First, before I forget, a special Fuck You to the Mississippi Trooper who pulled us over and interrogated us separately for no reason other than to harass us. Having us both get out of the car only to make me get back in when you realized I was six inches taller than you was especially amusing. The supremely lame life you are and will be leading until you die is your own self-inflicted and fitting punishment. And with that out of the way we're off!
Our first stop was Centralia [Wikipedia] [Map], Pennsylvania coal country where a mine fire below the town has been burning for 46 years. The populace was evacuated in 1984 and all but a few of the buildings have burned down (those that survived fell victim to arson) leaving behind a grid of suburban streets where trees are more than taking over. Supposedly when it's raining the ground steams. Here are some before and after pictures:
Here Sasha surveys the post-apocalyptic landscape:
Here I am doing my best impression of an asshole. In my defense I thought I had to look as butch as possible so we wouldn't get lynched for looking weird when we stopped to get directions. Then I turned out to be an obnoxious New Yorker when everyone we talked to ended up being completely civil:
That night we arrived in Asheville, NC at a certain punk house that has a 300+ year old tree outside with a swing. You might not appreciate this video now but watch it again in February and you'll feel just a tiny bit less depressed:
The house was also the home of a Carolina Dog, a primitive form of dog that accompanied the first humans crossing the Bering landbridge into North America from Asia. These dogs were a result of the domestication of southwest Asian wolves in the region of Iraq a few thousand years earlier. I have to add here that I recently read how the first Americans most likely came by sea (as opposed to by land as the way was blocked by a formidable glacier).
We also snuck in a little Lord of the Rings Risk:
Things get tense:
P. makes the classic mistake of panicking and putting on the one ring, inviting the wrath of the Nazgul:
On a side note, I didn't remember until it was too late that we could have visited places like Falling Water and Monticello if we had driven just a little bit more. That's when I decided to finally start keeping track of the places I want to or have previously visited on one map so I this would never happen again. Here it is (I've also put it in my sidebar):
On our next day driving we stop at Unclaimed Baggage in Alabama, a store that sells off all the unclaimed airline baggage in the country. I built it up to be a store that would have everything I ever wanted for almost free but it ended up being kind of a giant Goodwill instead. Check out some of the amazing things they've found though.
We arrive late night in New Orleans [AKA NOLA] where Lil' Waynia is in full effect. Every other song on the radio and the song blasting out of every other bar is Lil' Wayne and I did not mind at all.
Lil' Wayne - A Milli
[right-click to download]
After drinking cheap beer in the streets and getting harassed by Amazonian dancers we end up staying in an ancient hotel right off Bourbon St. that was probably all kinds of haunted but we were both too exhausted to notice.
The next day we cruise around the hardest hit neighborhoods of the city. I don't have any pictures because it was already fucked up enough driving by the remaining people sitting on their porches watching SUVs with North Dakota plates stopping to disgorge a bunch of obese white people taking photos. Instead I took a picture of this:
We arrive in Austin! Our first day there E. takes us to Hamilton Pool, a semi-covered grotto formed by thousands of years of erosion. A middle-aged couple who quickly informed us they were from Oklahoma and churchgoers started discussing the pools formation with us. When his wife turned to him to ask how old the pool was he figured it was a couple of hundred years old but definitely after the flood. I instinctively almost started telling my flood origins stories but suddenly realized what they were saying and quickly pretended I saw someone I knew and swam away.
I know it would be insanely toxic and bad but I would love to have some spray paint that could do this to concrete:
Later that night...
Did you know that in Spring and Summer Austin was home to the largest urban bat colony in North America with upwards of 1.5 million bats at its peak? No? Well this photo won't help convince you, it's all I could get:
Sasha and I cruise around some of Austin's extensive network of storm drains (note the person sleeping under the tent next to his tent):
H. demonstrates how to train a dog to understand sign language (Spoiler alert! Use beer):
LLast night in the Lone Star State. Sasha is a train junkie: