Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Road Trip: It's a Dying Thing

So there I am on the 95 heading north, veering off onto the 17 up along the coast and onto even more roads whose numbers are known only to the few who live along their bounds, hour after hour, the lonely landscape of the South outside the windows. More than a few times, I want desperately to stop and take pictures. I feel I have to document the decaying tobacco barns, the sagging pediments of the early gas stations, the decay seemingly everywhere, but twenty-first century traffic barreling down behind me gives me no pause to find a way.

It is a fitting metaphor for this trip, the passing. I think to myself that this is not something I will be able to do much longer, this meandering on the road to somewhere. Dwindling supplies of oil and sky rocketing gasoline prices will ring the death knell of one of my favorite undertakings. The person sitting beside me, my faithful motoring companion over the years, is also dying, like the scenery and the gas, the question is what morning will I wake to find all gone.

There are also lots of laughs on this road and some comic moments, too, like when I stop at a Country Market Restaurant, part of a buffet chain on the downleg of the roadside popularity curve. Others have gone before. I remember the Howard Johnson's, not the hotels, the little restaurants with their orange roofs, fifties decor, and lots of yummy ice cream. And Bob's Big Boy seems to have been a flash in the pan. The past few years, I've been stopping at the buffet. As seems to be true of most restaurants at truck stops, the food has always been good, filling, and cheap, This visit is disappointing, the buffet bar seems to be shrinking before my eyes. If numbers tell the story, Steak 'n Shake is the one on the ascendancy. Not the same thing.

As I walk in, there's an early middle-aged man self-consciously having a cell phone conversation and simultaneously blocking my way. As I make my way around him, I catch the accents. Oh, no, even here there is no escape. Those are Cuban accents. Now I give him the once over. It's no wonder I was surprised. It's the get-up, and I mean get-up. Some innocuous t-shirt or other over neither pants nor shorts, but v-shaped legs ending at the knee, the bare legs tapering to glaring powder blue imitation crocs worn over ankle sweats. I begin to have my suspicions, when his young friend, identically attired comes up to him. I look at their faces burned to the color of a cooked frankfurter, and I have to wonder whose idea of sartorial splendor this is. I laugh inwardly, remembering a post from a new blog Calm Bobby in Miami which details his adventures in dressing his newly arrived cousin at Abercrombie. Read it.

And me, I'm happy. As Siddhartha learns, it all goes into the river, the good and the bad, the endlessly rushing stream whose sound is the symphony of life.

I'm using a borrowed macbook, and I give up here's the URL

1 comment:

Ziva said...

We still have Bob's Big Boy out here in SoCal. Reading this wonderful post took me back to lazy summer trips along old route 66, when stops were all at unique family owned places. Those were the days. Thanks.