Remember my little problem with saying no??? Yeah, me too. Well, one last favor…a road trip up to Eureka to pick up a greyhound that was won in a court battle to get it out of the tweaker home it was living in (the woman who bought the dog was convicted on meth charges..a felony) A FAVOR for my breeder, a favor to be done for gas money only (because I’m so nice, right?). Uh. Yeah.
Total distance = 312 miles each way (you do the math, oh, okay…624 miles total)
Travel time = 6 hours each way (that’s 12 hours not including the vet visit)
This is a lot of gas, and a lot of my time. An entire day. I was going to make this trip in one day, because I didn’t want to waste 2 days of my time doing this thing. Drive out, pick the dog up at the vet that it was being held at, get the health certificates and other vet shit, and drive back. A total of….estitmated, about 13-14 hours. Okay. Not hard, right? I should have known when I got down my road and to the freeway and discovered I had left my wallet at the house. Because of the legal issues…no ID = no dog. Drive home, get wallet, cuss a lot. Everything going well, even start to think “Hey, this ain’t so bad” as I reached the redwood forest on hwy 101. The redwoods are awesome, amazing and very peaceful. I start to relax, and even smile a little. You would have too, if you had been there with me.
There were lots of religious references along the side of the road. A mural featuring a gargantuan baby jesus on the side of a barn. Christian graffiti (serious, buildings tagged with some serious Jesus-fitti) A place that advertised ‘Carvin’s for Christ’ and boasted lifesize chainsaw sculptures of bears, eagles and, well, Jesus. It seems these folk really love Jesus. A lot. I mean, a whole lot. The north coast of California, a place to settle if you love the Lord and crystal meth (that’s the other specialty up there, if you didn’t know)
6 hours later, I’m picking up the most gorgeous dog I’ve seen in a long time (and the pricey-est, estimated value including legal fees = $8000)
Turn around, start driving back. Stop, get Art some smoked salmon, a latte for the road. Bronco is full of dogs. Dretti and Dee, Q and Toni (in the crate; I’m not letting $8000 worth of dog free-float around in my truck) I’m feeling pretty accomplished, if a little behind schedule. I figure I’ll be home around 10-ish. On the road, making good time. I’m hungry, stop to pick up dinner at a little eclectic italian / mexican diner in Garberville. Pizza, I’m told, will be about 30 minutes. Craptastic. Oh well, I’ll just sit and watch the locals. Oh my, talk about bottom of the genetic barrel. Garberville is where folk come to hide from society and it’s pesky expectations of personal grooming. So I wait. I go get cash and some coffee, come back, wait some more. Talk to Helen. Wait. And HOUR LATER the waitress, who has been staring at me for like, an HOUR asks “Honey, are you waitin’ for sumpthin?” Uh, yeah, the food I ordered, FROM YOU PERSONALY, like an hour ago???? Oh, it’s right here. Gee, thanks. Grumble. But it was most excellent pizza, but then, I hadn’t eaten all day, so cardboard might have been most exellent too. On the road, pizza and diet coke in hand, wanna go home. It’s 7:00. I’m really behind now. ETA: 11:00ish. Making good time…watch out for the cops, they are everywhere pulling people over. CHP has nothing better to do. Sheesh. So in an attempt to forewarn a few folks speeding into a trap, I flick my highbeams at them a few times. Fucking big bad mistake. All the gauges on my console go bugshit, the radio sounds drunk, the Bronco starts to buck and hitch. Oh uh-uh, no way. WTF??? It’s totally loosing power on a decline of a hill, then it lurches and seems okay, then it’s not. We play this game for a mile or two, loosing speed the entire time. I panic and pull to the side of the highway. There is no side of the highway. I’m 1/2 in the slow lane, half on gravel with a guard rail and a drop off. I’m pretty sure if I stay here I’m getting hit by a semi-truck the minute it gets dark, guaran-fucking-teed (remember, no power for emergency blinkers). As I decided to try to make it to a turn out, the gauges went back to normal, if only momentarily. We made it about another 5 miles to a turn out (thank gawd) in the middle of BF Nowhere. And I do mean nowhere. No cell coverage. No houses. No nuthin. I got out and peered under the hood, as if perhaps something obviously broken would just jump out and scream “Hi, I’m glaringly broken, yet simple to fix if you have a little McGyver in you. You gotta paperclip and a piece of Juicyfruit gum? Let’s get to fixin’ little lady” But no such luck. Everything looked exactly as dirty and non-descript as it did the last time I popped the hood (gawd only knows why I would do that, but I’m pretty sure I did at some point in the recent past) I wiggled small things and thumped on the battery connections (which were sparkley clean to match the relatively new battery). I sighed and listened to the river and raised an eyebrow at the dimming light. Again, I peered into the sooty guts of my beloved Bronco. I reached for the alternator (yes, I know what it is and where it’s located) and burned my knuckle. Ouch. Fucking alternator.
At this point I must state that I was pretty sure it was the fucking alternator that was to blame for my prediciment. I’ve witnessed alternator death before, a long time ago, and the death-throws were shockingly similar. It’s something you never forget, indeed. Sucking on my burned knuckle, I surveyed my surroundings again, this time with keen attention to detail; redwoods (a lot of em), river (the eel river, north fork I assume) directly on the other side of the highway, nice wide turnout (oh, thank you thank you), someone’s pickup truck parked about 100 yards north of my pathetic position), more redwoods (duh), no cell coverage (fuck me runnin’). Conclusion: I’m fucked. Majorly fucked. By now, it’s almost dark. I sigh and get back in the truck. Maybe the CHP will see me with my hood up and my emergency blinkers on (which worked, albeit weakly, as long as the key was out of the ignition). Maybe someone would stop, maybe they wouldn’t be a carload of tweakers
or a serial killer on vacation who loves his work enough to make an exception.
I sit back and contemplate my situation. I think about crying. I don’t…yet. I wonder how long I’ll be here, alone. I wonder how long it will be until the inside of the Bronco is as cold as the outside. I have the dogs, they keep it pretty warm and I have the entire back of the Bronco lined with poofy dog beds and a blanket or two. I could sleep with them, I guess. It’s dark now. I’m getting more concerned, nobody is stopping. I see the lights on the truck parked up ahead of me go on. Maybe that person will be normal and kind, maybe they will see me. And so that person did. He pulled his truck up and asked if I was okay. “No, no I’m not” was my response, and then I wanted to cry. I explained what I thought was wrong, and my dog situation (I couldn’t leave them and walk anywhere, even if there was anywhere to walk to) and the no cell coverage situation. He kindly offered, in a soft southern voice, to go up to the house and call triple A and the CHP. He said he felt bad leaving me there, but it didn’t seem there was anything else that could be done. I agreed, and thanked him for his help. He said he would go call and then check up on me later to make sure they got there. Long story short: kind dude called a total of three times, checked up on me 4 times between 8pm and midnight, the last time he surprised me because he was on foot with a flashlight. It seems that in his rush to come check on me again, he backed his truck INTO THE LAKE coming down his driveway. He wanted to let me know that the tow truck was on the way, but it was going to have to get his truck out of the lake first, if I didn’t mind, that is. By this time it was midnight and nobody (except a carload of tweakers) had stopped. Fortunately my hero was there when the tweakers stopped to “check things out”). Everyone needs a hero now and then, this dude was mine that night, for sure. He even called Art to give him the dope on what was happening. I do have to say this: I don’t care what this man’s personal history was, I don’t care what he does for a living, who he associates with, or what his demons are. As far as I’m concerned he was a damn angel that night and kharma owes him a big one, on me.
The tow truck did show up, at about 15 past midnight. The CHP NEVER SHOWED UP, NOT ONCE. Triple A did tow me (although not to where they were supposed to, but well enough, a motel in Laytonville.) I was 18 miles from Laytonville, an a hell of a lot more from the last town I passed north of where I was stranded. The next morning I straightened things out with triple A and they towed me to Ukiah, complete with stories of a tow truck operator by John a man with no appearant dental plan. I learned all about how California tow companies on highway 101 have the highest bids on traffic fatalities nationwide, but really the tow companies don’t like them cuz of the smell and you know they hafta keep the vehicles indoors and ya can’t clean em up cuz of evidence and the CHP gets real ticked if ya leave the vehicles outside you know. And oh so many more stories, each and every one of them more colorful than the previous one. 45 minutes worth of stories. John liked to talk, oh yes he did. On to Ukiah and Dorseys Auto Repair where a mechanic with no concept of dental care confirmed my accurate diagnosis of a fucked up alternator and fixed me up right nice (turns out it was the original 1994 alternator “looks like you gotcher moneys worth outta this one fer sher). I got home around 7pm.
Safe. Exhausted. I fell asleep half dressed on the bed and didn’t wake up til Art got home at 10:30. And then fell asleep again until morning.
No more road trips for a while. And even then? Art is banning the Bronco from anything but the most local of trips. Hmmmf. It has a new alternator…what else could go bad? Geesh. He of little confidence.