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Memories Of Youthful Travels Part 4

Updated on April 30, 2010

In the end, it comes down to this: no matter where you go in the world, late at night, you can still expect the train and bus stations to be filled with lunatics, bums, and drug pushers. If they stand on one leg and subject the night to obscenities shouted in a foreign tongue then all the better for you. Some things, in their alienness, remain comfortable in their ability to remind one of home.

But Julie and I didn't just stop at touring Europe. We also toured North America in the Nineties... a more familiar landscape... or at least we believed it was.

With $6,000 in savings we left Julie's home in Southeastern Pennsylvania for our dream vacation, in search of new warm places, unique people, excellent adventures, and ourselves. We were so exhausted after our first record breaking four hour haul, that we needed to rest for a few days in Pittsburgh, that old steel town in the middle of a cultural revolution. We stayed in Squirrel Hill courtesy of an old friend, getting her Ph.D. in anthropology while drinking countless single malts.

Pittsburgh is a distinctly beautiful city, the antithesis of Filthadelphia, yet still too cold for us. Aside from the weather, we managed to relax early in the trip, a quality we tried (and failed) to maintain throughout. After a few months of living in and out of a station wagon we could not always remain cheery; we definitely had our share of fights.

We crossed state lines with radar detector humming, fearless and bustproof. Unlike Pittsburgh, Cleveland lives up to its reputation: totally blah. The only reason we stopped was to see the famous outlaws and rebels that can be found at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

After paying the $12 admission fee and five dollars to park, we spent over three hours perusing the state - of - the - art interactive displays tracing the roots of Rock from its early days of 78 rpm vinyl, to Elvis' whiteification of tunes, through the freeloving, controversial, acid dropping 60s, glam rock in the 70s, disco, punk, new wave, the mostly uninspiring early 80s, and the "alternative" rock of the late 80s and early 90s. Although thorough, the Hall of Fame was not at the time complete. Conspicuously absent are revolutionary rockers such as Trent Reznor/Nine Inch Nails, King Missile, Jane's Addiction, Lush, and Depeche Mode. Nevertheless, the Hall is worth a visit. Junior/Senior high school kids and college students beware, the Hall of Fame defines "student" as ages 4 - 11, so unless you have a baby face and a really good reverse fake ID, don't expect a discount.

After leaving Cleveland we decided to hightail it and push as far West as possible. Our next extended stop was the Badlands of South Dakota, two and a half days of driving away. We drove through the endless pastures and fields in Indiana, the disgusting city of Gary - a veritable junkyard of industrial pollution complete with a brown smear of toxic clouds hanging over the horizon, crawled at a snail's pace in Chicago rush hour traffic, and finally arriving at our home for the evening: Econo Lodge, cable TV, and free local phone calls. Whoopee!

Continued In Memories Of Youthful Travels Part 5

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