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Tramping in Texas (Part Two)

Somewhere in Pennsylvania, the Opel’s drive shaft fell out and skittered down the highway. It was the spark shower that alerted us. Apparently when the mechanic recommended that we unhook the drive shaft he assumed we would know to take it all the way off or at least wire it up securely.

After that, the trip smoothed out, until we hit the ice and snow in Arkansas.

I don’t know why we went through Arkansas on the way to Arizona. Maybe it was my head injury. I just don’t know. In any event, somewhere near Ozark, Gary was driving, and I was sleeping in the back. He ran into a wall of slush or something, jackknifing our rig into a 360 down the interstate. The ham dislodged and rolled around on the floor for a while.

The dents in the van and lost bondo from the car were the only damage. Gary dusted off the ham and reinstalled it in its place of honor. I smugly noted that a good hand would have rigged it better.

A couple of days later we arrived in Flagstaff during a blizzard. By now we were starting to bicker quite a bit and despite Gary’s continued insistence to the contrary, the ham was looking like crime scene residue to me. He kept gnawing away at it anyway just to prove me wrong.

We decided a room, with some showers and a meal, would be a good idea.

I headed up the main drag looking for a cheap motel with room to get our rig into, while Gary annoyingly barked instructions at me to turn there, go here, etc.

We started up a long grade past TJ’s Big Boy Restaurant. About halfway up the hill I tried to wheel us up this incline into a motel parking lot.

We got stuck, blocking the drive, with Opel half out in the street. I knew the van tires were a little baldish when we left but I didn’t think it snowed in Arizona.

The obvious plan was to unhook the car, push it back out in the street, pointed downhill. Then, Gary would open the door and jump in, steering it down the hill to the restaurant. The plan immediately went sideways when the car started rolling downhill sooner than we had calculated. Gary was skidding downhill in front of the car holding onto the tow bar. The icy road kept him from running over himself. I really thought he showed some pretty good balance.

He recovered enough to get out of the way and try to jump into the car. That likely would have worked except for the basketball jammed into the driver side foot well. We liked a good game of drunk 1 on 1 now and then so we brought a ball.

The last thing I saw through the whiteout was him being dragged, feet first by his car, down the hill. Somehow, he got himself turned around and his hands on the brake pedal, stopping the car in front of TJ’s Big Boy Restaurant.

When I got down the hill, everyone inside TJ’s was glued to the windows watching him. I thought about pretending I didn’t know him, but the car couldn’t drive without the drive shaft, so I helped him push the Opel into the parking lot.

When we walked into the Restaurant the few people who weren’t laughing, clapped for us. We slunk into a booth and had some dinner. I passed on the ham steak special. The manager let us leave the car there until morning.

We found a room and while Gary was in the shower, I threw the nasty ham carcass into a snowbank.

He wasn’t happy when saw it was gone the next day, once again reminding me that baked ham never goes bad.

To be continued…

Joe Rosenfeld - Lineman


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