Nina’s Travel Rule #38: EVERY Day Is Speedo / Half-shirt Day

God I miss Dos Equis...
God I miss Dos Equis…

Now this one’s for those of y’all who heard of my blog and said, ‘Great idea! But won’t you run out of stories??’ To which I responded, ‘Fuck no, I been a disaster for years…’ So let us return to the beautiful summer of 2006, when we were young, and rocks were fun. It’s a tale of dinosaurs, shitting in the desert, drunken 19 year olds, and stitches to the head. Yeah, y’all heard that right, this is actually my SECOND story involving head stitches 😦

It was my last year of grad school (vomit? Thank fuck? Hmmm…), and we were off to the field! Our illustrious advisor, he of the Ruggedly Handsome and Casually Profane fame, had deigned to take us dinosaur digging (don’t hold your breath. We never found one.) in the promised land of mysterious… Arizona. So the boys packed the department truck, and the infinitely more intelligent girls packed my buddy’s SUV (I love you, Jen!). Sexism pays off sometimes, I’ve always said. Dr. RHCP deigned only to allow us to tag along, not to actually drive with us the thousand-odd miles to our diggin’ spot, just outside the Petrified Forest and the mighty Navajo Nation. Yeah, jerk said he’d meet us there and left us to fend for ourselves. Which led directly to our acquiring 1) a flat tire (the boys’), 2) a second flat tire (also the boys’), and 3) the following incident:

Our second shredded tire :(
Our second shredded tire 😦

So we’re somewhere on a road somewhere in West Texas, still nowhere fuckin’ near as far as the New Mexican border, when the boys’ truck appears to explode in front of us. No, not really, but it did judder to a halt and start smoking unpleasantly. Now, never ones to plan, we were pretty unprepared for this. I mean, we knew something was definitely wrong with the stupid thing. And that it was really late on the Saturday afternoon of a holiday weekend. And that we were certainly in the middle of bum-fuck God-doesn’t-even-know-where, but surely some sort of handy person would want to help us out, right?? Oh, and we had no money.

Yet, trust us, we are scientists. And resourceful! So the intelligent girls popped out some folding chairs and chips, while the slightly-less-intelligent boys muttered something about engines and fuel pumps. I still have literally no idea what a fuel pump is, or does. Or, in this case, doesn’t. Eventually we ladies tired of highway-squatting, however (Memorial Day weekend may be blessed with pleasant weather in some spots of the Earth, but not in west Texas, lemme tell y’all), and used our lone undergraduate as our get-outta-jail-free card. Yeah, her parents belong to AAA (I love you, Henri!). It being, unfortunately, about 5pm on this stupid Saturday, we then did a lot more highway-squatting. But, finally, a savior arrived, in the form of a toothless, mullet-sportin’, back-woods, tow-truck driver that we were all quite happy we outnumbered. He was pretty pleasant, if a bit entertained by us (yes, he was correct to laugh at the spiffy, broken-ass college kids), and slowly but surely loaded up our truck and drove us to Big Spring, which is about exactly as NOT entertaining a town as it sounds. Also, who the fuck planned our route to Arizona from Austin to go through Big Spring?? Idiots. Btw, if you check that link, the almighty Wikipedia says Big Spring has a population of about 27,000. I here attest that this is either a bald-faced lie, or they’re counting all the cows as well.

God damn why didn't I take a pic of toothless man??
God damn why didn’t I take a pic of mullet man??

After learning that everything and everyone in town was indeed shut for the day, we now realized we had two options.

1) hang out in bloody Big Spring for at least two nights, til WalMart opened on Monday, or

2) Accept Toothless Man’s offer of, ‘headin’ on over ta ma buddy’s place, he fixes cars real good sometimes…’

We chose Option Two, and I’m still not sure if I regret or approve of this.

Now try ‘n picture two toothless, mullet-sportin’, backwoods mechanics flopped under our half-jacked-up truck, beers in hand, 937 of their screaming kids runnin’ around with squirt guns in the still-blistering heat, because this all clearly happened in Mullet Man Two’s front yard, while they take turns siphoning gasoline out of our 30 gallon tank (yes, with their mouths) and into the only containers available (our water jugs), while they both furiously chain-smoke. Why is this happening, you may ask? Who the fuck knows, but the five of us couldn’t physically huddle any further from those cigarettes… Finally the tank was empty enough that the Mullet Men could jack up the truck all the way and figure out that, yes, it was definitely the fuel pump. I still don’t know why we needed one, but it seems it’s quite important. Maybe it pumps fuel? Hmm. So then things got interesting. The shops were all shut, and we apparently really needed this fuel pumpy thing. Which is how the suggestion was made by my buddy to the Mullet Men’s also-toothless neighbors that perhaps they could trade us a pump AND a case of beer, in exchange for… Wait for it… That’s right… Me. I do love you, Chris J, but that was a really unacceptable solution!

Look!  I can change tires!  Don't sell me to rednecks for beer!
Look! I can change tires! Don’t sell me to rednecks for beer!

After talking down the Mullet Men and my reeeeeeelly thirsty friends, we eventually bought a fuel pump, some spicy pickles, paid the dudes with, I believe, our advisor’s checkbook, and left. Totally anti-climactic, I know. Kinda wish those guys had blown the truck up…

Blah blah blah, and now we’re in Arizona. Where horses run free, and the ground is… I was gonna say rocky, but actually, where the ground is made of petrified wood.

Nina’s Magic Top Five Things I learned in Two Weeks in AZ:

1) It’s really way easier to do your business in a dry creek-bed than on flat ground, assuming you don’t want Dr. RHCP to see you pee. Also, assuming you’re a girl here and need to, you can totally lean against the creek wall and it’s almost like your bathroom back home!

2) It is valiant to purchase strawberry daiquiri mix and rum when it’s the only thing The Undergraduate likes to drink, and you’re trying to get her drunk for the first time in her life. However, it is NOT valiant to force your grad student (yes, me) to attempt to make blender-drinks with a bag of ice and a rock hammer. FAIL, Dr. RHCP.

3) If you’re going to sleep in a hammock strung between an SUV and a folding chair, weighted down with sand bags to secure it, you should probably make sure you’re not so fat your weight actually melts said chair. Yes, this was also me 😦 But it totally wasn’t my fault I also broke my tent pole, it seems Lands End just doesn’t hold up to 40 mph sustained winds…

How I overcame the tensile strength of aluminum…

4) When you’ve been scoured by 40 mph winds for 2 weeks, your contacts are pitted, and everything you eat is covered in sand about 2 inches deep (oh. my. God. How I do not miss Sand-Salsa…), you start to get a little… weird. And that is how The Man Who Tried To Sell Me To Rednecks concluded that it was too hot for life, that we’d already actually made sedimentary layers of our bodies (sunscreen + dirt + sunscreen + dirt, etc…), and we might as well give up and go Half-Shirt and Speedo Day. He stood alone.

5) Grilled cheese fried in olive oil for breakfast is goddamn fucking heaven. Only I attempted this on Day 1. By day 6, I was makin’ one for every person every morning, saving Dr. RHCP, who is clearly no fun at all. Turns out I don’t care that you can’t keep butter in an ice-chest in the desert!

and finally, just for bonus:

6) If you split your pants up your ass-crack and were dumb enough to only bring one pair, duct tape will indeed fix your life, but you better be willing to let me tape your ass up (I love you, Jen! You’re welcome!).

So to sum up then, one fossil was discovered, and one was collected:

That's a phytosaur in there, if anyone gives a shit.
That’s a phytosaur in there, if anyone gives a shit.

Much plaster was applied to our bodies:

I am just like, SO hot-lookin'.
I am just like, SO sexy-lookin’. Damn.

Tents were destroyed:

yes, that WAS my very own tent.  This is why I was sleeping in the hammock.
yes, that WAS my very own tent. This being why I was sleeping in a hammock. And yes, that’s the wind alone doing that 😦

Wildlife was viewed:

wild horses!
wild horses!

So were pretty rocks!: billingsgap5I was fit into small spaces…: n638772441_164677_8565

And, finally, we learned:

If you wake up one morning in the desert, and your advisor asks you if y’all know how to get to the field site on your own, ’cause he’s gotta make a run into Flagstaff for the morning, and you think Hmm… We sure were drunk last night, I wonder if he’s ok, he is kinda old… then just be warned: no man’s ever gonna sign your dissertation if you drown him in so much gin that he evicts you from a card-game for ‘being a pink-phone-cover ownin’ bitch’, then falls over trying to find his tent in the dark, whacks himself unconscious on a piece of petrified wood, sleeps it off in a gully, and has to drive to Flagstaff for 10 stitches in his forehead the next day. FAILURE, all around.

petrified wood!
petrified wood!

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