Wheatfield Near Fort Pierre, South Dakota. Photograph by Robert Clements

Friday, October 8, 2010

Riding Along in my Automobile

I drove across country last week.  2,100 miles, give or take a few turns.  I drove a bright red Kia Soul and took my dog with me.  Driving that far in three and a half days requires a zombie-like determination, mixed with a relaxed alertness that can be exhausting.  I drove for about 9.5 hours per day, covered about 650 miles per day, and will have to do it again in less than a month...  Here are bits and pieces that passed through the thing that pretends to be a brain in my head.

South Dakota is big.  The Cheyenne River breaks are beautiful.  Missouri River.  East River girl, now.  Turn right, and go downhill towards Des Moines, Iowa.  I have to pee.  Rua is being good.  Iowa is beautiful.  The fields are brown and gold, with undertones of red, yellow, and orange.  Hobbit-town on steroids.  It's hard to keep to any speed limit.  I have to pee.  Wind farms.  Are they good, or are they just hideous?  H.G. Wells. The War of the Worlds.  Ooo Laaa - martians.  Richard Burton narrating the score.  England.  Mikey, my brother.  Bob needs to photograph this.  Seal - Crazy.  No law in Deadwood - is that true?  Why do farmers leave whole corn fields untouched?  I have to pee.  Nice rest stop - walk Rua - back in the car.  Thank God for GPS.  Through Des Moines.  Next town to motel.  Nice motel, good rest - exhausted.

Up by 7:00.  Wanted to be up by 6:00.  On the road by eight.  I have to pee. Fabulous rest stop with writer's sayings - most memorable - Tennessee Williams - Death is but a moment.  Life is made up of thousands of them.  Near Iowa City.  Somehow - Illinois - zip through Chicago unnoticed, at about 10:00 a.m.  Arch spanning highway - road construction.  Not much to say about Illinois, because it's a blur.  I have to pee.   Indiana wants me (but I can't go back there).  Hazard by Richard Marx.  How do people who never go anywhere have the right to criticize those who do?  Patty Griffin.  Little Pink Dress, Hanging from her Knees...Indiana, more farmish.  Nice farms - well kept - almost looks idyllic.  Quiet lives, good sleeps.  I have to pee.  Pet Walk.  Dogs Prohibited.  Small walk with Rua - guilt kicking in because she's so cooped up.  Life time of guilt as a dog owner.  Ohio.  Cleveland - pain in the butt to get through - ninety degree turn - skyline is Art Nouveau against a gray and sprinkly backdrop.  Car working well - can't keep under 80, when on highway.  No cops.  Good thing.  Don't want to ding the car.  Don't want to get dinged. I have to pee.  Pumpkin Spice pretzels.  Elyria.  Beautiful word.  Dingy motel.  No bulbs in lamps.  Big holes in one of the towels.  Exhausted.  Bagel with cheese and chicken on it - soggy - half eaten. 

Pennsylvania.  Zoom.  New York.  Southern Tier Highway.  Awful shape.  Awful.  Awesome Adirondacks lining awful highway.  Bump, swerve, bump, bump, bump.  Travel lane driving - driving lane bad, bad, bad.  Kia Soul not happy with bumps.  Rua is even unhappier.  Whiny - sees trees, senses home.  Beautiful area, simply beautiful.  Seneca tribe casino.  Cranky drivers - all of us hating the nasty roads.  Green Day - American Idiot Don't wanna be an American Idiot...I Walk This Boulevard...This is Our Lives on Holiday...  Angry music for lousy roads. I have to pee.  Great rest stop - hard play with Rua.  Snacks almost gone.  Lollipops saving the day.  Need to eat something good.  Motel in Massachusetts.  Does not take dogs, contrary to web site indications that it does.  Always call, next time.  $25.00 for four-legged friend who will not use the towels, mess up the beds, leave trash all over the place, or load up her bags with shampoos and soaps.  For crying out loud.  Pumpkin Spice Pretzels for dinner.  No good sleep.  Understandable.  Need good exercise.  Butt feeling like melted swiss cheese.  Shoulders hurting.  Eyes red.

Morning.  Out of Smashachusetts.  New Hampster a neccessary blur to getting where I want to go.  Cross Portsmouth Bridge.  Beatles - Get Back to where you once belonged.  Think about Michel Kimball and Green Girls.  Welcome to Maine.  The Way Life Should Be.  Rua wild.  I am crying.  Trees, trees, trees and familiarity with route.  Turn off GPS.  Fast, almost want to take off.  Kennebunk.  Saco/Biddeford, Scarborough, Portland.  Staples Parking lot.  Sister.  My sister.  Dog out of car - hugs, hugs, hugs, exhaustion.  Reloading luggage, dropping off car.  I have to pee.

Home.  Somewhere back there, I crossed the mighty M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I. 

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