Picking up the pieces. The first thing I did the next morning was finish arranging for a rental car. I was out in the middle of nowhere. I had to drive myself out. Fortunately, Ridgecrest was large enough to have an Avis franchise, and they rented me — another Chevy Cavalier, just like Owl, only two years newer and red.
My next stop was the towyard, where I finished salvaging what I could out of Owl’s wrecked innards and took a few pictures for posterity. I’ll inflict just one on you:
“Salvaging my stuff was an interesting experience [now that I think about it, in the Chinese sense]. I found everything but the sweatshirt I’d bought at Niagara Falls. It may very well be in amongst all the clutter, but I didn’t see it. I left all but a couple of the audio tapes behind. They were ruined with the dust and dirt. Ditto for a bunch of the paperbacks. The cooler [which was smashed]. The food. I did salvage most of the cooking implements. And I rescued the magnets and [some gifts]. Most of the brochures I’d picked up. All my clothes except for the aforementioned sweatshirt. And the little pot I’d bought in Death Valley was sitting on the back seat, its box open, most of its padding gone, without a damned scratch. I laughed so hard I think I was a bit hysterical.”
I said goodbye to my poor dead Owl, climbed into the rental car, and headed west towards Bakersfield.
“It was scary driving at first, and I had to consciously keep myself from squeezing the steering wheel, and I know I drove the people behind me mad because I didn’t go very fast, but I did okay. And I’m back in the saddle, which is good.”
After I crossed 395 again, the road climbed “over the southern end of the Sierra Nevada. I went over a 4500 foot pass, then stopped at Lake Isabella for a late lunch. The road down from Lake Isabella was narrow and winding, but I was careful and handled it just fine. It was also very beautiful,” but there weren’t really any good places to pull over and take a picture.
“I drove on through Bakersfield to Buttonwillow, which is on I-5, and found a motel. Tomorrow I’ll be at [my sister’s house — she lives in the Bay Area].
“And I’m alive and in one piece, dammit. The top of my head hurts a little, my left shoulder aches, and I’m stiff and sore all over, but I’m alive. And I’m not in the hospital. And I didn’t put anyone else there, either.”
Which was saying quite a lot right then.