Elvis eats elephant ribs here!
and other mad tales of the road
I’m here. There are books everywhere. My bookshelf and chair still need to be moved in from the truck. I did manage to finagle my way from the dorm’s smallest room to the only one with a new carpet. The work has already begun, and I’ve had to meetings with editors and heard one complaint about the collegian since 9 a.m.
But I’m here.
I drove the whole thing in a mad 2,376 miles in an under-three-day stretch. I beat the time of the Greyhound, which is remarkable when you note they drive day and night. I assume that’s because I didn’t make any detours for bus stops, didn’t sleep that much or stop that much, and drove 80 mph the whole way.
Which means I’m a lot like my dad, who I first got to know as a person in a cross-country move where he earned the nickname “Iron Man” because he’d always be ready to keep driving.
I, however, drank more coffee in those three days than he’ll ever drink. Finishing off Neraska, coming into Fargo where I slept for 4 hours, I realized I hadn’t had any conversations in two days, excepting ones with myself.
Some things I didn’t expect to see:
Gen. Custer’s ghost bumming a cigarette.
Sinclar Lewis’ house in the town he described in Mainstreet. In a bizarre twist, they forgave him for writing bad things about them ‘cause now they were famous.
Signs that say “Scenic View.”
References to mountain men I haven’t thought about since I was 13 or 14.
A 15-year-old telling some adult that if we don’t nuke all the Arabs we’ll soon be paying $10 a gallon for gas.
No hitchhikers going east.
Some things I concocted to entertain myself:
A dark comedy about a self-styled stick-up artist who claims to have “put the bad in the Badlands,” but still can’t get the state to issue him a historical marker. Depressed, he grows out his hair and sits on top of one of those funny little hills for a long time.
An alternate version of the Doors’ “Hello I Love You, Won’t You Tell Me Your Name” where the guy falls in love but never actually says hello and doesn’t find out her name.
A full-scale elephant-commercialization project, established in Montana. Including changing city names using the word “buffalo” to “elephant” (Elephant Jump, Elephant Gap and Elephant Anne are all right along I-90) and an extensive Montana-style advertising campaign (Elvis eats elephant ribs here!).