#TilTheWheelsComeOff: Day One

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We did it. My friend Jason and I left for our cross-country yesterday morning at the brightly dark time of 3:53 am. We're sitting at a coffee shop in Colorado Springs called fifty fifty, in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. I've named our road trip #TilTheWheelsComeOff. The hashtag is currently trending about as well as the one some sorority chick somewhere tweeted out last night, #ThisIsTotesTheBestNightOfMyLifeLikeSoFar. I promised you some blog updates, so here we go.

I'm going to give you a random run-down of some of our highlights so far. You'll want to stick around for the story at the end. Let me know if this is all too scattered for you, if you'd rather me focus on one thought or aspect more, or any other general feedback!

Best New Knowledge

"Elefantenrennen (elephant racing) is the German word for when one truck tries to overtake another truck with a minimal speed difference, blocking all lanes in the process."

Now you know the name for this nonsense: elephant racing. (And we ran into several of them yesterday.)

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Best Food Find

Papa Roux outside of Indianapolis, IN - Great Cajun/Creole sandwich spot.

Best Sounds Playing in Our System

Twin Forks - Twin Forks Sam Smith - In the Lonely Hour Michael Jackson - XScape Sleeping At Last - Keep No Score Shane Koyszan - Remembrance Year

Best Surprise

We were driving through Illinois when I started to search for our required daily ice cream stop. By chance, the ice cream spot that popped up on Google Maps happened to be in the Mark Twain Historic District right along the Mississippi River. We got to eat ice cream, melt in a disgusting amount of humidity, and check out some cool Mark Twain-related stuff, including his childhood home.

Trying to get in touch with my inner Tom Sawyer. Jason and I decided we're more Huckleberry Finn guys anyway:

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The Mississippi looks cool from far away. Up close, it's nast-ee:

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Best Part of Kansas at Night

We decided to get off I-70 and take Route 40, which is the first federally funded transcontinental highway. It's exactly the empty, small road I wanted to be on while driving through Kansas.

We pulled off to the side of Route 40, got out of the car, and lay down in the middle of the road. The moon's waning and doesn't come out until later in the morning, so the sky was super clear and we could even see some of the Milky Way cloud. First thing that happened when I looked up--huge, streaking shooting star. Off to the distance in one section of the horizon, we had a show of lightning from storms we found out were all the way out in Nebraska.

Perfection.

(Also: as we drove, lightning bugs would smash into our windshield and create a neon splatter. So disgusting/cool.)

Worst Part of Kansas at Night

We kept running into interesting little things as we drove through 40 in Kansas. At one point, we saw this:

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"World's Largest Czech Egg"--might be the coolest thing Kansas has to claim. We had fun with the egg, anyway.

While we were outside here, we discovered the worst part of Kansas at night:

The mosquitos.

Dude. Kansas has giant, killer mosquitos.

When we got back into the car after taking all of the obligatory "I'm holding up this giant freakin' egg!" pictures, we thought were safe. But no.

Suddenly, I heard buzzing all around me. We had at least three or four of these bloodthirsty monsters in the car with us, looking to feed. We ducked. We swatted. We clapped. We slapped the windows and ceiling.

I felt something on my face, and I can't even tell you exactly what happened in the moment, but this was the aftermath:

Blood all over my face. Blood all over my hand. Splatters of blood on my hoodie. On my jeans. On my steering wheel.

Looked like a scene from freaking Carrie.

I got the demon mosquito, though--somehow was lying on my steering wheel, covered in my blood, a mess of legs and wings and Satan's steroids. I drove away horrified. Worst part is, I sent out a distress call on Twitter, and none of my friends cared. Except Denny. He followed up with me, because he loves me and is a real friend.

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Forget the rest of you. I could have died last night--sucked dry like a prune by the night predators of Kansas.

Yet I live to see another day and another adventure. Stay tuned for the next update.