Frequently being on the road driving to and from the classes I teach gives me the opportunity to occasionally see some fairly odd things.

Most often I observe people with strange items in their trunks, on their cars or otherwise in-tow. I’ve learned to never underestimate the creativity (or, in some cases, stupidity) of people when it comes to their cars!

I decided to start documenting as many of these “moments” as possible and aptly title them under the heading of “Junk in Your Trunk.” I will randomly post images as I take them or discover images I took earlier that seem to fit the bill. I am also willing to post photos anyone else takes and sends my way — so feel free to “shoot and send!”

Car Engine on Highway 99 NorthThe photo to the left was taken on Wednesday, August 6, 2008 while I was driving north on highway 99 en route to Bakersfield (where I was teaching at DeVry University later that afternoon).

It is a bit hard to see, but there is a car engine in the trunk of the silver Honda Civic in the foreground! I am unsure why there is a car engine in the trunk, though I was certain it was not the engine powering the car, but there it is!

Note: Unfortunately, the camera in my Palm Centro is adequate, but not always ideal. However, you can click on the photo to see a larger, and slightly clearer, version of the photo.

On Monday, July 7, 2008, after enjoying a “one-day vacation” with my family in Big Bear Lake, CA I embarked on a 3 hour and 21 minute, 205.5 mile journey to Bakersfield. There I was scheduled to start teaching another session at DeVry University that evening.

view-of-big-bear-lake

I am only just now able to share the photos from this trip because the past two months were exceptionally challenging, but rewarding. Adjunct teaching is similar to walking a tight-rope without a net: high risk, but high reward. There is no paid leave, sick leave or traditional benefits.

I taught three classes at DeVry:

  • BUSN-115, Introduction to Business and Technology
  • COMP-100, Computer Applications for Business with Lab
  • ENGL-135, Advanced Composition

I also facilitated four to six concurrent online sessions for Axia College of University of Phoenix of:

  • COM-140, Contemporary Business Communication
  • COM-220, Research Writing

Amidst all that I was juggling some consulting projects and myriad responsibilities as the father of two amazing young boys. Despite the limited amount of free time I have, it was important to have some kind of a vacation with my family, even if doing so involved driving 350 miles in 6.5 hours during a 24 hour period.

Had I been able to spend more time on vacation I would have done so. However, my circumstance did not permit it — so I appreciated the time I did have, not the time I didn’t. Although my time in Big Bear was short, it was priceless.

We rented a pontoon boat and spent several hours driving around on the lake just relaxing and taking in the fresh air. I don’t step back and take a break much, especially these days, but it was a wonderful chance to partially recharge my batteries.

After spending the morning of July 7 on the water once more I loaded up my car, filled up the tank (at $4.73 a gallon!) and got what I thought would be a cheap automated car wash (it was $10!). I got on the road at almost exactly noon and was off on my big adventure.

My route included California Highway 18 north (through Apple Valley) to Interstate 15 North (briefly) to Highway 58 West (the starting point is near Hinkley, CA — made famous/infamous in the movie “Erin Brokovich”) and ending on Highway 99.  My stopping point was the Vagabond Inn (North Bakersfield).

The photos below document this pleasant and, thankfully, uneventful road trip.

Fueling up in Big Bear Lake ($4.73 a Gallon!)

Leaving Big Bear Lake on Highway 18

Some kind of processing plant at the base of the mountain

Decisions, Decisions…

Apple Valley (where are the apples?)

Getting onto Interstate 15 (it is the overpass in the distance)

Interstate 15 North

Highway 58 to Bakersfield

Highway 58 Near Hinkley, CA (made famous/infamous in “Erin Brokovich”)

Mojave (home of SpaceShipOne)

Leaving Mojave and heading up the mountain on Highway 58 West

Nearing Tehachapi

Nearing Bakersfield

Smoky skies from various wildfires (see YouTube video below)

The video below was shot during the last leg of my journey. The overcast/discolored sky that was the result of soot and smoke in the air from the Piute Fire (near Lake Isabella, CA) and, possibly, the Gap Fire that was burning in Goleta, CA (near Santa Barbara).

The music in the background is the theme from the movie “Napoleon Dynamite.”  For the music buffs out there it is called “Music For A Found Harmonium” and can be found on the album “Irish Times” by Patrick Street.

It seems to fit the video quite well. Don’t you agree, Napoleon? Gosh!

The “Bond” in all its glory – actually for $40 it is a great value

Scenic view of Highway 99 South from my luxury suite at the Vagabond Inn

All things considered it was a (thankfully) uneventful, yet interesting adventure. There was something unique and invigorating about seeing parts of California many people overlook.

The following day I filmed this video as I drove to the DeVry University Center at 3000 Ming Avenue.

The video below is of me approaching the DeVry campus. The music that accompanies this clip is called “Say Hello” off of the “Centuries Before Love and War” album of the group “Stars of Track and Field.” Notably, I went to elementary school and grew up with one of the members of the band: Dan Orvik.

Despite the often odd adventures I have driving to and from DeVry, one thing is for certain: my commute is never boring!

A blur.

That’s what the past two months feel like. When I last posted to this blog the new year had just begun and I was a few days away from beginning several new classes at various campuses across Southern California (in addition to my continued online teaching).

The experience was both overwhelming and invigorating. I would not have traded it for the world. The schools for which I worked and the classes I taught included the following:

  • Axia College of University of Phoenix (Online): Contemporary Business Communication (COM/140), Effective Essay Writing (COM/150) and Utilizing Information in College Writing (COM/125).
  • DeVry University (Bakersfield): Composition (ENGL-112), Critical Thinking and Problem Solving (COLL-148), PC Hardware and Software (COMP-129), Project Management (MGMT-404).
  • International American University (Palmdale): Marketing (BUS-505) and one class of Organizational Behavior (BUS-525).
  • UC Santa Barbara Extension (Goleta): Buying Behavior (BUSAD X409.47).

20080124_hwy_58_east_16

Most surprisingly was the number of miles I found myself driving each week. In the first week alone I logged 950.6 miles (across six days)! Initially I was scheduled to make the round trip from Santa Clarita to Bakersfield on Interstate 5 five days a week with one return trip through Palmdale (via the 58 Freeway) where I teach an additional class on Mondays. I also spent five consecutive weekends making a round trip to and from Santa Barbara for my class at UCSB Extension.

Fortunately I was able to revise my schedule and cut out a round trip to Bakersfield, reducing my total days of driving from six to five. However, this  only marginally reduced my total miles to 842.2 miles the following week. Overall I wound up averaging between 700 and 800 miles weekly — and had my oil changed twice!

In total, from January 1st through February 29th I estimate that I drove a total of 6,212.80 miles! Granted this is not exact (and it could be over or under by a 100 to 200 miles), but suffice it to say I enjoyed some serious quality time with my car!

To alleviate the strain of constant travel, I stayed a total of seven nights in Bakersfield (on Wednesdays when I had a late night class followed by an early one the following morning — plus one additional night on a Tuesday).

I made the mistake of spending the first night in a Motel 6 for the bargain price of $35. I knew I was in for a treat when my room had no working television, the heater was stuck on and the thermostat was missing all of its buttons. Plus the shower closely resembled the “Orgasmatron” from the Woody Allen movie “Sleeper!”

The next week I discovered the Vagabond Inn (Bakersfield South) — a veritable palace compared with the Motel 6, and with their Internet rate — was only $5 more! All of the rooms offered a mini-fridge, microwave and coffee maker — in addition to free wireless Internet (which was unfortunately unreliable — good thing I have a Sprint Mobile Broadband account!).

I was unable to get from Santa Clarita to Bakersfield three times in a row during the two month span. The first time, the last Monday in January, was due to a personal matter and then two days later, on Wednesday, Mother Nature stepped in and blasted the Grapevine with a snowstorm, resulting in the closure of Interstate 5.

After traveling no more than one mile, I was stuck on the 5 in Castaic for an hour after the CHP closed the freeway and forced everyone off at the Hasley Canyon exit. Humbled, I retreated home and admitted defeat.

I then missed the very next Monday, which was the first one in February and also the day after the New England Patriot’s heartbreaking loss to the New York Giants in Superbowl XLII (I was born in Boston and was avidly following the team’s amazing season — now the “perfectly imperfect season” as I like to call it).

Still in a state of shock and cycling through the stages of grief, I decided I would make a valliant effort to circumvent the snowed-in Grapevine.

20080124_hwy_58_east_13

So, I drove all the way to Palmdale on the 14 Freeway, intending to make my way West to Bakersfield on the 58 Freeway (the reverse course I normally took on Mondays to get to Palmdale for my afternoon class). Unfortunately, by the time I got there, the storm had moved East and the 58 was closed too!

For a brief slice of time the freeway re-opened, and I got as far as Tehachapi until the CHP, concerned with the weather once more, began escorting traffic, which resulted in a three to five mile backup. Drained, I admitted defeat and realized I was stuck and would not get to Bakersfield that day. I also missed my Palmdale class. What a day!

And now, slightly more than two months later, I have embarked on another session of classes with DeVry, completed my class at UC Santa Barbara Extension and cycled through to new blocks of classes at Axia. I am also now facilitating a new course online: Written Communication (COM/215).

Despite these various changes, one thing has become clear: I thoroughly enjoy teaching and, even though I realize I have a long way to go to refine my craft, I am very grateful for these opportunities to do so. What is also glaringly apparent is that it has been far too long since I updated this blog. It isn’t as if I didn’t think about it, however.

Every few days I kept thinking that I really needed to post something new — a quick update, a brief note, a random picture or two — but every day I was overwhelmingly busy just being busy. I found that there were some small points I wanted to make but that I felt compelled to explain the bigger ones first, thereby resulting in a back log.

20080123_5_freeway_north_14

Ironically, I used this blog as a launching point for assignments in two of my classes: English 112 (Composition) at DeVry and BUSAD X409.47 (Buying Behavior) at UC Santa Barbara Extension.  My students had mixed reactions to the experience, but, all things considered it was an engaging experience for each of them that I think (well, at least hope), provided some helpful hands-on exposure to blogging.

Despite the fact that I did not add anything to this blog for some time, I did take several photos of my various trips to and from the many locations at which I was teaching. I will post them separately in a few days along with several new posts I have been waiting to make. Thanks for your patience and, to whoever out there reads this blog, your interest!