Blue Ridge Parkway. Tail of the Dragon. Mardi Gras (on accident?!?). Hail, Snow, Rain, and Sleet. Texas BBQ. Dinner on the Pacific in Mission Bay. And that was just the first three days.
With 2+ weeks to go before my latest cast came off, I decided to go for a cruise. We were down to one running car (truck) at the time, so I rented a Chevy Sonic through Hertz with unlimited miles for $300. I've driven cross country more times than I can count, but there are always new sights to see, events to experience, and friends to visit. And there's no better way to collect your thoughts than on a road trip.
Once I hit the West Coast I gotta chill with my Detroit brother Pin at his shop in Corona, spend some quality time with Jonathan Ward at ICON/TLC in Chatsworth, hung out a few days with Bodie Stroud around his shop in the Valley, bombed through Santa Monica in a Morgan 3, hit Adam Carolla's movie premiere at the Improv in LA, got a private tour of Jay Leno's Garage, did a little shopping at Greenspan's, had dinner with Tom Fritz (which included a rare glimpse at his old DoD art work), walked the beach at Guadalupe, then drove up the PCH to my sister's place on Sunset in San Francisco. Also gotta visit with some old friends from when we lived in the OC. California treated me well.
After San Fran I started heading north/east. I stopped by Crater Lake and Glacier National Park, stayed with friends in Missoula, MT, had a ham/deep fried cheese curd/hamburger in Fargo, stopped at Duluth Trading in Minnesota, tried to watch some ice racing on Lake Superior (also fell on my ass..ice is slippery), got lost in Michigan's UP, then drove through a blizzard as I head south from Manistee down across the Mackinaw Bridge and then to Detroit.
So. How about some pictures. Chronological order.
I started east from Detroit. Once I passed Pittsburgh I started south down some back roads. I randomly passed by Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater, but it was closed for the season. This beautiful stream was in that area.
By night I made it near the start of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Waynesboro, Va. Saturday morning I started the Parkway hoping to do the entire 469 miles.
Sunset at Zero mile of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Off the path a bit, the Natural Bridge.
I ran into a couple of detours on the parkway.
The second one booted me off for good.
I stopped in Waynesville, NC for the night. Got pizza at Nick and Nate's. Cool sculpture downtown.
Tried to get back on the Parkway in the morning, but it was still closed. So I headed through the Smokey Mountains towards the Tail of the Dragon.
Dam from the Fugitive.
Here is where I'd like to say that there is something to the whole Slow Car Fast theory. I had a flippin' blast throwing Sonic the Hedgecar through the Tail of the Dragon. There are no pics of that, as I was busy pushing Slow Cars out of my way with my one good hand.
View from Top of the Tail.
Now I headed towards NOLA. I hadn't been there since college, and figured I'd swing by, walk around town, spend the night, then head west. I get to my exit, and something seemed off. Wait, there's a sign. "Welcome Mardi Gras Visitors." Well, shit. It took me two hours to get to my hotel. The entire town smelled like gasoline, weed, and vomit. But the people watching was amazing.
After the parades I met up with a friend from school and we had a couple drinks and caught up. This dude was doubled over behind me. A police officer came up and asked him a question. I didn't hear his answer, but the cops reply was "well, that's a hell of a drug."
The spectacle of the cleanup after the parades was pretty amazing. And necessary, considering there was literally vomit, piss, and shit everywhere. They pretty much shovel, powerwash, and scrub up the streets and sidewalks in one fell swoop.
New Orleans street parking.
Monday I woke up and headed to San Diego. Weather in Texas was fun. But Rudy's BBQ was delicious.
After 30 hours straight driving....I had reached San Diego.
Jonathan's office at ICON is filled with art, nostalgia, design, toys...pretty much exactly how you'd think his office would be. Didn't shoot the shop at all, but checked it out while Mr. Ward was giving me the rundown on his current and future projects...if half of what he wants to do comes to fruition, we're all in for a treat. I love the way his brain works.
Bodie's shop is always hopping. Such a rad dude, and a great friend. Had a ton of fun hanging out with him for a few days.
Tim Allen's Camaro
Johnny Knoxeville's Caddy in for a touch up, I helped deliver this on Friday.
I even tagged along for Adam Carolla's movie premiere in LA at the Improv on Thursday night. I wasn't sure what to expect, but it was funny as hell. We talked to this guy Christopher Rutkowski afterwards, he's starting a web series about movie cars. And he puts his money where his mouth is, as he was driving his Jeep...you know, this Jeep:
We got into Jay's Garage on Saturday. I didn't take any pictures, and it doesn't really matter...no photos or videos do the place an ounce of justice. 165 cars, 110 bikes, and the fab/mechanic shop to keep it all going. It was pretty neat seeing Mr. Leno pull up his orange McLaren as I was squeaking by on my way out in the Sonic.
Still...not my pic...but walking around this was rad.
Kind of out of order, but I visited Morgan West Thursday morning (I think?)
"Hey Josh, wanna take a 3 for a spin?" Um. Yes.
I was actually trying to get a pic of this dude's dog (he jumped into the passenger seat as I snapped this), but I guess the Bronco will do.
My friend Billie's dog Buster, keeping an eye on things.
That was fun.
On my way north I stopped in on my amigo and fellow crazy artist Tom Fritz. He's kind of a legend in my circles, but one of the coolest guys you could ever meet. On top of that, in another life he created art for the Department of Defense. I got a sneak peek into that portfolio and man o man...glancing at the military stuff alone would have made my trip worthwhile! Stuff he was drawing up decades ago is just now seeing the light of day.
I hit the beach in Guadalupe and walked a few miles until it was just me, seals, dead seals, and the ocean.
Caddy for sale in Pismo Beach:
Continuing north on the 1
I've done this drive up the PCH a couple of times now. You just gotta do it.
One of my sisters live in San Francisco, so I targeted he place Sunday night. She had recently moved, and now lived literally across the street from Ocean Beach. So many dogs. And they all seemed to love me. Especially this guy. I believe his name was Stuart.
A little farther up, the Cliff House and the bath ruins.
Pretty much right below my location in the picture above, there's a cave. Walk through it and this is your view:
Scanning for Kaiju
San Fran is a rad city.
Now we go North-East.
Ran into a couple rare birds on my way to Crater Lake.
The place is truly breathtaking.
I'm not gonna lie, when I left the coast I lost track of a lot. All I know is now I'm between Crater Lake, Oregon, and Glacier National Park in Montana.
View across Flathead Lake
Early morning heading out of Kalispell
Once I got to Glacier, it was only opened up to Lake McDonald and I was the only person there. I had my head on a swivel.
89 heading South in Montana:
Truck Spotting in Missoula.
Zip's in Missoula. What ?!? Shoulda tried to get in, next time I visit my friends there I will.
I liked this town a lot. Cool steel building.
Checked out the Missoula Art Museum, there was a killer exhibit by local artist Theo Ellsworth. I ended up grabbing a few of his books.
Weather changes quickly in the mountains.
Somewhere in North Dakota...
The most Fargo thing since a blood stained wood chipper. Fried Cheese curd and ham angus burger:
There was some ice racing on Lake Superior, so I walked out to try to see some of it. For whatever reason not much was going on, and after a misstep and a crash to the ice I went back to the car and kept moving on.
Marquette, Mi. (Upper Peninsula):
The Home Stretch. Mackinaw Bridge.
This was pretty much the scene for the last 6 hours of the trip:
So, there it is. 8,400 miles in 18 days. I touched the Gulf of Mexico, the Pacific Ocean, was within miles of both the Mexican and Canadian borders, and walked on Lake Superior. Sonic the Hedgecar was a champ, took everything I threw at him.
Road trips are a dying tradition. With a "need it now" culture of high speed freeways, cheap flights, and living vicariously through virtual reality, it's easy to take what our country has to offer for granted. Don't dream about the day when you'll be able to hop in your car and go, just do it.