jjewell.com X – Rock Bottom Edition

jjewell.com has been around since the summer of 1996. It has changed formats and platforms and hosts and topics, reflecting changes and realities in my own life over that time.

And here we are. This is Rock Bottom. I don’t feel like enumerating failures or negative mileposts right now, plenty of time for that as this goes along if it seems as though it will help.

This is the start of my story out of here.

Re-presenting The jjewell North American Tour 1998

I first established the jjewell.com domain in 1996.  I can’t really remember what it looked like, right at first, and neither does the Internet Wayback Machine.  But when 1998 brought the closing of the manufacturing plant where I was working and provided me with a severance package, my fledgling web empire became the home of my first weblog (although they weren’t even called that, yet… much less “‘blogs”), the story of the jjewell North American Tour 1998.

And actually, the Internet Wayback Machine doesn’t even remember what that looked like… but I do.  It was raw html coded in notepad.  At first it had a dark grey marble background image with bright text in blue, green, and yellow.  Yeah, I know: that didn’t even last the length of the tour, it ended up in more classical looking greys and navys by the time I returned home.

At any rate, those updates from a cross-country road trip contain some of what I consider to be my most entertaining writing, and I’ve wanted to repost the series somewhere.  I finally decided that jjewell.com was where they were born, jjewell.com is where they should dwell.  So I’ve retroactively posted all the NAT updates here.

Now… between these old posts and the Wayback Machine, it’ll be days before I find time to do something useful… Start here…

Asheville, NC – evening

Last update from the road, but only just barely.

So why the hell would I stop in Asheville, about 50 minutes from home?  Damned if I know, talk to Roberta Verona, it was her idea.

The last mechanical problem, that “missing,” or just not wanting to take the gas uphills, particularly after running for awhile, popped up again.  I alternated between 60mph down hills and 20mph up hills for about 20 miles into Asheville.  Luckily, if you enter North Carolina from the east on I-40, it’s pretty much straight down for an awful long way.  After getting onto I-26 and wrestling with the question of whether to just tough it out the last few miles, I remembered talking with my dad the night before (and he thought I never listened to him…).  The last thing he said was “Don’t push the RV too hard.”  So, actually, it’s my dad’s fault I’m in a Shoney’s just outside of Asheville.

It feels good to be home already.  An old girlfriend lived in Asheville for awhile when we were together, so I know the city pretty well, and the drive back to Greenville is basically a long driveway for me at this point.  I feel like home.

I can’t wait to introduce Scout and Kato to Crash.  I’m secretly hoping that the boys will kinda team up on Kato, who’s been pretty rude to Scout since she showed up.  No respect for it being his house first.  I just have a feeling Scout and Crash will get along.

The second thing I’m going to do is file the new “big books” I got in San Diego.  The big dogs get special treatment including two Mylar sleeves (one upside down inside the other, to seal without any tape.  We don’t like tape anywhere near a multi-hundred dollar comic book)  and are filed off separately.  This way I get to look at all the coolest stuff without digging around in multiple boxes for it.  Hey, so I’m a geek.  I like it.

After that, I’ll start the arduous unpacking process.  I’m not even going to try to get everything tonight, but I’ll bet all the comics and Atari stuff gets unloaded first.  After that, I may just play until I fall asleep and worry about the rest of it tomorrow.

There will be at least one more trip update, perhaps more as things like photo developing happen.  I’ve also discovered that I have something to say about this whole Clinton thing (on long trips, AM stations stay with you longer than FM, for some reason, so I’ve been listening to Rush Limbaugh take enormous glee in demanding impeachment, indictment, disbarrment, excommunication, deportation,and a good flogging for Mr. Bill.  As usual, the fat man makes some excellent points but fails to reach the appropriate conclusion…).  It doesn’t really fit into the update category, so it looks like I may start using my webspace to shoot off my big bazoo about stuff on some regular basis.  Stay tuned…

Somewhere, NE

I already mentioned the problem with long drives–plenty of time to think of great things to say, but they leave my tiny head before I get a chance to write them down.  Another problem is that I keep rolling into campsites at one, two, maybe three in the morning, and really don’t feel like doing much other than sleeping.  I tried to make this one a little better (theoretically, I should have been in a little after midnight), but another damn time zone rolled by and these stupid campsites are impossible to navigate at night.  Particularly by yourself.  I had to unhook the Tracker by myself in the dark because I couldn’t make the turn they wanted me to and you can’t back up with the Tracker attached.

Hey, only two distinct topics in that paragraph, I’m back on the road to literacy.  I technically could go back and start a new paragraph at “I tried…,” but this way it’s like a look inside my mind, a “Making of The Update” kinda deal.  My treat to you.

I’m kinda punchy after all the driving, so I’ll apologize in advance for what this update must look like.  540 miles today, 625 yesterday, and 508 the day before.  Yowza.  If I can get a decent start tomorrow, and if Roberta Verona keeps running as well as she has been, I’ll be waking up in my own bed Wednesday morning (actually, more like Wednesday afternoon, at the rate I’m going).

But again, that depends on tomorrow being another 600+ mile day.  I hope I can get to sleep, what with the adventures getting the RV parked tonight and the fact that Nebraska’s thermostat is set noticeably warmer than Wyoming’s (I miss Wyoming, I didn’t know how good I had it), and the fact that the campsite I finally got wedged into is only 20 amp electrically.  Don’t know & don’t care precisely what that means, but the practical implications are that I can’t run the AC.  Oh, well, I think it’s safe to run the fan (and by “I think it’s safe” I mean I’m doing it now, and have not yet exploded into a huge fireball that scatters debris for miles and miles), so I’m doing that, anyway.

Called Suzy on the run from somewhere in Wyoming (it’s fun just to say that… really stretch it out now:  WHY-OOOHHH-MING.  See?  Fun) and she commented that I sounded a lot better, and looking at what I’ve read I think I’m reading a lot better, too.

I think I got to the point where I didn’t _have_ a point, anymore.  Newport was fantastic (and it’s currently my choice for where-to-live-after-I-leave-SC, whenever that might be), but I really wasn’t _doing_ anything there.  I had gotten to all of the places that I’d planned to go, met the people I wanted to, took the photos I hoped for (well, I missed Grand Canyon, but there’s not a chance in hell I was driving back through Nevada just for some piddly-squit hole in the ground, I don’t care how good it’s PR department is…), and ended sentences with the prepositions I wanted to (see, the rules of grammar are yours to toy with as long as you draw attention to it before the reader notices!  Silly reader!).  Steve Winwood helped me realize that it was time I should be going, and that was all it took.  Zoom, like an RV on rails.

I am looking forward to getting home.  I miss Scout a lot, I know this probably sounds weird, but that cat is the best friend I’ve ever had.  Crash and I are getting along great, but still…  I’m also looking forward to sorting out all the stuff I’ve accumulated and stashed throughout the RV.  I’ll bet I’m going to be surprised by half the stuff I find.

And I’m looking forward to my music.  I’m still not sure what the first step is as far as getting in front of lots of people, but I’m pretty sure there will be a homebrew tape available with acoustic stuff written, recorded, or otherwise worked on while on the road.  Right now it looks to be six songs, but there may be a seventh if the stuff that’s been roaming around my head the past couple days stays there long enough for me to get a chance to extract it.

So, plan on me being home sometime Wednesday (although I’m secretly shooting for late Tuesday night).  And we’ll go from there.

Somewhere, ID – afternoon

I did Oregon wall-to-wall in a day yesterday.

Roberta Verona has seemed as though she wants to run, so I’ve given in to the request.  I went far past the distance I was expecting yesterday, and I’ve already got three hours worth under my belt today.  I expect that will be the first of three driving sessions today, which should take me through Idaho and Utah and on into Wyoming.  That means I’ll have run the entire western portion of I-84.  84 is the only Interstate with an eastern section and a western section, I think.

I had thought of a ton of stuff to say while driving, and I’ll probably forget most of it now that I can write.

Approaching Portland from the south is not the way to see Portland.  Spend your time on the east side of town, playing in the Columbia River Gorge.  Although the scenery was going by at a steady 55 miles an hour, it was fantastic.  Around one turn you get a view of a mountain (I’m assuming Mt. Hood) that’s like all the magazine pictures of mountains.

Turns out they have desert in Oregon, too.  The good news is that the heat isn’t nearly so severe, and there’s actually little towns every so often to break up the monotony.

Not that I stopped at any of the little towns.  Apparently, I’ve decided I’m ready to be home, because driving has been easy, even long hours of it.  Although there have been a couple places that I’ve been tempted to stop (Snake River Canyon, for instance.  By the way, the Snake River has done some spiffy landscaping, even outside the Canyon proper), the overall impulse is to drive on.  So I’m driving on as long as it lasts.

Crash (that’s the kitten’s current name, due to his tendency to crash into stuff while he’s playing, as well as his ability to force me to narrowly avert crashes as I remove claws from my ankles…) seems to have taken to travelling okay.  He spends a certain amount of time alseep in my lap, then he’ll climb up the steering wheel and sleep on the dash for awhile, then he’ll climb down the steering wheel and across my left arm (this is tricky while I’m steering, and he has been known to bounce down my leg and into the floor while attempting this manuver, which gives you some insight as to how he’s earning his name) and sit on my shoulder looking out the window for a while.  Then sometimes, he justs disappears for a while.

Every time I stop, he wants out.  I keep telling him that he has to wait to get to South Carolina before he can go out and play, but comprehension does not seem to be his strongest suit.

So anyway, Crash and I are cruising through the mid-west.  I don’t know if it qualifies geographically as “mid-west” yet, but there’s lots of straw and hay and cows.  It’s pretty dull.

I saw the coolest cement plant last night.

I thought that needed to have its own paragraph for the full effect to set in.  But, seriously, about one in the morning last night (for me it was right about midnight, but I crossed another one of those damn time zones along the way), I saw a bunch of lights up in the distance.  Now, it gets _really_ dark out in that mountain/desert/prairie melange they’ve got going, so dark you can’t see more than a couple feet off the edge of the road.  Lights in the distance can be tricky to figure out.  At least twice before, I thought that there must be a river up ahead, because the lights were obviously a bridge.  Nope, just an interstate up the side of a mountain.  So I’m trying to be logical and figure out what this thing is.

As I get closer, I can tell there’s a bunch of three different types of lights, and random others here and there, all in a fairly tight grouping.  Doesn’t look like a town, doesn’t really loolk like a bridge (unless they’re building spiral bridges out west these days).

Like I say, turns out it was a cement plant.  There was a big steel frame structure, with bluish lights at regular intervals, a massive building that looked like it might have been made of stone (or, duh, cement, I guess) lit weirdly from the top and bottom with yellowish/brownish lights, and a low brick officy kind of building.  There were also a bunch of normal type streetlight dotting the facility.

The two big buildings, lit like they were, looked like something I would have seen in Las Vegas, but bigger.  And the real amazing part was the way the different lights played off of the rocky, hilly landscape, throwing multiple oddly colored shadows off of every stone.  Really neat.

That’s about all I can think of to bring you up to date, which is a Perkins just off the 84 in Idaho, past Twins Falls heading east but not to Pocatello yet.  I’m not hungry anymore, but damned if I’m going to leave any of this French Silk Pie.  I intend to stay at one or the other of two KOAs along I-80 in Wyoming, depending on just how far I drive tonight.  Hopefully, I’ll get to actually post this at that point…

Lincoln City, OR – late night

Last night on the Oregon Coast.  In some ways, the last night of the trip, because I think the rest is starting to look like one long drive.

I had wanted to get to the Northeast, but it’s just not in the cards this time around.

I knew it was going to be a long way back, at least approximately equal to the distance out here, anyway.  But, damn.  Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa.  Ain’t a narrow state in the bunch of ’em.  Except for Idaho, I’m going through them the long way, too.

Well, hopefully by sticking to Interstates (84, 80, 70-some-odd I think, then 75) Roberta Verona will be on level enough ground to do some serious hauling.  I do have a nifty book from National Geographc that list interesting sites by the Interstate they’re near.  So you just turn pages in the I-84 section as you go east.  So I might still find some cool stuff to take pictures of.

But overall I’m done.  I’m overextended, financially and mentally.  There’s no structure to my life right now, so I keep veering off one edge or the other.  I’m getting tired more, even though I’m sleeping more.  I slept for eleven hours last night, that can’t be normal.  And paragraphs end up looking like this.  Never a good thing.

I’m not going to schedule very far ahead, but I’d like to make it across most of Oregon tomorrow, then into Utah the next day.  Because of extended days driving, I may not be able to post updates very regularly at all.  We’ll see.  On the road is when I do the best writing, I think, so maybe they won’t get posted until late, but hopefully they’ll be worth it.

I’m not sure what else to say right now.  Like I mentioned, I’m tired, and I’m weary, if you understand the difference I’m talking about.  It doesn’t feel like there’s much there to come out at the moment.

I made last trips to both the Rogue Tasting House (Garlic Cheese Bread & Beer Sampler) and the Rogue Public House (“Public House” is where “pub” comes from, I found out some people didn’t know that.  Oh, a Hamburger and a Brutal Bitter).  The guy at the Tasting House is really cool, and he recognized me even though I randomly shaved off my moustache and goatee last night.  By “randomly,” I mean I couldn’t say why I did it, not that I sliced away random parts, leaving others.  I think I’m going to grow them back.  My mouth looks uneven and my lips got all chapped today.

Alright, I’m just going to stop even attempting to have paragraph breaks mean anything.  Sorry for my behavior, but I told you I’m not operating at peak efficiency (just to underscore my point, it took a couple tries to spell “efficiency”).

It’ll be good to get home, although I’m not looking forward to some of the things I’ll have to do once I get back.  You know those little junky details that pile up at the end of the day?  I’ll have two months worth of those.  Ouch.  And Scout’s _really_ going to have to go out… (Just kidding.  Suzy and Mark have been taking good care of the kitties, I understand).

Okay, so there’s not much for me to say here.  Hope to keep updates coming, otherwise, I’ll see you all in a couple weeks.

Newport, OR – evening

Well, I’m still in Newport.  Apparently, getting an existential imperative to get out has little practical weight when compared to the necessities of laundry, full holding tanks, and an RV full of junk just tossed around over the past week.  And when I told them I was staying one more night, they told me that was my sixth night, and I get the seventh free.  So I’m now scheduled to leave Friday morning.

I did my laundry, and got most of the junk appropriately stowed.  It was early afternoon, and it was a nicer day than it was yesterday, so I decided to revisit some of the cool places I went to yesterday, to see if I could get more color in some pictures.  Of course, I ran out of 100 speed film, which I was using a lot of because I am hoping to do some enlargements of this stuff when I get back.  Oh, well.  I put some 200 speed in and hoped for the best.

It’s hard to judge whether some of the shots were better or not, I’ll just have to wait to get them developed.  But at Boiler Bay, I saw a whale.  I say “saw” because I only got one shot of it, and I’m not sure how well it came out, so I’m not promising anything.  I’ve got the 210mm lens, but that’s really not enough for wildlife shots (in case anyone’s looking for a nice Christmas gift for me, we’re talking Nikon Auto-Focus, something in a zoom to 350mm or so…).  And besides, whales are mostly underwater animals.  You can spot the spout when they surface, but try getting a camera aimed and a shot framed before the thing’s underwater again.  I stood out there a while, eye to camera, pointed in the general direction of the last surfacing, but no luck.  Oh, well, again.  Perhaps the one I got will turn out to be wonderful.

Now I’m back at The Chalet having dinner, because my stomach didn’t let me sleep well again last night.  The dinner I had here a couple nights ago was the only one this week that has let me sleep.  I’m going to try to get to sleep at a reasonable hour tonight and tomorrow so that I can start travelling early Friday.  Hopefully, my stomach and the kitten will go along with my little plot.

Well, I should have had pancakes again.  The chicken pot pie was kinda disappointing.  So was the strawberry pie, but at least it did have real whipped cream on it.  Not enough, of course, but it was a step in the right direction.

Oh, well.  It doesn’t look like I have much of value to say right now.  I know, par for the course.  I’m going home.