A road trip gauged on karate chopping

How the drive from Monterey to Cottonwood and back again might go for you

There was a beat up pickup truck, larger than average, with a flatbed area surrounded by wooden fencing made of paint chips and splinters. The bed was full of sheep. They were pressed against the wood, but not making a sound. Had I not looked up while pumping gas, I wouldn’t have seen them at all. Not even a smell preceded their arrival. And they had no idea how old that wooden fence looked. I probably could have karate chopped it to pieces without trying hard.

Tehachapi also hosted the scrawny woman with the mousy brown hair and burgundy corduroy pants. She approached our table during a short food break to give us a religious book, then asked if my son and I wanted to pray with her. Probably could have karate chopped her pretty easily. She didn’t order anything.

Barstow, driven through on the way to Arizona and slept in on the way back from Arizona, held terrors to chill the very soul. From expensive gas stations and herky-jerky stop lights, to the denizens on their bicycles who hang out in a few of the motel’s parking lots wearing very little (it was past 100 degrees at 11 p.m.) with their tattoos and desperation on view for the road weary to witness. What they did wear looked like it had been new back when Cindy Crawford still made movies. My sleepy, caffeine-fueled karate chops would have confused them at first, but then they would have kicked my ass and stole my stuff.

How can you Bruce Lee a heatwave? Mentally it’s possible. Especially from inside a car. With an air conditioner turned so on it’s like love. But that heat kills everything. My dreams of a life without becoming a crabby curmudgeon left a stain on Route 66 when it melted there years ago. But mentally, I totally kicked that 109 degree temp’s ass.

In Paso Robles, there’s always a guy who only has enough money for a soda and sits in the restaurant adorned in torn clothes he probably got from the bicycle-riding crowd in Barstow, because it was always too hot there for them to need it. That guy sits in a booth and sizes up the customers when they walk in. He makes uncomfortable eye contact. He karate chopped with his eyes and I karate chopped back. I could be him after all. I could make those who see me uncomfortable. But I don’t.

And now my eye lids are karate chopping my cheeks. And my cheeks keep karate chopping them open again. And I miss the quiet sheep.

Published by patrickwhitehurst

Patrick Whitehurst is a fiction and non-fiction author who's written for a number of northern Arizona newspapers over the years, covering everything from the death of the nineteen Granite Mountain Hotshots to Barack Obama's visit to Grand Canyon. In his spare time he enjoys painting, blogging, the open water, and reading everything he can get his hands on. Whitehurst is a graduate of Northern Arizona University and currently lives in Tucson, Arizona.

35 thoughts on “A road trip gauged on karate chopping

  1. During the last month, I’ve spent no less than 30 hours digging an invasive weed out of my yard. I covered it with cardboard and paper and whatnot then topped it off with a 3″ thick layer of much. Today little sprouts were popping out of those layers. That weed karate chopped me. I shed a tear, gathered myself (including all those loose, frazzled, aching, parts) together, and doused the hell out of it with vinegar. I karate chopped the eff out of that thing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: