Thursday, September 12, 2013

#601. Road Tripping

(Before we begin, I should acknowledge that the road trip couldn't have happened without a very long prelude.  Things happened, items were consolidated, other journeys came to an end, and I ate some cake that was technically meant for someone else's going away party but pretended it was meant for me.)

Then we came to the beginning.

Day 1 (8/30/13, a Friday)

This was the day I left Colorado Springs behind.  I originally arrived there on 10/31/07, arriving on Jet Boo, I mean Jet Blue (Boo is the name of the Best Cat in the World, but the airline had jokingly renamed itself for Halloween that year, or perhaps every year?).  This time it was a departure in a car, my sister's Etta, I mean Jetta (the "j" fell off at some point), following her husband's convoy of truck-pulling-5th-wheel-pulling-small-trailer.

It did not take long, surprisingly, to leave the Rocky Mountains behind.  I used to call them the Ladies (a twist on one of the early Dave Barry touches in the Starcatchers books).  Some days I thought I appreciated them enough, others I took them for granted.  They were a fantastic backdrop.

We reached Kansas soon enough (we left somewhere around 10:30, and were there by the afternoon).  For years I heard incredulous tales of Flat Kansas.  I wrote a whole poem about Flat Kansas in the early days of this blog because of this.  But the truth is, it's not so flat.  More like Wavy Kansas.  But it's really not much more boring than anything else we saw on the trip.  It may be that we managed to see all the most generic gigantic open...tracks of land in America (but I don't want that!).  I don't know.

We saw plenty of oil derricks (but very few Oil Derek Lowes, much less Oil Can Boyds) on this stretch.  Saw a few dust devils, the last of them the most spectacular.  I saw buffalo.  And cows!  Lots of cows!  (And signs repeatedly advertising the freakish five-legged steer of someone's dubious livestock collection!)

(By the way, Dubious Livestock would make a great name for a rock band.)

And corn.  And windmills!  I explained to my sister the nerdy significance windmills have for me.  To her, they're boring, especially as they become more ubiquitous in this particular region.  They occupy whole windmill fields.  They're like a mechanical plague!  Beware the windmill apocalypse!

She also said how impressive they are when you see them in pieces.  Not because my sister revels in blowing them up.  It's because you don't appreciate how big they are until you see their component parts up-close.  And it's true.  One blade looks like a whale's fin.  Ahoy!  Avast!  There be blubber in Kansas!

Day 2 (8/31/13, a Saturday)

We arrived at our first destination, the home of my sister's in-laws, her husband's folks.  This was in Stoutland, in Camden County (Earl was nowhere to be found, alas), just outside Lebanon, Kansas.

Before this, however, we drove through one of the few signs of active civilization on the drive, Lawrence, KS, home of Kansas University.  We were too early for a lot of college babes, alas.

We started counting FedEx double trailers (the highest count came Day 7, I believe, some 90 of them).  You can go crazy on a road trip.

We passed the Lake of the Ozarks.

And we arrived in Stoutland.  Here I was introduced to the goats George and Ginger, and for expediency's sake (and not much exaggeration) we'll say that this was my primary amusement for Days 3 and 4, which were all spent there.

Goats are awesome!

Day 5 (9/3/13, a Tuesday)

We passed the Mark Twain National Forest.  I had no idea he was so closely associated with dry land.  (And dry enough that at least in my late home territory of Colorado Springs the summer was once again festooned with news of raging fires in just such a setting, but with far fewer iconic writers associated with it, apart from myself.)

We also passed the Mississippi River, which for some reason is not known as the Mark Twain River.

We reached Tennessee!  We saw lots of corn!

We passed signs denoting many historical attractions (either in TN or elsewhere, including landmarks for dead presidents like Eisenhower and Truman, because apparently the years following WWII were a good time to have been born in this part of the country and having the hope to attain the highest seat of office).  Anyway, there was also Shiloh, famous for the site of a famous battle in the Civil War.  There was the Tennessee River.  And Nashville.  (Now with more glow-in-the-dark pyramid action!)

Day 6 (9/4/13, a Wednesday)

We reached another Lebanon.  But still not the actual Lebanon.  (Although it's always funny to see places named after more famous destinations that are clearly not in that geographic location.  Think Pluto [Not a Planet Anymore], but located somewhere that has banjo music.)

Anyway, we reached Virginia, our target state!  The Appalachian Mountains!  Tobacco fields!  Apparently, the Misty Mountain (nowhere near Middle Earth).  We visited a Wilco (not the band), which featured Stuckey's (but not Stuckeybowl, much less featuring a practicing lawyer named Ed [but not the talking horse]).  (The day before we stopped at a Casey's and enjoyed a much-ballyhooed fried steak sandwich, which was good, especially with my trademark toppings of banana peppers and honey mustard dressing.)

Day 7 (9/5/13, a Thursday)

We passed through Crozet, Virginia, one of several area locations famous in the Rita Mae Brown cat mystery books.  This pleased my sister's mother-in-law to no end.

Everyone obsessed over the view of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

And we arrived in Williamsburg, our initial destination in VA.  Williamsburg is part of the Historic Triangle tourist trap in the area, which also boasts Jamestown and Yorktown (and now Bootown).  You should know plenty about Jamestown (John Smith, Pocahontas, Colin Farrell).  Yorktown is the site of the end of the American Revolution (besides the tailgate in Hamilton's backyard).  Williamsburg is...really old.

Day 8 (9/6/13, a Friday)

We reached our temporary permanent destination in the Anvil campground.  I would have made more references to Jim Neidhart, Bret Hart's tag team partner in the Hart Foundation, but sometimes a joke only you get isn't really worth it.  But I kept thinking it the whole time we were there anyway.

Day 9 (9/7/13, a Saturday)

I took my first independent excursion of the trip, to a used bookstore, where I found Peter Ackroyd's The Fall of Troy and a Jerome Charyn mystery featuring Isaac Sidel (the latter of which is nearly impossible to do in an actual bookstore).  I was sorely tempted to buy both of them, but I'm just coming off a period where I eliminated a considerable percentage of my things, including many books.  It's hard to jump into buying more.  But I really wanted to.  Ackroyd is a favorite.  He's the measuring stick I hold to judge every bookstore.  If he's in it, it's a good bookstore.  Charyn, he's another favorite, and he's even more scarce.  And as I've suggested, the Isaac Sidel books are especially scarce.  And I have yet to read any of them.  I really should have gotten them both.  (And readers of this blog with some memory know how I also obsess over Troy.  Seems like the whole of 2011 was devoted to it.)

Day 10 (9/8/13, a Sunday)

My birthday.  We hit spots in Jamestown and Yorktown, but avoided being too touristy.

Day 11 (9/9/13, a Monday)

Reached actual final destination at Langley FamCamp.  (The whole point of the road trip was to relocate my sister from the Air Force Academy to Langley AFB; I piggybacked for a relocation of my own.)  I took my second independent excursion of the trip, running across a graveyard and memorial to the Battle of Big Bethel, which was apparently the first fight of the Civil War.  And I dangled my feet at the end of a small dock.

Day 12 (9/10/13, a Tuesday)

This was the end for me.  Two fairly brief plane rides finally landed me in Maine, which is where I am and will be for the foreseeable future.  Yay!

And yesterday was 9/11.  For the first half dozen years or so after it, I wrote a poem in commemoration.  After I lost some of them to a computer crash, I guess I kind of fell out of the habit, or at least the original fervor.  But here goes, for the day after:

When the World Came Tumbling In

we will never forget
a day like none other,
when the world came tumbling in

mad scrambling
and recriminations,
when the world came tumbling in

the heroes and the villains
and the flags waving,
when the world came tumbling in

it's hard to remember
except in images,
when the world came tumbling in

what do we say
except that it happened,
when the world came tumbling in?

4 comments:

Maurice Mitchell said...

I'm glad you made it safe Tony and enjoying your new place! That poem is very good. "When the world came tumbling in" is a powerful statement.

Tony Laplume said...

Thanks, Maurice!

Pat Dilloway said...

Those windmills they use to generate electricity are enormous. I passed a few of them when I was on vacation in northern Michigan. You really don't think how huge they are until you start to get close.

Is that Ackroyd guy related to Dan Ackroyd?

Tony Laplume said...

He's British, so he has a better chance of being related to Chevy Chase (and you don't). Anyway, no.

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