Hop on the sled and reset.
The Volkswagen broke down two hours outside of Albuquerque and I thought, “Oh, dang.” The day had started fine as can be. Hot morning sun shining overhead, hares and lizards scampering for cover. I went for an early swim in the Hotel Albuquerque’s temperate pool, lap length, before hitting the road, pointed toward Oklahoma City with much hope and roasted green chilies flooding my heart.
The first full day of my epic quest had not produced the bonanza I had imagined, but still, I received a shaka and met someone who knew of Bethany Hamilton but didn’t know her name.
Oklahoma City, though, certain to be a jackpot of non-surfing World Surf League fans, the very same for which I am searching these great United States. You, of course, know that the Sooner state’s capital has a famous first son and he just so happens to be CEO of the aforementioned WSL.
The tall tale of Eric “ELo” Logan must certainly be passed from father to son, birthing person to them, whispered in cowboy bars, shouted at Thunder games like those of Pecos Bill and Davy Crocket.
The boy who was afraid of water finding his wetsuit of armor and ruling professional competitive surfing at its very peak.
And I was thinking about this when notifications began popping above the freeway that the 40 east, my route, was closed due big wreck. Well, I stopped at a truck stop, asked a trucker if it was true and he told me it wasn’t closed, just rerouted onto a frontage road then dumped right back on.
I asked him if he happened to be a fan of competitive professional surfing.
He simply said, “No.”
20 miles later, exactly as it was foretold, traffic was rerouted onto a frontage road, creeped along for half an hour then dumped right back on except when I tried to dump right back on something happened. The Volkswagen lost power and warning lights began flashing wildly. I coasted off to the shoulder, restarted and the engine light was on but no warning ones and I had enough power to limp one mile down the road to the Pajarito Rest Area.
Figuring it was an oil issue, I bummed a sip off a fellow traveler but couldn’t get anymore so figured adventure was in order. The last time I was broken down in a desert was rural Yemen and adventure was only the half of it (buy here).
The nearest gas station was a two mile hike down the freeway. Hiking up my black wool Comme des Garçons trousers, I was off. Initially, I didn’t want to walk along the freeway so hopped a barbed wire fence and found a road that looked like it headed toward my destination. Then I thought, “People get shot on private land and who knows how far the legend of Eric Logan stretches,” so I re-hopped the barbed wire, got a nice nick on my finger and proceeded down the freeway, scampering across it during a break to be on the right side.
Oil acquired, I hitched a ride with a kind Native American living off the grid. He didn’t watch competitive professional surfing because he had yet to install solar panels.
Back to the Volkswagen, I discovered oil wasn’t the problem and neither was vapor lock, as a kind motorist suggested. I could get up to about 30 mph then power would drain.
Being non-mechanical, I called a tow truck.
It took forever to arrive, due the same big wreck, leaving me much time to stare at the clouds, get bitten by ants and think. I was stuck in the middle of absolute nowhere, my exceptionally talented daughter was not going to get her car, I was going to have to walk the freeway all the way back to Cardiff by the Sea.
But then it struck me.
What has the World Surf League been steadily building for the last five years?
What has it poured its entire credibility into?
A glorious, and patented, Wall of Positive Noise.
When the waves are two foot and dumping?
Eight foot and draining.
When Kelly Slater doesn’t want to show up in El Salvador or Brazil because he thinks they suck?
The list goes on and on and on and I could just hear Joe Turpel’s voice ringing in my head.
“Hop on the sled and reset.”
“Hop on the sled and reset.”
“Hop on the sled and reset.”
By the time the tow truck driver arrived, and loaded the Volkswagen on his flatbed, I was a changed man a changed man on an epic quest who would not be undone by harsh realities.
Victor told me that he could get me to Tucumcari and that sounded just fine. We chatted on the road, he told me everything about tow trucking like Bubba told Forrest everything about shrimping, and then there was a pause. I pounced.
“Do you happen to watch competitive professional surfing?”
Victor smiled, “I don’t know what that is but I used to watch surfing on YouTube sometimes.”
“Why?” I asked.
He had a wonderful laconic drawl and stopped for a minute before answering, “I used to think I wanted to surf but we have this thing where I live called the Blue Hole. Have you heard of it?”
I had seen a sign for it and assumed it was like Crater Lake in my home state of Oregon so nodded.
“Well,” Victor continued, “I get in there and I think something is going to come up and eat me. I know it’s not, but I can’t get the anxiety out of my head so figure there is no way I’ll ever get in the ocean. But I liked those YouTube surfers.”
We pulled into Tucumcari about that time, Ray’s Truck Garage as it was closing, mechanic told me he’d take a look tomorrow, and reading the name sparked a clear memory. On the very first post detailing my epic quest, three days ago, our very own thevoiceofnoreason made two comments.
The second was, “PS If you go through Gallup, NM, stop at Zuni Trader and buy your baby some Zuni Pointallism jewelry. Say Keshi (kay-SHE) when you greet to the salesperson. You’re welcome.”
I did go through Gallup though did not stop, even though I said I would, as it was late and I was pushing to get to Albuquerque before restaurants closed.
The first was, “Tucumcari, NM. Drive safe, Charles.”
Here I am.