seattle on Tuesday Aug 23rd. I was excited!! I boarded my 8:50 flight for Newark, NJ full of expectations and anxiousness.
Me at Sea-Tac airport, waiting for my flight.
I don't like to fly, but the flight went well and I arrived at Newark on time. There I was greeted by an angel. An angel sent from heaven. My good friend MaxieX met me and made sure I didn't get lost in this strange land. New Jersey is quite different than Washington State. I didn't know the first thing about getting thru all the toll stations they have on their freeways (not so free!). MaxieX made sure that my journey into New Jersey was painless. Thank you MaxieX, you are as kind and sweet in real life as you are behind the Avatar. I got checked into my hotel and went over to Maxie's house to hang out with her husband JoeMax and her three children. Maxie has a beautiful house and a beautiful family. JoeMax and I hung out on the back porch and smoked cigars and chatted the night away. Maxie was there too, but she didn't smoke cigars!
Wednesday Aug 24th Maxie picked me up and took me to get my rental car. I had
asked for an economy car but the guy at the rental agency said he didn't have
one and that he was going to "upgrade me" to a midsize car. This seamed ok at
first but the car got lousy gas mileage. More on this later.
We then we out and had some lunch at Jack Baker's Wharfside Patio Bar. This was one of the many great places to eat on the Jersey shore!! Chicken Caesar salad's and beer were on our agenda. The weather was warm and, of course , pleasant, at Point Pleasant Beach, NJ.
Later that evening Maxie took me out to show me some nightlife. We went this club called "The Mix" where they served ten dollar martini's. We met up with her younger sister and some of her friends. I somehow feel that my Hawaiian shirt and Converse all stars didn't quite fit in!! The music was good that drinks were tasty. I really had a great time watching the girls get their "Milkshake" on!!
Thursday was the big day. That is when Zoom and Dex were to arrive. Shortly after Dex arrived Maxie took us out for some pizza! I think this just might be Dex's favorite food!
Traveler is amazing. The three of us instantly picked up in the real world right where we left off in the virtual world.
I truly am blessed to have friends like these.
After lunch we went back to Maxie's and geeked out for a while. While we were goofing on the pc's we had a pleasant surprise..............
I been hanging out with Maxie for several years now and have been listening to her talk smack about her foosball skills. So finally I had the chance to show her who is king of the foosball world!!!!
While playing foosball we heard the fumbling of motorcycles. It was Joe and Maxie's friends arriving for cruise night. Cruise night is held the last Thursday of the summer months in Freehold, NJ. The motorcycles rumbled the house and rumbled all the way down to Freehold for cruise night. The entire town was filled with motorcycles and classic cars. We checked out the scene and ate terrific Mexican food at El Meson restaurant. We left Freehold behind and headed on down to Red Bank for a boat ride on Tommy's partner Joe's boat.
Dex and Tommy having fun on the boat ride!
Our boat trip took us to Barnacle Bill's where we had drinks and good conversation. We took the boat back to Red Bank and visited the Lexius server. Tommy is the owner of Lexius and makes it all possible for us to host the server. He has gone out of his way for the good of traveler and Tech Worlds. Tommy we thank you for your support, you are a pleasure to work with.
Our evening ended up at Maxie's house where we were treated to some tunes by Zoom. Zoom is talented and kind. She is a super lady and a great person to get to know.
Friday began with our Trip to Atlantic City. On the way to Atlantic City Maxie took us to her work at the Ocean County Parks and Recreation. There we met her coworkers and saw what a beautiful setting that she works in.
We then headed down to Atlantic City and toured Caesars Palace and rubbed elbows with Rocky!! Zoom got a little too close!!
After we lost a few bucks to the "one armed bandits" we went out on the boardwalk and had lunch at the Rainforest Cafe in Trump Plaza. We stuffed our faces and all shared a Volcano for desert. This thing would please any chocolate lover.
Four friends in Atlantic City.
After Atlantic City we went and me Steel and his son Henry for coffee. Steel is as nice and gentle in real life as he is in Traveler. Both he and his son are real gentleman. Steel it is a pleasure to have met you my friend.
After hanging with Steel and his son Henry Maxie took us to her local mall where we went "Goth Watching"!!! Lots of interesting people in New Jersey!! Later that evening, Maxie, Zoom, Dex and myself went to Jenkins boardwalk. This is a fun little boardwalk with amusement rides, shops, stores and nightlife. It's a great place to go "Bennie Watching"! Dex, as usual, got his Dippin Dots, and I got a great big ice cream cone. When we got back to Maxie's we started to make our Tech Worlds "More Funner" t-shirts. A big thanks goes to Zoom for working her butt off and ironing all those shirts for the guys!! Thank you Zoom!!
Saturday was the big day, this was the day that we would go to Ocean Grove and see Noel play in concert. Saturday started out by the arrival of Zeppelinman and Kitty Tears.
We had most of the Tech Worlds crew right here in New Jersey!!
Thank you Maxie for getting us all together. Maxie cooked us her famous Tofu
Tacos for lunch while we all got ready in our "More Funner" T-shirts. Now
I have been accused of not fully indorsing her Tofu Tacos. I want to go on the
record as saying they are very yummy and all the rumors about my dislike for her
Tofu Tacos is entirely false. Now lets move on to more funner topics.
We all pilled into Maxie's huge Dodge ram and cruised on down to Ocean Grove. On the way Maxie took us to the ocean and along historic sites such as the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, and the tourist destination Belmar. The Tech Worlds crew crashed a wedding on the beach but we looked all official in our shirts so I'm sure nobody cared.
Vacation is all about good friends, good times and of course good food!! Maxie took us to a terrific little restaurant called The Moonstruck. There we were joined by JoeMax. Joe is a hard working guy and had to work during the day but it was kick ass that he could meet us for dinner and for the concert. At the Moonstruck we had good beer (are you noticing a trend?) and great food. We had gourmet pizza, calamari, and Eggplant Bruscetta. Come on Dex, have some more calamari!!!!!
From the Moonstruck we walked on over to the Ocean Grove Auditorium of Noel's big show. We got there early and with the help of Zoom snuck on in. Noel greeted us with the warmth that he has shown his entire life. The man is a very caring individual, and you could see it in his eyes. Peter and him spoke with us and made us feel special. Noel had the people at Ocean Grove designate a section in the front just for us! He made us feel important, I think this is something that he is very good at, something that few of us have the ability to do, yet comes ever so naturally to him. I feel honored and proud to call him my friend.
The show was fantastic, the songs they sung reminded us about what was
important. They reminded us to love one another, to take time to enjoy each
other, not to hate, not to fear, to embrace life and celebrate each moment.:
We hung around after the show and visited with Noel. We just didn't want the evening to end. There was something truly magical that happened that night, something I am sure that was not missed by any of the Tech Worlds crew.
We reluctantly left Ocean Grove and continued our surreal evening back at Maxie's.
We built a camp fire, roasted marshmallows, uploaded our pictures, and discussed this truly amazing evening we had. Check out the Campfire Lan-Party we had!
Sunday was the day we were going to Yankee Stadium. Zoom had to go back home
to Pittsburg so we bid farewell to this unbelievably gentle and kind woman. Zoom
you are my friend and I couldn't be happier to be able to say that.
Maxie, Dex and I all piled into my rental car with Zep and Kitty Tears following in there's and we set out for New York City. We cruised up the parkway and had little traffic until we hit that dreaded New York city area. After much aggressive driving and many horn honks we finally got parked in one of the stadium parking lots. The stadium and the area was rather run down and I don't want to sound negative here so I wont go into much detail about it. Lets just say the Yankees won. (note the container of Dippin Dots in Dex's right hand)
After the game is when we bid farewell to Kitty Tears and Zep. It was very
nice to meet them both in person and I hope to have many years friendship with
On the way home we swung by a vegan restaurant where Maxie introduced me to Vegan food. I don't know what it was that we ate but it was yummy. Care for some Dex?
We blew that clam bake and went over to Ashes Cigar Bar. Max has told me about this place so we just had to check it out. Pretty cool place. We checked out all the handmade cigars and got a few souvenirs.
Food was on the agenda again as Maxie took us out for Pizza at Basil T's
Grill and Brewery. Yummy pizza and again yummy beer were on our menu. This place
made Dex happy, lots of pizza!!
Dex at the Basil T's Bar and Grill
Monday morning came and this day was a very sad day for me. This was the day I had to leave my friends in New Jersey. Maxie and JoeMax had been such wonderful hosts and treated me like part of their family, I just didn't want to leave. They showed me enough of their lives to make me appreciate the beautiful garden state of New Jersey. It was time and I had an adventure ahead of me and this excited me. I said goodbye to my friends and set my course for Hershey, PA.
Driving to Hershey, Pa took me onto the Pennsylvania turnpike. Turnpikes are something foreign to me. We don't have them on the west coast. Having to pay to use the roads that you paid for with your taxes seams a bit odd to me but I suppose the bloodsuckers in our government need to get every dollar they can from us. The turnpike was nice and fast. Got to Hershey in just a few hours and I went directly to Hershey's Chocolate world.
The smell of chocolate filled the air in and around the factory. They have a wonderful free tour with a rather large gift shop at the end. A person could get very fat very fast here! I grabbed some chocolate ice cream and shopped. I bought some candy bars for my folks and said goodbye to Hershey, PA.
I left Hershey and figured id stay at State College, PA for the night. State
College is the home of the Penn State Nittany Lions. I found a Super 8
motel, ordered some pizza and logged onto Traveler to tell my friends about my
day. While in Traveler, Maxie told me about Penn's Cave, which was only
about 20 min from where I was staying. Penn's Cave is a great big care that you
can explorer and learn about cave formation from. I set that as my next
When I awoke in the morning, the weather had taken a turn for the worse. Hurricane Katrina had hit the gulf region and its affects were starting to be felt up in my area. I rain wasn't here yet, but it was coming. Penn's Cave was very cool, in more ways then one. I was glad I brought my jacket for the temp in the cave was in the low 50's. The tour of the cave consisted of a boat guided boat ride throughout the caverns.
Penn's Cave is magical and full of discovery.
Leaving Penn's Cave I had my next destination of Canton, OH. Canton, Oh is the birthplace of the National Football League and home to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. On the way there the rain from Hurricane Katrina started to come down and boy did it come down!! I parked in the Hall of Fame parking lot and ran inside and still got soaked.
Here is where I was going to meet another Tech Worlds Traveler name Double Trouble. Double Trouble and I have known each other for years, back before the Tech Worlds days. He braved the weather and we toured the hall of fame.
Double Trouble is a good guy and it was great to get a chance to meet him in
person. I grabbed a hotel room in Canton, Oh and got ready for my next day of
The rain was still coming down when I woke, but it had slowed considerably, I left Canton and stopped at Akron, OH to look at the Quaker Mills Mall. This is the historic Quaker Oats plant turned into a shopping mall/hotel. I made a quick pass thru the mall, gabbing some coffee and set my sites on meeting Tweak just south of Detroit. I had some extra time that morning so on the way to see Tweak I swung on my the little town of Sandusky, OH. Here is the home of the Merry Go Round Museum. If you are into carnivals and have a little bit of a kid still inside you, I recommend stopping and checking it out. The people there were very nice and Sandusky was a very quant and peaceful town.
I arrived at a Truck stop just south of Detroit to meet Tweak for lunch. My buddy Mscdex drove up from Ohio to have lunch with us, and we all met at the Applebee's restaurant. Three burgers and lots of jokes later we snapped this picture. Tweak and Dex are really allot of fun to hang out with, great couple of guys. Tweak had to run off to work and Dex to his brothers so I continued my journey north and stopped at Saginaw, MI for the night.
I had decided several days earlier to take this route across Michigan because I wanted to drive up and across the Mackinac Bridge. This bridge crosses the Great Lakes and is one of the longest suspension bridges in the world. Crossing the Mackinac Straits the Mackinac Bridge is 5 miles long and offers a beautiful view of the Great Lakes. Mackinaw City is known for it's fudge, I purchased some and had a little snack as I drove across the Great Lakes. After crossing bridge I hung a left and headed west towards Minnesota driving along the Upper Peninsula or UP as Tweak calls it. Thanks to Hurricane Katrina and the greedy oil barons, gas was beginning to get very expensive up here.
The UP of Michigan was quite pretty. The road wound it's was along Lake Michigan with ample camping and recreation locations. I continued west crossing into Wisconsin and then back into Michigan before finding my way at the Duluth Airport, in Duluth, MN. I swung into Duluth to swap out my rental car with one that got better gas mileage. They gave me a Kia, Optima. This car wasn't as nice as the Taurus but it got better gas mileage and was comfortable enough.
I scurried along thru Minnesota and set my destination for Hill City, SD. Hill City, SD is the closest city to Mt. Rushmore. I found the city charming and inviting. I enjoyed a few cold beers while I waited for my clothes to finish at the locale Laundromat.
One thing that I have neglected to mention during this chronicle of my Traveler Tour is that while on the road I had the benefit of a co-pilot. My co-pilot was none other than MaxieX. I would call her on my cell phone and she would look up hotels, attractions, prices, routes and all kinds of beneficial tips for me. This help made going places much easier and almost made me forget that I was driving this country alone. One thing became clear to me, I could not have done this trip and had near as much fun if it wasn't for my friend MaxieX. Thank you MaxieX, you were then and you are now, a godsend.
Mt. Rushmore National Monument has a cool ceremony that they do in the evening. Maxie had heard about it and told me that I should try and catch the show. I arrived at Mt. Rushmore just before twilight. The presidents heads up on the mountain were still very visible. The ceremony began just before dark and included talks about the famous four presidents up on the mountain. It concluded with the "Star Spangled Banner" and the illumination of a now dark Mt. Rushmore National Monument. The entire experience was really quite amazing. It seams quite popular to bash the USA and to not show your patriotism but after that show it was hard to not feel patriotic and proud to be an American. God Bless the USA!
The next morning I left Hill City, SD bright and early on my way to Billings, MT to see my friend CrashTest. CrashTest is the one that introduced me to Traveler years ago. When I met him he was hanging onto a beer in the Spar Tree Tavern in Granite Falls, WA. Being as we were quite possibly the only computer literate people in the great town of Granite Falls, we became good friends Several years ago he left Granite Falls and moved to Billings, Mt. I had always told him I was going to come out and visit and this was my chance. The road to Billings, MT took me thru the motor cycle rally town of Sturgis, SD. I missed the bike rally by several weeks and the town was deserted, but I stopped for a coffee and a bathroom break and kept on moving. I set the cruise control on 85 mph and 5 hours later was in Billings.
I hung out at Crash's house that day, eating pizza and talking old times. That night me and him went out to one of his hangouts and drank beer like the old days. Just like the old days, I drank to much and when Sunday arrived I was pretty much too tired to have the energy to do anything. Crash and I went and had breakfast, gambled a little in the casino and drank allot of coffee!!!
That afternoon I said goodbye to my friend and set my sites for Yellowstone National Park.
The Road to Yellowstone took me to the beautiful town of Red Lodge, MT. So many wonderful places to stay in this country, just not enough time. This is one of the many little areas that I drove thru that I would like to come back and revisit. Red Lodge had a warm and good feel to it, I will return here again someday.
The Sun setting on Red Lodge, MT.
Yellowstone National Park is the first of its kind, the first park to be set aside by any government in the world. With all of it's famous attractions and constant reminders by Maxie that I just had to go, I left Red Lodge and headed towards Yellowstone.
There was road construction of the road to the Northeast entrance to Yellowstone National Park, so I entered the park thru the eastern entrance. The drive to the east entrance took me thru some cool tunnels as I began my climb into the Rocky Mountains.
I cruised thru the park, snapping pictures of the wild life, visiting the hot springs, seeing the famous Old Faithful Geyser. I remember a park ranger that was giving a little talk about how the Old Faithful Geyser works. His name was Ranger Duff and I remember his name because he told me "When things get tough, call Ranger Duff!!"
I left Yellowstone National Park and drove thru Grand Teton National Park and into Jackson Hole, WY. From Jackson Hole I drove over a steep mountain pass and dropped down into Idaho Falls, where I rested for the night.
Now that I was in Idaho it was just a days journey back to my home in Granite Falls, WA. While driving that last leg of my trip I reflected upon all that I had seen. I saw this great country and met it's great people. My friends that I have known and loved are every bit as wonderful in real life as they are when we visit on Tech Worlds. I saw impressive sites, drove over huge mountain ranges, saw national monuments, drove thousands of miles, but the one thing that I cherish and will remember most is the kind faces of all the people I have grown to love so much. I love you my friends. Thank you for making my trip across the country one that I will always remember.