This was from northeastern California.
This was from Wyoming.$1.69!
I'm back in Pittsburgh...a day early. For some reason (possibly because I am, as Reed pointed out, mentally retarded), I miscalculated my driving times and inadvertently ended up in Pittsburgh a whole day earlier than I thought I would. As it was, I drove from Oakland to Salt Lake City on Sunday, Salt Lake to Omaha Monday, Omaha to some rest station somewhere in Indiana on Tuesday, and...um...now I'm here. I don't know what I was thinking.
I did, however, find the Clowns vs. Mimes on youtube.
The strangest part of the 38-hour drive was going from sunny, snowfree California to cold snowy Illlinois-Indiana-Ohio-Pennsylvania without actually seeing it snow. Just suddenly, there was snow on the ground. Just as suddenly, the trees were leafless. My license place is back with its peers.
At one point during my drive, I saw the late afternoon sun over the Utah mountains, the jagged peaks snow-covered...ahead of me was the alien bulbous landscape of Wyoming, road curving through dusty greys and tans and rocks that seem balanced instead of heavy. The Southwestern desert is beautiful, all buttes and cattle. If I were going to live somewhere, I think I'd like to live in the sandy sagebrush areas in between the Midwest and California.
Although, interestingly enough, I find myself missing California -- not the flaky Californian attitudes that mean you never know if your lunch date is showing up, but the sun and the landscape and the Spanish on everything and being able to buy horchata and carnitas in the grocery store and the easygoing freedom that floats in the air. I still don't want to live there. But I would if it was cheaper.
I thought of so many things I wanted to talk about while I was driving; stories I wanted to write, poetry, poignant blog posts. Of course now that I have sat down, I have forgotten them all. I do know that I met an amazing rideshare, lovely Jeana who is going to Denmark this week, who was a pleasure to drive through northeastern California to the mountains of Utah. I know that I saw the vast changeability of this country. I know I talked on the phone for six hours yesterday, until my ear hurt, reconnecting with so many people. I know I can watch Dr. Who on my laptop while driving and texting all at once. Remember that car you saw swerving all over highway 80? That was me.
I felt a lot in common with truckers, actually. I've always enjoyed truck stops, the isolated showers and strange chapels, the grey-colored men in dark blue windbreaker jackets and baseball hats, paunches hanging over their pants. I love the way you can buy ten pound bags of unshelled peanuts, that you can buy Mike & Ikes in bulk. I myself ate neverending meat sticks and Little Debbie brownies (calories in one: 280) and slept curled in my back seat under the glaring eye of a rest station floodlight. Even though I wasn't driving around for a job, and therefore probably they would have categorized me as yet one more tourist cluttering the road, I'm not really on vacation; I'm living on the road.
For now, Pittsburgh. Then Canada, through Christmas. Then...I don't know.