Friday, July 20, 2007

On the road (in my mind)

I first met Dean not long after my wife and I split up.

No, that's not the beginning of the story of my friendship with pal Dean Harned. It's the opening line to a true classic, Jack Kerouac's "On the Road."

Can't tell you how many times I've thought about jumping in the Xterra, picking a direction and taking off. I may do that next year around my 30th birthday.

I love the open road. Used to love it even more when gas was a buck a gallon. But there's nothing better than hitting the highway with nothing but open space and time in front of you.

Three summers ago, Drew Weaver and I took such a trip. We followed Horace Greeley's advice ("Go West, young man..."). After staying all night somewhere in Arkansas, we ended up in Oklahoma City, at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Museum. I knew I was going to love the place when they showed us the introductory video. Tom Selleck was the narrator.

From there, it was a quixotic jaunt to Archer City, Texas, in search of "Lonesome Dove" author Larry McMurtry. McMurtry keeps a home in Archer City, where he also runs the country's largest antiquarian bookstore.

Movie buffs will know the town. Peter Bogdanovich filmed the adaptation of McMurtry's "The Last Picture Show" in the author's hometown. It's a quaint place. They have a stop light, a bank, a courthouse and a Dairy Queen.

After Archer City, it was on to Big D. We stayed the night in a Super 8, then drove back to Arlington for the Rangers/Yankees game the next day. Hot as hell.

Saturday night we drove to San Antone, where we toured The Alamo that next day. Hot as hell.
I wanted to go to the beach. So we went to Corpus Christi. Sadly, there wasn't anywhere to stay -- at least not on the beach. Well, other than actually on the beach.

So we drove north, through Houston, stopping near the Louisiana border for the night. Somehow, we made it all the way to Knoxville the following day.

Anyway, I'm sitting here waiting on pages, thumbing through Kerouac's classic. But I wish I was burning rubber on the highway somewhere, stopping only for gas and when the urge hit me.

As it is, I guess I'll go get a milkshake at McDonald's.

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