Day Twenty - September 22, 1997
Spokane, Washington - Seattle, Washington
276 miles -- 4:30 driving time
Somewhere back in Iowa, maybe it was Sioux City, we decided that we wanted sushi on the return trip, so each night we would look in the yellow pages before going out to dinner. Plenty of Chinese restaurants across the midwest, not much sushi. We needed sake too. We gave up asking locals -- in Iowa, 'sushi' sounds like you're trying to say 'Sioux City' when you're slightly inebriated.
"Hey, know where we can find sushi?"
"Huh? You're already *in* Sioux City."
We knew that Spokane was close enough to some big salt water that we should be able to find some sushi. There were two places listed in the phone book. We headed for the closest, 'Shogun'. The parking lot is packed. This is a good sign. We get up to the front door and see a hand-lettered sign "Sushi Lovers - Sushi Bar Closed for Remodeling." This is a bad sign. We go inside, thinking maybe they still have the a sushi chef delivering the goods to tables, but no. The owner is very apologetic, and asks if we live locally. No. He offers to show us the site of the future sushi bar in case we come through town again. Why not? He assures us that it will be open in mid-October, but we can't wait. Next time you're in Spokane, give it a shot.
We end up at the other sushi place in town.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you on this list who refrained from sending me a piece of mail with the word 'unsubscribe' in the body of the message. Your concern and presence motivated me to write these notes each day. We discovered early in the trip that the key to a successful day was a series of missions -- get gas, eat, ride, stay dry, stay warm -- and for me, the most rewarding mission was to transcribe the day's events.
I have to be honest with you. On days like today, where the weather is good and we're happy, our bikes seem just right. But during some of those less happy days, both of us were experiencing Gold Wing Lust. Gold Wings are Honda's top of the line touring bikes, and they have big fairings, big windshields, and big gas tanks. But today I am happy, and I am not experiencing Gold Wing Lust.
Some of you have asked about the equipment I have on this trip. There are four key pieces of electronics. The Garmin GPSMAP 195 is the moving map navigation display, which I have described earlier.
The camera is a Sony DSC-F1 digital camera, a bit larger than a deck of playing cards. It has an integral display, so I could see the shot without holding the camera to my eye, and I could operate it completely with one hand while driving. I would take as many as 30 shots a day, and then review them at the end of the day while writing this report. The shots I wanted to use I would download to the PC, import to Photoshop, reduce from 640x480 down to 320x240, then save in medium-quality JPEG format. This made each image average about 15k, a huge savings in online connect time. The camera has a rechargeable battery, so I would just plug it in overnight, and it would be ready for the next day. It handled the cold and wet without any problems.
I have two computers with me. One is a Psion Series 5, which I use to take notes during the day. The other is a Toshiba Libretto sub-notebook, which I use to compose these messages, edit images, and do email.
Originally, I had planned to simply send a map of our progress and a single shot that captured the essence of the day. Had I stuck to this plan, email would have been a fine medium. After a few days, the desire to send more images was overwhelming, and the incremental online time negligible. In hindsight, had I known I would end up doing this, I would composed HTML documents and posted them to a web site, and then just sent you a note saying "here's today's report." If I do this again in the future, it will definitely be this approach.
Mark and I agreed up front that we would split all of the expenses on this trip equally. This meant that we weren't concerned with who would pick up the check or pay for the gas, because we would do a tally and balance things out at the end. Last night in the hotel room, we did the grand audit, entering the receipts on the Psion. As of last night, between the two of us, we had spent a total of $2367.77. I had spent $1184.44; Mark had spent $1183.33. Without even trying, our accumulated difference was $1.11. Amazing.
In Ellensburg, we make our last stop for gas before the final leg into Seattle. I wait for Mark at the on-ramp to I-90. As I'm sitting on the side of the road, a young man with a huge pack on his back, carrying garbage bags full of stuff, walking a dog, makes his way slowly toward me.
"Hey, how are you doing?" I call out to him.
He says he would be better if he hadn't had to walk the last 10 miles. He describes the day's travels, explaining that he started out in Oregon, got a ride to Wenatchee, was trying to get to Pasco to jump a freight train, and ended up here. He's hungry and tired and hot. I ask him his name; it's James, and the dog is named Montana. I zip open the pocket on the sleeve of my 'stich and give him the $10 inside. James tells me the story of how he got Montana from an Indian family with a litter of pups that had escaped from a fenced pen. They gave him one of the pups in gratitude for helping them retrieve the litter.
"Where are you headed?" James asks me.
"How long will it take you to get there?"
"About two hours."
James considers this for a moment as Mark pulls up behind me, ready to roll. "How is Seattle? I've never been there."
"It's a great place, James," I reply. "It's a really wonderful place."