November 10, 2008

Hello from The Crab!

Nov. 10, 2008, Charlotte, North Carolina (or thereabouts).

Hello, and... Whooops!
So I must apologize to anyone who has sent email, or commented recently, or written brilliant posts at their own blogs which I haven't stopped by yet to read. I may have mentioned that I was setting out on a cross-country trip, but I didn't anticipate that the first four nights we'd end up with no internet coverage at all in any of the campgrounds we stayed in . That's almost five whole days without going online!

As you might imagine, five days offline is an eternity to a web-addicted, neurotic, nutcase blogger.

One the positive side: the obsessive voice in my head that evaluates every daily experience or observation, no matter how trivial, for potential blogworthiness? It's a bit quieter! That's probably a good thing.

But dang, I miss everyone. This is sort of a "wish you were here" postcard.

OK, so maybe I don't wish all of you were physically here inside Fran the Van. That might get a bit crowded. Let's just say "here" in a broader, more metaphorical sense.

So regulars might notice this is another weird post--just a bunch of random thoughts--but fear not. The "normal" crab will be back sometime Thanksgiving-ish, and might even have written a coherent post health and fitness post by then.

Weddings and Elections
So my last post was written just after getting gay-married and right before election day. Many thanks to all the wonderful folks who commented and had such supportive, kind, encouraging things to say! It really meant a lot to us. It was hard, however, amid the general post election euphoria (hooray for Obama!), to see Prop 8 and all the other anti-gay ballot initiatives win. Damn it. That hurt.

Road Trip Wonderfulness
Sad as we were to leave P-town for the winter, we're having a great time on our journey west to California. Not every mile has been stunning but a LOT of it has been gorgeous as we've been getting off the interstates a bit and traveling some two lane highways. Beautiful fall colors (Merritt Parkway, OMG!); rustic farms and spunky small towns and, of course, hideous strip malls and coastal high rises. We've been enjoying breathless NPR reports on the new Obama administration and the world's excitement; and sampling regional cuisine. (Note: vinegary barbecue, not our fave! Who knew there were so many variations?). We've been enjoying nearly empty campgrounds and long hikes and gas stations with prices like $1.99 a gallon. And we get to have the cat with us, who entertains us and cuddles with us and is an excellent traveling companion--even if she does still scoot every now and then. (Tip: "Unbelievable" really is an unbelievable stain remover).

The Long and Whiny Road
Of course I can always find a few things to grouse about. I'll limit myself to jut two:

Faked Out at The Food Court
FYI: If you are ever looking for a quick fast-food lunch and have rationalized to yourself that a piece of Kentucky Fried Chicken with the skin pulled off, and maybe some baked beans and coleslaw wouldn't be too unhealthy a choice...

Do NOT be fooled into stopping at service area advertising a "KFC Express."

What's a KFC Express? Well, the one we stopped at was basically a burger place that had two or three items from the KFC menu: Fried chicken "strips" and potato wedges and macaroni and cheese.

You couldn't even get a piece of actual chicken at a Kentucky Fried Chicken! As far as I can tell, a "chicken strip" is just another word for a "greasy fried batter delivery system."

We were so annoyed we decided to take the high road and so we avoided the burger joint/fake KFC entirely. Instead we opted for a lame chicken Caesar salad from another food court vendor. Then we were forced to eat 5,000 calories worth of trail mix and whole wheat cookies to compensate. Curse you, fake KFC!

Time Warp Gyms
When we're on the road, we tend to visit local gyms along the way and go in on a day pass. It's often an adventure, as no two places are ever exactly the same, and I am incredibly fussy and opinionated about gym equipment.

Our first stop was a gym that was the Cutting Edge of fitness... about 30 years ago. The building was bright and clean and the people were very friendly and helpful. Overall, it was great as they had my favorite eliptical, the armless PreCor. But when it came time for weights... the place was stuffed full of the old first generation Nautilus machines. Remember those?

The old Nautilus machines (which by now are beat to shit and jerky and sticky) were annoying even when they came out. You can't reach the pins to adjust the weights without getting up and walking around to the back of the machine. So if you ever wondered where all those Nautilus machines ended up? They're still out there--at a gym in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

Back on the road...
The adventure continues! Hope there's more internet along the way, but if it remains scarce, I'll look forward to catching up with everyone when I get to California.

And a big thanks to Merry and the Great Guest Posters for keeping the blog going while the Lobster and I meander our way back west!


  1. Man, forget the stupid machines! Stick to free weights

  2. Good to hear from you, Crabby.
    Hope you enjoy your cross-country odyssey.

  3. Sounds fun and really pretty. I've been out of college for five years and I still haven't taken a non-Summer vacay. What have I been thinking?!

  4. Good to hear from you. And I'm with Parth on the free weights.

  5. Dang! I should have warned you not to eat the BBQ in North Carolina. It's just....strange. Enjoy the rest of your trip! It's a beautiful time to be traveling.

  6. Hi Crabby,

    Glad you are having a fine old trip and Fran the Van has become a cheaper date than she was on the west-east trip.

    Sorry about Prop 8 and the other anti-gay amendments. Still a long battle ahead before everyone's rights are equal.


  7. I don't want to scare you, but NC is not on the way to California....but it sure is pretty this time of year.

    Also, uh......vinegar based BBQ is the ONLY BBQ ever worth eating.

  8. You guys are creating a new Route 88!!

    Enjoy the voyage, "On the Road!"

  9. Aww - you're writing from Charlotte? That's a shout-out right?!? ;) Sounds like you are having a great trip. The ancient Nautilus machines always remind me of middle school. Good times... not.

  10. five days offline - I might go crazy! But your KFC and old-school nautilus experiences are proving us with hours of entertainment. keep it coming!

  11. I wish I were there. Not actually in Fran the Van but maybe in Ludwig Van. Want to go OUT WEST!!! So bad. It should be on my goals list. Maybe I can bump something.

    Don't like barbecue particularly, unless it's my husband's spareribs. The ones he cooks, I mean.

    Also one word: grocery store. (Okay, two words.) There are all kinds of grocery stores between here and CA, and a lot of them have cooked food and salads and stuff. NTM cheese and veggie munchie platters. Also fried chicken that you can pull the batter-skin off.

  12. No Internet makes me go crazy too. Us bloggers depend on it for everything!

    Glad the trip is going well, even with some minor mishaps:)

  13. I took two days off my blog and that was a lot! I can't imagine five! I had planned to write my Friday post on Thursday night, like I wrote my Thursday post on Wednesday night. Didn't happen. Too exhausted.

    Cross country trip sounds like fun! And go for the body weight exercises, then you don't even need a gym! You and the lobster can even do them together (I learned so much new cool stuff at the conference this weekend, more to come on my blog). For example:

    Have the lobster lie down straight and tighten her abs up. So that if you were to lift her, she wouldn't bend at the waist. Then have her cross her hands over her chest. Now, bend down, grab her around her wrists (one hand on top, the other hand beneath, and make sure to take watches off). Then squat down, take the weight on your quads, and lift her up to wards your chest. It's a bent over row for you (just make sure to keep your knees bent so you don't hurt your back), and a core exercise for her if she stays straight.

    And there's always bicep curls with the cat ;)

  14. Five days with no internet!'s sad, but I can't imagine! I bet it'd do some good though...unglued form the computer :)

    Have a great time! Good luck in finding a more modern gym!

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  16. I'm glad you didn't take the North Dakota route. Lots of stranded motorists by the side of the road, probably wondering why they didn't go via North Carolina instead.
    Never heard of vinegar barbecue until now. This blog is educational :)

  17. What's going on in ND? Snow? Ice? Tornadoes?

  18. North Dakota had a snow storm; apparently a lot of people got stranded by the side of the road. The TV news showed lots of pictures of snow and irritated people. I was looking for minivans.

  19. At the apartments I used to live in, the gym had nice, new, state of the art cardio, but no free weights, and weight machines that were so ancient and unergonomic that they were actually dangerous.

    As for road food, I always take my own. Check Whole Foods or your local equivalent easy foods like powdered hummus that you can whip up in a jiffy. Then all you need are crackers or veggies, and a cup of yogurt (available in even the most podunk of small-town convenience stores) and you're set!

    I hope you get more consistent internet connectivity as you head west. Many Texas camps and rest stops now have free wireless service, which comes in handy, given that it can take up to two days to cross this state. I know not every state has free wireless for travelers (ahem...New Mexico) but surely we're not the only one.

  20. Do they have Starbucks in North Carolina or are those too West Coastian?

    'cause they've got some healthy grub if you're looking for breakfast or lunch :)

  21. Nice to hear from you, Crabby! And the Bag Lady is jealous of your cross-country trip....she's shivering in the cold here today!

  22. I LOVE Charlotte.
    & still need to do the drive across country.
    please to excuse me as I need to get back outside and wave my CRABBY STOP HERE!!! sign.

  23. If we were _all_ there, we could carry Fran the Van and save gas and the environment. Getting exercise in the process. (Not that I have any real ambition to walk to California.)

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  24. A cross-country trip sounds like a blast.. especially with your take on things. Fun stuff.

  25. I totally agreen on the vinegar BBQ. Molassess is where its at!

  26. Have fun! Forget about us. We'll still be here when you get back.

  27. We missed you, and Fran looks ecstatic! :)

    I'm sorry about Prop 8 too, I still can't quite believe it. :(

    Have a safe trip and take lots of pics to show us. Blog fodder!

  28. For some reason, I imagined Fran the Van as tricked-out-VW bus. (I swear, it was the name Fran).

    So happy to hear "the voice" has quieted...for now. Look forward to it when you get back!

    Have a great, safe, adventurous rest of the trip- (I love/hate the cross country drive!)


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