Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Great Southern Fried Adventure



Day Zero
Ran a million errands. Then had dinner with my beloved Keila. We have a mutual admiration society so we gushed over each other endlessly. I love her so much and will miss her desperately. But that’s what text and IM are for!



Day One
I planned to leave Los Angeles around noon. Yeah, that never really works out, does it? I spent the morning running around like a crazy woman, trying to get everything taken care of.

Visited my mama.



“I’m going to make you so proud, mommy.”

“You always have. Don’t do this for me, baby. Do it for you. For once, do it for you. You deserve so much more than I could have ever given you.”

“Don’t say that! I have everything I need! Nothing else matters.”

I went to a couple of places and took pictures.

The Wigwam Motel was first.





After that I went to a place I discovered during one of my countless aimless drives that kept me sane the last few months.



You’re like, Heidi, why on Earth are you in the exact middle of nowhere?

Because I found this.







And, of course, I had to say goodbye to my beloved dinosaurs.





Then? I was finally off.





Fuck you, California! Thanks for the last 31 years, it’s been…interesting, to say the least.

I arrived in Phoenix around 8pm and picked up Shana. We went to the motel and basically just crashed for the night. We drank margaritas and lamented the pool not being in service. She burned me tons of CDs and I took tons of drugs. I was hurting so goddamn badly.

We slept. It was awesome.


Day Two
Time for the Heart Attack Grill!



Keila told me I had to go because the burgers were amazing. And she’s a major foodie so I trust her above all others when it comes to the gastronomical stuffs.









Seriously? Why in the fuck would you go to a Hooters when you could go here instead? I’m totally a skeezy old man.



Shana snuck me a couple of fries (they have a no sharing rule since they’re all-you-can-eat) and they were really good. But the burger? Holy god. The best I’ve ever had. No question whatsoever. Unfortunately they’re made with lard and my body doesn’t digest fat normally since my surgery so I paid for it soon after. But, honestly? Totally worth it.

Then we went to the Sea Life Aquarium.

I touched starfish and itty bitty crabs. And discovered that taking pictures of moving sea life through glass is damn near impossible. I was sad that the octopus was in hiding. But there were little sharks! And rays! And all kinds of little seahorses!







There was this one section with a glass floor and these two toddlers were walking in front of me. They had so much trouble walking across it! They just couldn’t figure it out so they kept lifting a foot to step forward and then pulling back. Eventually their parents convinced them that it would be okay so they walked across. Cuteness.



There was a Sanrio outlet elsewhere in the mall but I knew that would be deadly so I wouldn’t even go inside. Strength, woman, strength. I waited for Shana and listened to the conversations going on around me. I’ve missed you, people watching!

After that we were going to go to the Arizona Popular Culture Museum but my pain was fucking epic and I could barely walk by that point. So we headed back to the room and just rested. I bowed out on going to a party with her and her friends; electing instead to stay in and take drugs and watch TV.

K offered to come over with dinner so we could meet and hang out for a bit. Deal! So she did and we ate awesome bean and cheese burritos and talked about life and school and fat and sex and sex and sex and sex. Because we dirty like that.

We were lying in bed, talking, and I had taken so many pills that I ended up completely passing out on her. Eep! So embarrassing. I haven’t had Ambien in so long that it knocked me the fuck out almost immediately. Luckily I have nothing to rob and no innocence to steal. Thank god she’s studying to be a sleep study technician. Otherwise I’d be making the leap from horribly embarrassed to completely fucking mortified. But until the entire unconscious thing, it was a lot of fun!


Day Three


Had plans to have brunch with wendydogood and her boyfriend. I step outside aaaaaaand flat tire. I thanked Shana times a million for showing me such a good time and bid her adieu. I got towed to a tire store and bought a new one. Ugh.

They offered to come hang out with me while my tire was being installed. I make the best first impressions, I swear. They picked me up and we hung out at Barnes & Noble, wandering around and drinking coffee for a few hours. They were awesome. Loved loved loved them.





It’s just so strange to me. That people have reading this random little blog for, like, eight years at this point! Eight years! Good lord. And not only have they been reading it, they actually enjoy it and want to meet me! I can’t wrap my mind around that. I just think I’m so…dull. And whiney and blah blah blah. But, for some reason, y’all want to meet up and hang out with me. Well, some of you anyway. The rest of you want to meet up and punch me in the throat. Which, hey, can’t really blame ya! Frankly, I annoy me too.

We left only to discover that their battery was dead. I’m bad mojo, I swear. We got jumped and they returned me to my car.

At this point it was after 3pm. And I really did want to at least get some distance driven. But the pain was bad and I was still kind of out of it from the drugs the night before so I knew I shouldn’t be driving. I just called it a lost cause and got a room.


Day Four
I’d been debating a detour to the Grand Canyon but decided against it. So, we’re off! My next couch surfing destination was Houston, Texas but I had about 16 hours of driving to get there. I’m just not capable of that. I was hoping to make it half way before my body was, like, ha ha bitch, you’re stopping now.

I can’t even put into words how nightmarish this day was.

Within a few hours I ended up nearly sideways in my car, calling AAA. As I was asking them to send me a tow truck because I was in a ditch, a cowboy in a big ol’ truck pulled over. He rushed over to me and said, urgently, “Ma’am, ma’am, you need to get out of this car now. Give me your hands. Give me your hands, now. Hurry.” And I’m thinking he’s overreacting because, dude, what the hell, I’m just in a ditch, right? But I give him my hands and he pulls me out of the car. I step away, turn around, and almost vomit immediately. I’m not in a ditch. I’m hanging over a fucking cliff.

Two wheels are over the edge and the third is up in the air. He calls up a friend and another cowboy arrives. His name is Slim. Slim! Even in the midst of my hysterics, I appreciated the hell out of the fact that I was being saved by a cowboy named Slim. They ended up attaching my car to the truck with rope and were about to try to pull it out when the tow truck arrived. So, ultimately, Cowboy Mike pulled the car out while the tow driver sat in the front seat and Cowboy Slim stood on the passenger side door frame to weigh it down and prevent it from flipping.

The tow driver checked it over and there was no damage. I hugged those cowboys so fucking hard. They took turns holding me tightly while I whispered, “thank you thank you thank you thank you” again and again.

Once again, I am definitive proof that god protects the unbelievably, ridiculously stupid.

After I sat shaking for a very long time, I went to the Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch. Because seeing those motherfucking ostriches were the catalyst for the entire goddamn thing!





I paid and got my cup of feed. As I walked over to the ostriches, the owner came up to me.



“Why you here alone, girl!?”

“Because I’m on a road trip and saw your sign and had to come feed your ostriches!”

He showed me the trick of how to get them to reach over the fence to eat out of my hands!!

“Can I pet one!? Pretty pretty pretty please!?!”

“You want to pet one?”

“Sooooo badly! Pleeeeease, may I!?”

“I’ll grab and you pet! You ready?”



He grabbed one and I petted it and I totally squealed like a little girl!!

(Text to Keila – a fellow King of the Hill addict – “I totally did the Bobby Hill happy shriek!”)



Then I fed them by hand and got pecked a billion times but it was totally worth it.





I fed and petted some donkeys and then went into the forest of Rainbow Lorikeets. You get a little cup of nectar and they land on you and drink from it.





Was it worth almost dying for? No. But it was pretty damn awesome nonetheless.





New Mexico was uneventful.



Then came Texas. My god.



Initially it was fine. Just really dusty. But pretty. I hate the sun and I hate the heat but really, really love the aesthetic of the desert. I just love the emptiness and the desolation, you know? I think it’s beautiful.

So I came to the border checkpoint. Now. The only experience I’ve had with border checkpoints is in San Diego where they basically just wave you through unless you’re driving a truck or van or look “suspicious.” I.e. brown. So I was looking around absently and came to the front of the line. The guy didn’t hold up his hand for me to stop so I kept going.

Holy shit.

All motherfucking hell broke loose! They thought I was trying to run the checkpoint so seven of them swarmed on me with their hands on their guns and a dog. I slammed on the brakes and screamed, “I’m sorry!! I’m sorry!!” and threw my hands up. I ended up being ordered out of my car and questioned for 10 or 15 minutes while they used drug dogs to search. Can I just say, thank god I decided against bringing weed with me?

“California? Do you have any of that medical marijuana?”

“Nope.”

“Do you smoke marijuana?”

Why, yes, sir, let me just admit to a crime you have zero evidence of me committing.

“Nope.”

Jesus. One day I will have a life that doesn’t constantly inspire the phrase: Heidi, this shit only happens to you.

Me: Seriously, I think 90% of the people who read me probably don’t believe half the shit I write about.
Abby: I know you in person…I know all this shit happens to you!

After all that I decided, dude, I need to get a fucking room now before I end up dead or in federal prison. Finally reached civilization and went to the first motel I saw.

Took a long, hot shower in hopes of washing the horror away and spent the night fucking around online and watching King of the Hill. You have no idea how disappointed I was when I investigated a few months ago and found out that Arlen wasn’t a real town. Sad.

It turned out I was in Van Horn. Which, coincidentally, was about half way (around eight hours) to Houston. So that was a happy coincidence.

So, yeah, being pecked by ostriches? Totally the highlight of my day. By far.


Day Five
It started out uneventfully. After the day before, I was desperate for a boring drive. Yeah…didn’t really happen!

So, what’s the one rule of solo road trips? Don’t pick up hitchhikers! And what did I do…?

I have never picked up a hitchhiker before. I mean, I’ve considered it because, dude, needing a ride sucks. I’m not really sure what made me do it this time. He was young, it was hot as hell out, he was dragging what was obviously a very heavy bag, and (most importantly) he was thin and I was pretty sure I could take him. I have a knife – I’d stab that fucker in a heartbeat if he tried anything!

I totally made him pinky swear that he wouldn’t kill me.

“Yeah, Heidi, because serial killers totally keep their promises…”

Dude. Everyone abides by the pinky swear.

Anyway. He was so country and his accent was so thick that I seriously thought he was fucking with me. He was not. His name is John. He’s 18 years old and a bull rider in the rodeo.

“You’re not from around here, are you?”

“Nope!”

“Where you from?”

“Los Angeles.”

“That’s where they make the movies, right?”

Hee!

We talked a bit about his hometown and I told him I was moving to Alabama.

“You’re going to see a lot of… How do I put this since you’re a city girl? There’s a lot of niggers.”

What the fuck would he have said if I WASN’T a city girl!?!?

He referred to Obama as “that nigger in office” and told me how disgusted he is by seeing white women with black men.

I completely froze. I considered pulling over and telling him to just get the fuck out of my car. But then, really, how does being a dick to someone change or help anything? I mean, it would just make me a dick too.

So instead I talked to him. I asked him why he felt those things. Why he believed them. And he admitted he didn’t really know.

“I guess it’s just what I’ve been taught. How I was raised. I don’t really know anything else. I guess I am racist. But I have friends of different colors. I have a black friend… He’s done a lot for me. More than anyone else ever has.”

“So, you have this amazing person in your life. Who has helped you when other people wouldn’t. But you don’t think he’s good enough to date a white woman or to hold public office?”

“I…

Well…

Huh.”

Ha! Got you, motherfucker!!

I think it’s so easy to write people off, you know? To say, oh well you’re a racist piece of shit that I don’t want to have in my car or to have to speak to. I think it’s easy to overlook the humanity of people. But, for better or for worse, that’s not something I can do. Or something I’d even want to do.

He’s racist. But he’s a baby. An 18 year old boy who lives in a town of 1,000 people.Who has obviously never had his beliefs questioned. Ever. Who has never even thought about them all that much.

We spent 2½ hours together. He told me about his grandfather who raised him – who is in the hospital, dying. About the parents who abandoned him. About his six-month old son. About the football scholarship he’s scared to accept. About their farm and their horses.About sex and relationships. About taking chances when you’re scared to make a choice.

We sang Bon Jovi’s Dead or Alive at the top of our lungs. I repeat: I sang Bon Jovi with an 18-year old cowboy in Texas who was chewing tobacco!

And, seriously, the kid was gold.

“In Houston there’re a lot of the lesbians. They might try to hit on you.”

“That’s okay, John. I like girls.”

“Oh…



Me too!”

By the end of our 2½ hour journey I had him acknowledging that interracial relationships were not, in fact, the devil and that, no, Jesus would not use the terms “nigger” and “spic.” I also got him to admit that he’d once been sexually attracted to a cross-dresser.

I’m doing the lord’s work, here, people! Heidi: Social Worker on Wheels.

He also invited me to “drink whiskey and go to a titty bar” with him and a group of his 17-year old friends. And you know I considered that shit.

Anyway, that concluded that leg of the adventure!

So I headed over to the amazing couple putting me up for the night.

Yay Cassandra and Jason! I gave up whiskey and titties for you!



We went to Katz’s Deli. Because, when in Houston – go to a New York style deli! I finally had the fantastical fried pickles I’d been hearing about for years!



I ordered the Chopped Chicken Liver sandwich in honor of Bobby Hill and his gout.



“It’s meat I can eat with a spoon!”

Then we went back to their place and chatted until it was time for bed. Oh man, I’m so completely in love with them. I want to keep them in my pockets at all times!


Day Six
Cassandra was off work so we went to the mythical House of Pies.



Breakfast pie!

Or,paaaah. As I’ve been taught to say it.



Light Bulbs Unlimited. Greatest store ever. It’s a fucking store called Light Bulbs Unlimited!! Show me something better than that!



They sent me off with a sandwich from Antone’s. Fucking sex in my mouth.















World’s largest Gummi Bears!



Cotton candy ice cream with rainbow sprinkles



I didn’t eat gumbo and never found an alligator farm. I totally fail Louisiana 101.





Suddenly, it started flashing lightening. And then…pouring. I mean bad. Half of the people on the freeway pulled over to the side of the road. I’ve never experienced anything like it. My windshield wipers have never even been on high before! My hands hurt for hours afterwards because I was clutching the steering wheel so tightly.

I almost started hyperventilating and kept saying, “Oh my god oh my god oh my god I can’t do this this is the worst idea I ever had I can’t survive here I need to go home I need to turn around I need to go home the south is going to kill me!!!”

As the rain slacked up after awhile, people started riding my ass. I kept screaming, “Oh my god, go around me you fucker, I’m not ready to die!!”



I finally got to meet my beloved Tia! Eeeeeee so excited. She and her husband, Jeff, took me out to Wings where we met up with Tiffany and Will. But I was so exhausted and out of it that I forgot to take pictures. I know, man, unacceptable.

Tia and I stayed up late gabbing and it was wonderful. Then I passed out.


Day Seven
In the morning we watched South Park and then she drove me around to see her town.







It’s a college town and, clearly, college football is a religion down south so the entire place was inundated with it. Every damn business had “roll tide” (the University’s football cheer) painted or flashing somewhere on its building.

In addition to a ton of football, there are churches everywhere. Everywhere.

That night they took me for Mexican food at their favorite place, an hour and a half away. I’ve never gotten car sick before but made the mistake of staring out the side window to watch the trees go by. Yowza. Eyes closed now please!




Day Eight


I left Tuscaloosa around noon and headed to Auburn.









I went to dinner with my new roommate, her sons, and a few of their friends. I had something called, “corn nuggets.” Deep fried creamed corn. Holy god in heaven.

My roommate hugged me tightly and said, “Welcome home.”

And I was.


I’m absolutely blown away by how beautiful it is down south. During my drive (because I’m a giant baby) I almost started crying so many times because I just couldn’t handle how pretty it was. Big blue skies with huge white clouds. And so much green! And leaves that change color! And bodies of water!! Mind blowing. I really wish I were the passenger so I could have taken a million more photos. But that’s what future road trips are for!

So, that’s it. The beginning of a new chapter.

Hope you enjoy the ride!


Miles driven: 2,612
Days traveled: Eight
Tires purchased: One
Apples consumed: Six pounds
Tickets acquired: Zero (I still consider this a miracle)

(As always, more photos on flickr!)

30 comments:

  1. i'm so happy for you, heidi. alabama sounds awesome, actually. :-) I like how you meet the most random people. I love the 'this kid is gold'. :-)

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  2. 1. How do you keep from "accidentally" falling over and making out with Keila all the time? I mean, she's *pretty.*
    2. I totally want a lard-fried burger now! Goddamnit!
    3. How the hell did you wind up on a cliff???????
    4. If it makes you feel better, a solid 35% of Texas *is* Arlen, so Arlen is totally real.
    5. You are totally inspiring me to be less of a pussy about Jewish deli food!
    6. SEE WHY LOUISIANA IS AWESOME??? A fucking Candyland museum! And you *actually* fail La. 101 because you didn't hit up any drive-through daiquiri stands. But that's O.K. There will be time. And speaking of which . . .
    7. WELCOME TO THE SOUTH! Everybody down here is just as weird as you are. You'll fit right in.

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  3. what a super awesome drive!!

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  4. I just loved this post....your adventure looked like so much fun (in spite of the near death experience on the cliff). The food sounded awesome and all the people you met were so nice....I hope you love watching the changing of the leaves and the seasons. Go for it....life is just waiting for you...

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  5. i totally wish you the best of luck, and i wish some day you'll drive 2,612 miles across england and meet me

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  6. BEST. ENTRY. EVER. I am so jealous about the ostriches - they are SO uglycute! And the Wigwam motel! I saw that place on a TV special about unusual buildings!

    But you didn't eat at a Whataburger OR Waffle House! They probably have both of those in Alabama, though.

    I'm so happy for you I started crying over here. And be prepared - I'm bringing my fat ass your way in spring or summer. I miss the south a lot sometimes and now I finally have a reason to visit again.

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  7. Best road trip story EVER!!! I'm originally from the LA area, too, and the trip my husband and I took about this time last year was such a revelation - I'd never been across country before. The highlight for me was crossing the Mississippi river - totally blew me away. I'm now living in Tennessee (if you ever find yourself traveling up here, let me know :)

    Glad you made it safely -welcome :D

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  8. Now there is only ten hours to Indiana and the inevitable sexual exhaustion that will follow :)

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  9. Yay! Loved the recap and so glad you made it in one piece!! :)

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  10. uh.. wow!!! That is an amazingly amazing trip! and I am jealous. It is on my list of things to do, a road trip in the US.

    Glad you have made it home, safe and sound :-)

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  11. i'm so fucking proud of you!!!!!!

    xoxo
    sassafras

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  12. HEIDI!!!

    I am so glad you got there safe and sound. Thank you for sharing your trip with us. I had to read some of this out loud to my husband, because damn! You had a crazy trip.

    Be well and I am so proud of you!

    J

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  13. Hi Heidi! I've been following your blog ever since one of your posts made it on digg.com. I LOVED this post so, so much. I was always taught that if you have two choices, pick the one that would make the better story. And what an awesome story you have here! I just wanted to tell you how glad I am that you made it out of LA and have started a new chapter in your life!! Best of wishes to you as you start life a-new!

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  14. YOU MADE IT!!!!!!!

    I am SO proud of you Heidi!!!!

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  15. wow wow wow wow, what an adventure you had!!! and you're just starting out on a new one - I can't wait to read future updates!

    PS, Indiana is really pretty too, if you feel like another road trip :P

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  16. Yay, Heidi, I'm so proud of you!
    The lorikeets are adorable.

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  17. What a trip! I commend you for it. When I was 25 I moved from central coast California to the Bible Belt. SO MANY CHURCHES!God Bless and Bless your heart are big, and swear words like "FUDGE" and "DAD-GUMMIT" In public the worst thing you can say is GODDAMN. (It's taking THE LORD'S name in vain you know!)Fuck is kind of a turd in a punchbowl too, in certain company. I used to cuss like a sailor and I realized right quick it's shocking to the Baptist ladies. But it's sincere and I cleaned up the language and fit in better. after 20 years I even get a little shocked when I hear wirty dords.

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  18. Sounds like you kicked ass, as always. I love reading your posts and I wanna be a billionaire so fucking bad - I would totally fund your travels around the world, as long as you reported back in your own inimitable way!!!

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  19. That hitchhiker story is the best thing I've ever heard.

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  20. Most excellent post and thanks again for visiting us down here in Space City. Should've warned you about the apocalyptic rainstorms; those seem to be something the south likes an awful lot.

    <3 <3 <3

    - Cassandra

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  21. so much to love in this post but for now i will simply say - congratulations!! very well done, heidi!

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  22. Arlen IS a real town... it was based pretty faithfully on the town of Garland, which is a suburb of Dallas. I highly recommend you check it out someday.

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  23. Squeeeeeeeeee!!!!!! I'm so glad you did it! Best of luck to you, Baby Girl.

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  24. Heidi, this was an awesome read! I think the hitch hiker story was my favorite also. I'm so glad there are people like you in the world who want to understand others, and in the process of doing so, help them to understand themselves. The South welcomes you! I am so glad you moved here so I could get to meet you! See ya soon!

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  25. You were in my hometown!! Mentone Beach!! I seriously am kicking myself so hard in the ass that we didn't meet before you moved. I seriously hope our paths cross in real life some time soon. I've been in the backyard of the Paul Bunyan house (as we call it). There's a UFO and all kinds of amazing stuff back there.

    Also, you are doing God's work. You'r 18 year old hitch hiking racist cowboy story gave me chills and brought tears to my eyes. You just never know, man!

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    Replies
    1. I have to come back and we have to visit the house so I can get in that backyard!!!

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  26. YES!!!!! I haven't been back there since I was in like, middle school, but I'm sure we could just ask them and they'd prolly let us take pics.

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