Courtney's Journal

Thursday, August 28th, 1997

I can now honestly say I've eaten more bar-b-qued ribs over the last two weeks than I think I've eaten in my entire life. Wow! We're driving through the black night sprinkled with beautiful glimmerly stars, planets, and milky way to Austin, NV.

We just left Greg in Ely, NV where we ate a big hearty meal at Silver State Restaurant. Greg wanted to stay over here. He may visit an Indian reservation tomorrow. Actually, since last night's AOL chat he's been a bit laggy today. I think it has something to do with what we talked about the night before regarding a discussion on the chat. A woman was grilling Greg on what volunteerism we have been doing on this trip. Apart from picking up trash from the desert freeways, and our attempt at getting to a Denver soup kitchen, we haven't had much time for quality volunteer work.

One of the reasons this has been slightly problematic is that AOL has been selling us as driving across the country and volunteering in towns along the way. While this is something we all care about, this trip is more about exploring the various definitions of community, about connectivity and testing the limits of today's technology. Even if connectivity and technological issues weren't major elements of this trip, I don't think any of us agree that the right way to promote volunteerism is to drive into a town, work a soup kitchen and drive out. This Polly-Anna-ism on an Ice Cream truck aspect does nothing for creating a positive sense of volunteerism in local communities.

I do a lot of volunteer work throughout the entire year with the Junior League, the New York Pops, and even the World Wide Web Artists Consortium. Donating time and energy to different projects with a local organization is a truer definition of creating community and promoting a positive sense of volunteerism. In these situations one can come to know the people they are volunteering with and "for." Friendships and acquaintances are made. Through this kind of exhange, a sense of belonging, worthiness, and community can be developed in a much more nuturing way.

If we were the Volunteers of America, driving across the country testing technology, then it would be more appropriate to stop in towns, arrange a volunteer activity with a local chapter, and move on. However, we are not Volunteers of America. We are Greg Elin, Paul Eisenberg, Uta Knablein, Justin Greene, Dave Brown, Kim Park (through to Nashville), and Courtney Pulitzer, driving across the country testing technology. We are concerned thoughtful citizens who care about people, the earth, and life. We are all complex unique people with many different points of view, concerns, fears, and strengths. It would not be appropriate for us to drive into towns and preach the benefits of volunteerism. It is appropriate for us to drive into towns, talk with people, be friendly, let them know about what we're doing, our trip, our website, the internet, our hardware, our connectivity. We create a community amongst ourselves, and with whomever we engage in conversation.

In any case, a woman on AOL was grilling Greg about what volunteerism we have done lately. She also began inquiring if we had stopped in any Indian reservations, and if not why. Greg explained that most of the time we meet someone who will invite us somewhere, and that we haven't typically just "dropped in" on people. This woman said we could, and should just stop by a reservation and speak with American Indians.

So this morning we looked to see what reservations we might drive by on our way through Utah and Nevada. We actually passed one in Ely, which is where I think Greg may try and go tomorrow for a bit.

One of the most noticeable "communities" I've witnessed is among motorcyclists. First of all, the motorcyclists in the Rally have bonded together in a very close knit way. They are all having similar experiences for the most part -- they are all driving long hours, exerting energy against wings, sun, dehydration, and refueling every 100 miles. We in the car, while might get cramped from sitting for too long in one stretch, can drink or snack, one can work on the computer, snap photos, and can have very different experiences while touring.

I've also noticed motorcyclists wave to each other as they pass on the roads, and when stopped, will often visit together and compare and admire bikes, and exchange stories and travel tips. This does not happen at this frequency with car motorists.

I like this community and want to be a part of it!

Today we drove from Moab, Utah to Eureka, NV. We drove through an area called Confusion Range and crossed wide wide open plains, plateaus, and desert like landscapes. Driving through Utah and the salt beds was amazing: white patches of dry lake bed and being passed in either direction by 18-wheelers with large cynlindrical tanks carrying (salt?). I have to admit I keep thinking about Salt Lake City and Mormons and Donny and Marie Osmond....

When we crossed the border from Utah to Nevada, and from Mountain to Pacific time, there was a 0 mile marker and the Border Inn Motel and Cafe. Inside weathered old men with faded plaid shirts and women in fringed t-shirts sat around a horse-shoe shaped counter. There was a full bar behind and large mugs, half-full with beer and thin white foam clinging to the sides. Greasy hamburgers and plates of deep deep fried chicken and mashed potatoes sat steaming to be devoured by hunger gamblers. Further back in the room was a row of slot machines, video games, and a shelf housing bags and jars of "Ass-Kicking Salsa."

We finally landed in Eureka, NV, a beautiful old town with classic Hollywood western store fronts. Next to the Jackson Hole Hotel 3 townspeople were in the Saloon. Construction was still going on, and they said it was about 2 weeks away from completion.

We found a place at the Sundown Lodge and camped out.