Captain’s Log Days 11-19

Captain’s Log Day 11

It’s another long drive day for us, we’re trying to get from Stone Mountain (near Atlanta) to Harrisburg, PA today – and Chaplain CT sometime tomorrow.  We’re quite expert and breaking camp by now; it takes maybe an hour to pull up all the sleeping bags and fold all the couches and tables back out, to shower and freshen up, to reload fresh water tanks and dump the other tanks.  We spend another hour in a local Walmart replacing basic supplies and then we’re on the road.

The kids have figured out how to keep themselves busy on the drive.  We’ve got a TV and a Wii, and some amount of reading.  There’s singing and tickle fights, and lots of napping.  There’s food-making and grumbling about dish cleanup.  We camp out in the middle of Pennsylvania.  We pass the 3500 miles traveled mark, the 1/2-way point.

Captain’s Log Day 12

We break camp at daylight without waking the kids, and drive maybe two hours before the kids bother to roll out of bed.  RV “camping” is a real trick.  We make it around New York with only 1 truly crazy driver incident; a bright red pickup truck came blazing up the left side and was clearly out of room to pass us, but did so anyways.  He sliced across at a 45-degree angle in front of us. Had I not slammed the brakes and swerved we clearly would have hit the truck; and such a hit would have rolled him.

We finally pull into my Uncle Bill’s farm in Connecticut around 4pm.  We settle the RV, then meander down to the river behind the farm, where one of my cousins is RV camping.  We swim in the river, cook burgers on the campfire and sit around visit until way past dark.

Captain’s Log Day 13

We hang out in the farm all day; some of the kids swim in the river or fish or shoot fireworks off after dark.  I mostly hung out and caught up with the family news.  Shelley & I attended the local church wine-tasting, which was basically a chance to drink a bunch of wines that somebody else bought, and do more catching up on family news.


Captain’s Log Day 14

Shelley & I borrow a cousin’s car and drive to Cape Cod for the day.  OMG’s a car is SO much nicer to handle than Nessie!  We take the slow route up the Cape stopping at every tiny town and inlet.  Shelley’s family owned a summer house in Dennis Port 50 or 60 years ago and Shelley was tracing her roots.  We managed to stick our toes in the Atlantic and really unwind.  Shelley & I both like driving, so it’s another really peaceful down day.


Captain’s Log Day 15

Up early, we force all the kids to take showers (and change clothes; 2 weeks into vacation and our standards are getting pretty lax) and we hit the road.  Breaking camp is now a pretty standard operation.  By rotating drivers and Shelley driving until the wee hours we make it almost to Indiana.


Captain’s Log Day 16

We pull into the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign around noon.  I’m giving at talk at 6, and UofI is paying for dinner and 3(!) hotel rooms for us (one for each couple, and one more for the 3 kids).  Real showers for all again!  Yeah!!!  The talk goes really well, its my Debugging Data Races talk and its a good fit for the summer course on multi-core programming.  Shelley and I manage to sneak a beer afterwards.


Captain’s Log Day 17

Again we manage to break camp in short order and do another long day of driving through Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska.  By now we’ve got a rhythm going; Shelley takes the early morning driving shift while everybody sleeps in, then Luke and I alternate shifts until evening (while Shelley naps), and Shelley takes the late night shift.  I think we’re covering around 800 miles in a day.


Captain’s Log Day 18

Today it’s the rest of Nebraska and Wyoming, then Utah.  My Dad manages to call me out in the middle of I-80 no-where land, to the bemusement of all.  We hit high winds on and off all day.  At least once I was driving with the steering wheel cranked over a full 180 degrees (and was down to 45 mph) just to stay on the road.  18-wheeler’s would blow by us, knocking us all over the road.  First the bow wave push us hard to the right, on to the shoulder.  Then the wind-block (and my 180-degree wheel position) would drive us hard back onto the road and into the truck, then the trailing suction would pull us harder into the truck – even as I am cranking the wheel the other way as fast as I can… and then the wind would return.  It was a nerve-wracking drive.  Shelley took over towards evening.  Around 11pm the winds became just undrivable even for her.  I was dozing when suddenly we got slapped hard over, almost off the shoulder.  Even driving at 40mph wasn’t safe.  An exit appeared in the middle of nowhere – even with an RV park (mind you, it’s typically 30 miles between exits *without services*).  We bailed out.  All night long the RV was rocked by winds, like a Giant’s Hand was grabbing the top of Nessie and shaking her like a terrier does a rat.


Captain’s Log Day 19

Morning dawns clear and still.  We hit the road again early, as we’ve a long drive today.  It’s a quiet drive through to Reno, and then we hit some really crazy drivers again – a combo of construction zone, short merge lanes and stupidity (outside the RV) nearly crushed a darting micro-car.  The construction on the Donner Pass was perhaps even worse; we managed to get forced into clipping a roadside reflector on the right (less than a foot away from the mountain stone versus pushing an aggressive SUV into the naked concrete on his left).  Finally past all the madness we get to the clear road down from Tahoe and through the Bay Area – but it’s all Homeward Bound on the downhill slide through our home turf!

Home At Last!!!


Some parting stats:

We passed through 22 states (24 for Shelley & I, as we also get to count Rhode Island and Massachusetts).
We drove about 6900 miles.
I bought about $3000 in gas, and $1300 in tires.
We saw 4 close family members in Tucson, 7 in Texas, my brother in Atlanta, and at least 16 in Connecticut (I lost the exact count!).
I did about 20 loads of laundry after returning (the washer ran continuously for 2 days).



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