On the Road from Chicago to Los Angeles
This is not just another shitty travelogue that is essentially the adult equivalent of a nine-year-old’s “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” writing assignment. This is instead an extended travelogue from someone who already wrote and published one book all about his cross-country travels on a Honda Shadow 1100. So like a bad sequel that no one was asking for, here is an account of my recent travels, this time via Mini Cooper, from Chicago to Los Angeles:
When beginning a cross-country road trip from Chicago to Los Angeles, it’s important to take in some of Chicago’s cultural offerings before departing for the literal and figurative desert that exists between it and Los Angeles.
I discovered that Chicago is apparently beset with as many furries as Hayley and I discovered in San Jose, California, at FurCon earlier this year because the dj set that my friend and I caught on the evening of the fourth of July included a dancer who was wearing a tail.
She was attractive, though, and she sometimes did crazy shit with a hula hoop. It almost made the shitty electronic dance music tolerable. However, when her performance inspired my friend and I to attend a stripclub, we were shocked to find all of Chicago’s stripclubs were closed at 1 a.m. on the fourth of July.
Iowa 80 Truckstop—The World’s Largest
No respectable road trip from Chicago along I-80 would be complete without stopping at Iowa 80 Truckstop, billed as the world’s largest. Those expecting a lot of glitz and glamor from the world’s largest and ostensibly most famous truckstop will be in for some disappointment. Unless of course you have a fetish for oversized cat and unicorn t-shirts, in which case this may be your Shangrila.
There are offerings for the gentlemen, too, including a lot of truck accessories with which to trick out your fly ride. After all, lots of lights are how you attract the best lot lizards with the fewest number of missing teeth. Or the most missing teeth. There are debatable advantages to both.
I spent the first night of my trip at a boutique Econo Lodge in Nebraska somewhere along I-80. I was fortunate enough to secure a room decorated in a late-1970s motif that undoubtedly doubles as a meth lab for transient runaways and alcoholic fathers fleeing overdue child support payments.
However, the hotel did feature free Rain Breeze® Gentle Cleansing Face and Body Bar at no extra cost. The title is slightly misleading, as its brittle, pumice-like texture was most definitely not gentle. It more closely resembled water-soluble sandpaper, and its cleansing properties were likewise questionable, considering that it made my skin smell like a feral cat’s afterbirth.
The mounting for the bedside lamps had what could only be described as the brasswork equivalent of leprosy, and fortunately, I didn’t have to pay extra for the upgraded bathtub.
I can’t recall much of my time here. It is cool that recreational marijuana is legal, though.
Utah is Run by Mormons
I stopped in Utah after seeing a place that had “Beer and Pool” painted across the front, only to discover that it had long since closed down because Utah condones neither beer nor pool. Sadly, there was no other bar in town but only cafes where you could order a watered-down coffee from a dispirited woman in her late 30’s who was raised in a Mormon commune and whose only hope for happiness today is to be made wife #4 and allowed to live in a shack behind the guesthouse housing Mitt Romney’s cousin’s other three wives.
Suffice to say: Utah sucks.
Correction: Utah culture sucks. I’m not sure how we as a country forfeited some of the most beautiful territory in the country to an organization that believes black people were spawned by the devil and certain forms of long underwear are imbued with magical qualities.
Forget removing the Confederate flag—let’s reclaim Utah first because at least in South Carolina you can still get a Miller Lite (and play pool!) at two in the afternoon, even if you are black. And let’s face it, guys, polygamy sort of went out of style with the Renaissance and indoor plumbing.
In sum, Utah is sort of like a slice of ISIS right in America’s backyard.
Beaver, Utah, is the only Redeemable City in Utah
Did I mention that Utah is run by Mormons? Because it is, and when I stopped for a beer earlier that day, I was told that I could not be served unless I also ordered a food item.
I’m not sure what brilliant effect the Mormon leadership had in mind when designing this rule, but if their goal is to somehow reduce alcohol consumption, someone should tell them what every college freshman, Russian schoolgirl, and 15-year-old stoner already knows: filling your stomach with food only allows you to drink more, not less alcohol, and is the key to any respectable Friday night pre-game regimine.
At that earlier stop, I was forced to place an order for a side of fries along with my Miller Lite, and I then left these fries behind for the bartender to use to feed the teenage runaway he undoubtedly keeps chained in the basement of the bar.
However, in Beaver, Utah, where they don’t take themselves too seriously, I was allowed to order a beer like a goddamned adult without being told that I would also need to order a food item and a bib, and the two women in the bar acknowledged my existence by turning on some music after I ordered a beer. Because not everyone in Utah gives a shit about Mormon ideology.
Back-country Night Driving in Utah
On the drive from Beaver to my hotel in Delta, I had occasion to take the life of one of God’s creations because it considered the northbound lane of highway 257 a suitable resting place on that warm July evening.
Just in case there was any doubt, if you hit one of the cast of Watership Down while speeding at 70 miles per hour, it will splatter all over your windshield. And by splatter, I mean handfuls of blood and viscera.
Should this happen to you, your first impulse will be to turn on your windshield wipers, but I strongly caution against this because if you thought that struggling to see through fragments of distended intestinal tract was difficult, the windshield wipers will only turn your windshield into a macabre Jackson Pollack acid trip.
Upon reaching the nearest gas station, which in this case required another 30 minutes of driving, I was able to scrub away most of the remaining gore with the aid of a squeegee, some paper towels, and the tears of a young child who happened to be passing by with her mom and to whom I described Thumper’s final moments before the icy grip of death descended upon him in the form of my Mini Cooper’s fender.
If at this point you’re feeling at all bad for the rabbit, you should know that his death was not in vain. He did manage to win a victory for jack rabbits everywhere by damaging the front bumper of my new Mini Cooper, meaning that he managed to fuck over my car within a week of my purchasing it.
So seriously, fuck that rabbit. I hope he suffered.
Budget Hotel, Delta, Utah
After washing the remaining blood and fur from the hood of my car at a 24-hour coin operated car wash that happened to be across the street from my hotel that evening, I checked in to the Budget Hotel in Delta, Utah.
The town of Delta consists of about five blocks built along either side of highway 50, known as the loneliest road in America because of the vast distances, sometimes 80 miles or more, between any services. Delta is sort of at the beginning of this portion of the highway, about 30 miles west of the interstate, and it is representative of the unpopulated vastness that stretches essentially from Delta to Reno, Nevada.
The desk clerk who checked me in to the Budget Motel was a nice guy with an acne problem who appeared to be between the ages of 17 and 19 years old. I mention this only because after asking me where I was from, he said, “Los Angeles is a big city, huh?”
“Yeah, it is,” I said.
“A lot different from here.”
“It is different.”
“I used to live in New York City. They transferred me here, though.”
“Yeah. It’s a lot different here. I like it, though.”
Like you, I have a number of follow-up questions that I would like to have had answered. In particular, what does one have to do to get transferred from New York to the Budget Hotel on highway 50 in Delta, Utah? One can only presume that he inappropriately touched the daughter of one of the guests during check-in. The fact that he was reprimanded with only a transfer to rural Utah suggests that Budget Hotels is the lodging equivalent of the Catholic church with respect to their treatment of pedophile priests.
But he neither molested me nor made any untoward advances during my check-in, and so I would rate my stay as a solid two-and-a-half stars.
Las Vegas, Nevada
For the last night of my trip, I scheduled a stop in Las Vegas in order to attend a concert featuring both Marilyn Manson and Smashing Pumpkins.
Firstly, for any young readers, let me explain that nothing will make you feel older and sadder than seeing the rock icons from your youth become doughy and bloated, especially when one of those icons used to parade around the stage shirtless in a torn corset and today appears to need a support bra in order to sing your favorite hits.
Don’t get me wrong, I still love Marilyn Manson and always will, and his show is still one of the greatest you’ll ever see, but Marilyn Manson was supposed to age like Iggy Pop, not Meatloaf, and while in the video for “The Dope Show” he had synthetic tits, today he apparently has real ones.
In spite of this observation, the concert was pretty great and a perfect capstone to a 2,370-mile road trip, the only downside being that I had to return to my off-the-strip hotel afterward, which was more of a holding cell for compulsive gamblers who can’t afford the high prices of the Excalibur.
To illustrate this point, I submit to you this picture of the Silver Sevens Hotel and Casino “business center.” It’s actually inside of the fitness center, which consisted of two treadmills and a stairmaster. It’s all very confusing.
Los Angeles, California
It was wonderful to return to Los Angeles, where I was promptly cut off in traffic, given the finger, and told to go fuck myself all within one hour of coming home.
In sum: a cross-country road trip is just the thing to make you wish you’d never left home in the first place, and there is perhaps no worse way to squander your one week of paid vacation from a job you hate.