Half a Mile Outside of Bloody Basin

“The car broke down about half a mile outside of Bloody Basin”

Yes, there really IS a Bloody Basin.Photo Credit: www.aaroads.co

Yes, there really IS a Bloody Basin.
Photo Credit: http://www.aaroads.co

These are the words I spoke to the tow-truck company over the phone in February 1989 from Cordes Junction, AZ, located right off I-17 – a million miles from civilization.  I must have blanched white when the guy quoted me the price of retrieving my little Toyota Corolla and towing it to Phoenix.  Dan, the mechanic who picked me and my then brand new boyfriend, Scott, up from off the side of the road to bring us to a phone, told me to hang up and we’d find a better option.  He called his friend and got a tow bar – then spent the next hour towing my car, using his own van, to Cordes Junction; he didn’t talk of money. He just smiled and said ‘don’t worry, we’ll work something out’.

I couldn’t believe my luck – Scott and I were taking our first road trip together – a four day ‘get away’ to Sedona and Flagstaff during Rodeo Days.  We’d only hooked up in January of that year and we’d never spent this much time together. My trusty Toyota broke down in the middle of NO WHERE and all I could hear in my head is the soundtrack of my doom and gloom father warning me that my car would break down, my car would break down, my car would break down. However, when he makes that prediction every time I get in my car, it’s bound to happen.  I was worried about how I was going to afford the tow and repair as a 19 year old college student working as a baker for $6/hour.

I was anxious about how Scott was going to deal with this glitch in the plans.  The only experience with men and vacations came from my own family.  My father doesn’t do ‘goes wrong’ well.  One time when our family went to Disneyland he bought a cheapie little $10 fan from Ace that clips on to the rear-view mirror. It broke within an hour of the drive from Arizona to California and it ruined the ENTIRE trip for my father; which in turn ruined it for anyone sitting in the vehicle with him. He went on and on and on and on about that damn fan for the entire week.  He couldn’t let it go and he wouldn’t let anyone have any peace. This is how I thought all vacations panned out.   Stress, arguments and gripping- waiting for the shoe to drop.  I had a lead balloon in my stomach.

Scott just smiled at me and told me not to worry, we’d figure something out. He hugged me and said it was not the end of the world.  I felt my heart starting to melt.  About 20 minutes after the breakdown, Dan the Mechanic, from Cordes Junction, pulled up in front of us and asked if we needed any help.  This Jerry Garcia doppelganger (hat tip to Kylie) took us under his wing and showed us that compassion can be found anywhere – even half a mile outside of Bloody Basin.

Dan brought us to Cordes Junction and thus started the best vacation of my entire life.

See all that nothing? It's expensive nothing to a tow truck company.Photo Credit: www.aaroads.co

See all that nothing? It’s expensive nothing to a tow truck company.
Photo Credit: http://www.aaroads.co

At that point, as far as we could tell, Cordes Junction had a hotel, gas station, mechanics garage and a convenience store/diner in the middle of nowhere. Dan said he’d retired there years ago and made his money repairing cars that inevitably break down on their way to northern Arizona.

While Dan and his lobotomized assistant (NOT MAKING THAT UP) assessed the damage to my car, Scott and I decided to check out the convenience store/diner.  I had my first vagina shaped ice cream treat – a Choco Taco.  Ah Klondike, what will you think of next?

MMMMMMMMMMMMM.....vagina shapped chocolate treatsPhoto Credit: http://www.klondikebar.com/#Choco

MMMMMMMMMMMMM…..vagina shapped chocolate treats
Photo Credit: http://www.klondikebar.com/#Choco

Anyway, we also met one-eyed Ramón, seller of vagina shaped ice cream treats.  He was a weird guy – I definitely would not want to be alone with him in a dark <insert NOUN>.  Later on Dan told us that Ramón lost his eye in a butchering accident.  He was standing in the wrong place when a fellow butcher, on accident, stuck a knife in his eye.  OUCH ~

So to recap, we had met very cool Dan, a lobotomized mechanic assistant (at that point all we knew is that his assistant was really odd and had a flat affectation) and one-eyed Ramón.  The trip was taking on a “Rocky Horror Picture Show” feeling about it.

Turns out that my clutch and alternator bit it – which didn’t surprise me – I’d had that car since I was 16 and it had over 150,000 miles on it and hardly ever broke down.  It would take 3 days for the repairs to be completed. Dan got us set up at the hotel and insisted on paying half the bill. This guy was amazing. Truly.

The first evening in Cordes Junction was interesting. EVERYONE (all 50 residents) knew that we were there. And we looked a little strange, I’m sure.  We both sported a ton of earrings, leather jackets, weird hair, etc.  That evening several trucks with lots of teenagers showed up at the gas station/hang out to STARE at us.  I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP.  It was creepy.  We were the Friday Night Freak Attraction.

The next day Dan DROVE TO PHOENIX (1 hour 13 minutes EACH WAY) to get some parts for my car and had spent time calling around to car graveyards to find me parts that were good but affordable. During that time he gave us his van to use and told us to check out Arcosanti– it was this futuristic commune/laboratory on a two mile loop right near Cordes Junction. We declined the van but decided to hoof it there – it was an easy walk. The first mile of the loop brings you there and then you complete the loop to get back to Cordes Junction.

Check out the pictures ~ Photo Credit: Google Image Search "Arcosanti"

Check out the pictures ~
Photo Credit: Google Image Search “Arcosanti”

Arcosanti was really cool – and if you are ever near it, you should definitely check it out.  So we spent a full day there and decided it was time to take the walk back. We hit a snag. About ¾ of a mile down the road we encountered, what we thought, were cute cows, until we noticed the sharp horns and menacing looks the bulls gave us. Every time we tried to cross the cattle grate, they’d advance upon us. We were stuck there…for a while.

Not fond of walking people.Photo Credit: http://www.shippyrodeobulls.com

Not fond of walking people.
Photo Credit: http://www.shippyrodeobulls.com

Eventually, Dan drove up in his van and rescued us. He had a ‘feeling’ something went awry when we didn’t come back.  Once again – Dan to the rescue.

He drove us back to his garage and let us know that he’d found the parts and hoped that tomorrow would see us on the road.  We started to watch Dan’s assistant, Rob. He was working under my car (it was on a hydraulic lift) trying to pull something off that was obviously good and stuck. He had a blank expression, bald head and a huge scar on his skull.  All of a sudden we see Rob fly backwards and blood spurting from his hand.  He’d sliced his palm open to the bone by his thumb. He didn’t make a peep.  Dan sprang into action, applied pressure to the cut and promptly brought him to a hospital someplace to get stitches.  We were flabbergasted – and I felt HORRIBLE that my car caused this debacle.

Later on, after Dan came back, we mentioned how amazed we were that Rob didn’t seem affected by the incident at all. He explained that Rob didn’t really feel anything because he’d had a lobotomy-type surgery a while ago– I think he might have been a veteran. I don’t remember all the details all these years later – just that Cordes Junction had some interesting residents.

We spent one more night in Cordes Junction, Dan wanted us to stay at his house but we didn’t want to intrude any more than we already were, so to the hotel it was.  The next day, Dan finished the repairs and charged us only $300. I had to have my father wire me the money – which of course prompted the “I told you so” commentary.  I think what REALLY pissed my father off was that Scott and I decided to continue to Flagstaff and finish our vacation.  I had doubts about doing that but Scott convinced me to just relax, take it as it comes and enjoy our time together- and we did.

We are forever grateful to Dan the Mechanic!

As well, I KNEW that Scott was my soul mate. I fell completely & deeply in love with him during that trip to Cordes Junction, about 3 miles outside of Bloody Basin.

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About Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher

I'm a research librarian for Public Television, story teller, bike commuter, baker, music fiend, lover of reading & books, mother, wife, friend - and many more descriptive adjectives and nouns.
This entry was posted in Food, Humor, Injury, love, Random Thoughts, Relationships, Story, Surgery, Travel, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

77 Responses to Half a Mile Outside of Bloody Basin

  1. Paul says:

    Neat story. Thanks for sharing. I find it amazing that you are still in a long term relationhip with the same guy.

  2. El Guapo says:

    And to think that you and Scott might not have stayed together if you hadn’t seen his calm on a road trip gone awry!

  3. Rick says:

    At least you were in an awesome part of the country.

  4. I love this story….and I’ve never seen Vagina Shaped frozen treats before….haha!!

  5. Reblogged this on The Mercenary Researcher and commented:

    Its’ a Re-Blog-A-Thog day! Enjoy if you haven’t already ~

  6. Pingback: No! Not Another Pink Coat!!! | She Said What?

  7. JackieP says:

    I’m over here from Amy’s blog. Great story! wonderful characters. What makes it better it’s truth and not fiction!

  8. aFrankAngle says:

    Whoa …. FP didn’t select this post? But hey, at least Bumble did.

  9. iRuniBreathe says:

    Denise,
    I’m re-reading this again from when you first posted it and it is still a great read. I kept thinking Dan the mechanic was going to be the lobotomized one. Road-trip truth is stranger than fiction. He really was just a super great guy!

  10. Maryann Graziano says:

    Wow, you couldn’t even begin to make this stuff up. They say true life is stranger than fiction……..

  11. Pingback: Post of the Week: The Mercenary Researcher | The Bumble Files

  12. The Hook says:

    What a great road trip/love story!
    And Bloody basin? What a great place to get stranded!

  13. This is one of the best stories! So different from the trip I took with my ex – and it’s so nice to know, this is how it’s supposed to be. 🙂 Did you ever hear about Dan the Mechanic again?

  14. mairedubhtx says:

    I nominated you for the Liebster Blog Award. Go to my blog to find out about it.

  15. calahan says:

    Dan is awesome. 🙂

  16. MissFourEyes says:

    What a great story! Dan the Mechanic is a good guy

  17. mairedubhtx says:

    What an exciting adventure! You can’t make this stuff up!

  18. Rufina says:

    I think you should write a movie screenplay based on this adventure! Honestly, it is THAT entertaining! Every bit of it, from one-eyed Ramon to too-good-to-be-true Dan! What a trip! 😉

  19. Kylie says:

    And YOU were the freaks? Wow.

    Reminds me a bit of college when my friends and I would get all dressed up as our alter egos and live on the wild side, and we always got out freaked…Colorado Springs is a freaky place.

  20. stephrogers says:

    Best travel blog ever! I want a vagina ice cream taco. They don’t sell those in Australia. We are so deprived.

  21. TAE says:

    I’ve often felt like you get to know people better or at least from another angle, when on vacation…and wow, you guys have been dating for a dang long time.

  22. Carrie Rubin says:

    I must admit, I’ve never met a lobotomized individual. That’s something you’re never likely to forget. Don’t you wish Dan the Mechanic could read this post? His very own tribute. Great story. 🙂

  23. Cathy Ulrich says:

    Loved this story, Denise! I often say that things happen for a reason. Angel-in-disguise Dan and you got to see Scott in a way that no other situation could have shown you. And what a fun and awesome story!

  24. This was great, Denise! What a great, colorful story. I really enjoyed this. A freak show, indeed. That God for Dan. Dan was your man. And, The Bloody Basin…you can’t make that stuff up! It was a memorable journey, indeed.

  25. "HE WHO" says:

    Wow. Your amazing adventure reminds me of my Michelle’s trip to Hell years ago. She was driving in the same direction as you but north of the 49th parallel. It’s great that Dan was such a nice fellow and even better that Scott turned out to be your soul mate. Good things do happen to good people. It’s all in the journey.

  26. Joe Smith says:

    What an awesome story!

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