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Monday, September 22, 2008

I'll warn you...

... that this post is a complete hodgepodge of pictures and events. Kind of like a quilt!

I'm here:

I am currently writing to you from inside a tent at a KOA 'kampground' on a grasshopper-filled, mosquito-y, interstate and airport adjacent field in Lawrence, Kansas. Ohhh, the joys of the internet can never escape me, even when I'm camping.

Anyway... I've been on the road since last Thursday. An eternity. I'm such a pro. I've got it all figured out. My car is packed like the three bottom tiers of a Jenga tower, everything fits perfectly in it's little space, and meal prep has been worked down to a 10-minute start-to-finish science. Sandwiches are my favorite.

Here's my campsite in Lawrence:

My car, all packed up (p.s., don't be an Element hater. It looks so odd, but its utility has been growing on me every day):

By the way, totally didn't live up to my goal of posting every other day. My bad. The lesson there: you never know how road trips are going to pan out. It's been actually kind of hectic, without the kind of down time I expected to have. I'll even admit that I took a day off in St. Louis to hang out with friends, and decided to not touch my car or computer for the day, which worked out quite nicely.

Here's a quick and dirty recap:

Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia: I drove out of Maryland, my home sweet former home on Thursday. Had a very melancholy drive out of town and out of the state. Lots of, "This is the last time I'm ever going to see 'X' for a long time" thoughts. I keep my music on shuffle, and kept skipping through all the songs that weren't slow and kind of sad. Alot of Radiohead was played. What an exit.

The destination for the first night was Huntington, WV, which was about 400 miles West. I'm trying to do most of this trip on backroads, like US and State highways, because riding across the country had taught me that all the cool and beautiful stuff going on in America is on these roads. Not the interstate. Sticking to this M.O., I drove through the majestic, tree-covered, and misty hills of West Virginia most of the day. Definitely something magical about the untouched areas of Appalachia. Kind of a stillness and a sweet smell in the air. West Virginia is an amazing state, even though I saw maybe 5-6 confederate flags flying off of barns and houses. I feel like I could spend months exploring here, and I'd love it.

This was my lunch spot the first day on the road:

And a helicopter I saw:

Then I drove through Kentucky and Ohio, then Indiana, then Illinois, then Missouri, and now I'm in Kansas. Most of the drive has looked like this:

Trip highlights:

- Indianapolis, Indiana: I met up with two friends that I biked across the country with, Joe and Marita. Marita's sister is a country/pop/folk singer named Coles Whalen, and she was playing a sweet outdoor venue called the Rathskeller, which is this amazing outdoor beer garden with 50-some picnic tables.

It was great to have actual human company for the first time in... 2 days. I thought I was an introvert, but maybe not. The three of us, along with Coles and her bassist, Kim, had an amazing time on a beautiful night, and also were served 4 bottles of nice Pinot Grigio and dinner on the house, because we were 'with the band'. Nice.

The venue (I guess iphones don't do well in the dark):

- St. Louis, Missouri: The three of us then drove on through Illinois to arch-tastic St. Louis. On our blessed day off there, coffee shops were perused, NYtimes magazines were read, and we also went to check out the St. Louis Museum of Art, appropriately acronymed SLAM. Take that, Met. The museum was a really pleasant surprise.

I especially liked their collection of impressionism paintings, and this sick video installation called "Placebo" by Dutch-born artist Saskia Olde-Wolbers. These links were the best thing I could find, but please check them out, it was an amazing video- a story of a wife whose relationship to her husband had been haltingly broken by the falsification of his life. When he finds out what she knows, he attempts to kill them both by driving into a tree. The video takes place in the ICU of a hospital, with the narration coming from her coma-induced mind. The visual looks like this:

Courtesy of the Hammer Museum and Saskia Olde-Wolbers

The first line of the video is, "Here I am, lying next to my lover Jean, in intensive care, slipping in and out of consciousness in shifts. Life slowly dripping out of us...". Kind of a conceptual dyptich that stunningly illustrates how audio and visual can pair together in the most amazing and profound fashion. I'm still moved by it.

St. Louis has also got this park in the middle of the city called 'Forest Park'; its the city's Central Park. After going to SLAM, which is located in the heart of the park, Joe, Marita, and I went to loung on the grass for a while before dinner. Here they are:

The park, SLAM in the distance:


Gotta love Chuck Close:

OK, I think that's it for now. Thanks for getting this far. Off to Goodland, Kansas.

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