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>John Sayles Runs Across the U.S.A


While I was in some hotel room wrestling with the internet, John was running. Here are his reflections on running across the country:

The only way to drive across the country and back without your body falling into complete atrophy is regular exercise. On the Moment in the Sun tour this mostly meant running 3 miles 1st thing in the morning every other day- from wherever we had landed the preceding evening. My favorites include-

Hoboken, NJ- once before leaving and once on the last day of the tour, from our 13th St. office to the train station at the other end of town, along the mighty Hudson river with the Manhattan skyline as backdrop. All hard surfaces, so you try not to pound, but the river has really been reclaimed since we moved here 30-some years ago.

Washington, D.C.- we stayed with friends in Takoma Park, so I got to run along the Sligo Creeek Parkway- trees, water, and lots of springy wooden footbridges to cross.

Nashville, Tenn.- Vanderbilt U. had just had commencement services and I got to run through the enormous, tree-shaded campus while the tents were still up but the people all gone. Got a bit lost it was so big.

Oxford, Miss.- U. Miss. had also just graduated a horde. Got to run from our B&B-like hotel (constant chocolate chip cookies appearing in lobby) near William Faulkner’s house to the campus and back. Again, great old southern trees with their roots muscling the sidewalks out of shape.

Lake Arthur, La.- near where we shot Passion Fish. Cypress, Spanish moss, then big flat rice fields that are also home to future po-boy dwelling crawfish. Seriously humid even at 7am.

El Paso, Texas- ran into the old downtown which is featured in a chapter of A Moment in the Sun. Ran around ‘Alligator’ (San Jacinto) Plaza, the alligators only statues now. Nobody else moving on the streets on a Sunday morning.

Playa Vista, Cal.- this is that bit off to the east of Lincoln Blvd. just before you climb the hill to the Los Angeles Int’l Airtport. New community, feels very Truman Show still. Ran across the big road to a point where you could see the ocean. Also played basketball at the very nice park right by Lincoln- surprising number of people out doing jock things so early.

Yreka, Cal.- central California, well north of the Bay area. Spectacular late-day run in high mountain meadows, yellow stuff and purple stuff (botany gets a very short shrift in my books) growing all over the place.

Boise, Idaho- another late-day run after a long day on the road, this one around downtown in a U.S. city I’d never been to before (like Johnny Cash, I’ve been everywhere). Crossed the Boise River on Americana Blvd. Mountains surround the town, which looks great as the sun sinks.

Salt Lake City- skipped the run and shot very early-morning baskets in a city park. None of the dozen or so street people sleeping there were wakened by the sound of the ball (before 8am I try to swish so the rim won’t clang)- SLC could challenge Santa Monica as the Home of the Homeless.

North Platte, Neb.- there was a very inviting golf course next door to the motel but they hate joggers. So I passed it and ran over a bridge across the South Platte River (very close to the North right there) where at least a thousand swallows swirled in the middle- something like the Bridge of Bats (Puente de los Murcielagos) in Austin.

Iowa City, Iowa- got out early in light rain which immediately stopped and was able to run along and over the Iowa River and back, then up the Old Capitol steps with the theme from Rocky in my head (I’ve run up the ones in Philly too- gets crowded some mornings).

Evanston, Ill.- Chicago had no rooms so we ended up here near Northwestern U. Great run along Lake Michigan up to the campus, out on a point where you could see down the coast to the big city skyline. Very nice park, lots of runners with dogs.

Neville Island, Pa.- out in the middle of the Ohio River but no good paths alongside it, this was what I usually get on the road- lots of traffic, funky overpasses, running in place to wait for traffic lights. Give me a good deserted super mall any time.

Next stop, Manila, Philippines- where the jeepney noise and air pollution make running any later than 6am near suicidal. May have to revert to the exercise bike and watching ESPN women’s softball on a very small TV.

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