Sunday, September 20, 2009

Road Trip 2009!

So, those of you who are intimate personal friends, and those of you who are Facebook friends -- and really, what's the difference -- are probably aware that I've spent the last week or so in an exotic land called "the East Coast," doing what I do best: driving around and looking at stuff. It was a magnificent trip to the point of being a little overwhelming, packed with visits, museums, exploration, and incident.

And also, counties. Here's the breakdown:

New Jersey

Four hundred years of busy and continuous layered development with a minimum of anything like planning has left New Jersey a charmingly messy place. It is the landscape of a Libertarian's paradise. I flew into and out of Newark, and burned time before my flight out by doing some blatant county-grabbing -- what Mrs.5000 calls "plowing" -- by making a pointless trip south to nip inside the border of Ocean County. On this map, as the others, green represents counties I'd been to before and blue represents new counties collected on this trip. Different shades of blue just represent different days.

Incidents and Attractions: The rental car company I had made a reservation with didn't allow its cars to go most of the places I wanted to go. This caused some early-trip scrambling, but that's cool; it gave a little more time for the air-travel sedatives to wear off.

New Counties: 8

West Virginia

Our 49th State! Or MY 49th state, at least, and in that sense the #1 reason for the trip. (In answer to the obvious question: Hawai'i.)

Incidents and Attractions: The most surreal and appalling stretch of urban blight I've ever seen. An area of extreme cultural and economic deprivation that I really would not have thought possible. Pleasant wooded hills. A sweet running track in Veteran's Park, Clarksburg. Everyone I met who wasn't working was friendly; everyone I met who was working was surly.

New Counties: 10


My first visit in more than a decade.

Incidents and Attractions: Accidentally encountering 5000 High School, probably the most famous building in the United States that bears my family name. Everything looking incredibly prosperous immediately after crossing the border from West Virginia.

New Counties: 3 or 4, depending on how you handle Virginia counties.

A major base of operations for the trip, where I got to visit my various pals in the Pennsylvintelligencia, including but not limited to Serendipity and DrSchnell.
Incidents and Attractions: The Jim Thorpe Monument, the incredibly kitschy Flight 93 Monument, being rear-ended by a motorcyclist (man unhurt, bike pretty messed up), Fallingwater (waaaaay cool), getting "arrested" after a gas pump didn't register my credit card, getting lost twice (I don't get lost very often, and I kind of enjoy it when I do).

New Counties: 22

Not just a shameless attempt to pad the state count, ducking into Ohio also gave me a chance to check out the Ohio River for the first time.
Incidents and Attractions: Industrial traffic on the river like it was 1880; sudden mammoth powerplants and factories looming out of the countryside.

New Counties: 3

New York

Michael5000's conquest of Manhattan will get a future post of its own. On the last morning of the trip, I did some plowing to make sure I got the five borough-counties -- you know: Bronx, Queens, Kings, New York, and Richmond -- as well as the two other Long Island counties, Nassau and Suffolk.

Incidents and Attractions: Dia: Beacon, the Hudson River towns of Westchester County, base camp in Yonkers, paying people money in order to cross bridges, being disabused of the (in retrospect) strange notion that Staten Island is only accessible by ferry, seeing lots of incredibly famous places, and Manhattan, which was packed with incident and attraction.

New Counties: 7


It was my first visit to Maryland since 1994, and I mostly just passed through, but naturally I found time for some manly deeds and womanly words. (fatti maschii parole femine, baby!)
Incidents and Attractions: Everything looking incredibly prosperous immediately after crossing over the border from West Virginia, hanging out at a Starbucks off of I-70 coasting off of the unsecured internet from a nearby carpet store, rush hour traffic on the belt road in Baltimore.

New Counties: 5

For a total of:
59 counties! Making 2009 immediately the best county-harvesting year since 2005, and a huge improvement over last year's, well, zero.

Also, I had a terrific time.


Jennifer said...

I'm always a little afraid I'm going to have to move to someplace like Hawai'i to get you to visit after you've collected all the counties near me.

But what I wanted to do was ask for an explanation of your italicized New Counties comment for Virginia. What are the different ways of counting?

Michael5000 said...

@Jennifer: Actually, if you could move to Texas or Kentucky? That would be very helpful.

Virginia has a weird system of autonomous cities that are not parts of the counties that encompass them. Different county collectors differ in how this should be treated. I can never remember quite how I handle it myself. The issue doesn't come up very often.

The Calico Cat said...

White, means my county is still up for grabs... (Funny thing, I am always driving through or very near 4 or 5 of the counties in my state without effort.)

Christine M. said...

Everything looking incredibly prosperous immediately after crossing over the border from West Virginia

I also noticed this while crossing from WV to Ohio this summer. And southern Ohio is the least prosperous area of Ohio! Poor WV.

Jenners said...

Woah woah woah ... you were in my neck of the woods and didn't let me know?????? I'm pissed!!!! Do you have Camden County. Gloucester County or Burlington County? Well, I could have given you all of those on a silver platter!

Michael5000 said...

@Jenners: That was preemptive revenge for referring to my accomplishment as "dubious."

You probably feel pretty chagrined now.