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On the Road (in 2016)

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This Summer, Tom Biegel, our IT Director, and I found ourselves in an American mid-sized SUV headed due west, embarked on a road trip to meet The Boss, then stationed in California for business. This is our story:

It started around 8am on July 4 – an hour seen only by the depraved, the deranged, the derelicts. Biegel arrived, his face sullen and pallid, eyes hidden behind his impenetrable wraparound sunglasses, the kind worn by a little league umpire. “What’s our first destination?” he asked. I thought to myself, the ultimate human destination is singular, cruel, inevitable. Then I said, “Saint Louis.”

Our supplieslack-for-ios-upload-2s were few: water, clothes, iPads (with hotspots), laptops, chargers, reserve chargers, and only four types of almonds. A stale hint of America emanated from our pores, a reminiscence of the life we were leaving behind. But that’s the thing about America: with each turn of our tires, there would be so much more left to drink in.

After a grueling 90 minutes we made our first stop. Pennsylvania, the gateway to everything through infinite nothing. Our GMC Acadia drank in the Premium Unleaded, its fumes assailing the fresh-from-the-oven Cinnabon aroma only steps away. Heartwarming, yes, but as much cruel – I knew I couldn’t indulge. Cinnabon is a battle. So, too, is love.

We woke up the next morning outside of St. Louis, wrapped tightly in the Super 8 blankets and the fear of the unknown. Biegel and I ventured downstairs, guided by the beam of the continental breakfast. We dined on Southern classics: blueberry muffins, yogurt, flakes harvested straight from the cornfields of the Great Plains. That morning, we were Missourians.

As we left, Biegel took a deep, earnest inhale of his blueberry-watermelon-lemonade vaporizer, its pillowy plumes rolling through the thick Midwestern air. We ventured toward Kansas, and it wasn’t long before I heard him gasp:

“LTE…it’s gone. We’re 3G and dropping.”

“Where do we go, man?” I asked.

“I don’t know, but we gotta go.”

And so there we were, internetless, just two guys, a car, the country, and the cached GPS directions from our Google Map. We were free – maybe too free. But we leaned forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.

Later that day we arrived on the Other Side of Kansas, our cell phone bars rising alongside the mountainous terrain. We knew what we had just experienced was mad, yet profound. There was nothing left to talk about – the only thing to do was go.