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
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. The bottom right is how it was presented to me in California after much argument over the telephone. Why do people always “know” when they don’t know? Left is is my two day fix in the hot sun, working 600 sandpaper bent around a Pink Pearl dipped in water to remove the overly thick lines that, of course, had to be applied with unremovable Porsche enamel paint. I was told the signature could not be removed no matter what. I have long stopped listening to “experts.”
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.
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.
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 ended up buying a bunch more of these great hats—one for Sam Ladd, one for Ben’s daughter, and another for myself since I thought I’d lost mine. Our Maine Coon found it under the porch, pushing it out with him nose. I knew once I bought the second, the first would appear, which is now kept pristine in the library of our house.
The movie crew only asked me to do this six times I think!
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.
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.
“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.
“I’m givin’ her up.” He gives a big exhale of smoke. He smokes cigarettes like a pothead.
“Giving what up?”
“What’re you gonna do?”
“I’m goin’ home, son, back to Billings, find a fleabag, see if I can get on the dole.”
“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.