Monday, April 2, 2007

By popular demand...

OK. In reality, it was one comment, in one email, taken out of context.

Another Road Trip Tale. Not quite stranger than fiction but I swear by Orville and Wilbur, it's as true as I can muster...

Buckle up for safety. Remember, your seat cushion doubles as a flotation device, just not a very good one.

Once upon a time there was a little Shenanigan perpetrated on the U.S. Navy every year.

The T-39 Sabreliners were due for a compass swing every year in December.
Since there was no Compass Rose at NAS Sigonella Sicily...

ROAD TRIP!!!

We're off to Rota Spain...

'T was right before Christmas 1993 and Ozzy and I headed out for Rota with the airplane.
We checked into a neat little hotel near the beach.

December, even in Spain is no time for beach bumming. We did however enjoy some good beers and the most Fabulous Garlic Shrimp at a place near the hotel.

Off to work. (The next day, not after garlic shrimp and beer.) That Navy base was the only place I've ever been scrutinized so heavily just to get OFF of the base.

We made it to the airplane. Fired up and taxied out. Swung her around the "Rose". We HAD to cut away the sealer and make a few minor adjustments to the flux valve. (Yes, real term not Star Trek).

Therefore, we HAD to reseal the panel over the flux valve. Seeing as how it was cold even in Spain in the winter time.... It took a couple of days for the sealer to cure. Even with heat lamps applied to the afflicted area.

YES, we did make honest and valiant efforts to get that stuff to dry. But, alas, we had time on our hands.

What 'er we gonna do....?

Gibraltar!

We got directions from the local Mechanics... "Oh, ya just take this highway to Jereth, hang a right and keep going. You can't miss it! It is the freaking Rock of Gibraltar after all."

Bright and early the next morning we saddle up the mypoic renta-car (with no radio) and took 'this highway to Jereth'.

I drove the downwind leg. The lack of a radio soon proved to be problematic.

You see, Ozzy is a very bright boy and has the short attention span to go along with it. The lack of outside stimuli prompted his leg to thump to some imaginary rhythm.

When I say, "Thump." I mean, "THUMP!" The shoe-skate-a-car was rocking!

It was nerve wracking but I consoled myself with the knowledge that I'd be in the right seat on the way home. I'd probably be semi-conscious by then but in the mean time, I'd come up with some way to irritate the piss outta him on the ride home. (Aren't Friends Grand?!)

"Where the hell is Jereth?!"

We did have a map. There was no Jereth on it. Not near us. Not anywhere.

There was a JereZzzzzzzzzzz. Jerez, with a Z not a TH. "THat" couldn't be it. Or could it?

Not even 0900 and things are a little sideways. In the Biz, we call that Foreshadowing!

After visiting Jerez(th) we finally located a highway 'to hang a right' on.

Sometime and a beautiful, scenic drive and 43,000,000 ''Thumps" later...

"Tally Ho!"

That's a big damn rock.

Guess what?

WE STILL COULDN'T GET TO IT!!!!!

"Take this exit.
Well, crap take this exit and double back.
Where the hell are the road signs?"

At long last we got on the right track. Crossed the border between Spain and Gibraltar.

"Uh...what's this?
A stoplight.
Yeah but what's that?
A runway..."

The or at least that road into Gibraltar crosses the runway of the international airport. 737 landed, light turned green and we were finally on the Rock of Gibraltar!

"Where are we going and where are we gonna park?
Keep driving.
Crap."

We had burned a substantial amount of daylight by then but we did get some looking and some shopping done.

Lladros were the purchase du jour.

Believe it or not, we found ourselves in a pub.

We took stations at the bar and ordered a couple of pints.

Now, Ozzy was wearing a leather jacket with some.... wear. Let's just say, 'wear'. It came, the 'wear', from another automotive misadventure.

I AM NOT going into that tale until or unless it is cleared in advance by Ozzy!

I WILL say, It Had Nothing To Do With Motorcycles.

However, the sweet retired couple to Ozzy's left didn't know that.

Seems they lived on The Isle Of Mann. Big annual bike rally you see.

And, you see, Ozzy has the requisite imagination to go with the short attention span and high intellect...

"Do you ride?
OH, Yeah! We've got Harleys back home in Sicily.
Really, Barkeep!"

The more outlandish Ozzy's stories got the more pints they bought. That's what ya call a self-full filling-drunk coming on. The more talk the more pints and therefore the more talk...

I played the silent type. No stretch for me. Grinning and nodding occasionally.

I did tug at the tatters of Ozzy's "Motorcycle Jacket" and get his attention...

"Dude, don't get me in over my head! I don't know the difference between a Flat Head and a Knuckle Head."

Eventually, the sweet old couple from The Isle of Mann were escorted to their table for dinner.

Ozzy and I giggled conspiratorially...

"Thump, thump."

Two more pints hit the bar. We looked at each other then looked around to see the couple saluting with two fresh pints of their own! They KEPT buying pint after pint.

I don't recall how or how gracefully we made an exit but we did...

"Where'd we park?
You remember?
I think so.
Do you?
Maybe."

We located the shoe-skate-a-car. I tossed Ozzy the keys.

Winding our way through the narrow streets we found the runway. Luckily, no "Incursions".

Until, we had to make an international border crossing at night.

Guardia Seville. AK47s and cranky guards. They obviously need to go hang with the sweet old couple for The Isle of Mann!

I was taking thoroughly useless video as we departed the rock. When they pulled us out of traffic I raised the camera to document the moment. The Guardia brought the aforementioned AK to bear on the lens. I dropped the camera and kept my hands in sight. (Sorry B.J.O., that's what happened to the video camera!)

They invited Ozzy to step out of the car. Flashlights, guns, trunk popping ensued. Jail was imminent. Job loss and divorce were certainties. Here we go.

Ozzy got back in the car. We made halting progress, then rolled sheepishly away from the border, the cranky guards and their guns.

We had a long way to go still.

Somewhere in Southwest Spain we stopped at a gas station.

Ozzy bought a cassette player, a tape or two off of the rack and AA batteries.

I discovered a vending machine outside that had BEER! Yeah! We need MORE of THAT!

I'm banging Pesatas into the machine as fast as I can and stacking beer on the roof of the car.

Ozzy comes out, quite excited, with the solution to the "No Radio Dilema".

In roll the Guardia Seville.

I start scooping beers off of the roof, careful not to drop one.

Off we roll. The Guardia just eyed us on the way by.

How many bullets can we dodge in one night?!

Back on "the highway to the right", fresh beers in laps and I am fumbling with the player, tape and AA batteries.

I got the thing assembled but it wouldn't play.

Ozzy went from damn near euphoric to pissed.

In the dark Spanish night I'm checking battery alignment, buttons, anything I can to get NOISE outta this thing.

No Joy.

Uh-Oh...

Bat turn in the middle of "the highway to the right". The tires of the shoe-skate-a-car screeching like nails on a chalkboard...

"WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!
If that damn thing wont play I want my *#%$& money back!
Dude, G-U-A-R-D-I-A S-E-V-I-L-L-E...
I don't care, I want my *#%$& back!"

May Orville and Wilbur strike me down, I speak the truth...

We slid sideways into the offending gas station right before the eyes of the Guardia...

"Go get my money back.
Where's the receipt?
^*&% the receipt."

I went quietly into the store. Did I mention that I spoke ZERO Spanish at that time? Frantic hand gestures, feeble demonstration of the problem. Worried that I wouldn't get my point across before the Guardia decided to take a look at the car that had earlier had a case of beer on the roof.

The clerk looked at the drunken idiot before him. He pushed some button or another on the cassette player and stuck the ear bud into my ear.

Music.

"Gratze!"

Calm, cool and collected, back to the car... 'maintain man, maintain, they are eyeing you from the corner of the gas station. Be cool...'

"Did you get my *#%$& money?
Drive.
Did you...
DRIVE!!!"

It's pretty anti-climatic from there. Once we were back on "the highway to the right" with no high speed pursuit of the shoe-skate-a-car and tunes on board... Well it pretty well fades to black.

1 comment:

Teresa said...

I want to hear more stories too. What about Greece. What did you see and do there...besides drink beer....I had no idea you have been so many places. ps. good photo of you.