March the 4th
It feels like I have arrived today
I woke today feeling restless. I am restless, I am never good when I have no escape route. Not that I need any with jean. But no wheels means you won’t go far. It’s just the idea that I can get up and go somewhere when I feel like it. So that’s what I have done this morning walked into downtown Santa Cruz in the rain. I didn’t mind it in the slightest in fact it was a pleasure. The rain was fine and warm and i was soaking up US bill boards, shops and street signs.
Jean seems vey tired and so was good to let her sleep. Michael had been up with Kai, they were sat in the still air of the house. He seemed very surprised to see me with my rucksack packed and leather jacket on.
“It’s raining outside” he said
“Yeah I know” I smiled “but it’ll be warmer than London rain”
I’ve spent all morning looking at cars on craigslist https://sfbay.craigslist.org generally getting my self set for the trail ahead, it was going to be soon now, the knot in my belly has to be washed away soon. It’s what I came for. I have supposed that things now are no different to what they were in the olden days when people set out across country. A good set of wheels needed and some decent horsepower that would be able to make the journey. Looking around town for long teeth or high mileage where the same thing. Would she make it, how much could she carry, could I sell her on at the other end.
What ever I choose now would affect the whole of my journey. It was vital that I got it right, everything else that follows will be incidental. I was nervous deep in my belly.
Jean, little Kai & I went across to a place called Prunedale yesterday to look at an old Chrysler 94 Concorde with long teeth from a large overweight Mexican guy with a big face called Jose, Coyote, the trickster. He drove a beautiful white car without a mark. Met us down at a petrol station down on San Miguel Canyon Road. He had an answer for everything.
Though I have a soft spot for a Chrysler and she seemed to have strong legs, coyote Jose was trying it on for sure. Jean & I buzzed about like humming birds.
In the pre Hispanic times before the Franciscan Father Serra founded his 7 missions here between 1770-1797 (Santa Cruz in 1791) the Ohlone Indians had said hummingbird usually got the better of coyote. We meant to keep it that way.
I’d took off in such a speed for the test drive that I hadn’t noted the driveway back up into the hills, so after a roar along highway 101 just down the road it took me nearly ¾ of an hour to find my way back to the house. I’d gone up so many wrong driveways trying to find them up into the hills, reversed out spun around stopped and started, it was a good test and I have to say she handled very well.
By the time I got back all Jose’s chickens from his yard were up in the trees readying for bed. Chrysler was heavy and smelly. I liked her weight but Hummingbirds eyes watered.
Bad cop Jean had used the time to check the Kelly Blue Book http://www.kbb.com on her phone. A site that will give you an average price for used cars. I was glad to have her there she was a reassuring counter foil, Coyote was asking $1500 but had benevolently dropped to $1200. Bad cop Hummingbird said no, $850 coyote wasn’t happy. I said I’d pay $1200 If he got is smogged (without smog I wouldn’t be able to get in put into my name in California) Jose Coyote really kicked up some dirt in the yard.
Coyote wanted a deposit Hummingbird’s said no. We took off back to Santa Cruz laughing tickling Kai’s little feet. We said we’d call tomorrow. If he had it smogged we could talk again.
This morning I’d sat sipping coffee, well, actually drinking rivers of different blends down, Sweet Italian, Santa Cruz Dark and Golden French. The guy behind the counter took my money and said your underneath the flamingo, I was no plussed for as a moment until I saw my cup filling with coffee underneath a picture of a flamino, there were various creatures owl and bear and eagle etc .. for a moment I was tried to find the significance in it .. then I just though, nah.. !! im underneath a flamingo and that’s that.
I sat inside as the rain poured listening to American voices which I’ve always loved doing, just listening to the chat and the small town talk of a different country. There is a warmth here.
Jean had been trying to find me and eventually picked me up at around 12.30.We had 3 cars to see today. The rain was now absolutely pouring down. Little Kai said “Adventooor”
The first was an Audi quarto parked over on 41st on the Home Depot car park. I liked the look of it and Eric the owner was immediately a very nice guy. The Hummingbirds hummed in unison.
The car was Gold and apparently called Mojee after a Japanese cat. It had had a few electrical problems, battery not holding the charge. Eric had bought a new alternator and a put in a new battery. Since the time he’d been towed he said in a puzzled voice “She has not been a problem since.
We took her onto the 101 she handled really well, a nice bite on acceleration there was also plenty of room to sleep in the back. I was very tempted. He was asking 1400 said he would drop to 1300 we actually liked each other which shouldn’t be a factor when buying a car, but it just is.
Just one problem whilst out in the hissing traffic, mojee suddenly began making loud grinding thumps from underneath. We were both surprised. I thought I’d driven over the cats eyes in the middle of the road. But Eric looked worried too. “That’s the car” he said in a worried tone “She hasn’t done that before”
When we pulled back into home depot I said we’d try to get our mechanic friend across to see him tomorrow and we’d take it from there. Regardless of the noises I was still tempted. Bad cop hummingbird liked the gold too
Jean and Kai were being so good sat in the car rain pouring down, a million little fingers gently drumming on the roof of the car soothing us all as we sat there. Jean assured me they were both really cozy playing at sticking stickers on each other’s faces.
I haven’t seen jean for quite a few years we’d been driving together across country last time and playing in the red dirt of New Mexico. It continually made me jump to turn and see her playing lovingly with a cherubic 2 year old boy. Jean has always had a reassuring way about her. I noticed all day how little Kai listened to her, Jean isn’t a shouter. She has a sweet musical roller coaster of a voice that dips and soars but with firm persuasive steel tracks underneath. Kai listened to her and accepts her wisdom. It was good to see, Jean practicing what she had learnt and watching it pay off.
Next black Mazda 626 over in Watsonville the voice of a lady called Noah had said she was asking $1500 But had sent her boyfriend Michael to meet us in the parking lot of east lake village mall. A stocky young guy with short cropped sandy hair drinking a monster power drink who turned out to be an x soldier back from serving on the Syrian-Turkish border, missed his buddies he said.
We shook hands and got in the car, the first thing he said was “God I hate the smell of her car” I had to agree with him. He wasn’t selling it, I sensed he thought was a pile of junk. We drove out into the Watsonville countryside. It drove ok but back in the parking lot it shook like it was beaten cold and shell shocked. Hummingbird whispered “she’s sick, it’s a no”. We had one more to see so I told him we’d call him back later.
Then back though the rain and the rush hour traffic along the lush green fringed 101 freeway to Santa Cruz to see a White 91 Nissan pathfinder with 300,000 on the clock. The rain was really coming down now. Google map app taking us straight there.
The truck had been patched up and welded the guy with the wiry red head said. A goateed outdoors man, who obviously knew the Nissan inside out the most engine savey of all the people I had met so far. “It don’t leak at all now” he said
as we drove at one point I changed into 4th instead of 3rd and he said Menacingly
“What are you doing man”
I didn’t bat an eye lid and actually quite liked it, it had a good roar to it due to a hole, a factory defect he’d pointed out on the manifold pipe . But it was already a No. It absolutely stank of wet and possibly dead dog. The whole interior was covered in hairs and I mean covered
He said “I would of cleaned her up but I’m selling her and I didn’t see the point”
Which from where I was stood right then was definitely counter productive.
I was just chatting as we pulled back around ready to make my escape and just asked if he’d slept in it. He hopped straight out and lowered the rear seats. He really shouldn’t have done that. It looked like somebody had emptied a litter bin under the seats a few months ago and mixed it all up fairly recently with moulding dog biscuits a couple of pounds of dog hair and a few other unidentifiable things laying in there too. It made me itch just looking at it. I said I’d call back
I’d been enjoying driving all these cars but it was time to let Jean and Kai off the hook. We had a beer with some old friends then drove over to their house in jewel box area of Capitola up on the cliffs overlooking Monterey bay, the pier and the coffee bars casting a dreamy inviting spell below and across through the mist the ghostly outline of Big Sur in the distance, stunningly beautiful.
I’m tempted by Coyote’s Chrysler still so it’s between him and the wholesome Eric and his Audi. Lets see. It has to be right. Seems like tomorrow with be the day that will set the tone for my journey this time.