Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Green Tortoise

I did not take this picture. It comes from Green Tortoise.

For two weeks we traveled, on a unique version of the Great American Road Trip. We didn’t go like Sal and Dean did, balling that jack hard along Route 66; rather we rambled in style—de gustibus non est disputandum, mind—on the Green Tortoise, a green-painted, ramshackle and raucous “sleeper bus” that makes the trip several times a year (along with its turtle brethren) from East to West Coast.

We loaded up our colorful packs in NYC; and as we rolled out of Manhattan across the George Washington Bridge, a sense of swelling rose within our breasts. As Simon and Garfunkel sang, “We’ve all come to look for America.”

And what’d’ya know—we found it. From the Big Apple it was down the Eastern Seaboard, to Cape Hatteras and Okefenokee, where the gators lurked in the swamps. Thence we turned right and started that long crossing. We partied all night in New Orleans, where one of us, we thought, had got pinched by the cops. We had a big party down by a Louisiana river, spanned by one of the last elevator bridges in the country. The morning after, our campsite looked like the scene of some mad war. We blew through the rest of the South and right by Houston, which loomed up on the left, an alien planet silver and shining.

Out west, though, where we began to meander and linger, was where things got really interesting. We smoked a joint among the prickly pears and wandered stoned through the cool Carlsbad Caverns. We gambled in Vegas, the Great Unwashed at Caesar’s blackjack tables. One early morning after a hard rain we coasted calmly into the soaked, red Valley of the Gods—and, after a hike as we drank “cowboy coffee” on a hill, the strains of Van Morrison’s “And It Stoned Me” reached our ears for the first time ever and, well, stoned us.

After that was denouement. We pulled, ragged and ravished, into San Francisco and the Green Tortoise Hostel in North Beach, just up from where Ginsberg published Howl. Fog-wracked and fresh, San Fran felt like a city with no memory—but memories, of a whole continent behind us, were all we had left.

5 comments:

Jake-Freedom said...

Dude - I LOVE IT.

If you don't publish something of your own soon I am going to be forced to plagiarize your shit myself.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Joe Gordon said...

Am I correct that on this Green Tortise adventure, the Hunterstache was born?

Hunter Slaton said...

Thanks Jacob; I'm trying.

Joe, you are correct sir: the Hunterstache was born in a Vegas bathroom.

Emily said...

Carlsbad Caverns are the best. My great-aunt and uncle lived there. Well, in Carlsbad, not in the actual caves. I went there when I was seven. I remember bats, a sack lunch, and a bottomless pool. That was at the caves, not at their house.

Hunter Slaton said...

Do you think Proust would have written the same book, Emily, had his memory of youth been not a madeleine, but rather "bats, a sack lunch, and a bottomless pool"? I dunno, but if so, that's a thing I'd like to read.