Tuesday, June 17, 2008

pt. 1: CA, AZ, NM, TX

[photo: buzz and i seconds before entering the prius.]

[also: please note this trip is long and, despite all concrete geographical destinations, is actually leading into the heart of darkness. if i was not made out of stone at the start, i might be now. buzzo, however, is still equal parts fur, eye boogers, and pee.]

[prelude] CA:
the night before leaving, I got to do 2 things; eat my beloved blue velvet cake at the alcove, and see glenn danzig's house. finally. and the thing is, i guess it's creepy, but if people think this is truly spooky, then the shit shacks in claremont, nh, are the stuff of vincent price-narrated nightmares.

to me, the cake is spookier, because a, it tastes like blue (no trace of berry or misc kooky flavoring, just...blue), and b, if you know what digesting red velvet cake is like, it's like that, but smurfy.

anyway, lizzy and i walked to and fro tha feliz, and while i admire her for trying to talk me into loving LA, when you're mere hours away from making a journey to your motherland, talk is cheap. the car was loaded, the dog was anxious, and i, like the local morning show of my youth, was RTG, ready to go.

[photo: the difficulty of night photography...you better think about it, baby.]

at some point the next morning, after already logging several hours on rt 10, presumably towards a large open oven door, i arrived at a random gas station on the cusp of AZ. and while it was advertised nowhere on the highway, this particular shell/exxon/assraper whatever was adjacent to a museum dedicated to general patton (see above, with companion). and again, from the highway, all they advertise is gas. olbermann-y special comment: once again, oil is valued above the service of our nation's heroes. tim russert RIP.

[photo: adjacent tank graveyard; the parking lot to view a parking lot.]

also, why is there a trailer in there? is this just a museum dedicated to patton's love of camping with his dog? in which case, yeah, the gas is a bigger deal.

i would like to forget my hours driving thru arizona as it was 114 degrees. it's like how people in buffalo and rochester compete every winter to see who gets more reamed by the lake effect, as if being burried with snow and freezing your ass off for 5 months of the year is something to be psyched about. and i'm sure people in AZ get all stoked when they can fry an egg on the sidewalk and burst into flame when they walk from the car to the house. people are funny when they live somewhere miserable. sorry, lizzy. LA doesn't even need to get that hot for there to be inferno.

i've seen santa fe, which i've heard is nm at its finest, and i couldn't really get it up for las cruces, so yeah, nm happened.

TX day 1:
because of the old '97s, i got it in my head that the alamo is in el paso, when in fact, it is in san antonio. i think i also thought this because i am an idiot. like, here's some idiot math; it took me one very long day to get from la to el paso ("it's a loonnnnnggg waaaaayyyy...back to el paaassssso. woah!"). with one more day, i could have gotten to austin by dinner, but rso told me she wasn't getting back til the 18th (she's returning from nh, my destination-- and i'm sure not even she knows why she's leaving northern new england to enter the 12th circle of hell [a further circle, cuz it has bbq]). it's idiot math tho cuz i left on the 16th instead of the 15th thinking i was compensating for this timing problem, as i can't add.

please note: doing the math to figure out that the celtics won with a 39 pt lead took me maybe 20 minutes.

anyway, at the end of the day, i furthered the assault on my stomach with a belly full of sonic drive-in. i lay in a particularly soul-crushing smoking room in the el paso la quinta inn thinking a, sonic should only sell drinks, because their food kind of sucks, and if they pureed that food and swirled it with m&ms, it'd probably be delicious, b, nothing is more disgusting than a smoking room, as evidenced by the fact that touching the sheets and then my eye made my eyeball burn so bad that the former guest couldn've just been a smoker, but also a giant cat, and c, you get what you pay for when you chose hotels based on dog friendly status and proxmity to sonic drive-in. but then i couldn't stop thinking, even if it wasn't logically, and didn't sleep for shit. i guess it's just plain hard to sleep after 12 hours of staring at the road. and drinking diet soda, sometimes laced with sugary icey goodness. and a leftover alcove cookie. ah, the idiot diet.

anyway, i gave up sleeping around 7 and found a restaurant on roadfood to eat breakfast at, a diner in a carwash near the rio grande. but here's the thing that sucks about this particular route i'm taking cross country-- i kind of hate all the regional cuisine. i have a tender, semitic palate that makes spicy food painful, plus seafood allergies, and it'd hard to eat a deep fried anything when you know you're going to be digesting it in the L position while driving through a toilet (or really literal) desert. plus roadfood is the worst about that, because all of their favorite restaurants feature lard, heavy cream, or balls of lard filled with heavy cream, then coated in bacon and deep fried. this is not driving food. this is tp wand food (get the reference or don't, i can't hold your hand through ever entry).

but on the other hand, you don't come to texas to eat falafel, knawmean? i had huevos rancheros at this place that i'm sure were very delicious if you like your huevos extra runny and your rancheros on fire.

[el tangento!: i was listening to the book "the curious incident of the dog at nighttime" (i might have missed a word in there), which a, just convinces me more and more that i'm tistic myself (i hate anything but scrambled eggs, he can't even look at the color yellow...i'm practically rainman), and b, nearly lulled me into a coma one afternoon with a lengthy, step-by-step, thru-the-eyes-of-'tism description. i switched to the radio. i had not used my henley guard. i paid the price. (this i'll help you out with; as discovered on previous trips, this nation's long love affair with don henley is still going strong. unless i start my day with 5 henley-filled seconds from my ipod, a henley-filled spacula as it were, i will find him all over the dial all day long. my last worthless evening, indeed.)]

TX day 2:
so, post-heuvos, i headed towards san antonio, wondering how i could make it across a third of the country in a day but would not make it through texas itself for at least three times that amount of time (and this is at the point where our nation is at it's thinnest, probably because much of the excess of the south has been burned away).

this is also where my idiocy once again became impossible to ignore: aside from the fact i was going to san antonio before austin because i'd so completely miscalculated my timing, i also wondered, who the fuck drives across the south in the summer, and with a dog in the car? pulling over to eat, a staple of such journeys, was virtually impossible, unless i wanted to return to a use my car as an e-z-bake dog oven. so finding dog-friendly hotels became even more important, as i'd have to find a place to park buzzo if i wanted to pick up food, which meant a fairly abusive relationship with la quinta inns.

now the issue wasn't being violated by a smoking room, twitching all night with burning eyes and phantom bedbugs (FORESHADOWING SORTA!], but staying in semi-major cities with semi-major prices. in the past, hopping from one shitty hotel to another was no big deal, since i'd just stop when i got tired in assholevania, oh, find a days inn, and spend 6 hours with my eyes closed. but hotels in real cities charge real money, and even tho i chose a la quinta next to a cracker barrel, twas i who was the cracker sent in a barrel sent over the falls.

[photo: hard to see, but that's a watertower across from my hotel for miller's bar-b-q, a local chain, that's presumably filled with sweet sweet bbq sauce. so at least the view was worth it.]

i tried to make the most of it by having an early night with some "healthy" (read: bland) tex-mex-meh food in front of the celtics final, but sitting there, robbed of much of my la quash, with my small dog hoping in vain for a piece of a really shitty taco, i couldn't help but remember the last time i gave a shit about the celtics, 22 years ago, and thinking, if you told my 8-year-old self that, at 30, i would be watching the celtics their next championship in a hotel room in san antonio, texas, by myself, on the way home to my home in nh, even tho i "work" in la, in quotes because there are no jobs, and my nh home is shared with my parents, and my dog is deaf, and the celtics are nowhere near as white as the lakers anymore (not a bad thing, but something which would so confused my little 8-year-old larry bird-loving mind!), and i still can't eat spicy foods, and don henley is still popular...would i just burst into tears and never stop? would i slap myself? would i slap my sister, just because it was a hobby at the time?

when i told onion about this, she thought i'd find it cool that my grown-up self traveled all around like a leaf on the wind, but i'm not sure. plus, nerd reference, the last leaf on the wind i know about was impaled. but at least i would get to accomplish one thing in san antonio, which was seeing the alamo, because for some reason, i was determined to see it, drawn in with the pull paul simon felt for graceland. except, if you'll recall, i fucking hate elvis and refused to go to graceland. and i don't give a shit about texas, the mexican army, coonskin caps...like most, or like the old '97s, i remember the alamo, but i don't recall who won. (alas, not those in coonskin caps).

so i woke up early, stepped out into the soggy morning heat (85 degrees at 8 am, yeehaw), and went to the center of san antone, to the alamo. which was closed. but the thing is, i didn't care. inside, outside, i didn't give a shit, just show me the alamo in one for or another. i probably would have been ok with a trip to an alamo rentacar. again, no idea why. maybe that's what 2 solid days of con queso will do to you.

[photos: alamo? alacosed; the outer-mo]

i also walked around a bit, saw all the shitty tourist crap they plant next to any grain of history that exists (i took a picture of the ripley's believe it or not, guinness world records museum, and tomb raider 3d ride in a row across the street, but really, take my word), strolled around the pretty town square, and felt ready to leave.

[photo: self-portrait]

i didn't really figure out my alamo-thing until driving through thick fog between nyc and nh at 3 o'clock in the morning at the trip's end, but at this point, i was just looking forward to getting in the car, listening to my tism book, eating breakfast in austin with friends and ordering something sans queso (but maybe with bbq sauce). and then maybe my mood'd be less blue than my not-yet-entirely digested cake.

NEXT: TX (austin), LA

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