Kage Baker was a perpetual passenger. Usually, mine.
She never learned to drive – nor ever wanted to, either. She felt that her chancy vision – which was not always reliably binocular – plus her innate nervousness would constitute a major public health hazard if she ever took the wheel. I think she was right, too.
And, of course, she was an avid sightseer. The view out the windows was a constant source of inspiration for her. And you can’t do that as much when you are driving. Kage might have driven off the road craning her neck to follow the flight of a red-tailed hawk: I got dive-bombed by giant grasshoppers, suicidal butterflies, tumbleweeds and the odd bat, and never lost the wheel. I screamed a lot, but I never lost the wheel.
Kage’s other responsibility in driving was as my support system. She handed me food and drink, and was in charge of making sure what I wanted was easy of access and yet not likely to roll under the gas pedal. (Safety tip, Dear Readers: do not let the cheese board slide under the brake pedal.) She was especially vigilant about that after I got distracted by a blocked straw in a date shake, and we ended up on the center divider on the main drag in Santa Barbara …
And Kage kept me awake. Even I, nocturnal though I am, do sleep from time time. On the road is not the optimum place. A lot of stories originated with the need to keep me awake and focused. Who would even want to sleep, if you could have Kage spinning yarns – complete with all the different voices and special effects – in their ear?
Now, on my long mad drives up and down California, I am often alone. Everyone on both ends makes me vow not to get careless, not to eat slippery things, not to order any more damned date shakes! And I take travelling companions whenever I can.
But sometimes – I just can’t. No one is free. When that happens, I endeavor not to drive more than 12 hours straight, or too far into the dark. Honestly, I think I could handle it – but too many of my kith and kin howl with outrage and fear at the idea, and threaten to mutilate my dear PC Cruiser.
So, I drove to BayCon on my own; and back again today. I had plenty of water in a grown-up sippy cup (no spilling!), bagel chips, gummy Life Savers, cheese pretzels … and lots of music to keep me singing at the top of my lungs. And I made it without incident, despite all those other stupid people on my road.
The nerve of them.
But now, Dear Readers, I am really, really tired. I got home just in time for the Memorial Day barbecue, and feasted on hot dogs, hamburgers, baked beans and potato salad. Replete and exhausted, I shall be seeking my bed soon. Tomorrow, though, I promise to post more of my time and observations from BayCon. Right now I have to go find my nightgown, which I think is wrapped around my Kindle somewhere in my wheelie luggage.
Man, I lead a wild life.
Date shakes? I never knew they were a thing, but since dried dates (like almost all dried fruits) are delicious, now I want one badly.
Yep, date shakes are real, and are delicious. We used to get them at Santa Claus Lane, a tiny little almost-town just South of Santa Barbara, on Highway 101. Alas, the candy store that sold them closed a few years ago. However, you can still get the shakes in Indio, the Date Capitol of the World! Or so they claim during their annual Date Festival.
Just be careful when you drink them. The plugged straw problem can end up scarily.