Friday, September 16, 2005

Headed West (day 1)

I woke up around 7AM and finished packing the car. It is pretty hilarious. I have two huge duffel bags strapped to the roof. Every square inch of the interior is full. Mac's blue tricycle is crammed into the front passenger seat.

Looking at 2800 lonley miles on the road, I decide to delay my departure by an hour so I can grab the package of cds sitting in the apartment manager's office. My buddy JP put together a little care package to get me across the country.

So, around 8:30 I kiss the wife and kids goodbye and hit interstate 40 headed west for Oregon.

I pick up a great bluegrass show on the country station out of Galax, Virginia as I head out of the state. It is kind of sad, though. This music will always remind me of our time here, and it is bitter-sweet. I turn off the station and just concentrate on the road.

Outside of Mt. Airey I see a guy on the side of the highway. He has a big backpack on, and a little dog. He is dragging an enormous crucifix over his shoulder. Gotta love the South.

North Carolina fades out of my rearview mirror soon enough and I am in to Virginia, then on to West Virginia. Some beautiful country out here -- nice rolling mountains. And road construction EVERYWHERE.

My first stop for gas (I average about 3 tanks a day) is in West Virgina. I head into the rest stop bathroom and when I come out I find my car engulfed in smoke. I pop the hood and see that the tiny oil leak, which drips on the exhaust and smokes, has become a pretty scary leak. Oh, great. I decide to stop and check the oil level every few hours. Nothing else I can do.

By early afternoon I am into Kentucky. Lexington is just as I imagined it, with rolling green horse farms, with their mansions and endless white fences, everywhere you look. Southern Indiana passes in a blur. I can't get many radio stations on the interstate, but I do pick up some John Mellencamp which makes me smile. The road passes not too far from French Lick, and I am tempted to make a detour and visit Larry Bird's birthplace. But I am nervous about my leaking engine and anxious to make as much ground as possible.

By dinner time I am in Southern Illinois and suffering serious road burnout. I start looking for a hotel to crash at but there is nothing to be found. I end up driving a bit further than I planned, and end up in Mt. Vernon, Illinois.

680 miles made good. I am toasted, my car is smoking, and I went about 80 miles more than I planned on. Still, this will prove to be my shortest day.