Post from October, 2004


Monday, 18. October 2004 13:54

What a super weekend! Ryan and I took a road trip towards the southwest. I drove 1300 miles in 2 days through Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Washington DC! We saw a black bear!

[Friday, October 15]
We left on Friday night around 9pm and drove out to Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. We arrived at the campground pretty late and the office was already closed. The sign said that in order to check in, you could put your credit number or cash through the slot in the wall. We didn’t feel comfortable leaving our credit number and didn’t want to use cash… so, we figured that we’d just pay in the morning.

Everything would have worked out fine, except that one of the tent poles was messed up and because of that, it ripped the rain cover a little. That pissed me off, but at least it wasn’t raining. We managed to get into bed by 1:30am, after walking around for 15 minutes trying to find the bathroom! I was exhausted, but had a lot of trouble sleeping. I was afraid that the ranger would see we didn’t pay and the people next to us were loud, so I was quite restless throughout the night.

We woke up before the sun and quickly packed our gear back into the car. We headed towards the campground office, but they weren’t open yet. Yep, we stole a night’s sleep. I don’t really care. It was a KOA campground and they’re all over the place. It’s not like we contributed to putting a little place out of business or anything. Plus, we’re poor and that was kind of an expensive campground.

We drove over to the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. It was pretty cool. The streets were made of cobblestone and the buildings were really old. Plus, since we got there so early, no one was there. We walked around for a bit and read about the historical events that occurred there. Then we drove towards Maryland Heights and hiked up the mountain. On the way up, five deer crossed our path. It was really serene and beautiful.

Our ‘plan’ for the day was to drive through Shenandoah National Park on Skyline Drive. On the way, either in WV or VA, we passed by a funny sign in front of a shack/house. There was a stack of tires at the end of the driveway and a sign that said, “Look! 4 tires!” Haha.. what the heck was it for??

The sky was getting pretty cloudy and by the time we got to Shenandoah, it was sprinkling off-and-on. Ryan’s quite technologically advanced, so he got the weather report on his cell phone and then planned which route we should take on his laptop in order to avoid the bad weather.

We drove the entire distance (105 miles) of Skyline Drive through the park. It was gorgeous! So many mountains! We hiked the Appalachian Trail… for about 10 minutes, lol. Most of the day was spent driving the 105 miles and stopping at the different overlooks. The rain was kind of a bummer — it really hindered our vision of the view. Although, towards the end it started to clear up and we saw a rainbow! I’ve seen several rainbows, but this was the thickest one I’ve ever come across. Each color was so obvious and huge.

Once we were out of the park, we got on the highway and started to head southwest towards Tennessee. It was really fun driving along listening to music and stuff. After looking at the map and consulting the weather report, the new plan was to go to the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. We (actually me) drove and drove and drove. As we started to get nearby the area, we got off the highway. Ryan was using the map program on his laptop (he’s better at looking at maps, which is why I drove. I have a good sense of direction, but I hate maps and I didn’t want to make all the decisions).

We picked out a campground and began to follow the directions to get there. Off the highway, we turned onto this crazy back road. Keep in mind that it was pitch black with no street lights. The road meandered up the side of a mountain, turning and curving in every direction. The scariest part was that to the right of the car was a steep drop-off. There was no guard rail or anything. If I had pulled over onto the “shoulder,” we would have fallen off the mountain. No lie. Talk about stress!

And then to make things worse, the road after that was so narrow that only one car could fit. Thank God no other cars were on that road. I don’t know what I would have done if there was an oncoming car. There was no where to pull over, if you wanted to live. It didn’t help matters that I was exhausted. It was about 11pm and I had been driving all day

The narrow road let us to a main road (but still without streetlights), so that was a relief. I was happy to see a yellow line and solid ground on the side of me! As I was going up a hill, I spotted something in the road. I thought it was roadkill, so I slowed down to avoid re-hitting it. As my headlights approached the lump, we realized that there were 3 raccoons in the road! Aw, they were so cute! I’m glad that I wasn’t going any faster and that there weren’t other cars on the road. I stopped and we watched them walk across into the grass.

Finally we arrived at the campground, and just in time. The owner was locking the door and getting ready to close. This wasn’t like the KOA; we couldn’t have snuck in. The man was so incredibly nice. I wanted to hug him, especially after the drive we just had. We chatted for a bit, paid him $20 (instead of $22, because he was cool), and he explained how to get to the site.

The campsite was right next to a stream and I’m sure it would have been very pretty in the daylight. This time, we were able to set up and get into bed much quicker (mostly because the man told us where the bathroom was). I fell asleep immediately and slept really well until it was time to get up. I think it was because the noise of the stream drowned out everything else.

It was about 30 degrees Fahrenheit when we woke up, again before the sun, so we quickly packed up our stuff and got in the car. Brr. There was frost on the ground. I was surprised by how much colder it was there than in Harper’s Ferry. I guess the elevation was higher, so it was colder.

We headed towards the Great Smokey Mountains through the town of Gatlinburg. What a tourist spot! There were stores everywhere, yuck. There were also lots of chapels and wedding signs. Do people go there to get married?? We saw about 7 cars with “Just Married” on them. Bizarre.

We started out by taking a hike to Laurel Falls. Even though it was early in the morning, there were quite a few people on the path. After we got to the falls, the family who came after us said that they had just spotted a bear. We missed it by like 2 minutes! Oh well. The waterfall was pretty and I was really enjoying the time with Ryan. I love pretty autumn days. The leaves were changing more there than they were at Shenandoah, so it was gorgeous. Considered they are “smokey” mountains, we could see reeeally far into the distance.

Earlier, when we got to the entrance of the park, we met some nice people who suggested that we go on the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. They even gave us their booklet about it! We figured that we’d take their word for it and check it out. The problem with only being there for a day was that we didn’t have much time to hike and explore. A driving trail sounded good for us!

However, we had to head back into Gatlinburg to get to it. By this time, it was about 1pm and traffic was horrid. We sat on the same road for 45 minutes. What a waste of time! By the time we got into town, we figured we’d grab some lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe. Ryan collects shirts and we were starting to get hungry. One of the waiters looked just like Ozzy Osbourne. He had the hair, the glasses and the clothing. It was really amusing.

After eating, we tried to find the entrance to the road for the trail. “Tried” is the key word there. The road is a one-way loop through the forest/mountain, so it starts in one place and ends in the other. We found the end of it without a problem… and I started to drive on it, because there wasn’t a “one way” sign. Thankfully, we didn’t get too far before cars started to drive at us. Yeah, not the right way. Oops. We were able to turn around and consult our maps. Finally, we found it.

As we approached the entrance, a bunch of cars were pulled off to the side and people were standing around with their cameras. If you’ve ever been to a big national park, you should know what that means. An animal. We quickly pulled over, grabbed our cameras and got out of the car. It was a black bear! A pretty big one too. It was up the hill a little bit, about 25 yards away. Shortly after we got there, a ranger came to see if it was tagged. He said it was an adult male. Really, really awesome. It was weird, because there were probably about 20 people watching it and taking pictures, and it didn’t seem to notice. It just kept scrounging around for acorns and minding its own business. A little while later, we came across a deer about 6 feet from our car. It stared at us for a good while before decided to run away. I guess the animals are used to people or something.

So, the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail was definitely a good choice. We slowly drove the narrow road through the woods and admired the beauty. There were 16 different “locations” that the booklet gave information about. I guess the whole area used to be farm land, so there were some old cottages that we could see from the road. That was neat. The whole “trail” was seriously a good idea. It worked for us, because we didn’t have a lot of time, but it would also be good for older people who can’t hike the real trails.

After that, we knew that we had to start heading home. It was late afternoon and we were in southeastern Tennessee. The Great Smokey Mountains National Park is half in Tennessee and half in North Carolina. In order to get home, we had to drive south through rest of the park into NC. It was another road like Skyline Drive in Shenandoah, with lots of overlooks and awesome views. I think that these mountains are the prettiest mountains I’ve ever seen… and I’ve seen a lot. The weather was perfect and it was just gorgeous.

Unfortunately, we had a super-long drive ahead of us (10 hours) and it was already 5pm. We exited the park in Cherokee, NC and eventually made our way to I-81 N. It felt like I was driving foreverrrr on that highway. Ugh. I managed to shave off almost an hour of drive-time, which was helpful. We got home around 2am, exhausted.

I wish that we could have had more time. Ryan had an important meeting at work today though, so we couldn’t have called out. Seeing how awesome the Great Smokey Mountains were, I actually *would* have called out.. and I’m never absent. But oh well, I’m back at work now, in the real world. Perhaps another road trip will be in our near future. :)

Category:LiveJournal, Travel | Comment (0) | Author: Megan

From Bad to Worse (Story of a Car)

Monday, 11. October 2004 5:59

Continuing the drama of my car.. On Friday, I went to All State’s claim center in Rockville to have my car examined. The guy who looked it over was having a lot of trouble trying to find damage to my front bumper. He was literally pressing his nose up against my car to look for even the smallest of scratches and dents. I popped the hood for him, and only then did he notice that the bumper was pushed inward a bit. Then, his major concern was with the headlight because he noticed that it headlight was skewed off center by about a millimeter. That means that my right beam does not match up 100% with my left beam, hence failing Maryland state inspections. It wouldn’t be a big deal unless I sold the car. So he wrote up an estimate on the damage to that as well as a small scratch on the Toyota emblem. He took pictures, handed me a check, and I was on my way. Hopefully, this will convince All State that the injury claims are a load of bull.

But, the most important part of that story is that he took pictures. Thank goodness! Because on Sunday, things went from bad to worse.

I was about to leave for church with my mom – she agreed to drive, so she left the house ahead of me to back the minivan out of the driveway and into the street. I walked out the door to my house and turned around to lock it when I heard a loud “CRUNCH!” I suppose you already know where this is going: My mom backed the van right into the front of my car.

Argh! Yes, now there is definitely a bit of damage to my car. A huge dent in the front bumper, passenger side. The headlight popped out a bit, and a crack formed along the whole side of the bumper. I haven’t tried to open my hood yet.. I hope that still works.

I suppose that not driving doesn’t help since now my parked car is victim to abuse.

Category:LiveJournal | Comments (3) | Author: Ryan

This is why everyone should just start taking the metro

Wednesday, 6. October 2004 19:03

Okay, before I say anything, I need to fill in a few more details about my accident on Monday. After I hit the caravan, which hit another, all the parties involved got out of their vehicles to survey the damage. I asked if everyone was okay. The woman I hit nodded her head a little. I continued, “Just a little shaken up?” She said, “Yeah,” and I agreed, saying I felt the same way.

The chain-reaction woman asked if we should call the police, but the woman I hit said that the accident was so minor that we should be able to take care of everything ourselves. We all agreed that we should just exchange information and get to work.

With that being said, I got a call today from a really nice girl named Amber from All State. She asked if I was alright, and I said yes. She asked if I was injured, and I said no. She pushed me on it a bit more, and I admitted that I was a little shaken up on Monday, but I was fine. Then, she starts asking all these questions about the accident, really concentrating on why the police were not called. Eventually, she told me that BOTH parties had claimed injury as a result of the accident. The woman I hit claims to have “severe neck trauma” and “back spasms.” The chain-reaction woman complained of a “constant stiff neck.” You have GOT to be kidding me! So, I was informed that I could get into trouble for not filing a police report on an injury accident. Super!

There is no way that these women had such severe injuries. They were both working women in their early 30’s and seemed to be in good health. Neither showed any signs of injury at the time of the accident. Nonetheless, I’ve got to take half a day off from work on Friday to have my car examined and photographed for evidence. My car has a little scratch on the front, the license plate is bent, and the bumper is pushed up a bit more than it should be, but other than that, it’s fine. You really can’t even tell it was in an accident unless I show you what to look for. If I ever get home when it’s daylight, I’ll take a picture.

Amber the All State girl told me that if the damage is inconsistent with their injuries, she will forward the case onto the fraud department. I sure hope so, because this is ridiculous. Well, of course it is from my perspective, anyway.

I’ll stop bitching about the accident, now, because it was all a result of my stupidity, anyway. And for that matter, my stupidity continues.. I thought I could drive from Reisterstown to Bethesda and back on less than a quarter tank of gas. I was wrong and my car shut down while driving down the beltway. ::sigh:: I should just stop driving for a while.

Category:LiveJournal | Comments (1) | Author: Ryan

1 Second of Stupidity = 1 Month of Salary

Monday, 4. October 2004 21:44

So it’s another case of the Mondays. I got myself into an accident this morning, for which I blame myself, but I would rather blame McDonalds.

Last Friday I went out to the mall to get something to eat at work. After eating at Subway far too many times, I decided to be different and cheap, so I went to McDonalds and got a cheeseburger happy meal – which means I get a toy! This time it was a G.I. Joe compass, which was pretty decent considering I usually get a Wonder Woman figurine. Maybe I get too many happy meals. Anyway, I just ate quickly and went back to work, tossing the toy on the passenger seat.

This morning, I was headed to work, battling another round of rush hour traffic. I was stopped at a red light on Browns Bridge Road in Monkey County and got fidgety, so I decided to play with my G.I. Joe compass to see which direction I was headed. In the meantime, the light turned green and everyone started moving, so I took my foot off the brake and looked down at the compass again. Just then, boom! I smack into a woman in a white Dodge Caravan. My bumper got pushed into the hood a little, but it’s hardly noticeable. The minivan, on the other hand, got a big old dent in the middle of the bumper. So, the woman and I start to exchange information, and another girl comes up saying that I caused a chain reaction, forcing the minivan to hit into her. She really didn’t have any damage, but we still traded information. No cops were called and no one was hurt, so we were able to take care of everything there. If anything good comes out of the story, it’s that.

Afterwards, I called up All State, and they told me that I would basically lose my “good driver discount,” of $44/month for three years. So, if it weren’t for me deciding to be cheap and unhealthy on Friday, or if it weren’t for McDonalds packing awesome toys into their happy meal, or if I actually paid attention while driving, I wouldn’t have been in this mess. There goes a month’s worth of salary and another delay in an engagement ring for Megan. Excuses, excuses.

Speaking of relationships, my 30-something-year-old co-worker told me that if she were going out with me, she would dump me. Why? Because I wear old shoes and, thus, I am “frugal.” I had to look up that word on to make sure I wasn’t insulted. I never paid attention to those vocabulary workbooks in high school.

What else is going on? Far too much. I should just update more often if I actually had free time.
Let’s see… A couple weeks ago, Megan and I took a random trip to Niagara Falls and had a splendid time. So much so that in two weeks we are going to take a completely random road trip vacation. We are just going to head west to unknown territory and camp out in state parks for a weekend. Fun!
On Saturday, I went on a fishing trip with Megan and family to the mouth of the Bay and everyone except me caught a bunch of Rockfish and Bluefish. Afterwards, I went to an SR-71 concert in Towson that I won tickets to through 98 Rock.
Other than that, nothing interesting crosses my mind other than work, and I’ve already made this entry too long. I go to sleep now.

Category:LiveJournal | Comments (7) | Author: Ryan