Observations from the road

So, I have now completed the three-day, 2100-mile road trip from Santa Fe, NM to Montclair, NJ with my father and four dogs (thanks Dad!), which means that our move is nearly complete. Today we will have the internet turned on in our home, and all that will be left is to unpack all those boxes full of things that make you ask, “Why did we bring this?”

Every time I drive across the country, I’m struck by just how beautiful so much of it is. And every time, I say to myself that I need to come back and drive it in a leisurely way, stopping to see all the stuff like the world’s largest rocking chair. Of course, I never actually do this. I suspect that’s a good metaphor for something, probably life.

A few observations along the way:

The first night, we stayed at a hotel in Shamrock, TX (very slow start the first day). Interestingly, the place was hopping. The hotels were filled with people who were there working in the oil fields. I’ve made many trips to and through West Texas in my life, and all of my memories for the past thirty years are of sleepy, dried-up oil towns. One of the silver linings of the high gas prices we’ve been seeing is that they’ve created a whole bunch of jobs. (Of course, the other silver lining is that it helps to drive investment into alternative energy sources and more efficient technologies.)

Driving through Oklahoma, you see a ton of windmills. You know, those huge white ones for generating wind power. In many of these wind farms, a significant fraction of the windmills were not spinning. What’s up with that? Are those ones broken? Do they shut some of them down when demand is low in order to reduce wear? Anybody know the answer?

The Mississippi river is freaking huge.

The second night we stayed in Vandalia, IL.

There’s a town in Illinois called Vandalia.

There’s also a town in Ohio called Vandalia.

No sign of elevated crime rates in either of those places.

There are a lot of trucks. This makes sense when you think about it, since trucks are how stuff gets places, and no matter where you go in the country, if there’s one thing you’ll find, it’s stuff. Still, the sheer volume is impressive.

You can easily find multiple country stations on the radio along the entire route, until you get to within about 50 miles of New York City. I assume that’s because New Yorkers all listen to their country music on their satellite radios.

As we drove into New Jersey on Saturday night, it was raining. And when I say it was raining, I mean that in the way that one might say that Glenn Beck was lying. At times, it felt as if we were actually underwater, scampering between air pockets. Now, I’ve never lived in New Jersey before, so I was relieved when I turned on the radio this morning and all of the DJs were talking about record-breaking rains over the weekend. Because, for all I knew, that might have been normal.

As of now, I have lived in 50% of the states that contain the word “New.”

I have lived in 100% of the states that contain the word “Ass.”

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