An old friend, Keith, posted this on Facebook. I’m so glad there are pictures. I have thought about this trip a lot, over the years, especially whenever I went to Albuquerque. It was starting to take on a fever-dream like quality. Did it really happen? How could I drive to Albuquerque with three people in my trunk? And then sleep through the balloon launch? Because we were up too late lighting farts on fire in a fifth wheel camper?! How was that even possible ? Must have been a dream. But no, here is photographic proof! It really happened!
That car had a long history of having all my friends stuffed in the trunk. This is when it was new (me and my friends in the back, 1982-ish, Grandpa taking us out to ice cream):
Grandpa would drive us the whole way across Petaluma to Tuttle Drug, with the trunk open, and we would tap the hatch up with our hands constantly, to keep it from closing on us. We had to be vigilant especially going over bumps and railroad tracks, as it would just close on us. We all did our part except for Little Shana. We decided that Little Shana didn’t have to keep the hatch open, because she was little (thus the name), and her arms weren’t long enough. This must have been where I got the idea that you don’t have to just have two people in the EXP.
On the Albuquerque trip, we had five people, including me. One in the driver seat, one in the passenger seat, and then the three in back laid down with their feet in the trunk, their heads up by us. We must have put pillows under their heads- or maybe we stored our clothes under their heads? I don’t know how we had room for any luggage! It was a weekend trip.
The car was a Ford EXP, which looked like a Mustang, but had the engine of an Escort and only two seats. Over the maybe sixteen months that I owned and drove it, I had countless men explain to me that I did not have an EXP, that there was no such thing, that I clearly had a Mustang. Sometimes, I would be in the act of giving the man a ride home when he would explain this to me.
Ah, the good old days.
Twenty-three years ago next week, I was driving the EXP alone across the Mojave Desert, outside of Joshua Tree. I reached down to get my water bottle, accidentally drove the car briefly off the shoulder, where I hit some sand. On the sand, I lost all traction, going 65 MPH on the two-lane desert highway. It sent me into a spin, and then I rolled the car twice over, landing it upright. I was fine. The EXP was totaled- every part of it crushed together flat, except for where I had been sitting.