Search

caffeineandcookies

Bad choices made, constantly

Tag

road trip

Leaving California

January 13, 2012 (Los Angeles, CA)

 

Since August 4th 2009 I’ve been pretty much living out of a suitcase. I’ve not slept on a bed more than twenty times during this period. I have no idea where to say I live, but I’ve seen quite a bit now, met quite a few people and for the most part been completely fine with this lifestyle. Why would I want to sit around and watch nothing go by?

 

This trip out here, out west, felt like a vacation from the get go. Arriving with no job and a job prospect here was fine at first and then I just kind of forgot to be responsible. Aside from a half dozen resumes sent out this is pretty much what I did for two months here: went to restaurants: by myself, with friends or with dates. I went to Disneyland. I saw some famous people, none of them white (!). I almost had a girlfriend. I saw The Cure. I saw one sunset at the ocean while surfers mingled out in the golden water.  I went back to Boston for ten days.

 

It’s time to go back to work and be responsible again, so I’m out of here. For now.

 

Trying to prepare for this drive. I’ve become much better at it now. Everything I own has been shipped or is on it’s way back to Boston so my car will be relatively empty. Having a car packed with things is a surefire way to stress me out and have me peaking out of the window of my hotel every five minutes.

 

You turn yourself into something out there in the middle of nowhere. Nothing like it in the world; black sky with holes in it so the light from the other galaxy can peek through. You wonder who is over there feeling as alone as you out there. It feels intense. It’s hard to raise your hands to the sky when you can’t feel them anymore.

(I’ll be updating as much as I can about my trip across country the next week or so)

A Trip Up the Coast of California (2009)

(September 2009)
It had been so hot in Los Angeles that a brief trip up the coast to San Francisco for a couple of days seemed in order. It’s hot here all the time in LA, people here are different, they’re used to it. I was living here for a month and a half I guess? I like it here, I’m getting used to it, but it’s tight and stuffy here. People are tight and stuffy, the roads are real wide but somehow stuffy, people crowd them and breathe down your neck for you to get out of their way. Coming from Boston where it’s pretty much the exact same vibe aside from people having bad accents (like me apparently!) and shittier roads. I grew tired of New England road trips. My whole life from when I started driving at 17 to maybe a year before I left was spent on gorgeous orange and sun soaked golden tree lined roads in the fall to bright green summer jaunts up to Southern Maine/New Hampshire or upstate New York. After doing these hundreds of times where I could practically drive these roads with a blindfold on I grew tired of them, but more importantly grew tired of my life back there. I lost any spark for anything whether it was going to shows, playing music or just plain going out. The last few months spent there I spent some quality time with good friends going to shows and being out and about in social settings. I obviously miss this aspect of living in New England and family and friends, everything else though, not-so-much.

G and I had just started dating, but knew each other for quite some time. She lived in San Francisco and I lived in Los Angeles and came down for the week. I had some plans for the us to see some outdoor places with my visiting friends from New England. We didn’t do all of that on the day we hung out but did have a great day outdoors and indoors with them and they all got along which was nice as I had wanted her to meet some of my friends from back home. This was also one of those instances where you want to show off your new girlfriend and hope your friends like  her. They all got along great and we had a nice couple of days with them exploring Los Angeles from the coast to atop hills overlooking the orange specs below.


We checked out of the hotel in Los Angeles on Wednesday morning to drive my car back to my house. G was going to follow me there and then I would get in her car for the drive up to San Francisco. I get in my car and it won’t start. When I moved out here I had the same problem. My starter and alternator were dead and I paid $650 to have them fixed. We waited in the bright hot sun for the tow truck driver to arrive.  Sun tired and slightly burned from the previous day the last thing I wanted to do was sit in the sun aggravated by more car issues. The night before swerving around like her twelve thousand mile long smile through canyons high above Los Angeles my brakes were continuing their squeak that had started a few days prior. Turns out my battery was dead, like forever dead. Ugh. Brakes, rotors, battery and labor here I am $855 poorer. Great. I avoided thinking about this for the majority of the trip as it would have made things shittier than they needed to be.

We started on Highway 101 which brushes against the ocean and snakes back inland here and there. Our first stop was a non-event in Santa Barbara, a quick lunch and we were back on our way. A nice little area I had sped through before, and for the most part sped through this time as we weren’t sight seeing. I did see a Mission that I plan on going back to some time soon to take pictures of. A bit south of San Luis Obispo (near Pismo Beach) we stopped at a pier G had been to before and took some pictures of sea lions and pelicans. The area was drenched in fog and was noticeably colder than any place I had been since I moved out to California. The pier and fishing boats made me feel like I was in New England again. The air here was particularly heavy on me. The fog at dusk , the chill in the air and that always welcome sound of an ocean sounding like an ocean is like no other sensation. We walked on the damp pier for a while. This was the first week we were spending a good amount of time together so only fond memories were being created. Any other emotion I could have felt would have been false; this was nothing but romantic in every way possible. I got some good footage of the sea lions on video, and then things “got racist” so we stopped. Long story.


With no place booked for Wednesday, just on Thursday and Friday in SF I successfully booked us a place in San Luis Obispo up the road a brief fifteen miles or so via the iPhone. The fact that you can do this kind of thing on a little hand held device and check it out and make sure it’s clean/safe, etc. is great, but there was always something about gambling with your evening by stopping at some random motel and paying for a chance. No such luck this time though. We make our way to the room and notice the bathroom sink is covered in ants. Ouch. I go down and talk to the manager and we are upgraded to a suite at no extra cost which is basically just a wider room with a stove, a couple of comfortable chairs, a working remote control (unlike the room in LA) and a bathroom that is two rooms. Nothing great really, but a step up from a bathroom full of ants.

San Luis Obispo, or SLO had failed us briefly and then redeemed itself but after that the thumbs would continue to keep pointing further down. A trip to the Madonna Inn to eat dinner at a restaurant that closes at 10:00 PM according to their website proved to be a waste of time. They are doing major construction in the area, with exits leading you to nowhere and not telling you where detours lead you…a mess for the most part. To top it off we get there a little after 9:00 to be told that they now close at 9:00 even though the doors are open and lights are all on. The gum chewing woman at the counter is not really interested in us and is doing math out loud while we stand there. The inside of the restaurant is all types of gaudy, like an Italian grandmother from the 70’s exploded all over the inside of a diner at Liberace’s birthday party type gaudy. But awesome. I made my way down to the ladies room and had G take my picture inside and then went into the men’s room and took a shit in the urinal just to show them how I felt about their letting me down. Not really, but I would have and will if it happens next time!

Close by was a diner that was all lit up, even the sign that reads “OPEN” was on in the window! We parked and walked up to an empty diner, a woman counting money at the cash register and a locked door. Eh. A trip downtown proved to be even less successful. Fucking downtown. A college. Only places open were loud bars and shittier restaurants. Well, bar/restaurants. We ended up at a shitty 24 hour breakfast chain (although after the preferable one was closed as well!). Horrible food choices were made by both of us and that’s about the extent of it.

We had another errand to run before ending the night, finding some medicine for her. After a creepy drive down a road curiously called “Tank Farm” we found an all night market helmed by this D & D reject named Neil (Limelight by Rush was playing on radio).  He worked the register and had creepy eyes that he couldn’t stop moving. Just one of those talkative people who are nice enough but also sporting a depressing existence so it’s hard to pay them much mind.

We decided to take the rest of the trip on Rt 1 which is quite literally on the coast. The same drive I did a couple of years previous when her and I hung out the first time. It was nice being able to look out the windows and take it all in even if it was foggy for a good chunk of it. We did a few stops along the way to take in some of the breath taking views that are so high up, the wind made you a little nervous you may blow right off the particular cliff you’re standing at. I think I ended up taking three pictures for couples who asked for a scenic picture with them in the foreground. The ocean though…on a clear day it goes on for miles. it looks calm and inviting unlike the jagged gray crazy ocean of say, Northern Maine. I’d like to say I like the Pacific Ocean better than the Atlantic but really, there is no better or worse.


A room screw up in San Francisco resulted in an upgrade to a suite yet again. Perhaps I will start complaining every time I travel so I can upgrade my rooms. It’s usually not much more than an extra room with another TV or just a bigger area. It’s not like suites in real expensive places. I had a great time the day and a half or so I was in the city. The first night though, we hit this delicious ass hamburger joint in The Castro. I didn’t have cash on me when the food was rung up. I walked over to get cash to give the woman, meanwhile G paid part of it and was chatting with the woman. Afterward she told me the woman said “Does he always do this, make you pay for meals like this? I hate when men pull that shit” or something like that. Whoa! Hey lady how about a large order of mind-your-own-business with that good ass cheeseburger? The cheeseburger though, I would have married it.

We took some amazing drives through some beautiful areas I had never seen, off the beaten path areas outside of the city. The fog proved to be a little bit of a hinderance, but to me at the same time added a character and mood to the sky that I hadn’t seen since moving out to this side of the country which has been a barrage of sunlight. We walked around the city last night North Beach, Chinatown mostly, watched a bug scurry around different areas of a counter in this Italian bakery. We were hoping to see a customer discover it. We had really shitty service at an Italian restaurant. We tipped really low at G’s insistence. The food was the one redeeming quality of that. Running out and disappearing into the crowded streets was slightly exhilarating, not like the time I walked out without paying at IHOP a few weeks before leaving Massachusetts, but still fun nonetheless.

Leaving this morning was odd. For a moment I thought I was flying back “home” to Boston, but no this is home now. This area of the country, and of course the area north of me is one of my favorite places to explore and I highly recommend taking the Pacific Coast Highway at least once in your lifetime. By yourself, or with someone it’s a beautiful drive. With the right soundtrack and the right weather it’s even better.                    .

(All pics were taken on this trip)

Swimming Pool Lights

Image

November whateverth, 2011

This place, the road, makes it easier at the end of the day

Nowhere to go but nowhere

Just like back home but with more mountains

Less horrible accents

“Nothing a gorgeous sunset can’t fix!”

Eight trillion amazing sunsets a week can’t cure what ails me though

“It’s fake out there” they tell me

I see how fake they are though

Every last one of them

I want to just do this every day

Wake

Drive all day

Report what I see to someone

Sleep for three hours

Wake

Drive all day

Answer to no one

They ask way too many questions

Thankfully I always know to say yes

Image

This place right here, Las Vegas will leave you depressed, broke, horny, drunk and whatever else shitty feeling you can think of. I arrived here late in the afternoon just in time to take a couple of pictures of palm trees and blank faces. I am here on some high floor in a boring room. Harrahs. The room is big enough to hold a party though. I’m out of here soon. Wandering around hurting my feet and wasting a little money seemed like a good idea at the time. Everyone here is ugly. The men all wear Ed Hardy gear and the women all wear shit that looks like chicks who like dudes in Ed Hardy stuff wear. Late at night, early in the morning like now though. This is when you see the hardcore: Whores looking for one more late night cock, the elderly looking to win yet another three hundred bucks so they can go back home and have forty-six more boring Friday night haddock dinners, and me walking around slightly dazed, tired worn down from a week of driving. I’m full of energy though. I feel like I could sleep off the few gross drinks I had and get back in the car and head right back to Massachusetts.

Walking back to my room a little while ago. A stunningly beautiful black woman catches my eye and smiles at me. I smile back. I am slightly fucked up in the brainwaves but not enough to make bad decisions. It is 4:45 AM. She approaches me

“Hey honey, what are you up to?”

“Nothing really”

“You want to hang out?”

“Do I have to spend money”

“Well of course you need to spend money to have some fun”

“Oh, yeah I’m out of money at this hour sweetheart”

“You have a good night”

“It’s fucking morning” I think to myself. The cheeseburger I just ate fifteen minutes ago is now reminding me of this. I make my way back up to my huge boring room that looks out at a fake Eiffel Tower and pass out. I like black chicks too.

The drive from Las Vegas to Los Angeles is filled with douche bags and yellow dry mountains. Everything is yellow, gold and dusty. You see clouds billowing up to the sky, way off in the distance in the desert; someone driving through the middle of nowhere or a bunch of guys burying bodies all at once?

I have arrived in Los Angeles.

Early December 2011:

These late nights coming home

It’s finally quiet outside

Nothing but a few blue TV sliding glass doors

Silhouettes of palm trees

The golden swimming pool lights

What a calm scene to walk by

It lets you know where you are

I don’t even remember what New England is like

I know all the faces

All the voices of everyone I love there

Of every person I cared about

Here though

Everything goes on for miles and miles and miles

Streets, they never curve

You never have to pay attention on the surface streets

Every thought I have here

Is relative to something or someone back east

A million different mystery “hers” I’ll never tell anyone about

A million different roads traveled nobody needs to know I saw

I keep some of these travel stories to myself now

Without the energy or space to create right now

I have to keep it all to myself

I love it here

I love it there

I love the people here

I love the people there

The lights of the swimming pool at night though

They are much more inviting

More inviting than the frozen arms of snow banks everywhere you look

The lights of the swimming pool at night let me know two things

I’m home

I am far from home.

Image

“What Am I Doing Here?”

note: I haven’t had time to edit or go through this much but wanted to post something as it’s been a while.

“Bon Voyage!!!  Will be rad when we’re in the same time zone!” That is the message (still there) left on the wall of my Myspace page in August of 2009. Written by a girl I would eventually fall in love with. Today is October 17, 2011, a couple of weeks before I (think) I will be leaving here yet again. There won’t be any messages like that on my Facebook page or Myspace wall…or my Friendster this time though.

 

I’ll write more once I get into this trip a little more but anyway, traveling west again. Work didn’t work out as well as I thought it would and I rather enjoy living day to day out of bags. Right. I’m in Rochester, NY a mere 400 or so miles into this 3000 + trip. This is usually the time of the trip I am most energized even though there is the least to see around here. In the daytime, especially when it is overcast, Rochester looks like every JG Ballard story takes place here; a grey faceless city with streets that never end or go anywhere good.

 

So when I arrived last night I wrote:

 

Just before winter’s cruel frozen fingers can turn me all types of white blue gray and black I got out. Not before one brief little storm, a reminder of those six (thousand) months of winter. Wasn’t hard saying goodbye to New England again, was hard saying by to family and one friend I wish came with me. Spending a week out here alone is always a test I’m ready to pass.

 

Almost a week into this or what seems one and not ready to stop at all. The first half of this country is kind of boring. Its all one color and one temperature; I love it just the same but I feel like I know it enough at this point. The trip has been an interesting one so far.  I think I’m making good time; although sometimes you hear people doing this trip in three or four days because they have a second driver. That sounds horrible and awful to me. Most shit people are into doing sounds horrible and awful though.

 

The first couple of days were non-eventful to the point where I barely even listened to music in the car. Rochester, NY and Dayton, OH were the first two cities. After that I met up with an old friend in St. Louis.

 

On the way to seeing Mike I stopped (as usual) in Effingham, IL, which is tucked between Indianapolis and St Louis. There is a Nike outlet store there and I needed more sneakers. The fifty or so pair in my car right now (including ones I bought here in the past and haven’t worn yet) is apparently not enough. I only ended up buying two pair. Before hitting the road I hit this fast food place called “Steak and Shake” which in retrospect is pretty disgusting. Sitting across from me is an elderly woman wearing a Frosty the Snowman sweatshirt. It is November 4th and relatively warm outside, but I am in the middle of the country. She is sitting with who I assume is her son done up in cowboy boots and mustache and accent. The woman is eating a hot dog. The scene is pretty normal for this type of place. There is a little commotion at her table and I look up from my dry burger to witness her vomiting hot dog and what looks like Cream of Wheat from thirty-five years ago into a napkin. I end up finishing my sandwich and hitting the road. I post a condensed version of the events on Facebook and people laugh. I’m not really a funny person I just happen to witness things like this that I can report to people and then they can decide if it’s funny.

 

 

I have known Mike from the Internet for over a decade now from an old journal website we were both on just as long ago, Diaryland. I have been through St. Louis a few times and even stopped, but I never got a tour of the city like Mike gave me. He is a very smart guy, great personality and was a great host. It’s also nice to talk to someone as passionate about baseball as I am. Actually more. Also of note was the fact that the Cardinals just won their 11th World Series a week ago here. I got some pictures of the ballpark, saw some great looking neighborhoods and buildings and ate some good food. I can’t wait to go back there now.

The drive to Oklahoma City the next morning seemed short. Normally driving through Missouri feels like it takes a year. So there I am driving along the morning after staying in a place called Rolla, MO. There is a car pulled over by the side of the road and a person standing outside of it.  As I get closer there is an elderly person bent over vomiting on the ground while the driver of the car stands watching. Good times in this part of the country indeed! What the hell are they eating out here?

 

I was going to see my ex-girlfriend of seven years and her new boyfriend and maybe stay on her couch that used to be in our living room. I ended up opting out of the invitation to stay on the couch for a motel. Seeing her and being in that city was bittersweet. We didn’t really end on a bad note but on the other hand since her and I broke up I haven’t been able to settle down anywhere or with anything. I’ve been semi-homeless since August of 2009. Her boyfriend was very nice and we had a good dinner, hung out at her place for a bit and then I went and checked into a pretty dirty motel nearby. The day before there was an earthquake in Oklahoma City, a small one. Around 11:00 PM I heard a low rumble, like something was being moved above me, this got increasingly louder and more violent until about thirty seconds of the room and ground shaking. I never realized how loud an earthquake would be. Jodie immediately texted me “did you feel that?” The earthquake the day before was smaller and this one ended up doing some small damage from what I saw on the news. So what did I do during that thirty seconds? Did I get under a doorframe like they say? No, I stayed on the bed watching King of Queens until it stopped and opened my door after. A bunch of other doors opening with accents from all over the country figuring out what they just experienced.

 

Leaving Oklahoma City the next morning, destined for another city nobody has heard of I felt an overwhelming sadness over me. This part of the country is real lonely feeling to me. Seeing her having a life in OKC again is great but just reminded me of how much I miss her and the good parts of our relationship at this point. Not to the point where I want to go back or anything, just that my life has kind of gone downhill since then. Taking these trips doesn’t help these types of feelings to come out. I have been listening to a lot of talk radio and podcasts on this trip in place of music to avoid too much thinking. I have to do quite a bit of thinking when I arrive in Los Angeles, why have any cares in the world now? The brief thirty-second relationships I develop on the road by myself are enough to sustain my contentment for fifteen minutes or so; the attractive waitress Bianca at the breakfast place, the guy with the appealing perfect Midwest/southern accent at the gas station, the fat kid at the hotel counter. These are all my friends this week. I haven’t talked to anyone on the phone besides my mother and one other girl from far away. The texts from good friends and comments and the like on Facebook over the week has also been great.

In Amarillo Texas I went to that place where you can order a 72 oz. steak and if you eat it in an hour it’s free. The place is like a playground for white people in Texas. I noticed one thing about Texas. Everyone from Texas looks and sounds like they are from Texas if that makes any sense. My waiter was a young man dressed up as a cowboy with a little mustache coming in and that accent. All the women working there were dressed as cowgirls which as it turns out is kind of attractive. Well, on the attractive women. On the ugly girls it just looked like some bird you would see in Walmart and ignore. I didn’t order the 72 oz steak but I did treat myself to some beer and a more food than I could eat. I watched the last few minutes of the Patriots game (I’ve been wearing a Patriots hat this whole trip). A few guys clapped when they lost. Fuck you guys, you guys live in Texas. Leaving there at dusk was nice. Driving through these flat places as the sun going down, there’s nothing like it. On this particular evening I listened to Explosions in the Sky and some 90’s music to keep me sane for a few more hours.

More late night ramblings from last night in Flagstaff, AZ:

 

I love that you can sneak in and out of these towns quiet like this. I am almost at the end of this trip and it feels different from all the others. I think because the idea of driving this long of a distance is such a chore and does a number on you after a few days I like it. It feels like I am still working. I still can’t believe I left that quick without a chance. Things started looking up there and then all of a sudden looked grim and horrible in the span of a week.

 

Today’s drive was amazing. Waking up in New Mexico is always nice especially when you arrived there at night. I did some good chunks of driving on Rt 66. It snowed for a good chunk of the drive and I had to get off before I was going to for fear of my safety. There are elk everywhere on these roads and the blinding snow was starting to become a problem. Not necessarily for me since I have driven in that stuff all my life, but who knows if these other people know what they are doing. Most of these interstates are filled with people from somewhere else.

 

Thoughts for the last couple of days: am I making the right decision leaving there again? I honestly feel so comfortable and okay with driving these long distances by myself I could turn this car around the second I get to Los Angeles and drive back and have no problem. Good Lord I miss my friend back home.

 

I have much more to go through, I’ll post later. For now, on to Vegas for my last night of the trip.

 

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑