Thursday, June 22, 2006

Cross-Country Diary From a Guest

I’m always looking for ways to keep the blog fresh. (Not that it’s getting stale or anything; um, er...) So here, for the first time, is a post by someone else. This is from my friend Clare, who works for The Menil Collection, a terrific museum in Houston. Recently, the museum needed a courier to accompany some sculptures and drawings by Calder from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. For Clare, this meant flying to California, meeting up with the drivers, and traveling non-stop –- sleeping on the truck, and living under the condition that at least one person had to be inside the truck with the art at all times. In general, Clare writes incredibly funny, dry, smart e-mails, so I asked if I could share this particular account with the crowd. Enjoy.
We drove from San Francisco to Minneapolis and, including loading and unloading the truck, the trip was 51 hours. It was a little longer than it should have been because we broke down in the Sierras (on Donner Pass, actually) soon after starting out and lost quite a few hours fixing the truck. Then we headed toward Reno, where I got to spend quite a bit of time in a truck stop, which was one of the more depressing places I've ever been. It included, naturally, a casino. At least there were slot machines and poker machines and one guy dealing blackjack. And smoking indoors in public places is apparently still legal in Nevada. So there are all these massively overweight and gray-faced people, men and women, smoking and drinking 42 oz cokes and eating truck stop food and gambling. It was kind of gross.

I did get a magnet, though, that says "Reno." That was our first stop and I decided I'd get a magnet in every state, thinking that would be fun, but I was foiled –- the only other state that had magnets in the truck stop was Wyoming.

The truckers were a man and wife team, both quite bitter in their own way. When the husband (I can't even remember their names anymore, god...) had gone to get parts for the truck and the wife and I were on the side of the road, she turned to me and said, "I take it you’re not married." I confirmed that I never had been, and she said, "Don't." Awkward. They had two small dogs. Pomeranians. Yes, in the truck with them. At one point I was in the bunk and I woke up and sat up and one of the dogs crawled out from under my pillow.

The coolest sight was when I woke up outside Salt Lake at 5 in the morning and the sun was rising over the mountains and reflecting off of the lake. I fell asleep again before I saw anything of the city, though. I had some sort of motion-induced narcolepsy. Iowa and Minneapolis are both very pretty, really green and lots of old farm houses and such. Nebraska and the part of Wyoming we went through were pretty boring, but I've seen the mountains in Wyoming before and they're quite stunning. California, of course, is gorgeous.

Minneapolis was really nice, but by the end of the ride I felt pretty awful. I was so stiff from sitting still and/or sleeping that I could hardly walk and my stomach had gotten all messed up eating weird, junky truck-stop food. So, I won't be signing up for any more two-day trips. But I got to see the Walker, and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts -- which was our drop-off point -- has a really great collection as well. And Prince is from there, so I'm willing to believe that Minneapolis has some super funky hip side, but it was not evident -– mostly Borders and Target and Banana Republic where I was.



Blogger lfw said...

That was great! Think you could squeeze something book-length out of those 51 hours, Clare?

I like this foray into guest writers, bro. Perhaps one guest spot a week? (Not that I'm volunteering.)

12:28 PM  

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