From Phoenix Arizona “Not Quite” All The Way To Tacoma

19 04 2011

In an earlier or previous story, depending on the order you read things, I talked about some observations on my trip home in August of 2010.  There were a few other “incidents” that took place I wanted to write about, but it would have taken the story off track.  So think of this as version 1.5 of my trip home.  Stay tuned for the final chapter: The Big “O” Goes Hollywood.

We’ll rewind to Saturday morning in August… The day was supposed to go like this: Golf at The Highlands, see some old haunts and family, then stop by Fred Meyer to pick up supplies for a party that evening.  It was three simple things, how hard could it be to screw that up?  Whatever I do I should probably grab some hot dogs and marshmallows, we’re having a bonfire…

The day started off great, clear skies and perfect weather.  I was going to get a chance to play golf with my dad and one of my best friends.  I can count on my fingers the number of times I’ve played golf with my dad but we always have fun.  Of course as mentioned in a previous story, A good friend of mine, Bryan, had flown into Portland to join the festivities.  

One of the things I admire about my dad is that he’s an extremely hard worker, but he does things at his own pace.  I know what you’re thinking, he must take his time.  It’s actually the opposite, work starts early and its full throttle, that’s his pace.  The ying to this yang is when it comes time to relax and enjoy himself, he does it right.  The rationale is: “Hey, I don’t cheat anybody with my work, so I’m not going to cheat myself relaxing”.  

Quick side bar: My dad and I have an interesting relationship, although I didn’t grow up under his roof, he knows me better than anyone.  He’s always been a straight shooter and the person whose advice I trust more than anyone… Unless it comes to marriage. He’s been married (counting on my fingers)… hmmm lets see… carry the one… Five times.  That’s right the ‘ol five timers club!  In my mind this comes back to his work ethic, he’s not afraid to keep working on something until he gets it right.

So we show up at the golf course and things start of normal enough.  Then at some point, which is still heavily debated, our round of golf went from casual outing to partying like we were on tour with the Allman brothers.  Time and reality slowed to a grind as Major Tom played in my head….4…3…2…1.  As you may have figured out from my previous writings my life has a soundtrack.  Actually so does yours, think about it sometime, it just might change your whole perspective on things. 

There was a surreal moment when in the middle of the round my pops opened up a picnic basket complete with sub sandwiches, expensive cheeses, red and white wine.  “Dad what are you doing?  We have people behind us.”  He casually looked up at me, “Don’t worry it’s fine, relax”.  I thought to myself, “well he is my dad, I guess if he says its fine, that’s good enough for me.”  Just then I saw Bryan fly by on a magic carpet, sitting indian style, dressed in pink bunny suit, using a giant egg beater as a motor.  “That’s right Thomas… it is good enough for you.  And no you’re not dreaming.”  While the band from Titanic played in the background, possibly foreshadowing the events to come.

Ok so the last part about Bryan I made up.  There was no bunny suit, magic carpet, or mind reading.  But the picnic basket thing did actually happen!  After golf, Bryan and I decided it would make more sense to head down to the beach and drive home that way.  Less traffic, slower speeds, less chance for any “entanglements”.  Plus it’s not a trip home unless you see the Peter Iredale.  We had a couple of hours before the party, so we were still on schedule.  Just as we left the parking lot, on comes a little Cyprus Hill.  It doesn’t matter what song it was. 

Somehow after entering the beach we lost an hour, again I can’t explain exactly how this happened.  I can only theorize that when you listen to Cyprus Hill and enter the Del Ray beach access it creates a rip in the space-time continuum.  No need to panic we still had an hour and the Iredale was in sight.  My jubilation quickly turned to concern when I saw the condition of the beach access.  The sand looked soft, and with deep ruts.  Not exactly ideal conditions for a high-octane street machine like the Toyota Corolla. 

We could turn around and risk being late or we could go for broke.  I seem to remember us joking about this being our Thelma and Louise moment.  “Bryan this is your first time driving on the beach right?” “Let me explain something, you need to get a head of steam, and whatever you do…. Do not take your foot off that gas”.  I put our mix CD on track 11, Barracuda by Heart and Bryan gunned it.  It was a thing of beauty, twenty to thirty people looking on in awe as we rocketed down the beach.  As co-pilot my role was jamming the air Bass Guitar like nobodies business. 

It was as if Bryan had been temporarily possessed by the spirit of Evil Kenevil.  For a moment I swear when I looked over he had the white jumpsuit and stars and stripes helmet on.   In the history of daredevils… There’s jumping the fountains at Caesars Palace (ONE) and Bryan taking a Corolla up a soft beach access (TWO)… then there’s everything else.  “Hello destiny”… It’s Bryan and Thomas.

The funny thing about destiny is…. as it turns out it’s easily derailed by Japanese engineering.  What neither of us realized is Toyota has a toggle switch which engages an anti slip mechanism.  Once the tires slip bad enough it kills the motor.  We would have made it further had we decided to hang a left and drive through the ocean.  We made it half way and had come to a complete stop, the party was over.  Barracuda came to a screeching halt like someone drug the needle across the album.  I could feel the negative mocking comments and laughter from those twenty to thirty people.  I remember calmly thinking, “wow this really sucks”.  Only one thing to do, get out and see how bad it is.  We weren’t high centered, but close enough to where we were going to only get one shot at getting out. 

Something you simply don’t do as a local (past or present) is get stuck on the beach… It’s the equivalent of Clark Griswold launching the family truckster 50 feet beyond the “road closed” sign.  To add to the humiliation it wasn’t long before I had some 17-year-old girl trying to tell me we were bottomed out just like she was fifteen minutes earlier.  Rambling on about how there was nothing I could do, but not to worry the sheriff was on his way, he had pulled them out.  “Nothing I could do?… wait, did she just say the Sheriff was on his way?”   

Now if getting stuck is bad… being stuck and then given a field sobriety test is a hundred times worse.  My mind instantly saw my name in the Columbia Press and the disgrace that comes with that dubious honor.  It was at this moment I told Bryan to put the car in reverse, “We’re getting out of here”.  Bryan flipped the toggle switch off, then like Apache Chief from Super Friends I summoned what can only be described as “retard strength”.  I pushed on the front bumper as hard as I could, tires throwing sand in my face… we started moving…  This was awesome, fifteen feet to freedom, then I’m going to tell all these by-standers, who didn’t offer to help, they can “eat shit” (I’m still bitter).  It wasn’t the smell of burning rubber against sand… it was the smell of sweet success and freedom! Each step got quicker, the car was building momentum.  It was going to take more than mere sand to derail my plans for the evening.

Then it happened, call it a tactical error, or rookie mistake.  Bryan didn’t turn the steering wheel to keep the tires in the ruts, the result was me shoving the car right into a fresh patch of undisturbed fresh soft sand.  This was our Battle of Dunkirk (you may need to google this for the analogy to make sense).  We had retreated as far as we could go.  Only it wasn’t the English Channel that had us boxed in.. It was a few feet of sand.  All we could do now was wait.  A German Blitzkrieg known as the Clatsop County Sheriff was en route, coming to wipe us out.  Just then the band from the Titanic showed back up to play us home. 

Bryan got out and joined me in a laugh as we looked at how close we came to making it.  This is typically the part in the movie where the two condemned characters share one last cigarette and talk about how it was a real pleasure to know each other.  There’s a certain inner peace that comes with accepting your fate, and we had accepted ours.  Nothing to do, nowhere to run. 

Just then…. as if WWII history was repeating itself, albeit on a much smaller scale, a savior appeared.  Not a boat crossing the English Channel but a four-wheel drive Jeep CJ with a winch.  “I say old chaps it looks like you could use a helping hand”  Ok so he didn’t have a British accent but five minutes later we were on our way to Fred Meyer.  With the worst behind us, a quick change to the CD track 8, Rock ‘N Me by Steve Miller.




One response

19 04 2011
Kristin Brænne


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