Bangor 2 Boca


Bangor 2 Boca.

A road trip 20 years in the making. Renting a car in Bangor Maine and dropping it off in Boca Raton Florida over 2 weeks later. Traversing the spine of the Eastern Seaboard will take us thru 16 states, over 1800 miles, countless taverns, an epic birthday house party, the very last shuttle launch…

And no children.

I’ve lived and loved my whole life in the West. While I’ve spent a fair amount of time on the East Coast, it has never been for anything longer than a holiday, and only a small handful of locations. So my concept of the Eastern Seaboard is this vast historically significant stretch of many states. States that experience real winters, with cites that can claim proper vintage architectural treasures within their limits. I have read enough lately to realize that California is old in her own right, and was no mere bystander in the formative years of this country. But the entire right side of this country far more represents the age and foundry of America. So perhaps this is why early on in our lives together, we chose to tour the whole thing in one shot.

We both enjoyed not only one another’s company, but cherished life most when those moments were spent hurtling down any damned road. It confused many, for example, why we would elect to drive from San Francisco to Phoenix for Thanksgiving weekend when a full 1/2 of our time would be spent in the car. Or perhaps the 12 dozen times we’ve driven the SF/LA legs, with kids. Those who know understand. Nothing against air travel; it’s effective when necessary, despite the obscene markup. But for regional travel, you have to lather the equation from two axes: time & money.

With air travel, after you’ve factored in time spent in the air + time spent on the ground on either side, driving becomes not just a realistic alternative, but an attractive one. Time is the most valuable commodity in life, and however oxymoronic it may sound, spending all that time in the car is better precisely because of the company you keep. Ultimately: how much is your time worth?

The price of gas raises the bottom line for each option. Assume for a moment that your plane ticket represents the cost of fuel, for we need to compare it to the cost of driving, which DOES boil down to the cost of fuel. So long as you’re not driving a Hummer (if you *still* are, you’ve got bigger problems), if you look at just pure fuel costs, again for regional travel, driving vs flying still diffs out to little or zero delta. Excluding the crazy restriction-rich air deals, it costs about $80 to fly from SFO to LAX. At 320m give or take, that’s about 1.00 to 1.25 tanks of gas, or roughly $80. But wait, there’s more. Factor in cost of parking, shuttles, luggage fees (!), airport food, booze, rental cars or taxis, again: driving trumps. And this is all assuming one passenger. Add a family of 4 to the mix, and it’s really no contest.

But whatever the cost in either time or currency, there’s just something rich in Americana by taking the overland route.

Whatever was felt by Merriwether Lewis as he was heading BACK after the Corp of Discovery wintered at the mouth of the Columbia, I’m sure it was flecked with deep patriotic pride. That and a healthy schmear of holy shit there’s a lot to process. That’s kind of how I feel as I head into this road trip. Like Lewis, I have a rough idea how far I need to go to get to my Point B, as well as feeling the profound fortune I share for the opportunity.

But ours is a journey, being 200 years later, far less perilous and uncertain. We’re just driving from the northeast corner to the southeast.

Why Bangor? Why Boca?

Besides a light love for alliteration, it was just the cites that represented the top and bottom of the east coast for us. Remember this plan was hatched perhaps 20 years ago. Anna was still pathologically – albeit platonically – in love with Stephen King, who at one point and may still reside in Bangor. Since then, it seemed like every 3rd episode of The Sopranos had a Boca reference. And each time, if we didn’t say it, we felt it: we have to make that road trip happen. Someday.

Some day.

As you grow old, someday becomes more easily pushed out. Solid plans become tomorrow. Then next year. Then once we get out of debt. Then children enter the fray and your dream plans become quaint ideals from your childhood. The good dreams get mothballed for that first season the kids are off away at school.

And I have no screenplay or magical turn of events that resurrected this particular dream. I can tell you generous parents have a lot to do with it. But mostly, perhaps because it wasn’t ever really shelved. It just became crowded out by the din of life, a simple yet profound signal-to-noise thing. It’s loud out here what with 2 professional careers, aggressive debt-management, being a teacher & disciplinarian, being a lover & a partner, all the while living in an expensive city with no family members onto whom we could lean for babysitting.

But your 40s have a way of making things happen. And the components and mechanics of your dreams have shaped you in ways you only ever really comprehend until you’re acting on those dreams. Again, time plays a monumental role here. Perspective about how precious and limited it is. And at 40, well shit you’ve just made it 1/2 way. The signal you’ve been sending out your whole life up until now is finally starting to bounce back for you to receive and process. The full measure of which won’t be revealed until you’re at the other end of your life’s hemisphere. So cheers to those that realize this in their 20s or 30s but I am beginning to feel the deep distant rumblings of those dreams & desires that I paused and archived. And again it’s the mere acting upon those dreams that you feel alive and present.

So yea, Bangor 2 Boca is on.

It’s been idolized and coveted for so long, I’m barely able to make out that jazzy feeling you get before a proper holiday. It’s fantastic to the point where we can’t not consider this a second honeymoon. The majour difference now is perhaps the same gravity Lewis felt as winter gave way to spring on the coast of Oregon 200+ years ago: we get to do it all over again.

SPEW :: around the world in 88 hours

created: Sometime in 1995

This was an idea i had for a contest for the wealthy. each contestant had 88 hours to travel the globe. they had to start from and end at the same airport. and they could not spend more then 20 minutes in any airport – which means they must book & purchase travel for ANY flight going their direction.

they could not ‘plan’ their routes with the assistance of travel agents. they could only book travel a la carte on whatever carrier going to whatever airports along their path around the globe. again, this is a ton of money we’re talking about – you have to purchase airfare AT THE GATE basically. And you have 88 hours to get your ass around the world.

As it stands now, the only problem he could foresee was the effects that fatigue would have on his senses. Here he was travelling along with this bizarre purpose, and would have to keep a straight manor. Sleeping on planes tends to warp the human circadian rhythm section. First: stripping you of ALL concept of home base time, and second: to make you so irritable that you long for such horrific concepts such as airport coffee shops opening up…regardless of what this country calls coffee or aspirin. And those were the times that he was even able to allow himself the luxury of coffee from strange strangers or to piss in a ground-based urinal. For this was a time-constrictive event.

[Picture this man racing thru a strange airport to find some obscure airlines’ gate for flight that leaves in 10 minutes to a destination that just might get him there in time to pick up that non-stop JAL flight to Kobe. In this event, one seeks non-stop, trans-contintental flights as if there were nuggets of gold. For it means that many fewer airports inbetween…that many fewer natives to deal with.]

What he foresaw as the biggest problem actually turned out to be one of the slippery measures of the trip. Since most corners of the world will either accept American Express Gold, or some sort of Visa/MasterCard, the next booking kinda fell into place. Chicago’s O’Hara was hard cause it was an American Friday afternoon. Jakarta was a parking ot due to a religious ceremony celebrating an overtly phallic serpent-God. But en masse, the counters were eager to make the transaction of a one-way counter-purchased fare…especially when First Class could be bought.

[Being always the shortest lines at the ticketing counters, First Class was always a priority, but sometimes a pipe-dream. First Class was such as treat in this thing, the availability of which was to be quite possibly the 2nd or 3rd question asked of at the counter. There were still rare occasions where ducking into the hull & slipping into the wide, beige-y leather seat, you felt ahead or at least as if you were having fun again]

Still, other terminals saw him running out of time and had to just buy “any fucking seat, Hun” and run on board, only seconds shy of 19:59:00. Cause that was all that was needed: to just get off the plane of the airPORT and into the seat on the airPLANE within 20 minutes.

[So it was the initial conditions of an airport that you tested when you got off a flight. Were we crowded? Were the lines going to be long? How is her English going to be? Am I going to be mistaken for a drunk or a theif again? 20 minutes was NOT a long time, even in modern airports. And the last thing he wanted to do was to have to backtrack to Boise cause that’s what was available in the time allotted. Ah to meet with those conditions he had heard mentioned at the Dinner, where one member had landed at 4am in Heathrow, a deserted British Airways clerk, and had him book her clear to Anchorage, complete with connections with nearby gates. Apparently all without devulging the plot.]

The bet was easy as far as rules were concerned: Make it around the world in 88 hours using only passenger-bought commercial airline tickets purchased at the outbound airport using whatever resources available. The rules were a soupy mess about what was allowed, but there was ONE thing that was strictly forbidden under threat of forfeiture: remaining in any one airport for longer than 20 minutes. The intent was to keep the challenger moving when he was not at travel. With the sincere hopes that the outbound airport would be a modern complex in a democratic land with multiple airline companies offering a variety of Eastbond flights with plenty of seats available, this was not always the case. At one point a challengers female companion was assaulted in a late-night abrasion with a pack of drunk Honduran teens at THEIR AIRPORT. The last challenger was forced into forfeiture when, right after reserving and purchasing a 3 continent/ 7 connection route, all flights out of Raleigh/Durham were delayed due to weather. Neither of these two parties even left the North American Continent. Over half of the parties had been forced into forfeiture for there simply were no Eastbound connections to be made. The rest made the circumnavigation, but outside the stated 88 hours.

SFO to LAX 1.5 Tom Bradly Intl Term. Untited CONNECTION to JFK.ny.
9:50am – 11:20 Connection set to leave 11:50

He sat down First Class on this second flight Eastbound to New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport. From there, he was told, a connection can be made from just about any company. He was given some excellent contact advice for the airline: PenseAvion. The airline would offer charter from Paris’ Orly International to the Suez no questions asked…if he was to connect to Orly. He tried not to think about that which he simply could not prepare for. There WERE the in-flight phones however. Perhaps some lonley pudgy Customer Service Rep at United Airline Head Quarters could wax Machiavellian and book him a few points in advance. Something to try once in the air. Right now, he was in First Class and that meant a Crown and Coke before take-off. United had the gall to call their First Class “Premium Class” for added sterling.

[“A bunch of shite,” he would always murmur under his breath when he read the United ticket jacket. Outside of the Trans-Atlantic flights on American Airlines, there simply were no outfits that could hold a candle to the Brits. If Virgin could be relied upon for the concept of world-wide connections, then he’d do whatever possible to fly Branson’s It was actually a joke amongst the Challengers that the in-flight massage would make you loose enough kill you when it came time for sprinting a strange airport at 6 am. To be sure, Virgin was unrealistic. Yet, every airline had its own brass ring. Hawaiian Airlines had its massive track record for beating its own schedule for in-bound into LAX (No doubt due to the strong jet-stream tail-winds that blew their asses faster). Singapore had the up-to-the-minute technology to ease the pain. And United? “Well,” he posed, “United does have the good Dinners served by older career Attendants.”

“I wonder how United Airlines First Class Lunch-Meals are”, he thought. All things considered thought, American was SO much better for the overall comfort of the traveler. But United would do well more than fine here and now. Hell, any airlines First Class was a chore to be abused.

As proud as we was to have been able to book a transcontinental flight upon arrival at his first counter – and JF friggin K at that, he suppressed all unnecessary emotions. He was given full instructions at San Francisco International, but it was mostly a blur to him now. He had to strain to remember the importance of the most important rule. This may be really fucking tough. He was going to have to tax his body and his psyche in ways that we was in no shape for. Staying awake for 88 hours was just not to be attempted. The trick was to book the longest Eastbound flight possible, regardless of where it was bound. As long as the bird was in the air, there was progress being made, and a hell of a fighting chance. The time in the air, it was to be far more valuable resting than to be focusing on the layout of the next terminal or other companies booking flights nearby. Some of the challengers found that they could make the circumnavigation and “keep it in the family,” by never having to go to another carrier in search for an earlier flight. Any airline can book you on a round-trip booking around the globe, but there’s usually some waiting to be done in between flights.

[And this is where it always got tricky. How frustrating is was to keep turning down flights that were so damn close to the 20 minutes envelope. “No…that wont do either!” “Are there ANY OTHER Eastbound flights leaving ANY earlier?” And when it got too tricky, you closed your eyes for a moment and saw the national-geographic hemisphere of the next airport and imagined where to go and what to say. “No flights due-East out of Orly?” he practiced, “How about to Cairo?” And when it got too tricky, you just booked a flight to the nearest majour airport. For if there was a name to the game, it was certainly something to do with keeping moving. As long as you prevented any significant Westerly travel, you were ok. As long as you avoided a scenario where you were on the ground for too long, you were ok. Apparently, there were to be some real-time rule-booking going on. It turns out that one year, a Challenger had booked a ticket and was taxiing to take-off when the plane got grounded due to faulty something or other. She claimed that should be an automatic 20 minutes or more. Council ruled it a disqualification and were the subject of some scrutiny.]

Again something to be dealt with in the air. Again, there was the in-flight phone thing. Again, there was the First Class to remember. Right now, it’s right close to Noon. Its where’s the damn stewardess with my Crown and Coke and my damn smile? I need to let this soak in.


babies beget baggage

its a scenario thats been played out for us time & time again. perhaps you’ve been on the business-end of it, or simply chuckled along with Bill Cosby’s stand-up bit of the same. but it seems that without fail, there is an extremely disgruntled infant on almost every air flight i’ve ever taken. be it the friday afternoon departure, or the sunday afternoon hung-over return-trip. some poor parent or pair thereof dealing with an infant wailing & screaming & bitching. this was the genre i subscribed to the scene prior to fatherhood. fatherhood changes everything. unfortuneately, no one can be TOLD what fatherhood is; they have to be SHOWN. and as such, having our lil dood come with us on everything anna & i do is not unlike experiencing everything for the first time, all over again.

as with most pre-parents, a screaming baby is simply an audible nuisance. a thing most likely caused by, and thus to be dealt with & stopped by the parent. not once did i don the hat of compassion & think about just what it was causing the kids discomfort. and now square on the other side of the fence, i have such a massive wealth of overpouring respect for the parents i scorned prior to Jude.

babies beget baggage. think of what you alone take onto a flight, not including the bags you lug to the ticketing agent where you (hopefully) check them. so you got your carry-on, great. now, add to that the stroller, the diaper bag, and the general baby-gear bag. oh yea, and the lil dood himself. you’ve just negotiated the gauntlet of getting in & out of the car that got you to the curb. you’ve dealt with the queue at the ticketing counter. now you’re progressing en masse thru the metal detectors with gear & baby, all the while racking up points for patience in an arizona airport in august. Jude was a ‘beeping baby’ so the 2 of us are directed to the second-stage station where both our asses are wanded up & down. then like effluent from a drain, we 3 re-group & re-dress & re-pack out entourage & progress the rest of the 3/4 mile to the gate.

but ooooh, here’s where things get better for a spell. we’re now in the elusive PRE-BOARD group, temproarily spared from the filth & bile & competitive peasants on the open-seating groups A, B, & C. but this blithe ends soon thereafter as we’re hearded down the gangplank where we’ve got to split duties, and fast. i take Jude + diaper bag + single carry-on into the airbus & quickly locate a clutch of 3 seats together. meanwhile, anna collapses the stroller & deals with the ever-effervescent SouthWest flightcrew in their attempts to hand-check the stroller for the duration of the flight. she then re-joins the herd round about, oh, i’d say the 3rd boarding group to file in-turn onto the plane & find Jude & I fiercely guarding our 3 seats from the godless heathons of a full-flight. of course, we cannot be allowed to hold this 3rd seat for the lil dood, so he’ll spend the entire jaunt on my lap.


here is where physics & presure & eustachian tubes come into play. as they pressurise that tube, the wee little eardrums of our hero get pummeled. each atmospheric incline the bus reaches, the level of pressurisation jumps accordingly. this is why we adults have to equalise our own eardrums multiple times per ascent & descent. but Jude cannot do this. he can barely even coo on cue let alone plug a nose. herein lies what must be the root cause of most if not all grumpy babies on an airflight. their wee ears are getting the works, and they’re just reacting to this. and those with even simple nasal gunk may be dealing with the dreaded sinus squeeze. so the long & short here is that any parent of any stage of development will have by now surely offered the best advice to combat this: have the lil dood eating/drinking during take-off & landing. We all know swallowing has a direct effect on our eustachian tubes.

Keep in-mind that the entire ordeal only outlined above is greuling enough, as is, under the best of conditions. those conditions being the low-grade hangovers of Mr & Mrs Parent. But thats another story for another time. But the whole thing would be made worse by lugging around a fussy baby. our first experience with flying the lil dood was just the opposite. like almost everything else with the kid, he just observes things. no peaks. no valleys.

once again, we go into an experience that is wrought with cliches & hazards for the parent of an infant. high on the list of gruesome would surely be for hungover parents to fly with an 8-week old. but we instead dealt with smiles, a hearty appetite, and an overwelming sense of curiosity as Jude was Bjorned thru the dozens of hoops that represent air-travel in the heat of arizona august.

(Originally Posted: 2003_0804)