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Maybe a question for Paul, but do you think driving through America is a sadder experience these days? Beyond our personal melancholies, are the people in roadside stops friendlier or more impatient, intolerant, angry? I loved these notes and how they spoke to a melancholy that not only hangs over individuals but also over the whole country. Your comment about I-70 being a string of nowheres makes me wonder if interior America is rotting or has been for quite some time. Maybe it never was an energetic place, out there in the hinterlands. You do a good job of capturing the mood of places, even though you are just passing through them.

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Thanks, Sue. That is a good question and it's something I ponder. Is it actually sadder in all these places or does it just my own perception? Something I'm projecting onto the place? I don't have a good answer. I want to know what Paul thinks about it too. I'll have to ask him.

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oh I loved this. captures those fleeting thoughts that trail behind as we pass life at 70 mph!

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Thanks, Tabby!

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May 11Liked by Tonya Morton

Saw a lot of similarities, both descriptive and emotive, in this piece and Least-Heat Moon's Blue Highways. He called it Blue Highways in that the old gas station maps showed the back roads as blue.

He also opened up in his Making of Blue Highways. Very nice, Tonya.

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That is a high compliment, Doc! I loved reading both Blue Highways and Making of Blue Highways. He really opened my eyes to that whole style of "travel" writing, where it's less about the particulars of where you are (though, obviously, that informs everything) and more about the act of movement. Such a beautiful book. Thanks so much, Doc.

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May 11Liked by Tonya Morton

A great read. The last scene with the cats was poignant for me because of the connection with Jim.

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Thanks, Jeff

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May 10Liked by Tonya Morton

Wonderful. Evocative. I still wear a watch that I set manually a few minutes ahead. I hear you about all time being the same. You notice things like signs. That is so good. When I was driving, I so wanted to explore all those secondary roads. I would avoid the freeway whenever I could .

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May 10Liked by Tonya Morton

I wanted to drop a comment on the part about chicken smells. I lived for one year in Seguin, Texas, which has a Tyson chicken plant. On a fairly frequent basis I would step outside of my apartment and the entire atmosphere would smell of roasted chicken. The first time it happened I was rather pleasantly surprised, as its a warm, comforting smell. But on the subsequent occasions it eventually turned disturbing for me. The large scale of it made me think consistently of massive numbers of chickens being slaughtered and roasted, filling the entire town. I stopped eating chicken for quite awhile after that.

There's so much more that is delightful going on in the story here, "It's always raining in Pennsylvania."! But I thought I'd mention my own chicken-connective -- the memory that brought up -- which is what I suspect a good story will often accomplish.

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Yep, I think that would ruin chicken for me too. I once passed through a town on the Arkansas/Oklahoma border with a large dog food processing plant, and all around the train tracks the ground was covered with all these strange styrofoam-like brown bits. It smelled really gross and it's now immediately what I think of when I see dry dog food. I think if I lived in that town, I'd cook my dog every meal from scratch.

Thanks, Steven!

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May 10Liked by Tonya Morton

Great stuff, Tonya.

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May 10Liked by Tonya Morton

You can easily tell when you reach the New Mexico-Texas border. On the New Mexico side are frankly dozens of “dope/weed stores” (legal marijuana dispensaries). Right across the railroad tracks marking the border in an aptly named tiny frontier hamlet, (Texico) sprouts a group of fireworks, guns, and ammo stores instead. “Welcome to Texas/Drive Friendly the Texas Way,” the proud sign declares. Some signs (not many nowadays) also proudly note, to the dismay of the (Dixie) Chicks, “Proud Home of President George W. Bush.” I’m not sure, but the drive-up booze counters and legal open-container laws we encountered while chasing the 1986 appearance of Halley’s Comet are likely long gone.

My drive now proceeds toward Fredericksville/Luckenbach, in the Hill Country of Texas, with an overnight stop in Lubbock. I encounter many four-lane, divided US and state highways along the way. And, to my surprise, miles and miles and miles of wind turbines. And working oil rigs (not the big drilling derricks, but the hard-working smaller units). Texas, it turns out, is a top producer of both wind and petroleum–based energy. Small towns and 80 miles-per-hour highways prevail.

Soon, signs appear stating, ”Arrive early, stay late, stay put.” And why not? Like many others, I’m driving toward my most recent date with astronomical destiny -- in my case, hopefully, to witness a sixth successful Total Solar Eclipse

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May 10Liked by Tonya Morton

I'm not sure I did this right, but this is the beginning of the piece I'm writing describing my sixth Total Solar Eclipse experience . More blah-blah-blah and photographs threaten to follow!

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Thanks, Lewis! There's no right or wrong way to take road notes, as far as I'm concerned. That one sounds great to me. You took me right there!

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May 10Liked by Tonya Morton

Wonderful piece! Lots of immediacy & food (chicken & otherwise) for thought. Your Montana photo is just extraordinary!!

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Thanks, Ellen!

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