My Recent Trip To California

The trip was long and boring.  You should know that taking a bus trip to give yourself time to think is not a bad idea (that’s what I did).  However, you will suffer in the process.  A cross-country bus trip can be summed up as follows:  Wait, wait, wait.  Stand in line and wait.  Board the bus, sit down (for hours at a time), and wait.  Rinse, lather, repeat.  Time will seemingly stand still as you beg the God of your choice to let you out of this predicament.  As for sleep, you will probably get some catnaps, but be prepared to basically go without sleep for a couple days.

It is guaranteed the following people will be on the bus at one time or another (if not for the whole ride).  People that can’t stop talking, people that can’t stop coughing, interesting smelling people (by interesting I mean disgusting), crying babies, ill-mannered children and their parent(s) that don’t know how to control them, complainers (believe it or not, I was not one of them).

The buses were fairly clean, but most of the them appeared to be old and tired.  For example, buses that offered electrical outlets had issues with one side or the other.  By issues I mean, they didn’t work.  Also, when climbing into the mountains (the continental divide for instance), the buses were slowed to a walking pace.  No exaggeration for once.  In one instance, a bus driver pulled over to stop at a scenic rest place (would probably have been nice if it was during the day) so the bus could cool for 15 or 20 minutes.  He did this after the bus stalled a couple times climbing one of the hills.  As a side note, when he told people they could get off and stretch their legs, he warned them to stay close to the bus as there were wild animals in the area, and it would be hard to explain to his boss how he lost a passenger.  I chimed in and said, forget the animals, be careful of the cliff (the scenic view was edged by a cliff).

After the bus cooled down the driver drove as though he was trying to make up for lost time.  People made comment that he was off-roading.  It was a rough ride, for sure, but off-roading he was not.  It did seem like he was racing, though, cutting corners and such.  To be honest, I thought about complaining to the bus company about the driver, as I felt he was driving dangerously, but I won’t.  The sentiment seemed to be popular among the other passengers.

I could say more about the bus ride, but I’ll jump forward to Los Angeles.  We arrived at the bus terminal and I immediately sought directions for the trains.  They wanted to sell me a bus pass (at information), but I said I would walk.  The person helping me seemed upset.  I went outside and asked a policeman for directions, as the directions I received moments before didn’t help to orient me.  The policeman sized me up and suggested I take a cab or bus as the train station was quite a walk – almost 2 miles away.  I chose to walk, but later somewhat regretted that decision.  The street people made me uncomfortable to say the least.  The one that took some ratcheting branch cutters from some road workers was definitely someone I found interesting, but extremely glad was non-violent (for the moment).  He walked by, staring at the sharp cutting edges as if in a trance, all the while opening and closing the cutters, repeating his new mantra, “I’m gonna like this.”  The road workers staring at him the whole time in disbelief.

The train ride up to Santa Clarita was uneventful.  I was disappointed to learn that it would not go as far as I thought it would, but was committed.  When I got off the train, I walked a mile or two and then called for a cab.  The cab took me almost all the rest of the way, but because I didn’t want to pay what was quickly becoming a ludicrous amount, I walked the last mile or so.  When I walked into the park, I pulled out my camera and the park manager and helper asked me if they could help me.  I told the park manager, “it’s me Bonnie … Robert.”  She perked up immediately and called off the help.

I walked over to my dad’s place with the camera still in front of my face.  My dad didn’t recognize me at first (the camera ???) and asked if he could help me.  Well, everyone surely seemed helpful in that place.  I took a picture and said, “Dad, it’s me.”  It took a second, but his face finally beamed with recognition.

The next couple nights we sat around outside with a fire burning inside a fire barrel, drinking beer, watching TV – mostly the Dodgers, and talking.  Neighbors came and went as was usual for my dad.  He always was popular.  One of the new dad’isms was, “My name is Crime, and Crime don’t pay.”  Funny guy, huh?  I thought about printing up and mailing him some checks with his name printed as Crime, and the saying, “Do NOT Pay To The Order Of,” but I’ve since thought better of it, as he would find a way to get in trouble with them.

The next morning I asked my dad if he needed help.  He asked me to pull out a t-shirt, pants, underwear, and socks.  I didn’t think anything of it, and did exactly what he asked.  Later he thanked me for pulling out a pair of socks.  You see, my dad only has one leg.  Funny guy, (again) huh?

The next couple days were a blur and we spoke of many things.  One being a trip we took to Camp Sheideck (yes, that’s a real place – google it) where while drinking too much he decided it would be fun to “punch it” while going around a gravel covered (private) mountain road.  The car spun around, as it had six cylinders and used them all, and we ended up in a ditch.  He walked back (he had both legs then) to the bar and got the owner to tow us out of the ditch.  I guess he convinced the bar owner that it was my fault and that he would not let “me” drive again.  After the car was towed from the ditch with little or no damage except for a slight bend of the driver door (it was partially open when being pulled out and caught on something), my dad expressed his thankfulness, waved goodbye to the bar owner, and drove off the property.

Once out on the public highway I thought everything would be cool, as surely my father had learned his lesson.  When my father said, “I wonder what will happen if I punch it?” it was already too late.  There was no gravel this time, but the engine was mighty and tires wickedly bare.  The car spun around and slammed into the curb on the other side of the road.  When we got out of the car to inspect the damage, both passenger side wheels were flat, the curb had knocked the tires off the rims (broke the beads).  We reseated one of the tires with the aid of permatex, rope, and a little 12 volt air pump.  It was a mess.  The other tire resisted all our best efforts, and we decided to use the spare, which was down to the metal.  I decided that I would drive, in spite of my splitting headache, as I was not going to let my father try for a third time.  The spare tire thumped with anger as we limped homeward, the gas gauge said empty, and my dad went to sleep.  He told me to wake him when we got home.  When I complained about the condition of the spare, he assured me, “A tire only goes flat on the bottom, son.”

Watching TV was fun as he had satellite service.  My favorite stations have always been The History Channel (The Hitler Channel as some call it) and Discovery.  While watching one of those channels I per chance happened to see a show called ‘Swamp People.’  These crazy people go out and catch alligators and then kill them with a 22 rifle with one shot to the head.  I watched and watched all the while partaking of the mind numbing intoxicant called beer.  After a while I started with what I thought was happening after the “Swamp People” made them turn off their cameras.

It went something like this:

Father (to camera men):  Turn them cameras off!
Father (turns and speaks to his son):  Boy, bring the wig.
Son (exasperated):  Daddy, do I have to?
Father:  Do it, or you’ll be wearing the wig, boy!  And don’t forget the beads.
Father (obviously excited and now laughing):  You know how I love the beads.

As another side note:  I was explaining to my neighbor tonight about some of my exploits in California.  Just so you have a reference, she drinks a bit and needed me to explain to her what the word ‘exploits’ meant.  Anyway, I was telling her, using my best southern accent, about how they hunt, trap, shoot and kill, and boat alligators.  She could not follow the story, the accent having very little to do with it.  At the end she wanted to know if it was a true story.  My brother explained that the hunting and killing alligators part was true, but that the wig and beads part was not.  I almost choked I was laughing so hard.

Back to the story, my daughter, Christine, visited with some of her children and boyfriend on the day after Father’s Day.  We had some In-N-Out Burgers, took some pictures, and then they were gone.  Unfortunately, she had to go to work.  While she was visiting I did arrange for her to take me to LAX, though, which would save me from having to sit in the airport over night.  So that was good.

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