The Eternal Road Trip (Part 1)

Installment #1 Packing and Strange Memories
Installment #2
Puzzlement in the Midwest--The End of an Addiction--A Sweet Farewell
Installment #3 Night Drivin'
Installment #4 Bad Noise
Installment #5 Desert Secrets
Installment #6 The Project
Installment #7 Rick's time
Installment #8 Confused Revelation

Editor's note: There is no end to the human thirst for adventure. Since the beginning of recorded history, people have set out to explore, conquer, and see the world around them. Vertical Jones is not only a record of peoples journeys into the vertical world, but also an expression of our desire, our Jones, to experience the ecstasy of the new, the raw exhilaration of the journey.

In this spirit of Vertical Jones, The Eternal Road trip will be our first ongoing, serialized story. As it stands, the story has not been written. It will grow frequently, updated a couple times each month. Whether you log in from an office suite or auto body shop, stop in and see where the story goes. And don't go Jones'n too long. --SM

Part one:
Packing and Strange Memories
By Sean McCoy
There is a special sort of satisfaction in packing a bag for a long weekend getaway. Just open up a bag and throw in two t-shirts, a pair of pants, some shorts, maybe even the luxury of a change of underwear or socks. Grab the bag of climbing gear and out the door you go. Work's worries grow dull and the human mind focuses, for a short time, on just being human.

A week long trip takes a bit more planning. The general realities of personal hygiene may become an issue. For many people, a toothbrush is essential. Others bring such oddities as deodorant and makeup but we will not go there. Not now, not on the brink of an adventure that will stretch on into infinity.

When packing for an eternal trip, there are no rules to follow. Personal belongings take on a new meaning. That pillow embroidered by a tenth grade girlfriend, the pictures of the trip to Orlando, the box of roughly worked silver jewelry from freshman art class; they all change from sentimental objects of desire to things that, no matter how they are mashed, will just not fit into the back of a Honda Civic.

Thus are the dilemmas faced by an eternal road tripper. On the side of a residential street in southeast Minneapolis, one man pondered a small mountain made up of all his earthly possessions--or more exactly, his earthly possessions that would not fit into his mildly abused Honda Civic.

To a passer by, an innocent observer, the wild manner with which this soon to be traveler was jumping on his trunk would have seemed strange, if not completely absurd. But to the climber, a 27-year-old bobcat driver who had just, during one funky whirlwind of a day, been fired from his job for deliberately and ruthlessly flipping over an illegally parked Porsche, his action was justified. His rash decisions and illogical behavior suited him well. Rick was an odd man, and he loved himself.

Sometimes Rick really thought that someone up above must love him, too. He had been blessed with a strong body and passion for the mountains. He had loved his job as a bobcat operator, and even while stomping heavily on the thin sheet metal of his car's trunk, he felt a little bad that he would never again spin 360's on a frozen downtown street at midnight.

He stopped pounding on his car and sat on the bumper. Images of the past months' weirdness swirled through his mind. First, his girlfriend had broken up with him because, in her words, he "hadn't planned for the future." That was her way of saying he wouldn't amount to more than a pimple on the butt of time. She left on a Tuesday afternoon with her best friend's brother for parts unknown.

That was the start of it. The start of the long, drawn out drinking binge that had not only lead to Rick's demise as a bobcat operator for a downtown snow removal firm, but also his subsequent resurrection as an eternal road tripper.

"Bad medicine," Rick thought looking over the pile of assorted junk that spilled from his car. An '80s vintage boom-box with a broken cassette player had fallen out of the trunk and lay smashed on the street. A pair of well worn soccer shoes sat, ready to play, under a pile of old clothing and bad compact disks. His cell phone lay face down in a shallow, dirty puddle.

Rick focused his eyes on the phone. So many times that phone had brought bad news. So many times it had disturbed his sleep, ruined otherwise great sex, or called him to work.

Rick's eyes narrowed on the wet plastic phone laying face down in the sidewalk. He slowly stood, looking vengefully upon it.

"No more," Rick said. "I'm done with your dastardly self." He raised his foot in a ridiculous manner to stomp down hard on the phone.

"No more roaming charges," he smiled. "No more, 'state and federal taxes,' no more."

Rick smiled hugely. Here it was, freedom at last. He lowered his foot to touch the phone lightly, to line up his heel just right for a fatal blow. Then, he raised it quickly to crush the little bugger. But the phone would not yield without a fight.

His cell phone rang.