GOING WEST by Peter Nolan Smith

Several years ago week my young nephew left Boston to drive to California. A good friend was accompanying Franka on his cross-country trip. Knowing the highways of America from coast to coast,I called to offer advice on a route.

“We’re first driving to Pittsburgh to see my grandmother.” Zsa Zsa was in a nursing home there. Seeing his face would make her happy.

“Are you passing through St. Louis?” I wanted to tell him about the Cahokia Indian Mounds.

“No, we’re stopping to see Tina Nguyen’s cousins in Iowa City.”

“There’s a great dive bar there. The Deadwood.” I had drunk there with Rockford and Brock Dundee in May of 2009. “Plus down the river there’s a statue honoring the future birth of James T Kirk, captain of the Enterprise.”

“I’m not really a trekkie.”

“Okay, but the next day you’re hitting the Rockies. There’s a great motor lodge in Thompson Canyon and there’s nothing like driving over the mountains from there.”

“We already have a motel booked and We’re trying to hit LA in five days.” This was his friend’s summer vacation.

“So no Grand Canyon, Zion Canyon, or stopping for steaks in Fort Kearney.” Grandpa’s Steakhouse was almost worth a trip to Nebraska.

“No, but I’ll see them another time.”

“Okay.” I was let down by his lack of adventure and then recalled hitchhiking from Boston to San Francisco in two days in 1972. My friend Peter Gorr and I hadn’t stopped to see anything other than the scenery off the highway. “Have a good trip.”

“I will, Uncle Bubba.”

And I followed his voyage on Facebook.

Day 1: Milton, MA to Painesville, OH…also complete! Oops. Daily updates from now on.

Day 2: Painesville, OH to Iowa City, IA…complete!

Day 3: Iowa City, IA to Westminster, CO…complete! Number of states traversed on this journey: 10. Number of bugs consumed by the windshield: innumerable.

Day 4: Westminster, CO to Las Vegas, NV…complete! Now, for a nice, peaceful slumber–NOT.

Day 5: Las Vegas, NV to Los Angeles, CA…complete! Showtime. (Or HBO!)

I would have loved this trip.

It’s been almost twenty years since I last cross the country in Meg Grosswendt’s Studebaker.

We stopped everywhere, because the real pleasure is in the going.

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