We drove through a time zone. I reset my watch, and 7:21 occurred again. I'll tell you what happened each time, but I also want to mention what happened earlier, and then what happened later.
My parents and sister and Karl were all headed east on I-80 while I was headed west. I haven't seen them in over a month, and don't know when we'll meet up again. So we phoned, picked an exit, and stopped at a McDonalds for a little while. Strange, but good. We got to see each other.
At the first 7:21, we were kinda all singing a little - throwing in parts to that Montell Jordan song, "This is how we do it." Savannah seems to know that song pretty well.
At the second 7:21 we're listening to music, driving along. Probably Modest Mouse, though I can't remember now.
Later in the evening some cops pulled a gun on Tim and accused me of running from them. I'll explain. It got late, and camping didn't occur, so it was decided that we should sleep in the van. The van is MY house, but somehow I didn't care and just went along with a plan that I probably should have shut down. I definitely should have vetoed the parking spot choice. I know better. We parked by a large gas station convenience store, but it was not a truck stop. It was too small. Me and Tim and Casey drank enough. I was getting tired, and Casey puked twice out the side door. I decided to make some space and relinquish my bed. I took my bivy sack setup to some tall grass and trees beside an adjacent McDonalds. My spot was well hidden, and a pretty good spot. I was a good distance from the parking lot. I was invisible and comfortable. I was almost asleep when I heard cops calling my name and shining lights - they were combing through the grass. I got right up, and was in handcuffs in a jiffy. "Why'd you run from us?" asked the cop who didn't claim to beat people up. This was a confusing question. I didn't run from shit. I kinda jogged through the tall grass to my spot. I jog through tall grass instead of walking slowly. I high-step jog because it's better that way. I figured I couldn't say much to help my case with the police, so I just shut my mouth and didn't say anything. Always a pretty good idea. So they cuffed me and grabbed my stuff (My air mattress was even inflated - the true sign of a comfortable fugitive). They didn't let me put on shoes, because I was a dumbass. That actually turned out ok - nothing sharp. The tough cop said stuff to convince me how tough he was. He seemed like a true violent piece of garbage. They sat me on the curb by my van with the others, right on a pile of ants. They were black ants, and it wasn't quite a swarm. They crawled up my back and feet and bit me up pretty good. It was very uncomfortable. Cops found weed in the van. Mine. Nobody claimed it because it wasn't theirs, and I was still in shut-the-fuck-up mode. There were way too many cops. Several cars. I don't think they wanted much more than to fuck with us. At the time, I was pretty sure I was headed to jail. I didn't think it was a big deal - but I was pretty sure I'd be going. Well. They made Savannah smash my bowl using my multi-tool hammer, and they messed around for awhile longer. Talking and making fun of us. The girl cop told her partner that the weed smelled horrible - she'd never smoke that stuff. She had a point. She knew her weed, and this was not very good stuff. The cops changed their tone when they found out that we were all basically harmless. The cop who pulled a gun on Tim started being extra friendly to him. They let us go.
We slept in Iowa after crossing the Mississippi. I didn't sleep much. I remained sitting in the passenger seat. I'll be happy when I'm back to driving an empty nest, but I really like these guys I'm traveling with a lot. They're good people for sure. Our friendship was sealed with a cop encounter. I would have felt more guilty for having weed if I wasn't sharing it with everyone every night. I only felt a little guilty. And ultimately, very lucky.
I can take care of myself infinitely better when I'm alone. Four people is a crowded van. These guys stick out like a sore thumb with their dirty punk bum style. I like their style, but I wouldn't want to drag myself into a Comfort Inn for a free breakfast looking like I want to raise eyebrows. They weren't comfortable getting free breakfast. It's not very convenient to look different. I chopped off my mohawk before I left. I feel like I can slip under the radar better than ever. I don't look rich, poor, smart or stupid. You can't guess what kind of music I listen to, what I do for work, or where I live. I'm nearly un-stereotypeable. I'll put the mohawk back on soon enough; I do prefer it. And I still get free continental breakfast either way. It's all about keeping your head up and walking slowly with a confident smile. Bagels, hot waffles, coffee, fruit, local news and weather. Eat slowly. Savor the simplicity.