Jewish World Review Dec. 12, 2003 / 17 Kislev, 5764

Greg Crosby

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Driving across America | In case you didn't notice, (and if you didn't - shame on you!) I've been gone for a few weeks. We spent the fall driving coast to coast across the entire country and back. We went through something like 26 states and put 7,628 miles on the car. We stayed in cheap motels, expensive hotels, and with family along the way.

We had a once in a lifetime experience, there's no doubt of that. But after nearly six weeks on the road I must tell you it is awfully good to be back home - to sleep on my own pillow and in my own bed. It's also nice to wake up in the morning and not have to pack up and jump into the car (although for the first couple of mornings at home that urge did come over me when I first opened my eyes).

"You must have plenty of things to write about, NOW!" people have been telling me ever since I got back, intimating that I didn't have very much to say before, or if I did it really wasn't worth reading in any case.

Fact is, I DO have plenty to write about NOW - but I'm not all that sure I wish to discuss it with anyone who would take such a combative tone with me - especially when I've just returned from such an exhaustive trip and am in no mood for attitude. And furthermore, if this bickering continues, I've a good mind to turn this car around right now and . oops, sorry. Forgot where I was for a moment, there. I must have a bit of post-road trip battle fatigue.

During the journey several interesting observations came to mind which I would like to share with you. Before I actually get to the observations, I should explain why I didn't attempt to write these down in a column form and send them out along the way, as many professional columnists do as they travel. For one thing, I didn't take any paper and pencils with me on the trip. The car was much too overloaded as it was with sucking candies, roadmaps, auto club books, toiletries, and luggage to accommodate bulky yellow pads and heavy lead pencils. Also, I do not own a laptop computer or power-book, or palm pilot or Dick Tracy two-way wrist radio and therefore had no way of e-mailing my mussing over the wire. I suppose I might have searched out public libraries (most of which are equipped with computers) along the route, but I didn't.

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My intentions, I must tell you, were good when I left home that I would somehow find a way to write the occasional column and get it out to you by hook or by crook. But if, as the saying goes, the path to Hell is paved with good intentions, the interstates are too. And did I mention that I do not own a laptop computer? Anyhow, I promised I would share my observations with you, and so I shall.

But first I should give you the layout of the trip so that you can fully appreciate my observations within the context of the entire journey. We left very early in the morning of the first day and drove southeast across the state and into Arizona via US 10 reaching Benson, a small town just east of Tucson, to spend the night after first visiting "Old Tucson," the location of countless movie Westerns. The idea was to take the southern route all the way across to Baton Rogue, Louisiana, then up the Mississippi to Vicksburg, across to Savannah, Georgia, then up to Charleston, South Carolina, Colonial Williamsburg, then Philadelphia and New York. From New York we would make our way back west through Pennsylvania via the Lincoln Highway, then into Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, then Arizona, and, at some point, home.

With the exception of New Orleans, Walt Disney World, and Miami neither of us had seen much of the south so that became a large part of the trip. We also wanted to see a bit of the Midwest other than Chicago.

There were a few key cities that we knew we had to see and several historical places that we'd heard about all of our lives, but up until now had never gotten to visit. We thought that autumn would be a good time of year - not too hot, not too cold but definitely colorful. We knew we'd probably not make it back for Thanksgiving at home even with leaving a week before Halloween, but so be it. As it turned out, we had a real all American Thanksgiving dinner including eating our feast along with families of Indians, more on that later.

From time to time, during the trip, various themes became apparent to me. For example, as we traveled through the states I could see what was once culturally diverse areas of our country are fast becoming standardized and sterile. I made mental notes of these observations - I had to, since I took no paper and pencil, remember? Fortunately, each night I was able to scrawl a few of these observations down on those little tiny scratch pads that are put beside the telephone on the bed tables in the motels. And just as I promised you earlier in this column, I will share my observations with you. Unfortunately, I've run out of room to do so this week, so stay tuned.


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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.

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© 2001 Greg Crosby