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Lessons from the Road: Never Trust a Man named Gator

 article about Lessons from the Road: Never Trust a Man named Gator

This article belongs to Travelling the world theme.


My father liked to take us on car trips - always leaving at the godforsaken time of 4am - heading north, mostly, and landing, sometimes, in Canada. Pops liked that Canada had few restrictions on fireworks. Every July 4th we would leave the country and go to Canada so the old man could blow off a few rockets.

Sometimes we loaded up the Oldsmobile and drove south to Spartanburg, South Carolina--where the drawl was slow and dogs bayed under cypress trees. During these southern sojourns I spent my time in the back seat blotting out the moon with my thumb.

I've travelled--mostly in the United States of America, as it's still called by those who believe in the dream. I once went to Israel and walked in the footsteps of religion, but for the most part I've traversed the American landscape back-and-forth several dozen times.

I began my cross-country journeys in 1985, the year when it became all too apparent that the dark side was winning. I needed to satisfy the lingering question that pestered me, "Could the Great Nothing be eating all of the United States?" I was led to believe that we prospered under some divine providence and I needed to find our for myself.

"
Regressed evolution and bemused smirks were mired across the faces of the mechanics
Grace wasn't in my favour when I landed in Pensacola, Florida. Buried in the armpit of the Gulf of Mexico, Pensacola was a mix of Mayberry R.F.D and a strong hit of DMT. The antediluvian presence of something "other" mixed with the decaying ozone of swampland. Regressed evolution and bemused smirks were mired across the faces of the mechanics as my VW swung into the gravel lot. We must have looked a site, with reggae colored VW insignia adorning our 60s throwback chariot, Guatemalan vests and mukluks.

"Names Gator. What seems to be the problem?"

"The problem is the oil cooler is dumping a quart of oil every hundred miles."

"No problem-o. There's a bar around the corner. Go cool yourselves off and come back in an hour."

Dripping sweat we lumbered into the backwoods shack drank orange juice and played pool for the best part of an hour. As I was leaving I overheard the bartender say, "I can't believe Gator even got to work, considering…"

Burned on the minds retina is the image of Gator waving goodbye, greasy rags and dirty oil cooler in his one hand, a Coors in the other, and my cash sticking out of his half buttoned overalls.

"Have a good drive to California."

We made it about 150 miles before we realized that Gator had simply disconnected our oil sensor, so that even though the engine was beginning to seize, no red light appeared.

That was a long time ago, I harbor no resentment towards Gator, or the people of Pensacola. When traveling you learn lessons--which is a euphemism for "getting your ass kicked." I learned a lot on that trip.

What has occurred to me as I've gotten older, is the notion, that people across the US and the world, are all reeling economically, environmentally, technologically, and emotionally. When the pendulum begins to swing towards the light one had better prepare to be blinded. Unfortunately, God keeps rearranging the furniture. Remembering how things were, even, a short moment before is becoming--if not already--irrelevant.

So. . .travel. Travel fast, light and with good foot—be swift and stay out of harms way--experience adventure, but be wary, of anyone named Gator.


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