Sunday, December 28, 2008

Cross-Country Road Trip: USA in 8 Days!

After living in NYC for two years, I've accumulated a closet full of winter clothes! Coming from a city known for its perfect year round weather (San Diego), my wardrobe didn't consist of winter coats, rain coats, rain boots, snow boots, scarves, winter hats, gloves, and an endless array of leggings! Most San Diegans can get away with a closet full of summer clothes and a fleece jacket for occasional chilly days (60 F). I simply couldn't say goodbye to my newly acquired winter clothes and decided to take a road trip to transport all my valuables, e.g. clothes, shoes, paintings and easel, from New York to California. I've always wanted to drive across the US, and here was the perfect opportunity. Luckily, I was able to coerce Nick into tagging along with me for eight days in a confined space. (Note: If you ever want to 'test' your relationship, a road trip will surely do the trick)

Using AAA.com's TripTik Travel Planner, we allotted eight days for the entire trip (3,720 miles/5,986.4 km). The web site provided exact driving directions, total miles, and estimated time to complete trip. According to the trip planner, if we were to drive without any stops or overnight stays, we could have done the trip in 55 hours and 48 minutes!!!

Although we mapped out our trip with TripTik, I bought Juan a GPS for Christmas and asked him if he wouldn't mind us "testing" it out on our road trip to ensure its reliability. He graciously agreed to let us borrow his gift, and it was definitely a LIFESAVER. Nick and I both fell in love with the GPS....even though she did get annoying at times, but then again who wouldn't be annoying after eight days of directing, recalculating, and redirecting?


In an effort to save money, I posted a rideshare ad on Craigslist offering to drive someone's vehicle cross-country. A fellow Twitterer (@jonahsigel) suggested this great idea after I posted an update asking for rental car deals and discounts. I received responses from my Craigslist ad and decided to go with Todd from Mountain Journeys. After speaking with Todd on the phone, I knew he was reliable and trustworthy. He provided several character references and seemed sincere and honest. He allowed me to drive his 95 Ford Windstar from New Jersey to Colorado. After dropping off the minivan in Colorado, I decided to rent an SUV from Budget for the remainder of the trip.

Nick and I loaded the 95 Ford Windstar with all my precious goods. A special thanks to Phippsy (@uberphipps) for letting us squat at his place in Hoboken for a couple nights.

Day 1
Start date & time: Wednesday, December 17 at 1am (14.5 hours driving)
***Drove from New Jersey to Pennsylvania, District of Columbia, Virginia and Tennessee
***Arrived in Nashville on Wednesday, December 17 at 3pm.
***Enjoyed live country music at Rippy's. Nick ordered pork ribs and I had some catfish!
***Spent the night in Nashville, TN at Preston Hotel --- chic, modern and artsy!

"Pink Slip" by Herb Williams (www.herbwilliamsart.com)
Dress made with pink crayons showcased in lobby at Preston Hotel.

Live country music at Rippy's --- Tourists Welcome!

Day 2
Start date & time: Thursday, December 18 at 10:30am
***Left Nashville and stopped in Memphis, TN (Graceland - Elvis' mansion)
***Drove to Little Rock, AR and walked around main street.
***Headed to Texas and spent the night in Mt. Pleasant. Enjoyed some more comfort food at Herschel's (Chicken fried steak and mac n cheese)





Day 3
Start date & time: Friday, December 19 at 10am
***Left Mt. Pleasant, TX and headed to Dallas. Stopped at Red, Hot and Blue for pulled pork sandwiches. Nick ordered the All-in-One Sandwich --- beef, chicken and pork!!!
***Drove through Oklahoma City and Wichita, Kansas.
***Spent the night in Salina, Kansas after slurping on tortilla soup at Cotixas. The town was filled with snow.

All-in-One Burger at Red Hot & Blue (Texas)

Scenic viewpoint in Oklahoma

Day 4
Start date & time: Saturday, December 20 at 9:45am
***Left Salina, Kansas and headed to Denver, Colorado. FREEZING COLD!
***We drove around Denver and met up with Todd's friend in Boulder. Todd was kind enough to put us up for the night for driving his car safely to Colorado.
***After five days without Internet access, I NEEDED to get connected. We found an Internet cafe on Pearl Street and enjoyed a delicious dinner at Foolish Craig's Cafe. I highly recommend the veggie burger --- yummy! The service was excellent.


Viewpoint in Boulder

Day 5
Start date & time: Sunday, December 21 at 7am
***Picked up rental car at Budget. Loaded the SUV and drove through the Colorado Rockies.
***Drove through Utah and Arizona.
***Spent the night in Tusayan, AZ (right outside Grand Canyon Park South Rim entrance). We checked in at Red Feather Lodge --- warm and friendly staff!

The Rockies were magnificent!


Day 6 & 7
Start date & time: Monday, December 22 at 930am
***After enjoying a Continental breakfast at Red Feather Lodge, we entered South Rim of the Grand Canyon. It was snowing and the winds were quite strong. Visibility was poor, but we wanted to see more and drove further where it was even more dangerous.
***Check out video below! My apologies for the horrible audio quality --- it was extremely windy.
***Headed to Hoover Dam (once known as both the world's largest electric-power generating station and the world's largest concrete structure).


Traffic was horrendous driving through the Hoover Dam.

*** We spent two nights in Sin City, Las Vegas!!!
*** Spent time with my cousins - The Tangs! We were fortunate enough to be invited to dinner at the Sinatra restaurant at Steve Wynn's Encore Casino -- thanks to cousin Bobby and his connections! It was the SECOND day that the Las Vegas luxury hotel & casino opened its doors!!

Sharon, Bobby, Susie and me at Sinatra.

Garden at Encore Casino & Hotel

Day 8
Start date & time: Wednesday, December 24 at 11am
***After finishing up some last-minute shopping in Vegas, we headed south to California.
***As we approached the end of our eight-day journey, heavy raindrops hit the windshield, making the perfect sound for Nick as he slept through Southern California....

Just one of the MANY photos I snapped of Nick sleeping during our road trip. All I asked was for him to keep me entertained while I drove --- apparently I was asking for too much! Luckily, I had the GPS to keep me company since my co-pilot was obviously preoccupied!

Looking back at this trip, I realized how much time and money I spend exploring other countries, yet my own backyard has yet to be explored. I can't wait for our next adventure together.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Tales from Facebook: How far would YOU go..

to find someone you met ONCE?

Last week, a friend of mine who we will call "Aidan," met a woman named, "Liz" at a bar in New York City. They hit it off immediately and exchanged stories about what they love and hate about living in New York. As most people know, it's tough to date in New York City, and it's even more difficult to find a connection with someone at a bar. (Why do people always smirk when you tell them you met your significant other at a bar, or even worse, a night club?)

Liz decided to write her phone number down on a piece of paper for Aidan, hoping he would call her in a few days (secretly wishing he would call the following day) to set up a date to see each other again. Aidan was thrilled and put her number in his wallet for safekeeping. There was definitely magic in the air and they both couldn't wait to see each other again!

Aidan spent that night thinking about Liz and wanted to call her the same night, but as we all know, thanks to the 1996 movie, Swingers, you should always wait three days (or six according to Trent and Rob) before calling a girl so as not to seem desperate.

The following day, Aidan told his buddies about Liz and couldn't wait to see her again. When the time came to call Liz, Aidan looked in his wallet for Liz's number, but it was GONE! What the F@%$!!!!! He emptied his wallet three times, looked in the pockets of his jacket and pants, and basically tore his apartment upside down. He even checked the freezer, microwave, and washer and dryer!! He traced his steps from the previous night and concluded that the paper must have fallen out when he reached in his wallet to pay for the cab ride home. He was screwed!!! Liz's number was in a cab somewhere in NYC -- never to be seen by Aidan again.

Most of us would think, hey if it was meant to be, he will bump into Liz again. Or some might say, eh...there are plenty of other fish in the sea, it's no big deal.

However, this was NOT Aidan's thinking. He decided to use Facebook to find her, but since he didn't have her last name, he was pretty much out of luck. At least that's what a normal person would think. Aidan decided to go the extra mile and created a Facebook Page called "Desperately Seeking Liz." OMG - I couldn't believe it when I received an invite to become a fan of this page. Aidan posted a photo of him and Liz that he just happened to take on his camera phone the night they met which, believe it or not isn't too unusual considering how tech savvy people are these days. He asked friends and 'friends of friends' if they could help him find Liz. He included details of how they met and how he lost her number. He was candid about his understanding of how ridiculous this was for him to put it out there on Facebook like that, open for everyone to criticize. My original thoughts were, "this is super creepy and stalker-like. There's NO WAY he's going to find her this way!"

Forty-eight hours later, a friend of a friend recognized Liz in the photo and contacted her personally. The friend showed Liz the page that Aidan created and believe it or not, she wasn't creeped-out, instead, she was flattered that Aidan went through all this trouble to find her. She friended him on Facebook and they arranged for a date next week.

WOW! --- I'm still at a loss for words. Weird? Crazy? Romantic? Freaky? Unbelievable? I've heard lots of Facebook stories, but this one takes the cake. I hope it works out :)

This is actually based on a true story. The names and location have been altered to protect the privacy of those mentioned.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Shameless Gold Digger - Funny Personal Ad

Looks like the notorious Craigslist personal ad that received a lot of media attention last year found its way to Johannesburg (South Africa). Click here to read the New York Times article from last year.

The original ad has been altered a bit in efforts to localize the advert, i.e. replacing "Central Park West" to "Hyde Park" and "$500,000" to "R500K".

Funny enough, Nicholas forwarded this to me after receiving it from a colleague at work in London today. Can you believe it's still being circulated worldwide?

The scathing response posted by an investment banker (see below) at JPMorgan Chase is what really made the email go viral last year, resulting in national TV and print coverage.

Dear Pers-:

I read your posting with great interest and have thought meaningfully about your dilemma. I offer the following analysis of your predicament. Firstly, I'm not wasting your time, I qualify as a guy who fits your bill; that is I make more than $500K per year. That said here's how I see it.

Your offer, from the prospective of a guy like me, is plain and simple a crappy business deal. Here's why. Cutting through all the B.S., what you suggest is a simple trade: you bring your looks to the party and I bring my money. Fine, simple. But here's the rub, your looks will fade and my money will likely continue into perpetuity...in fact, it is very likely that my income increases but it is an absolute certainty that you won't be getting any more beautiful!

So, in economic terms you are a depreciating asset and I am an earning asset. Not only are you a depreciating asset, your depreciation accelerates! Let me explain, you're 25 now and will likely stay pretty hot for the next 5 years, but less so each year. Then the fade begins in earnest. By 35 stick a fork in you!

So in Wall Street terms, we would call you a trading position, not a buy and hold...hence the rub...marriage. It doesn't make good business sense to "buy you" (which is what you're asking) so I'd rather lease. In case you think I'm being cruel, I would say the following. If my money were to go away, so would you, so when your beauty fades I need an out. It's as simple as that. So a deal that makes sense is dating, not marriage.

Separately, I was taught early in my career about efficient markets. So, I wonder why a girl as "articulate, classy and spectacularly beautiful" as you has been unable to find your sugar daddy. I find it hard to believe that if you are as gorgeous as you say you are that the $500K hasn't found you, if not only for a tryout.

By the way, you could always find a way to make your own money and then we wouldn't need to have this difficult conversation.

With all that said, I must say you're going about it the right way. Classic "pump and dump."
I hope this is helpful, and if you want to enter into some sort of lease, let me know.

____________
Rob Campbell
J.P.Morgan
Diversified Industrials Investment Banking
277 Park Avenue, 16/F, New York , NY 10172

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