Where to begin? I left Marathon yesterday morning and headed down into Big Bend via 385, spent the day driving all over the park, hopping out for a couple of hikes, then left the park and headed toward Marfa on 118, until I saw two Shelby Cobra kit cars parked on the side of the road and two guys waving at me. Turns out they just wanted to let me know how much they liked my car and after a quick chat, they had me retracing my steps to find the "River Road" (aka 170 west out of Study Butte) which was the most amazing road I have ever driven on in my life. Impossible to describe all the ups and downs and twists and turns, but if you drive it, you will never forget it.
When I finally got to Marfa, I had just checked into my hotel when a group of recreational bikers (all high powered professionals in the real world) who were drinking their troubles away at the bar (one had blown a tire and one had gotten a ticket for 91 in a 70) said hi because they recognized my car, which they had seen that morning in Marathon and later on the River Road. After trading tales about the tickets and warnings we had racked up that weekend, they invited me to join them for dinner so I could teach them how to talk their way out of it the next time one of them got pulled over doing 110 in an 80. Little did we know that I would give one of them a real live demonstration later that night. You ask for an inch, I give you a mile.
In my defense, I hadn’t had a hit of lawlessness with an emphasis on fashion since I left New Orleans and the odds of finding a fashionista drag queen to entertain me with her lawless ways in Marfa were slim to none. So . . . after dinner, in my very sharp Porsche racing jacket that I was getting compliments on all night (emphasis on fashion) and “feeling no pain”, as my mother would say, I thought I should treat this guy I was driving back to the hotel to a little ten second joyride in my car because he was just so excited to be sitting in it. Having just waited for the cop outside the restaurant to leave before we fired up our engines for the trip back to the hotel, I was thinking the coast was clear because I’ve only been seeing about one cop a day since I hit Texas. That right there was what we call an “incorrect assumption.” Yes, indeed.
One of my new friends from this crew, we’ll call him N, described what happened next like this: “I just heard the deafening roar of an engine and when I turned to see what was going on, I saw those sexy taillights rocketing down the road,” (which in my defense was empty) “and then I saw a huge shower of sparks, then another huge shower of sparks and then I saw the (sirens sound effect accompanied by circling index finger in the air-the universal sign for sirens) tearing down the road after you and I was like F***, we’re totally gonna have to go bail her out.” Ah, dear sir, you underestimate me. For those of you wondering why the showers of sparks, turned out the road we were flying across at this empty intersection (where there was no stop sign, just a yield sign and nobody to yield to) was about a foot higher than the road we were on, so we bottomed out pretty violently twice-once on the way up and once on the way down-since I have about 4 inches of clearance.
I won’t lie. I was a little nervous when the cop standing behind my car with his hand on his gun was shouting “Driver! Out of the Car!” But after I got out and apologized profusely and assured him several times that I had not been drinking, he calmed down. When he went back to his car to decide what to do with me, my passenger, a personal injury lawyer from San Antonio, started softly coaching me from his seat, “You’re doin’ good, you’re doin’ great, don’t admit anything and don’t take any tests . . . oh, and you’re on TV right now.” Fabulous. When the cop came back and asked me once more if I was sure I hadn’t been drinking, I told him I was “positive,” to which he replied, “okay, then here’s what I’m gonna do . . .” I thought he was going to say he was just going to arrest me for felony reckless driving because of my speed, but instead he said, “I’m gonna issue you a citation for failure to yield.” For real.
Needless to say, when I magically appeared back at the hotel instead of ending up in jail, the guys (who had watched this all go down from afar) were blown away and started buying me pints of my favorite bourbon to celebrate while my passenger gave them the blow-by-blow on how I had talked my way down to a failure to yield. He just kept looking at me and shaking his head with this huge smile on his face and saying, “you are somethin’ else, that was incredible.” Finally, with the shock wearing off I wondered out loud, “how did I not even get a speeding ticket out of that?” N burst out laughing and said, “Ketch, you were going so fast, they didn’t even know what the hell was going on until about 3 seconds after the flying ball of sparks had passed them. By the time it occurred to them to turn on the radar, you were already pulled over down the road because you were pissed about bottoming out.”
Then he added, “and you owe that woman you met tonight dinner. If you hadn’t stopped drinking because of her, there is no way you could have pulled that sh*t off. Indirectly, that woman saved your ***.” That woman was Leisha Hailey (actress/musician, probably most well known for her role as Alice on the L word), who I realized after our first round of drinks was sitting one table over at the restaurant where we were having dinner. At first, I just noticed her because she was the prettiest woman in the room and didn’t realize who she was because I’ve been living under a rock for the last nine years. After a few minutes of trying to figure out why I thought I knew her, I realized who she was and that not only was this woman beautiful, but also a successful, talented, out lesbian---a very tricky thing to find. I couldn’t pass up the chance to meet a girl with so much going on, but having been drinking on an empty stomach for a while, thought it would be best if I stopped drinking so I could introduce myself without slurring (I try to keep my goals attainable). We did chat briefly after I had about an hour of water drinking under my belt and now I am very much hoping to hear from her (a) because I owe her dinner and (b) because I may need a friend to bail me out in LA.
I am in Albuquerque now and picking my mother up at the airport in the morning, then setting off for the Grand Canyon and all the parks in Utah. If I seem a little lazy on the blogging front over the next week, it’s because I’m entertaining my mother like there is no tomorrow.
Northern Entrance to Big Bend on Rt 385
Driving between Panther Junction and the Rio Grande Village in Big Bend
Boquillas Canyon Overlook (overlooking the Rio Grande) in Big Bend (named after the big bend the Rio Grande makes around this part of Texas
The two Shelby Cobra kit cars on Rt 118
the River Road
the River Road