Journey….destination, a gentle breeze

                               DeTour Village, MI (pop 375)
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Three months of summer, at the end of a 40 mile cul-de-sac, with neither crime, pollution, nor traffic is inadequate preparation for a destination road trip. The agony of 600 miles through urban torture, Chicago, road rage-in-waiting, 60 y/o car, manual shift, no A/C, no cruise control, no power windows, no power steering, no cupholders, during late afternoon commuter traffic; a breeze in 85°F, top down.

Grew up here.   Left.   Never came back.

Still a Cub fan.

Once described by my own children, assumed to be a term of endearment,”the direction God”, I have no GPS, no I-phone (by choice). An innate internal compass, the singular guide.

I’ve left home without my dog-eared 2002 Rand-McNally Road Atlas.

Large print version.

On my own, I escape the IL tollways to drift through northern Illinois farm country, mostly county roads. Idyllic; corn on the left, soy beans to the right, 4-H, silos, holsteins, farmers struggling with commodity prices, I become thirsty.

For a glass of chocolate milk.

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Passing through Harvard, IL, childhood home to my college roommate’s wife, her family tenant farmers, a lovely woman, she excelled as a pianist…lost her younger sister; to cancer.

Day dreaming in the land of no wrong turns, at 40 mph, the roadster begins to message me, ‘yo, we’re crunching gravel’.
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**

So, I am lost.

Okay ?

Having found a farmer, roadside, to ask for directions…he admires my 300SL, I lust over his John Deere, S790. The combine has a capacity of 400 bushels vs. my trunk, two medium pcs. of soft luggage and one spare tire. He’s using a hand held I-Mac testing the beanfield moisture levels, electronically. I offer an even trade, your 790 for my 300, he hesitates to check values on his phone, then ” Nope, no thanks, not without A/C ”
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He gave me precise directions to WI, then laughed, “you got not no GPS, hell, my lawn tractor has one, and A/C !”

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S790   72 rows of soybeans bite the dust

I’ve reached my goal, the Abbey, an upscale, yet aging, resort. First stop, registration, where two lovely volunteers supply credentials in a large tote bag, which I had weighed ~ 22 lbs (10Kg). Contains name tag, route maps, trinkets, candy, souvenirs, a tiger-eye maple cutting board, and, heavy metal;  12″ dagger!

First thought, for attendees flying home, ‘could you bypass the body tickle TSA checkpoint ?’
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Wüsthof…translated to German, murder weapon ?

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Entry door nearest my room

And tote bags. We’re a nation of excess, measured by the number of  accumulated totes. I once attempted to dump ~ 25 of them, back door at the Goodwill, get my $200 deduction slip, and drive away with a grin. No dice.

Sorry, sir, “we don’t accept tote bags, take them to the landfill, but they’ll make you pay to dump.”

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                                                                                                                   OUT

 

I’m off to the opening salvo, a serial hugfest…let’s get acquainted hour. First stop, the open bar.

“Good evening, sir, what can I get you ?”

I’ll have a Cocoa Corona.

“I’m sorry, what was that ?”

Easy kid, ½ chocolate milk,  ½ Corona lager, & 3 drops of Tabasco®.

“We don’t have Corona, but we do have Coors Light”

Ok, make it a Cocoa Coors Light.

“Huh ?”

**********************

Fontana, WI, westernmost edge of Lake Geneva, a resort where medicaid and supplemental social security are a myth. Here, summer residents, the multi-generational wealth of Windy City moguls, have mastered leisure splendor.   Anyone above the poverty line is welcome for a ‘look-see’, however, for a long term stay, leave your credit score at the door.

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A small portion of the Wrigley compound, pieced together with Doublemint®, Spearmint®, Juicy Fruit® and the tears of a million Cub fans

This promises to be a fun-filled 96 hours.
↓ Day one, my new BFF, Katie, the ship’s stewardess ↓
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“Something wrong here, choppy, whoa, this lake is covered in water. Completely. I’d feel safer if you sat on my lap”

 

If you want to read about the drive home, maybe next year.
Bring a quart of chocolate milk.

 

**  courtesy DKPhotography, all rights reserved

©insightout2019

Call me…….Fred

−A cold morning, Saturday, 24Feb1973, Worthington, OH just north of Columbus, and the salesman, one Red Skinner, delivers.  Chocolate covered strawberries, helium filled balloon, singing telegram…none of the above.

It’s a car, a modest 4 door, entry level sedan, brand new, 4 cylinder diesel from dealer Ed Potter’s Mercedes Benz-Renault.  A surprise gift to one Frederick Ray, on his 50th birthday, special order from his wife, Dorothy (‘Dot’).

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Fred, a civil engineer/bridge builder/shade tree mechanic, admired German cars, and this beauty, in his favorite color, Db 430 Harvest Beige, was identical to the VW Beetle in their garage.  A ‘plain Jane’ to some, the Rays adored the match and vowed to save the 220D for special occasions.

220D 1973 msrp

As a childless couple, Fred enjoyed his garage time, the maintenance and care of the Benz was a passion, as he meticulously archived handwritten notes.   Noted too by a young neighborhood kid,  Jonathan Karnes, who visited often.  Fast friends, yes, but a metamorphic, surrogate grandfather/grandson bond emerged.

Dot’s odometer ended in 2003, mileage on the Benz, 26,576.  Rarely driven, Fred, too, passed away in 2013, age 90, mileage 27,003. The estate directed Jonathan inherit the car, although now grown, attending medical school, soon to be a 4/yr resident in orthopedic surgery, Morgantown, WV.  By necessity the car slumbered, as Jon, married, with small children, the chief resident accepted a post doctoral year in spinal surgery in Madison, WI.  The time had come to sever the umbilicus, an early 30’s physician with career and responsibility, surrounded by objects from Hasbro®, Fisher-Price®, and Tonka® in the crosshairs….the sedan needed a new home.  On 7April2019, the ignition keys and baton were passed to Insightout….mileage 27,571.

https://bringatrailer.com/listing/1973-mercedes-benz-220d-3/

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The stunning simplicity, French designer, Paul Bracq’s exquisite lines promise to resonate with age.  The current overload of tech advancement, unnecessary drivel of rear camera video monitor, g.p.s., parking assist, power excess, gadgetry ad infinitum has drowned the sensual pleasure of the freedom to drive. Where did we  go astray. Mercedes provided Dot, the minimalist, with the following for Fred’s enjoyment:

  • automatic transmission, AM-FM radio
  • power steering, power 4 wheel disc brakes
  • electric windshield wipers and clock

Paul Bracq graced us, a 270° greenhouse view, through tinted windshield, peering over the graceful arc of the hood, squared off fenders to the three-pointed star, and Dot thankfully excluded:

  • power seats
  • power windows
  • power antenna
  • cruise control
  • keyless entry
  • air-conditioning
  • heated seats, bluetooth, tilt wheel, yada
  • granite countertops

Yes, 0 to 60 mph times mean little, and an easily achieved top speed of 83 mph is rarely necessary, and yet, a finely tuned 46 y/o gets 28 mpg.

Commentary during the internet auction alluded to the pouring of cold honey;

‘teaches both the driver, and all followers, patience’

‘fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow- and this is a SLOW car’

‘lethargic performance, like it was on a heavy dose of Valium’

‘you have to choose either “lively” or “relaxed”, this an example of the latter’

‘on an unincorporated country road, where it’s never hot, all day to kill, this could be the perfect car for you’

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Collectors are inclined to name cars, usually in the feminine tense, which is peculiar, as the vehicle does not have headaches, a menstrual cycle, nor succumb to fashion or footwear fads.  Hence the 220D is simply, Fred.  

Not Frederick, not the teutonic Fritz, just plain Fred.

In honor of both Mr. Ray, and Paul Bracq, I designed my own vanity plate…which says it all.

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©insightout2019

Special thanks to Jonathan Karnes MD, & his father Jim, for (a) providing personal details, and (b) their thoughtful stewardship for 6 years.

David Z. Kil, photographer, for the finest rear view ever conceived.

Cartoon, courtesy, Crown Media Holdings®, 2018

And lastly, to Fred Ray, whom I never knew, but whose spirit will always remain although, at time & ½, my mind cannot find the words of gratitude. For the best ride ever. Today’s mileage, turned, with zero digital assistance, 28,000.

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….the ladies alumni, Ba T, Scottsdale, AZ, 2019

Welcome, too,  the CNBC Disruptor List 2019, through the windshield.

Pre-emptive, yes, however, a synopsis of the qualifications:

  • private companies transforming the economy and altering industry.
  • independently owned, founded after Jan. 1, 2004, are eligible.

0530 hrs. MST, Saturday, the civil sunrise begins to awaken the desert AZ floor. It’s chilly, but not to the bone. Runny nose weather. You won’t stick to a vinyl seat cover before this noon. Not today, a day when my ten lb. companion, Mrs. Wilson, can see her breath in the semi-darkness.

"ride the painted pony, let the spinning wheels turn"
“ride the painted pony, let the spinning wheels turn”

A very quick pee, hardened underside nipples, she doesn’t need a local TV disaster weather a!arm team to tell her the rattlesnakes are too cool to crawl.  The little princess is off to her favorite dogsitters.

Now, time to wake up the queen. “Honey, we’re headed to Scottsdale, get dressed”.

J.Lynn is apprehensive. “a 150 miles to do what…?…an alumni gathering. “Please, not one of those cattle-call, testosterone-laced, endless rat-a-tat_white noise_flashing klieg lights_models in lemon chiffon gowns_parading signs_white gloved, pony-tailed thugs, dressed in black, pushing used cars across a stage….is it ?”

Funny how she can remember 1998, Barrett-Jackson, and her exact words, ‘never again’

"you'll get the fur coat"
“you’ll get the fur coat”

“I’ve seen enough gold chained, cigar smoking, peter pans with hairy cleavage to last a lifetime, and I will not wear a lanyard noose.”

No, no.  This is a gathering of the faithful, alumni of a favorite website, the antithesis of the live auction industry, where we’ll be certain to meet lovely ladies, just like you. Promise.

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Both JanetLynn & myself, virgins in the popular ‘cars & coffee’ ritual, are welcomed by the BaT staff and personnel of the Stables.  A stunning, off the grid, warehouse, a premium facility where  freshly brewed coffee melds with a whiff of 110 octane jet fuel from adjacent Scottsdale airport, the aroma triad completed with a warm poppyseed muffin.  Intoxicating.

"Grandpa, I want a 21 window VW"
“Grandpa, I want a 21 window VW”

Well traveled cars, driven by their owners, sparkle. Who knew asphalt, encircled by meticulous landscaping, could provide a glamorous backdrop ?  Not a single car made in China.  Our task, self-appointed, photoshoot the shotgun seat passengers;

  • a professional model, Knoxville, TN
  • career long distance operator, Bell® System
  • gorgeous 60 y/o, an owner wife, in love with a west highland white terrier
  • dental hygienist, classmate of Hillary Rodham, Maine South HS 1965
  • Biltmore®advisor, a marketing crackerjack in cars and celebrity capital.  And sexy cute.
  • Stay-at-home Nova Scotia mom, 2 MBs, 2 BMWs, one cat, one dog, one husband
  • retired pediatrician, Sun Valley, ID
  • Southwest Air®, corp. head of stewardess services

Unidentified photos; personal privacy prohibits the dissemination of names, addresses, SSN #, credit card, date of birth, body weight listed on driver’s licenses….all remain anonymous.

"Mom, how much longer is this going to take ?"
“Mom, how much longer is this going to take ?”

Full disclosure, this writer has a prior arrest record, perjury/bribery, and currently wears a GPS ankle monitor…not by choice.  A federal judge described the photo below, in only five words,

L-R, "Motion Denied", "Guilty", "Next Case"
L-R, “Motion Denied”, “Guilty”, “Next Case”

below,

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and a celebrity parking lot attendant, who, along with co-founders, will auction ~ 10,000 lots. in 2019, in xs of $250M, from an office in the Bay Area with < 30 employees, and not a single tent, auctioneer, glossy catalogue, or physical venue.

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"Toto, when we get to AZ, you'll get to go"
“Toto, when we get to AZ, you’ll get to go”  
©insightout2019