Tag Archives: backpacking

13 Things You Can Count on While Roadtripping from Chicago to Nashville

imageLife is confusing. Sometimes you don’t know where to go or what decisions to make. Very frequently, it’s impossible to foresee the outcome of certain paths or situations, and you live in the fog of the unknown. Thank goodness there are some things in life that we can count on, like these things that are guaranteed to happen on the drive from Chicago to Nashville.

1. There will always be a Cracker Barrel every 10 miles. If you’re ever uncertain of where you should exit to get to the nearest one, go ahead and exit. There’s probably one close to you.

2. In these Cracker Barrels, there will absolutely be women named Jean and Barb wearing jeans that go above their belly button with hair dos that the coasts haven’t seen for at least a century, if ever.

3. You will stop and eat at a Cracker Barrel, be really excited about going to an old favorite place, and then realize that it’s actually a little overpriced and not that good. Also, you’ll eat too much.

4. You will enter gas station shopping centers that are complete with clothing options, 24 hour dining, a casino, an arcade and convenience food options. The only thing missing is an apartment complex to attach to it.

5. You will see billboards that say things like “Hell is Real,” or “One Day You Will Meet Thy God,” which will make you wonder who is paying for this and shouldn’t they change their marketing strategy just a little bit. I mean, if I walked up to someone who didn’t believe in Santa Claus and told her that Santa was going to give her 1 million dollars if she filled out an online form, do you think she’d do it? Or would she call the police because there was a stranger hiding in her closet. Exactly.

6. Cars will also start to get preachy, with decals and entire paintings displaying ardor for the Christ.

7. Roadside attractions, like the World’s Most Awesome Flea Market and Dinosaur land, will tempt you from the side of the road. You’ll always wonder what would have happened if you’d taken the leap and exited.

8. You will eat too many snacks in the car and feel a little guilty about it but not really. I mean, what else are you going to do.

9. You will take tons of photos and maybe even videos on the trip that are ultimately unusable.

10. At some point, you will either get lost or notice you have a huge zit on your face.

11. You will keep on waiting for the countryside to change but nothing really happens except Tennessee is a little bit hillier than Indiana.

12. You will realize that you actually didn’t have a very good idea of where Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee, and Illinois were in relation to one another.

13. You will decide you need to pack up and move to the countryside where life moves a little bit slower

14. You will almost instantly decide that that’s a terrible idea and you’d rather eat your own cardigan than move to the countryside.

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On the Moon and Under the Sea: Egypt’s White Desert

Yellow sand. Blue Sky. White Chalk. Colors.

When last with you, I chronicled my brush with food poisoning that was the result of a bacteria-rich egg sandwich. So weak was I on Thursday, November 3, 2011, that I could barely load episodes of Parks and Recreation as I lay curled on my bed in a fetal position, choking down mugs of vegetable broth.

At any rate, when I awoke the next day at the ripe hour of 7:30 am with only a dull pain in my empty stomach, my last retching completed at 1: 30 am in the morning, I decided I was well enough to go on an off-road-camping-desert-expedition-exploration-adventure centered around the desperate hunt for the remains of mythological sea creatures. Even though we didn’t find the Snorkoloptus, the excursion was still amazing, especially after the desert madness set in.

4 companions, 4 wheels, 4 days-worth of body filth, 4 different camping locations, and a whole lot of mutual annoyance while rambling through the beautiful, ethereal shapes of the White Desert made for a trip that I hope to rub in the faces of my great-grandchildren as we’re floating above a wasted earth in our spher0ships. “Before we destroyed the earth, kids, there was a lot of cool stuff there, like the White Desert in Egypt, something you’ll never get to see. We also ate peanut butter instead of this space paste. And no one was ever sad.”

Located in western Egypt, the White Desert is known for its beautiful sculptures carved by the wind, sand, and rain out of the chalk formed from the remnants of the sea creature skeletons, since the entire area used to be at the bottom of the ocean. As we tumbled around the desert, off and occasionally on-roading in the jeep, we saw breathtaking cliffs, moon-like landscapes, rolling sand dunes, mystical oases, and occasional groups of leathery European tourists, by far the least attractive things in the desert.

The colors themselves deserve an entire blogpost. Nay, an entire blog. Each sunset and sunrise was a feast for the eyes, a palette of ever changing shades that would make a MAC eyeshadow case blush. And at night, our world was lit up by the milky rays of a waxing moon as we tried to run away from our moon shadows and one of us wouldn’t stop singing that song by Cat Stevens. As I look back now on our last night there, I can see myself, a tiny figure, lying in a valley surrounded by forlorn, other-worldly cliffs, the moon illuminating the earth in its pale light while the ghosts of extinct sea creatures float over me. It was the closest I’ll ever get to time, space, and deep ocean travel.

Note: I remembered to charge my battery and bring my camera, but I forgot to put my charged battery back into my camera. Therefore, all pictures are compliments of a friend who was on the trip. See his flickr site here.

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