As promised, here are the thoughts and observations, as well as a vague narrative and timeline, I collected during a 4 day driving trip from Seattle to Texas. And, most importantly, if not for my Brother-In-Law accompanying me on this journey and sharing the driving duties, I might still be out wandering through Death Valley looking for cool pebbles to carry home.

Mental Note – When flying over the Rockies during daylight hours, always make sure you get a window seat.

Seattle is an alive city. I love that the downtown/market area is teeming with people at all times. Fresh food, flowers, unique art…it is a true experience for all of the senses. And, there are so many cool things to shoot in Seattle. I could spend a week there and probably barely begin to capture the amazing amount of unique neon. Or, being originally from the flat midwest, I’d most assuredly spend the entire week staring at Mt. Rainier. Pics are here.

The devastation of Mt. St. Helens seen firsthand for the first time 26 years after the eruption is still very much evident and awe-inspiring…in both a good and bad way. That volcano and the surrounding countryside were profoundly changed. It took seeing it with my own eyes to understand that fact fully. The conditions weren’t ideal (cold, snowy and overcast) for taking stunning pictures, but what I saw with my eyes will be a permanent memory.

We drove through Oregon at night. So, while I can now finally say that I have spent time in that state (only 8 to go in the contiguous U.S.), I really can’t say I saw anything but Interstate and large dark landscape objects in the distance. Portland at night does look like it is an interesting city, though…and bigger than I had assumed.

In Oregon, they offer free coffee at the rest stops…but, you can’t pump your own gas at the stations. Weird.

And, while much of the distance through Northern California was covered at night as well, we could see Mt. Shasta clearly. The moonlight reflecting off the mountain made it visible and very cool looking. I had forgotten about Mt. Shasta. It never gets any attention, I guess, because of having to live in the shadow of the taller Mt. Whitney. We stopped for gas in a town called “Weed”. I wonder how many times the residents of that town have heard the joke being made.

We pulled into San Francisco a few hours before dawn and took a break. Just so you know, you can sleep in a car overnight at Golden Gate Bridge Park. After a few hours of shut-eye, we took some fotos of the Bridge at dawn. The weather was grey and cloudy, but we enjoyed the experience nonetheless.

We found that people discriminate against Penske rental trucks. Nowhere was this more evident than in San Fran. The “free three hour” parking lot in the touristy section of the Fisherman’s Wharf wanted $45 for us to park the truck while we ate breakfast at the IHOP. So, we chose to park on the street and pay the meter instead. The situation was a little better here, but still annoying. San Fran. charges $0.25/6 minutes in their meters. And, the meter attendant works his territory on Sunday mornings.

After a wonderful and filling breakfast at IHOP we returned to the truck barely two minutes after the meter had expired. The attendant was there waiting and ready to give a ticket. When I explained that we had made sure to note when the time would run out and were surely just a few minutes late, he didn’t budge. When I offered him a quarter and told him he could keep the change, he got a little obnoxious and told me the fine was $40. I asked him if I was going to have to pay him the fine right then and explained I didn’t have my checkbook. He responded that I would have to mail it in. I looked at my B-I-L and then at the sky and waited a few beats before looking back to the meter guy. He surely saw my annoyance. And then he abruptly walked over to his little Official Parking Meter three-wheeled cart/scooter and drove away. It took us a moment to realize he hadn’t and wasn’t going to give the ticket and that we were free to skedaddle. Imagine…operating on a power trip and not even getting to carry a gun. If he’d been smart he would have nailed us for parking in front of two meters, but only putting money in one.

Then we were off to Monterrey…

Part Two in a few days…I’m travelling for work tomorrow and Friday.