Many years ago, I couldn't imagine getting a tattoo.
I thought they were too trendy. Everyone was getting them. What sealed it for me was when Johnny Depp got "Winona Forever" inked on his arm.
Instead I decided to get myself a brand. And hey might as well do it myself right.
More thought went into this than how I'm relaying the story right now, but I was young and by any measure it was impulsive, but it was who I was at the time and I to this day have no regrets.
But a lot has changed.
Johnny Depp got cool.....At least for a while and then became somewhat of a parody of himself and well the jury is still out as to how that story goes.
I got one tattoo just before getting married. And then another a few years later and then another a few years beyond that.
And then there was a skin art dry spell.
But it's been on my mind. More and more and more; different designs; different reasons
And finally I'm ready for the drought to end.
Several things have been dictating when and where I would get my newest additions to my collection. I had originally wanted to meet with an artist or two in Atlanta, have a long discussion on the various tattoos I'm interested in getting and make a schedule, one that might take a couple of years.
It would be dependent on a variety of things. There are a couple of tattoos I want but I'm not quite ready for. I can't get them done too close to Burning Man because of the the sun and dust issues. When I get back into serious jujitsu training, getting a tattoo would help derail that effort.
However, there were a couple I wanted to have before I went back to Burning Man.
Being on the road seemed like the perfect opportunity to heal properly. I found a guy in Mammoth, checked out his work on-line and then headed over to his shop to make an appointment.
Timing IS Everything
When I was down in Bishop looking for the MIA AC unit at the local post office, (not there BTW) I visited the one and only tattoo parlor in town, Gypsy Kings Tattoo, located right on the center of main street. I must of passed it dozens of times over the years.
I met with the owner and main artist there, Harmey Bancroft, discussed the work I wanted to get done and set up an appointment for Saturday afternoon, the day we were leaving Mammoth and heading back to Atlanta.
I had imagined on my right calf, a slight re-telling of the Tortoise and the Hare fable, one a bit more fitting to my experience.
In addition to that I would also have a history of the various races I'd completed over the years, of marathon distance or longer and perhaps some of the more memorable obstacle course races and stair-climbs. But that part was less of a priority, although I did want at least some of them on my leg before I headed to the desert because to me they are an integral part of the design, story and reason for getting the Tortoise and Hare part of the tattoo.
Saturday came and it was crazy from the start.
We were way behind in our camp breakdown. We had procrastinated on doing things like our final load of laundry and shipping back the AC unit. And then there the saying of good-byes and such. But we were on schedule to make it to Gypsy Kings on time.
And then the shop called and said Harmey was running late.
When I got to the shop and the new time it took a couple of more hours to rework the art to my satisfaction.
It was beginning to seem like the timing wasn't right. That maybe I should just get on the road and get the work done back in Atlanta. Skye had already seen a movie, hung out at one coffee shop that was closing and making her way over to Starbucks.
Nope; I was there and I was going to get my tat, one way or another.
Once he actually started on my leg, it was done in almost no time, much faster than I had imagined.
And I was mostly happy with the work.
When I say that I was mostly happy, I wasn't thrilled with the placement. We had to adjust where it was going because of a cut I had on my calf where I had originally wanted.
Well as it turns out where it ended up, is where it was meant to be. It gives more room for my collection of marathons, etc.
And it allows me to flex my calf muscle in a way that makes it look like my big ol' tortoise is chugging towards the finish line.
I still think that there could have been a bit more separation between the illustration and the writing and the rabbits' cheeks are a bit more puffy.
But the more that I look at my leg and the tattoo, the more I like it. And even my criticisms, which were in the end my fault, for rushing the project and not having done enough of my homework in regards to the details of the rabbit piece are lessons and part of the story and history of my journey.
On the last day on the road trip getting to Mammoth, just a couple of hours away from our final destination and yet after 11 long hours of being on the road, we came across the Clown Motel. Had we not just made a non-refundable reservation at the hotel in Mammoth, we would have stopped and stayed that night.
It worked out best the way it happened, as it was a perfect finish to a crazed and full day.
We pulled in tired and exhausted and ready for sleep.
The advertisement on the car parked next to us couldn't have been more fitting.
When Skye announced to the table of Shakespeare camp-mates at our post-performance dinner that we would be staying at the Clown Motel, one of the local teens exclaimed in horror, "That place is horrifying! I stayed there. You know there is a cemetery right next to it?"
Indeed there is a cemetery right next door. But not just any cemetery, an amazing relic from the past. It was creepy and absolutely gorgeous.
I could have wandered around there for hours, if we didn't have to get on the road and the sun wasn't trying to toast my newly inked calf.
We had decided to not blaze across the country, missing so many interesting sights and spectacles along the way and spending 12 or more hours in the car.
It was a wise decision, at least so far.
We went a bit out of our way to check out Great Basin National Park in Nevada. It's in an incredibly desolate part of the country and has three main attractions; Lehman Caves, the darkest night skies and the bristlecone pines.
We weren't going to stay until nightfall and we decided that we had seen our fare share of caves, however being the arborphile that I am, a chance to see some of the oldest trees on the planet was something I couldn't pass up.
So we took the long-winding drive from the desert up to just below the tree-line and then jumped on the trail to go visit these amazing beings.
It was incredible. A couple of these centurions were over 3000 years old and still going strong.
I was in awe.
It would have been nice to tour the caves or to have hung out under the most star-filled, least disturbed by humanities light pollution, night sky, but we did have to make it across the country.
And it's a mighty big one at that.