Out the empty highway, Marine recruitment billboards proclaim, “We don’t take applications, we take commitments.”
Out the Empty Highway
Cars drive ten miles above the speed limit in the right lane, and are passed on the left by shiny new pickups, courtesy of natural gas money. Everyone pulls left to pass lumbering trucks carrying portable frack water systems. Approaching Sweetwater, wind turbines guard the hilltops, and we are welcomed into town by a blade laid sideways in the median, heralding, “Welcome to Sweetwater, Wind Energy Capital of North America.” The things you don’t know, you will find right out your back door.
I did a lot of research before I quit my job to take a traveling hiatus. Not the kind of research you’re thinking: budgeting a year off, risking leaving a good job in a bad economy, couch surfing without getting bedbugs… getting rid of bedbugs. No, that stuff I’ll be throwing together as I go along. I had to research how to quit my job.
Road Tripping – Diamond Lake, 1968
My grandparents were excellent travelers. They thought nothing of packing up the car like an ancient tetris game and heading out into the world from their Bay Area home base. In 1956, it was not uncommon for them to put my mother and uncle, their ‘spinster’ aunt, and Bronco the dog in the car and head up the coast to Oregon to check on the maternal family dairy farm, to Carmel for lunch and sandcastles on the beach, to the Sierras for camping and trout fishing, or to Arizona, Chicago, and later, the East Coast, where my mother was in college. Along the way, they managed to find Hopi ruins, Chicago’s greatest hauftbrauhaus, California’s widest redwoods – the best of what their world had to offer, without a guidebook.