If this is your first time stumbling upon my long-winded yet paradoxically short travel-logs here on Hell of a Thing – welcome by the way – I’m going to have to stop you and ask you to kindly refer to my previous posts (specifically number two as it directly relates to this one, so I’ll see you again in about five minutes).
I’m laying in a bed at a random roadside Super 8 in Ukiah, California. If there is any place to romanticize, any place at all, so far it’s the drive along the Californian coast, south to north and vice versa.
Like noted in post two, romanticization can be the downfall of any trip due to the ever-fluctuating state of being in areas along any route. Gentrified, impoverished, untouched by humans and so on. Don’t go into long drives with the thought of utopian towns and unwavering natural beauty, because that just isn’t the case. Chances are you’ll encounter some depressing spots, but enough of that, it has already been said.
So, go back about a week as we are driving into California for the first time. We were greeted with traffic, some barren views, and slightly warmer weather. The traffic was consistent as we were driving closer to Los Angeles, as expected, so the good feelings weren’t quite flowing at that point.
Further and further into California we drove. Laguna, Ventura, and all the way up the PCH to where I lay now in Ukiah and damn, time to romanticize. I know, total cop-out, out of all the places we’ve been to so far I pick California to hype up. But here’s why: California is years, light years really, ahead of the rest of us in terms of almost everything. Examples inbound, probably two for sake of brevity and attention span. This bed is comfortable.
Infrastructure: one eye opening thing about driving across country is getting to see the varied state of roads. I’ve never been more scared on a barely damp road than in New Mexico and Texas. Potholes the depth of Walmart children’s pools, ready to completely destroy your car, shrouded under the dark, lightless freeways. But California, my friends, has it going on. The most inconvenient thing about traveling throughout the state was sand on the road in Malibu, I kid you not. Dark roads are riddled with lane reflectors, potholes are few and far between, and everything is all around safe and accessible.
Environmental concerns and energy: I really don’t need to speak too much on this. It’s well known that the state is progressive in terms of conservation and finding new renewable energy sources. So I’ll keep it at that. But I’ll leave you with one incredible thing. Motels, like this Super 8 are just seen as a quick stop for the night beside a long stretch of highway. But this one, this jewel right here, runs completely off of beautiful, renewable wind energy. I wish I could un-obnoxiously put that entre last sentence in all caps, because that is incredible. With all of the negative rhetoric relating to global climate and environment that’s out there, and the inevitable amounts yet to come, we should follow the lead of California.
Clearly, like all places, the state has its issues and that’s natural. But I’d be damned if I’m not going to love on it a bit longer.
Here’s to you, Super 8.
Ian Cosgrove is currently on a month-long, cross-country road trip. Check back for more short reports along his travels.