Well, you know what they say; things that go west must go back east. Or something like that. So after two years in Los Angeles, I found myself sobering up, packing up, getting in my car (a slightly newer one this time) and pointing myself eastward ... homeward, if you will.
While my first trip cross-country exposed me to great experiences, daring adventures and earth shattering revelations about my inner self, my second trip cross-country came with even more stupefying occurrences and wisdom beyond my wildest imagination! My second trip cross-country was taken with a guy.
For ages, men and women have pondered their differences and similarities. And nothing more appropriately illustrates the great divide between man and woman than seven days in the car together. Just together. Cut off from the rest of the world. Here, I share with you this enlightening journey.
Friday- Las Vegas
HIS: Hungover and Vegas bound. Seems like that's out of order but it’s exactly what happened. Road-weary and famished, we make our way to one of the best institutions on the strip; the buffet. Then it's off for some much needed poker time. Daddy didn’t get the rain man suite but I was up fifty. Somehow we ended up at some new hotspot at The Palms. For me, it was two and a half hours waiting in multiple lines ... and not even the VIP VIP line or the VIP line. The one saving grace of the night was the cocktail waitress who brought us drinks while we waited. And waited. Between the drinks and having to slip the doorman a twenty to get in - I didn’t meet the dress code - my winnings were gone! Damn you, Vegas!
HERS: Yay, Vegas! Get up, get up, get up, Trey! We’re going to Vegas! Yippee Skippy! Who’s ready to start drinking? Buffet? Screw that. Make my dinner three olives with a side of vodka. Oh, I can’t wait to go to the club. I’m gonna put on my most partyin’ clothes. Slutty top, slutty skirt, slutty shoes. Who’s ready? This place is THE hot spot. Otherwise, everyone else wouldn’t be here, right? I’m gonna dance the night away. “Dancin’ Queen, seventeen, oh, dancin’ queen!”
HERS: Oh, Dancing queen ... you dumb bitch. Aren’t the red rocks lovely? Yes. Now where’s my bed? Vegas is a much more fitting END to a trip than a beginning. And really, do we need to listen to EVERY minute of the NCAA tournament? Sports radio gives me a freakin’ migraine.
HIS: Ah Sedona, you cruel mistress. So beautiful, and yet so ... allergic. I’m pretty sure I almost died in the little time I had here. A power nap and one kick-ass dinner is about all I remember about Sedona. Well, that and almost running out of gas, even though I was assured we could go at least 40 miles with the light on. Yeah, sure...
Sunday- Santa Fe
HIS: Santa Fe? It’s no Albuquerque, and that’s a good thing. Little adobe houses and Indians selling their wares. Does she ever shut up about how quaint the open spaces are or how cute the little shacks on Route 66 are?
HERS: Last time I was in New Mexico, I broke down in Albuquerque. This time, I decided we’d skip that town convinced that Santa Fe would be better. My mistake. First, the Wolfpack got knocked out of the NCAA. Later, shit went DOWN between me and my happy little co-pilot, aka "Daddy," as he insists on calling himself. They call this place “The Land of Enchantment?!” We will never speak of this god-forsaken state again.
Monday- Oklahoma... or is this Arkansas?
HERS: Feeling better and with renewed vigor, we hit the road again. The most exciting part of this trip is achieving our one goal: To have a cocktail in every state. We eke one out by grabbing a forty at the local Gas-n-Go in Oklahoma and sipping our sweet nectar at the Motel 2½. Despite our most valiant alcoholic attempts, Arkansas fails us. We make several stops and wade through menus of fried pickles and fried catfish and pretty much anything else you can think to fry, but not a damn beer in sight! We had dreams, dammit!
HIS: Fuck Arkansas. Somehow she forgot about going through Amarillo here. The best part of this leg of the trip. Saw the Cadillac Ranch. Thought about eating a 72-oz. steak just to prove I could. All in all, I liked that hour of the day. Didn’t quite cloud out the show tunes though. For the love of god, I don’t care about the either the play Oklahoma or the song, lady! Oh, and we almost ran out of gas again. Whose fault could that be?
HERS (cont.): Dirty, brokedown cars and obscenely large platter of cow? What’s to highlight? And I’ve already told you, Mr. Askew, you can go another FORTY MILES after that damn gas light comes on! Stop being so freakin’ anal!
HERS: Oh, I love Memphis! All of the cool jazz clubs and neon, that gets me going! Not a big fan of the food though... I mean, are ribs all they serve here? Right, like I want to eat something with my hands. And the BBQ sauce gets my fingers all messy! Gross. But Memphis leads me to the end of one of my lifelong journeys: I have been to Graceland and it was good. I could have just stayed there forever!
HIS: Ribs and blues, baby! Tennessee is the home stretch and Memphis was a great ambassador. Big night on the town where little miss sunshine ran into a rack of ribs. Hard to believe someone needed a lesson on how to eat ribs. The next day came the highlight of HER trip, Graceland. They really should update that place a bit. It’s so damn tacky. I think Heather would have stayed there. Graceland, baby, Graceland ... just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
HERS: First things first... didn’t Ramada used to be considered a NICE hotel? Our room is damp, muggy, dark and may or may not contain cooties. The sole amenity going for it is the indoor guitar shaped swimming pool, which is swarming with a bunch of bastard children! Oh well, guess we’ll have to hit the bars! We head out to “The District,” and while we’re worried about the scene on a Wednesday night, we’re pleasantly surprised with all of the goings-on. Sweet country music is wafting out of bars all up and down the strand. It reminds me of growing up back ‘der in the country. “Oh, play me some country music, like gramma and grandpa used to play!” Soon we’re boot-scootin’ with the best of ‘em!
HIS: Alright already. We know you like country music in Nashville. Now play something else already. More rednecks than you could shake a stick at. I was definitely out of my element. No huge belt buckle, no cowboy hat, no urge to chew. At least they serve beer! You’d think someone that likes country music as much as Heather would know how to dance to it. Guess not. Oh yeah, fuck Ramada and their damn bed bugs.
Thursday- The final NC leg
HERS: I can’t believe we’re almost there. Before we arrive, though, I have one more very important stop: Cracker Barrel. You can’t get this shit out west! Sweet tea and biscuits for everybody. I’m pretty sure I gained 20 pounds on the trip, but we pull into Raleigh feeling very full and content. And relieved. Very relieved.
HIS: Please God, get me out of this car. I’m not religious but I definitely would have tithed and broke bread to get out of that damn Civic. I know what Dracula must feel like when he’s chilling in his coffin. I’m pretty sure I’ve paid penance for anything I’ve done lately. My advice to anyone thinking of traveling like this in the future, pay someone else to do it.
***Special thanks to Intrepid Media Contributor, Trey Askew, for co-writing this column. Jackass.***
Heather has a penchant for drama, both personally and professionally. She secretly wishes people spoke in song and wholeheartedly believes that everyone deserves a standing ovation now and again. She finds it appalling that people reserve champagne only for special occasions, when champagne is clearly best on a Tuesday, while riding the subway, accompanying a slice of kick-ass pizza.
ABOUT HEATHER M. MILLEN
more about heather m. millen
IF YOU LIKED THIS COLUMN...
4.26.04 @ 10:32a
Ya know, it really does take a special bond between friends to tolerate any road trip beyond 6 hours.
4.26.04 @ 11:15a
You guys sound like a married couple.
4.26.04 @ 12:31p
You guys sound like a married couple.
A married couple would have had separate rooms by the time they hit Sedona.
4.26.04 @ 12:41p
We will never speak of this god-forsaken state again.
This is how Erik and I felt about Iowa on our cross-country trip (needless to say, we didn't visit Tracey or it would have been better).
Next time, you all should try the southern route. No Graceland, but there is Wall Drug and Murdo's Auto Show.
4.26.04 @ 12:58p
Northern route, my dear.
4.26.04 @ 1:23p
Next time you should fly.
4.26.04 @ 3:17p
I thought there was supposed to be a tragic event in every road story. Are you guys still speaking to each other? If not, that would be tragic. If you are, then this does not qualify as a true road story. IMFO.
It was cool, though, as well as enlightening. We all know to avoid Arkansas if it's at all possible, and with proper t h i m k i n g a
head any half-competent traveler should be able to do so.
4.26.04 @ 3:41p
One of my dad's employees once commented that Kansas actually is in black and white.
4.26.04 @ 4:57p
hey Kids - So I finally signed up for this here site just to say that I particularly liked the "Motel 2½". I thought for sure you'd get married in Vegas again... See you soon in Raleighville!?
4.26.04 @ 5:07p
Sandra, Santa Fe was our tragic part of the trip. And I tell ya, it's a miracle we're still talking after that breakdown!
Ahhh well... keeps things interesting. As for what route I should do next, I have only one response: Never again!
4.26.04 @ 5:16p
I hear good things about I-95 to New York...
4.26.04 @ 5:27p
Oh you two are destine to be together. this is so funny.
I did a trip to South Carolina with a female friend about 19 years ago. I discovered "dry counties" on that trip.
Fuck Arkansas. Priceless!
If you two haven't killed each other, you are meant to be together. Face it. Accept it. Have another Vegas wedding.
4.26.04 @ 5:28p
Heather - I'll be in Vegas the first weekend in June. If you and Trey need a witness, that is.
4.26.04 @ 6:35p
Northern route, my dear.
Yes, thanks Eloise. That's exactly what I meant.
4.27.04 @ 10:30a
Funny how Trey hasn't joined this discussion...
4.27.04 @ 10:32a
Oh, I'll go back to Vegas! Just not to get married and definitely not by car from NC.
4.27.04 @ 10:49a
Ya know, a true test of any relationship is the "travel test"....
4.27.04 @ 11:20a
I thought the true test was during the last few seconds of any sporting event when your significant other stands in front of the tv.
4.27.04 @ 12:01p
Both call for restraint from killing someone. Slowly.
4.27.04 @ 12:13p
I think I would have passed the TV test. The jury is still out on whether or not Trey passed the Travel Test. Although his significance isn't as important as a Significant, I think the end results are rather, uh, significant.
4.27.04 @ 12:54p
Was that a backhanded compliment? I knew I should have left you at the Taco Bell in New Mexico....
4.27.04 @ 1:03p
You were in New Mexico and the best Tex/Mex you found was at "The Bell"?
4.27.04 @ 2:26p
Grants, New Mexico to be exact. It really isn't the exotic tourist destination that it's made out to be. It's actually quite funny... those little one horse towns will advertise for miles knowing that you've got to stop SOMEWHERE! Such catchy billboards read something like this: "Grants, New Mexico: 7 restaurants (Taco Bell counts), 2 gas stations, population 56, teeth count 4, last death of dysentary not since 1964!"
4.27.04 @ 2:38p
If you ever drive through Winnemucca, Nevada, as you enter the town there are two bilboards:
"Winnemucca - city of paved streets!"
"Winnemucca - we have electricity!"
4.27.04 @ 3:20p
Orange, NJ brags that it's the home of the 3% sales tax. It's actually on banners in the town square.
4.27.04 @ 3:45p
Palm Desert, CA has the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in the US. Don't think that's made it into the town marketing campaign yet though...
4.27.04 @ 4:11p
What is it? 100% because the one teen in town got knocked up?
4.27.04 @ 4:20p
A good friend of mine from Tufts apparently grew up in the town next to the nation's leader in reported cases of incest. That's something to be proud of.