Monday, July 30, 2007

48 Hours in Charlotte.

I mentioned last time that I had big plans for my Friday morning in Charlotte, North Carolina. I fully realize that I'm highlighting my inner nerd by telling you that I had been looking forward to seeing the Body Worlds exhibit at the science museum for quite some time. I read about Body Worlds in The Best American Nonrequired Reading of 2006. One of the essays in there was about the Plastination process that makes Body Worlds possible. I was so intrigued that I looked it up on the information super highway. Imagine my excitement when I discovered that the exhibition would be in Charlotte at the same time that I would be there! So, months before my arrival in Charlotte, I had carved out some time just to go see these bodies. For those of you who are too lazy to click the link I so thoughtfully provided, Body Worlds is the exhibition of real human cadavers that have been preserved by a process called Plastination. They wouldn't let anyone take pictures, but I did manage to find some out there on the net:

The whole thing was a lot creepier than I thought it would be. I thought I'd just walk around in there and be like, "Human bodies and stuff ... cool." Instead I spent hours staring at them and pondering my own mortality. I also did not eat lunch that day.

So that's what I did Friday during the day. Friday afternoon I headed over to get set up for the 2nd annual 24 Hours of Booty. The idea is basically to ride this 3 mile loop over and over and over again for 24 hours. They raise money for the Lance Armstrong Foundation while doing this. It's actually a pretty cool event. I was doing tech support and bike demos.

The event started out nicely enough. A little warm, pretty damn humid, but not much to complain about:

But then ... not more than an hour into it, a hell of a thunderstorm came our way. So, what started out like this:

Turned into this:

It was pretty crazy for a few hours. I spent a lot of time pushing pooled water off the top of my tent and awning. Pretty much everything got soaked since the rain was coming in sideways. The 3 mile course was closed for about an hour for safety reasons, so riders were piled in under tents everywhere. Finally the storm let up and went away all togehter. Travis, the guy I was working with took the first sleeping shift from 12:30am till 3:30am. I got to sleep from 3:30am till 7:30am. Then I worked the rest of the day and was surprisingly chipper most of the time. We finished up Saturday around 7 (24 hours later, of course) and I managed to get about 4 hours into my drive home before I had to stop and sleep. I drove all day yesterday and finally made it home.

My roommate is bugging the shit out of me to go ride, so, while I'd love to elaborate more, I've gotta go. More later though.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Is this thing still on?

Is anybody still reading?

I know. It's been a ridiculously long time since I last posted, but believe me, it's not for a lack of things to write about. In fact, having so much to write about is part of what's been keeping me from blogging. Everytime I sit down to start to try to catch up, I wonder, "where do I begin?" Then I get overwhelmed with how much is going on. Then I have to wander over to Daily Puppy to calm myself down. Then I get distracted and don't ever get around to actually doing any updating.

So, in case you were wondering, my last couple of months can best be summed up like this:

Yeah. That's a lot of driving. 22,000 miles since March 23rd, to be exact. I have slept in my own bed 39 nights out of the last 148 (since March 1st).

Am I complaining? Not hardly. My job is awesome. I'm getting paid to go on roadtrips. Occasionally I do have to do some work, but it mostly consists of standing around talking about bikes.

My camera died yesterday. Well, it's not completely useless. It still takes videos pretty well. It just doesn't really take still pictures anymore. They come out blurry at best, but most of the time, you can't even tell what was in the picture. Honestly, I'm a little surprised that it even lasted this long. Many of you will agree when I say that I just can't have nice things. I put that camera through some tough times: beaches, rainstorms, beaches during rainstorms, sweaty bike rides, every mile I've traveled on the road this year, rambunctious parties, and other adventures. Oh, and I've dropped it more times than I can count. So, as a final farewell to the little camera who just couldn't take any more abuse, I'm posting some of my favorite pictures taken on it.

My pal Kellen and me in Orlando.

My bike on some railroad tracks in Tallahassee, Florida.

Kellen and me again. We were watching a storm coming in over the beach and I got the bottom of my pants went. Some of you who are fellow Ace Ventura fans (Sarah) might recognize that I'm reenacting the scene where Ace gets hit with spears in both legs.

Vacationing in Reno/Tahoe. I thought the cruise ship looked lame, so I let everyone know how I feel.

Letting my little sister Johnna know who's boss in front of the Reno sign.

By the end of the trip in Reno/Tahoe, I was flipping off most things just for the hell of it.

Of course, there's a gazillion more pictures that I took on that camera, but these just happened to be some that were handy and/or amusing to me.

I was just outside of Asheville, North Carolina yesterday when I passed a Best Buy. I went in just to look at cameras and at least start getting some ideas for replacing my broken one. I wasn't really planning on buying one yet. Then I saw this display for the Olympus Stylus 770SW:

You're probably looking at the features highlighted on the right and going, "Wow! Really?!" I was anyway. It was significantly more expensive than the other 7.1 Megapixel cameras, but I decided it would probably be worth the extra money now if I don't have to replace it in less than a year. So far, everyone I've told about it is wondering whether or not this thing is really as tough as they claim it is. Give me a few months with it and I'll let you know.

Of course, this post would be incomplete without the first picture I took with the new camera:

I try to camp whenever possible on the road because it's a hell of a lot cheaper than hotel rooms. Plus, it adds a little variety sometimes. Last night I got my campsite, set up my tent, and built my fire. Then the sky starting pissing rain, which kinda irritated me because I had just worked so hard making a fire and had really been looking forward to an evening of wine and roasted marshmallows next to the fire. Instead I just sat in my tent reading and occasionally glaring at the rain as my fire fizzled down to nothing.

Funny story about the wine glass though. I found this little wine shop in town owned by this really nice little old man. He chuckled when I asked him what would go well with roasted marshmallows. Not only did he have a few suggestions, but he also insisted that we open a couple bottles and try them out. After tasting three of them, we ended up just drinking the rest of one bottle. Then, as I was buying one of the other bottles, he asked me, "What are you gonna drink this out of?" I replied with, "The bottle." I fully expected him to be appalled at that, but instead, he laughed. I took this response to be a sign of good character. Then he gave me a wine glass to take along so I could "enjoy the wine properly." So now I have a wine glass. Although, judging by my past track record with nice things, this one probably won't last long.

It rained all night, but at least I managed to stay dry while I slept. Tonight I'm at the Hilton Garden Inn in downtown Charlotte, North Carolina. After two nights of camping, I was ready for a nice soft bed, continental breakfast, and all of the other luxuries that come with a hotel room. I'm pretty excited about tomorrow. I've got some neat plans for the morning. I'll tell you about it later. For now I'm off to take advantage of the free cocktail hour and then the hot tub.