Saturday, October 9, 2010

The view from Week Two (Austin is exhaustin')

Important note to non-Facebookers: I actually am sharing lots of words and images from the trip, in this album of photos. You should look there if you really want to know what we've done and where we've gone.)

I suppose we are at the midway point of the Monthlong Road Trip, and I am back with more pitiful excuses for not posting here. In essence, the day-to-day logistics of the trip make it impossible to write much. Any time there is a spare moment or two, and access to an internet connection, I fall asleep. For the last day and a half and the next day and a half, that sleeping can happen here:

Yes. A hotel bed. Generic, plus, stable. Don't get me wrong: the bed in the Leprechaun is just dandy, but it's quite nice to wake up in the same city on a daily basis, which--aside from two blissful nights in Raleigh, NC--has not been the case.

And with that, I see my Blogger time is up. Off to Day Two of the ACL Festival, which in its own way is as much a smorgasbord as the entire trip: there is a lot of standing in line (equivalent to standing in traffic) in order to see about 15 to 30 minutes of a band before moving on to the next one.

As with the trip in general, this approach lends itself to surprises better than scheduled stops. Best surprise of Day One was a frenzied set by Qbeta, an Italian/Latin/ska band I had never heard of. (Go ahead, , download some of their stuff. I kinda doubt it holds up as well in recorded form, but who knows?)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Counts of various kinds

There is just enough time for one of those quick impressionistic posts before we head off on the motorcycle for the first (and hopefully not last) time to explore Raleigh, NC, so here goes:
On previous road trips (i.e., in the 80s) I counted road kill, but we haven't seen a lot of carcasses thus far, and it is hard to see them from our relatively high seats anyway. Once, on a trip to San Francisco during one of those hippie-aesthetic revivals of the late 80s or very early 90s, I counted tie dye apparel. But, based on our last drive from Buffalo to North Carolina 3 or 4 years ago, it seemed best to count Wal-Marts, Adult Superstores, and Starbucks. (Starbuckses?) The idea for the first and third of these did not occur to me until Day Four, so I confess the number will be a little off.

Here's where we are thus far:
ADULT SUPERSTORES: Only one! Day One, at the NY/PA border. (This is not counting any along Niagara Falls Blvd in our home turf.)
WALMART: None! And we actually wanted one in Pittsburgh, when we were looking for a place to stay after the casino parking option turned out to be a bust. (As you may know, WMs, in addition to being the Handiwork of Satan, are especially RV-friendly, letting you park your huge gas-guzzling vehicles in their huge lots in the hopes that you will come inside and buy huge amounts of crap during your stay.) But from what we could tell, all the WMs were almost as far outside the city as the campground where we ended up.
STARBUCKS: I'm guessing we have surely seen at least two in rest stops, pre-count. Surely we will encounter at least one this afternoon in Raleigh.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Day 4: Online and on the road (at the same time)

There is, as we all know, a lot of improvising involved in the classic Road Trip. We live, we learn. One thing I have learned at this point in living this particular trip is that it is not easy to find the conditions necessary to do the kind of ongoing in-depth reportage I had in mind:

1. An appropriate expanse of time to collect my thoughts and accumulated images (i.e., when we are not entering or exiting a major city, or trying to find a place to stay, or visiting friends, or sleeping) and transform them into a blogpost;
2. Properly functioning and fully powered equipment (i.e., the "MiFi" doohickey that theoretically gives us a wifi connection en route, which tends to lose its Sprint signal or else konk out every 5 minutes or so; the cellphone that takes decent pictures & shares them with Facebook easily but that is a pain in the ass to type on; the laptop that is easier to type on than the cell phone but which loses its internet connection every time it is ignored for more than 5 minutes; etc., all of which require juice, and most of which are prone to failure, which invariably triggers a spew of obscenity from me and a desire to throw them out the window of the Leprechaun);
3. 1 & 2 both in effect at the same time.

So my dream of daily updates in chronological order will not be happening. (I honestly have no idea how Steinbeck did it. Or Baudrillard or Nabokov or Kerouac, let alone poor, carless De Tocquefuckinville. And they were all doing it in the analogue era! That must be the key.) Instead, I shall be impressionistic and nonlinear, and brief, haikulike (by my standards, that is) posts will occur when the conditions above apply. As they do at this very minute.

See you again in 5 minutes or 5 days. It's out of my hands, people.

UPDATE: Turns out "this" was NOT the "very minute" I had hoped it would be, because the MiFi doohickey has, yes, lost our signal again. As a demonstration of the problem, let me say that the above was composed on 9/30/10 at around 3:15 p.m. on Rt. 95 south of Fredericksburg, VA. It is now 4:06 p.m.

UPDATE, UPDATED: Midnight in Raleigh, and conditions 1-3 have all been met, so it's postin' time!

Friday, September 24, 2010

You gotta start somewhere...

The thing that always, always screws me up when it comes to blogging, to writing, to sharing photos of my travels, to answering e-mail, to all things online--to pretty much everything about modern life, when you get right down to it--is that the minute it gets the least bit complicated, I put it off until some hypothetical future moment when I will take the time to do it properly. And of course that moment never arrives. Sometimes the pursuit in question gets complicated, or at least feels complicated, before it even starts. And because I am a child of the early 1970s, everything in the universe seems complicated to me, so I prefer to nap instead of dealing with any of it.

Be that as it may, I am about to embark on a monthlong road trip with my husband, as we celebrate his retirement and my turning 50. This trip will be conducted via a used RV we have just purchased, along with a new motorcycle which will serve as a kind of pod when we need to leave the mothership. Every time I tell someone this, they immediately say, "I assume you are going to document this once-in-a-lifetime trip."

I've been telling myself they say this because they want to hear what I will have to say about the trip as it unfolds, because they like my writing, since writing is pretty much what I do, but it has dawned on me lately that they are really saying it because, in the 21st century, everyone documents everything they do, and you can't leave your house anymore with Checking In and Tweeting and Flickring and so forth. What they are really saying is more akin to "I assume you are going to wear pants when you are in public" than "I can't wait to hear your particular take on your travels across America at this particular moment in the nation's history." When you get right down to it, the bookstores and libraries of the nation are filled with first-person accounts of people's travels across America, because there are few things writers like to do more than drive around and then get paid to write about driving around, and then spend that money driving around some more, and so on. (As for the internet, check this out.) But hey, I want to be a good sport, and this beats sending postcards, I guess, so here goes.

As for what is so complicated here, I had an idea for the very first entry, which would be called "The Leprechaun has landed" and would show you the vehicle we are about to embark in (on Monday, god willing) and give you the back story that led up to our taking this trip, introduce the protagonists, and provide other information useful to the narrative. But no, the photo is on another camera and another computer, and I should really focus on packing instead of blogging at this point, and ... it's complicated. If I don't uncomplicate it soon, it will be November and the once-in-a-lifetime trip will be over, and I will have already forgotten 75% of what I was going to say here. As it is, I have already written at least a half dozen entries in my head, none of which would work well as the first one, and none of which are anything like this one.

Is this too self-deprecating and self-reflexive and self-involved? I actually hate writing, when you get right down to it. Too much effort! Always, always complicated.

Shit, I could really use a vacation right about now.