Behold the NYC to San Francisco journey of two coffee-loving men, a dog and a cold brew keg. Progress:
Nov. 2 - Marc arrived at the Larchmont, NY train station at 9:15 am towing a duffel and his battered guitar case slung over one shoulder . We quickly loaded his belongings into our black Nissan chariot - and with the ever fearsome beast, Eli the Pharoah hound at the rear, we headed south along the Henry Hudson and over the George Washington Bridge. Amazing views of a city cradling a massive marathon bid us farewell on our left. Straight in front of us, the wild, wild west loomed ahead. Just shy of nine hours later on I-80W, after the cheapest/coldest Mexican dinner in recorded history, the boys toasted their first day's journey with a cold beer and saluted their home for the night, Sandusky, Ohio - a town made famous through its affiliation with the film "Tommy Boy!"
Nov. 3 - While consuming eggs and bacon at a window-side table at the Better Half Diner in Sandusky - a place where all dishes "are served with a side of home fires" (evidently insurance is a must!) - an elderly man with a remarkably self-starting, vintage Chevy minivan descended upon us. "That your dog in the car?" he asked. I told him it was to which he beamed, "That dog reminds me of my ex-wife!" Amazing.
Post breakfast, the boys creeped their way into the Sandusky Yacht Club for a toe-dip in Lake Erie. Seagulls! Then, producing our empty keg for a photo-op by a large hedge reading "Sandusky!" (we must have looked like we were carrying an IED), we hurried back to the car before anyone could call the cops and jumped back on I-80W for a meditative 10+ hours. We ended up stopping for the night outside of Des Moines. Thank God for motel pizza.
Nov. 4 - After a fitful sleep at the hands of some hooligans in the motel room adjacent to ours, we bid Iowa an early farewell and headed for flatter land. Nearing the Omaha city limits a friendly (but notably cautious) K9 police officer pulled the Joyriders over citing some moderate 'tailgating' and began to question the nature of our journey. We chatted dogs, coffee, and the rite of passage a cross-country drive should be for nearly every person alive. With a warning, and a smile, we were on our way.
With the hills slowly flattening out, the sky seemed to widen. There's something you're simply not ready to appreciate when the world around you opens so big. Crossing the state line from Nebraska to Colorado, the sun dipped to beneath our visors - and the largest fields, (fertile and not), stretched to everywhere around us - and into the distance. A bazillion wind turbines were at the horizon.
Marc fiddled with his iPod, John Lennon started singing "Imagine." In that moment, this whole trip - the whole experience - hit me all at once. Pretty sure it hit us both.
A safe arrival in Sterling, CO for the night. Just in time for sunset, and Eli's hatchback dinner.
Nov. 5 - My mother has often told me that my generation unnecessarily over-uses the word "Awesome." Louis C.K touches upon it too saying, "What are you people going to say about your wedding day? You've already wasted words like 'Wonderful' and 'Awesome' on a fu*king sandwich!" They're right.
To drive cross-country is to experience the origin of this word. Its etymology. You experience awe in its truest form. In inching our way westward from the flat lands of eastern Colorado, we caught the faintest gesture of the Rocky Mountains. A few snow-capped peaks in the distance. Before long, their presence was unmistakable. A mountain range spanning from one field of view to the other. This slow revelation mimicked a lazy wave rolling toward shore on a calm beach day.
This is the reality of a long drive West. It's difficult from say, taking off from one city and landing in another, - when the new landscape becomes so different. To drive is to experience evolution in slow motion. It's a meditation on incremental, minute change: cornfields level-off into low lying grasslands and ranches. SUVs become pickup trucks. Long herds of cattle, ushered by men on horseback, replace roadside families of deer. Farms die and become dry desert.
The amount of change we saw today was astounding, yet all seemed to happen when we least expected. Within a blink, we are suddenly surrounded by canyon rocks so intensely colorful that we were sure if we chipped off a piece, we could suck the red right out of it, in the form of juice. At some point, we couldn't help but rub our eyes and laugh hysterically. It's magic.
Safe haven in Salt Lake City, UT for the night. Tally ho!
Nov. 6 - We've lost a Joyrider. After an incredible four days on the road, Marc elected to hang back with friends in Salt Lake City for a couple days before flying to SF this weekend. We shared a bear hug and, with a heavy heart, Eli and I headed South toward the sinner-est of sin cities: Las Vegas.
Today's drive was quieter, more reflective. I didn't realize just how much I'd miss a companion with whom to chat. Eli is great, but a conversationalist, he is not. I told Marc that, in his absence, our keg would wear the hat he left behind. Oddly, it fits.
I'm losing adjectives with which to describe the irrefutable beauty of the West. So I'll let the pictures speak for themselves. Today's drive represented the thorough transformation into "Cowboy Territory." Expansive deserts, low-lying bushes, ranches, red rocks, canyon lands, etc. Bittersweet, really.
The temperature has also risen considerably. Nearing Nevada, it was a joy to replace sneakers with flip flops. The folks I've met now speak with a twang.
Booking a suite just off the strip, Eli and I spent the night in Vegas. Wow. This place is nuts. Soulless, intoxicating, and extremely seductive. After losing 100 bucks at the blackjack table in 20 minutes, the 50 year-old bearded man to my left nodded, "Get out while you can, son.' I took his advice..
San Diego tomorrow!
Nov. 8-10 -
Shortly before dipping across the California border on Friday, I noticed that my clock was off yet again: Pacific Standard Time, the final time zone shift. I had made arrangements with an old friend from back home, Matt Bruno, to visit his place in San Diego. After sampling some of southern California's best tacos and craft beer, we joined some folks for a bonfire on the beach where I threw off my shoes and claimed victory with an ankle-deep stroll into the Pacific Ocean. As the evening's festivities came to a close, we retreated to his house in North Park for a late-night beer, discussing everything from musical projects to relationships and coffee. The following morning, we posed for a quick Joyride photo on the porch before Eli and I were sent on our way north. Next stop, Los Angeles.
My other friend, George, is a VFX mogul in LA. Kind of a big deal. He met me at his Culver City office on Saturday, just in time for a clandestine tour of his darkened, abandoned post-production office facilities. Later, we snagged lunch to enjoy at his home in the hills. Eli played on his roof (seriously) while we ate sandwiches around the pool, reconnecting after a handful of years. He suggested we take the keg on a quick hike to the greatest LA lookout imaginable. Beautiful sunset. With many thanks, he and his wife wished us a safe journey toward The Bay. Confident that Eli and I could still make use of the daylight we had left, we settled into Oceano, CA for the night. Sounds of the waves against our hotel room walls, amazing.
With a week of astounding views, unexpected encounters and old friends behind us - Eli and I elected to cover the final miles of our journey north on the Pacific Coast Highway (Rt. 1). A twisty, death-defying drive so surreal, I found myself straddling the line between marveling at the scenery and focusing on keeping us alive. Tough balance. As we rolled into San Francisco nearly at sunset, Joyride's own Mike Samon (wearing a vintage Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles t-shirt) welcomed us to our new home. The dog and I passed out early. Big day ahead.
Rolling into the warehouse Monday morning, we spotted Marc (with a fresh haircut) waiting with a high-five. The original roadsters, reunited. What a long, strange, beautiful, silly, life-affirming drive it's been. Thanks to you all for tuning-in, and sending love. It's meant so much along the way.
...And now, it's time to get to work!