Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Day 5: California!!

We made it!! What else is there to really say? Just a little...

I could go on about the rest of Nevada and the exciting Agricultural Inspection Station at the border of California. Or the way we came down form the plateau, all those thousands of feet that we had slowly climbed over the long days in the Midwest, in 1 hour from Tahoe to Sacramento. But really the best part was driving up to Matt and Sara's house and witnessing Fenway's reunion with his family. 

As soon as he saw Sara (holding baby Patrick) out the window, he was barking and yowling and itching to get our of the car. I wonder if he thought he'd ever see her again. What does he understand about being left, living with new people, then living out of a car that keeps opening up to strange new places? That I can't say, but I know he was happy in that moment, and then all over again when he saw Maggie and then again when Matt came home. There has been so much barking and licking and tail wagging it's no wonder he's snoring away in his new living room right now. 

As for me, I feel a huge sense of relief and accomplishment. I drove all the way across the country. Not many people can say that. And I brought a dog back to his family. I feel like I should have my own pet reunification made-for-TV special or something. Cue the strings.

So far, Berkeley is really fun. We haven't done too much more than walk around and eat good food (including plums from the tree in the back yard) and look at all sorts of amazing plants that are blooming all around. And the sunset and then the panoramic night view of the city and bridges from a high lookout point. It's all beautiful and happy and I am already scared that I'll like it too much here. But you know what? I loved the Great Salt Flats, too. And if I can love and endless plain of salt, I think I can make it anywhere. 

Monday, July 12, 2010

Day 4

We're at the hotel. Too tired to write much. Today was beautiful and
harsh. Windy, sunny, up and down. Tomorrow is the last leg and I want
an early start. So good night. Fenway is already fast asleep.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Day 3: Nebraska, Nebraska, Nebraska, and Wyoming

Nebraska really got the short end of the stick on this trip. I'd already been admiring the subtle, beautiful midwestern landscape for about 14 hours before we got to Omaha, so another 9 hours of the same wasn't particularly exciting. But somehow, with my iPod, Pandora, a new audiobook and a stop for a Runza, we made it through with high spirits. Then it was Wyoming and raining and getting a little more mountainous.

We stopped in Cheyenne for a walk and to look around. It was pretty quiet, not sure if it was because it's Sunday or just a little slow all the time. I liked the gold-domed capitol, though.

I guess we must have been slowly climbing in altitude the whole day through Nebraska because after Cheyenne, I pulled over to a rest stop and discovered we were at the highest point on I-80. It's at 8,640 feet and there is a big Lincoln Monument there. Random, but cool.

Finally to Laramie, cutie little college town, and another motel where Fenway has made himself comfortable. I got to work-out on the treadmill and get some dinner in town. When I got back, I took Fenway out for a walk and it's freezing out there! 58 degrees and windy.

Now I'm gonna sleep. Still 1,100 miles to go!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Day 2, 790 miles

Ahhh. We are checked in to a motel in Council Bluffs, IA. I wanted to make it all the way to Nebraska, but  the hotels were a bit cheaper on this side of the river, and I can see Omaha, so I feel like I essentially made it. Even so, that was a 14 hour day and we still didn't even go 1/3 of the way. So I'm definitely adding another day to the trip.

For the second day in a row, Fenway was an absolute travel champ.  We stopped less often, but for longer so he got to lounge in the grass, but didn't have to jump in and out of the car as much. The rest of the time he slept and didn't seem to care much that we were in the car ALL day. I'm also really starting to feel like we are on  a cross-country road trip together, not just that I am driving a dog across the country.

My day was kind of emotionally intense because we were retracing the drive I took to and from college several dozen times. It was familiar, but different form the road I've travelled so much as a musician. Then about 2 hours before we reached Grinnell, I heard a Sheryl Crow song and decided to make a Pandora station around her. It ended up being a Songs-Abi-Listened-To-In-College station full of Alanis Morrisette, Sarah McLachlan, and Natalie Merchant.

So then I got to thinking about college and all I've done since then and had my own little awkward reunion in my mind. What's funny is that this summer, on this trip, I really feel more like a 21-year-old than I have in a long time. OK, not my back, which is stiff from all the driving, but in my lack of direction right now. I'm like The Graduate just hanging out by the pool. (Better watch out for an Anne Bancroft at the rest stop!) Since college graduation, I've always had a mission, a goal, but now I'm just not sure what's next. Should I make a CD or just keep writing and trying to get a cut? Should I rent a room in Nashville? Should I buy a house somewhere else? Ack!

So I showed Fenway around the place where I asked myself all these kinds of questions the first time. He did what he does everywhere and then we got back in the car. He's got a family to take care of in California, and right now, my job is to get him there.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Day 1, In very few words

Can't write much because I don't want another late start tomorrow.  Fenway was great in the car. No whining or barking, perky at all the rest stops, eager to sniff whatever other traveling dogs had left behind. As the day wore on, he was less and less excited to get back in the car at the end of each stop, but who could blame him?

Looking at the map for the rest of my trip, I actually started to get worried for myself. Really? I think I'm gonna drive 800 miles a day for the next 3 days in a row? Huh. I think that would be illegal if I were a professional truck driver. Maybe I should re-think my stops.

But whatever ends up happening,  I'm really going to try to get up early to run and stretch before I leave. Early! Did I say that yet? Don't want to be arriving anywhere at midnight. Early!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Different Trip

I've driven all around this country quite a bit, but I'm leaving tomorrow on a road trip that will be a bit different. Here's why:
1.) I'm not playing any shows along the way.
2.) I'm driving straight through from Massachusetts to Berkeley. This will take me through two states I've never set foot in, Wyoming and Nevada. (I'm also not sure if I've been in Nebraska, but I'll be 7 hours sure after this drive.)
3.) I'll have a huge black lab named Fenway in the car with me. (Photo by my aunt Suzanne!)

It's not a very complicated story. My good friends Matt and Sara and their two kids moved from Great Barrington to Berkeley this month. We met in Portland 10 years ago and have stayed in touch through many moves (Maine, Mexico, Texas) over the years. It was so great that we all lived in the Berkshires for the past 6 months, but now Matt's company has relocated to San Francisco and they flew away last week. The problem was that their huge, old dog wasn't up for a plane trip and they didn't have the time (or patience with a 3- and 1-year-old) to drive across country. Since I have a "flexible schedule," I said I'd drive their car and dog across country. I'm still thinking it will be kinda fun and not absolute insanity.

I'm planning to drive about 12 hours a day and stick mostly to Interstate 80. I figure between me and the dog, we'll need to stop every few hours to pee and stretch, so I'm hoping a few National Parks will be close to the highway.  It should be beautiful from the highway anyway, so I'm excited for the scenery.

I had wanted to listen to some epic book series or the entire catalog of a certain artist, but I couldn't really decide. Right now I have 3 audiobooks and a full iPod, but I'm dissatisfied. It seems to choppy. I want something that will tie the whole drive together. A single narrative. Maybe I'll create my own somehow.

I'm not particularly worried about the long hours of driving. I've done that before. I'm mostly worried that Fenway will be stressed or hot or stiff. He is old and delicate. It's been hot here for the past few days and he is miserable. I finally set up an air conditioner in his room last night to help cool him off. I don't even have an AC in my room, but this dog needed it. This morning around 9am, I hear him yowling and howling like never before. I'd already fed and walked him, so I didn't know why he would make such a fuss. I went in to find that the AC had cycled off and needed to be reset. Really. This dog was desperate for me to turn his AC back on. Things I won't do for myself, and I won't do for my pets, I'll do for my friends' pets. That is so me.

But thank god we aren't driving Matt and Sara's old Jeep Cherokee as originally planned. It has no AC, which didn't really bother me, but now I'm sure Fenway would not have made it in the Jeep. M&S figured it wouldn't pass emissions inspection in California, so another friend drove the Jeep up to their house in Maine. Now Fenway and I are in a new car with AC and low miles and cruise control and we are gonna be fine. I hope.

Now, back to packing and prepping. Fenway needs one more bath before we spend 48 hours in the car together. Stay tuned...