Wednesday, January 5, 2011

All Good Things... 3100 miles

After my "L.A. Day," which featured a trip to Universal City Walk, the Santa Monica Pier and dinner on the 3rd Street Promenade (all hokey, tourist-y pap, but this was my day, so too bad), my journey ends tomorrow.  Going back to Boston (and apparently a snowstorm on Friday) will be strange, but it is a necessary evil.  What good is gaining all this perspective if I can't use it in my everyday life?

Let me try to boil this all down while it's fresh.  First of all, there was a part of me that never thought I'd get back here.  I don't know why, but it just seemed like it never would happen (financially, and who has the time?)  The opportunity came, and I am glad a jumped on it.  The memories, even though only experienced for a day, were amazingly vivid.  It reminded me that, all those years ago, this was a fun place for me.  I got very cynical in the years that followed my first L.A. experience, and this was a confirmation for me that it was indeed a great time of my life.

Speaking of which, we definitely did it right.  Staying in Memphis the extra day (originally because of the weather) was money.  Beale St was definitely the best place to spend New Year's Eve that I could have thought of.  Our No-Plan Plan worked to perfection, putting us exactly where we needed to be when we needed to be there.  I fly home tomorrow with no regrets, not even that disgusting fast food-y barbecue place in Tennessee.

Brom asked if I would ever drive cross-country again, and I thought about it a little, and I think I would, except maybe in summer, but there is no better way to see this country and experience the people and the various cultures.  I say try it once, and bring along plenty of snacks.  I may be flying back tomorrow, but I am flying back wiser, and hopefully a better, more well-rounded guy.  And I don't mean "round" because of all the food.  But I suppose that could interpret it that way.  Perhaps, more than any other image, this one sums up the trip best:

Or this one:
Thanks again for reading, ya'll.  It's been a trip.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

For the benefit of those with flash photography ... Day 7 & 8 (so far) in Pictures

View them on Facebook Click here

End of the road...

After all the hotels and restaurants (good and bad), it was nice to get a home-cooked meal last night, courtesy of Brom's grandfather and his wife, who are two of the nicest people I've ever met, and this is on a trip that has been filled with nice people.  Now, we are about to embark on our final leg of driving (about 6 hours to L.A.)  It will be weird to stop moving along.  Well, for a day, anyway.  Thursday I fly back to Boston and my relatively normal life.
I believe that I will go back with a greater tolerance for people and patience for the world in general.  For a little while, anyway.  I've seen a lot of natural beauty and met a lot of cool people, so it will be strange to go back to East-Coast-Go-Go-Go life.  I'm sure I'll get used to it, and be back to the same cynical son-of-a-gun I always was soon enough.  But for now, it's been cool.
It will also be weird to see L.A. again.  I lived there 13 years ago, so I'm sure a lot of it is different, but it's still a crazy place, so I'm looking forward to experiencing the memories again.  I'm not really sure if there's anything in particular I was looking forward to, but just the city as a whole.  I'll just have to see how I feel when I get there.
Not sure when the next update will be on this blog.  Maybe the airport.  Maybe Boston.  Maybe L.A.  Either way, I hope people enjoyed reading about our trip as much as we enjoyed living it.  It was a once in a lifetime experience.  To paraphrase a friend of mine, everything came up Milhouse!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Home Stretch

Today was our longest day yet, approximately 700 miles, but we made it to Flagstaff, AZ, and are currently in our last hotel room of the sojourn.  We started in Texas, then drove through New Mexico, where we had a great authentic New Mexican meal in Albuquerque.  Tomorrow, we head to Brom's grandfather's house, where we have been graciously invited to spend the night.  And Tuesday, we roll out for L.A., where we have been invited to stay with his cousin.  Wednesday, we get a day in the City of Angels, and Thursday, I depart.  It will definitely be weird to get to our destination and not have to check out and drive hundreds of miles.
I suppose now is a good time to remark on the reactions we have been getting when we chat with people about what we're doing.  Even the gent who checked us in tonight mentioned how far we are from home.  Kinda weird considering he works in a hotel, but still... it seems like driving cross-country is a rarer occurrence than I thought, and when Brom tells them what is bringing him to L.A., the reaction is mixed to say the least.  Some folks admire the chutzpah, others wonder why he would want to live in L.A.  Either way, it's an adventure that I'm glad I didn't miss.
As we pulled off the highway to the hotel (onto to Rt. 66, no less), the sign read "HWY 40 Los Angeles."  Home stretch, indeed.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

From Memphis to Texas in Less Than a Year

I forgot to check today's mileage, but it's almost 1:00 a.m. and we just checked in, so it's too late to worry about it.  Suffice it to say, we drove from Memphis, TN to Shamrock, TX today, crossing entirely through Arkansas and Oklahoma.  Honestly, I don't think we missed much.
On a positive note, I had what may be my best New Year's Eve of my life on Beale St. in Memphis.  We had decided a day off would be good, and it was the best decision we could have made.  We started out with a nice lunch on Beale St, complete with blues band.  Then, it was off to Graceland for a tour of the mansion (which Elvis bought when he was 22, by the way.  Puts your life into perspective don't it?)  I was prepared for a little cheese on this one, but actually came out with a lot more respect for the King than I thought I would.  The Hall of Gold really put me over the top.  I don't really need to go into the whole history, but the guy sold a lot of records.  A lot.  Like, tons.

Ah, but where did he get his start?  Why, Sun Records, of course.  Sun is the still-active recording studio in Memphis that Elvis paid $3 to cut a record at after graduating high school.  Eventually, they even called him back and the rest is history.  Sun also has recorded some of the most famous and best-selling artists of all time, including Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and U2 (Rattle & Hum was recorded there.)  If you have any appreciation at all for music history, or even if you just like cool stuff like that, spend the $12 on the Sun Records tour (and hope you get the cute blond guide).  It's totally worth it.

Then it was back to downtown Memphis, and possibly the best dinner ever of barbecue chicken and ribs.  Seriously, eat in Memphis.  I don't know what they do different to the chickens down here, but they are delicious.  If I lived here, I'd weigh 500 pounds.
Next, it rained a lot.  Buckets of rain.  But how can you go wrong in a place where they serve huge beers in the street?  And we actually braved the rain for a few minutes to watch a really amazing hair band called Rock Sugar, play mash-ups (They had some nutty combos, like "Enter: Sandman and "Don't Stop Believing.") We rang in the new year at Coyote Ugly, which rocked in every sense of the word (for the uninitiated, that's the bar where chicks get up and dance on the bar.  And there is nothing wrong with that at all).

Okay, so this is a lot of gushing, I know.  But I would never have thought Tennessee could be so much fun.  Between the Bowl games, New Year's, and the food, this has been an amazing couple days.  I think I will have to return there some time.  But for now, it's onward to L.A.  Today was another long day of driving, and more to come tomorrow, but we are in Texas now, so that just leaves the rest of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Cally, and then... back to work?

Friday, December 31, 2010