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CATCHING UP WITH DEBBIE AND CAREY
DEBCAR UPDATE # 14
A Brief History of Time
(2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008 anyway)
Published February 5, 2009
If it seems like it's been a while since the last DEBCAR update... well... it has. We are now running so comically far behind in our updates that it recalls the scene from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series where Ford Prefect and Zaphod Beeblebrox stumble across an ancient spaceport. It is full of spaceships, all ruined, except for one which seems intact and is humming slightly. Ford touches it with a homemade stethoscope and is astonished to hear a voice from within:
P.A. VOICE: Trans-Stellar Space Lines would like to apologise to passengers for the continuing delay for the departure of this flight.
FORD: Hey, weird.
P.A. VOICE: We are currently awaiting the loading of our compliment of small, lemon-soaked paper napkins for your comfort, refreshment, and hygiene during the flight, which will be of two hours duration. Meanwhile we thank you for your patience. The cabin crew will shortly be serving coffee and biscuits… again.
FORD: Zaphod! How long has this ship been standing here?
ZAPHOD: Man, there’s a departure board right behind us and I’ve been looking at the flight schedules. Man this ship is late, man this ship is very, very late! Man this ship is over nine-hundred years late.
Compared to a nine-hundred-year delay like that, our four-year delay seems almost inconsequential. So much so that we will likely extend our short break from writing regular updates, and continue to reflect on our travels. Perform background research, let it all soak in, that sort of thing.
In the meantime, you might enjoy an installment (linked below) that Debbie wrote but we never "released," about a trip to Washington, DC, and New York City in early 2005. Adventurous DEBCAR surfers who click the NEXT or PREVIOUS links may discover more bonus pages--templates really--of stories we haven't got around to finishing up yet. Feel free to browse those as far as you can stand.
New York City, and The Gates Thereof
Until we get properly caught up, here's a quick recap. We've spent the past four years crisscrossing the country, guided by a nice mix of personal ideas and business opportunities.
Digital Vehicles, the business, is now 14 years old and is mostly devoted to developing custom simulation software and building specialized bits of hardware to incorporate into cabs built by others, rather than manufacturing complete simulators ourselves. We still have our office in Austin, Texas, which serves as our home base, although we've spent only a few weeks there these past few years, living on the road for months (even years) at a time, as was our original plan.
We've been to San Diego to work on car and bus simulators for the Mexican market; Salt Lake City to install a simulator at the Kennecott copper mine; Detroit to develop simulators for court ordered driving programs; Dahlonega, Georgia, to work on a promotional hot rod simulator; Washington, DC, to update some F1 sims at the DC Auto Show; Denver, El Reno (Oklahoma) and Kilgore (Texas), to support light vehicle simulators; Atlanta and Ocala, Florida, to develop and install the world's first Dodge Charger police simulator; and back to Denver and Grand Junction, Colorado, to work on semi-truck simulators.
Carey's had to get on a plane on business a couple of times--once to Belgium and once to Mexico-- but otherwise, being able to live onsite in our own home for weeks or months while working on projects continues to work out wonderfully, both for us and the customers. We've been fortunate to find business in mostly interesting and varied places, with lots to see and do when not working, which is certainly a good thing.
On the personal side, we spent a couple of spring seasons windsurfing on Padre Island outside Corpus Christi, living comfortably off-the-grid courtesy of a roof we covered with solar panels. We went upscale last spring and went to Hatteras Island instead, windsurfing and generally enjoying the "good life" North Carolina's Outer Banks is known for.
Our path has also intersected friends and family frequently. Sometimes, we go to them. We headed back to Texas for high school reunions in San Angelo and Austin in back-to-back years. Headed toward St. Louis for a wedding (which came off splendidly the second time around). Went to NYC for New Years and visited some friends from Austin, watching the Longhorns win the National Championship (well, Carey watched it--Debbie stayed home and forgot to watch the game, despite being a graduate of both UT and USC). Swung through DC a couple of times to visit Debbie's sister and Carey's uncle. We've also visited friends and family at their homes in Albuquerque, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, and Harrisonburg, Virginia.
Sometimes, the friends and family come to us. Debbie's road-tripping brother Pitchie from San Angelo seems to be stalking us (in a good way), having now arrived at our RV via his pickup while we were in Washington, DC; Asheville, North Carolina; Ocala, Florida; and Denver. Other unexpected, but welcome, coincidences along the route include getting to ski with Diek in Salt Lake City when he was in town from Germany for a conference; mountain biking with Don from Austin in Colorado Springs when he was in town for a conference; hanging out with Debbie's brother from Costa Rica and his family who happened to be in Durango for a few weeks; meeting up with Robin and Dave and family from Austin, who also happened to be in Durango on their vacation that summer, and then meeting them again in Crested Butte last summer.
Due to business in Denver, we've spent a disproportionate amount of time there in the past few years and are getting to know it almost like a regular home. Debbie greatly enjoys the "big-city" art movie scene there, along with the other cultural and fine dining opportunities. She volunteered her time this year to recycling efforts during the Democratic National Convention (and we got to go to Obama's acceptance speech at Invesco Field), and also helped out weekly at a soup kitchen downtown. We logged over 500 miles cycling all around town on the excellent network of paved paths and bike lanes this summer and fall. We were mostly motivated by lunch, at either Corner Bakery (23 miles round trip), Five Guys (35 miles), or Schlotzky's (38 miles). Told you there were fine dining opportunities.
Since getting a taste of how much fun it is to ride a 20-inch wheeled folding bike on the easy trails at Walnut Creek Park in Austin in early 2006, Carey has gotten increasingly hooked on mountain biking. His ride log now shows 5,473 miles (3,209 dirt + 2,265 pavement) and 17 of the 44 International Mountain Bicycling Association "Epic" rides, with an informal goal to eventually ride all of them as we meander around the country. (Hey, someone's got to do it!) Seeking out good places to ride is now one of the things that guides our itinerary. Make sure to check out the new Mountain Biking section on this website and enjoy a "virtual ride-along" of some of the more scenic rides.
Other recreational highlights have included watching UT Baseball with the gang and going to Paramount movies in Austin; marveling at herds of wild beasts at the Wild Animal Park and skating around Mission Bay in San Diego; touring the Kennecott mine and Spiral Jetty in Salt Lake City; gorging at the Peachtree Buffet in Kansas City; attending ChampCar/ALMS Grand Prix races in Houston and Long Beach and SCCA races at Road Atlanta; autocrossing in Kansas, Colorado, Texas and Arizona; driving world-class mountain roads on Mt. Palomar (California), Pikes Peak (Colorado), Tail of the Dragon (sort of bogus, really) and the Cherohala Skyway (big thumbs up) (both in North Carolina); and soaking up the blues for four days at the Chicago Blues Festival last summer.
We've explored this country's great parks and historic sights: Zion, Great Sand Dunes, Grand Canyon, Great Smoky Mountains, Shenandoah, Arches, Canyonlands, and Rocky Mountain National Parks; ridden up the Gateway Arch in St. Louis (okay, Debbie chickened out on this one); soaked up history at the Henry Ford museum in Detroit and the Smithsonian museums in Washington, DC; toured the Biltmore Estate in Asheville and wandered around Colonial Williamsburg and Historic Jamestowne in Virginia; toured presidential libraries from Truman's to Carter's, and presidential homes from Jackson's to Jefferson's; and gawked at lighthouses galore (including the Cape Hatteras one that they moved--upright and intact--several hundred yards inland before it fell into the ocean).
We've seen lots of interesting, strange, and downright random stuff. An antique tractor pull competition, and a dog agility trials event in Asheville, North Carolina (a perk that comes with staying at the fairgrounds). The enormous "flower fields" in Carlsbad, California. A rodeo in Durango, Colorado (another fairgrounds perk). The modern architecture of Palm Springs, California. A pair of drive-in movies in Montrose, Colorado (they deep fry their hot dogs!). A late-night mountain bike accident that eventually led to a knock on our door and a helicopter extraction (of a stranger, luckily) in backwoods Missouri. Taking a can of beans on the Dale (Earnhardt) Trail outside Charlotte. U2 in 3D, and the Rolling Stones in IMAX (note: Keith Richards in extreme close-up on a 10-story high screen is not for the weak). Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice at the Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, Virginia. A major Dragon Boat race event in, of all unlikely places, Denver. A million+ dollar private collection of classic cars behind a nondescript warehouse door we happened to park next to.
Speaking of which, we've lived in some pretty unusual places. A police impound lot for almost a month. A dirt truck lot for a couple months. A truck tire dealer's parking lot for half a year. A parking lot on the campus of Eastern Mennonite University for almost a month (during which Debbie drove overseas delegates back and forth between their peacekeeping conference in Harrisonburg and the airports in Baltimore, Charlottesville, and Washington, DC--as interesting a job as it sounds). A ferry terminal, in order to catch the sunrise boat across to Hatteras. Trackside above Turn 10 at Road Atlanta during the SCCA races. A Whataburger parking lot while passing through Arizona on our way from California to Colorado (figured we'd better load up for both dinner and brunch). One of the ritziest Motorcoach Country Clubs anywhere, courtesy of a five-nights-free internet coupon that gave us a taste of how the "other half" (half percent?) lives (we like it). Seven weeks at an RV repair shop/zoo animal wholesaler in Wichita, complete with zebras and giraffes roaming the grounds. The almost-but-not-quite-lakefront property of a self-described Jewish hillbilly/lawyer/salad dressing entrepreneur/simulator customer in Michigan for a month. And of course, the lovely smelling parking lot behind Digital Vehicles in Austin, complete with battles with neighbors and wandering scrap-metal collector dudes.
We've had some extreme weather, too. From an inland hurricane in El Reno, Oklahoma, that flooded the lake we were camped at and left us stranded for a few days, forcing us to windsurf across to safety (not quite literally true, but our RV was trapped by high water and we made lemonade out of lemons by windsurfing but the cops chased us off the water). To the second-snowiest winter on record in Denver, where Debbie learned that she loves to shovel snow (soooooo satisfying). To wind gusts while we were driving across Iowa that ripped our awning loose from its mounts. Plenty of nights below zero and days above one hundred (not the same days) that have tested our heating and cooling systems to their limits. We seem to have a real knack for going the opposite of the crowds--heading north in the winter and south in the summer.
But at the moment, we're trying to break that pattern. We've stopped off in the mountain bike mecca of Moab, Utah, and are working our way south toward Arizona, to mix it up with the mobs of snowbird RVers and generally thaw out. After spending the last couple of months in Grand Junction, Colorado, with temps only occasionally rising above freezing, that will be a most welcome change.
Y'all keep in touch!
- Carey and Debbie
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