The Accidental Stolen Coffee

I just got back from a three week car-based road trip (I’m researching my next class B – more on that in another post!), where I stayed in the typical highway-adjacent hotels each night. Generally, these hotels have a free coffee station in the lobby and I filled up my travel mug each morning before heading out. I refilled my travel mug at truck stops along the way. So far, so good, no criminal activity here!

But habits form quickly. Apparently. At least in my brain.

I walked into a Flying J. Filled up my travel mug. Walked right out. And drove away.

It didn’t even cross my mind to pay.

When I was several miles down the road, happily drinking my coffee, the scene replayed in my mind. Walked in. Filled up the coffee. Walked out. As though I were in the lobby of a roadside hotel.

So, I’m sorry Flying J. I didn’t mean to steal your coffee. It was great and just what I needed for a Thursday afternoon drive. I really should have paid for it.

Entering Construction Zone


That’s me, sitting in front of my grandparents’ camper. I am pretty sure that is not my coffee.

I’m taking a break from traveling, although I don’t want to take a break from writing (there’s so much that’s happened that I haven’t written about yet!). I realize I’m already taking a break since there’s never any time, but I have hope for some open windows of writing time soon.

My house has been under construction for the last two years and it’s in the final stages (I can hardly believe it). Even though I’ve got a full crew of people working on it, I feel like I’m working on it full time too — getting all of the loose ends figured out and tracked down and fixed.

I’ve moved in and if you’ve ever lived in an RV or a house under construction, then you know the particulars of day to day living have a lot in common. I didn’t have a shower for the first month and a half, and I couldn’t drive my house to the nearest truck stop to take one. Instead, I relied on the gym and the kindness of friends.

There’s also only so much you can cook with a microwave and single burner hotplate, no prep space, no dishwasher, and only a tiny sink. And only so much you can store with a tiny refrigerator.

All of my RV experience has been put to good use, although I miss my snug cocoon  and waking up wherever I want every day. Also countertops and running water.



Peach Ice Cream Is Finally Here

One of the great joys of driving through the United States is the vast variety of billboards and signs: hand written diatribes, blinking traffic directives that warn of wildlife, the absolute assurance to you, the captive driver, that the attraction at this exit is nothing you have ever seen and to miss it would be the aching loss of your life, your haunting regret, the ultimate betrayal to your children, so patiently sitting in the back seat in hopes of only petting a buffalo or walking beneath a real teepee.

My great regret is that by the time I see the sign, it’s almost always too late to take a photo. Almost always, but not always always.

Of course, this trip isn’t the first time I’ve wanted to capture the wonderment of road signs. For instance, I came upon this great sign when driving around Iceland last year (in a rental car; not in an RV). In case you can’t tell, those two cars are about to hit head on at the top of that hill in a fantastic imitation of every great three stooges sketch, but with cars instead of each other:

iceland road sign

I took this picture at a rest area in California last year. It’s still one of my favorites:

rock throwing

Here’s one of my least favorites, at a rest area in the south earlier this year:


This isn’t exactly a sign, and it’s not exactly on the road, but it entertained me, nonetheless (this was at my very first parking lot overnight).


Some signs are direct, if inexplicable (this was my welcome to Nevada):


You learn about lots of cash making opportunities you had no idea existed:


I like when whoever writing the road signs takes a more personal approach:

2014-08-14 14.47.43-1

Stillwater, Oklahoma must be the only place where video rental stores are “growing”, right?

video stores

Oklahoma also has dueling trash cans:

fish only

no fish

You learn about things you never knew were all you ever needed:

frito pie

You pass places you’re too afraid to venture into alone:

precious moments chapel

I admired the childlike enthusiasm:

peace ice cream


water trampoline

This isn’t so much a sign as a cornerstone for a hopeful life against all evidence to the contrary:

blind faith

More snakes in Florida: a kinder, gentler set of signage:


And then there are the signs, such as in Savannah, which teach you about city laws you otherwise would never have even dreamed existed:


And then other times you learn that not every town has the same kinds of street names as you do:

street signs

I did not have time to stop:

pork center

I tried to stop. If only time weren’t ever stretching away from us.

porter sculpture park



A Life of Quiet Contemplation. And Taylor Swift. Also Hank Williams. And Night Vale.

I’ve driven over 11,000 miles in 4 months. Surely plenty of time for quiet contemplation. Just me and the road. The vast skyline. The mountains. Rolling hills. Endless fields. Coastline.  Long stretches and winding curves. Woods and lakes and bridges and silence. The perfect foundation for pondering life and sundry related life-type topics.

the road

Well, yes.

Just one tiny problem: I can be a slight bit obsessive. Just a little.

Like for instance, maybe I’m driving down the road and I need something different to listen to, so I put on some classic country and pretty soon, I’m rolling along to the sounds of Hank Williams. And then I think, huh, Hank Williams. What exactly was that guy’s story? I mean, like I know he died young and I’ve seen Hank Williams Jr. in concert back in the day, so I know he had a kid, but like, why don’t I know more about him?

So then I listen to every song Hank Williams sang ever, and then also every Hank Williams Jr. song just for good measure and I think, wow, Hank Williams Jr. really had a fixation on his dad and on explaining over and over that he was his own person.

So then I have to download biographies of Hank Williams and Hank Williams Jr. and Hank the third to my iPad and read them all. And I find out that Hank Sr. died when Jr. was just a baby so he never really knew his dad, but his dad’s nickname for him was Bocephus (ah, so the Bocephus stuff I remember from the 80s now makes a lot more sense) and his mom used to dress him up like his dad when he was a kid and have him sing his dad’s songs in his dad’s style and he got super popular doing that and all of country music who missed his dad gathered around him (and OK, all that “sorry I’m not my dad stuff” makes more sense now too) and then he went all rockabilly rebellion.

Then, once I know everything there ever was to know about the Williams family, I start listening to the Welcome to Night Vale podcast. You’d think I’d listen to educational podcasts so I can learn as I drive, or relearn Spanish but no. Night Vale. (I mean, also yes. But mostly not yes.)

So I listen to every single Night Vale podcast in order, plus the live shows, which if you’re counting, is around 60 episodes. And then I am bereft. So I have to listen to them all again. And privately mourn that I didn’t learn about the show earlier when they were not quite so popular and were still accepting submissions for show scripts.

night vale


But then sometimes I’m on a pretty long stretch of road with no cell coverage. So I fall back to whatever songs are downloaded, which at the moment mostly consist of those on Taylor Swift’s new album. I construct a a complicated narrative for Tay and Harry, two paper airplanes flying. Which I’m happy to describe in meticulous detail if I get overwhelming requests.

Track 12 #1989lyrics #TS1989 #5DaysTil1989

A photo posted by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on

So now you see why I don’t spend much time on quiet contemplation. My mind is WAY too busy with other things.