And now, friends, part three of the true story of survival begun some weeks ago. When we last left you, The Gentlemen were rumbling across the Colorado/Utah border in our trusty, but ill-fated gentlevan – 12 hrs deep into a single day 15 hr journey.
A few words on our gentlevan: The gentlevan is not a new vehicle and, in fact, bears no resemblance to one. It is a bent, pock-marked, filthy automobile with a suspect engine. But, it had, to this point, served us nobly and without incident. So nobly, in fact, that The Councilman and I had come to view its flaws in appearance and performance as the charming quirks of a trusted friend. A steady, gentle rumble when traveling over 60 mph? Oh, that’s just our friend, the gentlevan! A steady, violent rumble when traveling over 75 mph? Oh, gentlevan, how charming! Worry not!
Recall that we gentlemen had set our auto-pilot to 83 mph outside of Kansas City and had deviated little since. Thus, our hind-quarters had at that point been subject to a full 12 hr shift of hind-quarter-numbing van rumbles.
Perhaps, I suggested, we should have this rumble repaired?
Who, then, will numb my hind quarters? Asked the Councilman. Let it be!
Now, friends, there is a lovely, scenic stretch of Interstate 70 in eastern Utah along which there is little civilization, indeed. This fact is well-advertised in the miles that precede it and The Councilman, who is fond of reading road signs, noticed several stating “No services for 120 miles after Exit 68.” He suggested wisely that we visit a service station before said stretch to stock up on fuel, Sparks, and nut-mix. (The Councilman is also fond of nut-mix). While we were resupplying, the service station attendant regaled us with tales of incautious motorists who, incredulous of the many “no service” signs, had attempted (and failed) to traverse the approaching desert gauntlet with an insufficient supply or fuel or an unsuitable vehicle. What fools, The Councilman and I replied, in unison(!).
And so, The Gentlemen took to the highway once more, confident that we were not to join this service station attendant’s roster of incompetents. It was well after midnight, we were some 3 hrs from our destination, and we faced a 120 mile pathway of desolation the likes of which were unknown to us. We approached our cruising speed and The Gentlevan began to rumble, violently, once again. But, we were, as ever, in good spirits.
Now friends, I shall not bore you with a detailed account of the first 85 miles of this desert wasteland. They passed without notice.
Mile 86 is where our trusted friend faltered. It began with a sudden cessation of the van’s much discussed tendency to shutter and rumble. For several seconds this gave us great joy. Finally, we thought, the gentlevan has repaired himself! Being unfamiliar with the particulars of a modern automobile, this seemed to us a reasonable and likely explanation. Our joy was extinguished, though, when the familiar rumble was soon replaced with a loud flapping noise. The van listed to the port side. The Councilman and I, maintaining speed, consulted the owner’s manual and diagnosed a flat tire. We also concluded that the gentlevan’s charming, steady shutter was not a harmless 12 hr massage on our bottoms, after all. Rather, it was the unfortunate byproduct of our two front tires slowly shredding over the course of the day’s journey. Lesson learned! Hooray for knowledge!
But, this is no tragedy, I declared to my man-friend. I possess the tools and skills necessary to remedy our trouble. And quickly!
I pulled to the side of the highway, fetched the appropriate items from the gentle-trunk, and set to work. I jacked up the gentlevan with ease. I removed the first lug nut with ease. Likewise for the second, third, and fourth.
Good heavens, declared The Councilman. For a man who makes his living producing dainty two-man music, you are conducting this tire exchange with surprising ease. Worthy of a pit crew, dear friend!
I turned to wink at my partner. Then, in a foolish attempt at a winking, no-look removal of the fifth and final lug nut, I was a bit hasty with my wrench, promply stripping the nut, rendering my tools useless and our shredded tire quite unchangeable.
No pit crew for you, fool! declared The Councilman.
Our options were few. We attempted to call for assistance, but there is no telephone service in the middle of a desert. We attempted to flag down a passing motorist, but there was none to be seen. The Councilman attempted to weep, but the arid Utah air had dehydrated his weeping ducts.
The desolation surrounding us came into stark relief. As our eyes grew accustomed to the darkness, we became aware of hundreds of tiny desert bunnies scampering to and fro across the highway. Our hearts were warmed.
Fetch help, desert bunny! shouted The Councilman.
But, to no avail. We were stranded.
To be continued….
Yours very truly,
Andy Bean, Banjoist
The Two Man Gentlemen Band