Okay, we got back from Jamaica and things went along as usual. Work, eat, sleep, work, eat, sleep. Then, around March ’97, I get a call from my friend Jeff. It is “The Call.” For some reason, he wants to give me a job at his adverting agency. I overlook his obvious lapse of judgment and accept the job. We then make plans for the most life-changing move of our lives, to the promised land: California.
Amy gives her two weeks notice. We decide we don’t need (and can’t afford) both cars in San Francisco, so we attempt to sell the Acura. It’s a 1990 with 90,000 miles on it. Still in very good condition. Worth about $5,000. No one wants it. On a hunch, we price car insurance in SF for both vehicles. We find out that if we sold the Acura we could pay for the insurance on the Audi for ONE year! We decide to sell the Audi. The first person I ask buys it. There is much rejoicing. And paperwork.
We load up the Acura and drive. West, mostly. But first, North. We stop over in Tampa to say good-bye to friends and family. There is much wailing and gnashing of teeth. We drive Norther to Tallahassee. There are no decent hotels in the area. We stay at the Motel 6. It is a dung hole. We decide Tom Bodett’s chain of motels would do better if they left the lights off for us. We vow never to stay at another one as long as we live. We stop by the Zimmerman Agency to see friends and former coworkers. There is not quite so much wailing nor gnashing of teeth, so we leave.
We drive west to New Orleans. It is filthy and disgusting. So like everyone else, we drink. Soon, we don’t care so much. We party on Bourbon Street. Like everyone else. Amy asks me to take her to a strip club to see what goes on inside. I am a good husband and take her. She is disappointed and wants to leave. I put the dollar bills back in my wallet and give the girl on stage back her undergarments. We go back on the street and drink more. Then we go back to our hotel and fall asleep. Rather abruptly.
Later, we get up. It is afternoon. We drive west some more. We stop near signs that say “Austin.” We see our friend and former Zimmerman Agency creative director, Daniel. We marvel at all the hills. It is very different from flat Florida. He has a cool house. We ask if we can stay there. He says Yes. The next day, we get to see his office at GSD&M Advertising. It is cool as well. We like this town, Austin. We vow to be more specific in the future when we make fun of Texas by adding, “Well, except for Austin.” Finally, he asks us to leave (we will have to pre-treat our pants to get his footprint off the backside).
We drive West some more. We drive through Texas. We keep driving West. We drive through Texas. We keep driving West. We drive through Texas. Texas, we found, is a really big state. Finally, we hit El Paso, Texas. We can see Mexico. It makes El Paso look good. We drive West some more. Soon, we’re in New Mexico. It is a big state also. There are mountains, sand and tumbleweeds. That’s it. Nothing else. So we drive West some more.
Soon, we are in Arizona. We are on the world famous Route-66. We sing the song. The roads is very long. The song is not. We repeat ourselves ad nauseam. The song is stuck in our head. It slowly drives us to distraction. We threaten each other with bodily harm if it surfaces again. We are getting on each other’s nerves.
We drive up into the mountains. It starts getting colder. There is snow. It starts getting darker. Traffic has thinned out considerably. By nightfall, we are the only car on the road. We are high in the mountains. It is cold outside. It is pitch black. We see a gas station. We stop. We pump. We go to pay. We stand behind one couple as they shop for food stuffs. The cashier asks us how much we pumped. She has no indicator inside her station. She must take our word for it. The urge to lie is great. But, we cannot afford the bad Karma. We pay her and continue further up into the mountains. The only lights now are our headlights. The road is swerve-y. The drive is no longer “fun.” The words “life-threatening” come to mind.
Soon, Nature calls. Loudly. We pull over on the side of the road. It is still pitch black. The sky is clear; the stars, like spotlights. There is no sound save the smooth idle of my trusty Integra. We answer nature’s call on the side of the road. We don’t bother to try to spell our names. It is too dark for that. Suddenly, a car approaches up the road behind us. We are gripped with panic, since we are not quite “finished.” The car passes us and pulls over. We zip up. “Need some help?” they query. It is the couple we saw shopping at the convenience station a few miles back. “Uh, no thanks! We’re okay!” we reply. They press on. We finish up and laugh and laugh. We don’t see another car until daybreak.
We stop in Flagstaff, Arizona. We hope to see the Grand Canyon. We do. It looks really, really fake. Like a bad movie special effect. It is huge. We try to drive around it and realize the futility after twenty minutes of driving only to find that the view hasn’t changed at all. We decide to press on. We drive west some more.
We bypass Vegas, vowing to one day go to Las Vegas. We drive to Bakersfield. It is flat, hot and boring. We don’t stay long. We change directions and head North-ish. We bypass Los Angeles, vowing to one day go to Los Angeles.
We drive past huge “windmill farms.” We stare in amazement and take pictures out the car window without stopping. We do not crash and make great time, soon arriving in San Francisco.