Thursday, July 22, 2010

Come on Hear the Illinoise

We have made it to Illinois. Home of Popeye the Sailor man as the sign proudly announced as I hit the first town. Well, technically the town was home to popeye, but I suppose that means by relationship the state as well. They also have a 6 foot popeye statue, which I missed because it was dark and I was late anyway.

I did take a picture of the Illinois sign; The Land of Lincoln it proudly proclaims, but I didn't take a picture of me in front of it because it was dark. I also did not take a picture of the Mississippi river, which I have never seen before because the bridge I took to get across did not have things like places for tourists to take pictures.

The Mississippi was vast and powerful and I'm not entirely sure why I was impressed by it except for the vague notion that I haven't seen that much water in two months.

While I was driving over the bridge I carefully did not crash my car while I looked at the sun setting on the river. Really it was beautiful, perhaps I can rustle up a postcard, but I refuse to backtrack an hour to find one.

We stayed with another couchsurfer with his own fun stories of couchsurfing and things of that nature. We all talked for awhile, and then everyone got some sleep. This place was super fantastic because we each got a couch or mattress or futon to sleep on and because he was the couchsurfing type where he gives you his address, tells you he might not be there, but to walk in and make yourselves at home. Yes people actually do this and it makes them fantastic people.

I checked out the vegetarian restaurant in this place in Illinois, I can't actually remember where I am... Carbondale, I'm in Carbondale.

I now principally spend my time in coffee shops, local, indy, chains... I don't care as long as it has internet and a selection of tea.

The coffee shop clientele are interesting. They all look too cool and artsy for me. Businessmen come here to sit outside of cubicles on laptops and cell phones, artsy women in floral dresses come to talk about big ideas and to work on their craft, be it writing or drawing or who knows what.

I have Facebook chats with friends from home and get bored of my own thoughts and think about being a real person. This nomadic homeless existence is essentially like college without a dorm room. Not like the real world, or perhaps it is and I've just been fooled my entire life to think that real life is something different from school.

I'm fairly certain that I'm going to have to go back to school because I manage to become thoroughly bored with old thoughts within the space of a month or two and where can you get new thoughts? School. It's like an addiction. It has to be fed, otherwise I end up pacing in circles listening to the same old boring music and thinking the same thoughts in a rut that I need to pour new ideas into so I can get out of it.

Honestly I fit and and don't fit into these coffee shops. I'm in jeans and a t-shirt from Walmart... I doubt this crowd doesn't admit that they shop at Walmart. The clothes are carefully vintage. Of course there are the people passing through, but these aren't coffee shop people. There is a type.

And of course I'm writing like this because I went to Barnes and Nobles and impulsively bought a book about being a young twenty something in New York that's a bit like a cheap Sex in the City without as much success and isn't that thoroughly depressing as a concept?

Well, this isn't my blog, so I'm going to talk about this trip.

We were in Missouri last I blogged. Well, hurrah a new state, we're in Illinois. I like it better, I think because there are more things. It turns out, I like things. At the very least I like the option of going to see a movie and soy milk.

Don't blink because you might actually miss Illinois, we're only going to be here today. We were in this great hostel in Missouri yesterday called Al's Place. It's a bike hostel, show up, call the number on the door (The Fire Department who happens to run it) and they give you the passcode to get in. It's a requested 20 dollar donation to stay in a place that looks like a million dollar apartment in New York. It was over the old historic jail and had sections of the original brick artfully peaking through the drywall. It was actually a thoroughly beautiful and awesome place, right next to their downtown area, a block from the coffee shop and complete with another person to talk to.

We of course met another cyclist going west, they are starting to slim out because the high time for them in this area is late june, early july so they get to the end by August.

This place had everything a touring group needs. In case you are wondering this includes: air conditioning, bunk beds upon bunk beds, computer and internet, outlets by every single bed, including the lofted ones, a fridge and cabinets with leftover food for small amounts of money, a microwave and a washing machine and dryer.

The only thing it could have used was an oven and stovetop. In all it was pretty nifty.

Some fun things about Missouri I have learned. It is entirely acceptable to smoke. In most places smokers have been socially outcast to standing outside in the cold in strange alleys outside of bars. Here, they get to smoke in sunny booths in cafes and diners in front of their children and the rest of the patrons and no one looks twice. It's interesting what is socially acceptable and not acceptable depending on where you go. In Greece I walked out of the theater to get some air and into an entire cloud of smoke because everyone in the theater got up and went out to have a smoke which is how things used to be done in Maryland and are now no longer acceptable.

They call Missouri the show me state, it was explained to me why this was and I vaguely remember. It was something like they'll believe it when you see it, won't buy your bull crap, you'll have to show them it works first kind of thing.

What else? The Ozarks are beautiful. I highly recommend a trip to see them. The springs were like something out of a fairytale. I could not believe that it actually existed. I took pictures in case people didn't believe me that it was that beautiful.

The Ozarks are also like driving, and I would imagine biking, a roller coaster. I am very glad I was driving and not being driven. Up and down and up and down and up and down and curve around and do it again.

My glasses probably give me more cred in this coffee shop (We established on google buzz that I like side notes). The adults are sitting here having conversations about liberal parenting. Is it worrysome that I still think in terms of adults and children? Well, not adults and children. Adults and the real world, and college students and the better world... or something. College students not actually being adults, artfully prolonging the time before they have to enter the personal responsibility and drudgery in the land of no new ideas also known as the Real World.

I hear there are mythical jobs that people actually like where they get to have new ideas and try to actually do them. This is quite honestly maybe one of the only reasons I want to get into social justicey servicey work. That and helping people, of course. I could do that on the side, on a volunteer basis, but as a job? Perhaps a chance to like what I do and not live with when I'm not doing what I do.

Perhaps there will be a continuous stream of new ideas in the Real World and the college thing is a myth. Perhaps I will just hang out with everyone I knew who went to grad school without going to grad school myself just to hear new ideas. They're not even new ideas most of the time anyway, they're just new to us.

So how bout that Missouri? What else? The people we met who helped us out were awesome. The beautiful waterways would have been great to canoe if I had someone to go with. I refuse to go canoeing by myself, I am entirely aware of how nonathletic (spellcheck is telling me unathletic is not a word) and incompetent in things like canoeing that I am.

Anyway, apparently the land of Kentucky is full of dogs to chase the boys, which will be sure to keep them occupied. What ends up happening is Pacella and perhaps Jesse go by first which triggers them to start running after them. When they leave the dog's territory it stops and turns around to hurrah! See Mike German coming up behind them.

This is actually OK because Mike is very good with hostile animals. Ask him about the feral cat he managed to pick up.

So, that's about it. I'm actually publishing this on BAAM... I want my own blog, or no blog at all. That might be best.

Signed from the Land of Pretend that is Long Term Traveling,
Shelly Kessler,


  1. "This is actually OK because Mike is very good with hostile animals. Ask him about the feral cat he managed to pick up."
    This is why Mike German is legendary.

    My favorite type of strange people in Starbucks is multi-level marketers, either sitting on their laptops talking on a bluetooth trying to sell magic juice, or "interviewing" "employees".

    Thanks for writing, I'm enjoying the updates.

  2. Oh gosh! I know exactly the people who you are talking about!!! I am excited because of our level of shared understanding of types Starbucks people.

  3. Shelly,
    Grandma and I are sitting here drinking wine, reading your blogs, watching your videos, and wishing we were there. How exciting. We are looking forward to hearing more of your stories when you get back!
    Aunt Nancy

  4. Ah! I'm glad you guys enjoyed. I'll tell you all about it at Sunday dinner.