Back home! The journey, and a bit of philosophizin'

Well, back home and ready to get back to work. Took a road trip to Dallas, TX and while down there I got to meet both Windows (Thomas G Waites) and Childs (Keith David) at the Texas Frightfest, which was pretty cool. The only frightening thing that happened, though, was on the drive down. I live in Chicago, and of course we have our share of difficulties, and I am usually completely ignorant of anything until I have to deal with it personally - which is why travel is nice. On the road down it rained constantly, and it didn't let up until I reached Little Rock, Arkansas. In St. Louis I got lost due to construction and confusing road signage (confusing to me, but I'm notoriously absent minded) and ended up on the wrong road. I figured this out in time to divert and head west on an alternate route, but 44 was closed. Why? It was completely underwater. I turned back around and took side roads until I could reach 55, which was my original route. Still under sheets of rain and gloom, I finally hit it and continued south where signs everywhere were warning of closed roads and hazardous conditions. I wasn't but 5 hours into a 15 hour drive, but that's still too deep in to turn around and I really wanted to get to Dallas so I consigned myself to the idea of driving to Memphis or further south and just skirting it along the southern edge of the country, but that would add untold hours to the journey. I followed the route, hoping the road wouldn't close ahead and was rewarded by more rain but the pavement stayed above water level until I hit Arkansas. By this time I was noticing large lakes along the roadside, with little tree tops sticking out of them, an occasional upper half of a street light or telephone pole... the entire area was flooded. Deep canyons were completely submerged, homes and businesses vanished under the waterline. At several points the four-lane highway was reduced to two as we were diverted to the other side, and the highway vanished into brown murk. Once it reemerged we were diverted back onto it - and I have to say, the road crews did a fantastic job at averting as much of that as possible. One of the concerns, however, was that I was in the middle of nowhere and almost at E on the ol' gas gauge - and the few stations I did pass were not accessible due to flooding... at one point I turned off the main road at the promise of a town 2 miles in, which turned out to be a few homes deep, deep in the woods. I've seen too many horror films to run out of gas off the main road so I turned tail and headed back to the highway on fumes. Thankfully fate wanted me to continue and we rolled in, sputtering, to a station in the nick of time. I say thankfully because shortly after the road was completely closed and we were redirected to a detour route into the middle of nowhere for a good hour before I saw anything close to a non-submerged place of business. The water lapped at the road from both sides, humvees and National Guard were stationed at nearly every intersection, blocking flooded roads on either side. I followed a kick-ass trucker who handled the road like a pro, and eventually returned to the course. The journey ultimately ended well, with me rolling into Dallas 10+ hours later - and of course the trip was well worth it.

Folks ask me why I drove, why didn't I fly? Well, sometimes I like to be alone for long stretches of time. I also enjoy having mini concerts of my favorite music and sing along at the top of my lungs. But mostly, it's the next best thing to walking for seeing this big ass country. As I said, I live in Chicago and it's its own world. I start to thinking that it's the way everybody thinks, dresses, feels about our country, etc. On my journey and over the weekend I met plenty of folks who would seem alien in my city, and I was sometimes painfully aware of my own strangeness in my Phantasm t-shirt and with my weird accent. Had I not taken this trip the flooding would've been nothing more than a scrolled photo on facebook, and the folks who live out of my sphere would continue to be people I just don't "get". The world is a big place, this country, this state, the city or town we live in is a rain drop and I will never get an idea of what others are experiencing unless I get out and go check it out.

That said, I'm definitely flying next time.