49>50: the Unobserved Life is Busy

06/02/2010 at 7:29 am | Posted in 49>50, Stories from the Road | 4 Comments

Currently in state #5.  And Canada — you are so very large. 6 days x 10-14 hours of driving = Anchorage to Fargo.

Nearly everyone I know says they like travel.  But I find that once I’m on the open road with them, or in a stuffy airplane with them, or trolling around some strange downtown with them, 85% of those travel-lovers really mean something different: they mean they like the idea of travel and the memory of travel.

Because travel itself is stupid.  It’s hot or cold and smelly and tiresome and sometimes hazardous.  It’s completely repacking the car a fourth time.  Being unable to push your seat back.  Dropping dairy products in your carpet.  Buying crap gas and getting only half the mileage you ought to.  Seeing the worst part of town instead of the best by accident, and eating the least desirable burger in town instead of the world famous aweseomeburger because of a GPS error.

Ultimately the plotting beforehand is more fun for most — the hours spent over maps, those magic paper portals.  The guide books, the reviews, and the reservations are all so inspiring.  And later the rehearsed summaries for jealous friends, the slide shows and souvenirs, make the whole experience feel magical in retrospect (even if in reality the only time anyone smiled or quit arguing was to take photos in front of a scenic body of water).

But if you want to ride with me, you have to LOVE THE TRAVEL.  Itself.  In real time.  Because I do.

I’m kind of a dork, and by dork I mean someone who gets really happy and invigorated by little things like funny truck stops and the lumbar support adjustment lever in my car seat and my favorite brand of almonds.  I love the driving itself, taking huge strides across the country.  Washing my windshield has to be one of my favorite daily rituals.  So if you really love the entire process, which is inconvenience and insanity itself — ride with me.

I’m visiting all 50 states.  Currently I’m in state no. 5: Michigan.  It’s hot.  But I found ice cream and a bookstore with a friendly owner, so I’m good.

I’m having a problem, and that problem is not being able to report back to all of you in a remotely satisfactory way on my experiences on the road.  It just can’t happen.  Too much goes on too fast when you’re traveling at this pace to be a proper reporter.  But perhaps it’s good I’m being so much in the center of what I’m doing.  The evaluation may have to come later on such a fast and furious and incredible adventure.

But rest assured I’m saving up my memories.  When I arrive in a cafe, which is the one thing I do pretty predictably every day, I grab a scrap of paper — a menu, a coaster, a flier for some local event — and scribble my thoughts on the back.  My purse and glove box are filling up with these little physical objects.  Sometimes I’m dork enough to ponder my purse as a physical model of a sloppy ill-formatted livejournal.  I don’t know what these scraps of paper will become, but I like them.  After spending my winter months almost entirely online, it’s odd to be unplugged for most of the day as I drive, then socialize, then play a show.  My handwriting is improving again.

A great collection of concert pics by other people is accumulating over at my tagged photos on Facebook, but aside from that, almost nothing directly from me so far (since my plan to vlog has not yet materialized, what my new phone dying in Tok, Alaska).  If you have taken photos and posted them on Flickr, please do add them to the “Marian Call Concert Photos” Flickr group, which lives here: http://www.flickr.com/groups/mariancallphotos/pool/.

And now, hoping to get in the habit of posting short travel stories here when I can.  I think I will blog more if I take it in tinier chunks.  Wish me luck.  I am wishing you luck, and I feel such excitement when I meet you in person.  I really love you guys.




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  1. Speaking of LiveJournal: http://community.livejournal.com/mariancall_fans/profile :)

  2. I’m totally with you on the travel thing. Actually, I like visiting other places and I really like driving — long-distance driving — but I hate flying. Mostly because flying is so uncomfortable and undignified these days.

    But the long-distance driving. God, I love that. When I was a kid I actually wondered about becoming a long-distance trucker. But I knew there was no money in it and I’d probably grow to hate driving once it was a job and not an avocation.

    And I would enjoy the windshield cleaning more if every gas station properly maintained their blue juice and scrubbers and squeegees! With fresh blue juice and a long-handled scrubber I can work wonders. ;-)

  3. When I moved from Ohio to New Mexico, I made an adventure of it. Nowhere near as cool as your tour, but it was fun.

    I visited friends in Kentucky. Stopped at Graceland in Memphis. Saw another friend in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Visited a cousin in Houston. A friend in Austin. Another friend at Texas A&M. Then I took Route 66 from Oklahoma City to Santa Fe and listened to 50’s jazz. All the way along, I would stop in diners and rest stops to chat with anyone that I met. I eschewed fast food places for the most part since most people were not in the mood to talk there. It was fantastic!

    I really hope that your trip will be as much fun as mine was.

  4. Are you trying to drive me crazy? Pun intended. Large open spaces, long straight-aways, truck stops, morning coffee ritual and… a fresh window each morning. You’re making it hard to sit still here in Anchorage. It’s nice to see someone else enjoying the journey more than the obvious ‘sights’ and fuss to reach their desired destination. I also like the… “I’m in the middle of nowhere and suddenly start smiling and laughing for apparently no reason other than a shear joy of the magnitude of distance around me.”

    Keep lovin’ it! LD

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