Sometimes when you travel the backroads, you end up at the Bates Motel. Other times, for a pittance in some old tumbledown place, you get blazing-fast wifi, a no-charge stay for your dog, and a picture window through which you can watch the sun set over mountains. Not bad.
Then some woman (apparently in charge of rousing the members of a work crew) knocks on your door at 4:32 a.m. Apologizes. And comes back 10 minutes later and does it again. This time with no apology. Just turns and walks off when she sees you’re not the person she wants. (Have I mentioned how much I hate traveling?)
I also have to take back what I said the other day about Utah having the biggest stretch of empty in the lower 48 (Okay, K.W., Alaska’s got the rest of ’em beat). Yesterday I traveled less than 400 miles, but that included two stretches of mind-bending emptiness, each more than 100 miles (the longest 120 miles) without so much as a gas station. Nothin’ but sagebrush.
I dunno. Some of you guys can say you love this stuff. But as a woman traveling alone in a 10-year-old vehicle, I find this landscape absolutely scarifying. I keep running “what if I break down” scenarios through my head; none of them are pretty, and the two boxes of emergency gear in the back don’t lighten my mood.
When not inspiring thoughts of abandonment, this landscape is mind-numbingly dull. Thank heavens for Ethel Merman. A remastered CD of the original Broadway recording of “Gypsy” has been stuck in my car’s player for months, and Mermanic song-belting is better than Red Bull for staying awake. The ebullient goofiness of “Have an Eggroll, Mr. Goldstone” is good for about 50 miles, all by itself.
Okay, back on the road in a few minutes. But in the meantime, here’s some stuff I found via that rocket-fast wifi:
- From “The Art of Manliness,” “Curing Your Restlessness.” I’m none too manly (so I hope!), but I do tend toward restlessness. This think-piece struck a chord, though I don’t agree with all its conclusions.
- (Tip o’ hat to S.) Panama named #1 country for business in Latin America.
- “Crony Capitalism: From GM to Greece, the Lies Keep Growing.” Don’t often read George Will, but he’s spot-on here. And that’s a fascinating factoid about the relative size of the Greek economy.
- Finally, you can ignore some of the writer’s wilder conclusions, but this enthusiastic collection of ongoing natural disasters — volcanic, meteoric, seismic, etc. — is a damn fun read. Good pix and videos, too. I found it while searching (futilely, as it turns out) for more information on this astounding, slow-motion mess in Italy, (H/T Radley Balko).