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.


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.


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 ⬇


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


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


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;


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 



Being Older than Your Car

A 2016 trilogy, Colorado and Bust

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


Age is an issue of mind over matter.  If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.

Mark Twain 1912

Others may expand on convention activity, actual events, and please, be assured the cars are the focal point.  However my interest is the character pheromone that attracts people to attend.  It’s true the women are attractive, and too, they smell good, either on the elevator or in the overhead ski lift bucket.


Kim, a 6′ model from Early, TX allowing an elderly 5’6″ voyeur to fondle her 3½ lb. dog.  So cute, and the pup was a real looker too….

The men, while this may sound peculiar, will not be auditioning to become Chippendale dancers.  They have good taste in both women, cars, and collectively, are a living encyclopedia of all things 190sl. Understand, however, Chanel #5 is not interchangeable with 15W/40, synthetic or not.

On our first climb above 9000′, my 2nd carburetor becomes inoperable. Egads, a deep six tragedy, akin to the century old anthem, “Pike’s Peak or Bust”.  Busted, truly; in a state allowing legal marijuana ?

Able to drive only 5 mph at 500 rpm, or, roar through hairpin turns at 5000 rpm, nothing in-between. In little more than an hour, club gurus, the Two Dons, had it running in fine fettle.


The doctors make a highway call……Don Drabik does the re-install,
Parts and tools from Don Freese, this is gonna be a breeze.  

Sung as a rap tune       

 dscn3280 kenny-g_612x380
The air breather assembly, removed, appears to be a primitive saxophone, cast aside by KennyG

At dinner, with no assigned seating, I always attempt to sit with people I do not know, and have never been disappointed.  At the opening salvo, I land between the Craigs, non-member guests from KennyG’s hometown of Seattle.  Ray to my left, a retired test pilot of the 700 series Boeing jets, and to the right, Jan*, a recent public health nurse retiree, all three of us sticky eating BBQ ribs, while discussing the breakdown of the healthcare system.

At the last luncheon, over salad, soup, and Tommyknocker beer, we were  entertained by aćcented brits, Theresa and Andy Holmes, from Buckingham, UK, 5000 miles from home.  The subject matter was not cars, the distance traveled, nor lunch, but Brexit.


Reminiscent of the PBS sit-com, “As Time Goes By”, it was like having lunch with Lionel & Jean.

The only member who has attended every 190SL convention (30 plus years) is club statesman, Don Drabik, who takes delight in disregarding warning signs.  We know he can read. We know he can see.  His wife, Kathy, is a knockout.  Literate, he is an accomplished artist, reader, and Studebaker fan, so why is the evidence caught on camera so difficult to interpret…?….⬇




A planned adventure drive, suitable for glamour photo-ops, takes the parade north to Grand Lake, almost missing this stunning antler array in a Fraser, CO, C-Store parking lot.


Rudolph the red nose light fixture, price on request

From the Grand Lake Lodge estab. 1920, peering down at the shimmering lake framed by glittering aspens in golden glory, three of our very best absorb the serenity from Colorado’s Favorite Front Porch.  An easy task following a 3000 calorie brunch at 8,769 ft. above sea level.




Train bust….no…a Brain trust.  Southern statesmen contemplating the good life.
L-R  Kent VanMeter, TX; Walt Puryear, GA; Kip Gibert, LA.

Next, the beauty of the long ride home on the road less traveled.


*sister of popular members, Mary Anne Westphal and sidekick Ken Lowman
KennyG photo courtesy, Chapman Baehler©/Kenneth Gorelick




The Twain shall meet

A 2016 trilogy, Colorado and Bust

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


The opening bell has rung. Kiss Lynn and Wilson goodbye;

roadster : we have ignition 

westward to the first interlude, Westville, IN, a road bend with little Zen. However, any crossroad can evoke a distant memory.


It was here, at the home of the Justice of the Peace, March,1935, two hormonally charged 18 y/o arrived from East Chicago, IN to elope, the brave somersault over parental approval of marriage.

Later those two teens were known, to me and my brothers, as Mom & Dad.

Meet with Traverse City, MI traveling companions, Don and Kathy Drabik, quick how-do-you-do, gas up, next stop Monticello, IL, the Main Street Pub for a cold one, and reconnoiter with Salt Point, NY’s own, Brian & Paula Parker.



Careful examination reveals the Drabik’s have secured a standard American stop sign, matched to the color of their car, and functions first as an attention-getter, and 2nd, as a working antenna for the Blaupunkt AM/FM radio.  People stop and stare.

A backroad strategy session of old friends plotting a new destination, Hannibal, MO.  A peaceful settlement on the mighty Mississippi, here the Twain have met, at the historical museum, notable for its exceptionally clean men’s room.



Allow now for a tangential drift from the blue highway to what might be viewed as the yellow road.  Three men, average age > 70, driving cars nearly as old, find three reasons for frequent stops

  1. The 190 gas tank is = to 13½  US gallons, requiring regular refueling (the 3 R’s)
  2. Male bladders, malted brews, and prostatic hypertrophy, well, you get the whiff
  3. Because my wife said so

Here then, never before discussed, is a description of male behavior at the urinal; (a) you may look down, look up, or stare straight ahead…but never, never look to your left or right, (b) zero conversation unless it refers to sports or some manly theme, e.g.,”how about those Cubs” or, “did you notice that tattoo on the barmaid’s cleavage”, and (c) aim for the para-dichlorobenzene, that pink mothball cake.

Women, I learned only this week, first thing, always, always, look under the stall doors. Rather peculiar, but it must avoid the embarrassment of the abrupt squat stare. Can you sense I’m not ready for the trans, uni, or same sex bathroom ?

I will admit to being confused about the new ‘waterless’ fixtures incorporating the latest green technology.   Why not just pee into an empty Dasani® or Aquafina® bottle and drop it off at the recycle bin?   At issue is the number of urinal manufacturers A-Z made in the USA; American Standard, Kohler, Regal Sloan, Zurn, and then there’s Toto, the clever Japanese upstart where nothing is sacred, including Holy Mary.














Or above, go whizz while watching a quiz .

In spite of Toto’s contribution to male relief, it is unlikely that the stolen intellectual property of MGM’s Wizard of OZ pet canine, Toto, will ever receive the royalties to which he is entitled.  Would it be politically incorrect to refer to the Japanese as “The Yellow Peril”, like we did in 1946 when Dad was a returning marine ?  Sorry.


We have no interstate highway in our crosshairs, crossing into the heart of this great country, next stop St. Francis, KS which is not the boyhood home to the current Pope.   Marysville, KS tourism booster is the black squirrel population, countered by Norton, KS located near the Prairie Dog State Park, although it’s rumored that no prairie dogs actually live there, having moved to states with more favorable property tax abatement.

Our KS zoology lesson is near complete as we ride parallel, FedEx trucks to the left and the original Pony Express Trail on the right. Nearly every sizable town, if there is no Arkansas big box store, boasts its largest, most successful business, the John Deere Implement dealership.




One of these, a used JD 9430 will cost as much ~ #2 condition 190SL, except,

  • The J-D has A/C
  • power steering
  • auto trans
  • cruise control
  • self cancelling turn signals
  • on board wifi
  • and it BEEPS in reverse gear.
Passing through Smith County, a billboard announces the writer and home of a man named Higley, who penned the state song of Kansas, “Home, home on the range”.  For an hour, driving alone in the car, I am loudly singing….Ohhh give me a home where the buffalo roam where the skies….I’ll let you, the reader, finish the lyrics.

….to be continued where seldom is heard, a discouraging word, next, motels on the road less traveled

” The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” Mark Twain, 1896