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Chapter 22 - THE BIG DRIVE 2

After our marathon drive through what seemed to be an endless desert, we were pretty happy to see the Tucson city limits since it meant we were just minutes away from our hotel and a stationary bed. We finally arrived around midday and after checking in, we immediately crashed in our rooms like three hibernating bears.

Obviously, 'Jeff the Invincible' needed sleep more than Zoot and I, considering he had piloted the land yacht all night and half the day to get us there. Zoot and I also knew we probably wouldn't see Jeff again until breakfast the next morning, just before our departure. So we both decided to crash until 5:00 and then go out for the evening. I know it seems like strange hours but it was a night off and sometimes you have to grab some fun when and where you can. So we agreed to meet for cocktails at 5:30 and then make a plan for that evening's entertainment.

Well, the evening was filled with a visit to one of Tucson's best Mexican restaurants where we had a huge amount of wonderful Mexico City style specialties and washed it all down with far too many Margaritas. Of course, we were in the heart of the Southwest, so what else would we order, Corned Beef and Cabbage? I don't think so! Not when you're in the Mecca of Tex/Mex food. So we happily stuffed ourselves and headed back to the hotel for some real sleep. We would be back on the land yacht for the second part of our drive through the "Endless Desert" soon.

Sure enough, after a quick breakfast the three of us were on the land yacht again and back out in the desert, the wonderful "Endless Desert." In addition to the previous days' desert excursion, we still had to cover the remaining desert from Tucson to California. That's a helluva lot of desert! After a while, everything starts to look the same and it becomes an endless parade of rocks, sand and cactus going by, like being in some kind of Twilight Zone. I almost expected to see the ghost of Rod Serling at our next fuel stop trying to hitch a ride.

By the time we made it to the outskirts of L.A. it was early evening and we were headed towards interstate 5 where we would eventually make a right turn and head north to Redwood City. But what was really driving me crazy was that I hadn't seen my wife, Michele, since the beginning of the tour and we would pass within a couple of miles of my home. The problem for me was that we couldn't stop if we were going to make it to our hotel and have enough time to sleep before the gig the next day. So I had to be satisfied with a mobile conversation on a cell phone as we passed by. Needless to say, this did not make Mikey a happy camper.

With no other alternative available, Zoot and I decided it was time for the cocktail hour and we proceeded to open the bar on the land yacht. It was still a long, long ride to Redwood City and we figured we might as well get as comfortable as possible and enjoy some liquid fortification. So after expertly mixing our drinks, we broke open a bag of pretzels, threw some music in the CD player and strapped ourselves in for the remaining six or more grueling hours of the "Big Drive," Zoot on the sofa and me in The Chair.

By nine o'clock, Jeff was in need of a short rest if he was going to continue the drive and Zoot and I were in need of something more substantial than pretzels and chips for dinner so we pulled in to a truck stop just outside of Bakersfield. Bakersfield!! That meant we probably wouldn't get to our hotel until two or three in the morning. At this point the bus was starting to feel like a minimum-security prison on wheels.

While 'Jeff the Invincible' caught some Z's for the final run to Redwood City, Zoot and I killed an hour or so over a couple of truck stop dinners that were about one step above the pretzels and chips we had eaten on the bus. You know, it's really hard to kill time over bad food but that's another story. Anyway, once Jeff was awake and had his standard quart container of coffee, we were on our way again.

You can imagine how relieved we all were to finally roll up in front of our hotel, even though it was around three in the morning. Just knowing the "Big Drive" was over and that we could crash in a stationary bed in a nice hotel was an enormous comfort to us. We had completed a two-day, 1,700-mile marathon drive like true road dogs but we all agreed we'd had enough of Roadzilla and life on the highway to last us for quite a while.



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