Lots of driving these days. First between Chicago and Los Angeles. Then, in LA. Driving. I haven't stopped driving since I got here. It's how you cover the massive distances between where you are and where you're heading.

I left Chicago around 11:40 am on August 25, 2005:
Chicago–>Kansas City (via Des Moines)

The next day:
Kansas City, MO–>Boulder, CO

Some things announced on the road:
The birthplaces of --
Ronald Reagan (IL)
John Wayne (IA?)
Jesse James (MO)

Free wireless internet at all Iowa rest stops. As well as bathrooms, vending machines, views of the historic silos.

[Exhaust pipe split 100 miles north of KC. Nice man (forgot his name but shook his hand) tied the pipes up to the melted bumper with a piece of speaker wire from a man moving his entire family, and dog, from Oklahoma to Texas. Tied up the other piece of dangling exhaust pipe with the piece of string I'd been dragging since we moved my bed in Chicago the day before.

Kansas City Volvo place (the next morning) and Kyle Harris's parents (that night) took great care of me. I'm still eating from the jar of nuts that the Harris's sent me off with. The car has had no other major life events since. I was on the road at 10:20 AM on day two heading across Kansas towards Boulder.]

Topeka - signs for the historic sights of Brown vs. Board of Education.

Across the Flinthills. Stunning, particularly with clouds so close over your head.

The birthplaces of -
two astronauts in Kansas (didn't get their names)

I saw what swore it was The Emerald City at first, but it turned out to be a refinery in the distance.

A stunning field on neatly planted sunflowers
Wild fields of Black-Eyed Susans, mostly edging the road. (These became even more wild and prolific a few days later in Arizona, driving towards the Grand Canyon.)

Also in Kansas
the boyhood homes of --
Arlen Specter
Bob Dole

All at the same place, announced separately, for many miles - also in Kansas
8,000 lb prarie dog
Live six -legged steer
Roscoe the miniature donkey

[Filled up the tank next to this place, and I smelled it, but I didn't see it for myself. Too much more of the plains to cover that evening. I made it to Boulder in time to shower before the party.]

I picked up my mom at the Denver International Airport that Monday morning, August 29, 2005. We drove to Santa Fe.

Via the Great Sand Dunes National Park (wow.)
Later, near mile 244 (I think) on Route (have to double check the number) connecting 285 S to Taos we saw an amazing cluster of buried houses completely off the electricity grid. I wish there had been a shoulder on that road. I wanted to pull over and snap some pictures. We arrived in Santa Fe just before Sunset.

Santa Fe–>Flagstaff, AZ
The next day. A hot day. We left during the hottest part of the day. Sun on our arms. The petrified forest. The painted desert.

Signs for petrified wood, fireworks.
Signs including fake dinosaurs
Signs advertising North America's largest piece of petrified wood.

And Chief Yellowhorse's fort

And the bright desert sunshine announced the age in my mother's face after she's smiled.

The next day, on the way to the Grand Canyon:
Signs in quick succession on the Navajo Reservation (sovereign nation):
Nice Indians Ahead
Nice Indians Behind You
Turn around and SHOP!

We had a drink at the El Tovar lounge.
We had an amazing view of the sunset at the Canyon.
We got back at 9pm.
We left at 3am the next morning so we would cross the Mojave when it was cool

because my car runs hot. My mom got to see all the stars out there in western Arizona in the dead of night. I drove the whole way. I saw the stars only in a couple of quick glances. We hit the Mojave at 6am. Saw the sunrise there. (wow.)

We approached Los Angeles via Rt. 40, from San Bernadino, where all the smog collects. And on these hot summer days, and particularly after the pristine desert, it looked fucking gross. And it was all coming from LA. But the smog thinned out as the traffic tightened.

We used the carpool lane for a bit and then hit traffic in Pasedena around 10am, enough to make us stop for breakfast. I had a good cry in the restaurant. A bit road weary, a bit overwhelmed at the prospect of making my life here for a while, of not having a place to live yet. But that passed. I've got a great place to live now, and a new big and completely fucked up city-with surprising natural beauty a few hours in every direction-ready to be explored. By car (and other means too, sometimes).


- Ava Bromberg