This page is under construction. The longer paragraphs are generally the most complete. I haven't finished scanning all of my pictures yet.

Last updated on August 1, 2003.

A note to foreign visitors: Assume the standard (British Imperial or American)
system of measurement for all quantities used, e.g. degrees Farenheit, miles,
gallons, etc.  All monetary quantities are in US dollars and cents.  Gasoline
prices quoted are for regular unleaded, 87 octane.

I have done a lot of traveling since I bought my first car in May of 1997.  I
never had much desire to travel before I accepted an out-of-state job, but
since then I've more than made up for my earlier lack of enthusiasm.  As of
April, 2001, I have been to 46 states (including Michigan's Upper Peninsula)
and six foreign countries (and two Canadian provinces).  I have personally
driven through 44 states (though technically I never drove in
California) and have visited two states by plane only (in one state, Texas, I
never left the airport).  It was my original goal to have visited all 50 states
by the end of the millenium, but I Alaska and Hawaii are going to be a bit of a
challenge.  And perhaps I'll visit Puerto Rico, too!

All of my trips have taken a week or less (according to CNN, a growing trend
among vacationers, and what I dub short attention span vacations), with the
exception of my two-week business trip to Amsterdam, the Netherlands.  I'm not
necessarily against flying, it's just that I feel that you really miss out on
what's great about our country by flying from Point A to Point B.  If you lease
your vehicle and you're worried about the mileage, get an unlimited mileage
rental car.  They cost more money than limited mileage rental cars, but they're
worth it.  If you do fly to your destination, get a rental car and drive around
a bit.  There's a lot of beauty not far outside of metropolitan areas, and
depending on your definition of beauty, you may not even need to leave the
heavily populated areas.  In some cases, you may be able to do some traveling
on foot.  Be creative!  The next time you need to be somewhere 200-1000 miles
away, take a few extra days and drive there.  You won't be
disappointed.  The same advice should apply for European travelers, though I
have not yet gone on my European road trip.  I do know that the rental car
rates I looked at in Amsterdam were ten times that of typical American car
rental rates, although they are closer to only five times higher if you
downgrade your car size to Europe's idea of a subcompact (cars so small a few
guys in a Mentos commercial could lift them) compared to something like the
Neon or the Focus in the U.S.

Before I start describing my trips, I'd like to offer the most useful piece of
advice for travelers.  When you go somewhere, ask people what they like to do
there.  People love to talk about the fun they've experienced and what's best
is that they relive that fun by sharing their advice.  Also, join AAA and take advantage of their maps and travel
service.  I also highly recommend the Rand McNally Road Atlas, which costs only
$10 (In 2000 Wal-Mart ran a special for about $5).  And while you're at it,
make sure your car is in good repair.  (On one occasion, I got stuck in Amish
country waiting for a wheel to be repaired but I was lucky enough to find an
excellent mechanic who was able to fix the problem the next day).  If you don't
trust your vehicle, get an unlimited mileage rental or convince someone to lend
you theirs.  :-)

December 1991/January 1992

This trip was with my best friend, Don. We decided to visit an old college friend of his who lives in Sioux Falls, SD. The weather on the way there was cooperative, typically cold for the Midwest, but basically free of snow. We drove in his rear-wheel drive Camaro, which would prove to be somewhat of a bad idea. On the way there I took over the driving duties for a while, and I managed to get ticketed at 14 over near Sparta, Wisconsin. (Michigan drivers speed and the state police are generally tolerant toward speeders. They have zero tolerance, however, for agressive drivers and drunks). I had already known that Ohio highway patrollers are unreasonably severe toward speeders but I found out that Wisconsin officers also have zero tolerance. I received no break on the ticket, and since I was 16 at the time the State of Wisconsin sent letters to my parents and the Secretary of State of Michigan informing them of my speeding ticket. (I suppose people in Wisconsin get bored of cow tipping, drinking beer, and making cheese and enjoy making tourists' lives a living hell). The rest of the ride was uneventful. Seeing the frozen Sioux Falls was something else, but the weather there was just too cold for us normally hardy Michiganders (daytime highs around 10 degrees F), so we decided to head home early. On the way back, it was snowing lightly and we hit a concealed patch of black ice somewhere in Minnesota and spun off the interstate, just missing a large wooden sign post. A truck driver was nice enough to give us a hand, and we managed to make it out of that mess in one piece. I felt like kissing the ground when I got back to Michigan where daytime highs were in the 40's.

Note the large time gap here.  During this period I spent a lot of time as an
impoverished student, biding my time until one day I would be able to see the
world.  And I also decided to avoid traveling during the winter (at least in
areas where it snows frequently).

August 1997

Flew out to Silicon Valley, California, to spend a few days with my friend Tom who was working there at the time. We drove all around the Bay area, visiting Stanford and the Bill Gates Computer Science Building. I suggested we look for Professor Donald Knuth, the famous inventor of the TeX document layout system and the author of the Art of Computer Science series, but he was not in his office. We visited UC-Berkeley and looked out on the entire Bay Area from the mountain outlook there. We had some Chinese food in San Francisco and also walked around Haight-Ashbury, an area originally made famous during the 1960's. (We weren't looking for anything, but the local kids thought we were narcs, judging by our clothing. I think we had the cops confused, too, because we later pulled up to some undercover officers asking for directions back home). Then we drove down to LA to spend another couple of days with a friend, taking the coast highway the entire way. The coast highway is incredibly beautiful. I highly recommend checking out the tidal pools, where you can find all sorts of interesting sea life, including starfish and sea urchins. Unfortunately, I did not take any pictures of the coast, though I plan on doing so the next time I visit. We visited Universal Studios during an incredibly clear day, though it was over 90 degrees and very dry. Afterwards, we drove back to Silicon Valley and I eventually headed home. As far as I know, there were no earthquakes during my entire stay in California.

Spring Break 1998

Drove from Metro Detroit to Boston, MA, through Ontario and detoured north a bit through Vermont, New Hampshire (loved the granite rocks and the babbling brooks) and Maine. Spent two days at MIT with friends and drove down to Washington, D.C. to spend two days at the Smithsonian. Rounded out the trip to spend two days with friends in Chapel Hill, N.C. Headed back to Michigan through Tennessee, Kentucky, and Ohio.

October, 1998

(At the time I was living in Raleigh, N.C.) Headed down to Atlanta, GA, for the Atlanta Linux Showcase, a computer conference. Drove through Montgomery, AL, stopped in Tuscaloosa to pick up a 'Bama t-shirt, drove down western Alabama through Mobile and Mississippi to the southwestern corner of Lousiana. From there I headed back to Mobile, drove around a bit, crossed Mobile Bay and headed down to Gulf Shores, Alabama. Despite being extremely depressed due to the destruction of Hurricane Georges, the scenery was quite beautiful there and I went for a bit of a wade in the Gulf of Mexico. The salt water didn't agree with my wristwatch, and I haven't bothered to get a new one since then. From there I drove along the coast into Pensacola, and started heading back to Raleigh through strikingly white cotton fields.

December, 1998

I was moving my belongings back to Michigan after living in Raleigh, NC, for about five months, and I decided to have a little fun because I wasn't due back until Christmas. I left around December 15th and instead of taking the fastest route home (and paying the exorbitant tolls to pass through the States of West Virginia and Ohio), I decided to take the scenic route back to Michigan. The weather was cooperative early on in my trip with only light flurries in East Tennessee near the mountains (see my Great Smoky Mountains pictures). I thought about heading back to Michigan up I-75 when I got to Knoxville but I decided instead to visit a few more states before I headed home. I drove all the way across Tennessee and got off in Memphis. I was unfamiliar with Memphis, so I didn't have much luck finding a Memphis barbeque place. I found myself in a bad part of town, so I took leave and continued on to West Memphis, Arkansas. I ate chicken fried steak and home fries for the first time while I was there. I continued on I-40 to Little Rock and stopped at a gas station there to chat with a native about the upcoming Citrus Bowl which pitted Arkansas against Michigan (Michigan went on to win.) After hearing some encouraging words about the Ozarks, I continued on I-40 and disembarked near Clarksville in NW Arkansas. I stayed the night there and started heading north along the scenic routes to the Ozarks. I also stopped at the Buffalo National River.

Here are my pictures from the Ozarks and the
Buffalo National River.

From there I took a scenic route to the campus of the University of Arkansas at
Fayetteville.  Class was not in session but I did manage to pick up a few
souvenirs.  The route through the Ozarks was picturesque, though, with dozens
of small towns with populations numbering in the dozens.  Leaving NW Arkansas,
I decided to make my way through the NE tip of Oklahoma.  My only significant
experiences there were finding gasoline for 74c/gallon and managing to not get
too badly lost in the rainy, low visibility weather while avoiding the toll
roads.  (As you may remember, gas prices were at historic lows during that
period and I never once paid more than a buck a gallon during my road trip.
Also, I never once paid tolls during my nearly 3000 mile trip.) From there I
drove through the SE tip of Kansas to Joplin, Missouri.  During my brief four
state tour, I stopped at a delightful little frozen custard place and chatted
with the proprietor and his daughter.  They suggested I try visiting Branson,
Missouri, and were quite surprised to find out that I had never heard of the
place.  (I never did make it due to ice storms on my return trip through
Missouri.)  I drove around Joplin for a while before deciding to head up to
Kansas City.  I really fell in love with Kansas City.  I particularly liked the
downtown district, the riverboat casinos, and the rolling hills.  During my
two-day stay in metropolitan Kansas City, I accidentally crossed into Kansas
City, Kansas.  There isn't even a geographical border between Kansas City,
Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri, in places; the city continues on as if the
border did not exist.  Every other state border I've crossed while still in the
city has been across a signifcant geographical boundary.  And more typically
state borders seem to be in rural areas of one or both states.  From there I
headed north into Iowa and visited the casino in Council Bluffs, a suburb of
Omaha, Nebraska.  It was getting to be quite cold at this point with highs
around 12 degrees, so I decided that it was almost time to start heading in the
direction of home.  After I left the casino, I crossed the Missouri River into
Omaha.  I was amazed and delighted to be able to legally drive 75 on the
interstate to Lincoln.  The University of Nebraska at Lincoln was also out of
session, but the city was pretty, your typical quaint college town.  I took a
state highway back into Iowa and was again pleased that the speed limit was 65.
After I crossed back into Iowa, I started heading south towards Kansas City.

I had some trouble finding a decent motel in SW Iowa along the interstate, but
I did manage to find an acceptable place after a few wild goose chases.  I woke
up the next morning to a considerable amount of snow.  Continuing south, the
weather turned into an ice storm just north of Kansas City.  There were wrecks
strewn all over the highway, but fortunately Michigan drivers are used to
driving in slippery conditions due to our lousy weather so I made it through
okay.  It took me three or more hours to make it past Independence.  When I
stopped at the next rest stop there were a lot of drivers totally wrung out
from the experience.  My next stop was St. Louis.  The arch was closed, but I
did visit a riverboat casino there after waiting until the next "boarding
time."  (To those of you not familiar with riverboat casinos, many are like
stepping into a building that just happens to be on the water.  Apparently
Missouri regulations require that you buy a ticket or "boarding pass" (which
costs a ridiculously low sum of money or no money at all) and that you only
board the craft during designated times (in reality the boat never moves so the
only thing preventing you from entering the casino is an usher blocking the
entrance only.)  To summarize, the "riverboat" aspect of these riverboat
casinos is a sham.) After spending about 3 hours in St. Louis, I headed back to
Metro Detroit through E. St.  Louis, Illinois, and Indianapolis, Indiana,
without stopping (except twice for gas).

Spring Break 1999

Flew from Metro Detroit to Miami. Spent several days with a friend who lives outside of Fort Lauderdale. Headed up to see a friend just outside Orlando. Video games!

May 1999

Drove down to Raleigh, NC, to the Linux Expo. Spent three days there, then headed east to the Outer Banks through the scenic swamps of Eastern North Carolina. Spent one and a half days driving from the northern tip (near Corolla) to the southern tip. The Outer Banks is famous for its lighthouses, several of which dot the landscape from top to bottom, its beaches, and its wildlife. In several places the Outer Banks is barely wider than the highway and the sand dunes on either side. You can expect sand and seashells on the roadway. The houses there have been built on stilts in anticipation of severe flooding and periodic hurricanes.

Here are my Outer Banks pictures.

On the way back, I stopped at a park in the swamps and took several pictures.

Here are those pictures.

Afterwards, I took I-40 out to the mountains with the intention of getting some
wildflower pictures but instead I spent the day at the casino in Cherokee,
which was fun in its own way.  (Cherokee is on an Indian reservation, so the
North Carolina laws against gambling do not apply.  NC doesn't even have its
own lottery!  Incidentally, NC and SC were the only two states that voted
against repealing Prohibition).  Heading through the mountains did allow me to
avoid taking toll roads on the way back, so the extra mileage actually saved me
money in the long run.  Growing up in Michigan, I'm violently opposed to toll
roads and I can and will go out of my way to avoid them.  Tolls have gotten so
high compared to the cost of gas that this is actually worth it (though if you
consider auto maintenance expense/mile it might be a loss).

August 1999

Drove from Metro Detroit through Ontario to Ottawa, for the Ottawa Linux Symposium. Spent three days there, but one night I drove through Hull, Quebec, to Montreal. I know enough French to read the signs but I was totally shocked the first time I got out of the car there at a gas station. Luckily I could read the amount of money on the cash register, so I was all set. I got a little more courage when I got a bite to eat at Burger King so I asked them if I could order in English. Then I went to the Vieux Quart (Old Quarter) and spent the evening enjoying puppet shows, live performances in English and French, and just people generally enjoying themselves. From Ottawa I drove down to Rome, NY, for the last day of Woodstock '99.

See the numerous magazine articles or the official Woodstock web site for pictures
of Woodstock.


Shortly after my Ottawa/Montreal/Rome, NY, road trip, I flew to Amsterdam, the Netherlands, for two weeks on business. I think the trip was successful even though I was ill virtually the entire time. (I probably caught something at Woodstock, possibly due to the horrible sanitary conditions there. See articles in Rolling Stone Magazine and others for the gory details. I was also experiencing jet lag and may have had a case of food poisoning). I attempted to capture the flavor of Europe in my pictures, as well as to capture the Red Light District for which Amsterdam is famous. In case you don't already know, Amsterdam has in place a drug policy called harm reduction in which the legal system utilizes drug treatment programs rather than throwing drug users into jails where they can be exposed to hardened criminals. Marijuana and hallucinogenic mushrooms (which have been used for centuries by people for a variety of reasons) are decriminalized, and the use of so-called hard drugs is highly discouraged. Marijuana, hashish (marijuana oil), and hallucinogenic mushrooms are sold to adults in "coffeeshops" and their use is permissible therein. Having said that, the Red Light District has a large number of "coffeeshops," head shops (where they sell marijuana pipes, among other things), live sex shows, adult book stores, and windowed bedrooms where you can solicit and have sex with prostitutes. Naturally, the crime rate in this area is low, since none of these activities are illegal. And there are a large number of undercover cops present making sure that the illegal ones don't occur. I don't endorse these actvities, though there are worse things an adult can do besides having sex and using recreational drugs (which for all practical purposes include alcohol and tobacco).

Here are about half of the pictures I took
during my stay.  The remaining pictures are still sitting undeveloped in my

October 1999

Headed straight down I-75 to Atlanta, GA, for the Atlanta Linux Showcase. After the show I drove through N GA, and into E TN. I drove along the periphery and into the Great Smoky National Park, checking out Cade's Cove, and working my way north past Gatlinburg. I spent two days in the park and really enjoyed myself. Gatlinburg was a real treat. But I especially loved hiking 10 miles through the mountains and the spectacular waterfalls. I was hesitent to leave the park, but eventually I made it back to Michigan

Here are my pictures from the Park, without
captions and a bit disorganized for the moment.

December 1999

Here I will describe my trip to Florida and back.

February 4, 2000

Here I will describe my trip through central, west, and northwest Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.

March 13, 2000

Here I will describe my second European vacation, which included train trips to Paris from Amsterdam on consecutive weekends.

July, 2000

Here I will describe my trip out West, including visiting two national parks, one national monument, and driving past one national park closed due to fire.

December 2000

My third European business trip with a surprise 48 hour stint in Madrid, Spain.

December 2002

My fifth visit to Amsterdam. Somehow I had my passport stolen. Likely they just wanted my CD player and pilfered my passport by mistake.

South Padre Island, TX

I went with my ex-girlfriend on her spring break during the first week of March, 2003. It was cool and foggy most of the time so we only took two pictures. Notable highlights included cleaning up the beach, the best Mexican food I've had in my life, an evening trip up to Corpus Christi, and a souvenir buying trip to Mexico. My ex-girlfriend wasn't into the bars or biking up and down the strip, but what little we did do of that I enjoyed. One of the most interesting things for me about the area was the fauna. Since I visited I've assembled a cactus farm.

Smaller Trips

Blue Ridge Parkway

During my second stint in North Carolina I drove up the Virginia half of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The parkway is administered by the National Park Service and is scenic through the entire route from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee/North Carolina to the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C.

Here are the pictures from this trip.

Myrtle Beach, SC

I've visited quite a number of times (having lived in North Carolina during two 4-5 month periods) but I still love going there. Myrtle Beach is one of the cleanest beaches in the nation. It's all tourists during the summer and there is a lot of cheesy neon at night, but the beach is something you can't miss. Myrtle Beach is especially good in the off-season when it isn't very crowded. Planning in advance to go in the off-season might be dodgy, though, because the weather will be less predictable (especially during the hurricane season). One time around September, 1998, I headed down from Raleigh, North Carolina, and stayed the night there for less than $40. It was around 90 F and sunny both days.

March 2001

A short two-day trip to the snowiest place in the U.S. in Michigan's Keewenaw peninsula. To come are some nice pics of my Audi in the snow.

Future Trips

More information to follow: don't be afraid to be late, don't be too disappointed if you miss something specific.