First Road Run for Patches

Leaving the house at the end of April 2018.  Funny how you never know what is ahead, no clue whatever.  Part of the charm and delight of the open road.  As Garrett says: “Bring it!”

Derek McNeil, the cameraman, proves his solidarity.  Celts prefer actions over words.  Words are too easy, too easily forgotten.

April 29th 2018, a Sunday

The road run begins in Ventura with a sad good-bye to QC, the gentle Visigoth.  I know I was holding back the tears as best I could.  Of course barely made it two blocks before I realized I’d not finished lowering the other three tires for pressure.  Did not realize it was the off-the-computer-red-flashing severe alignment toe-in that was creating the jumpy handling problems.  In 3k miles the outside half of the two expensive Dutch front tires were completely bald.  Try getting two new tires to fit a 356 in Michigan on the fly.  It cannot be done!

Will always remember our wonderful breakfasts as we were waited on by gorgeous green-eyed Mexican cousins—about ten or twelve different ones, each as raven-haired and round-ass lovely as the other.  My breakfast: grilled chicken breast, hot sauce, one scrambled egg, fresh fruit, and 50/50 orange/apple juice.  QC’s breakfast: a mountain of French toast, a golfball of butter, syrup slathered, hash browns, double side of crispy bacon, and a waterfall of coffee.  Of course he is 70 and as healthy as a young Viking.

The cross winds across the Mojave were so severe—red signs flashing huge warnings—that the highway was closed about an hour after my passing.  Not knowing what I was getting into, I had left the top down.  Mistake.  No hat would stay on my head, so a sunburn was inevitable.  Way too windy to pull up top.  What a god-forsaken section of America, but an improvement over Interstate 5 into Los Angeles which is simply ten lanes of rutted bumpy living HELL, with traffic beyond evil, everyone in a black tanks, texting.  Delighted to see Lone Pine!

Had the first of many wonderful meals at the Mt. Whitney Diner served by my favorite waitress ever—Kristie.  (Hope I spelled it correctly.)  A sweet sexy angel that happens to serve delicious food by coincidence.

Bought Aloe Vera gel and finally got to slather something.  The hotel was full of crazy aged women who were parked there until the casket.  I enjoyed them greatly—Mary was the standout!  Then after two days of much needed rest, car repairs, I headed to Death Valley to meet Erik and Amanda who were flying into Las Vegas that evening.

My photo from 1984 of the Death Valley Highway sign

May 1st

In my eagerness, I left probably 6 hours too early.  All was good until I almost murdered two geriatrics at two different times at gas stations.  It was the loudness of my compressor-powered Maserati twin-bell airhorn that all but killed them.  The horn began raging whenever, simply possessed.  A priest?  I rebuild the damn thing the next day.  Has the world of supposed mechanics forgotten the concept of lubricants?  Lubricants allow the next guy to remove things without undue force.  They work well, trust me!

It was raining and reasonably cool in Death Valley where it is usually about 105 degrees during the day.  But it was lovely and I was driving like a fiend from another planet, front wheels fighting each other or not.  The Devil’s Golf Course was just as I remembered it.

But heading back to the junction, the rear of my seat collapsed completely.  Out came the tool kit again.  Two hours in now hot afternoon sun and the seat worked again.  It would fail often until I got up at 4;30 a.m. in Pocatello, Idaho and spent three more hours truly fixing it this time.  Until then, my old hobo pack held up the seat back to varying degrees of success.

Same spot in 1983 above.

Heading into the Valley in 1984:

In 1983, Death Valley, over 100 degrees

Had an amazing supper of fresh-caught striped bass under the bamboo awning at The Oasis as the rain fell through the cracks and dried on my overly hot skin.  I called out to doves in their voice, or my attempt at their voice, and they filled the rafters as no humans were on the veranda.  How blessed I felt!

As I waited at the Zabriskie Point parking lot way to0 early for my baby as evening drew down night’s blind, I met two guys who were photographing my 356, a common occurrence.  “You’re not Germans, are you?”  “No!  We are Portuguese!”  I had had enough Germans and Porsche idiots telling me my 356 should be in a museum or climate controlled garage.  Fuck them for a few days.  “Then you must know Miguel Olivera, I said.”  “Why?”  They were stunned.  “Because I bet he will win the Moto2 World Championship.”  Instant friends now, they met myself and Amanda at the Dow Villa in Lone Pine the next day.  At the end of a lovely time, Amanda already speaking Portuguese, I casually asked: “What do you guys do for a living?”  “Oh, kind of acting.”  I googled.  WOW!  World famous!  And very handsome.  Both!

 

Drew my father’s signature with a Sharpie until the rising sun in Lone Pine made it far too hot for a New Englander to concentrate.

Variations of signature.  Top right is actual.

Erik and Amanda arrived in total darkness in the Zabriskie Point empty parking lot at about 10 p.m. in a rented new Dodge Challenger Hemi; Erik, of course, doing burnout donuts.  He hit a hoe at over 100 mph in the rain on our run back to Lone Pine, which blew a hole in the bottom of the rental.  Maine urchin divers?  What are you gonna do?  He took a photo of the speedometer at 149 mph.

Next day just before Erik went on a massive bender (even for him!) and missed being in the movie.  In the morning he fled back to Maine with only one speeding ticket.  I had bet two.

May 4th

Ben Taylor arrives in rental.  Garrett Randolph, my novice-to-Porsches but certainly not the road or wilderness wingman, arrives in his new-to-him immaculate 1998 Boxter, German silver over sienna red leather.

My buddy Ben who I met in Lewiston, Maine mid-1980s.  He was going to Bates; I was a townie.  I’ve always worried I ruined his life, but God, she is the only one to determine such things.

May 6th

We hit the road north with a film crew following after shooting amazing scene with Rod from Lloyd’s of Lone Pine.  He tells the cameraman Derek how Slim Pickens got his name.  They (Rod and Slim) were rodeo clowns together for many years.  Lone Pine and Rod, a good friend of Ridley Scott is Rod, are simply the best! Ben and I bought matching hats from Rod.  I found out in talking to Rod yesterday (June12th) that he got himself one as well, so we three have matching hats.  Love mine!

I love this photograph: Three amazing beauties in one rectangle!:

Ben and I, although exhausted, filming street shots in Reno at 11 p.m.  Then we were kept up until 3:30 a.m. expected to tell brilliant stories about the road.  People who run movies basically want to kill their protagonists.  I suppose that makes for gritty footage.

Here is the wonderful letter I received from James, manager at the equally wonderful Reno Hotel where we filmed in the lobby:

May 10th 2018

356 plugs cleared in the morning.  Ran great!  Wheel vibration is about half what it was.  Exhaust pipe color slightly rich but brownish.  I am beginning to get that feeling of the engine oil and my blood running together as one fluid.  Feel and hear every nuance of the car continually.  When Patches is delighted, so am I.  Only a 356 does this to me.

Speedometer is dead accurate!  Hit an actual 100 mph a few times yesterday, but insane cross winds prevent anything more.  The wind blows ALL the time out here.   Hit 85 in third gear easily.  Beginning to use 5k rpm at 2500 miles on odometer as engine breaks in more fully.

CRAZY day yesterday.  Mad guerrilla filming in a lava pit.  Great fun!  Driving exactly ten feet from camera mounted BMW driven by “The Kid” was a blast.  We picked up this ex-addict tech wizard and drone operator at Denio in the most BEAT late-model BMW racer like something out of Mad Max.  Hilarious stuff.  The camera man Derek (a Celt) is beside himself saying the footage is the most amazing he has ever seen.  Had to climb rocks inside a dripping cave attempting to ignore my rampant claustrophobia made worst by an average of 4.5 hours of sleep a night.  Then MASSIVE rain and sand storms.  (5 a.m. now as I write this.)  Nothing like the “real” road, my true element.  Jackson, Wyoming today.  Cowboy bar with saddles as stools that I last sat on in 1974 when I washed dishes in Moran.
Garrett in Boxter simply amazing wingman.  Could not find anyone better ever.  Cheers to such a humorous calm road partner.  Does these drive-bys at nearly 120 mph.  Such joy!  Amanda, of course, is a dream in the passenger seat.  Only dislikes high-speed corners with huge drop-offs and no guard rails on her side.
Dawn at Denio Junction, Nevada, May 8th 2018, Amanda’s birthday
I call the photo MAINER OUT WEST
I was in a 90 degree hot mineral spring stream that runs through the desert.  The morning air temperature was about 40 degrees or less.  I surprised Amanda with the stream on her birthday.  And NO, I will tell no one where it is since it has still not been discovered.  I first found it in 1991, tipped off by two delightful lesbians in a jumble shop in Oregon.  One of the truly divine places on the planet.
And NO!  No one sees the naked photos of Amanda.  I do not want any complaints of heart failure.
Patina from driving dirt roads at over 60 mph to pick up A before sun warms desert too much.  I want her to feel the hot mineral water and the cool night air together.
And then the movie part.  Endless takes of the same fucking thing in 100 degree heat=Celtic Hell.  And the 356 air-cooler engine hates it, but again, compassion or understanding is not the forte of those who answer to the movie money gods.  (Small cap intentional.)
*
May 11th 2018, Tetons.
Amazing to see the same view of the mountains as I saw it in 1974 while washing dishes in Moran for a couple weeks before the Inn closed for the season.  I had just spent a couple months on the freights and was ready for some comfort.  I worked for room and free breakfast—a steak and 6 eggs.  I was 17 and really hungry after nearly starving to death on the freights.  How could I tell?  My pee was a deep sienna brown.
Amanda’s last day was a lot of rain and passing even more cars through Yellowstone.  Finally I think I passed all the traffic and the road was clear all the way to Shoshone.  One of the favorite drives of my life.  Leaving Cody at dusk the winds were crazy, the rain fierce, and the hydroplaning pretty terrifying—1680 pounds might work for acceleration but sucks for downforce. [I realize now much of the trouble was the severe toe-in plus bald tires.]  Although plum exhausted, Amanda hung in there.  The road tests you every day.  She will be deeply missed.  It will be odd without her beside me!
No Booboo and no Yogi!  Snow
Today it’s just my trusty wingman Garrett and northern Montana and North Dakota.  (Yesterday on camera, I was asked to tell a joke to a evergreen branch.  Not so easy!)
The ancient road guy says goodbye to The Kid.  He will also be hugely missed.  The Kid has major style, balls, guts, knowledge and that enthusiastic can-do-anything American attitude that most modern kids lack.  Cheers to him and his future!
And the 356 beautifully rain-washed in the Shoshone Valley beside a wild spring snow feed river:
Amazing 360 video: Shoshone
*
Some Road Notes:
Blistering pace with too many issues—windshield cracked in Pocatello, Idaho by a vandal although 356 was under its cover.  Horrible town besides Linda who did a wonderful ABC interview about my father, car, etc.  She LOVED our little ride.  Gave her my last copy of HOLED UP.
 *
Then while passing a giant BLADE RUNNER  field plow outside Devils Lake, North Dakota, a stone hit the passenger window at 80 miles per hour as I angled by.  Glass EVERYWHERE!   Thought I’d been shot at.  Luckily Amanda  had abandoned that seat that morning after airport drop off in Billings.  Next day amazing glass repair place about 1/2 miles from motel fitted new plastic window and repaired crack although everyone said it could not be done.  A nod to my lads and Tammi at Alken’s Glass in Devis Lake, N.D.  God does exist!
Always been obsessed with these water towers.  Painting from 1981:
Jan Nelson double photo credit above
In Minot, N.D. rail yard where I almost froze to death in 1974
From HOLED UP:

Chapter Twelve

The old hobo calls himself Bill.  I tell him my name is Cody.  Everyone on the road probably uses a made-up name.  We’re sitting in a rail yard in Minot, North Dakota, trying to cook some green tomatoes over a fire we made.

“Amazing the things people’ll leave lying around,” Bill says.

“What’s at?”

“Well, these tomatoes for instance.  Perfectly good.”

There was a pile of them in the gravel as we walked up the stopped freight.  (When a train blows its air, you know it’s not going anywhere for a while.)  Bill immediately gathered them up, which I never would have thought of since I’ve never eaten them.  We’re frying them in bacon grease on a piece of metal we found.  Bill had a peanut butter jar of it in his suitcase.

“Cold!” he says, rubbing his hands near the flames.  “You got anymore fixings?”  Bill calls my tobacco that.

“You keep smoking it, there’s not going to be any.”  Still I toss him the pouch.

“Watch that one!”  Bill points at a tomato slice that’s getting burned.  I flip it over with my knife.  He watches the food intently, even telling me how thick to slice the tomatoes. “Little thinner,” he kept saying.  “They crisp better that way.”  He had a few stale crackers we crushed up, or I crushed up based on his instructions, and I pressed the slices in them.  After Bill rolls one up, he loosens a stick from the fire and lights the cigarette with it. I’ve never seen a guy enjoy a smoke more.  Seems he loves pipe tobacco, but he’ll probably smoke anything as long as it has nicotine in it.  I only smoke a few bowls a day, and if I’m honest with myself, I know part of doing it is just for the idea of it, the style of it, and I don’t inhale.  But Bill just wants to be a chimney like my stepfather, though my stepfather never seemed to enjoy anything.

“Cody.”

“Yeah.”

“I’m givin’ her up.”  He gives a big exhale of smoke.  He smokes cigarettes like a pothead.

“Giving what up?”

“Ridin’.”

“Hoboing?”

He nods.

“What’re you gonna do?”

“I’m goin’ home, son, back to Billings, find a fleabag, see if I can get on the dole.”

“How come?”

“Too old.  Winter comin’.  This cold just kills my bones, she gets right in me, and I never could stan’ the heat. Tried it down south, but it weren’t for me.  I just sweat like a pig.  Hey!” He points at another burning slice. The food is cooked and I slide some on a tin plate I carry in my gear.  I pass it to Bill.  My half I slide onto a flat board I rubbed clean.  Bill uses a stick and I use my knife.  I’m not going to let him use my knife.

“Hey, these are good.”

“Told ya,” he says, though he hadn’t.

The tomatoes are so good we slice up the rest of them though we’re out of crackers, and I get my last can of beans out of my pack.  I hate to use them up.  B&M baked beans from Maine.  Bill’s eyes light right up when he sees the can.  After the beans bubble I serve them with more fried tomatoes.

“Damn, son, this here is one fine meal.  Wish we had some whiskey or wine to wash her down.”

We finish and Bill licks my plate clean which sickens me.  Fuck, I figure I might as well give him the damn plate now.  But he seems so happy I don’t say nothing.  I know he wants tobacco and though I’m almost out, I fill my pipe and toss him the pouch again.  We light up from the fire and I toss on some more scraps of wood.

“If it wasn’t so cold, she’d be perfect,” he says.  “Son, I been thinkin’.  You’ve been mighty nice to me these last two days.  I know yer pissed I smoked up all your fixings.  Way I am now, I take what I can get. Never know when she’s gonna end.  You get as old as me, you might think the same way. But I’m gonna give you something in return.  Bill always pays his way.  Just the way I am.”  He has another big toke.  “I’m gonna give ya something I’ve carried with me for many years waitin’ for the right time.  I was hopin’ to use her myself, but now I see I ain’t goin’ to make her.  Maybe you will.  That’s why I’m given et to ya.”

 

Just as the harvest moon rode into the eastern sky and iced the barren yard out on the plain with an eerie greenish light.  Just as the haunting stillness wrapped around them both, touched only by an occasional snap from their fire, Bill’s face now excited in the glow of the flames—

There was a loud noise.

It vaporized everything.

Doris was banging her dinner gong.

“God damn it,” muttered Jimmy.  The ringing rose through the house like a fire alarm.  Time to face another Callahan culinary horror show. He jumped for the fridge and downed a B pounder.  Since the arm-binding night, Doris was adamant against alcohol.  But sober, her food was an impossibility.  He had to get the cast off—soon, no matter how his arm suffered.

*
Into the second half of the map:
Mackinaw Bridge.  Crossed Blue Water bridge into Sarnia, Ontario as well.  I like bridges. Lovely lunch with the greatest model railroader of all time, Lee Turner yesterday in Port Huron.  Lee gave a very rare and special book!  Photos on return.
Then engine began to run horribly and front tire wear became so severe the outside of the passenger tire was bald nearly to the cloth.  Turned out the toe-in was so severe it would not read on the alignment chart.  Both engine and alignment issues were corrected by Trevor and Joe, Jerry at Skip’s Auto in Munising, Michigan.  Again, wonderful and honest!
 *
 By contrast, yesterday Java the Fuck in Simcoe, Ontario over-charged me for new Michelins for the nose ($700 for two tires, no balance just mount).  Made the garage in Canada by 10 minutes before close.  356 was revolutionized even without tire balancing, and I realized I’d been driving a virtually uncontrollable bronco of a 356 for 4,400 miles.  Thank you, Dad for teaching me how to truly drive.  Now it is FINALLY a 356 not a brain-worm-tormented bear.
 *
Meeting with Danby and Roger at the auto club my father and Jack Luck started in 1951!  Excited.  Danby will even weld my broken exhaust joint.  356 has been a mechanical NIGHTMARE considering what I paid for it, but that is part of the road.  Does anyone ever really DRIVE these cars anymore?  I felt like Stirling at Monaco, last few laps in a dying BRM, on that terrible day.  Garrett and I did a 7 hour trip in 5, which means we passed everything on the road.  Garrett is beyond a great wingman!  Every time I thought he couldn’t possibly catch me now, the silver nose of the Boxter popped up as if by a miracle.  I am fully delighted and a bit pissed in the same instant.  That competitive race driver nature.
Was beyond delighted to be honored by my father’s old club that he started. And look at my honorary number!  356.  How cool is that?  Thanks, guys.
And thank you Stephan for the original 356A manual.  Our father’s knew each other and I bet got along famously.  Stefan’s father was a mechanic at Campbell’s in Kingston where my father bought his 1961 fjord green coupe.  Also, too cool.  And Stefan got me running again.  One idle jet did not match the others.  Have it in hand finally and will install once this very inclement weather clears.  Cheers, guys!  Prints will be mailed soon.
*
401 near Toronto must have the most obnoxious unskilled drivers on earth.  Garret becomes so annoyed—the National wrestling champion in him—that he straddles the middle line of 401 and will not allow anyone to pass.  If a vehicle tries, he darts toward them, then covers the middle again.  I am laughing so hard I almost piss myself.  The man has it!
May 18th 2018
Driving over the 1000 Island bridge.  SO many memories of my father. 
My oldest friend Kris Marsala and myself at the Crystal in Watertown, New York on his birthday. My only true road partner except Amanda now.
*
May 22, 2018
The boys are back in town.  HOME!  5,600 miles.
Open Road warriors still at the real shite after so many years.  We will not quit because it is simply our way of living life fully:
And some random road photographs from the camera of Amanda Green:
On her birthday in Nevada at the Denio Junction Motel.  A GREAT place to stay and eat.  Worth going out of your way!  They even have puppies to pet.
*
And the best Mexican food in Alturas, California and much of the surrounding region is Nacho’s.  Super friendly and a gorgeous waitress.  Highly recommended by all three of us—Garrett, Amanda, and myself.  The Mexican mineral water is really good as well.  Cheers!
And I will end with three more Jan Nelson Masterpieces.  This man takes a great still photo:

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