Fall Touring, Middle America

dateline: South Bend, IN
0701 hrs EST, 11Oct2014

Alert: contains no Airstream reference; low in calories

Romeo (aka David) and Juliet,

The weather rarely cooperates but that never dampens the spirits of the many attendees.
……or the charming host family.

Appears you were snakebit again by the iffy fall weather on 4Oct2014. As long as the pizza was hot, the brews cold, and the pumpkins ripe enough to bake a pie, who cares. Today, one week later, it will probably be clear, a glorious fall day at the peak of autumn color.

I opted to attend the French Lick concours, also s#itty weather, an o.k. event, but somewhat starchy and a return visit….doubtful. Mostly rich white folks, somewhat cliquish, several regulars on the Amelia, Meadowbrook, Pebble glamour circuit, where it’s proper to wear a blazer, a white panama + have people (staff) to trailer your car(s), prep them, then return home without a single soiled owner fingernail, so help me Maybelline.

Some interesting and rare iron, however, the featured marquee was Shelby Cobra. Really, after looking at 20 white with the two blue stripes, chromed rollbars, some real, some “signed” by Carroll, some ‘re-creations’, mustang varieties; all I could do was look in the mirror and spell nway backwards.

I did meet up with a new 300SL friend, Phil Brown from Oak Brook, IL and rode shotgun as his navigator on the Sat. rally. He bought his car in 1971 when he was 17 y/o…hammered it like a threepenny nail until 2004, then had it restored to 95+ point by Rudi Koniczek in Victoria BC. The color scheme has the “wow” factor.

The 100+ mile drive through the rural southern Indiana hills was exhilarating. Two upscale private collections* made nice stops.

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Sandwiched by a retro T-Bird and Mustang,
Stalked by a drone

Phil drives (doesn’t trailer) and isn’t fearful of having fun, so he would never win crystal on Sunday. Translation: his dirt wasn’t as attractive as the others dirt. A good guy, very knowledgeable, with an interesting garage of euro cars.

Bottom line: the 1st Sat in Oct. will be reserved for Fennville in the future.

Cheers
Chas

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Phil Brown, a 60 y/o, serious cancer survivor, behind the wheel of his 1957 roadster

 

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Our ‘rare’ 1981 380SLC juxtaposed with PB’s common 198 chassis. Sadly, the canary with dark green rag-top on the right is worth 2X the gorgeous closed coupe on the left ?…NO…20X….?..NO…try 200X. Life, like the weather, is often unfair.

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⬇⬆ The ‘people’s choice’ on the highway went to this 114 chassis, a 1972 220D sedan spotted in Paoli, IN. Featuring seborrhea dermatitis in the popular ferric oxide shade, all original.

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Optioned with dandruff and the desirable sun roof and; think of it as dandroof. Get out the Selsun® Maroon

*© WDRB, Louisville,KY

 

insightout©2014

Suomi for Breakfast

No attorney in view, the restaurant and bakery in Houghton, a local tradition, is the Suomi. (pronounced Sue Me) *.  The bearded busboy, a student at Finlandia University, is very polite, yet appears a raccoon with distemper.

The no-nonsense waitresses, so quick you feel their passing breeze lift the napkin from the counter; the French toast made from freshly baked cinnamon bread, exquisite. This is Paris, in denim, hiding from polyester vacations.

DSCN1854Sunday regatta, looking toward Hancock, MI and the Finlandia campus

Since our first visit to the Keweenauw, 2008, the entire peninsula has become more vibrant.  Calumet and sister city, Laurium, on the verge of extinction, are now in resuscitation.  Not hip or trendy, i.e. disney, cruise ship, water park, cookie-cutter franchises.  Tourism, home-grown small business, renewed historical interest in mining, and the abundance of natural beauty trump Priceline.com or Sandals® resorts.  Credit the Pure Michigan campaign.
(full disclosure: I am not an actor or compensated spokesperson)

The entertainment choices, like most university towns, are often unique.  The Festa Italiana in Hancock boasted its headliner, “The World’s First Indestructible Italian Polka Band”, but ran out of spaghetti, overwhelmed by hungry festival goers.  The Michigan Tech Pep Band is reputed to be a techno-geek sensation, but sadly, we arrived a month prior to practice.

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“The ice bucket challenge is for wusses”

DSCN1495Laurium’s own, George Gipp, immortalized on the football field and in fieldstone by Knute Rockne and Ronald Reagan.

DSCN1486The lodge of the Keweenauw Resort, built in the early 1930’s has changed little in eighty years.  Built by the WPA to provide labor for the 80-90% unemployment among miners, it retains the craftsmans’ unduplicated charm to this day. A baked haddock sandwich, cole slaw, chips and beer never tasted better.
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[may click to enlarge]

Nearing our goal, the Copper Harbor lighthouse from across Horseshoe Bay as seen August 2008.  A beautiful, lonely, desolate finger into the teeth of northwest winds of Lake Superior.
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August, 2014, same view, Lynn explaining to Mrs. Wilson our first visit with Jack.

We’ve reached our goal, the genesis of U.S.41.
DSCN1830Family portrait; and a vow to one another we won’t wait 6 years to return. 

This is where snowfall is measured in feet, not inches.  Where people think hockey is an actual sport although admit never seeing the puck.  And most important, the natives regard the current frenzy, the ice bucket challenge**, as a thermal joke.  They wouldn’t consider participating unless they needed to warm up.

 

*reputed to be the best breakfast in MI by Rachel Ray, the chatty, chubby, petite Jewish doyenne of kitchen kitsch

**when will this ever end ?

 

©insightout2014

The Legend of Stoney Gilliam, II

The dash warning light is real.  Within minutes the truck has lost  power, reducing 70 mph down to 25 mph, so I choose to turn on the warning flasher and ride the shoulder.  Sans a GPS, I can only estimate that the next town, Springerville, AZ, is fifty miles distant.  Although the very large array of radio telescopes passed an hour ago may be able to detect visitations from other galaxies in the universe, I have zero bar cell service.

For more than an hour, rumble strips, a sick engine, and a few passing cars are all that are seen and heard. 35 miles on the clock.

And then, an angel.

A white SUV slows as it passes then pulls aside and awaits the sick driver and sicker truck.  Her name is Karla, a solo road warrior, with an innate trust for a fellow traveler in distress.  I could be Ted Bundy, serial killer, in disguise, armed and dangerous, a felon preying on good samaritans, but Karla didn’t hesitate. No questions asked, she tries her cell phone, to no avail.  However, her car is equipped with On-Star®, a clever satellite service that promptly answers and offers to call a AAA wrecker.  We part with a warm handshake, and within an hour the truck is loaded onto the flatbed tow, headed for the recommended service center, Round Valley Garage, Springerville, Arizona.

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Stoney Gilliam is stoic, soft-spoken, a weathered mechanic choosing his words carefully and sparingly.  He has the rugged good looks of NCIS’s Mark Harmon.  A late afternoon gaze at the truck through piercing eyes from under an old baseball cap and the computer scope reveals a very serious NG…failed injectors at 193,000 miles.  This had happened once before, in 2008, a whisper above 100,000 miles, and a shadow past the seven year  extended warranty.  GM, sympathetic, politely punched my tough s#it card, and wished me better fortune in the future.

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dateline: Springerville, AZ

nearest big box store, Show Low, AZ, 48 miles away

closest interstate ramp, I-40, 82 miles distant

Stoney’s son drives me to the vintage, 1960s, El-Jo Motel, conveniently located adjacent to a favorite local saloon/eatery, The Safire.  Not a misspelling to be confused with the lovely blue gemstone, The Safire had once been named The Safari, but a Phoenix restaurant of the same name requested the name be changed to avoid confusion.  Fat chance.

The claim to fame for the Safire; the Duke, John Wayne, frequented the place in the 60s.  He had been part owner of a large ranch just west of neighboring Eagar, AZ.  The cheeseburger was delicious, but the seat in the  dining room booth still retained the sculpted shape of the Duke’s rump, like the trusty saddle on an old gelding.

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The Duke, after lunch at the Safire

I spend the next morning, on foot, exploring the town.  A walk to the airstrip, a visit with the ladies in the Safeway store, the local museum where everyone important was named Udall, McD’s for an egg mcmuffin, and a brief busman’s holiday at the Western Rexall.  This is a hardscrabble town with little veneer.  You don’t live here to be monetarily rich.  Five interviews with ‘locals’ were consistent.  You’ll find characters, but no drunken Toronto mayor, or a Jersey FatGov; people seem to enjoy the isolation, fresh clear air, no parking woes, no traffic, and very little crime.  Everyone knows who you are, what you drive, and where the herd of elk was last seen crossing SR 180.

Because the repair, a 14 hour task, and parts would take several days to arrive, over a weekend + the vicious storm covering most of the U.S., Stoney offers to drive me to Show Low that afternoon, both to rent a car, continue on to Phoenix, and meet my wife, Lynn, arriving by air.  He promised me, unequivocally, he would have the truck ready in a week, and would not release it until he was certain it was 100%.  Believe me, his word is gold.

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L-R, Stoney, Chas, and the mended Silverado background

Strange, this bump in the road, a major inconvenience when I needed it the least, enriched my life, reinforced my faith in the basic goodness of people, and lead to quiet contemplation on the ride on AZ-80 from above the Mogollon Rim down to the Valley of the Sun.

Becker Butte Lookout

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Straight from the pages of Arizona Highways, the breathtaking scenery is as welcome as the thirty minute stop to remove fallen rocks.

Below, a genuine American Indian princess and AzDOT employee shares stories and candy with me while waiting.

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My sincere thanks to the support team and I wish them all the best:

  • Karla 
  • The wrecker driver with a clean sense of smell
  • Stoney, Nicole, their son, and staff at the RVGarage
  • The ladies at the El-Jo and the Paint Pony Lodge, in Show Low
  • Show Low, AZ., Hatch Toyota rental rep, Jolene Dailey, for the Rav4, efficiency, and a smile that can melt gloom and lighten the room
  • Princess SummerFallWinterSpring and her avalanche stories

A trip planned to cover 1800 miles in four days had turned into an odyssey of 2400 miles, over 14 days, sleeping in nine different beds, losing seven pounds, five days of food poisoning, and a small dent in the travel budget.

It was worth it.

 

insightout©2014