Notes on discovering new territory

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This adventure on the road has put me in mind of our forefathers, and the brave souls who forged this great country. What courage and misplaced determination it must have taken to set out in the Cornelia Marie and the Time Bandit to cross the ocean, only having Alaskan king crab with a fine Chablis to eat every night, not knowing what to expect on the other side, or if the people there would even practice acceptable etiquette. Consider the surprise and awe of the native Upchuckawuks, who were so impressed with the appearance of the foreigners, they immediately gave them Marlboro cigarettes, penicillin and riverboat casino tokens.

As brave but inebriated men like Lewis and Clark forged inward, towards the great Western Plains, they were reminded that there are entire cloud banks of mosquitoes in every single state in the country. Accepting help again from the natives, who should have known better by then, a comically swollen and bitten Clark drank the tepid juice of a peyote, climbed a mountain and had a religious experience with a fetching young mountain goat. Lewis simply wandered off into the desert and wasn’t heard from again for forty years.

Beginning on or about January 27, 1840, the ridiculous promise of religious freedom, gold, free land and all the In-and-Out burgers a Pioneer could eat encouraged half the population of North America to rush all at once to California. The continent tilted briefly like a listing Titanic because of the weight. Well into the 1850’s, Mormons, miners, ranchers and Clint Eastwood continued stampeding in from the east, bringing multiple wives, syphilis, dubious divorce lawsuits, and bad 1960’s spaghetti Westerns.

Americans continue to discover new territories and delight in improving the natural landscapes with gigantic piles of trash and bellowing oil wells. Just last month, former President Jimmy Carter discovered Haiti. He immediately declared it ’New Haiti’ and pledged eleven gabillion dollars in aid to the native three-toed swamp rats, who are in grave danger of extinction.

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I myself charted unmarked territory this week, having discovered a new freckle on the underside of my left forearm, which I promptly claimed for Spain. Of course, the moment oil was discovered on it, the US National Guard showed up and claimed it for Mexico.

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