A True American Road Trip
I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move. ~ Robert Louis Stevenson
So I disappeared for a couple of weeks and was basically doing a classic American road trip. I did a big loop. I drove out of the bay area to Bakersfield, from there to Las Vegas, a quick stop for the night in Albuquerque, then down to Roswell, Carlsbad Caverns, back through to Holbrooke, AZ and Petrified Forest National Park, a return to Vegas, up to the ghost town of Bodie, CA and home. A little about each below.
Las Vegas – Part 1
Arrived in a very open Vegas, it was kind of weird being someplace where over 90% of the people were maskless. I hit town and decided to gamble for an hour before meeting friends for dinner, I won $1500, the trip was off to a wonderful start. Dinner with old friends was fabulous. Drove out the next day with an overnight stop in Albuquerque.
Roswell was what I expected Roswell to be. It was a bit of a tourist trap, but in such a campy, 50s movie sense of the world that I thought it was marvelous. It was just goofy fun, lots of super fake aliens, t-shirt shops and aliens everywhere. I dug the International UFO museum, the black-light space walk and just the general fun sense of the whole place.
Carlsbad Caverns absolutely blew me away. The magnificent size of the inside of the caverns was absolutely mindboggling. To see stalactites and stalagmites that are 60 and 80 feet long everywhere left me in awe. It was an absolutely fascinating place to walk through.
Petrified Forest, Holbrooke
Petrified Forest is a bit of a letdown, it’s my own fault, the image that hits my brain with the title is this idea of some sort of standing ancient forest. Of course ancient wood that has been turned into rock obviously had to be laying in the ground. So the site is pretty, open prairie land but not much else. But I did stay in a fabulously funky little motel that gave me a cold bottle of water and an ice cream sandwich at check-in.
Vegas – Part 2
Vegas on the second stop was great again, won some more money, and got to see two old friends. My friend John manages a boxing gym in Vegas and I got to be meet a famous boxer Rafael Marquez, he was super nice. Then my friend Jackie who I graduated from high school with was in town with a friend, we met for a drink. And while talking with them it turns out her friend had read my book Appalachian Trail Happiness, it was a really fun moment of recognition for both of us.
A little visit to Bodie, one of California’s more famous ghost towns. It’s a really interesting place and you can’t beat a chunk of amazing history for an $8 entry fee. One super interesting thing and you can see it hanging in the left upper corner of the image. Is a light bulb that is functioning and well over 100 years old.
I talk a lot about the need for time off and relaxation, to make sure that we balance out the stress of work with the relaxation of fun and vacation. For me, a lot of that is about getting away and a road trip is a great way for me to do that. Hours alone driving, my music cranked up high, all the little oddities that you encounter on the road, the weird little moments are all life candy to me.
Driving through New Mexico, heading to Roswell, you begin to realize how out in the middle of nowhere Roswell really is. There’s this feeling when I’m driving through big open country. In New Mexico I turned south on highway 270, it’s one of those nice, four-lane roads with very little traffic. Speed limits seem basically irrelevant, you always have that, what if I break down moment? But there’s this incredible feeling of freedom on the open road. Flying along, my music cranked up, open space in every direction, I feel like I’m truly flying. Like gravity and life hold no sway, that I am truly free to go where I want, how I want and be whoever I want to be, anything at all. It’s also a dangerous moment for me, I’m never as close to just disappearing into the sunset as I am on those roads. I feel the draw of complete anonymity and a vagabond lifestyle pulling me away from default life. I need every once in awhile to feel that pull and be completely on that edge, my version of screaming into the abyss and waiting to hear what the echo has to say.
I thought a lot about the idea of a spacecraft crashing out there, so far from anything. I get why a secret military base was located out there. My god, in the 1940s, Roswell would have been beyond isolated, secrets would be easy to keep in a place like Roswell. Who knows, today it’s campy plastic aliens and Dairy Queens. I’m glad I visited, it was fun, the road miles help my psyche and seeing old friends and getting my first hugs in over a year was good for my soul. Definitely happy days my friends. ~ Rev Kane