Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Road Report: Park City, Utah
My father is the original Road Warrior. Retired 24 years, the last nine of which have been spent traveling constantly in a motorhome with his fifth wife, Papa Clisby is the ideal partner for a cross-country road trip. (I have told my father that I will play Johnny Cash singing, "I've Been Everywhere" at his funeral and he likes this idea, a lot.) He understands maps, rest areas, cheap motels and communicating through headlights and turn signals. Not only does he have endless patience (a key ingredient if I am your daughter) but he is joyfully self-entertaining. With the help of numerous cigars (Phillies Titan is his preferred brand,) the man can sit for hours without complaint and "people watch."
At various stops thus far, historical signs educate us about the treacherous desert we are crossing and how various wagons trains tried, failed, tried, died and tried again to cross it. Coming west for these pioneers was risky business. We ponder this as Dad eats an ice cream sandwich and I wonder if we can find a hotel with high-speed internet for the night's rest.
After a late night, Dad and I woke up this morning in Elko, Nevada - Dad had tried his hand at the slots (they are even in the grocery stores here) but no luck. Our non-smoking room, which reeked of nicotine, was snugly located above the giant neon 'O' at Stockman's Hotel & Casino. I had wanted to stop in this old ranching town because it hosts the Cowboy Poetry Festival every January. I plan to attend this event at some point in my life but for now, we're just passing through. But before we left, Elko had an important lesson to teach me.
Talk about derailment. I'd accidentally locked my truck keys in the enclosed bed of my truck and my cell phone was completely MIA. On top of this, I had ceremoniously smoked my last bowl of weed, which I had saved especially for this day, the final day of May. (Though the cell phone was eventually recovered, that saga has its own lessons, I'm sure.)
It all came to a head when we found ourselves in the parking lot of Elko's Wal-Mart, an establishment I loathe with every fiber of my being. My father handed me his phone card, told me there was a pay phone in the Wal-Mart and pointed me toward the front door. We've been arguing about Wal-Mart since 2003 and I was very proud of the fact that I'd never visited one. He took his chance and refused to make the call for me, I would have to go in.
Ragingly high, I made the long walk into the gaping, gluttonous maw of this heinous enterprise and marveled at the situation. I was facing my personal nightmare. All my judgements and high-minded politics had to be put to the side and I was forced to turn to Wal-Mart for help. Thankfully, the pay phone (so quaint!) was located just in the shopping cart vestibule and I did my deed without reaching the belly of the beast.
The moral of the story? Phone cards will save your ass. Add them to your survival kit.