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The Vacation Tale Mega-Entry

January 2nd, 2002 - 1:52 a.m.

I'm Currently Avoiding:

Just a note: this is my diary entries from various days while I was on vacation so the days before certain sections signify when I was writing that specific part. I'm surprised I didn't break the character limit. And don't forget that I updated earlier if you didn't go look at it (not that it's all that important for you to go see it).

December 23rd

I don't know...I'm sitting here in the car typing on this computer instead of doing other things. I guess it just goes to show how much I've come to depend on this whole diary thing. I suppose I could always put my observations of my trip down while I'm at it. After all, I have 90% left on the battery. Well, until I have to shut it off and recharge it or find a plug-in anyway. I honestly think writing might be addictive or something. If I don't put something down, the words come after me in my head and bother me until I write something. I'm not kidding, either.

Oh. The trip. Sioux Falls was cold, seeing my friend was nice, I did the rest of my Christmas shopping (at least, I think I got presents for everyone, if not, well, that's too bad...I don't care anymore at this point), spent time noting changes and things, and it was all good. Then we met the rest of my family and we travelled for awhile. Then the next day we went straight down through Nebraska and Kansas, stopping in Oklahoma. I don't know what to tell you about those places. They didn't change much, that's for sure. If I hadn't seen the signs proclaiming it to be a different state, I wouldn't have thought there had been any change. Oh well, I guess that's what happens when borders are only invisible lines instead of actual physical boundary things, like gigantic rivers or mountains or something. I suppose that's why there are imaginary lines seperating states out here...you can't *find* any natural physical boundaries to seperate things. I'm typing too fast. Damn fingers. Or maybe I should damn my thoughts for being too fast.

New Mexico is different though. I think we were through Texas briefly, but I could be wrong. We stopped at a K-Mart at some town in either Texas or New Mexico. The first thing that clued me into the whole "Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas (well, SD, close enough damnit!) anymore" deal was the department signs in both English *and* Spanish. Home decorations is something like decoraciones par el hagar or something in Spanish. (Oh, don't expect that to be spelled right, btw. What I know of Spanish probably wouldn't fill a paragraph, and wouldn't make a comprehendable sentence.)

Anyway, as I was saying before I got all distracted, New Mexico is different. There are mountains and things, I've seen signs for Pistachio ranches, wineries, radio commercials in Spanish...and other strange things I'm not used to. It's interesting though, which is the important part. I should take pictures, I probably will, too. Well, maybe not in New Mexico though. I'll try to get some of Arizona. That shouldn't be too hard to do. Can't really take pictures with a digital camera when the scenery keeps moving...it only makes for blurry pictures. They really should find a way to fix that.

I've discovered a few things from so much time in the car over the past few days. For one, books on tape don't really float my boat. Books on tape wouldn't float a boat anyway, well, except maybe a paper one, but that's not the point. The point is that books on tape are annoying. It's just not the same as reading a book instead. Books are to be read, not put on tape and listened to. The problem with books on tape is that they're read by one person, either male or female and they do the voices for the characters too. This is terribly annoying because men can't generally do women's voices well, they tend to be squeaky and irritating rather than interesting, and women trying to make their voices sound like men's is equally annoying, irritating, laughable, and pitiable. I've probably used the word "annoying" too many times in this past paragraph, but I don't feel like looking up a thesaurus for other, equally fitting words to replace them. I really can't spare the battery power. Well, I could, but I won't.

The other thing I've discovered I don't like about this particular car trip is the extremely strange radio stations we seem to end up on naturally. The radio station or two in Spanish was understandable at least, given the area and the amount of people who speak Spanish or who live in Mexico and can pick up the station, but the proliferation of religious radio stations is kind of freaking me out. The one we're listening to now is "Focus on the Family" or something. It's really creepy. I don't know, I think maybe it's just some weird quirk of mine. I think religions are fine as long as you're not harming anyone with your beliefs, but I'm extremely wary of anything that pushes their beliefs on the world at large through any medium. This would be why I don't like televangelists, normal evangelists, Billy Graham and his tv-movies (among other things), and channels like Odessy and the Trinity Network. I think that their promotion of their religion always ends up sounding false or trite somehow. Like they're trying to hard or something. It sounds forced? I don't know...there was some religious thing on earlier where they were talking, and it was supposed to be a moral lesson revolving around the act of gift-giving at Christmastime and it's connection to the birth of Christ, etc. They were doing things in rhyme though...no one rhymes when they speak! Not unless they do it on purpose anyway. And there was some other thing yesterday I think, again about the birth of Christ. The shepherds were something like 10, Mary was using American idioms, and Joseph (the carpenter, and thus by definition maker of all things wooden) didn't know what a manger was. This leads me to another thought...how did the Three Wisemen communicate with Mary & Joseph? I mean, they were supposedly men who came from 'afar,' so presumably they didn't speak the language native to that land. They wouldn't have spoken Aramaic, so that leaves what? Hebrew and maybe Latin b/c of the Romans? I can see them knowing Latin I suppose, but I doubt a carpenter had to know more than a smattering of it. Oh nevermind, that's enough of this for one day, I'm going to go do some writing on something else now. More later...

December 26th

Okay, so later turned out to be three days later. Sue me. It's not like this is on a schedule or anything. No one will be seeing this for awhile as it is anyway, so what difference does it make when I write things? Errrr...I suppose I'd better discuss Christmas? Why, I don't know, but since it was yesterday, I guess that's a good idea. Christmas was okay, I suppose. I'm not going to list everything, or much of anything really, that I got since none of it was astonishingly interesting, important, or something I particularly wanted and received. The fleece blanket has turned out to have near-immediate use though, which was unexpected, but which I am grateful for. More about that later I suppose.

Christmas dinner/supper (whatever you want to call it...and would you believe my family actually argued over whether or not the meal we were eating was dinner or supper? Not only did they argue over it, but they argued over it to the point of getting out the dictionary in order to see who was right.) was really pretty good, even if the fish wasn't really as warm as it could have been. I think it was halibut or haddock maybe and salmon. I wasn't too pleased with the bones present in the salmon, but the other fish was good. The cherry crisp, mashed potatoes, and peas were also very nice. Much more edible than what I get when I'm not home at any rate. Hmm...I really need to take a shower. I guess I'll continue this later and write about my sleeping accomodations then.

Water pressure here isn't very fun. That's what you get when you live in the country I guess. Was going to take a shower, but could only produce a trickle of water, so I took a bath instead. Oh well, I lived, even if hot water seems to be a luxury here... I'm sleeping in a camper sort of thing. It has a heater, but last night the heater decided to blow cold air for some reason or another. So it ended up being really cold out in this thing last night. That would be why I was happy for the fleece blanket. It got so that, even with 5 blankets on top of me, I didn't want to move even to turn over, because that would mean I'd have to warm another section of the sheets with my body heat again, and I was tired of cold covers. The cotton sheet underneath me was more responsible for that than anything else though. And for once my feet were actually cold...something that almost never happens. I only wish the fleece thing was a little bigger, otherwise, I'm not even sure I needed the other four blankets.

Hmm. Do I have anything else to say at the moment? I don't think so. So I believe that I'll either take a nap (seeing as how it's actually warm in here now, why I'm not entirely sure...absorbed warmth from the sun maybe?), do some writing on my computer, or perhaps read a book (I seem to be doing that a lot lately). Again, more later...

December 28th

Who knows how much more I'll be able to write in this thing between now and January 1st. Tomorrow morning, bright and early (oh, how I loathe that phrase, two things I despise...brightness and early morning when I have to wake up), we leave for a random sight-seeing thing on our way back home. I haven't the slightest idea what we're going to see. I think there was mention of the Petrified Forest, The Garden of the Gods, and something else I don't really remember. Yesterday we went to someplace some direction from Tucson, to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. We were only there for about an hour though, because they close at 5 pm and it was a 3 hour drive, so we didn't get there until nearly 4 pm. It was interesting though. It will always be memorable as the first desert I've ever seen. I really don't think the label of "museum" is appropriate, however. I mean, museums are supposed to be all...I don't know, and stuff. That's it, I have to look up the definition of a museum. I keep wanting to put an a in museum and I don't really know why. Well, I guess it fits the definition of a museum...sort of. Museum: an institution devoted to the procurement, care, study, and display of objects of lasting interest or value; also: a place where objects are exhibited.

I don't know if I'd call the Desert Museum an institution though. Maybe I should look that one up too. Ehn. I guess technically, you could call it "an established organization or corporation especially of a public character." Possibly. I mean, it *is* open to the public, but I don't know anything about it being an established organization. Who establishes and organizes them? How do they begin to exist? And...damn questions. Anyway, we were there, it was spiffy. I don't know, the pictures might tell the story better. I haven't put them anywhere yet (other than my harddrive) because of lack of internet access, among other things, but when I do, they'll be somewhere on here...assuming I get them put up on the site at the same time I get this diary entry posted. That's a pretty big assumption right there. The otters and things were cool though. I kind of wish we'd had more time to go through it and that we could have done the path that wasn't paved (we didn't do that for two reasons: A. Not paved = difficult for Grandpa and B. Time was very short and it was faster to take the paved path and see more). It would have been nice. Oh well, I guess that's an excuse for me to come back here again someday and take more pictures. Or something.

Arizona is surprisingly cold. I mean, I know its winter and everything, but it's the Southwest damn it. Fulfill my expectations and be warm! Well, I guess today was like sixty degrees or something, but about the only time I was outside or not in the car, it was on top of a mountain-type thing and the wind was blowing and it was *cold*! It's not supposed to *do* that! Did I mention how cold I was the other day? Hmm..time to scroll up I think. Oh, I guess I did. Anyway, I don't think I had to deal with it afterwards (well, one night, but it wasn't warmer by any means) because then enough people had finally left (we started with 16, we had to get down to 8 before I could move into the house to sleep and not freeze) for me to be able to get the spot by the wood stove-thing in the living room. The sofa bed folds out so that it's right in front of it, and I get the side closest to the stove...it's spiffy until it gets cold in the wee hours of the morning when the fire dies down.

My aunt has decided that we should do some sight-seeing on our way back home. She's stuck on Central time or something and has decreed that we should be ready to go by 8 am CST. The only problem is we're not *in* CST, we're in Mountain, which means she'd like us to be ready to leave by 7 am. What is she, crazy? What ever made her think that I actually *wanted* to be awake that close to sunrise? Especially if I'm awake for the day rather than going to bed? It's now a little after midnight mountain time. Oh joy. I can tell this is just going to be a blast. I won't be able to access e-mail or internet until at least the first of January after this too, unless something incredibly unexpected happens and I end up home *early*. Although I seriously doubt that anything remotely resembling that will occur. I've taken over 50 pictures just on this trip according to my counter dealy bobber. I think I've gone picture happy. I'll have to remove the ones I don't really care for sometime soon. I don't know, it just seems like a lot of disk space being needlessly taken up and used. If I keep this up I'm going to have to start putting folders within folders within folders, etc. Well, right now it's got 69 files (some of them were from before, like 12 of them I think) totaling somewhere around 7 MB. I guess that's not *too* bad...yet. Hmm...I think it's time for me to work on some other stuff, or maybe even *gasp* sleep. I have to be awake insanely early tomorrow after all.

Oh wait, I forgot to mention what we did today. Well, I sort of mentioned it, but I didn't. I know, that doesn't make any sense. We went up through Clifton and Morenci and saw the mine. It's like the biggest copper mine in the entire country and has been in operation for more than 140 years. Since 1860, I think the sign said. It was really...depressing? I don't know if I'd go that far, but it wasn't terribly pleasant to see the remnants of what used to be mountains, even if it does supply a needed resource or whatever. The slag? hills were just really icky. It wasn't really all that pleasant to look at. But of course, I took pictures anyway. Although I don't think I'm terribly happy with how they came out. Stupid sun. Anyway, I'm going to stop writing this now. My clock says it's 2:30, my watch says you forgot to subtract two hours in order to get Mountain time. So I guess it's time to stop writing in this for the moment. More later, whenever that may be.

December 30th

So. Got up at a horribly early time of the morning yesterday. Today wasn't much better. 7 am should only be seen when you haven't yet gone to bed rather than when you're just getting up for the day. We saw the Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert yesterday at about 4 pm in the rain. Was great fun...well, not really. It was okay I guess. Took pictures, like always. Will again show them laterish. Or something. I don't know, petrified wood just isn't that interesting. Also took pictures of Salt River Canyon since we stopped there. I forget where that canyon is...someplace in Arizona someplace, maybe on an Indian reservation, we seem to have gone through quite a few of them. Enh. It was...enh. I just don't have anything specifically fascinating or anything to say about it.

Weather sucks today. We're supposed to go see the Garden of the Gods today in or around Colorado Springs or someplace like that. I don't know how we're going to be seeing anything...it's snowed and stuff lately so what could there possibly be? I guess I'll find out when we get there, which will probably be in twenty million years from now when we finally get there. We stopped in Albequerque? last night. We would have stopped in Grants, adding another 2 hours to our driving time today if I hadn't insisted on continuing to drive. Good thing I did too, considering the snow and stuff on the road today. If I hadn't, we would have had no time at the dumb garden today. We might not anyway, we'll have to see. We should be home on the 1st sometime, so I only have to endure this for another two days or so. Ugh. Well, I'll be visiting that garden place, but I don't know if I'm going to be able to take pictures of it or not, seeing as how my batteries on my camera are almost gone. They lasted a fair amount of time though...I think almost 100 pictures worth in about a month's time for four batteries. But they're pretty much dead, so I don't know if I'll be able to get any pictures. Or if it'll even be worth it. Like I said, we'll see...or I will at least. Am watching Gremlins 2 at the moment in the van as I type. Will have to switch to writing one of my other things now so that I can get the villain down...or take notes on it. More later...(probably).

December 31st...well, technically, by an hour

I'm sitting here in the dark with the other occupants of this hotel room asleep as I type this. I thought about doing it earlier, but didn't feel like it. Tomorrow morning will be another day of getting up at some horrible hour of the morning and driving for eternity. I'm really getting tired of this. At least it's almost over with. This hotel is much better than the one we had last night. The one last night didn't even have a working heater. There was no remote control, the chairs were plastic, the carpet was so ancient that it had shaded from its original brown color at the edges of the carpet to a lighter orangish color all the way to some sickly shade of yellow-green. You couldn't even turn lights on individually. About the only thing that could be said in favor of that hotel is that the pillows were just the right size and were quite comfy. Everything else pretty much sucked.

Speaking of things that sucked...I did mention where I was going. So we went and saw the Garden of the Gods today/yesterday. It was essentially a big bunch of rocks in the middle of Colorado Springs shaped in interesting ways. It wasn't even a cool garden. I was annoyed. Not only was it just a collection of red rocks (oh wait, one was gray, but only one mind you), but it was freezing cold out there, flurries were coming down, and pictures were to be taken. So I did. But I didn't really care for it too much I'm afraid. It was annoying to get a lot of rocks when I'd been expecting some magnificent floral displays or something instead. Overall, I think I'm rather disappointed with the sight-seeing that has been done this trip. I think I would have preferred to see either the Grand Canyon or Carlsbad Caverns instead of a bunch of fossilized wood and some naturally occurring land formations, no matter how colorful or how they were shaped. Oh, and that trip to see the mine thing we did the day before we left was pretty boring too. It was a big mine...big deal. *sigh* I'm tired again, I suppose I should go to bed. After all, I have to be awake at a time no semi-insomniac/nightowl should ever see when just awakening. (I know, I've made a big deal about this, whining about it just about every chance I get, but I've awoken too many days in a row at 7 am and it's starting to affect my mental capabilities.)

Oh wait, I was going to finish, but I thought about something while I was driving that I wish for people to ponder. I'd like to know why there is a speed limit. I mean, it isn't *really* a limit, because people almost invariably go faster than the supposed "limit" all the time unless the weather conditions don't allow for it or there are other special circumstances, like being old or moving so you can't go as fast as it says. The very, very few people who actually drive exactly the speed limit only serve to piss me off. Somehow they seem all smug or something, like just because they can obey the posted limit *exactly*, no more, no less, they're entitled to a superior driving award or something. It just annoys me. So why even bother having limits? I mean, it's obvious that they aren't actually *limits*. If it was a true limit, all vehicles would be built so that they couldn't go faster than the highest posted speed limit, probably something like 75 mph. That way people would be unable to go above the limit and we wouldn't have to ever worry about things like speeding tickets. Everyone would be driving exactly 75 instead...maybe slower, depending. But this isn't the way that things are. A lot of cars go up to 200 mph. Or 180, or whatever. I think the van goes up to something like 90, which isn't much I suppose, but if you get it near 80 it's hard enough to drive like that, it doesn't need to go much faster. So why are cars capable of being driven that fast if one can't do so legally? Maybe we should have speed guidelines or something instead. Have signs posting the minimum recommended speed (conditions permitting), and that is a suggestion which one can either take to be literal truth or one can go higher or lower within, say, a 20 mile range of that number, depending on what they feel like driving with no risk of a ticket. People who are going way, way slower than that in road conditions that aren't terrible (without a valid excuse in other words) and people who go zooming past everybody going more than 20 miles above the recommended speed can get ticketed. That way there will be a sort of average speed for everyone that will lessen instances of road rage or something. I don't know, I sort of forgot what my point was somewhere. Well, chances are I have to be awake in something like 5 & 1/2 hours, so I'll write more later...

January 1st, 2001

Happy New Year (or something)

I was going to start this somewhere near midnight, but I changed my mind. This thing is somewhere in the seven page range at the moment, which is amazing and turns out to be more than I've written on my other projects. That's probably a bad thing, but then again, writing this is much easier than writing anything else. I don't have to bother to edit or change this, except for the spelling as I go along, and I don't have to have a plot or anything; I can just ramble and it works perfectly well. I suppose I should babble about the last bit of the trip now, seeing as how that's all that's left and I'm technically home now, but I'm still not on the internet or anything because my sister's busy with it. I'm sure that I'll be oh-so-pleased to see how many new messages I have after four days or so too. That should just be a ball. A very big, Times Square, lit disco ball, at that. Oh wait, that's a festive image, isn't it? Fine. Then it's a big, nasty, spiked ball attached to a chain that I'm stuck in front of. Whee. Like I said, such fun.

I was right. It was/is such fun. I'm not even finished yet, and I've probably been reading it for about 5 hours now. Okay, maybe it's only 4, but that's still way too long. And not only do I still have a bunch of messages to read at mail.com, but I've still got about 10 messages in ICQmail that I couldn't get to earlier because that screen froze. I want to beat my head in or something...all these e-mail messages and all these things to catch-up on are going to drive me nuts. Is it any wonder why going on vacation is almost something to be dreaded if internet access is unavailable? Especially with results like this. At least I've finally got all the 80 or 90 messages that were in Hotmail gone. But wait, I was in error. I've still got quite a few that I've already looked at once, but have to look at again because they require sound and another window being opened, two things I either couldn't or was unwilling to provide earlier. Whee. Why did I go on vacation again?

Speaking of my vacation, I should really get back to finishing telling about it and my return home so I can finally post this. But first...(ha! You didn't think I was going to actually get straight to the story without a lot of rambling in other directions first, did you?)

My grandfather is a little strange. I was sitting here a bit earlier when dinner (or supper) was called and he was in the chair right in front of me. I had something I wanted to finish reading, so I was going to be a tad bit late for dinner, but I knew that Grandpa takes a long time to get out of his chair, get ready, and get to the dinner table, so I figured I had time. When he shuffled out of the room, he decided to turn off the only source of light in the room...leaving me in the dark. I have no idea why he did that, but this isn't the first time he's done it either. Just some weird quirk or something? Maybe he's under the impression that I don't need light to see? I don't know.

Another thing that I was wondering about, when I was at dinner because that was what was on TV, is football time. Is it related to Soap Opera time or something? Because it seems the football time clock seems to have very little to do with actual time. Eighteen seconds seem to take something like three minutes. This seems comparable to Soap Opera time, where you can go an entire week of shows and only encompass a day or less. In fact, a day on a soap opera can be stretched nigh unto infinity some how.

You know, speaking of stretching things into infinity...I think this diary entry is *more* than long enough so I'll post this now and finish the journey later. Or maybe I'll write some more. After all, what else do I have to do? Besides freeze that is. Turning the thermostat down to 60 at night just makes me very, very cold. That's how you know that you're in South Dakota apparently...when you're cold. So what did I do for New Year's? Pretty much nothing. We drove until we reached Mitchell, which is only about two hours from my aunt's house. Seeing as how it was only 7 pm when we reached it, we could have easily returned to her house and spent the night there, saving ourselves the price of two hotel rooms for a night. But we didn't because no one ever listens to me so we stayed there instead. I guess I shouldn't care...after all, it wasn't *my* money. But it annoys me all the same.

So we stayed there, and we did nothing to celebrate except go out to dinner at 7:30ish...something we've been doing for every meal because it is a little impossible to try and cook while driving. Vans don't normally come equipped with kitchens, and a lot of hotel rooms don't either. So eat out we did. We went to Bonanza because we were all surprised that they still existed. I thought they'd all gone out of business, but apparently there are still a couple hanging in there. Does anyone else remember Bonanza or is it just me? Anyway, it was very spiffy to see that they still existed and to eat there, but it didn't make for an amazingly spectacular New Year's by any means. So then there was hours of tv watching and reading and I watched the ball drop the customary hour early and I went to bed around 1 or 12:30 I think. It was really quite dull. Then this morning we woke up (again ridiculously early), packed, froze getting into the van, and headed the rest of the way home, returning around 1 pm. That's basically it I guess. No dramatic resolutions, no real celebration at all to speak of actually. Nothing special and I finally finished this. Woohoo! Except it's January 2nd now, but oh well.

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