Travels With Chuckie

Well, I’m back in California. Contrary to my promise, I didn’t post a single story on my travels while I was on the road. So I lied. It comes from staying in the cheapest motels, ones that still haven’t installed wireless internet, coupled with driving as hard and long as I could each day, leaving no time to just pull over and post anything. So, instead of a running commentary, I’m going to just list a few points, in no particular order, regarding this latest trip. First, to the lady in Salt Lake City I inadvertently cut off- I’m really sorry, but the Rt. 80 signs were confusing. Anyway, I didn’t know Mormons even knew those kinds of hand gestures, let alone used them with such enthusiasm.

Next, to the guys at the Super 8 in Wyoming. Twenty eight below zero without the wind chill is cold, but really no colder than say, ten or twenty below. After it drops to ten below, it’s really all the same. And it’s not the coldest I’ve seen for all of you guys who were bragging about it in Cheyenne. My record is 35 below with -65 wind chills. Go Adirondacks.

Penske, if you’re gonna rent a truck that’s going cross-country in December, make sure it has fucking snow tires on it, not just “seasonal”. You cost me a lay-over day at forty five bucks plus a sixty dollar set of snow chains. On the other hand, the truck was a great ride on dry roads and thanks for the extra three days you gave me when I bitched about it all.

In general, why is the price of gas so wildly different state to state? I understand about ethanol and shit, but that doesn’t explain it, nor do state taxes. Somebody’s ripping us off, as if we didn’t know.

I’d move to western Nebraska or Wyoming in a heartbeat, if my wife would let me. That is still some of the most beautiful country in the nation, not to mention that you can wear cowboy boots and hats there and no one thinks it’s weird.

The food in TA (Truck Slops of America) or Petro is absolutely, without a doubt, the worst crap one human being in a hairnet has ever slung over a steam table at another. Mr. Obama, our country depends on truck drivers and we’re killing them one meal at a time. Please add this to your new health initiatives. Top priority.

Finally, I’ve driven more than a million miles in my day and crossed the continental US or Canada eight times, not to mention up and down the east coast another ten; I’ve had shotguns pointed in my face, been torn apart at the Canadian border, been refused service in diners because of the way I looked, driven through snow, rain, wind and one hundred fifteen degree temperatures with no A/C (Death Valley in August, 1977) and this was still the absolute worst trip I’ve ever taken, bar none.

Driving across America used to be exciting…different radio stations, different accents and food. It was like driving through fifty little countries that used the same currency and almost the same language. Now, it’s one homogeneous mess of Home Depots, Targets, Wal-Marts and McDonalds. Everyone sounds the same on the radio and everyone plays the same music and no one seems to realize just how fucked up and sad that is.

Thirty one years ago, I took a round trip across America using only county and state roads, no interstate highways, just to get a feel for the differences in my country. And it was different. Regional radio played local bands, local diners served up local specialties, people dressed differently and had different accents. It was exciting. That would be pointless now. These days, you could just drive around and around the same town anywhere between Long Island and San Francisco for three thousand miles and it’d be the exact same thing. And as I say, that’s really sad.