I had taken to calling it a pilgrimage to invest it with some special meaning, even as I avoided actually scheduling the trip. But it turns out, the term "pilgrimage" would prove accurate for at least couple of reasons.
First: I was feeling inwardly guided to make the journey while having difficulty explaining just why. Second: Especially applicable to pilgrimages of any distance or duration – I figured this was the one chance I had to do this.
450 miles due west by automobile. Destination and base camp: the community of Atlantic, Iowa with its 7,100 residents. Never heard of it? Get in line and it’s a long one. I asked someone who grew up in Iowa City if he’d ever been to Atlantic. Hadn’t even heard of it, which made me want to go even more. It seemed wherever I floated the idea, I found encouragement.
Ultimately, I drove out to Atlantic, Iowa with the simple intention of spending one week. What follows is my way of explaining why I didn’t spend a week taking in Paris or Istanbul instead.
The soundtrack for such a long journey is essential. But my wheels would be rented and carmakers hadn’t been installing CD players for the last four model years. So propped up on the passenger seat, a boombox powered by six D batteries. I’m playing selections here from the various albums I took along. Kept me good company as my only company. A couple of wide-open pieces here to set the mood.
Title, Artist, Album
Hejira, Joni Mitchell, Hejira
Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, Haden/Metheny, Under The Missouri Sky
Moon River, Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast At Tiffanys
High School Confidential, Jerry Lee Lewis, Anthology
Be True To Your School, Beach Boys, Good Vibrations / 30 Years
Stay In School, Otis Redding, The Otis Redding Story
Iowa Stubborn, Jimmie Giuffre Orchestra, Atlantic and Verve
Big Country, Talking Heads, More Songs About Buildings and Food
Across The Great Divide, The Band, The Band
The Apartment Song, Tom Petty, Full Moon Fever
How Little We Know, Frank Sinatra, Sinatra’s Sinatra