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Odometer Start
?:00 AM (PST): ~2,500 miles

Starting City
Reno, Nevada

Odometer End
09:30 (PST): 2,475 Miles

Crash City
Reno, Nevada

Daily Donner Report
No one ate each other yesterday. Spingo and Morgan exchanged latent homosexual banter which included the word "Eat" at some points. Breakfast: Burger King redux. Lunch: Al Fresco ("King of the Reno Chefs!") in the Atlantis Hotel. Max had a Cobb Salad, Morgan a barbeque chicken pizza. Dinner: Benihana. What do you THINK we got at Benihana.

Musical Selections

  • Lucious Jackson: Electric Honey; AC/DC, Who Made Who?, Highway to Hell, Ballbreaker; Rolling Stones: Hot Rocks; Buckwheat Zydeco to drive off the aliens!; Robbie Fulks, South Mouth.

  • Justification
  • Personnel
  • Route
  • Equipment
  • Bibliography

  • Monday, September 25, 2000

    ...posted at 6:43:05 PM...

    So, right, we're here.

    Web site will become it's final version soon, with proper forms and trivia for each page. Plus, free chocolate coins! OK, no coins.

    Anyway, as the pictures show, Spingo guided us thorugh Marin County to the Golden Gate Bridge, and to the Pacific Ocean, then back his and Lala's apartment in the Sunset district.

    More info to come soon.

    Friday, September 22, 2000

    ...posted at 9:44:59 AM...
    Spingo has joined the group, arriving in the Reno Airport from Phoenix.



    Anyhow, he has arrived with information about the Donner Party. So on the last day of travel, we move from the achievement of Lewis and Clark's expedition to the ignominy of the Donner Party. There is a definite hope that none of us start looking too succulent as the drive goes on.

    ...posted at 9:43:33 AM...
    Anyhow, yesterday in Reno was spiffy. Reno is both like Vegas and unlike Vegas, and more thought will be forthcoming on that.

    We had dinner at Benihana in the Flamingo Hilton last night, which is where many of the pictures are from in the picture directories. The table was shared with two couples from the Harley Jamboree which is coursing through Reno right now.

    An odd moment: We had a great time making jokes with the cabbie who took us from the Atlantis to downtown, the River Walk. Much of Reno's downtown was shut down, the streets closed I mean, for the Harley Jamboree. (Imagine shutting down the main strip in Vegas, btw.) Anyway, we walked around the main drag a bit, looking in the windows of pawnshops for Spingo's dream pink, uggo guitar to play dumb Burl music on. Then we found a cab. As we're pulling away form the curb, Spingo says, "Hey, aren't you the same guy who drove us downtown?" It was, and he almost ran off the road in surprise.

    Then he told us entertaining stories about how Reno has built a lot of things to build traffic that don't quite work out. Like building a huge movie theater in the center of downtown. "Sometime I've seen TENS of people at that theater. Because people sure come to RENO to see a MOVIE."

    And the torches in front of the Atlantis:

    Spingo: "How come those torches only light off for like five minutes a night?"

    Cabbie: "Well, after they built them, they found out how expensive they were. 5,000 dollars a hour to run both those things. So they don't turn them on much.

    Reno: Biggest Little Town in the World. Sometimes that's not a good thing, not a compliment.

    ...posted at 9:43:00 AM...
    Let me repeat again: THE DAY PAGES HAVE UPDATES.

    I don't have everything on this page because I have gotten, well, maybe a bit discombobulated as to which page goes where and which day is which.

    Max and I were both commenting that this trip has blended together into one big day. If you were to give us a pop quiz, neither of us could probably tell you which day we started where. Not in a quick manner, anyway.

    Thursday, September 21, 2000

    ...posted at 6:32:39 PM...
    And Hello! from the Atlantis Hotel in Reno, Nevada!

    ...posted at 6:31:58 PM...
    A lot of the day pages have separate updates, including Day 4-6 in a fair amount of beginning detail.

    Anyway, we're about to wander around Reno, find booze, books and get the boy, the illustrious Spingo. And maybe some sports book after that. Or maybe the Nelson show!

    ...posted at 6:30:44 PM...
    One of the bizarre things about this trip is that mo matter how wired we think we are, we new media assholes, no matter how many TV commercials show people downloading email in their car, there are a lot of parts of this country that are out of frigging contact.

    Or, more to the point, they're on the grid, but using local service. Morgan uses AT&T WorldNet for his PPP connection, has for years. On the road, this has usually been a pretty good choice. As good as any other national provider, anyway.

    But in many of the states we've passed through, there have been no local dialups.

    Great Falls and Billings


    Las Vegas and Reno

    In Missoula, it cost a bit of long distance to connect to the Great Falls number. We could have used the net connection on top of La Plume Mountain, but it seemed inappropriate. Even though both Del and her beau are computer professionals, and have their own website! But why run up the electricity bill? And a lot of local PPP providers charge minutes once you go past a flat rate/bulk minute package.

    In Winnemucca, a reasonably large town, the closest dialup is Reno. And the Motel 6 only lets you dial long distance with a credit/phone card, or collect.

    The point is not to whine, but to point out that TV commercials or not, there were just a lot of places where we couldn't have connected. Not even with wireless. For a lot of the trip, neither of us could connect with our cell phones, let alone find an internet dialup.

    Morgan should have expected something like this, because even in his house in Michigan City he has to use a local provider, ADSNet, to connect to the Web, because AT&T doesn't have a dialup there!

    No matter how connected and wired we think the world is, it's hardly a monolithic grid yet.

    Tuesday, September 19, 2000

    ...posted at 11:42:16 AM...
    Another note: The Rand McNally atlas used for the planning of the routes doesn' actually follow the major interstates, it seems. Or if it does, it's in an idiosyncratic way, which is hard to follow on the actual roads.

    We may be making much better time than the original route plan, but that may change because of the non-interstate travel from here on in.

    In any case, we are probably making much better time than expected because the highways from South Dakota on have usually had speed limits of 75. And no cops to be seen. In 1800 miles, we have seen one cop pulling someone over. In one week on the Chicago Skyway, Morgan probably sees about 15 cars being pulled over.

    Live free or die, I guess. Though in Montana, there was a poster at a rest stop that read, "Yes, there is a limit, Mario". Meaning a speed limit and Mario Andretti, though how you would figure that out from just the headline, we have no idea.

    ...posted at 11:38:29 AM...
    BTW, I have no idea if I am posting from the "Cyber Shock Cafe" or the "Cyber SHack". I think this joint may have changed its name at some point in the recent past.

    Anyway, from here, we take our first major turn away from the Eisenhower Interstate system as we head toward Idaho. We will be driving a large road (93? no map to hand right now) thorugh the Clearwater National Forest. Probably another big scenery day.

    ...posted at 11:32:35 AM...
    More from Missoula:

    Communication through signage is big in the Great Plains and Northwest. Ruby’s, where we stayed last night, asked residents, “How much water was on your floor?”, referring to recent flooding.

    The morning news guy on NBC in Missoula is, and this is the EXACT word, a hoot. He was dressed in a big striped shirt and hooted and hollered in the happiest way when the show came back from commercials and such. He was on the early news, the 6 AM deal. At one3 point, they had a special report on families from a youth counselor, and the two men fake-arm wrassled before starting the interview.

    Morgan has had a few cities in his dreams for years. New Orleans, Prague, and others. One of the others was Missoula. His grandfather Hanes was a builder around Missoula, his mother Nona spent her summers here as a kid and teenager, he used to order Bike maps of the country from BikeCentenniel (which is called BikeAmerica now, possible), and family friend John Sheron would occasionally talk about it.

    Driving around, it’s just as good as the dreams. Cool mountain air, pleasant streets, but it has a sense of time about it.

    Unfortunately, there’s also Butte.

    Max mentioned that Bozeman was the small town that people dream of. She also wrote in our notebook that Butte is the creepy town you get.

    Missoula has a sense of history, while Butte feels like rot. Maybe Missoula has stayed vibrant-appearing because of the college. But Butte has Montana Tech, which seems like an anachronism on the far end of town from the Berkeley Pit (sp?).

    Butte seems like it instantly replicated civilization in the most awful way. If Rushmore and Crazy Horse are soaring achievements, the Berkeley Pit (once the largest operating copper mine in the U.S.) is an example of the depth of rapaciousness. The Lady of the Rockies (a “nondenominational tribute to motherhood” – yeah, right) overlooks the huge crater in the earth at Butte.

    Anyway, there’s pictures. Go look. It’s fascinating.

    The class structure seems to have been pre-fab installed into the city. The striations in the Badlands showed the various ages that those hills had lasted through. If you cross-sectioned the hills of Butte, you would see class structure reflected in the dirt, roots and minerals. Richest at the top (just like San Francisco, our eventual goal), and the Pit at the bottom. Everyone else in between. And of course, the religious figure high atop the hill, overseeing it all with a blind eye.

    Hey! We’re in the land of Joe Hill, and Morgan’s Grandpa Hanes was a Wobbly at one time. Allow some working class rhetoric, please.

    Anyway, Max is finished checking her email from work at the Cyber Shack here in downtown Missoula. Time to head to Clearwater and a possible rendezvous with La Plume.

    More later.

    ...posted at 11:31:51 AM...
    Mile 1597 Belgrade

    Church of Christ
    “Repent now and avoid the last minuet rush.”

    Which reminds: In Billings, there was a plumbing store with a sign that read: “Police station toilet stolen. Cops have nothing to go on.”

    The comedy, she never stops!

    ...posted at 11:31:14 AM...
    Mile 1583 Bozeman

    Quote Correction:
    Max: “This is what people dream of when they dream of small towns.”

    ...posted at 11:31:03 AM...
    Missoula has a good college radio station @ 89.9 FM. Wonder if they webcast.

    ...posted at 11:30:57 AM...
    Blues Brothers spot check in Butte:

    It’s 6 PM, we have a full tank of gas, nine packs of cigarettes, it’s not dark and we’re not wearing sunglasses. Hit it!

    ...posted at 10:17:28 AM...
    Updates to the Day Two and Day Three pages. Pictures uploaded, and some more crappy video.

    More updates TK.

    Notes from Monday:


    The time delay nature of this means Morgan has lost track of what was posted when and why. Not that it matters.

    Monday was more of a driving and scenery day than a monument day. We took off from Gilette, and pretty much drove from Gilette to Billings, Montana, where we hit the Your Place or Mine Internet Cafe. Nice guys in there, across from the high school.

    In Billings, we also got fast food lunch. And we got beer. Local beer, to add the Montana 6. Tempting to ask for Olympia, but we got something nice instead.

    Then: drive, drive, drive.

    We hit Bozeman, fiddled and diddled there.

    Max: "Bozeman is the small town people dream of when they dream about small towns."

    Then: drive, drive, drive.

    We hit Butte around 6. The Mining Museum was already closed, but the Berkeley Pit was open and creepy.

    Then to Missoula, weaving in the mountains.

    If it isn't clear by now, Monday was a scenery day. The pictures reflect that, and reflect the day.

    Crappy Video of the Day!

    Day Three Crap

    Monday, September 18, 2000

    ...posted at 1:33:33 PM...
    Before I forget: it is maybe pretty dumb to relate Stephen King plots while driving on twisty moutnain roads in pitch darkness. Tell the kids.

    ...posted at 1:27:58 PM...
    Random notes from yesterday, pulling the trains of thought:

    We hit 1000 miles yesterday on Rte. 44 coming out of the Badlands. 14:20 PM. Of course, Morgan noticed it 10 miles past 1000. Because he is an idiot.

    Mile 1029: Hit Rapid City. The damn cybercafe isn't open on Sundays. Repeating: a coffee shop not open on Sundays. Geeze.

    The local Firehouse Brewery IS open, though, next to the Bible and Book Store. So we pick up the required beer for South Dakota. HALF GALLON, fresh from the tap. Sealed by the bartender.

    Interestingly, the Firehouse Brewpub has fireman patches form across the U.S.. It's miles later when I realize many of them must have come out here to volunteer in the firefighting effort. I hope that's the reason, and that the Brewpub just didn't send letters requesting patches.

    Driving up to Mt. Rushmore:

    "You can see the USA in a Chevrolet, but you'll never be bored in a Ford."

    "Is that like a Little Red Corvette thing?"

    "Why do you have to make everything dirty? I didn't say backSEAT of a Ford."

    After seeing the Crazy Horse monument, we both agree we can't stay in a town called Custer.

    Though driving through, we do notice that the Custer Motel is on one side 16, and the Chief Motel is on the other. Sore losers, they don't even name the Chief.

    Max: "Who knew South Dakota had so much to see?"

    Max: "How does Burger King get the croissants so ROUND like that?"

    Also: "Wyoming is weird. We saw a lot of deer waiting to cross in the end of S.D. last night. None were feeling adventurous enough to challenge the combined power of Morgan and Max."

    And finally, this afternoon, Wyoming had Red Highways, which is noticeable.

    We have much crappy video from yesterday, which we will post tonight. Many stills as well.

    More later.

    ...posted at 1:14:35 PM...
    Hi. It's Max. I'm just typing for the damned fun of letting my fingers run over the keyboard. It's been a couple days now since I touched one. Might be going through withdrawal.

    Mo might have told you this, but the big thought going through my head on this drive is 'gee, my ancestors where unambitious. They touched down in Massachusetts, and in three or four generations, they've gotten as far as Rhode Island'.

    ...posted at 1:06:11 PM...
    So we started off and Morgan drove to Sheridan, Wyoming to start the morning. Burger King breakfast, with Mimosa dreams.

    Anyway, Max drove to Billings, Montana, where Morgan now sits and types in the "Your Place or Min Cybercafe", run by a couple of nice guys right across from the Milling Senior High School.

    Max: "They have blue hair in Billings."

    Yes, that's right, even kids in the Great Plains (or whatever Billings officially is) have cultivated the fashion of punk.

    Morgan will now have some of the nice espresso, and let Max type a bit.

    ...posted at 1:02:58 PM...
    As you can see, already we're missing deadlines, and cruising right past updates.

    After the update below was written, we hit:

    Wall Drug.

    The Badlands.

    Mount Rushmore

    Crazy Horse Monument

    Jewel Cave.

    We drove like maddened bats, thorugh mountains and night and even some smoke from fired here and there, until we arrived at another Motel 6 in Gilette, Wyoming. Unfortunately, AT&T didn't have a usable dial-up from Gilette.

    ...posted at 12:56:19 PM...
    Here's what Sunday was like:

    We get started like the US Army. Before 8 AM, we get in two major tourist attractions in Sioux Falls. The concrete outline of the battleship USS South Dakota, complete with fake command tower and cannons pointed to the sky Clearly, the cannons are bin place to fight out the communist paratroops that will salt the skies, just like in RED DAWN.


    The second attraction are the Falls that give the city its name. Eroded out of Sioux Quarxite, also known as Jasper, the Falls gush winningly, but not long. We are underwhelmed. It's pretty, but will the memory last?

    Then again, we haven't gotten coffee yet. Fools we are!

    So, breakfast is courtesy of the fine, fine folks at Burger King.

    (Note from Morgan: Oh! I almost forgot. The Lil' Lolita from the HBO movie last night turned out to be an escapee from a mental hospital. I believe she died in the end, but I fell asleep reading about the Thirty Years' War. (Gustavus Adolphus rules!))

    We take off for Mitchell, SD, home of the Corn Palace.

    Then: drive, drive, drive.

    Mile 658: "Jack's Towing" promises 24-hr "TOE SERVICE".

    "Mister, you got a union that needs fixin' at 4 the the ay em? You better call Jack's"

    We wonder how many thousands of people have made the same joke about that misspelling.

    Then: drive, drive, drive.

    Two notes about billboards in the Great Plains.

    One, a human being would have to be deranged and blind to drive West on I-90 and not realize Wall Drug is coming up. As seen in Time, the International Herald Tribune, Western Horseman magazine, on London buses, and in Kenya, Africa! Thing is, Wall Drug starts advertising their presence about 300 MILES before you will be even close to them. It's probably so touristas don't drive into the Badlands before hitting Wall Drug.

    The thing about being a tourista (pronounced "tourISta!") is that many of the advertised things are never as wonderful as the anticipation. It's like the story of the knight and the princess in the tower.

    I can't remember if this is a parable from Nietzsche or Wittgenstein, but the knight is poor, yet he loves the princess, who is beautiful, yet haughty. She scoffs at his professions of love, yet he beseeches her to let him prove his devotion. She tells him he has to appear under her window every night, come what may, and that will prove his devotion.

    Though snow and rain and war, the knight appears every night. Sometimes his armor is dented, his sword notched, both covered in blood. Sometimes he looks as gallant as Romeo wooing Juliet.

    In any case, on night 364, the princess says to him, "Tomorrow night it will be a year. There are no wars to take you away, no barriers in the way. And now I must tell you, your devotion has won me over. We shall be wed immediately."

    The next night, the princess dresses in her finest garments. When night falls, she goes to her window.

    The knight is nowhere to be seen. She never sees him again.

    Which is to say: sometimes wanting gives more pleasure than having.

    (Tourista! A romance about music school graduates on a walkabout in Central America! Pyramids! Coups d'Etats! Closing soon at a Broadway theater!)

    Max: "Look! It's a turn! A turn in the road!"

    Then: drive, drive, drive.

    Mile 839: We have entered the Mountain Time Zone. Time turns back! Slow motion relativity!

    Anyway, the second note about billboards in the Great Plains. They sometimes tell youn things you want to know: Mitchell, SD has a Cabelas!

    We hit Mitchell, see the Corn Palace, which Morgan keeps calling the Cow Palace for no known reason. The banner of the Corn Palace reads "www.millenium.corn". We decide, in spite of bitterness brought on from long association with new media crap, to just let it go.

    And the Corn Palace is having a POLKA MASS! Older folks from across the Midwest seem to have arrived for a mass that starts at 10AM in the Palace. Clearly, this is kind of an annual Polka fest, and there are many ladies with crowns and matching dresses. It looks like a lot of fun. And any one who thinks a whole day of polka dancing doesn't sound like fun is tired of life. Polka is the rhythm of life.

    But we can't stay. After buying a CD of one of the bands who are going to play, we walk back to the car - - for new have MILES TO GO. Max decides not to buy Spingo a belt. Sorry, sucker.

    Anyway, we then get gas and ask for directions to Cabelas. Cabelas is a chain of huge outdoor good stores, for hiking, hunting, fishing, camping. Any kind of outdoor thing. Morgan has been to the one in Minnesota, between Rochester and the Twin Cities. After purchases are made, he asks, "Is the Cabelas in Minnesota the biggest one?"

    The lady answers, "It was up until two weeks ago. This one here is 85,000 square feet. The one in (name of town in Minnesota) is 125,000 square feet. They just opened one in Dundee, Michigan that's 200,000 square feet!"

    That's a lot of sporting goods.

    We get some fast food (McDonalds).

    Then: drive, drive, drive.

    Listen to polka CD. Then Nerf Herder, How to Meet Girls. M Mock billboards. Cross Missouri River. Fail to take the "Crappy Video of the Day!", because the camera isn't on. Max takes over driving.

    More later.

    Notes from Max - I believe this is the best thing I have done in the last ten years. That's all. I think my sanity is slowly coming back. Maybe I'll write when I'm fully human again.

    Sunday, September 17, 2000

    ...posted at 1:45:11 AM...
    BTW, Spingo left some nessages on Max's voice mail. Yes, Falcom, the"tirty pack of Old Style" is on its way. And nice musical choices!

    ...posted at 1:28:55 AM...
    Oh, also, a note. All posts will be held on this main page until I archive properly. Yet each Day Page will have its own posts and notes and photos. Exquisite!

    ...posted at 1:27:48 AM...
    Oh, wait, the softcore Lolita actually turns out to be a psycho who starts killing people after she sleeps with her english teacher. Don't Stand So Close to Me 2000!

    ...posted at 1:17:21 AM...
    Hey! Cool! Lolita-style softcore with no actual nudity on HBO!

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