roadtrip rants! (ii)

CA-111 North:

leaving palm springs now, leaving the desert. it's amazing, you can actually get very used to this sorta temperature. it's like a hundred degrees or more every single day, but... it doesn't feel that bad. i think it's cuz it's so dry here. i mean obviously it's still nicer to be at home, like indoors. but the thing is when you're outside and you're not doing anything -- if you run around you're gonna get heat exhaustion -- but if you don't run around, if you just sit there, it's almost kinda enveloping, the heat. so, you almost... i got used to it. i liked it. i think i'm even gonna miss this sort of heat, sitting out there. it's very much a decadent sorta heat, where you can just ... sit, and soak it in.

heading north again, back to the grind and the shit and all that. work. it was very relaxing, these few days. i was always running around, but it was mentally relaxing. all i did was chill. so it was good.

probably oughta a coupla words about the desert. it's this incredible... this bleak land. i mean, you have green, but it's obviously fake, and everything else is just sunscorched tan, kinda like khaki, and everything's that color, the mountains are that color. there's actually a lotta mountains here. i take that back, not all the mtns are that color. when the mtns are in shadow, they're very dark, black. when they're in the sun they're kinda (hic) dust-color. and the (hic) hills (hic) are kinda tan (hic) ugh, i'm hiccuping. so yeah, the ones close to us are kinda this lighter tan, the ones back farther are darker tan, and the ones in shadow are black. the mtns are actually surprising high. we're kinda in this basin surrounded by mtns. very high wind off to my left here as i'm going north.

jagged mtns, kinda rocky looking. no plant on them. very barren and scorched, flat under the sky. which is actually dusty. it's not a clear blue sky, very dusty -- my car is full of sand.

what else can i say about this land? it's HOT. something you can't ever forget. every minute you're

outside you're conscious, constantly aware of the heat that just envelopes you. it doesn't feel a hundred the way it feels a hundred out on the coast where it's hot and humid, but it's definitely still there, like this weight on you. if you don't move, if you just stay still, it's actually very comforting if you just let it surround you. it makes you very tired, sucks all the energy out of you. so you just lay there. i suppose if you kept laying there you'd eventually die (laughs) -- so i'm gonna get outta here before that happens to me.

definitely a desert here. mile upon mile of open desert land. i wish i had a camera. turn around and take some pictures. instead of a camera i got this little recorder, which is much cheaper.

102 degrees -- ridiculous, isn't it? 102 degrees outside (laughs) i take a shower that hot.

the thing about the desert, everything's bleached. sunbleached, windblasted, sandblasted, faded. even new things start to look old after a few months. freeway signs barely have any color left to them. people are the same. i mean you get tanned, but your hair gets bleached, eyes get bleached.

if i take my sunglasses off, this place is just white light under a blue sky. dazzling white light. i think it's some aspect of having no humidity in the air. and you can see these scars on the mtns, these roads, paler lines on pale. and just... desert, everywhere.

wish i was riding a train.

these mtns ring you all around. 1000 ft high? tallest peak, closest to us, i'd get 2-3000 ft. but there's one little pass in the west where the highways are coming through. at night when the sun sets it's absolutely beautiful because you'd have these colors, these mtns, and they'd be layered in shades of purple and grey and blue. the sky behind will be just a fire, one of those so-cal sunsets that you really don't get in the north. i miss them a lot, those sunsets. i remember everytime i come back to so-cal, it'd look like... i'd always think it was some spectacular sunset that night, but it's not. that's just how it is. the southern sunsets are redder than the north. and you forget that, because you start thinking the ones up north are beautiful, but they're nothing like the ones down south.

the mtns, the shape of them are very ridged and defined. rumpled, kinda wrinkling up out of the earth. the hills are sorta rounded, but the shadowy mtns are definitely ridged. that's something i should try to remember too.


I-10 West:

Aw shit, freeway looks crowded.

Took my sunglasses off and you can't even keep your eyes open. if it's not the sun it's the wind if it's not wind it's the sand in the air. i can feel sand between my teeth, and i don't even know what from. all the windmills are going today, the windmills in the pass between the mtns. the big mtns on the left, the big ones on the right, this gateway to this desert land. through it, far away, the ocean. is it my imagination, or is the color of the sky different there? probably imagination, i'm too far away from the ocean to see it.

mtns on either side road in the middle flanked by all these windmills moving, not all in the same direction but all swinging with the same leisurely movement, and the freeway in the middle, cruising through. cars, the meandering freeway -- it's like a river.

right by those big mtns now, rearing up way high into the sky, and the rivulets where the rain -- i guess it does rain in the desert -- the rain in the desert has carved into the flesh of the mtn, laid it bare to the chalk bones beneath. curtained ridges at the bottom, folding up. always reminds me of some giant, the knees of it bending up its clothes.

climbing through the pass now. pretty low pass. coupla clouds in the sky, but mostly a sheathe of white, blue behind it.

here's a sight to remember. you come through the pass, and what you see -- you expect to see the ocean behind it. you do see something flat almost like the ocean, but it's not, it's the desert. and i think millions of years ago this was probably the ocean, 'cause that's what it looks like, and you can imagine these mtns on either side as islands. just this flatness, flat lands stretched between. road through it straight as an arrow. the bushes almost like ... i dunno, almost like patterns in the cloth. optical illusion makes it looks like they're strung out in lines, and you have more of those windmills turning.

distance here is deceptive. it's probably much farther than it looks.

you can see the pale veins in the mtns really are the rocks beneath. 93 miles to los angeles.

well, first traffic jam of the day, 3 o'clock, barely what, 20 miles outta palm springs? i think it's all these fucking people coming in from fucking, you know, whatever. brush fire off to my left here. 87 miles to los angeles. i'm pretty sure that's why we're stopped here, fucking tourists gawking at a fucking fire.

if it's like this all the way to LA, kill me.

okay this ROYALLY. FUCKING. SUCKS. i'm stuck in a FUCKING traffic jam on the I-10, far as i can see it's moving at this rate. this is the only way out of the desert. pretty sure we're in a jam right now because some FUCKER decided to look at a FUCKING fire outside. what the fuck, never seen a fire burn? i'll light your ass on fire (laughing).

well, out of the traffic jam suddenly. no reason to begin, no reason to end.

out of the desert now, brushland area: riverside, east of LA. 80 miles to LA central, maybe 75? through mesas and canyonland, very southern california.

huge interchange right here where the 10 goes under 1,2,3,4 levels of different freeway overpasses -- junction at 215.

you know you're going to LA when the sky gets overcast and yellow. LA: it's alll about the smog.

i really don't understand why american men are all fat, ugly, and have goatees these days. and they drive HUGE suvs. every huge SUV you see is gonna have an ugly fat american male in it. it's ridiculous. it's a fucking plague of them!


I-15 north:

leaving the 10 now, going north on the 15 to join 210 in a little bit. um... i could be going to SD here too because 15 south leads you right there. another overpass here, 4 levels.

i can see in the near distance, not even the far distance, the shape of the san bernadino mtns in the north. this is actually really familiar to me because when we went skiing when i was little, this is about where we'd turn off and head into the mtns. big bear up ahead, very tall. a shape in the mist right now -- well, not really mist. smog. LA smog.


I-210 west:

leaving the 15, leaving southern california, heading north. 210 now, circling the base of the mtns.

ha -- passed this red truck with a MOUTH on the grill, big teeth and a tongue.

circling the san bernadino mtns. they're very beautiful in this... (laughs) smoggy air, because you can see them in layers and layers, the closer ones in greater definition, the shape of their stones. in the back they're outlines, really, smoky against the sky. and in the far distance, you can baaarely see it against the sky. layer upon layer of mtns, and i'll be going through them in about... 30 minutes -- fuck this guy's almost coming over here!

i was talking about mtns there, waxing poetic, and this fucking bitch of a van almost came over in my lane and ran me over. so i beeped 'em.

high voltage wires stretching north to south -- i always wonder if these are the same ones i see later in the central valley.

such a sight to see: the mountains tumbling towards the sea.

weird, during the day you feel no kinship whatsoever to these other cars. you just sorta hate them. this one's too slow, that one's too fast... that one's riding your ass, this one's got a black tinted window so you can't see anything through it. that one's got an ugly american dude inside, this one's got an ugly hispanic dude inside, yaddayaddayadda on and on and on, you hate 'em all. and then night falls and all you see are the taillights, and suddenly they're all the same as you.

heading north now, at last -- i can see the opening, the break in the mtns where the 5 goes through.

fucker behind me. see if i can get him stuck behind me somehow. heh.

i had something of a crush on sarah mclachlan. largely on the tone of her voice, but she is a lovely woman. you don't realize at first, but she is. but yeah, her voice is so sensual. the way she sounds so wanton when her voice kinda... slip-slides and shears apart like that. when she goes into a higher register and deliberately lets it just... slip a little? like a hint that, although she's a respected, i dunno -- i think it's cuz she's very respected and intelligent, obviously, her ability to let it go a little bit like that is slightly seductive. it's almost like -- it's sorta like you think if she lets that go, what else would she do? like she lets down her hair a little bit, just enough for you to wonder.

something awesome and amazing about the freeway just belting through the mountains, curving through it, nothing but barren mtns and bushes on either side, and then 8 lanes of freeway and shoulders and everything just right through the middle. now i can see ahead of me layer upon layer of other mtns.

365 outta san francisco.

finally, golden state fwy. 5. 2 1/4 miles. i like that name, golden state fwy. i know it goes all the way up north, all the way to canada and back, but I-5's really one of those freeways i think of as a californian highway.


I-5 North:

time is 4:59, sunday. and i'm once again on I-5 as of right now.

i just cut off this mitsubishi racer type. he's like sitting on my ass, kinda funny.

southbound 5 is MAJORLY stuffed up right here. INSANE traffic on the other side coming south.

so the guy that i cut off came back and cut me off. we kinda slid around for a while, and... then i think he went out of sight.

346 miles to sacramento.

mtns by day are golden brown, very parched and dry -- not quite the golden of nor-cal, more brown. so now we're in the middle of the mtns now, mtns all around, and there's this sense of height even though you can't see the ocean for reference. you can kinda sense it ... kinda in the color of the sky and the shape of the mtns, how they look like high-altitude mtns but they don't rear that high above you.

i remember this one time, coming down from san francisco in the winter. took the train, but the train actually stops at bakersfield and then you take a bus through the grapevine, and another train from LA to SD. i remember, i went through, taking this road in a bus. and strangely enough, that winter it was snowing -- oh look, it's a lake -- anyway, these mtns were just COVERED in snow, and these mtns were like, what, 2000 ft up? the snowline was incredibly low.

feel sorry for these southbound drivers. they have no idea what they're about to run into -- a HUGE traffic jam.

[oh, the irony.]

48 miles to bakersfield, 323 to sacramento.

even though we're 3000 ft in the air, it almost looks like a desert around there. i can see the pass, the opening where the mtns fall into the valley. and after that, the long long drive all the way up to the bay. you have the right side tumbling in first, and then the left -- and beyond that, just sky.

4144 ft, Tejon Pass.

it's beautiful -- golden mtns, and then in the middle you have this little pasture, this little meadow, full of cows.

309 to SF, 308 to sacramento, 38 to bakersfield.

ok, that was a false alarm. this is the true entrance to the valley. 5 miles on a 6% downgrade, here we go. shift into neutral and let 'er ride.

these hills look almost like a pelt, fuzzy almost in the difference between the highlights and the shadows.

wtf is the hurry? there's all these little sport sedans with little fucking yuppies that never had a day of fun in their lives ZOOMING past at 90mph. who the fuck cares, man? you're skimming what, half an hour off your trip? chill the fuck out.

here we go, my first glimpse of the central valley. the opening of the mtns and nothing but flatness ahead. incredible. the golden mtns falling away to both sides, and this basin in the middle, this endless valley. and I-5, straight as an arrow through it. you can see the fields, layer upon layer out to the horizon.

there's always a feeling of freedom when you come through the mtns and you see nothing but valley. amber waves of fuckin' grain, baby, nothing but the yellow of ripe grain. out on the horizon where it fades into indistinction it almost looks like an ocean out there.

just amazing, this flatness -- far as the eye can see. the mtns to the right falling away to nothing, past visibility. and in front of you, and eventually to all sides of you save one, nothing but flatness and farms.

we just split off from the 99 and we're going into the central valley now. 99 actually goes deeper into it, kinda into the heartland of california-- oh shit. (laughs) sudden stop. hope this isn't a fucking traffic jam.

oh, please don't have a traffic jam in the middle of the fucking, central, valley. insanely crowded on the 5. think i'm gonna take an hour's break or so at starbucks. hopefully by then this traffic will have cleared a bit.

this place is dazzling, just dazing.

300 miles of this open space, and that's just half of it. a person walks, what, 3mph? 100 hrs to walk it. if you walk 12 hrs a day, that's what... almost 9 days to walk from LA's side to SF, through the valley.

286 miles to san francisco.

here's the one first hill in the central valley. i always remember this one, mainly b/c it has no purpose whatsoever. i think maybe it's just letting some water under or something.

i remember when i was riding my dad's car i'd always look behind and wait for the moment i couldn't see the san bernadino mtns anymore.

someday i wanna take a roadtrip to the middle of america where there's absolutely nothing but flatness.

7:48 and i'm leaving buttonwillow after an hour and a half pitstop. stopped for some coffee, and apple fritter that's got me kinda sick from sweetness, and finally surfed the internet.

road's looking a lot better, not nearly so crowded. [this is called the eye of the storm.] sun's starting to set into the west, and 250 miles left to go, 3-4 hrs left to drive, if i'm lucky and it stays pretty empty all the way up.

over to the east i can see some thunderheads over the plains.

still pretty warm out there, easily 90 degrees.

this wide open road, this is what a roadtrip's all about.

here's the wires that followed me over the mtns, crossing over the freeway. northeast for them, northwest for me. sun's setting in my eyes.

can't explain why it feels so good, but it does. no cars in front of me or behind for at least half a mile. i'm just cruising along at 80mph. it's like freedom, you know? right now all that matters right now is me, the road, the distance, the sky.

247 miles to san francisco.

as the sun sets into the west you start to get that nice ruddy glow again, that ring of purple around the horizon, blue above, purple shadows of mtns in the west. jet streaking overhead and you see the flare coming off their tails. thunderheads in the east lit up in all those colors, the little thunderheads in the front and the big anvilheads in the back.

8:09 and the sun's about to set over the mtns.

so the san bernadino mtn range is completely out of sight now.

racing the sun in a way -- the sun's setting behind this mtn range, but if i go fast enough i'll beat it to the horizon.

here's a little truth about driving on the highway. if you drive behind a car, it's much easier going. if you're in the lead, you have to break a lot of headwind.

clouds all around lit up in different colors. shadows are the same color as the sky. the entire trip is all about this part of the drive, the central valley at dusk. sights and sounds, images and memories.

207 miles to san francisco, 8:30pm.

i think i just caught up with the vacation-goers again. once again stuck behind a long line of cars.

8:40, 805 miles total, of which 300 were ran today. i'm taking a break because the I-5 is again crowded, and i'm letting it pass. down by the place where 198 comes over. last time it took me four hours to get from here to stanford -- hopefully this time it'll take me less.

full dark now, 196 miles to san francisco, 9 o'clock sharp. and the fucking freeway is so crowded... oh well.

right here is where i came in last time -- 198, coalinga.

this song here, silence, is another one that has lots of meaning for me. it definitely does remind me of -- (laughing, wry) decker and imogen, since this was the song that was playing when that fabulous c'mere scene happened. it seems really appropriate, given the lyrics. when my rage subsides, something, silence, all that, yeah.

ugh, smells like cow around here. kinda pissing me off how busy this road is this weekend. one of these days i'll do a speedrun of the central valley, no pitstops, one end to the other.

stupid fucker had an accident, and stupider fuckers slow down to look.

like 70 fucking miles an hour on I-5, central valley. that's how crowded this fucking shit is, and you look ahead, like a string of red ahead. goddammit, fucking, gah! can't they go any faster? what the hell is wrong with them!?

now we're going 55.

now we're not moving at all!

passing a real beauty of a truck here, all those lights, all that chrome, mirrors.

tourists are such fucking idiots. go up a hill and they all start braking, and then everyone stops dead. for no particular reason things will just slow down. mainly cuz tourists overreact at every tiny little bump in the road because they have kids in the back, and they feel like they don't wanna kill their kids -- FUCKER!!! [shouting at some slowass minivan i was passing] -- so then, they brake, randomly.

167 from San Francisco.

fucking tourists brake over everything! it's like a fucking chain reaction! you see one light up, the one behind it lights up, and on and on and pretty soon they're stopped fucking dead!

car parked by the side of the road with its blinkers flashing and everyone brakes for it. FUCK! the hell is wrong with them?

they just decided to stop in the middle of the fucking freeway again!

holy shit, huge crash on the other side -- like, fucking scorched, fire everywhere. i wonder what happened. no wonder we're slowing down, everyone's staring at the carnage. 'course i'm staring too, i have to admit it. holy shit.

car in front of me is an idiot, he keeps stepping on the brakes for no fuckin reason.

car in front of me, kinda two cars ahead, is trying to pass all these fucking trucks? but instead of passing at 80mph, he's going at 70, so he's taking fucking FOREVER. why don't you get out of the way so i can go ahead?

43 miles to the 152 junction, 156 to SF.

34 miles to the junction, 146 to SF, and this piece of shit car in front of me braking for no reason.

every other mile there's like a family pulled over being towed or whatever 'cause they're too fucking stupid to drive on the I-5.

137 miles to SF.

10:13 and i'm on the road again... took another little rest-stop at the rest-stop just before 152, and pretty soon i'll be off the 5 onto 152, and hopefully 2-3 hrs after that before i get home.

another big clot of cars passed and i'm kinda in the relaxed area afterwards. hopefully this'll last a while. kinda not racing like crazy this time, going 75mph, and hopefully it'll stay open.

vista point right now. but every time i'm here, it's dark. so i've never seen what's over there, because you can only get to it from the northbound side, and every single time i get here it's night. one of these days, i will come here by day and see what it's all about.

126 miles to SF.

a little bit of peace. i'm up in the hills already, still on the I-5, and i can see the stars overhead. 10:30pm.

about ready to leave the I-5 now, for 152. spent, what, a total of... when did i get on this road? 5pm? spent a total of 5.5 hrs on this road. you have to take out the 2 hrs of so i spent taking pitstops. about 3.5 hrs on this road, which is about right. so now i'm getting off, 152 to the west, and then 101, and home.


CA-152 West:

it's actually pretty empty tonight. that's nice. a lot freer breathing.

love this song: solid sessions' janeiro. friend of mine gave it to me. kinda reminded her of this scene i just played -- night driving, drove out to the countryside, made love in the front seat. and there was a sense of distance to the scene, which i suppose is what this song reflects. by day this place i'm driving through is beautiful. at night you can't see much, just shadows of mtns, stars. still beautiful, though. sorta desolate. this is a good drive.

stars overhead are very, very bright. oh, this is a great drive. 2 on 2 highway. here it's pretty empty. i really wanna stop somewhere and look at the stars. they're brilliant. i can see orion, shooting his bow. and there's so many other stars out there, because there's no light around for miles and miles. this is pure driving pleasure.

top of this thing now, coastal range. going down now. scenic route, but all i can see are the stars overhead -- but that's worth a look anyway.

everyone's going like 90mph, buncha mad dogs in these mtns.

2 lane highway through the garlic fields (laughs).

now i see in front of me the valley between the coastal range and the diablo range. 2-lane highway through farmlands and lots of trees, a very bay-area type of farm. not the sprawling plains of the central valley, but a more cloistered farmland.

shit, almost back to civilization! 101 just ahead!


101 North:

11:07, i'm on the 101 north. pretty familiar turf to me. i think i'll set it at 85mph and just let it ride. friday was, how many days ago? 4 days ago? came down this very road. feels like no time passed at all, feels like i never went anywhere. feels like this is just one of those vent-drives i have when i drive down to salinas or wherever i might go, and just come back again. but in the middle i've been down to the desert, been down to through valley. been to a place where it's a hundred degrees during the day. 60 degrees here, right now, at night. very different. hard to swallow, the idea that i've been so far from home and come all the way back again. this is the final stretch. i'm almost there. i'm very fucking tired. i don't know if i'll do this again -- oh, hell, of course i will.

i'm in san jose city limits, 11:17. usually, on my vent-drives, this is where i go, aw man, because this is where i turn back. this is probably the first time i've come up this road and went hell yeah, finally.

now i can see the glow of the bay area, lighting up the sky. after the whole evening running in darkness, it's a welcome sight.

sooner or later you make the realization that every mile you take is one closer to home, whether you're heading forward or back.

101 north, San Francisco: something about that sign is beautiful.

52 miles to SF.

unbelievable, i just opened the window and it's cold outside.

full circle: i've gone all the way through my mp3s and started again. think i'm not gonna complain about SF being hot for a LONG time. nothing can be hotter than palm springs.

11:39. i wanna make it home before midnight.

11:43, and i'm getting off the freeway. goodbye, 101. going home to san fran.

everything looks very familiar. almost there.

[listening to frou frou, shh] this song reminds me of getting 198 getting on the 5, trying to figure out wtf they're saying. stopping at a rest station to eat a bit, keep listening after, still don't get it. don't ask me about it. is it about sex? i think everything's about sex.

going home: the only thing on my mind now. going home.

now, i'm about to get off the main road. so it looks like... this trip takes me 1.5 tanks of gas each way. start out full, refuel at buttonwillow when i'm at 1/4 tank left. by the time i get to palm springs i'm at 1/4 tank again. coming back up, refuel at palm springs, again at buttonwillow.

all right, turning onto [my street]! everything looks the way i left it. okay, lemme park.

amazingly, my favorite parking spot is actually open, so that's very nice.

i am home! 11:49. i have driven a grand total of 974.5 miles. song right now is frou frou, shh. so now i'm just gonna close things up, go home. so here's me, signing off until the next long roadtrip, whenever that might be.

roadtrip rants! (i)

So, I took a roadtrip over July 4th weekend down to Palm Springs (again) to visit my friends from high school and whatnot. Since I was making the trip alone (decided to leave Bri at home because I thought it'd be kinda a bachelor thing -- though then the other three guys with gfs brought their wimminfolk -- GRR!), I was bored outta my mind and bought a little tape recorder to babble into on my way down.

The following is a transcript of the more interesting parts of my rants. Actually, I only cut out like 20% of it at most, so the majority of the rants are here.

This is the southbound stuff. I'll transcribe and post up the northbound tomorrow or something.


On State Route 152 East, stuck in traffic:

"okay, so the car in front of me is impossibly slow. i mean, even in a traffic jam you shouldn't be this fucking slow."

"overall, this hasn't been the most successful trip so far."


Why i'm doing this:

"i'm driving south, and it's a 10 hr drive, and i'm gonna be bored outta my mind. so once i heard there was gonna be a traffic jam, i was like okay, i gotta do something, keep myself occupied. so, heh, this is the idea -- i'm gonna, make a recording. y'know, just kinda talk. because, a lot of times when i drive i get these thoughts that i wanna write down, but obviously i can't."


Still on 152 East:

"Hey, it's finally moving, good. It's really pretty land here. It's like... green, fields. Kinda this little minivalley between the central valley and the sea. And you have, those golden mountains of california, those famous mountains of gold, with the grass. So there's all these plants growing everywhere. It's green on the ground, gold on the mountains, blue in the sky. Thing is, in the spring, it's just unbelievably beautiful. (Uh oh, we're slowing down again.) In the spring, all the mountains are just green like you wouldn't believe.

"The thing about green is that it tends to be really early in the year. And around then it's still raining. It's just unbelievably beautiful. You could not believe how beautiful the green can be under the grey sky. (Holy shit, it's totally jammed up. I wonder what's going on?)"


Damon's road rage: "Man, the car in front of me is pissing me off. Go a little faster, huh, you fucking chain-smoking bastard. Fuck."


STILL on 152 East:

"So this girl ahead of me just flicked her cigarette out the window and it totally reminded me of, um, Imogen Slaughter. Wow, that's the first time I've ever said it aloud. It's always in my head. Oh man, how long am I gonna be stuck here? I'm gonna turn on my computer and see if I can get reception."

"Fuck this! Okay, we're gonna take the 101 down (laugh) and then go back on the 5 sometime later. Fuck this, man, it's not even fucking moving! Fuck this, people, fuck the road!"


On US-101 South:

"Okay, so after wasting 20 minutes not even moving I'm going to go down to the 198 and go from there."

"The hidden track at the end of, end of Behind Blue Eyes always reminds me of, again, Imogen. Fuckin' obsessed or something. But you know, it's a cool character. I wish I'd thought it up. Okay maybe not. Have too much fun playing with it. With her. Playing with her. ROLEPLAYING with her."

"Well, this isn't exactly how I expected my road trip to be. One fucking traffic jam after another."

"So, going down the 101 instead. Land of... y'know. Farms in the middle, mountains with the green oak trees. Kinda windy. 25. highway 25 to Hollister. Wonder if that'll take me over to the 5? But, I don't think so. Probably some tiny-ass little road. Even if it did, I'll probably be stuck on it til like midnight. Maybe I'll get a motel out in the middle of nowhere tonight, we'll see. Well, I wanted to drive, I'm driving."

"27 miles to Salina, 154 to San Luis Obispo, 354 to Los Angeles. 6 hours to Los Angeles, if I stay 60 mph. Which I won't."

"i've been down this road before. just drove and drove. eventually I ended up in the middle of nowhere and it was so dark. pulled off the road, turned off the lights and sat there and. i wanted to watch the highway move in the dark. the pinpricks of light that are the headlights streaking across like electrical impulses down a nerve. but as it turned off, as i turned the lights off i felt this overpowering sense of ...aloneness? and it was almost fear, fear of being alone in the dark, primal fear from the time when we were all apes and darkness was a dangerous time."

"here comes Y road. why would you name it y? oh. why would you name it y, that's why."

"the hills kinda close in here, golden. they always remind me of a lion's pelt."

"maybe this isn't such a bad experience. it'll take longer, but i'll get there. i'm takine 198 and i'll get there."

"now we're on this part of the 101, passing through eucalyptus trees. the first time i was here, it was night, and the moon was shining down, and it was just ... ghostly, these trees standing straight, very straight."

"by the way, i fucking hate commuters."

"huge black hawk just went overhead and almost made me crash!"

"guy behind me is tailgating me. i'm sorely tempted to just stick my hand out the window and flip him off. fucking commuters. i can see him in the rearview mirror, him and his scowl and his i'm so cool goatee. yeah, you know what, guy? you're not cool. you're a fucking idiot."

"it's been a long time since i've seen the sea."

"you have the road, and you have the trees that are so tall on both sides. the clouds overhead are kinda these undefined, foggy-ish clouds overhead. marine layer coming in."

"i wonder if you can even hear me mumbling?"

"cloudy day over the pacific. i miss the pacific suddenly. i wouldn't say i grew up near the ocean, but somehow it seems like i've never been that far from the ocean. it's always been within reach, within sight somehow, gleaming in the afternoon. i'm only maybe 20 miles away but it seems so much farther behind a mountain."

"i can't see the ocean. i'm so close and i can't see it. everything here's kinda grey, but that luminous grey when the sun's close but not quite shining. the mountains are ghosts."

"somehow talking isn't quite the same as thinking what i wanna talk about. i always think of things i want to talk about, or write down when i get home, but i never do. i think it's something about the movement, the scenery, and the music in the background -- it affects you."

"there's some sense of disappointment when we get to salinas, which sounds like such a pretty name, you think of farms and ocean so close -- i can smell the sea in the air. but you get there and what you see is fucking auto dealers."

"i love singing along to this song. (sings along to in your house)"

"i have this intense longing for the central valley. does that sound weird? the central valley isn't something you'd think you'd long for. it's so long and dry, like this chunk of heartland transplanted into california. but... because i was shut away from it for so long -- i can't see it, i can see the mountains dividing me from it."

"i can see this little clump of clouds that looks like those desert clouds. those very defined, piled-high, textured clouds.

"i remember in san diego, in june, you'd see over the mtns, right there over the desert, you'd see these clouds ready to roll in."

"the clouds to the south are getting a lot bigger now."

"funny, at night you couldn't see the mountains, you couldn't see them at all. it looked like i could drive forever."

"that cloud is definitely growing. awesome. it grew up from a little baby cloud."

"i just wanna say i fucking HATE american SUVs. they all have those fucking dark windows in the back. i'm trying to get ahead of this long line of cars, literally just hopping them one by one. it's agonizing."

"i'm finally at the head of the line. no more cars in front of me. sweet. it's a good feeling."

"holy shit, like 60 harleys just went by."

"i wonder what it's like to be a trucker? you probably don't get a lot of action driving 20 hrs a day. but even so, there's something a little glamourous about it, isn't there? i used to wonder what it'd be like to just drive all the time. do that for a living."

"there's so many hotspots on the I-5. interesting thought is that, if i'd been an english major, if i'd gone to an english PhD program (of course i'd have no future whatsoever) -- but, at the same time, you know, i could just... i could just move around. and in that case, i could just, literally, go on the road, me and my laptop, and just drive. course someone will have to pay for the gas but that's what the stipend is for right? do they get stipends? if they do, that's the way to do it."

"i'm playing that one by one hop game again."

"it's starting to look a little bit like southern california. bushes everywhere. in norcal you have the long grass, and the oak trees. in socal you have a lotta eucalyptus, you have a lotta grasses, and you have a lotta bushes. the farther south you go, the more bushes you have."

" 'she serves him mashed potatoes, and she serves him peppered steak. with corn. she pulls her dress over her head and lets it fall to the floor.' i find that so strangely sexy. i think it's that ... you can see the image they paint out for you. whup, there's my exit. goodbye 101, i'll see you in a coupla days."


On 198 East:

"oh my god, i gotta say, this place is beautiful. holy shit, next services 53 miles. it's just this winding 2 lane highway over these golden fields. a hawk flying there. pay attention to my driving now...


golden mountains, blue skies, white clouds, black road. colors, can you imagine it? and off the side of the road, here and there, right here there's a tiny little patch of fruit trees. beautiful.

dusting of white on the mountains too. chalk maybe? like the sort of mountains you see the windmills across. but this a road right through them. you know, i'm kinda glad there was a huge traffic jam on 152, otherwise i woulda never come here, ever."

"how can i put into words, these sights, these mountains? rounded against the sky, which is... not quite perfectly blue. i think the last time i saw something remotely like this, this sort of desolate emptiness -- i mean there are no other people on this road, just me and the two cars in front of me, nothing behind me, either. there's just nothing here. it's almost no sign of civilization, but not quite. you see fences, and telephone poles, and electricity poles, but just no houses. just land, rolling hills. well, there's a barn over there. and these mountains. they're rounded, and old looking, and the sky above... i'm saying the same things over and over again, but the thing is, when i'm speaking it, it's the same, always the same, but when i'm seeing it, it the changing surroundings.

"sky mountain road. blue-white, yellow-white, black-yellow-white."

"desolate road. unbelievable, it's just so beautiful. up ahead the sky cleared up a little. the color's just amazing when i look around. gonna drop the windows a bit."


"ah, human civilization. one truck offroad raising clouds of dust behind it. farmer sitting inside, arm out the window."

"you know, i think these places might be abandoned. that might be why it's so silent here. just mile upon mile of land, and corrugated steel structures standing there, slightly rusted from time, or neglect, disuse. this is prime writing material."

"amazing, this is something i need to talk about when i get home. how... everything came together for me to come through this land -- OH YUCK, a bug just smacked into my window, like CRACK -- hey, a roof that caved in on a barn."

"waaa, truck on the other side! (was trying to pass)"

"can't remember if i've ever been a place like this. literally deserted two-lane highway through farmlands. cows. barely any human civilization. me and three other cars. i don't think i've ever been in a place like this."

"no turnoffs! none! how do you get to these farms? no wonder now one comes here."

"top of the hill, going down this winding road, and there's this panorama of golden mountains. and the fucker behind me just passed me on the double-yellow line, fucking bitch."

"here you can see nothing but sky. of course, i had a nightmare where i could see nothing but sky, and then i fucking fell off the roof. gotta be careful."

"fuck, this jet just screamed by! like right by! i'm really high up, actually. i took a look, really really high up."

"i am off the mountain, kinda in the central valley-thingie. road just got straight and long. two lane highway. farms w/ trees on both sides. me, driving. i have this urge to drive in the middle of the road."

"so i just passed this sign saying priest valley station. grill, bar, dance hall. sounds like something out of a western. just passed it. big red barn."

"i estimate the temperature at about 80 right now outside..." (actually it was more like ...90)

"estimate temperature at about 85."

"hot wind that blows here. hills here, road between, valley to the side. pine trees, actually. there's generally a mixed character to this land. oak trees. feels a little bit like northern california, a little bit like southern, a little bit like mountain, a little bit like desert, a little bit like central valley, not much like coast."

"i wish i could fly."

"estimate temperature at about 90." (more like 100)

"like a roller coaster here, up and down and curving all around. road surface is very smooth, that nice dark asphalt. curving, not much, you can stay 50-60 mph. and it bumps up and down."

"crossing the diablo range. all these mountains rearing up around me, not quite the same rounded ones but these... folded now. there's all these places where landslides have happened, and you can see the scars where the plants and the topsoil have fallen away to reveal the gaunt skeleton of the mountain."

"just caught my first glimpse of the central valley of california. unmistakeable. it's the end of the mtns. the opening, the pass. this two lane highway's almost about to meet the I-5. i'm excited about it. i just went over a hill, and i can see it now, and it's flatness, just flatness as far as the eye can see."

"civilization! cars, trucks. houses, stores. gonna make a stop before i get on the I-5. i am in coalinga, that's the name of the city. i'm in a suburbs. after the desolation, suburbs seem like massive civilization. it's amazing how big little towns seem when you don't know where the hell you are, for one. where am i?"

"i-5 junction, i found it."

"making a pit stop in coalinga's mcdonald's. ice cream sounds good."


on 33 east toward I-5:

"gonna try to pass now.


holy shit, that was thrilling. second and a half to spare to get back on my side of the road. passing cars, fucking cars that weren't letting me pass. you know, you should slow down when people try to pass you on a 2-lane highway, but these bastards weren't. whoo... adrenaline rush, nice."

"almost getting on the 5. these roads, they don't bend, they go on forever. can't see the other side of the central valley. i'm on one side, crossing it, sort of, going across it. heading east toward the I-5, then turning south. colors, golden, under a blue sky. greyblue sky actually. i think this is where i get the inspiration for all my hick characters from."

"definitely been an interesting trip. i keep going places i don't expect to go, and that's the whole definition of a roadtrip, right? one-person roadtrip. i'm glad it's one-person. sometimes it's a little boring but that's what the recorder's for, right? one person, driving, going places i never thought i'd go, and never thought about going. and that's the thing. these places, they've always been there, but i've never gone or thought of going, and if not for the ... series of coincidences that led to me going there."

"the I-5, i can see it in the distance, moving. and i'm racing towards it."

"i'm glad i did it. i'm gonna be very tired next week, but right now it doesn't matter, you know?"


On the I-5 South:

"finally getting on I-5. mother road, right? los angeles, 191 miles."

"every time i go on the 5, i keep waiting for the mtns at the west side of it to fall away, but they never do. i'm always disappointed by it. but the 5 always follows it, so they never go away. one of these days i'll go on the 99, which goes right through the center, which is very different."

"bales of hay, off to my left. i can see fields as far as the eye can see, all these different colors. some are golden, some are green, some are reg-tinged -- reg? red."

"cruise control is a wonderful thing."

"i find myself kinda wishing that it'd be night already. oh look at that, endless plain. feel like maybe if i drove east far enough i'd end up in illinois, indiana, something like that."

"174 miles to los angeles."

"62 miles to bakersfield, 163 to los angeles."

"this part of the central valley looks like a desert. bushes, no trees, everything low, very flat."

"it occurs to me how unattractive your average middle aged american man is. they get old and they grow these ugly-ass scrawny goatees that they think look good but don't. wear big grease-stained t-shirts over their bulging beer bellies... yuck.

"here comes one trying to pass me. hope you enjoy life with your ugly ass FAT wife and your ugly ass FAT belly!

"here comes another fat american in his huge stroke! f-250 heavy duty power stroke. POWER STROKE. if that isn't compensation i don't know what is."

"152 miles to los angeles."

"44 miles to bakersfield, 145 to los angeles."

"i think i might prefer to be on this road at night. seems like people aren't in quite such a hurry at night. seems like... might be nicer too. not so bright. not so much rushing."

"134 miles to los angeles, 33 to bakersfield."

"128 miles to LA."

"okay, so it's 7:20 and i'm getting going again from buttonwillow. i estimate... 4-5 hours left of driving depending how i find my way, who much traffic there is, stuff like that."

"35 miles from the grapevine, crossing the mountains."

"sunsets look somehow familiar to me. sun dusky through the clouds. barely glimpsed through the clouds."


At Buttonwillow:

"$2.09 a gallon. pretty good price for around here. i found a starbucks! thinking of going there. getting online. but it's 7:30pm. fuck. if i get online for an hour, it'll be... 8:30pm. and then, 4 hours on top of that, i'll be there around midnight."

"so i just left starbucks, and it's 8:30pm. kinda late, but that's okay. just got online in the middle of nowhere (laugh). this town smells like shit, literally. to the west, the sunset is just lighting up the sky, in bands of red."

something typed at starbucks:

ElementalShiva: that's the thing about this drive

ElementalShiva: you only ever see half of it on any one run

ElementalShiva: cuz the sun sets before you get to the other end.


On the I-5 South again:

"it just occurred to me how utterly appropriate it is that i'm driving at this hour, on this date. independence day. this is my own freedom, driving this far. this is how i'm spending my holiday, one person, alone, driving, on and on and on. freeway's a little emptier now, so that's nice. yeah. los angeles, 123 miles."

"different place here, at night. i think... this is why i wanna drive. when i go on vent drives at night, this is why i wanna keep going. not the distance during the day, which is glaring, and loud, and people just wanna get there. no sense of relaxation. at night, with the dusking, i guess the harsher features of the land fade away. you don't see it so much anymore. it's just this blurring, streaking land. light fading from the sky. pink fading from the west. the horizon is... ringed in this smoke-grey-purple-violet color that i can't quite describe. but it's everywhere. a ring around the horizon, except in the west where it's duskier, a rose color. sky above is still blue.

"and somehow, in this light, distances seem... shorter, should i say? not really shorter, just different. doesn't seem such a race to get to someplace. i don't care where i end up right now. i could drive forever. i have this urge to just drive south and south. past san diego, into mexico. never come back."

"there's a freedom from driving at night that isn't there during the day. times like this i realize how utterly similar to my father i am.

"this is my own personal freedom."

"now as night begins to fall in truth, i can see the shadows of the san bernadino mtns closing in. the end of the valley is not so far now. every single time, every single time i come here, i feel this sense of regret when i leave the valley. even if it was boring in the middle. even if it feels like it'll be endless. 'course this time the valley was shorter than it's ever been before, but same principles applies. i'm sad to leave it. because this is, this, right here, is what i love most about california, almost. maybe? i don't know.

"it's not the california you think of. it's not the sun and the sand and the beaches. but it's california nonetheless. a side of it most people don't think about. it's not even desert. it's farmland, green. open, free. roadtripping. it's the side you only know if you live here.

"i love these 18 wheeler trucks. they're like steel dragons, flowing along. all their lights lit up. across the top. the chimneys. the running lights. all those wheels spinning. the power of it, the speed."

"at night no one tries to go 100 mph, 90. everyone goes 80, just flows along."

"the high voltage lines arcing overhead, and you just wonder where they're coming from, where they're going. they're connected, you know, beginning to end, one end to the other. you don't know where the other end is, but. you pass under it here, briefly intersecting, and then -- pass."

"mosquito time. i can hear them splatting against the windshield."

"the highway's a little hypnotic, going on forever. here's the hill i remember, first hill out from the long decline from the valley. there's a certain feeling you get when you finally get through the grapevine. you swing around the last bit and all that's left behind you is mountains, and all that's left in front of you is valley. and you can see the road stretched out in front of you, straight as an arrow."

"exactly 100 miles to los angeles."

"you can see the freeway climbing into the mountains, a ribbon of red and white."

"i can see where I-5 bends into the mtns, strung out like pearls. always thought lights on a freeway at night, strung out across the land, looks like electricity on the nerve, impulses cruising across synapses."

"91 miles to los angeles."

"everything's barely more than shadows now. we're about to go through the mtns, and there's 99, coming in. 99's always fascinated me. i've never gone on it, only gone near it once when i was coming down on the train, once. always fascinated me how it splits off from the I-5, and now, just before the mtns, they come back together. it's like, in my mind, it's almost like highways have a life of their own, strange as that sounds."


I-5 South through the Grapevine:

"leaving the central valley now. one look behind, flatness all around. road splits up ahead. you can see the red to one side, the white to the other. spiraling up into the mountains into the mountains, moving. the red like so many bands flowing. the white seems to move slower. i think it's the angle. coming down the other side, like... a river, really, glittering and glistening, like sun off water."

"the mountains tall - the sky overhead, still faintly blue."

"it's always amazed me. 4 lanes on each side, wide shoulder on each side, 12 lanes' equivalent going over the mountains, right through it. don't have to go slower than about 60 mph. usual speed about 65-70. all these cars just surging over the mountain."

"what fascinates me about the highway at night is the anonymity of it. all cars from a distance are reduced to lights: taillights red, headlights white. and the thing is you don't know where they're coming from, where they're going. and somehow at night you realize this more than you would in the day, when you're pissed off at the sedan that just cut you off, of the truck that just blocked off your sight. at night you can't see anyway. you just follow taillights. and there's a... certain hypnotic quality to the road. you start wondering, the car in front of you, why are they down here, are they on vacation? are they a family? are they running from something, are they going towards something? are they happy, are they sad, all these questions that go through your mind.

"you feel a certainly continuity with the road, with those traveling with you. you feel this... certain... fellowship, i guess. not so different after all, fat americans, skinny asians, whatever. it's all the same. you're all going on the same road. different origins, different destinations, but for now, this one moment, you form a certain bond with them, these cars you travel with the car behind you, the car you travel behind, the one you've been behind for the last... 20 miles, 30 miles. there was a time when people couldn't walk 30 miles in a day."

"going through the pass now, tejon pass, 4044 feet."

"passing the lake right now, too dark, here there's a mountain lake, very beautiful during the day."

"i can see the glow of LA now, just over the mtns."

"full moon is rising over the mtns now -- it's not the glow of the city i saw, it was the glow of the moon. it's amazing, this big bloated orange thing. full moon tonight. rising. i'm catching glimpses as i pass through the mountains. me and my car, and these mountains, these shadows in the dark. the road under me. dashes and lines, spots of light."

"there it is, the city laid out before me. the LA basin. and the highway descending into it. you see the borders of it, the streets laid out like a grid. i don't like LA by day but by night it is beautiful."

"i remember going to universal studios with my parents. i miss my mom. we rode the ET ride. and that one part where you fly like ET, my mom was like, oh, so beautiful. and afterwards she was like, that was a good ride. and i don't know why, but that makes me sad and happy at the same time, so bittersweet.

"my mom always thinks she has a heart condition. she does have a weak heart maybe, but, she's afraid of strong rides, and... oftentimes, when we and my dad went and did things like that she'd just wait, like skiing, or whatever. and she goes with us because she loves us, you know, but it must be so boring for her. she's always like it's okay, it doesn't matter. but. it does."

"fireworks. there's fireworks over LA."

"the lights i saw earlier, it wasn't LA at all, it was just some podunk town in the middle of the mtns."

"moon is humongous in front of me, yellow turning to white. always surreal to think of how far i've come, from northern california to southern in the space of a single day, just a few hours. a hundred years ago, that'd be unthinkable."

"freeway 210 in 1.5 miles -- i'm about to leave I-5. hey, los angeles city limit, right here. i made it to LA. it's 9:47pm, friday."


On the I-210 East:

"9:48, goodbye LA, goodbye I-5, i'm heading east. back into the mtns that we so recently left, but i'm crossing it to the east.

"air's pretty cold outside. moon's unbelievably bright overhead. i bet if i turned off the lights i'd still be able to see."

"passing this beautiful church. got this spire that kinda juts out, and a cross hanging from it."

"passing a miller brewery. for some reason these factories, mills and refineries, breweries, they always look like miniature cities to me in the dark, and i like it. i like all the amber lights, lit up. especially the refineries -- because they have all these grates, or whatever. structures, what are they called. reinforcements? no. what is it. think think think think think, what is the word again? scaffolding!"

"this song reminds of that incredible moment in Y Tu Mama Tambien. that moment where she... turns on the jukebox. turns around. dances, and looks YOU in the eye, looks the camera in the eye. and all through the movie you wonder, what do these boys see in her? she's old, she's kinda horsefaced...gaunt. she's vulgar, she's controlling, she's not that great. she cries for no fucking reason, and she's fucking 16 year old boys. you see all of her, except for what they see.

"and then, that moment she turns around and looks you in the eye and dances -- you understand, suddenly, exactly what they see. she is... just. not beautiful, but gorgeous. and incredibly attractive. hard to explain."

"fireworks everywhere tonight. magic mtn, and i'm betting that disneyland down there."


On I-15 South:

"getting on 15 to barstow, san diego. maybe i'll go to san diego tonight. nah."

"leaving 210, going on 15. 10:41pm. 15 south, headed toward san diego, but not going there tonight."

"southern california, the night is clear. i find myself strangely homesick for san diego, because this freeway i'm on right now is the one we go on to everywhere in san diego. it's the san diego mother road, i guess. if i keep going on this road i'll pass right by my house. strange thought that some of these cars, maybe even most of them? are headed toward san diego. and some of them will pass my house. some of them might get off there. some of them are my neighbors -- but not anymore."


On I-10 East:

"leaving 15 for 10 east, headed for palm springs. 65 degrees in LA. not gonna be like this in palm springs."

"this freeway smells like cup noodles!"

"why do they put ads for strip clubs up on freeways? isn't that dangerous? i mean, wouldn't you totally stare at it? i know i did. i mean, it's like. has this woman up there with pink hair and her arms crossed over her chest, kinda leaning forward suggestively, and it says, "Pssst... FLESH." and then you keep staring cuz there's something next to that word FLESH and then you realize it says "psst, i'm at FLESH." turns out the club's name is Flesh. but by the time you figure that out, you've spent a good 3-5 seconds staring at it. and 3-5 seconds doesn't sound like a lot? but on a freeway going 80mph, that's a lot.

"so 3 seconds on a freeway going 80 mph is somewhere between 300-400 feet of distance."

"47 miles to palm springs. at the speed i'm going, another half an hour, maybe 40 minutes? not even, half an hour."

"36 miles to palm springs, i'm pulling off for a rest area. gotta piss. the moon is unbelievably bright. clear skies, white moon, shining down."

"okay, last push, almost there. off we go!"


Into the desert on I-10:

"i can see the shape of the mtns under the moon. occurs to me that palm springs might be a desert, but it's a pretty high desert. elevation isn't exactly low. i'd say at least 1000 ft up in the air. high desert indeed. dry and barren, palms, and these stark mountains."

"hard to explain how beautiful the mountains are, layered in the moonlight, which is like mist, falling from the sky. ones closer, dark. ones farther, light. and then they fade into the sky. you can't tell what the distance is, where they end."

"something about the desert makes it easy to go fast. i'm going 90mph and i don't even feel it. i gotta slow down. just a little longer."

"windmills in the desert, under the moon, with the shadow of the mountains behind it. stark sight, somehow desolate, lonely."

"palm springs city limits, 11:54pm, on friday."

"passed CHP going 80mph! (laugh) fortunately he already caught somebody but i'm gonna go slow now.

"and he just passed me doing like 90 or something! him, not me, i was doing barely 80. (laughing) HOLY SHIT.

"oh shit i am WATCHING him pulling someone over. fuuuuck me.

"he just pulled 2 people over at once. i don't know how i escape that. (laugh)"


Off I-10, on local highways:

"driving down the high desert, just past midnight, full moon shining down. mountains, shadows in the distance. me, ghost flowing over these lands. i turn off the lights, there'd be no light at all. i turn off the music, there'd be no sound at all. i'm almost there. all right."

"so, i've arrived. about, hm, 10, 11 or 12 hours from when i departed depending how you count it. been a long-ass drive. i'm at 85600 miles. i've driven 488 miles today, all detours, rest stops, whatever counted in. so here's me, signing off. catch you on the return trip."