Tuesday, October 18, 2011
If John was driving I talked and joked, took pictures out the open window and of other nothing important stuff - the dashboard, empty Coke bottles, my feet. Sometimes the radio was on but mostly it wasn’t. We told each other lies, talked about girls and a list of cool summer jobs that never materialized.
We went places during winter but mostly when it was hot. We didn’t have much money so we scrimped on food to buy gas. We’d use a small portable stove to warm cans of chili or Campbell’s soup, washing it down with powdered juice or plain water, nothing fancy because the road beckoned and speed was the real nourishment.
I never asked John what he was after or looking for, it wasn’t that important. For me, speed was escape and maybe a calmer place than my home. Years later I found out his old man was a drunk, that could’ve been part of his deal. I could never explain my parents to anyone. I still don’t like talking about that.
Jeezus, we went everywhere. Santa Rosa, Angels Camp, LA, Provo, Bryce, Zion, Gold Beach, Reno, Tahoe, Chula Vista even La Push. There were a variety of cars, some plain, others were bad assed fast. We had sleeping bags, no tent, small duffles of clean t-shirts and not much else. Stuff slowed us down, we were all about getting there. Wherever there was.
There were times when Jerry was the third person. He was a big strong dude, fearless and nuts. Nuts in a good way, that is. Like he hated riding in the back seat or when he took his underwater camera to the middle of the desert. His car was always meaner and faster and there were nights when we raced for cash. More than I few times I closed my eyes and hoped I’d be alive in the next 60 seconds.
Despite the Kerouac stuff, despite the Two-Lane Blacktop speed, despite talking our way out of fights and tickets, nothing really bad ever happened. I suppose the time I rolled my car might count but no one was hurt, except for the car and my savings account. Too fast into a corner, tires on loose gravel and several rolls and us coming to a halt, upside down and dangling from our seat belts. Funny stuff, months later, good bar stories.
Met people with more character than found in a hundred movies. Trading stories, road warnings and campfires, we knew people for a day or two and then it was back to the road.
If I had to pick the best roads, California highways 395 and 20 were two favorites and 1 and 101 were good for getting places, both north and south. Nevada’s 50 and 95 offered hot vistas and the feeling as if, no matter how fast you were going, the horizon was forever.