Sunday, December 30, 2007

Sundays I Write Letters

GracelandTrip46

Dear Readers,

I will be absent from the blog world for an extended period of time. Tomorrow I will finish my temporary employment in my temporary city of residence and then I'm hitting the road. I'm pushing really hard to have my car packed and prepped to start out the morning of the 1st. 1st of January. 1st of 2008. First of a new life. All in a new city. At a new job. Yes. I got a job. Where my title is "copywriter." (I'd prefer "wordsmith" or even just "writer," but beggers can't be choosy.)

2008 will start with this adventure and then continue with more everyday adventures like learning to wake up 5 days a week and go to work without fail. Getting to know yet another geographic location. And relearning Saturdays and Sundays. Oh, Sunday, we have a lot of catching up to do.

So, The Big Move of 2007 has officially been changed to The Big Move of 2007/2008. Where am I going? Stay tuned. (Some of you already know.)

Oh, and I've got to give a shout out to a new reader, because I promised I would. This goes out to the gentleman I met here in Portland at my place of temporary employment. I won't say where we work because I don't blog about work--just whether I have employment or not--and I won't even use his real name to protect everyone's privacy. The gentleman's job consists of pretty much standing in one place all day. My first few weeks, I noticed he'd space out looking at who the hell knows what. And, I'll admit, I figured he was just a space cadet (sorry, but it's true). Then, I noticed that when other employees struck up a conversation with him, he'd have very animated discussions. I realized he wasn't spacing out, but thinking. And, only the heavenly being knows what he thinks about, but you know it's got to be something good.

Yesterday I was wearing a shirt that had "eco>tistical" written on it. What does this gentleman have to say about it? "I like your shirt." I looked down and pulled my nametag out of the way so I could remember what shirt I was wearing. "Oh," I began and then he interrupted, "Oh, nevermind. I thought it said 'egotistical.'" Thanks. Then, I decided to answer some of my suspicions and ask what he was studying in school. If he were to declare a major, it'd be English. (Seriously, we can smell our own kind.) But he's disillusioned. I can only hope that he realizes that disillusionment is a degree requirement no matter what educational institution you attend (or degree you seek). I asked how old he was and he started in on this explanation of how he was soon to turn twenty and he didn't want to lose his teenage years: twenty is too old. "Well, if twenty is old, then I'm ancient," I answered as a twenty-four year old who's soon to turn twenty-five. "Well, yah, we all know that," he quickly answered. See, he's thinking--he's not spacing out, the gears are turning at full speed.

And he doesn't have a blog. I laughed. Yah, right. He claims to not even know how to start one. So, I gave him my blog address with a promise to blog about his lack of a blog--how else are we gonna know the funny things he's got to say? I promised that if he started one, I'd put a link to it in my blog roll. I've done what I said I would. Let's see if he starts one. I guarantee it'll be interesting, if not hilarious.

Here's to a new year full of new adventures and bloggers!

Sincerely,
T. Budnik

PS. I'll be getting back to writing real letters once I get settled in my new location.
Farewell 2007!

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What didn't happen in 2007? Seriously. This year held many, many travels for me. I made 2 short road trips, 3 flights (1 short, 2 cross country), and 1 cross country road trip. I got to see KBezzie and her family twice. I saw the Budnik 6 twice. I met a branch of my mom's family in Illinois. The first couple of days in Portland, my good friend (and former roommate) was in town visiting her sister so we all hung out a couple of times. Geez! I feel like I've been everywhere and visited everyone!

2007 brought some major stress, too. There was the laptop fiasco. I'm still upset at the computer company that sold me a shoddy laptop. But, I'm happy that I got my money back. I finished school (again). Which sounds more like a relief than a stress, but preparing to finish took a lot of time and energy. Then, actually being done was a bit frightening as I had to start the job search. And figure out how to look for a job. Also, moving to a geographic location without knowing anyone or having any solid leads can cause just a wee bit o' stress.

But, I'll take the good with the bad. I had a blast in 2007.

Enjoy!
T. Budnik

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Book Review: We Are Still Married by Garrison Keillor

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I know, I know. It's taken me forever to read this book. Remember when I went to New York City? I bought this book at Strand Bookstore. (It's a nice store, but I'm thinkin' I like Portland's Powell's better. But, if you want to buy me a Strand Bookstore tote, by all means, go ahead.) I'm not much of a traveling reader. It's hard to read on the road as nights in motels are spent plotting the following day's course. And, I've learned that I don't like book reading on airplanes. I prefer SkyMall, magazines, or just listening to my MP3 player and dozing.

Although I like the idea of A Prairie Home Companion, I've never really been able to listen to it. But, I came across a story by Garrison Keillor in a Lands' End catalog a few years ago and enjoyed it. So, I didn't hesitate purchasing this book (especially since it was only $5 for the hardcover). And, it's a good book. It's a lot of different pieces. Fiction to non-fiction to poetry. (The poetry was my least favorite.)

Some standouts: "Nu Er Der Jul Iglen" which was appropriate for the season. And, "After a Fall" which had me in tears of laughter. Seriously, when isn't a fall hilarious when the fallen is uninjured? Reading it I immediately remembered a man in Fred Meyer I saw trip over his own feet and I had to look away and swallow laughter because it was HI-larious.

I say, read it if you like a little weirder stuff but with a Midwestern taste.

Enjoy!
T. Budnik

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Week #52

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Haha! You didn't think I'd get it done, but I did! Check it, the last Planner Scan is posted before the end of the year. But, once again, they aren't real scans. Only crappy photos. This is because my scanner still resides with my dear sister, KBezzie.

Stay tuned for BIG news about The Big Move of 2007.

Enjoy!
T. Budnik
Week #51

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Enjoy!
T. Budnik
Week #50

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Enjoy!
T. Budnik
Week #49

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Enjoy!
T. Budnik
Week #48

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Enjoy!
T. Budnik

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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May you enjoy this not-so-everyday day!
T. Budnik

Thursday, December 06, 2007

THIS IS NOT A TEST

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I repeat, this is not a test. The Big Move of 2007 has been interrupted for more travels, work, and general life that isn't conducive to blogging. The series will resume once it is safe to do so.

In the meantime, check out some of these blogs and sites:

Travel: Wanderlust

Everyday Life: 400 Words

Freakin' Maine: Down East

Eye Candy: Mahilly

Keep up with your investments: Calculator

That should keep you busy for a bit--if not, any of the fine links to your right are quite entertaining.

Enjoy!
T. Budnik

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Big Move 2007
Day #6 Laramie, Wyoming

Holy Moo Cows! I drove for 12 (twelve) hours and about 600 (six hundred) miles. It was a long day. But, a majority of the drive was Nebraska. I got out of Missouri pretty early in the day and spent about 10 (ten) minutes in Iowa. Just outside of Lincoln, Nebraska, I stopped at a Wal-Mart to replenish my peanut butter sandwich bread along with a few other supplies. Not to mention, I used the facilities. I'm not sure if Nebraska, or Nebraskans, like me. As I was washing my hands, this little girl no more than 4 (four) years old stared and stared at me. She was washing her hands, too. Finally, I said, "How's it going?" to break the awkwardness. I felt that at least one other person in that Wal-Mart gave me a weird look. And, no, Rasputin stayed out in the car.

Anyway, I was very excited to see that the speed limit went up to 75 (seventy-five) mph once I hit Nebraska. Folks, let me tell you how to get through this fine state. First, set your cruise control to 75mph (76 if you're in a hurry). Then, get a broomstick and steady the steering wheel with it. Finally, sit back, make yourself a sandwich and catch up on some reading.

Seriously.

Now, Nebraska seems to have a bad rap. Like there isn't anything interesting there. I have photographic evidence that Nebraska is far from boring.

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This is right outside of Kearney. It was closed for the season, but I got pictures. It's another gateway to the west. I really wish I had been able to go inside. I bet there's a smooshed penny machine inside.

Here's Rasputin posing with a bonafide conestoga. Say it with me, "cone-a-stooooo-gaaaaah!"

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And, here he is communing with nature.
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Of course, I hit the town of Kearney up for some postcards. Perhaps some of you received one. Then, it was back on the road, but not for long.

I soon needed gas and once I got onto the exit I saw this.

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So I filled up and then stopped here. It's Buffalo Bill Cody's Trading Post. The outside reeked of smooshed pennies. And what did I spot right inside the door? I won't even answer. You know.

I can't forget that I saw a two-headed calf inside. (It was stuffed.)

Rasputin again demanded his picture be taken, the ham. And I took pictures of the wildlife.

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It was back out on the road towards Wyoming. Nearing the Nebraska/Wyoming border, I drove right by Sidney. Can you guess what's located there? Cabela's headquarters. If you're reading this and don't know that outdoor clothing is my passion, I'm not sure if you should really be reading. I love outdoor clothing, but Cabela's doesn't really do anything for me. Perhaps it's because they do "plains" outdoor stuff and the outdoor gear I dig all has to deal with mountains and trees--I mean, they're located in the middle of nothing. Other outdoor companies are located in trees, on mountains, or by the ocean. I didn't get a picture. I was driving too fast.

There was still ANOTHER stop. The Sierra Trading Post headquarters in Cheyenne, WY. I had to go into the store. Now, Sierra Trading Post isn't my favorite outdoor company, so there wasn't any falling to my knees and crying as soon as I walked in because I had finally come home. Nope. I walked around, looked at stuff, and decided that they're like every other outlet store: even though their prices can be 50% (fifty percent) off of the retail price, it's still too expensive for me. One day, though. One day, I'll buy all the outdoor clothes I could ever dream of. Then, I'll laugh. Laugh at all those tiny inferior raindrops. And laugh even harder when they freeze and try to pull the snow maneuver on me.

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I got back onto the road thinking I'd see a Days Inn sign and get a room for the night. No such luck. There aren't too many exits to Cheyenne, so I ended up overshooting and going all the way to Laramie. At Laramie, I found a Days Inn and asked for a room. The chick must have thought I was drunk or crazy because, holy moo cows, I was a bit dizzy and had interstate legs like I've never had them before.

And once I finally got to my room, I didn't feel much better. I was feeling primed to vomit, dizzy, and tired. I swore to myself that I'd never drive that long again. Instead of eating something for dinner for fear I'd throw it up, I took a shower. My shampoo and conditioner splooged out of their bottles. That's when it hit me. Laramie isn't too far from Denver, the MILE HIGH CITY. I was experiencing altitude sickness. I was pretty sure my possible future mountaineering career was over, but after drinking a lot of water (per my sister's advice) and making my nightly phone calls, I was feeling better. Watch out mountains, I'm gonna conquer you!

Okay, I think that's it. Whew! It was such a long day.

Until tomorrow!

Enjoy!
T. Budnik

**********************************************************************************
Are you sad you didn't get a souvenir? Don't fret, there's plenty to choose from at the brand spankin' new Everyday Adventures Shop. There you will find classic souvenirs such as poorly designed t-shirts and mugs. Don't see the item you want--like you want a hooded sweatshirt with a particular picture? Leave me a comment and I'll get it for you! New items are added with each post about the trip!*********************************************************************************
What's all this about prizes? Go here to learn more.
The Big Move 2007
Day #5 St. Joseph, Missouri

I drove short. I didn't make my original goal which was near Omaha, Nebraska. I was about 100 (one hundred) miles out of that city. The reason was I took 2 (two) long breaks. The first break was better than the second.

I stopped in St. Louis to see the arch. It was awesome. The park around the arch is pretty and the weather was perfect: sunny, but cool enough to need a sweater. The leaves were beautiful. I decided to go to the top. The ride was kind of scary. Five people crammed into space pods for the ride. You can't see anything except gears, stairs, and sometimes cables. On the ride up, a tour guide snuck into my pod and explained to the four of us that the tram system was a combination of an elevator, ferris wheel, and, hmmm, something else, but it escapes me. Maybe an escalator? Anyway, I think I found the new worst place to die. An elevator is like a bed of feathers compared to those tiny, unventilated pods.

At the top, I looked out the tiny windows and saw the city of St. Louis and looked over the Mississippi River. But, I can only look out tiny windows for so long, so after about 10 (ten) minutes, I got back into a pod and went down. By the way, the ride up takes like 4 (four) minutes while the ride down only takes 3 (three).

Once I was back down, I took pictures of the arch. And, dang, it's hard because it's so freaking tall.

But I got some.

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And one of Rasputin with it.

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Then, we walked across the street and walked right up to the Mississippi River. I didn't know you could actually walk right up to the river. I figured anywhere it ran through town there'd be docks or a fence or something. In front of the arch, you could actually drive into the river if you were so inclined. Right on the shore was a parking lot.

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Here's Rasputin posing as a "river rat."

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The rest of the drive was kind of uneventful. It was freaking windy. And, sorry residents of Missouri, I was unimpressed by the scenery. I've heard that what Missouri really has to offer isn't visible from I-70 (the route I took) and I believe it.

So, despite the fact that the ride was uninteresting after passing through St. Louis, I was comforted all day by my discovery that the St. Louis Arch is officially "The Gateway to the West." It was like a sign that I was taking the right path--at least to get to the west.

Until tomorrow!

Enjoy!
T. Budnik
**********************************************************************************
Are you sad you didn't get a souvenir? Don't fret, there's plenty to choose from at the brand spankin' new Everyday Adventures Shop. There you will find classic souvenirs such as poorly designed t-shirts and mugs. Don't see the item you want--like you want a hooded sweatshirt with a particular picture? Leave me a comment and I'll get it for you! New items are added with each post about the trip!*********************************************************************************
What's all this about prizes? Go here to learn more.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Big Move 2007
Day #4 The Rileys

This day, driving was a breeze. Huntington, West Virginia was on Interstate 64 and to get to the residence of the Rileys, all I had to do was get back onto 64 and head west. The night before I gained an hour because of Daylight Savings Time. Then, I crossed over a time zone and gained another hour. I ended up knocking on their door mid-afternoon.

But, let me tell you about some of the things I saw. First, for all of you "Simpsons" fans out there, do you remember the original airing of the "Behind The Simpsons" episode? Kentucky was mentioned as the state in which the Simpsons reside. If you consult a map of the state, you'll notice a Simpsonville and not too far from it, Shelbyville, which is Springfield's rival. So, once I saw that show, I knew the Simpsons lived in Kentucky. What makes this story even better is that I drove right past Shelbyville and then right through Simpsonville.

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I related the story to the Rileys and the resident Simpsons scholar confirmed that the cartoon family does indeed live in Kentucky as voted by fans through a movie promotion.

I have to admit that Kentucky is pretty. It's one of those states I hadn't ever really given much thought to. Back in December, when I took my road trip up Interstate 75 into Tennessee, I thought I might make it into Kentucky, but never did.

Indiana was surprisingly nice, too. Mom and I drove through Indiana on our way from northern Illinois to Michigan, but it was for such a short while we didn't even see any signs announcing our arrival into the state.

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Persuaded by billboards, I took an exit to see the Marengo Cave about 10 miles off of the interstate. Once I got there I was informed that the tours of the cave were about $20 (twenty dollars). So I lied to the kind woman who explained the tour options and told her I didn't have the time--I really didn't have the money. I did, however, buy postcards and I got a smooshed penny. Yesss.

Here's the outside of the visitor center. Woo!

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After that short detour, it was back on the road towards Illinois and the Rileys. About 30 miles from my destination, a fire truck sped past me. And I noticed smoke billowing from some unknown source ahead. Then, traffic slowed and then came to a complete stop. After 5 minutes, I turned off my car and called my dear sister, KBezzie. I tasked KBezzie with checking my various email accounts while I was on the road because of my crappy computer situation. So, I called her in this situation to google and traffic reports for Interstate 64. Well, the news was too fresh, there was nothing on the Internet. So, in such a situation, what's a chick to do? I rolled down all my windows and cranked up my music as loud as it would go. There was some dancing in the streets. But, only after 15 (fifteen) minutes, we started moving. I drove past a burnt car. Poor person. It would suck to have your car burn.

In no time, I was knocking on the Riley door. Man, that family is good times. They are such wonderful people. And, they were so kind for letting their crazy niece/cousin stay with them. There was tons of good conversation and delicious lasagna for dinner. Not to mention, Monkey Bread for dessert. For those who don't know what Monkey Bread is, it's a delicious cinnamony-cake delight! The boys were super-anxious to dig into this dessert and as the guest, I got served first. And, we put a stipulation on their slices: they couldn't start eating until I had my first bite. They declared that I couldn't do any slow motion eating. Hello! You just planted the idea in my head. Of course, I had to inspect my first bite and slowly raise it to my mouth! Haha! Good times.

Rasputin again demanded to have his picture taken with everyone.

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Look at my Uncle Rob, you can tell he's my Mom's brother by the smile.

Until tomorrow!

Enjoy!
T. Budnik

**********************************************************************************
Are you sad you didn't get a souvenir? Don't fret, there's plenty to choose from at the brand spankin' new Everyday Adventures Shop. There you will find classic souvenirs such as poorly designed t-shirts and mugs. Don't see the item you want--like you want a hooded sweatshirt with a particular picture? Leave me a comment and I'll get it for you! New items are added with each post about the trip!
*********************************************************************************
What's all this about prizes? Go here to learn more.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Big Move 2007
Day #3 Huntington, West Virginia

Believe it or not, I actually have to read my journal entry to remember what happened next. My life is that crazy and nonlinear-feeling.

On the 3rd of November, I packed up the few things I had taken out of my car, checked the fluids, had my brother help me add some steering fluid, said goodbye, and hit the road. This day was pretty much backtracking what my mom and I drove on our way to the residence of the Budnik 6 back on September 6, 2005. (Nope, I don't mention what the drive was like in that blog entry.)

So, driving through North Carolina is like driving from one city to the next. I had to pay close attention to the exit signs and make sure I was on the right road. At Winston-Salem, I had to get off of 40/85 and get onto 52/74. See, that's part of the confusion. Most of the highways are labeled with a state AND an interstate number. Kee-razy.

Once I took the exit onto 52/74 north, I saw a sign for a visitor center. I figured I'd take the exit, make sure I was on the right road, and stretch my legs a bit. Well, I drove right into a freaking parade. It must have been for some football game. I heard a marching band and you know how Southern folks are about their football, let alone their marching bands. What's a chick to do when she drives right into a freakin' parade? Well, I rolled down all of my windows and turned up my music as loud as it would go. And I waved as if I was on a float. I was going to be damned if I got a ticket for driving on the wrong road at the wrong time. No one noticed.

Not only did I have to drive 5mph for several blocks, but I lost where the visitor center was. I decided to get onto 52/74 going south and take the next exit and just cross over the highway and take the northern exit. Except, the exit I took put me on a completely different highway and didn't have an overpass like I was hoping for. But, a heavenly being was looking out for me, because not 2 (two) minutes down this new highway, I saw more signs for the visitor center. And, there was a ray of sunshine beaming straight down on the visitor center.

The kind woman at the Winston-Salem visitor center not only gave me a map, but walked me outside so that I knew exactly what roads she was talking about. Kind visitor center woman, if you're reading this, thank you. I bought a dollar worth of postcards to support the center. (That and I like postcards.)

Getting back onto 52/74 north was a breeze and I was on my way.

We stopped here. I can't remember where this is exactly, but I just Googled it. It's Pilot Mountain in North Carolina.

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Here's Rasputin striking a pose.

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We went through a couple of mile-long tunnels. Those are always fun, but a little freaky. I'd hate to get stuck in one. In West Virginia I had to pay $1.25 (one dollar and twenty-five cents) at 3 (three) different tolls. I remembered the bitterness I felt when Mom and I first payed to drive this road. But, the last toll booth attendant with her feathered blonde hair made it worth it. I imagined that she was just trying to make a living and couldn't wait to get home to her miner husband. (Is that stereotyping West Virginia too much?) West Virginia, despite its expensive roads is gorgeous. It's hilly and green. My favorite part of the drive was the "Truck Escape Routes" These are pull-offs that go straight up a hill, while the highway continues downhill. After driving by a couple of them, I imagined that the toll booth attendant's husband wasn't a miner, but a truck driver who has many a times yelled, "Oh shit, the brakes!" but, with a steady hand, smoothly guided his rig up and unto the truck escape route and returned home safely to eat the Hamburger Helper his wife fixed for dinner.

Anyway, I stopped in Princeton, West Virginia to answer the call of nature and stretch my legs. Mom and I orginally spent the night before we arrived in North Carolina in Princeton. It's a nice little town.

Here's Rasputin in front of the Princeton Visitor Center flags.
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Then, I boogied to Huntington--my goal for the night. I found a Days Inn right away. A couple of tour buses parked nearby spelled trouble. I had to get a smoking room--it was all they had left. In retrospect, I should have tried the Red Roof Inn next door, but I am loyal. The room was funky. Observez-vous.
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Classy! The mini-fridge was on the bathroom/kitchen counter. And, as I consult my notes, the door to the room didn't close all the way--something I'm sure I purposely didn't tell my parents when I called home. I survived, though. I had to open a couple of car air fresheners to help with the smoke smell, but I survived.

Until tomorrow!

Enjoy!
T. Budnik
**********************************************************************************
Are you sad you didn't get a souvenir? Don't fret, there's plenty to choose from at the brand spankin' new Everyday Adventures Shop. There you will find classic souvenirs such as poorly designed t-shirts and mugs. Don't see the item you want--like you want a hooded sweatshirt with a particular picture? Leave me a comment and I'll get it for you! New items are added with each post about the trip--I just updated!
*********************************************************************************
What's all this about prizes? Go here to learn more.