5 days ago Carr and I left our favourite people, our jobs and lovely home behind and embarked on this grand adventure, an extended journey around various parts of the planet and in many ways into parts of ourselves. We had been preparing for months, with excitement as well as some anxiety building until the moment we walked out the door of our house in Ottawa, Canada. After that, our trip took on a simultaneously concrete and surreal quality - for days we kept exclaiming "wow, we are doing this!", giggling in happy, impressed disbelief, letting the new reality sink in.
Our plan for the first part of this journey: drive southwest to explore New Mexico, Arizona and other southwestern states, not so much to see cities or human creations but to connect more with what I would call first-order natural beauty (we also have a set of more "inner" purposes/intentions, which I will describe in a later entry). After that, to drive up the west coast of the continent, up to explore BC, and then to return to Ottawa for a few weeks' visit before crossing the ocean for further travels.
The first 5 days have been a mixed experience. The eastern and central states we drove through were full of paradoxes. Almost everyone we've met has been refreshingly outgoing and friendly in that unique American way, noticeably more than the average Canadian. Colorful, gregarious, in some cases larger than life. I did not expect such friendliness in the US at this rather tense point in world/political history, and it came as a pleasant surprise. It flies in opposition to the warnings of some Canadian acquaintances that we would be going into a dark and dangerous country, e.g., one who compared this part of the trip to "a journey into Mordor".
At the same time, driving through those first few states did generate a heavy and mildly depressing energy which stood in contrast to our excitement about finally starting out trip. My experience of it: a vast cultural wasteland characterized by the monotony of corporate chain logos, urban sprawl, seeming ignorance of the rest of the world, the repetitive scenery of big box stores, etc. And it seemed that people there try to fill the gaping hole of alienation created by this spiritual vacuum in the only ways the hyper-consumerist system provides: TV pablum, a monoculture of unhealthy processed/fast food, diet ads to counteract the resulting obesity, more TV pablum, retail therapy, endless brands of proselitizing christianity, gun shops, automobile worship, and so on.
So we played good road trip music and spoke in our best Kentuky accents and sang songs as Carr played the ukelele to keep our mojo up...
"I gotta keep on movin' and groovin'
I gotta keep on movin' and groovin'
Gotta keep my mind clear
Oh the devils and demons I will not fear"
In the end, we arrived in Texas, where we found Cadillac Ranch (see pics), a sort of automobile stonehenge. Something shifted in the energy... the weather became warmer, we relaxed more, and it felt lke we were closer to what we had set off for.