Homelessness Is Cool
What I Did Over My Summer Vacation
Bryan D. Hance

ix. Foreword By The Author
x. Introduction
1: Home
2: Back to Tucson
3: California
4: Oregon
5: Idaho
6: Utah
.. Utah #2
... Utah #3
.... Utah #4
7: Colorado
8: Nebraska / Iowa corridor
9: Chicago
10: Ohio (again)
11: Boston
12: Rhode Island
13: Rhode Island / Boston / Cape Cod
14: BAMA
15: NC, SC, etc.
16: Atlanta - Little Rock - Atlanta again
17: Keith and I go AWOL
18: New Orleans
19: Texas
20: Tucson
21: Stats + props

Foreword by the Author

Somewhere around May 15th I decided to fulfill a long-standing dream of mine, which is to pick up, pack up, and just hop in my car and drive all over the US. A number of things just fell into place at the same time, and suddenly I was selling my toaster to some guy for $5 at a yard sale, terminating my lease and hitting up old friends for their addresses.

So here I sit, in my parents house in Ohio @ 12:30am on 6.13.01, banging out a little website where I can dump the fruits of my travel, Phillip Greenspun-style, onto the web for the world's enjoyment.

Yes, things are bare, but I anticipate adding things like photos and scans after this whole thing is over. That, and I'll probably be forced to update from my friends' machines and public terminals for a while, so excuse me if the frills don't pop up for a while.


To ease the pain of having to put much thought into this, allow me to transition into Q-and-A mode for a moment:

q: Are you out of your goddamn mind? Every dot com computer wank I know is out of a job!
a: Yeah, I'm probably a little loopy, but I need a break. I put in a couple of extra years at school, many of them while
employed, and then hopped right into a job. (And then another one, when that first one went boom)

q: Why not Europe?
a: I don't speak French/Italian/German/etc, and I think I can prolong the vacationing if I'm able to sleep in my car. That, and I'm a little more interested in the U.S. at this point.

q: Are you leaving Tucson?
a: Naah. I'm just taking the summer off. I really, really, really like Tucson. I'm pretty sure that even after clocking ~20,000 miles around the country, Tucson is where I will want to end up.

q: Where are you going?
a: Roughly, in this order: California / Oregon / Washington / Idaho / Utah / Colorado / Kansas / Illinois / Ohio / Massachusetts / Rhode Island / NY / Georgia / Florida / Louisiana / Texas / New Mexico. Did I leave anything out?

q: Need a place to stay in (insert town/state name here)?
a: Hell yes. Email me. Willing to trade computer skills for temporary shelter!

q:What about fux0red.org and maydaymystery.org?
a: Fux0red is coloc'd inside of Sycraft's closet for the summer, and I think I've managed to get Repubgirl to take over my Mayday Mystery duties in my absence, so everything should be good to go. 8.20.01 update : fux0red blew a hard drive, apparently, so sycraft unplugged it for the duration. Damnit! I either lost a bunch of php & database files or twenty CD's worth of mp3's. doh!

q: This sounds like fun. Can I come with?
a: Yes. I have a standing offer to all my friends - If you wanna take part of this trip with me, or just find a reason to drive around the country with me for a while, all you have to do is email me and book a flight. I'm willing to detour to Des Moines or somewhere wacky if I have to.

Chapter 1: Home

~6/01/01 - 6/15/01

Home! Before hitting the road I promised to fly to Ohio and see my parents. I'm usually a very anti-Ohio kind of guy, but spending a week or two offline and out of the loop seemed like a good way to wipe my mental slate clean before diving into this trip.

That, and I needed a place for the cat to stay for the summer, so I headed home after frantically moving out of my great place in Tucson. Like the rest of this trip, it has been a simultaneously sad but exciting development.

But back to the story: If anyone ever has to take their cat on an airplane - ~$75 for the airline, $60 for your vet to OK them to fly, and ~$60 for a baglike cat carrier. Drugs are highly recommended to zonk your cat into complacency - I recommend Acepromazine. I have no idea what it is, but half a pill managed to make my cat not care about anyhing for 9-odd hours.

Not coincidentally, I got searched pretty heavily on Phoenix Sky Harbor. Not having any checked luggage and carrying an animal tend to set off alarm bells for airport security, I guess.

The news from home: Bryan and Karen are soon to be parents of a little girl, & adding to the fray, Megan will have her boy shortly after. Jessica is headed off to Jerusalem(!) for a year on some sort of jewish educational junket, & Andy is going to be a lawyer in about 2 months. Once he clears the Bar I'll going to try to talk him into hitting a portion of my trip with me.

Other than that, I discovered that I suck at golf, cable television is a highly addictive thing, and I can only run about 1.5 miles now before my lungs give out. I'll have to work on that last one.

Chapter 2: Tucson

~6/15/01 - 6/18/01

A quick trip back to Tucson to run errands and get some last minute details squared away. The thought of hitting the pacific northwest and getting out of a region where it hits 115 degrees on a regular basis is very, very tantalizing. Read Little Green Men while killing time - I recommend it highly.

Chapter 3: California

~6/18/01 - 6/26/01

Good god, what a trip so far. I can't believe I didn't do this years ago.

In the last week or so I have covered ~2000 miles, spent entire days on pristine, uninhabited beaches, driven through misty national forests at 2am with techno blaring out of my car and no idea of where I was going to spend the night, crashed with friends, crossed the SF bay on the Golden Gate, wandered the heart of Silicon Valley looking for a fsking internet cafe, and woken next to towering redwoods at 4000ft elevation. I'll do my best to sum things up.

San Diego - After sneaking into Alpine, CA around 2am I drove into San Diego for - what else - coffee and getting in the freaking ocean. A beautiful, beautiful day made this an awesome welcome to the coast. After an hour or so of getting worked by hardcore-surfer-class waves I got back in the car and headed north up the 1, via L.A. In true Hance fashion, I hit L.A. around 4pm on a Thursday. So, in true L.A. fashion, while gridlocked for three hours I decided to make like the locals and drive erratically while talking on my cellphone.

San Clemente/Encinitas - Hours of driving up the insanely beautiful coast made me need to get in the ocean again (notice the trend?) so I stopped at a beach on San Clemente called Full Moon. So many surfers, so many people, and I had an awesome time yet again. Mucho SPF 45 usage for me, though. I ended up getting ahold of Kim, who hooked me up with directions to xxxxx (memory fails me) where she lives in her beachfront apartment. Massive jealousy on my part, yes. :) Got a bit of the nightlife there, which is just about as happenin' as the nightlife in Westerville Ohio, but it was all good. Some more beach action and I got to see my first surfing competition, no less. Great town.

Campbell - Good lord, am I behind. I'm in Eugene, OR and here I am writing about Campbell, CA. I have to get with it.

Rieko let me crash on the floor of her apartment for a few days in Campbell, CA, and sushi + mingling with some Apple folk ensued. Great, great town. Waaaaaay too expensive town. :)

Campbell #2
As luck has it, Sean lives about 3 minutes from Reiko's place, so I hopped from one floor to another for 2 nights. I happened to make it there on a Sunday, which meant I snuck in for a huge, awesome meal with Sean's family at his dad's place. In two days I went from sleeping on the beach and eating beef jerkey for breakfast to sitting on the back of Sean's dad's house, sipping an imported beer and eating like a real human being. Sean's family, you rock.

Of course, no trip to CA is complete without a visit to SF, so Sean kicked off work early and drive us into the heart of Chinatown. I made a pilgrimage to City Lights bookstore, kicked around Chinatown for a while, and then it was off to Berkeley. Holy jesus christ, did I like Berkeley. Very cool town. In another life, in another universe somewhere, I probably could have ended up at Berkeley.

So that, coupled with another surprise visit with my brother and his girlfriend just outside of Berkeley made this an awesome few days in CA, and I zonked out to sleep a happy man.

Unknown redwood forest
Heading straight north again, I crossed the Golden Gate and stopped only when I hit Humbolt County. A friend in CA told me about an awesome beach, College Cove, right off of the 1/101. Imagine a redwood forest, thick with biking trails and waterfalls, that tapers off to a steep cliff overlooking a 1/2 mile of pristine, untouched beachfront. Once again, I had the whole place to myself, so I kicked back and did some reading for a few hours. Later that night I would end up sleeping at 4500 ft. elevation, somewhere in Richardson Grove State park, surrounded by skyscraper redwoods and dripping leaves.

Wet F*cking Weather. That's about all I can say about the southern Oregon coast, although between the shoreline and the redwoods, it is amazingly scenic wet f*cking weather. I don't mind it, I'm just as happy to put in some music, kick back and drive 800 miles up the coast as I am to plop down on a beach for a while. Nothing like cruising through elk country while listening to a little DJ Shadow and watching the sun go down, ya know?
At one point I am headed up a country road at 7:45pm, it is raining, and I have another 56 miles to go until I reach the site of a (possibly) free campground. Once the road goes into 1-lane mode, and then dirt, and then a 30 degree uphill angle next to a 400 foot sheer dropoff into raging water below, I decide I'll pop for the $12 and camp somewhere a little more sane. Besides, the road was making the CD skip. Sure. That's why I'm turning around...

Oregon #2 - Willamette N.F
I decide to shift my focus from beaches to hot springs for a while, because it is Damn Cold in this state. I find Terwillinger hot springs (~60 miles east of Eugene, OR) is just down the road from another uberscenic campground, called French Pete, so off I go.

The springs themselves are amazingly well maintained, and form a chain of natural rock hot tubs that go from mad-toasty to mildly warm, depending on their proximity to the water source. I float like a boiled egg for an hour or so, and then VW-bus sized loads of naked hippies start showing up, and I decide it is time to go check Eugene out.

Oregon #3 - Eugene OR
Getting fed up with sleeping in the back of my car, I dropped in the Eugene International Hostel for a night. Downtown Eugene was pretty dead, but returning at 10pm with a couple of hostelites, we found a Jazz club that looked pretty decent and popped in. Apparently, one of the hostelites was in town to do a voice workshop with Bobby McFerrin, so she talked the jazz folk into letting her do a quick song with them. Very cool. THe next morning I decide to head up to Portland.

Not wanting to stay another night in a hostel, and stuck with no place to camp within 30 miles of downtown, I hung out in downtown Portland for an hour or so. The downtown area was so packed with people, and so clean that I suspect you could manufacture microchips outside in a hot dog booth with little fear of contamination. I sat and killed some time people watching, since everybody appeared to be travelers as well. The sun was falling, so I headed southeast to a (supposedly) cheap camping spot near Maupin, OR, a little riverboat/trout fishing town with a population of about 5 people. I camped in an empty valley, next to a rushing trout-filled river, and awoke at 3am to a freight train slowly creeping through the valley about 100 yards away. Just like home.

High point of the evening, if not the whole trip: Going to sleep while listening to the tobacco-chawin', gun-toting, 4x4 driving Redneck Mountain Guys camped out next to me bitch about how they "can't get any good Hank tunes off the Napster" anymore. True story.

Idaho turns out to be a surprisingly hip place. Downtown is nice and clean, the hip/historic area - Hyde Park - ended up killing about 3 hours of my time as I sat and got my reeb (read it backwards) on and camped out next to a pay phone for a while. I expected farmers and ... well, potatoes, actually, but what I ended up finding was a hell of a lot of uberhealthy 20something outdoorsy types, lugging wooden kayaks down the street to strap to the hoods of their Volkswagon jettas for the weekend. 20 miles north of Boise is insanely good kayak/canoe/trout/hot springs country, so I camped out at Kiringer (?) springs. In the morning I wander down to the springs area and fry for a while, then hop into the stream for a 20 to 30 degree wake up call. The river is snowmelt, and hovers just above 3 degrees kelvin.

Usually the campgrounds I have been staying in have their fair share of Winnebagofolk and guys-out-fishing-mobiles, but not here... I later find out that in the next town over, this year's Rainbow Gathering is taking place, and I ended up catching the tail end of the Crunchy Mass Exodus into the Idaho forest.

July 4th is approaching, and I wouldn't mind hanging out with some people I know in Utah, so off to Salt Lake I go.

Utah. Wooo! Once again I'm getting back into the climate I know and love, and it is 100 degrees as I drive from Boise to Salt Lake City, passing giant swaths of blackened, char-broiled land. For a while I think the BLM folks have been doing controlled burns to keep the fire risk down, and then I pass a farm where everything - house, silo, tractor, cars, doghouses - has 3-foot scorch marks on it. No controlled burns here..

Now I am chilling in downtown SLC with my old roomate, Jesse, who lives right in ground zero SLC, about 3 blocks away from the Temple. Downtown SLC is amazingly quiet and uninhabited, as is the University of Utah, where I sneak in and do email for about 3 hours. Even though it is summer, people tell me it doesn't get too busy around here. Ever. Odd note: the U of U has its own golf course running though the center of campus. Other odd note, conveyed to me by one of the locals: the U of U isn't the big mormon campus - BYU is. U of U kids refer to BYU as 'The Y' - and BYU kids refer to the U of U as 'the university of the underworld'. I think I'd give anything to have a shirt that said 'University of the Underworld' on it :)

As luck has it, two or three other Tucsonites are now living up in SLC or very close by, so I am going to be here for a few days. Tonight's 4th of July should be interesting, and at some point I'm headed up to Park City to hunt Ellippi down and convince him to let me sleep on his floor for a few days. Other than that, I'm drinking coffee and taking long walks all over town and soaking up the vibe.

p.s. - I've now had a couple of offers from people reading the mayday site to let me crash at their houses if I ever swing through their towns. How kick ass is that? :)

Utah #2: Moab, etc. - 07.09.01
Suddenly, a week has gone by and I'm still in Utah. A day can go by so quickly that it scares me.

I just got back from a trip to Moab with my old roomate and kung-fu expert extraordinaire, Jesse, along with his wife and a couple of the SLC Tribune interns. Tiny little Moab - biking, rafting, hiking - a very Southwestern kind of town. We spent some time at the Arches Nat'l monument, and spent half a day floating down the Colorado river on inflatable kayaks, surrounded by bright red 1000-foot cliff faces. I can't wait to scan some of the pictures from this trip...

I have the immune system of a Gerbil.

True to form, I'm now sick with a very Hance-like head cold, and I woke up this morning to find that I have no voice. None. Zip. Zero. I can't manage anything above a whisper.

For those of you that know me, my immune system is a piece of shit. Were my immune system the Titanic, it would have never even made it as far as the iceberg - instead it would have caught fire halfway through construction in the shipyards and burnt itself into the ground, taking a city block and hundreds of innocent bystanders with it. Some people have negative body images, but I have negative Immune System Issues. No voice? No problem! Next week we'll get Ebola and really outdo ourselves, eh?

Tangent time: In a couple of his books, William Burroughs refers to himself as 'El Hombre Invisible' - the Invisible Man. Walking along, anywhere, he was able to put forward such a plain and uninteresting demeanor that he would blend into his surroundings, becoming invisible to those around him - (okay, its a shitty explanation, but you didn't have half a bottle of Nyquil for breakfast - read a better one here).

Over the last couple of weeks, wandering through these towns I have no connections with, I have perfected this Hombre Invisible routine. My current uniform - hat, glasses, backpack, jeans - a boring, nondescript ensemble, has turned into the Plain Whiteguy Chameleon. I can walk into any town now and look like I've been there for years, or like I'm not there at all. Now, with no voice, its almost too much to handle. Pretty soon -poof- I'll be able to disappear entirely. Woooo!

So now I'm off to drink Gatorade, eat Vitamin C's and crash on John's floor in Park City for a couple of days.

Utah #3: Park City Recovery - ~07.13.01
Suddenly, four days has gone by and I'm feeling halfway decent... many a long-distance phone call days ago ended up actually getting me some drugs, so I spent a decent amount of time sucking down pills and zonking on the couch, reading. Managed to run through five or six books in a few days...

  • Go West, Young F*cked Up Chick - sucked.
  • White Noise - muy bueno.
  • Franny and Zooey - bleeeech.
  • Desolation Angels - re-read the last two or three chapters...
  • The Illuminatus Trilogy - I'm still in the middle of this, but after 4 or 5 years knocking my brain against the Mayday Mystery I figured it was inevitable that I'd have to read this enormous bastard of a book.
  • Snow Crash - I had to reread a classic while I was on this trip. Daaaaamn good book if you're into uberhip cyberpunkish Neal Stephenson literary-fu.

    Other than sponging up books, I've been maintaining the Daily Coffee Ritual with the devotion of a Buddhist monk. I've come to consider coffee as much of a pharmaceutical these days as I am everything else I'm taking, because it seems to be the only thing that can give me my voice back when I wake up. I'm not sure if it is the high altitudes screwing with my vocal cords, or some weird side effect of being sick, but I'm pretty much without voice until the first 24 oz. of coffee. For those of you who care, the Bad Ass Coffee Co. in Park City has been good to me so far...

    Plans for now: Everybody here @ the Poetry Enclave in Park City is heading down to SLC for a bit. I'll probably stick around long enough to spend a couple more days in SLC and hike one of these enormous ski hills in Park City, hit back some of the people I have been staying with by repairing all of their broken computers - and then I'm off to Colorado with a camping stop or two in between. Woooo!

    Final thought: I give mad props to the University of Utah for having a flat out fantastic computer lab, one where I can waltz in and camp out at a fully equipped machine for 3 hours and not have anybody hassle me. Next mention: some random SLC club called 'Bricks' that we hit last night (07.14.01) for providing some much needed loud, pulsing techno in an open-air venue. Not bad!

    Utah #4 - 07.18.01 - Back On The Road
    I'm sitting here in John's apartment, wondering how long it takes to get from Park City to Denver, and not quite believing I have been here for two weeks... I'm supposed to be heading for Colorado and Illinois next, and the thought of sleeping in the car again after spending so much time on a couch has me only slightly worried.

    So I'm off for one last coffee and a look at the mouuntains, then I'm Eastbound. I have had to resist the urge to drive back down to the California beaches on several occasions now...

    Colorado ~07.20.01
    GodDAMNit it feels good to drive again. While there is a lot to be said for sleeping on a couch, there is a >= amount of joy to be had driving through the middle of nowhere with the stereo up loud, nowhere to sleep, and no plans in sight.

    Couchless night #1 was spent just outside of Breckenridge in a deserted campground next to the Blue River - another beautiful starry night. The next morning I try to see a friend-of-a-friend in nearby Vail, (or Edwards, whatever.. they all run together up there) and end up cruising around summertime Vail for an hour. During the summer, you can buy a lift ticket up the slopes and bike down a series of trails. My kingdom for a mountain bike! I'll have to steal one when I hit Ohio.

    FYI: My 4000 mile mark hit a week ago, somewhere in downtown Salt Lake, and the 5000 mark came last night (7.20.01) after an extended jaunt up to Fort Collins. The origional plan was to crash with some friends around town, and when that failed I figured, what the hell, I'd pop for a hotel. Nope - UC Boulder is in mid-Orientation, and packed with parents. Hmm, says I, I've always heard Fort Collins is nice, and its early in the evening, so why not...

    Wrong again - Campus Crusade for Christ is in town (!) and there's not a room within 50 miles that isn't packed with smiling collegiate whitebread youth and their ilk. There's a campground near Loveland, but upon arrival I find that some sort of industrial accident, act of God, or sabotage has blanketed the tri-state area with a very, ahem, pungent scent of methane, and suddenly it is time to get the hell out of here and go back to Boulder and sleep in the car. Which is exactly what I do at 3am, pulling into a shady spot nestled between cheap university housing and the Hill. In the morning, coffee is just a block away.

    More books added to the Road Canon:

  • The Big U - Neal Stephenson, but very early, very unrefined, very first-book-attempt Neal Stephenson.
  • The Scoundrel - Stephan Jaramillo's latest - damn funny 20-something guy reading...

    ~07.20.01 - 07.22.01 more denver...
    Tim comes through with my first place to stay, just outside of Denver, in Edgewater. I can't believe I know so many people that own houses and condos, but damn if I'm not glad to sleep on their couches when I roll through town :)

    I spend a lot of time in downtown Denver, LoDo to be exact, hanging out at The Market and the 16th street. Financial and other reasons keep me from hitting The Church but it is probably for the better, since I'm spending too much money as it is. Tim shows me around downtown Denver & the Rocky Mountain News, which has a surprisingly nice newsroom in that they keep the online folks right smack in the middle with the rest of the newsroom. Bitchin'.

    But now I'm off again, who knows where. I'm rapidly approaching the boring part of the country, and how I'm going to make it to Chicago without going nuts, who knows. All those flatlands out there are pretty depressing. So once again I find myself in the Boulder library, hitting the web to see if there is anything worth seeing between here and Chicago.

    Nancy still hasn't gotten any word to me so I'm pretty much ruling out staying in Boulder tonight, but ... who cares. I can understand the need not to have some random homeless wanker show up on your front door with little warning, wanting to sleep on your floor. Plus I hear she is employed now, so I won't give her a hard time. Promise.

    Off for coffee one last time, then I'm out of here.

    Nebraska / Iowa Corridor - 07.22.01 - 07.24.01


    And that is about it. I guess all the corn and soy and wheat and shit we eat has to come from somewhere, and central Iowa would be that place.

    I got sick of the interstate and started taking back roads for a while, which meant for 4 hours I was driving by corn at 55 mph instead of 75. Somewhere near Des Moines I decided it was time to crash and sleep for the night, and I found a nice big lake with campgrounds next to the water ... and a sign : "WARNING: BACTERIAL INFECTION HAZARD: Low water levels combined with unseasonably warm weather have created High Levels Of Bacteria in Lake X - swimmers report flu-like symptoms and a numbness of the lips."

    Given my penchant for ebola-like illness, I drive away, quickly, wondering what kind of evil bacteria can make your lips go numb.

    Now I'm somewhere on the Univ. of Iowa campus, which is roughly the size of Phoenix, walking around and checking things out before heading to Chicago. I need to savor this small town charm before hitting a city like Chicago...

    P.s. Given the fact that 4 of my friends are making cross-country trips of their own in the next few weeks, I either have to be in Boston, Chicago, Denver, or New Orleans on August 15th. Can't we all just meet in, say, Michigan? Detroit?

    Chicago - ~07.24.01 - 07.28.01

    Which brings us to Chicago...

    I've always been afraid of Chicago. Small-town appreciation has been branded into my head by now, my mind is wired to freak out in big cities ... three days in a town like Chicago and I suffer sensory overload. But this trip was different, possibly because I'm more attuned to the cities I visit now, possibly more because I had just driven through Nebraska & Iowa, which is pretty much like undergoing sensory depravation anyway...

    Dropping in on my brother with little warning, I ended up catching a rainy Chicago afternoon, which worked out for the better since I needed a day alone with a computer and a couple of laundry machines. Another trip to Chinatown (that's 2 Chinatowns down now... only two more to go) and a quick lap around the city nailed down enough geography for me to take off on my own the next day. I grabbed my brother's bike and headed - Chicago biker commando crackhead death-wish style - down the street until I hit the lake, and then up and down the shoreline. Navy Pier - always a good place to people watch, and seven hours later I'm suburnt and happy. Thursday night and we've got to go out, damnit, so we're out hitting bars and schmoozing with Chicago's Rock Scene, which is a hella good time. Seeing my brother in his daily element is a very cool thing, scary how we're so similar and live these oddly parallel lives, even though he's the rock star and I'm the computer dork. Four hours later and I'm beyond my limit and praise Allah - 4am - bars close. Damn! 4 am! This town would kill me in a week.

    The next day it's Gatorade and 7 more hours of highway driving, and I'm back in Ohio for a short week of car work and culture detox.

    Ohio - again ~07.28.01 - ???
    6000 miles and I have come full circle, from Tucson to Columbus, the Long Way. The Very Long Way. I need about 5 days to get my next 7000 miles in order, fix my car up, finish the #$%^ing 2.0 version of the
    mayday site up - a project which needs two or four days of serious binge programming and data entry - and take advantage of the fact that I'm home, instead of sleeping in my car. I'm also seeing what I can do about getting some of my photos up, since Kodak has that righteous CD burning option when you develop your photographs now...

    08.06.01 - Came to Ohio, slept in, started running, purged my body of many an accrued chemical. Didn't touch Mayday. Ran every day, wooo 2 miles now! Stuck around so I could see my friends bring their new baby home from the hospital. Went and chilled on High Street with my soon-to-be-a-lawyer friend Andrew. Fixed the car. Got to hang out with my cat. Read:

  • Et Tu, Babe - eeeeh - so so. Hopefully Mark Leyner won't hunt me down and kill me now...
  • The Mystified Magistrate - my first foray in De Sade. Pretty amusing.

    ...and now, onto Boston.

    Boston ~08.06.01 - 08.13.01
    8.13.01 - Boston 0wns! I haven't had the patience to sit down and document things in a while, so here we go:

    Boston: Day 1 - Mon: ... got into Boston late, got my first dose of The Boston Accent at the I-93 pay tool booth, so I knew I was at least in the general vicinity. :) Ended up getting mad lost, taking a long and winding path and happily ending up at my first Boston UberIrish Pub down the street from Troy's an hour later. Story for Monday: Troy and I chilling, he saying hello to the locals - and one asks "Hey, how'd you two end up friends? 'Cause you (Troy) look like that one scary kid from high school and you (Me) look...like ... like a frat boy, I guess." Troy laughs into his beer and I sigh. Later I crash on his couch in Jamacia Plains and melt away to sleep in a very unexpected Boston heat wave.

    Day 2 - Tuesday: My first time on the T. Sycraft and I have previously spoken re: one of those weird quirks that makes the majority of Geeks really, really dig trains. Never having been exposed to any, underground or otherwise, I'm anxious to check out the T. Five minutes into my first ride (Jackson Xing to Chinatown) I know our theory is valid, 'cause I'm all into underground T travel. Anyway, after checking out Chinatown (#3!) I pick a random direction and amazingly run into Boston Common. The Charles! Boats! Sitting on the shore and watching windsurfers skim across the water I finally realize I have hit the other end of the country, shore to shore. Feeling triumphant but lost, I head down the common and play phone tag w/ Troy so we can have lunch in Newbury. Let me send a broadcast message to all incredibly good looking 20something youth out there: If you aren't living/working in Newbury, you apparently didn't get the Memo. And there we are, me in my dirty thousand-mile clothes, shaking San Diego sand out onto the cobblestones of Boston.

    Day 3 - Weds: One quick research binge later, I hit Chinatown again, this time with a better idea where the heck I am and with a map to boot. I traverse the common for a while with my refined mental compass, and, using the Mayday Mystery as a kind of cracked-out "Let's Go: Boston!" travelguide - found the Little Building. I smack myself for missing it the first day. Not only is it right around the corner from the Chinatown T stop, but (insert conspiracy theory here) it is *right across* the street from an enormous Boston Masonic Lodge - hmmm... now the home of part of Emerson College. More later, when the photos develop.

    Night hits again, so Troy and I head out to Cambridge (and many, many small Boston area minisuburbs in between) looking for a decent mountain bike. I've been dying for a bike ever since Moab, and we've got some hardcore excursions planned, so now is the time. We find one, but the frame is too small... 24 hours ... Woooo though, because I haven't had a bike in years. A worthy way to blow my upcoming tax return. Later we hook up with a long-lost high school friend Chris P., and his girlfriend Jen, in Cambridge, and we sit on the sidewalk and have burritos and talk Boston for a while. !Que surreal! Later we get cleaned up & luckily meet long lost friend #2, poor post-mono Michelle, at The Milky Way in JP. *Everybody* lives in Boston these days.

    Day 4 - Thursday: I want to see Michelle's studio @ BU, which I do, and I am awed. Photos forthcoming. We head back to Newbury for coffee and catch up on the 3+ years we've been wandering around and not keeping touch.

    Hot damn, though, is her work cool! I need to figure out some way to appease her need for large-painting storage space and my need for a bunch of realy cool paintings once I settle down again. I would love to have some of her work hanging around me.

    Day 5 - Friday: Muxch awaited nothing day! Had coffee, did laundry, got rained on, got haircut by madly obsessed, ninja-like-scissors-weilding, obsessively quiet guy in JP. Sat and read some more of The Eight (ugh. uuuggghhhh. brain...getting...smaller...)

    Later, I am interviewed by the Arizona Daily Star re: a story on people undergoing what has been loosly termed 'the quarterlife crisis'. Friends @ the Star have been reading this site, and apparently my name came up in conjunction with 20something people who are freaking out and doing post-dot-com peace corps work and/or generally dropping out of circulation. The article is supposed to some out sometime next week. Do you hear me world? Stop working! Drive around the country! Money is evil! Coffee houses and poverty and beaches and sleeping in your car is so much better! :)

    Anyway, bike ride #1 occurs that night in Blue Hills, which leaves us dirty and sore and happy and ready for more. Now ready to get our clubin' on, we hit Karma and I proceed to get my drink and my groove on. Troy gets his mack on, as per his penchant for locating the one girl of hottie Slavic descent within a 6-block radius. Future note to self: From now on, be sure to frequent clubs with friends on good terms with the management.

    Day 6 - Saturday: Cigarette and vodka intake levels now having reached an all time high, Troy + I load up the car and head up to Salem & Manchester for some more body-purging mountain biking. And *this* is the Boston area I had pictured in my mind, with fishing trawlers and tiny Victroian houses, rolling estates and hidden beaches whose sand squeaks beneath your feet. Heading south, into Lowell, we smack oursleves for not having done our homework on Kerouac's birthplace, because we have no idea where to look, and the sun is going down. Internet, here I come.

    Day 7 - Sunday: Hardcore biking excursion #2, north again, to Dogtown. Over the last few days, the weather has gone from Sweltering Death Heat Wave to Cold N'East Drizzle, which is perfect biking weather, and now I feel a lot better in the Muscle & Lung department. Full-on, mud-caked, lost in the woods biking kung-fu ensues.

    And now, the crowning moment: Having raided the Internet for Jack's birthplace, memorial, and addresses of all *nine* places of his residence in Lowell, and we are determined to see them. First on the list is the Jack Kerouac memorial in downtown Lowell, which is mad impressive... but we're in a hurry, so...

    ... onto his gravesite we go. Of course, the place is *closed*, so after some very college-deja-vu bantering between Troy and I as to WTF-We-Gonna-Do-Now?, we hop the fence, which is, if I may say, a goddamn high one, which is goddamn annoying, and makes me generally goddamn nervous leaping over the thing as we stroll around as nonchalantly as possible, looking for Jack. We find him, get in a quick round of photos and head back to vault the fence again. Mere yards from our car the obligatory Lowell Police Department cruiser pulls into the lot ... and flips a U-turn, leaving us to pile in the car and (me) quietly thanking Jack's ghost for pulling us out of that one. The woods are, indeed, full of warrens.

    The next two hours are a hit-and-run guerilla photo excercise as we juggle our Downtown Lowell Map, a hastily compiled list of addresses, ghetto-Lowell street geography, another deluge of rain, film roll purchases, Troy's broken flash, superglue, Troy's now precariously superglued flash, dwindling sunlight and Jack's nine previous homes in the greater Lowell and Pawtucketville areas. But we did it, tag-teaming my straight, house-only color photos with Troy's black and whites of us standing out front. A scanner! A scanner! My kingdom for a scanner!

    Random notes that merit mentioning: At some point, my filling randomly decided to leap out of my tooth and the thing literally fell onto my lap. Baaah! No dental insurance! @#$%#! Also: Steve has now been booted out of his Tucson apartment and since I'm still out in the world it looks like he is going to be homeless for a while until we can see if we are:

    a) getting a house together
    b) splitting a place with somebody
    c) living in tents like modern day Bedouin

    Hmm... what else. One of my potential job prospects back in Tucson went kaput, and then the company that sprang from the company I first worked at went kaput, but I bet they at least got their last paychecks.... A. is learning how to scubadive like mad, and Reg. is almost to Salt Lake City by now, retracing my steps (sort of) on his way out to Michigan.

    And that is my final dispatch from Boston. Tomorrow, Rhode Island. Now, sleep.

    Rhode Island ~08.13.01 - 08.15.01
    What amazes me about this part of the country is that you can drive 20 minutes and be in an entirely different worldsphere - making the Boston - Rhode Island hop has been a nice adjustment. Lucky for me, Katy is shooting photos as an intern for the summer and staying in the heart of the Newport mansion district, somewhere on
    Salve's campus, so I got to crash there. Never a more beautiful place to spend a few days has been seen. Beaches, an uberquaint downtown, killer and abundant seafood, and the chance to hang out with an old friend I've madly missed for a few days has my soul ready to handle whatever happens next. Katy rules.

    ...and I feel like anything could happen next. Any lingering ideas about what to do after this trip I might have had have all been pretty much nullified at this point, so back to Drift mode for me. Who needs jobs anyway...

    If my friends here get their way, though, I'll be living in boston by September. :)

    Next up, Providence.

    Rhode Island / Boston / Cape Cod ~08.15.01 - 08.18.01
    Providence: After Newport I reluctantly hopped a few bridges towards Providence - leaving was hard - so I could see Brown and the RISD campuses. Mad cool! I wish I'd had more time to spend in the area, but a cup of coffee and a quick raid on RISD's bookstore to grab Bikram a shirt or two (he was accepted, but declined in favor of chicago) is all I could spare.

    Back to Boston: Poor post-mono Michelle was heading back to Ohio for a week so I stopped to say goodbye, hitting the pub with her crew and bumming a place to sleep on her floor. The next morning she leaves, and I wake early, since I have errands to run. If familiarity is any measure of how much time I've now spent in the Boston area, I somehow manage to bike from Boston University up to Pickeney, around the statehouse, down the commons, and through Allston and back to my car without ending up completely dead in the process - and then manage to figure out how to get back to Troy's place in JP. Blind luck, I'm telling you...

    Down to Cape Cod: Troy and I sleep in, so of course we got started towards Cape Cod far too late, and I was trying to hook up with Allyson's now-Tucson-expatriate sister for dinner so the timing was tight. The bike trail we do find is pretty pitiful, so we quit early and dinner would have been easy - were it not for me getting lost on the way (so much for that blind luck...) I finally manage to hook with Liz for 20 minutes and say hi, but soon she's off campaigning to save the world and I don't stop her. People with such focused and precise initiative are pretty incredible. She'll 0wn D.C., I bet. Hi, Liz, bye, Liz. Watch out for congressmen.

    BAMA ~08.18.01 - 08.20.01
    (I'm taking a liberty and referring to my next leg of the trip as William Gibson called the area in many of his books - BAMA, the Boston Atlanta Metropolitan Axis...)

    Down south to D.C.: Finally resolving to get on with things, I leave Boston and aim for D.C. The reasoning: If I can drive fast enough, I'm hoping to catch Mariah for coffee and maybe some hints on where to crash for the night before she leaves for Tucson. NY traffic and a series of whacked out highway driving escapades leave me far, far behind schedule, and when I call and say there's no way I'll possibly make it I have to fight the urge to meekly ask for a place to stay.. it's her last night in DC, & I don't wanna do that...my fault anyway... so southward I go. Something happens on the way down south and I'm suddenly homesick, violently struck by a sickening empty pain that I pull over and sit and chain smoke for a while, weighing the idea of just pointing west and gunning it all the way to Tucson. Eventually I realize this is an incredibly stupid thing to even be thinking and I do something I haven't done yet, which is get a hotel and crash out on a bed. I miss you, my friends.

    NC-SC-Etc. ~08.20.01 - 08.22.01
    Unknown southern town outside DC: Next morning = feeling much better, so many miles must be covered. I want to see that #$^$%^ing beach! On the way, though, the gods have some hurdles in store: 1 full-scale tsunami that floods the roads and drops visibility to about 20 feet, throwing approx 4000 lightning strikes with hella good aim, and a random car fire in the next lane to me in the gas station - all before noon. In retrospect, what bothers me is that upon seeing a car catch fire next to me, my first thought was not "Let me now drive away from here as possible in my now gassed-up and hopefully inflammible car while screaming out the window" but "How the hell did that catch on fire in this rain?" Later that night, after stopping in Holden Beach and watching the storms roll in, I drive through Myrtle Beach, hoping to find some camping. At one point in my life, (perhaps when I was very, very young) I remember people speaking about Myrtle Beach as a fairly nice place to go... if that was ever true, it is no longer, because I soon find the place full-out sucks. Hands down terrible, beating even Gary Indiana for the title of 'Ugliest Place I Have Seen, Period'. Take Las Vegas and drop it on a beach, infuse it with too many strip joints and Calabash buffets, and you have MB. Once again I head south until I'm far away. I now take comfort in knowing that every mile I drive gets me back towards Tucson...

    Unknown campground south of Myrtle Beach: I go back to sleeping in the car again, and it isn't half bad, even with the bike in the way. At night I am surrounded by green (tree?) frogs, millions of them, and they make the most interesting night music in the world.

    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 while reading Master 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 skyline-fu'.

    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 highly. $70 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 inside.

    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 bonus.

    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 out.

    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 that? Ouch.

    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 more.

    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 drink.

    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.

    After that, I spend a few days killing time, calling people, getting ahold of my new roomate and enjoy being home. No more hotels! No more homelessness! No more waking up and digging out the map, picking a point, and going. I've rediscovered my 'home' feeling, which I can hardly describe. For those of you that live in Tucson, if you've ever walked by an adobe building after the sun has gone down and felt the suble way it radiates heat out to you, that is what I feel from Tucson as I drive the streets now, go to my cafes, see my friends, stay up late. I know I'm back. Tucson radiates.

    So... now what?
    Now I am living in Tucson, splitting a house with my friend Steve and trying to get my life back in order. I have some immediate contract work lined up and am investigating some other, more full-time options, but I'm moving slowly and trying to reintegrate myself at my own pace. I'm not worried about work, but talk to me again when my Visa bill gets here.

    My trip took its toll on some of my relationships: hurting some, strengthening others, creating entirely new ones, altering the parameters of some that were already there. This was an unavoidable side effect, but I am home nonetheless, and I love my friends, regardless of where we stand.

    If there was one lasting effect of this whole experience, it is the sense of being On The Road that I still have inside of me. Yes, I am home, but I see things in a new light. I meet people and absorb all that I encounter as if I were still in motion, as if I just rolled into town for the first time and everything is new to me. As if, once again, I could climb in the car and be gone tomorrow. But I'm not going to do that. Not for a long time, anyway. :)


    Days On The Road: ~127 (roughly May 1 - Sept 4)
    Miles driven: 14,814, clocked from start to finish.
    Estimated cost: This is not a number I wish to calculate, thanks.
    Flat tires: 0
    Speeding tickets: 0
    Hotel stays: 5
    Friends seen: ~35 to 40.
    States, in order: Arizona, California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Ilinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, Maryland, DC, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, back to Arizona.
    Mad props: Jimmy, Kim, Rieko, Sean and Ryan & your whole family, The Park City crew: John - Bryan - Dan, Jesse & Francis, Bobby + Cord + roomates, Tim, Cory, Bryan & Karen & the newly arrived Kaeleigh, Andrew, Troy, Michelle, Chris, Katy G., Liz, Mariah, Keith + Kit, Julie & fiance, Chris aka Silk, Lenay, Repubgirl, Sycraft, Bikram.