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by Gabe Taylor
“HELL IS ONLY A WORD – THE TRAVEL QUEEN IS MUCH WORSE.”
The loud sound my truck makes as it hits the reflectors on the side of the road reminds me that now is not a good time to take a nap. No one has ever been as tired as I am now. I’m losing the “Worlds Strongest Man” event, where the solitary goal is to lift your eyelids. Co-pilot Matt Hammer is out cold and now seems the perfect time to sneak in a little shut-eye. Before closing my eyes I glance at the speedometer. Vision a tad blurred, it appears as though we were traveling quite fast. “DUHDUHDUHDUHDUH!!!!!”. Damn reflectors! Partially awake again, we keep heading north on the 395.
Somehow Hammer and I made it to Mammoth around 4 am. Thank God for AM/PM soft serve. At this point we switched vehicles, from my Yota and into the Travel Queen, all 30 bad ass feet of her. The Queen has a reputation of being a cranky, spoiled contraption. “Comfort on wheels” as the owners manual puts it, has been replaced by “You piece of shit!” by many an operator of the Queen.
If the first minutes of a trip indicate the times to come, we were doomed from the beginning. After thanking the powers that be, Torey fired the Queen up. She did start….. but the purr of that 1978 Dodge V8 engine was accompanied by the blaring sound of a horn which would not stop. The neighbors were kind enough to remind us that, yes indeed, our horn was stuck. To the gratification of all in the square mile surrounding the Queen, Torey ripped out the horn and we were ready to roll. Note: Our ETD of 8:30 am was barely missed; we left at 2:30 pm. Our crew consisted of: Mike Baggs; a tall, goofy son of a gun whose knowledge of comedic one liners sends even the most prude straight to the floor in laughter. Torey; owner of the Queen, Mammoth Lakes legend (the odor which seeps from his ass could drop a large Rhino). Matt Hammer; shred dog from Big Bear, now Mammoth, who is known for his smooth ways with women. My name is Gabe and I rounded out the group. My goal is to join the Senior PGA tour in 2029.
Your Tour Guide, Surfer/Snowboarder Extraordinaire Gabe Taylor.
I awoke the next day in Klammath Falls to the ripe, methane induced smell which has now become the Travel Queen’s trademark. While there, our maturity levels sank to all time lows after we decided to purchase blow guns from a local hunting store. Mission numero uno was to hunt small squirrels, pigeons, and annoying kids who had nothing better to do than follow us around. Now that we were armed we needed transportation, Klammath Falls style. Our transports came in the form of bright orange blow-up boats which were bought for ten bucks at the local Wal-Mart. Six hours and zero kills later we were back on the road. It took us all but forty minutes until we found a new diversion.
The Williamson river screamed at us to test our newly bought sleuths on her raging rapids. Not one of us had a clue as to what we were doing, however, we weren’t there for a National Geographic shoot so we threw on our trunks and ran up the side of the river. These were the biggest rapids any of us had ever seen (that’s not saying much). Nonetheless 50% of the next three hours was spent submerged in the 46 degree water of this brutal-ass river.
As if the cold was not enough, it seems we were the main course in a frenzied mosquito buffet. Record setting precipitation in the Northwest made for mosquito mating to be at an all time high. Torey came back to the Queen looking like he had just run through a Japanese driving range.
It was 8:30 pm and in the past 12 hours of travel time we had made it about 125 miles. We Suck. Nonetheless we put on our NASCAR faces and set out on route 97 with a mission to tackle some serious highway.
“PSSSSTTT!!!”. The whaling sound of tire rim on street combined with the strain on Mike’s face as he struggled to keep the Queen on the road, is very bad. Matt and I grabbed onto anything solid. Screeching towards the ditch on the side of the road death, seemed to be our only escape. Torey, on the other hand, stood up in the middle of the Queen’s living room and was prepared to go down. His thinking was, “If the Queen goes down, I go down with her.”
Psycho. Since our tire was shredded like a politicians love letter, the next hour and a half was spent putting a new one on. This brought our love for the Queen to an all-time low and I remember hearing quite a few swear words.
Tire fixed, spirits high, our outhouse on wheels was on the move. Riding an all-time economical high of 7 MPG, she didn’t stop till Government Camp. Parked on the side of the road in downtown Gov’y we awoke to the sound, and feel, of rain. The Travel Queen’s scotch guard apparently wore off because we were all having wet dreams, literally. The Queens’ presence was felt immediately as she was visited by numerous snowboard dudes. Kier Dillon, one-time fan of the Queen was the first to enter her prestigious doorway.
However, his stay was short lived as he mumbled “OH….MY….GOD” and gasped for whatever air he could before bolting out the door. Scotty Whitlake came by and after reviving him with smelling salts we all went riding. After returning to an RV that would not start I asked Torey, “What’s up with the TQ?”.
He answered, “The Travel Queen is a bitch and she should be shot.”