Thursday, September 10, 2009

My Apologies to the East Coast

East Coast, I'll catch ya next time. Here's a rough route map from the road trip...

18 states, nearly 13,000 miles, the ever-popular 'horned fish' route

That was a long one. Toward the end I was really missing the comforts and organization of my house. The road does get lonesome after a time. If you don't like to spend time with your thoughts, this type of travel isn't for you. If introspection doesn't scare you and you laugh in the face of the blacktop's winding grin, well, belt up, download some audiobooks and podcasts and take the wheel. The road is one of life's great professors. Some things I learned along the way:

When on an unknown road, heed the warning signs.

Dropping into the Death Valley area I saw a sign that said 'Humps 35mph' on a 65 mph road. I said 'how bad could it be.' See I'm used to 'railroad tracks' type bumps. These were the far less common and far more dangerous 'backcountry cheese wedge' style. Had I not activated the anti-lock brakes, I would have been recreating a scene that required voice over. 'That boy better grow some wings or he's going to be sitting in his own personal junkyard a long way from home.'

An exception to the rule

North Dakota has giant statues of everything...

I already knew that, just passing it along.

Cornfields dominate every state from Minnesota south to Kentucky. It gets fed to you, it gets fed to cattle, it gets fed to our cars. It doesn't have that much nutritional value, though, more of a grain than a vegetable.

I got a wholly different feeling driving from Indiana to Texas and trying not to rely on maps. Not that I actually succeeded in that venture, but it made its point. Too often our travels are reduced to lines on a map. When you're just thinking about directions and not locked in on specific routes, you're free to see the region differently. Talk to the people, eat the food, develop a sense of place.

Southern hospitality is real. Maybe it's necessary to get people to eat things like pork brains. They really do cook amazing barbecue down there, though. The best. West Kentucky = mutton, Texas = brisket, most of the rest = some variety of pork.

The Kentucky Waterfall is alive and well in that state. I wish I could have gotten a picture. It was possibly the most magnificent thing I saw on the whole trip.

Shreveport, Louisiana is the Reno of the South.

Unless you're diligent about that sort of thing, which I'm not, your vehicle will become increasingly filthy. And I mean inside, too...

This is what we call a 'pile party'

You can find stretches of road out there with no billboards, low speed limits and no commercial vehicles allowed. One is the Natchez Trace Parkway. Check it out. Trust me, billboards aren't something you'll miss.

You will run out of things to listen to. Trust me. Even local radio stations. When you do. Embrace the silence. Even if you don't. Try it for a stretch. You just might learn something about yourself.

1 comment:

  1. Pile Party! I'm just so glad I'm not in it like usual. Memories... *tear*


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