Wow! 14 hours on the road today and I'm finally sitting in a Motel 6 just outside Atlanta too excited to sleep. Got some fresh bottles of Yuengling beer and should be sleeping right now, but too much to do and talk about, as well as being overly excited for the Identity Fest, so sleep will come 2nd to everything else. We left Nan's house early this morning after packing up the camper and car, making road sandwiches and saying our goodbyes. Can't wait to come back for xmas...been too long. I miss my family immensely, but the show must go on. It was a great drive today--well, the part I didn't sleep through. Incredible scenery, states that actually take care of their roads and good weather made for a long drive, but one that covered a ton of ground. Gwen has a new DVD player now, courtesy of Aunt Gina, which kept her busy in the back seat, and I got some shut eye before taking over the driving which brought us to Commerce, GA and into the Motel 6. Mileage so far, not including driving to and from comic cons, stores etc. is 3599 miles. Not bad for 23 days on the road.
Tomorrow will be an early one. We have to get up to go set up for Identity Fest, and since it's my first show, I have to get my badge etc. and figure out my set up. Shouldn't be too bad. Show starts around 1pm and goes until 11:30..then it's off to Tampa for Wed's show. Miami got postponed due to the Hurricane churning out in the Atlantic, so it'll be a nice drive to Dallas, splitting 1100 miles up over 3 days. Would love to stop in New Orleans for a night to see how the Rabbit is doing, but that is a long shot. Bought a nice, new 4000 watt, gas generator for the show as well to power the xmas lights that light up the booth. Ok, seems excessive, but I'm sure over the years I'll get a more higher powered use out of it.
It's been amazing meeting all the new, fresh faces on tour so far. Website hits have skyrocketed and business is building nicely. Vincent has told me that the people are eating up the art at the ID Fest shows, so it'll be interesting to see the response they have to my art. Hopefully it's not one of shock when some drug filled individual looks at one of my paintings and then flips out. I'll think it's funny, but that doesn't fill the wallet, so...Got some great tour dates coming up though, including a stop in good ol' San Diego Sept 2nd @ Cricket Amphitheatre, and the one I'm looking forward to, the Mandalay Bay in Vegas! My very first comic con was the Vegas Con back in 03 or 04, and it was held at the Mandalay Bay...rooms are aces.
So, anyways, going to try to get some sleep now. Gwen just woke up because she wet the bed so had to take care of that --the charms of being a Dad. The girls are now both sleeping sound, and I'm finishing up this rant and wondering how tomorrow is going to go.
Ok, so I've been at my Grandma's house in Ellicott City, MD, just outside of Baltimore, since Tuesday, and man has it been a trip! I've been able to see my family for the first time in 3 years, except for my parents who came to my wedding in May, and have gotten some much needed sleep and relaxation before the grueling Identity Fest schedule kicks in on Tues the 23rd in Atlanta. Feels like we are making progress after finally getting a hot meal, a good shower and being able to sit in the air conditioning and reread all my tour blogs so far, as well as go through all the pics and memories of the past 20 days. Funny thing about being on the road is that you learn things very, very quickly, and so the days seem to peel away at an alarming rate, making the first part of this trip seem like some distant journey. Something that has already hardened myself and Rachel to the ways of the road. Just have to keep an open mind and realize that many people have made this journey before, and worse journeys at that, tied to the hulls of boats, or driving Ox drawn carts across uncharted territory to tame the west. I have a nice European car with a/c that can make hundreds of miles a day. We've seen and conquered our problems and are ready to move on. This is not the Donner pass in the 1800's. We eat almonds and fruit, not each others frozen remains.
Anyways, after hauling ass through Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and to the Eastern side of Maryland, we finally arrived on Tuesday to my Grandma's house--the house I started life in. It was good to see Nan (what I call my granny), and as well, my Uncle Kurt, his wife Darla and my little cousins Amber, Jenna and Evan were all there to greet us as we pulled up. Nothing like family to wash away the dirt of the road and add some comfort to the other side of a 3000 mile drive. It was nice to finally get a hot shower and some dinner. After hanging out for awhile and catching up, it was time for sleeeeeeep.
Wed was crab cakes for dinner. There's something truly impressive about a Maryland crab cake that can only be understood when eating. You can't explain it to anyone without getting some sort of 'Oh, come on they are not THAT good', look from them. Nor can you explain to the seafood places in San Diego that put veggies in their crab cakes--which btw are the size of a quarter, and not a full POUND of meat like the one's out here--that veggies in a crab cake is like spearing Jesus to Christians.
Thurs found Rachel, Gwen and I heading down to Virginia to see my folks, my brother and my sister and her husband--and of course the addition to their family as my sister just gave birth to a beautiful baby girl named Taylor. A bunch of us went down to the Lost Rhino Brewery that day to do some beer tasting. Good beer. My brother bought me a growler of Pilsner for an early birthday present. After that we bbq'ed steaks and chicken. Then it was off to the theatre my brother works at to see 'Cowboys and Aliens'. Not a bad flick. Spent the rest of the night drinking some of that fantastic beer and blowing shit up Call of Duty style. Headed back up to Maryland in the morning. Friday was spent chilling with family and getting ready for the Baltimore Comic Con which was set to start on Sat. I'm tired as hell right now. Trying to pack on the sleep and enjoying the food for sure, before working my ass off at Identity Fest. But I'm still tired, so I say farewell for now, and I'll update some more when I get a chance.....
Ahh, finally an ice cold PBR and an off the beaten path, hotel room in some town I don't know the name of. We've been driving for 13 hours today, which ended up being about 5 hours too long and 150 miles too short of our intended destination of somewhere around Pittsburgh, but in our attempt at avoiding almost $75 in toll road fees, we had to actually grab an atlas, and carve out our own path through Ohio. Problem with that is that almost all major highways in Ohio are up north and if you are heading South East like us, 95% of the roads are 2 lanes with speed limits of 55 max. I got out and walked along with the car for a few miles to stretch my legs...ok...not so, but it was possible. Ohio is a crazy land of corn fields--yes, MORE fucking corn--and picturesque Americana houses, all white picket fency, red barns and huge perfectly manicured lawns that looked like advertisements for Patch Perfect. GPS was useless since the redirect would always want us to go north to the toll roads, which lead me to believe that there's some financial deal between Google maps and the Illinois, Ohio and Indiana Toll Commissions. Ok, so the toll roads, since we're on the subject of those savage beasts, are insane! Aside from paying 3 separate tolls in Chicago to the tune of $3 each way to get to the Chicago Wizard World, it was $10 just to go over the bridge into Indiana, and then once you were there, that state's troll under the bridge wanted to pop you for another $3 just to get into the wasteland of a state. Want to get off and take a piss? Grab a meal? Well then you had to pay the toll, and then take another ticket to get back on the freeway. Waste of time. Also, I feel I need to mention that the money was obviously NOT going towards the roads as it felt like running over dead bodies every few feet there were so many potholes, and bumps that resembled the affects of tectonic movement.
Alright, enough of the roads...I'm starting to sound like some geriatric sitting on his front porch in his adult diaper with a glass of sweet tea laced with whiskey, bitchin' about the world around him. Last time we talked, I was sitting around the fire at Fish Lake Beach just north of Chicago, burning my eyes on the smoke of the fire. Since then a bit has happened including the Wizard World Chicago Comic Con. 2nd day of Chicago sent us south to Lombard to meet up with the infamous hippy artist and cartoon contortionist Vincent Gordon--fellow live painter and drinker. Met him at his girl's house and from there went to his parents home so Gwen could play with the neighborhood kids, that have made the house a sort of boys and girls club. Got to know his family a bit and then it was off to eat some deep dish at a restaurant, who's name I forgot, and drink some local beer from Two Brother's Brewery which was exceptional! After that, Vincent's mom let Gwen stay at the house while we went out to a local bar to unwind. Place looked like some big midwest house that was converted into a bar. $1 beer night as well. Shit beer, but for a buck I'll drink rainwater that's infested with E Coli. Met some of the locals and realized how important going out to the local dive was to these people that lived out in the boring ol' suburbs. Almost everyone in there was a local, kind of like an extended Alabama family. Sisters and mothers meeting themselves in the mirror for the first time. Guys driving around in the parking lot in Mitsubishi Eclipses blaring crappy techno, but of course thinking they're the shit even though they are 15 years behind the times. Mullets. Shots of Jameson. Overweight comes to mind. Every patron sponsored by some local sports team. Nothing but farmland and marshland around for miles. Just enough cool though--an honesty and no bullshit attitude that definitely sets them apart from Californians. Wasn't asked what I did, or drove first thing after being introduced when there even was an intro. Usually you just started talking and then it occurred to you that you never got the other person's name. No stress. Nice change.
OK, so the Chicago Comic Con! I was checking out the website for some info on the convention etc. when I came across a headline that said 'Largest Gathering of Comic Artists at a Convention', and thought 'Oh, great, an ungodly amount of competition', in the sense that there's so much for the consumer to check out, not in the sense that there's that many UNIQUE artists. Which there weren't. As usual, half of it was complete crap, or some dimwit selling nothing but prints of their renditions of Spider Man, Batman, and other characters that they don't legally own, but will reap money off of until the cease and desist arrives. It astounds me how people can flock to those fakes and buy their shit. How many fucking posters of Wolverine looking pissed do you need? Get some class and learn to buy ART, not just a collection of prints that will sit in your closet and do nothing, or hang on your wall and keep you from getting laid...well, other than the fact that you don't shower and have a steady diet of Big Macs. Anyways, the first 'day', which was more like a preview night, was slooooooooooow. Just people walking buy and not buying. Not even talking. Met my neighbors Caleb and 'the other guy who was always late'--Very cool guys! They even brought me a couple bottles of beer on the last day. Friday was even more nerve racking as it took 4 hours into the show before I made my first sale. It wasn't the onslaught of people that Sat ended up being, but it was still steady enough to make me worry that I was going to bomb at this con if people didn't start stopping by the booth so I could intro them to intelligent art. Picked up though and ended up having a decent day. Sat felt like San Diego Con in how many people were there. Still took hours before the first sale, but ended up being a steady flow of sales after that. Gwen and Rachel were there, and Gwen got to meet the artist of the Sponge Bob and Dora books. $16 bucks later she had a Dora anthology signed and sketched in by the artist. Rachel actually got Gwen to fall asleep at the con by reading her a story. A first. Vincent gave us some towels that he uses to wrap his artwork up, and Gwen got a nice nap under the table. Sunday was great...steady sales most of the day, and met some people that really dug my stuff. Got to have some great conversations with them and made enough loot to make it to Baltimore and pay all those wonderful tolls!
I swear I was peeling off $1 bills faster than if I was at a strip club. Scary thought: the odd assortment of toll booth workers dancing on polls while you pay, wearing neon vests and g-strings, a neon sign in the shape of Indiana or Ohio hangs in the background, setting the mood lighting. The one I saw today could be rubbing her mole while asking if I wanted a receipt for tax purposes. Make it rain with the smell of Vanilla and rubber.
Ok, enough about making public servants table dance for us. It really is a trip to drive across the country. The expanse of land you'll see really puts into perspective just how fucking big this country is, and how fruitless it is for the enemies of our state to think that they could conquer it. Endless rows of corn, houses with back yards that, out in Ohio, are the same size as whole communities in San Diego. The miles and miles of road and small towns that you have to wonder about how they even survive in the first place. 93 Octane gas for $3.49 a gallon. Again, people who think we are running out of land, haven't been 100 miles inland from the coasts that millions of us call home and won't leave. We think that because 10 million people live on an island in New York that we are running out of land. Bullshit, you just don't want to live on a gorgeous property for cheap where you have to heat your house with propane, or deal with winter, or drive 20 miles to the nearest grocery store. Effortless comforts with the ocean as their backyards are the calls of the shoe leather skinned beach bums. Million dollar properties along the suicide carved cliffs of Big Sur, are the cries of the winemakers, their necks adorned with pale blue sweaters. The smiles of MId Westerners are bigger because they are probably laughing at the property taxes, or over inflated home values that West Coasters are paying. Maybe they are smiling because they have huge plots of land with trees their grandfather planted lining the front driveway, while New Yorkers can barely remember what cut grass smells like. They seem to be laughing at the extremes we'll go through to make ends meet to afford our 800 sq ft. condo in downtown San Diego, that you bought because the real estate agent sold you a line about a 'view', or how hip it was to live downtown and have your own parking spot several stories underground, or how close you are to the hundreds of bars and puking Saturday night zombies spilling out at 2am just below your window.
Anyways, here I sit in my Super 8 Motel room in the town of Wooster, knocking back my third PBR and typing away. It's nice to have a hot shower and sit in the quiet and the dark, collecting my thoughts and experiences. Need some food though, my stomach is eating itself alive, sending me messages that beer is not food contrary to current thought. I know I'm supposed to update this bastard on a daily basis, but who am I to follow some sort of sequential consistency. The journey is not a planned out episode, a sitcom of my life as an artist on the road trying to expand his career, so why should my blog be some forced daily blurb about the sites we've seen and the rest stops we've fouled. You will get when I'm ready but I appreciate the read. I've met so many wonderful people so far and this is just the tip of the iceberg. My birthday is on Sat, the 20th. I turn 35. Not feeling the age though, especially since I have a hot 25 yr. old wife sleeping in the bed next to me:) I'll spend my birthday at the Baltimore Comic Con spreading my artistic seed, and educating the people about art that has thought and research put into it. Introducing them to the wonders of texture and original thought. Giving them insight into why I would possibly take my family around the country on a grueling tour, in the hopes that at the end of this open ended, loosely planned journey with fear and joy battling it out at the comic cons and in the repair shops, I might actually find some solace and substantial success with my art and myself. Alright, time for bed...Grandma's house is next and I'm looking forward to a few days at an actual house to get some work done, as well as some prep for the Baltimore Comic Con, then next Tues it's off to the Identity Festival for a whirlwind 13 shows in 2.5 weeks. Talk soon!
Day 9 and things are finally smoothing out a bit. My wife and daughter are slowly adjusting to life on the road, as am I, but the only thing taking away from our time now is our daughter's obsessive nature about going to the playground, and trying to play with the neighbor kids without throwing sand in their faces, or throwing a tantrum every time we have to go home. Life is simpler, but more complex in that it takes more effort to make a meal, or set up camp etc. You really do enjoy each and every bite of your food as it took twice as opposed to just ordering in or throwing something in the microwave. Although we did eat Subway at Walmart today while shopping...I was joking about how we live in a trailer and eat dinner at Walmart as our crossing over into true white trash. Mainly, though, I do cook the meals on our little 3 burner propane stove.
Let's see...We've been through Nebraska--spent 2 days there at the Holiday RV Park. Really nice park with a pool and a few playgrounds for Gwen, but the minute we went to set up the tent trailer SNAP! One of the cables broke on it. Yet another slice of bullshit to deal with on a trip already peppered with an odd amount of mishaps. They neighbors, looking like a pack of Harley riding good ol' boys came over to offer some assistance and rigged us up with a 2 x 4 which held up the camper until we could get it fixed. We made up the extra bed out of the dining room table in the camper to sleep on, so as not to tempt fate and have the camper top crashing down on one of us (most likely me) while we were sleeping at night. The next day found me heading off to Larry's RV Sales and Service Center about 2.5 miles away to sit and wait for the cable to get fixed. I think the service center goes in order of how old you are, because 2 octogenarian couples got their RV's serviced first even though they came in after me. Maybe the closer to death you are, the more sympathetic the service people are. Oh well, gave me time to grab a nap in one of the nicely decorated floral wicker chairs in the waiting room, when I wasn't reading one of the many travel magazines mixed in with the books on good Christian values. Odd. Took about 3 hours to fix, but that made the dip in the pool I took when I got home that much sweeter.
Went shopping that night for groceries on a budget of about $40 for whatever food I thought might last us until we had some sort of reconciliation with our landlord over the financial bullshit he put us through. It's a tough thing to make out a list of what to buy that is healthy and cheap. Lots of beans and rice on that list. Also bought some hot cocoa for morale. Too exhausted to have any though, so went to bed and got some much needed sleep. (Goddamn, just burnt my eyes on the smoke of the fire!)
The next day we packed up the trailer, cables working fine, and headed out on what was a decent trip through the remainder of boring ol' Nebraska and into the rolling hills of Iowa. We were headed to Saylorville Lake just north of Des Moines, an Army Corps of Engineers run park surrounding, obviously, a huge lake. I was skeptical of the accommodations as it was a state park with limited amenities, but when we arrived we were treated to a great camp site with tons of space between neighbors, plus we backed right up to a playground for Gwen to go have some maniacal fun on. After camp was set up I made us a nice dinner of pasta tossed in pesto sauce--hell, yes, we get fancy out here. Rachel did some reorganizing of the car etc. and I ran up to the front to get some firewood out of a 'Firewood Vending Machine'. Yes, you put in 5 bucks just like a soda machine and a bundle of firewood falls out. Finally got to sit in front of the fire with some hot cocoa, and a bit of whiskey, and hang out with Rachel which is tough to do with Gwen in a tiny trailer. It gave us time to reflect on how amazing the land is that we just crossed even though we haven't had a lot of time to enjoy it. To watch the landscape change from desert to 10,000 ft up in the Rockies to the flat, corn filled plains of Nebraska is a trip.
It feels so good to shed the skin of San Diego and see something different, and not just some lame ass vacation, or a week in some city for a comic con, but to get into the heartland of America and get into some states I've never seen. I lived in San Diego for 12 years and did nothing more than a 2 week road trip, as far as time away, which is not enough time to let a new place settle and sink in to your mind. Not enough time to pick up a custom or fall in with the regulars. Not enough time to remember an obscure street name or know where to go for the best local entertainment. It amazes me how fearful people are of packing up and leaving their comfort zone, even though it might be killing them. To me the idea of packing up and seeing new places is an ingrained idea from early man. Nomads. Going where the seasons took them, or the food. To stay in one place and swear by it is odd even by modern man terms. Tonight I almost obliterated a family of raccoons crossing the street on my way to get more beer, but watched them split up--half climbing up the razor wire surrounding the campsite, and half running back the way they came. Now that is a vacation story, not how the Quality Inn gave you a free continental breakfast because you had a AAA card. Well, and to bring up a previous blog, who can top drinking at Woody Creek Tavern.
Alright, cracked open another PBR. What else...where were we...ah, yes, now I'm in the camper, was tired of the smoke from the fire changing direction and burning out my eyeballs while I tried to type. Had to stop too many times as well while trying to type with one hand and wielding a collapsable shovel in the other to stoke the fire with. Ok, so after Iowa it was the last leg of the journey before we got to Chicago (or just outside of it), and to the campsite from which I'm typing this right now. Took much longer to get here than we thought due to the last half of our journey being on 2 lane, backwoods highways leading us through towns with abandoned warehouses that backed up to train yards, huge victorian homes, and small roadside bars that tested the imagination as to what goes on in them.
Along the way we stopped at this badass German restaurant--the name eludes me now, but I grabbed a pic of the sign I"ll upload in the next few years. The place was something out of a movie, small time diner appeal with 70 year old waitresses taking your order, and an old bar dripping with oak and leather that would make a nun unable to control the desire to throw back top shelf scotch. Evidently where we were was a collection of 7 villages that were made up of German and Swiss immigrants that came to the midwest and set up shop many years ago. Incredible Ruben!
Finally made it to Volo, IL and Fish Lake Beach where we are staying for the next 7 days. Interesting place. Huge. Lots of full timers and camp sites, but the amenities are killer. Lots to keep the little one busy including a huge lake to swim in, paddle boats, craft day, Sunday school, playgrounds, kid's bingo, etc. etc. Picked up 2 bundles of firewood tonight and that's where you found me at the beginning of this blog, sitting at the fire writing after Rachel had gone to bed. I was in my element. Sippin' whiskey, writing and enjoying a fire. Tomorrow we paint though! Been too long...got lots of commissions and lots of ideas. Tomorrow is prep day for the Chicago Comic Con. Sketches, paintings, book inventory etc. Looking forward to the convention as it will be a totally different crowd for me. Baltimore next week. My home town. Been too long. Haven't been back in 3 years. Alright, time to catch some sleep....
The Savage Woody Creek Tavern, The Trek Across Nebraska, Broken Cables, Finally Sitting at a Fire in Iowa and More!...
I can't believe it's 7 days into this journey and I've only been able to upload one blog entry. That goes to show a bit of adjustment was needed to take care of the 'bumps in the road' that we've encountered, as well as getting adjusted to life on the minimal. Right now I'm getting some much needed relaxation in front of a fire in Iowa at Prairie Flower Campground. It's quiet except for a million bugs and a few owls talking to each other, and of course the neighboring campers dogs screaming when something is stirring in the woods which they are doing now...sounds like a pack of something is getting ready for a hunt. They come near me though, they've got a savage fight in store, as I have a shovel, a knife, an axe some hot flaming logs, whiskey and my attitude to fight back with...plus a fresh meal would be nice:P
So, where to begin. I guess when I last left you eager public licking your lips for the juice on what it is like to go on a 15000 mile tour across the U.S. in a camper, I was in Colorado still stirring from flat tires, no A/C and bounced checks. Well, the 2nd night I was in Colorado was one of the coolest I've spent in a long time because I got to make my pilgrimage to the legendary Woody Creek Tavern, more famously known as the hangout of Hunter S. Thompson. I made the 55 minute journey from Glenwood Springs to Woody Creek and arrived just in time to snag one of the remaining spots at the bar, as the tavern was stil FULL of tourists (yeah, me included) eating dinner. The burger is fantastic by the way...followed by a Bud and a shot of Jameson. I met the bartender, Tim, through some small talk, establishing why I was there and the fact that I was on tour and not some bumbling idiot that was there to drool over the place that Thompson hung out at. I quietly finished my food while staring at the walls, which are covered in pics, picking out the one's of Thompson or something related to him--campaign posters for his run for Sheriff, oil paintings from fans etc. As the crowd died down and the bar became much more comfortable, due to either the whiskey setting in or the fact that the tourists were thinning, I finally got to have an in depth conversation with Tim. He pointed to the stool at the end of the bar (of course, where else do geniuses sit but at the end of the bar), and poured out stories of how the divots in the bar where from Hunter slamming his shots down, and how the phone jack on the bar was used by him, with his own phone, to conduct business. I asked if I could get a pic of myself in the legendary chair, and by the time he was finished snapping off the last shot of my dying cam, I was already moving my drinks down to the seat. Yes, the SEAT. Now, if you know me, you know I'm not one to be star struck because I really don't care, unless a famous person wants to buy my art, but sitting in that seat definitely brought full circle a respect and fascination with an incredible author.
The best part of the night though, was when I finally got to meet the locals. Jeff and Cliff the one they called 'Big Pants' and a slew of others brought the true color of that tavern at the end of a windy road to life. Some were transplants from New Orleans after Katrina, and some knew Thompson when he was still alive and drinking, but all were incredible people to throw back drinks with--several offering me a place to stay in case I didn't feel like driving all the way back to Glenwood Springs. I also met Biff the Cat--a local legend, the cat has been there for years and years, and even wears an electronic door opener on it's neck to be able to open the pet door on the building next door during the winter when it gets too cold. I'll definitely be back to this gem in the Rockies...this haven that is so much more than a tourist destination, or a pilgrimage, but an ever evolving tavern that just happen to have a famous writer call a barstool home.
I made the trek back to Glenwood Springs alright, without any elk mutilation or major storms coming down on me, although when I got back to camp, my wife and child evidently had to endure a huge storm that shook the trailer like Wall St. dry humping the well done cash cow. The air was fresh and clean though--a clean I've not experienced in San Diego. Colorado is an amazing place, but it was time to cash in and get some sleep--I knew it was going to be a long day, and a long drive tomorrow to Nebraska through the Rockies. Alright, I'm going to turn in for now...I'll fill you in on Nebraska and Iowa tomorrow.
I've spent the last few days in weather that has reached 121 degrees according to my car's thermometer, and now I'm sitting up in the mountains of Colorado and it's rainy and chilly, but my family and I have finally made it. I've had tons of thoughts running through my head, and have already seen an amazing section of the country, so now it's time to somehow organize them into hours, days, minutes, and pints of whiskey. I meant to update this on a daily basis, but the last few days have been so wrought with things I would have rather not dealt with, but were probably necessary to mold me into some sort of a man who knows how to drive around the country in a station wagon with a pop up tent trailer for a home attached. My family and I are like the Griswolds on a long term vacation....sorry Walley World is closed...I'm going to punch that fucking moose.
I'm amazed that the last 11.5 years spent in San Diego has been filed away in my memory as fast as a bad day at the office. While I do appreciate all that my harlot by the sea has provided me, in the form of a place to build up my career, I couldn't be out of there fast enough, and I'm sure that has contributed to the mishaps that have happened along the way. I'm not going to say we were ill prepared for the trip, but something in the air has made this trip VERY interesting, yet we are only a few days into the 6 month or so excursion. Also, for the record, I have never felt more a peace with myself or looked at my family with more pride than I have in the last few days.
I've always been one to look at hardship and find the good in it since I was homeless in New Orleans. Something about the lessons of the road have always cemented themselves to me like the spatter of bugs on the teeth of a psychotically happy biker. Nothing like moth wing as floss. A bit razor sharp though--gums might bleed. Speaking of which, just swatted a moth on my computer screen, leaving a huge stain of guts across this blog. Oh well. Time to move on...you are all looking at your half drank cocktails wondering if there's more ice, but desiring more whiskey and more to this story...
DAY 1 - I'll try to dissolve this tour into specific days, but I don't think it'll hold it's weight since the way time works on the road is by a series of events. Like just now the wind has picked up and is shaking my camper like someone trying to dry hump it. Day 1 was interesting. The first day without all the burdens of a cable/internet bill, or an electric bill, or mail, or wondering when your wife was coming home from her shitty job serving equally shitty Mexican food in Old Town. It was just day 1. We pulled out of Joe and Jenny Andrew's driveway and set off into whatever the road held. We had put a good amount of money into the car and supplies and planning. We were now pulling out and wondering if the transmission was going to blow up a hundred feet from their driveway. The trip, for me, seemed so surreal that I fully expected a large boxcar or Kirstie Alley's ass to fall on the car the minute I pulled away....wait....the minute my WIFE pulled away from the drive. Got to get facts straight...can't expect this monster to feed without straight facts. I'm not FOX News.
First day was LONG! Took too long to pack and too long to get on the road so it was the heroin of road trip days. Didn't get on the road until 1pm and had a, what turned out to be a, 12 hour drive to get to St. George, UT. The cast of characters that showed up for this first day included a broken A/C in 120 degree heat, a flat tire on the trailer in the middle of the night, and some soft of wolf spider coming to offer his services. That lead to having to get a Motel 6 for the night instead of the campsite as we didn't want to pull in in the middle of the night, or even knew if the office was open. Nice soft beds and a hot shower were a welcome comfort after that drive. Man, the trains are coming by tonight...running along the Colorado river I suppose...can't tell too dark. Alright, getting tired...2 more days to go...
Road trips are definitely one of those things that go by fast as lightning when you are sitting and reassessing what is only a few days, but feels like years--especially when your trip is wrought with everything that could go wrong. So day one in St. George was hot as fuck. Nothing else to describe but feeling like Cerebus, the three headed dog, breathing in your face with the heat of a thousand suns. Dips in the pool cooled us off for a minute, my daughter Gwen was making friends and learning of the joys of a jacuzzi, but no need for a towel as the moisture from the pool as well as every ounce of water in your body was sucked dry in minutes. I went and got the A/C fixed...was just out of coolant which is good. I was worried that I was going to have to replace the compressor as my local SD mechanic told me was an issue with older Volvos. So with that fixed the rest of the night went well. We had a nice dinner of salad, tuna and hummus, with plenty of water to wash it down. It felt so good when the temperature dropped to something more comfortable, and we were just able to enjoy each others company and some food. The night ended with a glass of whiskey and then some much needed sleep...
Another thing about road trips is that when sleeping out in nature, you wake up with the sun. Not to say I don't battle every ray to get some more sleep, but it's a natural alarm clock, and that comes in handy when you are trying to leave early so as not to arrive at every campsite at midnight when the bears and other wildlife are creeping around looking for a meal. That is, however, how we arrived in Glenwood Springs, CO on the 3rd day. We left Utah with a crisp, cool A/C running in the car providing us with the exact opposite of the sweltering bullshit we had to endure the first day. I was able to nap while Rachel drove, occasionally waking to take in a site or two, or get out at the rest stop. We were heading through some really wild rock formations in northeastern Utah, and the rain was starting to come down on us. Glad I had an umbrella though with some 1980's pink and white pattern on it to run to the restroom with. Nothing odd about THAT guy. I spent most of my day in a daze napping and snacking...trying to comfort our daughter who was complaining about her back from sitting in the car too long. We stopped at a gas station to get some food for the long journey ahead and that is when ANOTHER catastrophe happened. My wife's card was declined, which was odd since I was just ordering a few chicken sandwiches at Burger King, and not spending everything we had in the bank on the 60,000 piece nugget pack. I went to the ATM and found out we were over $300 overdrawn! Now, I'm not a math wiz, but I'm good at looking at the numbers and knowing what we have and what it's going to take to get through this journey money wise. Come to find out, and not to get too deep into it as we are STILL trying to figure out what happened, our landlord gave us our security deposit back in check form, Bank of America cleared the check, and then the landlord put a stop payment on it and BofA took all the money out of our account!!!! We still haven't been able to contact our landlord to find out what happened, and BofA is now on the shit list of the worst fucking banks to deal with. We called and asked why they gave us money that they hadn't verified yet, and all they could tell us was that we were 'low risk' customers because no check we had put into the bank before had bounced. I inquired as to how that is a smart policy and they didn't have an answer. If they give us the money, then it's THEIR fucking fault for releasing it to us and not ours, so why come back and drain our account? No wonder they needed 25 billion in bailout money! The manager on the phone wished us luck being stranded in the Utah desert and offered her sympathies, even though that fat cunt was more worried about profit and loss rather than if I was going to be able to get my family out of the desert alive. And we wonder why America's credit rating got dropped today. Don't think it's a shock! We've just got morons running everything. Anyways, looks like we are going to small claims court with our former landlord.
So after figuring out that we had enough money to get to the campground and pay for the night, we continued our drive up to Glenwood Springs. Just after dark a rainstorm hit--yes, a storm...I can't make this shit up--and we were forced to drive up the mountain at 35mph while semi trucks blew past at 90, their drivers obviously on some sort of meth high and wearing a wetsuit so that the drugs offered their maximum potential. We finally made it to the campsite and found our site number. We set up tent in the rain and got to sleep.
The next morning brought bad and worrisome moods. My wife and I were on the brink as we tried to figure out how to get out of this mess, and so after a few phone calls, we were able to drum up enough cash to continue on. It's a really shitty feeling, though, when you've spent months planning something and then one thing that you expect to be the last thing to fail, does. The campsites were booked....the car packed...the clubs and conventions booked...the morale high, and then the hammer comes down and you sit wondering who you pissed off to deserve this. If it was some higher power trying to help write the screen play for this journey, then I say to him/her "Please fuck off, I'm a decent writer." To ease the tension we went and played some mini golf. Not much to say about that other than it was a very well manicured site. Oh...and after that I dropped the wife and child off and went over to the....(see the next blog for the happenings at Woody Creek Tavern!)