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Stormy and rainy all the way, so that I can barely see the tops of the Great Smoky Mountains. They are beautiful, of course, but being from Colorado, they are more hill-sized to me. I stop at the NC welcome center so I can pick up every tourist brochure known to man and as I am coming out, it clears long enough for a lovely rainbow to appear. Good juju. We stop in Asheville for a stroll around the historic downtown and it’s just as charming as I’ve read. I am thrilled to be in a place I first read about seven years ago and always wanted to see. It reminds me a kot of Ashland, OR with the town tucked into the mountains, an upscale main-street, and a liberal, college-town vibe. Tonight’s stop in Durham will be the last for our little caravan, as my b/f and my little dog head north for wintery New England.

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Eastern Oklahoma has a totally different feel. Coming into Arkansas you can smell the moisture in the air. We’re just ahead of a storm the whole trip so the wind follows us. I get very excited crossing the Mississipi into Memphis, which looks incredibly dramatic at night, and reminds me a bit of Sacramento with the golden arches of the bridge, the pyramid to my left, and the riverwalk below. Sacramento houses the Delta King, a twin to the Delta Queen, so I wonder if this is by accident or design. Tonight’s goal: Nashville, TN

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Arizona: windy. New Mexico: windy. Texas: windy. Oaklahoma: windy. From Eastern NM, it feels like one, continuous, never-ending state. Incredible moon rising over the ranchland, signs for fried pie outside of Amarillo, dozens of shooting stars in Oaklahoma. Tumbleweeds and reservations. We are excited to cross the Mississippi today.
Tonight’s goal: Nashville. TN

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Some fleeting impressions: Tule fog down the 99 dissipated into some sort of haze/smog combo as we left Bakersfield to head into the high desert, making it almost impossible to see surrounding hills. CA has crap for air-quality and it’s way overcrowded, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Windmills clumped in the hills like a crazy geometry experiment. The vast emptiness of the desert under a full moon. Flagstaff like a popsicle at 7000 feet. I am sick and getting increasingly urgent looks from the lovely b/f suggesting we get on the road. Tonight’s goal: Oklahoma City.

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