The Ambition
1.  From 32 Camelot Lane, turn left onto County Road SS
(Rice Lake, WI)
The evening sun is hot. It’s time to pack up for the trip. It’s necessary to only bring the necessities.  Food, water and clothes take up the majority of room in the car. The preparation is exciting and filled with hopes of opportunity. Nerves keep the body alert. Everything is packed away and prepared for the trip. I told myself I was going to follow through with it. My dad will be proud.

Turn Right onto US-8 W
The sun has spent all day warming the inside of the car. The olive green Saturn SL2 fires right up but the fuel tank is low. Time to fill up on gas. On the way to the gas station, the windows are rolled down. Fresh air fills up the lungs and overwhelms the senses. Although, the thought of getting stranded in the middle of nowhere is scary, the thought of persevering over the new challenge is enlightening. Taking the time to prepare and load up on supplies will ensure a great trip with few stops. I decided to do this for myself. No turning back.

The Commitment
3. Merge onto I-35 S 
The sun pushes itself to the lower of the sky. There is something exciting about traveling to a new place. Knowing that being properly prepared for the journey creates a sense of comfort. The opportunities are endless. The car leans against the speed limit due to an excited led foot. Mile after mile, the car cuts through the warm summer air. It’s an exciting feeling to see mile
markers with a new city. Nerves leave an unsettled feeling inside of me. I hope I’m ready.

Des Moines 174
The sun has left the world to journey on its own. The vast land grabs broad focus. It’s fun to be in a new state. Although the Midwest has the same appeal between states, Iowa contains a stable energy that rolls with the hills.  A relaxed mind provides flash fragments of forgotten supplies. The cellphone charger and toothbrush were left behind. An eager person forgets small details. I didn’t forget because I’m unprepared. I got distracted. Not too long now before the first real check point. 

Merge onto I-80 
Des Moines is a great place to stop and fuel up. Relief pushes through circulating veins. The first check point has been made. The drive is good. Self reflection has lingered inside of the car and is ready to expand outwards into the convenience store. New people walk by and no one seems to notice the naive look. Activity amongst the Iowan community is much like Rice Lake. There’s just more conversations about corn to listen to. Sleep would do some good. A near by rest stop is inviting to all travelers. A New York man with broken English sparks a conversation but it’s hard to understand. A friendly nod and a tired look cuts the man off. There is a long journey ahead. No more wasting time. The drivers seat of the car makes an excellent bed when reclined. 
    Waking up to the sound of semi trucks pulling into the stop spark a sense of urgency. Not knowing how long the sleep was, the car shifts into gear and quickly gets to speed coming off of the exit ramp. I feel rushed. I don’t want this opportunity to pass me by. Onward to the next check point.
Omaha 140.
 The  Sticktoitiveness
The hot sun reflects off distant trains. Vast ranch land and farm plots consume the plains. The thought of large amounts of steal pushing along side the car never crossed the mind. It’s an intimidating visual, but it’s one that will stick.  The first rest stop comes at a very appropriate time. The sun has been beating on tired eyelids and it’s time to wake the body up. Relieve the body, stretch, get back in the car and go.   
     The scenery doesn’t change much. More trains and plains inhabit deeper into the state. The same rest stop goes by once again. The tires of the car settle into a groove like a needle skipping over a vinyl record and repeating the same hook of one’s least favorite song. At what point will we get to the end of the record. I never thought I had to wait this long.
    A slightly different version of Bill Murray’s Groung Hogs Day has intruded Nebraska. The movie seems to be skipping along with the record of one’s least favorite song.
    Same rest stop. Same train. Same plain. Same. Same. The adventure of self reflection and thought mimic the family of parked cars at every pull-off. There is nothing exciting about that.
    The next mile marker brings a sense of hope and excitement. CHANGE! The thought of Wyoming brings a great sense of optimism and motivation. The excitement is back. I feel better now. Only 1 more hour before the next check point.

Cheyenne 65
The Let-Down
Don’t drink the water in Wyoming. The sun is stale. The scenery of distant mountains laugh occasionally at the busted up retired ranch homes one would see on a popular western film starring Clint Eastwood. The further west the car goes, the more baron the land gets. I must know that it’s going to get better. I wouldn’t have left home if I thought it was going to stay like this. The good, the bad and the ugly have made themselves very evident on this leg of the trip.

Salt Lake City 81.
The sun starts to reflect off of the red faces of the hills. Twisted turns and concrete tubes penetrate the red flesh of the land. Lakes have not been a frequent part of the trip but Utah makes sure to showcase at least one. Lush green and red pass by quickly. Don’t blink because something might be missed. The earth feeds me just enough to keep me alive.

Reno 399.
The  Illusion
The sun waves goodbye as it settles into its bed of rocks and cacti. The salinas that resemble cereal bowls contain communities of houses that hide at a distance. Winding roads and mountains provide a great setting for peek-a-boo with the cities of Nevada. As the sun disappears, bright lights from native casinos invade the sky with electricity. Pictures could never capture the illuminating activity of these perfectly placed profit producing playgrounds.  The winding roads and sharp turns keep the eyes awake and senses alert. The hands grip onto the steering wheel tightly in case of unexpected obstacles. Before long, the car takes the bodies lead and slowly drifts away. Reno isn’t too far away. The lights of the famous city pierce through the darkness and invite many to partake in what it has to offer. Fame is an illusion. I don’t trust it.
    There is a weird and dangerous energy when the Nine-to-fivers are deep in their sleep. Gas stations have bullet proof glass protecting the workers behind the counter and street walkers on the outside openly ask for money and drugs. For some strange reason, a calmness blankets the body and the moment is easy to take in. It’s almost empowering. The car has driven for 2,000 miles and maintains an optimistic performance. 
     Traveling this far west can expose tourists from regulars. Eyes from locals are drawn to the Wisconsin license plate. The machine prompts for credit or debit. Bodies move inward as gas is place from the pumps into the gas tank of the car. The convenience of the prompt came at no better time. Quickly the car fires up and the tires pull away out of the lot. Exhaust eliminates the presence of the alert locals like a smoke trick of a magic show. Keep holding on to character. Be safe. On to Californ-i-a.

Sacramento 132.
The Triumph
The darkness is hard to see through. Falling rock signs are more visible than the falling rocks. It’s a scary time for a foreign traveler. Farm towns don’t have falling rocks to look out for. The elevation of the road increase and the car has to work harder. Fresh oil was put in the Saturn before packing. It’s well lubed and ready to take on the challenge of fallen debris and sharp turns.  Every once in awhile the silhouette of two mountains will appear. The city lights outline the large bodies while the road keeps them separated as if they were a pair of fighting siblings. I’ll have to fight for it. It won’t be given to me.
    The winding roads make the next check point seem impossible. The need to obtain rest is consuming. Pop culture calls this illusion “chasing the dragon.” Although this time the dragon is bound at a rest stop at the top of the mountain. The check point is reached right before daybreak. Fifteen minutes of sleep then back to it.
    Chirping birds resemble an annoying alarm clock. The sun breaks the horizon and the rest stop offers a great place to stretch and wake up. The mirror in the bathroom laughs at the lack of hygiene from hard work. There is more ground to cover before a shower. Time to hit the road again. The hard work last night paid off because it’s down hill from here. My eye is on the prize. It’s close.

Fairfield 44.
The  Gratitude
5.  Merge onto I-680 
Beautiful skies and sunlight reinforce the idea that California is a place for dreams. I can smell it. The dream is within reach now.

Santa Cruz 107.
6.  Merge onto I-17 
The sun reaches towards the middle of the sky. The windows of the car need to be rolled down to provide proper ventilation. The AC doesn’t work and it’s important to prevent exhaustion. The car seems to be vibrating like never before. It must of been pushed too hard up in the mountains. Pulling over at this point in time would just slow down the journey. “Have to keep pushing on even though you’re barely alive,” a lyric from a local band, Sublime, echos in my mind.

 7.  Turn Right onto Cabrillo Hwy 
The sun encourages the population to go shirtless. Thousands of people are walking amongst the city. Not quite at the final destination but the energy is surprising. The shaking car and body grown with excitement. If others have done it, I can do it.

Santa Cruz
POP 55,717.
The Reward
8.  Turn right onto 17th Ave and follow until Sunny Cove Beach.
(Santa Cruz, CA)           
The reflection of the sun locates a family of seals swimming near the coves of the beach. Water pushes onto shore. The car is parked and the walk is short to the edge of the hovering rocks. Eroded bowls in the rock hold small amounts of water from the splashing tide. The nose is virgin to the overwhelming aroma of salt water. What has started out as a dream has turned into reality. The feeling is larger than life. Appreciate it.

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