| This is really more of a diary entry and a really
funny weekend, but it was so ridiculous, it earned an entry in our travel
logs. Keep in mind, you probably would have had to have been there to appreciate
how silly it was. Most of this will simply make just us four laugh to recall
it all, and it truly is worth remembering.
David and Gary took David's "Das Boat" with the jeep out to McClure for the day, Saturday, leaving at the crack of dawn. This is the same jeep that died on the Four Corners Trip, rebuilt in Dagget and again a few months later in Merced. Lets see, that is a total of three engines in an 1989 Jeep that originally cost us about $5000.00. Anyway, David calls from where they stopped for breakfast to let me know DonnaLee (Aka DL, aka 5150 Leo, Gary's other half) wants me to pick her up when I head out for the Humanity Flea Market. Our garage sale, goodwill, flea market history is another story, but suffice it to say, we LOVE going to these and are careful not to tear anything apart that we both want, which happens all the time. We can get, well, overly silly together, and think nothing of dragging a perfect stranger into a fantastic discovery. DL is in the grocery store parking lot, and will put off her shopping till later.
The flea market was hilarious. My neighbor, Steve, kept showing up with items we just had to have, my Avon 'lady', Randy, was bringing me all sorts of goodies, the girls that worked there kept volunteering to take the armfuls of stuff for us and place them in the holding area, several of DL's friends said hello and the bill kept mounting. We did fill DL's Lincoln, and finally got away before I spent my entire hundred dollar bill and DL has a new mini greenhouse. One more garage sale, breakfast at Cinema Cafe, Walmart and home. Walmart was hilarious, actually. Donna in the fabric dept fell right into our silly remarks as we padded and purred our way through some really incredible fake chinchilla fur, and bought an entire bolt of black duck for a new witch cape for DL. Donna totals up the fabric and says, "Wow, $500.00!!" (NOT!) We sadly had to leave her there as we moved on.
We drop me and my stuff off, DL heads out to sing at Barnes and Nobles (she is part of the Harmony Valley Chorus of Sweet Adelines) and I put away all my treasures. David calls from the ranger station, he and Gary are broken down at Lake McClure. It takes me a while to realize he is not kidding. The engine burned up. Again. Omg, omg, omg. Trying to explain where "the road between Lake Mc Clure and Lake Mc Swain just past the pay point" to the AAA operator was really frustrating. I can't find my way out of a peanut butter jar, and she is not from this area at all. That project alone, took a half hour. I finally gave up (especially after learning the tow will cost about $400 depending on how far away it really is) and called our local tweaker towers, who promptly said, "No problem, I know exactly where they are, except my truck is down. Call Wallace?" Frantic calls back and forth to "upset guy" at the ranger station and Wallace Towing who agrees to tow both jeep and boat for only $240 and to leave right away. I collect vehicle plate numbers, appropriate phone numbers written on the front of a new Cook's magazine, glasses, purse, cell phone, cigarettes, and out the door to grab DL who has finally made it through the grocery store and putting meat in the freezer. We fly to Lake McClure. This is an 89 mile, 25 mile or 45 mile trip, depending on who you listen to. Might as well make the trip back easier for David and Gary by picking them up instead of having them maneuver up into the tow truck. Neither of them are, ahem, young, ya know. It's 4:00 pm.
The ranger station reports the 'upset guy' hopped a ride back to the boat, and lets me in without a fee. Thank goodness, because the very last of my hundred dollar bill went for coffee, water and gas, in that order. I forgot to grab extra funds. We are tootling along the wonderfully windy road, finally coming up on two forlorn old farts on the side of the road, sitting on rocks next to a steaming white jeep and a boat. You know we had to stop and flirt. Wolf whistles and cat calls while these two old geezers cross the road towards us. "Scenes we would like to see" from Mad Magazine keep whizzing through my head when Gary slowly crosses the road while a semi peeks its way around the far corner down the hill. Splatt!! You have to laugh a bit, cause if you don't, you will probably start crying. We just had the red "Fire truck' towed away last month after ten years of faithful service and many miles together on our trips, followed by the removal of my most favorite car in the world, my dead 1982 burgundy Supra. We were down to my relatively new Blazer, the jeep, and David's mid life crisis: a classic 1979 British racing green Triumph TR7 convertible.
It gets really boring, real quick, I have to pee, so we follow the guys as they start up the jeep, make it another fifty feet down the road before steam starts billowing again. Fifty more feet, then a hundred. We actually make it back to the ranger station, ask them to let the tow truck know he drove past us if he shows up there, come back and get us, pleeease? The jeep makes it to a sharp corner before Snelling, DL and I head down the road for more water and hopefully a spot where our cell phones work to call the Wallace tow truck driver. No answer. Back to the guys, they are talking to another vehicle, construction friends and David is talking business. Figures. Can't take that guy anywhere without running into someone he knows. Limp around the sharp corner another hundred feet. This is where we start to realize that no one actually knows what road we are on. Hornitos Road? That goes from Cathay's Valley to here, but everyone hears Hornitos Road and thinks of Mariposa, a really long way away. The road to McClure? Everyone know where that is, there is only one. Honest. Really. What IS the name of this road?? J19? No one knows that name. DL finally find a spot where her dying cell phone works, and we realize that Gary's AAA card will get us towed all the way home for free. Several calls to Wallace go unanswered, it's starting to get cold. AAA says no problem, but where exactly are you? Listening to one side of DL's conversation was funny, and frustrating. "I work for the police, trust me, we are NOT in Mariposa." We wait. And we wait.
7001 Merced Falls Road is a nice place. The lady who lives there says we can leave the jeep in her front yard if we decide to take the boat (on the Blazer with only a bumper hitch, gulp) and go home. She has a donkey in a pen who is NOT friendly despite how cute he is. I have to pee. Bad. Again. Gary sits on a rock next to some cactus with 14" spokes, DL is having a heart attack at the thought he will fall into the cactus. She won't move from her appointed 'cell-works-here' spot. David paces, I play in the road. An old Volkswagen van tootles by, we all stand by the road and give him thumbs up, laughing about his waving response and what he must have thought to see us. We are remembering our younger years when we did exactly the same thing we are now, hang around on a road while someone was sent to rescue us. Some things just don't change. I collect rocks from where ever we go, and proceeded to past the time by hunting down interesting, note worthy rocks to take home. I found Gary a perfect rock, one that will remind him of this adventure every time he sees it. It might even talk to him. (Add "Garrrieeee!!" in a weak, strange little voice.) It's 6:00 pm when DL calls AAA again, and cancels the Wallace tow with a message. They are STILL not answering their phones. AAA is still confused. We are still cold. And getting colder.
David and Gary disconnect the boat from the jeep, roll the boat back (the jeep will only sigh and steam now) and DL brings the Blazer back to tie onto the boat, immediately returning to her designated cell spot. I am looking for the cigarettes I lost, again. DL looks down to see a shiny bolt. Is this ours? I am watching David and Gary hammer the boat trailer onto my bumper (gulp, gulp, gulp) when David says, "Got it! Bolt it on!!" Gary looks confused, I hold out my hand with the bolt. Need this? I cheerfully report back to DL her bolt was the ankle connected to the leg bone part of the boat. Good spy!! I can't remember all the sarcastic remarks and jokers, but they were plentiful and a dime a dozen, we were all smiling and laughing, silently wondering if we had really all gone insane or entered the Twilight Zone. Speaking of twilight, it was getting dark.
DL calls one more time, her faithful cell phone giving all it had before it croaked. Yup. Sure enough, AAA called up Mariposa Tow. Yup. Miles away. Yup. Ok, let's do this tomorrow. We are going home. Think you can figure out where we are tomorrow? Really? Free? Sure! (It BETTER be, dude!) We pile into the Blazer, wave goodbye (tearfully) to the jeep, and head home. Sure enough, 23 miles to Merced. Forget changing, forget stopping for gas or the bathroom, we head to Appleby's. The girls might have had a late brunch, but the guys have not eaten since sun up. It's 7:00 pm. Thank goodness DL put away her groceries.
Appleby's is swamped. To the hilt. David walks up to the girls who seat you and ask, "Which will work the best?" The following options are: he yells fire, (she is looking at him strangely) he finds a table he likes and drools on the plates of who ever is seated there, (her hand is on the phone now) or they just announce all the bimbos have to leave. DL assures the girl we are safe, she finally laughs, we return to the lobby to run into a blonde laughing, "I have to leave??" Some poor father in the lobby heard about our day, but at least he was amused. A trip to the bathroom produces more bimbo jokes, wet undies (don't ask) and a diversion while we wait for a table. The waiters all know DL and Gary, laugh about our day with us, and bring us large, copious amounts of alcohol and food, in that order.
We drop off DL and Gary, actually coming to a stop instead of making them roll out, and head for home. It's ten o'clock and way past all our bedtimes. Comparisons later proved that we were all fast asleep within a half hour.
Ah, Sunday morning. We get to do this ALL over again! Oh goody. Joy and rapture. On the way, we pass that same VW van and manage to get most our hands out the windows in time for a group thumbs up. Ah, nothing like a good omen. The jeep greets us from its sad spot, covered with flies looking for morning warmth. The donkey is still neurotic. Gary's rock is recovered near the cactus patch, DL finds her cell spot, Dave and Anne play hockey with a perfectly round rock that goes home with us. David won, only because he was uphill. Pout....Gary wanders off a bit and returns with these two, tiny plastic Halloween creatures, a scarecrow and a pumpkin man. Anne proves the solidity of her second childhood when she makes them dance and talk to Gary ("Garrieeeeee") on a rock that strangely resembles a small headstone. Dave worries about Anne. It's 10:45.
DL is not going to wait another minute, and calls AAA again. You guys said 45 minutes, and let me tell you, 45 minutes is up. I think this is the fifth time she has told the story and informed the AAA operator that Merced Falls Road is NOT in Mariposa. Honest. Really. Amazingly enough, during that call, she spies a big, bright beautiful yellow tow truck headed down the road towards us. Anne hops into the road to wave, the tow truck signals his recognition by driving down the center of the road. We all cheered. There is hope. Ten minutes later, the jeep is up on the tow truck, pushed around easily by an immense driver. I am thinking I need a couch moved at home. Hmmm.......The tow truck driver will take our jeep home, put it in front of the trailer in the driveway, and we head off for food.
At the Cinema Cafe, DL orders Chicken Fried steak. I look over to say "Again?" and she pokes me. I am having Corned Beef, again. David says," You were here yesterday?" We both promptly shook our heads in denial, the waitress laughs and asks DL what else she wants. David answers, "The same thing she had yesterday." The little Halloween people decorate our table. Dejavu, we are all laughing our way through the day, again.
Ok, we are well fed, again, but we still have a problem. No transport for David. After the fire truck died, he realized this was the first time since 1960 something that he has not owned a pickup. Witnessing withdrawal is nasty at best. David is a general contractor, in construction. Our home project list is only surpassed by our hardware store bill. Need I say more? My son, John, by some overwhelming coincidence, now works at the Hyundai (pronounced HUN-die, not Hi-YUN-day) that Dave built. Sounds like a childhood song. Well, off we go, just a quick look.
David is a secret car shopper. He hates car salesmen, and has done his vehicle window shopping at 4 am for years. When we were looking for my next car, we would drive up to a car lot, pile out and he would wander off while I divert the ever approaching vulture salesman with a clear statement that if he wants to ruin any purchase, completely, go talk to my honey. Just talk to me and everything will be fine.
John is lingering outside with an entire crew of bored salesmen when we drive up. John is easy to spot, he is the only non-Hispanic there. He spies DL and Gary in the back of the Blazer, laughs and everyone hugs. David has long wandered off down the lot. John finally follows him, and before we know it, they are inspecting an emerald green GMC Canyon, opposed to the grey Toyota Tundra we came to see, the one David looked at last week. I am asking another salesman for any vehicle in pink when Dave and John actually get into the Canyon and drive away. My chin is on my chest. They return, David has made an offer. I sit down. David actually buys it on the spot, I faint. But, what a truck! It's a gorgeous color (10 points), a crew cab (20 points), only slightly used with a reasonable price tag (50 points) and four wheel drive (75 points). The roof window, the shade for the window, the 6 CD changer and the flat back seat that will become David's portable office more than make up for the lack of an ashtray. Perfection found at last. John agrees that he will pay me back the money he owes me, especially since he will receive a commission from this sale. What a deal.
DL and Gary are dropped off a home while David endures the paperwork, I head home for insurance stuff only to find the jeep right smack dab in the middle of the driveway, not tucked behind the trailer. Grrrrrrrrr.
By the time David makes it home, I have neighbors outside waiting to see the new truck. Hey, I had a legitimate errand to run, but that ruins the story. Besides, all the recent tow truck activity has the grapevine flowing already. David parks the truck, immediately hops across the street towards the house. We are all wondering where he is going when he returns with a huge, overflowing tool bag, plops it in the back and proclaims, "There!" It is now official. David's new work truck.
Back to DL's and Gary's to fix a light, even though I could see David looking at the highway to Yosemite and pouting. We pull up, I get out, Gary pops in and the boys drive off. Not a word. DL and I laugh. Sneaking off like little kids. Going cruising. Actually, they went to climb a hill around the corner. Sigh. Boys and toys.
The end of the weekend was perfected with dinner on the deck, lasagna and raviolis from our favorite Fresno deli, surrounded by the yard, animals, birds, torches, where we toasted to a horrific weekend that was the most fun we have had in years and the best of friends anyone could ask for. Well, and the new truck. Forest Gump? Gump for short? Nah, but we will come up with a name. And a plate frame. "On the road again...." seems appropriate.