Sunday, March 20, 2011

seeking the tools of the road

Clearly, when we leave this house the spiders will just take over. We're barely holding them off as it is. I am watching one as I type this. An enormous black creature hurrying over the highest line of wall in my bedroom, just below the ceiling. For any of you Harry Potter fans, I'd say definitely belonging to the progeny of Aragog; for those of you unfamiliar with HP, uh, it's a big spider.

Where do these things come in? Is there a spider hatch I don't know about? Do they momentarily stun me when I open the front door and slip in? And why are they never the ones I see in my garden? The tame, sweet eight-leggers trapping flies and feasting on aphids.

Despite the fact that we have no house to end up in on the other end of our impending move, we have been focusing almost exclusively on the road trip that will get us there. It's a bit like obsessing about the wedding day without a clue of what the marriage will require.

We just came from the bookstore where we perused fruitlessly the road atlases and USA travel guides for something useful. The atlas that touted itself as the best and only one you'll ever need seemed to choose its inclusions randomly at best. The chapter on Colorado featured a page on the restaurants of Denver. Nice. And...that was all.

There were “Easy Fold Out!” maps to Washington, D.C., Lima, Peru, Sacramento. There were big fat books of campgrounds across the country and state parks, often so huge you'd also need to pack the coffee table to accommodate them.

Mike found a tempting book called Watch It Made In the USA which took you through any factory tour you might want to go on. So the question here is not whether my son would like to watch how Harley Davidson motorcycles are made, but the problem with books like that is that after you invest $22 and fall in love with the page on blown glass, you find yourself trying to come up with excuses to drive hundreds of miles out of your way into the mountains of West Virginia and when you get there your kid is sick and whiny and no one wants to go. Also, you find things out you'd have been better off not knowing, like the fact that they make teddy bears and jelly beans in California. Remind me why we're leaving again?

It didn't take long before I gave up on the reference publications and zeroed in on the travel literature. There is no shortage. Postcards from Europe, Please Hug Me, I've Been Delayed, Venice is a Fish, Radio Shagri-La, The Woman Who Fell from the Sky: An American Journalist in Yemen...Among them was also this title by Doreen Orion: Queen of the Road. The True Tale of 47 States, 22,000 miles, 200 Shoes, 2 Cats, 1 Poodle, a Husband, and a Bus with a Will of Its Own. This depresses me on several counts, not the least of which has everything to do with bitter competition. I feel, to some degree, upstaged, outdone, beaten to the punch.

I would like to write about my trip too, since, duh, it's what I do. But here's the thing: I have this crazy notion that I want to get paid for it. I'm hoping to hook up with a publication “on the other side” as I like to call our destination, to take on a series of tales about many fewer states than 47, many thousands of miles fewer than 22,000, about 2 shoes, only 1 cat, no poodle, a husband, a preggo wife, a six-year-old boy and, with any luck, a van that works.

We've also been shopping for used camper vans. If you've ever bought anything so much as a paper clip through Craig's List then you know that experiences with people who post there can range from delightful bargains to psycho scams. Somehow, buying a vehicle that we hope will move our family safely through a month-long 4,000 mile trip feels a bit more risky than scouting out those oak dining chairs we picked up a couple years back. 

There is a story about our first van exchange as I've already hinted at in my previous post, but that will have to wait for another day.

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