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Bad choices made, constantly

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Route 66

Flagstaff, AZ to Amarillo, TX

January 16, 2012 (Amarillo, TX)

 

I was thinking about it once I got into Texas today and maybe because I made the joke before. I always imagine when you get to Texas some guy just comes up and says “Welcome to Texas, faggot” and then punches you in the face. I was totally ready to throw Texas under the bus. When you think of Texas you think of George Bush and steak and the Dallas Cowboys and tumbleweeds and white people and long stretches of highway and giving retarded people the death penalty. Well, I’ve only been to this area of Texas (Amarillo) about four times now and granted it’s just that little piece up top I like it here. I forgot that people don’t actually come up to you and say “Welcome to Texas, faggot” and then punch you in the face.

 

I held the elevator door at the hotel for an older gentleman and he obliged by engaging me in a little small talk in the elevator that didn’t feel forced, like he was just naturally a nice guy. I went to a restaurant to grab some takeout and a guy in the bar started talking to me about football, which was on the television, and then about my drive across country, and our jobs. He even offered me a beer. There was nothing creepy or weird about the whole thing, just a guy sitting there shooting the shit with me. We both checked out the natural redhead that walked in, but didn’t make any kind of eye contact like “aww yeah” or anything. But I saw him checking her out. Not sure what she was doing with a guy that looked like Barney Rubble in a salmon Izod shirt with a goatee, but hey I’m just passing through town anyway.  So far my experience in Texas has been great.

 

I’ve obviously spent a long day driving today if I’m talking about different small talk conversations I had. That leaving early plan this morning worked out great. I was on the highway by 7:15 AM. The highway was amazing at this hour, the sun wasn’t fully up and there was a picturesque cloud pattern all over the sky. I made it to a small place called Santa Rosa in New Mexico. It is one of these towns that Rt 66 slices in half. There is very little going on, but a good amount of motels and shitty fast food and old diners to keep boring people like me interested. Well, I stopped and took a number of pictures of old signs and that kind of thing. I had been driving for over seven hours. I decided to cancel my hotel reservation in Santa Rosa and drive through another two plus hours to Amarillo. I’m glad I did all of that driving, even if it was on about two hours of sleep. I did drink three Starbucks drinks throughout the day each with four shots of espresso in them and I’m still awake here.

 

The drive through New Mexico is long. It’s obviously one of the more beautiful states you can see in this area. I went through a number of Indian reservations, stopping at a gas station at one and buying a couple of bottles of soda in glass. I went outside and realized I had no opener. The woman behind the counter went and opened a new one for me and I sat there fumbling with it, two other women came and watched me. I was briefly paralyzed with fear that maybe I was using the bottle opener wrong. I mean really, there is only one way to use one. For whatever reason though, this one didn’t work. It was evident when you inspected it closely that the gap between the okay why am I explaining this. We went and got another one and I opened my bottle and was on my way. Holy shit Mexican orange soda (made with cane sugar) is fucking intense.

 

At one point today I realized I could probably make it to the Cadillac Ranch, which is here in Amarillo, before the sun went down. I was racing the light as I watched it in my rear-view mirror disappear into the ground hundreds of miles behind me. I made it to the place just as it was dusk though. A van full of young guys that looked like a hardcore band was emptying out. I noticed one of the guys had a Red Sox hat and the license plate was Massachusetts. I walked with one of them chatting about music and mutual people we knew; they were from Worcester and blah blah blah. I have to say it was pretty surreal. The dude I met took some pictures of me with my phone but I must have forgotten to tell him “don’t make me look fat(ter)” so I deleted them. The ground around the cars is littered with spray paint cans. I wonder how many layers of paint there truly are. At first you notice the litter when walking up to it. If it were anywhere else it might bother you, but this place is literally right off of the interstate (I-40 which I’ll spend a total of 1500 miles on) and it’s just dirt, it’s not a field, it’s just acres of dirt.

Driving through some desolate area I came upon a roadside monument and I thought of how awful and lonely it would be to die on one of these highways. Nobody drives by for hours you could just be dying for hours and not getting to say goodbye to anyone. At least you’d get to see the amazing sky before you went. Maybe you had a nice Mexican dinner earlier. They have pretty good Mexican food out here (obviously).

Los Angeles, CA to Flagstaff, AZ

January 14, 2012 (Flagstaff, AZ)

Early on into this trip this morning I was thinking about different times I’ve lied to women about music or food or something to impress them. The most memorable one was in the early 90’s when being a “music person” didn’t mean anything; everyone was a music person in the 90’s. I was working at a small record store in New Hampshire in this beach resort area that was like a less good (wait, better?) version of the Jersey Shore. Next to the store was a small coffee shop. There was a girl my age that worked part time there and often we would kill the day chatting about life and music. She knew quite a bit about music, which is always a good thing. I considered myself and still consider myself to have a good knowledge of hardcore, punk rock, metal and stuff related to those genres. There are always holes in someone’s taste of knowledge though. She mentioned she loved The Repalcements and held up a copy of “Let it Be” asking me if I agreed it was a classic.

“Of course, what are you shitting me?” I replied

I had never heard the album in my life. I immediately grabbed a copy that night and listened to it over and over just in case she “tested me” on it at some point. A short time later she stopped working there and evidently stole money from the coffee shop to support a drug habit. It was nice of her to introduce me to that album which is obviously a classic I will tell any woman in the future.  I can’t remember what this has to do with this trip.

Another time I lied to a woman to impress her was every single time I’ve ever talked to a woman in my entire life.

Saying goodbye always sucks, even if it’s temporary. Last night was laid back. I went with one friend to a restaurant that is basically one of these chain bakery/restaurants that old people go to. My friend had wanted to go to one before he moved (he is also leaving LA). For my last meal in Los Angeles, really? It turned out to be just what I expected. Gross. I barely ate it. He enjoyed his meal but I enjoyed the scenery in the restaurant. Some observations: Every customer had some sort of problem walking. Limping. Crutches. A hunchbacked woman. Some woman was wearing these weird winter gloves that looked out of place with short sleeves indoors on someone that isn’t playing drums. There was a guy that looked like he was probably in some horrible rock band in the 70’s. He even had like a vest and frosted hair. Him and his date sat on the same side in their booth. She was older than she wanted us to think she was. I wasn’t fooled. Obviously he was 57.

We said our farewells and then I shot to the other side or some other side, I don’t really understand valleys, of the valley and met “the girls”. We went for food and of course I didn’t think twice of ordering a meal forty minutes after another meal. Come on, I barely ate the first one. I’ll miss all of these people and Los Angeles.

This part of the drive is easily the best and thankfully I had bright blue daylight to make it even easier. Eventually this will turn grey and ugly and I’ll be back home.  I’ve never been happier.

January 15, 2012 (Flagstaff, AZ)

It’s 5:00 AM. I can’t really sleep in this area of the country because of the altitude and just sleeping on an actual bed at this point is hard. I think I slept a total of two hours last night. I slept three or four the night before, and drove a little more than seven hours. I may just leave here soon for the next stop. It’s still dark here and, well sleeping is boring when there is so much to see out here. Everything here is standing still so it’s not like I’m going to miss anything. If I leave this early I can drive in daylight for the majority of the day though. Fuck this?

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