|We're the ones your mother warned your about...No, seriously. We are.|
Well. I lived in New Hampshire. I wanted to get to California. I needed to bring everything I owned with me. Therefore, like so many others that pass between the ages of 20 and 25 in America, I decided to go Kerouac and drive cross country
Why was I leaving New England, you might ask? There are many factors there. We don't need to go into that. But the long and short of it was that I was just...bored. My job at the time was a three hour round trip commute every day, not to mention being something that, while I could do it, I really didn't give a damn about it. I just, I looked at my life, and if someone asked me about it, my response was to shrug and go, "S'all right. Still going."
So, I packed my stuff up. I gave notice, and I rented a U-haul trailer to attach to the back of my Kia Sportage. Then, the Friday before Labor Day weekend, I said goodbye to my dog for a couple of months, and started driving.
Friday, August 24, 2002- 8 am. 0 miles.
2.5 miles from the house.
Friday, August 24, 2002- 8:30 am.
Okay, so the route for today includes a leisurely drive through southern New Hampshire, a good portion of westward trek across Massachusetts, some time in upstate New York, and then quality bonding with the highways and byways of Ohio before I take my leave at Casa de DarkLady, the original Ramblin' Roadmistress.
Translation- minimum 12 hours of driving. And we're only on the first day!
It was the weirdest thing. When I left NH, it was wet, and rainy, and just generally crappy. The further west I got, the nicer of a day it became. Some might call it karma. Me? I just said a happy thanks to the Powers That Be that I wasn't going to have to drive in the rain all damned day.
More on the weirdness- no lie here, kids. When I pulled onto the highway in NH to start the trip, Why Georgia by John Mayer was on the radio. Yes indeed. I am a John Mayer song. Eventually, I might even get a non-bootleg version of his CDs.
So, when you're driving cross country, there are two very important factors- music, and food. Suzanne took care of the food by presenting me with a bank of candy, chips and popcorn...because, you know, when I'm trapped in my car for hours on end, the bestest thing in the world for me to have is sugar...*evilgrin*
Since I was then bored, I did what I always like to do when I'm bored. I called Anya! Why? Because I could. The headset for cell phones is a beautiful, beautiful thing. (Not to mention the 800 number for her work. We may or may not abuse that on a regular basis. *cough* ahem.) There was like, a blip on the cosmic radar on the day that events allowed Anya & I to meet, that's the only explanation I can think of- someone just wasn't paying attention, and now they're sitting up there, all up on their lofty floofy cloud going, "Oh, crap." Anya kept me company for about a half an hour, forty five minutes during my trek. This would occur several times along the way, you see. Why? 'cause we're on crack, that's why.
Driving through upstate New York is an ... interesting experience. Ironically enough, I'd been driving through upstate New York last year on the Friday before Labor Day, so I was kinda used to the fact that, well, it's odd. It's not odd in a ha ha way, just in a "huh. Weird" kind of way. At one point, I was going through this town that was just like in the middle of nowhere, and had a flashback to humming the song from Deliverance the last time I passed through this part of the country. That should have been a tip off in itself. But then, I get back to the highway...and about ten miles out, there's a twenty-five, thirty foot Indian statue by the side of the road. There's no...explanation or anything. I was expecting say, a restaurant sign advertisement or something. But no. Nada. Just....standing there. Okay then.
I will say one thing, though. If one was going to, oh, say, put a thirty foot Indian statue by the side of the highway with absolutely no explanation at all... perchance one might also want to secure said statue properly so that it's not leaning forward at a twenty-five degree angle. Poor bastard was sitting there like he was a cast off from the "Smooth Criminal" video.
There were also lots of cows. I'm pretty sure that the cows outnumbered the people, which means it's entirely possible that I drove through the Land O' Sam.
Odd but true fact about the Mass Pike, also known Route 90- between Massachusetts and New York, all the service stations are exactly the same. This is cool in that you then really don't have to pay very much attention to where you're going once you get out of your car- the bathroom is on the right, just like it was last time- but, really? It's also kind of disconcerting. I mean, you stop in one place, go to the bathroom, do your thang. Then you get in the car, do about two to four hours of good, solid driving, cover some decent ground...and you stop at what looks like the exact same place you were at the last time you stopped. In essence, you feel as thought you've done all that work, and gone nowhere. Freaky. If it wasn't for the fact that the Farmer's Market was slightly different at each rest stop, I would have honestly had to stop and look for signs that I was in a Star Trek-esque time loop. You know, like the ep of Next Generation that Kelsey Grammer was in?
Right then. I'm a dork. If you didn't know this before, you do now. Moving on!
Anyway - I stop at the one gas station in...actually, I don't know where the hell I was. Somewhere in upstate New York. *shrug* I'm getting gas, & this truck driver walks up to me & tells me that the chain between my trailer & my Kia is too low, and I should tighten it a bit. Okay then. So he helps me do that, then waves & walks off. Coolbeans.
Three hours later, I stop at the same rest stop that's just rematerialized three hours further down the road, & the same guy is there. So he's talking to me, asking where I'm headed, rah rah rah...I tell him I'm going out to Ohio to stay with a friend in a town outside of Toledo. (Like I'm gonna give him an exact town- hello? I've seen horror movies, baby. I know better.) He tells me to take, well, exactly the same route I'm taking thanks to AAA's mapping site.
And then he walked away.
Tip to all truckers or anyone who travels frequently- If you're giving someone directions, probably not the best idea in the world to refer to anywhere that person has to go as Dead Man's Curve. Not only is it just not all that good for the ego, but it makes you sound like something straight out of a B movie. I am many things. Schmuck bait? Not one of them.
About an hour after I pulled out of there, I had crossed into Ohio, & got a call from Polgara that opened with, "So, where are you? DarkLady said you were supposed to be almost there already!"
Eventually, I managed to pass through the rigors of Dead Man's Curve as I made my way past the infinite beauty that is Cleveland at 8:30 pm on a Friday night.
There was nothing there. At. All. The highway? Freakin' deserted...
Dead Man's Curve, needless to say, was good material for us for my entire trip. More on that later.
Making my way to where DarkLady lives. This journey's monotony was broken by cell phone calls reassuring her that yes, I was still alive, and no, for real - I could see the signs for Bowling Green on the highway.
Then, as I drove past the miles and miles of fields, I made an odd discovery ....
In the middle of the amber waves of grain were huge billboards advertising "Naked Girls! XXX!" and "Largest Collection of Adult Material in the County!" And I'm not just talking like, one or two. About every seven, ten miles, there one was, just sitting out there under the appropriately placed spotlights so that we, the passers-by could bask in its impossible-to-avoid black and yellow splendiferousness.
I guess there really isn't all that much to do out there in the farms.
So. Sixteen hours after I started out that morning, I arrived at DarkLady's house. I'm actually the only one that's actually seen her apt., 'cause I'm all special. (Okay, so I'm also the only one that's gone through Ohio since she's been there, but that still makes me special!)
I got to her house, posted to let everyone know that indeed, yes, I was alive, had dinner & talked to DarkLady, then collapsed on to her very comfortable couch.