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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Day 1: Guelph to St.Louis, Missouri

Finally it's here. A long overdue sabbatical of sorts, which will  hopefully spur a change in my status quo.

I've wanted to do this for ever, and I've probably needed it for just as long.  I've been in a weird headspace for the last year and over the last 6 months it's only gotten worse. I had no idea what anxiety attacks were until  this year. I just figured they were something  that nervous introverts experienced. Well wouldn't you know ,they're not.  Tie this in with a long cold winter, and you've got me between a rock and hard place.

So I decided I needed a mental reset.  I know what I am capable of when I'm operating at 100% and I know I haven't been there for the last little while.  I need to stoke the fires and find some inspiration. What used to inspire me, doesn't any more, and nothing has replaced it.

I went after the biggest cliche in American young adult wanderlusting. Hitting the road. Admittedly I didn't plan to chase after my own Sal Paradise experience. I wanted to go south because, winter sucks, regardless of what you think.

I planned out my route to drive and  quickly realized  I would, in fact, be mirroring "On the Road". a book that was a great read in my early 20's.  Whatever. Being lost in your 20's is nothing new.

I left Friday morning amid -15 and near white out conditions. A smarter person would have probably waited a few hours until the plows came out, but I  could care less. Just another adventure to look back on if I survived.  I also scored some top notch snow tires on my car this winter, and damn do they make a difference.

Day 1: Guelph to St.Louis

80% of this drive was windy, snowy and overall pretty white knuckled driving. Of course it wouldn't be a road trip without a playlist. Those who know me well, know that I take this part seriously. They also know I listen to an ungodly amount of electronic music. While I guarantee there was plenty of electronic flavored tunage, it probably only amounted for a quarter of my listening time. Here's some of what else I had on the go.

Gordon Lightfoot's 'Gord's Gold',   Man I love this guy, If I were to pick one artist to represent Canadiana, I would choose this guy. Folky, melodic, and always the metaphorically rich storyteller, Lightfoot's signature tremor rich voice would be the soundtrack of  driving across the wide flat expanses of Indiana and Illinois.

Wilco- Yankee Hotel Foxtrot It seems appropriate that I should listen to a band hailing from Illinois, while cruising through, This album has sporadically been on heavy rotation for the last 10 or so years for me.. Radio Cure is one of my favorite tracks of all time. It's simple and melancholy, but those choruses capture so much emotion when placed next to the comparatively subtle verses. Listen to this in it;s entirety when you're relaxed one day.

Serial.  I never got around to finishing this. No better time than now. One more episode to go. Will report back.

There's more, but these stood out.

Slowly as I drove south west, accents became more prevalent, and cultural differences obvious. Getting my temporary phone SIM card at the Radio Shack in Indianapolis was a far more delightful experience than I thought it would be, largely because of the eccentricity of the buxom older lady who assisted me. She had a defined thick midwest accent and took every opportunity to call you 'hon' I had to consciously refrain from saying 'ma'am and tipping my hat to her responses. Despite this novelty, I found it was more effective to figure out the SIM card setup on my own, rather than use the arguably less experienced sales associates at the store.

I ended up making it to St.Louis for around 9pm central time. I stayed at a pair of couchsurfing.com hosts who turned out to be super interesting. They took me out on their usual Friday night tour of the hipster'y side of St.Louis. We checked out some super cool live shows full of predominantly surf rock and rockabilly type stuff.  It was cool. I hadn't been to a show like that since high school .

My St.Louis host's introduced me to their friends, a diverse mix of starving artists,  grad students, and musicians.  I came out of the night with a very positive opinion on St.Louis. It seems to be quite the melting pot of cultures  and a very artistic hub.  I would love to explore this city in more detail at some point.  But not this time, as I had to make my way to Oklahoma City early in the morning.


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