Made it home to New Mexico. One flat tire. Two blizzards.
Left Vancouver in the sleeting rain. Gave Brandon a hug, jumped in the car and hit the border. They profiled me and pulled me over. Cartooning Course? Sure, sure. That means you gotta pay a user fee. A what? A user fee – you used the border to promote your business. $10.75 and you gotta go inside to pay.
I wouldn’t have minded so much but the line was worse than the Red Hook Post Office. I stood there for hours. And the guard forgot to give me back my passport so that was an extra hassle.
Finally got out of there just in time to reach a mountain pass outside of Issaquah, WA when the snow started to really come down. Trapped in bumper to bumper traffic going up a steep incline single file. Cars skidding off the road and into the ditch. Did you hear about those skiers dying in an avalanche? Yeah, right there.
Made the exit ramp and tried to donut my way into the parking lot of a ski lodge. No one seemed too impressed by the blizzard or ready to help me get my car out of a rut. This was an everyday thing apparently.
Trudged up to the Summit Inn. All the rooms were booked. I got on a waiting list. I sat in the lobby and pretended not to panic. They weren’t letting anyone on the road unless they had chains on their car tires. So I dropped a fortune on some chains. Had no idea how to put them on. Finally a stranger helped me and I was off.
Back down the hill through the snow drifts in the middle of Interstate 90. A lifetime went by and soon it was just sleeting. I made it back to civilization and literally got the last room in town. Ordered room service and took a bath.
Woke up the next morning and checked the mountain pass camera. It still looked pretty hairy so I left the chains on my tires and headed up the hill again. I was remembering that one episode of The Simpsons where Marge chides Homer for leaving the chains on his car cuz winter is over and then we see Homer is tearing up the pavement when I heard a pop. Flat tire. Motherfucker!
Thank God for Triple A. I called the number and in 15 minutes I was headed to the garage to get a new tire. Too bad the garage was closed. Sunday. The next day was a holiday. Shit!
Went back to the same hotel and got my room back. Hit the bar and ordered a bloody mary – the only drink you’re politely allowed to drink at Sunday brunch.
Read some comics. Watched some cable. TV is evil.
Finally got a new tire and attempted the same mountain for the third time. Maybe deciding to go visit my buddy in Salt Lake City was a bad idea. I could’ve just went down the coast again. I could be in a strip club in Portland right now I thought. This was later – not Sunday morning. Ahem.
Made it over said mountain. But then it was like driving thru dry ice – the snow was blowing over the road – I had to follow a truck just to see. Total whiteout. Made it to the border of Idaho by 5 and called it a night.
Loved driving thru Idaho. I learned about Idaho from the book You Can’t Win – which was the template for Burroughs’s Junky. Twin Falls. Pocatello. Ogden. Beautiful. Idaho was a huge railway center. The golden spike where East met West was hammered there. The rain and snow finally stopped.
Third day of straight driving. Glad to pull into Salt Lake. My old pal Jon Good who edited Storeyville lives there. Plus some other old friends from Pittsburgh. A nice little reunion. Funny to think about having close friends for over 20 years. Just to hear their voices is like being around family – which I desperately needed after three long days on the road.
Tore out of there after a couple days rest. Decided to go around the Rockies and went across Wyoming. More drifting snow and whiteout conditions. They don’t salt the roads there. It’s flat and a high elevation with mountains in the distance at the border with Colorado. More following trucks just to see the road at high noon.
Made Denver exactly at Friday afternoon rush hour. Lucky me. What gross urban sprawl. Makes L.A. look like paradise. Bumper to bumper traffic and the gas light comes on. Running on empty I pull into a gas station and found a hotel below Colorado Springs.
Finally made it home this morning. I gotta say, I’ve driven all around the States and northern New Mexico has got to be the prettiest place I know. More treacherous mountain passes but no snow this time. Elevation 8000 feet.
Unpacked the car. Kissed the queen bee hello. Fed the ravens. Writing this now, Saturday night sunset, crescent Moon, Venus glowing and Jupiter too. No more city lights. No more traffic and hotels. Tonight is poker night with the gang. Over and out.