Roadtrip 2014 with Joe

My friend Joe from Birmingham England came and visited America for a two week road trip across the south west. 

Day 1: Joe gets here on the 5th. Snowstorm.

Have a beer, go to sleep.

Day 2: We went out in Manhattan on the 6th.

Had nothing in the house to eat for breakfast. Went to Dillon’s and bought bread and orange juice. Joe tried to buy a pack of 20 cigarettes, and the lady started pulling twenty packs out. In the end he couldn’t buy them anyway because he didn’t have his id. We made out like bandits with an extra free loaf of bread somehow, though.

Breakfast at home. Toast and tea. No spreadable butter, then over-microwaved butter, and the marmite jar wouldn’t open. So surprising as well, as I use marmite almost daily.

Stopped at the gas station on way out to run errands- bought a pack of cigs and a lighter. Joe tried the American cigarettes for the first time and decided they weren’t really his cup of tea.

Those horrible conversation starters in the card deck at Varsity doughnuts. My getting a nut doughnut of course, putting it dangerously close to his and he didn’t even protest. He then had to tell me he was allergic for the 34th time in our friendship- and I was like, Oh Shit. And threw my doughnut away. “I don’t even LIKE donuts.”

Later that day I hid all of the peanuts I had bought to accompany us on our road trip.

Dicks Sporting Goods. Joe thought it was hilarious, which it is. So hilarious. Best Buy- Cameron gave us the whole customer service spiel. First random American Joe talked to. We go to Walmart next, and nervously check out the gun section. Also see a machete for 10 bucks. And a pink rifle for little girls. Then go to Chipotle, we saw my friend in there, take burritos home and watch Kanye online. I politely don’t finish my burrito so that Joe can forfeit the burrito battle with dignity.

Joe takes a nap and I go running. When he wakes up, the house is dark, power is out and candles are set out for a seance. Head to wine and cheese party in the freezing weather. Joe had serious hat hair- his own observation, not mine.

Wine at Diana’s, quickly downed a bottle or two of wine and then we were all best friends.  Everyone bought Joe traditional American Bud Light and Coors, and made sure he finished them. Joe approved of PBR.  Fifteen of us squeezed into photo booth at Auntie Mae’s basement bar and took pictures. At Aggiestation Jordan stole Joe’s hat, and kept forgetting his name so called him ‘British Man’ all night,  and we all kept apologizing for being Americans.

Joe drunkenly explained every intricate detail of English football to Danny and his friend, and the British class system, they were eating it up.

“We’re horrible, we know it!”

“No, you’re not that bad. You’re not that bad,” Joe assured us.

And this just caused us to increase the apologies. Then we all went to Jimmy Johns and got regular foot long subs, easily consuming them in minutes while you looked on in horror.

Back at Diana’s, you’re talking to Danny for what seems like hours in the kitchen, while I am sliding in and out of sleep. Danny wants to know everything British.

We fall asleep on Diana’s couch.

Day 3: Early hungover ride back home from Diana’s after first night out.

“Grain innovation center. Why haven’t you taken me there yet?” Joe asks as we drive past it.

We both go back to sleep for a bit after we get back to my house, then I go running. When I come back Joe’s having a cup of tea and reading the paper at the table with my Mom. I eat the rest of my Chipotle burrito for breakfast, take a shower, then frantically pack for our two week road trip while everyone else grows more and more agitated with my last minute packing. Finally, I hand Joe a mountain of blankets, throw my shit in the car, and Joe, Ben and I head east for Kansas City.

On the ride there the fields are covered in snow. Joe’s first time on an American Interstate highway. We listen to music, and he falls asleep in the back seat. Later, my brother and I grow increasingly frantic and quarrelsome toward each other as we try to follow my Mom.

Finally we get to the barbeque restaurant in Kansas City, meeting my grandparents there. I decline on eating lunch, and this seems to upset everyone in the party. Joe gets a Samuel Adams beer, and my Grandpa tries to force feed me some carnivorous substance.

I shove a whole piece of steak in my mouth after a few minutes, and feel mildly disgusted with myself for the rest of dinner.

As we leave the restaurant, Joe’s falling asleep at the table. Head to my grandparent’s house, and sit down at the bar and have a cup of tea with my grandmother, talking about Irish and Welsh heritage.

I snag a bottle of lotion from my grandmother’s bathroom on the way out, which we will use for the entirety of our trip. Melon and cucumber? Thanks Grandma!

On the highway again, we’re headed south to Wichita. We spend the time catching up on the last year or so of our lives- and where we’re at now. And the sunset is beautiful.

And then it’s dark, and we miss the exit to Deb’s in Wichita. Taking the next exit, we end up by a “Boots and Jeans” outlet. Deb directs us how to get to her house from “Boots and Jeans”, but we end up getting our directions crossed, and take the road out of town instead of into it.

After driving out into no man’s land for a few minutes, I pull into a deserted parking lot and turn us around. Then we fill up on gas, as we are literally five minutes away from running completely dry.

Then I realize I can’t really see out of my windshield at all at night due to salt and ice streaks all over it. I finally understand why people occasionally wash their cars.

Finally make it to Deb’s, and collapse on her sofa with her family.

Joe gets on really well with her Dad, and he says something like, “I really like that British man” when Joe goes to bed.

Dan, Matt and Kyle arrive soon after, and we take hummus, pita bread and wine into the basement and chat.

Dinner is great, and Deb’s mom encourages me for seconds and thirds, which I willingly agree to.

Day 3: Wake up at Deb’s and pack for the trip to New Mexico. Have hashbrowns for breakfast and then get lost driving to Dan’s.

Sitting at an intersection in we-have-no-idea-where-Wichita, Dan directs us to his house over the phone, using liquor stores as references.  Make it to his house, Deb jumps in the car with us, and we take off, stopping three minutes later at a gas station where I learn how to fill the oil in my car for the first and embarrassing time. We take this chance to finally clean the windshield as well, and then head off.

The first few hours are pretty dull– lots of Kansas, bleeding inexplicably into Oklahoma soon after. Joe is fascinated by the oil drills, I am obsessed with pointing out the red Oklahoma dirt roads.

We switch drivers at some visitor’s station, eat Deb’s mom’s sandwiches, and Joe and I sit down on a bench and focus on the pink stuffed animal owls all over.

Driving through Oklahoma city, Joe points out the Chik-fil-A. “Isn’t that the restaurant that hates gay people?” His first American landmark.

We turn on the radio, and country music is all there is to be found. So we embrace it. And Joe sings a bit of “Farmer’s Daughter” the fifth time we hear it.

Somewhere in between Oklahoma City and Amarillo we stop in a deserted lot and Joe takes his first shot at driving on American roads.

After driving for a good two hours we pull over at a gas station in the middle of nowhere Texas, and Dan, Kyle and Matt are there, too.

Deb’s driving again, and gets pulled over by a cop going 20 miles an hour on the highway. He claims he saw me in the backseat without a seat belt on. While we were going 80 mhp and I was buried under a pile of pillows.

He says Deb needs to come back to his car with him. She follows him, then proceeds to get profiled and/or hit on by this Texan cop as he asks about her friends, family, school, town and personal life philosophies and goals.

Driving through the painted desert upon entry into New Mexico it’s dark, but you can still notice the outlines of the landscape change in the distance.

I am shivering and freezing in the backseat. And you Deb and Joe are perfectly fine up front. And I keep asking for them to turn up the heat. And how much longer do we have? And can you pass me back my book? And can you turn the heat up further? And how much longer is it again? And look at the stars.

Made it to Albuquerque that night sweaty and exhausted. Went to get burritos at a 20 hour TexMex restaurant. Joe and I were both really confused with the service system- and kept picking up everyone else’s plates, trying to determine if they were ours or not. Joe finished his first American meal that night, and I was very impressed. And also relieved that I wasn’t going to have to deal with a severely malnourished Brit for the next few weeks.

After we ate we went to a little empty bar down the street, and all the guys were attempting to be beer connoisseurs. We bought the alien head beer.

Day 4:

That morning, we researched hikes in the Sandia mountains, then we headed to the west and into them. Joe didn’t want to climb mountains, and I didn’t want to drive without gps anymore.

The drive out to the mountains was really pretty, with little adobe houses scattered throughout the land. Close to the mountains we drove up treacherous winding dirt roads, mostly made up of large rocks.

We brought a bag of craisins with us, which Joe had never had, and devoured. He handed them out to the others like he was god granting mercy to his people. The entire hike was ice, ice, ice. We were walking at a good clip, but all kept our traction pretty well for the circumstances.

At the top of the mountain we all sat down and looked at the view. Matt stayed on top and scared the shit out of us as we made it to the bottom with no sign of him til the last minute.

On the drive home, I realized my face was very hot. Upon arriving home and looking in the mirror, I realized my face was completely windburnt. So red. It must have been karma, as I was making fun of Joe for using sunscreen that morning.

Went out that night to a TexMex Irish restaurant and the group got bison burgers, and I got black bean burgers. We went to a pub after that and tried to all get our drink on, but were falling asleep into our pints and our conversations had deteriorated solely into repetitive commentaries on accents.

Day 6: The next day we headed to Santa Fe. Burritoed and museumed ourselves out and then we set up shop in a cafe and drank loads of tea. Sitting in American cafe on Route 66. Ketchup and mustard and black and white pictures of actual people’s lives past. Just as real as ours that day.

Conversations navigating out of the city went into deep existential depth concerning atoms, galaxies and teenage angst. Favorite.

Stopped at the brewery on the way out of Santa Fe, first found ourselves in a vacant lot but turned around to find civilization.

We got a few pints and then bought local bottles and growlers. Excited good mood. I played Ping Pong with Matt. Then we went to the wine superstore back in Albuquerque.

We had a drink off that night and I won without a doubt. Joe almost cried during Cards Against Humanity with Deb’s ABQ friends, he was laughing so hard. Deb was ridiculously good at the game. Joe was really good as well, but we all stole his points when he went to the bathroom. Tough luck, Mr. Brit. The others kept track of our drinking score on a whiteboard, and were cheering for America, I’m sorry to say.

That night I agreed to meet a couple at Carlsbad Caverns over the weekend and then ate an entire bag of wheat thins. Joe convinced everyone to smoke a fag and then did a really cute British head to head bro reassurance with Dan’s brother Kyle around four in the morning.

“This is what we do in England. It’s going to be alright, mate.”

Day 7: The next morning we slept in late. Then we got up and went to the most absurdly portioned breakfast place in town. Foot long breakfast burritos and mountains of hash browns.

When we got home, Joe took a nap while Deb and I went out for a coffee. Girl date. Found my writers groove and my hippie heart that afternoon. As we were walking home, two creepy men pulled over to the side of the busy main street and tried to offer us a ride.

That evening Dan, Kyle, Matt and Deb went to downtown Albuquerque. Joe and I opted out, instead lounging on the couch, listening to music and eating leftover burritos like champs. It was a really comfortable and quiet night in, Kyle began calling us, collectively, Jannie that night.

Later, we tried to go out and get a drink. Joe fell asleep at the bar and I carried him home.

That’s a lie. But almost not.

Day 8: Our last day in Albuquerque we went to the zoo. It was a nice, sunny day out- so different from the snow Kansas was getting a few days earlier. Everyone got ice cream cones and took pictures with the monkeys like the good little tourists we were. I discovered Joe was terrified of snakes only after we finished viewing hundreds of them in the reptile exhibit.

Joe and I dipped out early while the rest went to the aquarium. Back at home we sat outside on Deb’s patio, Joe smoked while I read and Joe made tea for both of us. Then Joe fell asleep, and I continued reading all afternoon.

That night we made Mexican food at Deb’s place. When we went shopping for the supplies, Joe and I took it upon ourselves to be as little of team players as we could, and went down every aisle and compared American and British products instead of shopping for dinner. Thankfully, Dan and Deb were on top of everything, and continued this leadership when we got back to the house, whipping up a huge dinner of fajitas and burritos. Kyle made Margaritas and Matt made guacamole. Then we cut up a few peppers, and consumed twice our body weight in fajitas while watching Family Guy (which I have not watched before or since and do not plan to).

Later, Joe and I sat on the couch googling road maps and trying to figure out where we wanted to go in the morning. I think it took us about five minutes, and we had decided we were driving all the way to Vegas in the morning. Exciting impromptu decisions. Even at that point I wasn’t worried about directions. I just felt like we could “feel” our way to Vegas.

Dan loaned us his tent and Deb loaned us her gps and we started packing our bags up again.

Everyone ended up watching Breaking Bad the rest of the night, as it was filmed in ABQ, and that was somehow fascinating to the guys. Deb and I chose to enjoy our beds instead.

Day 9:

The next morning I went for an early jog, wrote a bit outside in the morning sunlight. Joe brought me tea outside and we shared some silent moments. Inside Deb and I had bagel sandwiches before she headed off to her first day of work. After that I drove Dan, Matt and Kyle to the airport. On my way back to the house, I turned off the GPS and explored a bit. Passing a coffee shop in the middle of a neighborhood, I pulled over and headed in. It turned out to be not just a coffee shop, but a whole little collective of people and businesses working together towards holistic, sustainable living, progress and understanding. I was enamored and will go back someday. Realized I had found my life calling toward peace, justice and thoughtfulness.

Filling my car up with oil in ABQ out in the street, purse casually thrown to the ground. Joe is face timing with his family who are having tea. “Where all have you been, Joe?” “Staying in Albuquerque for the week.” “WHY?”

We stop at Walgreens on the way out of town to pick up tampons, smart water and raspberry lemonade. Then Joe and I are off to Vegas together. Particularly exciting, as we are headed somewhere neither of us has yet been.

Once we leave Albuquerque city limits, it was nothing but desert and mesas.

‘Murica. Dogs. Trailer Parks. Mailboxes. Desert. Freedom. Joe was obsessed with the tiny loner houses off in the middle of the desert. I was in love with the dusty trains passing by.

Village Inn breakfast together at 3 pm in Flagstaff, Arizona. I’m in love with the middle aged waitress. Joe eats a chicken sandwich and I get an omelet. I thank the waitress profusely for her service.

Living in America came on the radio, and we played American Pie over and over again on Joe’s ipod because it was the longest song and required less dj brainpower.

We drove over Hoover Dam while crossing the Arizona/Nevada border without realizing it.

Stop off on a dirt road off the highway in front of a person’s house at night. Attack dog barks and runs at us as we run to switch driver seats. You hold the driver’s side door open for me and I yell RUN AND GET IN THE CAR!

Driving west we had a three hour sunset going to Vegas. Driving through beautiful desert scenery in a particularly mountainous region toward the end of the night. Imagining history and crossing the landscape long ago.

Driving into Vegas I’m a bit nervous as I’ve never driven in a city that big before- seven lanes or some shit. Great experience, as I’ve never felt nervous driving in a city since.

Made it to our hotel in Vegas, and were greeted by a little man asking where we were from. Who subsequently made me turn dramatically red with his quick fire questions about our impending marriage.

Our hotel room was nice- the biggest hotel room I’d ever stayed in, and only 30 bucks. Took some showers, drank a beer, and then headed out.

We went to a shitty little restaurant first, which made both of us feel rather sick. Why we chose to go to the top floor of our hotel right after that, I’m not quite sure. But we did. And it was like a ridiculous amusement park ride. They took our picture together as we went up- and I feel like they stuck some sort of prop in my hands.

The top of the hotel- what was it called- Satellite hotel? was terrifying. The walls were made of glass- and slanted outward so that you felt like you were falling forward. After a few minutes of being up there, we felt the floor beneath us heave violently, and thought the world was ending. Soon we realized that people were BUNGEE JUMPING off the top of our hotel. Absolutely horrifying.

I was enjoying the thrill factor a bit, and had no idea that you were feeling increasingly sick.

Back on the ground floor, we got a beer, and looked up to see about 15 television screens all pointed at us. The drinks were not even cheap, and the man sitting next to us smoking a cigar was depressing. Joe told me he had became physically ill from the “flashing lights of capitalism.”

He was expecting luxury, and instead you America: t-shirts, dark casino rooms with old men pounding pennies through metal machines while the others pound cigars into their cheeseburger lungs.

We went back up to our room and fell asleep without spending a single penny on gambling.

Day 12: Head out of Moab. Joe has his first experience at Wendy’s: 10:30 a.m. mountain time, Moab Utah. He buys a Junior Cheeseburger, and is the most satisfied I’ve seen him since he’s been in North America.

We drive for hours, and around lunch we hit the Colorado border and stop in Rifle, Colorado at a Taco Bell.

We get all the goods, nachos, burritos and tacos, but he is not very impressed. Back on the road we listen to my old cds from highschool, and Joe gets a snapshot of sixteen year old me.

“Oh look. There’s nothing on the roads. Again.”

I got a sunspot in the passengers seat. Snuggled up against the window writing in my journal.

“Was that a whole page about how charming and attractive I am?” Joe asks.

“Well I’m going to, now,” I reply.

“If you’re looking for adjectives to describe me… dashing, quick witted, devilishly handsome…””

We make it to Boulder as it’s getting dark. We have no plans, and the best we can do is find parking and pay for a spot overnight.

Getting out on Pearl St., we wander around for a good bar. Because that’s what you do when you have no idea what you’re doing– you go find a bar.

We ended up finding the coolest bar in town– it was in a basement, with a old wooden ceiling. The place was hopping, and we bought a pitcher of PBR for three bucks.

This would be the cheapest endeavor, by far, which we would partake in that night.

Buying our second pitcher, we ask the bartenders where the closest hotel is. We are given a name, and look up the price online. And my stomach drops. I have never seen something that expensive in my life, and to this day am still embarrassed that we had to pay for it. Next time we will be sleeping in the car, or paying for a taxi across town for sure.

We grab our bags, and walk back to our hotel. On the way, something falls out of my backpack, and crashes to the ground- shattering glass all over. It’s a bottle of Chipotle tabasco sauce that I have been carrying around with me for the past week and a half: toothbrush, deodorant, shampoo, soap and a bottle of hot sauce. The essentials. A couple walking by stop in alarm and check to make sure everything is okay, as Joe and I crack up at the splatter of red sauce all over the nice, clean sidewalk and on Joe’s shoes. We tell them everything is okay, and please carry on. The concerned couple turn around one more time, “You sure you’re okay?” “Yeah, this is just one of the most embarrassing nights of my life. But no matter. Have a good night!”

Checking into our hotel there is a live orchestra playing and I want to be like, fuck off. Give me back the money you used to pay the orchestra with. I don’t want them. The girl at the front desk was noticeably sorry for us. Joe handled it all in stride while I was silently punishing myself. Or maybe not so silently.

After checking out our room, and being careful not to touch any of the food and drinks laid out for us which probably cost a fortune, we make our way back out on the street.

We stop at a fancy taco restaurant for dinner, and pay per taco. We have a few expensive tacos, Joe has a tongue taco and a fish egg taco. We load up on potent margaritas, and then head back to our basement bar.

It’s turning into a dance party down there, and Joe heads out for a smoke. I meet two girls in the bathroom, and we become fast friends. “My new mates.” When Joe comes back, they are in the process of trying to get me to come with them to some questionable places, so Joe and I get on the dance floor. I admit I had a bit too much to drink that night, as I was like a bowling ball knocking down people on the dance floor that night. Joe was trying to help me dance, he kept repeating “Move your feet. Move your feet!”

Later, Joe and I walk back to the hotel.

Getting back to the room the heat, tv, and lights are all on full blast. We wanted to get our money for the night, so we had turned them all on. Joe made me drink three glasses of water before I went to bed, which was a really smart idea. He left for a second to fill up another glass of water, and in that split second I cleverly leaned over to the bedside table, grabbed the $10 water bottle and cracked the seal. He let out an audible “OH NO,” as he returned. I felt like a little kid who had just pushed the glass vase full of flowers off the kitchen table, having known it was wrong- but that being the appeal.

Waking up in Boulder in the most expensive and excessive hotel of my life, I felt super guilty. The goddamn orchestra is still playing in the lobby, and the spa is ready for visitors. I got up early and left to put quarters in the parking meter that morning then cleaned the inside of my car that we’d been living out of for a week and a half.

Then I bought coffee, tea with milk and asiago and everything bagel sandwiches for us: tomato, egg and cheese. And took it back to the hotel.

I used the computer downstairs and reserved a shitty hotel in Hays for compensation for our luxury the night before, and found a shop in Colorado that sold legal weed (turned out to be the first legal recreational pot shop in Colorado!).

Day 13: As we were leaving, we stopped at the bagel shop again, and I got another bagel sandwich and a smoothie. Walking to our car Joe gave a homeless vet $4 and a pat on the shoulder. “You alright?” He had just read an article about how many homeless vets there are in America.

We drove an hour and a half, and made it to Denver. I was a little nervous driving around the big city- but finding the pot shop proved to be easy.

We parked the car, and got in line. The line was full of people from all walks of life: rich and poor, majority and minority, young and old. It was rather beautiful. It was the first week of being open, and business was booming. The first recreational pot shop in Colorado- or the US. We struck up a conversation with the guy in line behind us. He was a beautiful man with a great tan, a great beard and a magnificent smile. Then our ids were checked at the door, we were given the opportunity to create a new name for ourselves within the store, and then we were ushered in, one at a time.

It was basically everything you’d ever guess about a pot shop. It was all super appealing, and all the different varieties of bud had great names. You could smell each type, they would get a little bit out for you to get a whiff of. In the back room was the edibles shop, and they had lollipops, gum, brownies, cookies and various other inventions. I almost got a lollipop, but ended up just buying traditional.

It was surreal, paying for something legally in public, that gets so many people around the US thrown in jail for.

Actually pretty sad, but at least things are beginning to change a bit.

After we made our purchase and left the store, we realized we had nowhere to use our new purchases. So we lingered outside, and waited for the guy in line behind us to come out. When he did, he was surprised to see us again. We asked him if he would want to hang out, and could we come back to his place for recreational purposes? He said, without hesitation, of course!

“Yeah. Sure. I really appreciate you guys waiting out here for me, and taking this opportunity the way you did. My car’s over there. I’ll drive around and you can follow me back to mine? I live just down the street.”

And he pulls up a few minutes later. The oddest experience of my life. Waves, we follow him. For what seems like forever.

“Down the street, eh?”

I’m freaking out. Joe’s calm and collected.
“It’s fine. We’re just having a smoke.”

Worried we’ll be intruding, he’ll want us to leave, he’ll regret his decision to let us come by on the way there.

When we are leaving though, two hours later, he tells us we’re the first visitors he’s had in his place since he moved in a few months ago. And how it’s a bit lonely in a new town- and this has been a great surprise. We all won.

Anyway, settling down in his apartment, he gets out his elephant bowl and loads our purchase into it. He also had a handheld vaporizer. He’s got it all. He used to be a delivery guy in San Francisco. He asks all about our lives, and then finally we start squeezing information out of him. And he turns out to be one of the most intriguing surprises I’ve met in a long time. He tells us of his travels in Asia, and the travel books he has published himself. He is five years older than us, and everything we want to be. He tells us, all you have to do is be it. You want it- become it. It’s as simple as that. He gives us each a book he has written, and we part ways. We leave him inspired by his adventurous and follow through spirit, and we leave him inspired by our spontaneous reaching out.

Ryan and I would continue to write back and forth and inspire one another for the next year, and it’s been cool to keep in contact with someone I only knew for a few spontaneous hours. We can be an unbiased voice of reason in one another’s lives when we write. And we both love to write.

After we leave, Joe comments on Ryan’s gaze,  “He had that stare. All of the sudden you’d be looking into his eyes and you’d be like, okay, we’re doing this now. And unable to break eye contact for a good 10 minutes or so.”

One the way back to Kansas, we talked about what it means to be a good person.

“It’s not worth it be a good person. People take advantage of you,” I commented.

“Good people don’t take advantage of good people,” Joe replied.

We talked about determinism a bit. “I can’t get it out of my head,” Joe said. “If I hadn’t taken that course in Leicester at that exact time, we’d have never met and I wouldn’t be here in Denver, USA right now! If we hadn’t stayed in Boulder, or if Boulder had had had legal purchase, we wouldn’t have come to Denver today. We wouldn’t have got in line right next to Ryan, and we wouldn’t now have his books in our hands. And he’s possibly Just changed our lives.”

Around eleven Joe and I stopped off in Hays. It was honestly the scariest room I have ever stayed at in my life, and was a bit of culture shock from the luxury of the night before. I fell asleep immediately, but Joe stayed up all night listening to the screaming happening across the street at the highway gas station.

Day 14: Home to Manhattan around noon. The last night out in Manhattan. Joe had a difficult time compredhending all the theater kids nonstop life.

Our first stop by Auntie Mae’s parlour. My friend Coleen was the waitress, and she brought us free shots for the whole table. “You guys seem cool. And I’m feeling generous tonight.”

After this we went to Dirty Dawgs, a country western dance club. Joe, Diana and Ben were all two stepping together on the dance floor. We drank beer out of mason jars and enjoyed all the cowboy boots and cowgirl hats.

Next we stopped off at the Keltic Star, which is supposed to be modeled after an Irish/English pub. Joe had a lot to say about this place, and Diana and him got into an argument over origins of certain types of beer.

After this we ran over to Rusty’s and got lost in the crowd, then made our way over to the Varsity food truck for late night dinner.

Joe was all over the Grilled Cheese Mac ‘N Cheese, and signing his name on walls with Diana. I’m on my third corndog and making a solo journey to pita pit. Finding Miles along the way and bringing him back to Diana’s where Joe, Jordan, Ben, Diana and Alex are on the couch discussing opossums.

Day 15: Woke up at Diana’s. Came home and had biscuits and gravy at home, then went to see the bison on the Konza. Saw a bald eagle on way back.

He said missing is better than nothing. You have something, and that still continues to exist even though they’ve left you. And while it’s sad that you aren’t together anymore, you know there’s someone out there possibly thinking about you, and you them. Someone who felt what you felt, and shared life with you for a bit of time, and that will never go away no matter how much things change.

That night we had finger noodles for dinner, and I went and got a tattoo while Joe was sleeping.

Day 16: Joe caught cold and I dropped him off at the airport, sneezing and coughing.

As driving to the airport, winding turns and wide open roads. Sun shining and blasting the radio.

Our last promises to one another, as he gets on the plane.

“Do me a favor. Don’t date anymore wankers?”

“Will do. As long as you don’t break up with a girl just because you don’t like the smell of her makeup.”

In the end Joe almost missed his flight, and I got lost in the tiny parking lot, driving around in circles before I left.

Later that day I went for a run by myself out on the prarie.

It was still January, but it was a beautiful world, sunshine and brilliant blue sky day.

In the end, what I learned from this roadtrip was the day by day beauty of life. Why try to control anything? Go with the flow, own the moment, and find the magic in every step. As long as you have something to write about, and as long as you did exactly what you wanted to, there is no reason to worry. You will move forward, and sometimes not knowing what direction is forward is the best way to move. Trust yourself, and your dreams begin to fall into place. This roadtrip taught me how to break out of my comfort zone, and challenge what I let hold me back.

I sat down at the Top of world. Sit down look out golden fields stretching miles and miles. I sit down, and I start to write.

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