Saturday, June 19, 2010

My beloved Ellsbett hits 100,000 miles!

Yes, my dear car, so many miles from home, hits a milestone. Well, we were actually in Yakima at the time, not too far from home, but it's pretty nifty.

And I had the presence of mind to film it!

And there is going to be (shortly there was) a barbecue to celebrate. It's a rather dull day here in Seattle (quite a pity given it's the day of the yearly solstice parade as well), but we'll make it work.

Any rate, I'm going to post a new timelapse here shortly as well. It's a long one: all the way from Seattle to Central Ohio. A lovely time on the road, and a very lovely time at my college reunion and other parts east.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A few months back...

I went to Alabama to visit Elena's family. Lovely drive. Caught a spot of freezing fog in Kansas on the way down. That stuff is just confusing.

And I took a timelapse of the trip from Tuscaloosa, AL to Steamboat Springs, CO. My Dad and Stepmom have a place out in Steamboat. That and all the family in Denver made this an ideal holiday trip.

You can't really catch it in the video below, but the folks in Tulsa in charge of plowing need to pay a little more attention to staying in their lanes. I'd be driving along, and suddenly, just up ahead, my lane was filled with snow. Had to make a quick lane change and then was wary when, 100ft down the road, apparently the plower noticed the mistake and got back in the lane. Happened about a dozen times in the greater Tulsa area. It was nerve-racking 9 hours into the trip.


A fine drive from Alabama to Colorado: Timelapse from Dan Neidecker on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Denver to Seattle with love

So, I did this trip to Denver for a wedding.

And it was fun. Nice to be back, see the folks, friends, city, whatnot.
While I was out there, I picked up a tripod to shoot the wedding video. I also brought along my little canon camera that I loaded this alternative firmware on in the spring to shoot a timelapse of a mural painting.

It got me to thinking that it could be pretty cool to shoot a timelapse of my drive. What better road journal than that? Well, it an arguable point, but it's still kind of nifty that the technology to do something like taking 18,000 photos over a regular interval of 6 seconds on a cheap camera running on AA batteries is entirely feasible.

Yeah, it's about ten minutes long, which people have told me makes it both too long and too short. It's something like 21 hours of drive time. I had fun.

Here's the mural one, which was a cool project through a local art's program called LINK. The program gives HS students a weekend activity and the chance at scholarships for continuing education in artistic fields. This was the final weekend of last school year.

Monday, February 23, 2009

far too long

since the last posting.
really not that accustomed to this. got to find the voice.
where'd i leave off...

Ah, Portland visit.
Went like a charm. Elena was happy to have me, Megan's cat was happy to be petted, and I really enjoyed being in Portland. At this point I was starting to worry about the amount of money expended to keep this trip going. It's not that I thought it wasn't worth a fair bit of money, but more that there was a limited amount of it and not so much coming in. Still in that situation now, though.
So, while I spent a bit in Portland, it was starting to weigh a bit heavily on me.
Elena and I wandered through the winter Portland gave us to wander through. Found a lovely computer recycling place in Free Geek, which does not exist here in Seattle, but really ought to. If I had any idea how to, I might consider opening one (money being an issue there as well, I suppose).
The notion with Free Geek is that a lot of folks have old computers about that they don't want anymore. A lot of folks have computers that need fixing. And a lot of people want to find odd bits of hardware and don't feel like they need to have them new. All of these things combine rather nicely at the Free Geek. They teach classes, fix people's machines, accept donations, provide computers to other non-profits, and operate a thrift store for old hardware. Really nifty.
Elena needed a new power brick for her iBook, and they had one in decent shape for less than half the going price new. Woot.
Megan and Michael, her boyfriend, came into town in time for New Years Eve. The evening was spent at a bar, a disco, and a house party. Not too much hungover the next day, but they needn't all be so. Did get a wonderful head rub by a rather inebriated person I had barely met at the house party. Pretty happy with that.
Michael fell into several walls, then fell over, then remarked loudly about how he wasn't really all that drunk. He probably weighs 250. He'd had a few.
Portland always strikes me as an awesome place when I go there. It's my understanding there's just no work there, but it's like what Seattle could be if it were a little less commercial, a little less based on massive industries, and having a bit more social conscience. May live there some day.
After all that, the last leg of the trip went quite smoothly. Drove up to Seattle and settled in.
6600 miles through 16 states in a bit over three weeks. Ain't unemployment grand.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

better late

Oy, taking quite some time off of this. I'm afraid I'm not in the habit of writing down my life for an audience, so I hope you will excuse me.

The rest of the time in Colorado passed rather pleasantly. Nicole, my step-sister, made it in to the Steamboat airport without major incident, my grandparents and later aunt, uncle, and cousins similarly found their way to the house, and we settled down to a fine Christmas together.

I downhill ski/snowboard about once a year, while my Dad and much of the Denver side of my family do so on a relatively regular basis. As such, I found myself quite sore and rather less sure-footed than I remember myself growing up with this sort of thing a weekend retreat from the city. All the same, throwing oneself down a mountain with gusto and lust is still quite pleasant, though colder and damper for the falling.

My brother could not make it up to the mountains owing to a complex situation involving his girlfriend, sleeping accommodations, bald tires, possible poor communication, weather, and the cost of airfare being somewhat high during the holiday season. Tensions rose on either side of the debate, and are in fact still somewhat risen. I was just glad to see him in Denver. I think he'll do good things.

And then I journeyed off to Portland for New Years. The car had been unhappy in the sub-zero temperatures that it experienced during the interim. But, once warm, purred as happily as ever.

I coasted back over the rest of the rockies, and through the very same stretch of road which had taken me over the first stretch of my eastward trip.
When I drive through Oregon in daylight I'm often quite surprised at how poorly I remember its terrain. It's wide open in places, fenced in by canyons in others, meanders along rivers, rolls along ridges, passes farmland, and then starts all over again. I could swear there are two identical towns right along I-84, one of them being Baker City, and the other one about 100 miles to the east. Or was it west...

Well, I stopped for a couple hours in La Grande. Megan, a dear friend of Elena's, who also put us up in Portland both this time and the last, was kind enough to feed me some eggs and bacon at her parents place there. Then she let me drive her '63 (right?) VW bug around town a bit, which was interesting with all of the snow everywhere. That thing handles exceptionally well in the snow for approaching fifty years of age. Did have a little trouble keeping running when in neutral, however. But quite a thrill to drive. It makes me both appreciate my car all the more and make me think that it could be engineered a bit better for bad roads while also being a touch more thrilling. I'm not about to trade mine in for a vintage model just yet, though.

The slight trip from La Grande back into the Columbia valley was the only point on the trip where I ran into significant snowfall during the entire trip. For that, I'm quite thankful. I had better luck with the weather on this trip than I could have imagined.

The trip into Portland is much more of a haze coming back than going out. It was still scenic, but I'd been up for a day and a half.

I dropped into Portland, picked up Elena downtown, where she'd been looking at books, and headed to her friend Seamus's place for dinner. I passed out a couple of times, ate, had a short chat with someone, passed out again, gave Elena the keys, and we somehow found ourselves at Megan's place. After petting the cat for a minute, I fell asleep for a good long time.

And I'll stop there for now. Any comments welcome, if there are those still checking in on this.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Purple mountain

Home again, home again.

Always quite a relief in to come in from the planes to find Denver and the mountains sitting out there after some 500 miles of near nothingness.

Every time I've made this drive, whether it be from the east or west, I come into town and have this great feeling of being home again. Some sense of belonging that, while it is always a slightly different homecoming than my remembrances of youth, feels warm and friendly.

This time around, however, I feel I've distanced myself more than before. Seems I've finally been away long enough that, while familiar, Denver does not have quite the same hold on me it once had. Perhaps its due to sticking around Seattle for longer than other places I've lived. Maybe it's just having not lived in Colorado full-time for years. Whatever it is, the place feels more like a place that is simply quite familiar rather than a place that holds my heart.

That said, it has been a good visit. I was, for a couple of days, alone in my parent's house. They had already gone up to the mountains for the holidays, so I had the place to myself. It felt a little odd, as it isn't the place I grew up in where they had lived for years and years. Different creaks and groans, odd noises like people walking. Overall, I think the place is made mostly of concrete, so it makes very little noise, but it makes any noise that you do hear just that much more distinct and noticeable.

I met up with Rachel, a great-good friend of mine from way back in the days of high school, and her fiance Kyle, who I got to know pretty well when we were all living in Tacoma a while back. Rachel and he moved back to Denver a little while back and have settled in nicely, both working from home, which happens to be Rachel's parents place.

Nothing against my parents, but I think I would have a hard time living with them for an extended period of time at this point. Also, having my significant other there would, I think, make it decidedly more difficult. However, they all seem to get along swimmingly and I applaud them for that.

We went for Indian food and then over to Stella's: one of the great coffee shops of my youth. It's filled with memories of high school years when I would go there after school and on weekends, meeting friends and discoursing on a wide range of subjects as my tolerance for caffeine went consistently higher, finally peaking just before heading off to college at somewhere around six shots of espresso per trip.

It has tapered off since then. The stream of high schoolers going through there has not. If anything, it is more crowded than it used to be. But I still appreciate the atmosphere, the decent coffee, and it's ability to foster a decent conversation. We spoke for a time of the past, of the future, possibilities and the conundrum of adulthood, before calling it a night.

The next day, Sunday, I believe, I met up with Rose, the mother of Georgia, an ex girlfriend I still keep in touch with. Rose is great. She's someone I can get together with, a year gap between visits, and it feels like no time has passed at all. Certainly, there's more to catch up on, but we get along remarkably well.

She's also a person with whom a great conversation flows very easily, and I always find myself out to coffee with her, having talked for what feels like a few minutes when in fact a couple of hours have gone by. She thinks broadly on a great deal of subjects and has a way of connecting events together that makes them seem much more surprising, fantastic, and ultimately meaningful than I would otherwise think they are. She mentioned at one point that there might be a teaching position opening at her school, if I were interested. The more I think about it, the more it seems feasible and, perhaps, a fine option. That wouldn't be until the fall, however, so unemployment does still loom loudly.

We met up at her house, and I caught up with her husband, Rob, and other daughter, Lucy for a little bit before heading out to Kaladi's coffee. I worked at Kaladi's one summer and head in every time I'm in town, usually about six months apart. Somehow there's always someone there I remember. Fine people, excellent coffee. The Denver branch spun off from a much larger Anchorage company when one of the owners decided it had gotten too large for his liking, and he struck out to remake the brand smaller in Denver. The one in Seattle is related to the Anchorage shops. They all use an air-roasting method for roasting their coffee, which differs from the drum roasting that most other roasters use. The benefit of air roasting is, apparently, that the bean gets more evenly roasted, all the beans are roasted almost identically, and the temperature can be more easily regulated. It all amounts to pretty decent coffee.

Oh, and I got my LP's out of her basement this trip as well. Had been wondering what happened to those.

Monday I went up to Boulder to meet up with Kevin, a guy who has worked for my Dad for years, to go over the changes he wants for their website. Freelance work Dad threw my way when he found out I was laid off. Thanks Dad.

The factory is just east of the Boulder reservoir, giving it an unobstructed view of the mountains just outside of town. It's quite a beautiful spot to make surgical equipment. They seemed a touch busy in there, and I left before traffic got too bad to come back.

Met up with my brother, saw his place. The management company pays a third of his nominal rent. I imagine it's because they are desperate to rent the places. Not that they are bad, but it's one of those buildings that was made about as cheaply as possible, and a few years have passed, making this remarkably apparent in the sagging floors, cracking walls, and drafty apartments. We both agreed that there ought to be a bit more pride in workmanship, and maybe a little more foresightedness as to the future prospects of a well-built building versus something that involved a bit of palm greasing to be determined a safe structure.

We got sushi, a bit overpriced, at a little place down the way that one of his friend's families used to own. It was Sushi Boat then, and cheap. Now it's sushi train, and spendy. Sushi used to be on little boats in a little canal on the bar. Now its on a model train set on a little track on the bar. Go figure.

It was good to see George. He's settling in, but seems a little bothered. He's not exceedingly fond of his job, the apartment leaves a bit to be desired, and I think he might just be having a little of that mid-20's malaise that comes from expecting yourself to be a competent adult with very little expertise in the field. He'll be alright.

Tuesday I went up into the mountains, a scenic trip up I-70, where I passed a rather good sized herd of bighorn sheep. Wish I'd gotten a picture. Then onto Hwy. 40, up over Berthoud pass, snowpacked and radiant in the sun peaking through the clouds, on through Winter Park, and opening up further down the road. There was a point in there where the road runs along the headwaters of the Colorado river, winding in and out of little valleys, snow covered aspens thickening and thinning out, and the sun shining broadly on the road, river and hills beyond. Quite a drive.
Up into Rabbit Ears Pass the snow started falling pretty heavily, but it was still a pretty swift trip, and nothing befell me.

I am now ensconced in the mountain home of my Father and Step-Mother. It's a large, beautiful place, well decorated, and set in a small valley with a bubbling creek and hiking trail, just off of the Steamboat Springs ski area. They've just gotten done building it, and it is quite impressive. I'll put up some photos later.

And continue posting later. Feeling a touch heavy-eyed at the moment.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Hit return

A good deal of happy sleep and sobering up led to the goodbyes that, inevitable, seemed too soon.
A strong cup of coffee, some meatloaf, and on my way out of the grand city. Took over an hour to navigate the streets of Manhattan and pass into New Jersey. Still felt much better than other times making that trip. Quite an amazing feat that island. So many buildings and infrastructure that books could be written on each street.

Heading back, I heard of the snows hitting parts of the northern states, including Washington. They're still reeling, and the snow keeps falling. I've been lucky enough to find myself running into almost no weather this trip.

Pennsylvania was not as scenic coming back. The moon was not as much in evidence, so it was merely a dark trip back through those mountains which were so enchanting heading into New York.

Passing out of Pennsylvania, it began to rain. A little at first, but then steadily increasing to a deluge. Luckily, not quite freezing rain, but far more of it than I thought made sense for the season. It was as though Ohio were weeping. I would kid myself thinking it was because of me. But Ohio's place in my heart has not gone cold, and it was a bit sad to drive through for the second time without laying down my pack at the home of some friendly acquaintance. Alas.

I slept two hours at a rest stop right near Hwy. 36: one route that will take you quite near the village of Gambier, a place representing over four years of fine memories. I thought momentarily of stopping by, but that was not the purpose of the trip. Just nice to think about it still being there amidst the forest stands and lovely rolling hills of Knox county.

Then back on the road in the daylight. Passing by Columbus, drenched in rain, another town I once called home. It felt oddly like any other town driving through. I feel like that was one place I didn't get a great feel for, somehow. Perhaps it was all of the trips back to Kenyon while I lived there.

I-70 is a bit of a different trip. Illinois looks completely different without Chicago to pass by. Indiana was covered in fog, clearing by the border to the land of Lincoln and now Obama.

I've mentioned before my strange love of the midwest, as it is. The place has an unassuming beauty and an idyllic pastoral nature which I cannot ever quite shake. Surprisingly haunting. It's also the east, which has been occupied by Europeans for so much longer than the west, giving it a bit more history to look at, and, in turns, to feel.

In my mind, the midwest more or less ends in St. Louis. I don't quite know what you would call Missouri. It is decidedly more scenic than a great many states. Granted, the Ozarks are not what I think of when I think of Mountains. They've nothing on the Appalachian range, nor certainly the Cascades or Rocky Mountains (who was in charge of naming those?), but they do serve as a slightly craggier version of the rolling hills of many other states in the region. In the end, it's a pretty scenic place, but not one I have much other feeling for.

Although I did spend a month there at a summer camp in my youth. And though I remember the geography a bit from that, it was mostly populated by people from other states, thus somewhat dampening my understanding of the Missouri population. As I recall, everyone pronounced the name of the state the way the nation outside of Missouri pronounces it. I'm not much good with typing phonetics, suffice to say that if you are from Missouri, you have a tendency to pronounce the name of the state in a way that people from other states do not. Much the same way that people from Pittsburgh pronounce Carnegie differently than anywhere else in the nation.

Most of what I remember from that summer was having trouble reconciling my budding Agnosticism with the nominally born-again fundamentalist Christian population of the camp. It caused me to lean a bit more toward Atheism as a retreat.

But that was 14 years back. Most of the time I drive right through without thinking about it, the abundance of billboards the only thing that gives rise, momentarily, to such thoughts.

On into Kansas, which is decidedly the least scenic portion of I-70 in my opinion. However, I do have to note that it is a bit more interesting than Nebraska. And I drove through entirely at night, which tends to make these sorts of shortcomings a bit less noticeable. Kansas has nice rest stops as well. It does manage to have the only toll road on this run from New York to Denver, however.

I fell into quite a rhythm at this point. Listening to podcasts of NPR, drinking a little coffee about every 10 miles, a sip of water every 20. At a certain point, the car didn't even feel like a car anymore, more like a larger piece of machinery, connected to me, yet disconnected as well. Somewhat like it went where I wanted, but I couldn't tell if it was where I wanted, or where it wanted. This feeling was particularly true when I had the cruise control on. I was a bit loopy.

This was the first time I've ever gone through Kansas without stopping for fuel. I felt a bit proud of myself, getting fuel about 90 miles outside of Kansas City, and making it last through until somewhere about two hours from Denver.

As Kansas is a long state. Back in college, I used to come to Kansas on the way home and think "just one state left!", then come across the wholly disheartening sign saying "Denver: 560", at which point I would realize I was only a little more than half way there.

But time passes. It is its way. And I found myself rolling past the airport around 1:30AM. Got in just after 2, stumbled around, managed not to set off the alarm, and settled myself in a little before passing out without bathing.

Here's to the mile-high city, and my childhood home.
And thanks to all those fine folks who've put me up and put up with me so far. It's been a blast.