A few months after Alex and I moved into The Malibu House of Malevolence, I convinced my new friend, Angie Best (yes that Angie Best — ex-wife of soccer great George Best) to go on a road trip to Aspen. It could be a test-drive of her brand new Toyota4runner. We brought along Alex, her son Calum Best (Alex’s best friend), and another lucky waif who was known both as Jordan and Damien.
The drive to Aspen is just shy of 1,000 miles, and takes about 13 or 14 hours with no traffic and good weather. We took our time—visited a few of the National Parks along the way: Zion, Bryce and Capitol Reef.
We stayed overnight at the Zion Lodge. Very basic, but comfortable rooms with *NO TV*. The boys were horrified! We compensated by telling ghost stories in the dark. At some point, Angela wriggled silently along the floor up to their beds and scared the shit out of them. Much giggling…
The next day we hiked in Bryce, then drove through Capitol Reef (spectacular mesas). On a north/south highway headed up to Interstate 70, we ran into a fog bank like none I’d ever seen. I first made out what looked like a wall across the highway. We hit it—were instantly enveloped in a dense grey soup. For the next hour, we had to creep forward at less than 20 mph all the way to Grand Junction.
That Aspen stay was nothing but pure fun, day and night. The boys and I skied during the day (Angela passed), and after the last run and a snack, they entertained each other with TV and the local video game parlor. Back in Manhattan, I wouldn’t have let Alex walk so much as half a block without an adult. Yet in downtown Aspen, by the time he was eight years old I felt perfectly comfortable allowing him to wander about by himself. He never went farther than the game place and the local McDonald’s.
Thus liberated, we girls were free to go out and about. Angela is stunningly beautiful with a tight, lithe body to match. Every man (repeat, every man) we passed on the street found it next to impossible to resist a quick once-over of the whole package. Having had my fair share of Aspen rendezvous, I was perfectly happy to play wingwoman as we made the nightly circuit of the local hangouts. It was fascinating business to watch her draw the admirers in droves…
Our list of establishments included: The Tippler (strategically set at the bottom of the runs coming off Ajax—THE place for late afternoon après ski); the Bar at Little Nell (elegant, expensive and crowded: an appropriate setting for fancy people busy reinforcing their importance); Little Annie’s (Little Nell’s polar opposite, catering to young beer-drinking Townies); and The Caribou Club (a members-only late-night club for visiting glitterati—I wasn’t a member, but the owner always let me in).
The only thing that did bother me a tad about Angela would happen at other times. During the day we would need to go grocery shopping, run errands, or pick up whatever. I’d have to wait patiently, or not so patiently, while Angela meticulously put on make-up, did her hair, then tried on various outfits, mixing and matching them with the different choices of footwear. At one point my frustration boiled over. Angela was unruffled and explained. “Well, darling, you always have to be prepared. One never knows when one is going to run into the next husband.” I stopped griping. But I did mutter something like, “Frankly, my love, three is quite enough for me…”
We quit Aspen at 2 pm on the eighth day.
There is a long, empty stretch of highway in Utah: Route 70 between Green River and Salinas. It is quite scenic, in a desolate kind of way. There is the one little sign right at the beginning that is worth reading: “No services for 110 miles.” Angela was driving; she didn’t notice it. I was half asleep after a rough night, also not paying much attention. In the United States of America in the ‘90s — 110 miles with no gas station? They’d have to be kidding.
We ran out of gas 30 miles outside of Salinas. Hardy souls (and because we convinced ourselves that it would be downhill from there), the boys and I pushed the car for about five miles, until we ran into an uphill stretch. Now it was getting dark. We gave up, and slept in the car until daybreak.
Early, early, a pickup truck heading the other way made a U-turn and pulled up behind us. The driver got out—a rough-looking bearded fellow with workman’s hands and a cowboy hat. He seemed to be able to guess what our problem was, and offered a ride back down to Salinas. Ignoring every warning my mother had given me for decades, I hopped into the pickup. What else was I going to do?
In Salinas, I bought a five-gallon container of gas. They had quite a few of them. The scary-looking Samaritan graciously drove me back to the gang, filled the tank, tipped his hat, and was off on his way (I gave him the gas can). I did get an earful from Angie and the boys about their hour-plus of anxiety, but hey—sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do…