Let’s Go

…“Let’s go” is on the minds of many people in these last days of summer, especially the getting-out-of-here, going-away, going-home mood of Labor Day weekend. And it is much simpler by car…The long improvisational trip by car is quintessentially American, just as the road book is a peculiarly American form. […]

Yet it is perhaps truer today to say that the road trip has kept alive the romance of travel. Consider the misery of air travel, in what constitutes an average journey by plane. Much has been written about the stress, intimidation, limited space, germ-laden air and the intrusion of other people—the oaf in the seat in front of you who lowers his chair back into your lap, the child behind kicking your spine, the agony of the middle seat. Then there is the sludge that passes for in-flight meals, or the option to pay $7 for a “meal box” of chips, pretzels, cookies, candy, three crackers and a rectangle of industrial cheese that resembles a yellow piece of Lego but isn’t as tasty, and it’s five hours to LAX. After Sept. 11, 2001, casually showing up at the airport—often at the last minute, in my case—and easy boarding became distant memories, and since then air travel has degenerated further, so that the simplest flight is a secular version of hell. […]

This is why—for reasons of dignity and personal freedom—more and more Americans are rethinking the air journey and seeking the pleasures of the open road. […]

Not much on Earth can beat the American road trip in travel for a sense of freedom—no pat-down, no passport, no airport muddle, just revving an engine and leaving at will. Though the driverless cars that await us might have their uses in dense city traffic or on tedious L.A. freeways, they will certainly diminish the exuberance of a driver gripping the wheel, flooring it and rejoicing, “Eat my dust.”[…]

The American road trip rekindled my interest in travel and, most of all, reminded me how lucky we are in our country’s spaciousness and modernity. […]

So over the course of 2012-14, in four seasons, I drove tens of thousands of miles, meandering through the back roads of the deep South, listening to the blues on the radio, visiting churches and gun shows and family farms, and writing down people’s stories—of hardship and striving, raising families, struggling in adversity and remembering the past. […]

Nowhere else in the world (though Canada is a contender) is it possible to drive 3,000 miles—the distance from Boston to Los Angeles—and be certain that you will encounter no roadblocks or obstructions; that you will always find a place to stay and somewhere to eat. […]

Though I’ve been driving in the U.S. since I got my license 60 years ago, there is an immense amount of landscape I have yet to see. Driving through the deep South was a wish fulfilled, and so was my trip along the entire 1,900 miles of the Mexican border.

But I still have plans. My Road Trip Wish List includes: driving from Cape Cod to Seattle with many detours. Heading north from Cape Cod and keeping on, past the villages of my ancestors, until I run out of road around Lac Albanel in northern Quebec. Or heading south, as I mean to do soon, crossing La Frontera and taking an extended road trip in Mexico. […]

What made the experience a continuing pleasure was that, in my car, I never knew the finality of a flight, or the ordeal of being wrangled and ordered about at an airport, the stomach-turning gulp of liftoff or the jolt of a train, but only the hum of tires, of telephone poles or trees whipping past, the easy escape, the gradual release of the long road unrolling like a river through America. It is in many respects a Zen experience, scattered with road candy, unavailable to motorists in any other country on Earth.

~ Paul Theroux, excerpts from The Romance of the American Road Trip (WSJ, September 1, 2017). No other travel experience, especially today, can beat the sense of freedom it brings


Photo: Guy Le Querrec (via Mennyfox55)

Saturday afternoon drive: Then the car becomes a meditation chamber

The basic instructions for beginning meditation are to sit quietly and concentrate on nothing but your breathing for five minutes. Simple enough, right? I can’t do it for ten seconds. I can turn down the lights, burn all the incense and play all the soothing music I want but, after the briefest pause, my brain will recommence to whirr, instantly, uncontrollably.

Until I get on that blissfully empty stretch of open road, that is. Then the car becomes a meditation chamber. It all happens by itself. Breathing slows, the benevolent sky swells out, almost always a blue so pure, clean and enamelled that even worries of climatic catastrophe recede for a moment. Maybe there are some clouds, artfully arranged. Choose your moment to leave town — I like to leave at around 5am, just before rush hour — and there won’t even be any traffic to speak of. Just the white noise of the purring engine to amplify the calm, blissful silence, which will at last find its way into even the most stubbornly busy mind.

Dropping into the Central Valley from the mountains surrounding the Tejon Pass is like breaking open a petit four, getting past the glossy, pretty exterior: inside is the cake. The urban surfaces of California are what we see in movies and on TV: slick, manufactured, shouting, cajoling, bamboozling, seducing, ready to sell you something. And then the confected beauty of the city gives way; now the land reaches far out to the sky. Your ears pop from the pressure change, and a sign advises you that the next gas station is 19 miles off.

~ Maria Bustillos, from “On the Road” (Aeon, May 2, 2013)


Sources: Quote – Andrew Sullivan, Ode to Highway. Photo: Guy Le Querrec (via newthom)

It’s been a long day

dance-car-traffic

I-95 N.

Leaving work early.

Traffic has slowed to crawl at the notorious rush hour bottleneck at Exit 8 in Stamford, 10 minutes from home. There’s a towering billboard overhead shouting: Think Train. (Or something like it. Let’s not let facts get in the way of a good story.)

My Speed: < 5 mph and slowing. Red tail lights flashing and aglow in all directions on six lanes.

There was unusual calm in this moment on the asphalt.

And then ––

There’s the unmistakeable crush of metal on metal…

I snap my head up to see an oncoming car bearing down on me in the rear view mirror.

Everything moves in hyper slow motion now…

I brace for impact. [Read more…]

Last Exit to Elsewhere


Hang in there to the end of this video…

[…]
I’d gone out, come back around, only to find one thing. I was older. And, here I was trying to make sense of things. To say there is nothing out there is incorrect. To say that the desert is stingy with everything except space and light, stone and earth is closer to the truth. I still dream, but I’m not restless anymore.

Drive. And come alive.

Grant-haffner-1 Grant-haffner-2

East Hampton, Long Island-based artist Grant Haffner paints vivid landscapes inspired by the beautiful country roads and bodies of water of his hometown. Using acrylic, marker, and pencil on wood panel, the painter deconstructs the road scene into a striking series of graphic lines and eye-catching colors. Each image captures the exciting feeling of driving for miles down empty highways—watching power lines pass by in a blur, feeling the dips and turns of the road beneath the wheels, and enjoying the boundless expanse of sky overhead.

“When I drive I feel completely alive,” Haffner says on his Saatchi Art profile. “For a small moment, in between this place and that, I am free from reality. My truck and I become a motion of blurred color, barreling through space and time. I like to keep my window open to listen to the sounds that traveling makes, to enjoy the smell of the landscape. Every trip is a new one, not one sunset is the same. On the road I am a part of the painting. I am movement, color, sound, adventure and emotions. This is my landscape.”

~ Jenny Zhang, Gorgeous Pastel Paintings Capture the Endless Freedom of the Open Road


Notes:

 

Wheels take me, anyplace today


Kaleo is an Icelandic indie pop / rock / folk band established in 2012 and their first major public appearance Iceland. Firmly a phenomenon in their home country of Iceland, the four-piece band Kaleo is set to descend upon foreign shores in 2015, bringing their gorgeous blend of folk, blues, country, and rock to a wider mainstream audience in America. Best friends since attending elementary school in the small town outside of Reykjavik, the band began playing together at the age of 17. They named the band Kaleo, which means “the sound” in Hawaiian.  Kaleo has since moved to Austin, TX. (Source: officialkaleo.com)


[…]You and me together riding into the sun 
Live without care, with the wind in my hair 
Driving through the desert, yeah I’ll go anywhere 
Take me where the wheels take me, far away 
Wheels take me, I can’t stay 
Wheels take, any place today 
Imagine myself in an automobile 
a hundred miles an hour if you know how I feel. 
Alone with my mind, leave my worries behind 
I might even reach the border, it’s just a matter of time 
I said take me where the wheels take me, far away. 
Wheels take me, can’t stay. 
Wheels take me, any place today. 
Ohh I’m going to San Diego, here I come. 
San Fransisco, it won’t be long. 
Sacramento, yeah in the sun. I just might go 
I said I’m going to San Diego and San Jose 
San Francisco and hang by the bay 
Sacramento, yeah all the way I just might go 
all the way to Mexico oho 
I just might go all the way down to Mexico.

Driving I-95 S & N. Kooser. In the Head.

moon-iphone
It’s 5:45 am.
It started tracking me yesterday morning.
I’m driving to work. Dark is lifting to dusk.
I’m returning to the office after an extended vacation.
My head is tumbling with To-Do’s.
I round the corner for the last 1/2 mile stretch and there it was.
Full. Bright. Beaming. Silent.
I stare, and enter a few second refuge before pulling into the garage.

It’s 6:40 pm.
I’m done with my first day back, of meetings back to back.
I’m in my re-entry. Decompression? Gone.
I accelerate down the exit ramp and there it is.
Full. Bright. Beaming. Silent.
It’s tracking me the entire ride home up I-95 N.
And gracefully nudging me from exhaustion, to fatigue and softly settling me into calm.

Yes, Mr. Kooser.
I have missed so many. The count is well into the thousands.
But, no Sir. No Sir.
I didn’t miss this one.

[Read more…]

Driving I-95 S. The Circle of Life.

father-son-fist-bump-love

The Departure.
The Frenzy.
The Packing.
The Awkwardness.
The Race to the Airport.
The Small Talk.
The Drop-off.
*
The Drive Back Home.
Stewing in Silence.
Lamott’s Drowning in Uncried Tears.
Smoke from Melancholia Filling the Cockpit.
An Amputee Rubbing his Stub – Where’s my Limb?
*
The Gap.
Tongue’s first day with his Missing Tooth.
Zeke Turning, Turning, Turning. Can’t find his spot. Lands Heavily, and Sighs.
First Thanksgiving Dinner with the Circle Broken. His Seat Sits Empty.
*
The Return.
“Who’s Picking Up Eric at JFK Airport?”
Everyone!


Notes: Image: Leniwi-ojcowie. Related Posts: Driving Series

Driving I-95 S. Wading in Dissonance.

driving

5:33 a.m. I enter the on-ramp. Pre-rush hour traffic is gliding down I-95.

Where you at today? What’s it gonna be? Which DK is going to show up?

I glance at the dash. 39° F. Overcast. Low hanging mist. Light is beginning to creep through the gloom.

A fulsome night of sleep. No anchor pulling down on this a** today. Today, I’m rumbling.  

I glance at my watch – a late jump for an early morning meeting.

Delegate down? Cancel? Reschedule? Odysseus isn’t hearing the lovely sea nymphs but Glaser’s Siren Call. And he starts to wail. And wail. And wail.

The first rule is the best. Rule number one is that ‘it doesn’t matter.’ ‘It doesn’t matter that what you think. Follow this rule and it will add decades to your life. It does not matter if you are late or early, if you are here or there, if you said it or didn’t say it, if you are clever or if you were stupid…it doesn’t matter.’ Wisdom at last.”

The app calculates my arrival time: 5 minutes before the meeting start time.

Tight. Too tight. Serves you right for agreeing to burn it on both ends.  Burn. Burn. Burn. [Read more…]

5:00 P.M. Bell: Going Home

black and white, photography,


Source: amjayes

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