Random Ramblings of Driving East

8 Jan

We kicked off 2012 by spending the first week driving home from L.A. (close to 3100 miles), a far less eventful journey than the trip west. I had intentions of blogging each day, but most of the days were long hours of butt-in-seat-of-car and very little sightseeing. In some cases (West Texas, I’m talking about you) there was very little TO see, had we been able to sightsee. Tonight’s post – brought to you from the comfort of my very own couch in Greenville, SC and supervised by Kitty, the Siamese cat who is currently doing her best to become a Siamese Twin she’s been sticking so close – is a collection of random observations of our journey home and some random facts and figures for you numbers geeks out there.

– 6451.4 – # of miles driven on the trip – just shy of the 6600 I hoped for

– 33.4 – average mpg – pretty good for mostly being a stop-and-go trip and considering how much stuff we were lugging along

– 9313 – # of photographs taken on the trip, + however many were snapped with our phones (probably at least 200 on mine alone)

– 16 – # of states traveled through; 5 of which I had never been to before

– 6 – # of Lebowski references in this post

Random observations:

– They call Los Angeles the city of angels. I didn’t find it to be that exactly, though I’ll allow as there are some nice folks there.

– Tucson is a city I would very much like to visit. We only saw the fringes of it but it looks quite beautiful.

– It is true that Texas Canyon (about 50 miles east of Tucson) is pretty much the only interesting thing to see between Tucson and San Antonio.

– New Mexico has very zen highway signs. Some of my favorites:

– Gusty Winds May Exist

– Zero Visibility is Possible

– During Colder Months Ice May Exist

– Dust Storms May Exist

Obviously whoever wrote these was not in the unique position of being able to confirm or disconfirm the suspicion that these entities exist.

– Texas is big. It’s friggin’ huge. 892 miles across I-10. Sadly, everything you suspect about West Texas is true. It is big and barren and pretty darn flat and driving through it seems to take an eternity. I’d like to be all philosophical and say there was a stark beauty that only someone with a refined aesthetic can appreciate (and that may be true) but I would be lying if I said that I possess this refined aesthetic. I was ready to crash the plane (car) into the goddamn mountain just for some excitement.

– After driving 12 hours through the boredom that is West Texas, you will not find the excitement you crave in the rusty dusty burg of Ft. Stockton. Unless your idea of excitement is a steakhouse in a pole barn building, a former gas station that is now a gun/tackle/bait store (and where are they fishing, exactly? It’s a dust bowl out there) or Wal-Mart. If those satisfy, then you are in luck.

– I’m not sure if hill country in the middle of Texas is really pretty or just regular pretty, but it sure is a welcome sight when you finally get there.

– San Antonio is bigger than expected, the Alamo smaller than expected. The riverwalk area is cool but obviously party central – this week they are doing their annual “draining of the river” to clean out all the chairs, beer bottles and random trash that gets tossed in by drunken revelers the rest of the year.

– I am glad we spent a day in Austin. First, it was nice to have a break after three solid 12 hour+ driving days. Second, it is a city that practically everyone suggests to us as a place we would love, and we’ve always wondered. My biggest fear was that we would fall in love with it and then I would somehow have to come to grips with the idea of living in Texas and dealing with heat/humidity, etc. Thankfully, this was not the case – we both pretty much hated it. There were a few neat stores and they did have a bunch of neon signs that will make good paintings, but it was completely overrun with what JJ calls “hipster doofuses” (who all have a whole “cowboy” thing going on), everything was super expensive, and I’m not sure if we just missed it (I don’t think so, because we specifically went looking for them) but we could not find a single art gallery in the city. Of course they are a music-oriented town and are very supportive of musicians, so kudos for that, and supposedly there are good art festivals that happen during certain times of the year. I could see living there if we were trying to break into the music industry or if we were 24 year old recent college graduates looking to get laid. But we are neither of those things, so for us it just wasn’t appealing at all. I’m still glad we stayed for a couple days, because now we know and never need return unless some of our musician friends hit it big and we want to travel to hear them play.

– As much as I am a fan of Mark Rothko, the Rothko chapel in Houston was a disappointment. The paintings are supposed to be serene and meditative but to me they are dark, drab and depressing, and no one would commend them for being strongly vaginal. Of course he did commit suicide about 6 months after completing that work so they were probably indicative of his mental state at the time.

– Vegas only wishes it could be as decadent as New Orleans. You all know I love Vegas specifically because it is so fake – and compared to NOLA even their “Sin City” moniker comes off as a made up marketing ploy (not least of all because that’s exactly what it is). Other than gambling, NOLA beats Vegas hands down on every vice in the book. NOLA is sin city for real, with better looking, more authentic buildings. Gluttony, sloth, lust – check, check, check. Plus the best people-watching ever. And we were there on two off days between New Years and the BCS championship game – I can’t even imagine how rowdy the city must be during those times. From everything JJ told me about it ahead of time I fully expected to hate it. My thinking about the city had become very uptight, but now – ah -I get it. Can’t wait to go back.

– I hate driving through Atlanta. Every time we drive through it I am sure I am going to die in a horrible traffic accident from everyone going 90 mph in the 55 zone and swerving randomly across 6 lanes of traffic. It was by far the most stressful 1.5 hours of driving on the entire trip.

– After living mainly in hotel rooms for 3 weeks, our apartment seems HUGE.

– There’s nothing like sleeping in your own bed.

– I don’t really want to get back to my “real life” tomorrow, but I am very excited to get busy sorting through images and making paintings.

– I appreciate all of you who have supported me and followed along with my journey more than I express. Thank you for coming along with me.

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