we broke free on a Saturday morning…

I broke free on a Saturday morning
I put the pedal to the floor
Headed north on Mills Avenue
And listened to the engine roar

–from “This Year” by the Mountain Goats

Nikki and I left town on Saturday morning, and headed North towards Seattle. This is our first post-funemployment trip, timed to coincide with her birthday next week. Why Seattle? Well, we were here last year and we liked it. That’s why.

The drive up was pretty familiar to us, since we’re taking the same route we took last summer when we drove to Portland. Except, we had to cover the extra 250 miles to Seattle in the same time period (2 days), so we pushed ourselves a little harder. Nikki even put her day-old learner’s permit to good use and drove for a bit in California.

On long days on the road where you’re just pushing to cover mileage, the highlights are of course, those few precious meal breaks. We were pretty lucky on the way up, and managed to avoid gas station food or chain restaurants.

For dinner last night, we took the first exit after surprisingly noticing a low fuel gauge, which happened to be exit 76, Wolf Creek. After having an attendant fill up our tank (silly Oregonians), we decided to try the only decent looking eatery in town, at the Wolf Creek Inn. Apparently this inn used to be a coach stop on the Portland-Sacramento route or some such, and is on the National Registry of Historic Places. We were seated right next to a warm crackling wood fire, and served warm home-baked bread. The entrees weren’t exceptional but decent for the price, and I enjoyed the old fashioned all-wood decor and general atmosphere, especially after a full day on the road and rainy weather outside. Seeing how the only options are either fast food or chain restaurants for that stretch of the I5, I would recommend the Wolf Creek Tavern if you happen to pass by the area and are looking for food and warmth.

We crashed for the night in Roseburg, OR, only because that was the first town we came upon after I decided it was too dark and rainy to continue. For breakfast, I did a local search for “diner” on my iPhone, and picked Digger Don’s Diner, the only real diner in the result set. Located at the edge of town in Sutherlin, Nikki’s first response was “I hope we don’t get shot in there.” In spite of the conspicuously large American flag outside and the lack of parking space, we braved on into Don’s domain. DDD turned out to be the kind of local diner you don’t see very often any more. Most of the clientele appeared to have roamed the earth around the time of the dinosaurs, and one particularly old fella snoozed contentedly in a pool of biscuits and gravy. The waitress –a true-blood diner waitress who calls everybody “hon”– seemed to know everyone else by first name except for us, but that seemed to have no discernable negative impact on the friendly service we received. Nikki had some tasty oatmeal, and I decided to prepare myself for another long day of driving with a 3-egg veggie scramble on hash browns with a giant pancake as a “side”. The scamble had lots of chunky broccoli, and the pancake had a perfect spongy texture. Combined with the Sunday issue of the Oregonian, we had ourselves a quite satisfactory breakfast that lasted us basically until Seattle.

Finally, as the title of this blog includes the word “rifle” in it, I am obliged to report that a random Wal-Mart we stopped in had .22LR ammo in stock, unlike the one in Mountain View I frequent. I purchased 2 boxes (650 rounds) of Federal Automatch, and a box of Federal Bulk Pack (550 rounds).

What if?

I had an unusually hard time falling sleep last night. My mind kept whirring with all sorts of things that could go wrong. What if I end up in a coma before I can elect COBRA coverage? What if I get a flat tire while going 80 miles an hour on the freeway? What if I accidentally hit a pedestrian while driving in an unfamiliar city? What if the economy totally craps out and I can’t find a job when I need to? What if, what if, what if?

These are all good questions to ask when you quit your job and decide to live off of savings for a while. On the other hand, it seemed like the anxiety I was feeling was a little blown out of proportion (seeing how I’m normally not a very anxious person). Somehow being employed gives you a sense of security, which doesn’t make much sense when you think about it. True, spending 8 hours a day in an office cubicle where all possible hazards have been removed, is probably safer than, say, spending a day outdoors. But I am just as likely to get in a car accident if I’m on the road, regardless of my employment status. The economy will or won’t tank, regardless of my employment status. I could fall ill, regardless of my employment status. Hell, you could even lose your job against your will. Life is full of risks, and there are ways to mitigate those risks, or at least make those risks tolerable, but being employed isn’t one of them. Having health insurance, is. Having auto insurance, is. Having warranties on expensive and vital stuff, is. Having a marketable skill is, and so is being wise about money. A job can help achieve all of those things, but at the end, it is merely a means, not the ends.

Laptop and a Rifle

I quit my job at Google today. The place considered to be the playground, mecca, paradise for engineers; I quit. Was it as good as they said it was? Sure, for the most part it was. But after 4 years in Silicon Valley–3.5 years at Yahoo! and another half a year at Google–I got tired of being a corporate software engineer. One day, I looked out the window, and realized there was a whole world out there. I decided I wanted to go out and experience it.

I am embarking on a journey, with a laptop and a rifle. The laptop, because it’s been my ticket to freedom, will keep me in touch with the world, and be my ticket back to civilization when I am ready. The rifle, partially because I’m passionate about guns and shooting, but also because it symbolizes the rugged individualism and deep desire for independence that burns in my heart.

So, with a laptop and a rifle, I will go. This blog is a chronicle of my journeys.