Thursday, June 28, 2007

9. Hassled by the Rent-A-Cops

I have a cinnamon-colored 1966 Volkswagen Bug. Depending on how you count it, it's my 3rd or 4th bug. It is the sentimental favorite of the cars I own, though sadly it won't be the car I use for the big road trip.

My friend Shaun has a '71 bug and a '61 bug, and he is part of a bug club. I have been meaning to join it, but being part of anything at all takes a certain level of organization of which I am apparently not capable.

But Shaun reminded me they were meeting tonight -- meet at Starbucks for Frappachinos, cruise to In-N-Out for double doubles. You can't say no to that! So I find myself cruising down Broadway with seven other bug owners. We arrive en masse at the mall (the In-N-Out is in the corner of the mall parking lot), and we more-or-less simultaneously back in to eight adjacent spaces. Eight hoods smiling at the burger joint.

Mall security then shows up in force on their 10-speeds, firmly but politely informing us that car clubs are not allowed to meet in the mall parking lot; we have half an hour to get our food and get out. Some of the gang got their undies all in a bunch over this, but to me the whole gang experience would have been incomplete without being hassled by the rent-a-cops.

The manager of the In-N-Out, by contrast, was well aware that it is good karma to have a parking lot full of old VWs, and he told us to stay as long as we liked.

There are two VW gangs in Tucson. The one that allows owners of newer-than-1968-vehicles and the one that does not. And apparently, they hate each other. Apparently you can't just be part of both, though I'd kind of like to test that theory.

Maybe, through reason, compromise, and enlightenment, I could make both sides see that this hatred serves no purpose -- that deep down, we are all brothers. Maybe we could put aside all this animosity, and bring these two clubs together as one.

And we could all hate on the Honda owners.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

8. My Life in a Nutshell

I could be bound in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space.

Except that I have bad dreams.

Ah, my first feedback. I had a good talk with Caleb about all I've written so far. I can see now that much of my problem is reflective of a lack of faith. That's what makes Santa Cruz spooky.

Is Santa Cruz filled with ghosts or with angels? The streets of Santa Cruz can convey the poignancy of friendships that have faded away, or the hope of friendships that will never end. A shift in perspective may be all I need.

Nothing truly good is lost forever. I assert that this is true, but I don't live my life as though it is true. My brain and my soul can't seem to get on the same page.

This trip will bring me near enough to Santa Cruz. Maybe I need to make the journey over highway 17. Try to view the ghosts of Santa Cruz from the perspectve of forever, and see what they really look like.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

7. Great Northern

A couple more pieces fall into place. Nothing is final until it happens, but a couple of straw-man routes have been mapped out. I will be gone from Tucson for 5 weeks. I will have a companion for all my travels; for the first four weeks it will be Jake, for the last week, Nina.

I had three possible outbound routes and three possible return routes; with plenty of variations of course. Return routes are still up in the air, but headed out, Jake and I are looking at a route I am calling the Great Northern. Plenty of this territory will be new to me, and most of the rest might as well be; I know from family photos I've been that way before, but I have little in the way of memories.

And even the places that I do remember might as well be new. When I was last in Glacier National Park, it had glaciers.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

6. A Little Less Fuzzy

I gave notice today. My old job behind me, I will be going back to being a full-time telecommuter. It means the road trip will be a working vacation.

Which means I can work from anywhere. Just give me an internet connection and I am good to go.

Planning the trip is a game of connect the dots. I finally know where some of the dots are going to be. And I know what I'll be driving, and who will be with me. Mostly.

Sometime around July 9 I'll spend a week in Silicon Valley, getting knit in with my new cohorts. And visiting old friends, of course.

Afternoon of July 20th I need to be at MSP to pick up Jake.

From July 21-28 we'll all be at the lake.

Jake and I have the next week to ourselves, travelling around the Great Lakes States, whatever we want. August 4 we are back in St. Paul to see a concert at the Excel Center (or something).

August 5th I pick up Nina at Midway, drop Jake off at Sports Broadcasting camp, and head back toward Arizona.

Pretty much be gone for a little over a month.

Well, those are the broad strokes of it anyhow.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

5. The Last Kilometer of I-Nineteen

Yesterday I finally accomplished one of my meaningless little sub-goals. I have now driven every mile of interstate highway in the state of Arizona -- Interstates 40, 10, 8, 17 and 19. Strangely enough, for years the only missing piece was a couple dozen miles of I-19 between Green Valley and Nogales -- easily tackled with a couple spare hours any day I had decided to do it.

An aside -- the miles of I-19 are not miles, they are kilometers. I-19 was built during one of those rare moments of enthusiasm for the metric system in the U.S., so, unique among interstates, the distance signage is metric (though the speed signage remains imperial). This is one of those bits of cool road geek trivia that separates me and a few dozen wackos from all you normal people out there. Sadly, the uniqueness will not last; as signs on I-19 are replaced in the due course of time, they will be replaced with imperial values.

I want to drive all the U.S. and state highways in AZ end-to-end as well, a ridiculous goal, but I'm really well on my way. The weekend getaway to Nogales also got me a big chunk of AZ-82, as we hit Lake Patagonia on the way back, where I was able to indulge my other rarely-indulged obsession by spending a couple hours on the lake in my kayak.

We had lunch Saturday in a funky Patagonia pizza joint called Velvet Elvis. All in all, a great weekend to whet my appetite for the big road trip. If it happens. Nothing in my life seems certain at the moment.

I never got an email back from the guy who may or may not be Bob (but probably is). It's one of those frustrating mysteries because I'll never know what it means. Maybe his spam filter ate the email, or maybe he never checks that account anymore, or maybe it's a different Bob so he just ignored it. Or maybe it's him and he read it, but what is there to say after all these years?

One more thing that gets answered in the next life.