I Got My Kicks… Part III

Part III

(If you click here, you can read the series entries on one page.)

As I tooled on down the coast, I switched to the CD I’d made especially for my launch onto Route 66.

David Frizelle and Shelly West poured out of my speakers:

Oh the Santa Monica freeway

sometimes makes a country girl blue.

You’re the reason God made Oklahoma,

and I’m still missing you.

I know how you hate country music. I think that’s part of its appeal.

But by the time I actually drove into Santa Monica, Shery Crow was singing to me and I was bopping along behind the wheel:

All I wanna do is have some fun

I got a feeling I’m not the only one

All I wanna do is have some fun

I got a feeling I’m not the only one

All I wanna do is have some fun

Until the sun comes up over Santa Monica Boulevard.

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I manuvered Sally into a parking place and got out to stretch my legs. The air smelled sweet and salty, like cotton candy and ocean air, or like those butter toffee pistachios you love.

I found a tea shop and took my cup of organic monkey-picked oolong outside to a cafe table. I’m not sure if the monkeys were organic, or if the tea was, but how much can it all matter after monkeys have run their little simian fingers through your tea leaves?

The scene, with a backdrop of beach, looked like a movie set. Skinny blond girls walked impossibly tiny dogs, and a guy in a Speedo, on roller skates, actually slalomed by, curving around the edge of my table. If I had stretched my arm out at the wrong moment, I could have castrated him. I sipped my tea and took it all in, enjoying the sun on my face.

When my cup was empty – my third for the day – I walked along the storefronts. I found a veggie burrito for lunch – my second of the day – and, when I was done, tossed the butt-end of it to the same gulls that had fought over my breakfast. I’m sure they followed me down from Santa Barbara, singing along with my stereo.

Finally, back in the car, I pulled out my stapled sheaf of maps, printed off the Historic 66 website, and blew a kiss to the ocean as I turned inland.

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I skipped the CD player forward to “Mustang Sally” and we headed out of town.

All you have to do is ride around Sally.

Ride Sally, ride.

Some day I’d like to drive the full length of Route 66, but for now I’d have to settle for this express trip to Kingman.

Traveling music and traveling clothes. I’d put together a special driving outfit today – my favorite jeans, a white undershirt, and a faded denim shirt I’ve had since the late 80s. The shirt sort of transcends fashion and the chambray color, echoing the day’s sky, complemented my eyes, or so I like to think. My black Tony Lama boots always give me firm footing on the gas pedal, and a certain attitude I just can’t get from other footwear.

Somewhere between Santa Monica and Barstow, the CD player switched over to that CD you’d made me. Damn, I’d forgotten it was in there. There was a time when I’d listened to it obsessively, especially the last four or five songs, until I’d worn a smooth place on the disc. But this time, when Gladys Knight broke into “Midnight Train to Georgia,” I hit the eject button and sailed it out of the car into the dry California desert.

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Barstow was everything I’d expected. I think that about says it all.

On the east edge of town, I stopped to get some gas, and was delighted to find the gas station sold Mexican Cokes, the kind made with real sugar instead of high-fructose corn sludge. If you’ve never had a Coca-Cola that was made in Mexico, grab one the next time you can. I guarantee you it’ll taste like your childhood.

It was getting seriously hot in the early afternoon sun. I ran a sunscreen stick across my cheeks and nose and took off my denim shirt and threw it on the front seat.

In honor of the Coke, Girlyman provided the soundtrack to this leg of the trip, as I cued up “Postcards from Mexico”:

When you slammed through my life

like a screen door in a hurricane wind

all I could think was how to find you again.

Remember the first time we heard them play at that funky little studio out in the middle of an apple orchard in Sebastopol?

Baby, you’re great on the highway.

Baby, you’re great on the highway.

You know how to make an escape.

(This desperation to pack up and move on and see)

(You’re cold hearted. You’re lonesome and shady.)

You leave us crying over postcards from Mexico

Baby, you’re never far enough away.

You leave us crying over postcards from Mexico

Baby, you’re never far enough away.

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