I just finish my second leg of a 16 hour trip from Indiana to New Hampshire, stopping in Pittsburgh and Upstate New York along the way. It was, in a word, awful. The first leg was alright. Ohio is pretty depressing and by the time I got to West Virginia, I had already spent a small fortune on gas and it was nightfall. I went to the Pittsburgh Ikea and proceeded to have an anxiety attack, I was going to be moving into a place, living all alone again, and needed to put shit in it to make me feel less depressed and lonely. And I started to freak out. Where were the wooden spoons? Why couldn’t I find the mixing bowls? How was I going to take all of this shit back to Indianapolis after four months, I was lucky enough I could see out the back of my car this time round, what am I going to do? How am I going to take care of the last month on the lease? What is going to happen? How will I take care of it? How will I write my thesis in two weeks? How am I going to drive eight hours tomorrow?
I’ve never driven anywhere, by myself, for longer than perhaps three hours. Maybe less. Today, or yesterday, I had brunch with a friend and hit the road just as another snow storm began to pelt Pennsylvania. I drove with light snow all the way until dusk. Then, all of the sudden, it was dark, I was tired, I couldn’t see out of my windows or mirrors and every time I turned on my wipers, I could see out of my windshield. My whole car was so caked with salt and road debris and dirty snow and snow and frozen windshield fluid, I could barely see the cars in front of me, even despite the heavy snow that was now coming down, at my 200 mile mark, or so. I was going 45 in a 65, the lines disappeared, people were swerving, and others were somehow passing without problem. I didn’t even know what city I was in. It took a few phone calls from loved ones to bring me back to a level of sanity to press on. But once the snow let up, I began to develop tunnel vision. I began to space out, looking at the tail lights in front of me. I stopped and peed as often as I could. I purchased almonds. I got two large lattés with extra shots. I managed to clean my windshield, windows, and mirrors, only for them to freeze over as I re-entered i-90 North. It was a miracle when I looked down to see I had less than two hours left, that I’d be passing Albany and entering somewhat familiar ground. That, and I had to pee, planning on stopping at the nearest rest area. And then my GPS pulled me aside, told me to get off the interstate and onto a scenic route. With darkness surrounding me, I had to reduce my speed to 55 miles per hour and suddenly became excessively paranoid that every driver driving behind me was going to speed up and try to run me off the road to my death. Somehow, I got to downtown Saratoga Springs after shaking off four potential homicidal drivers. I was 45 minutes away. But I was entering rural Upstate New York. Speed limits shifted and even though it was only 9 pm, all of the houses were darkened, the towns and farmhouses looked completely abandoned.
That’s when I realized my folly. I hate this. I really hate this. I hate trying to anticipate my GPS’s erroneous depth perception. Apparently I went right when I should have gone left when it said straight and I thought I went straight and lo when I saw the same farmhouse, I nearly vomited from fear. Somehow, through the twisting, frozen roads, I finally made it to my parents’ vacation house. When I got out, I told myself, “never again.”
When I was a child, the only thing that got me to sleep apparently was being strapped into my baby seat and driven around. The same holds true now. While I happily accepted the car keys in my teens from my parents, I always preferred shotgun. Now, when I conceived of this blog, I had the fortune of being my boyfriend’s co-pilot. I dreamed of stopping off at every interesting road side attraction and photographing it. I imagined that the US would be just chock full of interesting sites. And that’s not the case. Most of America is for living on, growing on, or just space in between cities. I was going to stop off at some cool places listed on road trippers, but at that point, I was already so road weary, I just wanted to get driving over with. In inclement weather, during a snowstorm, I realized the insanity of travel. I’m only doing this because I have to and I hate it, but I hated even more driving alongside people who could kill me. I imagined hitting a patch of black ice, spinning out of control, and somehow blowing through a barrier on a bridge a hundred feet in the air, tumbling to my death in some shallow river a hundred feet below.
I spent three hours gripping my steering wheel, fearing for my life. My tailbone was sore. I kept shifting in my seat and once my foot slipped and I thought I was going to lose control of the car. My eyes were weak and the snow fell hard. I couldn’t keep my speed under control and I was terrified of crashing.
I don’t want to get rid of this blog for I do want to see America… but I think I’ve finally had that moment of realization where you see just how immature and idealistic your vision for a project can be. I already admit it’s unoriginal, but I somehow was under the understanding that driving the country would be this great adventure. It isn’t.
At least… it isn’t in winter.
Combine That Stuff
If you know me, and I’m sure many of you don’t because a) there probably aren’t that many of you and b) you’re all virtual to me as far as I’m concerned, you probably don’t know that I’m a big fan of cryptozoology, coffee and craft beer. Judging by the fact that I have a whole blog dedicated to my potential road trips in the future, you could probably guess that I like the idea of road tripping. That being said, I’ve realized this has become a blog about dreaming about going on a road trip and not actually going anywhere… but regardless, I like the idea of road tripping, the reality of cryptozoology (huh huh huh), coffee and craft beer. So I was thinking, since they all start with “C”s and I’m a big fan of alliteration because I’m a pedantic pseudo-intellectual, why not combine them all into one tour!?
I was on roadtrippers.com and ran into a bug that wouldn’t allow me to view certain destinations on their map, so I’m asking you - where are your go-to places for great coffee, great craft beer and great sites to look for the mysterious and mythical creatures of our fine country?
Morning, Evening, & Night.
What Scooby Doo has to do with my Wanderlust
So this is no secret if you know me - I really love rewatching the old Scooby Doo series almost as much as I love rewatching Twin Peaks. And since it’s Halloween, I have an excuse to watch these DVDs sans judgement.
I recently felt the need to get myself a copy of Scooby Doo on Zombie Island, a more “recent” movie (1998) that reunites the gang to explore the United States in hopes of finding some “real live ghosts.” The journey takes them to Louisiana after they solve a series of mysteries. It is there that the gang is introduced to a Lina, a beautiful young girl who promises to show them a real haunted house. Long story short, the ghosts are real.
"Sort of a Ghost to Ghost with Daphne Blake”
I’ve long been interested in cryptozoology, ghosts, the occult, etc (I was a weird kid) and have often dreamed of touring the United States with a team of ghost hunters. While shows and movies featuring “real ghosts” have become rather popular, it seems unlikely that I’ll ever be given the opportunity to tour with TAPS on Ghost Hunters (of the SyFy channel), I’m still holding out for my chance to see the shrines dedicated to Bigfoot, aliens, the Jersey Devil, and other mascots of America’s mythos.
Luckily, Roadtrippers.com has a number of guides to help plan a future trip of this kind. From haunted plantations to Alien hot spots to horror film locations, the site could one day help me customize my own coast to coast ghost tour.
Maybe one day, I’ll finally get to taste beignets while at the foot of Marie Laveau’s grave. Perhaps I’ll go on a hike alongside Bigfoot believers. I don’t dream often, but I do hope that I’ll be able to make up an excuse to fulfill this dream.
This Blog Gets Political
If there are any followers of this blog, they will notice that I have not left my home base in Indiana to go West for an interview. That is because I cannot. I cannot because the US Government has shut down and I would therefore have no place to camp at night during this road trip.
On October 1st, 2013, I heard and read the announcement all over the internet: the US Government was shutting down for an indeterminate amount of time. As of today, the government remains closed.
I don’t pretend to be exceptionally informed about current events. I’m nostalgic by nature and therefore often find watching, reading, or listening to the news futile and frustrating. I do, however, try to be slightly informed so as not to appear an ignoramus to my fellow man. I can, on occasion, become intensely political. My political orientation has, for as long as I’ve had a noticeable orientation, been dependent on fairness rather than party allegiance. My parents call me a socialist in half-jest. But that’s neither here nor there.
In addition to informing the negative readership I have that I am no longer traveling West, I would also like to address those voices in the ephemera declaring that few people are affected by this shut down and that we therefore don’t need the government.
Unlike the citizens of Washington DC, I am only marginally affected, but affected nevertheless. Yes, I can easily stay home in my comfortable chair and whine about it, but my mail is still delivered and my garbage is still picked up and tossed out without my fingers having to get dirty. But this trip was the beginning of my thesis. I was going to visit my research subjects in their homes, in their environments, and discuss with them in person their life experiences. In between, I was going to drive through the South Western part of the United States, meditate on the subject of my project, perhaps even write about my own experiences, all the while getting to see states I had never visited before. I was going to sleep beside my significant other in his car and look at the stars through the moon roof (sun roof?). I was going to see natural phenomena I had never seen. And you know what? I was damned excited to finally do it.
I’ve been planning to travel in my car for over a year now. I had been planning to visit as many states as I could, try new things, meet new people and add a couple of notches to my life’s belt. After feeling sequestered in Surburbia for far too long, this was my opportunity to hop out. Those plans, however, were cancelled.
Yes, I could just as easily stay in motels. But I wanted to keep the costs down and the opportunity for new experience wide open. I really wanted to sleep in the trunk of a car in a National Park. We heard of a place called “Devils Garden,” in Moab, Utah. Can you tell the demented teenager in me that I was no longer allowed to sleep there? It was difficult even for me and I was just talking to myself.
Yes, I am casually ignoring that the way back to Indiana would have been blocked by snowstorms throughout Utah and Colorado, but I’m still going to blame the government for this one. I was ready to be cavalier, or foolhardy, and travel anyways.
And so, without a point, I draw this post to a close. The overall gist is that, yes, even though I am complaining about a trivial side effect of the shenanigans that plague Washington DC right now, I can still say that I have been affected in my small way. I cannot imagine those whose lives are changed for the moment while our government remains shut down. But in all seriousness, I would very much like to get my own show on the road again.
A Spotify Playlist
Do you have any suggestions?
Coming soon - Pauline goes West
So it seems that I am going to be en route on my first trip out west! Starting either Sunday evening or Monday morning, I’ll be on my way to LA and back for ten days. This is still tentative but be available for updates.
This is the route I’m meant to take: Road Trip map
If you have any tips, let me know!
If you’re a car camper or have camped in your car before, please let me know how you did it. I am in great need of some advice.
Stay tuned - I’ll be posting my road trip playlist in the near future.