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Do you? No, really. Do you?

Posted on September 18th, 2007 after 5998 miles by Dean Croshere.

Yesterday I thought I was in danger. There were other vehicles moving unpredictably all around me. Just to add to the excitement, one was loaded with hundreds of gallons of gasoline. We were all headed at nearly 80 miles an hour on the freeway, at least at first.

Today was different.

Today there was a moral dilemma. Today I was in a situation that I will likely be imagining myself in again and again for years to come: standing there, on the other side of the fence, with my shirt and shoes off. Debating. Should I jump?

I was downtown Detroit with a forumite, Eloisa. There is a very nice park with a nice view of everything nearby. I snapped a bunch of great pictures of Boxer.

Downtown Detroit.

The Renaissance Center.

The park is right next to the Detroit river. I started snapping pictures downriver, towards the nice tourist boat and the bridge. Click, click, click. Different angle. Click. Readjust Boxer, Click.

Some guy jumped over the railing right in my shot. Annoyed, I turned and started snapping pictures in the other direction. It’s still a nice view, I thought.

Click. Click. Adjust Boxer. Click. Click. Splash.



“Oh shit.”

The guy fell in. Or he jumped in. Whatever it was, he was in. He was in the Detroit river.

The river does not move slowly.

He could not swim.

I could, I can.

I swam competitively for 14 years.

I used to be a lifeguard.

I jumped over the railing. Eloisa grabbed my camera and Boxer. I handed her my phone, keys, and wallet. I kicked off my shoes. People were running everywhere. I pulled off my shirt.



Think a minute.

Should I jump?

The internal monologue was fast, powerful, frantic.

No: “This guy is panicked. He could pull me under. They warned about that in life guarding class. I don’t know the river. I don’t know what is going on. I don’t know why he is in the river. Did he fall or jump? Is he drugged out?”

Yes: “He is barely keeping his head above water and he is starting to get near that boat, further from a ladder. I don’t have much time.”

No: “I’m still wearing jeans, I know how hard it is swim in jeans. I don’t have anything inflatable to help keep him above water, no life guard tube.”

Yes: “I know how to save his life. No one else here does. It doesn’t matter if anyone else here does. I know how to save his life.”

“I can save this man’s life. If I don’t, he may die. He will die.”

No: “I can die.”

Do you risk your life to save another? A stranger? A stranger who may have just tried to kill himself?

Do you?

No really. Do you?

When the situation is in front of you? Now. You’ve got seconds. People running and screaming, yelling for someone to help.

Yes. Yes you do. A good person does.

A good person does not stand by and watch another person drown.

Yes: “I’m going to do it. Alright, behind him. Get behind him so he can’t get a hold of you. Jump in upriver… There.”

I stepped forward to jump and heard something. Wait.

“Grab a hold of this.”

The boat. There were life buoys on the boat. I didn’t think of that. Someone ran and grabbed a life buoy. Those round things. Lifesavers. I didn’t have to jump in.

One toss.

The drowning guy didn’t see it.

A second toss.

He saw it. A flail. A thrash. He got it. He’s going to be ok.

I’m going to be ok.

My heart is beating again just writing about it.

Was I going to do it?

Would I have really jumped in?

I told myself to. I decided it was the time, it was the place. It was now or never. It was the right thing to do.

Doesn’t mean I was actually going to do it.

I don’t even know if I should have done it.

It will be a long time before I stop asking myself that question.

Do you risk your life to save another?

Do you?

::Discuss::Permanent link::Location

What now?

Posted on September 22nd, 2007 after 6661 miles by Dean Croshere.

&I wasn’t sure what to do next.

For about a week, my stories just kept getting better and better. Without trying I was able to top myself time after time. There was the arch, clubbing, Chicago, Wrigley Field, The Sears tower, all these great stories. Then there was the accident and the Detroit River. How do I top that?

How do I keep improving?

I keep writing.

Well that’s obvious, but about what?

In two days, the only somewhat exciting picture I took was of corn in Ohio.

Well that’s not true, that isn’t being fair. There are quite a few interesting things that happened in the past couple days. Back in Detroit, for instance:

“Don’t stop.”

“I said don’t stop. If the car in front of you stops, go around him. If you are at a light, run it.”


“I told you not to stop.”

“If someone gets near the car, step on the gas. This is the ghetto of Detroit. We’re inside 8 mile. DO NOT STOP.”

Then, about 5 or 6 blocks later.

“Excuse me, do you have a permit? This is a PRIVATE park.”

“We just want to take a couple of pictures.

“mmmmhmmm, well be quick.”

While we were in the ghetto, a few blocks previously, the only houses without broken windows and spraypaint tagged plywood doors were the ones that obviously belonged to the old ladies.

Then you cross the line.

Then the houses are nice brick affairs with fancy windows and big ornate front doors. Each successive block the houses get bigger, fewer of them on the block. After the 5th block, there is one house per block. Bonafide mansions with gates and curved driveways. It was clear that we (I was still with Eloisa, remember) were ruffian kids trying to get into that park to cause mayhem and mischief.

One of the more surprising things about Detroit was how the extremely rich and the extremely poor butt right up against each other so commonly. In most places there is a long gradual change between one and the other. In Detroit, you can take a wrong turn around a mansion and end up in the wrong part of town. Then you don’t stop until you are at a mansion again.

After Detroit I went to meet up with another forumite (who goes by the handle Paramour) in Fort Wayne Indiana I stopped once to take a picture in a nice long tree lined drive in southern Michigan, but I found that I had never turned my camera off after the Detroit river affair and the battery was dead.

Paramour was an extremely nice guy who made me a delicious dish for dinner. I can’t remember what he called it, but it had an informative history. He was an extraordinarily intelligent guy and I wish I could have stayed up longer talking to him, but I passed out shortly after arriving.

The next day I drove through Ohio. I’ve been to Ohio once before. I was not impressed. This time I was considerably more relaxed (last time I was coming down with mono, ugh) and I enjoyed myself some more, but I was still not impressed.

I do enjoy Stewarts brand root beer from time to time (nice stuff, you find it in bottles occasionally. There is also cream soda and I think an orange soda). Anyway, I found the original Stewarts root beer stand in central Ohio. It wasn’t the tourist trap I expected. In fact, it was pretty much your standard grease pit. Tasty, greasy burgers, a quality root beer float. They had tray service to your car, but I got out to get some fresh air.

I was the only one there the entire time and according to their signs, they were closing for the season in a week. A little research showed that they had sold the root beer to some big plant in New York.;/p>

Oh well, Boxer has been to the home of Stewarts Root Beer.

I got quite lost trying to take a shortcut back to the freeway and found myself stuck behind this Amish guy. I don’t think I will ever get over the strange dichotomy of these carriages in big cities.

I stayed the night in a hotel in Ohio. Priceline set me up very well again. I sat down and tried to edit the movies I had promised, but I couldn’t get the creativeness going. No matter what I tried, it did not work.

I tried to write a post. To get something online. I stared at my online form for a while, daunted by the fields I usually had no trouble with.

I opened up Word. My standby for writing longer posts.

The blank page was worse. Nothing. I could write anything. Create any worlds. Tell my story any way I wished. Nothing came to me. Nothing that could even compare to Detroit.

I tried to create another film. I had a brief moment of inspiration, an epiphany about the way my films work, but the feeling and inspiration fled me before I could edit it. I stared at the screen for a while longer.

What has happened? Am I out? Am I done? Steinbeck lost his good stuff after his first time across the nation. He had one traumatic great story in Oregon, then he lost it. He described everything that happened to him as he drove back, but it was clear that his story ended in Oregon.

Did my story end in Detroit? After two and a half weeks?

I hope not.

I did find this letter from Ms.Frisby’s daughter back in Colorado. It cheered me up a bit. (I blurred the name out).

I fell asleep while discussing my laments with a friend back home. In fact, I was out before the conversation was even over.

Next step, Buffalo, New York.

I did feel a little better in the morning. I looked forward to New York. I’ve only been to the east coast once before. That was when I was on my 8th grade Washington DC trip. It was fun, but I was young and we moved fast through all the attractions. I want to get a chance to feel the east coast like I’ve experienced the Midwest so far.

I realized that I hadn’t even thought of Niagara Falls and I booked a hotel there. Priceline wouldn’t give me a place for my usual price, but a few more bucks landed me in a 3 star place. That’s a whole extra star.

I drove directly there to see what the star and couple extra bucks were worth. It had a swankier lounge, a workout room (I planned on using this later), an indoor AND outdoor pool, and a more expensive restaurant attached. The room had more expensive looking furniture, more pillows, and the complimentary bathroom stuff was nicer. Not only was there was separate shampoo and conditioner (I can’t stand the two in one crap), but it was bath and body works orange ginger energizing aromatherapy shampoo and conditioner. I plan on stuffing that in my bag on the way out.

All this stuff was nice, but the Internet wasn’t free. Go figure.

The room scouted, I headed to the falls. Here I took the pictures that brought me back into the trip.

There is still fun to be had, pictures to be taken, people to meet, and distances to lug Boxer. I hauled him almost 3 miles. I decided against using the weight room after all.

By the time I got to the falls, the sun was setting. Excellent. I do believe this is my favorite picture so far. In fact, previously I had my desktop picture rotating through all the pictures I’ve taken so far. Now it is solid on this one. Feel free to click it for a high-resolution version if you would like to do the same.

Even the Canadian knockoff space needle looked cool in the sunset without the falls.

I was about to walk back when I remembered that there was still another half of the falls to see and a walking bridge over to it.

I wasn’t sure how far it was, but I wasn’t going to drive this far to miss a view. Plus it was right over there. It didn’t look that far.

I later found out it was a mile around to that point. Nice picture though. It was a bit better of a view of the falls, sans sunset though (sorry about the blur, I didn’t think of bringing my tripod).

I was still not to the other half of the falls though. That was a quarter mile away down a hill. It is really tough to slow down while carrying Boxer down a hill. People kept walking really slowly, cutting back and forth horizontally.

It was as if you could see them thinking:

“I’m going to stop and take a picture right…NOW.”

Barely missed that guy.

“Oh, let me move this stroller right in front of that kid trying desperately to slow down. That’ll be a great idea!”

I’ve never shouted excuse me with such… need.

She moved it.

Exhausted, I put Boxer down at the bottom of the hill. I was standing only a few feet away but some ladies who didn’t speak English (I have no idea where they were from, I didn’t recognize the language) sat and had their pictures taken with Boxer. I, with permission gained through gestures and smiles, took the opportunity to take their picture. Astute viewers may notice that the framing on this picture is horrible.


There was a lot of steam here and it was getting dark. I still didn’t have a tripod so I couldn’t get any nice pictures (Though I really wish I did. Long exposures of water look great). I do kind of like this one.

After all this I hauled Boxer back to my car. Stealing one of the little golf carts zipping around crossed my mind more than once.

I had hoped they would put all the nice colored lights on the falls like in the postcards, but they didn’t. There were lights, but they weren’t colored and they cast strange shadows I didn’t like. It wasn’t worth hauling Boxer back out of my car.

Back at my hotel I decided to mitigate the extra costs of the 3 star by using the coffee maker to brew hot water to make some ramen (with canned chicken breasts and canned whole kernel corn, that is a very tasty and filling meal. Warning, not low in sodium).

To Albany today, Vermont tomorrow.

::Discuss::Permanent link::Location

The classiest drink ever served

Posted on September 23rd, 2007 after 7515 miles by Dean Croshere.

The drive through New York was beautiful, boring, and efficient.

The trees on the sides of I 90 turn colors sooner than the trees elsewhere, no doubt due to the cars on the highway. This leads to a beautiful array of colors ranging from green to yellow and orange. I thought of stopping to get a picture, but didn’t want to pay the toll to pull off the tollway. That, and I’m really enjoying the new book I’m listening to, The Count of Monte Carlo. It is about 55 hours long, so I’ll be listening to it for a while.

From one side of the state until the other, 260 miles or so of straight, neat, tollway. There was a $10 fee for the drive. As a benefit, the road was flat and the speed limit was 65 miles per hour, a number that the frequent cops ensured was enforced. This led to great gas mileage. I approached 30 miles per gallon for the first time ever in this car. I figure the extra miles per gallon saved me $5 in gas, mitigating the cost of the drive a bit.

Speaking of calculations, I am approaching 70 degrees longitude, 45 degrees from where I left. That is roughly an eighth of the distance around the world by degrees. Since the circumference of the earth at 45 degrees latitude is cos(45)*25,000, or 17,000 miles, I’ve gone about 2,100 miles as the crow flies. According to my gas logs, I’ve driven about 7,500 miles.

With those numbers, I could have driven here, back home, then almost all the way back again were I going directly.

I got to Albany in the evening. My host was another forumite, Caleddin. He and a friend were sitting on the porch when I arrived, perhaps the least awkward greeting I’ve had so far.

During our conversations I found out he has quite a few similarities to me. He had just graduated college with degrees in philosophy and biology. My degrees are in philosophy and film. He had just finished a 2 month counter-clockwise road trip around the nation. I’m almost a month into my clockwise roadtrip around the nation.

We compared notes and methods of road tripping while we hit downtown Albany. Our first stop was a burrito joint. At first, I was reticent to get a burrito in New York. I’m from California after all.

I decided I’d like to see the New York opinion of a burrito. It turns out that I didn’t even really notice the burrito by the time it came, my taste buds had been so thoroughly destroyed.

We arrived at the place that was entirely different from any burrito joint I’ve yet been to. In California (and, to a lesser extent, Oregon), the Mexican restaurants are actually owned by Mexican families. There are the whole in a wall burrito joints and the nice taquerias. The former will only serve beer and the later may have a cantina, but it is primarily there to make margaritas.

This place was clearly American. It was loud, packed, and oriented around the bar. The bar made a lot of margaritas, but they weren’t the specialty. I know this because the specialties were interesting and intriguing and printed clearly on the wall.

I started off with a “hard cider.” It was Woodford Reserve Bourbon and fresh New York apple cider. Woodford is my favorite bourbon and the drink sounded interesting. Frankly, Woodford and New York apple cider are both better enjoyed in separate glasses.

While I was drinking this concoction, I tried in vain not to order the “old fashioned classic.”

Now let me first note that I believe a whiskey old fashioned to be the ultimate in drinks. It is simply the best way to bring out the complex flavors of the whiskey.

This was nothing like that drink.

It was a “40 oz Colt 45 served in a champagne bucket.”

I would never order this unless, well, ok, I would order this once no matter the circumstance. It is the ultimate in contradiction. Take the least classy method of getting drunk and serve it as you would the classiest method of doing the same.

Here it is, a 40 in a champagne bucket.

After dinner, (The burrito was unsurprising. It was not as large as I had been promised, kind of cold, and I don’t really remember how it tasted as I was drinking some of the worst beer ever brewed) we headed to the most genius bar I’ve ever been to. The guy who owns this place is a marketing guru.

First, it is a place with tons of different kind of beer on tap and in bottles. There was a huge range from tons of different countries. The place is clearly a beer drinker’s bar.

That, in itself, is not amazing. I’ve been to places like that before.

What was amazing was the computer in the back. There was a beer drinkers club. You put in your number and it prints out a list of all the beers you haven’t tried yet. It also prints the number of beers you have had to drink at the bar. After 40, you get a free T-shirt. After 125, you get a free mug on the wall to drink your beer out of and a discount on beer.

The opportunities in a system like this are amazing. You’ve actually made it productive to drink more beer. The next step is to add an Amazon style “you tried this, you may like…” suggestion system. The possibilities are endless.

The next morning I headed north to Vermont, to visit some of my mother’s friends. This is a wonderful place that I plan on staying at for a few days.

Shortly after arriving I got a phone call from a frat brother I had hoped to stay with in Chicago. While I was trying to get a hold of him, I was lost trying to figure out why his name sounded so familiar to me. It was in my head, something important, but I couldn’t figure out what. I wasn’t able to get a hold of him then, so I gave up and stopped worrying about it.

He called today and explained why I wasn’t able to contact him earlier, he had been at his cabin in Minnesota. I lamented missing the connection and told him I would give him a call if I ever came back through. It wasn’t likely, but you leave such things open.

Then it hit me.

He wrote “Over a Century of Brotherhood.” The history of the Gamma Sigma Fraternity. It is the canon that all the brothers memorize.

I called him back. He explained a couple of things that I was confused about and began to tell me stories from his pledging and his fraternity times. I decided that I could not miss the opportunity to meet this man. I will be driving back to Chicago after Washington DC. Such alumni are too important; such stories are too amazing to pass up. That is the opportunity of a lifetime.

So, I’ve still got this in my head. If you were to add a points system to the beer list, you could give away beers. Make the less selling beers worth more points and you can get rid of those while the regulars know to avoid them.

Why hasn’t this been done more often? It seems so simple and easy.

::Discuss::Permanent link::Location

I changed the CD in my car

Posted on September 24th, 2007 after 7515 miles by Dean Croshere.

Since day 1, I have only had one CD in my car. The Red Hot Chili Peppers' newest album, Stadium Arcadium, disk 1. I only listened to it when I was first leaving a place or getting to it, and only then if I hadn't found a radio station when doing the same.

See, the iPhone likes to crash if you are listening to music, navigating, and downloading maps at the same time. At crucial turn making or music enjoying moments, having your map and music disappear can be very frustrating. Murphy is always present in electronics and if the maps and music are going to disappear, they are going to do it at a crucial turn making or music enjoying moment.

So I avoid this by hitting the CD button. I usually only end up hearing a couple songs in the short time it is on and I'm distracted anyway: driving and turning crucially and stuff.

Well, I finally got tired of the Peppers, so I switched the disk out. I put in Tool's 10,000 Days. A CD that never fails to make me think of a frat brother. One of the guys who is unendingly successful at getting on my nerves.

The story is set on the way back from a frat event. I was driving as usual, being one of the few guys with a working car. Throughout the event, he had insisted like a small child that we listen to this damned CD on repeat. The way back was no different. He whined until we put in much like I used to whine until mom put in the Sesame Street Oscar's Rotten Birthday tape, on repeat, for the 40th time in a row.

Fine, I do enjoy it, 10,000 Days is a pretty good album.

Then he insisted that we turn it up. I already had it pretty loud, but I relented. I also enjoy a really loud blaring (while driving down the freeway with the windows down and the wind in your hair) once in a while. It feels good to have someone else ask for it, to relieve me of the guilt of doing something so...unrestricted.

Towards the end of the first song, I glanced in my mirror to see if he was done, if I could turn it down.

I noticed he was tapping his leg and nodding his head, but entirely off beat. He was even mouthing the wrong words. This was between songs, there wasn't a beat to be off, no words to sing.

I had to take my eyes off him to pay attention to the road(imagine that). When I got a chance to look back, the next song had started, still loud.

I saw him adjusting his iPod.

He had his earphones in. He was still tapping and mouthing words.

The music we were listening to was loud, but apparently he had decided he was bored with it. Rather than telling us, or complaining until we turned it down, he had just put in his headphones and turned them up loud enough to hear over the music in the car.


Oh brother.

The memory brought a smile to mind as I listened to the first song again. He can piss me off, but he is still a brother.

On another note, I'm still in Vermont with an extraordinarily nice family that is doing a wonderful job of taking care of me. (And they are reading this. I'm not above sucking up publicly). My car is in the shop, getting checked out to ensure that it doesn't blow up in the next couple of thousand miles. I'll still be in Vermont for at least two more days before I head around Maine and back down to Boston, NYC, and DC. The amount spent on gas should drop precipitously during this time, thankfully enough.

::Discuss::Permanent link::Location

We climbed a mountain today

Posted on September 26th, 2007 after 7515 miles by Dean Croshere.

Vermont is stunning.

Hot, humid, muggy, and visually stunning.

When you sweat here, the sweat doesn’t just disappear in the wonderful cooling fashion it should. Instead, it drips.

It soaks your shirt and makes all your clothing stick to you. It requires a rag to keep it out of your eyes. In the humidity, sweat becomes a miserable salty bath rather than a refreshing cooling mechanism.

I got a patent lesson in this yesterday on the record-breaking hike my host took me on.

It was 3 and a half miles round trip with a 900 foot elevation change. The hike is the furthest recorded distance Boxer (this version) has ever been hauled by one person. I’m really hoping someone decides to shatter this record. A record of only 3 and half miles isn’t very impressive (although it appears to be much further with an almost exactly 50 pound pointy brass dog).

Hiking in the Green Mountains is considerably different from hiking the Sierra Nevadas, as I have always done.

Other than the humidity, the trees and the terrain are much different. The towering Ponderosa Pines and redwoods of the west have given way to the much wider, leafier maples and oaks in the east. Rather than be awed by the awesome height of the softwoods of the west, the darkness created by so many layers of thin canopy, the hardwood trees of the east provide a comforting, embracing, almost claustrophobic shade. The muted colors that adorn these trees, the hues of green, yellow, and orange provide proof that the seasons are indeed beginning to change. It’s a good thing too; the weather certainly wasn’t an indicator.

So here's Boxer, sitting on the top of the Snake Mountain, looking over the Champlain Valley, Lake Champlain, and the Adirondacks in upstate New York.

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