From the Book
- Larry begins his great adventure—he’s going to
ride the Great American Loop on a jet ski. A coworker bets against him.
It can’t be done, he says. Not on a jet ski. Not in one summer by a man
it was. I glanced at that picture I tore from a magazine and posted on
my bulletin board at least 10 times a day. It was a painting of a
little canoe floating along on the Tahitian waters, with a lovely
brown-skinned girl paddling toward heaven. I could smell the water and
feel the sun and the soft breeze.
- It was a very, very small marina, Money Marina.
Refueling the jet skis required two people: one to put the fuel in and
the other to fan away the “flying teeth”—small biting insects,
ferociously discontent that Money Island wasn’t all they’d hoped for.
They bit like crazy, and they were everywhere. We swatted and yelled
and cursed, and, as soon as we could, Halflooper and I raced to the
small marina hut with the flying teeth right behind us.
- I went by Ellis Island, gateway to the United
States, restored, looking official but not really functional in the
sense of an operating bureaucracy of today. As I came into the harbor,
the Statue of Liberty didn’t seem that big, particularly set against
the New York City skyline. But as I approached, the lady revealed her
glory—gracious, strong, well balanced, the strong arm holding the torch
skyward, the Apollo-like features both noble and intelligent. Less than
a year after 9/11, the familiar skyline of New York City
- The motel owner didn’t speak English, and it took
some sign language before he realized that English was the only
language I spoke. I ordered out some Chinese: $10 worth of chicken chow
mein (minimum order), and that’s a lot of chow mein. I shared it with
five dogs that roamed the grounds around my favorite picnic table.
- A flash of fire hit me as the Bumblebee exploded.
Instantaneously and instinctually, I put my arm up to protect my face.
Then I stood up and ran for the marina. As I ran, I yelled, “Cut the
fuel pumps and give me a fire extinguisher!”
The marina staff was quick to react, but they would only roll the fire
extinguishers out the door. None of them would come out and help. I
grabbed one and ran back to the Bumblebee that was by then engulfed in
flames. I knew the fuel tank was full, and, if it exploded, the dock
and the marina would all go up in flames.