Wednesday, August 8, 2012

ROW 80 DAY 29 WEDNESDAY AUGUST 8 CHECKIN FAMOUS RIDES I HAVE TAKEN – PART 2


Shit; now axe guy is following me off a deserted I-75 onto an even more deserted exit. All electricity is long gone. No cars; the land is a snow-swept moonscape. What to do, I see a turn around up ahead, where I can make a U-turn and get back on the freeway and hopefully ditch the remora. So, I gun the Escort. To do this, I gear down from the blazing 2nd gear I’m puttering along in at a screaming 15 miles per in, to 1st and put on oh, another 5 miles. I madly fish-tail around this U-ee and haul ass at about 17 miles an hour and mildly hot foot it back up onto I-75, careening madly. I lose my mad-dog killer. I see his lights disappear forlornly in the distance. I begin to breathe normally again. Phew, that was… whelming. I was whelmed. I wasn’t overwhelmed. I was mildly concerned. Those are the words. Fuck it. I was scared.

So, I go back to puttering along. By now, I’ve been on the road for over 12 hours. I am not yet to Tennessee. This whole trip from Detroit to Hudson Florida can be driven, the way I drive, at night, at 85, in about 18 hours. This is going to take me a bit longer. No worries. I got a week. Yeah. So, I settle in. I still haven’t heard a weather report. Nope. Too busy jamming to Prokofiev, Pink Floyd, Beatles, Mahler, lots of Beethoven. I’m having a ball. I look over on the other side of I-75, and I don’t see any cars. Not a one. I see 3 huge snow plows, and they’re kicking up snow 50 feet into the air. I’m all, “Ha ha. They found the only 3 snow plows in Kentucky and they’re using them.” I face forward and just miss getting hit head on by a car going north in the southbound lanes. I miss this guy by 3 feet. I swerve around him and keep going. There are more northbound cars. What the Hell! I drive up over a rise. There are men. With guns. Lots of them. Game over for now.

It’s the Tennessee National Guard. Farther up the road is the slop to Mt. Jellicoe. The passage was so bad, some 250 people just abandoned their cars and took shelter in whatever houses were nearby. It was chaos and impassable. We were directed to turn around and go about 5 miles back up the road to the Williamsburg, Kentucky National Guard Armory, where we would be given shelter.

Shit. So, off I go. I turn around and trundle off up the road. That particular exit has a Flying J truck stop, so I knew I’d at least be able to get crap like Slim Jims and cigarettes (I smoked, then.) The National Guardsmen were waiting for us. There were only about 20 of us at the time. We were each given very attractive khaki green cots that pinched you when you tried to unfold them and darling scratchy green blankets that were stiff as boards. We slept in a giant room that looked like you could play 6 games of basketball. There was one lone Humvee in the room.

I called Ma, told her I was fine; she’d been crying. I told her to stop crying that I was sleeping with a Humvee, she said “well, that’s a step up from the violist.” The next day, over 500 people showed up. I-64 was closed. I-85 was also closed. It was worse than chaos. All food distribution was disrupted. They were actually flying food into us in helicopters. They flew in breakfast which was no big deal, a bunch of cereal and a bunch of milk. I told one of the National Guardsmen that they needed better caterers for their Natural Disasters. He just looked at me.

Later on they served Subway Sandwiches and Domino’s Pizzas. I want to take a minute here in the narrative to commend Subway. They regularly provide meals to the homeless and that is without a doubt one of the kindest things any corporation can do and it reaps tons in good will. Way to go Subway. Back to the perils of Pauline.

So now, it’s wall to wall people and the Humvee. My little patch of people were funny. There was one couple who were on their Honeymoon and they were having the time of their lives. I told them Axe Murderer guy story and the husband said, “yeah, there’s probably some poor guy over on the other side of the room saying and I was following this car and all of a sudden it just went like a bat out of hell and left me behind!”

Meanwhile, it’s now Sunday, and we’re still socked in. It’s March 14, 1993 and it’s 4 Degrees Fahrenheit outside,but I have seen the 1st sign of spring a robin! When I told everyone, they looked at me like I was feeble-minded. The Flying J has almost nothing to sell. There’s no gas to be had. I’m finding out that it’s dangerous out there and I still have to get to Hudson, Florida.

Monday morning dawned clear and bright. It looked like they were still going to keep us. Road crews had been working desperately to get at least one lane of I-75 open. They finally did and they let us go, but we only got as far as the Georgia line and that took hours. One guy had a heart attack, and they had to bring our friend the Humvee up to extract him. At one point, when we hit the Knoxville junction and I looked to my right, there was this huge procession of semis hauling goods. It went on forever. This was right after I had stopped to try and buy something to eat at a convenience gas station/minimart. The guy had a pack of snoballs and that was it. “would ya like ta buy sahm ahce?” It’s fucking 2 degrees out, no, I don’t want to buy ice. I ate at the Waffle House. The guy who cooked my food didn’t even work there; he hadn’t been able to get home yet.

Through Georgia, we were “escorted” by their National Guard.” Something to do with looting. I didn’t hit Macon until almost 3 am. I was so tired I was afraid I’d have an accident. I spent 17 dollars on a hotel room and slept on the floor for 4 hours. I was afraid the bed was contagious. I called Ma and told her I’d be there before noon. I was.

Florida was a mess. She and I went over to the Gulf side to where her Aunt and Uncle lived at the time to salvage some of the stuff from their house. They had had flooding up to their ceiling. He kept hollering he needed his “medicine.” Turned out it was his stool softener. She was pissed. The trip home didn’t take as long, but in truth? It wasn’t nearly as interesting.




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