I left from Champaign yesterday full of foolish optimism. I had just capped off a great weekend despite the low quality of Big 10 football, and I had discovered AudibleAir, an awesome sounding little program that would let me download books from Audible as I traveled across the country. I was set for my cross country adventure.
Within 24 hours, AudibleAir has become the bane of my existence. It is rare that I have encountered a program of such tantalizing possibility with such a disappointing reality. The program apparently has no error handling built in at all. Every time something goes wrong (which with a phone connection to the internet, it frequently does), the program bails on the download. Half the time it does not even connect to the internet in the first place. I have to boot up Internet Explorer, browse to a site, and then it will start downloading, only to inevitably fail within minutes. Even more maddening, it does not keep track of where the download left off, and starts anew every time. It nearly drove me insane as I made stop after stop driving across Wisconsin, desperately trying to get a book to listen to.
Eventually I found that if the stars aligned correctly and God started petting a kitten, it would successfully download one hour of a book. I started on a short (7 hour) book by Bill Bryson. After every hour, I would have to spend nearly an hour just trying to get the next hour to download. Then, when it would download, half the time it messed up the file and it wouldn’t work in the player. I am grateful I did not have to interact with anybody during this time; I was very ready to shoot somebody. In the end, the best thing to do seemed to be to wait for a midsize town with a faster cell phone connection and download it as many times as possible while in the faster network in the hopes that one would work.
I stopped for the night in Lake Maria, which is about half an hour east of St. Cloud, Minnesota. Lake Maria is not particularly remote, but it was deep enough into cow country that there was no visible man-made light. The moon was brilliantly full, and had I not camped in the shade, I could have set up without my lantern. I did not sleep that well, and ended up getting most of my sleep after the sun came up. I got a later start than I intended, but without any real destination in mind, it does not matter that much.
I’m now at a Starbucks just west of St. Cloud. They have Wi-Fi (for $4!), so I am downloading as many books as I can and loading them up the old fashioned way. Hopefully this will work.
No pictures yet, Wisconsin and Minnesota seem rather similar to the rest of the Midwest. There should be some coming.