I awoke in a cold gravel-filled parking lot, around 5 am somewhere outside Las Vegas to Darien being in great discomfort"she needed to pee" Fumbling around, I groped for keys, inserting them into the ignition, still half awake - slammed the accelerator, spewing dust and gravel in all directions as I peeled out of the lot, before the car rolled to a stop, the car door slid open and Darien rushed in. By the time she returned, I was fully awake. I spotted her a few bucks to grab me coffee and I hit the road. The scenery was abysmal, hundreds of miles of Nevada desert was laid out for our viewing pleasure.. I entertained the idea of going through Yosemite and then San Fran to see my cousin, but low on funds, decided the quickest route to Washington the best course. Coming across some large body of water in central Nevada, I mentioned "look darien, you can actually see the ocean again" Her eyes lit up, after being marooned in Oklahoma for so long, this was like heaven. We pulled to a stop, got out, while sitting atop a pile of rocks and gazing over the watery mass Darien's imagination seemed to be running wild. She kept pointing out points of interest: "Here's the ancient Indian lands, docks, places they could draw water from, tepee's and huts as well as the burial grounds. They could have had a war here" I was amazed at her illicit imagination as she re-enacted the many potential historical events. It felt to me as if two lost souls, adrift in our own realms, had reconnected. As if passing time outside some forlorn freeway in central Nevada was no big deal at all..
We spent the next 4-5 hours being witness to the most boring un-intriguing space of land the continental Unitied States could provide before being pulled over. We were outside Goldfield, NV cited for going 40 in a 25. It was one of those trap towns where the posted speed goes from 80 to 25, around a corner on a 20% gradient, going downhill. As soon as I saw the cop around the corner I knew I was F*ked. He asked for license and registration. I fumbled around the mess of stuffed paperwork in the glove compartment for about 5 minutes before coming up with it. He returned, asking to search our car. I hesitated, knowing it was within my rights to refuse, yet decided to allow for investigation. We were promptly marched out of the car and the officer began his intensive examination. I managed to procure a pipe in my pocket which passed the pat-down. As I was standing outside I whispered to Darien, "Shit, the fifth of vodka. It's still under the passenger seat, I forgot about it" Did you grab the rest of the weed like I asked?" (She didn't) "we're f*ked" I mused. This is it, we got an open container, weed in the car, we're both getting hauled off to jail. And my family, who still thinks I'm in WA, for all I know, will be pleased to hear of my lastest bout of misfortune. My thoughts were racing as fast as my hearbeat. The whole time I was whispering to Darien how shit out of luck we were another officer was glaring us down from the police car like we were the nutjobs of the wild west. I smiled at him then went on with my sideways whispering to Darien, "He's going to find the bottle soon, its inevitable, I'm sure he's already discovered the weed... on our behalf, however, there's only a nug left. Just smile and nod poilitely when he holds it up like a grand prize" Sure enough the bottle was discovered, and he deftly placed it on the hood of the car as he sauntered over our direction. "Do you guys happen to have any illegal substances in the car, marijuana maybe by chance?" Well I'm not about that life officer, you know, if you were to find something...IDK why you would, it would be conveniently located under the passenger seat," He thanked me for my honesty and said "Here's what I'm going to do, I'm dumping out this bottle, (there was only about a pull remaining, giving it a brisk shake (shoulda tossed it at the last gas station I mused) he then pulled out the bag of marijuana (only enough left to cause a sneeze) and emptied it. "This never happened he said" Now, I will cite you for speeding which he did. We both breathed a sigh of relief as we re-entered the car and sped off northbound toward the Cal border.
It was dusk before we entered the Cal border. we were both tired and I had my pandora station set on fountains of wayne, we were soon both belting out "Stacies mom" I felt like a kid again, freed from all the limitations and restrictions of life, it was very liberating. It was nightfall around the time we hit the Oregon border and Darien had done some strategic maneuvering in the passenger seat, I glanced over to see her feet up over the seat and head placed down in front of the glove compartment. As she was falling asleep, she lackadaisically reached over for my hand it connected with mine and as I grasped it firmly. I realized only then... how content I was. Life wasn't going great, I was short on funds, out of school, in debt, yet all that didn't matter. Darien was safe, off the streets, out of a rough crowd she'd been involved in, away from the worthless scumbag of a step dad who kicked her out in Oklahoma. He could pound sand for all I was concerned. She was coming home, Darien was coming home, back to the PNW, where the evergreens grow tall and the wind off the pacific coast blows clear fresh air, untainted from that putrid dust of the great plains. My mind was wandering, I soon realized how tired I was. After locating a cheap motel in Kalama, we stayed there the night. Grateful for both a warm shower and bed.
We got up and set out for Crater Lake around 8 am after a enjoying continental breakfast which I wasn't surprised to discover was comprised of nothing but packages of cheap boxed honey bun cakes. I grabbed about 8 and with 2 cups of coffee in hand, headed back to the room. While surfing the channels I found "Wolverine" of the X men series to be airing on AMC, We watched about an hours worth before checking out and hitting the road again. I was feeling much refreshed and less weary, tired and bedraggled. We hit crater lake around 11 that morning and were witness to clear skies. The weather was perfect for sightseeing. It was freezing cold however and our stay was not long. We hit the visitor center where I purchased 2 hot cocoas and after a brief walk around a section of the lake returned to the car where there was not much relief from the bitter cold due to my heater not working. It was like a fat rat crawled up the pipes and was plugging the air flow. The best current of heat I could get was when I was going at least 55 and that was still weak velocity.
Darien had contracted some sort of ailment recently and was complaining bitterly about sharp side pain, fearing the worse I considered taking her to the nearest doctor/hospital but she refused saying we were almost to Vancouver and just to push through. It was hard for me seeing her pained expression the nest 4-5 hours. The best I could do was hold her hand as she winced in pain: "Look we are almost home, see all the evergreens around us, this is far better than Oklahoma right?" I reminded her, trying to keep her mind off the pain. When we finally did roll into Vancouver it was late, around 8 pm, we had been through approx 3 hours of bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic and I swore I if I saw another blinking taillight, I was going to go postal. I dropped her off with a good friend of her's from her AA meeting a few years back in Vancouver, and he thanked me repeatedly for bring her. I was assured she was in good hands, Darien had connections here (besides she's a survivor, she'll figure it out:)
I promptly called home "hey im about 30 min out, in downtown vancouver now, it's really cold, could use a place to crash tonight", "you're where? was the stunned reply, I'm in town I reitereated" My older brother was in town for a job bid he was overseeing and I was fortunate to see him as well. It had been awhile. I rolled back into town on the wings of a storm and entered the house after being almost knocked clear over by the force of the fierce gale. Here in Washougal the winds can howl mercilessly whipping through the funnel of the gorge and we lose one or two tree's a year from it. I enlightened a stunned audience of my most recent adventures and passed out for the night in the living room next to fire...I had accomplished what I had set out for. I had no $. I had no reason to assume it wouldn't be downhill from here. But I was home. I was safe. Life will all shake out. I hope to be on the right side of the rapture in the end, but you just keep rolling.