Cliff Gardner

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Gold Medal Road Trip!

Howdy folks,

This will be the last official update on our road trip diary since we're almost there! A lot's happened since the last post. Here's what's been going on:

--We went to Wisconsin-Dells and hung out with our friend Edward and his boyfriend Michael for a few days. Edward showed us around and we went on a "Duck Tour," watched the Olympics and reminisced about Peace Corps. 

--We drove to Milwaukee and I had the following exchange on our way into Miller Park to see the Brewers play:

Ticket-Taking Attendant: *Sees my Oregon shirt* Booooooo! *Scans my ticket*

Me: In honor of the Olympics, I'd like to congratulate the Wisconsin Badgers on earning the silver medal in last year's Rose Bowl.

TTA: ...

Me: *Smiles*

TTA: Enjoy the game!

--I fulfilled my lifelong dream of seeing the famous Miller Park sausage race in person:

--We drove to Chicago and hung out with my former debate partner Sean for a few days. While in Chicago, we went to a Cubs game--as it turns out, we were one game off from seeing A.J. Burnett throw a one-hitter--and got this picture of us with a Cub mascot who's looking at the wrong camera:

--We went to the Ukrainian village with our friend Emily, another Peace Corps friend, and caught up. All of our friends, every single one, continue to be amazing people who do impressive and cool things, so if you're reading this, congratulations on being awesome and probably winning at life.

--Jessica celebrated her birthday! We went out for a nice breakfast and then walked around the city, looking at all kinds of awesome Chicago things. Also, I made lots of references to "Source Code" after seeing this monument:

--We left Chicago this morning and drove to Cleveland. On the way, we finished the 2nd "Hunger Games" book and started the final book in the series. Tomorrow we're driving to northern Virginia to stay with family, completing our trip.

We hope you've enjoyed this account of our road trip across the country! We love and miss you all--come visit us in Maryand!

Thomas and Jessica--

Thursday, July 26, 2012

On the road again....still....

Hey everyone,

Jessica has uploaded more pictures to the trip facebook album so go check those out if you want to see us looking increasingly tired and out of shape. We've been on the road for one week! Here are some of the highlights from the last few days:

--We saw the Red Sox win in dramatic fashion in the 9th over the Rangers in Texas! The game itself was great, but seriously, we were disgusting after sitting through a 3.5 hour game in 100-degree heat--like how Rush Limbaugh presumably feels all the time. Why anyone would think a stadium wouldn't need a retractable roof is beyond me, and don't say tradition because I'm pretty sure Babe Ruth would have loved AC. Here's a picture of us in the heat:

--Because of the heat, after the game we decided to not wait for the crowded shuttle since our hotel was less than a mile away. However, despite the relatively short distance, Arlington is about as easy to navigate as the hedge maze from "The Shining," so we got turned around several times and gave up, hopping into a pedicab and the driver, a guy in his early-20's, promptly rode up a steep on-ramp to our hotel. Jessica felt awful about making him carry us up that hill, but I thought that $20 for less than ten minutes of work was a good deal all around. When we got back to the hotel, we took showers that were so long, we're told there's now a major drought in the Midwest.

--On Wednesday we drove through Oklahoma, which is not something we can recommend to anyone. The highway we took kept winding through small downs requiring 40 MPH or less, so the drive from Arlington, Texas to Springfield, Missouri took about 9 hours. It was a boring, hot stretch of interchangeable truck stops/fireworks stands/adult-themed stores, my favorite of which was called "Sensations," which presumably resemble early hepatitis symptoms. Of course, this assessment is based only on what we saw from the highway, but in our opinion, Texas > Oklahoma.

--Today we got up early and drove to St. Louis and watched the Cardinals play the Dodgers in another ridiculously hot open-air ballpark. The game was good, though, and Busch Stadium offered a great view of the city. This was the view from our seats:

--After the game, we visited the famous arch! As it turns out, it's not just an ordinary monument, but actually an entire museum, with a lengthy history of the Lewis and Clark expedition. I had no idea that the arch was basically a super-monument, a fact which you should all feel free to remind me about the next time I get several Jeopardy questions right in a row and you want to bring me down a peg or two. We also went up to the top of the arch and took some pictures, which was more difficult than it needed to be because a large group of Amish people kept walking in front of our camera, which I suppose is excusable.

Tomorrow we're driving to Wisconsin-Dells to visit our old Peace Corps friend Edward for a few days. We love and miss you all!

Thomas and Jessica

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Three Days in Texas

Howdy folks!

Here's a quick update on our trip. First, Jessica just uploaded a bunch of pictures to the facebook album so you should go check that out if you haven't already.

--In one day we drove from Phoenix to El Paso, bypassing New Mexico and its blue methamphetamine altogether. We drove about a quarter-mile from Juarez and ate some good tacos before going to bed early and waking up with roughly 400 grasshoppers on our car, an unexpected development that Jessica reacted to with the grace of Jeremy Renner in "Hurt Locker" if he had downed 6 Red Bulls in the last hour.

--We've decided that after listening to the chorus a dozen times or so, that this should be Mitt Romney's official campaign song, if it isn't already.

--We left El Paso really early and watched the sun rise over west Texas while listening to the "Friday Night Lights" theme song, finally understanding why people are romantic about Texas. After a few fairly sketchy truck stops, we drove to Abilene, Texas and ate more delicious Mexican food before seeing "The Dark Knight Rises," which was predictably awesome. 

--This morning we drove from Abilene to Arlington (outside of Dallas) and checked into our hotel--a Howard Johnson, which led to multiple "Mad Men" jokes--and had some delicious steak for lunch at this place next door: 

--All of this was in preparation for tonight's Rangers-Red Sox game. We'll be rocking our Red Sox gear and we can't wait for the game, though I'd like a word with whoever thought it would be a good idea to build an open-air baseball stadium in Texas given that it's going to be about 96 degrees at game time.

That's all for now! Tomorrow we're driving out of Texas, through Oklahoma and stopping in Springfield, Missouri. We love and miss you all!

Thomas and Jessica

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Wagons East!

Hey folks!

I'm writing this on behalf of Jessica and myself. We're moving to Maryland and rather than driving there directly, we decided take a longer and hopefully more entertaining route involving more bathroom breaks and less road rage. Here are the highlights so far:

--California decided to screw us one more time with an unexpected road closure when we left Long Beach at 3:30am, but we were able to successfully navigate our way around that mess. 

--We saw the Grand Canyon! I thought it was just a big hole in the ground, and I was technically right, though it was still staggeringly awesome. Everyone should go see the Grand Canyon at some point in their lives. I don't care that it's four hours from Phoenix and Phoenix is 8 hours from everywhere--it's worth it.

--We heard "Call Me Maybe" four times on XM radio, though I should mention that we're 10 chapters into "Game Change" on audiobook already so that's a pretty small sample size. We've actually gotten pretty good at screaming the cookie monster version of the song over the actual lyrics. Also, I've decided that I hate songs with sirens in them because they give me a heart attack every time.

--We went to the Heard Museum in Phoenix! In case you haven't *heard* (HA!), the Heard Museum is a really awesome exhibition of Native American art, history and culture. There was a fantastic exhibit on the life of Geronimo. Jessica got some really great jewelry, too.

--We went to see the Arizona Diamondbacks play the Houston Astros at Chase Field, which is, in my opinion, the most perfectly-designed baseball stadium in the world. The fans were fantastic considering that the Astros are basically an intramural team, and Jason Kubel hit THREE HOME RUNS, which was the most impressive individual feat either of us had ever seen at a sporting event in person.

--We've seen some wacky red state folks, including the "covenant" long-haul trucks which proudly announce, "It's a child, not a choice" on their back bumpers. There was also a "Most Outstanding Citizen" bumper sticker which we found suspicious. My hunch is that those drivers own large amounts of gold and have "Don't tread on me" shirts/flags. With Texas and Missouri still to come, this is going to get worse before it gets better.

Quotable Quotations!

While driving through Flagstaff, Jessica saw an "Arizona Pioneer Museum." Me: "Isn't that just a picture of all the pioneers who were on there way to Oregon but who died of heat stroke before they could get there?"

It was 106 degrees today. Jessica: Is this what it feels like for a chicken to be broiled? Yes, right?

In rural Arizona, there was a horse-crossing road sign. Me: "Oh my God, Ann Romney's nearby! We've got to get out of here as fast as possible!"

Also in rural Arizona, we passed a sign that read, "Bumpy Road Next 5 miles," and the road promptly rivaled sections of the 91/60 freeway in California--terrible. I remarked: "So let me get this straight. These people had the choice to either fix their crappy roads or just put up a sign saying 'Sorry about the road guys!' Get your act together!"

That's all for now. We're heading to El Paso tomorrow and Abeline the day after that, so we'll try to keep you all updated! Love,

Thomas and Jessica

Sunday, October 24, 2010

LaMarcus works out!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Rose Garden!

Monday, October 11, 2010