Once upon a time, in an itty bitty town called Toronto, lived a young man who was bored out of his gourd. He had finished up a contract position for the Wicked Witch of the East and was getting acustomed to sitting around in his boxers, eating peanut butter from the jar and playing Rocket League all day. A notification popped up on his phone: a letter of offer from a company, starting in two weeks. He put down the jar of peanut butter, stood up from the near-permanent-indentation he'd made in the couch and his words echoed into the ether "It's time."
Having spent the morning hours nurturing a hangover, he waddled his way into his bedroom and loaded up a duffel bag with whatever clean clothes were laying around his room. Armed with only a tent, a camera and a few rations, he jumped in his car and heroically drove off into the afternoon sun.
Westward. That was the only plan. Bypassing Kitchener (shoutout to Josee & afternoon coffee), London and Sarnia, our hero encountered his first opponent: the big, bad Canada/USA border. After a relentless hour-long parry, the young man emerged vicotrious. He was rewarded for his efforts with a sweet, sweet, McDonalds chicken-bacon sandwich in Michigan. He passed through Flint, avoiding the treacherous, unpotable drinking water.
Under the bright lights of Chigao, IL, he rested his hat in a local saloon. After a few cocktails, the charming young lad made friends with locals who rejoiced in hearing the tales of his travels thus far. His eyelids heavy, he rested at the luxurious Walmart Parking Lot Inn, just outside Ottawa, IL.
Loading up on supplies from the Inn, he was off again the next morning. Westward ho! He visited Des Moines, IA. From miles away, he could see the city castle; it's rooftop gleaming with golden rays. He visited the local library and revelled in their extensive catalogue of literature. Before resuming his journey, he popped into Zombie Burger for a Mac'n'Cheese burger (the buns are litterally deep-fried mac'n'cheese... drool).
He continued in his charcoal coloured chariot through Kansas City, which resembled Capreol's downtown so much he didn't dare stay longer than a hot minute. The day ended in Witchita, KS, which regrettably didn't have any witches to battle.
The next morning he opened his magical map device from his pocket, 11 hours to the next desitnation. Damn. He'd already exhausted his top 30 playlist and recited the movie Blow in his mind too many times to count. He downloaded an audiobook and soldiered on. The terrain started to change, rock fomations emerged from the flat plains. The earth transitioned from a grassy brown to scorched red. And eventually, the first real mountains were visible on the horizon. Our hero raced against the clock to get to his destination before nightfall.
With only 30 minutes of sunlight left, his chariot pulled up to one of the most beautiful places this side of the Atlantic: White Sands National Monument. White dunes as far as the eye can see, encircled by rocky extrusions painted purple against an ochre setting sun. He ran his fingers through the sand and marvelled at how far he'd travelled. The first destination on his bucket list had been checked off.
The stars rose in the sky and darkness cooled the sandhills. Our hero resumed his voyage. Westward! He drove until his body wouldn't allow him to continue. In complete darkness, he pulled off on the side of the road in an unknown location and closed his eyes.
A few hours later he was awakened by birds chirping in the distance. He opened his eyes and was greeted by not-so-wild wild horses just chillin', doing their horse thing. His magical map device reminded him that he was racing against the clock to make it to his next destination. As the miles of pavement disappeared behind him, the mountains grew taller. Chasms emerged in the distance, splitting the earth in two. Sweat formed on our hero's brow. Having battled many foes in his lifetime, there was one enemy that he had yet to conquer: heights.
A wooden sign greeted our champion: Grand Canyon National Park. He paid the entry fee, believing he'd drive along the ridge, be terrified the entire time and move on because... well, fuck heights. He made his way to the Desert View lookout and parked his chariot. As he walked up to the platform he was overwhelmed. Not by fear, just the grandeur of what lay before him. The sheer size of the Grand Canyon, the vastness, the depth, imparted a calmness that dried his brow. Having conquered one of his greatest foes, our knight in shining armour made his way to a campground near the cliff's edge. He claimed the last campsite and sheltered himself from the incoming rainstorm.
During a brief recess in the storm, he attempted to start a fire. A shout come from over his shoulder "Canadian?". With the swiftness of a mountain lion, our hero swivelled around, fire-poking-stick in hand, ready for combat. "You're Canadian right? Your license plate says Ontario" a young man proclaimed. As it turns out, the stranger was from Oakville, not far from Toronto, our hero's village. The young man was also solo-travelling through the USA in his car. They shared hot dogs and ale, swapping travel stories.
The next day, our hero took a look at his magical map device. He was less than a day's travel from the pacific coast and his ultimate destination: the fabled city of Lost Angels. I know, I know, this story seems like it's only getting started, but this is where we have to take a break. My fingers are getting tired of typing.
Will our hero make it to this magical city of Lost Angels? Will he finally battle dragons and ogres? Will he eat Rocky Mountain Oysters? Find out in the next installation of Tales on the Road!