Saturday, May 29, 2010

California, California...

...you're such a wonder that I think I'll stay in bed.

Actually, I've enjoyed California quite a bit. It has many landscapes to choose from. Lots of rich people. Lots of poor people. Lots of people just trying to make it.

San Francisco was beautiful. It was built on a mountain and has lots of hills surrounding it, which is where you get the ridiculous slopes on their streets (fun to drive on and climb!), and the city's grid is understandable until you get to the mountain and everything becomes a giant spiral. It was exciting to ride on a subway again. Subways are one of the greatest pleasures in my life. I just don't talk about it.

We spent a long time in Golden Gate Park. Well, I did until Deanna gave up on finding me or the structures I'd been talking about finding, so she went back to Haight to shop. I explored the botanical gardens. I hiked up Strawberry Hill and got a decent view of the bay from it. Strawberry hill is surrounded by a giant mote-like pond filled with birds and turtles. Didn't find any strawberries, though. It was raining off and on while I walked around by myself. I made several phone calls and killed my cell phone's fully charged battery, but it was worth it. I needed some solitude and contact with friends. Not having the ability to text keeps me at a great distance from everyone else during this trip and also made it quite irritating at times. If Deanna gets pissed with me, she can just text someone to vent about it. I have to wait until I'm totally alone, which has only happened a handful of times. Very frustrating.

Yes, we've been quite pissed with each other off and on throughout this trip. I finally confronted her about it the last time and she blamed it on PMS, which I think is a cop-out. But at least it's been better since I confronted her.

So, yes, after Golden Gate Park, we climbed a giant hill that gave us a superb view of San Francisco. Then, we went to Chinatown. We watched a woman making fortune cookies in the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Company. A man shook a tray of cookie samples at us and we indulged. Hot fortune cookies are pretty good. Then we found a restaurant that was surprisingly cheap for being as nice as it was. The reason we selected this restaurant, though, was that it had whole Chinese chickens hanging in its window. I drank about seven cups of tea and six glasses of water. I also ate an enormous pile of shrimp chow mein (with FRESH shrimp...I can't get over the seafood out here). Then we returned to the Castro, but on the way there, we accidently bought our way onto a different rail system and had to pay them a total of $3.50 just to leave that area of the station and go somewhere else, altogether wasting $5.00. When we returned to the Castro, I made her walk around with me a little because I wanted to gawk at the gay district a bit instead of just using it as a travel point. There isn't much to say, really. It was a rich queer's paradise. High-end bars and shops. Rainbow flags everywhere. There was a storefront that I supposed was being preserved because it was where Harvey Milk's headquarters were during his campaign.

When we wanted to return to Michael and Natalie's place, we realized we didn't know how. We called them asking for directions and whatnot. I think they were disappointed that we didn't get to hang out with them more or allow them to show us around the city. I felt bad about it. Natalie tried to get us to the right bus stop and then my phone died. When I called Michael, he suggested that he just come pick us up. We greatly appreciated the rescue.

We left at 5am the next morning because we wanted to avoid LA rush hour traffic. About 10 minutes on the highway, I realized that I had left my cell phone at their apartment. We had to turn around. We still managed to make it to LA well before rush hour, though we didn't take the fastest route (US-5) OR the prettiest (US-1). I was kind of bummed out about it. But we still got to our destination in a timely manner.

We took Spencer by surprise with our early arrival. He went jogging while we played Rock Band. When he got back, he took us to see the sights. I have now seen all that Hollywood jazz. I touched Bette Davis' handprint in the cement. I was very happy. Today, he's taking us to Venice Beach. I'm pretty excited.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Olympia cont., Oregon, California

Olympia is FULL of hippie punks and queers. It was delightful. We ended up going to a cafe to soak up some wi-fi and reading time while waiting for the Good Luck/Break Your Heart/Olympia Free Choir/Kimya Dawson show. Which ended up being awesome and totally worth the wait. I think that Kimya Dawson is the Patti Smith of our generation. And she almost never leaves Olympia these days because that's where her family and best friends are. Also, apparently my friend Ginger was the first person outside of her family to see her child after it was born. And the line "I've never met a Tobey that I didn't like" is about Matt Tobey, the guitarist in Good Luck, and I would assume the rest of his family. I graduated next to his sister/my friend, Erin Tobey. Erin and Kimya are also very close friends. Weird. The world is really just an extended Bloomington, I think. I couldn't approach Kimya Dawson, though I really wanted to. I'm too impressed with her.

We left Olympia right after the show and got to Portland late in the evening, where we promptly passed out in our room in Ramada. We woke up and drove downtown to get ourselves some Voodoo Doughnuts. I highly recommend them to anyone that visits the area. Then I found a Crass shirt in a punk store around the corner that was desperate to be like SEX. Then we went to Powell's: City of Books and whatnot. Walked around and all that jazz. Deanna accidentally broke the driver's side mirror in the parking garage. I felt bad for her and duct taped it up afterward. We ended up getting bored with the town and leaving shortly after, hitting up The Grotto before getting out of town entirely. The Grotto is a Catholic sanctuary full of statues that rests on a mountainside. My guide suggested it. It was peaceful. From Portland, we went to Shelley's in Roseburg. We went to Shelley's preferred bar, getting cat-called by a few hobos outside of the "Wild Rose Saloon," which Shelley dreads Wimpy's trashman-style. There was some argument with the waitress over happy hour selections, but delicious fresh salmon. In the morning, we went to a safari, which was a drive-thru zoo. We saw an ostrich mating dance and mating act. And bears. And yaks. And turkies. There were a lot of strange animals. It was great.

Then we went to the coast, which was actually somewhat difficult to find. Shelley and I caught a glimpse of a whale from a distance. Then we went down and ran around in the water like kids. Then we went looking for weird things that had washed up. Then a bald eagle showed up and was like "hey, I'm a bald eagle and I'm going to land on this beach." And we were all like "hey! You're a bald eagle! Woah!" And then he flew away majestically into rain clouds and the sunset. Then we went and ate seafood in a restaurant built on the docks. Some of the items we sampled were "salmon nuggets." Breaded, fried pieces of fresh salmon. Orgasmic. Have I mentioned I'm a salmon fiend? Well, I am. Then we returned to Roseburg and got some gasoline. In Oregon, it's illegal to pump your own gas, so every station is full service. Also, Oregon is one of those states that's printed on every participating aluminum can next to the "Redeem for $.05" bit, so they have these machines at the supermarket that basically scan the barcodes of cans and bottles while sucking them up. If they aren't "participating" items, the machine spits them into a rejection bin so that you can reclaim it and recycle it elsewhere. Then it gives you a receipt to redeem in the store's checkout lane for all the participating items you deposited. So, if you were to deposit 10 cans, you've earned yourself a cheap pack of gum. I think that every state should participate in this program. In any case, it was very nice to see Shelley again. She's still one of my best friends. She's also an excellent hostess.

Then we got up early this morning and drove until we hit San Francisco. We passed through the Redwood forests on the Redwood Highway (also known as 101), and it is the most magical highway thinkable. It travels alongside miles of rocky California coastline surrounded by redwoods and pine trees. The air smelled like wild flowers, pine and salt water mist. We also made a quick stop at the "Trees of Mystery," which is a tourist trap area of the redwoods that features enormous statues of Paul Bunyon and Babe the Blue Ox. This was actually creepy because Paul Bunyon was voiced by a man hiding out of view who would address crowd members directly. He asked us where we were from and we ignored him, so he addressed us no more. He was, however, striving to get someone to sit on his show to get a photograph taken, but he was doing so with the fervor of a man with a fetish for it. Creepy.

Hours later, here we are in San Francisco. Michael and Natalie are superb hosts. Right after we arrived, they made a pizza and gave us wireless access. So, we've all been sitting in the living room for hours watching Daria and screwing around on our laptops, which, Deanna and I agree, is exactly what we felt like we needed. Tomorrow, we'll explore San Francisco, then go to bed early so that we can leave in the night and head off for Los Angeles, hopefully avoiding rush hour traffic.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Wyoming, Montana, Washington

We left Deadwood in sunshine, noting that the area was logged but very quaint. The buildings downtown were all very old and geared towards attracting tourists to them. We did not stop once we left the motel, though. I was glad to have downloaded the voice of Herbert, the aged pedophile from Family Guy, into my TomTom, as it'd been his voice directing us for most of our way thus far.

Wyoming took forever to drive through. It was very hilly, and the hills eventually gave way to the Big Horned Sheep Mountain range, which we had to drive up and over. That took about an hour longer than we thought it would, because mountains are kind of scary. We eventually reached Yellowstone, which was mountainous and dense with trees. There were bison who would graze right next to the road, daring you to stop and take their pictures with the danger of possibly charging your vehicle. To travel through Yellowstone is to travel through both forests and snowy mountain tops. Lake Yellowstone is enormous and covered with ice most of the year. There are steaming geysers everywhere and the smell of sulpher lingers in the air. It's terribly exciting, really. We stopped to look at some geysers and boiling puddles of mud before heading to the campground to ensure that we'd have a spot to rest for the night. While informing Deanna about the park regulations, etc., I watched the woman carefully go over the fact that this was BEAR COUNTRY, emphasizing it in every other sentence. She was so conscious of telling us that it was BEAR COUNTRY that she circled the picture of a bear at the top of the page. We both found this very funny.

We saw Old Faithful erupt while listening to a large group of Japanese tourists yell and squeal excitedly for the hour or so we spent waiting for it. There was a large hotel that had been built right next to Old Faithful that reminded me of the Animal Kingdom hotel my family and I took a peak at last summer. Everything, to some extent, feels like Disney World, or that Disney World has sucked some of its essence out. I don't know whether or not to feel annoyed or impressed with Disney, but I'm leaning towards being impressed. We, however, were not staying in a super-overpriced inn. We went back to our campsite and I had Deanna put away the food in the trunk and throw away the trash while I set up the tent (which, contrary to what it said on the outside, is NOT 6ft by 5ft...more like 5ft by 3ft). And then we bundled up and slept. It got down to about 20 degrees. Not an extremely pleasant evening, but it was cheap and that's what we wanted.

We got up at 5am and hit the road. I put AG's first mix to me on and it was absolutely perfect. Followed by Grizzly Bear, which was also perfect. Montana requires slow music. That's not just because the speed limit hangs around 55mph for most of the way through. We went through a series of sloping hills next to various rivers and streams and pastures. Gas stations were relatively sparse for a while because "real" towns were few and far in between. Maybe just long enough to make us nervous because we needed gas. But we survived. We ended up going through a series of canyons, which also took much longer than Google had predicted, because NO ONE should be going 65mph down a winding mountain/canyon.

Eventually we hit Washington, which was a lot of mountains and relatively clear until we reached Seattle, which was just slightly overcast for most of the day. Seattle was, in my opinion, wonderful. We got there in the evening, checking into our hotel and then hitting Capitol Hill, the city's gay district. We went to a place called Bimbo's Bitchin' Burrito Kitchen, which was essentially like Laughing Planet and The Vid rolled into one but waaaay overboard. Every surface was covered in Mexicana decor. It was awesome. Then we were walking around and looking at shops and clubs while heading back to the car when all of a sudden I stopped to take a photo of a bar called "Unicorn" and a drag queen standing on a box behind us next to an ambiguous establishment's door accosted us. "Hey, you girls looking for a place to get drunk all night and watch slutty naked ladies?" Deanna was, of course, put off, but I smiled and said "maybe." So she started talking us into coming inside. She was advertising a vaudeville show she co-starred in: The Vaudevillians. So I dragged Deanna inside, and it was brilliant. That drag queen was EXTREMELY talented. There were no slutty ladies, and I was perfectly content with that. Then we went home.

In the morning, we went to Pike Place Market, in which there were a ton of flower stands and fish markets with employees who would shout things in unison to make it interesting. I sampled some fresh smoked salmon that was not yet three days old and it was some of the most delicious salmon I've ever eaten. There were also quite a few artisans. I kept seeing dichoric glass stands, but no one's jewelery was as good as my mom's. That's not biased opinion. It's fact. Then I found that I had lost Deanna, so I decided to continue wandering, because we both have cell phones. I wandered into a book shop called Left Bank Books, only to find that it had quite a few gender studies books upon entry and in the back had a bunch of 'zines (including a bunch of stuff from Microcosm!). That's when I realized it was the Seattle version of Boxcar Books, and that all of its workers were also volunteers/anarchist punks. I took my hoodie off to reveal my Boxcar Books shirt in time for one of its volunteers who was eating lunch and kind of reminding me of Steven to say "hey, nice shirt! I've been there-it was years ago but it was really cool." We struck up a conversation about volunteering in these kinds of bookstores and about how it really sucks to leave them, because she herself was about to leave Left Bank. She was interested in hearing my story and gave me some suggestions about where we should go while in town. I bought Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian and a Left Bank shirt before high-fiving her and awkwardly leaving.

Then I found Deanna and we went to a place called Piroshky, Piroshky, that serves an array of Russian pastry food (namely piroshkies). It was really delicious. Then we went to the Space Needle and saw some stuff. Then we went to the Underground Tour and went on a tour of the streets and what Seattle was before it made its 8-30ft high streets above the actual ground level. Seedy, interesting beginnings. Then we went to Ye Olde Curiosities Shoppe and saw an impressive array of dead things. Then we went to the Ivar's Fish Bar so that I could eat some fresh deep-fried clams and fries on the pier while being aggressively squawked at and eyed by some enormous seagulls. Then we went to a giant Asian grocery store in the International District that was surrounded by light posts with statues of Chinese dragons slithering up them so that Deanna could get some sushi (they say the sushi in Seattle is the best next to Japan). Then we went and saw the Troll under the Aurora St. Bridge and took a bunch of photos. Then we went back to the hotel and passed out.

We woke up this morning with just enough time for me to shower and for us to pack up the room and leave on before the official check-out time. We went to Aberdeen mainly just to take a token photo of the sign and for me to take a photo of the Wishka river, where half of Kurt Cobain's ashes were scattered. Then we turned around and drove back to Olympia, where we are now, sitting in the Spar Cafe & Bar, which looks like it's straight out of a noir film, just as my Let's Go! USA guide book suggested.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

South Dakota: a winning cake.

It's a beautiful state. I wasn't thinking very much of it because it was mainly plain scenery until we came to the top of a hill and saw a lot of rolling, sharper hills appear. And a huge lake that we drove over thanks to bridge similar to what one sees going through Griffy Lake in Bloomington. But this lake was more the size of Lake Monroe. Maybe bigger. And natural, unlike Lake Monroe. The name of the surrounding town was Chamberlain, like the original drummer for The Smashing Pumpkins (Jimmy Chamberlin). These allusions mean absolutely nothing to approximately 98% of the population.

Yes, we went to sleep last night in South Dakota and we're still in South Dakota and YES it took us all day to reach mount Rushmore when it was really only about four and a half or five hours away from where we started. That's mainly the fault of the sites that popped up along the way. Before we got to Chamberlain, we stopped in Mitchell to see the Corn Palace, which is really just a big auditorium building in its downtown area that happens to be ornately covered in corn, but the town's been rebuilding it every year since the late 1800's (except for when a drought occurs, causing them to ration out their corn in ways that do not accommodate the Corn Palace). I felt the need to buy my little sister something from this place in which there was nothing to see solely because it was so ridiculous. So I bought her popcorn on a cob that can be microwaved. I think she'll find it amusing. I hope.

The second tourist trap was Al's Oasis. The outside of the building looks like a stereotypical Disney take on a town of the Wild West, but inside, it's essentially just a grocery store, Dakota gift shop, and restaurant. I bought an Al's Oasis shirt for my dad, as his name is Al and he's a big nerd that will probably like it and wear it ironically. One thing to note about Al's Oasis: it's obsessed with Mellow Yellow. We didn't have an explanation for it, but there were Mellow Yellow advertisements everywhere. In the store, there was a giant Mellow Yellow display alter that was advertising a raffle for a Mellow Yellow scooter that sat atop it. Needless to say, I entered the raffle. Also, it was extremely cheap there. Like they got a horribly large overshipment of it that they'd been trying to peddle for some time. They had a machine dispensing cans of it for $.25. Bottles costed $.79. Spreading the word of Al. Mellow Yellow be with you, go in peace.

Then we went to 1880 Town, which just kind of appeared out of nowhere and was vastly more impressive than any tourist trap we could have even hoped to find. A family had maintained a town as it was in 1880, turning it into an antique museum in the process. It was extremely creepy and reminded me of the remake of House of Wax. Right down to the chapel with figures sitting in it that played music at all times. Also, it had a Dances with Wolves mini-museum, as it was filmed in the region and they happened to get their hands on some of the props used in the film, including the table he nearly gets his leg amputated on and some crates that are seen near his outpost hut. There was also a large, well-preserved saloon that featured a stage with a player piano on it and a dummy sitting at one of the saloon tables with cards laid out in front of him. In front and to the side of the place's entrance, there was a train that looked like it was from the 60's that had been transformed into a breakfast/lunch diner. We were too late for these meals, but it looked pretty cool. A few fenced fields away from the back of the place, there was an iron statue of a T-Rex skeleton standing next to an iron statue of a man's skeleton by the highway. Needless to say, I loved it all.

Then we finally got to the Badlands. It was a magnificent place. When you enter, it doesn't take long to get to this huge ampitheater full of the white and reddish-brown sandy waves and spires that generally compose the area. We got dangerously close the edge for the sake of photographs. But they turned out well. Then we drove further into the park and followed a trail down into the ravines on foot. There were no trails. They just let people run loose through nature there. The sign said to bring water, no matter how short the hike, but we didn't, because we were sure the area posed no "real" danger. It felt like an amusement park, with the paranoia of coming across a rattlesnake at any moment in the crevices that surrounded us. Sandy spires were at times at least 10 feet taller than us as we climbed and jumped along through the area. Honestly, I don't have words to describe this environment to you because it's so alien to me and the way I think. I'm not sure that we actually have words for it. Maybe I should say "natural dry dirt obstacle course." Yes, that comes close, I think. We went as far as we could until we came to a deep ravine and saw no way of traveling down into it. I think I saw a dead body at the bottom. A white cloth over a round mound and some kind of green material under the rock it flowed under. I think the mound under the cloth was a skull, and that the cloth was a t-shirt. I'm sure of it. Because there was no way of getting down there to investigate, though, I saved the heroics/insanity for someone else. Then we noticed vultures circling in the sky far away. Then we turned around and realized we were lost. We could barely see the edge of the big mound that marked the area where we had entered these crevices, so we just started bulldozing over shelves and edges and narrow inclines and slightly damp creekbeds just trying to find the familiar. But nothing in it was familiar, because there were no distinguishing features of our surroundings. It was all just a scary, sandy planet that neither of us knew anything about. We eventually found our way back, though, and walked to a safe viewpoint that displayed the depth of the nearby ravines. I imagine that the depth was a little more than half of what the Grand Cayon will be. We noticed the first of the five or so rabbits we would see in the park. They blend in well there, as their fur actually matches the dirt. So, when they're hunched by grass, unless you're looking out for them, you'll probably just assume that they're another bit of cracked earth. Also, they're very ballsy. Deanna got about three feet from one of them before it ran away in bunny terror. Deanna doesn't want to eat you, little fellah. She just wants to entrap you and squeeze you whenever she pleases. We also ended up driving for about an hour through the park, at one point passing plains that were absolutely full of prairie dogs and their homes. I was really excited about it, and it almost made up for not seeing any wild black-footed ferrets while there. Same goes for the bighorn sheep we saw from a distance and the last remaining wild buffalo in the world that we saw from a GREAT distance. In all, we were both really glad to have gone there.

Then we went to a place called WALL DRUG that was advertised all throughout South Dakota via cryptic old-timey signs along the edge of the highway that promised a bizarre range of things. We got there just as they were beginning to close up shop for the day and were very disappointed. It felt like that part in National Lampoon's Vacation when they get to Wally World only to find that it's closed for repairs. We still, however, managed to get some cheesy photos, which makes it all worth it, I feel.

Then we raced the sun to Mount Rushmore. The sun won the race. We arrived at dusk, about an hour before the nightly lighting ceremony, and during a particularly cloudy evening in the area. We still managed to get some nice photos, though.

Then we realized that we didn't have directions written out to go from Mt. Rushmore to our hotel in Deadwood. So, I had Deanna program Deadwood into my TomTom, and the voice of Herbert, the aged pedophile, safely guided us here. Deadwood is an old frontier town where Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickocks are buried and where bros and middle aged ladies come to gamble and drink. Mount Rushmore and Deadwood are both located in the Black Hills, which is essentially a hilly thick forest. It's very dark because there are few towns/cities in the area. Dark enough that the crescent moon in the sky above the driver's side was a bit of a distraction for me at times because it was too bright. It's also very foggy out right now. I think the last drive was ideal, by my standards.

I love this place.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Well, you got me, Iowa.

[2PM]
We both failed to properly prepare for this trip. Properly preparing would have been sleeping for at least five hours each before embarking. Deanna slept for two. I slept for about one. We had both been packing all night.

I’ve decided that I really love packing at the last minute, because it feels like I’m robbing my own house. But leaving all the big things and DVDs and CDs and and and. Instead, I’m taking toiletry items and t-shirts and miscellaneous small electronics that now seem essential for travel.

Having all these electronics makes me feel like the man in the episode of Family Guy that has just finished setting up a big domino line throughout a room that also contains priceless china and his hemophiliac son, Evan. Peter Griffin shoots himself through the air via a cannon and lands just short of the man’s window, then standing up and proclaiming “wow, this is a lot of really nice stuff” before vanishing. “Did you hear that, Evan? We were complimented.” Maybe this means that every city we pass through in which I do not lose my electronics or suffer their theft means that I should take it as a compliment from fate. Compliment accepted thus far, fate.

We’ve decided to occasionally hold speaker phone conferences with various individuals over the phone. The first was Ray, because Xiu Xiu made us think of him. The second was Sarah Eaton, because we passed into her home state of Iowa and wanted to know what her hometown was, because Children of the Corn was filmed there.

The trip thus far has been smooth. Deanna made it about two hours at the wheel before deciding she needed to switch with me in Valparaiso. I drove for about four until we got to the World’s Largest Truck Stop, which wasn’t actually very spectacular at all, though they DID have both a buffet and a resident dentist. We went to the gas station across the street instead, because theirs was simply cheaper and was also connected to an Arby’s. The last time we put gas in the tank was in a ghetto we were passing through to the south of Chicago while Deanna was in her road coma. She doesn’t remember seeing the drug busts we drove past. Two police vehicles were in the center of the street, lights blazing as their officers went in between vehicles that had been pulled over in the ajoining parking lot with dubious figures sitting hopelessly behind the wheels. I just assumed it was a drug bust. I don’t really know the scoop. I don’t really care. Let’s say they were aliens instead. Yes, that’s definitely more interesting.

I listened to my “soul doughnut” as I drove. There was a sense of panic, as there occasionally is when I listen to it. The sensation of still feeling vulnerable and being terrified by my own vulnerability. I don’t enjoy feeling this way, but there are feelings that linger, try as I might to force myself to move on. I still don’t know what to do about it, or if there’s even anything to be done about it. Waiting it out seems to be the only thing to do. Domino said I was drowning in a puddle. Maybe she’s right. I’ve taken to using that to explain the sensation to myself rather than the old image, which was Amelie crying in the kitchen, as I felt for the past year. Nino never comes. She is left alone, never to recover. Amelie cries forever. Drowning feels like it’s similar without being as pretentious. I’m drowning in self-annoyance. Now there’s a song from Amelie playing on Deanna’s iPod. Circles.

My vulnerability, however, feels like it is cast aside on the road. The adventure aspect of this trip hasn’t quite sunken in yet. I’m sure it will when we hit our first real destination.

[About 6PM]
We were South of Sioux City, Iowa when I suddenly realized I was speeding 14mph over the limit. I'm not used to automatic transmissions. It's like driving a go-kart and it gets out of control easily if I'm not paying careful attention. Unfortunately, what forced me to realize this was a cop car turning its lights on and crossing the median grass, heading my direction. $114. My first speeding ticket.

I have a problem with messing up. I was a sobbing mess for miles. Every failure is the combination of every failure ever. It's like I never leave anything behind or forgive myself for being human. And then I told Deanna I didn't feel like I had anything going for myself right now. Like everything I've worked for has already been forgotten and erased because none of it is easily transferable from Bloomington. I was feeling overwhelmed and the ticket kind of pushed me over the edge.

And while we were talking about what's got me down, the car beeped at us and told us we were low on fuel. We hadn't been paying attention for miles. My mom had warned me about the dwindling numbers of gas stations in certain parts of the country, and we were in one. We made it to a gas station just in time, though. Scary stuff.

Now we're in Sioux Falls, SD in a delightfully cheap hotel that is surprisingly accommodating. We're talking free REAL breakfast in the morning/two full beds/HBO/free wi-fi for $34.99/night. Nice. Deanna's upset because she didn't get here in time for Lost. It must air at the same time throughout the country to cut back on spoilers from the East pissing off the West. Rough day all around.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The H is O.

I still haven't packed. We'll leave in a few hours. I need to go to the store.

The plans have already changed. You'll find out what happens when we do.

Some might be panicking, but I am in top form. I work well under pressure.

We will travel through Illinois and Iowa tomorrow, stopping in Sioux Falls, South Dakota for the night because Deanna's parents don't want us to drive all night. I'm annoyed, because it's only 13 hours away, and the Badlands are only 16 hours away, but the motel is cheap, and maybe it'll mean we'll be off on the right foot.

South Dakota is apparently apart of the Wild West. I had always assumed that the Wild West was somewhere near Texas, like in Arizona or New Mexico. But, no...Deadwood is in South Dakota. That's where Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickock are buried. If planning this trip has done anything for me, it's forced me to get my historical geography right.

When I return from the store, I'm going to watch Dances with Wolves. Today I watched The Hitcher. Last night I watched National Lampoon's Vacation and Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, as well as a few History Channel and PBS specials about the history of the national parks and a bit about the Alamo. I feel I'm in the right frame of mind for this adventure.

Now, off to Meijer.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Some notes.

This dog-she's crazy. She's the neediest beast we've ever had. She cries on the other side if I close my door. There are three other people in this house, but she MUST sleep on my bed. Maggie in May, I think I've got something to say to you...

I need to find a skeleton key to give myself some secure privacy in my room. My family members are fond of opening the door without warning and I'm fond of being naked. These things do not mix well. Especially when my nakedness is potentially combined with a spring-loaded dog that would love nothing more than to dig her claws into me in her excitement.

Deanna bought an FM adapter. The music should now flow like the Spice. I'm excited to listen to The Growlers while traveling through the desert. And Grizzly Bear in the mountains. And Electrelane by the shore, wearing headphones, as is my seaside custom.

Last night, Kim suggested that I start putting together podcasts if I can't find a suitable radio station around here. I think this is an excellent idea, as it means that MORE people could listen to it, because it'd be at their leisure. Now I need a better microphone. And perhaps also a computer I trust. But it could be done now without issue, I think.

There is a job I'm going to aggressively pursue when I get back.

I'm considering building more shelves in this room. I'm considering building a hut in the backyard.

I may or may not be turning into Robinson Crusoe.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Slight change of plans.

The convertible is axed. There's nothing we can do about it. Her parents don't want her to take it. Instead, they want her to take her mom's car. It's newer and has slightly better gas mileage. But doesn't have a tape deck. Which means we can't use tape adapters for our MP3 players. Now we need to make mixes. I'm excited and annoyed by this prospect. 32 days is going to run us out of music pretty fast.

I'm also looking for my shitty FM adapter.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Predictable.

This car has the potential to flood with tears while we're driving across the country. We both left a place where we felt surrounded by people who care about us, love us, to come to a place where neither of us feel connected. Neither of us thinks that there's anyone here we want to get to know. We don't feel like these are our people. We're both pining for Bloomington.

I found myself in The Brass Rail, surrounded by strangers that regarded me disdainfully. A sea of black. Negative black. I came in toward the end of Riverbottom Nightmare Band's set. Shane was there with his overly-possessive girlfriend, so I maintained a distance because I felt that she'd be the type to beat me up or start nasty rumors about me amongst these strangers. Then The Lurking Corpses went on and I suddenly felt like I was watching apart of my own script unfold, just as I had predicted these moments therein. I typically predict well. That is my superpower. I let my head bob to the metal, not caring what the strangers around me thought, though I was acutely aware that these strangers had begun to realize that I must be apart of the old school to some extent, as I knew the material. Kendy was there but drunk and filming, and I didn't want to appear clingy as she fluttered from group to group, socializing. There was a woman there she'd been talking to who was looking for a female drummer, because she plans on reuniting The Beautys, this time as an all-girl band. I had mentioned to this woman that I also wanted to form an all-girl band, and she said nothing. In fact, she looked pissed, competitive. She was also socializing off and on with Shane's girlfriend, so I quickly decided that she was probably not a social option for me. So, I sat in one of the faux-leather booths and watched the crowd pulse. I felt like I was in high school again, sitting outside of the Harrison House for hours in between sets and speaking to no one. I had no one to talk to in those days until Joanna decided to approach me and then introduce me to others. I was never very good at introductions.

My emotions were already in a sorry state before this move. Before graduation hit. Before I even started saying goodbye. There are layers to this sadness, and Fort Wayne does not help. I'm not sure what will help right now. Hopefully the temporary escape to the West will.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A rough plan is in place.

Fort Wayne to Madison.
Madison to the Badlands.
Badlands to Mt. Rushmore.
Mt. Rushmore to Yellowstone.
Yellowstone to Seattle.
Seattle to Mt. St. Helen's.
Mt. St. Helen's to Portland.
Portland to Eugene (couch/floor).
Eugene to Redwoods.
Redwoods to San Francisco (couch/floor).
San Francisco to Yosemite.
Yosemite to Sequoias.
Sequoias to Death Valley.
Death Valley to Las Vegas.
Las Vegas to Zion.
Zion to Los Angeles (couch/floor).
Los Angeles to San Diego.
San Diego to Tijuana.
Tijuana to Mesa/Tempe. (couch/floor).
Mesa/Tempe to Grand Canyon.
Grand Canyon to Roswell.
Roswell to San Antonio.
San Antonio to Austin.
Austin to Houston (couch/floor).
Houston to New Orleans.

New Orleans is a turning point. We can either go to Mammoth Cave or the Everglades in Florida, depending on how we feel at that point. We're leaning towards Mammoth Cave.

New Orleans to Mammoth Cave.

Mammoth Cave is also a turning point. We could go home or to Bar Harbor, Maine/Nova Scotia. I'm leaning towards Nova Scotia but Deanna is leaning towards home. Mostly, I'm thinking it'd be neat if we could say that we were in both Tijuana and Nova Scotia two weeks apart because they are two complete opposite corners of the continental US. We will have been on the road for a month at that point, so we may both feel like just going home when the time comes. All the same, if some kind of miracle occurs...

Mammoth Cave to Brattleboro/Burlington, VT (bed/floor).
Brattleboro/Burlington to Nova Scotia.
Nova Scotia to Niagara Falls.
Niagara Falls to Fort Wayne (home).

Potentially 32 days at asphalt.
About $1,000 in gasoline.
A food budget of about $200 each.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Home and then.

I'm excited about this place because it seems like it will be the endless stream of possibility. I am currently at a social disadvantage, but that will improve in time. Fort Wayne is not about happiness, Fort Wayne is about rebuilding a personal empire. It's like a giant cocoon, and I should, in theory, emerge free and prepared for something entirely new within a year. That is the plan. I swear. I will say, though, that boredom leads me to doing strange and unexpected things.

We will begin our roadtrip plans this week. We should leave Tuesday or Wednesday, hitting the road with full force. There are definite couches and floors to sleep on in Eugene, L.A., San Francisco, Arizona, Vermont, and Brooklyn. Hopefully, we can get to all of these places. I need to return by June 18 because Lilly and Terry are getting married in Kentucky on June 19, and there's no way I'm missing it.

Currently, I feel totally unprepared. I'm still in a bit of a post-graduation funk that causes me to sleep most of my time away. The room I'm sleeping in is tiny and I'm still trying to decide on how I want to position my belongings therein. My possessions are still in boxes all over this house and in the back of my truck. Can't stop the funk. The post-graduation funk.

I was playing a lot of music before I left Bloomington. Actually playing my guitar in front of people isn't something I've ever been entirely comfortable with, but always something I've felt secretly confident about. I'm considering bringing my acoustic guitar with me on the road. I will have to discuss it with Deanna, but I don't think she'll have much of a problem with it. I see it as a possible panhandling opportunity should we need it.

We will be traveling in her black, soft top convertible. Space is limited but should only be occupied by clothing, bathroom supplies, camping equipment and food. That sounds like a lot, but I'm thinking it should only take up the trunk space, leaving the backseat comfortably empty, save for the possibility of accommodating my guitar.

I wish I'd been able to spend more time planning this trip, but there's something in the impromptu aspect that makes me feel even more excited about it. Planning somehow feels pointless or against the nature of the roadtrip itself. The journey is the adventure, as clich├ęd as that is.

I want to see as many crazy things as possible. That's really the only thing we should plan for. Detours. A series of crazy detours.

Really, coming home to Fort Wayne feels like this roadtrip, in a way. It is the denial of the old plan to go straight into grad school. It is a crazy detour with practical purpose. It's like the time I went to Massachusetts with my family because we wanted to see the statue of an ancestor in Springfield, then found the Dr. Seuss Memorial Statue Garden about 20 feet away from that statue.

The detours are always the most memorable bits of the trip, aren't they?