Tuesday, September 19, 2006

In Los Angeles now. I arrived last Thursday night around 9:00 PM. All told, 3,349 miles driven in six days. I didn’t spend much money on gas thanks to the economical car. The car, a new Chevy Impala was very comfortable which made the trip that much better. Having a small car for long exhausting road trips can be just that, exhausting. The same could be said for having a car with more than one person in it as well. It’s funny that they say you take a long trip by yourself on the road to “do some thinking”. After two or three days of driving seven hours or more a day the only thinking you’re doing is the math in your head when you see your next destination is 80 miles away and you’re driving 70-75 mph an hour which is basically an hour away. That and whatever song is being played on the stereo which if you’re by yourself and it’s a song you quite dig you’re probably immersed in music and not really thinking about anything. So, no I didn’t do any “soul searching” whatever that means anyway.

I have learned a few things since being here in LA for a few days now:

Evidently they do not have directional signals on their automobiles. You can just switch lanes whenever you want, completely disregarding the people behind you or at an intersection waiting to turn.

People are very impatient here, especially on the road. I was under the impression from past trips here that people were much better drivers here but I’ve come to realize that it’s very similar to the East Coast (the winners for Best Drivers on this whole trip are probably the people in the middle of the country on the highway. Granted you’re on a highway with five other cars for hours at a time passing each other over time, but people drive the speed limit and are in no real hurry to get anywhere). I wonder if everyone here is habitually late for everything and that’s why they are always in a hurry? Anyway, when I finally got into an area of California where traffic was heavy I was coming down from the high desert area and everyone was going 75-85 mph and I had to try and keep up. After driving at such an easy, laid back pace for six days it was a bit overwhelming to be among hundreds of douche-bags in Lexus’ (Lexi?) cutting in front of me at 80 mph with barely a car length in front of me. It brought a little bit of the Massachusetts driver back in me, or perhaps just my personality in general where I thought to myself “If I had my car I might be more of an asshole here and actually purposely hit one of these people with my car that is already banged up”. Anyway, after spending six days in a car being patient for the most part it’s a little bit of a bummer to be around so much impatience.

So aside from the people in cars here being slightly annoying I’m having a good time doing nothing for the most part. I saw a couple friends from back home who are out here, Noel and Laura and one of their friends Ryan the other day. We spent the day in Hollywood, went up to Mulholland Drive (sp?) and at one point drove down Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills playing that Rage Against the Machine song “Down Rodeo (“So now I’m rollin’ down Rodeo with a shotgun/last time these people saw a brown skinned-man was when their grandparents bought one”). That was pretty funny. We went into a shop where they had old rock concert shirts…for $48! Also, some atrocious costume jewelry; for example we saw a fake gold necklace with some stupid charm on it for $199. I mean if the terrorists really want to win they might consider hitting Beverly Hills next time. I probably shouldn’t say much though as I probably spent about $80 on food this day alone.

Another thing I learned here, you can’t get a cup of coffee any time of the day without having to drive around for three hours. Being a spoiled New Englander with a Dunkin Donuts always within walking distance of me it’s kind of sucks that there is only Starbucks here (one within walking distance that’s open until 11:00) and very little else. I haven’t had a plain old iced coffee in ten days now. I don’t think I’ve washed my hair in as many days as well. Heh.

I took a couple hundred pictures that I’ll put up somewhere else when I get home. Using a laptop without a mouse is a pain in the neck so cutting and pasting, dragging things, etc is hard so I’ll deal with it then.

The balloon says "I love Hooters" on the other side but I wasn't quick enough.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Cold in Arizona

Weird, one would assume everything in Arizona is hot. Last night I go across the road to get some coffee from this strange gas station/gift shop (which seems to be the norm out here), bring it back to the room and it's all of a sudden lukewarm. I've been up pretty early every morning; this morning I went down to the restaurant in this spacious Holiday Inn I'm in for breakfast. They are offering a breakfast buffet, which in itself just doesn't sound like a good idea. I mean the idea of ALL THE BACON YOU CAN EAT sounds like heaven for a portly fellow such as myself, but umm...there wasn't anything good. I got the standard eggs, potatoes, bacon and a small little bagel. One thing I've noticed "out here" is the bagels are all tiny, it's like only little dwarfs eat bagels. Anyway, eggs: cold, potatoes: cold, taste frozen, bacon: warm, not that bad, bagel: tiny(!). Having control over how you toast was the only saving ground for the meal in the first place, that and the ability to sit there and smoke cigarettes in a restaurant while reading my book over coffee was nice.

I just drove practically 3,000 miles and I'm talking about fucking breakfast. I am really starting to miss my own cooked food. I haven't been eating fast food constantly or anything but, it's nice to have a good cook such as myself cooking for me when I'm at home.

Went to the Grand Canyon yesterday and it was truly humbling and beautiful just like anyone who has ever seen it generally says. It was later in the day so I didn't get to spend as much time as I would have liked, but the two hours or so there was enough...for now. I'll definitely go back there. The drive there from Flagstaff was breathtaking as well, snaking through vast areas of nothingness and trees, open desert, etc.

Today is the last day of driving. I'm about 450 miles out of Los Angeles, there isn't much between here and there aside from the Mojave Desert and creepy Needles, CA so it should be an easy seven hours of driving with minimal stopping. I've been able to do every drive for the most part without having to stop for a restroom. The beauty of travelling alone!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

"If you're going through hell, keep going"

-Winston Churchill

It's ironic how getting away from a routine (eg work, band rehearsal, going to the same Dunkin Donuts every day at the same time, etc) is great for a day or so and then it turns into a routine. Not that this is a bad routine, seeing some amazing stuff I might never see again, spending countless hours a day not speaking it's refreshing and I haven't gotten up one morning on this trip yet and said "shit, this is going to suck today". I knew what I was getting into when I decided to take the trip so there would be no reason for me not to be completely ready to spend a day driving 500 miles. Watching those signs that tease you "Amarillo 189 Miles" and then what seems like forty minutes later "Amarillo 176 Miles".

I am pretty close to Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon tonight (In Gallup, NM) so tomorrow will be a brief three hour drive. There isn't much between Flagstaff and Los Angeles aside from Las Vegas so I may go there tomorrow night and stay there, or just stay in Flagstaff and do the seven hour drive on Thursday...as long as I promise myself to leave early so as to not hit the Mojave Desert after the sun goes down. That's really been the only rule I've been trying to keep...minimal driving at night. Not that breaking down in the middle of the day in the middle of nowhere would be that much better, it might be just a bit more scary.

Went to Albuquerque this afternoon and had lunch at some old Mexican restaurant and took some photos.

The seemingly annoying train whistle that happens every forty five minutes of so here is actually quite pleasant sounding.

Popular music in the car this trip so far: The Minutemen, James Hunter, Chuck Berry, Hank Williams, Steely Dan, Neko Case, The Roots new one, Pedro the Lion.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Don’t mess with Texas

In Amarillo Texas after a mostly bland day. I didn’t do any site-seeing today aside from what was outside of my window, got pulled over in Oklahoma City and had my suitcase searched, a million questions, and was left with “We do things a little bit slower here in Oklahoma” from the generally nice policeman. After that I pretty much didn’t stop until I got here in Amarillo. I found this hotel “The Ritz” that was $39.95 a night. I walk in this pretty big place and should have taken my initial feelings of uncertainty after noticing the sign wasn’t lit up. The grand lobby with chandeliers, etc made it seem okay. I pay my money and make my way to the room. I walk in and immediately notice these huge bugs that look like black cockroaches with wings on the curtain and leave the room. I tell the guy at the counter I’ve decided to drive through the night and found this Holiday Inn that is huge with a pool, courtyard, comfy chairs inside, etc for a little more money. No bugs so far. Also, not sure if this is a smoking room or not. It’s interesting smoking in this situation as it’s like you’re on a ski trip in high school and you’re breaking some kind of rule. Initially I smoked a cigarette in the bathroom with the shower on so the steam would kill the smell. I then smoked by the little porch I have here and then realized it looks out upon a courtyard and someone might see me. Then I realized I was 36 years old and from Massachusetts and could give a shit less what will happen if they figure out I smoked in here tomorrow when I am already 92 miles away from here…and I paid cash.

I must say I am extremely glad I got to see a sunset here in Texas on the drive here. The road here from Oklahoma City was so straight I forgot how to use my steering wheel for a minute at one point. With nothing in front of you, behind you, or on either side of you it’s impossible to even explain how huge the sky looks. I can’t imagine there is a camera with the ability to capture it how it really is. I took a couple pictures while driving and while at a rest area (it sounds like someone is moving a gigantic safe across the floor in the room above me. Not sure why I picked “safe” there and not “piano”, “dead horse”, or “Wilfred Brimley’s corpse”).

Every guy I saw at a rest area, gas station, etc today looked like the kind of guy that would just punch you in the face after telling you how abortion stops a beating heart. That or they looked like the wrestler Stone Cold Steve Austin. Which I guess is the same kind of deal.

Car is at 2,071 miles now. Windshield and front grill of the car are dirtier than a landlord's soul.

Your tables so green

In Mt Vernon, MO this morning. Got here pretty early last night after an 8 hour driving day where I could have easily kept going into Oklahoma City. Regardless, I’m at a little over 1,500 miles now which for all intents and purposes is halfway there. Today will be spent going through Oklahoma and maybe staying in Amarillo, TX depending on the time of day…I may keep going into New Mexico. I plan on doing a good chunk of today on Rt 66 which I’m traveling alongside on Interstate 44 right now.

Yesterday was pretty eventful. Went to the Indianapolis Speedway Museum, got a brief tour of the inside of the track (the track itself was closed for a “private party”, which was kind of cool as there was one car going around the track, the sound and speed of that car was pretty intense and I can see why people like that racing so much). I took a bunch of pictures there.

I decided to attempt to see this rock bridge outside of St Louis that is a famous Rt 66 stop, used the directions I had and got off the exit and realized I was in East St Louis which is basically one of the worst places in the country. Like Gary, Indiana, Compton, etc. There was trash everywhere, creepy looking extremely skinny people with no shoes walking around, run down houses, etc. I immediately got back on the highway and decided to go to the St Louis arch instead. I stood under it and took some pictures. What an amazing structure. Symbolically it serves as “the Gateway to the West” which was nice as I was quickly growing tired of the cornfields of Indiana and Illinois. Also, was proudly rocking the Red Sox hat wondering if I'd run into any Cardinals fans....did see a guy with Rams flags all over his truck and face painted blue and gold.

In Springfield, MO last night looking for a room to stay and I got a really weird vibe from the people and buildings there, kind of like the East St Louis thing but nicer looking. I drove another hour or so to where I am now and go into the truck stop and of course every person I walk by says hello and/or starts talking to you which is a welcome relief from what happens in the Northeast.

I didn't have internet access last night, thiswas from this morning, or wait last night. I don't know really.

A couple more pictures from the museum underneath the arch, and the Casino Queen on the Mississippi River.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

John Mellencamp really loves this state?

What a long Frigging day yesterday…not in a bad way, just long. Left Rochester at 10:45 AM, my trip odometer was at 409 miles, it now says 1,050 so I made six-hundred and something miles in 13 hours (about three hours of stopping at the places below). I’m in Indianapolis, IN right now. I was pretty wired for most of the long drive so I may be able to beat that today. Once I hit Indiana last night around 10:00 PM th e speed limit changed to 70 mph which in reality was more like 75/80 and if you look on a map at Route 70 in Indiana it’s as straight as the day is long. Perfect temperature to have the windows open for the majority of yesterday’s ride as well.

Was up pretty early and went to The House of Guitars in Rochester for a bit which was just amazing, the stuff they had in there. It does not look as big as it does from the outside. I’d love to go back there when I have money to drop on a guitar.

I was going to hit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame but missed it as I spent a couple of hours at this place:

I imagine I’ll remember seeing that before I would remember seeing Robert Plant’s dragon pants or whatever. I can’t believe how close you can get to the edge of it, and the railing isn’t really that high.

This hotel I’m in now, which I assume is a respectable chain (La Quinta), and a little more expensive isn’t that great. The door to my room doesn’t lock, aside from the chain… but I can’t really leave the room…although I just did for the Continental breakfast, which is basically a fucking scam. They trumpet the continental breakfast like it’s the best thing that can happen to you on the road. The reality is, at least for someone like me who doesn’t get there at 6:00 AM, it’s the stuff in your kitchen that you don’t want to eat for breakfast. So I just walked down there around 8:30 this morning thinking nobody would be there and perhaps I could get a little coffee and come back here and write. I walk down there having literally just got up, in the clothes I slept in: gym shorts and this bright-ass green t-shirt, no shoes on looking like I just shot a whole bunch of heroin. There are of course 3 families sitting down there and a couple of women who look like church people. I grab a Styrofoam cup, go to the coffee thing and push it and it’s empty! I look around a little, look at the people, put the cup back down on the counter with the little drops of coffee in it and come back here defeated. Fuck. I went back a few minutes later and it was full. I kind of felt like The Dude from Lemobowski walking down there. I do have my bathrobe with me, perhaps tomorrow I’ll go to the continental breakfast in my robe.

This morning I’m going to go to the Indianapolis Speedway Museum before hitting the road. I don’t really know the first thing about auto racing but my boss and some of my friends do so I’m sure they can explain what I end up taking pictures of and why it’s important! Heh. I think today’s goal is Springfield, MO. I looked at a map and kind of forgot Illinois existed. It appears I have to drive through a pretty substantial piece of it.

Things I learned yesterday:

People that visit Niagra Falls don’t know the unwritten rule that when you walk on a sidewalk, walkway, staircase that is crowded you walk on the right side. Just like on the road!

People from India LOVE Niagra Falls.

Niagra Falls is pretty ghetto aside from the actual waterfall area. You get to the town and it’s pretty run down.

The guitar solo section of Rush’s Freewill is awesome.

When driving to Los Angeles from Boston never look at a map of the whole United States when you are only in Ohio and feel like you’ve already been driving for five days. Fuck that’s depressing. I always make it a rule to just look at the maps of each state as it makes it seem like less driving.

Oh yeah, gas prices out here!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Beep - Beep - Beep

I apologize to the person next door who I thought was letting their alarm clock going off here for the last hour and a half. I did further investigating and realized the faint beeping was coming from the fire alarm in here. I pulled it off the wall and of course it starts beeping louder. I have since taken care of the situation.

A quick one - Just got to Rochester, NY around 2:45 AM, left MA at 8:30 PM; obviously tomorrow will be a longer day. The goal is Indianapolis which should be pretty easy. I may even go beyond that.

Nothing exciting has happened yet obviously, but I did see a number of things on the side of the road that weren't there. Like big white deer that disappeared into the woods like smoke. A result of driving with only one stop for 6 + hours after you've been up since 7:00.

Of course I put the TV on in here when I walk in and it's already on Cinemax or whatever. Probably a good idea to not touch anything in here, right?

Friday, September 08, 2006