Wednesday, September 12, 2007

On The Road, September 12, 2007

Swept up in the euphoria of the 50th anniversary of the publishing of Jack Kerouac's On The Road I, in a crazed moment, began preparations to drive alone in my new (well, new to me) dark gray--sort of blue--1997 Toyota Camry from Plattsburgh on the shores of beautiful Lake Champlain to California and back. I awoke yesterday feeling a mixture of dread and excitement. Mostly, I ws totally unprepared, practicing lifelong habits of not planning ahead too much. Not sure i understand this part of me: I find myself usually responding to the newest alteration--sometimes crisis--in my plans and that seems to almost always work out for me--anyway, thats the pattern of a lifetime probably too late to change but not too late to reflect on it. I've come to distrust "planning." I mean we need to do something like it but most plans seem to go awry, at best and at worst create chaos if we call them ideology or build our institution's secure future on them. Iraq is another example of the same mix of ideological zealotry (neocons and Bush) and, in this case, weird planning. Somehow believing that government has no role in the life of a society or nation, that after you decapitate the leadership and then fire all the police, army and most of the civil servants the civil state will pick itself up, hold elections and rebuild a nation state--truly amazing. Rumsfeld, Chaney and Bush clung to that plan until Iraq settled back into tribalism and anarchy.

So, how did my day go: lack of planning didn't help much either--total chaos. The "last minute" purchases--battery for the camera, bulb for the overhead light in trusty car, and worse, trying to fix the "check engine light" create endless frustration, I agonized as nothing went "as planned." Finally, at 2 pm I set out from the burgh, just happy to be on the road and Free like JK. Stopped to take a few pictures of the amazing windpower plants--windmills--now growing out of the farmer's fields of northern NY--now this is a real crop for which each farmer who allows one of these enormous futuristic corn stalks to be planted is paid a handsome sum.

After missing the turnoff to the cross border bridge at Cornwall, retracing my steps I began to relax, the gale force winds were a little tough and the sheets of rain were blinding but still i was underway and beginning to enjoy my adventure. Relaxing best by chewing on sunflower seeds I immediately broke my front tooth on a freaking sunflower seed shell. I'm sorry i just have to say fuck man. How could this happen. I've had this front tooth on-a-post for years it must have withstood far worse than this puny sunflower but maybe this is true sunpower. Anyway, I heard "crack" and knew it wasn't a minor matter. Well it is broke but thankfully stayed in place and even better doesn't hurt--yet. Any kid raised in the 50s knows that what follows cracking sounds in his mouth is--pain--not from the tooth--from the dentist. Nothing in a long life of pain and sorrows is worse than the dread of going to the dentist in 1955! Good God! Shit! The drills were driven by little beltlike rubber bans; as the dentist applied pressure to drill the damn things slowed down to a crawl and smoke and steam came from your mouth. If you moved or tried to cry out he only increased the pressure and nicked you to make sure you stayed immobile. Then, out came the "shot" oh my god , he tried to hide it but any kid knew what was coming: with gigantic needles three times the size of today's little gentle pins these things were like nails --it was better to let him drill without the novocaine than endure the pain of the shot--well a slight exaggeration but not by much.

Oh well, about to start day two of my big adventure. After the tooth debacle I made it to a little town called Deep River in southern Ontario--careful planning made sure that I got the last bed to be found in a 100 kilometer radius of the Canadian military base at Petawawa. My goal--what a fanciful word--my goal for today is to make it to a little town on Lake Huron, Thessalon where i intend to eat white fish (avoiding biting in the front) and enjoy the amazing scenery including the recovering landscape downwind from Sudbury's nickel mining and smelting.

1 comment:

Carla said...

What an adventure! How was it crossing the border--did you get any hassle? And where are you planning to cross back? Oops, I forgot that you are not into planning!

You are right about the dental history. My dentist, the Novocaine King of Barre VT, still uses what looks like that same monster needle to shoot you so full of the stuff that I once drove around the block three times after his office. No pain, but definitely no gain.