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Saturday 16 August 2003

Greetings from Ann Arbor

We're in Michigan and we have electricity here at Jenny's house. The trip here was mostly uneventful. Most car accidents happen within five miles of home. With that in mind, we slammed on the brakes, stopping short of hitting a car right after we started. The dog had been scrambling for a perch on top of the highest point of our stuff, the cooler. So when we hit the brakes, she hit the windshield. Fortunately, she was unhurt and we re-packed the car so she would like her spot better and stay in it, instead of climbing on things.

We stopped for lunch in Reno. I've seen a lot of Nevada now, I think. I like Reno better than Vegas, but just because of the Peppermill. This is a restaurant/casino chain. There used to be a restaurant in Cupertino that my grandmother thought was very fancy and took people often. The girl from Kansas would be amazed at the Peppermill. Even the Cupertino restaurant had mirrored ceilings, fake plants, and a "fireside lounge" which featured a gas fireplace over a small pool. The casino is the same but more so. It's dark. You can't tell what time of day it is. It's got mirroed walls and ceilings and carpets which feature a loud solar system motif. There is more neon than is beleivable. Flashing lights abound. Some of the casinos that I visitted in Vegas were mildly disorienting, but they had nothing on the Peppermill. Concepts like time, space and direction melted away in the rediculously ostentatious furnishings. It was fantastic. Nothing there stopped half way. It embraced everything that a casino should be. It was awesome. I want to go back and get disoriented again.

We stopped for the night in a town that was on the border of Nevada and Utah. It's funny that the state of pretend sin is right next to the state of pretend piety. We got breakfast in another casino that turned out tgo also be the peppermill. it was smaller, but just as amazing. Then we set out across the salt flats. We stopped at a truck lot that I'd like to think is the very same truck lot that Tiffany and Luoi sat in when they were hitchiking home last summer. Because there was no cell phone coverage through most of Nevada, I had the idea that we should get CB radios to communicate with Matt and Jenny in the other car. So we got two CBs there. It's a bit dissapointing that we didn't get them at the start, since I've heard that certain professional ladies in Nevada will chat on CBs, trying to lure in truckers, but as Christi's friend Peter pointed out, all that will still be there whenever we go back through. After we're both gone, even.

The days sort of blend together in my mind of flat driving and rolling hills of the Rockies or whatever we crossed. We stopped for the night in Wyomin one night. Christi said the steak there was great. There is nothing in Wyoming except the continental divide . . . twice. I guess the water in between flows towards the middle? On the border of Wyoming and Nebraska is a thrity foot tall statue of Jesus. Country song (the only available radio station there) lyrics have been created to celebrate the holy icon:

You can't do what you pleases
In front of the tall Jesus

You have to do what the Lord doth say
At least until you drive away

We stopped for gas in Laramie in whatever state it was. No pilgramage was made. Christi and I did not hold hands. We drove across Nebraska and it was flat and boring, but had a better classical station that San Francisco does: NPRN. And then more and more states. We went to Iowa and visitted Christi's friend Peter Balestrieri, who told us about all his many life events. He was Christi's admin at Intuit. He's working for a writer's center in Iowa City and plays with an improv group that that he described as "secret clubhouse" like. They have their own club and don't play out anywhere. The club puts up three flyers for ever show and sends out stuff to an email list. Often, no one shows up.

We said goodby and drove by Chicago-land. It's huge. It was super hot and humid and the road was completely packed with trucks. There were more trucks that I've ever seen in the same place. The steam-room enviroment was getting to them. The CB was alive with chatter. Every truck stop that we passed had an altercation occuring. "Get out of the tuck, you bastard and I'll kick your ass! Yeah, you at the pump! Get out!" All the places with parked trucks there wanted to do each other violence. The driving trucks were no more calm, shouting insults and obscenities across the CB. It was completely profane. As we got further away, the truckers became clamer, but no more thoughtful. One driver was explaining that he had picked up an anchovy pizza three days ago and not found a dumpster to throw it way in. "It's been stinking up the cab for the last few days, but I'm so hungry now. It's probably still good right? It wouldn't spoil after just three days. I just want to eat around the edges." he explained to the world in the 90 degree heat. Then another talked for a long time about a prostitute at a rest stop. She was young enough to be his daughter. He wanted to take her back to her parents. All the other drivers wanted directions to the rest stop.

My mom told me that truckers used to be called "knights of the road." I swear. She said deregulation changed everything, but I'm skeptical, although deregulation was a bad idea for sure. The truckers were talking about the lights being out, so we switched on the radio and learned of the large east coast power outage. then Matt and Jenny called to say that the lights were out in Ann Arbor, so we got a room in Kalamazoo.

This morning, I tried to call several VW repair folks because a part fell off the car. I finally got a dealer in Chicago who said it wasn't a problem. So we came up to ann Arbor and the lights came on at Jenny's apartment just as we arrived. We helped her get her stuff from storage and move in to her new Apartment. then met some of her friends and went for sushi. tomorrow, we're going to London Ontatio to get married. I don't know if the lights are on there. I don't know how long it will take to cross the border and to get there. Wish us luck.

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