Holiday Inn Express. Corning, California. Population 6825. The olive city. Free Jelly Bellies on the counter. Honeymoon suite. Room 406. Canopy bed. Made of PVC pipe. Wrapped in velvet. Mood lights. Like Christmas on a dimmer switch. Lace everywhere. Champagne glasses. A box that makes the sounds of a stream. Or the ocean. Or a beating heart. The bed sags. And slants toward the headboard. I-5 blows by below. Flanked by Oleander. Bathed in headlights. An XL nighty left on a hook. Back of the door. Missed by the maids. The same who’ll miss the phone charger we’ll leave plugged in behind the nighstand in the morning. We’re married. But this isn’t our honeymoon. We’re on the road. Rolling north. To the Oregon Shakespere Festival. Semi-annual trip. Meeting the parents. Tickets fully sponsored.
In Ashland. Flew to Sacramento. Rented a car. Pointed it north. On the five. Toward Redding. Didn’t make it. Ended up here. In Corning. Across the street from a truck stop. A huge truck stop. A rumbling, gravel parking loted, 24 hours-a-day, door-slamming, deisel-snorting truck stop with free internet, showers, and phones at the tables.The bed is tipped. We’re like bats. Hanging upside down. By our heels. We swap ends. Our heads at the foot. And fall asleep. Straight away. Uninspired by the lace. The lights. Or the rhythm of the road outside our window. We’re tired. Long day. Sleep. Turn. Toss. Stare startled at the ceiling. Trying to place it. Sleep, again.
Next morning. On the five. Rush hour Redding. Billboards for Lake Shasta Caverns. (Three adventures in one: boat, bus, spelunk.) I want to stop. No time. Black Bear Diner. First one. Mt. Shasta. Omelletes. Scrambles. In the shadow of Shasta. Lamurians everywhere. Weed removed their sign. Too many stoners. Snapping photos. Not California. Not Oregon. Stateofjefferson.com. Huge welded cows and dragons bluffing down on the interstate. Snow capped giant crowding the rearview. Rideable all year.
Over the mountain. Down into Ashland. Deep’s Indian Cusine. Water Street. Submerged in Shakespeare. Indoors. King John. Outdoors. In Oakley puffies. Wrapped in blankets. Sipping Starbucks. Nibbling pumpkin cookies. Fighting sleep while The Merry Wives of Windsor dance through the mist. Real mist. Wet mist. Drunk couple from Sacto. Spilling wine behind us. Stumbling in and out. At inopportune moments.
Brothers for breakfast. Lecture on Cyrano. Learn of a crater on the moon named after him. On the dark side. Pasta Piatti. Rich tomato soup. e-coli spinach salad. Winters Tale. Cyrano De Bergerac. Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. Then straight back to Sac. On cruise control. The whole way. Never make it. To the last minute. The last flight. Every detail goes our way. Home in San Diego. At 11 pm. Tired. Happy. Shakespeared.