Sorry for yet another long silence. At least I have an excuse this time: Julie and I took a road trip to Iowa City to get her moved in to her new digs. It took four days, with stops at Provo, Utah; Ogalalla, Nebraska; and Ames, Iowa. We made the trip in Pearl, Julie’s white Saturn, which performed admirably, even nobly. Some highlights:
–While still in California, we saw one of the jerkiest (in MHO) religious bumper stickers imaginable. It was on a pretty expensive two-seat car, along the lines of a Mazda Miata but different. The sticker said, “Don’t let the car fool you–my real treasure is in Heaven.” Now THAT is assholic. Basically, this guy is saying, “Oh, I know I have lots of expensive material goods, but that’s not the best part. The best part is, I’m righteous and holy and I’m going to Heaven!” You know, if your real treasure is in Heaven, why do you have that nice car? Sell the car, donate the money, get yourself a 1992 Altima and use it to take food to soup kitchens. Remember that thing about the camel, and the eye of a needle? Remember that?
–A much much better tribute to Christianity was on view on that same stretch of highway. It was a pickup truck with a CRUCIFIED TEDDY BEAR on the back, legs crossed and everything. I got a picture, I will Flickr it and link it here. An incentive to keep checking the site!
–When we woke up in Provo, UT, the newspaper’s top story was that, according to a study of American cities and their voting habits, Provo is the most conservative city in America. The most liberal city? Detroit. Don’t ask me.
–Our initial plan had been to get to Provo on the first night, Cheyenne, Wyoming on the second night, and Omaha, Nebraska on the third night. This was based on the assumption that while a ten-hour drive was reasonable on the first day, we wouldn’t have the energy for more than seven or eight hours after that. In fact, what we found was that when you reach a town like Cheyenne, the main thing to do is to get back in the car and keep driving.
–This goes double for Nebraska. A young woman who served us in a roadside Subway found out that we were from Orange County, and asked, “So, is Laguna Beach a real place? Are the people they film there real?” I felt like I was from Camelot. Actually, my relatives in Ames (who were the reason to push ourselves past Omaha, for a real meal and real company) told us a joke: On the night before the Battle of Little Big Horn, Custer addressed his men. “I have good news and bad news,” he said. “The bad news is that our scouts tell me that the force we’re facing tomorrow is so large that they will slaughter us to the last man. The good news is, at least we won’t have to march back through Nebraska.” This is a representative sample of midwest humor.
–Aside from the conservatism of the towns we passed through, gas prices were the other major news story in the papers, not to mention in the car. $2.13 was the cheapest we saw, somewhere in Utah; by the end of our trip, it was around $2.70 for Regular. One unexpected benefit to being in corn country was that, in Nebraska and Iowa, Plus was cheaper than Regular, since Plus had ethanol in it, much cheaper than oil in these states. Meanwhile, back in Berkeley, I’ve seen $2.93. It’s like living in Spain or something.
–We got Julie moved in okay, with a decent complement of furniture and everything. Iowa City seems like a pretty cool town, and also a true college town: the student population is about half that of the town, and the bars and cafes have shorter hours during the summers. I don’t envy her the winters she’ll face, but from now until December she’s definitely living in the cooler place.
As for being long-distance again…it’s not ideal, obviously, especially since we had gotten really used to living together after four months. At the same time, after France, it should be cake. I’ve long thought (and maybe I’ve even said this here) that the major factor in the success of a long-distance relationship isn’t distance or availability, but whether the two parties are up to something interesting that they can talk about in those late-night phone conversations. It certainly seems like that will be the case now. So, here’s to a short wait and frequent visits.