About this project
UPDATE 5/18: Fully funded! THANK YOU!! Check out the updates for stretch goals and new rewards (Last Scion novena candles)!
Every backer at the $25 level or up now has a chance to win a handcrafted, unique, one-of-a-kind Buddy Christ shrine! Check out the updates for details!
Twelve years ago today, I was sitting in a field in North Dakota, locked out of my car after getting too excited to see a recreation of Copenhagen's little mermaid statue in a small town park. A retired private investigator named Daniel wandered by, and proceeded to spend the next two hours rounding up local farmers' kids with arms small enough to reach through my back window to unlock the door, while telling me all about the history of the town, the statue, and the statue's creator.
We bonded, hard. We talked about my trip, and what it meant to be American, while staring at a tiny sad mermaid in the middle of wheat country.
As shocking as this may be to hear, the 2016 election process was difficult for some. What shook me more than the endless news cycles and strange outcomes was the realization of how sharply divided Americans have become, in so many ways, and how the city/country division feels wider than ever. I'm city, but with my rancher ancestry, I've always felt at home in both settings.
Today, I’m sitting on my keister on a saggy couch in my micro-unit studio apartment in the Bay Area. Despite being surrounded by a teeming metropolis rich in art and career options, I am very much alone. I had cold tomatoes for dinner last night. As for sex... let's not even go there. (Not now, anyway. Buy the book. Or fund the podcasts, where I will probably talk far too frankly about California's drought years...)
I need to break out of isolation, and find a reminder of what's best about America, what unites us all. But a dozen years later, as the gap continues to grow, can I still make those connections? Are we really still one country, united under roadside weirdness, with liberty and justice for all? I want to investigate the sources of our division, and have the hot-button conversations that you usually try to avoid at Thanksgiving - politics, globalization, entitlements, privilege, maybe even a little religion - and share what I find with you.
With your help, I’ll spend four weeks retracing my route from twelve years ago, visiting truck stops, roadside attractions, and little spots of weirdness in search of human connection, American unity, and hope.
I'll even add a bit to the roadside scene myself... Last time on the road, in the throes of my Kevin Smith fangirl-fever, I bought a case of Buddy Christs, from Dogma, at Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash with the intention of creating roadside shrines.
During this trip, I'll be scattering them in my wake, creating my own little roadside meccas, honoring the great American visionaries who came before me and sharing my own religion the way that feels the most genuine to me... That is, with a fair bit of slightly-sacrilegious humor and a lot of kitsch.
I'll be interviewing visionary artists, the creators of roadside attractions, and their neighbors, talking politics, divisions, and how the last ten years has treated them. I'll blog & create podcasts all along the way so that you can share in the experience. (You can see a few examples of my past travel blogging here and here.) In August, it'll all be pulled together into a book, which will then be pitched to publishing houses and agents (but which will find its way into backers' hands no matter what, thanks to my self-publishing experience).
We are, in fact, a united country. I deeply believe that, but it's easy to forget in this political climate. I'd like a reminder, and I'd like to share it with all of you.
June 2 - June 11: San Francisco to Portland
June 12 - June 30: Oregon to Maine, northern route
July 1 - 4: mini-break with the sisters in PEI
July 5 - July 17: Maine to NYC
July 18 - August 5: NYC to San Francisco, southern route
From August - December, I'll be editing and polishing, with a goal of getting printed backer rewards out by January, 2018 (though it may be closer to June, 2018 or slightly later, if a pitch is picked up by a publishing house).
Where the $3,100 will go:
$1,500 - Gas
$1,000 - Lodging (Clown Motel, haunted B&Bs and the like)
$300 - Entrance fees (Idaho Potato Museum, Weeki Wachee & the like)
$300 - Backer rewards (New Salem Sue postcards, shrine "gems" & the like)
BUT... STRETCH GOALS! The above is really only half my budget. I'm pretty committed to doing this trip, so I'm planning to rack up some debt if I have to. So if we're already past that $3,100, don't let it stop you from donating! I still need your help!
Full Budget: $6,700
$2,100 - Gas
$2,000 - Lodging
$1,800 - dog care
$300 - Hostess gifts
$300 - Backer rewards
$200 - Reward printing & shipping
Anything above and beyond the $6,700 will allow me to:
- Avoid sleeping in my car most nights
- Thank you even better, by improving the level of supplies for backer rewards (Noro, instead of Red Heart)
- Add-on dog care (my sweet 13-year old puppy gets very, very sick in the car - like, uncontrollable muscle spasms - so the precious flower must stay home)
- Upgrade my podcasting equipment
- Add video equipment
- Additional Buddy Christ shrines: right now I am planning on three, but I could make up to a dozen, with some primo glam if funding goes wild.
Thank you, for supporting this project, AND AMERICA. United, we stand by the side of the road, snapping pictures.
Many thanks to Emily Bonn for allowing me to use "Hit The Road Tonight" from the Whoreshoes album, Get Lucky, in the video! You can find her playing in the Vivants now.
Risks and challenges
I've already minimized most of the risks that would keep me from getting on the road: my amazing job is giving me a two month leave of absence. I have friends staying in my apartment, so I'll have no distractions.
All that's left are the risks of the road. Worst case scenario, a crash or the like stops me from completing the route. But if my first 100,000 miles spent sleeping in my truck (without a single accident or incident) taught me anything, it's that the risks of solo road tripping are highly overrated. I'm a safe and cautious driver; I'll make it back to SF.
As for the writing portion, I've got that in the bag. Eight years of grant writing jobs prove that I can deliver on a deadline. I got this.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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