Escape from L.A. - thursday 2011-05-19 2145 last modified 2011-05-19 2225
Categories: Road
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This was originally written on May 17, 2011 but was unavailable for publication until later.

I've taken two more major road trips since the seminal one that took up half of 2008 and landed me in L.A. There's something about the open road, that literal, increasing distance between me and the daily going ons of what's vanishing in the rear view, that helps me be more free to be my own and nothing else's. And so I'm back out there, this time heading on a route I had initially hoped to traverse that first time, reaching Texas and Colorado, before life cut in. I have a newfound affection for the natural beauty of Utah and plan to come back home through its National Parks.

The technology has changed since then. Now smart phones automatically track, record, and archive your every movement. I'll figure out how to parse that log when I get back home and post its sanitized results, so I no longer have to explicitly install and turn on a GPS recorder. It's a highly disconcerting function in just about every case but absolutely indispensable for this purpose. I don't need a separate GPS unit either, though I am missing turn by turn voice. Sort of. Today was about 400 miles of driving with two freeway changes and one exit. I can remember that much.

The car is also better this time. Whomever initially tricked it out left me with an iPod dock connector so I can listen to my own music, and clearly. Most other times involved public radio or scattered CDs. And the car itself, in the function it was primarily designed to accomplish, is just fun to drive.

Enough of the gadgetry. This evening finds me in Seligman, AZ, a Route 66 nostalgia stop that plays on its one note with a goofy grin. As observed in Cars, a film partly based on Seligman, the town saw its Route 66 tourist stream wholly evaporate when I-40 opened up just a half mile away - never mind the railroad tracks that run right by my motel room or the airport next to the on ramp. I guess it's having all of those three modes of transport running by it that kept the town itself from evaporating. Not even a Pixar film advocating for family vacations and small towns can counteract the growing costs of gasoline and the fact that Seligman's new place in the world is half a mile too far out of the way. Nostalgia's a niche, sporadic business.

I pulled in to Radiator Springs about when Lightning did, and it was just as desolate at that hour, so tomorrow will bring on some exploring before moving on to Albuquerque, major urban center of one of those states I've still never been to.

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