It is dark at the Vince Lombardi Rest Stop. We learn on CNN Morning that burglars in India are plying their trade naked, by walking into peoples houses nude they embarrass their victims so much that the occupants leave. Thus allowing the burglars time to take whatever they want. Soon we are re-wedged into the Explorer, the BatUV . Daybreak. Delicate arcs of power lines swoop across the smooth purple gradient of the dawn sky. They are carried by stiff multi-armed stick figure Shivas who grasp their pulsing electrons gingerly.

There is nothing like the sight of an oil refinery at dawn.

Power lines grapple with the girders of suspension bridges and are sprinkled with tiny winking lights. I get the feeling of the raw industriality of the place, like it had no other purpose but to channel steel containers from boat to truck and back again.

Northeastern New Jersey, in the textured orange of dawn it all looks abandoned. Yet I know that it will soon come to life. This place exists for other places, the things that come here are bound elsewhere, cars, containers, airplanes. It's power plants only serve to light up the Avenue of the Americas at the heart of that nearby island, with the empire state building pointing up at it's center, like Barad-dur, black and spiky.

Baltimore. Vehicle swapping at Pyrogenics house, I ride with him. Night. The cop drawls "Just turn your headlights on, this is only a warning.....well, if you're disappointed I can give you a ticket." Then we drove across the street to the "Bojangles" and received the bounty that is bojangles grease soaked chicken delight.

Though most of the nighttime travel scenery remains the same, there is a subtle change in retail signage that signifies passing into a foreign region of the country. The high-speed pastiche of glowing signs slowly loses its Roy Rogers and Dunkin' Donuts, then adds Stuckeys and Waffle House.

Passing into Georgia we are edified by the big ass peach. Not the "big ass" peach, but the big "ass peach"

Atlanta. The next morning I left my pillow in the motel room, but Target (Tarjay) came to the rescue and provided me with a Hello Kitty pillow, to be my companion for the rest of the trip. Just as we prepared to leave, we had to return to jps to fix her computer, apparently it breaks if you touch it. That accomplished we rejoined everyone at the QT gas station and drove through the Atlanta rush hour. All the while we desperately tried to keep the 5 cars together.

Florida. Distant lights over a dark sea, not a new thing in the history of the world, but a welcome and soothing sight nonetheless. It is calming in the same way that "The Meaning of Life" playing in the living room is not calming. I could wax wistful, invoking the final passages of The Great Gatsby. But I think I won't.

Wren is sick, sick sick, poor girl, I hope she can uncurl from that fetal position tomorrow.

John Boys Shoppe serves good cheap food, several steps above Waffle House. So.....satisfying, and the waitress invites all 40 of us back tomorrow night. General Lee amuses us with tales of seasickness. And I have a fabulous bowl of grits, the king of breakfast foods. What more could I ask for?

Now begins the search for a place to sleep, find a corner and curl up...

Metacognizant laughs the loudest. And her hair is a smurf holocaust.

Day 2. Florida. Shit. I'm still only in Florida. Every time I think I'm going to wake up back on the road...
The ambience here is by The Ocean©, both sonic and olfactory, so damn nice. We have reached siesta time, everyone is mellow. I guess it's time for the introspection. I'm surrounded by people I only know slightly, but I do not feel alienated, everyone is nice. It is amazing to be here, after so long in the car. Weirder still is how that car trip feels like it was only about 8 hours, perhaps I'm blocking some of it out. It wasn' that bad.

....need lunch, or sugar, or alcahol... many noders here...

Much noder love was exchanged in the massage line, oh yeah. We exchanged horrible horrible jokes, then walked on the overbright moonlit beach with brainwave. A convoy left for the waffle house at 12:40, it involved a bribe for a sober driver to take everyone, that was me, surprisingly. On our return we were pleased to note the arrival of Wonko and radlab0, who is the coolest. She gave me an elbow massage and a pack of bubbleicious. I have not blown bubbles in 15 years.

Pyrogenic can do the best beer cooler dancing to pulp fiction ever.

Day 3. Cooked bacon this morning, got to make it crunchy like it should be. Yesterday we ventured to the island of St. Vincent, which was supposed to have a lighthouse, but didn't. However, it did look exactly like the set for a bad Jurassic park knockoff, and liha make some startlingly convincing Raptor attack noises.

I have never partied this much, ever. I am enjoying the constant pot and drinking, keepin' the buzz.

The waves are calm and cool today. The sky is thin and stretched, but Zim provides merriment. "Why is there bacon on the soap ?" "I made it myself!" I was told, and I agree, that Zim rocks because there is no moral and because Gir is the id.

There were many funny things last night that I cannot remember.

Not as inviting as before, the outside is more wintery than on previous days, It has the cold blue January light about it. The ultra-white sand can look like snow if you're not paying attention. But this room is very cozy, and here are so many people to talk to. The sea is calm and weak, perhaps there is wind. Still, it beckons a walk. And a bonfire later. Napping abounds on couches in front of TVs and secluded on beds. I pen-tattooed Bitca's arm, opposite randirs manga star. It is all a swirl of caffeine, booze, pot and sleep deprivation.

I walked on the beach and listened to Dead Can Dance. I lay down and gazed up, reversing things. I imagined I was looking down at a layer of clouds and below it the blue, blue ocean.

Later on, at the bonfire, it was very cold, though he 100 yards of cherry bombs were impressive. Not nearly drunk enough, we walked back to the house along the beach and began drinking, for real. I finally slept at 3:30 on my hello kitty pillow.

New Years Day. Heading home, the cleaning and preparation were effortless, though the weather was cold. We headed to General Lees place for traditional southern new years feast: collard greens, ham, corn bread and black eyed peas. I ate two plates of it was so good, even though I was full. Going home is exciting too. So many things to get back to.

The weather sucks. slimy cold rain. Bitca is a buffy trivia goddess, and she glittered my eyes, so she rocks. Ccunning cooks a lot, and well. Mitzi states her opinions unequivocally. radlab0 gave me a kiss. wrapped in foil. maus rocks the house, and deserves all our praise. randir, well we already knew he was cool. indra: fun fun fun. Wonko makes a good school girl and provides us with crunchy Zimmy goodness.

As we sat at the Wendy's on the way out of town I was pondering the life of privilege we all lead here as young millennial Americans. None of us are "rich" yet it is possible for 40 of us from all over the country to do this. To meet on the internet, then decide to form caravans and gather at a beach house in Florida. Just the fact the we all have enough extra cash to rent cars and houses and buy food and alcohol is amazing. And we have the highway infrastructure and automotive technology and the disposable income and the free time not working on our fathers fields or some hellish factory to make it all happen. Truly amazing.

Day 6. I've never been to Kentucky, so it's nice to add a new state to my travels. Our numbers are dwindling, we drop off wren in an hour or so, soon we will loose the intrepid brassmule, as he splits off for his home in PA. The clouds are all cirrus, cold and distant, the light is bleached and the trees, bare. They follow the undulating ridgeline like bristles on the back of a boar, the only thing green now is the kudzu choking the hillsides. But there is joy, being homeward bound. And the fun of this whole experience is sinking in, and the smile cannot keep itself from my face, a grin of satisfaction at the accomplishment of so much at the cost of so little. All these people, gathered to join and to revel in our sharing; some are quiet and beautiful, others bright and giggly, all with a common purpose. Well, perhaps common purpose is going too far, our diversity is vast. What is unique is how each of us has found e2 and found in it some joy, some meaning specific to our lives and our dreams. It is finding this that ties us all together and makes us cross continents to be with others who have that same feeling.