Thursday, August 5, 2010

a return and thoughts

i'm back from a road trip of epic proportions with the criterion conquistador by my side and the whole of upper-northern america streaming past us.  there was a yellow lab, a few cramped nights in tents, the broad foreheads of america's presidents sprawled out before us, a laser show with booming quotations splayed across the sprouting features of crazy horse, there were steaming geysers, battles with rapids, a whole lot of hot dogs and so much more i'm unable to jot it all down.

i do, on the occasion of returning from such a cross-continental journey, a few thoughts:

1.  the midwest is sort of like the perpetual eighth grader of the united states. the coasts are a cooler older sibling that keeps there eye on the newest fashions, the sizzling new musical acts, the changes in hairdos.  the south is an estranged cousin living on the edge of the compound who people think about fondly sometimes but still wonder why that sum'bitch shot a beebee in to the neighbor's cat.  texas is like a crotchety grandfather who smokes a corn cob pipe and is damned sure that what they're doing is right on the nose, but hasn't looked around in twenty-five years.  the midwest though is certainly the awkward pre-adolescent, sometimes churning with pubescent energy, sometimes still yearning to fall back in to their parents arms, most often friendly to a fault, unperturbed by the need to stand out.  i say this in the most positive of ways as i found the people and the culture of the midwest (though flat in inflection and lacking in the love of spice) to be wonderful and welcoming, but there's a certain feeling that the midwest is still, and always will be, waiting for the hairs on their chest and pits to sprout.

2.  for nine dollars on the cc and i's final day we purchased these things: two hot dogs (chicago style with tomatoes and celery salt and relish and onions and spicy peppers and pickles), a small coke (in the midwest this is a bladder-filling beverage) and a 'pizza puff' (a deep-fried pizza pocket, more delicious than you might think).  for nine dollars.  less than a ten dollar bill.  in san francisco for nine dollars you would get a napkin, a sardonic smile and perhaps the sneaky opportunity to steal a couple packets of ketchup.  we stayed on the couch of strangers who's sprawling apartment was enough to fit eleven bikes, the dank odor of rotting wood, and a two of my sf apartments, and i nearly lost myself when they said their rent was just under six hundred dollars.  my rent is just under six hundred dollars and that's for a spacious room i share with a very lovely conquistador.   to say the least, the midwest, gawky as it might be, is a cheap, delicious place.

3.  after driving for nine days, near eight hours each cycle of the sun, and then to my deep consternation sitting through two, sigh, two flights over the course of two days, i'm here to say that driving is the way to see this world.  flying, at least in our recession sucker-punched economy is no longer the luxury adventure it once was.  oh yeah sure, say goodbye to blankets (they cost eight dollars now), food (also unreasonably priced), and anything else once considered a good natured compensation, that's been spoken about.  but toss in a bevy of unfriendly flight attendants who will bark angrily at you when you attempt to use the bathroom while it's being 'serviced', screaming children, a selection of movies better suited to a colony of ingrates, uncomfortable seats, and a general sense of panicky malaise and i would prefer to be squished underneath a greyhound bus for sixteen hours than to step foot on an aircraft.

4.  america is amazing.  i saw a hotel called americinn.  i shot a six shot revolver.  i heard a chinless man talk about taking a bullet for his gun shop.  i saw big hair and the badlands, big people and the big horn national forest.  we slept on the couches of people we'd never even heard of.  my painted toenails were ridiculed, i swam in rivers and lakes and quarries and swimming holes.  i ate at the oldest bar in madison.   i ate bison and venison and chorizo stuffed figs and pork shoulder swimming in its own broth.  i drove across the flat, empty expanse of south dakota and let my mind wander.  i stopped and i started and suddenly realized why the great road trip has become such a rite of inspiration for the writing world.  i don't know what you do, but whatever it is, you should stop it for a moment and find away to travel across the country, stopping as you may, a destination just creeping up on the horizon.

1 comment:

Mark said...

Fantastic travelogue, my friend. Lovely writing. I enjoyed it all. For $9 in DC you can sit in a Congressional office's waiting room AND read a magazine...a steal.