Trip thru Hell, but...

I Can’t Let Go…           

Mountains out of mole hills, it took me four days to decide whether or not to go to the Pac-12 Championship football game which pitted the University of Washington Huskies against the Southern Division champs, the University of Colorado Buffaloes. Decisions, decisions, decisions…The final straw came when Officer Maria, a probation officer from our facility came strutting her stuff into my office…

“Guess where I’m going Friday night Lee?”  “No WAY!! You haven’t been to a game all year!!”

With that she waved her game tickets in my face, Pac-12 Championship game tickets…

As Popeye always said; “I’ve taken alls I can stands, and I can stands no more…”

I sat down at my desk and pulled out my personal cell phone. Game ticket ordered, come Hell or high water I was going to this game…The Pac-12 Championship.

I just may have driven thru Hell on the trip down, tough call…more on that later…

I put in a leave slip, then stepped over to Maria’s office next door and put a post-it note on her computer screen…

Section 227, row 18, seat 14.  That’ll fix her wagon…with that last bit of official business done, I’m on vacation. California here I come...

This was gonna be an economy trip. I bought a low-end game ticket, 35 bucks. I passed on airline tickets, thought about renting a car, thought about reserving hotel rooms, but with all that comes schedules and deadlines, screw that crap…

I’ll just take my Camaro. I may have hinted at this before, but I love driving that buggar, that, and with its optional Boston Acoustic 9 piece stereo with Sirius XM radio. Sometimes I just go out in the garage and sit in it, maybe with a cold one, in concert…but when you are actually driving it on the open road, it’s like a high speed sensory smorgas-board…I’ve never yet got sleepy in this car. Sometimes the best part of a UW football game is the 153 mile ride home…this California trip may tax my endurance, or not…

A road trip like this fills you with a sense of excitement and adventure…What kind of fun will I come across? What can of trouble can I open up, or fall into? Maybe a can of whoop-ass?

Sometimes I come back with a story. Or not...on this trip, I got more than I bargained for…more than an economy trip usually offers…

I told ya’ about last year’s Harley trip to Boise Idaho…now we don’t want to go back there now, now do we….

Full tank of gas and a well packed Camaro, with the game ticket in the glove box, along with my Smith & Wesson 9mm M&P…valuables…On the road again…

I wanted to make Southern Oregon, maybe Grants Pass on day one, with luck maybe I could get across the Oregon border and into California…luck was on my side, the Portland Oregon traffic was not…South of Eugene traffic lightened up…But I needed to stop in Eugene, just to make a duck fill up my tank….

“Just beat Colorado Sir…”

My tank now full, I’m on my way South again…on a roll…Tom Petty is on his radio show, travelling up and thru the Siskiyou  Mountain Pass, the temps are getting colder, snow on the side of the road, patchy fog…perfect…

Now I had stopped at a few rest stops along the way, nearly all of them, wondering if I was tired or  not…ya’ see I had about 8 hours sleep in the last three days…but I was still all amped up…just an excitable boy…

I’d stop at a rest stop, try to tell myself I was tired and sleepy, pop open the trunk grab a Coke, or a Coors…it’s not working, not sleepy…I planned on just sleeping in my car, I had to be bone-tried to sleep in a car…Next rest stop, the same thing, and the next…many people sleeping in their cars at all stops, I was just not ready for sleep yet…

Now the California border was approaching, next exit! “All Vehicles Subject To Search”.

Is this where the trouble begins? I was just starting to have fun…

I’m pulling up to the inspection station…worried about if any empty Coke cans are in the trunk, or the Smith & Wesson in the glove box…Are Washington gun Permits good in California? No way…And I got a Subway foot-long Veggie Delight sandwich in the cooler!! My ‘Go-To’ sandwich… Criminal!

“Do you have anything to declare Sir? Any fruits or vegetables?” asks the women in the Border Booth…

Quick thinking is always good…I’m thinking back to ‘Hogan’s Hero’s’…I do my best Sergeant Schultz impersonation …

“No Ma’am; I Have Nutzing!! I know Nutzing!! I see Nutzing!!”

It must have been a slow night, well, it was a Thursday…I thought she was gonna piss herself laughing…

“Very well Sir! Well you have a good night, and welcome to California!”

The next rest stop was around Yreka California, now the temperature at Yreka was 21 degrees at about 10 pm…how cold would it be at 3 am? Was I tired yet? I stopped into that rest stop just to check…Had another Coors, er Coke…nope, not tired yet…plenty of people sleeping in their cars thou, all peaceful like. But there was this one old Pinto, bouncing up and down just a bit…a Pinto? In this day and age? Well I’d heard that Pinto’s came with substandard shocks…

The next rest stop, about 45 miles up the road. I stop again, not really tired at all. I walk around the lot a bit, another bouncing Pinto, no wait, it’s a Vega…seems I’ve gone back in time, maybe a couple of decades or three, seams Vega’s had bad shocks too…I pop open the trunk and grab another Coke…very thirsty now, weird, as the temperature had dropped down to 15…Mt Shasta had been surreal in her snow covered beauty, wrapped in a shroud of fog under the bright moonlight…I thought I’d give her a toast…

I walk up to the restroom to take care of some business…Business done I’m walking back to the Camaro…a dark blue Monte Carlo pulls in behind my Camaro, engine still running…probably some gang-bangers.  I see three males in the car, hooded, looking at me, two in front, one in back….How did I know they were male you might ask? Am I profiling? Am I prejudiced? I can’t really answer that question folks, maybe they had no tits, I don’t know…tough call…

I’m fearing a car-jacking here guys. So I see this strange looking late model Ford pickup parked right next to me, it wasn’t here a few minutes ago. Normally I’d be upset if somebody parked their beater truck right next to my Camaro, when there were so many other open spots available, but this time I was rather thankful. This truck used to be red, now it’s a rainbow of colors, multi-colored if you will. It appears that it had been rolled recently, the passenger door was blue, the tailgate grey and the running boards were wired to the body. The rest of the truck was covered in mud. I now used this truck as a shield, I had left my Smith n Wesson in the glove box, now I might need it…Coming around to my passenger door, I calmly popped open the door, the three amigos in the Monte Carlo are watching. Of course the dang dome light comes on as the door is opened, I quickly open the glove box and rip the 9mm gun from its holster. I start to scratch my left ear lobe, deescalating the situation…They learn you this in the Academy. The three amigos saw the gun, I’m sure of it, I wanted them to see it. The Monte Carlo gets put into gear and slowly pulls away. The dude in back gave me the peace sign, or maybe it was the one fingered salute…who knows, it was dark…

Well that was fun…on a bit of an adrenaline rush now…I give the Monte Carlo a few minutes to get down the road, then I leave myself, not knowing if they’d come back with more amigos…

Road trips are so fun and relaxing, back on the road again the stereo is in fine tune. The Tom Petty radio is in top gear playing “You Wreck Me”. Was there ever a better road trip song?

“Tonight we ride, right or wrong…

Tonight we sail on a radio song….

Rescue me, should I go down….

If I stay too long, in trouble town…”

More on ‘trouble town’ later….

I got my singin’ voice going real good now folks, we’re on a roll! Not tired yet…

Tom Petty keeps going too, seems he’s on a roll as well… Now he’s into his “It’s Good To Be King.”

“It’s good to be King, if just for awhile…

To be there in velvet, yeah to give ‘em a smile…

It helps to make friends, it’s good to meet girls...

It’s good to be king, of your own little town…

Yeah I’ll be king, when Dawgs get wings…”

Now this song always mellows me out, soothes the savage beast. It’s working…the fog is getting thicker, the temps are getting colder…My metabolism is crashing hard now. A few minutes ago I was not tired in the least, now I can hardly keep my eyes open, a few minutes ago I was not hungry in the least, now I could feast…more fog…

Headlights in my rear view mirror, closing fast. I amp up the Camaro to 90 mph. Headlights closing faster. There’s a break in the fog, an exit ramp, A Motel 6 sign, a Denny’s sign! Without signaling and at the last second, I hit the exit ramp at 90 as the Monte Carlo flew by…

Welcome to Redding California…I haven’t been here in twenty-five years…1991 Rose Bowl. National Championship…

An old woman in a wheel chair with an oxygen tube running up her nose checks me in at the Motel 6 lobby desk. “Sign the receipt, you’ll be in room 225, on the back side Mister.”

I park the Camaro next to the fence and walk up the stairs to room 225. Nice view of the freeway. The fog had now disappeared and the Denny’s restaurant was calling my name. I glanced down at the receipt and noticed that I signed it as ‘LeRoy’. Funny, I hadn’t done that in years, no big deal as ‘LeRoy’ is my actual name.

Yeah, and Denny’s was still calling my name, I’m famished now, my stomach growling. The 500 mile breakfast I had made in the morning probably ran out 300 miles ago, I didn’t feel it then, but now it’s paying dividends…A club sandwich with fries and a side of tartar would fill the bill…

There was a sparse crowd in Denny’s, but it was about midnight on a Thursday. I look at the counter and there is an empty seat three chairs down from the cash register. I take the seat. There’s a guy passed out in the booth against the window, laying face down on the table. His woman is playing with her smart phone. A middle aged guy has got his feet up on the bench seat three booths down, he looks at me, smiles and waves. An older man exits the men’s room, he looks at me and says; “Hey LeRoy! Welcome back, we saved your seat for ya’!

A waitress comes out from the kitchen and gives me the biggest dirty dawg look. I’m not sure if this place is friendly or just wacko…She’s a very attractive woman, I’ll give her that, no doubt about that, mercy sakes, it was hard to tell, was she blonde or brunette? Her hair color seemed to go with the flow in the dim light. She walks up to me looking like she wanted to spit in my face…Did I really want that club sandwich? Her name tag read “Lucy”. She looked vaguely familiar, the way most good-looking gals do on a Thursday night, at midnight…

“Well looky at you, if it ain’t LeRoy… I heard you were back in town. Do you need a menu or you just gonna have the usual?”

“Ugh…I’ll just have the usual, surprise me Lucy.”

“Yeah right, what a surprise, one club sandwich with fries, and a side of tartar coming up.”

“It really sucks you showing up here LeRoy, I can hardly believe it, you suck. You took my joy, and I want it back…” With that, Lucy headed back to the kitchen, she stops and spins around…

“I don’t WANT YOU ANYMORE!!”

A few minutes later the manager comes out and sits down next to me...

“Dammit LeRoy! Lucy is in the back room crying her eye balls out! And she’s the only help I’ve got tonight! Now your gonna march back there and tell her your sorry!! And I mean right now!”

Ben the cook then brings me out my club sandwich, I couldn’t eat it fast enough…a few minutes later Lucy came out with the side of tartar and sat down…”My break isn’t until one, but what the hell they gonna do? Fire me? Daddy still owns this place, like most of everything else in this God-forsaken cow town…”

“That’s good Lucy!”

“Ya’ know LeRoy, I had a couple of beers with your sister the other day, down at the Dusty Stampede. Ya’ know, If ya’ ask me, your sister spends just a little bit too much time down at the Dusty Stampede. Well anyway, she told me that you do still love me LeRoy, now what ya’ gonna say about that? Huh? And then I saw your mom at the Safeway, she thinks so too, she just said that you’re just a stubborn ol’ mule…more like a stubborn ol’ jack-ass if ya’ ask me…”

“Well ya’ know Lucy, things have been kinda’ tough, and I’m not they guy that you think I am…”

“look LeRoy, everybody changes, I’m not the same gal I was either. We we’re both wrong LeRoy, we both screwed the pooch. Can’t you just let it go? You took my joy when you left, think about that, you owe us that much, and remember LeRoy, you can still be King of this town…think about that, just think about that…”

Lucy then walked back into the kitchen, my bill had come, 10.37, I left a twenty and headed for the door. An older man was just entering, “Hey! Leaving so soon LeRoy!”

It was a short walk to the motel, two parking lots, the fog had returned with the cold. My legs felt like lead. A blue Monte Carlo parked next to the dumpster. I walked to the Camaro and got my Smith & Wesson…

I wouldn’t be sleeping alone tonight…

Morning broke early, sunny and bright. Game day, time to get a move on. There is a Chevron station next to the Motel 6, which is next to Denny’s…I pull into the Chevron and begin to fuel up. A young man in his thirties walks out and starts cleaning my windshield. I haven’t seen that done in twenty-five years…1991 Rose Bowl, the National Championship…

“Thanks for coming by Mister! Hey LeRoy! Welcome back! You gonna have breakfast at Denny’s? I bet Lucy will be happy to see YOU!!” Yeah Lucy, I could be still be King of this town, she might just crown me with a frying pan…

 

Well I do wonder what LeRoy would have for breakfast…my money is on a Denver omelet, with sourdough toast…

On the road again, many miles still to go. The Camaro is running at an easy 80 mph. Roy Orbison is singing on the Tom Petty Radio Show, he is doing his “Mean Woman Blues”

“Hmmmm, Well I got a woman mean as she can be….

Yeah I got a woman mean as she can be…

She’s got ruby lips, and shapely hips…

Yeah I got a woman mean as she can be…”

Oh stop, nobody can do Roy Orbison, you just make yourself look foolish….just quit…

It’s funny how your mind can wander on trips such as these, especially when you’re alone with your lonesome…Look, I just passed Ball Ferry road, now comes Hooker Creek…Ya’ wonder what kinda’ tales could be told if Ferry’s and Creeks could talk….

Now the Tom Petty Radio show goes on with a Lucinda Williams song, “Joy”

“You took my Joy and I want it back, yeah you took my joy and I want it back, yeah you took my joy….”

Then another Lucinda Williams song “I Can’t Let Go’

“It’s over, I know it but I can’t let go, it’s over, I know it but I can’t let go, it’s over…”

I wonder if she ever goes by Lucy…Good Dawg almighty… how I do love Lucinda Williams...

SANTA CLARA freakin’ California!

I made it! This place is nuts! There’s a bunch of kids behind me with a hookah, smoking a bunch of pot, they invite me over, a bunch of guys from Kent playing beer-shoes to my right, I meet up with some guys from High School, the Dawg Pack is back! What a great time! I end up officiating the beer-shoes tournament. I had to disqualify a few of the fellows, then they opened up their spare cooler for me, their disqualifications now over…

Game time. They make you walk thru a metal detector to enter the stadium, what the heck? Now I like to bring in something a little extra into the game, just something to melt the ice and meet my new friends with. This something special comes in metal containers…I see two local California kooks finishing off their Buds outside the gate…

“Hey buds! They really make you walk thru a metal detector, I got flasks!” “Yup, just put ‘em in your boots and hope for the best, if not, we will help you out here in draining them, you go in, we’ll watch.”

Now these boys were watching me enter the metal detector, sure enough, it went off…”Step to the side sir! Arms outstretched!” I’m getting wanded with the wand. “Oh, it must have been your binoculars sir, it’s what set the detector off.” He says with a grin…

“Yeah, these binoculars…I can’t take ‘em anywhere…or maybe it was these reinforced Levi’s!” “Thanks for your support. You may now enter sir.” I turn and wave to my ‘friends’…They’re laughing…

I find my seat easy enough…Bunch of Buffaloes sitting around here, go figure, but some were pretty cute…But the funny thing was that most the Colorado fans were acting like they were just glad to be here, maybe it was just those around me, but that’s the take I got...”Hey we made it!!”Like they just wanted to be respectable, not win…maybe that’s what happens when ya’ go from ‘worst to first’…That’s about what they got…respectable.

That National Anthem sang by Lena Hall, hey, that little bird could sing that every week if ya ask me…she made UW’s Hawaiian Fire-Dancing Psalm Wooching break down into tears, and this being the same Stadium where the NFL nonsense began, what with what’s his name, the dip-shit 49er quarterback....

Had a visitor at halftime, Maria from the facility. “Hey Lee!” “Hey funny seeing you here! How’s the old man?” “Oh he’s getting, some hot cocoa, then probably taking a nap…come join us after the game, we’re gonna go see some nightlife!”  “No thanks Maria, my tank is on empty, I’m nearly done…”

Comfortable win in the second half…Now Atlanta, the Peach Bowl and Alabama. Seems we’ve got some pretty confident Alabama fans these days, well go figure. Saw one on the message boards say that he actually thought that we could Beat Bama. Well go figure. Mercy akes, that’s just what the UW is fixin’ to do…this game will be a snot-locker, that’s for sure. Yup, the Peach Bowl, that’s exactly what I figured, that’s why I came to Santa Clara, I couldn’t go to Atlanta, so I came here.

I couldn’t let go…

Game over, I’m on my last legs, less than a mile back to the Camaro, but it seemed like five. People going nuts, fireworks, more smoking, beer-shoes…I talk a bit with the fellas, then enter the Camaro and pull my coat over my head…I’m done…

My Bladder wakes me. I step out of the car. I’m alone in the parking lot, alone in the pre-dawn darkness…they all left me here alone, all of them? The basturds…thought we was friends...

I begin to take a leak in the parking lot, a garbage truck drives by, in mid-stream my cell-phone alarm clock goes off, yup 5:30 am, that well-trained bladder of mine, almost time to get going…

“GOOD MORNING SANTA CLARA!!”

And with that I zip up and start the car….

Surprised at how much traffic there is in the Bay Area on a Saturday morning at 5:30…At Benicia California there is a toll road I had to pull over for. Another car is waiting to take cuts in line, nobody is letting him in. What the heck, I’m in no hurry, it’s still dark out…I let him take cuts…The toll sign from here looked like .50 cents, no biggee. On closer inspection it was 5 bucks, dang…It’s my turn to pay and I hand a five out the window…

“No worries sir, the guy in front of you paid your toll...” Really! I couldn’t even thank him, he was already gone…the term ‘pay it forward’ came to mind…

On the road again, I needed a rest stop, very bad, I hadn’t even brushed my teeth…I walk out of the restroom and there’s this scruffy looking bearded dude parked next to me. Why it looked like he’d slept all night in his car, can you believe that a guy would sleep in his car? Geez…

“Excuse me sir, I hate to even ask, but could you help me with just anything, I need to get past the next two exits to get home, my woman is waiting….?”  “Maybe, just a second bud, hold on.” ‘Pay it forward’ came back to mind…I handed him the toll booth five dollar bill…

Back on the road again I’m nearing Redding California…hey there’s that multi-colored pick up again! The one from the rest stop! I go to pass it, it throws a pebble at me, probably from all the mud, dang it. A chip in the windshield!! Go figure…

Yeah, ‘pay it forward’.

I suppose It could be worse…I wonder how LeRoy is doing today…

GO DAWGS!!

BEAT BAMA!!

“Joy” and “Can’t Let Go” by Lucinda Williams…enjoy.

https://youtu.be/IeoWNbQLY8A

 

 

 

Lee Goinmancan be reached at malamute@4malamute.com

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