From June 1st through June 8th, my boyfriend (Nico Rico) and I drove from New York City to San Francisco. We took a southern, and certainly not a direct route. What follows is a joint blog–pictures from the trip.
MONKEY BUSINESS by Tony Asaro (Composer/Librettist), Photographs by Nico Rico (Boyfriend/Photographer)
Our trip across country looked something like this:
It was a long drive, but a drive I've been wanting to do for a long time. On June 1st, Nico and I left New York at 5:00am.
So we leave NYC. Sarah has us take the Verranzano Bridge. Maybe she likes Mob Wives as much as I do.
We left DC and headed straight down to Atlanta, GA. The drive was long, but fun. It hardly felt like 13.5 hours. The south had been hit by some tropical storms, and we encountered some rainy patches like this one in North Carolina:
The south was pretty beautiful–the freeways anyway. In Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina, the freeways are paved with beautiful trees. We ate in North Carolina at a diner. My breaded pork cutlet was tasty (because of all the MSG) as was the gravy made from corn starch, water, and black pepper. South Carolina looked surprisingly different from the other states–there were no trees along the freeway. Open fields, or fireworks superstores were the South Carolinan standard fare.
I would like to note that driving in the south, I was disappointed at the few number of Jesus fish bumper stickers. Also, we only saw one gun rack. ONE?!?! There were PLENTY of anti-abortion billboards.
Finally, we passed the border into Georgia. Everything in Georgia is peaches. It's funny how each state seems to have it's own icon, and how dearly they hold to it. As we passed through Athens, GA, we of course had to listen to some Indigo Girls!
When we got to Atlanta, it was beautiful. About 85 degrees and NO HUMIDITY!!!
The next day, we drove from Atlanta to New Orleans, LA. On the way, we had lunch with a friend from high school in La Grange, GA. At the IHOP. Our waiter was clearly the only gay in the village. He wore his rainbow bracelet, and yellow equal sign proudly. I wager he had a mesh tanktop under his IHOP uniform. Then we enjoyed a beautiful drive to NOLA where we stayed for 2 nights, June 2nd and 3rd.
New Orleans is a terrible place to have a shellfish allergy. Still, the few things on the menu that I could order were delicious. While in the French Quarter, we went to the nations first and oldest gay bar: The Cafe Lafitte In Exile
We had lunch in Baton Rouge, and then drove over to Houston. We stayed overnight with a friend, and we took her to Texas BBQ at Goode Co. BBQ for dinner to say thanks.
The next day was a long one. On June 5th, we left Houston at about 8:30. We had an early lunch in Austin with a high school friend at the famous Austin Food Carts.
Totally a fun lunch. We also went by a fun candy store called Big Top Candy Shop. Then, we hit the road for over 12 hours: all the way through texas into New Mexico to Santa Fe.
Most of that route in Texas looks like this:
And yes, the sky is big. There's not too much between Austin and Santa Fe. Just Lubbock where we had decent Mexican food, and a few service stations. Again, very few Jesus fish, and NO gun racks. :( Plenty of GMC trucks, though. These good ol' boys LOVE their GMC trucks.
As we crossed the border into New Mexico, it got dark. We spent the rest of the drive (about 5 hours) in COMPLETE DARKNESS. It was kinda like this:
That was the worst part of the drive. There are no street lights. Your highbeams are all you have. And bugs, like a spray of buckshot, explode against your windshield violently. No fun. But, we got to Santa Fe in one piece, checked into our 2 star motel, and crashed.
On June 6th, we enjoyed our "continental" breakfast, then headed out to Flagstaff. The southwest is BEAUTIFUL. Red rock mesas and plains.
We stayed at the Grand Canyon for LITERALLY 25 minutes. We would have loved to have stayed longer, but the drive to the canyon from Flagstaff was 90 minutes–much longer than we'd anticipated. And we had a show to catch. IN VEGAS!
In any case, we were racing against the clock to get to Vegas by 9:00. We had purchased tickets to "O", the Cirque Du Soleil show at the Bellagio at 10:00. We booked a room at the hotel across the street from the Bellagio–Bally's. Bally's is not glamorous, nor new, and it has few amenities, but it's location and price made it ideal. We got to the hotel at 9:05. We waited in line at the registration desk. When we finally got up to the counter, the following exchange took place:
Registration guy: I have a room with 2 queens.
Registration guy: <smirk> Would you rather a single bed?
Me: Why, yes we would.
And he HOOKED US UP! A jacuzzi tub, a crazy view, a bidet! And that, dear friends, is what we mean by the term "gay mafia".
O was phenomenal. Worth the trip to vegas. If you haven't gone, GO.
This is a photo from the internet. We did not take pictures, obviously. And anyway, we had tickets in the 4th row!!!
We stayed overnight in Vegas. On the 7th, we woke up in Vegas, ate our crappy buffet breakfast, then hit the highway again.
We decided to take the long route through Death Valley and Yosemite above the Sierras. First Death Valley: I found it beautiful. Nico found it boring. There is nothing for miles, and miles, and MILES. <Note–fill your tank BEFORE you enter Death Valley, because there is nowhere to refill once you enter.>
Of note is the Shady Lady Ranch, a brothel in the MIDDLE OF FRICKING NOWHERE. It left me with so many questions: How did the women end up there? Where do they live? How do they get groceries? WHY WOULD YOU NOT BUILD YOUR BROTHEL A LITTLE CLOSER TO CIVILIZATION?!
And then, we hit the Tioga Pass, on our way to and through Yosemite. I'm embarrassed to say that I had never been to Yosemite before. It was maybe my favorite part of the trip. I couldn't believe how beautiful it was.
We spent the night in Modesto at my friend's house. Then, on the morning of the 8th, we drove the 90 minutes back to the Bay Area.
There you have it, folks! Hope you enjoyed this little journey as much as we did!
Oh, and a big THANK YOU to Gordon Leary for covering my post last week!!!
TONY ASARO is a composer/librettist currently working on various musical theatre and opera projects including the award winning Our Country. To learn more about Tony's writing, please visit unrelentingmonkey.com. NEVER STOP SWINGING!