The next day we continued westward and ended up in a big traffic jam. Since we were stuck in it, I began looking for good photo-subjects in the traffic jam. I set up my little studio by the side of the road and took some nice shots. Just as the traffic started to move again, I saw a beautiful red-haired girl. Quickly I shot a few pictures of her but didn't find them good enough. She wrote down my number and luckily contacted me that evening. We decided to meet up in Peducah, since we were heading there the next day. Unfortunately we ended up in the middle of a downpour, so when I arrived I was totally soaked. To make matters worse, I was only allowed to photograph her for five minutes at the location. But the girl was still as pretty as she'd been the day before, and having found her again made everything okay.
Another interesting place we visited was Salem: not especially because of the city itself, but due to the situation that we encountered there. We stayed at a very nice hotel. There was a power outage in Salem, so finding a place to eat was difficult. Eventually, on the outskirts of town, we found a small bar where they did have power. They cooked us some wonderful food and put on a display of fireworks – another movie-like moment that made us feel euphoric. In Salem I realized that I had left my passport at the previous hotel – a bit of a problem, since I didn't feel like riding all the way back there. My laptop had also crashed. I needed it to upload my photographs and share my stories with you. The crazy thing is: normally this would have really upset me, but everything – especially anything connected to the Netherlands – has felt so remote that I didn't really care that much. But the fact remained that I needed both my passport and a laptop, so the next day I had to travel 250 miles to even get to the nearest Apple store.
On the way to Kansas City the skies changed rapidly, and again I was hit by a huge downpour. It got so dark that the streetlights turned on automatically. Shelter was nowhere in sight, and my waterproof trousers weren't up to the challenge. Despite that, it was fascinating to see how quickly the weather can change here. We're right in the middle of tornado season. Yesterday I spoke with a local man, who told me that locals can always sense when a tornado is coming. Secretly I'd find it a cool thing to experience, but at the same time it frightens me as well. It only takes twenty minutes for a tornado to take shape. Shelter has to be found in a basement, or a bathroom if there is no basement. I know it sounds ridiculous – after all, sometimes it sounds like I'm talking about a living object – but I'd really hate to think of the motorcycle staying outside and being crushed by a tornado. The motorcycle takes care of me, I take care of the motorcycle. So I hope I can avoid those tornadoes – that seems like the wisest option to me. The motorcycle and I would like to arrive in Las Vegas in one piece.
Meanwhile, I've fixed the laptop and retrieved my passport. The documentary maker and the cameraman have also returned to the Netherlands, which takes some getting used to. Being alone is nice, but when they're filming they get very close – closer than most – which is intense, but beautiful at the same time. I can't express in words what's happening during this journey. Of course I'm doing this trip to shoot material for my exhibition, but so much more is going on. To me personally, this trip has immense value; and at this point the idea of having to go back to the Netherlands soon is inconceivable. Right now I've got to move on again, alone – for three more weeks. Well, alone... I do have the motorcycle. We're buddies.