Here I am, two thousand miles later, almost at my destination.
I’ve stopped along the way in a handful of neat places. Unfortunately I was just passing through, so I didn’t have much time to explore or soak up local culture. And besides, these aren’t Hollywoods, so who cares, right? Also, please pardon me for taking some of the above photos on my phone, as I wasn’t always in a position to whip out the 7D (as when I was driving past that double rainbow in Denver).
Roswell, New Mexico appears to be a tourist trap. Which doesn’t sound like a newsflash, so let me clarify: it does not appear to be anything other than a tourist trap. Maybe I was just in the wrong part of town, but other than nondescript commercial storefronts and apartment complexes, it was one tacky alien-themed business after another. And yet I couldn’t find one alien-themed restaurant to eat at. Honestly! Get it together, Roswell.
I think I might move to Denver. Well, I was considering it until my grandmother forbade it. When I called to talk to her today, my cousin Jason answered the phone, and when he passed it to my grandmother, the first thing she said was “What, you think you’re the only man in my life?” So when she tells me I can’t move to Denver, Denver is off the table.
Which is a shame! I met up with two old friends there (one of whom has a glamorous job writing subtitles for pornographic movies) (really), and the four blocks on which we hung out (on the west side of City Park and, deliciously, Gaylord Street) were Totally Great™. Just hip enough – I only glimpsed one lonely egregious hipster mustache – without making my eyes roll back into my head. Also the cost of living hovers somewhere very close to reasonable, and I’ve gained an appreciation on this trip for creating art in a smaller artistic community than, for example, New York. There are advantages and disadvantages to being an artist in a crowded city where everyone has something to say, but that’s another blog post for another night.
Oh and yeah, huge double rainbow on the highway as I drove in. I wish I could make a cutesy reference to that double rainbow guy on YouTube but I’ve never gotten through that video and I refuse to link to it, so… tough titty.
Ew, that was a disgusting thing to say, I take it back.
Everything you’ve heard about Salt Lake City is probably true. Everyone is really nice, the streets are Disney World clean, Mormon architecture is kinda gross and their statues are uniformly pretty hilarious. I gasped – actually gasped – when I drove into the city: it’s nuzzled up cozily against some mountains, and is a gorgeous sight to behold at sunset. It feels very modern (which makes sense), and somehow American (again, not a surprise), and I understand the layout of the city is all based around the location of Temple Square, which is lovely and verdant and more or less exactly what you want your religion’s garden of earthly delights to look like.
Also? It is teeming with smiley tour guides. Do not make eye contact with the tour guides or they will smile and try to talk to you! Which is bad, if the only thing you have to say to an employee of the Mormon church is something about the hideous cruelty of pouring millions of dollars into Proposition 8!
I can neither confirm nor deny that Salt Lake City’s Metropolitan Inn is haunted as fuck, but I did have some pretty unpleasant nightmares there. So it’s either grumpy ghosts or a global psychic disturbance caused by the untimely death of Amy Winehouse.
From SLC it was just a hop, skip and seven hours to Baker City, Oregon, where I camped out for the night at the Oregon Trail Motel. Baker City swept me off my feet with its small-town cuteness (there it is again), despite being home to the worst Chinese food anyone has ever eaten (I checked). The Eltrym movie theater is terrific, despite their tolerance for local girls answering phone calls (that’s plural, mind you) in the middle of movies.
And now here I am in Portland, Oregon, at last. Yesterday was a bright, hot day, the hottest so far this summer, I’m told. I’m staying on East Burnside Street, and at the moment I’m sitting in a coffee shop and gray light is pouring in through the windows. I am wearing green plaid flannel, so as to not alarm the locals. Breaking news: coffee in Portland is great.
I know, right?
Last night around midnight I sat on my friend’s stoop and read and watched the drunk foot traffic go by. Despite the fact that my back has been wrenched all out of whack by five days of nonstop driving, the Long Drive has introduced a certain sense of zen laissez faire to my mentality. If I just keep driving, I know I’m going to get there.
The weather said no rain in Portland until the fourth of August, so I gathered my wet clothes from the washing machine (thank god for friends with washing machines) and crept outside onto the cool grass to hang them on a line with clicking wooden clothespins. After days on the highway evenings in motels the night air had a revitalizing effect on me, and I went inside to go to sleep early.
When the rain started, around four in the morning, I awoke and smiled. I’ve always loved the sound of rain on the roof in the suburbs; it’s one of the things I like least about living in a second-story apartment in Brooklyn. And the thought crept into my head slowly, slowly that my clothes would be soaked through in the downpour, and where a week ago I might have sat bolt upright in consternation or at least brooded and cursed the weather channel until sunrise, now I rolled over and pressed my face into the dark pillow and let myself sleep. It doesn’t matter, I thought. I’m going to get there.