by Doug Hawley
4: Auto Trip
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On a drive to the grocery
store one Saturday morning, Carla said in her
most seductive voice Do you know what time
I smiled; I knew the answer ROAD TRIP TIME
- Yep its time for Duke and Carl/a to hit
Carl/a switched to Carl and agreed Its
time to shake the dust of this old town and see
this great country.
Thats right, but all of our great
road trips havent been in the USA. Remember
going to Merry Olde?
How could I forget the 362 klicks between
Brixton and Manchester to see the greatest and
oldest British publications run by the
descendents of the original publishers / editors?
They both started before there were mindphones. I
dont remember much about the trip, but what
incredible intellectual stimulation! I sound so
smart when I say things like bloody hell
and car park
But neither one of us ever got the hang of
driving on the wrong side of the road.
I guess both your programming and my brain have
Hey nobody died, but you came close to a
You should talk. How about all of those
times you stalled in traffic?
OK, we both had our problems. Heck, I
thought the Beatles were still alive and living
in Liverpool. Sometimes we only get need to
know memory. Was that song we sang as we
headed back to America a Beatle song?
No, that was Chuck Berrys Back
In The USA. The Beatles version was Back
In The USSR.
What did you think of the cars, Carl?
There were two kinds, boring and snobbish.
You know the quote: Two nations cars
separated by a common language. Half the
time I had no idea what they were saying.
I could only understand half of what the
people were saying. I did enjoy the boat trip
over, lots of good looking people, and potent
I didnt mind my trip in the hold too
much. You visited a lot, and some of the other
cars had lots of great stories. One was going to
race in England and then Europe. On the other
tire, there were a bunch of three wheeled cars
that were really simple minded. What did you
think of the Canadian trip?
Fantastic scenery. Speaking of boring, you
know what they say about Canadians: Like
white Americans only more boring. Do you
know that their favorite hobby is watching wheat
grow? Just kidding, but do you how to tell if
someone is Canadian?
Ask if hes Canadian?
That one was too easy. Name two Canadian
Youve told this so many times
Take The Train, Eh and Im
Dreaming Of A White Easter. I wish that you
were programmed to avoid repetition as I am. My
favorite scenery was Vancouver Island and the
Canadian Rockies. Talk about majestic. Talk about
I had a lot of fun at Movieland. I think
that Vancouver is a lot better movie capital than
Los Angeles was. Do you know how grubby Hollywood
was before that chunk of California collapsed
into the Pacific?
Sorry, not a part of my embedded memory. I
do remember that some of the older cars from LA
that visited Portland said their people cut off
most communication with them to keep the
paparazzi from learning the stars secrets.
OK, actors that wouldnt or couldnt
do porn had been blacklisted for ten years before
LA was washed away. Only 5% of the movie
production wasnt porn. Even though
Vancouvers Movieland is good, I had hoped
that Portland or Seattle would replace LA for
filmmaking, but Vancouver had all of the momentum
from fifty years of producing schlock for the
SyFy channel, and huge subsidies.
Enough reminiscing. Where should we go?
Carl started singing This Land Is Your Land.
After a few choruses he said Lets
tour the west.
Youre on, buddy.
We started out on I84 singing Born To Be
Wild, but took the Historic Highway cut off
in order to appreciate the waterfalls and the low
mountains along the Columbia. When we reemerged
on I84, I mentioned that the river used to be
Carl said Was it cursed by the original
His question came from his spotty programming and
my poor communication skills. No Carl, I
mean that there were dams in the Columbia to
produce electricity. After electricity became
cheap with thermoelectric and tidal, there was no
more need, and removing the dams allowed more
salmon to live and spawn in the river and its
tributaries. Both native and Euro Americans are
getting a lot more fish now.
Say no more. My knowledge may be a bit
spotty, but my understanding of electricity is
profound. With those non-polluting power sources
and easy charging, I only need a little amount of
petrol in case of emergency. Some of the newer
cars say that petrol will be completely passť in
a few years. Of course, then we will all be by
. passing gas.
Carl laughed uproariously. I politely chuckled.
We didnt talk much after that all the way
to Boise Idaho. At least we didnt talk to
each other. Carl was motormouthing to the other
cars we saw, particularly those with out of state
plates. He got a lot of ideas about what we
should do on our road trip from those
We got a pretty good motel in Boise (Carl thought
that it was Bo-ise not Boi-se until I told him
otherwise). Unfortunately, we got a lot of noise
complaints because Carl found a cute sports car
that wanted revenge sex when her companion
decided to be a chubby chaser and went off with
an SUV. Nobody could sleep through the racket
they were making, so they were sent off to a
secluded area for the rest of their orgy. Carl
was surprised because he had never run into a
jealous car before. Were cars evolving? I flashed
on The Terminator, a hundred year old
movie, in which machines take over. I thought it
best not to discuss it with Carl.
The next day Carl started talking about religion.
Many believers wanted cars that shared their
religion. He noticed that there were a lot of
Mormon cars (or as they preferred LDS). I told
him that we were headed into solid Mormon country
when we got to Utah, so his chances of romance
were dim with those cars that required a life
time commitment before sex.
Carl hadnt been around when religious
programming was added to the cars of
fundamentalists who wanted cars that shared their
beliefs. After mass pileups of cars involved in
religious wars, laws were passed prohibiting
attempted car conversions. Some religious beliefs
caused serious travel problems not
traveling on Shabbat, stopping five times a day
to pray towards Mecca, and trying for Nirvana.
Most, like me, opted for agnostic cars.
Oh my, the scenery after the Columbia
Gorge, it was the Blue Mountains, Hells Canyon
and the Valley of the Snake. I hadnt been
there for years, and it was Carls first
trip. After Boise, it was the Great Salt Lake,
which had shrunk to not so great. I was going to
explain to Carl about the great Bonneville Lake,
namesake of a late lamented Pontiac model, but
Carl was way ahead of me. I think I know
more about geology than you do, Duke, we learned
that as a part of our petrology programming.
I got lucky in Salt Lake City, but this time Carl
was shut out.
The next morning, I sat in Carl for awhile, while
we both were lost in thought. Finally we
simultaneously broke out in Rocky Mountain
High. We agreed the singer never did
anything else any good and what kind of dope
sings a tribute to the wife that he will later
divorce. At least he had one good song.
The shortest way to Colorado from Salty City is
on I80 through Wyoming. I remembered previous
trips through Wyoming and told Carl to drive
until we got to Cheyenne. I read some old Dennis
Lehane mysteries. The guy knew how to give you
the feel of early century Boston. After a few
hours, I napped until Carl woke me in Cheyenne.
We only stopped for food and bathroom breaks. I
would have liked to go to Yellowstone, but it has
been closed for several years because of the
We took I25 south to Denver. A lot of people love
the place, but I think of it as West Kansas,
which is not a good thing. When I lived there
years ago, it gave me bloody nostrils for years
from the arid climate. At least we got a chance
to view the majestic Rockies on the way. Carl
didnt talk much because he was taken with
the sights. After seeing that Denver hadnt
changed much, we decided that it was time to go
Heading back from Denver the same way we got
there we hit an icy spot on the road. Carl really
saved our bacon. I would never have had the
reflexes and technique to save us from being dead
meat and metal scattered all over the snow.
Going back I drank all the way through Wyoming.
It helped. To entertain ourselves we did karaoke
to the Rolling Stones and Neil Young. Carl
alternated between Carl and Carla, depending on
which song we did. Got to say s/he has a great
voice and can sing anything. On the Stones
Live With Me s/he sang a duet with
both male and female voices. They
were so good, I just listened. On Neil Youngs
Helpless, I was hopeless. Carl let me
do a solo and laughed good naturedly at my
At Salt Lake City, we had a long discussion about
the route home. I think that both of us didnt
want to go back through Idaho, so we decided on I80
through Nevada and on to the Bay Area. On the way
through the desolate Nevada landscape, we
invented a song to entertain ourselves:
Basin and range
Lights in the sky
Well see a UFO by and by
We are running fine
Well get there in no time
Unless little green men
Abduct us again
Are we in area 51?
I dont know son
We speed though the dark
Our journey is just a lark
We traded couplets for hours. I think that I was
still drunk because Im no poet when Im
We stopped in Winnemucca overnight. The next
morning Carl said We can go through the Bay
Area, but Im tired of this trip and I want
to go home. The car smells the garage (Carl
adapted this saying from The horse smells
the barn). He got me thinking. We had
just toured California last year, and there was
nobody and nothing I wanted to do in California
and to paraphrase Carls paraphrasing, this
person smelled his own bed.
We took the fastest route back and got home the
next day to some interesting news. I had a note
from Jane saying Have I got a way to
celebrate your birthday! Make sure that you bring
Carl/a. I had forgotten my upcoming natal
date. Carl had a note from his car dealer saying
Do I have a free upgrade for you!
Carl could have received the message while we
were on the road, but he stopped all messages
except for emergencies because of all the junk
ads he would have gotten otherwise.
Looks like more adventures for both of us. Travel
is fun, but its great to be home.
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