Sent: Sunday, September 16, 2001 7:48 PM
Subject: Well the rain exploded with a mighty crash

On the morning of Wednesday September 12th, I was getting ready to check out of my motel, and I still had no idea where I wanted to go next.  Like everybody else, I was still in a little shock over the events of the preceding day.  I had been thinking of flying home in late September for my birthday and to see my family and friends out East, and more or less on the spur of the moment decided that there was no time like the present, so around Noon on Wednesday, I hopped in the van and started driving East.  I checked it out on the mapping software on my PC, and it was about 2640 miles to my parents house in Maryland, I thought I might make it by Sunday.  Just getting moving was good, I started to get excited to see my friends and family, and I also started thinking about what I wanted to do when I headed back West in early October and getting excited about that. 
The drive across Nevada on Interstate 80 was fairly uneventful, a lot of stark landscape on that route.  As I got farther East, I ran into an intense rainstorm with some unbelievable lightning, striking all around me in the desert.  As night fell, the lightning was backlighting the mountains ahead of me in a very spooky purplish light.  My goal was to get to Salt Lake City to spend the night.  I called my parents on the cell phone and had them look up the address of a Wal-Mart in SLC near I-80 that I could crash at.
Once the sun went down, it was pitch black outside with no moon, and the clouds obscuring the stars.  As I crossed the border into Utah, whispers of some atavistic sense of space lit up the ancient bundle of nerves sitting atop my spine like the front yard of the winner of a tacky Christmas lights contest.  Flashes of lightning in my peripheral vision confirmed that I was in vastly different lands, illuminating a distant horizon that was straighter than Anita Bryant.  As I turned my head, more lightning reflected off the standing water left by the rains on the flats I was now driving across.  The still waters came up to the sides of my two lanes, seeming to float a mere foot above giant quiet sea.  I felt as if a moments distraction looking for a radio station, or a sudden gust of wind could push me to that fast-slow stop of a car driven into deep water, only to gently plummet to the uncertain depths of this mysterious new sea.  As with all bizarre late night road trip imaginations, this faded as the clouds cleared and the stars came out.  I arrived in SLC a little after 11:00 pm Mountain time and made my way to the luxurious Wal-Mart parking lot and the company of another RV parked there.  Some sort of automobile accident woke me up at around 6:00 am the next day, and feeling rested I hit the road.  I had looked at the map program before going to sleep and started thinking I might be able to make it home by Saturday night, however the prospect of the oh-so-exciting drive across NebraskaIowaIllinoisIndianaOhio had me a little worried that I would have to stop for frequent naps.  That and strong headwinds that I had been experiencing since Nevada were taking anywhere from 5-20 mph off my top speed.  I made great progress on Thursday, calling home again in the afternoon to get some Wal-Mart addressed to sleep at.  Was planning on staying in Lincoln Nebraska, but as I got there, I was feeling good, and realized that I thought the University of Nebraska was there, so I decided to keep going and get to Iowa, rather than sleeping in a town and a state with a University whose football program is full of sexual predators and general ruffians.  Fortunately there was a Wal-mart just across the border in Iowa and I stopped around midnight, after 18 hours of driving and 907 miles traveled.  Not the greatest average speed, but you must remember that I am driving the worlds largest Saltine box and it is powered by a pack of chain-smoking anemic hamsters.  Looking at the map program again, I realized that I only had about 1100 miles left, and that if my stamina held up I might be home by Saturday night.  I decided to go as far as I could on Friday and hope that it would leave me a relatively easy day on Saturday.  I woke up at 9:00 and hit the road again.  The first half of Iowa was a series of long gently sloping rolling hills, which got to be fairly amusing, as I would basically keep the van floored, and go screaming past everybody on the downhill as I approached 80, and then they would all pass me on the uphill as I slowed down to under 50 (still floored).  Got through Iowa, and then Illinois, and then Indiana and into Ohio a little after sunset.  Decided to go as far into Ohio as I could.  Was feeling ok, no hallucinations or conversations with myself yet, just a lot of singing along with the CD player.  Made it to the last service area on the Ohio turnpike, just West of the Pennsylvania border around 12:30 am, and stopped to get some sleep.  Had a not too terrible sleep on the back seat until around 6 am, and headed out one more time.  I rolled into Columbia MD around 11:30 am on Saturday.  In time to take a (much needed) shower, and still make it to my favorite Chinese restaurant for lunch.
Over 2500 miles in 69.5 hours elapsed time, 47 hours driving time, and I felt pretty good too, even went for a 3.5 mile run Saturday evening.  Of course today I slept in and took a 2 hour nap this afternoon.
I am going to stay out East through about October 3rd, and am planning on heading to Richmond for each of the next two weekends, probably heading down on Wednesday or Thursday and coming back to my parents in between.  So everybody in Richmond get ready to drink some Legend Brown Ale.  As a whole, the microbrews out West are awesome, but there is no substitute for Legend Brown Ale.  Looking forward to seeing everybody down there, I'll talk to you all soon.
P.S.  I am hoping to get caught up on my narrative in the next few days, I still have to tell you all about the rest of my adventures in South Dakota, Wyomong, Montana, and Burning Man.  There are many more pictures, and amazing tales of mountains, new friends, breakdowns, and rodent infestations.  I'll bet you can all hardly wait.