Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Seattle to New York recap

For those operating off of the BABE Rally calender, you might think of this period as days -5 to -1. Kyle and I left my workplace in SODO immediately after work on Friday and beelined it to I-90 to avoid as much sunny Friday afternoon commute and baseball traffic as possible. I think the anticipation of our 3000-mile delivery mission made Friday a lost day for both of us, productivity-wise.

I call it a delivery mission for two reasons:

1.) This trip was obviously centered around the rally, and our distance handicap had no bearing on anything to do with the rally. This mission would have been the same if we lived in New Jersey. It was about getting the car to the starting line.

2.) We made an actual delivery of 5 boxes of books from my friend Dante to her friend Anna-Marie in Flatbush, Brooklyn.

There's not much to tell about our days spent driving endlessly through the vast nothingness of much of our UNBELIEVABLY GIANT country. We drove 18 or 20 hours a day in 6-hour shifts, stopping only when we needed gas. We made a point to eat one meal per day out of the car, and this ended up being an alternating pattern of Dairy Queens and Subways. For the rest of the time we subsisted on gas station snack foods and canned coffee beverages. A lot of canned coffee beverages. Through Montana and South Dakota, we got really excited when we would pass through a town that had more than two buildings. Also, we saw a lot of deer.

We were the slowest car on the road and would get regularly passed by semis and motorhomes, even uphill. As a, um, time-efficient driver, this kind of thing would ordinarily drive me crazy, but once I got used to it it was actually quite relaxing never having to brake or change lanes.

Sleeping in the car at rest stops and parking lots is certainly economical, but holy crap does the sun rise early.

The most exciting moment of our marathon happened when we got pulled over in Pennsylvania for having our car be a different color than registered. For the full story, read this awesome recount that Kyle wrote. Personally, I was less worried about this traffic stop than any other time I've ever been pulled over, given that we had fresh paperwork and our maximum possible speed was 10 less than the limit. Although there was definitely a moment when they made Kyle get out of the car that made me wonder, "Kyle?! What did you do?!"

Kyle's account of this is awesome, but I'd just like to draw attention to this actual conversation:

Cop 1: Are you the owner of this vehicle?
Grant: Yes.
Cop 1: License, Insurance, and Registra...
Cop 2: HEY! Is that the dude from Star Wars?
Grant: Yeah. From Episode 1, I think.
Cop 2: Oh man, I love those movies.
Cop 1: Oh yeah? I've only ever seen the first three, and by first three I mean episodes 4, 5, and 6.
Cop 2: No way, you've got to see them all.
Grant and Kyle: Eh, not really, the originals were a lot better.
Cop 2: NO WAY MAN! In episode 3, Darth Vader TOTALLY KILLS THIS DUDE
Cop 1: Hmm. Hey- is that a chandelier?

The only other excitement on our delivery mission came from the crazy drive into Brooklyn through Jersey City and Manhattan. We like to call the car "the rally car", but in this case it really became what most people would think of when you say "rally car". I was driving and Kyle was navigating, which mostly consisted of, "turn here, merge left, turn there, watch out for that truck, u-turn" as we flew at breakneck speeds through the spaghetti of tiny, poorly-marked and maintained roads and bridges of the city. SO FUN. Apparently, I drive like New York drivers because I was really enjoying myself.

As we tore through the city, the chandelier drunkenly swinging back and forth and tinkling with approval, Kyle noticed a tarp blow onto the road a short distance ahead of us and instructed me to hit it. Fully attuned to the constant stream of instructions from my navigator, I immediately followed his direction without thinking about it and swerved half-way into the adjacent lane and totally nailed the tarp dead-center. Cheers all around!

Well, the tarp got stuck under the car, and even swerving into potholes and changing speeds would not disengage its desperate cling. The normal operating temperature of the catalytic converter in a clean-burning, finely-tuned automobile is 500°F. The rally car was neither clean-burning nor finely-tuned, and the catalytic converter was mounted in front of and below the engine, or basically exactly where, well, tarp-like debris would most likely come to rest. Not wanting to have the car dramatically burst into flames in the Holland Tunnel (well, at least not until after the rally), we stopped, flipped on the hazards, and had Kyle extract a burned and melted tarp from beneath the vehicle. It makes me wonder how soon it would have actually burst into flames.

After completing our trans-continental book delivery, we found a parking garage near where our good friend and host-extraordinaire, Ian, lives. We pulled the tired, steaming beast into the garage among Lexus', Mercedes', and BMWs, and watched as it was whisked away by the luckiest valet of all time.

Then we showered and drank.

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