Until July of last year, I had never driven across the United States. I’d flown to a lot of the US — Albuquerque, Minneapolis, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Honolulu… just all over the place. But I’d never driven through what the elites call “fly-over country.”
Now, just eight months later, I have made the drive from North Carolina to either Portland or Seattle 12 times. Okay, well, not officially. I’m in the middle of trip #12. Bedding down tonight at the Super 8 in Rock Port, Missouri. I stayed here 3 or 4 times before, but usually now stay a few miles up the road in Percival, Iowa.
On my second trip west, when it all still seemed so new and wonderful, I stayed here at the Super 8. I did a blog post rhapsodizing over the incredible cheeseburgers at the Trails End Restaurant next door. I posted a picture of the fiery red sunset. I was full of hope, and life, and even excitement about the new non-radio life I was living. I have posted here a picture of the sun today. More cheap literary symbolism.
Eleven trips later, well, the bloom is off the rose a bit. I still marvel at the beauty and grandeur this country has to offer. I still love to see the snow-capped Rockies… the badlands of South Dakota (if I take the northern route) and seeing the friends I’ve made along the way.
But so much water has passed under the bridge since then, it’s just not the same. I used to drive along, narrating the trip as I went, for Tammy. I always hoped I could afford to bring her along someday. But that never happened. And going home doesn’t hold the same warm feelings it did just a few months ago.
There are, though, still things that intrigue me. Today, for instance, about 30 miles east of Kansas City, there was a billboard, imploring Missouri voters to put the name of one Dale Hoinski to the presidential ballot. The board implied that Mr. Hoinski, who wears a cowboy hat, could pretty much whip things into shape. I report; you decide. Here’s Mr. Hoinski’s website.
Okay, then. Tomorrow, good Lord willin’ and the crick don’t rise, it’s on to Laramie, Wyoming. I hope Kristen, my favorite front desk person is at the Travelodge there. It’ll make me feel at home.