On The Rhoads

A Chronicle of Gabe and Lauren's Journey from Coast to Coast, and beyond...

My Photo
Location: Seattle to New York, WA to NY, United States

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

100% Humidity

So, to settle the bit about humidity.

I was curious, so I went and found this out. It is actually a factor of how much water is in the air, as compared to what the air can hold. The air can hold different amounts of water - the hotter it is, the more water it can hold. So, humidity is directly linked to temperature. The same amount of water in the air at a higher temperature would mean a lower humidity.

It's measured by a special thermometer, which actually has two thermometers in it. It's the difference between the two that counts for the humidity factor.

Regardless, 84% is pretty high, considering 100% means condensation occurs (that's when the air can't hold the water anymore).

Mostly, the scale is an indicator of how much you sweat while walking about, and also how much you will fail to impress people when showing up to meet them sopping wet.

Sticky City

NYC is very humid in August. Until you leave Seattle, it is hard to remember just how nice the summers are. Right now, in the evening, it is like 80 degrees F, and 84% humidity. This feels rather uncomfortable, especially down in the subway platforms. Lauren was surprised that people don't just pass out from the heat in the subway.

Today, we found out that they do, as someone lost conciousness in front of us on the MTA, with his fall (un)luckily broken by our feet. The upshot is, the boy is fine, the train started after some wrangling by the sole conductor, and most everyone didn't notice anything.

Turns out he had gotten alot of heat doing one of the billion things going on here every day, in this case attending the US Open. It in Queens this year - who knew?

Sunday, August 28, 2005

11 x 2 = 22

We've moved into a sublet in Brooklyn, NYC last night. It was a long last day - the Pennsylvania roads were bad, the New Jersey turnpike was crazy (and expensive), and the UHAUL storage location was a bit of a madhouse. (Kids, did you know that the word 'turnpike,' meaning toll road, actually comes from when they had to turn a pike, or gate, after you had paid for passage. There are still pikes at some toll booths.)

All of our stuff is now in storage in Park Slope, NYC, except for some clothes and books, and we are in our Greenpoint apartment. The zip code we are is 11222, which I think is pretty cool. It is interesting being at the start of the zip code numbers, instead of the end - in Seattle, my zip code was 98102. Few people know that social security numbers work the same way. I was born in Boston, MA, so my SSN starts with 014. Most people born on the west coast have numbers in the 500's, I think.

Anyway, Greenpoint is a very Polish neighborhood in NYC, where you are more likely to hear Polish on the street than English. There are some restaurants that it is very difficult to order from because of a language barrier, but the food is excellent.

As I explore more of the area, I'll keep on posting, and carry on for a little while longer. I may also chronicle short trips to Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia (Washington, DC - the other Washington). NYC is immense, and there are always things to talk about. But, it is great to finally be here!

The image is of Greenpoint, and is made possible by bilderbook.org.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Goodbye Flying J, Hello East Coast

This is our last Flying J stop of the trip, and thus our last post from on the road(s). We’ll miss Flying J truck stops, because they’re our favorite, and they give us internet, which makes us happy. The next word you'll hear from us is from NYC.

We’re almost there, and Edgar’s “who’s your non-profit” is still etched in the dirt in the back of the pickup. For the record, the answer is Friends of the Children.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Living in Phil's Shadow

We've stopped for the night in Punxsutawney, the home of Punxsutawney Phil, of Groundhog Day fame. It is also the setting for Bill Murray's greatest movie of all time, although I'd say that Lost in Translation probably gave it a run for its money.

It's night time now. We'll see if we can see our shadows in the morning, the start of the last day of our trip.

Zoned Out

We took off from Chicago this morning, and hit the road mid-day. It was good to be in Chicago, where we dealt with a bit of difficulty with our shocks, and saw family and good friends. I was especially happy to see my little brother, Julian, who is off to Seville for a year of study, where he will be tough to get to soon.

Today, we pushed through Illinois to Indiana to Ohio to Pennsylvania - which is actually the state that my family is origninally from, and where many of our folks still live (the eastern side, not the western, where we now are).

In Indiana, we crossed into the Eastern time zone, for the third and last time zone of our trip. We are now in Eastern Daylight Time at last. No more losing hours...

From here the trip is just through PA to New Jersey to NYC.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The Answer to the Biggest Question

Ok. We had spent more than four years in Seattle, and almost weekly would see the classic PNW long style trailer hitches. You know the ones we mean: the hitch between the dump truck and the trailer truck is longer than the truck itself. It makes no sense, from a manufacturing or a turning-radius standpoint. We were stumped. The internet did not provide any answers, leaving us without any options other than walking up to a trucker driving one of these odd vehicles and asking him or her.

So, that is what we did. We caught up to a driver at a South Dakota rest stop.

When I walked up to the driver, he was already talking to another man who was asking the exact same question. Apparently, this is a widely pondered mystery, which gave me an odd sense of community.

The driver’s first, and rather wry, answer was this: “it keeps us ahead of the police.” After a chuckle, he explained the real reason. Are you all ready?

It is, quite simply, to prevent the heavy trailers form maxing out bridge weight restrictions. Genius! The trucks are heavy-duty, and tend to be loaded with significant weight. In addition, they are often operating up in the mountains, where many small bridges span creeks and gullies. So, to prevent exceeding what the bridge can withstand, the long hitch ensures that the main dump truck has already crossed the bridge, and is on the other side, before the trailer is starts to cross. We are impressed.


After a three state press (Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois), we landed in Chicago last night. We are staying with Lauren’s dad in Palos Park, IL to rest for a few days. Palos Park is in the western suburbs. Getting there reminded us just how long it takes to get anywhere in Chicago. Just traveling across the city by car takes long enough that, were we in Seattle, we could have reached Olympia and beyond in the same amount of time.

We’re going to relax by Lauren’s father’s pool, and enjoy our favorite deep dish pizza (Giordano’s) tomorrow. We hope that some friends will be stopping by, to enjoy the day with us.

It’s a nice break from being in a seated position, and only eating road food.

Bringing the trailer home

Our UHAUL trailer has a large painted mural of a Madison, Wisconsin scene on the side. So, we decided that we had to take our trailer home. This was easy, because Madison is on our way. We hollered out of the truck for the trailer to wave to home as we passed.

On our way out to Seattle, we brought our last 5x8 trailer to its home at the Mitchell, SD Corn Palace.

I hope the next trip does not feature a truck with Hawaii or Alaska. That will prove more difficult.

Nice One, Minnesota

On I-90 in south eastern Minnesota there is a rest stop to beat all rest stops. It had a winding corkscrew ramp that brings cars and trucks up behind a hill. The clean bathrooms and visitor center were set into the face of the hill, away from the road. In fact, while at this rest area, you can hardly hear the road. Dozens of bird feeders were attracting all sorts of sparrows, goldfinches and chipmunks. If that was not enough, there was a trail that winds through an idyllic picnic area to an overlook with a view of a valley, with the highway winding across the ridge beyond. They take these seriously in MN.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


We have been playing a momentum game with trucks in the hills. Since we are hauling so much weight, we cannot speed up very easily, and once we are going fast, we cannot slow down very easily. So, we find ourselves picking up speed on the downhill, and trying to keep it for the uphill stretches. The truckers driving beside us are doing exactly the same thing, and it is interesting to learn how they have to drive. For the kids: can anyone tell me what ‘momentum’ is?

We have not even been able to go the speed limit due to wind resistance in some places. I hear that on of the kids is worried that we are going too fast. I assure you that we are not, Corie! If I can find an online map of state speed limits across the nation, I’ll put it up.

Lastly, I finally stopped one of the classic Pacific Northwest long-style dump truck trailer combos to ask the driver why the trailer hitch is so long. I now know. Anyone curious?

Spam Soon

The SPAM museum has a sculpture to the international impact of SPAM in its entryway. It features 3,390 cans of the stuff. More to come about the SPAM museum soon.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Home of Mount Rushmore

We have been traveling through South Dakota for most of the day. South Dakota has adopted a slogan “Kids love South Dakota!” What do you guys think?

The landscape is amazing. At the beginning of SD is the Badlands, which are comprised of dramatically eroded buttes and hills. Apparently this site is the source of many dinosaur remains.

We then hit the ‘high plains,’ flat areas that are so named because they are at altitude. These occasionally break into rippled gullies that dip perhaps 10 to 20 yards below the surface of the prairie.

There are many many horses on theses plains, and in fact i hear that the last wild horses roam these plains.

South Dakota is also home to the legendary Jackalope...


We made it through Montana last night, crossing into Wyoming for absolutely no difference in scenery. The same red-orange moon rose late to lead our way, and then the evening brought a misty haze, draping over the rolling hills.

We were tired as we pulled into Gillette, Wyoming, so we stopped to stay the night- also enabling me to send this post in the morning from a Flying J in the home of Prairie Dogs and Buffalo.

So, we have now been through WA, ID, MT, and WY. Next to SD...

Sunday, August 21, 2005


Montana is a long stretch of road, very mountainous in the west (the Rocky Mountain Range), and flat in the east. Coming from the Pacific Northwest, it has strange vegetation, and seems to be full of exclusively prairie brush and tall pine trees, an odd combination to me.

We’re stopping to rest for a few minutes here in Billings, and then we’ll be driving into the night, trying to meet our goal of getting through Montana.

We did get the chance to stop in Bozeman, MT, at one of Lauren’s favorite pizza places for a good dinner. We figure as we head east, the pizza will only get better.


We were sad and already nostalgic upon driving off Capitol hill onto the very start of I-90 from I-5. We listened to Seattle radio until KEXP drifted off into static. We're going to miss Seattle, and all of the people in it that have been so important to us.

As it grew dark, the moon rose in the East. It was an early harvest moon, a huge low amber colored orb that seemed to invite us formward to our East coast destination.

We've only been driving for a few hours, but are stopping for the first night to rest at a truck stop (called Flying J) just east of Spokane. We'll rest the night, get up early, and hit Idaho next. Our goal is to do all of Montana tomorrow (that's the state just east of Idaho).

Did anyone know that there is a town called George, WA?

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Going... Going...

Well, we did not make the Friday deadline. We have apparently not learned over the years that packing always takes longer than we imagine it will.

With the help of our friends Chika, Jared, Merrick, and Warren, we packed up the trailer over Friday night. Jared proved himself to be a permutations virtuoso, as he stood in the trailer and rotated every box and piece of furniture until it fit perfectly.

We made the poor decision to leave the parking lights on for the entire packing job, illuminating our work, and eventually, extinguishing our battery. So, after a good night's sleep at Merrick's house (no furniture in our house anymore), we're off to jumpstart the truck to jumpstart the journey.


The packing is coming along. All of our plants just fit in the back of the truck. The will get to live in this movable greenhouse for the next week. We will have to remember to give them lots of water as we cross the country.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Still packing...just got the kitchen done.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Well, we're still packing late at night, and aiming to get on the road tomorrow, Friday. There is alot left to get into boxes, and in the truck. We picked up the UHAUL trailer today - the same size as the one we moved to Seattle with. So, we will have the same volume (although not necessarily the same mass) of possessions as when we arrived in Seattle August of 2001, almost exactly four years ago.