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Day 3: The State of Wyoming v. Brad Balukjian

Day 3: The State of Wyoming v. Brad Balukjian

Cody, WY (Population: 9,810)/Park County (2020 Election Results: +56 Trump)

Miles Driven: 238.37 (1,063.87 total)/Top Speed: 80.7 mph/Cups of Coffee: 1 (5 total)/Lowest Gas Price: $4.74/Number of States Visited: 4

Percentage of strangers who recognized the Iron Sheik action figure: 0% (0 out of 4)

Lodging: Buffalo Bill's Antlers Inn/Rating: 4 out of 5 turnbuckles. Opened in 1995 as the Burl Inn (imagine having to do marketing with that name?). All of the lobby furniture is accented with, you guessed it, wooden burls.

"License and registration please."

Following yesterday's food poisoning debacle, could things get any worse?

I had cleared Yellowstone National Park, a truly awe-inspiring drive through snow-clad peaks and expansive pastures roamed by bison, and was only 15 miles outside of my destination, Cody, Wyoming. I was on my way to see Eric Bischoff, my first interview of the trip and for a period of 83 weeks in the mid-1990s, the king of the wrestling industry.

A black Dodge moved to the shoulder, presumably to let me pass, and within seconds those patriotic lights were flashing in my rear-view.

"Fuck," I said to my Iron Sheik action figure.

In the 1970s and early '80s, when wrestling was still a pastiche of regional territories, wrestlers typically carpooled together to make the various towns on their loop, maybe averaging 300 miles a day. Cram 3-4 testosterone-fueled (literally, steroids were commonplace) 20-30-something year olds in a car for a few hours and they will take all their aggression out on the gas pedal. Stories abound about wrestlers getting pulled over, being recognized, maybe signing an autograph, and being let on their way by the awestruck highway patrol.

Today's Route

"I got you doing 69 in a 50," said the officer, his eyes masked by wraparound shades.

"Where are you headed today?"

"I'm a writer going cross-country for nine weeks to write a book. Heading to Cody."

He nodded, his eyes briefly darting to the backseat, crammed with such literary classics as "Strutting and Cutting," by Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake.

"I'll be back in a minute to get you on your way," he said, walking back to his car.

Just then the above story of wrestlers getting pulled over popped in my head. When he returned moments later, I was ready.

"Do you know who this is?" I asked, holding up the Iron Sheik action figure.

He smirked, the wheels spinning.

"Hmmm...is that Sgt Slaughter?"

"No, but it's Sgt Slaughter's big rival. The Iron Sheik!"

"Oh yeah! Now I remember. Ya know, my buddy, he was a big wrestling fan and last year at Christmas he was kind of down, so I bought him one of those personal videos from a wrestler [Cameo]."

Turning back to business, he said, "I knocked off 10 miles, got you doing 59 in a 50. That's how we are up here."

I couldn't help but wonder if I had produced the Sheik before he went back to his car to write the ticket, but I was just grateful for the reduction. Having gone the entire 11,000-plus miles without a ticket on The Wax Pack, I had failed to budget for legal troubles on this outing.

Back on the road for a date with the founder of the nWo.