The Journey So Far


Tonight I'm in Des Moines, Iowa. I cut my planned travel time by about an hour because there was nothing but farm land all around and I didn't want to continue on past. Nevertheless, I traveled 580 some miles. I'm still within my budget and, if I make a hard slog tomorrow, I could be back in CA by some time Monday instead of Tuesday.

The cats are certainly up to it. They were very frightened their first night of travel, last night, as one might imagine. But then my large primary cat, Webster, had a revelation, very late, and sort of said, "Hey, wait a minute! I'm a goddamn cat! I'm taking charge!" And so they've both been traveling very well today, mostly at peace and confident.

As I approached Des Moines I passed over the North Skunk River and I couldn't help but imagine an early settler standing on the banks of that river, wondering where he was going to ford his oxen and wagon, and suddenly seeing a skunk, standing on the other side of that river laughing his skunk ass off at that early settler.

When that settler got across the North Skunk River he found another river a few miles away (which I also crossed today). That certainly became the South Skunk River, probably as I imagined it.

Highway rest stops are one of the strangest of human habitats. People just let it all hang out. My friend calls them Centers of Transitory Weirdness.

I watched a man, wearing a black eye patch, walk into a rest stop in Indiana. He had one of those forward leaning gaits, like somebody in a high wind, or somebody who's carried a heavy load on their back all their life, or somebody who, suddenly at middle age, discovers that their man-boobs have become too heavy. That kind of gait.

Inside the rest stop, a farmer type, his bullet shaped head in a crew cut, and wearing bib overalls with giant stomach spilling over the sides, glared angrily while waiting for his order of french fries. When he got them he staggered away, stiff legged.

The teenage boy working the counter, whose name tag spelled Maria and whose face bore that typical teenage look that is simultaneously obsequious and arrogant, called out, "Number 6!!"

Number 6 walked up and blurted, "Hey Chief, that order was for here!"

"Maria" picked up the bag containing "Number 6"'s order, threw a tray under it, and shoved it back at him.

It may have been rude beyond belief but I had to give "Maria" credit for efficiency and for thinking on his feet.

Tomorrow I will likely end up somewhere in Nebraska or Wyoming if I go crazy.
  • Current Mood: steady improvement
Ah, how I love your travel essays...

I am reading Kurt Vonnegut, and your writing folds in seamlessly.

I am also reading a book about old-style motels, which is making me sick with nostalgia for my childhood trips down Oklahoma two-lanes...

May you arrive safely, with serene cats.