airbnb stays: 4

babies born to our hosts or their close friends during our stay: 2 (austin, TX; chicago, IL)

beach days: 3 (reef point, CA; sullivan's island, SC; folly beach, SC)

books finished: 2 (a clash of kings, george r.r. martin; rats: observations on the history and habitat of the city's most unwanted inhabitants, robert sullivan)

favorite stop: marfa, TX

favorite third-party observation: "your skeleton is glowing." - brielle, 7 (phoenix, AZ)

fireworks spending: $12

ghost tours: 1 (charleston, SC)

least favorite stop: austin, TX(!)

lightning storms: 5

miles driven: 4,000

movie nights: 2 (showgirls @ cinespia; me and earl and the dying girl @ alamo drafthouse)

museum visits: 4 geffen contemporary at moca, CA; chinati foundation, TX; sixth floor museum, TX; johnny cash museum, TN)

pocket squares purchased: 3

times the car has stalled: ~12 ...on the highway: ~5

uber drivers who turned off their meters and took us somewhere else they figured we'd like: 2 (nashville, TN; asheville, NC)

writing assignments filed from the road: 2

*we're still on the road, mind you; this is an anniversary tally, as we've been at it for a month.


ROAD TRIP UPDATE: VIII {11:00, nashville}

the fellow tasked with showing us around our nashville airbnb (a landing spot chosen on the fly back in marfa after our original booking turned shady—but that's a story for another time) received the news that he'd be meeting us around midnight with good cheer; he's an uber driver, and was out and about anyway. i also imagine that it's difficult to chide travelers delayed by sky-splitting lightning storms and life-splitting births, but that could vary from person to person.

we arrived in chicago with enough of saturday evening before us to join my college roommate and her husband for a pub dinner and a fireflyful walk back to their row house on the north side. ben made us lower wackers (tequila, drambuie, and malört, which i meant to pick up on the way out of town), we passed through the baby gate that separates smallcatland from largecatland (eddie, their seven-pound abyssinian, is no match for zeke, their 18-pound tabby) to use the bathroom one last time, and we all went to bed. i found ben drinking coffee in the kitchen the next morning. "here's an exciting thing," he said. "jen's water broke last night." my favorite theatre pros grabbed their go bag, swapped their afternoon baby shower for a trip to the hospital, and were gone. joe, eddie, zeke, and i blinked at each other. "prow," said zeke, who would eventually describe an entire boat.

we left town yesterday afternoon. "a person came out of your wife!" i whispered at ben. "i know, it's crazy!" he whispered back. that person is called leif, an excellent name for an early explorer. some babies love summer so much they steal an extra month of it; diminutive thief, i salute you.


ROAD TRIP UPDATE: VII {18:15, somewhere in arkansas}

we made it all the way to arkadelphia before encountering restroom sketchiness, which is impressive from several angles: we've been on the road in earnest since we left california last wednesday, we average two gas station stops each day, and we concluded joe's birthday last night with $10 death in the afternoons at a steampunk bar screening episodes of the golden girls. the swampy situation in that shell station just now made me feel, if i'm being honest, that this cross-country thing is well and truly underway.

a long-haired guy with a handlebar mustache was smoking on the steps of our dallas hotel as i carried luggage (and, okay, fireworks) from our room to the car this morning. "zat yer beemer?" "it is!" i said. he smiled: "that's so fuckin' cool."

we bought a bunch of arty cheese in marfa on saturday when it looked like we wouldn't be able to convince anyone to make us dinner; after lucking out and inheriting someone's reservation at a restaurant down the street, we packed the cheese in a little foam stripes cooler and have been chauffeuring it across texas. tonight could be cheese night, as we'll arrive at our mississippi shack long after the local barbecue we couldn't eat anyway has found a cooler of its own for the evening. this is fitting, i think: if robert clay (the father of seven who made moonshine in our shack) is to drag us back to the afterlife with him, we should go full of cambozola.


the dirty dozen {twelve plus five* excerpts from yelp reviews of the mexican free-tailed bat colony beneath austin's congress avenue bridge}

01 So, it was a slow process and just looked like a bunch of birds flying around.

02 It's neat to see a ton of bats once in your lifetime.

03 The ones in Houston come out at sunset like clockwork, even in winter.

04 Also, to people who bring children, there is a smart-ass who sells light up swords. Seriously. So be prepared for that.

05 Maybe I'll try to get in a canoe next time and see if it is a different experience.

06 The bats came out, did their show. People shrieked as they got pooped on by some.

07 I could see the little baby bats flying around the columns of the bridge and got excited for them.

08 This experience gets 5 stars because I wanted one thing only: to see A LOT of bats.

09 They just kept coming out!

10 I highly recommend the San Antonio bat population for better, more defendable viewing under the Camden St bridge!

11 No, San Antonio bats aren't anything compared to the Austin bats at their prime.

12 Perhaps there is something to be said about seeing something like that in such an urban environment, but it's nothing too incredible or remarkable. It's just nature. And I think the description, "thousands of bats flying out from under a bridge" kind of sums it up.

13 no bats

14 I like the bats, I have seen them several times, they eat a lot of bugs and they do a good job of it.

15 I would also just like to comment that I appreciated the sun going down and the view more than the bats.

16 I'm trying to figure out how anyone can give the bats anything but five stars.

17 Bats under a bridge. They fly out. End of story.

*i am a bat-comment enthusiast.


ROAD TRIP UPDATE: VI {08:45, tucson}

we staggered to the front desk at our tucson hotel something like forty minutes before they let our room go for the evening (we took our sweet time getting out of orange county, and i took my sweet time getting through the mountains between san diego and yuma when a sudden thunderstorm flashed me back to hydroplaning and totaling a car in the rain when i was 18). "i really like your shirt," said the fellow who checked us in. if you would know true and constant love, internets, adopt a shelter animal and/or find yourself an old siouxsie and the banshees tee on ebay and wear it around when you travel.

i have been up since six or so this morning, when i began to stir and worry about the article i had to send to new york by eight. i wrote most of said article in the passenger seat as the interstate unspooled behind us last night, which is either the loveliest or the most terrible thing that's happened to me since i declared myself a freelance writer last fall. a framed poster on the plaster wall behind this desk promotes DILLINGER DAYS, an annual celebration of the anniversary of john dillinger's capture by the tucson police department in 1934. i have outlived john dillinger by five years so far. there are four pairs of earplugs tucked behind the shampoo and lotion in the bathroom.