Our Trip West (This is for my mother).

I realize this is absurd, my putting up 110 images all in one day. But separating them all onto different pages is hard given the way my site is set up. What I have done here is separate them by posts. In other words, each state will be differentiated by a section titled “And Another Thing.”

I made each thumbnail image smaller in hopes of lessening the download time. I do hope this helps. Each thumbnail is clickable, a larger image will appear.

While organizing everything, I noticed that I didn’t buy a magnet for Indiana. I completely spaced on Indiana. And I haven’t ever seen one for D.C. So those two are missing. But every other state we drove through is present, even if we did not take pictures while passing through.

Lastly, I must clarify something. The images I have put up are not meant to be artistic. Photographs taken from a car while driving 80 mph will do no subject justice. These images taken by Toby and me, as well the documentation of our journey, act more like cliff notes, jogging a memory to a bigger story later. I realize that many of these images might seem a bit of a bore. Some of them are for me as well. I consider this more of an attempt at creating a low-budget documentary about a trip across the country—sharing as best I could a week which ultimately exists only in my head.

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Here Schmitty and Tucker sit patiently waiting to get out of the car again. Not realizing of course, they have 48 hours left.

This is of me driving. I am getting to know my new home, i.e. a white minivan.

Tucker trying to come help. He did this often. Especially in higher elevations much later. It was horrible. Poor kitty would try and run from the pain/pressure. Toby eventually had to lock the little guy up while we were up high.

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I’m from Pennsyltuckey, so I guess that’s why I didn’t feel the need to take pictures. I think Toby got a few of the Amish invasion we experienced at a rest stop on 70. (He called them Amish, however I think they were Mennonite.) Anyway, a busload of them got off and headed for the restroom (all at once, mind you.) I was attacked by a gaggle of teenage girls while sitting on the pot, he was attacked by a herd of teenage boys while standing at the urinal. The boys were wearing suspenders and hats and black pants. Beneath the suspenders, they wore blue button downs. The girls had on pink shirts beneath their overall dresses. I finished first and waited for Toby. Upon seeing Toby, I began to laugh uncontrollably. Not for any other reason than I am apparently stupid and can’t handle gaggles of religious teenagers while driving through my home state.

We order Coffee. While standing in line at Starbucks, one teenage boy comes over with his coffee cup. He says:

“Hey, do you all have coffee?”

“We are Starbucks. That’s what we have, coffee.”

He says, still holding his mug, “Do you serve Maxwell house? Is it Maxwell house?”

“No. We’re Starbucks. We have Starbucks.”

This went on. As did my giggling. There were no pictures taken while in the rest stop. It’s moments like these that don’t need images. They are right there in my head and probably always will be.

Now that the rant is over. Another image of nothing.

We took ZERO pictures while in West Virginia. I think because I didn’t know we were IN West Virginia until they thanked us for being there. At which point I think I said something like “We were in West Virginia?” And we may have made some jokes about pigs and squeeling. Because we’re original and all.

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At a rest stop in Ohio, there was a description of why and how Route 70 came to be. We read about it. And we took pictures.

This is me, back on the road again. I got it in my head that I wanted to drive the ENTIRE way across, with no help from Toby. (Much later, in Nevada, I nearly gave in and handed the wheel over to him. But after a quick break and some Red Bull, I was back on track again.)

I didn’t take many pictures while in Ohio. But I did call Missy half way through to tell her how pretty I thought her home state is. She said:

“You must still be before Columbus, in the hilly part. It’s really pretty there. Later, it flattens out.”

She was right. But it was quite lovely at first.

And, two little guys in the back seat.

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I totally forgot to buy an Indiana magnet. I am only now realizing this. Damn. But we’re in Indiana now. This is Indianapolis. Somehow, we missed Columbus entirely. I think I took a 200-level road, which by-passes the city. Too bad. I would have toasted Julie as we drove through. Next time.

This is a shot of something. I am not sure what it is. But whatever it is, it’s in Indiana.

This was taken of our first hotel room just outside of Indianapolis in a town called Greencastle. We ate pizza from a not so good pizza joint who claimed to know Chicago style pizza. While we waited for our not so good pizza, I took pictures of a transvestite’s hands.

More of our hotel room—an unmade bed. The room sort of scared me, quite honestly. I think they do actually rent these rooms by the hour. But I don’t ask questions anymore.

Here is Toby. He’s taking a picture of himself in the mirror. The flash went off, oops.

Here are some things along the way. I wish it were possible to get paid to travel and take pictures from one’s car. That would rule. I could probably do that for a while.

Things like this never lose their beauty.

I like pie. Not as much as cake. But pie is good.

Here we are at the Silver Lakes Rest Stop.

This is the closest I will ever come to taking a picture of myself in the bathroom.

A mirror-project shot. There’s a telephone inside so you can call your pet.

Here are some blue things on a big truck. Would you believe me if I told you we DID actually edit this down quite a bit?

We took ZERO pictures while in Illinois. We seemed to only be there for a very short time.

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This is a sign reminding me that we’re heading in the right direction. Yes, we DO want to go to St. Louis. I am in search of the Arch.

And here she is. As Chandler mentioned, it’s as tall as it is wide. I did not know that.

A TobyJoe, self-portrait. Ain’t he cute? Makes for the best roadtrip companion.

This is me. I’m smiley.

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This is Kansas City. I’m still trying to figure out why Kansas City is in Missouri and why it wasn’t named something more appropriate.

Ahhhh Kansas. As I said on a previous post. We heard nothing but horrible things about Kansas. And I was actually kind of fond of her. In Kansas, we started taking many more pictures. I think we found ourselves inspired. Either that, or we began leaving more bread-crumbs, as we began moving further and further away from home.

This is TobyJoe. We’re at a rest area in Kansas.

This was taken from the parking lot of the Best Inn in Salina, Kansas were we stayed for one night. I just learned, only after saying it several times to strangers, that Salina is pronounced Sal-eye-na and not Sa-lee-na. Oops. So now I CAN name my daughter Sa-lee-na.

We left early that morning. And we hit some pretty amazing storms. I guess it’s a good thing we made such great timing because the evening following on morning we left, Kansas and Oklahoma were both blasted by tornadoes. Someday, I do hope to see one.

We’re kind of silly. We found ourselves really craving Starbucks coffee. I am not sure why. Anyway, there aren’t many along route 70 in the midwest, so when we found this guy, we were both quite happy.

And of course, like any good Starbucks, there’s a nice RV dump in the back. Shitter’s Full. Mmmmmmm coffeeeeee.

This is another reflection shot of myself looking in at Tucker.

You can’t see this very well. We nearly missed it. But it’s the sign marking the exit for the Colorado border town in Kansas called “Kanorado.” Yes. I wish so much there was one of me from Kanorado and that the one of me from Kanorado played the guitar and could sing songs.

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I’ll begin by saying that we were both in bewildered awe over Colorado. You will notice that by the number of pictures we have here.

This will be Toby and me in 35 years.

Toby charming the freak off Pookum. He did this, he played the kitty-whisperer. He calmed them down when they were TOTALLY FREAKING THE HELL OUT. It was good. Toby is a wonderful man.

Colorado is an interesting state. This is how it looks when you come in from Kansas. And it looks like this for nearly 2.5 hours or so. Finally, the hills start to bloat and then, off in the distance, you start seeing something glimmering. It’s sort of cloud like, but stationary. These cloud-like things can play funny tricks on your eyes until you realize what they are.

We pulled off for a bit to take some pictures.

A stop sign. I am willing to bet this Stop Sign was put to work less than 100 times since its erection.

You probably can’t see this, but if you open this image you will notice that I am being threatened out of the driver’s seat by something entirely fuzzy and orange.

That same Stop Sign. I put it to work that day.

TobyJoe. We might be living out west, but I have proof that he’s an easterner at heart.

Perhaps in my next life, I’ll take pictures of out-of-work street signs.

A glimpse of Denver.

The mountains begin.

This image is sort of terrible. But I put it up to sort of illustrate what I was speaking about earlier when I was talking about the weird cloud-like things. They are called The Rockies. For being so huge, they sure do sneak up on you. One minute your world is flat as hell, the next minute your gasping for air in more ways than one.

The next several shots are why we stayed in Glennwood Springs. Amazing views. Truly outstanding. And, we found a nine-foot pool table.

The photograph isn’t in focus. But I wanted to show a tunnel. We drove through several between Denver, Aspen and Glennwood Springs.

This was our view from our room at dawn. I got up super early every day while we were traveling. I have always been fond of morning.

Another view from the Hotel. We stopped at an internet cafe where I posted something about John Denver.

See what I mean about the cat-whisperer? Who wouldn’t love this boy? (Yes, I mean both of them.)

The next several shots are of our trek from Colorado into Utah. These were taken as we travelled through western Colorado, through towns like New Castle, Rifle, and Grand Junction. Below, are pictures of storm clouds (which left me speechless.) Plus, some of the most amazing natural light I have ever seen.

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Here we are just inside Utah. It was cold and gusty here. I never would have thought this area would have been cold. But it was. There were big drops of rain as well. It was as if a strainer above were clogged. The drops were HUGE and they were spread few and far between. I called them “Summer Drops” Summer here and summer there.

A self portrait of myself. No clue what I’m doing with my face.

A bit more of the terrain.

The picture below best illustrates the deterioration of my mental state as we drove from where Route 70 ended and north, along Route 6, which led us north into Provo and Salt Lake City. From that point on, we began to leave the green behind. Those mountains in the distance were as daunting and cold and desolate as they appear. As we drove towards them, they became bigger. As they became bigger, the greenery became smaller and smaller, until there was none. The rock turned red and began to form into contorted roadside ghosts. And this was cool for a little while. But then I felt sun-shocked and totally alone and small. After driving through this stretch in Utah, I am sure there are alien machines named “The Rover” or “Qubert” inhabiting parts of Utah, reporting back with images to some other species far, far away about how the terrain seems barren, but there does appear to be signs of life. I’m just sayin…

But I didn’t take pictures of that part of Utah. And I am only now regretting this. I missed the photograph of the dead horses, the little mormon towns, the weird red rocks, the lack of signs of living and life. I totally didn’t capture what looked like how I imagine the deepest, darkest parts of the ocean to be. I am sorry to say I have no record of desolation. Which means these images will probably haunt me for years to come.

This was taken right outside Provo, after coming down off a massive mountain, thousands of feet above sea level. Storms were setting in again. There were several of them. We didn’t know it yet, but we’d hit them from now until the Nevada state line.

Here is an image of the most southern tip of the Great Salt Lake. This lake is quite nightmarish, if you were to ask this easterner. I don’t know, it just sits there all still and murky. Plus, it’s huge. Anyway, here is a photo. This was also taken right after we picked up Route 80.

These are some of the lesser popular salt flats. We pulled over for a bit to take some pictures. The earth here is squishy. One might not sink, but one doesn’t feel too comfortable going too far out (though Toby did.) I kept expecting him to disappear into an unknown salt-flat, undercurrent.

Out here is where the army testing grounds once were (are?). They are miles off the main highway, but there are signs of such along the way. My imagination took me places, picturing those HUGE mushroom clouds poofing out over the horizon at one time.

More storms. I do wish pictures could do this justice. I just don’t have the eye nor the equipment.

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Nevada. I was obviously getting sort of bored of driving at this point. Plus, I started to worry for the cats. I stopped taking pictures for some reason. I’m not sure why, Nevada intrigues me. And I’m going to probably regret that for years to come.

We saw numerous weirdness along the way. We drove through Battle Mountain (An aside: The Washington Post deemed the “Armpit of the Nation”. In response to this, Battle Mountain boasted on roadside signs along Route 80, “Come MAKE US YOUR PIT STOP!” Funny.) We drove through the high desert, which was beautiful and bizarre. We drove by several prisons. Signs reading “Do not pick up hitch-hikers. Prison area.” We drove by buffalo and cattle, trailers and patches of nothing. Interesting bird, Nevada is.

I have to correct myself about something I said previously about Nevada. Before this trip, I had only ever driven through southern Nevada (route 15—from Vegas to L.A.). Southern Nevada is much different from northern Nevada. Southern Nevada is flat desert. Northern Nevada is hilly and green and there are a few more signs of life, might be prison life, but life none-the-less. Northern Nevada was quite pretty, actually.

Our hotel room in Reno. For some reason, we took pictures of our ugliest two rooms. These were, by far, the worse two. But who cares. Reno was cool. I won 93 bucks on the slots and 50 on Blackjack. I’m a winner.

Downtown Reno, just before pulling out of town in the morning.

Found this bumper sticker pretty funny. The colors might not run, but they will fade. heh.

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We barely took anything of California. But that’s ok, I have decided. Because we live here now and we’ll surely be taking hundreds. So I have two lonely pictures and will then finally shut this thing down.

2 humans, 3 cats and 10 cites in 4.5 days.


  1. What! No Indiana magnet! I am personally offended. If I every meet you, I will bite you with all three of my teeth.



  2. ha! I am so sorry. I have to say I like Indiana. Twas quite pretty, actually. Reminded me of Pennsyltuckey.

    Also, Mike-the-Mick, we really wanted to check out your brother’s place in Carson City and will most likely drive back that way for a weekend trip. It’s called Lefty’s right? (heh, or Lefty’s left?) I can’t wait to check it out as well as lake Tahoe.


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