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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Chapter 3

I have spent most of the day trying decide if I should post a chapter from my pending book or if yes which chapter. Several of you have asked to see the book. My every intention is to publish it on the web when completed sometime in 2014.I received enough warm-fuzzies—as  Momma calls them—from the VIP luncheon attendees last Sunday that I feel brave enough to share. 
While emboldened, I present: 
Steps: A Travel Log of Our Life
Chapter 3 Steps to Turn Three
Michael loved watching car races. He talked endlessly about NASCAR, Indy-cars, and drivers that mostly bank left.
My friend worked at Sears Point Raceway. Cathy offered me a part-time cashier position for five bucks an hour with two sets of racing tickets that covered the entire weekend, an overnight pass for camping, plus a special press pit pass. The ticket packages were valued at $150 per person—a lot of money a few of decades ago. I couldn't think of a better gift for my true love so I took the offer not just for that weekend but for the full racing season.
At the time, I managed a computer retail store—one of a handful in the Silicon Valley. Working as an entry level clerk in a gift shop—one weekend a month, six hours a day—proved to be a vacation for me. I had no responsibilities, received a break every two hours to watch the races, and I met celebrity after celebrity—from Michael Andretti to Paul Newman.
My Michael wandered anywhere he pleased in Sears Point from the track to the pits. He shot fifteen rolls of 35MM film on his Nikon with telephoto lenses—the first day. Cars crashed in front of his shutter. Racing fuel filled his lungs. The man could not have been happier. He told me so.
"Debra," he said, "I couldn't be happier."
After my shift, 8:00 A.M. to 2:00 P.M., we met up at the knoll above Turn Three. A great tailgater—fifty or so cars and trucks—already in progress, hugged the edges of the racetrack. I could smell the hamburgers charring on the grills. Michael had a remote-controlled Indy-car zipping across the dirt. Other thirty-something men joined in the festivities with their own battery-operated toys. As the actual race cars finished the qualifying rounds, our small hill hosted a series of racing heats between the finest toy vehicles purchased at Radio Shack and Fry’s Electronics. Michael’s blue entry made second place more than once but never winning a heat. I could tell he was disappointed by the performance.
As the light dimmed before dusk, I pulled out the kites—Michael’s dragon and my butterfly.  The only campers to have kites flying above Sears Point, we spent a leisurely hour hanging on the strings and watching the pink-orange sunset behind our kites.
By dark, clouds blew in from the bay and we scrambled to put up the tent in between sporadic rain drops. Giggling, Michael and I tossed in the sleeping bags, kicked off muddy shoes, and zipped ourselves into the nylon igloo. The intermittent patter became a constant flow of rain. Neither of us wanted to venture out and stake down the tent. We snuggled instead.
The morning light brightened the tent like a glow-stick.  “Do you hear that?” I said digging my way out of the sleeping bag.
“What?” Michael mumbled.
Michael sat up. His hair tousled, dark curls covering his forehead.  “It’s the cars.” He pulled himself to his knees looking down at me. “They are taking practice runs.”
“… sounds close.”
I unzipped the sleeping bag and sat up. The plastic bottom of the igloo-shaped tent loomed over head. “Hey. Where’s the opening? I got to go to the bathroom.”
Michael’s head whipped around. “Don’t know.”
 “Should have staked the tent.”
He crawled around me, touching along the seams of the nylon tent. I dug around the bottom underneath sleeping bags.
Eeeerooommm! The sound blasted past my shoulder.  “Sounds closer.”
“Found it!” Michael pulled up on the zipper located at my feet and continued to unzip above our heads where the bottom of the tent was now located. He climbed out of the space into the light, letting out a sound that can only be described as a war-whoop. “Debra, get out here now!”
Scrambling out the opening, Michael pulled me to my feet and pushed me toward the bushes. We stood on the track of Sears Point’s Turn Three. A crowd edged the safety fence and cheered us or the passing Indy-car. I’m not sure which. Grabbing the edge of our tent, Michael pulled it close to us as not to obstruct the Indy-car sporting bright-blue coloring and Firestone logo whizzing past.
How we managed to roll down the hill over the low fence onto the track while sleeping, heaven only knows. How we kept from getting killed was also a mystery. The mud caked tent held evidence of the event. We had no memory.
We scaled the bent fence, schlepping through the mud in stocking feet to safety amidst snickers and cat-calls of our fellow campers. I thanked God that we slept fully clothed. 
Today’s Menu:
Breakfast: Watermelon juiced. Coffee with agave syrup and almond milk.
Snack: Oatmeal with almond milk.
Lunch: Vegetable soup. 
Snack:  Godiva Chocolate Bites.
Dinner: Taco Bell Bean Burrito.

Snack: Rice Cakes.