November was a good month, and should be appropriately represented in the almost defunct blog.
I gathered together a rag-tag team of girlies off Craigslist and we all set off for the West Coast. Two of the girls were actually only going to Houston, which is why I agreed to let them bring their dog. I’m not a huge fan of dogs, and when I spend any amount of time with them in enclosed spaces my allergies react in new and unexciting ways. So when the girls’ plans in Houston fell through and they decided to ride to Pheonix, I had mixed feelings. I mean, yeah, that was a little bit of extra gas money (although not at all an equal share), but on the other hand, I’ve had red blotches on my chest that are just now starting to fade away.
But the point is I got to Los Angeles! Even though Jason knew I was coming, he was still surprised when he turned around in his kitchen and saw me standing right in front of him. He jumped about three feet in the air and yelled out “HOLY SHIT!” We were still laughing about it a couple weeks later. Our time together in LA was spent mostly in his apartment, where we read, ate a lot, watched season 3 of Californication, and pretended to work. But we went out to see a couple movies, had a picnic on the beach, rode around on bicycles, and went to his niece’s 5th birthday, so see, we aren’t total bums.
November 21 was Jason’s birthday, so a couple days before we had a party. I’d brought 2 packs of Abita Beer from Louisiana, plus Camelia redbeans and some spices. I made a huge pot of beans and 10 or so of Jason’s friends came over, we had a screening of Jason’s short films from the past 15 years. It was a great evening.
I’d been planning on giving Jason his present on his actual birthday, but it worked out better to give it to him the day before. There was a lot of symbolism in this gift and he loved it just as much as I hoped he would. I don’t want to brag, but he’s told me a few times that it’s the best gift he’s received, and I think it’s the best gift I’ve ever made.
The next day, on his actual birthday, we piled into my Volvo and headed east. It was midnight by the time we pulled off I-40 in northern Arizona. Following the signs for a camping site down a dirt road, we found ourselves in the middle of a state park. It was 17 degrees but there were no artificial lights, and we spent a while looking up at the stars. We made a bed of sleeping bags and blankets in the back of the station wagon and fell asleep.
In the morning we were only 2 hours south of the Grand Canyon. After grabbing some breakfast at a Flintstones themed restaurant we entered the park. Neither of us had ever seen the canyon before, and it was amazing! We spent hours walking along the south rim, peering through binoculars, interacting with park wildlife, and taking Polaroids. We watched the chilly sunset and got back on the road.
We slept in the car again that night. Since there were no pitch-black state parks available, we made do with an abandoned adobe building in New Mexico. As we set up our bed in the back of the car we heard loud, angry barking, that got closer and closer. I shone out a flashlight and the wild dogs were close enough that we could see the reflections of their eyes. I jumped in the car and Jason was right behind me. It was scary, but we felt safe… until around 3AM, when we were awakened by a knocking on the window and a flashlight in our faces. I hid under the covers while Jason explained to the cop that we were just passing through, that we were too tired to drive and that this was the only quiet space we could find. The officer was nice enough about it and we drifted back to sleep. The sun had already risen when the next cop woke us up, so we climbed into the front seat and got back on the road.
Our Thanksgiving plans took us to St. Louis to visit the Blakemores, relatives on Jason’s mom’s side. I’d met Uncle Pat at Burning Man and it was great to see him again. The family had rented a cabin outside of the city and we met them there for a vegan Thanksgiving dinner that couldn’t be beat. The next day we stopped at a thrift store and Jason’s cousins picked out some great finds for me.
Our next stop was Russellville, Arkansas, where we spent the night at my dad’s house. My younger brother Andy was visiting for the holiday, and the four of us made some delicious pizzas and played a great game of Scrabble. I think that will be the only time I’ll beat Jason at that game! The following morning Jason and I dropped Andy off at the Little Rock Airport for his return flight to Cleveland and set our sights on New Orleans. The interstate took us right through Memphis and we decided to visit Graceland. Four hours later we were Elvis-ed out (although I had reached my threshhold after about 1 hour…) and resumed our roadtrip, finally and absolutely New Orleans bound.