Lexington, VA (Population: 7,205)/No County Affiliation! (This is very cool, as Lexington has maintained independent status)/2020 Election Results: +32 Biden
Miles Driven: 476.59 (5,517.36 total/Cups of Coffee: 3 (74 total)/Lowest Gas Price: $4.35!/Number of States Visited: 22 [CA, NV, ID, WY, MT, ND, MN, IA, IL, IN, OH, PA, NY, MA, NH, ME, RI, CT, NJ, MD, WV, VA]/2020 Red States: 8 [ID, WY, MT, ND, IA, IN, OH, WV]/2020 Blue States: 14 [CA, NV, MN, IL, PA, NY, MA, NH, ME, RI, CT, NJ, MD, VA]
Lodging: The Days Inn, which after The Red Carpet debacle of yesterday, feels like six-star indulgence.
Somewhere around 3-4 matches into a live pro wrestling event, it's time to stretch the legs, grab some popcorn, hit the merchandise tables!, and take an intermission.
So on Day 27 of this monster road trip, let's do just that. Some random thoughts at intermission:
-Thumbs up: My editor BD Rumble, who has revived me at the wheel with timely texts educating me about music. Yesterday around 4 PM as the second cup of coffee was waning, I blasted the song "Don't Dream It's Over" by Crowded House, belted out the chorus at full strength, and avoided looking at anyone in the cars passing me. This led to a complete karaoke takeover, transforming the interior of the Ford Fusion into my own crumb-cluttered stage as I unapologetically cranked up New Found Glory's version of "The Glory of Love" and screamed along (I dare you to do this on a bad day and not smile). There are many situations where broader video access is a virtue--body cams for cops, holding elected officials accountable--this was not one of them. Suffice to say this scene was not recorded.
-Thumbs down: Indiana and Ohio. I'm sorry, but after a delightful 2,000-mile stretch of toll-free roads, I spent these two states awkwardly fishing deep into my pockets for loose change and cringing at the thought of the pile of photos of my license plate (and accompanying bills) that will be waiting for me in Oakland upon my return.
-Rest areas named for people. Is it actually a compliment to have your name attached to places best known for trucker bjs and selling Monster energy drinks to wash down some Horny Goat Weed? A species, a star, a building, OK, but a rest area?
-The app Seek is a delight. You can scan any plant for a few seconds and identify it to species. Very useful if you are interested in how flora changes across the country. Yes, I am writing about wrestlers but I am still a biologist.
-I couldn't ask for better names for an editor (Brant Rumble) and an agent (Farley Chase). I don't mean their level of clout (although both are heavy hitters and wonderful people), I literally mean the sound of their names.
-I still use an old school road atlas. I feel like Luke when he turns off the navicomputer in the Death Star trench and relies on the Force.
-Writing a book is really hard.
-Writing almost every day is really hard.
-How the hell did January 6 happen? I don't mean the bigger existential question of the threat to our democracy, I literally mean how did security get breached like that? Having now been in mulitple courthouses to research past litigation relating to wrestling, I haven't been able to get so much as an empty water bottle into the building and have had all my electronics confiscated upon entry.
-A wrestling ring is not a trampoline, and the ropes are not rubber bands. I have the scars to prove it.
-I still love North Dakota.
Brad Balukjian is on a nine-week road trip, driving 16,000 miles around the country for his next book, The Six Pack, to be published by Hachette in 2024, about myth vs. reality in pro wrestling and the true identities of 1980s WWF wrestlers. To read past posts, click on the back arrow below.