Monday, March 31, 2008

2003 Road Trip Diary: Chapter 4

I got back on the road after my stroll through Salida. Within 15 minutes I had to floor it to simply maintain my speed as I climbed up to Monarch Pass and the Continental Divide. Monarch pass sits at 11,500 feet – the highest I’ve ever been outside of an airplane – and was covered with snow even in mid April. I was feeling pretty good by the time I reached the top, though I wasn’t sure if it was due to the stunning views or the lack of oxygen. Not having a proper traveling companion, I took a picture of my car next to a snow bank.

From Monarch it was straight down for miles, bottoming out at 5,500 feet in the town of Gunnison. I stopped for gas there and assessed my options. I had originally planned to continue along US-50 until I hit Grand Junction and I-70, but Route 92 – the West Elk Scenic Bypass – looked much more promising, both in name and shape. For one thing, it would bring me much closer to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison which, though I didn’t want to go to the national park itself, I wanted to see. More importantly, the road looked like fun. The little red line on my map promised switchbacks and steep climbs and all manner of wonderfulness. It was a pretty easy decision.

My detour didn’t disappoint. A Honda Accord is no sports car, but it handled well enough to whip around curves and provided enough power to barrel down the rare straightaways. I stopped several times to catch awe-inspiring views of the Gunnison River and throw rocks over the sides of cliffs. After an hour or so, the land started to flatten out a bit, the vertigo-inducing drop-offs giving way to ranches and farms. I had gone about 75 miles by the time the road finally connected back into US-50 at Delta. By the end of that 75 miles I was prepared to swear off main roads forever.

I caught up with I-70 again in Grand Junction. There I spotted a billboard that read “Stop Terrorism: Get the U.S. out of the U.N.,” paid for by the surprisingly still-existing John Birch Society. I wondered if they were still after the Communists or if they’d found someone else to worry about.

I crossed into Utah headed for Moab, and was presented with another decision about what route to take. MapQuest would have you take I-70 to US-191, which tracks back to the southeast and down to Moab. State route 128, on the other hand, extends southwest from the interstate several miles before the US-191 turnoff, eventually meets up with the Colorado river and leads down into the canyon country surrounding Moab and beyond. I hadn’t really done much research on the area prior to leaving home, and for a minute I wondered if there wasn’t a good reason to avoid 128. Unable to think of one, I took the smaller, more winding road.

It was a good decision, as 128 is a gem. It starts out less than promising, passing through the “town” of Cisco which is nothing but a rusting, long-since-closed Texaco station and a couple of abandoned mobile homes. Things soon improved dramatically. After ten miles of flat, open range land, the road met up with the Colorado, which has turned this country into a mini-Grand Canyon. Unlike the real McCoy, however, you can pull your car over here, walk to the river bank, and cool your feet in the water while standing in the shadows of the canyon walls. The day had grown hot – wasn’t I just in the snow a few hours before? – so I stopped and swam for a few minutes. Not the smartest thing I’d ever done – the water was freezing – but it was certainly refreshing.

As I approached Moab, I noticed several trucks pulling tricked-out Jeeps on trailers. Once in town, a sign informed me that I had arrived on the eve of a United Rockcrawling & Off-Road Challenge event, or UROC, which is all about Jeep enthusiasts taking 4x4s over rock trails with names such as Hell's Revenge and Poison Spider Mesa, all while doing their best to keep it upright. It wouldn’t begin in earnest until Friday, and when I got to town most of the drivers were cruising around, admiring each other’s Jeeps in parking lots, and drinking beer.

My thoughts immediately went to Raoul Duke arriving in Las Vegas to cover the Fabulous Mint 400 when, by cosmic coincidence, I passed by a hotel called the Gonzo Inn, complete with Ralph Steadman-inspired design flourishes and sign fonts. Well, I thought, if the Jeepers were gathering in Moab, I felt the Honda culture should be represented as well. Me and a thousand off-roaders from all over America. Why not? Move confidently into their midst.

After checking into the Gonzo Inn – a single, unfortunately; they wanted too much for the Gonzo Suite – I looked for somewhere I could eat, drink, and maybe talk to someone. The Moab Brewery (actual, inspiring motto: Moab’s Only Microbrewery!”) looked to be as good a place as any. I sat at the bar and gulped down two pints of Scorpion Ale which, while no great shakes, was better than a kick in the balls. It made me nice and happy and chatty, though, and I was soon engaged in conversation with a woman named Susan, who was also drinking and dining alone.

Susan was in her mid 40s, though I only figured that out after talking to her for a while and picking up clues. She had that healthy and relaxed look that everyone seems to have out west, and if I didn’t know that she had been in college in the 70s, I would have guessed that she was ten years younger than she really was. I also learned that Susan was once a lawyer like me, but got out of the business five years before when she concluded that she could never be happy in a job where she couldn’t trust her clients, the lawyers across the table from her and, sometimes, even the ones down the hall. After bagging the legal career she opened a restaurant. The restaurant flopped after a year, so she moved to Moab and now she just “enjoys the sun.” Not bad work if you can get it.

When I told her I was a lawyer on the lam she pressed me: did I hate it? If not, why did I quit? If so, why was I going back to another law firm when my trip was over? Since I liked what I had seen of the west so far, why didn’t I just come out here and stay for a while? It was a pretty good cross examination coming from a woman who claimed to have given up the legal business. When she saw that I was going to play it close to the vest rather than pour my heart out about my career misgivings, she offered that I should quit the law now before it burned me out completely. Easy for somebody who makes ends meet by “enjoying the sun” to say. Not that she was wrong.

Dispensing with the shop talk, Susan and I agreed that we hated the Jeepers in town for the UROC thing. They were loud. They were dangerous. They were dirty. And that was just the guys in the restaurant. We couldn’t imagine what they’d be like once they hit the trails that weekend.

Noticing my little guidebook was open to the section on Arches National Park, she offered to take me out for a guided hike on Saturday if I was still going to be in town (she had plans the next couple of days). I told her I’d be gone by then, but thanked her for the offer. By the time we got to the subject of the painfully low alcohol content of Utah beer, we had been talking and drinking for close to two hours. If we had been in a different state we may have even been buzzed by then.

Her boyfriend (do people in their mid-40s have “boyfriends?”) showed up a few minutes later. He paused for a second, processed the scene of his, um, girlfriend chatting up a strange young man at a bar, quickly ascertained that I was no threat, and sat down. The three of us talked for a few more minutes, during which I gathered that the sun-enjoying business must pay pretty well, because boyfriend spent his days riding his mountain bike or reading books while living with girlfriend. Again, nice work if you can get it. Feeling like a third wheel after a while, I paid my check, said my goodbyes, and headed back to the car.

I decided to take a short driving tour of Moab’s main drag. While stopped at a red light, a woman dressed like a Hooters waitress gave me a UROC flag to fly from my car, and told me that if I was spotted by UROC officials the next day, I could win a prize. At least I think that’s what she told me, as it was hard to hear over the Jeep engines. I made it back to my hotel room and got to sleep before 11. It had been an enjoyable day, but I was tired from the road and the fresh air. Besides, I wanted to wake up early the next morning so I could see sunrise in Arches National Park.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

2003 Road Trip Diary: Chapter 3

After lunch at the Keg, I walked around Manitou Springs for a bit trying to figure out what to do. Pike's Peak wasn't an option. Because it was off-season, the cog railway was on a limited schedule and the last train of the day had already left. The highway to the top was closed due to a recent snow. Kind of early in the year to go to the top of a 14,000 mountain, I suppose. So I walked around Manitou for a bit, checking out the gift shops, historical markers, and a pretty nifty penny arcade. One of the markers noted that the springs which gave Manitou its name used to be a destination for people suffering from tuberculosis. At some point in history the health-calculus must have changed, because the only other people in the penny arcade were a couple of chain smokers in their 50s, both of whom were hacking up a storm.

I walked back outside after playing some pinball and a game that sorta-kinda-not really looked like pachinko. I didn't plan on driving into the mountains until the next morning, so I looked for something to do to kill time. Across the highway from Manitou is a park called Garden of the Gods, notable for its sandstone formations. It's pretty enough, but after an hour or so of hiking I was losing interest. With condos and houses visible from most of the trails, the place feels vaguely like a theme park or a particularly gnarly golf course as opposed to The Great Outdoors.

Storm clouds were hopping over the mountain peaks and the sky was growing dark as I returned to my car. The plan was to head west on US-50 first thing the next morning, so I got on the interstate and headed down to Pueblo to find a place to stay for the night. Feeling good from the short hike and wanting more exercise, I checked into a motel with an indoor pool and weight room. Stretching out muscles that had gone mostly unused for 1200 miles felt wonderful. As I swam, the storm outside really began to pick up, with sustained winds of about 40 miles an hour rattling the windows and sending tumble weeds across the parking lots. Feeling refreshed, I decided to check out Pueblo. I didn’t suspect that there was much to actually see there, but I was curious about the place because as my parents almost moved there about fifteen years ago.

My dad worked for the National Weather Service which, for most of his career, was comprised of hundreds of far-flung field offices located in places that, while important at the dawn of aviation, tended to be out of the way now. In Dad's day, the best way to get promotions was to transfer from office to office, filling desperately-needed slots and convincing enough people that you were management material. As a result, Mom and Dad moved around a lot over the years. By the time I was born, they had been to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, McGrath and St. Paul Island, Alaska, and Flint, Michigan. A promotion to management moved us from Flint to Parkersburg, West Virginia in 1985. In 1988 we moved down to Beckley, West Virginia which, for subjective reasons, is the place I consider my hometown.

I was out of the house for good by the time they moved again in 1994, this time to Nashville. They ended up moving a final time – back to Flint – in 1998. Each time they moved, the ultimate destination was only one of two or three jobs Dad had put in for. Parkersburg could just as easily have been Flagstaff, Arizona. Beckley could have been Spartanburg, South Carolina. Nashville was almost Pueblo.

Downtown was practically deserted due to the bad weather, but I found a cozy little bar where I had a couple of beers and talked to the bartender. He confirmed my initial assessment of Pueblo: on the rise after years of empty storefronts, but likely to never rise as high as the city fathers hoped it would. There was a nice new Marriott hotel/conference center and a couple of decent restaurants, but Pueblo will never be a commercial juggernaut. That said, Pueblo’s title of “the asshole of Colorado” – as stated in Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation anyway – is clearly unwarranted. From what I saw of it, it’s a relatively well-kempt little town with more well-maintained older buildings than I had expected. I’ve certainly lived in worse places, and I bet my parents would have liked living there more than they liked Nashville.

I woke up at 5:30 the next morning without the aid of an alarm. I looked out the window and saw that the storms had passed, revealing a cloudless sky. It was a chilly morning, but the temperature was on its way up to the mid 60s. I was itching to get into the Rockies.

My first stop was Cañon City, just west of Pueblo on US-50. Cañon City's claim to fame are the fourteen prison facilities in the area, including the infamous ADX Florence, the "supermax" prison with the nickname "Alcatraz of the Rockies." You can't exactly visit there, but you can visit the nearby Museum of Colorado Prisons. More appealing was Skyline Drive, which is a three-mile, single-lane loop high above town affording some nice views of the surrounding mountains. I drove the loop, breathed some fresh air, and took several pictures.

Next was Royal Gorge Bridge, suspended a thousand feet over the Arkansas River. Royal Gorge is surrounded by kitschy tourist traps, go kart tracks, and “authentic” wild west towns. Thankfully, most of the attractions were closed until May, and those that were in operation didn’t open until at least 10 A.M. It was 8:30 when I got to the bridge itself, and there was nobody there except me. The bridge was open to both cars and walkers. After paying my entrance fee to the ranger at the gate, I decided to ditch the car and walk across.

I was about halfway across when the planks began to bounce. I stepped to the side and looked back, seeing the ranger in his little van heading my way. He passed me, gave me a polite wave, made it to the opposite end of the bridge, turned around, and drove back. He was obviously checking on me, and I couldn’t help but wonder if he thought I was a potential suicide. I had arrived alone and left my car behind, which I suppose fits the jumper profile. Or maybe he saw my backpack and thought I was a BASE jumper. I’m neither suicidal nor an extreme athlete (assuming there’s a difference between the two), but I had to admit that Royal Gorge would be a great place to either cheat or embrace death.

After the gorge, I made the stunning 47-mile drive to Salida. Unlike roads back east which often stray miles from the rivers and trails they once followed, US-50 hangs onto the Arkansas River for dear life. I stopped several times along the way to take pictures, watch fly fisherman, and feel the cold, cold water of the Arkansas.

Salida is a cute town perched about 7,200 feet up in the mountains. Though its pool halls and saloons evoke a rough and tumble past, the newish-looking cafés and mountain bike shops give off a touristy vibe. As of 2003 the bourgeoisie hadn't totally taken over yet, but it seemed like a couple more B&Bs would officially turn the tide. I stopped in the Cornucopia Café for some lunch, and while ordering my sandwich, I was faced with a decision I had never had to make before when I was asked if I wanted fruit or yogurt on the side. Having been in the Midwest so long, it took me a few seconds to come to grips with the fact that chips or fries were not an option. Now would probably be a good time to mention that people out west tend to be in better shape than people back east.

After lunch I walked around for an hour, enjoying the peacefulness of the quiet town and admiring the mountain views. I saw a "for rent" sign in the window of an apartment above the Victoria Bar. I stopped and looked at it, imagining myself inside with nothing but a warm bed, a shelf full of books, a thick sweater, and a cozy leather chair. I stopped daydreaming after a few moments and the image faded away. I was struck by the notion, however, that Salida would be an excellent place to go if I ever wanted to simply disappear for a while.

I still think that from time to time.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

2003 Road Trip Diary: Chapter 2

Kansas gets a bum rap. Everyone I talked to before the trip warned me that it would go on forever and bore me to tears. Applesauce. The night before I had hit Topeka just as the sun was going down, and watched the shadows dance across rolling grassland. Central Kansas was no less enchanting, with the morning sun burning the fog off of the meandering hills, revealing a unique and surprising beauty. Kansas may not appeal to most people the way oceans or mountains do, but anyone who dismisses it out-of-hand possesses an unreasonably narrow definition of scenery.

Not that I planned on spending any time there. In fact I hauled it across Kansas, keeping the cruise control at a steady 90-95. The only hitch was a 15-minute conversation at a rest area with a fella by the name of Bob Rhodes from Roanoke, Virginia. Bob was about 70, with thinning gray hair, faded and watery blue eyes, and what seemed like a desperate need to talk to someone. He hailed me as I was leaving the restroom, using our eastern license plates as an icebreaker. Sensing that he was lonely, I figured that it wouldn’t hurt to talk for a bit.

Bob was on his way to Fort Collins, Colorado, where his granddaughter was to be married the day before Easter. Bob's wife had passed away three years ago, though judging by the way he looked as he mentioned this it may as well have been yesterday. Bob’s son wanted him to come live with him in Fort Collins, but he said he just couldn’t get his mind around the idea of leaving the home he shared with his wife for nearly half a century. According to him, he was just going to stay with his son’s family for a month or so after the wedding to see how it felt. I looked over at his van as he told me this and saw that it was loaded to the gills. As I said goodbye, I was certain that Bob Rhodes was never going back to his home in Virginia again.

Back on the road, I saw an ambulance pass by me going east, but thought nothing of it. A few miles later I passed a horrific accident scene where I-70 and US 40 diverge just east of the Colorado border. A semi had plowed violently into the median and came to rest on its side, the tractor mangled. Judging by the skid marks I guessed that the driver fell asleep and drifted off the right side of the road, woke up, jammed on the breaks, and over-corrected to the left. By the looks of the tractor, the sheer number of police cars at the scene, and the fact that that ambulance I had seen, while flashing its lights, didn't seem to be in much of a hurry, suggested to me that the accident was fatal. Between Bob Rhodes and that scene I never felt more mortal in my life.

I got off of I-70 for good in Limon, Colorado, stopped for gas, and called my legal recruiter who had left me a couple of messages when I was out of cell phone range. Mary was the disembodied voice that put me together with my new firm when I finally decided to leave back in March. She also stood to claim her five figure fee the day I started work at the new place, so she was understandably worried when she tried to call me at my old firm the day before and was told that I had already left and was, to the best of their knowledge, somewhere in the Rocky Mountains by then. I had forgotten to tell Mary that I had decided to change my planned 30-day notice to a two weeks notice. Fact was, I had been slacking off so much in recent months that I didn't even really have two weeks' worth of work to wrap up.

I chatted with Mary long enough to assure her that I hadn’t flipped out and that I had every intention of returning to start my new job in a month. I also made it clear that the legal profession was thousands of miles away for me at that moment, both literally and figuratively, and that in no way was I prepared to talk about the new job yet. The call was nothing but cordial, but even a business communication as superficial as that one unsettled me, so much so that I had to sit on the hood of my car in the gas station parking lot for a few minutes to gather my thoughts. Thoughts gathered, I eased onto US-24 towards Colorado Springs.

Eastern Colorado looks a lot like Kansas until you’re about 15 miles west of Limon. There, just after you top an innocent looking hill, you’re greeted with a sprawling valley, beyond which you can just make out the Rockies. I was behind a Cadillac -- also with Ohio plates -- when I saw those mountains for the first time. Typical Midwesterners, the Caddy and I pulled over simultaneously, cameras in hand.

I made it to Colorado Springs just less than an hour later and cut across town to Manitou Springs, the little historic/tourist district at the base of Pike’s Peak. After a brief drive down the main drag I stopped into a friendly little bar called The Keg for lunch and a couple of beers. I wrote in my journal and watched people as I ate my lunch. As the beer took hold, the people-watching started to win out over the writing.

Most of the Keg’s customers seemed like regulars, which makes sense considering it was a Tuesday afternoon before the tourist season. The star of the show was the waitress. Built like a linebacker, but as bubbly as a cheerleader, Beth efficiently served beer and burgers while telling her regulars dirty jokes she had heard the night before. She soon came over to me.

"Did you hear that one?” she asked, her tone somewhat guarded, as she tried to get a sense of whether or not I was a prude.

“No,” I and my two pints of beer said, “but it sounds like I wanna.”

“Okay, then. How do you make a woman scream twice?”

“I dunno.”

“First you fuck her, then you wipe your dick on the curtains.”

I guess that would do it.

2003 Road Trip Diary: Chapter 1

The first two days of my trip were a mad dash designed to put as much of the Midwest behind me as possible. On day one I woke up at 5:45 A.M., showered, and hit the road before 6:30.

Adrenaline and a driving soundtrack made it difficult to keep the car under 85 between Columbus and Indianapolis. Each barrier crossed – city limits, county line, state line – compelled me to drive faster and get farther away from home. By the time I crossed into the Central Time Zone I felt like I was flying. Indiana and Illinois are functionally no different than Ohio, so I stopped only for gas and bathroom breaks as I crossed them. My first real stop came in St. Louis around lunchtime.

The Gateway Arch is impressive, but I took an even greater interest in the graffiti people had scratched into the steel at its base. Ricky must truly love Amber. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t have defaced a national monument to tell her so. After the Arch, I parked near Busch Stadium (the old one) to look at the statues of Cardinal ballplayers which surrounded it. My favorites were Ozzie Smith, fully laid-out to catch a line drive and Bob Gibson wheeling around with intense inertia. No graffiti here. If Ricky so much as thought of scratching up Gibson’s statue old Hoot would have hunted him down and planted a fastball in his ear.

Across from the stadium sat the St. Louis Cardinals/National Bowling Hall of Fame. Yes, in the same building,* which was an odd combination to be sure. The baseball stuff was what you would expect: McGwire’s jersey, Musial’s bat, and countless assorted pieces of Cardinals memorabilia. The bowling stuff was vexing. Was it meant to be tongue-in-cheek? Could a wax dummy of Henry VIII lawn bowling with his courtiers be anything but? The actual section honoring the enshrined bowlers was tasteful enough. I suppose it would have to be seeing as though Dick Weber’s grandkids may come in to see his plaque one day.

*They're apparently no longer in the same building. A shame, really.

The rest of St. Louis was depressing. It was a decaying city which seemed vibrant only in comparison to the wastelands on the opposite bank of the Mississippi. Casinos cluttered the west end of town along the Missouri River, conveniently located near the freeway so as to more efficiently drain the good people of St. Louis of money better spent elsewhere. The gaming commission no doubt anticipated my disapproval, having erected several signs along the highway stating how many millions of gambling dollars were diverted to schools, road construction, and social services. I don’t doubt the truth of such claims, but the signs’ very existence seems evidence of a guilty conscience.

The 250 miles between St. Louis and Kansas City were dreary, hot and dirty as the result of a strong and steady southerly wind. The soda I bought to keep me from falling asleep was the highlight of I-70 across Missouri, though things brightened up considerably once I hit Kansas City.

In keeping with the day’s baseball theme, I stopped at Kaufman Stadium, where I hoped to get a picture of the big Royals sign out in centerfield, which I assumed faced a parking lot. If the Royals were in town I would have certainly stopped there for the night to take in a game, but alas, they were back in Ohio playing the Indians. When I stopped at the stadium, however, I was surprised to see the water dancing in the famous outfield fountains and the P.A. system announcing a game. Curious, I made my way to the main gate to see what was going on.

It turns out that the Royals open the joint to high school teams when they’re on the road, and a game was in progress. Admission was free and the place mostly empty, so I found a seat behind home plate and took in an exciting couple of innings. The excitement stemmed from all of the triples hit as a result of the players’ apparent unfamiliarity with the major league dimensions. Can’t guard those lines too closely, boys. The power alleys are deep. I’d like to think that some lazy scout read the game’s box score the next day and simply figured that they grew ‘em fast out in Kansas City. With any luck, one of the kids I saw became an undeserved bonus baby because of it.

After Kaufman, I drove to the old jazz district around 18th and Vine, which is the heart of black Kansas City. Or was. I’m not really sure, because there weren’t a lot of people hanging around. The area was obviously nearing the tail-end of a careful rehabilitation, with shimmering club marquees and spotless sidewalks welcoming me into a neighborhood that, truth be told, I had hoped would be a bit grittier. I mean, it was hard enough for a white boy like me to imagine what this place looked when Charlie Parker was coming up, and I strongly suspected that Bird himself wouldn’t have recognized it, what with it being so clean and all.

If cleanliness was a problem, I solved it by popping into Arthur Bryant’s on Brooklyn Avenue for what turned out to be the best – and messiest -- pork sandwich I’d ever had. Even better, the abnormally hot weather turned Arthur Bryant’s into a cliché wonderland. There was a hot wind slamming the joint’s wooden screen door shut every time someone new came in. A chubby preacher alternating between gnawing on his ribs and dabbing the sweat off of his forehead with a handkerchief. A cook in the back actually exclaiming that it was “as hot as tar outside.” It was beautiful. I felt like a new man when I left Bryant’s.

I had originally planned on stopping in Kansas City for the night, but with a belly full of barbeque and a couple hours of sunlight left, there was no way I wasn’t going to keep going a little further. I crossed the state line, listening to the Royals put a 12-4 smackdown on the Tribe as the sun set over the rolling grasslands of eastern Kansas. I stopped 180 miles later in Salina, happy to be sleeping someplace I’d never been before.

*Inasmuch as the point of this isn't to show you my photo album, as this travelogue progresses, some of the pictures will be the ones I took myself, but many others will be better or more appropriate ones snagged off the web. If you really want to see my photo album, you can check it out here. If you're wondering whether a given picture is mine or not, simply ask in the comments and I'll tell you.

2003 Road Trip Diary: Introduction

On April 11, 2003 I quit a job for the second time in less than three years. The reasons why I couldn’t seem to stay satisfied working at a law firm were several, simultaneously complex and banal, and probably not even understood by me at the time. All I knew was that I was no longer happy or productive where I was, a change was needed, and I had a month until law firm number three expected to see me. In such circumstances, a road trip is a moral imperative.
I was leaving early on Monday morning, April 14th. The plan was vaguely laid out – St. Louis; Kansas City; The Rockies; Arches National Park; Route 50 through Nevada; the back side of the Sierras and Death Valley; Las Vegas; and on to my friend Todd’s place in Los Angeles. My wife Carleen would fly out to join me when I got to L.A., and for a week and a day things would more or less resemble a proper vacation. The two of us would spend a few days in Los Angeles, drive up the Pacific Coast Highway doing the scenery and B&B thing, and then we’d spend four days in the Bay Area. She’d fly home from there, at which point I’d decide the best way to go home over the next couple of weeks.

I suppose a road trip should be more spontaneous than all of that, but I don’t apologize for such meticulous planning. Indeed, obsessing on the details of my trip may have been what saved me during those rather dreadful days of early-2003 as I was getting up my nerve to quit the job (before I was inevitably pushed). Between Carleen’s recent health scare (optic neuritis and its implied threat of Multiple Sclerosis which, thankfully, didn’t come to pass) and my ongoing crash-and- burn at the latest law firm, I felt lost that winter and early spring. The road on which I had been traveling washed away. If fate was intent on knocking me off course, I’d be damned if I didn't have a map of the detour.

So that’s how it all stacked up as I woke up before dawn and got behind the wheel of my Honda Accord (a/k/a The Silver Fox). I had a month of time, and, for the first time in my adult life, nothing to really occupy it save the conviction that if I didn’t get on the road I would lose my friggin’ mind.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

About Craig

Craig Calcaterra writes the HardballTalk blog at NBC

From March 2007 until December 2009, Craig wrote ShysterBall, a baseball blog of moderate renown.

From August 1998 until December 2009, Craig practiced law, first at some largish law firms and then at a moderately-sized Midwestern state government. He's a recovering litigator, taking it one day at a time.

Craig lives with his two children in a fortified compound on the outskirts of Columbus, Ohio.

If you'd like to contact him, by all means, drop him a line.