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Food and Drink, STUNTS, United States

Days 3-4: Lady Luck Hitches a Ride

Loose_slots_80days
Illustration by Graham Roumieu

The idea that everything happens for some overarching grand reason has always struck me as a stupid way of looking at life. Philosophers call it teleology, Harlequin Romance novels call it destiny and I now believe in it, thanks to the great state of Nevada, where it's known as Lady Luck.

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Gear, Preparation, STUNTS, Video

The Gear

Editor's Note:  Before Mark set off on his trip around the world, he provided Conde Nast Traveler with a shopping list of items that he would need to stay blogging.  The list included: a MacBook Pro and an Internet card for connectivity, a digital camera, a Palm Treo 680, an 80-gig iPod (pre-loaded with Shakira*), and enough batteries and adaptors to power a small village.  We gladly obliged with the caveat that Mark blog as often as possible.  So far, so good.

Below, Mark offers a tour of his gear bag.

*We're kidding about Shakira. 

STUNTS, United States

Day 3: Where Kerouac lunched

80days_easthigh_1
East High School, Denver. Did Kerouac attend a civic luncheon here?

Here are a few things to keep in mind if you're ever struck with the notion of taking a detour from your relatively straight-line shot across the continent to visit Denver and hunt down the known haunts of Jack Kerouac. The first is that Denver is invariably larger than you expect. Yes, we all know it's a big city, with sports teams and industry and restaurants, etc. But the last thing you expect to see as you drive south from Wyoming, next to fields reeking of manure and mountains jutting in the distance is to suddenly find skyscrapers looming dead ahead. But when you get downtown and are driving in between said skyscrapers, you notice that the city still has a western feel. I can't say why that is, but if you happened to, say, see a horse tied up in front of a bank, it wouldn't seem all that out of place.

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Food and Drink, Gear, STUNTS, United States

Day 2: Endless Nebraska

Day 2: Endless Nebraska
Illustration by Graham Roumieu

We pulled out of Chicago yesterday morning a little later than we should  have. Rush hour was in full swing, which wasn't such a bad thing, because Chicago has to have one of the finest looking downtowns in America. The buildings are stately, yet beautiful, and it all seems to have been laid out coherently--not as haphazard as New York City.  In all, we saw a lot more of downtown Chicago than we should have because our trip computer, who had been reliable up until this point, got pretty confused. She had us driving in circles, turning right down one way streets, and told us to pull onto highway on-ramps that were a hundred feet above our head.

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Gear, STUNTS, United States

Day 2: Thoughts of John Wayne in Iowa

I am writing from I-80, just west of Des Moines, Iowa. Half an hour back, the traffic was all stopped on the eastbound side, and there was a guy in jeans trying to coral a big pig off the paved shoulder, but the pig seemed to like it just fine where he was. About 300 yards further down the road, we passed a school bus filled with convicts.  The theme of the day, it would seem, is forcible confinement.

I am sending this to you thanks to a miracle of technology known as the Novatel Merlin XU870 ExpressCard. I popped it in my MacBook Pro expecting there to be some long and drawn out installation process that would result, two hours later, in a drained  battery and a guy on the phone from Bangladesh telling me I had a hardware problem. Instead, it just started working. I am reading the latest wire headlines--a real shame about that verdict, Scooter--while following a Pegler Sysco semi.

We just passed Desoto, Iowa, birthplace of John Wayne. My mother can't stand John Wayne Movies, though I've never seen one all the way through. If it came down to a gunfight, though, I'm pretty sure Clint Eastwood could take him.

STUNTS, United States

Day 1: Brooklyn to Chicago

Cartman_80days3_1
Illustration by Graham Roumieu

I first met Graham not long before he and his wife split up. Graham is an illustrator and he's coming with join me on the trip across America, partly because, like me, he wants to gauge the state of the American soul, but also because Graham is one of those people who really likes road trips.

Graham grew up in a place called Smithers, British Columbia, which is about 300 miles south of the Alaska border. That may explain why Graham has written not one, but two books about Bigfoot although in my opinion, the best picture he's ever drawn is of smurfs.

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About the journey, STUNTS, United States

Day 1: My 80 day journey has begun

Red Hook, Brooklyn

This extremely beautiful stretch of asphalt is the pier at Red Hook, Brooklyn. Actually, it's the parking lot. I tried to get to the pier, but the security guard would hear nothing of it, for reasons that remain unclear. If all goes according to plan, I will be stepping onto said pier exactly 80 days from now. Soon after that, I will reach the parking lot. But I have many miles to go before any of that happens.

Today I start the first leg of my journey around the world. My objective: Los Angeles. I must be there by Sunday, when I am scheduled to voyage across the planet's largest ocean on a big, beautiful ship. All that lies between myself and the pier at Long Beach is 2500 miles, the Rocky Mountains, and a whole lot of highway. If it snows, I got problems.

Continue reading "Day 1: My 80 day journey has begun" »


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