Many times on the road, I've been awestruck by a horizon I wasn't ready for. The infinite stretches of Idaho. The sunset on the Pacific in northern California.
And the 100ft+ crosses along I-70 in Indiana and Illinois.
I'd left a hard rain in Pittsburgh that morning as I set out for St Louis. It had a homey feel, and I took my time with breakfast (bacon, eggs, coffee) at Pamela's.
It's the kind of place where innocuous business people have breakfast meetings next to cops under cheery fluorescent lights. Everyone leaves groggy and a couple bucks shorter than when they arrived. (Pamela's is cash only., one of my favorite subtle hallmarks of a "fuck off" attitude amongst older establishments).
On my way to the car, I found a bakery just beyond the edge of my umbrella and popped in to buy cookies for my next host, Mark.
I'd stayed with Mark during a stopover in St. Louis on the first leg of the trip a few weeks before. We're funny jerks, so we got along just fine. Also, he had the same 25-year-old Seinfeld book as me.
I gave my book away a long time ago. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
But by the time I pulled up to Mark's house, I was feeling a bit worse for wear. Once I left behind Pittsburgh's cloud cover, Ohio and Indiana fried me over-hard.
I wasn't the only one who got scorched: a ripped up, burnt husk of a semi kept hundreds of cars in place under the Midwest sun.
Being far away from the place you started your morning can get to you sometimes. It means a lot of miles, boredom, and disappointment -- in the food, the lack of company, and the foreboding proclamations of American Christendom that follow you miles past the state border.
Restlessness set in, hard. My mind wasn't wandering, it was pouting. I did a bump of Mexican Institute of Sound and tightened my grip. Only a couple more hours to go.
I showed up at Mark's and surveyed the car before I got out. Everything from my skin to the cloth seats was stale and hot to the touch, and I'd been sitting on a piece of hamburger for three states.
Neither of us wanted to do anything, so we binged Game of Thrones in his perfectly cold basement. He obliged my request to pause every few minutes and remind me of what had happened in the past five seasons. Which is the only way to watch Game of Thrones.
Our slingshot chatter and trash TV set me right and erased the 11-hour slog that dragged me through the blandest lands in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, where breadbasket-cases blotted their eyes and crossed their giant T's.
We watched Cersei noisily fellate her brother and I finally felt at home in GoT's country.