Jeff Wagg

20Feb/090

Several States Later…

I'm writing this from Ruselville, AR. I honestly didn't think I'd be back in Arkansas this quicky... if ever... but here I am.

In the last few days, I've dropped coins in a fountain owned by Satan (in Birmingham, AL), purchased voodoo charms in Memphis, TN, and arm-wrestled two unknown women in a bar in Olive Branch, MS. (I'll have video of that event soon. Internet connections are a bit of a challenge at the moment.)

All of this has been a bit hard to predict. But considering the original purpose of my original journey, of which these recent trips are a diversion, I wonder how far I've gotten in my goal.

I've driven thousands of miles at this point. I have over a thousand left to go, and then I'll be in Las Vegas with two vehicles. I don't know exactly what I'll do with them. But the problem is, I'm not supposed to care. The whole point of this journey was to arrive at my final destination... and nothing else. I still haven't done that, and now I'm spending a lot of time thinking about what will happen after that moment. I am off mission.

So, I have a dilemma. Do I abandon the trip, postpone it, or go through with it knowing that there will be some dire consequences? I guess I'll decide that once I get to Las Vegas again in a couple of days.

In the meantime, I'll still be seeing and experiencing things along the way. Today takes me through Oklahoma, including a small town very few have every heard of, and then on to the flatland of Texas. Every mile could have a clue as to what I'm searching for.

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19Feb/090

Georgia on My Mind..

This morning, the GPS shows me in East Oxford, AL. I went to the local Waffle House, which always seems to be within a 100' of every motel in the south, and ordered some generic breakfast food.

And then came the question I'd been waiting for all my life.

"Would you like grits with that?"

Now, I do actually know what grits are. They're corn soaked in lye (hominy) and then cooked into a gruel. However, knowing THAT is not quite the same as knowing grits.

"I've heard of grits, but I've never had them. How do you eat them?"
"Well, most people like to put honey on them."
Another waitress walked over and said "That's not true! You're supposed to use butter and salt on them!"
"No, that's what you put on cream of wheat."
"I haven't had cream of wheat since I was kid. I prefer grits, and the only way to eat them is with salt and butter. And pepper too. Lots of pepper."

I sat back in an amused fashion as the two negotiated the presentation of this, my christening into grit culture. Finally, they decided to give me the grits (for free, I might add), with everything I could possibly put on them.

I grew up with cream of wheat, and bemoan the loss of the artificially flavored Instant Banana Spice variety. That was prepared simply by adding water and milk. Grits, are a far more elaborate affair.

In front of me, I had a bowl with a lumpy tapicoa-esque subtance that seemed to be oozing oil or some other yellow liquid. Next to that was honey, strawberry jam, butter, salt and pepper. There was some tobasco there, but I don't think that was for the grits.

After careful consideration, I chose honey, and ate nearly the whole bowl. When I was finished, the first waitress came over.

"You chose the honey! How was that?"
"They were quite good, actually."
"You heat that Maybelle? He liked the grits with honey!"

I could see down the counter that the younger Maybelle was somewhat upset at this, and I wondered if I shouldn't order another bowl and eat them her way just to smooth things out.

Instead I tipped generously, and put "Walk The Line" on the jukebox as I headed back to the motel room.

As we approached Atlanta yesterday, Alison had the idea to get a bunch of flowers, sing the Beatles' "All You Need is Love" and hand them out to random strangers. She sent off a few texts and e-mails, and voila! Ten skeptics appeared at Underground Atlanta to support the event. Underground Atlanta was not the right place for this, and the weather was pouring rain, so we went off to The Thinking Man, a skeptical bar in Decatur. And the plan was carried out, and worked! All the bar patrons received us gratefully, all stopped to thank us on the way out, and I believe we seriously enhanced their evening. Alison has a short video of this even on her Facebook page. Thanks to everyone who came out on short notice!

It seems we'll try to do a similar thing in every state for the rest of the journey, however we're under time pressure now, and I'm not sure how that's going to work out. We shall see.

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18Feb/090

Where’d Jeff Go?

So, those of you following my journey may have wondered if Amarillo swallowed me whole. I apologize for not keeping the site up, but I've been run ragged the last couple of weeks. I submit this as explanation.

My original plan was to drive to Dallas, pick up Alison and head to Vegas, and then on to my final destination. However, complications in Dallas threw me off schedule, and then we were up against a work trip to Florida. We did make it to Vegas, but with no time to spare before we had to fly to Florida.

In Florida, things got more complicated. Our flight was delayed such that we'd miss a connection. As there was family nearby the following weekend, we decided to stay over and spend time with them. That all went fine, but when it was time for us to take our flight back to Nevada, we decided to do something else.

We decided to drive.

There was one problem with this plan: we didn't have a car. I looked into renting a car, and we were on our way to Gainesville to pick one up, when we pass a CarMax. Sitting on the edge of the lot, was the exact car I was looking to purchase.

So I did. I walked in, figured some complicated financial arrangements, and now we're in Cordelle, GA in a 2007 Honda Ridgeline which will replace my Land Rover when this trip is finally over.

We'll be driving to Vegas over the next few days, and then I'll drop Alison off and drive to Vermont.

I'm not sure if I'll have time to finish my original journey before I go back to Vermont or not, but I'm going to keep updating things on the site in the meantime. I'll set the GPS tracking back up, and will keep updating the blog and posting twitpics. For those of you who are Alison's friends on FaceBook, she'll be posting her own updates as well. In fact, she'll probably have more as I will be doing the bulk of the driving and she'll have time to actually post from the car.

Unfortunately, I don't have a way to do a road cam. My camera is in the Land Rover, which is in the aiport in Las Vegas. I will see if I can rig something up though.

I apologize for how confusing this all is. It just goes to show that plans aren't always the most important thing.

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6Feb/090

Amarillo, TX

I woke bright and early in Arlington, TX this morning, hopped into a fully loaded Land Rover and drove down the street to pick up my best friend Alison. She's moving to Las Vegas, and I'm giving her a hand by moving some of her stuff and towing her car. We'll be driving to Vegas over the next couple of days.

After a delightful lunch and museum tour at The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth with Alison's family, we headed west and made it to Amarillo. One fun thing at the museum... you can eat one of the exhibits. Well, part of one. It's a river of candy, and you're invited to take a piece. Lime flavored.

This is a flat place. Flat. Flat like.. so flat it makes Kansas look like a challenging climb. So flat, that when you look towards the horizon, you can see the back of your head. So flat that you get the sensation that you lost a dimension on the highway somewhere.

Amarillo is also home to the Big Texan, and eatery with a famous dish: the 72 oz. steak. If you can finish it, it's free. Expect to be timed and video taped if you choose this entrée. We didn't stop there this time, but on a past trip, we observed a couple of good-sized guys fail miserably and waddle away from the table looking for a quite place to digest. They also have rattlesnake for the less adventurous.

I'm not sure where we're going to land tomorrow. It's late, I'm sleepy, and as long as we make Vegas by Saturday, we're fine. I'll try to twitter some more pics tomorrow. Today was a day of some technical frustration.

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4Feb/090

Preparing to Head West, and An Unwelcome Visitor

Upon arriving at the Dallas - Ft. Worth airport yesterday, I was pleased to see that the car was still safe and sound in its covered parking spot. I was not so pleased to discover that someone had been using it while I was gone.

I should say some "thing" was using it.

They weren't using it to travel, for they are far more adept at that than a mere Land Rover. They were using it for protection, at night. Yes, they were using it to roost.

One or more avian squatters, and I do mean squatters, appears to have taken up residence in my car.

I had cleverly left the sun roofs opened a crack, to allows some ventilation while I was gone. Land Rover sun roofs even have screens, but they're not complete, and act more as sunshades. There was absolutely no way a human could get in there, but I didn't account for birds.

Given that they were gone when I arrived, how did I become aware of their former presence? By their calling cards of course. Seat rests, steering wheels, and the empty space above cup holders seem to act as premium perching space. It took me half an hour and half a roll of paper towels to remove their gifts, but who knows, maybe I should have left the upholstery dappled and claimed that Jackson Pollock was the interior designer for my car.

Fortunately black leather cleans well. I do wonder one thing though... how can I be really sure that they're gone?

Hitting the road again tomorrow. Stay tuned.

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