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Category Archives: diary

Diary: An Urbanist in Okinawa

I had to step out of Korea this past weekend, and Peach, my discount airline of choice, offered three possible destinations: Osaka, the first city I ever visited in Japan and still the one in which I spend the most time; Tokyo, which I could stand to explore some more but which Peach only flies into […]

Diary: This American Road, Raleigh (and Asheville)

Before arriving in Raleigh, the final destination of this cross-country road trip, we stopped in Asheville, one of those places often found alongside the likes of Athens, Georgia and Marfa, Texas in clickbait slideshows about America’s Coolest Cities of Under 100,000 People. It didn’t answer my long-standing question about who’s doing the clicking and why (coolness or low […]

Diary: This American Road, Memphis, Nashville, and Knoxville

We pulled into Memphis at night and drove to Knoxville the following day, stopping in Nashville somewhere in the middle, then rolled on to North Carolina the morning after that. If you need to see the three biggest cities in Tennessee and have absolutely no more than 36 hours in which to do it, I […]

Diary: This American Road, Ozark

Ozark, Arkansas — it sounds like the name of a freeway exit you’d take pains to avoid using, or the name of one of those forbidding small towns in movies where the main character’s car breaks down and Bad Things Happen but you ultimately kind of blame the victim because, come on, Ozark, Arkansas. But we […]

Diary: This American Road, Oklahoma City

I’d looked forward to our arrival in Oklahoma City, less because I knew anything about it than because it came after an eight-hour, three-state-spanning drive from Albuquerque, through what I mostly remember as a sense-deadeningly repetitive pastoral punctuated by vast fields of windmills. After that, I felt just about ready to settle forever in any place with […]

Diary: This American Road, Tucumcari

If Gallup exemplifies the struggling Route 66 town, Tucumcari exemplifies the kind that has simply laid down. We pulled in off the 40 to check out an expresso bar with an airplane permanently parked next to it that my dad told us about, but between there and the freeway exit we passed many more dilapidated, abandoned, or collapsed buildings than […]

Diary: This American Road, Albuquerque

Even just 800 miles into this trip, I don’t care if I never see another “unspoiled” landscape again. Spend enough hours driving through rolling hills or dry scrub or big skies or whatever, and you — or at least I — start to long for any sign of civilization, no matter how unpromising, even just […]

Diary: This American Road, Gallup

Living in southern California, one gets to Arizona every now and then, but to get to New Mexico requires something like volition — which means I certainly hadn’t set foot in New Mexico before. Nor had I ever actually driven over the California-Arizona border, the point at which the landscape goes all Krazy Kat. Having read collections […]

Diary: This American Road, Flagstaff

The impetus for this road trip across America came from my dad’s move across America, from Huntington Beach to Raleigh. He’s driving the moving truck full of the last load of boxes, furniture, and such, and we’re driving his newly purchased Kia Sorento. I’ll probably have driven more in these two weeks than I’ve driven […]

Diary: This American Road, Barstow

The second phase of our farewell tour of America (if a Cher-style farewell tour, with little pretense of actual long-term retirement and plans for future performance more or less already locked in) has begun. The first phase took us north, up the West Coast from Los Angeles to Alameda, Ashland, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, and back down […]