A Travellerspoint blog

Enjoying the Finish Line

Washington D.C. and NYC

sunny

Once we completed the perilous journey across the U.S., we took down all of the equipment and leisurely drove over to my dad's friend's house in nearby Alexandria. We recounted our story to him and his wife over a late night burger at 5 guys as he told us his war stories while he was in the California Highway Patrol. The irony was not lost on us that the very individual that was harboring us was a former, and high-ranking, CHP officer. We all showered, passed out, and then awoke an indeterminate number of hours later to explore D.C. We explored the holocaust museum, the WWII memorial, and the air and space museum. You could tell that we were all a little off because my dad was persistent in trying to push open a door when it clearly said "pull" and I had trouble figuring out a water fountain. I guess 40 hours straight across the country will do that to you.

Me and Future Me

Me and Future Me

A Great Exhibit at the Holocaust Museum

A Great Exhibit at the Holocaust Museum

Bronze Reliefs at the World War II Memorial

Bronze Reliefs at the World War II Memorial

The International Space Station

The International Space Station

Me Being Inappropriate

Me Being Inappropriate

Later on, The CHP officer and his wife picked us up later on and we had dinner at an awesome Mediterranean food place near the Marine Corps Headquarters at 8th and I.

Marines Practicing at 8th and I

Marines Practicing at 8th and I

We got up the next day and took off for New York City. The drive North was rather uneventful until we got to the Lincoln Tunnel. A cacophony of horns directed at one another surrounded the entrance to the toll gate. People tried to squeeze into the adjoining lanes and got less than an inch within one other. I was amazed at how fervently these cars jockeyed for position, and keep in mind that I have lived in Los Angeles for the past year. When we arrived in the city, it was sensory overload. The buildings were so high that, upon peering out of the window at the sharpest angle possible, I was still unable to see the sky. Even in the daylight, lights flashed and everything seemed to move so quickly. It was truly a sight to behold.

After getting settled in our hotel in mid-town, we headed over to meet an old friend of mine from Officer Candidate School. We had drinks and reminisced about all times and told each others stories laughing the whole time. At about 12 AM we decided to call it quits and resign ourselves for the evening but resolved to meet up again. We walked back through Times Square where I was promptly offered "coke, weed" by a local street "vendor."

Brasky and I in front of the Pour House

Brasky and I in front of the Pour House

Times Square

Times Square

Visual Overload

Visual Overload

We went to Ground 0 in the morning and saw the temporary museum that serves In Memoriam of the victims. My favorite tribute was actually an art piece that was in the lobby of the American Express building. They didn't want to wait for the 9-11 memorial to be built, so they contracted an artist to honor their 11 employees that had died in the World Trade Center. The memorial is called "11 Tears," and as you can see by the video (below), drops are released into the fountain at scattered times to create ripples in the pool. The ripples are always overlapping in the pool, and this is supposed to symbolize the closeness and intertwined nature of the 11 employees with one another. The object in the center is a 600 lb Brazilian Quartz with 11 sides carved into it to represent each person lost.

A Window of One of the Airplanes that Struck the World Trade Center

A Window of One of the Airplanes that Struck the World Trade Center

Invoking Introspection

Invoking Introspection

Tribute

Tribute

Rebuilding Ground 0

Rebuilding Ground 0

After Andre flew back to San Diego, my Dad and I checked out Liberty Island and Ellis Island. Ellis Island was okay, but Liberty Island was really cool. The museum taught me a lot and the statue is an amazing site. The statue was meant to commemorate the 100th birthday of the country but was also strategic for France. France was under an oppressive dictator at the time, and it was a cry for help to restore the liberty that they had once enjoyed. I didn't realize this before coming to the site, but Lady Liberty's feet actually have broken chains around them which symbolize her being freed from the clutches of tyranny. The likeness for the figure is actually the artist's mother, go figure. We also explored the Empire State Building which was a complete tourist trap, but I was able to get Kate a little Gorilla as a gift and mess with the sepia setting on my camera. We rounded out the day with an awesome Italian dinner in NoHo at a place called "Bianca."

Left Justified

Left Justified

Building of the Statue in France

Building of the Statue in France

She's Almost like My Conscience...

She's Almost like My Conscience...

Easily the Coolest Building in NY - The Chrysler Building

Easily the Coolest Building in NY - The Chrysler Building

Playing with the Sepia Setting

Playing with the Sepia Setting

I Couldn't Pronounce the Name of it, but it Was Awesome!

I Couldn't Pronounce the Name of it, but it Was Awesome!

For our last day on the East coast, we decided to walk across the Brooklyn bridge and tour the UN. When we were waiting for our tour, I went over to look at the portraits of all of the UN Secretary Generals. I noticed upon further examination that they were donated by Iran, which I thought was ironic considering the current sanctions. I looked even closer, and the portraits are actually rugs (this is apparent in the third picture below of Kofi Annan). There were also some cool art pieces that preached peace. The first was created by a musician in Colombia who noticed that one of the local soldiers held his assault rifle like the musician held his guitar. He took one of these rifles and decided to make a guitar out of it to advocate for non-violence. This caught on and many others were built and given to other musicians to spread the same message.

Dad on the Bridge

Dad on the Bridge

The 8 Past and Current Secretary Generals

The 8 Past and Current Secretary Generals

Former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan

Former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan

Escopetarra

Escopetarra

Proposal for Peace

Proposal for Peace

UN Headquarters

UN Headquarters

We set off for the airport later that day to fly back to Sacramento and back to the real world.

Flying Home

Flying Home

Posted by mbeymer 29.07.2010 23:23 Archived in USA Comments (0)

My Attempt to See if the Sign is Greener on the Other Side

An homage to Cannonball Baker, Brock Yates and the Tradition


View My Story on mbeymer's travel map.

WARNING

This blog contains videos that have explicit language; view at your own discretion.

The Tradition

In order to understand this story, it’s important for you to know my motivations for this journey. In 1971, the editor of Car and Driver magazine, the nation’s leading periodical on all things automotive, devised a plan to run an outlaw road race from the Red Ball garage in New York City to the Portofino Inn in Redondo Beach, California to commemorate the legacy of the great motorcyclist, Erwin “Cannonball” Baker. The race was an anything goes, elapsed time dash to the finish with many antics carried out and infamy earned over the four occasions that it took place (1971, 1972, 1975 and 1979). Many imitations have sprung up since its passing including the loosely inspired film “Smokey and the Bandit,” as well as the opulent “Gumball 3000” which takes place annually. I have nothing against these forms of homage, but I wanted to do something a little bit different.

As a child, I would always see an unusual sign on Interstate 80 as my family and I drove Westbound when re-entering my hometown of Sacramento, CA. The sign had the mileage for a few nearby cities which is quite typical of any interstate sign, but I thought the third city was a bit out of place – Ocean City, MD - 3073 miles (picture below). At a gathering with a couple of friends a few years later, the topic of this strange sign came up, and they told me that they had actually been to Ocean City. Furthermore, they reported that the city had a similar marker for Sacramento. I pondered this newfound knowledge and began to connect it with my love for the epic tales of the famous Cannonball runs. I started to scheme.

Since I was only 20 at the time, I knew that I did not have the financial resources or otherwise to hatch such a plot successfully. I thought that the only feasible way that I could complete said journey would be if I rented a car and drove it across the country with two other co-drivers. I researched car rentals and, in most states, you had to be at least 24 to rent a car. This disheartened me at the time, but I knew that this was too fun of an opportunity to pass up.

The Plan

Four years later, I finally propositioned my dad with the idea. I carefully laid out my plan and provided the pertinent details of my goals and reasons for such a pilgrimage. My father was known as a teenager for continually breaking traffic laws in his 1965 Ford Mustang and had a speeding ticket history that would make most professional racers blush. After pitching my idea to him, he didn’t hesitate to go along with the plan. I also recruited a fellow friend who had a similar penchant for difficult yet interesting goals. I was a little unsure as to whether he would sign on for the adventure but he agreed immediately to be the third man on the team.

We emailed back and forth about everything from radar detectors to speeding law minutiae and what types of energy drinks that would sustain us for the longest period of time. We laid ground rules, the first of which was that speeds should be kept to under 100 MPH. We reasoned that anything more would tempt the laws of physics in that the car would begin to act like a wing where any unexpected bump in the road may catapult us right out of the time trial. We also stated that each driver would drive at a pace that they felt comfortable. Finally, if any speeding costs were incurred, we would agree to split the cost of the reported violations.

We decided that I would drive first with my father navigating and Andre sleeping in the back. We would continue this rotation for the trip with the driver going for a whole tank of gas upon which he would take over the position as navigator, the navigator would go in the back to sleep, and the sleeping team member would assume the driving position. With a plan in place, we were ready to venture to the other side.

Staging

Before we left, we wanted to be prepared. We had a packing list that included food, water, the aforementioned energy drinks, a $500 radar detector (worth every penny as we later discovered), a GPS system, and even an SLR mounted to the rear dash to take time lapse photos. As you can see, we wanted to do this right. We got out to the sign and after taking a couple of quick pictures, and we were off.

The journey was filled with laughter, frustration, fatigue, boredom, anxiety, close calls and the smell of old bananas which we later called "versa" after the car that we were driving. The videos and pictures below have accompanying explanations for what went down and how we coped with it. The videos were taken immediately after the incidents transpired and are the most accurate depictions of my feelings on the journey.

The Silver Bullet

The Set-up

The Set-up


The Start of Our Journey

The Start of Our Journey


That Peculiar Sign and My Quest to See its Counterpart

That Peculiar Sign and My Quest to See its Counterpart


...And We're Off!

...And We're Off!

Bored in Nevada, Fatigued in Omaha

We had the advantage of going through Nevada at night. For those of you who have driven across Nevada, you know that it is nothing special. In fact, I actually got excited when we saw a tunnel because I was so bored. Nebraska is just like Nevada, except wider and green. We did see a lot of close calls in Nebraska including a couple of cops that ended up pulling over more zealous drivers - see "no radar detector." If it wasn't for the Pontiac drivers of the world, we would probably be a few hundred dollars poorer. If you watch the first video, you can see me sticking the video out of the passenger window at about 10 seconds into the video which shows the sheriff pulling over another driver who mistakenly took one for the team.

The Most Interesting Thing in Nevada? A Tunnel

The Most Interesting Thing in Nevada? A Tunnel

Almost Caught

My Thoughts of the Sites

Frustrated in Illinois, Barely Awake in Ohio

Illinois was the hardest part of my drive. I got into the state at about 12:30 AM local time, and the traffic was inconsistent to say the least. I would get stuck behind slow big rigs, and speed past them only to have them later speed past me. On top of that, the radar detector kept lighting up with extremely strong signals but with no cops in sight. In my immense fatigue, I didn't realize what was going on. I later asked a former highway patrolmen and was informed that Illinois has 24-hour speed cameras perched in certain places. Therefore, the truckers were probably only going slow in these locations and speeding up where they weren't present. I guess I'll have to wait for my financial contribution invitation card to the State of Illinois to come in the mail.

By the time I transitioned to the navigator position after my 3rd shift, I was having a hard time keeping it together. Somewhere in Ohio, Andre asked me if I was okay to which I snapped awake immediately and answered, "I'm good!" He asked me something about Ebola in the thoughts that describing deadly diseases would perk me up, sick I know, and that worked for a minute. In mid-sentence of my explanation, I trailed off saying "Uhhh, I forgot my backpack." I had not actually forgotten my backpack, but it was getting hard for me to distinguish between the dream world and reality. Right after I said this nonsensical statement, I said "wait, wait, that's not what we were talking about was it?" I proceeded to get really confused, and Andre declared that my brain had officially performed an emergency reboot. We pulled over, rotated, and I passed out for all of Pennsylvania before my fourth and last shift in Maryland.

Yep, Nothing in Iowa

Yep, Nothing in Iowa


I'll leave it to you

I'll leave it to you


Click It

Click It


Bug Carnage at a Gas Stop in Iowa

Bug Carnage at a Gas Stop in Iowa


A Picturesque Backdrop

A Picturesque Backdrop


Chasing the Dark

Chasing the Dark

Fatigued and Furious

The Final Leg

It's amazing what four hours of sleep can do. When I woke up in Maryland for the last shift, I was ready to go. We blazed through Maryland until we hit the US 50 bridge over Chesapeake Bay. I thought we were definitely going to make it under 40 hours, but we proceeded to drive over 50 miles on a painfully-slow, one-lane country highway in order to complete the last leg. The Maryland highway patrol were out, but they weren't using radar which made speeding even more dangerous. We finally crested the last bridge into Ocean City, saw the sign, hastily parked and stopped the clock. We had driven 2,836 miles in 40 hours, 17 minutes and 41 seconds, and had not been pulled over once. Andre looked at the official times for the 4 cannonball rallies, and our time was near the median in the field. Since traffic conditions were lighter in the 70s, the police enforcement scant, and the engines often more powerful, we felt satisfied at the time we posted.

The Interstate 50 Bridge over Maryland's Chesapeake Bay

The Interstate 50 Bridge over Maryland's Chesapeake Bay


The Final Leg

The Final Leg


Andre and I Celebrating Under the Sign

Andre and I Celebrating Under the Sign


Watson and Beymer

Watson and Beymer


The End of the Line

The End of the Line


Our Final Time

Our Final Time


A Beautiful End to a Seemingly Endless Day

A Beautiful End to a Seemingly Endless Day

Through a combination of advanced technology, skilled navigating and an immense amount of luck, we were able to come in safe and reminisce about all the crazy close calls and other shenanigans that went down. I hope you enjoyed the story and hope this inspires you to remember that you may only live once and that life is a gift, not a promise.

Posted by mbeymer 20.06.2010 14:21 Comments (0)

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