“Good thing I didn’t get a bike.”
“Maybe I shoulda gotten a 4WD.”
“Glad I thought better of that breakfast beer.”
“I hope there’s a full sized spare.”
“I hope there’s a spare, period”
“You’ve head better ideas. . .”
These were just a few of the ideas running through my head as I approached the crest of the Really Ridiculously Rocky Road.
A friend and I were gonna drive from Vegas and meet up with two buddies from LA in Mammoth Mountain spring 2005. My friend in Vegas had a jeep and was gonna drive up. I’d taken the day off work and decided to drink a bottle of champagne while I packed. In Vegas, as both Box and Spaz can attest, champagne, mainly veuve clicquot, might as well have been aquafina.
But after that I, I met up with a friend and had a few cocktails.
Then I got the call.
My buddy couldn’t make it. I forget the exact reason. It was a girl or work, or something that he was willing to drop the $250 he’d already spent on the condo. I called the LA buddies, Jew and Costa. They hadn’t left yet but would be leaving soon. I was not ready to miss my one shot at some powder that season and was in no place to throw away a quarter G.
I paced about my expansive apartment looking at the pile of skis and poles and winter weather gear, striated by venetian blinds and the Vegas sun.
Three hours and 4 cups of coffee later, I headed out on the road.
I was able to make it Mammoth in record time, under 5 hours, and even beat my buddies from LA despite the despicably late start. It was dark by the time I crossed into California, cruising in my Mercury. I resumed with the champagne when I arrived at the condo and had a great time that weekend with the guys. Jew was an east coast raised skier like myself, and can thus handle any terrain. Costa, on the other hand, couldn’t seem to keep both plans on the ground at the same time. We had a backpack full of beer with us on the slopes talked top every ski bunny we saw, and my bottom lip and nostrils got burned to leaking crisps from the reflection off the snow.
It was a weekend of epic proportions.
We even left a ridiculous message in the guestbook.
On the return, I saw the roads I missed the night I drove out. Many of them sheer drops with no guardrail, I realized how lucky I was that I didn’t die.
Driving around Crete I thought very much of that trip to Mammoth, some of the only solid driving I’d done solo. But it was when I discovered the 4R that I remembered how lucky I was the during the trip. I decided to keep going on the 4R as it snaked sharply down the mountain side, the only thing between the road and cliff a dusty pile of rubble that lined the descent.
Given that this was first day behond the wheel of a car since July, every slight skid was a warning of the precariousness, every turn a possibility for certain death. Every moment, the line blurred between—
“Do you really think anyone enjoys reading crap like that?”
Shut up, InMo.
“Get back to the story.”
After about half an hour I made it down safe and sound. I was expecting an oasis paradise of palms and nymphs and little angels with little moustaches at the end of a such a treacherous journey. Instead there was a little stoney beach, a stunted village and a cafe that advertised, “home meat.”
Just like I don’t eat seafood in Kansas, I decided to stay away from the home meat and put off lunch till later.
The road got decidedly worse past the town, and the cliffs looked bigger after each turn.
I wasn’t looking forward to the trek back up the 4R, but it didn’t look like I had much of a choice.