Atlanta-Little Rock-Atlanta ~08.22.01 - 08.24.01
This is another one of those late-night 4am attempts to remember what the
heck I have been doing for three or four days. Bear with me...
One night in the car was enough, so I ended up rolling into town and
looking forward to crashing on keith's couch for a while. Short tour
of the greater Atlanta area ensues, including the infamous (and now
federally impounded) Gold Club and Keith's futuristic looking dot com
offices. Local flavor highlight is by far The Claremont, which, for those
of you that know the Tucson area, is almost exactly like The Buffet, but
stocked with strippers. Not just your average strippers, but, um, all the
strippers the other places in town has rejected, and they're all
amusingly plastered out of their minds. Hilarity ensues.
The plan now is to kill a few days while Keith takes care of his
work obligations so we can both leave for Savannah and Florida and New
Orleans, so I kill a day in Little Five Points, another doing laundry
and Margarita and hanging out in the Atlanta sun.
But, predictably, the urge to travel hits me, and I need to get away for a
while, so consulting the trusty road map I
find I'm only about 10 hours away from Little Rock, so... what the fsck.
Ten hours later I'm having oysters and shrimp with Julia and meeting her
fiance in downtown Little Rock, wondering why it is all my friends are
getting married and buying houses and having children and why none of this
even remotely appeals to me yet. We hang out in his dope-super fresh
downtown penthouse overlooking the LR skyline and I try to spread my slang
influence to the South, attempting to get them hooked on '-fu', as in
'Kelly's apartment is kung-fu' or 'Kelly's apartment has some serious
Seeing Julia revives my spirit a bit
more - she has even picked up the accent, if you listen closely - and when
I fall asleep on her couch with two cats on my chest I sleep contentedly
for the first time in days. Morning comes and she makes us some great
coffee, and I'm sad to leave, but I keep forgetting that everyone else in
the world has a job to go to and things to take care of. All I have to do
is clock 512 miles back to Atlanta without going insane.
Somehow I think we'll be running into one another again, probably on
my turf the next time around.
Random late night notes: My friend Rob is going to be in a local indie
Tucson movie, later in the day I fax in part of a rental agreement for a
place in Tucson with Steve, resisting the urge to put 'Freelance Web
Ninja' under the 'employment' section... but the idea that I have
somewhere to sleep when I get back to Tucson makes me happy. Email tells
me that everyone I have ever known in the Tucson computer/tech arena is now
unemployed and I get mad
depressed, swear to god I'm going to start my own company and save us all. More email tells me that Sean has made it
from CA to Chicago and ended up hanging out with my brother after all,
and now I'm too tired to think. Blegh.
Keith and I Go AWOL 08.24.01 - 08.29.01
Once again, after a long hiatus from Internet access, I shall transition
to day-by-day format as I sit and recall where the heck I've been. As I
write this I am sitting in Chris's Naples apartment, hanging out and
getting sleepy, and today marks day #5 of Keith and I bumming around the
Florida coasts. Onto the update:
Day 1: Friday - Shirking much responsibility and leaving his employers in
a well deserved bind, Keith managed to take Friday off, so down to
Savannah we go. Keith's first job out of college was at the Savannah
Morning News, and he lived there for a year or so, so he's an excellent
guide. We learned a nice trick from our first cross country trip, which is
to, ah, 'temporarily purchase' two small Motorla mobile radios so we can
communicate while driving, so we hit Best Buy (liberal return policy =
good) and get a couple of Motorola 5200 Talkabouts. I recommend them
outlay aside, they are lifesavers, because once on the road we encounter a
hurricaine-class storm 20 miles outside of Savannah. We were forced to
pull off the road for half an hour and ended up watching trees get hit by
lightning yards away and screaming into the aforementioned radios, and
they held up pretty well. So, you know, go buy a few.
Once in Savannah, we head to Tybee Island. The drive into Tybee is a
lonely 15 mile stretch of road surrounded by marshland, and Tybee itself
is isolated and quiet enough to not suck with tourist-ish blight (see
highly caustic comments re: Myrtle Beach waaay above) We managed to
outpace the storm by about 20 minutes, so once we find the Tybee peir
we can see the black mass moving in behind us. The lightning show returns,
only this time we watch it strike outbound cargo freighters. And
everything else within a 5 mile radius. And we get soaked. And we had a
great time. :)
Later, after riding out the storm again, we drive back into town and meet
some of Keith's old work friends - more marriages and home buying stories
etc. - and Keith gives me the night tour of Savannah, spooky cemetaries
and haunted buildings included. Savannah is striking in the day, but at
night the place is eerily mesmerizing, and damn if I didn't catch
myself wanting to live there. Keith advises against this sort of thing,
saying again and again that
the only source of income is the tourist industry. Ah well. 11pm
hits and having given up on scoring any free housing for the night, we
drive back to Tybee and get a cheap hotel. We're cashed.
Day 2: Saturday - Tybee local flavor tip #45: 'The breakfast club' - Great
local place to sit and have coffee, just a little hole in the wall but a
very Tybee hole in the wall. But we must drive! We need to cover miles!
Many many miles! Now! Hours later, near Cumberland island, we see we've
missed the ferry and our chance to spend the night camping among the wild
beasts of Cumberland, so we push on further to St. Augustine, arriving at
night. Camping is mad cheap, and close to the beach, which is key. We grab
a camp, grab some dinner, wander around the St. Augustine streets for a
while. Similar to Savannah in its layout and architecture and spookiness,
but with a Spanish influence and more of a waterfront downtown, which I
now have a huge thing for. That night it is 100 degrees with
100% humidity, and there is a particularity disturbing notice up about the
West Nile Virus and mosquitos, and there is also a weird guy camping next
to us who felt the need to erect a small flagpole with the confederate
flag in the middle of his camp - but who cares. We're on the road! And we
get to shower in the ocean tomorrow morning!
Day 3: Sunday - A whole lot of driving down the eastern coast of Florida
on the A1A, Florida's answer to the Highway 1 in Cali., and we stop in
small town called Vero Beach and seek out a camp near the ocean. By now we
have established that the first thing we have to do after waking up from a
100 degree/100% humidity night of sleep is get in the ocean, so proximity
to the sea has become the deciding factor in where we stay. Our campground
ends up being off of the Sebastian (?) Inlet and is incredibly nice. And,
again, cheap, which astounds me after having paid all these killer fees in
Colorado and North Carolina and Utah.We pitch our tents and make a few
phonecalls, watching schnauzer-sized raccoons hanging out on the fringes
of the campground in the dark. The temperature drops to a nice cool 80ish,
and there is a breeze, and the moon is out, and we sleep so soundly...
...Until I wake up to the odd sound of fingernails on metal at 2am. A dark
shape is moving across my car, and I am not happy. Pretty much naked and
freaked out and armed only with a teeny 1-battery keychain flashlight, I
sneak out of my tent and next to my car, wondering why the hell I don't
have a ball peen hammer lying around for just this very moment. I peek in,
and I see fur - one of the raccons has managed to squeeze itself through 3
inches of open window and is now rooting around my car, hopping from seat
to seat and generally not being happy now that I'm shining a light in his
eyes. I kick Keith's tent so he can share the moment, and then we open 3
of my doors doors, but the fat little bastard ends up re-squeezing through
the window (pop!) and loping off into the dark. Both of our cars are
covered in little raccoon footprints, but only mine has them on the
Day 4: More A1A, more little fishing towns, but we pass through Daytona
and Juno Beach and West Palm Beach are on the way to Ft. Lauderdale, where
rooms across from the strip and the beach are only $70, so for the third
time I do something I swore I'd never do on this trip and get another
hotel room. But, good god, did that shower feel good. Non-spring break Ft.
Lauderdale is actually a very nice place to be, lots of foreign folks
visiting and, yeah, mucho eye candy, but we're wiped out and our room is
air conditioned and at some point I pass out onto the bed and that takes
care of that. In the morning we hit the beach (habit habit habit habit)
until checkout time and - wow - float under the sun in the water. Back on
the road, two hours and one toll turnpike later (Hwy 60, aka 'Alligator
Alley', although we didn't see any) we're sampling the beach on the other
side of Florida, in Naples. We find the water much saltier, requiring even
_less_ effort to float, so we both do so and get burnt mad crispy. My
friend Chris works the night shift @ the Naples News, so he comes to finds
us and leads us back to his very air conditioned apartment, for which I am
eternally greateful. I haven't seen Chris since the whole Dow Jones
Internship Thing Of 199X?, and for all the bashing people proceed to
unleash onto Naples I can see it wouldn't be a bad place to live, and I
think he has it pretty good here. Chris leaves for work at 6, so Keith and
I hit the pier for sunset and coffee, because we have to stay awake for
the 30 loads of laundry we must do and I want to monopolize Chris's laptop
for a while. Tomorrow, northward, onto ... wherever.
Random notes: My road weariness/homesickness is now pretty much gone. So
is most of my cash, but I now have a contract programming/web gig lined up
when I get back to Tucson, which not only sounds cool but means I have a
focus when I get back. I'm mentally ready to get home, get into my house,
and geek out for a few weeks and get some work done. But first, New
Orleans! I demand New Orleans! My tan is getting mad dark, but I won't
stop until I look Kenyan, so tomorrow morning we're hitting the beach
again. Keith's ability to transition into vacation mode impresses me -
even after all these miles I still want to check my email every day, and
he has no such inklings, and in fact I suspect he might be having a better
time than I am. Troy wants and
gets a blatant plug, again.All your emails
bring random news from home, from the northeast, and make me miss you even
more. I try not to wonder who from this trip I will and won't see again,
simply because our paths will not naturally cross, and I wonder
what I can do about this, and if I have any choice, and if I should just
shut up and stop typing. And I do.
Yes, I am a horrible bastard, and I have not touched this site in over 3
weeks. I have no excuse. I am a bad webmaster. bAD wEBMASTER!
A friend of mine once said that my personality 'thrives on chaos', and
lately I've been proving her right.
The events of my life over the past few weeks have been harried and
wonderful, and they encompass: a righteous stay in
N'walins, the end of another road trip with Keith, driving through sheer
uber-weather hell in Texas, getting called a serial killer,
getting groped by cadre of leather-clad gay men in the middle of Bourbon
Street, GETTING THE HELL OUT OF TEXAS, a triumphant return to Tucson,
reuniting with old friends, making some incredible new ones, moving into a
house, lining up work, watching NY go down in flames,
and generally trying to get my life back from The Road.
New Orleans 08.29.01 - ???
I'll start with New Orleans. I am sure that time and, uhh.. my activities
there have severely blurred my recollection,
but this is as much as I can remember now.
Friday - This is it, this is the crowning point in the trip - wrapping up
this whole mess of driving, homelessness, humid summer nights,
long aimless drives, finding my old friends, sleeping on couches, benches,
etc. How, you ask? With a hiroshima-like bang of a trip to the
Big Easy. Damn! We even have places to stay!
On Thursday we played it safe and rented a hotel room 30 miles outside of
town. Because of the memorial weekend holiday
we figure there is no way we can afford anything in town, so we pick a
random hotel and crash out. The next day we drive in,
killing time until we can hook up with our host, so ... straight to
Bourbon Street we go! Wooooo!
I don't really know what I was expecting out of the French Quarter, but I
was sucked in and absorbed it in a huge megadose. We worked our
way through the streets and onto Bourbon Street, grabbing lunch and the
weekend's first hurricaine in order to ease any
culture shock and/or sobriety we were experiencing. It worked. We end up
taking a few laps around the Quarter to see it during
the daytime, because we knew we'd be seeing it quite a bit of it during
the night. I was mad
impressed, and if I were in charge there would be a French Quarter in
every city, just a huge squared-mile block of weirdness
and night life mandated by law, with French architecture thrown in as a
We hook up with our awesome host, Lenay, who I know from college and
various friends. She has been in N.O. for a
year or so and said she'd be happy to take us in for as long as we needed.
Now, I know Lenay is a completely kick ass person, but
I was secretly worried about stretching the limits of the whole
let-me-crash-at-your-place rules. I silently prayed that we weren't
getting in her way. I mean, how would you feel if two homeless monkies
showed up at the doorstep of your incredibly neat apatment and
started throwing backpacks all over the place, sleeping on your kitchen
rug, and generally cramping your style?
Bu my fears are soon evaporated. We hit dinner at a very, very local place
and commence to eat things I never could have described weeks ago.
By this time, I've come to recognize the Po' Boy for the righteous
foodstuff it is and I wonder why the #@$% they haven't made some sort
of McPo'boy franchise to conquer the nation. Over dinner it rapidly
becomes apparent that Lenay is, indeed, a completely awesome
host and my fears are gone. We eat, we come home, Lenay hits a private
party, and Keith and I hit Bourbon Street after our
45th shower of the day. New Orleans is awesome, but ... I'm a Dry Heat
kind of guy.
Which brings us to Bourbon Street: When I called to ask if we could spend
the weekend, Lenay brought up the fact that we'd be there for
'Southern Decadence' weekend. Sounds pretty good to me, I say, so we
can't wait! In a classic case of
Hance igonorance and timing, I eventually find out that 'Southern
Decadence' means 'Big Gay Mardi Gras' when we hit Bourbon and
the major theme seems to be 'Leather Clad Wang'. At this point, I refer
you to the photographic portion of this website
(if it exists yet, pending whenever I can get to a scanner) for many an
oddly themed photo involving said leather-clad partygoers.
Whatever, though, you know, it's still Bourbon Street, so we proceed to go
nuts. Drinky drinky, party party. Being two well-dressed
guys hanging out
on the wrong weekend, we're randomly flagged down by a hammered
bead-bearing woman and asked, point blank: "Are you guys gay?" Ouch.
No, we say, but thanks for checking, we're just here on a trip and hey,
nice beads, so, um... She replies: "Come on, you don't have
to lie to me, guys." Ouch. Damn. Note to self: Dress worse from here on
We eventually tumble into Lenay's house at a bad, bad, late hour, being
entirely too loud.
Saturday: We chill, we get coffee, we drive to Tulane and check it out
(tiny!) as well as Magazine Street, the scary cemetaries
with the aboveground crypts, and the lake. Were it not for the constant
mad humidity, I think N.O. would be a really nice place to live.
That night we tag along to a work-related wine party with our host, and we
get our first glimpse of the Good Life in N.O., which is an
enormous house with deep, dark wood floors and high wooden beams, lots of
candles. I meet a girl who, oddly enough, was a
photojournalism major at the UA a year after I came in as a freshman, and
I do my damndest to stick with her throughout the night,
because she is overly friendly and seems to insist on sharing her wine
with me, among other things. I'm suddenly very much liking
New Orleans - until I turn and watch her and her friends sail out the door
and into their car, gone without even a wave. Ouch. Again.
A wine-addled Bryan asks to nobody in particular: 'the fsck is up with
Sunday: Now having written off any chance of staying with Host number two,
we know we're in for one more night of crashing and then it
is time to hit the road, so we take inventory of the things we need to do.
The Alligator Tour is out (Keith's idea, not mine)
because it is Sunday. Soul Food is next on the list, so we end up
consuming enough soul food to kill nine vegetarians. We try to catch the
Big Gay Mardi Gras Parade, but we are hindered by the fact that we show up
late and the parade has no official route. The skies open up,
we all get rained on, we all have a cool time.
Nap time, then we're going out one last time, despite the total urge we
have to just get the hell out of town and detox for a
while. First stop o' the night: D.B.A., a litle bar near the quarter,
where Lenay is going to meet up with her friends and we plan
to split for Bouron Street one last time. At one point, we find out that
Keith and I are the only ones there that think 'DBA' means
'Database Admin' but we keep it quiet. This is not Dork Country. After DBA
we embark on the Final Hurrah, where we get our groove on
one last time, spend the rest of our money, and, unfortunately, both get
independently and randomly groped by the Leather Clad Wang crowd.
At this point, I say Yes, God, I get The Message, It Is Time to Leave New
Orleans. Just as soon as the sun comes up and I can walk
again, that is.
Monday morning we get up, grab coffee, mooch some free email, say goodbye
to Lenay, and hit the highway. Keith heads east on the I-10,
I go west, and we end another Diehl/Hance road trip. May there be many
The rest of the day is spent clocking much miles towards Austin. I have a
friend I (mistakenly) think I can find in the phonebook, and
if not that, Repubgirl, a fellow Mayday Mystery junky, has
called me back and offered
to let me crash. I've always heard good things about Austin, and it is
roughly on the way
to Tucson, so off I go. Houston and the southern parts of Texas are
flooded, and the highways suck, and somewhere around 10:30 I
enter what has to be the largest, most violent storm I have ever seen, and
I drive 5 mph for about an hour, scared out of my mind.
When I pop out of the rain, I'm in Austin. Much to my amazement, I
discover that it is physically possible for the environment to be
even *more* humid than New Orleans. Austin was something like 400%
humidity, where you could actually swirl a tea bag in the air and
Friend #1 is not in the phonebook, and it turns out that Repubgirl is
planning to put me up in a hotel for the night.
Not really understanding why, I ask. "Because," she says, "...my husband
thinks you are a serial killer." (See 'Mayday Mystery' under
'Weird things people have repeatedly said to me regarding this site') I
reflect on how desensitized I have become to people
saying this exact phrase to me, so, forget it, I get my own hotel. The
next morning we end up meeting for coffee, though, which is
great, and Reubgirl gives me a quick tour of downtown Austin & the State
House. Very, very Texan.
But I'm itching for miles. And Arizona. And no %$#%^ing humidity. So I vow
not to sleep until I'm in Tucson, and off I go.
A whole lot of boring Texas driving goes by, and I managed to read 75
pages of Master and Margarita while driving - the trick
is to hold the book on the steering wheel and keep it balanced between the
center line and the yellow edge-of-road line. About an hour
from the Texas/New Mexico border I spot some sort of Dark Black Mass up
ahead, a slow moving blob of airborne debris headed right
for the highway. I figure if I now go 110mph for a while, I can outrun it,
but I end up catching the tip of the storm just as it
hits the highway. A dust storm! And not a little dinky
Arizonan/I-10/tumbleweed kind of dust storm, but an honest-to-god
Lawrence of Arabia, tie-down-the-camels-and-bust-out-the-tents kind of
storm. Having only caught the tip, I'm out in three minutes, and
my car's paint is slightly duller, having been sandblasted away. I have no
idea what the people behind me did, but I'm not stopping to
find out, because Tucson is only 400 miles away! New Mexico goes by in a
flash, I do an in-car victory dance on the Arizona border, and gun
it until I can see the tower lights on Mt. Lemmon. I'm posotively flying
now, despite the fact that it is 3 in the morning and I've
consumed nothing all day but beef jerky and Mountain Dew.
Sycraft is home, he's awake, and he
has a spare couch, and suddenly, I'm home.