Late last month, our Dear Girl, Erin Pipes‚ left sunny Southern California for the east coast with her boyfriend. Instead of opting for a cushy first class airplane, she opted for the classic road trip: coast to coast. Here's here travelog.
Goodbye hometown, crazy parents and cookie cutter tract houses. We loaded up the car after a night at the glorious Holiday Inn, Laguna Hills and set off up the 91 freeway (goodbye, rush hour fuckwads.) Once free of the confines of the OC and smoggy, depressing Riverside, I got my first real wide-open views of the Mojave Desert‚ a place I apparently should've been appreciating all along, my god. Truly beautiful. While my co-pilot got some jet-lagged shuteye, I set the cruise control and sat up as close to the windshield as possible, taking in the spectacular scenery.
Points of Interest:
+ Seeing the stumpy, adorable Joshua trees and for once not letting any wailing U2 songs creep into my head and ruin the moment.
+ The immediate 10-30 cent price dip at gas stations once crossing into Arizona.
+ A one-night stay in Seligman, AZ‚ in a room pure definition Low Rent. And yet...
+ Too many orgasms in under 10 minutes will still make me cry like a goddamn baby. Whether or not this is hot is still up for debate.
On to the Grand Canyon!
July 23, 2005
Only a quick drive to the world's biggest and most incredible hole in the ground. We stood at the lip amidst all the come-and-go tourists‚Äîtaking their quick, typical postcard shots and rushing back to their respective cars. We stayed through them, holding our breaths and each other. Call me a sappy bitch, but yes‚ more intensity = more tears. I sniffled and sobbed in the presence of the natural wonder while the boy cooed and amazingly made me feel less a freak. PMS much, Miss Pipes? Yes, please.
Points of Interest:
+Smokey's "Best Eats In Town" with pizza-sized, all-you-can-stomach pancakes, of which neither of us could finish one. Yum.
+Hotel spanking at the Red Feather Lodge and the first time we didn't fuck the bed away from the wall.
July 24, 2005
impossible to take in the Grand Canyon all in one day (especially since I spent so much of the first day crying and obscuring the views) so we went back for more. Postcard at every turn, no matter which angle. We gasped and sighed. Met some of the most fearless and photogenic crows I've ever seen. One hopped right up to the camera and stood against the wind for a dramatic, feather-ruffled pose. I tried the same bravery by standing on the cliff-lips and staring down, down, down‚ much to the boyfriend's dismay.
Points of Interest:
+ Managed a sunburn 2nd in dorkiness only to the time I decided to lay out naked save for my 90's Oakley blockhead sunglasses and Valley of the Dolls splayed across my stomach.
July 25, 2005
Back to the car and straight on to the Petrified Forest in New Mexico. So beautiful and peaceful and strange. Lots of stupid tourists littering and asking questions like "Did a meteor turn these trees to stone or what?" In fact, stupidity is one of the first blatant indications that we're on our way to the South. Also: molasses drawl-speak, country music in piped into every restaurant and gas station and dead animal heads o'plenty.
Points of Interest:
+ Due to constant snogging, have by now been told four times to "Stop that!" or "Get a room!" by the affection-repressed locals.
+ The Ice Caves of New Mexico are exquisite, a comparatively secluded tourist attraction and an excellent place for public finger banging.
July 26, 2005
Q: Do you know how much my boyfriend loves "boyband music"?
Made more evident as the miles push on.
Out of New Mexico and into Texas with the strict but unspoken rule to drive through as quickly as possible. I know, I know‚ but my ride's a chollo-lowered, limo-tinted Civic with Cali plates in a land of Bush-sticker-adorned pick-ups. You feel me? Still, I couldn't resist a pull-over stop in Amarillo at the Fantasy Video Adult Warehouse who had the hands-down cleanest restrooms in the entire trip, man, no joke. Bliss.
Back on the highway and not even ten minutes into the drive, the boyfriend points to a sign advertising the World's Biggest Cross. Yes, there it is in the near-distance, looking to be at the next offramp. But, no. We continue to anticipate the cross for 2, 3, 4, 5 more exits. More. All the while the cross swells, finally checking in at what appears to be 30 stories high. Truly monstrous. And, of course, peppered with smaller crosses at its foot, all with suffering Jesii attached.
We didn't stop laughing for about 20 minutes.
July 27, 2005
In comparison, Oklahoma is not as good for laughs. Try as I may, I couldn't come up with anything very clever with which to razz such a lush, sweet state. Save for that one sign urging we come see the "Infant Jesus of Prague", there was very little in the way of scathing material. So warm and gorgeous was Oklahoma that we pulled over and made out at a rest stop and no one even sneered disapprovingly. Boring, I know.
Oh yeah‚ at one point we're paced by a truck hauling "Genuine Feed Fat", simultaneously (and ironically) branded with the warning "Inedible." ??? I don't know. As it speeds past, we notice it has Texas plates. Ahhh. Of course.
July 28, 2005
The next day we made the cross from Oklahoma into Arkansas‚ more thick, green beauty and a church for every mile. Hello Bible Belt! Other than making a dinner stop at Timberloft restaurant (which, according to the pictures in the foyer, is one of Al Gore's favorite eateries) we didn't spend too much time in AK.
Signs lining the highway (not affiliated with any local churches):
"Possessing This Land For Christ!"
"JESUS IS LORD!!!!!!"
"I Love You! Jesus Christ"
"WORSHIP and He shall HAVE you!"
Strangely, I'm not convinced.
Points of Interest
+ Bunked down at the nicest, cleanest, most luxurious Comfort Inn around, with a deep, mindblowing bathtub and a huge, overstuffed leather recliner upon which to have sex while watching Rainman.
July 29, 2005
In the morning, we burned through to Tennessee with plans to get as close to Virginia as possible before calling it a night. But we are only human and could not resist the pull of Knoxville and more specifically the lure of Dollywood. Tennessee is as balmy and down-home as you could expect and they must sell the strongest legal batches of hairspray in the country for all the helmetted coifs at that theme park. We were so excited‚Äîgiddy, even. We stopped for lunch at one of the many Kountry Kookin' joints Dolly had to offer, and when finished, the BF perused the map while I used the facilities. But something was amiss. I finished my business, came out to meet him and...lmost immediately had to go back to the bathroom. And again. And AGAIN. The pee wouldn't stop, or rather the urgency wouldn't stop and I honestly can't think of a worse time or place to get knocked down with a bladder infection than at Dollywood in Knoxviille, Tennessee‚ can you?
I spent the next two or three hours visiting all the Dolly restrooms and finally took up the boyfriend's offer to take me to the goddamn emergency room already‚ where the doctor asks point-blank if I've been urinating before and after sex like a good girl should. Sigh.
A few more hours and some extra-strength anitbiotics and painkillers later and I was feeling much better, but the day was literally in the toilet. The plan was to head out first-thing for my new home, but since Dolly's tickets offer a second day for free if you arrive after 3:00, we decided to stay a bit longer and take her up on it.
Points of Interest
+ Later, my niece emails to tell me the whole family has heard about my bladder infection. Not only that, she says "I know what causes those, Auntie!" Even she knows I'm a nympho, which is strangely relieving.
Outsideleft exists on a precarious no budget budget. We are interested in hearing from deep and deeper pocket types willing to underwrite our cultural vulture activity. We're not so interested in plastering your product all over our stories, but something more subtle and dignified for all parties concerned. Contact us and let's talk. [HELP OUTSIDELEFT]
If Outsideleft had arms they would always be wide open and welcoming to new writers and new ideas. If you've got something to say, something a small dank corner of the world needs to know about, a poem to publish, a book review, a short story, if you love music or the arts or anything else, write something about it and send it along. Of course we don't have anything as conformist as a budget here. But we'd love to see what you can do. Write for Outsideleft, do. [SUBMISSIONS FORM HERE]