Packing is survival. One duffle bag including six snap-shirts, two t-shirts, three pairs of jeans, ten pairs of socks with an equivalent amount of undergarments (boxer-briefs with an emergency pair of tighty whities).

I wear a brown leather belt, however, included my brother’s 2008 CCA Championship buckle for tie-down roping in the option of dressing up with a suit jacket I keep in my brown leather suit-bag. A ruby as the buckle’s sole gemstone – a talisman of protection, passion and prosperity. I left wearing my silver-belly felt Resistol and have since switched over to straw. Cooler for the mugginess of the mid-west and tends to elicit much more passive personality traits.

My new second-hand levi jean jacket has quickly become the lifer. I left the tattered at home. The Levi’s only patch, an all-seeing eye, is my first attempt at stitching – prick free. It’s placement between my shoulder blades has proven initiated conversations coming up from the rear. ‘You’re not from here, are you?’ – No Miss, I’m Canadian. Two pairs of boots – each gifts, mouldy cheese blue, pointed toe with replaced heal, re-gifted from Leeroy Stagger after spending a day in his old basement studio and a pair of Ostrich skin leather – the back of the leg that’s easily mistaken for large reptile skin. Flat toe – good for riding. Re-placed heal and sole. My dad wore out the first underside, I wore out the second underside, here’s to number three.

The van is clean. Relatively. A foamie picked up as my first American Walmart purchase. One night in a truck-stop on the bare van floor left my eyes looking like two piss-holes in a snowbank. Christmas present sleeping bag and a pillow that my aunt jean set by the door after having breakfast with her before taking off. Pillow accompanied by a roll of paper-towel, a rolled bath towel, a roll of toilet paper, Mary Kay baby-wipes. Four used to replace a shower – face to neck to armpits, two for groin and one for feet.

One Rebel T2i and tripod – still don’t know how to use it but shitty pictures taken beat shitty pictures not taken. I’ll ween myself off the iPhone’s ease sooner than later. My food cooler is empty and hot.

No issues with getting my guitar across the border. Committed to honesty. I left albums, business cards, and any other inferences that I would be hustling my wears sans working visa in a storage locker in Regina’s industrial area off of Macdonald. No risks of refused entry. ‘yes miss, no miss, thank you miss.’

SiriusXM. No fucking around. Channel 60. I’m gonna hang out with Buddy and Jim – this hasn’t been arranged yet – but I’m gonna hang with Buddy and Jim, discuss the renaissance of Kristofferson, the Chicago country music community, and the rise of funk-country. I repeat Mojo Nixon’s signature tag howl every-time. Elizabeth Cook’s voice, singing and speaking…speaking…Jesus. I wonder if I’ll tell my buddy Jonas’ “Oingoboingo Joke” to Roger Alan Wade and Johnny Knoxville? Probably not, my band says it sucks. I still think it’s funny.

Books stashed in the stow-and-go. The Holy Bible as the new-found flashlight. Whitman’s Leaves of Grass as it’s predecessor. The New New Journalism by Robert S. Boynton. Fucking Blood Meridian – I’ve read it from the front cover coming on six or seven times, each time getting further into its grasp – a movie will never be made. How do you show a scene of hanging burned babies? How do you leave it out? Who plays The Judge? Not even Daniel Day-Lewis would touch that son-of-a-bitch. Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces – reference – hand in hand with The Bible, it gives a little piece of mind with the outcome of the mission – temptation, tests, allies and enemies. The Elixir and Return. A Prayer for Owen Meany called by my drummer-to-bassist as the most powerful read he’s ever settled into. And finally, my Saskatchewan home-boy, Guy Vanderhaeghe’s Daddy Lenin and Other Stories – departure gift from Melanie. My first night off the highway in Carrington, ND, I open it to find:

“Blake, Watch the signs. xo Mel -”

Will do, Sweetheart.

I’m guided by light. My intuition has been proving itself successful – and uses much less data. $5/day roaming package, 100 mb/day – unlimited texting and calling within and outside of The United States. Leaving the interstate with a visual of what one is looking for only to lead oneself directly to it builds cosmic-confidence. It left me in tears on the side of a highway mere moments ago. I’m blessed and grateful for this upgrade.

East until Chicago on the I-94 then south on the I-65. This is the route.


Home away from home