Monday, January 19, 2009

Journey to the West

Some of my friends have been pushing me to make my blog more blog-like, that is, more frequent, shorter posts about what I am doing these days, and fewer Mark Twainish, lengthy essays. And because my life is changing so rapidly these days, I am going to give it a try.

First things first: my wildlife biology jobs in North Carolina continued to be seasonal and therefore unsustainable for me. I decided to go back to graduate school to study fire and climate change. So off to California with me!

I asked my friend Micah to accompany me on a Journey to the West, and to my great surprise and delight, he accepted. What follows (for the next however many posts) is a chronicle of getting ourselves across the country with most of my stuff in the back of my car.

I. Planning the Trip

I call Micah a few weeks before we are going to begin our Odyssey. I have not heard from him about the trip in awhile, and I want to check in. "I wanted to call and tell you what the plan is."

"Okay," says Micah. "I'm ready."

"I have absolutely no plan whatsoever."

"Sounds like a good plan. I like it. Let's do it."

"For real?"

Micah's genuine flexibility and psychological preparedness to handle the unknown has led me to pick him as a travel partner for this trip, but the extent to which he can handle having no information whatsoever makes me a little suspicious of his metal stability. So I feel better when he writes to me a few days later in the Kingdom of Loathing online chat, requesting an itinerary.

"Itinerary? Right… I supposed we should have one of those." I am quite convinced that if anyone who was even vaguely familiar with my sense of direction and geography had found out that I was going to be planning a road trip, I would have been prevented from doing so. After some contemplation, I return this: "Our itinerary will be: Virginia, North Carolina, Neptune, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, Texas, Texas, Texas, Texas, Texas, Texas…." I'm not sure I expect to make it through Texas, so I stop there. I have skipped South Carolina on purpose, but it doesn't occur to me until later we will also need to pass through Mississippi.

Our friend Gemelli, who is mildly irked that we will not be taking the Indiana route and visiting him, is party to our conversation and points out that Neptune may be a little out of the way.

"Yes, well, I feel like it might be worth avoiding South Carolina, and I hear Neptune is rather pretty at this time of year."

I also tell Micah, just to see how he will respond, that we will be eating whatever we roadkill on the way to California, and I am hoping to learn the art of cooking on the car's manifold. He said that was fine, if we can find some roadkilled broccoli, or maybe we can run down some rows of corn. I have forgotten that he is a vegetarian.

"Fortunately, roadside produce can't run very fast," offers Gemelli, helpfully.

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