Thursday, April 02, 2009

Western Illinois to East Aurora, NY

Slept from about 10:00 last night until 7:00 this morning, awaking refreshed. I had spread the futon out completely and that made a difference. Much more comfortable! Overcast, with rain forecast later on today. In Peru, Illinois, I stopped at the “Starbuck’s” and enjoyed the brief interaction with a woman about my age. Her rough, countryish edge was all the more endearing. The ever-present “Starbuck’s” corporate soundtrack (this time classical) would drive me crazy if I had to listen to it constantly. (The commitment businesses make to providing an environment with music sometimes has unintended consequences.)

Suddenly thrust into a cold gray wintry landscape, with cracked and heaved pavement, dirty snow and prematurely rusted vehicles, I sensed a growing depression. It is beginning to hit me: "I’m really moving!" But there’s no going back. I need to take responsibility for my decision.

Back on the road, south of Chicago, I heard a wonderful speaker on the Moody Broadcasting Network: Dr. Erwin W. Lutzer. His sermon “Running to Win” condemns the “deity of mankind” and “globalism”. His voice drips with guilt-inducing judgment and contempt. It's marvelous stuff!

Forgiveness is a huge theme in Christianity. Forgiveness is essential, because we are ALL SO GUILTY!

Afterward, I heard Nancy Turner interview author Jill Savage on the subject of “moms and religion”. I had to laugh (heathen!) because it sounded just like the famous “Pete Schweddy” interview on "Saturday Night Live".

It concerns me that this mind control cult dominates the airwaves. They place conditions on “goodness” (though they claim to love all mankind). And they talk of how persecuted they are for their beliefs. (Hardly! They would persecute the non-believers - and do so throughout their broadcasts.)

The Indiana Turnpike is expensive, in more ways than one. Gas stations that hold the service area concessions charge ten to twenty cents more per gallon than stations just off the tollway.

Having enough of Christianity, I turned to NPR, which I’ve managed to receive across most of the country. They featured a story on small-scale logging in New Hampshire. The woodcutter spoke of the “transition forest”, which is unusually diverse. It made me eager to get out and see what’s on our Vermont property. He said the “mud season” puts a stop to their logging, and that it seems to be coming earlier each year.

“Fresh Air” featured an interview with Dr. Robert Martinson, author of A Life Worth Living. He discussed “end of life” issues in the hi-tech age, where the ability to keep people alive artificially may just perpetuate their suffering and be contrary to their wishes.

Through the day, the wind moved around from southeast to northeast, which seemed to indicate I was moving into the counterclockwise "curl" of a low pressure area.

Sean Hannity enlightened me. According to my buddy, the “media elite are controlling what you see and hear.” Well, I guess we all kind of suspect as much. But who's your boss Mr. Hannity? Don't you think that Mr. Murdoch would qualify as "elite"?

I couldn't resist going back to the Christian networks. Listened to Bible stories, embellished to better fit the current culture. The preachers invent little details where needed (we won't call them "untruths".) To emulate the behaviors Christians insist are the path of "righteousness", there is no need of religion, no need of a mythical higher power, no need for the promise of Heaven nor threat of Hell. It is in our nature, sillies. It is called "conscience".

By the way, I hear that West Virginia just passed legislation permitting “In God We Trust” license plates. (I had just seen one today, though I'm not sure what state it was from.) At least it doesn't say "In a Christian God we trust." (Not yet anyway.)

Suddenly ("out of the blue", but perhaps in response to the jostling from rough roads) it occurred to me – leaving the bike on the sidestand was probably not a good idea. All the rocking is bound to fatigue the metal. One of these days, it’s simply going to fall over on me. (Note for future travel!)

Crossing the northeast corner of Ohio and into Pennsylvania was a relief to the senses, as the land is covered in rich forests, and grass is beginning to grow. And just over the Pennsylvania line, the pavement turns perfectly smooth. My focus was set on Erie as a final stopping point today. I would settle into a hotel room, rest and work on notes, then leisurely move on to East Aurora once Priscilla signaled she was ready for my arrival.

I ran the fuel tank nearly empty, limping into the Erie metropolitan area. Exited the freeway and into the most ugly of human blights: the big box super centers. Miles square of asphalt, retail outlets, traffic and signals. And the intense energy that derives from this capitalist craziness. To think that they replaced the forests with this hell! Quickly refueled and moved on. Up the road, I inquired at a “Day’s Inn”. $70, $60 with AAA. The property was decrepit and neglected.

A few miles beyond, I found a brand new "Holiday Inn Express". $100 a night. It is curious that although the hotel was set high enough to have a view of Lake Erie, it was sighted (perpendicular to the shore) so that none of the rooms faced the lake. I guess this way, all rooms would have a glancing view of the lake.

I talked with the manager, a young South Asian fellow who had moved from Cleveland this past winter (and found the winter here much more harsh.) I told him I could not afford the price this time, though I was well-acquainted with their hotels. He recently attended a tasting of local wines and was impressed with the selection. He said there were 20 wineries in the area! I of course had to burst his bubble, replying that there are about 400 in the local area around Santa Rosa. A regrettable display of self-importance!

Stopped at the first New York State Thruway Service Area. Trucks are not allowed to idle their engines in the Service Area. (If they can do this here, why is this not done at other truck stops?) They offer free wi-fi, but my computer battery was dead. I was determined to find an outlet I could plug into. After fifteen minutes of searching, I was incredulous. They had done well in their campaign to prevent plug-ins and people "camping out" on the wi-fi. I could have stayed overnight in the parking area, but a look at the map showed a campground at Evangola Beach. I set out in search of the place our family had visited over 50 years ago.

Along the way, I stumbled upon a “Tim Horton’s” and stopped in for a soup, sandwich and coffee combo. I asked one of the teenagers behind the counter how to get to Evangola (within 5 miles of the restaurant) and she shrugged, indicating she had never heard of it. Fortunately, a customer gave precise directions. But the campground was still closed for the winter. So I followed U.S. 20 toward Buffalo, alert for deer crossing the dark highway. Reached East Aurora around 9:00.

It was too late to disturb Priscilla, so I drove to a public park a few blocks from her house.


11:00 p.m. Parked at Hamlin Park, East Aurora

A train just passed nearby, a helicopter (life flight?) earlier, and there's a surprising number of cars driving this old neighborhood. But when these sounds are absent, it is incredibly quiet. Lights burn in the grand old houses encircling the park. I am painfully aware of the noise I make pulling into the parking slot, closing the cab door, rolling open the cargo bay door. I feel I must be under the scrutiny of a dozen pairs of eyes. A couple bunnies prance around in the grass. A mild breeze is picking up – out of the south now. I’m hoping for rain to sooth me to sleep. I lie down in the back of the truck, the roll-up door partially opened to the park. I hadn’t expected to reach East Aurora today, and was very reluctant to surprise Priscilla.

Again, it's starting to sink in: "I’m actually moving."

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