What a long strange trip. With today, it’s all over, all forty-four hundred miles of it. The last forty-eight hours from Austin were so blurry, so fast and so far, a very modern cannonball run. I’m ready to do it all again (after some sleep), more off the clock, next week, next summer. You should come along next time, we’ll wear the boots, keep the backseat empty, hit the biker bars, rock the country mixes and stick to the dirt roads.
Tomorrow, to Brigham and the resumption of the workaday routine. It almost breaks your heart.
It rained all day. We drove just shy of 1000 miles. It was long, wet, cold, dangerous at times. We missed everything we might have wanted to see in Tennessee, Graceland, the Grand Ole Opry, the muscle car museum, the yesterdaze pinball museum, the world’s most amazing quilt shop. Were it not for a coincidental and providential meeting with YJP’s family in Crossville Tennessee today would have been easily been deemed the worst day of the trip. But the road finally dried out, the mandatory mileage got done, we’ll just have to come back another time to see what there is to see.
I haven’t written up ACL yet but will tomorrow.
Meanwhile, the larger narrative is I’ve finally escaped from Texas only to find myself stopped in Rockport, AR having fallen short of the goal of Little Rock. There’s some debate as to whether we’re technically in Rockport or it’s larger neighbor Malvern but I’m going with the former for it’s acoustical aesthetics. The part of Arkansas we’ve been through has been extremely foggy, forcing my mind to foreshadow ahead to unpleasant low budget horror film scenarios. (OK, verified hotel door is locked.) Speaking to the desk clerk has already destroyed my ability to speak non-accented English. There’s a Waffle House (open 24 hours!) within piglet chucking distance next door and while my new copilot (and manual transmission operator extraordinaire) doesn’t know it yet we’re having some breakfast eggs there tomorrow. Today’s post-Austin miles have almost entirely taken place after dark so I didn’t see much countryside but did pass through both Midlothian and Hope, AR, home to very many multicolored signs about the former president.
Tomorrow, Tennessee! If we survive the night.
I’ve reached the end of Phase II of the trip back to Boston, some 2372.2 miles later. After a bit more poking around (the curiously deserted) Big Bend this morning I flat out hauled across Texas at near warp, nine hours later arriving in Austin in time for YJP’s kickball shenanigans & dessert. I’ll be taking a little break from the eastward migration for the exciting Austin City Limits updates starting tomorrow. I’ve just been messing around with the ACL iPhone app which is great – a perfect way to keep track of who and what and where to see. I’m unfamiliar with more of the bands this year than last so things may be hit or miss. Hopefully I’m just clueless and it’ll all be great. The never-ending road trip will continue again Monday with the second co-pilot and new & exciting & as of yet unconquered mountain passes.
It’s completely coincidental that I’m in my second National Park in four days the same week Ken Burn’s fantastic series has been having it’s debut on PBS. If you haven’t seen any of it, I highly recommend it based on the random bits I’ve seen so far. Point being, in my hotel in Big Bend there was no television, cell phone or internets of which to speak, so I missed the Wednesday episode. I’m sure there’s a lesson in restorative isolation that’s implicit in that sort of thing but it’s not a lesson I choose to embrace right now.
But as for Big Bend itself. There’s some great hiking, spectacular mountains and canyons, wildlife friggin everywhere (seen: four deer, a multitude of jackrabbits, this blue bird, many many millipedes, a single tarantula scurrying across the road, one big honkin’ green snake, tons of red-headed vultures; disappointingly not seen: my promised mountain lion). I left with the same feeling I had towards the Grand Canyon – a better planned trip would have involved some backcountry overnights and trails hiked through to the end. I’m also not entirely keen on pushing myself deep into unknown woods alone at sunset – in the three hours I was out I only saw two other on the trails, a couple heading back in early. I guess late September isn’t the highest of high seasons. Had I met my mountain lion, the odds of anyone showing up to help would have been slim. But it would have made for an awesome POTD, you gotta admit.
I dropped the dead weight in Albuquerque (she’s already home safely) after our hiking adventures this morning. So had plenty of room to stretch while driving solo south through New Mexico. The road promised a lot but didn’t deliver – a highlight that would have been was the Very Large Array which I was several miles off the interstate to see when the signage finally admitted it was 44 miles further yet. I lamely conceded defeat given that it was already 4:30pm. The second false alarm was the New Mexico Spaceport which other than a single highway sign never materialized. Both those situations where the co-pilot could have figured out how to better find the cool shit.
El Paso is a mindtrip – from the desolate wasteland north of Las Cruces, NM you drop into this traffic heavy megatropolis, with sprawling sister city of Juarez just across the Rio Grande. Not far east of El Paso I (and the rest of I-10) got funneled into a Border Patrol checkpoint to look for illegals. They didn’t ask me to unpack the car for which I’m grateful.
Anyway, I was excited to stop in Van Horn – it’s not as far south as I had originally planned for today but still a town with a fun name indicating a willingness to participate in my texas blog habit. Van Horn has about twenty motels, one restaurant that doubles as a long haul bus stop (lots of tired people heading overnight to Dallas) and a very loud and regular freight train right across the way. Maybe I’ll find something more exciting tomorrow.
Speaking of, I’m done with the interstate for now and will be heading south to Big Bend. Should be an interesting day.
Tonight I am in New Mexico, in the largest city (but non-capital), Albuquerque. The car is safely in a garage so it’ll be thieves elsewhere who make off with my high-end junk collection. Today was another single state day, a rate that’s agreeable and that I don’t forecast increasing anytime soon. We were at the Grand Canyon both yesterday and again today – a fuller set of photos is up now that I (temporarily) have internet, here.
Tonight I’m crashing in a real bed at a real house with real (New Mexican) food and real functional wifi, all courtesy of Team ABQ. It’s lovely, a luxury. We musn’t allow ourselves to get used to this. Tomorrow I will retrain my constitution by sleeping on exceptionally sharp rocks with a coyote chewing on my foot. Some cat allergy issues remind me any time I spend in Austin is going to have to be outside, despite anticipated nighttime temperatures in the low 120s.
Song of the day, A Life of Arctic Sounds from Modest Mouse. Eleven hundreds miles is too far inside a car indeed. So far I’ve driven 1269.3. I’ve reached the end of the road with my chief map reader and “this exit now!!” advisor and Google calculates it’ll be another 1089 before I pick up the second-stringer. That’s gonna make for a long and silent couple of days. Feel free to break up the monotony with myriad text messages. With any luck tomorrow will find me in West Texas, so I probably won’t receive them though.
Tonight, real true sleep, the first in a week. Tomorrow, another state east, one time zone closer.
*Standing on the edge
Of the Hoover Dam
I’m on the centerline
Right between two states of mind
The takehome point is public though – California is behind us, all other options are ahead. Today I teach VC how to drive a stick in the mountains.
Everything heavy or bulky in my life right now is a liability. I’ve been executing a great purge over the last few weeks which brought me down to a somewhat reasonable subset of crap I used to own – excepted a few big furniture-type things in the process of being sold and some random junk for tonight’s experiment. Buoyed by the success of freecycling both my bookcase and lamp, here’s what I’m going to attempt to distribute to those seeking solace on the sidewalk tonight.
- Heavy bag o’ pennies. Estimated purported worth, $2. Actual worth for me purchasing anything, ever, nil. Don’t believe me? We’ll you’re wrong.
- Trash can w/ 42 hangers (blue, black tubular, assorted).
- Bag w/ four pairs of size 11 mens shoes. Two pairs uncomfortable dress shoes, two pairs high mileage New Balance.
- Bag with assorted non-perishable odds and ends from cupboard (emphasis on odd). Contents range from lentils to sardines.
So what’s staying and what’s going? My offhand guess would be the pennies & food will be gone, the hangers left alone, the shoes picked through and scattered. Will update on the morningside.
RESULTS: Everything but the shoes, gonzo.
ANALYSIS: People in my neighborhood have little feet.
This is my master plan for Saturday. The object here is to induce jealousy. And to introduce my new tag.