Last Friday, in one sitting, I drove from Orange County, California to Seattle, Washington, my old stomping grounds. I left at 6:00 am Friday and arrived at 2:00 am Saturday. This is a list of some of the things I saw:
-Pavement. Lots of pavement.
-The sunrise gradually warm the hazy skies over Los Angeles.
-A sprinkler spraying water over a dry field, but the water turned to mist in the heat and drifted away before it could hit the soil. When I drove past, it looked as though the sprinkler was tired of being a sprinkler, and wanted instead to be a rainbow machine.
-Miles of cows on a cattle farm. Typically I don’t measure livestock in units of distance, but here it was appropriate. I’m not sure what the proper unit to measure stench is, but let’s just say it was not mild.
-A cow carcass on the side of the road.
-A tractor with eight foot tall wheels and a footprint wider than the lane it was ‘in,’ rolling through town like it was a compact car.
-The jet stream overhead as it pulled a ribbon of wispy clouds across the sky.
-Signs everywhere telling politicians to “STOP THE DUST BOWL.”
-Christian themed rap was on the radio… and it was good. I was shocked.
-A line of southbound cars backed up so long that while driving 75 mph I was able to listen to “Kashmir” by Led Zepplin in its entirety before the line thinned out. I wanted to roll down my window and shout to those blissfully unaware of the traffipocalypse, “Turn back now! You can still be saved!”
-A motorcycle made by John Deer parked on the sidewalk at a truck stop. It looked old, and was probably rare, but all I could think of was the CEO of John Deer thinking, “How can we cut grass faster?”
-A young man poppin’ bottles by the dumpster in broad day light — literally. His job was to forcefully dispose of empty wine bottles from the night before.
-A bumber sticker for “KONY 2012”
-A sign for “BRAKE TEST AREA” before a long steep downhill… isn’t the whole hill a brake test anyways? I already did the hard part of getting over the hill–why do you have to take a practice test when you only need to pass the final exam?
-Entire orchards and fields dried up and abandoned with only dust devils patrolling the rows of gnarled trees.
-Half of a deer. It came and went so fast in my headlights that avoiding it was simply a matter of reflex, yet the sight, although brief, is something I can’t unsee.
-Two guys on the radio talking about their new book, “Treat Me Like a Customer,” which is about managing relationships with the same devotion you would give to your work. I took notes. Better to learn now than as an afterthought.
-Tumbleweeds that have long since stopped tumbling.
-Several nameless roads waiting for a name. “Road 22.” “Road 8.” “Road 12.” I think they’re just placeholders waiting for someone to do something amazing so they can rename the roads, but right now they’re still waiting.
-A phone conversation that ended with the exchange, “Sorry, it’s hard to hear you.” “Sounds good :) Bye!”
-Tire skid marks that trailed off the road and ended at the foot of a large tree where a white cross and flowers were set.
-The familiar signs, streets, and scenery, all slightly different than I’d left them.
I laughed at the sprinkler part. Rainbow machine sounds amazing!
haha thank you!
It was so lovely reading about your travels….Great post !
thank you so much!
Gorgeous account of your travels. It was inspiring to see the side of the road through your eyes and revel in the tiny details and moments we often overlook.
wow :) thank you so much!
Amazing what you see when you’re on the road. I especially like driving through an entire weather system in one road trip.
I just drove up to Portland last week but I did it in several days to save wear on my car. How did yours hold up / how did you manage to make the full trip and stay sane? I also noticed the dustbowl signs and was curious why no matter which mountains I drove between there was always at least one Christian station that beamed through.
my car held up just fine, although i had some unrelated trouble with the battery today. to stay awake/sane i just sang the entire trip. not sure if that’s entirely sane, but at least i was awake. as far as the christian stations, at least from what i’ve found, everyone in the more ‘rural’ parts of the US are predominantly christian. it’s when you get to the cities that things get more… diluted? not sure if that’s the right word, but when you add pineapple, grapes, blueberries, strawberries, apples, and mangos to an orange smoothie; you can hardly taste the orange anymore
I think this is hardly relevant, just the way I like it! When I’m in the car I usually pay attention to my phone and get so absorbed I probably missed a UFO landing in my neighbourhood, after all, I’m not the guy driving. But that’s exaggerated, I’d better keep my eye out the window more often…. :D Keep it up!
i know this stretch far too well. my route ends in eugene, oregon. and im happy it does when i see all those washington plates driving along with me.
Nice post. I’ll have to try this next time I take a trip.
it definitely makes the trip more interesting to try and find a narrative in it
Yesterday, my route included 124 miles of straight, desolate interstate. No deer (wrong time of day), no cows or tractors (bye, bye small farms, and no accidents (thankfully). It’s a dreadful drive, especially when the cat is crying because she’s not having any fun, either. A friend recommends I find a new route.
Thanks for sharing your route. Your descriptions are picturesque. I’ll look more carefully for interesting sites on my return trip. Ya never know!
exactly! always be on the lookout
and if all else fails, hallucinations are just as interesting!
Hallucinations may be the way to go. Good idea! I can abandon the desolate landscape for one of my own creation.
I want to be on that drive with you. It sounds magical, despite the dead cow, the stench and the traffic. I love the sun on the horizon, the misty rainbow making machine…. and most of all, I just love driving.
next time you let me know when you want to go for a drive haha ;)
Haha I drive every day – quite far, really, if you count the miles. hehe. i’m a route service bus driver , and my husband drives daily from Canberra to Sydney and back. He is a driver for a different company.
While I was in US I had driven from SFO to LA once, it was a fabulous drive ever. Some part of your post made me feel nostalgic.
Why do I feel like I need a rest stop or a stop for coffee? Really? All in one sitting? Good thing you had air conditioning. Can you imagine the same drive 50 years ago? A lot hasn’t changed on the route up the PC, 99 or 5.. But making it in a day is possible now with gas-saving cars and AC. Half a deer? I thought of the show ‘Under the Dome’. Thanks for taking me on the trip with you! I’m desperate for a rode-trip! Glad you made it home safely!
wow. thank you for the comment! haha
yeah, i can’t imagine doing the trip 50 years ago. you’d have to stop so often just to get out and check if your car still works. and let’s not even mention how mcdonald’s wasn’t within a half hour of where you were. i’d probably starve before anything else.