Philly Creative Guide

Here's the Thing

Bill Haley

Journey Across America
by Bill Haley, 1 Mar 2009

Bill Haley is President, Interactive of Allied Pixel (www.AlliedPixel.com), an integrated media production firm specializing in the convergence of HD video, web and interactive media. He is also an evangelist for PhillyCreativeGuide.com. He can be reached at [email protected].


It was 4 am when I awoke with a powerful craving for a burger and a yearning to see America. I pulled yesterday's clothes on, kissed my sleeping wife on the cheek and tiptoed over the dog. I crept into the baby's room, leaned into his crib and kissed his rumpled hair. I put my '87 Cordoba in neutral and pushed it out of the garage, turning the key on the street so as not to wake anyone. And then I left.

Six minutes later I was at the McDonald's drive through window. I tapped on the glass. After a minute, a guy with a mop came over. He looked agitated. "Not open yet." "Just want a burger." "Not open yet." I pulled out a Jackson and smacked it against the glass. "Just want a burger." He took a quick glance over his shoulder, grabbed the bill and a minute later I was wolfing down a half-thawed burger, B-101 blasting Huey Lewis, headed towards the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

$20 burger in Chadds Ford.

I hadn't even gotten to Exton by the time I was famished again. I pulled off at a 24-hour Bob's Big Boy and ordered a double cheeseburger. It was marvelous, everything I had hoped it would be.

I had seven more burgers in Ohio, each one more delicious than the last. I began to settle into the ordered cadence of strip malls in America, every few miles, some shiny and new, some old and worn but always inviting and surely demonstrative of all that is good and well in our land.

Cheddar cheese in Dayton.

I was sorely disappointed with Martinsville, Indiana though. That poor excuse for a town had not one single burger joint, and as it vanished in my rear view mirror I vowed not to pass that way again. I made up for it in Festus, Missouri, where burgers could be found on nearly every corner.

In Broken Arrow, Oklahoma I stopped at a service station and had the mechanic cut my seatbelt off. I had grown considerably since the start of the trip. My knees were hitting the dashboard and my chest was pressing against the steering wheel. And my olfactory sense had gotten quite powerful. Driving down the I-44 cornfields I could smell patties hitting the grill from 20 miles away. It is a luscious fragrance.

Krinkle Kuts in Tulsa.

I ordered five cheeseburgers at a bright orange drive through in Amarillo. "Are you ok?" asked the girl at the window. "You bet I am," I said between bites. I saw her watching me as I drove away, tailpipe dragging over the speed bump.

At a truck weighing station just outside Albuquerque I discovered that I now weighed more than the car. I stopped at a falling down takeout stand and bought eleven boiled burgers, all the fellow had. A Mexican guy wrote down my license plate, great concern on his face as I drove away in a cloud of dust.

Double double in Santa Fe.

By the time I hit Flagstaff my legs had melded together. It felt nice.

Crossing the Mojave Desert, I reached into the glove compartment for my backup supply and grilled them, four at a time, on the hood of my car. My amazing growth continued. My head burst through the roof of the car. The hot air felt nice on my face, burger juice dripping down my chin. I was one with machine.

In Victorville, cows ran away when they saw me.

The Works in San Bernardino.

Then I turned a corner and ran out of road. I drove onto the beach, shimmering Pacific Ocean before me. A skinny kid with a surfboard was walking along the beach, eating nothing. My journey was finished and for the first time I felt full. I popped a Tom Waits cassette in and noticed that my head now swiveled 180 degrees. I looked eastward, ready for the long trip home.

Print Article Brought to you by: Bill Haley | President, Interactive of Allied Pixel