You don’t see too much driving down the interstate highways of America. I traveled through two nights across the north eastern expanse of this very large country by car — I saw the highway in my head lights and only the dark night a little farther beyond. There is little to report beyond that. I left Bangor, Maine at 5 PM local time and drove through the night. I arrived in Albion, New York at 10 AM the following morning at my family’s home. 7 hours later I was back on the Road. I arrived in St.Louis the following morning.
Dark night, headlights, roaring trucks, rest stops, disposable cups of coffee, gas pumps, dashboard lights, classic rock on the radio.
Traveling highway America by car has the effect of taking a ride in a sluggish sort of teleportation device — you travel through time and space, but you obtain few impressions of the physical makeup of the journey. Few impressions besides your own dark, private thoughts. Car travel in America has the effect of a long, cross country meditation. It is almost akin to air travel in this regard.
I know that I drove through two nights — it took a long time, I am sure — but the journey leaves no impressions other than what was rigged together from the batten down hatches of imagination. I watched the clock on my car’s dashboard tick away the hours, I watched the mile markers on the highway tick away the journey, though I have no mental bookmarks to show for this move through time and space.
Travel in a car across highway America is like floating across a big, sun parched fallow field inside of a tumbleweed. Well, until you steer off the highway for gas in the middle of Indiana:
Then, like playing peakaboo, you remove your hands from over your eyes and see America.
“Peakaboo, America, I see you!”
Then, to keep the game going, you return to hiding behind the hands of the interstate highway.
The interstates are the arteries of America, they are what gives this country its blood, but the meat, brains, and heart of the country can only been observed away from the highway. I must say that I anticipate being shot out the end of this highway tube in Arizona: I am excited to see my country again.
As a young traveler I picked up my first Kerouac novel in Buenos Aires. Even though I was already well established in my traveling life, the book still had its intended effect. How exciting it is it is when the romance that you are living can be mixed with the romance of fiction. It was much like consulting a map after staring out into a range of unprovenienced mountains.
My Roads of summer time travel usually connected archaeology project to archaeology project or, in more recreational times, road trip destination to road trip destination. From where this journey began in Albion NY the Road has gone through the UP of Michigan, from New York to Miami, Ft. Lauderdale to Connecticut, Buffalo to Louisiana, Louisiana to Ohio, Ohio to Wyoming, Montana, and back east again — only to return west to Albuquerque, New Mexico, and residual travels to Delaware, Boston, the whole Midwest, east, southeast, New York City, Maine:
From the east to the west, north to south, I have criss crossed this land like the laces that run across the tops of my old boots.
I addition to traveling to 45 foreign countries I have also had the opportunity to get a rough impression of my homeland. I laugh as I recollect how I once crossed the state of Ohio 20 times in a single summer chasing work from one side of the USA to the other. After traveling through 42 of 50 US States I sometimes feel as if I have come to know a little of America. Though I know that this country is a black hole in a bucket: I will never be able to touch its bottom, no matter how deep I reach.
I love big, deep, black hole countries — and I find the United States of America no less exotic and bewildering than any other country on the planet.
Though I have seldom written about these travels.
I am now Singing the Song of America.
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