My week began by waking up Monday morning for the first time as a 32-year-old human being. How in the hell could that have happened? The concept of time is beyond me. With this being an off-week for Easter, I thought it would be cool to write to you folks about a long drive I took yesterday. What's cool about a really long drive is that you can actually cheat time if you're tough enough. You know, those little time zones and what not. I put in 1000 miles from 8:00am EST to 11:00pm CST. The journey began at my new home city of Winston Salem, North Carolina, and ended up at my "employers" lake house at the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. The mission was simple: Deliver the boss' new boat to the lake house without scratching it. I had a strong horse to pull the vessel with a 2009 full-size Chevy dually with one of those crazy turbo diesel engines that sound like a spaceship when you mash the pedal. The boat was 26-feet and so heavy the trailer had disc-brakes on it.
It was a beautiful, sunny day in The South, but I said the hell with it, I was on the preverbial "clock." The journey began.
Satellite radio is your best friend when you have a thousand miles between your windshield and your destination. As I pulled onto I-40W and tried to find my comfort zone with the 50-foot rig, I turned the dial to good ole Fox News, XM Channel 121. Those creeps usually are all gloom and doom, but when you're bored that's not always a bad thing. Instead of the usual economy fodder, they were going on about a freaking pirate ship that had taken twenty-some Americans hostage 280 miles off the coast of Somalia. The first thing I thought was, "Uh, pirates?" Apparently piracy is alive and well and I discovered those scarvy dogs raked in 80 million in "booty" in 2008. Jesus. I thought to myself, "Why are there still animals like that in the world in 2009? What would aliens think if they were watching us?"
I listened to the details as I began to enter the Great Smokey Mountains. Spring still hasn't fully arrived yet, but you can see the buds on the trees beginning to swell. There are these beautiful purple bushes scattered up and down the mountains that stick out like tree ornaments. The recent (and numerous) April showers had small waterfalls trickling down all over the place. I thought again, "I'd rather be here than on that damn boat, that's for sure." As the station went to commercial I turned the knob to ESPN radio, XM Channel 140. The big hoopla was about the upcoming NFL and NBA drafts. They debated this for a couple hours solid. They went on and on dissecting these "kids" and speaking about them like they were items at a supermarket. The whole thing reminds me of the times my Pops would take me to the "salebarn" to watch them auction off cattle. I mean seriously, what is the difference? The best meat gets the biggest bid. Except these are real people. People skipping an education in favor of five to ten million dollars. Again I thought, "What would the aliens think?"
It was somewhere in between Knoxville and Nashville that something else grabbed my attention away from XM; religious propaganda. And a lot of it. Now, you guys on the West Coast haven't seen anything like this. There are 50-foot crucifixes, gnarly anti-abortion billboards, and huge signs with "fire and brimstone" themed scripture. It's heavy, folks. The land of the Southern Baptists is quite unique.
Back to XM channel 121. An American rose up and made a stand against the pirates. With the U.S. Navy blowing black smoke on their way to support, Capt. Richard Phillips gave himself up as a hostage to make sure it was safe for everyone else. What a badass. The ship? It's a relief ship with supplies headed to a starving nation. Animals I tell you.
On to Nashville. That area of the country will always quicken my pulse. Hurricane Mills was just over my left shoulder. Just thinking about it made me smell the funnel cake stand, see the Ten Commandments, and hear forty-two bikes roar as the gate dropped. I thought, "I'm 32 years old now. Twenty years ago I got to spray champagne down there. My racing number was 32." Nashville was also the site of the boss man's first win in 2005. It was the main reason I was pulling that heavy damn boat down the highway on April 8, 2009. But the real reason I was pulling it was because he also won at The Ranch. He wore #33 when he did it back in 1988. He wears #33 today. Nashville. That's right.
The sun was beginning to set as the British accent on my GPS smoothly said, "Destination, St. Louis." And there it was. The Saint Louis Arch. "The Gateway to the West." One of my favorite things about traveling is the sunset you get to see at the end of a long day of driving. They always seem to be a little more pretty that way because you earned them. The one I saw last night at was a mix of yellow, bronze, pink, and auburn. I almost put the rig in the ditch as I watched the color glisten off the sides of the 630-foot tall stainless steel arch. The boss and I rode up in that thing when we were kids and it scared the shit out of me. It sways back and forth at the top, and as you look down at the legs you wonder how in the hell it stays upright.
Rode weary now. Restless. Hungry. Tired. 900 miles on the trip meter, 100 to go. Then I remembered the nights I drove from arenacross to arenacross with tire marks down my back and a concussion. I was 19 then, and much tougher, and stupid. All it takes is a couple moto-memories to pull you through the final stretch. I thought, "Could I have made it if I hadn't gotten hurt? Can I still go fast? Will Reed hold off Stewart? What would aliens think of my weird ass mind if they were listening?"
Finally, I pulled into the lake house and backed into the driveway. I took a walk around the rig and crossed my arms with the satisfaction that the only marks were some dead bugs. I proudly called the boss and told him all was well. His reply? "Jesus, man, you made good time. You can stay there a couple of days or just turn around and come on back. Whatever you want."
Turn around and come on back.
Two glasses later I had two final thoughts on the day:
1. What would aliens think about us?
2. The Seattle Supercross is next weekend and I'm going.
The second thought was a much more comforting notion, but the first made me smile. This is an amazing mudball we live on. It can be the most beautiful thing ever imagined and the ugliest piece of crap in the galaxy all in the same thirty minutes. I'll still gladly call it home. Sometimes all it takes is 1000 miles to gain a full appreciation of it.
Thanks for reading, see you next week.