Monday, August 02, 2010
I Am Machine
Current mood: enlightened
I am machine. I have to believe that I am much better suited for cross-country truck driving, or interplanetary space flight than days spent behind a desk studying a dreary spreadsheet or herding learners into yet another redundant product training. Stoked on a Barry Bonds-esque regimen of steroids for my back, manned with a well-stocked cooler full of Monster Energy Drinks, bananas and string-cheese and accompanied by one pint-sized lazy, ugly dog, I set out from Phoenix at 7pm on Friday evening, bound for Dubuque, Iowa. Over 1700 miles. That night, I drove until 3am before pulling into a rest-stop in New Mexico for some shut-eye. I leaned my seat back and dozed for two hours, then it was outside for a quick bio-update, a walking of the tiny beast and back into the saddle. I drove until 11pm Saturday evening, stopping only for fuel and to walk the dog, wishing to make certain that it would not find even the vaguest need to shit in the vehicle. I don’t believe I could finish the trip with the lingering stench that would ensue, and I’m certain the dog would not finish the trip if it shat in the car. It would quickly and efficiently become a citizen of the state in which the offense occurred, the proud possessor of a comfy doggie-bed and half a bag of Kibbles and Bits. I’m sure rest stops are comfortable places to live for little dogs, visited frequently by travelers willing to take them aboard. If not, so be it. It is the will of the Poop-In-The-Car-Gods.
I parked the van outside a Days Inn just north of Des Moines, Iowa at 11pm, figuring to catch a full-night’s rest before tackling the final three hours to Dubuque and a couple of days spent ferrying 5 teenage girls around the state of Iowa to see the sights, eat the food and take in some local color. I slept until 7am and once again hit the road, pulling into Dubuque to the delight of those not yet awake, at 10am, CST, a brisk 37 hours after pulling out of my driveway in Arizona. The little dog, I have to admit, was just as good a traveler as myself, thought it mostly slept while I drove and offered little in the way of engaging conversation after the first six hours, during which it prattled on about things in which I had no interest.
The space-age minivan I rented to transport all my daughter’s stuff was elegant – “the Cadillac of mini-vans”, the manager at Enterprise Rental had offered, stealing a line from “Get Shorty”. I made no mention of his plagiarism, just as he had made no mention of my dire credit rating, which I felt was a fair trade-off and a textbook example of gentlemanly protocol. The van was equipped with satellite radio, through which I was able to catch up on my Howard Stern and tune in to a variety of specialty radio stations, including, but not limited to “Playboy Radio”, on which a sexy lady told tales of ribald adventure and took calls from listeners, often counseling them through one sexual malady or another, most of which I found disturbing and quite creepy. But to each his or her own, I say, in the spirit of the great sexual revolutionaries of the ages. I listened to Elvis Presley, who had his own channel, generated from Graceland, various rock and roll genres, from coffee-house, to Christian, to Hair-Metal. ESPN had a channel and there were several channels devoted to the Spanish-speaking traveler. I have a limited knowledge of this language and the dog has practically none, so we left these be.
With Stern and the energy drinks and steroids to keep me going, I felt as if I could drive forever. I only stopped so that my impressive stamina would not embarrass and create a jealous animosity in those around me. Once I had gathered up my various daughters and nieces, we did what any legendary traveler would do – we traveled to La Claire to visit my sister and her family. I let up on the gas and we made it in mortal time. In La Claire, I was informed that the fellows from “American Pickers”, the fine offering from the History Channel, were located right around the corner. So we drove by there, too, with the girls showing proper respect after sufficient haranguing. There it was, the warehouse for “Antique Archaelogy” – just like it was on television. This made the entire trip worthwhile. Oh yeah – I also got to visit the daughters and the nieces – no disrespect intended. We picnicked at Mines of Spain and the tomb of Julien Dubuque and his father in law, which overlooked the Mississippi River, which happened to be at flood levels and very impressive. I thought it odd that Mr. Dubuque and his father in law should be buried so close in proximity, even though the father in law was Native American. It wasn’t like this was a cemetery or anything – simply two tombs. Maybe it was some odd Native American tradition. In fact, perhaps it was the father in-law who was ostracized from the tribal burial place for allowing his daughter to marry the evil white man. But then again, who am I to question – I am just a simple traveler.
It is now Tuesday morning, and I am at a Motel 6 with the ugly little dog, waiting to go pick up the girls for one more day of revelry. Logan is playing her guitar and singing at 5pm at a coffee house called “Monk’s” – Allison may join her for a couple of numbers. I will listen, beam with pride, then I will once again be on my way – the traveler on the road. I have enjoyed my time here, time with the girls, time spying on the “American Pickers” guys – but I find that I am growing restless – the traveler in my bones. It is time again for the machine to be on the move.
Check out Logan's performance at Monk's:
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