On July 31, 2005, I set out from my home of 23 years in Maryland to drive to Los Angeles, California, where I would be starting graduate school in philosophy at the University of Southern California. Traveling with me was one “Tybalt the Bat”, a stuffed bat that my good friend Kelley had given me at my going away shindig a couple days before. I promised her and Kim that I would record Tybalt's and my travels across the country, Amilé-garden-gnome style. And here they are, with a bit of commentary about the places involved
July 31, 2005
Just outside of Zanesville, OH, I pulled off the interstate in search of some place to eat dinner. I didn't find anything to eat, but I did find this sign. The devil is in Ohio?
August 1, 2005
There's only one picture from this day because it was the most boring of the drives. I-70 West out of Columbus, though Indiana and Illinois: there is nothing there, much less anything interesting to take pictures of. It might be a product of the fact that my parents and I used to regularly drive that route to visit family in summers past. But then again, I remember that country being kinda boring then too.
This is my Grandma Agler, whose house I stayed at the first night. She was gracious enough to pose for a picture with Tybalt before I left that morning.
August 2, 2005
I would summarize Missouri as the state that is caught between three identities. Is it southern (like the Carolinas or Georgia), Midwestern (see Iowa, et al.), or mountain (like West Virginia).
In the background of the first shot here, you can see half of my trusty grey Honda Civic. The back end looks a bit weighed down—as it should, since I managed to fit two bass guitars, a small amp, a small stereo system, two computers, and lots of other assorted junk in there! That meant a bit of difficulty on some of the mountainous regions, but also that I could cut down on the things I needed to ship. Of course, my old computer did not weather the car trip quite so well. When I plugged it in and turned it on at my new apartment, the power supply promptly shorted out and exploded, sending a cloud of evil looking smoke out the back.
August 3, 2005
This was the day I began seeing "Caution: Severe Crosswinds" signs on the interstate. This was also the day that I started to hit places where I'd say to myself, "OK, now I've hit the desert." Of course, having never been through the desert before, I kept overestimating what counted as desert. The result of this was that about every hour, I'd find myself repeating, "OK, now I've hit the desert." As a matter of fact, this trend would continue for the remainder of the trip.
This is around where the scenery really started to change into something I had never seen before. My previous exposures to the west had been limited to the upper Midwest; Iowa and points north. In the shot of the Texas shaped grill, Tybalt is sitting about where the rest stop was located. There's also a shot of a giant wind turbine off in the distance. I began to see more and more of these as I got farther west; taking advantage of those "severe crosswinds," I guess.
These are a few shots from the parking lot of the appropriately named Red Rock Inn in Gallup, NM, from the evening I arrived there.
August 4, 2005
Five days and change on the road, and only twice did I encounter rain. Once was just west of Flagstaff, AZ, and once was about 30 miles east of Barstow, CA. That's right, the only two times it rained were in the desert! The rain in Arizona was really just sprinkles, and Flagstaff is sort of a more mountainous region than just flat desert. But outside Barstow; that was in the middle of the Mojave desert and the San Bernadino mountains. And the rain there was not just sprinkles, it was all out pouring gusts, accompanied by my first real experience of the true "severe crosswinds" that kept trying to push my car into the next lane over. All of this was preceded by some pretty spectacular lightning. It's pretty flat country all around, so I got to see some really long sky-to-ground strikes.
Here are a few more shots of the New Mexico desert landscape, again from the parking lot of the Red Rock Inn.
OK, now I've really hit the desert (I'll stop saying that soon, I promise!). Especially since there were signs warning of snakes and scorpions in the area.
What impressed me here was the fact that although it was incredibly hot (I don't know for certain, but I'm betting that the temperature topped 100), there was no humidity to speak of. None. Which was amazing to me, since I was used to icky, muggy Washington, DC summers. But here, while it was blazing heat, I felt that as long as a had a good supply of water, I could have stayed outside quite a while.
August 5, 2005
I don't have any travel pictures from this day, which as I reflect on it is a bit unfortunate. After traveling on the interstate for five days, I switched to state highways for the majority of the final 2 hours of my 2600 mile trek. I drove west form Barstow, and around the north and west sides of Edwards Air Force Base, and south until I hit the (I-)5. But it was along those state roads that I really felt like I was in the desert, and not just driving through it, as I had on the day before in Arizona.
©2005-2006 by Peter Eichman. All rights reserved.