Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Holiday Road

The title of this post should have already triggered the chorus of the theme from National Lampoon's Vaction running in the background of your mind. You're welcome. If not, click the link to YouTube and come on back for the rest of the post.

My quest to find America started with a flight into Los Angeles. An evening arrival made for a cosmic landing. The darkness of the mountains was severed by a few golden strands of traffic connected to hubs of light. It was an electrified neural network without any local connections. Crossing the mountains, the fog roiled on a single plane below the flight. Beneath the churning clouds were glowing centers of activity that illuminated the blanket from below. As I looked across the night, I saw another flight, as if fishing the blanket from above.

My son and I left the next day to cross the Mojave without AC and the windows up. After loss of nearly 8-10 lbs of body weight and consciousness, we unrolled the windows to take in the air of America. It was hot.

Thanks to Jack Kerouac, we had our mantra for the road trip. Yes, we were balling the jack. I think Neal Cassady used the term most thoroughly, combining his love for jazz, fast driving and railroad background.

We made the Rasor Road service station, paid top dollar for gas and got ice cream. We got out and walked across the O'Callaghan bridge to view the Hoover Dam from above.

On to Bryce Canyon. I learned National Parks remain open 24 hours. When you arrive after midnight, you pretty much have the park to yourself.

Under a full moon and a cloudless night, we conducted our surreal tour of the Canyon Rim trail in solitude. The full moon provided stark shadows and a night vision goggles effect. We balled the jack and arrived in Green River, UT at 230 AM. The Super 8 motel awaited.

After a fine Continental Breakfast we collected the cheesiest postcards we could find, and returned to the road for a day of hiking at Arches National Park. After a brisk ascent across an 800 meter sandstone incline, the Delicate Arch (above) revealed itself in a natural amphitheater. People like to get their pictures taken underneath it, as you can see. Worth the hike.

We checked out the Wolf Ranch and the Petroglyphs. Then on to the Landscape Arch and the Primitive Trail to the "Double-O" arch. They rocked. We balled that jack into Moab then on to Aspen, across the Continental Divide at Independence Pass, and finally landed in CO Springs and another Super 8 at 230 AM. Brand loyalty was starting to set in.

At Colorado Springs we hung out with Grandpa for a day, rode the tram to the top of Pike's Peak and tasted the famous high-altitude donuts. The rain dampened our tour of Manitou Springs so we pressed on to the Cliff Dwellings. Pretty cool place if you leave out the fractured skull from standing up under the low balcony. Max got to ride Old Paint.

The next day we balled that jack all the way through Kansas with a stop for gas in Kanorado. We learned not to trust the GPS at Branson Missouri when looking for hotels, for you might end up in the Port-O-Call. Complete darkness didn't help, but there was a definite similarity to the Bates Motel. We ended up in a really nice Comfort Inn, that had this fine, anatomically correct elk statue out front that I'm sure my friends the Texagermanadian and Eden will appreciate.

Well enough travelogue I'm sure you've said to yourself. After all Shoji Tabuchi was not having any shows in Branson until September 12th, so we balled the jack the hell out of there for the final 19 hours to home. We bounced to ShamaLamaDingDong more than once, and I observed that the majority of the Recovery Dollars seem to be getting spent deploying traffic barrels and little else.

In the 1984 film Repo Man, Tracey Walter commented "the more you drive, the less intelligent you are". And while I have never doubted a single truism uttered in this classic film, I now have to say, it depends on the company.

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