April 2007 On The Floor - Aliens, Dinosaurs, and Bikers with Skateboards
Right about now, winter is in full effect, even in sunny SoCal. Most Southern Californians don't have to deal with bitter cold or even snow, so the winter months become a great time to escape. Since truck shows are few and far between these days, even I can find time to leave work for more than a day at a time. So, I have that goin' for me, which is nice.
I like to get out of town and just drive anywhere. I always have a destination in mind but not a schedule of arrival or departure time to keep. This leaves lots of opportunity for oddball detours and fun. This time, I hit the road, not with my wife but with my friend Lee, who's been into trucks even longer than I have. Lee was a seasoned truck show veteran when I attended my first run. In fact, he might have even taken part in pouring food condiments and beer on me during the initiation into my first truck club. He won't admit it, but I distinctly remember him holding a bottle of mustard right as someone poured hot sauce in my eyes. Oh well. Lee is ridin' shotgun because bringing him on a road trip guarantees two things will happen: He will burn whatever we attempt to barbecue, and for some reason, the most random events occur whenever he's around.
On a Friday night, we set out on Interstate 10, leaving Orange County, and headed into the beautiful desert landscape after work (of course!), driving a nice Banks Power-equipped Ford F-350 dualie and my drag boat in tow. The plan was to haul butt to the Colorado River because the weather was still warm enough to camp out, drink some suds, and maybe do a little boating. This was one of my better plans and one that usually works out.
You'll see all kinds of weird crap along I-10, including dinosaurs, a shack that sells beef jerky supposedly made by aliens, a gang of chicks riding Harley-Davidson motorcycles with skateboards strapped on back, and of course, lots of sport trucks hauling toys to various outdoor playgrounds. I'm serious.
Veer off the highway onto Seminole Road in Cabazon, and you'll find the handiwork of Claude Bell, a sculptor who used to work at Knott's Berry Farm. Back in the day, Claude built huge dinosaur replicas along the freeway that have become a novel tourist attraction. "Dinney," the Brontosaurus, even has a gift shop inside her gut. We didn't buy any rubber "I was inside Dinney" keychains on this trip.
I think we were the only suckers towing a boat down I-10 in December because everyone else had dirt bikes in their trailers, and they stared at us as if we were wearing pink jumpsuits and brown loafers. We kept on truckin' and taking in the sights. I drive I-10 quite often, and there's one sight that I have yet to come up with a concrete explanation for. I always pass trucks towing trucks, and when I say that, I mean a beat-down '86 Toyota 4x4 with an identical truck hitched to its back bumper with a towbar. Each truck will be stuffed to the gills with junk, and an eighth of a mile behind it will be another set of identical twins, maybe old Blazers or Broncos doing the same thing. I pass this curious convoy every time I drive out I-10 on a Friday night. What are the odds of that?
It's never the same guys driving or the same trucks towing, but it's always the same grouping of four vehicles headed east. I assume they are heading to Arizona and then maybe on to Mexico, but who knows? They never stop when I flash the universal "Hey, Jackass, pull over" sign at them. This time was no different, so we kept on rollin'.
Lee and I made it to our riverfront camping spot without seeing any other oddities on the interstate worth mentioning. We made camp near a town in Arizona called Parker, which is full of interesting people and vehicles. There's a guy there with a square-body Chevy S-10 that has no doors, no bed, no windows, and no windshield. It does have a hood, though, and he uses that as a display for his artistic inspiration. That inspiration includes attaching every beer can he's ever emptied over the course of his lifetime to the hood via a nail gun. Neat, huh?
We spent a day and a half boating, talking about the good ol' days of belonging to truck clubs and truck runs, and hanging out with snowbirds, which are people who flock to the warm climate of Arizona from places like Colorado, each winter. As usual, Lee burned our dinner, we laughed a lot, and we didn't spend a minute talking about our jobs. Then, we packed up our gear and once again set out for I-10 to head home.
Cruising down the interstate, heading west, guarantees a couple other things: The ride will be really rough in a 1-ton dualie with little weight over the rear axle, we'll see more odd sights, and getting home never happens fast enough. I was in a hurry to get home, but I-10 has a built-in mechanism for enforcing the law. You can't tow a trailer more than 55 mph, much less drive in the number three or four lanes. Venture out of the two right lanes and you'll be jarred until the fillings fall out of your teeth by some seriously uneven asphalt. You really have to want to pass another vehicle to try pulling a dualie out into those other lanes.
About two hours from home, we were passed by another weird convoy. I saw them coming in the rearview mirror and didn't pay too much attention. It was a group of bikers riding Harley-Davidsons. When they drove past us, I noticed they were all riding HD Sportsters, so I automatically assumed they were chicks-I know, I know, how bad of me. Then, I notice something very odd. Every bike had a skateboard strapped to the back seat. Some had sissy bars and some didn't. I sped up to see what would happen next, not just because of the skateboards but because, at 80 mph, the skateboards were turning into flapping wings when strapped perpendicular to the bike. It was then that it hit me: These are skaters who rented bikes, and they weren't chicks at all! They were just wearing women's pants. Now that was odd. None of them crashed, either.
We made it home in record time and were hungry for food that wasn't charred, thirsty for drink that wasn't made of barley and hops, and the company of our wives. It was a good trip, but it was even better to be home. Road trips are therapeutic in a way, and you should make it a point to embark on one every few months. It just may keep you from going postal on your coworkers, and you never know what you might see out on that long, lonely interstate. So, keep your eye's peeled for the odd and the obvious, and I'll see you next month.