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Tour

Nick can’t drive 55

Thursday, June 8–Oregon

On the way out of town we see a giant Caveman statue and we exchange looks. Nick promptly heads right for it, intuitively, as if we’ve been on Caveman quest all along. At the base of the Caveman, a plaque explains that Grants Pass is famous for a “booster group” from the 1920s called—get this–the Cavemen. They gave themselves names like Big Bone and Fluffy Pelt, wore animal skins, and claimed to be direct descendants from Neanderthals. Supposedly, their activities included appearing at a Broadway show (wha?!?!?), which seems very 2006, Broadway-aesthetic wise. This season, they could open for Menopause: the Musical.

We stop to get an espresso in Yreka, California. It’s a a drive-thru, which sounds fast, but will actually the single slowest coffee experience I’ve ever had, partly because the woman working there is going crazy from being locked up in a box all day. Maybe it is our fault; we walked up to the window. While she’s making our coffee, a man drives up to the window and wants to know the maximum number of espresso shots that could be fit into a coffee drink. She guesses she could cram five into a 20 ounce cup. He then wants to know the most “exciting” drink she could make him with him with these five shots. She keeps describing different drinks and he says “nope, not exciting enough.” This is all while she’s supposed to be making my coffee. Right as she flips the blender on to make his “Crazy Caramel MindFreezer” she informs me, apropos of nothing, that she didn’t care that Kurt Cobain died. Then as if in consolation, she concedes that she really loves tiramisu.

For lunch we eat at Burger King. I can’t believe it, but I don’t want to waste time looking for something else. On the Today Show recently, Eric Schlosser said that McDonalds is one of the largest toy retailers in the country. I happen to find kid’s meals perfectly-sized (for me), so now, after two of them in two days, I own a disturbingly “hot” troll-teenager doll and this Bratz thing—a perfume bottle?–that looks like a buttplug.

So, here’s a debate for you. Are fast food places really grosser at gas stations? We keep snubbing the truck stop McDonald’s, as if they’re somehow inferior, like the fries will be cooked in diesel fuel. They’re probably the same, but we just can’t do it.

Nick is wearing an outfit that looks like Larry David. Sorry, that is not grammatically correct. The outfit looks like that of Larry David. Grey slacks and a polo shirt and white tennis shoes. I wish we were driving a Prius—then we could get into a “situation.”

Grand Funk Railroad keeps popping up in the ipod mix. Do you think they really got laid in Omaha? “four chiquitas in Omaha. . .we tore the hotel down.” I’d be pissed if I were those chiquitas and heard about it on the radio. Makes a bathroom wall look discreet, you know?

Fights:
One. Brief. I was working on an article and failed to acknowledge Nick’s celebratory honk as we entered the state of California.

Driving division of labor: Nick 10 hours Heather: 3

Place names that could be euphemisms for sex acts:
1) Balls Ferry
2) Junction City

And…liftoff

Wed. June 7th–Heading South

Early in the drive we pass the 45th parallel, the halfway point between the North Pole and the Equator. Perhaps that explains the Oregonian penchant for equanimity. A couple of hours later we pass a yellowed billboard that screams “Big Mac Attack!” and Nick points out that the slogan hasn’t been in use in twenty years. Perhaps someone left it there that long?

Anyhow, it is an omen, as our first meal is, a bit later, at McDonald’s. I have a feeling I’ll be eating a lot of McDonald’s. After a late night trip to Taco Bell last week, I have exceeded my yearly fast food quota already, with only two visits.

We decide to stop for the night in Grant’s Pass. The name is kind of romantic, as if we’re crossing over a momentous threshold. The first hotel we try, I am in a line behind an amorous teenage couple. They paw each other as they are making the transaction. At first I think they are just dying to have sex but then their friend, a bounding, punky girl, barges in and says, in a very loud kid-whisper, “Get Room 205; we’re all over there.” I immediately walk out and suggest another hotel. The Travelodge is more amenable but the woman who checks us in is clearly in training and the owner is growing frustrated with her. The trainee keeps complaining—as if to explain her difficulty with credit card machine, finding the keys, and the retractable pen– that her glasses are too smudged to see through. This seems strange, because in the time it takes to utter the complaint, it could be fixed. Sort of like saying, “My finger’s in a light socket and it really hurts.” Pull it out, you know? The room mildly smells of fish and urine and we watch a VH1 documentary on heavy metal which details Iron Maiden’s evolution. Bruce Dickinson, who seems oddly like a Christopher Guest character—in a good way—is explaining how he developed these enormous gestures to give the people in back of the arena a sense of proximity. So I’ll be working on that. I’ll let you know what I come up with, once I find a spare appendage. Perhaps my hair can do the talking. Also, Iron Maiden employed a fail safe trick: a mascot, this skull thing. It has a name. Like Curly or something.

California dreamin

Wednesday June 7–At Home

Packing always makes me hysterical. I’m trying not to get hysterical, but I can feel it bubbling up. Nick is trying to calm me down with Dwight Twilley Band. I wish we could bring Smolli the Beagle on tour, but there’s nowhere for her to sit. And she doesn’t really like our music that much. She whispered it in my ear.

The most important item to pack? Emergen-c. It’s like one of those snake oil cure-alls, only it really works.

I’m getting very excited to see all of you. We will be posting photos and anecdotes and perhaps some food descriptions, in homage to the famous Unwound food tour diary. I ate a lot of good food yesterday to store up.

Our record came out yesterday, and I hope that you will check it out. It’s got a lovely interior booklet (designed by Nick) lyrics, etc. And some songs that we wrote.

Next Stop: CALIFORNIA. Time for some Mamas and Papas.

Buckle up camper.