Now that I was completely addicted to leaving my bedroom cave and enjoying life, I couldn’t get enough. I was going out so often, I got in trouble and lost my driver’s license that 4th of July on the gravel road called the AAA. But that didn’t stop me, it was the best thing that ever happened. Not only did it lead me into going to college, but because of it, I started to hang out with Jay Are and I bought the 1984 ford van.
The Jay Are part was easy. One night while at my brother Pete’s garage Jay Are told me that if I ever needed a ride, because I didn’t have a driver’s license, he’d give me one. A day later he’s picking me up in his custom built 1972 4 wheel drive SS El Camino. Here in California there is a road called the El Camino Real. It’s Spanish for the King’s highway, the Royal road or the California Mission trail. It’s an historic 600 mile road that connect 21 missions that were built here hundreds of years ago. One of these days I’m going to ask a pretty girl if she wants to take a motor home road trip to visit all the missions. It might take a week, so she’ll need a suit case.
Oh, Jay Are. We started hanging out together by going to Walstroms and playing pac-man. looser would buy an 8 pack of 16 ounce bottles of mountain dew. Jay Are had patterns, so he won 7 out of 8 games. I didn’t care. I was getting out of the house. For me, it was a very small price to pay. His El Camino is 4 wheel drive with 38’’ tires? To enter his El Camino one has to climb into it. The floor board is probably 3 feet in the air. I’ll have to ask him someday, but I don’t think I’m exaggerating. Still, Jay Are would lift my 145 pound body into the passenger seat every time we went out. I was skinner back then. Crap, I have to start exercising more. That will teach me to tell this story.
Jay Are’s El Camino could go places. I’ve never been in a 4 wheel drive vehicle that could go through mud and snow like his. One night we were going to Jackie’s grandfather’s cabin behind the farm. It was winter time. The cabin was a mile behind the farm. In the summertime you could see the road or path if you will through the field. But this night there was snow on the ground. The snow was 3 feet deep, which wasn’t a problem for Jay Are’s 4 wheel drive. About half way there Jackie point off to the right saying the cabin was just over there a ways. Jay Are turns the steering wheel that direction and the front of the El Camino drops 2 to 3 feet. The snow level didn’t drop just the ground below it. It’s now coming over the hood. Although the El Camino could go through snow, it wasn’t going through six to seven feet of snow. We’re now stuck. So Jay Are calls AAA. Just kidding! Upper’s don’t call AAA to get themselves unstuck or a jump start for a dead battery. They carry a shovel and jumper cables. I’ve had a set of jumper cables in every vehicles I’ve ever owned. When I owned the 1979 Ford pickup truck, I not only carried one shovel, but two shovels. That way my passenger could shovel as well. I also carried a chain and cable come-a-long or some would call it a hand winch. I actually have a chain and cable come-a-long in my motor home right now – old habits day hard. Anyway, Jay Are only had one shovel, so Jackie, Gwen and I stayed in the nice warm truck while Jay Are shoveled snow. I bet he shoveled snow for an hour. Then he got into the truck, put it in reverse and backed out of the deep hole we were in. From then on Jay Are and Jackie were in much better communication on the directions to the cabin.
Jay Are and I have become great friends because we are both a like in many ways. But mainly, we look for the positive in life, not the negative. Oh, here’s a perfect example, sorry Jay Are, but it’s the Mitchell South Dakota story. Sometime prior to that trip we went to my cousin’s wedding in Ely Minnesota. We arrived there early but didn’t have directions to the church, so we decided on lunch at a local restaurant. At the restaurant was a different wedding reception taking place. Weddings are like birthdays to me. You should congratulate everyone on their wedding day and wish everyone a happy birthday. So just before going to give my congratulations to the bride and groom, Jay Are gave me a challenge. He told me I wouldn’t be able to get ‘’a dance, a hug and a kiss on the cheek’’ from the bride. I love a challenge, so off I went into the reception hall to accomplish my new task. The hug was easy. The dance was even easier. But the kiss on the cheek was the real challenge. The groom, best man, father of the groom and I became friends for the day. When asked why I was there, I told them the truth. I believe in congratulating people on their special day, which includes the family. I also told them of Jay Are’s challenge, which they thought was amazing that I’d take on a challenge like that. They were actually hoping I could pull it off. I wheeled up to her several times, but I just didn’t see it in her eyes. And, I wasn’t going to cheat and tell her about the challenge to get an easy kiss on the cheek, so I didn’t fulfill the challenge. But I had fun. Jay Are, he never crashed the reception even though several members of the wedding told me to bring him in. some people are wedding crashers and some people aren’t.
So Jay Are and I are returning from my annual pilgrimage to Denver Colorado, to be more accurate Englewood Colorado. In 1979 I went to Craig hospital there for my rehab. I spent 4 months there, which I’ll tell more about later. I used to go back every year afterwards, but then I moved to San Jose California. Here in San Jose is a spinal cord rehab hospital. I don’t like them here, so I quit going to them. I’m now seeing doctor’s at Stanford. But they don’t do the spinal cord issues well, so I’m in the process of getting a referral from them to go back to Craig. I’m getting old and having a few issues.
I’m driving my 1984 ford van home from Denver when I start losing power. The gas gauge is also dropping like a rock. Two minutes under the hood and Jay Are says the fuel pump is shot. He tries to jimmy it to work, but no luck. With that said, Jay Are and I always seem to have good luck together, even when we don’t. We decide its best to get off the highway, so I start driving the van at full throttle which is maybe 20 miles an hour and probably two gallons a mile. One quarter mile down the road is a sign for an exit to a rest stop a mile down the road. As luck would have it, this rest stop has a pay phone. This happened in the 80’s long before cell phones. A quick phone call to AAA (we both have AAA memberships) and they’ll be here in 20 minutes. The tow truck arrives and on the door says ford garage Mitchell, SD. One of us asked them if they were open on Sundays, the next day, and he said yes. Jay Are tells him the problem with the van and the guy says not a problem that it would be an easy fix. I, who was attending college was given a case study in a management class on the Holiday Inn corporation. Did you know that every Holiday Inn must have a restaurant and a bar or lounge? I did. You cannot say I didn’t learn anything in college. Now-a-days, you’ll see Holiday Inn Express. They don’t have the requirement for the restaurant or the lounges. So I ask the tow truck driver if there was a Holiday Inn in Mitchell. He replied there was one on the way to the ford garage – great, drop us off there.
You’re probably already guessing where this story is going, but I’ll tell it anyway. The young lady at the front desk of the Holiday Inn informs us there is one room still available on this Saturday night, but it’s not a handicap room. I don’t care, it has two beds that’s all I’m interested in. We drop off our overnight bags in the room and off to the lounge. Jay Are and I are in our late 20’s, single, out of town on vacation and no longer driving, we’re going to be happy on this night we broke down. We had just ordered our 2nd drink while playing stump the bartender when four men wearing tuxedos entered the bar. I quickly asked who the lucky man was. Three men quickly pointed out the winner of my question. If you’re in a bar and someone is getting married or it’s their birthday, it’s only polite to buy them a drink. Jay Are and I paid for their round of shots, which made of best buds for the night. This was one wedding I didn’t have to crash. I was invited to it. Over the years I’ve attended 15 to 20 weddings I didn’t have a clue about until I got to the hotel. I honestly couldn’t tell you how many I’ve crashed, but if I’m at a hotel for any reason and there is a reception of any type going on, I’ll wander in.
Jay Are doesn’t crash the wedding with me, but he does keep the bartender company when I’m on one of my three or four trips inside the reception hall. Of course the challenge is still on for me to win the trifecta. Again I became best friends with all the men there. I danced with the bride and a few other women. If I remember right, I even danced with the mother of the bride. It was like I was an honored guest from a far away land. And I tried, but I could get that elusive kiss on the cheek. To this day I’ve never received the kiss on the cheek when crashing a wedding.
It was about midnight when the bar and reception hall closed for the night. Even though we were invited to party with the wedding party in their rooms, Jay Are and I headed back to our room to call it a night. I’m taking my prescription pills before bed and about to take off my shoes when I hear Jay Are snoring, already. I turn around to see Jay Are face down on top of the covers wearing only his red bikini underwear. I have my foot over my other knee about to take my shoe off when I change my mind. I’m going to party with my new best friends.
I have no idea where the room key is, so I grab my overnight bag and head for the door. I open the door, then prop it open with my overnight bag so it won’t close. I took a quick glance at the room number, so just in case I know what room I’m staying in and I’m off down the hall to meet up with the gang. Now the wedding party had two rooms joining that everyone was partying in, but they were both packed with people, so I stayed in the doorway/hallway. That way I could keep an eye on my room too. Since the door was opened, the light from the room shown out into the hallway. It was about 3am when the bride and maids of honor did a head count and found the best man/brother of the groom missing in action. He wasn’t at the party nor was he in his hotel room. So the women set off to rescue him from where ever he decided to pass out. He wasn’t feeling any pain earlier, so if he wasn’t in his room I was betting on his car, because that’s where I would have gone to hide.
About a half hour later I can see from my advantage point in the doorway of the wedding party’s room that the five women are returning from their king Arthur quest to save the world. I sat there watching the wedding and bridesmaid’s dresses bouncing about as they skipped down the hallway when they suddenly stopped 75 feet down the hallway. The groom was in the hallway with me and a few others were in ear shot, so I quickly told them how the room the women were stopped at was my room and my buddy Jay Are was sleeping in there on top of the sheets wearing only his red bikini underwear. Now there were six or seven of us watching the women trying to decide if they should enter my hotel room. After what seemed like a lengthy discussion, one girl went into my room. She quickly came screaming out and pulled the others in the room. Soon all the women were running down the hallway laughing and giggling like school girls. But I have to admit, we were having just as much fun watching.
It was about 4am when I finally called it a night and finally closed my hotel room door. The hotel room telephone rang at 9 o’clock sharp. I looked over to Jay Are’s bed and asked if he could get that. I closed my eyes again. I did not feel like trying to drag my body over to the phone. I heard a, yes it is, ok, ok, ok, click. Considering he got 9 hours of sleep, Jay Are, all bright and chipper says the van is all repaired, that they’re sending a car over to pick us up and the total cost was going to be only $20 because it was still under warranty.
I’m going to have to do a part two on this story because have to go and I had another point I wanted to make when I started. But that’s the kind of luck Jay Are and I always had when we traveled. Even though things happen that might piss others off, we’d take them in stride and they’d turn into a fun story to tell.