Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Photos

Photos from the road.  And the stops.  Click the photo to go to the album,


Travels with Avon July 2015

Monday, July 27, 2015

The last leg

The travels with Avon destination is Los Angeles.  And here we are.  The last leg of the trip was a California classic, starting with burgers and fries to go from In and Out, continuing up the freeways that are referred to not as "interstate five" or "route five" but "the five."  Today the five was running in compression mode:  Periodically, without external influences like wrecks or construction, it got so clogged it just stopped.  Then started.  Then stopped. Zip along at 70 for a stretch, then brake down to 10 or so because the cars ahead of you encounter something like a hill and have to bunch up before they break out again at speed.  It's a phenomenon of all high speed highways, but all the more frustrating when there are four or six lanes all clogging up and unclogging, for no reason.

But somehow out here it's not as maddening as it is on, say, I-95 from the Beltway to Fredericksburg.  Maybe it's because the road isn't as familiar and you accept the clogs as part of California freeway life  Or maybe it's because there are things to look at along the way that you haven't seen before, which takes some of the pressure off the fact that you're going 10 mph on a big freeway.

And a the end of the road, you still get where you're going.  No one's left tooth marks on the steering wheel.  Everyone's been mainly cordial and laid back.  And I've spent more time with two of my sons than we've spent since - hell, this is probably more time than we've ever spent all together nonstop.

That's been the real treasure of this trip for me.  Sharing all that time, and all those miles, with Deke and Ted.  Pointing to things outside the car windows and sharing the wonder of all that American landscape.

I'd do it again in a heartbeat.  Let's go.
End of the Road




South by southwest

at sunset
We left the Grand Canyon after two nights of camping.  I think the last time I was camping overnight with any of my kids was when they were Cub Scouts, so no one knew what to expect.  Kudos to Deke for (a) having an excellent tent and air mattress, (b) booking the Mather Campground at the Grand Canyon, (c) the steak tacos on night two and (d) coming up with the idea in the first place.  Mather campground is first rate - clean, convenient, well spaced camping sites, good facilities,  Great place to reintroduce yourself to the great outdoors.

Our first night at the canyon we stayed at a hotel just outside the south entrance.  Again, a Deke choice.  We bowled a few frames in the hotel's rec center, got introduced to Grand Canyon pilsner (very drinkable) and loaded up on water, firewood and supplies for our camp.

After the park we headed south to Phoenix for the purpose of catching a baseball game.  It was 100+ outside, but the ballpark is covered and air conditioned.  Diamondbacks beat the Brewers, so the home team fans were happy.  And we checked Phoenix off the list.

Somewhere during the trip, San Diego was added to the itinerary when Deke contacted an old friend and all of us were invited to stay over.  Worked out perfectly, since we learned that I-10, our planned route, was running single lane for a long stretch because of a bridge washout, which we were able to avoid by heading south and taking I-8 into San Diego.

That's literally the southwest US.   At time you could look left and see the long fence near the Mexico border.  And a landscape full of surprises.

For most of Arizona it's rocky desert.  Long expanses of nothingness.  Then about the time you cross over into California, it becomes sand, blowing into giant dunes on all sides, then subsiding into rock again.  In the Imperial Valley there are great green fields of crops.  You look in wonder at these verdant fields in the desert, then realize that they're sucking up water that's in precious short supply as you go further west.  Looking west, what I first thought was falling from clouds was actually the contrast between blue sky and clouds of dust stirred by the relentless wind.  That wind is harnessed by a forest of windmills as you approach the mountains.

And these are no ordinary mountains.  They take you from seal level to 4000 feet in a steady climb. You're warned at the outset to turn off air conditioners if your car starts to overheat.  When you get into the first ascent you see that the mountains are actually giant piles of rocks - boulders piled high.  How did they get there?  Farther up they become a little smoother in texture but they're still all rock and sand.  You watch the temperature gauge slowly climb and realize that maybe the warning was right, so you turn off the AC and eventually turn on the heat to circulate water through the engine and open the windows.  Finally just over the top there's a gas station, where you stop to fuel and let the car cool off a little.  Here's a first taste of California, where regular gas is over $4 a gallon.

The rest of the drive into San Diego is scenic, in a California sort of way.  Hills covered with short trees and none of the underbrush we're so used to in the east, brown in the midsummer drought.  San Diego itself seems an oasis, although locals see the transition from green lawns to desert landscaping.
So we reached the Pacific, and almost our destination, in the company of Kelly and Marc and their terrific boys, who welcomed the scruffy voyagers into their home for an evening.  Such a treat,  We can't thank you enough.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Check

It was in Nashville, early in the trip, when we realized we weren't going to make every stop we'd  intended.  The Ryman Auditorium was on the pretrip list, but somehow we didn't get there when we were downtown the first time, and it was hot and no one was up for a tour the next day.  So we drove by and checked it off the list.  There it is guys.  Check.

In Memphis, Deke had wanted to see the Stax studio.  By the time we got into the neighborhood, it was too late in the day, and as we drove by Stax was checked off the list.

This isn't to say we've glossed over things we thought were worth a close look.  We weren't like the bus trippers at the Grand Canyon who look over the edge at the south rim visitors center, buy a souvenir and check it off the list.  But there are so many things to see that we find ourselves turning to each other and signing a check mark, shorthand for "yep, saw that."  Check.

Friday, July 24, 2015

The star of the show

It is all about Avon, after all. 

Today we let him visit the Grand Canyon Kennel for a spa day while we hiked the rim trail.  Not because he’s a hassle on the trail – he’s a trooper.  And not just because we would be slowed down because he needs to sniff everything along the way and pee on every available tree – you can always drag him by the leash until he settles into a walking gait.  The reason Avon is a hassle on the trail has to do with the other hikers’ reaction to him.  Is he a pit bull?  Is he purebred?  Can I pet him?  Yesterday on the trail a couple of young ladies from New Orleans not only wanted to know all about him and pet him, but have their pictures taken with him.  We’re thinking about getting him business cards.

We camped two nights at the Grand Canyon.  Avon thinks all this outdoors is OK, but at heart he’s a city dog.  The smells are interesting, but when 12-point buck elk walked through our campsite around dinnertime yesterday, he just looked up from his dog bed – his dog bed, not the ground – with only mild surprise.
Night before last in the tent he was pretty sure he was supposed to be on the air mattress instead of his dog bed, so when I turned in I had to push him off my sleeping bag several times before he got the message. Last night he slept in the van.  We were all happier.

He still seems to believe that Deke is abandoning him any time he disappears for whatever reason.  Yesterday I had to do my Avon-calming routine when Deke went off to fetch coffee.  Again last evening when Deke and Teddy went into the store to provision us for dinner, I stayed with Avon and was pulled through the parking lot until I made him understand he can’t go into the store and would have to look for them standing on the bench outside. 

But he’s been great in the van.  Hops in whenever the door is opened, moves to his dog bed in the back when he realizes he isn’t going to be able to sit up front (this happens every time, of course), lies quietly until he senses that we’re going to stop and then jumps up to take a look out the window.

Don't tell Deke, but I'm going to miss him.

We are hardly pioneers

We are hurtling across the country at 75 miles an hour (at least since Texas) in air-conditioned comfort, listening to music or ball games from a satellite, or music from a digital device.  When we need to stop there are gas stations and flush toilets.

But at least since we left Tennessee, it’s hard not to feel a little part of what the westward pioneers of the 1800s must have felt, looking across the vast emptiness of the west and wondering what lay over the horizon or next range of mountains.  Rolling along in wooden-wheeled carriages, hoping there’d be water for the humans and animals by the end of the day, that the water wouldn’t be running through an impassible river or gorge, that their wagons wouldn’t break down or mire in the mud or ruts of the pioneers before them, that they’d be able to get through the day and the next and the next without being attacked by men on horseback who appeared to be wild and uncivilized and unhappy about the march of what the wagoneers considered to be civilization.  Just looking at the never ending flatness, changing unexpectedly to rocks and gorges and in the closing distance mountains higher and more forbidding than any ever seen in the east, you get an appreciation of the challenges these brave settlers faced every day. 

I expected flatness as we crossed from Arkansas into Oklahoma and Texas.  I was awed at the enormity of the space – my son noted that he could see 100-car freight trains front to back – and surprised as how abruptly the landscape changes.  After miles of emptiness, suddenly there are piles of rocks and gorges; the roadside changes from forest to scrub with little or no transition.  We easterners have so much to learn about the west.

Turn the AC up please, check our position on the GPS and pass me a bottle of water.  Pioneering indeed.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Car Songs

When the kids were small we made a car tape for road trips.  A cassette filled with songs that got us through those dark stretches of Virginia and North Carolina, or north to Connecticut, to see the grandparents.  Now it’s the car mix, and loaded on an iPod patched into the car sound system.  And it’s getting us across a stormy stretch of New Mexico.   Feel free to sing along.

Suite Judy Blue Eyes – Crosby, Stills & Nash
Sitting on Top of the World – Cream
Day Tripper – Beatles
25 or 6 to 4 – Chicago
In the Midnight House – Wilson Pickett
Stand by Me – Ben E. King
The Last Time – Rolling Stones
I’ll Cry Instead - Beatles
Can’t Buy Me Love - Beatles
Lay Down Sally – Eric Clapton
Make Me Smile – Chicago
Nobody Knows You  When You’re Down and Out – Spencer Davis Group
Some of Shelly’s Blues – Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
The Cure – NGDB
Lyin’ Eyes – Eagles
Kodachrome – Paul Simon
Tequila Sunrise – Eagles
Peaceful Easy Feeling – Eagles
Bayou Jubilee – NGBD w/Linda Ronstadt
Hey Good Looking – NGDB w/ Linda Ronstadt
Rocket Man – Elton John
Could You Put Your Light on Please – Harry Chapin
Everybody’s Lonely – Harry Chapin
Your Song – Elton John
Political Science – Randy Newman

Just got another hour

Something else I didn't know until Teddy pointed out that the satellite-controlled clock on the dashboard had backed up an hour - Arizona doesn't do Daylight Savings Time. So we're already on California time,  Here we come ...

True story

We’re driving into a rest stop in the middle of New Mexico, listening to Sirius satellite radio.  The DJ on DeepTracks is talking about a summer channel called Roadtrip (ch 147) with a playlist designed for, well, us.  “So give it a listen, all of you who are driving across country to say ‘Hello, Susie.’ “  

Santa Fe

Saturday morning we left Amarillo, ready for some vertical scenery after Oklahoma and Texas.  We were heading to Santa Fe to see Deke’s oldest friend.  He and his wife and two little ones live near the center of the city, and welcomed Avon and his traveling companions into their home for a warm and wonderful weekend.  Thanks again.  I hope we can return the favor.


Sunday afternoon we hiked the Indian ruins at the Bandelier National Monument, our host packing his 2-year old in a combination carrier/backpack/Camelback.  It's a valley occupied by Pueblo People for 400 years beginning arouud 1150.  You can tour their cave dwellings above the valley floor, and see the ruins of their houses and ceremonial places. 

Since I’d been there last, a major forest fire in 2011 had been stopped just short of the ruins and the visitors center.  You see pine trees near the stream with their trunks seared.  Up the valley, the fire devastated so much of the vegetation that the Park Service knew it was only a matter of time before the summer rains would create a flood.  That happened in September 2013, when much of the ruined forest came roaring down the canyon, flooding the visitors center and parking lot and taking out bridges over what’s usually a small stream.  Today everything is restored, but you can see massive piles of tree trunks, limbs and silt jammed against the standing trees, sawn through to clear the trails.  It’s an awe-inspiring place, one more reminder that there were people here building cities for centuries before any Europeans showed up. 

Route 66

Here’s something I didn’t know before (Teddy did).  Route 66 – the legendary highway from Chicago to LA – doesn’t exist anymore.  It was removed from the US highway system in 1985, after completion of parallel Interstate highways.  Today there are lots of signs along I-40 pointing the way to “Historic route US 66” which is a mostly 2-lane road, designated by states as a scenic byway.  We saw tangible evidence of the devastating effect that the interstates had on local businesses when we stopped for gas in Tucumcari, NM.  Nearly every building in the town along 66 was gone – service stations, motels, restaurants.  When they went belly up they weren’t torn down, so they stand sadly as shells, slowly falling in on themselves.  A modern ghost town.  

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Should have known better

A couple of posts ago I was smugly reporting on our trouble free trip.  Maybe I did jinx it, because this afternoon, tooling along at 70, I felt the car run over something.  I was sure there was nothing in the road, but didn't think much about it until we stopped for gas and discovered that a piece of the lower right front end was missing.  Now, that part of the car was already held together with black tape, the plastic bumper having been torn up a while back.  Looks like with the combination of heat softening the tape and the wind pressure of 1300 high speed miles, part of it finally gave way.  What's left of it is somewhere beside the highway in Oklahoma.

Luckily, Deke has a roll of strong black tape, so we fashioned a temporary fix.  Doesn't look half bad, actually, and will probably be more aerodynamic than the part that disappeared.  Chalk one up for the pit crew, putting us back in the race in no time.

We also encountered our first construction zone that slowed up to 55 for a couple of miles, and drove into Amarillo looking at an ominous black cloud coming up from the southwest.


Didn't have to drive in it, though, as the rain hit just as we were pulling into the Days Inn.  The rooms have analog TVs with dubious signal strength, but that's no big deal.  Not as bad as back home where the Nationals-Dodgers game was delayed a long time and finally had to be suspended because a bank of lights at the ballpark kept going out.

Poltergeists?

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Fort Smith to Amarillo

Today we left the west coast of Arkansas, crossed Oklahoma into Texas and wound up in Amarillo for the night. Along the way we stopped in Oklahoma city so Deke and Teddy could tour the memorial and museum of the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building.  I've seen it, so I watched Avon.  Held on to him, actually, because dogs aren't allowed in the memorial, and he was convinced that Deke was abandoning him so he wouldn't budge. Rather than have the authorities come after me for dragging a dog along the sidewalk, we mostly sat in the shade, where I think it was 98 degrees.

Back on the road, we drove through vast stretches of farm and ranchland, punctuated by occasional herds of cattle, pumping oil wells, and a couple of wind farms.  The trees got smaller and sparser, and by Texas had nearly disappeared altogether,  There's plenty of water, though, as the lakes and reservoirs are all topped out, and in a couple of places looked like they could spill over onto the highway in another heavy rain.

Tonight we passed on the 72-ounce steak advertised by a restaurant near our hotel (eat the whole thing in one hour and it's free), and headed downtown for Mexican.  Good choice.

Deke's posted a few pictures to Instagram,

Friday, July 17, 2015

Graceland

Elvis was loved by everyone, and loved everyone, and one day he just died, leaving behind a fantastic musical legacy, plus a nice southern mansion home, some cars, a couple of airplanes, and multiple gift shops offering everything Elvis.   He never got fat or sloppy, never had substance issues, was benignly managed by the colonel and could launch a comeback concert any time he needed to.

That’s the message of Graceland.  Not explicit, but implicit in its choice of only showing the positive, heartwarming, affirmative and affirming parts of the Elvis story.  And why not?  It’s all part of the story and when you’ve visiting a shrine you’re looking for a hero.  Graceland delivers.  It’s not cheap, and you’ll stand in lines, and you’ll be shown many many ways to spend your money.  But that’s why you came, right?  You drove down Elvis Presley Boulevard (which bore that name when he still lived there) and paid $10 to park and selected your ticket package and visited the gift shop while waiting to board the bus to take you across the street to the house where Elvis lived.

We’ve been conditioned to think that Graceland is way over the top, a heritage of flamboyant bad taste.  Sorry.  It’s not.  This is a comfortable home, furnished richly in the style of the 60s and 70s, owned by a young man (he was 22 when he bought it) who could afford every creature comfort and indulgence.  Does it have mirrors on the ceiling of the TV room?  Sure.  Shag carpet on the floor and ceiling of a jungle-themed rec room?  Why not?  Gold flecked sink bowl and imported brass faucet in the guest bath of the airplane?  Yup.  But these things don’t seem outrageous compared to the homes and toys of very rich people today.   It’s not furnished to our modern taste, but remember, time stopped at Graceland in 1977, when it was no longer a home and became a pilgrimage destination.  Had Elvis lived longer, who knows how he’d have adapted his surroundings to the digital world?

The whole enterprise is managed well, from the multilingual signs over the ticket windows to the bar code scanners to the iPod and headphones given to each person who takes the tour of the mansion.  A narration takes you through each room and outbuilding, and the screen offers the opportunity to see a
panorama of the room you’re in, plus more photos, videos, etc. to add context.  Parts of the building have been made into museum space for gold and platinum records, stage costumes, posters, videos  and artifacts that take you through Elvis history.   What you don’t see is  much about Elvis at home, other than brief clips and photos of him riding his palomino, diving into the pool, hanging with friends in the pool room, etc.  The living space upstairs is not part of the tour, so you’re effectively shut off from any part of Elvis that wasn’t on stage or screen.

But then again, what business is that of ours?  He’s not a figure out of history, but an entertainer.  Knowing how Elvis lived (and died), what he ate and drank, where he bathed, doesn’t add to our understanding of his times.  People who want to know about Elvis at home have plenty of places to look.  So bravo to Graceland for being selective, for keeping the flame, for being a place where Elvis is forever young and smiling, singing and shaking.  Thank you.  Thank you very much.

Notes:  This is not a casual visit; to see Graceland, you have to devote some time.  There are other
tour offerings in addition to the house – the airplanes, cars, museums of Elvis in Tupelo and Hawaii – at different ticket levels.  It’s hot in Memphis these days, so pack some water.  No dogs, but the Raines Road Animal Hospital just off Elvis Presley Boulevard welcomes transients and is very reasonable.  Cheap, actually.  Avon had a fine stay at the dog spa.

To many visitors, the tube televisions in the house are probably as remote and quaint as log cabins or dial telephones.   Anyone you see there under age 40 has no memory of Elvis being alive.  To many, he’s a figure on a Las Vegas stage in a silly jumpsuit with a giant collar, a model for thousands of impersonators.  Who can buy their authentic replica stage costumes at Graceland.  You gotta love it.

Dispatch from the front

I hope I’m not jinxing our luck by saying this, but so far this trip has been a snap.  No bad weather on the road, no traffic problems, no car trouble, no roachy hotels.  Of course, we’re not real demanding.  If the towels and sheets are clean and the AC works, it’s all good.  Meals so far have been free hotel breakfasts, sandwiches from the cooler and lots of barbecue.  Probably ought to sit down at a restaurant and have a salad before too much longer.  

The van is comfy for all of us – the driver and shotgun, the passenger in the lounge in the back, and Avon on his dog bed in the middle.  He’s a good traveler, happy to be walked every now and then, and happy to get back in the van where it’s not 90+ in the shade.  Which it has been everywhere along our route so far. 

He gets walks regularly because we set a two-hour max rule for the driver and we’re sticking to it.  That way no one gets tired.  And Avon gets to stretch his legs.  Then the road goes on forever.

We’re sticking to the basic route, but readjusting our stopovers to the schedule.  We just spent one night in Memphis, drove across Arkansas after Graceland and stayed near Fort Smith.  Friday we’re going to see the Oklahoma City memorial but then keep going to Amarillo, which makes the Saturday leg to Santa Fe easier. 

Wide open spaces.  Into Oklahoma on Friday morning.  Everywhere we’ve been is green and lush.  Rivers and lakes are full or overflowing.  Shame you can’t tilt the country to the left temporarily and let some of the overflow top off the western reservoirs.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Memphis

In Memphis there's a giant pyramid on the riverfront.  Used to be an arena for sports events, concerts, etc.  Then the teams left, it sat empty for a while, and now it's an enormous Bass Pro Shop, with a hotel and a restaurant and bar at the top accessed by a $10-round trip elevator.  That's where we wound up on Wednesday evening, one of the highlights of a personal tour led and driven by Deke's friend Brown who's a native Memphian.  You could walk out on the deck and look to the north or west, or sit at the bar and watch a gigantic catfish swimming in the cylindrical tank.


 Our first stop was the Cozy Corner for some fabulous barbecue - ribs so tender the bone was soft, wrapped in a mild sauce that still had some kick and loads of flavor. Cornish game hen on a barbecue menu?  We then got a personal tour of Willie Mitchell's Royal Studios, a soul music landmark, where Al Green and other stars have tracked hits. This was our second studio visit in two days - on Tuesday we toured RCA Studio B in Nashville. After an obligatory walk down Beall Street, we headed for the pyramid, and then caught a live set at the Lafayette Music Hall.  It's great to see a place like Memphis with a native, who showed us the neighborhoods and parks as well as the tourist sights...and areas to avoid.

People are really helpful here.  When we spotted a parking place at a meter on Beall Street, a guy stood there on the sidewalk gesturing as if it was his spot, and he was generously offering it to us.  We figured he was looking for a buck.  When we got out of the car, he suggested that $5 was appropriate for his assistance.  Inflation is affecting everyone's business.  We compromised.

Thursday we'll do the pilgrimage to Graceland, but so far, Elvis appears to be less of a presence here than he was in Nashville.  In our hotel there, the photos on the wall in the lobby were head shots of the King, like Joe Biden in the post office or Kim Jong Il everywhere.  At RCA Studio B, we were invited to commune with Elvis' ghost as the lights were dimmed and the master tape of "Are You Lonesome Tonight" played to recreate the 4 a.m. recording session there.  The piano, we were told, was Elvis' favorite (Chet Atkins wouldn't sell it to him, though).  His Cadillac with gold door handles and 40 coats of diamond-dust-and-fish-scale paint is in the Hall of Fame.  Here there seems to be more celebration of the blues - more Stax than Sun, more river than hillbilly.  Come to think of it, from the top of the pyramid you'd look to the horizon without seeing a hill.

Driving so far has been easy.  Soon we begin the long stretches until we get to Santa Fe.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Guitars

Everywhere you look.  Guitar shaped decorations on the side of buildings.  Guitar shaped buildings. Even the weed-filled flower box in front of our Nashville hotel outlines a guitar.  And of course, real guitars.  Yesterday we saw – up close and personal – hundreds of guitars.  Guitars that belonged to Jimmy Rogers and Hank Williams and Mother Maybelle Carter and Johnny Cash and hundreds of other notables and near-notables at the Country Music Hall of Fame.  Guitars lining the walls of Gruhn's and Carter’s music stores, inviting you to hold them and pick them and fall in love with them and take them home.

The Hall of Fame and Museum is a grand monument to Nashville’s home industry, and worth a visit even if you’re not that into country music.  You get a taste of the history of the music, the different paths it’s taken, and a big look at the business today.  But though it nods to Austin and Bakersfield, it’s still all about Nashville.  Don’t look for a lot of Fender guitars.  And aside from Bill Monroe’s mandolin and a few passing exhibits, don’t look for bluegrass.  It’s not part of the Nashville vocabulary.

On Tuesday, my iPhone informed me that the wind chill in Nashville was 110 degrees.  It quickly changed that to “heat index.”  The heat and humidity settled on you like a blanket, eased finally by an afternoon thunderstorm.  We were lucky there too, as it looked like counties north and south of Nashville were getting washed away.  Caught a TV news report in the afternoon where a guy somewhere in Tennessee was standing next to the slab where his home sat in the morning, pointing to its new location down the creek.

Last night we went to the Station Inn, a place known for $4 beers and great live music.  I was disappointed that the schedule had changed and the band I’d expected wasn’t playing.  Now I’m glad. In their stead we heard The Music City Doughboys, a couple of lively hot swing fiddlers and singers backed up by drums, pedal steel, bass and a guy playing his telecaster like Wes Montgomery.  It was a great show.  Remember the name: The Music City Doughboys.   Watch.

Today we’re off to Memphis.  With any luck, we’ll have a good wi-fi connection and will be able to post some pictures.  Here I finally gave up looking at the spinning circle on screen and went to the lobby to get a reliable signal.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Nashville

It's about 140 degrees and 98% humidity outside our motel room in downtown Nashville.  At midnight. So when we arrived about 9pm, we decided to do what any sensible people do when it's hot - go get some spicy fried chicken.  Hats off to Hattie B's Hot Chicken, where you order at the counter and hover over someone's table until they leave and you can sit down and eat.  Fried chicken and cold beer - you can see why there's a line at the door.


Monday, July 13, 2015

Where We're At (Part 1)

1st Leg:

Alexandria, VA -> Nashville, TN (887 mi)
Tunes: Conway Twitty :: Willie's Roadhouse (Sirius 59)
Temp: 87F


Thursday, July 9, 2015

In search of America?

We're setting off on a Road Trip.  Cross country with Dan, Deke, Teddy and Avon Barksdale the pit bull.  Some commentary.  Some photos - maybe a video or two.  We just plan to record what we see, hear, and think along the way.

As a practical matter, this is a relocation.  Deke's moving to LA, and the van and dog have to get
there.  So we're using this as a chance to see a good bit of the country eye-to-eye.  Sharing the driving, listening to music and ball games, arguing politics and anything else that comes up.  How well we do the blog will depend on our inspiration, level of fatigue and availability of wi-fi along the way.

Mostly, this is for family, friends and for all of you that have ever heard that little voice saying "wouldn't it be fun to drive cross country?"  Maybe at the end of the trip you'll decide to do your own road trip, or finally stop listening to that little voice.