Whew...deep, deep breath as the weight of the world comes of this shoulders and I realize I will no longer be stationed aboard the USS Enterprise. Nothing more to worry about except how to spend the five weeks of leave before I report out to California. Time to hit the road and visit friends and loved ones.
I've put more than 2500 miles on the car in the last three and a half weeks with the lion's share of mileage yet to come. The engine is tuned and humming. The gas mileage is a ridiculous 47.25 miles per gallon and my expense report is clearly in the black.
A few things to report in the first blog since I don't know when. A few things one learns from driving all the time.
1. Ohio has the cheapest gas prices in the north. $2.66 a gallon in some places. This is still ridiculous of course, but it's better than most places I've seen. I'm certain that sooner or later the American public will come to the realization that by elected oil men to office gas prices will rise. Now that we're all used to paying through the nose for gas we'll never see the prices go lower. Never.
2. Mobil gas stations have the worst road trip coffee around, far and away the worst. The Ohio and Pennsylvania turnpikes have Starbucks at the rest stops but they always, always burn the coffee. The mom and pop joints in the boondocks always have the best coffee. Always. Bank on it. You may have to drive a few miles off the freeway, but it's certainly worth it.
3. Terra Huate, Indiana has the best radio stations at three in the morning. Deep cuts, eclectic choices and full length versions of very long songs. I heard Zappa and the Mothers live with Sting on vocals, I heard Pink Floyd's Echoes in its entirety, and a live version of Can't You Hear Me Knocking. Thank God for free form FM radio. That's how it should be. Clear Channel has a a virtual monopoly on the radio and now they're airing these absurd commercials about how people shouldn't have to pay for radio. Well...I shouldn't have to pay for the freedom of speech either.
4. The gas stations and the motels on the edge of town nearer the freeways are always more expensive than the ones closer to the town center. ALWAYS. Think about it: Most people pulling off for the night of for gas stop at the first open place they see. This is bad for the wallet and while one is on a tight budget, any extra loot is welcome. Of course, quitting smoking will do wonders for the finances as well, but what can I say?
So, I've had strange looking veal cutlets and cups of coffee so strong they'll beat the shit out of the veal. I've been to Detroit to see a Tom Waits show at the Detroit Opera House, I've visited several life-long friends, three uncles, one aunt, my mom and step dad, my dad and step mom, more than 30 friends of the family, I've partied in Washington D.C., Pittsburgh, Cleveland and my hometown of Detroit, I had a steak dinner with my best friend's folks in their lovely new home, I've been in one physical altercation that was resolved before I split anyone's head, I visited one grave and took photographs of the Au Sable river in upstate Michigan, I sang out loud to Three Dog Night's Never Been to Spain and the Chambers Bros. Time Has Come Today while riding shotgun sitting next to my Dad. I've also thought about every bad decision and mistake in my life and I'm still here with my glass much, much more than half full and life, I assure you, is good.
There's still some more travelling to do and the lucky for me, the road goes on forever. Just ask Gregg Allman.
Listening to: Sweet Virginia - Rolling Stones
Reading: Hip: A History