April 11, 2005

I feel a bit like a hypocrite for doing this. But it had been in the planning stages for awhile. ...That was prior to the events of 9/11, back when gas was still under $1.50 a gallon; before George W. Bush and before the Iraq war. For all I know, this may be one of the last opportunities to take a cross country trip before it becomes too expensive for the average person.

(Above is my backyard. It'll be interesting to see how it will change in a month's time.)

After numerous setbacks and delays, and a big storm system crossing the path of my planned route, I finally set off, leaving the charming city of Cleveland behind (above is the scenic intersection of Bellaire and W. 117th). Starting mileage on the speedometer: 87489.

Today people were in a good mood. The clerk at the gas station near Mt. Gilead kept commenting on what a beautiful day it was. Just a few miles south of Cleveland the air was mild and green was finally starting to show on the rolling hills.

Joseph Campbell has observed that the theme of "The Journey" -- especially one whose end result is discovery or wisdom -- is universal in mythology, . It 's certainly a part of the mythos of American culture. Perhaps it's in our blood; after all, we're the descendants of ancestors who dared to cross the ocean in search of an unknown future. When the first interstate highways were built, Jack Kerouac and others popularized the idea of experiencing America from the road. Of course, that was back when gas was cheap.

At the very least I can say I'm not driving a gas guzzling SUV or Hummer. My car is a 1993 subcompact which can get 30-40 miles to the gallon on the freeway. Tonight it logged 125 miles on just a quarter of a tank. Fortunately I missed the big storm and driving was smooth and peaceful for the most part. I made it to Effingham, IL and I'm wondering how much butt I can haul on Tuesday. There's a cousin lives in Santa Fe, so that will be the first "real" destination on this trip. (BTW, all of the above pics were taken with an Olympus D100 point-and-shoot.).

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