Wow, I just drove for a day and a half straight. Seriously, I drove for 28 hours across this beautiful country and I know it might not be a popular view on things, but I have to tell you in the spring like this, most of the country smells like shit. Yeah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, and Wisconsin are all planting their fields and fertilizing them… so, they smell bad, but this trip has really given me hope for America. I’m serious. Before this week for the last 8 years I’ve lived in Portland and the only contact I’ve had with the rest of America has been through television and internet news stories, and I have to say I was pretty sick of what I had to hear, but driving across this amazing, amazing country I’ve not only seen some gorgeous natural sights but I’ve experienced the people. The people are friendly, giving, and have good spirit.
So, talking about the land: driving out of Utah into Wyoming you can’t help but notice that you’re driving down a decent grade, and you definitely can’t help noticing the unique and beautiful sedimentary rock structures all over the place. It really felt like I was driving on a highway on the bottom of the ocean. The whole state is surrounded by mountain ranges on every side so it was like a giant fishbowl. I could imagine giant prehistoric submarine dinosaurs swimming above the horizon and over my head.
When I crossed into Nebraska I couldn’t help but notice that most of the billboards were one of two categories. They were either talking about Jesus Christ or selling fireworks, and this became a theme all the way to Wisconsin. The names of the radio stations were interesting. In the West they had names like The Eagle, The Bear, or The Wolf, but as I drove east they turned to The Island, The River, or The Big O.
Iowa has the best rest areas of any state. The second one I went to had all the names of the professors who taught at the University of Iowa, including Kurt Vonnegut. I now have a new goal: to get my name printed on the wall outside of a restroom.
After pulling into my dear friend Mike Magnuson’s house we left to go to the local grocery market here in Appleton, Wisconsin. This was hilarious. They don’t have a frozen pizza section. They have a frozen pizza department. Mag explained to me that they invented frozen pizzas here in Wisco. The store also had a small cheese department:
I bought some smoked bacon, eight year, and horse radish cheddar cheese along with some single barrel whiskey all for tomorrow night when Ben Percy gets here. Then Mag, Percy and I will celebrate appropriately. I will be giving my craft talk at the University of Wisconsin Fox Valley and Ben Percy will be reading that night. The next day Ben will be giving his craft talk and I will be reading. Some time in there we will celebrate with cheese, great wine, and single barrel whiskey.
After these two days I will be heading down south to Des Moines to do a reading at an amazing book store. Details to follow.