Monthly Archives: October 2013
by Krista Schwimmer
We left New York State at 8:00 am on November 10th, driving a southern route with the hopes of catching the best weather. As we drove, we watched out for wildlife. There were largely deer. We decided to stop at Fish Eddy’s, off Route 17. We took one glance, felt it was an inbreed crowd, and got right back on the road.
Our first campsite was a bit before Roanoke, Virginia. It cost $23 for the night. We slept well, though, only a bit cold because we left the fly to our tent door open.
Morning brought a wonderful surprise. I was standing by our Sidekick, getting my toiletries out, when Michael called, “Quick, Krista! Look over here!” I was half expecting a friendly crow that we had heard earlier. I walked around to the front of the car. There was a little, black bunny. Tame as can be, sitting right at Michael’s feet. The only food I had was a granola bar. I held it out to the black bunny who eagerly grabbed it, almost toppling over because of the weight of the bar. I laughed, broke the bar up for the bunny, and stroked him while he ate. There were many more bunnies in the surrounding field; but he was the only one brave enough to beg.
In the Medicine Cards, Jamie Sams talks about how rabbit was once a brave warrior, but became paranoid by his fears. At the time, I thought, I do have fears about our journey across country. I was afraid of lack of sleep, running out of money, and oddly, getting pregnant. I was still on the fence about having children. After feeding the black bunny, however, I decided these were not such large fears. The journey would go well.
Our goal on this day was to get to Memphis, Tennessee, roughly a 500 mile drive from Bristol, where we were. We needed some supplies, but was not sure where to turn off. Right before Salem, Virginia, I noticed a black cat running into a wooded area. Then, we saw a cloud formation in the shape of a crow. We decided these were good omens, and got off in Salem. There, we found a local Walmart where we purchased the supplies we needed: fuel for our stove, cheap towels and washclothes, batteries, and some groceries.
We continued south, noticing that the price of gas was going down a bit, to $1.03/gallon. We listened a lot to talk radio, as that was about all that we could get as we traveled. That day, we heard that Louise Woodward, the young English au pair found guilty of second degree murder of her 8 month charge, Matthew Eappen, had her life in prison sentence overturned by appeal. Due to insufficient evidence of malice, the Judge sentenced her to involuntary manslaughter with time served. She was free.
10:30 pm that night, we stayed out another KOA campsite, right off the interstate. With our 15% coupon, we paid only $14. What we got, however, was: a gravely place to tent and the sound of the “Indianpolis 500” as trucks sped by through the night. Right before I went to sleep, I imagined a bubble around us to block the noise. Then, I told myself I could sleep. Amazingly, it worked.
On the third day of the journey, I was already exclaiming how traveling was highly overrated — at least the way we were doing it. We left Tennessee that morning, and moved into Arkansas, Clinton’s state. The road was terrible. You’d think with the President from this state, they would upgrade the Interstate roads.
Traveling on this stretch of the Interstate was flat and boring. We listened to Howard Stern to keep us from going insane. After Dr. Laura and her fundamental moralism, Stern was a much welcomed voice.
We camped that night at Red Rock Canyon State Park in Oklahoma. At that time, it only cost $6/night to tent in any Oklahoma state park. We loved Oklahoma! We wanted to stay longer, but realized we did not have the money.
There were few people at Red Rock Canyon state park. We tented in a soft, green, luxurious field. In the morning, we found a nearby shower stall, too. We decided to take turns showering, so one of us could stay with the belongings.
There was just one shower stall in the back: a long, rectangular shape with a button you pushed to start the shower. The shower was low. I had to bend my legs just to wet my hair.
As I showered, my mind was flooded with creepy, violent images. Once, I even pulled open the curtain to make sure I wasn’t being watched. I chalked my experience up to a mild form of paronia. When Michael came out next from the shower, we discovered we both felt the same thing. He thought it could be because the park was situated in a canyon area. Perhaps, there had been a massacre where the stalls were. Later, I learned that it was indeed, a favorite winter camp for the Plains Indians, as well as part of the famous California trail, which emmigrants used to come to California.
We left Oklahoma, driving once more on the bumpy, I-40. It was the fourth day without sun. Still, we managed to have a great, cheap breakfast along the way: 5 bean burrito, and a soft taco for $5.01.
We drove for some hours with little entertainment. As we got into Texas, however, we noticed a huge, white cross, visible from Interstate-40. A sign said: “Groom: Home of the Cross of the Plains. Exit Now.” This stark cross is the largest in the United States, or was then, standing 190 feet high. In spite of its record height, we decided to barrel past it. After all, we were tarot card readers, not the favorites of some Christian folks.
We still had a lot of distance to travel: New Mexico and Arizona, our destination for that day. We were losing another hour, too, that day, at the New Mexico border. When we reached Flagstaff, however, a snowstorm was just starting. We did not have the right camping equipment for such weather. So, Michael made the decision to keep driving. On top of it all, it was a full moon. We ended up driving 27 hours straight, with just a brief rest at a rest stop. I’m no good without sleep. Never have been. We fought terribly over absurdities and impossibilities. The storm passed. For the first time since we began our cross country journey, the sun came out. We were now ready to cross the Mohave Dessert. We decided to drive northwest to another campsite called Red Rock Canyon State Park. We liked the synchronicity of it. The universe, however, had other plans for us. Because of a wrong turn on Route 66, we came across a slew of cheap motels. After our long night’s drive, we really wanted a proper bed. On top of it all, we both wanted to watch one of our favorite shows at the time, “Millenium”. In fact, I loved the character of Frank Black, played by Lance Henricksen, so much that I wished outloud that I could do a tarot reading for him someday.
We decided to see if we could get a room for $20. After a bit of negotiating, we found one for $22. We decided to splurge, feeling like the $34 left would get us to my mother’s house in Sonoma. The motel was very plain. My only complaint was the water was luke warm. Otherwise, it felt luxurious.
The episode of “Millenium” was so intriguing to me at the time, that I wrote it down. It was titled, “The Hand of Saint Sebastian.” Peter Watts, Frank Black’s boss, was searching for the origins of the Millenium group, contrary to what the group wanted him to do. The episode opened with a scene from 900 A.D. in Italy. Two monks were talking in the woods. They were in danger of being persecuted. They were part of a group called the Knights Chronicler. Their tatoos were the same as the Millenium emblem. This group had in its possession the hand of St. Sebastian, a hand believed in current times to hold the knowledge that would prevent the prophesies of the Millenium from coming about. Peter tells this legend later to Frank, who he enlists to help him without first telling him what he is up to.
The episode ends dramatically with Peter and Frank discovering the body of St. Sebastian in a peat bog where he has been naturally preserved. His body is covered with tatoos, one being a serpent curled in the shape of a spiral. When Peter asks Frank if he thinks the knowledge is contained on the body of the saint, Frank replies that the knowledge was contained within St. Sebastian. St. Sebastian would tell us to look within for the answers.
In hindsight, I can see just how much our journey across country foreshadowed our early experiences in California. That there would be fears to overcome, dangers to face, and knowledge to be harvested from within.