May 2, 2004

Away and Back Again

It’s late, I’m tired, and I happen to be covered in poisonous wasp spray and homemade gorp… hence, I’m gonna sit here and flap my hands around to loosen them up a bit. To some people these are the sundry exercises done to avoid carpel tunnel, but to me it is called writing. Or authoring. Authoring with horrible penmanship and smudge marks. Mistakes? If I still worked for a newspaper I could request that “special” sand to help blot out my factual errors. You know, the sand that’s ground from the bones of the innocent.

I’ve developed some strange sleeping habits this weekend. Saturday night I fell asleep at 11:00 pm in my car on the volcanic shores of Mount Hood. It was a restless night, wrought with peculiar half-dreams about friends and lovers both old and new, and sudden starts to wakefulness to fend off the demons gathering in the shadows where the moon refused to shine. I woke up at 5:15 am to finish my drive back to Bend, got home just after 7:00 and slept until 10:00.

Waking up early in the morning is the most painful thing on earth for me, and there are only two situations that make it bearable. 1) I’m camping, or 2) I’m on a road trip. I hate driving at night but I love taking that early morning stretch, where the world looks like it’s wrapped in a blue haze of cigarette smoke. The sun isn’t up but the earth isn’t dark, and the entire landscape is holding its breath in anticipation of the sunrise. Maybe it’s nothing spectacular, maybe it’s just Nebraska, but while the rest of the world still sleeps, for that time it is your Nebraska.

At 7:00 pm on Friday night I went to take a quick nap, and ended up sleeping until 9:30. My roommate came home around 10:00 so I kicked his ass in Tony Hawk 3 before settling down to an evening of half-hearted web design and a ragingly passionate session of Warcraft III. Sometime after 2:00 am I went to bed, and woke up at 7:30 am to do a few chores ’round the house. I had some business at the Mountain so around 10:00 I paid $2.11 a gallon for gas and swung on up into the Cascades. When I got back in town I hit up some garage sales and considered picking up an 8-track recorder. I eventually decided against it and drove up to Hood River instead.

It was great to see my town again. Hood River was right where I left it, and the cradling hills of the Gorge felt a lot cozier than the scratchy deserts of Bend. But that’s why we do these things. If we never left Hood River we would have no idea what it would be like to return to Hood River. If we never left Duluth we’d never know what it felt like to pull over that hill and finally see Duluth, and all the chilly turquoise waters of Lake Superior, unroll far below.

After spending Saturday afternoon meeting up with as many people from the cast of thousands as humanly possible, I ducked out of Hood River around 10:00 pm to begin the trek back to Duluth. I mean, Bend.

I mean, home.

There is one thing of note that I can remember on the drive through Nebraska (which, when you live in Minnesota, is the damned thing standing between you and the Rockies, you and the Southwest, you and Oregon, you and ANYTHING fun)…
…I remember the porno barn. It’s on the south side of the freeway and has a huge sign that boasts ADULT XXX. We stopped there on our drive home from Zion National Park, and only the womenfolk among us had the guts to actually buy something.
Ahh, Nebraska. Lovely, heady Nebraska.

Shit, I think if you run across a porno barn in the middle of Nebraska, you just gotta know it’s going to end up like The Children of the Corn or something. Bad scene, man, bad scene.