TAHOE CITY, Calif. - One of the best things about my 23-day road trip last month with an old college friend was almost totally disconnecting from politics, the empty promises, scandals, ultimatums, commands and the political babbling of the election.
Mary Ann, my traveling companion, was very kind when she saw me for the first time in 33 years. She said I hadn't changed a bit. I took her polite lie with a grain of salt. I wanted to remain impartial. She said she wanted to reinvent herself. I wanted her good company and deep conversation. With her connections I could have met the Dalai Lama.
With brand new tires, brake pads and brake shoes, and nothing but time, the trip was more sublime and spontaneous than the free-spirit life of a professional ski bum. It was our last chance to really get to know each other, which is required for getting along.
Eventually I saw that the happy-go-lucky "Tom boy" swaggering young cowgirl was now an extremely self-assured, proud, divorced, laid-off professional nurse, home owner and struggling, supportive, grateful mother of two struggling young men who assured me as we traveled that her political opinions were infallible and all others were evil and racist.
She poked at her smart phone and iPad for hours every day. She was to be my "connected" navigator and co-host. Google liked to make us think we were lost, certain we had to be lost, back track here and there, and lead us right on time to the cheapest gas station, best food or our destination for the night. But Mary Ann was involved with a new hard drive tool in each hand. I was one old hard drive too many.
I had hoped for some quality, one on one personal time so we could get closer.
Now someone is saying, "I can't believe this guy! He's so sexist!" I'm 62!
Human pride is nothing without true humility, especially in sex, politics and religion.
Truth, and true humility? Sounds like sleazy campaign rhetoric. Half the country may think it's a lie, but it's true enough, and more useful than the politics of personal destruction and the cluelessness of the information age. Shame on both political parties.
While trying to remain disconnected from politics, I learned we have stopped listening to and believing each other, and the country is on a bad trip no matter who's driving.
Before the trip, my brother Bill said his wife Jeanne was really into baseball now. To me that meant she liked watching games on TV, but the TV at their Lazy S Ranch outside of Spokane, WA was only for DVDs. But, they had a radio! On principle, Bill wouldn't spend $72 a month for cable. No TV means more time connected to real life.
Bill and I made several nearly 20 mile round trips to see some Giants games and watch the 49ers beat Seattle at the Spangle Bar and Grill in Spangle, WA, a dinky town south of Spokane. The place was full of Seahawk fans. We were the only ones having any fun.
The night of the presidential debate we listened to a Giants game on the radio at the Lazy S Ranch, lost reception when the debate started and had to jump in the car again.
Mary Ann remained in Spokane because she wanted to stay with our old friend whose mom had just died, canceling the big reunion dinner, guitar and fiddle jam party we had planned with a bunch of old college friends. It never happened. And, we didn't get to play Apples to Apples that night, which I bought in Joseph, Oregon for $30.
I'm going to start an Apples to Apples beer and wine club to get my money's worth.
Imagine a bunch of old, over-educated, hippie-type grandmas and grandpas, close to death, playing Apples to Apples, the game of hilarious comparisons, that proves that, no matter who you are or what you've accomplished, or what you have, your happiness is directly connected to what you think, even if your political opinion isn't.
Bob Sweigert is a Sierra Sun columnist, published poet, former college instructor and ski instructor. He has a B.A. and an M.A.T. from Gonzaga University. He has lived at Lake Tahoe for 30 years.