The Rare Road Trip

Bugs on the windshield, sun in the eyes ... but at least I wasn't texting. (Monte Dutton photo)

Bugs on the windshield, sun in the eyes … but at least I wasn’t texting. (Monte Dutton photo)

Gotta an indie bookstore!

Bossier City, Louisiana, Thursday, May 14, 2015, 9:02 p.m.

Today I passed by hundreds of “historic” places of which I had never heard. Twice I got stopped dead in traffic, and neither was in a large city. I timed my trip around Atlanta perfectly, but it was before I got to Atlanta that I came to a near standstill twice.

I-20 is crumbling, especially around Jackson, Mississippi, where it’s a little like riding a roller coaster. The word is “undulations.” If an automobile race were held on that stretch of the highway, Robby Gordon would be the favorite.

I've been writing all along.

I’ve been writing all along.

I haven’t taken a long road trip in a while. I had barely gotten started before two casual drivers but serious texters put me in a bind. Exiting on I-85 near Greenville, South Carolina, a car in the right lane going about 40 miles an hour forced me to get on the brakes. When a line of cars finally roared by and I had enough time to move over without being overrun, I saw that a man driving a black Honda Civic was texting furiously but driving ponderously.

Once I was rid of him, I passed a woman, who looked like Sandy Dennis 40 years ago, only that I never saw the late Miss Dennis with a white dog in her lap while she texted earnestly and drove frivolously.

After that, I made a point not to look.

This trip was supposed to start on Wednesday, so I’m a little hurried. Once I planned to stop in Mississippi to watch a baseball game, but I’ve got a task to complete near Dallas on Friday, and a need to be up near the Oklahoma border on Saturday morning, and I had to put off my departure a day. I made it almost to Texas and would have had not rain appeared likely up ahead, so I pulled off, got a room, and played some tunes on my guitar for a family out by the pool.

Northern Louisiana is as flat as Kansas, but the road is, too, unlike Mississippi. In this age of neglected infrastructure, Louisiana’s stretch of I-20 seems to be in better shape than all the other states – South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi – that I passed through.

I’m going to be farther from Charlotte Motor Speedway in my mind on Saturday night than I am in distance. Here’s hoping the Sprint All-Star Race is an all-star race for a change. I’ll get my friends to tell me all about it.

Tomorrow I’ll see “Miles and Miles of Texas.” I heard the Asleep at the Wheel version today. I think I’ll cue the iPod in the morning and listen to Jerry Jeff Walker as soon as I cross the border.

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About Monte

For 20 seasons, I mostly wrote about NASCAR. I'm still paying attention, but I'm spending more of my time these days writing novels and songs. I try to blog regularly on whatever happens to strike my fancy.
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6 Responses to The Rare Road Trip

  1. Ted Edison says:

    The two most boring (gosh-awful boring, at that) drives I’ve ever made: A) U.S. 360 between Richmond and South Boston (only two hours) and B) I-10 between New Orleans and Houston … I’ll admit, seeing a thunderstorm from 150 miles away on I-35 between Houston and San Antonio was impressive.

  2. david vest says:

    Have you ever considered writing a book about the life and times of the Wood Brothers? Talk about what a history in racing, and with all the important principles still living and in good minds. Maybe include the Pettys, as they are in the same situations. Just a thought. DV

  3. Dave Fulton says:

    Watch out for those tornadoes.

    When we lived in Dallas in 1984-1986 we’d make that trip from eastern North Carolina. I hated it then and I’m sure I’d hate it worse now.

  4. Monte says:

    I expect my days of writing NASCAR books are over. NASCAR glutted that market just like every other one.

  5. Wayne says:

    Monte, I hope things are going well on the road trip. Saturday night at the All-Star event, not so good. I attended the event; I did not say race because there was not much of that. In each 25 lap segment (and four segments were maybe one too many) they just got strung out and the leader had the 20th place car down by half a lap after 10 laps. Only a handful of lead changes under the green and just 5 different leaders. It was a very emotionless crowd but there was not much to get excited about. Not many young folks there either, mostly a middle-aged and older crowd, that from the perspective of a 60 year old observer. I don’t know the answer to making it better but I’d start by giving simple things like rear axle ratio and spoiler angle back to the crew chiefs. I asked a crew chief at Martinsville what their gear options were. He made a face and said 6.10 or 6.20. He said last fall they ran a 6.50, and now with less HP NASCAR mandates in the wrong direction. Maybe some of your blog folks have some good ideas to share. Stay safe on the road!

  6. Monte says:

    I was driving all day today, and all I know about the race Saturday night is what a friend told me on the phone. It was similar to what you wrote. When I get home, I’ll try to collect my thoughts. Thanks, as always, for writing, Wayne.

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