It was the kind of road trip a man should take, to make him a man, at least once in his life.
A quest to find himself, a Vision Quest.
Or turn him into a blathering idiot, whichever came first.
The year was possibly 1989, the trip before we became seniors in high school, though I was breaking a 1,005 in spiritual age according to my friend's mom who wanted to join us on our adventure up the mountain but we had to tell her no.
"Only fearless men with their teddy bears and blankey (which I had named mine BooBoo many years before. I didn't need it but it would have been lonely if I hadn't brought it!) can make this trek!" we said, shaking our heads.
We packed our bags, only the essentials:
- Jolt Colas. There'd be no Circle Ks where we were trekking.
- Turkey sandwiches, case we got hungry, as my friend's mom said handing them to us.
- Some clean underwear. Never leave on a road trip without clean underwear.
- My friend's inhaler. Nothing worst than a huffing, puffing, dying asthmatic finger painter. Especially if he dies.
- Finger paints. How would we finger paint without them
- $6.87 in pennies and nickels. In case we found a gumball machine up on the road.
- A road map for Northern California. What were we going to do with this while we were in Idaho? Trade them to the native Americans we found on our way. Or used car sales people.
- Three pounds of aged cheddar. Why? Is there ever a reason NOT to bring cheese?
- 'Gentlemen magazines' from the 1950s. We also stole some cigars and brandy from my friend's grandfather's collection. We then threw up days later as we tried to be adults and smoked the aged(note rotted) cigars and the brandy turned out to be cleaning fluid.
We were told that maybe, just maybe, it would be a good idea to pack a tent and other camping supplies as this was going to be a "Camping Adventure" as well but we were men, men did not need tents or sleeping bags or matches and such, we were going to "Rough it" as the writers of old wrote of.
"We'll dine on bugs if we have to!" my friend said to his mom who just shrugged.
We made our plans for the next day, awake before the dawn, 4am, that's when real men got up and made their adventures.
9:45 am, friend's mom came into the bedroom to wake us up.
"Thought you two were going to be gone by 4:30?"
We yawned, stretched, blinked our eyes. "We decided that 4am was too early! So was 8am!"
We were on the road by noon.
We were stopped by the highway patrol at 12:21.
"Going kind of fast weren't you?"
We both shrugged.
"I'll give you a warn...hey, what's in the bag?"
"Cocaine sir!" my friend, the comedian reported back.
"WHAT? Both of you step out of the car!"
3:45 PM, we were released from jail with a stern warning and advice that it's not very smart to tease a man with a loaded gun and the ability to use it on two very dumb school kids on a road trip.
What was in the bag?
Baby powder my friend's mom thought would be a good idea, case we found some babies who needed their butts powdered.
5:45 PM we approached the turnoff up into the mountains, dirt road, bumpy dirt road. I shouldn't have had that last soda.
"Pull over! I got to take a leak!"
My friend shakes his head. "Pee in that bottle! Real men pee in bottles!"
I shook my head. "I have a feeling I'm not a real man! PULL OVER!!"
I had seen an attempt by a "real man" years before to try the pee in the bottle down a bumpy dirt road.
My mother to this day calls my dad "Chief Wet Bottom Pants" for the endeavor.
5:50 PM I was back in the car when my friend decided that a pee break was in order.
"Real men pee in a bot..." I tried to throw back.
By 6pm, we were ready to head back down the road towards the camp site.
6:00.2PM we begin rolling forward.
Real men don't cry when their tire goes flat.
They do when they bust two knuckles trying to remove said flat and will when tire falls on foot.
Tire fixed, good thing too, real men did not feel like hiking back to the main road and down to gas station.
7:45 PM, we finally make it to camp site. Black clouds begin forming in the sky and move towards us.
"The weather man said, no chances of rain tonight!" my friend says nodding.
Stupid weather man.
8:19 PM, the great flood opens up from the sky. Stay in car to wait it out.
10:30 PM, we decide to sleep in car.
11:45 PM, still raining, discover car was not meant to be a camper. God, my neck hurts.
"Real men forget about their neck hurting!" my friend says.
"Screw you! I HATE YOU!!"
1:45 AM, still raining, ate our turkey sandwiches which seem to hit the spot.
"We should have brought a tent!" my friend says. I nod.
2:50 AM, rain decides to stop. We try to fall back to sleep.
3:59 AM, a bear decides to wander into camp and decides, car would be a good place to scratch his butt. I am woken up to a close up view of bear's butt!
4:00 AM, friend wonders why I'm crying and uttering, "I'm not a real man..." over and over. Bear decides he has had enough of my crying as well.
The next day, we awoke, fresh and ready to hike up the trail to a spot where nature would greet us with her greatness.
And a pack of wild hornets who decided we were too close to their hive and stung us.
I discovered that I was allergic to hornet stings and my face swelled up.
"I can't....I can't...." I gasped.
"You can't sing?" my friend joked but then realized I couldn't breathe.
He tried to remember the one semester of first aid he had our junior year.
He failed miserably.
I should have died on that trail but for some reason, possibly wanting to screw with me some more, God decided it was too early to die.
That same night, I would wish for death many times, with the pain of the stings still throbbing and the cigars.
The next day, the morning sun beginning to blaze its way through the sky, I decided enough was enough.
"But we still have three days of adventure! Don't you want to hike to the lake?"
"No thanks, I don't feel like drowning!"
As we drove down the dirt road, our butts being made into really sore butts with the bumpiness, we heard the sound that we knew too well.
Lucky us, we were half way between camp site and main road.
A nice hike indeed, and a road trip I'll never forget.
As we walked, a rock decided to jump out and grab my friend's leg.
The leg decided to break.
I decided to leave my friend to die.
No, not really, I made it down to the main highway, and a nice lady gave me a ride to the gas station where I called some nice people, mainly a hospital and my friend's mom.
Her reply: "So did you become real men?"
My reply: "I don't think so...."
"Lucky for you, it was a clean break!" the doctor joked at the hospital.
Neither of us laughed and we promised, NO MORE ROAD TRIPS!!
But like my buddy's leg, we broke that promise too but it was ten years later and well, that cop who stopped us before, stopped us again and seriously, my friend did not get smarter as he aged.
"What's in the bag?"
That time, we got to spend the night in jail.