Over the years, I have done my share of travel, which is why I list it as one of my three passions (yes, I know there are more than three listed, and yes I know that ‘math’ is one of them–that was exactly the point, but if you have to explain a joke, it no longer has any chance of being funny so I will stop there). Nothing exotic (unless you consider most of Europe and quite a bit of Turkey exotic), but I have had my share of adventures, I guess. A couple of times, I decided to write about it. A few of you out there were ‘privileged’ enough to read at least some of these idle ramblings at the time they were written and have suggested I re-‘publish’ them here.
The first that I offer up for ridicule is when I drove across the country, from Sausalito, CA to Philadelphia with my beloved pooch, Ibo (who sadly died a few years ago). Why leave Sausalito for Philly, you ask? Very good question. After all, I love to drink wine and ride my bike. Better opportunities for both in CA. Well, I was in love (aawww!), and still am (double awww!)–I came out east for my would be wife and to start grad school at the University of Pennsylvania (let’s just leave to the side where else I applied and the results of those applications for the moment).
This is but the first installment (unless all three of you hate it–that’s right! I have another follower!), be sure to let me know if you want to see more of these. So here goes, I originally entitled this “Travels with Ibo” (pronounced eee-BOO, the name of my dog):
OK, so I know that the title is not exactly original, but hey, I have been driving all day long. Cut me some slack.
Many people asked me to call them from the road as I drive across the country, but since that would cost me a fortune and be a bit of a pain in the ass, I decided to just send a daily e-mail which will also serve as a diary. Consider yourself lucky to be on the list.
I left Sausalito at 10 this morning and I had the brilliant idea to go across the Golden Gate Bridge one more time and then the Bay Bridge, 101 to the 580 to I-5, I-5 to I-40. I had planned to get gas at the station on Seminary Road, right off the 101 expressway (those from Marin know the one, the one that is a good 20-25 cents cheaper than the rest of the Bay Area – I could use this as a platform to say why I think high gas prices are a GOOD thing, but I will resist). It would have been a good idea had there not been a line practically back to the 101. Great, just great, here I am starting my epic journey an hour late already, and it looks like I am going to spend another 30 minutes waiting for cheap gas. I make a bold move and decide to go to another station. I am so daring.
I get down to the Bridge in about 5 minutes (for you slightly less cool folks–there are many bridges in the Bay Area, but ‘the Bridge’ is the Golden Gate), luckily there is not much traffic. A quick side to those who live in the Bay Area. Please do me one favor: every day appreciate the beauty that surrounds you. Realize how fortunate you are to live in such a spectacular place. And every once in a while, when you are going across the GGB, look to both sides and give a sigh for me. I always loved crossing that bridge and I am surprised that I never caused a head on multi-vehicle accident because I am usually looking everywhere but the road.
Back to the trip. I made my way through the city and onto the Bay Bridge, down 580, and onto the 5 (after first missing the exit and having to turn around). I started listening to my Harry Potter book on tape and tearing through my Apple Newtons. Ibo, of course, was being an angel in the back of the Explorer (at the time, there had been a well-documented recall of Explorer tires [my days before the Prius] and Ford had assured me that my tires were not recalled, so don’t worry, mom). Interstate 5 is one of the more boring roads in the world. The only things that keep you awake are the moronic drivers (I only had one guy flip me off today, though), and the fear of passing out from the heat if you ever turn off the AC.
I passed through about 38 gas stations in Bakersfield, but I did not stop (despite hovering on “E”). I was hoping to find a gas station right next to an In and Out Burger. You know, stop once, multi-task, save time. What a moron. Bakersfield is on the edge of the Mojave Desert. Desert, as in deserted, as in nothing for miles and miles. Just as I get to the point that it would not make sense (at least to me) to turn around and go back to Bakersfield, the light came on. You all know what light I mean. Mine says “check engine”, but what it is really saying is: “you are about to run out of gas in the middle of the desert where it is 128 thousand degrees all because you wanted a stupid double-double animal style (that is a burger to all of those who have not been blessed to go to an In and Out) – I hope you are happy, dufus”. Panicked, I turned the AC off, put it in neutral to coast down the hills, trying to draft behind the semis.
A sign said “Mojave 42”. I assumed there was a town called Mojave and that there would be gas there. Assumed is perhaps the wrong word. Hoped, prayed, promised all sorts of things to several different gods. I tried to do the math. How far could I go? I actually considered getting out my owners manual to see how long I could go once the light came on (another brilliant idea–read the owner’s manual while driving–did I mention I was going to Penn to get my Ph.D.?). I passed an exit that had an additional sign: “No Services”. Boy, thanks for that. Why don’t they just say: “no gas here, you poor bastard, keep the prayers going”.
Finally, I see a gas station in the town called Tehachapi (still 33 miles from Mojave). I get off on the exit, and I pass the first three stations. Why? Because I am looking for the best deal in town. How pathetic is that? I fill up, Ibo has some water, and we are back on the road.
Let me know what you think. More soon….
The saga continues: