I'm feeling a bit lightheaded.

Of course, Kevin's in the back, and he's worse - I've got an expanse of windshield in front of me that allows my brain to lock on to the horizon and correlate these strange tilting feelings to, but in the back seat, it's a bit harder. More fabric, less glass, therefore more dizziness.

And it wouldn't hurt if Mike would lay off the long pedal - sure, sure, it's got six cylinders, but you don't really need each and every one, do you?

There's honking behind us. It immediately registers in my mind as a snooty honk, an impatient upperclass twit honk, and I am not surprised when I turn around and see not one, not two, but three pearlescent Porsche 911s, idling at 30 mph and dreaming of turbocharging the twisties ahead. The same thought passes between us : none shall pass. Damn nouveau riche! A burr in your saddle!

I focus on the map. That black, looping line from San Jose, where the conference I am attending is, down to La Honda, where I and my compatriots will eat dinner. I'm hyped, but the others are merely hungry - they have not read Kesey, or Wolfe, or anything from that drug-enriched and drug-addled period of American writing, but they too understand the need of the fanboy, and so they went along with the plan. Just a short drive down this black line and Bob's your uncle, right?

Not that simple. We have no idea where we are. We've turned around once without even realizing it. Kevin's jittery from the procession of switchbacks we just traveled through - the car rocked from side to side like a trawler in a hurricane - and we just want to get outl, and stop for food on the way.

Suddenly, we're surrounded by Wood. Not small-w wood, mind you - we'd been driving through that for the past few hours - but Wood, the godhead implying the stateliness that only Redwood trees can impart. And then we're in La Honda.

We're in a rental car, we still have our conference badges clipped neatly to our persons (Hi! My name is Mud!), and we reek of Nerd. The aura of the Merry Pranksters that I was hoping to encounter deserts us, sadly, and we order and eat, untouched by any mad genius. I barely recall what I ate - chicken, alfredo, pasta, something-or-other. Mike picked through a salad and then indulged in a dessert; Kevin chose a beef dinner, braised in a strange sweet-sour barbecue sauce. I wander around the grounds, where it was currently silent, but there's many fresh footprints around in the mud (was there a gathering here last night? Two nights ago? A party, a bacchanal to end all bacchanals?) and then Mike is wanting to get on to San Francisco, drive the bridges, pay the tolls, and Kevin's wrestling the keys away from him. We pay, tip generously, and go, but not before a picture is taken.

Mike got his turn to pray for Dramamine Manna from heaven from the back seat, poor Kevin was burping up the too-rich beef sauce for the rest of the conference, and I was cranking the Buzzcocks, trying to deny my inner geekiness (because, if it wasn't for that, surely I would have been touched by the spirit of Literary Giants that day, right? Or at least gotten more than a warm but distant you're-nice-but-you're-an-outsider smile from the waitress there?) and dreaming of the red-haired clerk in the Mountain View bookstore... but that's another story.

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