So I'm on the road.
Last night, I drove Naphtali back down to
I woke up this morning and loaded up the car. Everything I wanted to take fit, and I still have good sight lines looking out the back windows. Even my 120 year old Christmas cactus is snug and secure, although I don't doubt that it will be pretty stressed by the ride. (And in that, the Christmas cactus is not alone, huh?)
So. Nothing to do now but hit the road.
I said a brief prayer, asking for safety on the road, no rain, that kind of thing. But somehow I wasn't quite ready to take my leave. And then, I was inspired.
I went back to the bedroom that had been my father's smoking room, the walls freshly painted (over a couple of coats of Kilz). I opted for a nice parchment color, which is a little inside joke where I'm the only one on the inside: y'see, it's roughly the color the smoke from my father's cigars had turned the walls. I knocked on the open door.
"Hey Dad, I'm heading out now. Not sure when I'll be back."
That little scene had played itself out hundreds of times over the past five years. Whether I was going to work, to NYC, to the
My father's inevitable reply: Do you have to go? Delivered mock pleadingly, but not too mock. He was serious.
And so I answered. "Yeah, Dad. I do have to go. It's time for me to go."
"But Kathy, Kathleen, Ruby, Mother, Nana and Pop will keep you company. You'll be alright."
I choked up at the mention of my deceased sister, my stepmothers and mother, and his parents.
With tears in my eyes now, I headed out into the hallway and towards the kitchen. I called out to Faithful Companion, and shouted encouragingly, "Cartrip!"
He knew that word. He loved that word. A ride in the car. Off to smell New Smells and explore New Places and maybe meet New Dogs and New Places. Very exciting for my little brown eyed boy. I always loved his eagerness to be piled into the back of my jeep and head out to parts unknown with me.
I wasn't going to leave him behind. I had promised him that he'd come with me to the desert. That he'd have the chance to prick up his ears listening to the howling of the coyotes. Since I collected them from the vet when I returned from my trip back in June, his cremains (what an awful neologism) have been sitting in the back of my car. I wasn't going to forget about my boy-boy.
I could almost see him, standing there in the kitchen, tail wagging, looking up at me with those black eyes of his.
And so we set off.
How to get to the Pennsylvania Turnpike? I had thought to go out Ferry Road to 309 and pick it up at Fort Washington. But as I headed out the driveway, I changed my mind. Instead, I went through Doylestown. I drove by Wuperior Soodcraft, recognizing half the cars in the parking lot as I went by. The guys had just headed back in from the morning break at 9:30. And I stopped at Starbucks to get an iced quad venti no-ice latté to speed me on my way. And there on the porch, by an amazing coincidence, was a crew of people I've been hanging out with for the past five years.
"Drew! You're still here?"
I'm heading out as we speak. This is it for me and Starbucks.
Best wishes and good luck all around.
Then it was down 611 and onto the Turnpike at Willow Grove, heading West. I passed Reading and Harrisburg and all those little towns with names I've never heard of in Western Pennsylvania. I was on my way, stopping to replenish the latté at various Service Plazas. I cut south on I-70, and crossed the Monongahela and then the Ohio. And that was it for Pennsylvania.
Ah, the broad, green Ohio Valley.
Dinner the first night was great. When traveling on I-70, be sure to take Exit 66 and stop in South Vienna, Ohio, at the barbecue place. You make a right at the end of the ramp and it's right there on the right hand side, just past the Hardee's. Their pulled pork was awesome. And so were the potato salad and the collard greens. And the sweet tea was perfect. Somehow the sign over the door saying, "To God Be The Glory" was my first indicator that I was in for a treat. A half-and-half combination of their sweet sauce and their hot sauce, in the yellow and red squeeze bottles respectively, were spot on.
After barbecue, I ran into some construction back on I-70, and traffic slowed to a crawl. I noted wryly that no one was cutting ahead by driving up the shoulder as would drivers would be doing in droves in and around NYC. But then I thought too soon. Up the shoulder came a grey-green Buick Le Sabre. He came to parallel with me and put his turn signal on. I wasn't about to let him cut in. I kept my jeep inches from the bumper of the car in front of me. But I realized that Mr. Buick LeSabre was still cutting in. His car was just inches away from mine. He was going to hit me. I swerved into the gravel and relented. And laid on the horn to let him know I was pissed.
He had New York tags.
At this point I'm furious. Only the fact that I was in the Mid-West, where people in passing cars had cordially nodded "hello" to me as we crawled past each other kept me from full-blown roadrage. I wanted to position my left headlight so it would be shining right in his side mirror and put the high beams on but worried that I'd annoy other cars ahead of me. I wanted to continue to lay on the horn, but how annoying would that be? And so I just snarled and cursed with the windows up.
After we passed the construction, he hit the accelerator and swerved in and out of the trucks that are limited to 55 m.p.h. by Ohio's split speed limits and lost me.
It took me a while to calm down. Reminding myself that I was going to live in a place where I would leave encounters with behavior like that far, far behind did the trick.
I passed the time thinking up slogans for my adopted home town...
Welcome to Palm Springs! It's beautiful, and nothing much happens here.
Welcome to Palm Springs! Experience Life in the Slow Lane!
Welcome to Palm Springs! That sun really wears you out so don't try to do to much.
Welcome to Palm Springs! It's a friendly town, but don't expect much more than that because we can't be bothered.
Interesting. I'm going to Palm Springs to work, but in a way, I'm going there to retire. But retire from what exactly? I'm still going to be filling my days and nights with stuff that I already do and enjoy doing. I've even agreed to load down this hot muscle-y boy of a guy I had breakfast with back in June once I get settled. And once my 200 pounds of chain arrives courtesy of Allied Van Lines. I think the difference will be that I'll be totally mellow and chill and relaxed about the whole thing.
Or that's my hope anyway.
And tonight, here I am at a Days Inn in Richmond, Indiana, just west of the Ohio state line. Tomorrow, after a good night's sleep, I'll get on the road again and head to St. Louis, where I'll be paying a visit to my buddy GlovedTop, with whom I spent a Fourth of July weekend riding on the back of his Harley a few years ago.
So it's happening. I'm Moving To California.