Sunday, August 08, 2010

Travels with Charley

On my plane trip to Seattle I read a book called Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck. It's Steinbeck's account of driving throughout the continental US in a truck hauling a camper, along with his dog - a French poodle named Charley. Along the way Steinbeck and Charley meet all kinds of people, saw incredible sights and sounds, and made it back home again to write about all of his adventures. The book reads like a blog, which is probably why I liked it so much.

I really associate with this book, as I, like Steinbeck, just traveled from one coast to the next, met all kinds of interesting people, saw some really cool sights, and am now writing about it.

Of course, Steinbeck had a dog along with him, and I had my coworker / manager / friend, Brannon. And Steinbeck drove, whereas I flew. Also, Steinbeck wore a really cool hat the entire trip, and I just wore shirts that were entirely too tight for my fattening and flabby body.

But other than that, we both took similar trips.

My first blog-worthy event occurred in the Baton Rouge airport, where I found both Playboy and Penthouse magazines in the airport's shop. I like to think that Steinbeck took some sort of similar reading materials with him on his trip.

[Picture: The first great image of the trip!]

Steinbeck wrote about traveling to Seattle. He describes it as being much larger than what he remembered it being as a child.

And Seattle definitely is large. It should be, as it's home to some of the world's most recognizable businesses, such as Starbucks, Amazon.com and Expedia.com. Microsoft and Nintendo of America are based in nearby Redmond.

But being in a big city with lots of people doesn't mean that you're never alone. We spent a good portion of our time looking for someone to talk to. At one point Steinbeck writes about being lonely. Honestly, I don't know how he was away from his family for so long. I was away from my family for just shy of a week, and the loneliness was terrible and painful. I teared up every time I thought about my wife and kids. Brannon and I tried to go out and meet people, and although we did meet a few people at our conference, it was more like networking than making friends.

Some of my family lives around Seattle, so we got to spend some time with them. My cousin Zach and his girlfriend Rebecca went to a Mariners game with us. I got to watch someone hit a grand slam, which was really cool, but it would have been cooler had the person hitting the grand slam been on the Mariners.

Steinbeck's book didn't have any pictures, but I tried to take pictures of every notable event. So of course I had to take pictures of me in front of Safeco Field. Zach's girlfriend Rebecca took a picture with me. Here she is rubbing my Buddha-like belly for good luck. It didn't work, as the Mariners lost to the Rangers 11-6, but that won't stop me from asking a lady to rub my belly at the next game I attend.

[Picture: The Safeco Field Buddha]

Zach and I saw a sign that said "Seattle Sausage" so I obviously could not contain myself - I had to get a picture in front of it. I dubbed Zach the "Seattle Sausage" and we tried to whore him out to several passerbys in order to pay for our tickets, but unfortunately for us there is a strip club right next to Safeco Field which stole all our business.

[Picture: The Seattle Sausage himself!]

Speaking of Seattle Sausage, we saw a hot dog inside the stadium that was a large sausage wrapped in a jalapeno pretzel served with nacho cheese. It looked like a heart attack waiting to happen. It was like a hot dog / nacho / pretzel hybrid, and it looked like it would destroy our intestines. But the advertising was so awesome that me, Zach and Brannon all got one.

[Picture: Hot dog / nacho / pretzel hybrid]

Here's a close-up of it:

[Picture: Hot dog / nacho hybrid, in action]

And here's a Zach Attack on it:

[Picture: Zach Attack!]

The last great event to happen at Safeco field was for me to reenact robbing someone of a home run. Here's me jumping over the wall to catch a fly ball. And yes, I really do look this awesome when I pretend to rob someone of a homer:

[Picture: Robbed!]

Here's a quick list of the remaining blog-worthy events.

The sign for Blue C Sushi, which sounds awesome when you say it really fast:

[Picture: BlueCSushi!]

A political sign for a guy whose last name is Shah. Aw, sha!

[Picture: Sha!]

A sign apparently protesting threeways. I knew it was intended for humans and not cars because there's a little sign in the background with a person on it, and the arrow distinctly points at the stop sign.

[Picture: Like I ever started, ass!]

Me winded atop a hill in downtown Seattle, by Pike Street. Us Louisianians are used to flat land!

[Picture: Let me catch my breath!]

Me at the Bank of Washington. This was the first picture taken on my trip. It was to prove that I made it to Washington, as I assume that there are no Banks of Washington outside of Washington. I also assume that this bank, like hundreds of others, will probably fail soon, so this picture may be worth something on eBay soon.

[Picture: Credit approved!]

And finally, my old buddy, Tom Collins! We reunited at the Marriott's bar.

[Picture: My old buddy!]

I think you'll agree with me when I say that both Steinbeck and Charley would be proud.

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