Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

On the Road tradition

I think I finished packing last night, but I still have to go buy some more stuff, like sunscreen. I can go from white to red in 15 minutes at dusk. I need the SPF-1000 stuff.

I started reading _On the Road_ last night, a regular tradition before I take a big trip somewhere. (_Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance_ is also a favorite) I read OTR when I went to San Francisco last year, and it was great to read about places and then see them myself. I read all about North Beach while I was on the plane, and then when I was wandering around town, I saw all of the same landmarks. Someday, I’d like to read the book and write down all of the exact roadtrips that Sal took and then take the same voyages. I’m sure someone with more spare time than me has done the same thing already, and a lot of the roads don’t exist anymore, but it’d still be fun.

I don’t know though – I drove almost across the country, and it sucked at the time. It’s fun to look back at everything I saw, but it was a really mind-numbing experience. I listened to every tape I owned like 10 times and had to stop in Minnesota or Montana or somewhere at this sad, prefabricated shopping mall in the middle of rural nowhere to buy some more tapes. I was so bored of even the same TYPES of music that I was listening to that I bought Billy Joel, Green Day, and big band tapes, just to keep me awake. And, as Chris Rock observed, malls in the most backward places of the country are the same as the ones everywhere else: Radio Shack, Sunglasses Hut, Chick-Filet, Orange Julius, and Payless Shoes. Anyway, aside from the boredom, I drove across the country on I-90, which is a fairly major road from East to West. Most of OTR took place on tiny, two-strip roads with lots of stoplights and small towns to pass through. This was before all of the highway bills of the 50s. If you’re a Seattle native, try driving on 99 from downtown Seattle to downtown Tacoma – that’s pretty much what Sal Paradise’s life was like for most of his travels.