The Big Trip

Afterwords, Part 1


Appreciation - I really, really, really, really appreciate all of the planning help, suggested sights, essay feedback, and advice offered, both redundant ("wear your seatbelt") and relevant ("Guidelines on Destruction of Tank-Tops"). Also, here's one big, wet, sloppy, I-love-you-all hug 'n' kiss to those who took time to meet, greet, hang, dine, chauffeur, and/or allow their guest bed to be soiled by a certain someone. Mow-cow gracious everyone: Therese, Sybil, Susan, Sharon, Sara, Sara's Roomy, Sara's Sister, Ruth, Richard, Rebecca, Patti, Kelly and Scott and Patton, Kim and Hosebee, Laurie and [ daughter whose name escapes me], Julie and Rob, Janice, Dr. Sara, Debbie, Cousin Kathi and Dominic, Cousin Chris and Julie and [ daughter whose name escapes me], Cathy, Brian, Bonnie, Ana, and the 'rents. Plus whomever I'm grievously forgetting to mention. Please kick my ass and I'll amend the Web copy. Thank you, also, to the many strangers who provided useful talks, goods, or services: Unnamed Kansas Conversationalist, a handful of other hotel clerks, the AAA (auto) travel desks in downtown Seattle, Everett, Washington, and Columbus, Indiana, the staff at A-1 Auto Transporters in Renton, Washington, and several states-worth of very friendly fire folk. Y'all made the trip even better.

Everything's Changed - The house seems cleaner, roomier, whiter. And, wow, look at those hardwood floors! Better-decorated, too, than I remember... Driving around town no longer requires even a modest amount of effort. Raleigh: generously long lights, sleepwalking speed limits, miniscule amounts of traffic, and barely aggressive drivers. Well, by comparison... Group interactions are suddenly (more) awkward, as if I've forgotten how to talk to more than one person at a time. I'm still fine, however, with multiples of imaginary people... Movies, at least those I've seen since being back, are even less interesting than before. (Caught both Godzilla and The Cell yesterday. Walked out. Twice...) Writing. That is, the urge to write, persists as a dull, palatable ache. I keep wanting to steal away with my notebook to some adventurous corner of my mind... Even my drumming is different. Twice I've taken to "the kit"-- double-bass, four-tom, four-cymbal set-- and my playing is tighter, righter, and better-timed than ever. Wassup with this? Has my brain been rewired? Are these the standard symptoms of Post Long-Assed Distance Driving? Should I start wearing tin-foil on my head in addition to my super-geek, home-splinted, "broken"-written-in-big-red-letters glasses? (You know, for the black helicopters that are obviously controlling my thoughts?) Forty-eight hours (and change) later and the whole of my "real life" seems utterly under-exciting. And under-stimulating. I guess it's no surprise that a break between Friday afternoon errands found Yours Out of Sorts sitting in an idling car during a violent thunderstorm, taking notes while also watching the storm, while also listening to NPR, while also listening to fire trucks being dispatched to the lightning strikes. And it was fun, too...

"How Did You Put Together Your Daily Essays?," asks Mike Mailing List member #114, Sybil in Cary. "Did you take notes while driving, or only in restaurants/motels?" Yes. "How long did it take to transform each day's notes into an entertaining essay?" Three hours or so. For "merely amusing," however, the time required is less. "How many hours of sleep did you average per night?" Six, maybe seven. That's my "normal" average, as well. "Did anyone ask what you were writing about in all those notebooks?" Now and then someone would. A waitperson here; a store clerk there. Didn't mind. Made for conversation. Or a chance to plug my web site. "Was it always with you?" Basically. I had it while riding with Sharon around Annapolis. I brought it into the lobby of the Kansas hotel, where I conversed and took notes with the ex-con, lesbian mother-of-four. "What didn't you write about?" Ask me in person. "Is there anything you'd do differently next time?" Yes. I'd take twenty days instead of ten, to allow for both more relaxed adventuring and enough time to write without staying awake till 3 or bumping against an 11 o'clock check-out.

"What Exactly Is A Drive-Away,?" asked several readers. Here's the deal. Person has car. Private auto owner. Person needs to get car from Point A to Point B. And person does not want to drive it themselves, tow it themselves, or get their brother-in-law to do it. So, person contacts an "auto transporter," e.g. a company specializing in transporting automobiles. And, very likely, the car will go by truck, at a cost of several hundred dollars. However, if the company also deals in "drive-aways," the car can be transported by a third-party driver and at about half the cost. Now, the contracted driver isn't paid. Nor do they receive reimbursement for gas. (The first tank-full is typically free, tho.) In fact, the driver pays a cash deposit to the transport firm, that's refunded after the car is delivered. Well, provided that car's condition hasn't changed. Duh. (The contract I signed included a provision for my paying of professional car-cleaning services, if the car showed up skanky.) And that's really all there is to it. The owner gets a price break; the driver gets a free car to use. (With maximum mileage and time amounts, of course.) Thus, the only real trick is finding firms with cars going where you are going. Or close-enough that you can walk, bike, hitchhike, or rent a car the rest of the way. I saved $600 in rental car costs.


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