Saturday, January 14, 2006

Road Trip, Redux: California, Here We Come!

I had meant to have this up the last week of December, but just wasn't up to transcribing it at the time. But, better late than never right? Please enjoy the chronicles of my holiday road-trip to California.

Back in December of 1994, three of my then-future/now-former roommates and I piled into Dr. G'ovich's Plymouth Horizon (known to many as "the Lunchbox") and drove to San Diego, where the Doc's folks lived. Flunky, Wrath teh Berzerkr, and I all went to our respective family homes for Christmas, while G'ovich, I believe, celebrated with Rocket. The plan had been for the Doc to drive down to the vast metropolis of Wyandotte, OK to get me, and then we would head off to pick up the others. His random nature reared its head when he called to see if it was okay if he came up one night early; my folks said sure, but since he wasn't planning on getting in until relatively late, they went off to bed while I stayed up waiting for him. And waiting. And waiting. I was a tad worried that he might have gotten lost somewhere in the vast metropolis of Wyandotte, but it turns out that his navigational error happened much earlier than that; he had taken the wrong exit and then had to backtrack. But, he finally made it to the family farm, none the worse for wear.

The next day we headed to the nearby city of Joplin, MO, ostensibly to get supplies for the trip, but I think it was more of an excuse to find something to do; surprisingly enough, not a lot of excitement readily available at my childhood home. We hit the mall, which wasn't exactly a thrill-a-minute either. The one thing that it did provide for us was located at the dollar store, which we had entered looking for some cheap crap to entertain us on the drive. It was there that we made one of the greatest purchases $1.00 purchases I’ve ever made: plastic rapiers.

Five will get you ten that it was the Doc's idea to buy them, but a better idea, I doubt he's ever had. Basically, we bought four of these cheap plastic swords with the idea of staging our own little sword fights. Let me tell you something; those things hurt! You look at them and think, oh, yeah, little plastic swords, big whoop, but when the Doc and I got back to the house and went out into the front yard in order to start wailing on each other we soon found that the thin plastic swords whipped with sufficient speed to leave some nasty welts. We basically spent the remainder of our time in Wyandotte beating up on each other with the swords.

The next day we packed up The Lunchbox, and prepared to hit the road. As G'ovich started to turn the key in the ignition, I turned to him and said "Bet my folks will start singing Happy Trails before we leave." He gave me a disbelieving look, but as soon as the car started, so did my folks.

"Bom-ba-dee-da, bom-ba-dee-da, bom-ba-dee-da, Happy Traaaaaaaaaaaaails to you!"

And so, we backed out of the driveway, leaving my parents to perform an act that would have embarrassed almost any child living, but which did not faze me in the slightest, and headed to Tulsa to meet up with Wrath teh Berzerkr. After picking him up, we then headed down to Texas to Flunky’s grandmother’s house where we spent the night before hitting the road again. At that point in time, I still didn’t have my driver’s license; I did have my permit, but couldn’t drive a stick, so I wasn’t able to join in the driving rotation.

The car ride down was pretty uneventful; about the only thing that stands out in my mind has to do with a package of pecans that one of the others brought along as snack food. Now, I’m not a big fan of pecans, either in stuff or by themselves; I suppose I must have reacted pretty forcefully when offered some to eat, because G’ovich decided that I must be suffering from a pecan phobia. After that, I would periodically find the package thrust into my face as one of them yelled “Look out, Todd, pecans!”

We eventually made it to San Diego, or, more accurately, to the Doc’s mom’s place in Coronado. Although the name may not ring a bell, you may be more familiar with Coronado than you think; the bridge connecting Coronado to San Diego was featured in the title sequence of the show Simon & Simon, and the swanky Hotel Del Coronado (or Hotel Del as its usually called) has popped up in quite a few places, most notably on such high class shows as Silk Stockings, Hart to Hart and, of course, Baywatch. Oh, and the exteriors of Some Like It Hot were filmed there too. But, I digress.

The next morning we were all going to head down to the beach. I, for some reason, decided to hop in the shower first; when I got out of the shower, I discovered that the other three had headed on down to the beach without me. Can you hear the strains of “Cap’n Cellophane” playing? I know I could. Getting directions from the Doc’s younger brother, I set out for the beach. Luckily, Coronado is an island, so that even though I got turned around and headed in the wrong direction for a while, I was eventually able to find the beach and the others.

There was an odd sinkhole of sorts on the beach, the edges of which were practically quicksand; marveling at this wonder of nature soon became a game of trying to wrestle each other into the sinkhole. Later, we all got some wetsuits and ventured into the water. The others tried their hands at surfing; I did not. Not a big fan of the water at the best of times (I’m still unable to go under without holding my nose), so the idea of engaging in an activity that would require great skill and co-ordination to keep from being dunked under repeatedly didn’t appeal to me.

I remember the four of us heading out to play some basketball, an activity which, of course, conjured up my insecurities about my lack of athletic prowess. Not too long after that we went bowling with the Doc’s dad, an activity which, of course, conjured up my insecurities about my lack of athletic prowess. Oh, and then there was the evening that we were trying to play hacky-sack, and activity which . . . do you sense a pattern here?

We wound up being in San Diego for New Year’s Eve. We had thought it was going to be great because, surely, in San Diego, California, there had to be some great party to go to, some big event to crash.

We couldn’t have been more wrong.

Oh, I’m sure there was some magical experience just waiting for us out there, which would have resulted in us having the time of our lives, but if there was, we never found it. Instead, we wound up going to something that turned out to be, if I recall correctly, some big environmental rally; not much in the way of fun there.

Before we headed back home, we made a side-trip to Tijuana. Now, I wasn’t too excited about going to TJ, having been to Mexico a couple of years earlier with a group from my high school; my experiences in what my classmates and I had dubbed “Murder Alley” in Mexico City made me a little paranoid about the four of us venturing into the streets of TJ, but Wrath was pretty gung-ho on going, so go we did. Of course, my paranoia was groundless, and nothing untoward happened on our little jaunt across the border, but it serves as yet another example of me letting my negativity get in the way of me having a good time.

The ride back to Oklahoma was about as uneventful as the ride down had been; the biggest difference this time was that, instead of tormenting me with pecans, the game was to torment each other with the California Earthquake.

Oh, how to describe the California Earthquake? Maybe if you’re really lucky, Coronela still has it and will be able to scan it in for me to post it. Suffice it to say, the CE was a lovely postcard that we discovered at one point and all agreed had to be sent to Coronela. Of course, we didn’t get it sent before we left for home, and so instead used it to frighten and nauseate each other all the way home; there you'd be, minding your own business, turning your head to look out the passenger window, and wham!, there was the California Earthquake, being held right at eye level.

I still have nightmares.

And that’s my California trip in a nutshell. I’m sure there’s much of interest I’m omitting and/or misremembering; as usual, my selective memory has robbed it of most of the exciting bits. And, as usual, I’ll leave it up to Dr. G’ovich to point out my shortcomings.


coronela said...

The California Earthquake is being scanned as I speak. You will shortly be able to relive this experience!

G'ovich said...

Where do I start?

What made the little plastic swords great is they had a flat disc/knob at the end. About the size of a nickle. Those things could really leave a welt.

This is the trip where we learned not to let Ray drive standard directly on the highway without trying a few side streets first. From the moment he hopped the curb to get onto the road (instead of using the sloped entrance) to the agonizingly long moment where he refused to change gears as we revved high in second.

Buddy, on the other hand, had dare-devil speed coming down the mountains. To your left, you will notice a steep drop lasting several hundred yards. We had a GREAT view of that as we were passing cars that were going just a tad too slow for his taste.

Once in San Diego I don't remember a lot. We left the 'local' stuff that was on the island in search of a bigger party. That was a mistake. There is Coronado and there is the rest of the world. For the most part, there's no good reason to leave the island.

We lived maybe a block from the beach. It's not that hard to find.

Every yard has ripe juicy orange or lemon or lime trees, and they usually hang over into the alleys. Imagine lemons the size of baseballs.

In January, the wetsuit is a great idea for someone wanting to learn to surf. If that someone is 6'2 and 200 pounds, wearing a hot pink wetsuit made for a woman 5'4, the wetsuit surpasses "great idea" and instantly becomes legend.

That Ray almost drowned in a hot pink wetsuit that only came down to his knees only makes it better. (The surfboard cord attacked his legs, while the waves crashed the board itself into the back of his head. All wrapped up, he couldn't find his footing. Rookie mistake.) Did I mention the surf MAYBE cleared 2-3 feet tall?

Four out of Five people agree, bowling was a great idea.

There are two things that made the drive home much more interesting than the drive out there.

First, there was ice in the mountains. With Ray and Buddy sleeping, only Todd was witnesses to some of the most amazing driving of my life. The right hand lane was iced over except for the two ruts where cars drive. The left hand lane was completely iced over, except for patches that also had the two ruts. I tried to only pass cars when the left hand lane had ruts, but the we did have to skid across some spots. Todd must have been at a good point in the book. His face was flush and his wide eyes were glued to the pages. I can only imagine how exciting that chapter must have been.

Second, Bottle Rockets, while banned in Oklahoma are sold along the highway in the desert. We bought enough to last years. The idea is to have them lit and flying out the window. They didn't all make them out the window, and of those that did, one or two somehow ended up under the hood. Tell me again why these are outlawed?

The bottle rockets, of course, led to other misadventures down the road. Heck, as soon as we pulled up to the dorm, we *noticed* campus police looking for someone or something.

Cap'n Neurotic said...

Sorry I wasn't able to contribute to your tales of reckless driving on the San Diego trip; I think I more than made up for that in later years. A particular drive to Tulsa springs to mind, with you in the passenger seat, whiteknuckled as you feared that I was about to kill us both . . .

Good times.