Started here:

Traverse City, Michigan
The Great Lakes Tour
Day 6 - Monday, August 18, 2008
Ended here:

Benton Harbor, Michigan

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"They" say in every life a little rain must fall. If that's true, today in my life it poured.

I got up this morning and everything was pretty much routine until I turned on the notebook computer. It booted up about half way and then crashed with this BSOD (blue screen of death) error:

STOP: c000021a {Fatal System Error}
The Windows Logon Process system process terminated unexpectedly with a status of 0xc00005 (0x00000000 0x00000000).
The system has been shutdown.
Rebooting did not work and I could not boot into any of the various "Safe Modes."

Except for The Navigator, the most important part of this trip is the notebook computer. Everything is stored there: Route mapping, statistics, the web site, pictures. So losing use of the notebook is a pretty big deal.

Those of you not interested in the technical minutia describing how this problem was fixed can skip down below to End of Technical Discussion.

As I was preparing the notebook for the trip about a week before we left, it crashed with this same error. I called IBM Tech Support and, even though the notebook was out of warranty, the support guy, who spoke perfect English and was based in Toronto, FYI, said to run the diagnostics and if nothing was wrong with the hardware that I would have to reload the operating system (Win XP Home).

The diagnostics showed no errors so I reloaded the OS partition (C) from the Recovery Partition (scroll down to the Recovery partitions section). Of course that means the C drive got wiped. But all was not lost. When this notebook was new in 2005, I used Acronis Disk Director to shrink the C partition. In the space created, I created a D partition for my data, an E partition for application software and an F partition for everything else, sort of an archive.

Some applications like MS Office, the Delorme Street Atlas mapping software and Quicken dump some of their files on the C drive. However, a long list of other applications that I use on a daily basis on a trip don't touch the C drive: Firefox, Thunderbird, EzThumbs, FSViewer, Lview, WinAmp, etc. So none of those applications needed to be reloaded. They were already there on the E drive. I just made a shortcut to them from the desktop and we were good to go.

This IBM Thinkpad Notebook has been a very steady performer. The crash a week or so before this trip was the first real problem I've had with it. I got to thinking that maybe it's going flaky on me. So I packed the distribution media for the applications I would truly have to reload (CDs in tha case of MS Office and Quicken and a DVD for Street Atlas. The notebook has an internal CD-ROM, but no DVD so I also packed an external DVD/RW.

This morning when it crashed I was very disappointed, to say the least. I felt pretty confident the notebook could be restored to it's previous glory. And I thought about taking the day off, renting a motel room and spending the day putting it back together. But I decided that, since the reload from the recovery partition ( a three-four hour job) pretty much runs by itself, I could start that and be driving while it did its thing. And this is where it got very interesting.

The Navigator has come to love his mapping software. He was beside himself when I told him we wouldn't have use of the computer today and that he'd have to navigate off a paper map (I pack paper maps for the entire route 'cause ya just never know :). But I do have to give him a lot of credit. He buckled down and used the paper map. And only gave me three wrong turns all day. I'm very proud of The Navigator today. He did a great job. And even got a Greenie!

After the recovery process finished I happened to find a nice park where The Navigator could do his doggie stuff on the Flexi-Lead while I arranged stuff on the computer. I got MS Office and Quicken loaded. And set up the short cuts for the other applications and files I use. But I couldn't load Street Atlas as I have no 110VAC power in the camper (something I'll take care of soon). So we drove again. I looked in the paper Flying J directory (packed 'cause ya just never know :), found one nearby in Benton Harbor and The Navigator routed us right to the front door. When we got here I gave the manager a quick explanation. She said I could use a power outlet in the laundry. So to the laundry I went, set up the notebook and external DVD/RW drive and loaded Street Atlas. At that point the notebook was put back together good enough to continue the trip.

End of Technical Discussion
Long story short, most of the day was spent repairing the notebook. We didn't even see a Great Lake today. And there are no pictures. Bummer! I feel like I've let you folks down.

Tomorrow I hope to finish the southward drive, get past Chicago, drive north and get back into the swing of things. Assuming the notebook behaves itself.

Quote For Today

As the man in a relationship, you have a simple choice: you can be right or you can be happy.
               ~ Ralphie May

Questions and answers about Australian tourism
Background information is here

From the USA:
Q: Please send a list of all doctors in Australia who can dispense rattlesnake serum.

A: Rattlesnakes live in A-meri-ca which is where YOU come from. All Australian snakes are perfectly harmless, can be safely handled and make good pets.

From the USA:
Q: I have a question about a famous animal in Australia, but I forget its name. It's a kind of bear and lives in trees.

A: It's called a Drop Bear. They are so called because they drop out of gum trees and eat the brains of anyone walking underneath them. You can scare them off by spraying yourself with human urine before you go out walking.

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Click here for colorful, comprehensive daily trip statistics hosted by Google Docs.
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From Richard in IL:

An American consultant was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, "Only a little while."

The American then asked, "Why don't you stay out longer and catch more fish?

The Mexican said, "Well, I catch enough to feed my family."

The American then asked, "But what do you do with the rest of your time?"

The Mexican fisherman said, "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life, senor."

The American scoffed, "I am a Harvard graduate and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise."

The Mexican fisherman asked, "But senor, how long will this all take?"

To which the American replied, "15-20 years."

"But what then, senor?"

The American laughed and said, "That's the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions."

"Millions, senor? Then what?"

The American said, "Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos."

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Another groaner from Elizabeth in SC:

Two guys were discussing popular family trends on sex, marriage, and values. Stu said, "I didn't sleep with my wife before we got married, did you?"

Leroy replied, "I'm not sure, what was her maiden name?"

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