When last we spoke, I was having my face rocked off by Anthrax, Motorhead, and Slayer at the Mayhem Festival in Oklahoma City. It was the first real full-on concert I had been to, despite my advanced age of 73 years, (citation needed) but that wasn’t the original plan for such an occurrence. You see, way back in April, when I was feeling pretty honkey-rich from tax refundage, we found out that Iron Maiden was going to be within a few hundred miles of us, and holy crap, we had to go. It didn’t matter that it was going to seriously cost damn near three times what we paid for Slaythraxhead last month, and it didn’t matter that the closest they were coming was Dallas, which was already going to be a shitty drive, and that the venue there looked potentially crappy enough to warrant an extra few hundred miles to San Antonio. Because this is no ordinary band, this is Iron Goddamn Maiden. You wait for video for a regular movie, but you spend the cash to see the big special effects blockbuster on the big screen. Iron Maiden is the big special effects blockbuster of bands, and for some ungodly reason, they don’t spend much time in this quadrant of the globe. So if they’re even slightly nearby and if you have the time to lose, an open mind, and time to choose, just let yourself go, because wherever you are, Iron Maiden’s gonna get you, no matter how far. So tickets were ordered, vacation time was requested, and after a last-minute laundry scramble to get together all the crap were were going to need the Monday before, the trip began.
THE TRIP: Sarah and I had pretty much spent our entire long road trip lives being pulled out of bed at midnight for a late-night drive, which effectively avoids most of the traffic, but sucks any and all fun out of the experience, since you’re half-dead and can’t see shit. So after a restful five or so hours of tossing and turning, we took off at not-quite 6:00 in the A.M., meaning there would only be about an hour of darkness, followed by the full vacation experience, the way Clark Griswold intended. Sarah ended up doing all the driving on the way there, (which was her idea, although I certainly wasn’t complaining) so I pretty much live-tweeted most of the highlights, and if you’re a decent human being who loves American freedom, you already follow me on the Twitters, so you’ve read that by now. But for all you unpatriotic heathens who don’t, a quick rundown:
– When you get to Texas, the sign welcoming you there asks you to “drive friendly the Texas way,” which is such a farce that it borders on actually being offensive if you’ve ever had to drive in or near that state. Since moving to Oklahoma a hundred years ago, I’ve actually had to add “Texas plates” to my mental list of things that make me immediately cover the clutch with my left foot, tensed and ready to stomp the breaks and/or swerve if necessary. For those of you keep count at home, this list also includes anyone below the age of 25 or above the age of 70, all makes and models of minivan, trucks that require the use of a ladder for entry, anything that already has visible crash damage, and anything that even resembles a Ford Mustang.
– Here’s PUDDIN VALLEY ROAD, which I’m pretty sure runs by the place where the My Little Ponies who have the Southern accents and pick apples live. I mean, if there was such a thing, which I totally wouldn’t know about, because I’ve never watched dozens of episodes of that show, SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP GONNA GO DO CAR REPAIRS AND DRINK BEERS.
– Since everything is bigger in Texas, not only did we see a giant spur in Hico, but a giant rocking chair that we didn’t get a picture of in some other town that I forgot the name of. Somewhere, there’s an enormous cowboy who’s pissed off about not being able to find his one spur and wanting to smash up some towns, but once he takes some time to sit down in the chair and chill for a minute, everything will be okay. It’s just a spur, man. Let it go.
(Hey dudes, go buy Football Metaphysics for Enlightened Degenerates today)
– In a mysterious location in Texas, (Twitter tells me Adamsville, but I totally don’t remember passing through there) over the course of a couple minutes, in adjoining pastures, we passed both a smashed-up, abandoned limousine and an actual goddamn zebra, as in the stripey African horse-cousin. I’m not one to get into the whole spiritual or metaphysical side of things, but sweet god damn, there’s no way that doesn’t mean something. Is the zebra my Spirit animal, like what them Injuns talked about? Does the decrepit limo represent the inevitable doom that awaits all who seek the white man’s riches? I don’t know, and perhaps I will never know. But what I do know is that on the return trip (SPOILERS: We made it back here without dying) we kept our eyes peeled like a couple damn hawks looking for that limo and that zebra, but they weren’t there anymore. Holy shit, dudes, were they ever really there in the first place? Was it all just an illusion? WAS THE ZEBRA A LIE? If nothing else, at least a zebra is pretty much as far as you can get from a pale horse. Someday, when I’m decadently wealthy, totally getting a zebra, though. It could hang out on our expansive compound, and I could feed it carrots, and it would be awesome, except it wouldn’t winnie like a horse, because Zoo Tycoon told me that they just sort of go “buck-buck” like an amazing chicken. Do zeebers even eat carrots? Huh. Man, I think I have to find a river somewhere to just sit down and think about all this for a while.
– Due to Sarah’s genius route-planning, which completely forsook traditional interstate methods of travel in favor of regular little highways, the drive was a breeze for the most part, as close to relaxing as anything that involves going 70 miles an hour can be. But then, shit got real when we finally made it to San Antonio itself, which still involved like half an hour of driving, because the place is enormous. And it all just made glaringly obvious how much the both of us were absolute country mice, completely unaccustomed to driving at such an advanced level. In an unfamiliar area at a high rate of speed, surrounded by giant concrete walls on one side and at least thirty other vehicles in our general vicinity at any time; vehicles who cared not for speed limits, clearly marked lines indicating lanes, or that there might be a large, solid object already in the lane they wanted to enter. Basically, Texans are the worst drivers on Earth, and here were like a thousand of them on all sides, going at least a million miles an hour. I’m pretty sure it was a lot like what Hell would be like if the computer-animated cars from Cars went to hell when they died. Ideally, we would have made our way to the hotel with me using the GPS thingy on the phone to navigate, but dudes, I’m not gonna lie to y’all, I just absolutely crumbled under the pressure. Not to say that I was rocking back and forth and crying and going “We’re dead meat, man! Game over man, game over!” or anything, but I’m pretty sure I was actually holding the phone upside down more than once. It was kind of pathetic, but thankfully, Sarah just took the hell over like a champ, all “GIVE ME THE PHONE” and such, as though driving around in major cities was just something she did all the time, and despite the best efforts of one-way streets and confusingly-named two-way ones, we made it. Oddly enough, it wasn’t the scariest experience we had in a vehicle over the next few days, but more on that in a little while.
NEXT: We wander around San Antonio, see the Alamo, buy things from Mexico, and take a DEATHRIDE INTO TERROR.