Friday, June 28, 2002

Two-Lane Blacktop part II—Lindbergh or Earhart?

Strike the last sentence of the previous entry from the record. Priest was not actually on my musical menu that afternoon.

I decided to take the Lougheed Highway (#7) out to Harrison. It looked like the most direct route on the map. As I later found out, it wasn’t the most efficient way there, but I’m glad I took it anyway. The scenery and backcountry ambience made up for its comparative slowness.

I hadn’t intended to travel alone, but Murray’s cancellation forced me to go solo. I wasn’t happy about this. Once I’m east of Gaglardi Way, I start feeling like an untethered spacewalker. I like having someone else to talk to during these times, a companion to help me watch the road. Besides dying at the wheel, getting lost is one of my biggest fears.

Going through the burbs was start-stop-start-stop all the way. I was playing the new Melvins album, Hostile Ambient Takeover. It’s a heavy one; more The Maggot than The Bootlicker, more Stoner Witch than Stag. The tape ran out as I went through Haney. The traffic dissipated and the road opened up. I put on Howls From the Hills by Dead Meadow. Their shambling, rustic BigMuff humfuzz filled the cab. I could picture myself late at night, walking down the backroads just off this highway and hearing the band jamming in a distant cabin.

Mount Baker loomed, twice as big as it appears on a clear day in Burnaby. It’s a fine-looking mountain, such a proper volcano, so gracefully sloped and snowy. I really want it to spew magma at some point during my lifetime. Just a little eruption—nobody has to get hurt.

The #7 is mostly two lanes, 80 km/h all the way out. I’d rather have been a passenger, but I tried to take in as many of the sights as I could while still keeping the car on the road. Other drivers evidently weren’t so intent on scenic pleasures. Tom Slick in his Benz was picking his way through our convoy one car at a time. He made it to the front of the queue with no mishaps and quickly disappeared in the curves ahead. Oh, well, it was his loss. Maybe he drives this road every week.

Stuff I saw: fruit stands gearing up for the season. Kids selling roses by the side of the highway. On the lake to my left, a water-skier did a faceplant, perishing in an explosion of spray. I passed a nudist campground, wondering if I should stop by for a quick game of volleyball. Signs pointed me to stock car circuits and drag boat racing. So much weekend exotica out here in smalltown B.C.

The tape deck’s auto reverse kicked in, and Wino and his Spirit Caravan arrived for my trip into Harrison. I accidentally drove past the motel where I was supposed to hook up with Roger, and ended up driving right into Harrison itself. When I reached the lake, I knew I had come too far. It was an adolescent frenzy—hordes of today’s beef-hormone-enhanced SuperTeens milling about in not too much clothing. I escaped to the tourist info booth, where I got directions back to the Crossroads Motel.

Roger met me outside and directed me into the motel bar, where his son Adam, daughter Cathy and her boyfriend Jason were shooting pool. The air conditioning was in full effect. I opened my Coke, but all that time in the truck had made it warmer than the current room temperature. No refreshment properties whatsoever. Yuck. I drank the impotent beverage anyway and waited for the others to arrive.

A power ballad by Boston was playing on the radio—“I’m gonna take you by surprise and make you realize, Amanda.” I’d forgotten about that song, and I didn’t particularly need to be reminded of it then.

No comments: