Why Walter Kirn Clings To Kerouac

Travel Blog  •  Michael Yessis  •  11.01.10 | 4:17 PM ET

The man who introduced us to Airworld likes to bypass Airworld. For the last four years, Kirn has made regular driving trips from Livingston, Montana to Los Angeles, to stay in touch with “the gritty ‘real America’ of perpetually flooded truck-stop men’s rooms and quickie meals of stale tortilla chips doused in liquid cheese dispensed from pumps.”

I pay a high price for clinging to Kerouac in the age of frequent-flyer programs. I’ve worn out a couple of engines on my commute, a few sets of tires, and one or two relationships. I’ve also worn myself out, partly because whenever I make the trip, I tell myself I can do it without sleeping. It’s difficult, though. The problem is Mormon coffee. In Utah, the state in the middle of my trek (a place of allegedly spectacular scenery that I always seem to cross at night, anaesthetized by the synthetic murmur of ‘80s soft rock from my satellite radio) caffeine is deemed a narcotic, not a vitamin. It’s obtainable, sure, but only with an effort, and it’s weak when you find it. You sort of have to know a guy.

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