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Mormania: Part 2

2002-08-21 - 6:21 p.m.

8/21/02

3 p.m. Ugh. Double, triple, through GoogleUgh. I was supposed to tell the story about the dogs that set off the car alarm at the subway yesterday. I was supposed to tell the story of the kid at Subway who looked just like a cross-breed of Jon Leahy and Tim Laurent. I was supposed to talk all about what a weird city Cedar City was. I was going to talk about our adventurous leisure times in St. George. But I can’t – because we never got to St. George. We got about 10 miles outside of Cedar City on Rt 14. Ben and Tim had gotten some “back road directions” to the Grand Canyon by some Mexican Guy in the lobby of the Cedar City Best Western. And that’s when it happened. About 10 miles up into the cliffs and mountains. We got into an accident. And not just any accident. You know those stupid “Falling Rocks” signs you always see? There’s a particularly useless one in Alton Bay. Well, perhaps we won’t laugh at them as hard next time. That’s right. Rocks fell. Did they fall. And, being hundreds of feet above the Earth on a cliff ledge, aggressive swerving really isn’t much of an option. So we drove straight at them, as it was too late to even brake. And “KASPLABANGO!” “Um . . .” I said. “Ah . . .” Ben said. “I hope there’s nothing wrong with my car.” Tim said, almost pleadingly, to Ben, who was driving. “Dude. There’s definitely something wrong with you car.” We rolled to a stop as RV’s and other cars whizzed around us. We rolled backwards until the car was safely in a rocky, “scenic” embankment. Ben said the gas pedal just went straight down and had no tension whatsoever and our tank, which we had just filled, read empty. I don’t really feel like writing about all of this because there was not one ounce of fun in it whatsoever. But I will try. None of our phones had any reception where we were and it was 4 o’clock, so anybody that may be able to help us (gas stations, auto parts stores, etc.) would be closing soon. And we had no way of even calling them. So, after combing the road by the fallen rocks looking for possible car pieces, Ben did the only thing we could do. He started running/hitching the 10 miles back into town. And Tim and I stayed with the car and waited. And waited. And waited. We had no idea if anybody had even picked Ben up. So we sat there. We tried to pass the time every way we could think of. Tim wasn’t in a card playing mood (understandably) so he read a bit of Kitchen Confidential and I re-read some of the Entertainment Weekly. Then he threw acorns at rocks while I took pictures of the situation and the scenery. Tim wasn’t too pleased with me for taking pictures of an obviously tense situation, so I stopped and went and took some pictures of some old 1940’s trucks that were crashed down in the ravine. Then we played the worst case scenario game for a while. I think it ended with a situation that resulted in Tim being mauled by snakes from the waist down while I stood by gawking. I think I made out well. On a lark I dialed 911 on my cell phone just to see if it would work. It did. Well, it showed that I COULD, if I pressed OK. So I guess that’s good that Sprint at least has an option for emergencies. If only we tried that before Ben left. So we waited some more. And some more. An hour passed. The sun was starting to set. Finally, about 15 minutes later the tow truck showed up. And then Ben showed up in a white van with a big black woman driving. The van had nothing to do with the tow truck, and like the mysterious Harbor Princess incident , it may end up being another "Walden's Believe It Or Not!" episode never to be explained. We got towed back into town and brought to Gary’s Texaco station right outside of not-so-scenic Cedar City. This would become our home-veryfarawayfrom-home for almost the next 24 hours.

3:35 p.m. – God, I already hate telling this story. So after the older guy at the Texaco (presumably the titular “Gary”, we never found out) and the younger guy (who we simply called “the younger one”) couldn’t find out what the problem was. They thought at first that it was the Inertia (Nurses?) Switch that got torn apart but after about 3 hours they realized they were wrong. At this point I had already made harried phone calls to Brooklyn, York, and Laconia. Meanwhile, Ben and Tim were practicing Omerta and speaking of the incident to no one, and I started to think my gabby goat-ery was starting to annoy them so I curtailed it. The monkey boys informed us that it wasn’t the switch and they’d look at it in the morning and that we would have to stay in Cedar City for the night. Ugh. At this point, the decision we had been mulling all day – to cut the Grand Canyon entirely out of our trip – was finalized. As Tim humorously put it, “We’ve already seen plenty of fucking canyons, it’s just that this one is a little more grand than all the others. Actually, you know what? The Grand Canyon? The Grand Canyon is a fucking . . .is a fucking . . .no – can eat a fucking . . .dick.” There was a Travelodge next store so we decided to stay there. (Perhaps our first red flag should have been seen in our Motel’s refusal to spring for the extra “L” in their title). Word to the wise: If you ever find yourself in a situation where the Travelodge is your only choice – you’d be better off killing a horse and hollowing out it’s insides and sleeping there. Trust me. So, with nowhere to go and no way to get there, we walked two doors down to The Dragon King. It was a Chinese Food place, and out of fear of food poisoning, Tim called Coty to double-check that it had no affiliation with The Dragon Chef out of Brighton. It didn’t - we were safe. We were the only customers at Dragon King with the exception of a few truckers that would straggle in from time to time. Now, if you will, take into account that I had yet to have a drop of alcohol this ENTIRE trip up until this point. Ben and Tim drank in Rockford, the night before we left for Wisconsin, but I didn’t. But this time, after we ordered what seemed like a little bit of EVERYTHING from the menu, we also ordered beer. Which, for $2.00, a mug of Bud Light was looking mighty tasty. (What am I taking about, no matter the price, Bud Light ALWAYS looks tasty to me.) We ate. And we drank. Don’t think the irony escaped me that it took Utah, the most Mormonastic state in the country to drive me to drink. Then, after Tim and I had an educated discussion over whether our servers/cooks were Mexican or Chinese, we left for the Travelodge. Ben picked up some beer and it was back to our cell on the second floor. It looked out on to Route 15, which led to St. George and Las Vegas. Fucking tease. The water slowly leaked and spurted our of the sink and the shower wasn’t much better. But worst of all we couldn’t establish any internet connection, so that’s why the delay in updates. Tim decided to watch TV and Ben and I decided to play the drunkenest game of Rummey ever. Who said we weren’t crazy out here. Despite kicking Ben’s ass in Rummey (sample round actual score: Zach: 205, Ben –15) I drank so much during the game that by the final round, I was passing out during his turn and he’d have to wake me up and tell me what he did and that it was my turn. It was rough. But I won, that’s all that matters. Then came the next day, or well, should I say – today.

2:50 p.m. – Hmmm, perhaps that time may give a few things away. We’ll see . . . So we went to the Texaco, and this time Older and Younger were nowhere to be seen. Which was actually comforting. Instead, we met the newest major player of this trip: Levi. I know, shocking and original name in this ramshackle State of Latter Day Saints. Levi greeted us with “So do you want the bad news?” Ugh. Levi discovered that the rocks actually ripped apart the fuel pump. I don’t know much about cars but I know this not be good. We went to go have breakfast at “Steak and Stuff” which was next to the Dragon King. We stuck to the Stuff, not the Steak. The place was practically wallpapered in Elvis memorabilia. It was quaint. And the flies made it that much homier. Ben got grits. Which, as he was devastated to find out, is the exact god damn same thing as Cream of Wheat. Levi said our best bet was to order the part from Salt Lake City and have it shipped down to St. George, and then shipped back up to Cedar City. And when would it actually arrive in Cedar City gentle reader? Well, we were told either Thursday or Friday sometime. Fah-uk. So, convinced we were never staying in the Travelodge ever again we grabbed whatever we could carry and called a taxi to take us to the nearest Best Western (for those of you keeping track, the very same Best Western that Tim and Ben had gotten the original wonky plans about taking Rt. 14 through the Mountains). The taxi driver informed us that if we were indeed staying for the night, the local bar was having Ladies Night so we’d be smart to go there for some action. Riiiiight. But we were told we couldn’t check in until 3. And it was 10:30 in the morning. Sigh. So Ben made reservations for 3 p.m. and we walked to the K-Mart down the road. 3 miles down the road. Right before we got to K-Mart, Levi called Tim’s cell. He had found a ’99 Nissan fuel pump, and even though Tim’s was a 2000, he wanted to know if we should try it. But there was a catch. If we gave Levi the go-ahead then he would try to install it, BUT if it didn’t work then it would be too late to order the 2000 piece from Salt Lake City (because, as we were told, for some UNEXPLICABLE reason, in the automotive industry, things aren’t ordered past noon.) Plus, if it didn’t work, we’d have to pay for the ’99 faulty piece and then STILL order the 2000 piece and pay for that, as well as the labor for both, AND then not get the 2000 piece until Friday, thus making us cut out San Diego, and possibly San Simeon. Which would really, really suck. So we had a decision to make. Take a gamble and hope the ’99 piece works and get out of Cedar “Mormon Hell” City tonight, or order the 2000 piece, which was guaranteed to work, but not leave until tomorrow. So I did what anyone would do in dire straits. I called BTC. Belknap Tire Company to be precise. I got Linda on the phone. Who, after hearing my tale of woe (an extremely condensed version of the above), connected me to my cousin Tommy (who prefers to be called Tom and wouldn’t be caught dead being called T-Slopp.) who I then gave an even more condensed version of the above. We talked a lot of car jargon that I’m not even going to attempt to translate. We called Levi back and told him to go for it. And he did. He said he’d call us back in a few hours and let us know how it went. So we went to the park and napped on the picnic tables and lawn, while also finding time to get accosted by a bloody homeless man (the Mormons have yet to perfect their homeless) and he asked us to relieve ourselves of our change. Ben and I gave him some. Tim spit on him. (Ok, no he didn’t. But he wanted to.) Then, as I was calling McLaughlin to tell him to cancel his plans to see us, as we were getting ready to cut San Diego, Tim’s phone rang. It was Levi . . .

3: 35 p.m. – So, we’ve passed through Mesquite, Nevada and we are now officially in the Western Time Zone, hence me finishing this at almost the same time I started. Levi came though for us. We just finished listening to the “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” soundtrack. It’s quite exhilarating to hear Johnny Depp, as Hunter S. Thompson, speak of Barstow and Rt. 15 when you are actually seeing these things. We’re coming up on Las Vegas now and we’re just starting to make out the casinos through all the dust. Arizona, for the brief time we were in it, was fucking gorgeous. It made Utah look like . . . no, there’s nothing that could make Utah look worse than Utah itself. I take that back – the unpopulated parts of Utah are unbelievable. The populated parts can spend the rest of eternity in hell making pizzas for invalids and stealing ballerina’s necklaces. Wow. Las Vegas looks really fucking cool.

4:00 p.m. – Wow. I’m no Mormon, but even I am shocked not at the sin-osity of the town, but its willingness to promote said sin. (i.e. – “Adult Books and Video, next 3 exits” and “Bill Jay’s Escort Service – Trust Us, We’ve Got What You’re Looking For!” on huge fucking billboards. Let’s hope Guiliani doesn’t make his way out here.)

4:10 p.m. – Is it sad that I see all these things in Vegas (like bungee jumping, Scream rides, roller coasters on top of hotels) and the first thing I think is “Cool – they did this on the RW/RR Challenge!”

4:15 p.m. – “Ohhhh! ‘Cupid’s Wedding Chapel’! I’m a-getting’ married tonight!” – Ben

“Um, you can count me out.” – Tim

“Wait, where does that leave me?” – Zach

4:20 p.m. – Just passed the “Say I Do Wedding Drive Thru!” Good Lord.

4:26 p.m. – We just passed billboards for Wayne Newton, Sigfried and Roy, and then, the queen of them all – CHARO! Oh man oh man, I’ve never been this geographically close to Charo before. At least I don’t think I have.

4:30 p.m. – Man oh man. Not only are Dennis Quaid and Jim Belushi here with their respective bands, but GLADYS KNIGHT! Fred would faint dead away if he was ever this close to the former leader of the Pips and the songstress responsible for that little piece of heaven known as “Midnight Train to Georgia”!

4:40 p.m. – My head just fucking popped. Roller coasters on top of New York, New York! The Mirage with a Sphinx and Pyramids! Excalibur all in castles! Treasure Island all on a pirate ship! I love it! My brain is making snapping noises. I don’t think this will be a good town for me. Ewwwww . . .A billboard for Microsurgical Vasectomy Reversals! Ewwwww. . .

4:45 p.m. – “Neil Sedaka’s are a dime a dozen.” – Tim

6:00 p.m. – Wow. Vegas hurts my eyes. So so so so many things for me to look at. We’re staying at the Hard Rock Casino and hotchie motchie do I like it better that any of the other hotels. Not that that’s very fair as this is the only one I’ve been to, BUT, as we were walking up to it my spider-sense started blaring. And for good, no GREAT, reason! What was playing over the Hard Rock’s PA system when I got up to the entrance? What was blaring through every speaker in the casino and hotel? Oh, I don’t know, maybe . . . TALKING HEADS!!!!! If that ain’t no omen I don’t know what is. Then Pearl Jam played right after and Ben decided we were definitely staying. Our room is so nice! Fuck you all you Super 8s and Travelodges and Best Westerns and Ramadas ( I apologize Ramada, you were kind to us, but I’m trying to make a point here)! I am so easily amused, which you must know if you read this, and so far my favorite part is the bathroom! It’s so so so so so big. And the shower is so high! Big tall shower head! I don’t have to limbo to shampoo! (Welcome to the world of Tim and Zach). And our room is so big. So so big. And there’s all this Doors memorabilia by the elevators (clearly this place was NOT built with Brooke in mind). Ben and Tim are napping/watching the Little League International Play Off Game Thing Stuff and then we’re going to a (as described by Tim) “super nice, really expensive, but large helpings, and lots of red wine, Italian place”. Which is cool. It would be cooler if I liked Wine. You can take the boy out of Laconia . . .

Ok, will write all about our night and Vegas and our trek towards San Diego tomorrow. . .

It’s been real,

President of the I Love Levi Society

ps - I read in the USA Today that "Mother, May I Sleep With Danger?" was on tonight and I was joyful. Not that I've ever seen it, but Fred and I used to make fun of that title SO bad and say it all the time so it made me laugh. That's all.

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