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June 25th, 2008

I finally made it back to California.  I have a mixed history with this state.  One of my best friends lives out here, but I absolutely hate the traffic.  And as anyone who lives out here knows, there is almost no public transportation.  I did my best to avoid the valley area since my friends no longer live down that way.  They are further northeast and live in the hills and mountains of Cali.  License Plate and I decided to search out a nice place on the side of the road to have a picnic.  We’d found a gourmet dog food store that sold the tofu (link) treats she loves.

We settled on this nice, hilly area that had a lot of pines and was quite peaceful.  We were out of the way and everything seemed good.  Other than the breeze.  It was pretty cool up there and I wasn’t dressed accordingly.  License Plate didn’t seem to mind at all and while I searched for something warm in the trunk of the car, she went frolicking off into the woods.  As I found a wind breaker at the bottom of my travel bag, I heard a commotion behind me.  Let me tell you, I was surprised to see a sheep being chased by my happy-go-lucky dog.

While I was standing there completely perplexed about what was going on, an even larger noise came echoing through the woods.  All of a sudden a 4×4 was in front of me and the driver was really angry.  He got off his vehicle in a huge huff and came over to get his sheep.  At least I figured as much.  The ATV’s plate read SHEPRD.  As the guy came running up to License Plate, I ran over too to calm him down.  He starts screaming at me about how I had no respect for people or livestock and I’m lucky he didn’t shoot my dog.  At that inclination, I decided this could turn in to a really interesting argument really quick.

Thankfully though, cooler heads prevailed.  I apologized to him for my dog and I asked him if the sheep was fine.  It was and no harm came from anything.  He eventually apologized for being so upset, but he said that he couldn’t afford to lose another sheep.  Times were tough as a shepherd, if I knew what he was talking about.  Having never met an actual shepherd in my life before, I didn’t.  I decided to just agree though, rather than have him fly off the handle again.  While we were talking, a horn sounded in the distance and he said he had to get back.  His boss was looking for him and the missing sheep.

With that, he was off into the woods.  I was left wondering what all had just happened.  At my friend’s house that night, I went online and tried to do a reverse license plate search, but couldn’t find the guy.  Apparently ATV license plates aren’t included in the regular lookup feature.


June 19th, 2008

“Why don’t you just do a license plate lookup?”  “How about one of those reverse license plate searches?”  These are the questions that my mom always asks me when I call home.  She hates the fact that I’m on the road all the time.  At least she takes comfort in the fact that I have License Plate with me, but really, I don’t think that gives her that much peace of mind.  Regardless, I’m still on the road searching for license plates and stories.  Today was an interesting one.  It actually went in a direction I hadn’t intended.

Middle of Alabama.  It is hot out today.  I forgot how miserable it can be in the south during the summer.  I seem to always plan my outings poorly.  I’m in the north during the winter and in the south when the heat starts boiling up the middle months on the calendar.  My friends need to get their schedules more in accordance with mine, that way I could crash on their couch when I don’t stick to the leather because of all the humidity.  Sorry, long day.

So here I am, cruising the streets with License Plate in tow.  We’re just on a walk at this point.  It always feels so good to stretch our legs once we get out of the car.  I can search for license plates on foot much easier than in the car.  I don’t have to worry about crashing in to anything and even if I do, because sadly it has happened, I’m no worse for the collision.  I was up the street from my friend’s apartment complex when I came across this girl having some ice cream.  Well, she was trying to have some ice cream.  The heat was too much for it and it had succeeded to drip down her arm and on to the bench she was sitting on.  I sat down next to her because there was a dog drinking fountain and License Plate looked like she could use a fill up.

We started talking about the weather and how her ice cream looked good, even though it was melting.  I joked she must not be from the area if she was brave enough to try to eat ice cream in the middle of the day.  She giggled and told me that she was from the town, but she had a craving for some strawberry ice cream while she was on her lunch break.  It seems that she is a data security officer for one of the insurance companies in town.  Once she finished up her cone, I started walking with her and talking some more.  She eventually came to a black Lincoln towncar and stopped.  Of course I looked at the license plate and suggested she must like her job since it said DATAGRL.  Once again, she giggled and told me that it wasn’t her car, but she thought it might give me the hint that I should “dat(e) a girl.”  She asked me out then and we had dinner that night.  I thought that was such a corny way of asking someone on a date that I had to share it with everyone.  It was a good date though, so I’m not embarrassed relating how it all fell in to place.


June 17th, 2008

It has been a busy day.  I talked my way out of another ticket (link to cop one in texas) and won $75 on a scratch lottery ticket.  It is a good thing that when the police search my license plates they always come back clean.  I don’t know how long I can keep dodging these speed traps though.  I don’t think it helps the fact that I almost always have out of town plates when they pull me over.  I know that in Indiana and Michigan, if you’re in either and have just crossed over the border, you are more likely to get pulled over if you’re an out of state driver because they know you can bring in more revenue than someone in state.  I learned this from a friend who is a State Trooper.  The people you meet.

License Plate and I were driving down I 24 in Tennessee the other day when we came to this little town outside of Nashville.  I hadn’t been to this state in a long time and really wasn’t planning on spending too much time here.  I had a friend waiting for me in Georgia who was getting ready to ship out for the military.  Regardless, I ended up having to stop for gas and to get the tires looked at.  While my sweet Toyota runs really well, there is only so much she can do about keeping me from hitting rocks and nails and goodness knows what else on roads next to construction sites.  It all worked out though.  And I came away with a great story to tell.

I filled up at a little service station that looked like it should have been closed.  I’m really happy that I wasn’t.  As the elderly mechanic came out to take a look at my car, he informed me that he was also the owner and the only person who was there who would be able to help him.  He was an incredibly friendly man and he asked me about my out of state license plates.  I explained I was heading down to see my friend before he left for his tour of duty overseas.

When I mentioned the military, this old, hunched over man straightened himself up.  He asked me what branch my friend was in and I said the Army.  He straightened up even farther, which I wasn’t sure was possible.  He explained to me he was proud to see people still serving this land’s military after all the time he spent in it.  After a few basic questions, he launched in to his story about storming the beaches of Normandy on D-Day.  He was the only man on his boat to survive the landing and he was wounded in the leg as he took cover behind a breaker.  He ended up not getting the bullet removed for three days.  He never stopped fighting though.  He just kept pushing on.  That’s what they had to do to free the world from evil.  He showed me the bullet casing.  He keeps it around his neck.  He also showed me his license plate WWIIJN6.  June 6, 1944.  D-Day.


June 15th, 2008

Hello again from the road. It has been a long couple of days and I’ve actually had to reverse some of my thinking as of late.  As I search the license plates around me for something good to write about, I really am amazed by the people that we meet.  So many different people, with interesting stories, and only so many that I can record.  Anyway, the person I ran in to today had the tag BABYRUS.  I didn’t need to do a reverse license plate search to find this person; I just walked up to them on the street.  License Plate was spending the day at the local vet getting a check up and a grooming.  Even though I travel around a lot, I still take care of that pup.

The woman I ended up talking to about her license plate is a nursery designer.  I’d never heard of this occupation, but apparently it is all the rage in Europe, where she happens to be from.  The south of France to be more specific.  Her car is a business expense or so she is able to say because her license plate helps her find clients.  It is interesting, actually, because her business card says the same thing.  BABYRUS.  I asked her how she got started in the business and she told me that both her parents were nursery designers.  I couldn’t figure out if her family were the only ones to ever do this type of thing or if it really is a popular occupation in Europe.  I wonder if you take an aptitude test as a child, if that is one of the options that you have.  Maybe.

In talking with her, I found out that her license plate was a relatively recent purchase.  When she first arrived in the US, she was trying to come up with a clever name.  Apparently she was shopping at a mall in the Midwest when she came across a ToysR’Us and thought it would be a great name for her business if she replaced Toys with Babies.  It took her a little while to figure out that there is already a business with that name and that they sell all types of baby accessories, including stuff for the nursery.  Frustrated in that attempt, she decided she would try the singular version.  She figured it would fit nicely on a license plate and after she did a reverse license plate lookup online, she found it was open in her state, Ohio.  From that, she said that everything had fallen into place for her.

Despite the emphasis that I place on license plates and my goal of writing a book about them, I think she is even more passionate about them than I am.  I’m always happy to meet people like that on my travels.  I’m always excited to learn about new occupations that exist that I’ve never heard of.  Time to pick up License Plate and get on our way.

666 TX

June 13th, 2008

Seattle this time. I watched a lot of Frasier and I really liked the show. I’ve been to this town a few times and despite the belief that it rains here all the time, it has only rained on me twice. Today was bright and sunny, so I decided to take License Plate for a walk. This is always her favorite part of our travels. Something new to see, a new smell to pick up, and as always, a dog park to play in while I talk with the other owners. Man, I can’t imagine what this journey would be like without her.

So while she was wrestling with a black lab and a golden retriever that seemed to have some hip displacement, I went to the little vendor selling human and canine treats. I bought her some new treat, I’m sure they were nowhere as good as the tofu ones she loves, and got a soda for myself. I then sat down at one of the tables and struck up a conversation with the guy sitting next to me.

He seemed decent enough. He had an Alaskan malamute running around trying to get a sniff of License Plate. She wasn’t having any of it. But we started talking. I told him I was just passing through and asked him if there were any sights I should see before he left. He gave me some suggestions and asked if I was in town for business. This was a bit odd, because I don’t know too many people who bring their pets with them on those trips, but I explained to him that basically wherever I go, I’m on business. Unfortunately he thought this meant that I was a drug dealer and asked me, subtly, if I could hook him up with some weed. I told him no.

So after some more questions and me not wanting to really get in to too many details with him, I told him that I had noticed a really nice church on my walk toward to park. He said it was some old one that had been rebuilt, but was pretty nice inside. At this point I was just making idle conversation and not trying to get into a discussion of religious, but he went on to give me a suggestion about something I should see in town. He recommended that I go for a ride on the “end of the world” taxi. Apparently its plate is 666 TX.

The driver really has embraced his role. He has bibles and rosaries for sale in the back seat. Pictures of the apocalypse are all around the side walls and cover most of the plastic divider between driver and passenger. Oddly enough, for a taxi that has 666 as its number, I was informed there are no pictures of the devil. Tyson, the fellow dog owner, explained this to me. He also let me know that he had driven a little devil in the corner of one of the apocalypse images and that he felt like he was making a contribution to the truth. With that I smiled and nodded. Searched for License Plate in the crowd of dogs and headed out. If you’re in Seattle, avoid Tyson, but try to find that taxi. It sounds interesting.