Tuesday, August 19


It took us forever to get out of California. I don't know what happened, but a four hour drive took six hours. Somehow. It's like we were in a time warp. Our clocks moved, but we trudged along through space, supposedly going 80 miles an hour. But we endured.

The cats endured as well. It was a hot drive getting through the desert. I looked at Abra at one point, and she was panting like a dog, her fur all matted and messed. We stopped, and both cats were put into Rebecca's car. She has a/c.

No one liked Death Valley. What is missing from this video is the giant thermometer in Baker, CA that read 107. It was sunset!! We waited for it to cool down (104!) before we headed out again...

We stayed the first night somewhere in Nevada, past Vegas. The next day, we drove through Arizona, and then up into Utah. I bought a little necklace from a Navajo woman for Rebecca.

There is a stretch in Utah of 110 miles where there are no gas stations, motels, restauarants, nothing. Just rocks. Really cool rocks, but rocks nonetheless. I had driven through this stretch three times before. I think it's pretty, and very rare that you get to be so removed from the conveniences of society. The last town before the stretch is called Salina.

We saw the sign for Salina, and walkie-talkied each other:
"Do you have enough gas?"
"Yep. How about you?"
"I'm good for 110 miles."
"Should we stop anyway?"
"Hmm. Yea why not?"

So we stopped to get gas. After we filled up our tanks, we jumped around like idiots to move some blood. We were swatting at each other, wrestling a little bit, jumping jacks. We looked like clowns in the gas station parking lot but we didn't care. We jumped in our cars ready to blast off, and ...........nothing. My car wouldn't start.

Needless to say this came as a surprise to me. I of course tried to start it about eight more times. Thinking somehow I might've forgotten how to work my key. But it really wasn't going to start. I called AAA. After an unusual amount of time farting around with the operator, she figured out where I was, and sent a guy out.

It actually didn't take him very long to arrive. He showed up with half a cigarette hanging out of his mouth. I greeted him, but he didn't respond. He was silent as he approached my engine, jumper cables in hand. But I knew this was no dead battery.

We were unable to jumpstart the car, and the man went to his truck, returning with a small sledgehammer. He confessed to me that he wanted to "tap on the starter," but was unable to reach it. I needed a new starter. He gave me a recommendation of a good garage "back a little ways" in Richfield. And then the moment came when he warmed up to me. "You ever push started a car before?" "No sir." "Oooh boy! Gotta get it going and then pop that clutch!!"

I pushed it, he did the clutch popping. I still don't know if pop the clutch means push it in our let it out, but I'm guessing the latter.

At any rate, we made it to the garage, despite it's lack of signage.

The little town was actually nice, and I got a kick out of making small talk with the mechanics. They got the part in that night, and we drove off the next morning.

The interesting thing for me is this: Why did we decide to stop at Salina and get gas? We both had enough to get through. Keeping less in the tank would give better mileage. Deciding to stop was just not logical. But since we did stop, the starter went while we were in a town with services, instead of dying in the middle of lonely I70 when we stop to take a picture like this:

I can only imagine how friendly the AAA guy would be having to come push start my car in the middle of nowhere. Why do all of my car problems seem to work out so well?

Later that day we made it into Colorado. We had lunch in Grand Junction.

We were excited to notice more trees. The landscape was starting to become something more familiar. Less death valley. More like home.

The cats liked the change too.

We stayed two nights in Denver. It was great to have a break from driving for a day, and to see Paul, Dave, and Minidave. Those guys are still so funny. Every time I see them it's like we've never been apart. Rebecca, Minidave and I went downtown in Denver and walked around a little bit. We stopped at the "One Mile Marker" that officially declares your elevation. We talked about America, and what it would be like to live in other countries. Maybe a country that doesn't use bake sales as the primary form of fundraising for schools. Maybe a country that isn't meddling with the world. Maybe a country with some history and sustainability. We're still looking for that country.

We left Denver Friday morning. We made it through Nebraska, which is quite an accomplishment. We decided that we would pass Omaha, cross into Iowa, and find a room for the night. It was getting on 10pm when the debacle began.

Super 8 is the best motel for us. They allow pets in non smoking rooms. As far as we could tell, this policy was unique to Super 8. We tried checking into a Best Western, and they demanded we take a smoking room. Disgusting. They say there's no difference when they're trying to sell you the room, but then I am forced to ask, "so why call it a smoking room?" If there's no difference, why designate it?

So anyway we get to a Super 8 and drive into the parking lot, ready to pass out. The man in front of me is driving extremely slow, and I fantasize about passing him. I think to myself, "you'd better pass this slow person, and run in there. Maybe there's only one room left."

Well, we take our time, and watch the slow man go into the motel. When we get to the desk we watch him rent the last room. Holy smokes. I knew it! We are told there's another motel just up the way.

Back in the car we go. We drove from exit to exit, stopping at every Super 8 along the way. They are booked out. Front desk people refuse to call the next one for us. One man is in such a hurry to get rid of us that he gives us Super 8's reservation number. Rebecca calls and makes reservations. She hangs up the phone and says, I'm pretty sure the lady on the phone gave me bad directions.

Here is what we did:

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At this point the cats had been in the car for over twelve hours. Rebecca let Abra out of her cage to wander in her car as we drove to our destination (F). As we pulled into the parking lot, Rebecca came over the walkie-talkie. "The cat just took a DUMP on my floormat!!!!!"

Poor kittie. It's been a long time since she's seen a litter box. Rebecca removes the offending floormat from her car. Some turds tumble out of it onto the asphalt. The cat is clearly confused. We throw out the floormat and attempt to check in. The operator of course gave Rebecca directions to a different Super 8. Ours was "just up the road."

By the time we checked in to G, it was 2 something in the morning. We slept the sleep of the dead.

As it turns out, the Iowa state fair was in DesMoines. That's why we couldn't get a room. A bunch of fried dough eating, pig-gawking americans had occupied all of the non smoking rooms for miles. Bizarre. It was nice to be past DesMoines though, because when we hit the road in the morning, the traffic headed towards the city (towards the fairgrounds) was at a crawl.

We made it up to Minnesota, and had breakfast at a diner. I think the total cost was $11.00 including a $5 tip. It's refreshing to know that things aren't California expensive everywhere.

By the early afternoon we arrived in La Crosse, WI and released the cats from their containers. It's gorgeous here. Very green. It reminds me of home.

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