#tbt to when we were flying along RT 70 West passing miles of cornfields in Kansas and careening around and over and through the Colorado Rockies and then sweeping across the magnificence of Utah. We drove to California on a trip of a lifetime starting in Vermont. Sounds crazy, right?
Driving across this entire America was a life-long dream of my sweetie, and after decades of lobbying, I finally agreed to spending that much time in a car. Months of socking away 10’s and 20’s, weeks of gathering travel supplies, hours of chopping carrots and boiling eggs and packing essentials, until finally we were underway. Four nights in truck-stop stops, meals out of a cooler, M&M’s and iced tea and silly laughter and just about every genre of music found us all the way to the West Coast, ready to take in the sights, the culture, the art, enjoying family and friends straight-up Cali style.
There is a vitality in traveling which is hard to explain. But you throw a few articles in a bag, all with the expectation of playing along the beach under a hot sun, and you start the adventure with that final notion. But then comes long days of riding through state after state, and highways and cities and you just start to realize you had no idea where this escapade was taking you. There’s the toll booth guy that tells you to have an exceptional day. Not the standard good day, but an exceptional one, and you end up chatting for a few extra minutes, and feeling, well, exceptional. Another person in the coffee shop who reminds you to check out the whole neighborhood. To see what you might miss. And so you do. The Native American woman at the rest stop selling her beaded jewelry, whose whole being reminds you to plant your feet, and live somehow wilder, as she spits her chew and grins, and tells you that you made her day. Those people all become part of this string of lives woven into ours as we push the speed limits and chase the orb into the flat horizon.
As the art world adores the masters, it also now acknowledges those who stood in defiance, spray cans in hand, with a loud message to share. Sides of passing trains, abandoned buildings, the backside of billboards, and even exhibitions showcase what was once hastily covered over. All through the drive, and once in Cali, we got jazzed by those shouting their truth. Daring ones. And as loud as these graffiti artists spoke to us, the art housed in the Getty Center did too. Wow. Art really does matter, don’t you agree? Imagination is really at the core of all passion. Clamoring in color and form and emotion and idea.
Exploring around like tourists is always worthwhile, I’d say. So up the coast to Santa Barbara, down to Laguna Beach, over to Sunset and Vine, even downtown LA, we continued to drive, jump out, drink in. Along those rocky, scrubby hills too, cruising along Mulholland Drive after dark to watch the jeweled city light up below. Stars shining for miles.
I really can’t summarize what we felt passing through the abandoned towns on historic RT 66, seeing the poverty along Arizona’s spine of the east canyon, reading billboards announcing Jesus is coming, and Adult stores all on the same horizon. Paradox around each turn. This country filled with resources and cash yet starkly devoid of hope in so many neighborhoods. Reminders to care. That people everywhere need something. This is all about staying present. Doing whatever it takes to help our neighbors through dark days. Choosing joy first with no more time to wait.
In the end, as we scroll back through our photos and process the whole of what we undertook, there are moments that stand like beacons to the rest of the days. We remember those pastel skies. The salty hours riding a boogie board. Meeting good folks in every corner of this great America. Those who wish us well, and pour us coffee, and serve us graciously in state after state, red ones and blue ones alike. People are extraordinary. Not on Twitter. Or FOX News. Or in scandalous headlines. But if letting go of social media, and TV, and unkind gossip can teach you one thing, it’s that this is a magical world, filled with hope, and promise, and dreams that require hard work done together in this mash-up of America. My appreciation of us listening, and believing, and gathering together, is here, in this now.