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Our actual route varied from this model a little bit; it’s more like this:


As anyone who knows me well knows, I’m prone to dramatic displays of displeasure. For the most part, the trip went really well, except when I was driving. I’m a much better co-pilot.

The first few days were pretty great. It was hot, but we had air conditioning. Just getting out of California took most of the first day. We followed Route 66 and went to Seligmann to check it out, but most everything was closed. We stayed in a hotel outside the Grand Canyon with a little help from texting with Helen who gave us numbers & rates.

The next morning we went to the Grand Canyon. We brought Chuck out for some fresh air and I was down on one of the decks taking photographs when I overheard these two guys say, “Hey, did you see that guy with his cat? What kind of a guy brings a cat to the Grand Canyon?” Of course, I spouted, “The kind that are moving to Rhode Island.” Dillholes.

We altered our route to go through the Painted Desert, Navajo Nation, Hopi Nation, Monument Valley & SE Utah. It was some of the most beautiful landscape I had ever seen, and I’ve seen some really great places. Our destination that night was Colorado.

I don’t drive well at night because I can’t see very well, and I hate it when the lines aren’t freshly painted on the roads. So when we got to Colorado, it was late, I was tired and there was construction. We had some crazy detour thing where there are lanes that are normally set up one direction but get switched around and there were all these canyons and hills and a freakshow a-brewin. We were trying to make it to my sister Tracy’s house. We made it, but not until almost 2am.

Of course, we stayed up with Tracy until some unspeakable hour and then got a pretty late start out of her place. Good thing was that literally on the other side of her house was the plains and we made pretty fair time to Nebraska. Justin drove us out and by the time it was my turn it was dark and I was really tired; I punked out after about 45 miles.

But the 550 miles we made that day was really cool. We were on I80 when all the towns along it were having their fireworks celebrations, so we saw a littering of fireworks for a few hours while we were driving. I also saw my first firefly. It smashed on the windshield and was bright green, like some sort of alien goo. I made Justin let us stop in York, Nebraska with only a slight tantrum.

The next day I drove all the way to Illinois, but then had to pee so bad I took the wrong exit and got lost in some farmlands. That was pretty terrible, and people drive like rabid maniacs in Illinois. I’ve never seen anything like it before – that is until we got to Massachusetts.

Justin took over at the Mississippi River and drove us all the way to Cleveland that night. I don’t even know how many miles it was. It felt like a million. I had Modest Mouse on the stereo almost the whole time.

The beltway at Gary, Indiana is one of the freakiest things I’ve ever experienced and there were a number of times that we were certain we’d die right there. Huge trucks, all going like a million miles an hour and trying to maneuver into tight spaces on what seemed like a 20-lane Interstate. By the time we got to Cleveland I was begging Justin to find a hotel, but he wanted to get through Cleveland so we didn’t have to deal with traffic the next morning. It was a good call.

We didn’t see much of Pennsylvania because we only went through a corner of it. What we did see was really, really beautiful farmlands. New York was expensive – the turnpike was something like $25 in the end. And there was a lot a lot a lot of construction, everywhere. We had great weather all the way to New York, and then encountered a summer rainstorm, but the best part was this amazing rainbow that stretched from one side of the freeway almost perfectly over it and into the Appalachian Mountains.

I remember thinking to myself that New England is so lush and beautiful that I could totally understand why Whitey would have wanted it so badly. It’s green here; like green on top of green with a splash of green.

It rained most of the evening off & on. It is supposedly 6 hours from Buffalo to Rhode Island, but it took us something like 9 or 10. Then we hit more construction on I95 which turned into a detour that took us way the hell into who knows where. By this time, we were both just “over the whole roadtrip experience thing,” and we were at each others’ throats. Justin had developed a series of taps, to relate answers to his (honestly) complicated questions: one tap for “yes;” two taps for “no,” a fist on the dashboard for “it doesn’t matter anymore.” I hit the dashboard a lot.

We somehow navigated to the apartment and it’s like 1am. Our landlord said he’d leave some keys for us to get in on top of a water heater in the basement which would be unlocked. Except he forgot to tell our neighbors. And of course, they locked the door.

We called our landlord twice and paced around a while until we decided the only thing we could do was wake our neighbors up and explain that we had just driven something close to 4000 miles with a stinky cat (who was being a good sport, but was also stressed out from having to sleep in his litterbox for 6 days) and we’re really sorry to wake them but we could see the keys through the window and we knew they were for us, we just couldn’t get them.

They were really cool about it – and it turns out they’re really cool people all around. We slept on the floor that night in a naked, empty, strange new place. I had a hard time falling asleep because it was all just too new. Justin, however, conked right out. I guess 6 days in a truck with me can wear a person down. 🙂

But overall, really, it was pretty smooth. And we made good time.

Song by G. Love, “Roadside Trips” off the album “Gone Country.” Buy it! It’s the cool country.

Song by Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers, “Roadrunner” off the album “Best of Jonathan Richman”

I love The Modern Lovers.