Road Trip USA

On July 13, 2003, Adrian Bischoff, Andrew Chadwick,
David J. Franusich and Randy Oswald set out from Pittsburgh, PA in seach of adventure...
...and the Grand Canyon.

This page documents their journey.

Sunday, July 13

time location (gps) location (geographical) music comment
2:14pm N/A Dave's house Romance we have embarked on the roadtrip
2:35pm N/A on rt. 19 by Gabe's still Seldom Andy: "I love these glasses; they make me cool"
2:54pm N/A WV/PA border just finished Seldom passing into West Virginia, Andy still loves his glasses
3:06pm N/A WV/ Ohio border I break chairs Jurado passing into Ohio, no picture of the "Welcome" sign taken, argument ensues about the same
3:52pm N/A some miles into ohio on 70 Give Up Postal Service been reading some of Empire Falls, chatting to Andy about music (just like old times), and thinking of different ideas for photographs given the confines of this moving vehicle. despite my joking phrases to the same effect, I do actually have to go to the bathroom but I don't want to admit that because we left about 1.5 hours ago and only old men have small, overactive bladders and I'm not old.
6:12pm 39.51N 84.24W On 70, near IN Matt Pond PA Live at WMBR I woke up from a nap and about half an hour later we came to a complete stop. We're literally not moving at all here and haven't been for about twenty minutes. There looks to be an accident about half an hour up and at our current rate, we'll get there, well, never.
7:14pm 39.51N, 84.24W On 70, west of Englewood, but before Clayton Songs: Ohia Magnolia Demos we're still stuck here. I heard half an hour to an hour more. two police cars and a fire department truck have passed us on the shoulder. randy went to walk down there and see what happened. the rest of us played frisbee for a while and then all took out our cameras and took pictures for a while. now're we're back to reading. oh, randy just got back. apparently it's a RV/ bus sort of thing that managed to flip onto it's roof. nothing getting by for a while. we're looping back now (we drove on the shoulder until a turnaround) and taking a different road. we just went over an overpass and saw the miles and miles of cars backed up.

8:04pm N/A Lewisburg, OH Seam Are you driving me crazy? Store's name: Video Village and Tanning Salon
and we just pulled onto the road behind a truck carrying about a hundred pigs and the smell!
8:55pm N/A OH/ IN border Rainer Maria Long Knives Drawn We're back on 70 finally, having got gas and food for dinner (from a super market). We just entered Indiana and there's this giant sign saying You're entering Tom Raper Country. We've confirmed a place to stay Monday night in Boulder. (If you've missed the change of plan, we're going to stay on 70 through Topeka and through night, try to get to Boulder by Monday night and make our way to northern Arizona Tuesday on smaller roads). The sun is setting on our first day out and the sky is red on the horizon. I'm going to try to get some reading in before I lose all my light.

monday. it's the fourteenth.

time location (gps) location (geographical) music comment
6:22am N/A on 35, some 50 miles after Kansas City and 50 miles before Emporia Mogwai Happy Songs... it's been a few hours since I've updated. I slept through Illinois entirely and woke up in St. Louis. We saw the arch for about ten seconds before we got kicked out because the park was closed. It's a big arch in case anyone was wondering.
I drove for the last five hours, from St. Louis through Kansas City. It's the worst five hours to drive, but in a lot of ways the best. Once we got onto the open road, people started to drop off quickly. Dave and Andy first. I saw a lake covered in steam because it still had its heat from the day. It was surreal and I pointed it out to Randy before he went to sleep. Somewhere along the way, there was essentially no light except the blinking lights of cell towers spaced out in the distance and the steady red of the lights that line the backs of rigs. It was then that I realized that this is awesome. I don't mean dude, that's awesome; I mean that this is something immense. It may seem silly to all of you sitting at home, but it's awesome to me.
In those lonely and sluggish pre-dawn hours I thought of girls that I like(d) and how even though perhaps I initially wanted to hang out with them because I found them attractive, it turned out that each was a really awesome person that I'd be sad if I couldn't consider a friend.
We crossed into Kansas as the sun crossed the horizon and gave a proper start to this, our second day, of the road trip.
7:18am N/A Emporia, KS Jimmy East World Clarity I swear to you this is true: there aren't any real gas stations in this town but there are probably ten shut up ones that are now acting as something else. DB Take Out, Aluminum Recycling 25 cents/ lb, American Payday Load, and a donut shop. These people get extorted out of a percentage of a pay check in an old gas station.
12:35pm N/A leaving Ness City, KS 69 Love Songs, Vol. 1 This morning was rounded off with a nice Perkins breakfast and more driving. It seems like it's about five in the afternoon but it's just a little past noon. We've been driving on back roads for a while now and I'm really starting to enjoy it. We occasionally go through small towns, which all seem to have Perkins, Walmart and a payday loan service. We just stopped at a one pump gas station to get some food. In view was the Ness City water tower. Yay middle America.
1:35pm N/A past Scott City on Kansas Route 96 Green Fury Matt Pond PA we just passed a series of trucks on this two lane road and the other guys are making Frogger sounds as if to indicate we're playing a game similar to a early 80s video game which involves getting a frog across a busy street.
1:45pm N/A Leoti, KS still the Matt Pond Tumbleweed crossing the road!@!@
1:22pm (we're on mountain time now) N/A just past Towner, Colorado The Seldom Scene Live at "The Cellar Door" we've been running parallel to railroad tracks for hours now and there are these flat-bed train cars just sitting there as far as the eye can see in both directions and tumbleweed is just mounded up against the sides of these cars as if to date these cars back to the era of black-and-white westerns.
4:39pm (still on mountain time.) N/A 25N - heading towards Colorado Springs Low Secret Name So, it seems like I (andrew) have to go most of the way across the country to see my parents. They happen to be in Colorado Springs for some sort of convention. We happen to be passing through on our way to see Ingrid in Boulder, so we're going to try and meet them, and get them to buy us dinner. Hopefully my dad doesn't turn us down becuase we're all smelly and disgusting.
7:22pm MT N/A 25N out of Colorado Springs, heading towards Boulder The Magnetic Fields Charm of the Highway Strip Dave - Free food is possibly one the bestest things in the werld. After getting a meal on Andy's parents(Who thankfully did not say no due to our current hygenic state), we are now headed to Boulder to crash at Ingrid's place for the night. Might I add how awesome it is to finally see the Rocky mountains after hundreds upon hundreds of miles of flat nothingness. A good night's sleep on all our minds.
8:11pm N/A 25N still, almost to Denver, I think... One AM Radio The Hum of the Electric Air! Dave - A surreal light is cast over the foothills of the mountains as the sun lowers in the west, and layered outlines of the Rockies on the horizon complete a dream-like scene. This is so cool, possibly even more so than Andy with his glasses on.
10:47pm N/A Ingrid's boyfriend Sam's House the soundtrack to Midnight Club 2 we're drinking some beer and maybe watching a movie. good to see a friendly face. to be some place solid and real after thirty hours on the road is surreal.

day 3: tuesday

time location (gps) location (geographical) music comment
1:12pm N/A on Broadway between Boulder and Golden, CO Graceland We've parted ways with Ingrid, Sam and Becca (Sam's sister). We just hiked around Chatauqua Park for a while in the shadow of some Rocky Mountain-like rocky faces for a while. It was gorgeous. The pictures and descriptions will be inadequate, so I won't try. The plan now is to drive toward Northern Arizona for the rest of the afternoon. It's starting to rain; I hope it doesn't last too long.
2:22pm Why did I put this column here?? leaving Golden, CO, heading west Matt Pond PA The nature of maps got gas, food and ice. andy and randy cleaned a Kansas' worth of bugs off the windshield. we're presently going on a road that is in a valley (perhaps dynamite-aided) and there are steep rock faces on either side. One side also has a small creek (Clear Creek) with plenty of rapids. It feels good to be back on the road at the beginnning of a drive.
As much as chains are the ruination of America, it's really awesome that I can go ot a 7-11 fifteen hundred miles from my home and get a slurpee that is just as absolutely fantastic.
There's a funny periodic noise coming from the right front tire when we brake. We're attributing it to an unevenly worn brake pad.
4:00pm N/A leaving Copper Mt. Ski Resort the new Styrofoam album Andy: "One family her summer just picked up. . . ."
later. . .
Andy: "We should keep our eyes peeled for putt futt."
Dave and Randy: "Putt fuck?!"
we stopped at Copper Mt because they had a sign saying "free lift rides." those rides stopped at 3pm. na ja.
we had rain on and off for a while there. sometimes the on was literally about twenty-two seconds long. we're stopping at this beautiful lake-with-mountain in-the-background thing.

6:41pm N/A Leaving Leadsville, CO Elliot Smith Either Or Randy- (first post!) So, we're now just leaving the somewhat quaint town of Leadsville, which does its best to seem like an innocent colorado town, yet it still definatley has some tourist influences. I picked up a "Shutterbug" magazine, (as if we don't arleady have enough photographic paraphanelia) and some tasty fudge, as well as a couple postcards that may or may not get sent out. Andy looked around at some antiques, and Dave wrote some postcards. Adrian sat in the car and read, as he was cold. As usual, some pictures were taken by all. Andy now wants to find a putt-putt place, and Adrian still wants a diner.
10:45pm N/A leaving Monte Vista on 160 Sunny Day Real Estate Diary what a fantastic evening! we arrived in Monte Verde and drove around the entire town (in about two minutes) and then decided that we'd eat, drink and bowl at the local bowling alley. burgers were fantastic and cheap as was the beer and bowling. I won the first game and was last in the second. (Andy won the second game after finding his groove.) it was painfully obvious that we were out-of-towners but it was fine and they were very hospitable.
We also encountered the local library:

"Hi, I'd like to check out the book please."

it's Wednesday.

8:30am N/A on 160 near the Mesa Verde Simon and Garfunkle Concert in the Park We slept in a Wallmart parking lot in Durango, CO last night. There's no good explanation.
We just saw some giant arrows made out of telephone poles.
10 till 9 N/A 40 miles from 4 corners still Simon and Garfunkle sign: 4 Corners Taxidermy, Mufflers and Alignment. (Yes, we're 40 miles from the Four Corners.)
9:50am N/A in AZ, leaving the four corners Jimmy Eat World Singles Album (they're from AZ) we just went to the four corners. it was so fantastically cheesy. it was not worth the $3 nor was it worth even taking my camera out of the car.
and we officially (with parlimentary procedure) made Martin Straka Bobblehead Doll our mascot.
5:12pm N/A Leaving the Canyon Grande Songs:Ohia - Didn't it Rain So we're leaving the Grand Canyon. It's a nice place, and pretty much what I (andy) had expected. It's amazing to look at, but it's very much of the same thing wherever you look. The very beautiful same thing, mind you, but... I think la Canyon was cognisent of my attitude, however, and extracted its pound of flesh from me. We wanted to take a nice touristy picture of the four of us standing in front of the canyon, so I had set all my camera equipment on top of my bag, which was laying on the ground. Randy set the camera up while the rest of us posed, and as he jumped down to our level, I caught a small flicker of movement out of the corner of my eye. See, I had borrowed a lens from Dave, and my lens was just sitting free on my bag. As I stood frozen, my lens rolled down several short slopes to the edge, finally free from my tyrannical reign of picture taking. May it rest in piece(s).
7:53pm why did adrian make this column?@?! 389w in SW utah somewhere on our way to vegas baby!!! Dashboard Confessional The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most Dave - we just passed this little liquor store called "canaan's corner". the sign out front(one of those cheesy flashing arrow marquees) read "SHOPPING LIST: 1. BOOZE". i love america.
11:14pm N/A leaving Hurricane, UT Ben Gibbard/ Andrew Kenney split EP I drove a bunch from Grand Canyon to Hurricane. Lots of hills and passing people. Fun. We had dinner at Mel's Diner. It didn't have stainless steel. Need I say more?
Dave had a close call with his Navy cruise orders--we thought for a minute that we'd need to drive straight back to Blacksburg now. But our plans are on and Vegas and a motel are the plan. I'm looking forward to a shower, changing clothes and whatnot. We're still having a good chuckle about the above picture. I don't think we'll get over that one for a while. We're going to try to mooch WiFi in Vegas and upload this page and check email.
I think we might be on Pacific time
N/A room 332 at the Travelodge on the Vegas Strip none we have arrived in las vegas and drove down the strip. this place is so unimaginably rediculous. the lights, the people, the competition for business. we're showering up and are going to go take some photographs and watch the bellagio fountain. we have a room here for $40 a night (total; $10/ person). this place is really just unbelievable.
there is talk of trying to make it to the coast tomorrow. I'm not a fan.

thursday, the seventeeth

time location (gps) location (geographical) music comment
11:20am N/A on the Strip, heading toward 15S Neutral Milk Hotel In the Airplane Over the Sea Las Vegas looks horrible during the day. It looked pretty crazy last night though. Everywhere claims to be the best this and the best that and they quite often have quotes from various magazines or guide books to back up their claims. We missed the last Bellagio fountain show by just a couple minutes. (Well, we saw the last part of it while waiting to cross the street.) I took a couple good polaroids and hopefully some other pictures. It was so hot here; apparently the high during the day was a hundred and fourteen and it must've been at least mid-nineties when we were walking around.
We're heading to the west coast now. blah.
5:30pm Pacific Time N/A the beach in Santa Monica none so yeah, we made it to the beach. it's huge and there's a roller-coaster and amusement park on a pier down the way a bit. there are people rollerblading, biking, running and walking on this path right at the edge of the beach, just like in every movie or TV show that mentions California beaches. the sky is clear out here but the smog was easily noticable as we drove past downtown LA. dinner and putt putt (hopefully) before we head back. it's all east from here. it's all downhill.
7:40pm N/A In-N-Out Burger, near UCLA campus none haHA! I just uploaded the webpage from the middle of an intersection and the photographs from the sidewalk down the street. I'm going to try to put this update up from that spot on the street on the way back. We're such nerds and I love it.
In-N-Out Burger is good. I got my burger "animal style." (Google in-and-out and secret menu if you're confused.) It was good but I forgot about the onions.
I called Elizabeth, who we're staying with in Nashville and she didn't believe I am in LA and thinks there's no way we'll make it to Nashville by tomorrow. It was good to talk to her again. She's great.


time location (gps) location (geographical) music comment
1:57am (MT) still no clue about why this column's here I-40E just passing through Kingman, AZ The Notwist Neon Golden I (Dave) am doing my darndest to stay awake while chatting with adrian as he drives and the other two oafs snore in the back. We're now pushing to make it to Nashville by tonight I s'pose, and it looks like we just might pull it off. Martin's chillin' on the dashboard like a good mascot, watching the cars go by in the night. On and on the endless white line goes...
4:08am N/A about to pass Flagstaff, AZ Postal Service Give up I just drove for the last five or six hours (since Barstow). it wasn't nearly as hard as the last late night drive (see also monday, first entry). dave stayed up and chatted with me, which helped a lot. we noticed that the parents of the four of us are very dissimilar and I suggested that they wouldn't be able to do a cross country road trip together. (and I remarked at the fact that besides an occasional frustration, we don't hate each other completely and have rarely wanted to kill each other.) we also decided that none of us will end up just like our parents (and I was reminded how great my parents are. I'm reluctant to say this sometimes because it feels like bragging) and that it's very hard to imagine what we'll be like in eight years, when we're all thirty. (who will be married? the first to get married? who'll have kids?) it's the kind of hypothetical talk that often accompanies the clock ticking through the small hours of the morning. we also talked about the daunting idea of the Future and our futures respectively. (what choices do we have now and what will their impacts be?)
well enough of that. I'm almost done empire falls.
4.39 in the am. Seriously. This thing's about as useless as they come. arizona. i think. exit 239. River City High/ Piebald - Some sort of sampler that Adrian has. well hello there, faithful reader. It's good to see that you've remained interested in the still-unfolding drama that is our whirlwind tour of these United States. I've noticed that this little log has become less descriptive, and more personal. I also noticed the dearth of entries made my yours truly (andrew), so I decided it would be a good idea to make some sort of entry detailing what's been going on (at least in my head). I got to call my girl tonight. I mean, let's all be truthful here - I miss her a bit. Or more than a bit. There's not a lot that's more frustrating than walking up some street in LA, trying (and failing) to have some worthwhile conversation over a cell phone. booh. I'm going to see if I can possibly sign on to Al Gore's Information Superhighway (created by Al Gore) sometime tomorrow in order to check my electronic mail. I've taken something of a technophobe's position on this trip - I kind've wanted it to be about getting back to the basics - taking a break from the modern world for a week or so, and just seeing the country. I'm pretty happy with how that's gone - there's been minimal interaction with electronics over the last 6 days or so. So we're hitting Nashville tomorrow. I'm rather a bit excited about that, it's one of those cities that I've been looking to see for some time. Also, I'm looking to take some pictures of the memorial when we stop on Oklahoma City. My pop has been looking to go to the memorial for some time, and was planning to go this summer, but ended up not being able to make the trip. I'm going to proxy for him, and see if I can get some shots worth looking at. Just a few more days, and we're back in the hometown, and I've got to get back to that whole working/paying rent thing.
12:22 (back on central time) hey guys, I made a mistake, alright? next time I'll know not to have a GPS column; it seemed like a good idea at the time. somewhere past Adrian, TX on 40 Early Day Miners/ Unwed Sailor Stateless I'm starting to think Elizabeth was right. we're about a thousand miles from Nashville and it's already past noon. I seem to recall Libby turning into a pumpkin at midnight, so I'll have to see if she'll mind us rolling in at about 1am. geez.
we're in the middle of Texas somewhere (well, the middle of the part we're going through) and I have to go. I'm trying really hard too wait till we gas up next but I woke up at about ten having to go and it hasn't gone away.
there's this SUV in front of us and it was just riding between lanes for probably a mile or so. not only does this guy have an enormous car with horrible fuel efficiency but he thinks he needs two lanes as well. go Texas. go America.
I've got about ten pages left in Empire Falls. it's a good book, if not a little formulaic. it made me cry about fifteen pages ago.
1:30pm N/A stilll in TX Mineral End Serenading We just filled up on fuel for our van and stomachs. My laptop was resting against the door when I opened it at the gas station and, the brave little laptop that he is, he survived the fall, none worse for it.
We've gotten a couple inquiries about the brakes (see Tuesday, 3rd entry). We haven't heard anything like the sound we heard earlier since somewhere in Colorado--about fifteen hundred miles ago.
2:22pm N/A TX, about twenty miles from the OK border Matt Pond PA Measure 3 A couple roadside observations: Gloom, TX: there's a giant cross, so big that it claims to be the biggest cross in the Western Hemisphere. Britten, TX: there's a water tower that leans at about thirty degrees from vertical. The Leaning (Water) Tower of Britten, I guess.
10:04pm the GPS ran out of batteries about 1400 miles ago. about 40 miles outside of Little Rock Iron and Wine - from the Postal Service EP, Such Great Heights (andy) Man. Arkansas really isn't that big, but there's a few things keeping us from getting across the state. First, there's construction every few feet. It's getting to be a pain. Second, Route 40 makes this shape through arkansas like one of the happy little birds that Bob Ross used to draw - like a V with huge sides. Basically, we've got to go south to get east. It's not like we can do anything about it except ride it out...
11:54pm I bet we couldn't even find the GPS if we looked for it about fifty miles shy of Memphis none, we've had a slight problem with the car stereo I just drove since Oklahoma City. We saw the National Oklahoma City Memorial. It's really amazing. You may see pictures or read descriptions of it and say "oh that's nice" or "that's very well done" or "that's beautiful" but it won't mean much. Go there sometime and look at it in the evening sun, touch the shalllow water of the reflecting pool, see each of the empty symbollic chairs.
Andy and I realized while I was driving that we've been driving for a really long time. If you count starting in Las Vegas at about 11am Pacific (1pm Central) yesterday and that we'll be ending at about 3:30am in Nashville, then we will have had about thirty eight hours on the road with a total of about four out of the car. It's really astounding. I'm getting a little bit of van fever; it'll definitely be nice to get out and shower and change and whatnot. Elizabeth is being ueber-nice and letting us wake her up to let us in when we get into Nashville at about 3:30. It's sort of strange to say this but I honestly don't think about Libby all too often but I've realized, since finding out that I'd be seeing her, that I've missed her more than I previously knew.
I'm going to attend to my job as navigator of keeping Randy alert and pointed in the correct direction.

oh my gosh it's saturday

time location (gps) location (geographical) music comment
1:01am N/A east of Memphis by a bit none Andy: "if the slight is slope enough."
Randy: "what's that?"
Others: ??
Randy: "that smell. . . oh maybe it's just me."
someone'd better let us out of this car soon.
3:10am N/A ten miles from Nashville none we're about ten minutes from Elizabeth's house and my joy is muted but present. I'm incredibly tired and my lower eyelids have their own gravity field. Sleep's and Elizabeth's warm smiles are minutes away. Good night America.
11:50am N/A Elizabeth's house none Sleep was really nice. Elizabeth still turns into a pumpkin after midnight. And someone calls her house at 5am on Saturdays for some reason. I'm all showered and clean now. Elizabeth has been so hospitable. I don't know how we can repay her.
2:28pm N/A the Parthenon in Nashville Bright Flight Siver Jews in case anyone was wondering, the Parthenon in Nashville (a full size replica of the Athenian one but with large-agregate concrete instead of stone) is really not worth the five minutes and having to turn right out of it when we really wanted to turn left and then turning around down the block.
2:50pm N/A leaving Nashville still the Silver Jews billboard for a gentlemen's club: 100's of Beautiful Girls and 3 Ugly Ones
6:30pm N/A on 40, in TN still. not in Knoxville yet Optigonally Yours Presents - Exclusively Talentmaker I've had this strange feeling for a while and I've just pinned it down: the road trip is over and it ended when we got to Nashville last night. what we're doing now is just a technicality. that this feeling didn't happen in a logical place like Blacksburg where we drop off Dave before heading to Pittsburgh, our final destination, is strange. but logic doesn't mean a whole lot sometimes.
7:12pm (we're back in GMT -5 now@!) We've reached 81 N, but we're still in Tenessee. Songs:Ohia - Demos from Magnolia Electric Company (andy)We were just behind this van, labeled Church Van. The kids in the van were signaling to the truck next to us to honk it's horn, but it wouldn't, so Dave honked the horn of our trusty steed. It made the Truck Driver smile.

In case you can't tell, we're hopelessly bored - the glamour of the trip has definitely worn off. Also: Nashville was not nearly as cool as I had hoped.

It's sunday. We'll be sleeping in our own beds tonight.

time location (gps) location (geographical) music comment
12:12am 460 W, on the way to Pittsburgh The Wedding Present - I can't remember the title right now. (andy)So we've dropped Dave off. There's only three of us now. I don't think we're going to be reaching our homes until almost 5am, but it's not like that's a huge problem given the irregularity of our sleeping schedules. Randy is asleep in the back, so it's really just going to be Adrian and I for the duration of this one. I can't wait to sleep in something that isn't a car or a fold-out couch. Then again, this was quite enjoyable. I'm still trying to get over the fact that I've spent about $100 on gas in the last week, let alone traveled over 5000 miles.
4:48am N/A home "You remind me of home" Ben Gibbard wow. I'm home. this is surreal. this is it, boys.

final stats

mileage: 5590 miles. days and hours on the road: 6 days, 15.5 hours. average speed each hour on each day: 35.2 miles per hour. money spent on gasoline: $400. total money spent on lodging: $40. nights of accomadation mooched off of friends: 2. meals mooched off of friends and family: 3. states visited: 18 (PA, WV, OH, IN, IL, MO, KS, CO, UT, NM, AZ, NV, CA, TX, OK, AR, TN, VA). cost of speeding tickets and other traffic violations: $0. things lost: 3 (toothbrush (had an extra), compact flash card (in the car?), camera lens (into Canyon)).