So it’s been awhile since I’ve posted and that’s because I was caught up in all that accompanies getting a new job across the country.  As of tonight, I’m officially in Los Angeles, California with enough stuff to keep me going until my furniture arrives, which is scheduled to make it here sometime this week.  Luckily, I was able to move into my girlfriend’s place, so I don’t have to sleep on the floor or live out of a motel until that happens.

I can’t wait to immerse myself in LA culture, including the music scene.  I’ll get back to the music-centric posts, hopefully with some reviews of shows here in LA, soon as I settle into my new environs.  In the meantime, here’s some highlights from Sarah and my cross-country trip that started on Tuesday and ended this afternoon.  We took a southerly route, driving from DC to Atlanta, Atlanta to Dallas, Dallas to Santa Fe, then to Phoenix for the weekend before making the last hop to LA.

  • It was a remarkably traffic-free trip.  We were able to avoid the horrible rush hour traffic going through downtown Atlanta on the first day, thanks to HOV lanes.  The only real traffic we ran into was when we were crossing the mountains in Arizona heading into Phoenix and that was due to an unexpected snowfall that had cars creeping along at 30 mph with snow on the road and limited visibility.  Definitely would have closed schools in the DC area, but we trucked on.
  • Had some great food along the way, and stayed away from fast food til today with a stop at Wendy’s.  The Walnut Tree in Vicksburg, Mississippi served up a blue plate special filled with southern vegetables (mustard greens, purple hulled peas) and chicken pot pie or country fried steak.  The Shed in Santa Fe had some great chile-flavored dishes, with some really refreshing margaritas.  We also ate at Snappy Lunch in Andy Griffith’s hometown of Mt. Airy, NC which had an interesting pork chop sandwich.
  • Apparently Andy Griffith modeled his show on his hometown, and the town has embraced its folksy hero by trying to recreate Griffith’s TV version of their own town (there’s some sort of meta-thing going on here).  Even weirder than Mt. Airy though was Vicksburg, MS.  A town besieged during the Civil War for its strategic importance as gatekeeper to the Mississippi River, now it alternated between fantastically old but preserved plantation-style homes and seedy or completed gutted buildings.  At one point we walked down from the largest of the restored homes (Cedar Grove) to the railroad tracks that run through the town, and it was obvious that there was a literal “wrong side of the tracks” with rundown shacks and old cars parked in yards.  We turned around and headed out of town.
  • In Dallas we visited Dealey Plaza to see where JFK was assassinated.  We got there early in the morning so we didn’t get to go to the museum in the old Texas School Book Depository, but it was a surreal experience to just see people driving and walking to work all around this spot in which one of the most famous episodes of modern history took place.  The night before, we had gone out to the Deep Ellum neighborhood, which we had read was a new thriving area.  There was a long strip of bars, shops, and music venues that was pretty hopping for a Wednesday night.  It reminded me of the H Street corridor in DC except with more bikers (of the motorcycle variety), even more tattoos, and louder music (there was some sort of death metal band playing at one of the venues that could clearly be heard from outside the club).  We went to one of the more tame bars and chatted with a professional bicyle racer who had just moved from Charlottesville, VA (small world, huh).
  • We had planned to camp in New Mexico, but when we figured out it was in the 30s near Santa Fe and we’d be arriving after dark, we opted for a last minute B&B near the historic downtown.  It was a good choice, as it gave us easy access to walk around and see all the old buildings in Santa Fe.  We also had an enthusiastic host, who met us outside the B&B, got us a reservation at the aforementioned Shed, and walked us to the restaurant and told us about why he loved Santa Fe so much.
  • In Phoenix, we stayed with one of my good college friends and also met up with my cousin.  Since it rained most of the day, we couldn’t partake in any outdoor activities.  So, my friend (who is a real estate agent) took us to some homes that were for sale nearby.  The highlight was the house with a 70 foot working waterfall that cascaded over rocks, a 3600 square foot garage, and enough rooms to house a small army.  It can be yours for a mere 1.9 million.  If you’re interested, I’ll put you in touch with my friend.
  • Having driven cross-country twice now, I still think the Southwest has the most interesting scenery to look at in the entire country.  While most of the interstates on the East Coast and South are lined with trees keeping you from seeing much except, well, trees, the Southwest’s highways cut across desert landscapes that allow you to see everything from the many small homesteads dotting the landscape to mesas and mountains in the distance (and sometimes up close).  Also, driving through the Southwest, especially after covering a good bit of territory in Texas, I have the sudden urge to buy an American-made pickup truck.

So that’s six days of driving and eleven states summed up in less than a 1000 words.  While it is tiring, it really is the best way to see this country.


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