Tag Archive: Trampled by Turtles


Night Life

#Merica Tour, Stories from the Road, Segment 15
(For links to previous segments, scroll to the bottom)

It takes a Trampled by Turtles album, a Dessa album, and a couple chapters of the zombie war (or a little over two hours) traveling along I-80 before we reach the turnoff for Hastings, Nebraska.

We head south and welcoming us to town is the Hastings Applebee’s, brightly lighted against the night sky. Back in Kansas City, days ago, we’d done a search for nightlife and Applebee’s, headquartered there, was the first thing Google found.

“Look, nightlife!” I say to Brent.

That same Google search is what landed us at Boulevard Brewing Company the next morning so, well done, Googs. Brent glances at Applebee’s and suppresses a smile. “Nightlife,” he acknowledges, and drives on.

Two things are weighing on us right now: the need for adventure and the need for sustenance. We’re on the road to see and do new things, which usually means letting go of the familiarity and comfort of chain restaurants. As self-declared road champions, Brent and I prefer the discovery of local fare and off-the-wall places and we only patron known chains as a last resort, when we’re on our last legs or when we plan poorly and nothing else is open.

At the moment, though, adventure is winning out over food. Brent and I are on a mission to find Kool-Aid, and Wikipedia tells us we’re in its birthplace.

We keep driving south, following Sally the Map App’s directions, and suddenly it feels as though the town has slipped away and we’re just heading into darkness. “Where’d the town go?” I ask.

Brent shrugs. “We’re at the lake,” he offers.

I do a quick Google search. “There are 25,000 residents here,” I tell him. “Where did they put them all?”

We round a bend and suddenly an orderly city plan springs up beyond our windshield, with a good 25 blocks’ worth of grid-laid streets.

Between us, we start referring to Hastings as two separate towns. There’s the “north side,” behind us with our old buddy Nightlife and the Visitor’s Center, and this “south side” of orderly city blocks, both connected by the dark, barren curve of the road around Lake Hastings. Brent and I look at each other and then to the stretch of traffic lights, concrete city blocks, and golden street bulbs lighting our path. We smile and start counting down the streets toward the museum address.

Night LifeThe streets are easy to navigate and we easily find the Kool-Aid Museum, where, to our surprise, there’s enough street light to take pictures. Our first photos almost pass as daylight takes, even though it’s after 9, Central Time. We can’t go inside the museum, but there’s plenty to read on the building’s placards and posters, and we fill in the rest with the help of Wikipedia.
Night LifeThe story goes that inventor Edward Perkins of Hastings, Nebraska created a liquid concentrate called Fruit Smack in his mother’s kitchen. Then in 1927, to reduce shipping costs, Perkins discovered a way to remove the liquid from Fruit Smack, leaving only the powder, which was renamed Kool-Aid. And though Perkins moved Kool-Aid’s production to Chicago in 1931, Hastings still celebrates its invention with its annual Kool-Aid Days every August.

Night LifeAs any successful artist, entrepreneur, business owner, cowboy, adventurer, musician, brewer, traveler, writer, etc., will undoubtedly say, in creating anything, there is failure. It comes down to what you do with that failure. I close my eyes and imagine Perkins in his mother’s kitchen, and all of his stages of experimentation along the way. For Edward Perkins and Kool-Aid, this is where it started, the desire, the belief, the drive, the problem solving, and the refusal to give up, right here in the middle of America, in Hastings, Nebraska.

Night LifeAs Brent continues with his pictures, I search the posters and finally find what I’m looking for. “Berry Blue!” I burst out in a wave of memory and I start talking fast, as if I’d just drunk the deliciously sugary stuff. “That was my favorite! First it was orange, and I thought it was the best, but then Berry Blue had this blueberry/lemon combination and I couldn’t get enough of it…”

Brent lowers his camera and looks at me in contemplation. “I liked orange,” he says evenly, and goes back to his pictures. Brent took childhood seriously.

For all the obvious reasons, nighttime sightseeing is peculiar. Here on the south side, we’re eerily alone. With the wind picking up just a bit, it’s as if we’ve slipped through time.

Night Life

View across the street

Returning to the car, Brent wants to find some Kool-Aid Man footprints in cement, Hollywood Walk of Fame style. They’re needle-in-the-haystack to me, which, now that I’m tired and my mind is silly, is an intriguing phrase. Variations of the “needle in the haystack/bundle/meadow” reference date back to Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote, and before that, to a 1532 speech given by Sir Thomas More. To me, the phrase never described an impossibility. I remember hearing it as a child and thinking, “But you know the needle is there. So just keep looking.” Simple as that. Just like liking orange.

“The footprints aren’t out here at random,” Brent reveals. “They’re at the Visitor’s Center, back up on the north side.” We have a starting place. And between here and there, there’s not one food-like place open that we can find. It might be Nightlife after all.

Sure, the Visitor’s Center closed hours ago, but we lurk around the building in the dark, trying to see inside. I return to the flagpole while Brent searches among the bushes. “If one of these passing cars would just call the police on us,” I say, “We could ask the officers where the footprints are…”

“Found ‘em!” Brent suddenly shouts. Haystack needle.

Night LifeNext to the bushes that line the parking lot is a slab of cement, with no real lighting on it and certainly no giant Kool-Aid Man statue pointing at it. (I suppose most people show up in the daytime, so they don’t need such markers.) Triumphant, and without needing to wait in line, we put our feet inside the giant footprints and Brent does his best Kool-Aid Man imitations.Night Life

I’m delirious with hunger by the time we get to Nightlife, which is mercifully close by and the only place still open, so I order way too much food and even some more to go.

“You still have cinnamon rolls in the car,” Brent protests.

[Yes, I’m a road forager. I think it’s the hallmark of a good traveler.] And Brent may roll his eyes as my to-go cheese sticks arrive, but tomorrow morning we’ll sleep through our continental breakfast in Lincoln, feast on these Applebee’s cheese sticks and leftover cinnamon rolls from the tire caterpillar gas station, and we’ll laugh about how clever we are.

~
Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a blogger, poet, and traveler.

(For previous Stories from the Road, click here: Segment 14, Segment 13, Segment 12Segment 11Segment 10, Segment 9, Segment 8Segment 7, Segment 6, Segment 5, Segment 4, Segment 3, Segment 2, Segment 1)

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Meeting a SkyGrazer

#Merica Tour, Stories from the Road, Segment 12
(For links to previous segments, scroll to the bottom)

Well, now what?

That’s the first question on our minds as we pack up and face the sunny day ahead. Throughout all of this roadtripping, Brent and I had a goal in mind: the Trampled by Turtles concert. Now the concert’s over, we’re leaving Colorado, and we’ve got 1000 miles of road between us and St. Paul. The road ahead is flat, ridiculously flat, though right now, it might as well be all uphill.

“Why didn’t we fly?” I lament. Brent quietly agrees, but then, he picks up our travel-worn itinerary (7 pages of roadside attractions, handwritten, front and back) and carefully turns the pages until he finds today’s suggestions. His face shows that he takes his curiosity very seriously. Consulting and rearranging the list has been a sort of meditative ritual ever since Missouri–when we’d left the itinerary in the car at our first hotel stop and realized it was more of a living, breathing—okay, evolving–thing that we needed to keep close, so Brent had gone out in the middle of the night to get it. Now, seeing the pages and pages of strange roadside fun ahead of us, the wanderlust returns. The concert may be over, but our road trip is just hitting its stride.

IMG_2272After pigging out on hotel waffles, we pack up the Jetta and pop in a Trampled CD. We’re Northeast-bound, with the morning sun on our right. First stop, a meeting with a skygrazer.

Two CDs later, we exit the highway and navigate to a place called Sterling, Colorado, known as The City of Living Trees. We find it quickly, and that surprises us, especially in such an open space. Meeting a SkyGrazerWith a moniker like “Living Trees” we thought we’d find a forest-like area, not this high plains town. But Google assures us we’re in the right place, so I get the Googs to dig a little further and find that Sterling’s cottonwoods have been carved into a variety of creatures by renowned local artist Bradford Rhea. Now we’re getting somewhere! Rhea created the Skygrazers that we’re seeking.

While some of Rhea’s statues have been moved inside, there are a number of them simply dotted around the town. We drive up and down the wide, open, quiet streets of Sterling, looking for trees and creatures and hints of bronze as if we’re on a strange jungle expedition–binoculars included, because Brent has stocked the Jetta.

Sally the Map App is no help at all, directing us to a variety of buildings, none of which has any Skygrazers. We drive straight through town, make two lefts, drive back the way we came on a parallel street, and that’s enough for Brent. “I know where to go,” he says, and zigzags us to an unseen park. I’m sure he’s using The Force to get us here, but he says, “I saw this park on the way in.”

I know I shouldn’t say things like this, but I also know he’ll get a kick out of it, “I didn’t see any park,” I declare.

I can read the amused look on his face that says, “And I let you navigate?” but to his credit he doesn’t say that out loud.

“The Googs distracted me,” I defend to the look on his face. But, The Force has worked; there’s bronze ahead. We’re suddenly nearing The Minuteman and, about a block away, the celebratory Skygrazers.Meeting a SkyGrazer

Now here’s where the Googs earns its money: Their artist, Bradford Rhea, began sculpting dying tree trunks in this community in the 1980s, many of which have now been cast in bronze, and in 1993, he was commissioned by the U.S. government to sculpt a walking stick for President Clinton to present to Pope John Paul II. (The story goes that he carved it in seven days, from the roots of a honey locust tree.)

Truly—this is so America–who knew we’d find extraordinary treasure in such a quiet, unassuming place?

Brent poses with The Minuteman, but I find a quiet reserve when looking at it. I crouch down low, a few feet in front of it, and just look up at it.Meeting a SkyGrazer

The statue of The Skygrazers has an opposite effect. I want to leap, not just anywhere, but up. This statue reaches right into my heart and sums up our trip so far. It’s joyous, ecstatic, and reaching for the stars.

~
Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a blogger, poet, and traveler.

(For previous Stories from the Road, click here: Segment 11Segment 10, Segment 9, Segment 8Segment 7, Segment 6, Segment 5, Segment 4, Segment 3, Segment 2, Segment 1)

Singing to the Stage

#Merica Tour, Stories from the Road, Segment 11
(For links to previous segments, scroll to the bottom)

This is it! The entire reason for our road trip! The sun is beginning to set in Morrison, Colorado and we’re following a long line of cars into the craggy lower parking lots of the Red Rocks Amphitheater, gearing up to see Trampled by Turtles.

(Warning: I tend to think of music as a deeply personal experience. You’re about to glimpse mine.)

Singing to the Stage

photo courtesy of Brent (my ticket is currently hiding)

Brent and I triple check that we have the tickets—he’s holding them because I’ll lose them for sure—and I bring along a sweater because, yes, it’s warm out now, but when it gets dark and the wind kicks up on the mountainside, I’m going to need it.

I’d love to tell you we power walk the entire way up as some folks in their yoga-concertwear are enviably doing, but we’ve just spent umpteen days in a car, (or three), eating and drinking our way across this great country, so we hike two-thirds of the way up and then stop for a “scenic break” and catch our breath before hitting the rock stairs. Singing to the StageThe opening act has just started, a fella called Shakey Graves who’s playing a cross between blues, country, and rock and roll and seems to be a local favorite when, between songs, he asks how many people had been to a certain Halloween party where he’d played and the crowd goes nuts.

Singing to the StageHearing his scratchy voice as we ascend the final steps to our seats, I’ve convinced myself that this soulful artist is ancient. I’m caught off guard to look to the stage and see he’s in his late twenties. I stand motionless, thinking I’ll let the music swirl around me, but it hits hard and straight to the heart, giving me goose bumps for the entire performance, and the only thought I can think in words is: All is not lost. If someone so young can feel the world like this and interpret it into song, we’re not completely a superficial lot lost to the reality of unreality and taking superficial opinions as fact. No, we might make it after all.

(Later, in Pittsburgh, I’ll tell a plugged-in music-minded friend about Shakey Graves and he’ll chuckle knowingly, then launch into a story of seeing him play in Austin, Texas where Graves is actually from, and how awestruck the music-wisened Austin crowd became when Graves was on stage.)

Singing to the StageWhen the set is over, Brent says, “The best T-shirts and drink prices are at the top of the amphitheater.” His recon report isn’t finished yet. “Also, the shortest bathroom line is near us.” (When Brent left and returned I don’t know. Introverts are stealthy like that.) Together, we head up, up, up, and check it out the tippy top of this place, and of course he’s right about the T-shirts because he’s done enough mental math to fill a spreadsheet. And that’s when, strangely, I spot a figure that looks familiar. (You know how that happens when you’re someplace you’ve never been, a zillion miles from the last familiar sight, and your brain is telling you you know someone?) Then I realize it’s not someone I actually know, but rather a very sweaty Shakey Graves himself, blending with the crowd. As I pass him, I say, “You’re awesome,” and he looks at me and says a quiet, “Thank you,” which has a polite and capable tone of “I worked hard for this moment” behind it.

Singing to the StageT-shirted up and back to our seats again… Well, actually, I got a T-shirt. Brent is holding out for a poster, impractically enough seeing that our peacock feathers from Truckhenge are already bent thanks to sloppy packing that we won’t blame on anyone, and he thinks he’ll get said poster on our way out at the lower level booth because they have the best price. Anyway, I have a cool T-shirt in hand as Elephant Revival takes the stage. Brent tells me about some pathways that take you to other levels in this amphitheater, and I want more than anything to go exploring and take pictures of the views now that the sunlight is taking its exit and the little natural light that’s left is playing tricks with our craggy surroundings. I want to, but I can’t. Elephant Revival has a woman playing a washboard.

I’ve never officially seen a washboard played before, unless you count the Futurama episode when Bender goes on tour with Beck. (It’s a ridiculous comparison I admit, but the writers of that cartoon are gifted.)

“Oh my goodness,” I say to Brent as if he can’t see this. Neither of us can look away. We’re standing on a Colorado mountainside, locked in the sight and sound of the washboard while stage lights shine on red sandstone monoliths, 300-feet high to our right and left, and it suddenly occurs to me that this, mine, is a life painted with its own version of cartoon colors.

Singing to the StageThe five members of Elephant Revival play an astounding fifteen instruments among them, and each of them sings. They introduce their songs with a bit of background as to what they were thinking when they wrote them. Some of the songs are named for animal and nature sounds, and I sit with my eyes closed and marvel that it really does sound as if the birds, elephants, and a babbling brook have gathered to perform here.

Singing to the StageBy the time our flanking red monoliths (named Ship Rock and Creation Rock, but I’m not sure which is which) start taking on a brilliant gold hue thanks to spotlights, the sky is busy turning a striking blue-black, and Trampled by Turtles takes the stage and fills the air with their bluegrass/rock sound. Brent and I have been fortunate enough to live in places where Trampled is played on the radio, and we share a sort of hometown pride to see them headlining here in Colorado. (Hometown pride is a peculiar feeling for this wandering gypsy, but no less fierce a passion despite the vast ground it covers.)

Singing to the StageThe last time Brent and I saw TbT on stage was in Rochester, Minnesota, which is 226 miles south of their origins in Duluth, and at the time, we thought that was far. That concert took place in an indoor concert hall that wrapped their big sound around us, but here in the open amphitheater with the proclaimed “acoustic perfection” of the stony Red Rocks, Trampled by Turtles’ frenetic stage energy is set free.

Singing to the StageWith their individual backgrounds in punk and its influence, the five band members play stringed instruments (guitar, bass, banjo, mandolin, fiddle) with such intensity that I always find myself waiting for the instruments to smoke and then burst into flames. I wait for it, but it never happens. What does happen is a sound that is sometimes thundering, sometimes rolling, and at times even downright haunting. I soak in these songs, waiting patiently for my favorite, “You Wait So Long,” which is possibly their most popular and thus I struggle not to feel bandwagonny–but I can’t help but love a song that tears your heart out and simultaneously reminds you that you’re alive. And there’s something in the quality of the rhythm of “You Wait So Long” that makes me think of Minnesota winter, of accepting the cold and pounding out a life within it, without glory, but with a recognition of the guts it takes.

Singing to the StageBrent and I have driven through four incredible states to get here, and tomorrow we’ll begin our return journey (taking a different path, of course). But right now on this mountain we’re living in the moment, soaking in the Colorado night, and singing to the stage.

~
Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a blogger, poet, and traveler.

(For previous Stories from the Road, click here: Segment 10, Segment 9, Segment 8Segment 7, Segment 6, Segment 5, Segment 4, Segment 3, Segment 2, Segment 1)

The Dreams of Men

#Merica Tour, Stories from the Road, Segment 10
(For links to previous segments, scroll to the bottom)

The Dreams of MenWe’ve made it to Colorado! For the first time in this road trip, we have no plans until the Trampled by Turtles concert at Red Rocks, around sunset. With a whole day ahead of us in one state, we breakfast at the hotel and decide to grab a stack of tourist brochures from the lobby. We spread the brochures around our room and look for things that jump out at us: Panning for gold, riding a train, touring a mine, and visiting a brewery. Brent estimates the timing with multiple events only offered certain times a day and computes that if we leave approximately right this minute, we can do a mine tour, pan for gold, and forego the brewery but make it to a train that has a bar car–all before the concert. We look at each other for a split second in agreement of the plan, and go running for the door.

We set map-app Sally to the address of the mine, and head west out of Denver into the sunny, blue-skied day.

“It was weird,” I tell Brent, “When we drove in last night, I don’t remember going up in elevation. I thought we’d be climbing up and up, but it seemed pretty flat.” Brent agrees.

We drive along a mountainside and the highway takes us through a pass and suddenly the view before us is all downhill–downmountain, I should say—for two miles according to a sign, until we reach the valley. We look at each other from “up here” and smile.

It’s an amazing thing to ride aloft in the mountains one moment, and then find yourself looking up at those peaks from the valley floor only a few minutes later. I think about the people of Denver and how they could feel awe or triumph simply based on where they happen to stand at any given moment.

The Dreams of MenAt the bottom of the valley we meander through the mountains for about half an hour until we reach a place called Idaho Springs and find the Argo Gold Mine and Mill. The mill was built at the entrance of the Argo Tunnel, which built between 1893 and 1910 to provide water drainage, ventilation, and transportation of the gold-bearing ore from the many mines it intersected.

The Dreams of MenAt the mine, we’re allowed to touch the mining equipment before watching a presentation and taking a short bus ride to a mine entrance up the mountainside for a tour. The Dreams of MenIt’s warm under the Colorado sun, but we’re in jeans, having learned a year ago on a mine tour in Pennsylvania to bundle up for such an occasion. We’re not disappointed; the mine is chilly. Exiting the mouth of the mine, we return our hard hats and keep our eyes peeled for bears. (Our group has been warned not to feed the bears or to take selfies, as if we’d be that dumb.) The Dreams of MenInstead, I take pictures of Brent hopping in and out of an abandoned mine car that was next to a sign clearly stating not to touch it.

The Dreams of MenWe self-tour the interior of the mill from the top down, and marvel at the way this building was not much protection from the elements. Back out in the sunshine at the bottom level, we’re taught how to pan for gold and allowed to practice for as long as we want. I don’t mind telling you, I’m pretty good at it.The Dreams of Men

When we turn in our pans and head back inside the gift shop, a group waiting there for the next tour asks us, “So, how’d you do?The Dreams of Men

“We made enough for retirement,” says Brent triumphantly.

“Or to get an ice cream cone!” I say with the same exuberance.

The Dreams of MenWe wander around the shop and spend a little time in the jail, for which we get strange looks but once we’re liberated, those same folks with the looks hop in to do the same thing. We’re just trendsetters, that’s all.

Next stop, a mountainside train with a bar car–or as we’re dubbing it, The Drinky Train.

The Dreams of MenThe Dreams of MenThe Georgetown Loop Railroad weaves its way along the mountainside through trees and dirt trails, and has great views of the Rockies and the valley. Our tickets are for the bar car, which is in the caboose, so we alternate sitting at our table beside the picture window and visiting the platform outside the caboose to feel the wind in our hair.The Dreams of Men

It feels as if a whimsical kid set this train up in the most imaginative place possible, along the steep mountainside with deep green trees, the smell of pine, the sound of water rushing over the rocks below, and the chug-chug of this brightly colored rail, just to spend the afternoon lost in railroad adventures. The Dreams of MenAnd even though we know it’s not child’s play but the dreams of men that tamed this wild place, we’re glad to be the mini Weebles on such a train.

Back on solid ground, we head into Georgetown, which looks like an Old West town with wooden storefronts held up by stilts from behind—except that it’s real—and look for sustenance before the Trampled by Turtles concert.

The Dreams of Men

A dress I wanted to buy in Georgetown but the shop was closed for the day. I’m a Medium. (Okay, Large.)

We find the best Mexican food this side of the Rio Grande at a restaurant called Lucha Cantina. We sit on the upper perimeter above the bar and watch football when Brent’s eyes suddenly go wide. “Your burrito is as big as your head!” he laughs and laughs as it’s put down in front of me. He’s kinda right. The Dreams of MenAnd it’s so delicious that I eat nearly the entire thing. (I’ll spend the next hour telling him I want a nap, and also that it was well worth it.)

Spoiler alert: I don’t get the nap. Instead, we roll ourselves back to the car and head to Red Rocks to see Trampled by Turtles light up the night.The Dreams of Men

~
Jody Brown is the author of , and is a blogger, poet, and traveler.

(For previous Stories from the Road, click here: Segment 9, Segment 8Segment 7, Segment 6, Segment 5, Segment 4, Segment 3, Segment 2, Segment 1)

A Tour is Born

#Merica Tour, Stories from the Road, Segment 2
(Click here for Segment 1)

I arrive at Mall of America’s The Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and find there’s space at the bar for me and my wheeled suitcase, so I settle in as the petite, raspy-voiced bartender tells me she’ll make me an iced tea with some kind of peach vodka in it. I agree to it, and it’s one colossal peachy drink that I’d never order on my own and I love it immediately for that.A Tour is Born

I spend the afternoon eating shrimp cocktail with my peach drink and watching Forrest Gump on the bar TV. It’s amazing not to need to be anywhere and I soak in the feeling of “I’m exactly where I need to be.” I chat a little with the other bar patrons about their work and tell them I’m embarking on a road trip to see Trampled by Turtles in Colorado. They don’t know the band–which is a crime—but they tell me to go see the “giant ball of string,” which everyone adamantly says is in Kansas, Minnesota, and Iowa. Turns out, they’re all pretty much right. [Over the course of the next few days, I find out there’s the world’s largest/second largest ball of string (collected by one man), string (collected by a community), and twine, and they’re in Kansas, Iowa, and Minnesota.] Regardless, knowing my friend and travel companion, Brent, giant string is already on the itinerary along with a lot of other roadside attractions. Yes, with the uncanny and timely release of the newest Vacation movie into theaters, this is about to be a “Holiday Road” kind of trip.

Brent sends a message that he’s done with work and nearing the Mall. I pay my tab and head for the specified parking ramp. We meet up, hug, and finally say hello. It’s the first time in months that we’ve spoken out loud. Even planning this last-minute trip has all been done via message, and that has only added to the mystical nature of travel.

A Tour is BornWe head out to dinner, and he drives to the Surly Brewing Company in St. Paul, which is bustling with people between the main floor beer hall, the grassy courtyard outside, and the upstairs where a private party is going on.

We sidle up to the bar and he points out that one of the taps is labeled #Merica!

We guess that it’s a lager, and it is. We chat with the bartender about coconut porter made at the Church Brew Works in Pittsburgh and never mention our upcoming road trip. I’m wearing a Captain America t-shirt, and the bartender (and everyone else all day) calls me Captain. I feast on a fantastic smoked salmon salad and farro salad with poached egg and wash it down with the Cacao! Bender.

A Tour is BornWhen we finish dinner, Brent and I sit outside on the grassy knolls and watch people come and go with their beer. It’s a mixed crowd of after-office attire and pre-fall hipster layers mingling easily. I like this place.

We stare up at the big Surly sign and I say that we need a tour name. “We can’t just jump in the car without a name for the trip,” I say. Here we are, having cleared our work schedules for the week ahead, Brent from his code-writing job where he tells computers what to do, and me from my writing and waiting tables gigs, though truth be told, the writer brain never shuts off, and here we’ve no name for what we’re doing other than “road trip.” Writers name things. We need a name.

“What kind of name?” Brent asks.

“I don’t know,” I speculate. “The Great West Tour, or Trampled by Turtles or Bust, or…”

Brent smiles, “Or, the #Merica Tour,” he says. Brent has a way of getting right to the heart of things in very few words—he, and Hemingway. It’s too bad about Brent’s computer career thing because he’d be a great writer.

“The #Merica Tour,” I say. “That’s exactly it.”

And so it is.

~
Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a blogger, poet, and traveler.

Cheating Death

cheating death#Merica Tour, Stories from the Road, Segment 1
When a friend asks you if you want to go on a road trip, you say yes. You say yes, and then you figure out how you’ll get time off and the money for travel and to pay your bills that week. These are mere details that, for me, need to be worked out the same way a person makes a list of what to pack. Say yes, then make it happen.

I’m sitting at my computer in the dining room when my phone twinges with a message:

Road Trip?
Trampled by Turtles is playing in Red Rocks. The concert is on a Saturday. I figure we give ourselves two days’ time on either side of it to drive.

I answer back:
I’ll book a flight.

And thus, it began. I flew from Pittsburgh to Minneapolis on an August Wednesday. Days are easy to remember at the beginning of any trip. From here on out, though, they days blend until they don’t seem to have distinguishing names anymore.

I thought it funny to start out a road trip with a flight. It’s also funny to think that every time I hop on a flight, especially toward somewhere with a time change, I excitedly feel as if I’m cheating death.

light rail cheating deathI arrive in Minneapolis and collect my things from baggage claim. My friend doesn’t get out of work for a few hours, and I knew this when I booked. I’m happy to wait and I review my options. Maybe I’ll take a cab somewhere. Maybe I’ll just sit with a coffee and watch airport people. I receive a text from my friend saying that I can take the Light Rail from the airport to the Mall of America. I’ve just hurtled through the sky on a glorified rocket and a drink sounds good, so I go.

Mall of America cheating deathI find the Light Rail easily enough, and it takes me back to my D.C. days of riding the Metro to and from work. I think about how mass transportation astounds me with its convenience and my ability to get up and go pretty much anywhere for pretty much anything. I also I think about Planes, Trains, and Automobiles and I laugh.

I get to the Mall with one clear agenda on my mind: The Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. I’ve never actually been in there. Today’s the day.

Proving America is amazing, one stop at a time.

~
Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a blogger, poet, and traveler.

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