Day 1 cont'd.
At the end of our meal, we inquired about purchasing alcohol on a Sunday night in Tennessee, as the prospect of a fresh hotel room sans booze was a garish thought. We were pleased to find out from our perhaps overly knowledgable waitress that the alcohol laws there were actually more liberal than in Texas, which sounds absurd (at least to me, anyway), but nonetheless a pleasant surprise. We got a six-pack at a nearby gas station and continued on. I was driving 'in the zone,' and wanted so badly to whip the halfway point of our trip with a belt, which by my estimation would have meant travelling 1,000 miles the first day.
As the night approached the early morning late night of 4 a.m., we realized that most hotels require a checkout at or before noon, and we felt like getting as much sleep as possible without having to pay for two nights was a good idea. So, at 4:30, I relented, and pulled into a Days Inn in La Grange, Kentucky, and felt only mild satisfaction at having merely sort of elbowed the halfway point of our trip in the ribs in a large crowd while walking quickly by and behind it, wreaking a cowardly vengeance on it for having mercilessly stepped hard on my foot while it passed without so much as a second, or first, glance back in my direction- unapologetic, self-important and rude.
Rebecca stayed in the car while I got a room for one, and then we snuck in the back entrance, making sure to keep up the facade by not having Rebecca phone in our wake up call. It turns out I was really fatigued, only I didn't know it while we drove. That didn't stop me from drinking one, maybe two, beers and watching bad late night cable TV while Rebecca showered. (Excerpt missing here- damn ink pens and papyrus. -ed.) We went to sleep at or near six with plans to take advantage of the free continental breakfast between seven and ten the following morning, a plan that was quickly dashed the moment we closed our eyes. This would be a recurring theme for the following three nights. Not once on our journey did we consume any melon, burnt toast, bad coffee, or hotel scrambled eggs.
The next morning we continued on- 700 miles to New York. I cannot remember when or where we ate, not that it's important. A lot of the day is a blur, though I do remember passing a sign somewhere in the mountains of Pennsylvania- a bonified, reflective, presumably state-sponsored sign that read, "Site of Fatal Bus Accident- 1988" in a shade of brown normally reserved for historical landmarks, tourist attractions, or tree sponsorship programs.
The mountains grew dense with fog and rain as darkness and semi-trucks crowded around my little car. The mountains lasted forever, and thinking about them now conjures a sense of depressedness, though at the time I was perfectly happy, if not just a tiny bit stressed about 18 wheelers and rain and death and an annoying windshield wiper blade that would be better termed a smearer. The roads were not too steep or winding in the Pyrenees, like those out west or in Hawaii, so there was an upside to it, I suppose. Earlier in the day, Rebecca discovered that our route was to take us directly through Washington, Pennsylvania, the town where her father currently resided, a man whom, before March of that year, she had not seen for five years. She called her mother to inquire as to whether or not she should call him to inform him that we were passing through.
Within minutes, the entire side of her father's family had heard the news- even her great-grandparents who were on vacation to the tiny, picturesque town, and plans were promptly made for a meeting and dinner on the way back home.
We emerged unscathed on the eastern side of the mountains, and what we lost in hilly altitude and curves in the road was made up for in increased rain and the hellish, slick, near destroyed roads of New Jersey. We stopped at a secluded rest stop about 100 miles from the city where I tried to help a man fish a quarter out of a pay phone that had become stuck in his haste to insert the coins and also read some fine, witty graffiti in the bathroom that involved Bush AND swastikas, as well as what seemed to be a legitimate gay personals ad space, complete with measurements, desires, abilities and actual phone numbers. Rebecca speculated that Bush is the only president that people tag bathroom walls in protest of. While the previous is a poorly written sentence, she conveyed her meaning, and I agreed at the time, but now that I think about it, I think I disagree. I wish I could've hung around truck stops when Nixon was in office.