[15 states, 15 days, 15 beds]

trip out
east coast
trip back

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day eleven ... summit, nj ... guest room futon
host: sandy & helen -- friends from online

I met Sandy at some point when I linked to his web site or he to mine. I can't remember when or how, but we've been swapping email back and forth for years. I met him in Seattle, then he and his girlfriend came up to Vermont for my New Year's party in '99. This was my first time at his place. The drive was super short, only five hours. We arrived a bit before he got home and Nick was starved so we found this excellent little diner in town. Sandy called us about five minutes after we got there "where are you guys?" and I was happy again to have cel-phone-enabled travelling companions. Usually I just carry a lot of quarters and hope that my friends will be home when I call.

We went over the Tappanzee bridge instead of the George Washington bridge, but I taught Nick the George Washington bridge song anyhow. New Jersey has always made me think of Spring because when my grandmother used to live there, we would visit for her birthday which was in early May. The flowers weren't quite out in MA yet but in NJ all the cherry blossoms were in full effect. So, every year the first Spring I would get a whiff of was in New Jersey.

day twelve ... chicago, il ... guest room futon
host: razvan popescu -- friend of nick's

We drove for what seemed like days. I-80 is always under construction, and has been since I was born. With no easy place to stay before Chicago we decided to drive all the way there. The twelve hours melted away.

When we got there, we stayed with Nick's friend Razvan. Razvan Popescu -- Romanian. Turns out, Razvan and I had been to some of the same places in Romania and he had pictures of some places that I had been to from ten years before I went there. He left sometime before the revolution and had only been back once. I told him stories of the first McDonalds in Bucharest and we swapped stories about Transylvania.

day thirteen ... minneapolis, mn ... living room couch
host: chris dodge & jan desirey -- friends from library world

The last time I stayed with Jan and Chris I got to see the secret librarians-only Elvis shrine in the Minneapolis Public Library, and play with the pneumatic tube system. This time around, we went out for Ethiopian food and then got a tour of the Utne Reader offices, where Chris is the resident librarian. The Utne Reader just did a series of articles on anarchism and so the offices were littered with posters saying "you may be an anarchist and not even know it!" and weird pins saying "Utne Anarchist" whatever that means.

In the morning, we tried to get the laptop to do some simple dial-up and were thwarted -- two tech support technicians of varying skill sets, no luck. We used AOL. It was then that I discovered that the MEDVAC flight that went in to the South Pole to rescue that doctor actually contained mail that I had sent my friend who lives down there! She was psyched for the comic books and mix tape. Nick is even thinking about someday getting a job there, it would be fun to always have a friend in Antarctica.

We puttered around late into the day and I wrote a lot of postcards. Once we got going, we realized we had no end destination in mind and would probably be car camping.

day fourteen ... side of road, mt ... front seat of truck
host: state of montana

Somewhere in the middle of no place, the radio started picking up TV signals. We listened to Who Wants to Be A Millionaire, which was the first time I have ever heard it. As reception dwindled I found myself driving more slowly to stay in range.

We bowled in Fargo ND and I scored my third highest score ever, 159. I seem to bowl best when I am completely out of my element. The bowling alley was selling old pins for a dollar so Nick and I each got two.

The truck does have a crew cab which means four doors, front and back seats. I am short, Nick is not super tall. When it got late, and I decided I didn't want any more coffee, we chose a rest area to be our home for the night. At many rest areas, especially those in the big midwestern states, you can legally sleep in your car. The signs that say No Camping just mean "don't do anything nutty like try to pitch a tent." The limit is usually something like six to eight hours. A few states [Ohio, for one] have caretaker types whose job it is to keep you from sleeping in your car which I have always found insane and dangerous. At the Bad Route Rest Area, there were no caretakers, there were hardly any other people. We moved all the crap around in the truck and did one more lap around the parking lot to get the heat up to reasonable levels considering that it was 38 degrees outside and went to sleep. Nick also snores. His cel phone beeps. I had a seatbelt in my ass. I had left my totemic pillow in Minneapolis. But I did get some sleep, which was the point. I got up early, somewhat cold, and started driving. Nick woke up as we were on the road, assessed the situation and went back to sleep. Missoula was not far and I was in a better condition to drive than I had been at 1 am the night before. We had a great early breakfast at the 600 Cafe in Miles City.

day fifteen ... missoula, mt ... tipi floor
host: matthew ward -- guy i met at wto

I mentioned briefly in my journal about staying in Missoula. We got there early afternoon, grabbed some coffee, walked around, remarked on the completely insanely beautiful weather, and then decided, somewhat strangely, that what we both wanted to do was see a movie. We saw Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon at the Wilma. Very nice. A homeless man proposed to me. We then set out to track down my friend who we were planning to stay with who had given us the briefest of directions. Long story short, he lived in a tipi. Nick was a bit hesitant to have a rough night of sleep again, but I assured him [crossing my own fingers hopefully] that it would be nice.

We stayed with Matt who I had met at WTO and let stay at my place with three of his friends. He was happy to return the favor and we traded stories and curled up around the woodstove and quickly went to sleep.

The trip back to Seattle was a blur, once we were in WA, stuff started looking familar. Nick said "wow, this state sure has a lot of trees!" I dropped him off, illegally parked, and came out of his place to see an angry woman in a sporty red car glaring at me. Welcome back to Seattle!