Notes from the Road Part Deux: Liveblogging (sort of) the trip to Iowa

Day 2

--The Road Trip Breakfast of Champions: a yellow Gatorade, a sleeve of mini chocolate donuts, a fresh pack of Parliament Lights.

--The Arcade Fire is the perfect soundtrack for driving through the flat, barren parts of Ohio in the early morning hours. It's a little eerie, just like the landscape.

--Flipping the dials on the radio, I come across Cher's "If I Could Turn Back Time." Once, a few years back, I attended a Cher concert. In my defense, it was because of a girl. Really that's no excuse, but I was in over my head and at that point I would have done just about anything she asked me to do. Since then, "going to a Cher concert" has become a kind of shorthand for all the stupid and/or embarrasing things I've done for women.

--I absolutely love truck stops. Where else can you get gas, have a pee, play a couple games of Centipede, take a nap, eat a chili dog, get your shoes (or boots) polished, and plunk a quarter in a machine to get sprayed with Drakkar Noir?

--I hardly ever listen to country music, but for some reason every time I take a road trip, there comes a point (usually several hours in) when I have an insatiable urge to hear songs about trains and dogs and unappreciative women. Unfortunately, I discover that I can't listen to country radio anymore, because every fourth song is about remembering the the twin towers or waving American flags or punching Iraqis in the mouth.

--For a city seemingly obsessed with auto racing, the citizens of Indianapolis are pretty lousy (and slow) drivers.

--Why are there little signs at rest stops that say "begin rest area" and "end rest area." Is it that important to publicly mark off the land? Are there different sets of laws inside rest areas? Like if I kill a man just to watch him die on one side of the "end rest area" sign, I'll go to jail, but if I do it on the other side I have some sort of diplomatic immunity?

--I just passed a sign that shows several smiling teenagers and the slogan "Abstain from sex to reach your goals." The problem with this mantra is that when I was a teenager, pretty much my only goal was to have sex.

--Maybe a better abstinence ad campaign would be "Less sex now = More sex later." It could be illustrated with one of those Goofus and Gallant cartoons. Goofus has unprotected sex with his high school girlfriend, knocks her up, has to drop out of school and take a job at a box factory, and his life is basically over. Meanwhile, Gallant abstains from sex, goes to college, becomes an investment banker and, in the final frame, downs a bottle of Cristal and snorts lines of blow off Tara Reid's tits.

--Classic Rock radio stations can be divided into two categories: those that have a "Beatles Break" in the afternoon and those that "Get the Led Out."

--The people of Illinois apparently really like guns. Every few miles on the side of the interstate are pro-gun signs. Most of them carry the traditional arguments: guns protect you from intruders, hunting is fun, guns don't kill people, people kill people. But there's one sign, just outside Ogden, Ill, that really creases me: "Terrorists love gun control. Their dream is an unarmed populace." I feel pretty confident making the following promise: If an al-Qaeda cell ever attacks Ogden, population 750, I will stick a Roman candle up my ass and light it on fire.

--About fifty miles past Ogden, in the middle of nowhere, I stop at a little BP station and find myself in an Aerosmith video. For reasons I can't even begin to guess at, the girl working behind the counter is ridiculously hot, and she's wearing one of those tight baby tees. Also, judging from the one car outside (other than mine) she drives a vintage Mustang. I kind of want to ask her if she owns a gun, but then she'd probably think I was robbing her, and I'd find out the hard way whether she was packing. Instead I ask her what the deal is with all those signs. "There's a lot of nut jobs around here," she says. I think she's stoned. "I mean, my brothers each have like three shotguns. They like to get drunk and shoot at empty cans." In my fantasy version of this story, the girl and I then go back into the break room and smoke a joint while listening to Lynard Skynard.

--At what age will I be able to drive past the sign for Kickapoo, Illinois, without giggling like a twelve year old?

--Illinois seems like it will never end. And it's not even a very wide state. I can't imagine what it's like to drive across Kansas or Colorado.

--Pretty much every county in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois seems to be doing road work. I guess when you live in a place where snow is possible for six or seven months out of the year, you have a limited window of time to fix the roads.

--Is there anything worse than flipping radio stations and hearing the last few seconds of a really good song? This happens twice to me in about fifteen minutes -- first it's the last couple bars of Rod Stewart's "Maggie May," then Journey's "When the Lights Go Down in the City." Dammit.

--Finally, Iowa! If you had told me a couple years ago that I'd be really excited to drive across the border into Iowa, I don't think I would have believed you. And yet, here I am, feeling like I'm home. I really hope my apartment doesn't smell bad.


CM said...

I don't know . . . your fantasy version of the Ogden BP station leaves some room for improvement.
- Carol

TMC said...

i agree with CM... there's more to be done with the BP girl.

Although the fantasy would be shattered by her gun toting brothers, firing at your newly shaved head like it's a tin can. So maybe it's better off this way.

Mike said...

Now you guys are workshopping my fantasy life? That's rough. What can I say? I'm a man with simple dreams.