Alligator Rattle

In the grand tradition of not making up my mind until the last possible moment (as usual, some time after take-off) I browsed through travel journals in newsagencies and online trying to determine an optimum combination of categories – should I include expenditure? an itinerary? what about an address book? How much space should be allotted for each day? How did artists organise their travel sketchbooks, if at all? Were journal, diary and sketchbook incompatible?

I settled on the winning combination on the flight over: The debden notebook would retain its usual structure – infodump with index. I put all postcard addresses in there (indexed under “contacts”). Otherwise, it was used for directions, reminders and a futuristic science fiction story involving cryogenic sleep and prosthetic limbs and lawyers on motorcycles and mafia connections and the rule of law (the true hero) and consisting only of the bits in between the action.

The sketchbook was divided into two sections.

Section one was a planner: each page featured four hand-drawn boxes with the date (a sticker), month and day of the week. In these I jotted down a very minimal account of the day, and only missed the last four or so. For a random example, 17 October – Wednesday reads:

Up 9-ish.
Watched part of the Waltons and Little House (guest starring a very young James Cromwell)
Breakfast @ Free Port (“Good food, legal drinks”): cinnamon scrolls.
To North East to wait for Martha to get off work.
Lunch at Bova’s.
Back to Martha’s to drop off a sub for Nick.
Through Eyrie to Presque Isle.
Drove around Presque Isle, monument, lighthouses.
Stopped at visitor centre.
Back to Martha’s for pie. Spoke to C.O. on phone.
Back to farm.
Downloaded photos. Kathy & Mommy organised for me to go to Pittsburgh.

Section two was everything else (I micromanage content, as you can see). The date headers went in as each day came along. I sketched as I could through the day, wrote only a little, and at the end of the day added in any cartoons or drawings (often from photos on my camera or phone) or bits-and-pieces that remained.

I had an idea that if I wanted a list of expenditures I could start from the back, or keep lists of Things to Eat on the index cards in the back pocket, but none of these were necessary.

Driving to Pittsburgh

And the journal itself is up as a set on Flickr: USA 2007 Moleskine.