En Route

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En Route

It’s time for my yearly Exodus with JB and McQueen. We’re meeting up in the middle of Nowhere, TN to stay in a cheap motel and drive to Almost Nowhere, TN and hear a band that I’ve waited 25 years to hear live. We will be at Bonnaroo as middle-aged men; white, pasty and clinging to the last shred of youth. We are terrified of the crowd and we are only en route; we have yet to experience the mad rush of the young, free, sweaty mass.

In order to prepare, I decided to plan the trip at the height of my hay fever and get one of the worst colds I’ve had in years. Awesome.

McQueen and I have completed the first of three legs: Salt Lake City to Las Vegas. Currently, we are a few miles above the browns of the U.S. southwest. Our hope is to pilgrimage to Hatch Show Print, look wistfully at the drawers of wood and metal type, buy a couple of treats, snap some shots and bail after rush hour to our rendezvous point with JB.

* * *

Several years ago, I gave myself the moniker Grandpa Gear. I was sitting on the side of a mountain at Mammoth ski resort in California, cursing my crappy snowboard bindings and having one of those uncomfortable moments of fusion wherein one realizes that he has become his father. And not in a good way. I have five siblings, money was tight in my youth and my dad couldn’t spring for the best of gear for any sport. Skiing involved at least 30 minutes of griping about shit gear. And that was before I could get a word in. My first ski boots were leather, when plastic boots had clearly shown the way. Lacing those up meant a lot of grimacing and pain. My right foot has a hard time getting into certain kinds of boots. Those first pair were of that certain kind. My dad also insisted that a certain brand of ski binding was the safest ever and that we all used them, even if they released at the slightest thought of mogul. It deeply affected my skiing style so much that to this day, on a snowboard I still slow down before a blind slope or rise. Incidentally, those super safe bindings lead to the end of my father’s ski career when he had a spiral fracture from a slow fall. On my youngest sibling’s first day on the hill. She also retired for 15 years before her first husband could persuade her back up.

After that trip to Mammoth I vowed that I would not be like my dad and that if I were going to get involved in a hobby that required gear, I’d make sure my time on the hill wasn’t spent fighting boots, bindings or cold hand protection. Combine this with the fact that Heather and I did a massive purge of our obsessively collected bags over the years and it meant that I had to go shopping for the trip. I needed a small computer/carry-on bag as well as a day pack that would hold up for twelve or more hours a day under Tennessee sun. I also needed a hydration bladder larger than the one that crapped out on the last trip with McQueen and JB. My Father’s Day came a little early.

I was all excited about my newfound compact carry-on (when Heather and I travel, I have a wheeled bag that holds both of our laptops and is a thick beast) until this morning when at the skycap, I was informed that my checked luggage was overweight and I’d need to lighten up or face fees. I pulled out the camera bag from the luggage to be checked and have had to lug around two bags. Awesome.

One would not be forgiven for asking why one individual with a semi-large check-in might be over the weight limit… I brought a portable stereo. Because we aren’t going to have enough music at the venue. We need a constant barrage of aural assault. I might have done a better job of alliteration in that last sentence.

I have forgotten to bring:
-Cold Remedies
-hat (I’m thinking something in the NASCAR line)
-sunscreen. Yep. Takes a certain kind of smart, there.

I think we’re flying over Oklahoma now. I can faintly make out the leftover broken dreams of the dustbowl era. Did I mention that I discovered I’m wearing my underwear backwards?

Also published on Medium.