I had no idea how many miles we had driven.

I’d lost all track of how many cities and towns and truckstops we’d been through.

The TNBers we’d met, at least, I could keep track of.

Reno Romero.

Joe Daly.

Bex Adler.

Lisa Rae Cunningham.

John Singleton.

Yvonne de la Vega.

Zoe Zolbrod.

Marissa Matarazzo.

Gina Frangello.

Stacy Bierlein.

Andrew Nonadetti.

Megan diLullo.

Erika Rae.

Uche Ogbuji.

Becky Palapala.

Greg Boose.

Claire Bidwell Smith.

Don Mitchell.

Greg Olear.

Will Entrekin.

Quenby Moone.

Kristen Elde.

Marni Grossman.

Ronlyn Domingue.

Alison Aucoin.

Slade Ham.

Richard Cox.

Add to that the usual suspects.

Lenore Zion.

Duke Haney.

Brad Listi.

Ben Loory.

Rich Ferguson.

Milo Martin.

Rachel Pollon.

Matt Baldwin would have been there, but he’d been snatched up by a giant pelican while walking the streets of San Diego a few days earlier, and it was a while before he could claw his way out of its bill. By then, the evil bird had flapped its way to Arkansas, and Matt wasn’t able to make it to LA in time to meet us.

Next trip, Matt.

We knew it was our last day to show our total disregard for American speed limits, so when the GPS told us that we had 14 hours to make it from Albuquerque to Los Angeles, we figured we’d make it in about ten.

We ate breakfast in downtown Albuquerque, and fuelled up for the day on hash browns, bacon, and bad coffee. Then, after 25 days of driving, we drove some more.

Destination: Los Angeles. Los Angeles and a hot shower. Los Angeles and no more gas station food. No more pulling into hotels and one of us staying in the driver’s seat while the other ran in to see if there were any vacancies. No more calling people to double-check where we were meeting and re-entering details into the GPS. No more stocking up on Gatorade and water and V8 and then keeping a frantic eye out for gas stations and, more importantly, restrooms, on the turn off.

No more cresting hills and watching country I’d never seen before open up in front of me.

No more clinking glasses or beer bottles with people I’d never met before but exchanged hundreds, thousands? of words with.

No more speeding through lonely streets after sundown, our headlights searching across the dividing line.

No more Arby’s. No more new accents. No more beef jerky.

(that last part sucked).

No more new towns and trying to figure out where we were heading. No more driving through the rain, or stopping to take photos.

No more new hotel rooms.

No more putting the pedal down a little harder when the Pixies or OK Go or Peter Fox played.

No more Route 66.

But on the plus side, no more Gary, Indiana!

The road home to LA was flat, for the most part. Flat, and long. Albuquerque to Los Angeles in one day is not a short drive, man. It takes you through New Mexico, through Arizona, through the dusty badlands of California.

No more G. Smith, who saved us from Carol in Des Moines. No more Lester D, the Native American rez worker we met at a gas station who said highly uncomplimentary things about Obama. No more Greg, the hotel valet who gripped my hand in a soul clasp in Dallas and cried ‘My man!’

No more hotel desks, no more local experts, no more gas station attendants to ask us where we were from.

No more new towns.

But a hundred, a thousand new experiences, and stories to tell. A thousand new places to miss, and a thousand new ideas to store and turn over, in due time.

And a homecoming in Los Angeles, in San Francisco, and people to see. Things to do.

New roads to travel.


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SIMON SMITHSON is an Australian writer and editor. He is currently based in Melbourne, Australia, but frequently finds himself in Los Angeles and San Francisco. His work has appeared on both sides of the globe in print and online in publications such as BLIP, Every Day Fiction, Beat, The Loop, My Sinking Boat, and more. He has a tumblr at www.simonsmithson.com and he runs a lifestyle experiment at www.selfhelpless.net.

13 responses to “TPAC 2010 – Day 26: Coast to Coast, PM”

  1. Don Mitchell says:

    Damn, does this meanThe Summer of TPAC is officially over? I don’t know that I’ve ever spent a summer with a constant theme, and I’ll miss it.

    Nothing about your trip to SF?

    And finally, about Gatorade and V8 — are you saying that you did all that driving without Rock Star, No Fear, Monster, or Red Bull? Is that possible? I don’t think it’s possible. Maybe they don’t have those drinks in the Southern Hemisphere, so you walked right past them in all those glass-fronted displays you must have seen in all those gas stations and convenience stores?

    • Simon Smithson says:

      Not yet! I’ve still got two SF posts and a final LA post scheduled. I’m determined to squeeze all the juice out of this trans-continental orange that I can!

      I hit the Red Bull a little, and coffee was a pretty frequent traveling companion. Zara has never had a Red Bull before, and, if I remember correctly, only had a tiny sip of one of mine.

  2. Ben Loory says:

    wait, beef jerky sucked? or no longer having it sucked?

    god damn i could do with a little beef jerky.

  3. Dana says:

    So sad this is over. It must be about time to start another one! Thanks for bringing us along for the ride.

  4. Zara Potts says:

    Oh. It’s over. Boo.

  5. Jude says:

    Back to humdrum…

    • Simon Smithson says:

      Never! We’ll Release the Kraken! At an isolated hotel in the mountains! Then it’ll be back to Redrumdrum!

  6. Lisa Rae Cunningham says:

    The fact that you refer to Los Angeles as home is sort of fun for the Angelenos. Like, WE WIN!

    Also, Gary with the soul clasp? I need that guy in Los Angeles too.

    • Lisa Rae Cunningham says:

      Shit. Do you think Greg will hold a grudge? I mean, they’re both G names? Maybe he’ll think I’m playing hard to get. Let’s hope it works in my favor. Because he’s the kind of guy I want on my side of the block.

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