Crossroads
Copyright © Erik Pennebaker, All rights reserved

The convergence of lines is one of the most basic and most delicious structures in photographs. In fact, whatever isn't a convergence of lines is not a convergence of lines. So there ya go, it's everything.

This was probably Colorado. Maybe Kansas. Perhaps Nebraska but probably not. I could figure it out, but does it matter?

Coming out of the eye-candy mountains into the flat stretches of eastern Colorado and Kansas is abrupt and disappointing. However, as the sun goes low and the silos and fields glow, there is something endearing. We spent three and a half days working our way across the flatlands, entirely off the interslab until we reached Illinois on the start of the last day. It was a jagged course which I think was maybe a little too indirect for Cha Cha, and by the end I was getting low on patience too. It's a hard thing; off the interstate things are much more interesting, but you lose time slowing for each town, wandering a bit to find a decent motel. The real side roads are the best, paved sometime in the last twenty years (whether it needed it or not), used mainly by farmers. But you won't be doing seventy on these things, not if you value your safety. Over the sleepy hills lay deer and dogs and strange farm equipment chugging along, and who knows what else hiding in the shadows. So it's a sliding scale, and the more interesting you make it, the longer you'll be there.

We had set our sights on Fairbury, in southeastern Nebraska, for Friday night. A terrific storm brewed behind us, and we thought we would stay clear, until it outflanked us from the north, just ten minutes from our hotel. I didn't stop to get liners on. Had I known the force of it I might have. I hadn't really told Cha Cha what it's like on the bike in pounding rain and wind; it has a rhythm I find pleasant, although it does require a lot of concentration. Being a passenger while someone else rides in the rain sounds unappealing. Cha Cha squeezed me like the world was falling away under her, until I had to frantically wave her off. The squeezing made it difficult to feel the bike under me, to let it tilt into the gusts of wind. In the end we got pounded for five minutes or so. Five more minutes and we'd have been soaked through from head to toe. We got to the motel ($30 with wi-fi) and Cha Cha hopped into the shower while I hurried to the grocery store to get a six-pack of corona. We ordered Pizza Hut and watched TV as the storm caught back up with our position, assailing the bike as it stood on its center stand, like a statue, all outside the closed door of our cozy motel room.

[ tags: colorado crossroads dmc-lx3 kansas motorcycle nebraska road travel ]

World's Largest Ball of Twine: Action Shot
Copyright © Erik Pennebaker, All rights reserved

In the old times, there were feats of strength and acts of great courage. Now, we make the biggest version of a thing, and it stands as a permanent feat of strength. To me, its static nature leaves a lot to be desired, however it's an incredible window into the squirming soul of Americana.

You don't seem to find these at Interstate exits. In fact I saw this, the world's largest pistachio, a huge being and a medium-sized being completely by chance. Once you are in tune with it, you find your path leads right to it. It's just the physics of travel.

[ tags: ball dmc-lx3 kansas largest motorcycle of travel twine worlds ]

World's Largest Ball of Twine: Close-up
Copyright © Erik Pennebaker, All rights reserved

This was something like 1.7 million feet of twine.
[ tags: ball dmc-lx3 kansas largest motorcycle of travel twine worlds ]

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