First Post from California!

Yeah, I'm in California now :) Yippee ;)

Actually been here since Thursday the 26th of August, but haven't had much time to get online and catch up till now.

The move it self went well, ended up leaving a pretty good pile of stuff up in Tacoma, won't be going back for that. The cost of the drive made it not worth going back, so I tried my best to get the important stuff and the rest I won't worry about. Of course, there was stuff in the van that was less important than what was left, but I wasn't about to go back and reload the van again either!

I had spent the first half of last week packing and sorting... sort of... and then started loading the van. By Wednesday night (the 25th) I was ready to hit the road. I officially got wheels rolling by about 10pm. Most sensible people would have tried to sleep at home one last night, but I'd already packed my stuff and my bed... well, bed is a bit much, its a futon mattress, and not a very good one at that. Anyway, so my plan was to drive for a few hours then sleep in the van. Of course, the van was stacked to the ceiling, so I couldn't sleep in the back like I had originally planned. And the passenger set was full too. So that left the drivers seat. There was so much stuff in the front of the van that I just leaned over a bit, and it turned out to be pretty comfortable!

While I had planned my trip out to hit Costco gas stations, because I had left late at night, and was full of gas when I left (the van was full, I really didn't have much of a gas problem, if you were wondering! that could be a Taco Bell commercial though, convert a car to run on Methane... hmmmm methane.....)

So, Yeah, most or all of the Costco gas stations are for members only, and they are not open 24 / 7. So the first time I would have needed gas, was when the nearest station was closed. Or When I drove by one the van still had over half a tank, so that seemed a waste to stop. I did ok though. Where I had planned on stopping 5 times and tanking before I was empty, I actually made it on 3 tanks, and had... get this ... money left over! YAY! Well, that's good right? But like I sometimes do, I left home not knowing if I really had enough gas money to get there.

Side story time here. I had finished this big video project just before leaving Tacoma, where I had about 20 DVD sets to mail to my clients. I went online to the Postal website, had already typed in the first 10 names and addresses, went to print the postage, and it wouldn't go though. Oh oh right? well, even though I knew better, I tried it again, after waiting a while. Then tried it with a different browser, just in case. So... 10 orders, at about $4.80 each... $48 worth of postage... times 4 times. Oh CRAP! Now not only do I not have enough money in that account to pay my postage to make all those Short Shakespearans happy, but now my gas money is also "pending". Depending on the bank and vendor, "pending" is something like "HA HA, we have your money, and no you can't have it. In fact, don't even bother calling our helpful service robots, because they are trained to also laugh at you, all the while pointing their shiny fingers at the other robots on the other side of the said pending transaction"....

So, that transaction (or transgression, depending on your robotic religious beliefs) took place on Monday. I wanted to leave by Thursday, so no problem right? I'll just wait. Besides, usually that kind of thing settles it self out in a day or two. Calling sooner than that almost makes it worse, in my experience, because the robots don't like to let go of what they can do automatically, and the real service people are scared of the robots anyway. So I waited, quite cheerfully and patiently (I don't think robots can read sarcasm on a blog yet...) By Wednesday evening, that money was still not released yet. But I did have a full tank of gas, and some money, so thought I'd take that leap of faith that I'm so fond of taking.

Its really exciting being with me any time I use my debit card to buy something, I'll confidently swipe the card, punch in my secret password, and then I'm happily surprised every time that I "win" and they approve my purchase (typically either gas for the van, or frozen burritos... gas for me... still need to think about that methane conversion kit. And a way to bottle or otherwise capture the methane emissions)

So, I left Tacoma with a full tank. Drive a bit over 300 miles, got more fuel with about 1/4 tank still. Good so far, did quick mental gymnastics and figured I was getting just a tad under 14 MPG. Way better than 13 to be sure. Yes, a "tad" is a technical term. Feel free to quote me on it. I don't see it in Wikipedia yet, I'll go take care of that in a minute, ok?

Next tank I squeezed out about 320 miles on, and again just was slightly short of the magical 14 MPG, but still better than 13. I should note that my van has never gotten more than 14 EVER since I bought it, and I usually drive it with minimal load in it. I had budgeted the trip at 900 miles, 12 MPG, and $3 per gallon. Or $3.50 on one page, but that scared me, so I just looked at the $3 gallon page from then on. And on all 3 tanks, I got gas for less than $3 a gallon. Oh, and never did hit another Costco, because of my driving over night, I was never near one when I needed it, that they were open. But did hit some truck stop type places, Flying J etc. Good peeps there, always clean restrooms, lots of yummie snacks (free ice for me too! they chose to ignore the sign that said "ICE IS NOT FREE"... nice....)

When I filled up the second time, north of Sacramento, I was pretty sure that the first tank of 300 miles and the second tank of over 300 miles meant that I could safely hope to make it to Lemoore on the last full tank. So feeling pretty brave and daring, I turned on the air conditioner for a few minutes. That was nice, because it was getting... well... HOT by now. Not wanting to run out of gas and walk the last 20 miles or something, I only ran the AC a few minutes at a time, and tried to only do it on down hill stretches. The theory sounded good to me at the time, because my brain really wanted it to work right? Hmmm Black Van, in California. Might be time to look into a reflective roof coating of some sort!

Anyway, got here by about 9pm on Thursday, so say 23 hours in the seat, for 900 miles. Got some naps, got out and walked around the van a few times, and even splurged and bought some cheeseburgers when I got to California. Oh, and did know that some places will give you free ice if you look pathetic enough (and having your own cup never hurts either!)

And on this end, life is good. I traded a small room in an attic for a big house with a pool and some people who like me, and some dogs and cats that think I'm ok too. Not a bad deal so far! And I have internet, and hot water, so life is good.

As if I hadn't just had enough miles under my butt by this time, Friday afternoon we loaded up in the car and drove back north, almost back tracking on my previous days drive! That seemed kind of like a silly idea right? Anyway, got to see some family type people that I've not seen in a LONG time, so was fun. Some of them had actually read my book. I say actually read, because they quizzed me on some details! That was cool to know that someone had actually paid attention to have a list of questions they were excited to ask!

Ok, time to go clean the scum out of the dogs water dish...

Stay tuned!

By Carlin Comm posted on 2009-09-01 18:06:14