Daisy II , the sequel

Subtitle : Black sedan, White knuckles, Crimson dawn, Brown………..

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Pre-dawn, final day of reckoning, the pink aura of the civil sunrise suggests the ancient mariner adage, “red sky in the morning, sailor’s warning”.  In a nearby industrial park, I await the arrival of the open air transporter assigned to deliver Daisy from Indiana to a San Diego container ship.DSCN9635.JPG

The driver, a no-nonsense, chain smoker on his 5th cup of robust Starbucks, refuses my offer to help load, ‘insurance regs, you understand, we’re not allowed to take chances with non-professionals‘.  After providing oral instruction on the old Benz’ Hydrak © shifting, I’m dismissed, ‘no prob, bucko, I’ve been doing this for 40 years’.

It has begun to rain.  After 20 minutes of failed attempts, Mr. Flying J, truck stop poster boy for 5 hour energy, decides I’m his new best friend. ‘Maybe you should do this, but back this puppy on, as I gotta drive it off and I can’t find reverse’.

Please ? 

Readers have encountered terrifying driving experiences, and for many, more mobile PTSD moments they might prefer to forget:

  • blizzard whiteout, dust storm, pea soup fog; take your pick
  • witnessing a head-on collision, collecting body parts off asphalt
  • hitting a deer after dark, at 60 mph, with the top down, after 4 beers
  • small plane landing on I-95 directly over your hood
  • doing a 180°, in traffic, on an icy road
  • driving in Rome

You may even have your own…..share if your pulse exceeds 140.

Mine is about to happen.  Approaching death road, I’m doing the arithmetic and realize that maybe death row is a better option. All I’ve committed to do is drive a 50 y/o car, weighing 3000 lbs., up 100 feet, on two rusty 12 inch wide planks, zero guardrails, 10 feet above the earth’s surface, at 2 mph, in the rain….backward.

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DSCN9639.JPGDSCN9637.JPG            While Ice Road trucker stood by casually sucking on a Marlboro menthol.

Was the first attempt successful ?  Yes.

Would I ever do it again ?  Never.

None of the makers of men’s undergarments; Hanes®, Jockey®, Under Armor®, have the dark brown option…briefs or boxers, except Duluth Trading®.

Did I have any regrets in kissing Daisy goodbye one last time, a nice old girl who loved the road and might never be driven again ?

Who spoke to me, trunk open, as if to say, "let's rumble"
                              Who spoke to me, trunk open, as if to say, “let’s rumble”

 

Only one.

 

Karl Baisch, 4 pc with keys
Karl Baisch, Autokofferfabrik, Stuttgart, 4 pc with keys

Room to pack Immodium, Kaopectate, and Charmin tissue, I wish I had kept her plaid, wool-lined, luggage with the yellow silk ribbons.

 

©insightout2017

 

Little Roadhouse on the Prairie

Bid a fond adieu to Chicago’s urban torture. The GX460, packed with four months of clothes + Mrs. Wilson in her pet taxi, heads west for an overnight in St. Joseph, MO.

 

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Tempting visits, boyhood home of Walt Disney, Marceline, MO., or the Pony Express’ original station,where recruits are Wanted: Young, skinny, wiry fellows not over eighteen. Must be expert riders, willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred , ruled out both Mrs. Wilson & this driver.  Although an orphan, under eighteen, Wilson is neither a fellow nor an expert rider.

Both stops are passed over for the more intriguing, Glore Psychiatric Museum, which was once featured on the Science Channel.  The exhibits are thought provoking, embarrassing, and unfit for children under 30, i.e., they violate current HIPAA standards of privacy. Force-feeding Thorazine, Mellaril, and lithium carbonate was marginally effective, unless rendering a patient comatose was the intended outcome. Mental health treatment moves slower than a cold snail, although lithium ion batteries have found a place in motivating fast electric cars.

Tesla’s 9 feet of not linoleum, but ‘lithonium’ flooring

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Off the interstate grid to avoid Kansas City, a town that nauseates two states, we head to KS route 177, the Flint Hills Scenic Byway. I can recall my mother and her two sisters, after their husbands returned from war, singing in unison with Judy Garland, “The Atchison, Topeka, & the Santé Fe”.

Atchison is over the next horizon.

Council Grove, KS

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Luring the weary travelers, eighty miles of the Tall Grass Prairie National Preserve, near zero traffic in either direction, few ghastly billboards, and neither wind farms nor immense feed lots to fulfill the national appetite for fossil-free fuel and Big Macs.

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Writing is as simple as moving a paintbrush; the landscape becomes the canvas.

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Mesmerized by the stark loneliness massaging the satellite radio; my favorite station, Canadian folk ballads from Quebec, all in French. Nothing is more intoxicating than a buttery voiced tenor whispering her lyric ‘Country roads, take me home, to the place I belong’…..

Les routes de campagne, ramenez-moi à la maison

À l’endroit où j’appartiens

while accompanied by a guttural, male bass softly challenging with ‘West Virginia, mountain momma, take me home’…..

Virginie-Occidentale, maman de montagne

Emmenez-moi à la maison, les routes de campagne

In the distance, the civil twilight slips below the horizon and a low, grey overcast sky forms the shape of a discarded mattress. Only the distant profile of an abandoned farm, a rusted oil pump long since dormant, cushion the prairie from the sky. The creases and folds, the color, evoke a distant memory of a 2 story, small town hotel; Ford City, PA, 1958.

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On alert from a perch atop a bare, black oak, a red tailed hawk swoops, talons in a death grip, the right on the throat, the left to the gut of an infant rabbit, today’s luncheon. What a chef might describe as ‘bêbe lapin ala sushi’, much like the blabbering Wolf of CNN describing Donald & Hillary in his Situation Kitchen. Real or imagined, nature, as always, a metaphor of life.  images

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The muse continues on 177, a right-hand turn away from not one, but two, Austin-Healey bugeye sprites ~ 1959, and a 1940 Ford business coupe. What are the odds…?…about equal to spotting Elvis in the Strong City, KS grocery.

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dscn3644The late John Denver was unsurpassed with his version of “Rocky Mountain High”, but I still prefer the French to ‘take me home’.

Inspired by Ken Burn’s epic, the Dustbowl, which brought drought, dust, disease and death for nearly a decade, our next stop, the No Man’s Land Museum, Goodwell, Oklahoma.

But first we have to cross the bridge over Contrary Creek (true), on a road called Middle of the Road (also true) where only the cows come home.dscn3657

 

Mrs. Wilson, in the spirit of the season, wishes you a reasonably enjoyable holiday, in spite of the world’s ills.

_dsc4235©insightout2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appetite for Solo

 

A 2016 trilogy, Colorado and Bust

Subtitle 1958 M-Benz, 190 SL roadsters on a 3000 mile R/T

“Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”

Mark Twain ~ 1907 

Dateline: Idaho Springs, CO; Tommyknockers Bar

Peeling from the pack, Mapquest indicates I’m 958 miles from Rochester, MN. Reuniting with Lynn at Mayo Clinic in a few days, the open road celebrates both anticipation, random musing and wiggle room in case the roadster breaks down.

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Or should you happen upon a fellow traveler at an Esso station in 1958

 

 

 

1st, convening with the cars became a smorgasbord of personalities, an exceptional travel value, member support, and encouragement to drivers of these little beasts.  Consider it in your future; you’ll never be disappointed.

End of pitch.

Adios Denver, a short stretch of I-70 heading east, a reminder to return to the blue highway soon.  Being followed too closely by a motorist, left rear quarter, he is in that unseen isosceles triangle spread between the two, too small mirrors.  At age 16, learning to drive, the instructor warned us to ‘watch out for Helen Keller‘, when referring to the “blind spot”.  Today, he would be pilloried by the A.D.A. and sacked by the superintendent of schools.  That he was the best teacher, ever, would have not been considered.

I slow, he slows, I accelerate, he velcros, then at last, passes.  His co-pilot is taking pictures of the roadster on her I-phone.  Nearly flattened, I should be flattered, although I feel the victim of a drive-by shooting.  This is new tech…old tech was a thumbs up and a beep.

Old tech is better.

The stark plains landscape provides miles of power lines.  Standing silent sentries, as if marching soldiers at ease, tethered together by an electric umbilicus.  Stoic.  Technology may soon doom them to antiquity, an industrial relic overshadowed by buried lines, fiber optic cable, satellites, wind and solar farms.

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Goodbye REMC, hello wireless.

The desolate agriculture here, grazing land, to feed our addiction for beef, the In & Out Burger, MacD, and 5 guys & fries.

Forget the Druids’ unhinged rocks in Wiltshire, UK ⬇

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No pickle, lettuce, mayo on a sesame seed bun. Face-to-face with rural Kansas’ Route 36, very own Hayhenge ⬇

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As beautiful as Claude Monet’s grainstacks in Chicago’s Art Institute ⬇

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Beauty is in the eye.

I awaken before the rosy fingers of dawn on a new day.  Nearing a town of 600, Pretty Prairie, Kansas, the genesis of the civil sunrise emerges, at 60 mph, the view can best be described by the image;

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The reflection on the roadster bonnet, engulfed in the bosom of the fenders is exhilarating.  I begin to hum the Woody Guthrie refrain,  🎼  his soliloquy on this land is your land;

When the sun came shining, then I was strolling
In wheat fields waving and dust clouds rolling;
The voice was chanting as the fog was lifting:
This land was made for you and me.

The balance of this final day was colorful.  A drive down Johnny Carson Blvd. in Norfolk, NE, Tom Brokaw’s boyhood home in Yankton, SD, and a brief stop in LeMars, IA, ‘ice cream capital of the world’ to taste sample at the home of Blue Bunny.

Blue Earth, MN boasts the statue of the Jolly Green Giant, a very large well-known vegetable, and Austin, MN, not to be confused by vegetarians, home to Hormel Meats and the SPAM museum.

Arriving in Rochester, Lynn welcomes me with a warm embrace after a week apart, knowing I’m refreshed, exhausted, and hungry, and asks “where should we go for dinner”.

“Anywhere I can get a lunchmeat sandwich, steaming dish of green beans in melted butter, and a dish of vanilla ice cream”.

“That’s odd, I was thinking of going to Chipotle”…oh well, welcome home.

 

“In life, don’t wait, the time will never be just right”  Mark Twain 

 

©insightout2016