As the Hot Walker Turns: Episode 2

These are the days of our lives…

It’s Tuesday. Bella is finishing her rig check. She’s picking up her new roping horse, Dinero, tomorrow after work. Work is in San Francisco, about a 2 hour commute each way.  She carpools to work.

“You all set?” I say.

“Double checking the brake lights”, Bella says.

“Are you taking Thursday off?” I ask.

She looks startled. “Why? I’m picking him up tomorrow.   Gotta work Thursday.”

I’ve underestimated her toughness yet again.

“I thought you had to go south of San Francisco to pick him up. That’s going to be a long day.”

“Not too bad”, Bella says.

Not too bad?

I run the scenario through my head: car pool will pick her up Wednesday at 4 am, she’ll work all day, get deposited back home (where the rig is), around 5 pm. Then she’ll jump in and drive….how far?

“Where is Dinero?” I ask

“Monterey”, answers Bella, walking toward the house, “Sorry, I gotta go get some stuff together.”


Uh. She’ll drive 2 hours to work, clock in, work all day, drive 2 hours home, then drive a giant rig 400 miles round trip, unload the new horse, and be ready for the carpool again at 4 am? Oh, and part of that drive will be along the hilly, winding, un-guard-railed cliffs of Highway 1.  In the dark.

No biggie.

Me and a bag of Doritos show up Wednesday before the carpool  arrives. Road trip gift.

No rig.

Alice is in the garage unloading groceries.  (She and Bella share the house.) She sees me staring at the empty spot where the rig is usually parked.

I hold up the Doritos. “I see I’m too late. Did she get off work early? When did she leave?”

Alice says, “I know, isn’t it crazy?! I can’t believe it.”  She pauses. “No. It’s Bella, I believe it.”

Huh?  My question and her answer don’t really go together.   I look puzzled.

Alice looks puzzled at my puzzled.  I watch her replay the exchange in her head.

“Oh sorry”, Alice says, “She left at 4 am.”

“I mean, what time did she leave after the carpool brought her home?” I say.

“You don’t know?” says Alice. “She drove the rig to work. She’s going straight to Monterey after work.”


Alice and I look at each other.  “I KNOW“, she says.

If you have never been to San Francisco, let me point out why this is shocking.

Bella will have to drive the rig through rolling hills in heavy commuter traffic on steep grades, and through a tunnel before reaching this:

Photo by Thomas Hawk

She also had to drive through the city, since she works at the southern end.  See below. Not a trick of the light: cable car is going down one hill, and about to go up four more. Cable cars go down the middle of the street, and you drive on either side.

I took my teen-age driving test in San Francisco: occasionally you have to take it on faith that there will be street under your tires after you drive through an intersection going downhill.  Steiner, for instance.  (California Street, for sure!)

Photo by Thomas Hawk

Let’s review.  Bella’s rig:

In a dress and heels, Bella drove this over the Golden Gate Bridge, through the city to work.

Oh NO.  I look at Alice.  “Where the heck is she going to PARK?”, I say.

Motorcycles circle the block in SF.  In residential neighborhoods, it’s not uncommon to park 8 or 9 blocks away and walk home.  Parking?

“That’s what I said”, Alice says, “She said she’s going to park it in the lot at work.”

“No. Way.” I say.

How lot parking works in San Francisco:  due to geographical boundaries, SF can’t sprawl. Exorbitantly priced lots cram the cars in so tight it is often difficult to get out of your car, and backing out is a 5 minute ease, crank, forward, brake, back, ease proposition.

Expensively priced lots* fit the cars together like puzzle pieces: you park according to your pick up time.  Tough luck if you get off early. You can’t get your car out before 6:00, because it’s blocked in by people who parked after you.

*There are no reasonably priced lots in SF.  Expensive is the new thrifty.

Will they even let her in the lot?  There’s no way she’s going to find street parking.

It’s killing me.  I am not going to call her while she’s driving through San Francisco.  Or on Highway 1.

Luckily, you don’t have to wait!

Bella, um, “gifted” the parking attendant, and he finagled it so there was enough room to drive in, turn the rig around so it faced outward, and park it right in front of the exit.

“How did the bridge go??”, I ask her, while busily measuring truck and trailer, so we can nominate her for The Supreme Hauler award.

“The bridge was harder than the freeway for some reason.”

“You’re good”, I say, “I would have cracked.”

I zip the tape out to measure trailer width.

A little known fact about the Golden Gate Bridge.  The lanes are 10 feet wide. Standard freeway lanes are 12 feet.  I relay this information to Bella.

“How do you know this stuff?”, she says.

“Font of useless information?”, I say.  I can’t remember my multiplication tables, or what day of the week it is, but esoteric facts continually bubble to the surface.  “Did you know the Golden Gate Bridge wasn’t named for it’s color?”

“So how wide is it?”, Bella redirects, hoping the font won’t start bubbling.

“Holy crap.” I sit back on my heels. “your rig is 9 feet wide.”

Her eyes widen.  She calculates faster than me: “I only had 6 inches on either side?”

I imagine cutting 2 inches off the width of a piece of printer paper.  6″.  Whoa.

“The bridge was white knuckle”, Bella says.  “Van Ness wasn’t…too bad, but Lombard…”

I’m putting it down to her Eventing background.  This girl can take a course.

What’s most impressive?

She did it without Doritos.

7 thoughts on “As the Hot Walker Turns: Episode 2

  1. Wow. I have driven in SF and from SF to Monterey a couple of times (one of my favourite drives actually – stopping at Duarte’s in Pescadero for artichoke soup…yummy….great, now I am hungry…) and I am amazed at her nerves of steel! And, without Doritos???…positively amazing!

  2. I’ve driven my rig – which is about the size of hers – lots of places, including through some construction areas and very narrow conditions – I have the advantage that I have dualies so if the truck fits the trailer will too – but SF and highway 1? I’m afraid to drive highway 1 in the daytime in a regular car. I can’t even imagine it – I’m getting faint from fear at the thought. It sounds like something my older daughter would do (successfully)!

  3. I can’t even back down a driveway with my horse trailer.

    I’m really glad you’ll have Hudson in your life. And looking forward to hearing more about Dinero. I feel like such a poser – but what color is he?

    1. Bella, what is Dinero’s official color? I’d show off my big time horse knowledge by calling him (speaking of posers) a strawberry roan palomino, which I’m pretty sure do not exist.

      1. Dinero is a light sorrel with a flaxen mane & tail. He has a little bit of roaning in his coat, but doesn’t get to call himself a roan…


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