Be Afraid, U.S. Interstate Sytem, I’m En Route

June 23, 2007

I know all sorts of useful things about vagabonding the States. For instance, I know that it is quite difficult to sleep squatting on the flats of your feet, huddled in a blanket. No matter what those mushroom pickers told me, I don’t think it’s actually possible to do for any extended time. Sure, I can fall asleep, but to stay upright’s the trick. I also know that Arizona kids sometimes slash not one, not two, but four tires if you refuse to buy them alcohol (not that I could have, I was nineteen, which, apparently, they didn’t believe). Quick hits of good advice:

1. Throw the game. Do not play pool for money at a bar where the owner also owns the trailer park out back.

2. Abstain. Or at least do not get drunk with strangers off-strip in Vegas.

3. Shove on. If you find assault rifle casings near an otherwise perfect campsite in the Sawtooth Range, all the “otherwise perfect” in the world does not outweigh the casings.

4. Look away, Dixie. It is impolite to stare at what might or might not be a polygamist family in the West Desert. You will probably be outnumbered and undergunned.  

5. Fido knows. If your dog hates someone, you should hate them too. 

I’ve gleaned this and more, but I also know the importance of good music for any trek. Before a trip I put together a few playlists meant to coordinate the tunes with the terrain. Sometimes this works, sometimes not so much. But as I get ready for my summer trip East, it’s come time to map the route, chart the anticipated playlist, and hit the local casino for some cheap cigarettes. This year’s playlist should be easy because I’ve got a destination which will channel the music selections through definite states, regions, and cities. One of these cities is Youngstown, Ohio, roughly twelve hours from my starting point. Here’s the song below from a live Springsteen concert in (serendipity!) Youngstown. The song (serendipity!): “Youngstown” from his 1995 accoustic album, The Ghost of Tom Joad

I’ll be scouring my collection for more music soon for this particular trip and will continue updating as the playlists come together. And, of course, I’ll worry so much about the playlists, I won’t remember to pack socks.