There was an elderly gent leaning against The Rover, obviously waiting for me, when I came out from the visitors center with my day pass.
“You have an antique,” he said to me.
“I wouldn’t call it that,” I replied.
“Oh no no… 1966.”
“Humph. So tell me, why do you have it?”
I assumed he had confused the vehicle for a toyota instead of a Land Rover, so I asked in turn, “Why not?”
“No, no, no… That’s no kind of answer.”
“I’m afraid I don’t have any magic words for you. I just like it. It’s fun to drive.”
“That’s not good enough. You can tell me. Why do you have it?”
“There’s nothing I could tell you that would satisfy you.”
Then he went on to tell me all about Alaska and how it’s impossible to start a business up there.
“What kind of business?” I asked.
“You couldn’t start a tourism business in Alaska?”
“It’s impossible. I defy you to start a business up there.”
“The one I have keeps me busy enough,” I said. But he didn’t catch what I said or he didn’t want to, so I kept my mouth shut and looked for a way to escape.
Once when I was in Flagstaff, starting the Beetle Road Trip, I was buying a new atlas at a bookstore along a remnant of Old Route 66. I’m still using that same atlas, oddly enough. A retired couple were looking over maps of 66, and the man looked over to me & said, “We’re going to drive the entire thing… Trip of a lifetime.”
I asked if there was enough of the old road left to still drive, and the man looked at me like I was a hipster out of a Kerouac novel, but then assured me that there was plenty of 66 left to drive.
In my enthusiasm, I went on to say on your next trip, if he wanted to do an old U.S. Highway that was still continuous, he could drive Hwy 83, which is one of the longest north-south routes running from border to border.
While I was talking, the man literally turned his back on me. I then realized that this truly was the drive of a lifetime for him, and there were to be no more trips. It was Route 66, Steinbeck and Corvettes fueling this one. Okay, maybe not Steinbeck.
His wife looked at me and offered a look that said I’m really sorry, but you did piss on his parade.
I often run into two distinct personality types when traveling. One likes to trade stories and ideas for new adventures, and the other just wants to talk about themselves. I’m getting better at telling them apart while out on the trail.
I later ran into the elderly gent who was leaning against The Rover when I was out on the trail. He did not recognize me from Adam;mtgs man never actually saw me at all. But his dog recognized me and came up to me with his ears perked up, but then the man jerked the leash and the dog was forced to go on without a pat on the head or a scratch behind the ear.