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My American Adventure

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Well, that was a good time to be computer absent for four days hey?  

Now, the Pens just happened to grab games six and seven to win the cup, right?  I think I heard that somewhere between towns with names like Punxsutawney, Gary and Limestoneville.  F$#k.

I’m destined to be haunted by orange “Road Work, next 21 miles” signs and flashing lights in my rearview, but all in all, it was a wonderful trip.  I truly enjoyed driving across this beautiful continent (save a few hundred miles west of Minneapolis), and wish it wasn’t over. 

Let me proceed to judge every person in the US by what I thought of their state, simply going on what’s visible from the highway, while taking the time to piss them off individually, and with care.

As Katy Perry playfully belted “I kissed a girl” in the background, I set sail due west, aiming my freshly registered car Duke towards Chicago (Duke has 666 on his license plate, and is blue.  You know?  Duke?  Blue Devil?   Ah, forget you).

I shot across the Throgs Neck, a bridge more narrow than a Klan members mind, and eventually over the vast Hudson towards the Jersey Turnpike.  The turnpike blends in well in New Jersey, because it absolutely sucks.  I needed to get out of this car-infested smog hole and onto the open roads away from major cities.

My GPS advised “Keep left on I-80″ and the distance-to-next-turn indicator read “261 miles”.  And away I went.

Now, I don’t know who comes up with state slogans, but I’m pretty sure I could do better.  “Ohio.  So much to discover.” — ”North Dakota.  Legendary.” —  “New Jersey.  Come see for yourself.”

How about “Ohio.  The C+ on America’s report card.” — “North Dakota.  Worse than Saskatchewan” — “New Jersey.  Seriously, think about it, our only contribution to America is Bon Jovi.”

I was really tempted to turn into Sandusky, Ohio, but settled on just reciting Tommy Boy lines out loud to amuse myself.  “RT, you were there”.  I also contemplated making a little detour north to catch Game Seven in Detroit, but in retrospect, watching it alone in North Dakota on a 19 inch round screen was probably just as good.  No regrets.

I had plenty of time to think.  What should I call my new website?  jtbourne.com? Bournesblog.com? Nakedchicks.net?  The decision is yet to be made.  I turned back to the asphalt.

Bombing through Indiana, I noticed two things: (A) there are a million of these solar panelled lighty things aiming at the cars, which I assumed were photo radar.  In fact, these apparently light up when there is a deer nearby to keep drivers (and deer) safe.  -and- (B) people still actually work in America.  There are still people on actual green and yellow John Deere’s, tending to massive farms and raising animals for a living.  I know that sounds naive, but I guess I didn’t realize how much of America was still doin’ that.  Pretty cool.

As I twittered, I was pretty impressed by myself around the halfway point, zooming along, issue free.  I was driving across the continent.  I got thinking about what I would do when I got back to Kelowna, and thought about my brother Jeff (condolences on the broken femur, bud) and his fundraiser for the Rick Hansen Foundation.  You know, that guy who WHEELED AROUND THE WORLD??  Talk about knocking me down a peg or two.

Plus, I still had a ways to go:

 Long Way To Go

(That says “turn in 1029 miles”)

Between tolls milking me for anywhere between 80 cents and $8.75, I managed to notice some pretty awesome landscapes.  Random rock spires sticking up through the trees in Wisconsin, the skylines of Chicago and Minneapolis, and most impressively, Painted Canyon, North Dakota (in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, the badlands of ND/MT).

(Can’t you just see dinosaurs living here?)

In North Dakota, I almost had a meltdown.  I wish I could figure out how to get the audio (I left myself voice-notes throughout the country) on the blog, because it’s hilarious listening to me suddenly realize I don’t have enough gas to get to the next gas station, according to my GPS.  I sound like an eight year old crossed with Dennis Leary.

Mercifully, a tiny tourist spot called Medora popped up, offering a single pump with old clicking numbers to fill up in a mock western-theme town.  I figured I had had enough driving for the day, and wanted to catch game seven (you’ve all been waiting for it… here it comes… I told you so).  The following pictures are of my “hotel room” at sunrise and the bar I had been in the night before:

 

North Dakota

(Yes, that’s a trailer in a pretty setting)

cowboy bar

(Yes, that’s a failure in a shitty setting)

I had previously spent my nights in Montpellier, Ohio and St. Paul, Minnesota (with Charlie Kronsch’s sis Katy and brother-in-law Bo… thanks, by the way) – this was officially Nowhere, USA.  I had been listening to the 9/11 Commission on audiobook, while driving through fields of nothing, so I would have settled for stopping damn near anywhere.

I tried to buy another audiobook in Billings, Montana, but they looked at me like I had asked for the nearest flying car.  Fortunately, I found a Mitch Hedberg CD (“Look at that… either there’s a hat somebody isn’t wearing or that table is f**kin’ hip!”  — “It’s a good thing the headless horseman didn’t have a headless horse… that woulda been f**king chaos!”), which kept me in stitches until I could find another book.

And so, I embarked on the single longest day of driving I’ll ever drive in my life.  18.5 hours, from Medora, ND to Kelowna, BC.  The sun set behind the mountains as I got closer to home, and it literally looked like I was reaching the fires of Mordor.  A 5-hour Energy, a Monster Energy drink, and a bag of chocolate covered espresso beans later, I made it home safely, albeit with a severe case of the shakes.

Two pull-overs, one ticket, and the lives of 55,000 bugs later, I was home.

My trip was 3,200 miles, sitting for roughly 48.5 hours.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I might need a jog.

Comments

18 Responses to “My American Adventure”
  1. Neil says:

    Hilarious, great post. I’d pay good money to hear your no-gas freak-out in the middle of an otherwise smooth and uneventful trip. I love the mental image of you driving and listening to the audio book of the 9/11 commission with your jaw on the floor…
    Funny in these times of “bail-out” controversy and unsustainable companies that America’s government-funded farming debacle is still flying under the radar.
    Nice call on the Pens, tight series but I think we all knew Maxim Talbot would break it open eventually.

  2. Officer Koharski says:

    Damn dude, that’s a bona fide adventure. I’ve never driven quite that far but in my limited experience I learned that Pennsylvania is really, really wide, and that out in the country the air will smell like hot baby shit for miles and miles. And then you drive past a slaughterhouse and it’s worse for another ten.

    If you’re in the market for Audiobooks again look for some non-fiction David Sedaris. His books are great but he also reads his own and he’s hilarious, the stories are unbelievable and can eat up a couple of hours without you even noticing the monotony of the drive/flight.

  3. ann says:

    Ha… how about “New Jersey: What’s that smell?”

    In Pennsylvania we joke that there are two seasons: winter & road work. But I guess I can’t really call it a joke because it’s true and it’s really not funny, especially if you’re stuck in said road work.

    Great post, as always. Glad you made it safely – don’t think I could do that long of a drive on my own.

  4. Travelchic59 says:

    Glad to hear you made it home safely.

    I could never make that trip. Anything longer than 3 hours – not happening. Put me on the next flight out.

  5. Mautz says:

    should of went golfing in medora they have a sweet golf course in the badlands called bully pulpit and not all the towns are as lame as medora

  6. Matt says:

    Awesome trip. I love a good roadie. Next time you’ll have to check out the southern half. :D

  7. rm says:

    After driving from IN to FL, I realized I needed satellite radio. Through most of GA and northern FL it was nothing but fire and brimstone radio and how most of us were going to burn in hell.

    There is always something to listen on Sirius (now Sirius/XM) from 80′s Alt, to talking sports head and the political pundits. You might want to look into that if you are going to drive to AZ.

    18.5 hr?! wow. 14 hr is my limit, but I do not like to do more than 10/day. Glad you made it safely and without too many tickets. Road work does indeed suck. I remember “inching” through OH one 4th of July weekend and 5 miles after you got out of a work zone, there was a line of cops pulling people over who were looking to make up for lost time.

  8. AerosFan says:

    your blog is amazingly entertaining.
    keep it up :)

  9. jtbourne says:

    I heard that course is great, I wish I had known!

  10. jtbourne says:

    Sounds right up my alley. I listened to the 9/11 commission and “The World Is Flat” by three time Pulitzer winner Thomas Friedman. I bought “The Truth” by Al Franken but it didn’t work in my CD player cause it was an MP3 disc, which I didn’t know. I definitely lacked the humour aspect once that one was a no-go.

  11. jtbourne says:

    It’s jaw-drop worthy for sure. What a shocking lack of, um, job-doing, by a huge number of people (like ones that rhyme with Dondlemeeza Price).

    As for the Pens, it was unlikely, but a good rule of thumb is “never bet against Maxime Talbot”. I’m working on a novel explaining that right now called “how to beat NHL oddsmakers”. The guy is incredible.

  12. jtbourne says:

    I’d really love to, my US state-checklist has a big, obvious gap in the south-east.

  13. jtbourne says:

    I want satellite radio, but my budget for “things I want, can’t afford, but bought anyways” has officially maxed out.

  14. CK says:

    Long-time reader, first-time commenter…great blog as always. Note: (1) Springsteen is a better NJ contribution to the planet than Bon Jovi; (2) nakedchicks.net: now there’s an idea…scantily clad females on the internet! You’re onto something big here, JB! (3) an 8-year old Denis Leary…good one! (4) Mitch Hedberg=awesome. Check him out on youtube.

  15. jtbourne says:

    Well hey, welcome to the commenting universe. It’s pretty intense. (1) You’re easily right, but Jovi is a more accurate grungy representation (4) Hedberg is the best, I’m hooked now!

  16. Jbrown says:

    After Mitch, check out Louis C.K.

    Great blog man.

  17. John says:

    Great to hear you made it safe, and sounds like a blast.

    And while everyone is discussing things to listen to, read, watch, I would like to bring up a a movie that just last month became available on dvd. The film is called “The Friends of Eddie Coyle” from 1973, and anyone who digs ’70′s gangster-flicks, and who digs hockey will be very pleased. A weathered Robert Mitchum plays Coyle, a small-time Boston hood who is facing jail-time and must flip some people in hopes of getting a deal. But what sets this flick apart is a sequence filmed during an actual Bruins vs Blackhawks game in old Boston Garden. It goes on for a while and they covered scenes with Mitchum in the stands with Peter Boyle. They also covered the actual game a lot with handheld 35 mm. cams at ice-level. It is surreal to watch a ’73 Bruins game close-up in crystal-clear 35 mm. And besides the hockey it is also a great film. Check it out!

  18. jtbourne says:

    I’m all over Louis CK – my early blogs centered on a lot more stand up comedy, I’ll try to do a ranking soon!

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