On the way home from work tonight I took Piuma Canyon as I am wont to do. I put new tires on the snob last week for the drive to San Fran. She drove a lot better - stuck to the road more, along with a smoother ride. I've been testing out the limits of the tires just to see how far I can take them... I think today I took it a little too far. Part of the problem is that I've also gotten into wearing driving gloves, which makes me get into a race car driver mentality. The smooth leather on my steering wheel and stick shift really makes me feel what's going on with the engine, with the road. Today we went on a wild ride.
I turned onto Piuma Canyon road and start peeling up the twisties. Keeping it in second gear - just enough friction on the engine for a slight decelleration prior to entry and power to accelerate through them. Tires stick to the road very nicely. I'm pushing the car - the tires actually - trying to see what it takes to get them to skid or go into a 4 wheel drift. For once I don't have the top down and I'm not blaring the stereo. I'm fully concentrating on the road. Follow the double yellow line - don't look to the edge - don't notice that there is no barrier. I'm using my motorcycle driving skill and looking at where I want to go. Try not to pay attention to the mountain tops that are getting closer and closer to your level (or as I get closer and closer to the tops of the mountains) and then it happens. I've pushed the limit too much. I'm accelerating through a curve and it tightens and opps... tire goes off the road followed by the rest of the car and it's a roller coaster ride. Bushes, rocks, bouncing, - it all happened so fast. I took my hands off the wheel, put the car in neutral and road it on out. Shrubbery flying past my windshield, my face not that far from it thanks to my seat belt. And then all was stopped. What a shock to look up, and outside my front window is not the black pavement with the double yellow, but someplace you would usually hike too. Adrenaline is pumping, but I'm more or less ok. A bit shaken up, perhaps somewhat bruised and the snob - well, I was talking about wanting a new car ...
I took a moment to compose myself and take a couple deep breaths. I pondered my this experience - the ride down the hill in my saab and my current situation - that of being stopped on the side of a hill in the malibu mountains. Breathe, breathe, breathe.
My bag was flung to the floor, but my cell phone was still in it and for some amazing reason I had cell phone service. I called 911 for medical and then AAA to send a tow out. By this point I was ready to take a bigger look at my current situation. My windows were down and so I undid my seatbelt and crawled out the driver window - feet planted on solid ground. Damn, I didn't go that far down. Positive: not a big tow, Negative: short ride. I mean, if you're gonna go off the canyon road you may as well go all the way down. That's the way I like to live my life - do it with exuberance - 110%.
I fumbled myself over to some rocks and took a seat. I at least had a great view of the valley and the hills just behind Agora. I felt the wind in my hair. I looked at the saab - not as trashed as I might have expected. I'll need new tires, but she may be salvageable.
It's not an emergency so the tow pulls up first. It's the same guy who helped me out when I blew the clutch in July. He winches the saab up onto the pavement and onto his truck. I'll have him tow it back to LA and see what Harry can do.
Me, I'm ok. The medics check me out, want to take me to the emergency room... I'd rather ride in the tow truck, I take a couple ibuprofens and fumble for a pen and paper to get Harry's number. Last time I saw Harry, he told me about a crash he got into and walked away. A semi clipped the front of his car and swung him around to get hit head on which spun him around to smash into another car that lead his car to get hit from behind. When his bumper car stopped he had been hit on every side. He was wearing his seatbelt and walked away from the accident. He'll enjoy the story I'll tell him tonight.
Did you enjoy it?
I'm sitting here in front of my glowing display and thinking of Fellini's Toby Dammit. I love the scenes where Toby is driving his car around crazily lost in the streets of Rome. I remember the haze in the twilight sky over the canyons when I was sitting on the rocks today. I remember the blue haze across the broken bridge in Fellini's movie. The crazed look and flooring the pedal and into the blue.
Was this written account what I physically, viscerally experienced or was it a moment's unmemory, unexperience as my tires continued to grip the road and I accelerated into the turn, driving off into the blue?