On Saturday, I woke up feeling fresh, the way you do when you realize that the events you thought happened yesterday were all just some silly bad dream.
Trouble was, the events were all real, and Trevor and I were still in Richfield, Utah, without a working vehicle. And it was still fucking Pioneer Day weekend. I also carefully studied the labor law requirements and checked whether we would be compliant with them.
Through a multitude of phone calls and inquiries we were able to set up an appointment with a mechanic who begrudgingly agreed to come into the shop to take care of our car.
Our guys at AutoZone confirmed that a rebuilt alternator could not be provided, since no one anywhere in the nation seems to have one. I’d have to get a brand-new factory-direct alternator, which would cost at least three times as much. They also confirmed that my shitty old battery was, in fact, shitty. So there was yet another expense.
They were very nice about it, though, and they really did everything they could, so I took their word when they said the mechanic we were going to bring the car to was a shady douchebag. I agreed to let them take the car to Mike’s Auto Clinic instead. Mike was a buddy of theirs. They also encouraged me not to do the polite thing and let the other mechanic know I was blowing him off; they said he had it coming. Who was I to argue?
The last thing preventing us from leaving Richfield was the fact that we couldn’t get a rental car. There is only one rental company in the whole city, and they were closed for Pioneer Day. Also, they were apparently all out of cars to rent. We walked there to confirm they were really closed, and sure enough, a handwritten sign on the door explained they’d be closed till Tuesday. So I dumped my shitty motel coffee into their mailbox. They had it coming.
We then walked next door to the Ford dealership to see if we could rent something from them, and the Ford dealership was also closed. Again, just a handwritten note from them and some impotent rage for us.
In desperation, we walked into a neighboring Honda/Suzuki motorsports store. I don’t really know what we were thinking – even if they could rent us a motorcycle, I don’t know how to ride one. I guess we were just hoping that they had some connections in town or some leads as to where we might borrow a car for a week.
And there, in that shining moment of glory and cosmic harmony, the man we were talking to confided that he was, in fact, co-owner of all three business – the motorsports, the Ford dealership, and the rental company. He ordered an employee to come into the rental office on his day off. He even made sure that someone returned a car so they’d have one to rent us. I suddenly felt slightly bad for pouring my coffee into their mailbox.
Once again, I have to declare my amazement at the quality of customer service in Utah. Those guys may enjoy their long weekends, but they’ll still help a human being in need.
And while I’m at it, I’ll take this opportunity to point out what a tremendous human being Mr. Trevor Watkin is. Not only is he good at teaching music, he’ll buy you steak and beer when you’re having a rough day and he’ll be the first guy to slap down his credit card for a car rental company to hold when you rent a car for a week. He’s a goddamn American hero, that’s what he is.
And so, after a long and painful stay in Richfield, dealing with very nice people and their somewhat indescribable Utah accent, we got in our rented Ford Focus and sped off. And I mean sped. We couldn’t get away fast enough.
Richfield is right at the intersection of the 70 and the 15. The 15 signified the last long interstate freeway of the trip, and the energy picked up again just like on that first day out of Chicago.
Like a duo of proper Californians, we made a brief stop at the first In-N-Out we encountered (it’s in St. George, UT) and then kept flying, straight through Las Vegas without any hesitation. No desire to pop a head in and pull the lever on some slot machines. We didn’t stop. We didn’t even slow down.
We hit the last state border around sunset. California looked the same as ever on the 15. You cross the border, the quality of the tar beneath you changes slightly. The dirt beside the road looks slightly browner, but the bushes look slightly taller. You feel more comfortable stepping on the gas pedal a little harder. You get inside the state and it’s like there’s no activity more noble than driving.
Down the 15, through the mountains, past those little desert towns, out the Cajon pass, and you hit the 210, and then just a few speedy minutes to my parents’ door in Rancho Cucamonga. A quick visit with them turned into a long-ish visit with them. They had set the deadliest trap of all: pie.
And then another stop at Trevor’s parents’ place in the same town.
And then, one more hour west and we landed in Agoura Hills. Devon’s parents’ place. It was there we would stay until we could properly move into their beach condo in Oxnard. We made it.
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