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  • ...Wednesday, September 13, 2000...
    ...posted at 17:05:15 PM...

    Pardon the obvious choice of a quote, but the car is full of two Columbia alums. That gives no slack on the cliche of using Kerouac quotes, but at least shows some love for Alma Mater on the Hudson shore.

    In any case, our route is shown below. It was constructed using the Rand McNally "2000 Millenium Road Atlas". (For $4.57, it includes a Wal-Mart store directory, a list of Motel 6's across the country, as well as the usual mliegae and driving time information. See "Equipment" for more information.)

    View Alternate Routes:
    Route 1 || Route 3 || Route 4 || Route 5

    You'll have noticed the title: "Route 2: Clearwater North". Two explanations are required.


    Playing at Kit Carson

    Perhaps the most satisfying part of a roadtrip is the planning. Maybe when John C. Fremont hooked up with Kit Carson to be his guide on his first expedition, Carson had a pack full of maps that said things like "Here there be dragons" (or more likely, "Here there be angry Sioux and happy Shawnee"). But even with everything charted from coast to coast, maps still give a thrill. The energy of picking up the maps from AAA, pulling the Road Atlas out of the back seat, and sitting down with a pen and paper to scout out roads that will get us where we want to be. (More on that last topic -- where we want to be -- in a bit.)

    Max is most familar with the east coast. So, even though we did a road trip last year from New Orleans to NYC, there is still a little doubt when I state, with the grand authority of the Wizard of Oz before Toto drew the curtain back, that the drive from Chicago to San Francisco can be accomplished in approximately four days.

    My assurance is based on experience. In the summer of '89, I drove back from Berkeley, CA, to Bloomington, IN. Kansas may have seemed to take four days by itself. Dull? Lord, at one point I propped a paperback novel (a Stephen Greenleaf book, I recall) on the steering wheel of my '84 Buick Skylark and started reading. Between one god-referring anti-choice billboard and another, I finished the entire book and probably only looked up once to check the gas.

    Regardless, even with the Einsteinian time dilation of Kansas, I arrived in Bloomington and knocked on my friend BitterMike's door about three and a half days after I left Berkeley.

    However, that was basically a straight course: I-80 to Cheyenne, WY; I-25 to Denver, CO; then I-70 until about Terre Haute, IN. Easy. But in the case of the '00 Whitney-Noel expedition, we needed to choose from a number of different routes.

    Route 5 is the baseline I-80 standard. If we got on the Stevenson (I-55) from downtown Chicago and zipped to I-80, it would take us about 39 hours to arrive in San Francisco.

    But our goals are more complicated. And thus, so is our route.

    Why?


    "La Plume"

    Max wanted to see a woman who she hasn't seen in years, who we will call "La Plume".

    I've never met her, La Plume, and Max has refused to tell any stories to explain La Plume's hold upon her imagination. Not until we're driving, with the air conditioner standing for a campfire, will the actual stories about La Plume commence. Max's refusal was the inspiration for the La Plume stories appearing on the Day Pages. So there will be La Plume Stories for the day. I feel that as the expedition continues, La Plume will become a Tall Tale riding shotgun for us. Our own John henry, or Paul Bunyan, looking out for us and ensuring our fate.

    I am certain the actual La Plume is a lovely and charming woman, but I hope she will forgive me if my hope is that her pseudonym, La Plume of the Highways, grows to such a size that no one person could actually be her. That the Form of La Plume will be far vaster than the shape of the actual woman in this world.

    La Plume is one of three major goals on this expedition (Tahoe and SF being the other two). Max will call La Plume from a day out or so. Probably from midway through Montana would be my guess, but I have not calculated that closely.


    Loads of Roads

    In any case, La Plume lives in Idaho, near Clearwater.

    So the other routes presented besides Route 5 involve travel to Clearwater, ID.

    Our final choice came down to these words, from max, "I just like the idea of South Dakota. And who wouldn't like the sounds of Rapid City?" Who indeed?

    For me, going through Montana is wonderful because it means I can look out for my Grandfather's keystone. My Mom's dad Hanes Stahl was a builder in Montana for the last apr tof his life, so Montana has always represented the West for me. Maybe as we go through Montna, I will regale you with some Crazy Hanes stories. We will see.