by Lori Blandford
Lori interviews herself about her most recent journey, a road trip across the United States with her sister. Starting in Buffalo, they visited Chicago, Denver, Jackson, Sun Valley, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Where did you go?
My sister Lisa, 23, the middle of we three Blandford sisters.
Why your sister?
I never considered taking this trip with anyone else. She's laid back, has excellent and the same taste in music, knows many of my friends, and I knew it would make my parents proud. And worried.
Why didn't the youngest sister go along?
A road trip that involves natural beauty isn't really Loni's cup of tea, shall we say.
Did you fight?
Mostly passive aggressively and mostly about driving styles. She's an ass rider. I also spent a lot of time as the passenger on the right side of the white line. Do you know what I mean? There was this one episode in Yellowstone when she was actually driving in the left lane of a two lane highway!! I guess that would put me as a passenger on the left side of the yellow line, which is scarier than rolling over those ridged warning lines. We sure know what those feel like. However, she is a good driver! Lisa's her name, speed's her game.
Why did you choose this trip?
It was on my list. I kind of see it as a "know thyself" thing. I have traveled quite a bit internationally but did not feel that knew MY land very well. Every time I say that I think of Woodie Gutherie.
Why in 2002?
Well, my sister Lisa graduated in December and was able to take the time off from her restaurant job. I have five weeks vacation and was anxious to get away for two. I wanted to show her some of my favorite cities and visit my friends in their cities. After 9/11, it seemed more important to explore America than the foreign places. For me anyhow.
How many miles did you drive? It felt like 9 gagillion at some points, like between Chicago and Denver, which we did in ONE day: 1100 miles! The official number was 4900 in 14 days. The change oil light was on for about 3000 of them.
We rented a 2002 white Pontiac Grand Am from National Car Rental. We named the car Cracker but it never really stuck.
What did you snack on?
Well, my sister did a great job of shopping and provided us with an array of cereals, her homemade trail mix, raisins, peanut butter and some whole wheat bread, and a few chocolate chip cookies, she couldn't bring the whole box because of my self control issues. And enough water to survive nuclear fallout.
How many CD's did you bring?
Well, I don't think we have an exact count but it was about 150. We never fight over music which was swell. We did get sick of our music however. We were very excited to break out the Pauly Mix once we entered the Pacific Time Zone. He made us a mix with instructions that it only be listened to once we arrived in PCT and we always follow instructions.
What was your favorite place?
Did you see any Jackalopes?
We were always just a minute behind a sighting. They're quick!
Who da ho?
I da ho! There is legal prostitution of natural beauty in that state. It's breathtaking.
You visited National Parks?
Yes, the national parks were one of the trip's objectives. We spent time at Rocky Mountain, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, and Craters on the Moon.
Yellowstone? Did you see Old Faithful?
Yes. Some roads in the park were closed the day prior because it had snowed so much but we were able to drive through without a problem. You go to the Old Faithful Visitors' Center and see what time the geyser is predicted to erupt within 20 minutes of the predicted time. It's exciting, I guess. It was very cold.
Did you miss NYC?
Not exactly. It was so exciting to have so many adventures ahead that missing NYC never really occupied my mind. Driving with NY plates was interesting because many people would comment and would automatically equate NY with NYC and that frustrated Lisa. She was like, "People! Hasn't anyone heard about the REST of New York State, like Buffalo? Hello!" I wore this blue hooded sweatshirt that has BROOKLYN written on it, and in Denver a woman only charged me for 10 bagels instead of 11 because she was from Brooklyn too.
Tell me about Whirly Ball.
In Chicago we stayed with my friend Keith. We played the drinking game Asshole with his friends and then headed out for a late night game of Whirly Ball, a game I believe to be indigenous to the Chicago area.Two teams of 6 are in bumper cars, each equipped with one of those scoop whiffle ball rackets. There are two basketball nets and the object is to whiz the ball through the net while riding around in bumper cars. It's quite violent. When we were leaving, we witnessed a teenager boy getting jumped and very beat up in the parking lot. For the rest of our trip, Lisa and I would punch one another, wrestle around and play Whirly Ball Parking Lot.
You celebrated your birthday in Chicago?
(Laughs). I'm a Scorpio. That means my birthday was NOT on May 18th, however we did celebrate it. My sister, Keith, his girlfriend and I enjoyed a delicious meal at this lovely Italian bistro close to Keith's place. We'd finished our meals and I ordered coffee and then smile when the soothing jazz is faded into a boisterous Italian rendition of Happy Birthday. A small, clapping, staff birthday train, you know the kind, makes its way across the restaurant… to me! Keith told the hostess it was my birthday and now the entire restaurant was singing to me! It was the best birthday ever. And the tiramisu! Maron!
Keith talks in his sleep?
He was the most gracious host and gave up his bed for us. Yes, the poor thing stayed with his gorgeous girlfriend instead. Well, the second night the three of us, Keith and Blandford sisters, stayed in his double bed. I was the meat. He has this touch lamp on the side of his bed, and throughout the night he kept grazing the light and it would turn on. He was also talking about ice cream the whole night…
You met Tony Blair on this trip?
Yes, and I kicked his ass in croquet! My smart, spunky, sassy girl Mary lives in Denver with her man, Bill-love. We visited them in and immediately noticed their croquet worthy backyard. As a thank you present for their five-star hospitality we took a trip to Target, oh the wonder! And we purchased the Eddie Bauer edition croquet set, which was the most expensive. One of Bill's friends is a conservative chap named Tony and he happens to fake a magnificent British accent, and is nicknamed Tony Blair. Ya, he was winning in croquet the entire game but with great skill I made a comeback and proceeded to send him far, far away. I won. I beat Tony Blair in croquet. I had quite a crush on Bill-love's other friend, um what's his name? He had like 3 first names and was so nice, cute and sweet and I just wanted to take him into the bathroom and smooch him and stuff. I should have recommended strip croquet. He would have been naked.
Where was the best hotel breakfast?
Portland, at the Silver Cloud Inn. They had a waffle iron, fat free yogurt, granola and skim milk, a rarity on the hotel breakfast circuit. Perhaps we were infatuated with the breakfast because it basically rained the entire time we were there and we needed some joy.
Was the weather nice in SF?
Beautiful. We were able to really enjoy our time there. We stayed with my super pal Geoff.
Geoff's toilet seat was broken?
There was a large crack in the toilet seat, yes. I made a joke about it and the next day his housemate Ryan comes home with a used toilet seat he scored from his construction job. Lisa and I sat making great efforts not to laugh as Geoff told Ryan how preposterous bringing home a used toilet seat was while Ryan expressed his dismay at Geoff not making ANY effort toward getting a new seat. Lisa and I talked about sending a pink padded toilet seat to Geoff at his office. But, well, ya we meant to.
You drove drunk?
I'm not sure if I was DWI worthy but the afternoon in Napa definitely caught up with me. It was a gorgeous, sunny day and I was super stoked from the whole experience. I stumbled upon an interest I was able to enjoy on a new level. Wine. Yum yum.
What don't you ever want to drive over again?
Mountains. Those things are terrible. They're great to ski down but SCREW the driving for miles up and down and all around them.
Lori Boogie Blandford is a traveler from Cobble Hill, Brooklyn.
Editor's Note: Tony Blair is the Prime Minister of England.