Techno-Classica or, “maid in germany”

International travel is grueling. Nine hours, middle seat cramped, New Jersey-to-Lisbon, adjacent to a 300 lb. lady, a municipal landfill-in-waiting, who oozed garlic with every belch. A prayer to the Saint of Cabin Decompression, to allow the blessed oxygen mask drop from the ceiling, is lost in the din of ‘cockpit announcements’, all in Portuguese.

The TSA checkpoint exam, 3 second x-ray, one minute pat-down with a frown, assures traveler security. Never mind the tickling sensation during the upward pat, serving as a reminder of an annual upcoming prostate exam. The officer has the humor quotient of a fruit fly, does not offer to Mirandize me, nor, next in line, breathalyze Madam Newark.

This prelude, a welcome and highly anticipated bucket list event, with 16 fellow enthusiasts, also recently fondled by strangers, to a week of classic German cars.

Ahhh, Germany, the land of long words…where geschirrruckgabetablette = café tray.

Personal privacy, (and HIIPA regulations) will not allow me to divulge any or all information, including, but not limited to; names of fellow travelers, social security numbers, gender, prior felony arrests, outstanding traffic warrants, or bank transfer codes.

All of which I gathered, surreptitiously in just seven days….except for two hoosier attendees;

  • In the despised category , “one on every tour”, the inconsiderate oversleeper who kept an entire bus delayed at the very first outing.
  • A lady who, gaining unwanted attention, tripped on a guardrail while attempting a closer view of Hitler’s very own, 770K Grosser. Although the open air limo was armor plated with bulletproof glass, her shin was not. She survived the encounter, after the loss of blood; an attractive shade of wine, and bruises of silver blue. Reminiscent of Indiana, 1966.

For seven days, an amorphous mass, we moved together, clear bubbles in a mountain stream of minnows doing what else….?….looking at used cars. Okay, expensive used cars, but others will provide details and photographic evidence.

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I found myself intrigued by the German people who, as you may know, speak a foreign language, nearly all wear black, and adhere to a national policy to smile less than twice weekly. The HQ receptionist at AMG, Claudia Barnickle, true to the code, when I requested a happy face. DSCN4706

Even this miniature fraulette, a five y/o fashion statement, awaiting the funicular ride to the scenic panorama of old Heidelberg who was whisked away, “Komm jetzt Süßer, der mann mag ein raubtiersein”, roughly, ‘come child, the man may be a predator’.

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At a critical juncture, our bus driving genius, Fabio, a chain smoking Italian, facilitating a more convenient drop off for his affluent passengers, elected to ignore this sign : keine Busse erlaubt. You know it; black circle, diagonal red stripe, aged Prevost shadow in the background.

Alas, this was not Fabio’s day. An attractive gendarme verbally scolded the diesel interloper, wrote a costly citation, and warned him of impending loss of manhood. My 1:06 minute, you-tube video of the encounter was confiscated as it required parental guidance for anyone under the age of eighty. Fabio, smoking an Italian Marlboro, gagged as if he was gargling fish hooks.

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The only remnant; photo/name badge of the arresting officer, Katrin Braun

An industrious Germany is reflected in its architecture; austere, lifeless, utilitarian, a mix of glass, steel, corrugated zinc siding……the personality of a section-8 Moscow housing complex. They do, however, make some beautiful cars, so why dress a courtyard with polished aluminum, dancing skateboarders ?  Four stories high ?

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The employment rate @ 97%, allows the unemployed to practice full-time graffiti art, which is everywhere. My suspicion, those 3% , at night, armed with Krylon® rattle cans in search of blank spaces, are working daytime for under-the-table cash in tattoo parlors.

And the maiden, you might ask…?… an attractive, on-duty nurse, seated in an aging MB ambulance in the Essen exhibition hall. She too, stoic, cool, non-talkative, had only a recorded voice. Lacking fluency in German, I was certain she wished to introduce me to her ride-flat sister, who was no doubt, inflatable.

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On the inskirts of Stuttgart we passed the “Oh Lord, Car Lot”, all used Mercedes. A curious name, unless you were alive in1970, and listened to the final recording of Janis Joplin, 3 days before her death.   Even though JJ drove a Porsche 356, her estate is likely receiving royalties from Daimler Benz.

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Guess the manufacturer’s paint code number ?

Do not be misled. We were treated as visiting royalty at every venue. The coffee was served in dainty cups, like those from a child’s dollhouse, and quite tasty, although refills were measured with an eyedropper ( sir, one dropperful or two ?) At the center of excellence the luncheon was exquisite. The dessert, marinated berries, spelt stones and mango sorbet, yet nearly unnoticed, and untouched, tiered silver trays with the most delicious chocolates. Ever.

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In contrast, a Techno parts vendor offered a version of pecan pie. Attractive, but 19 mm nuts fail to challenge French chocolates.

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A brief visit in the kitchen with the chef to compliment him on the chocolate selection, his whispered confession, ‘they are not German, but La Maison du Chocolat®, from Paris.’ Full disclosure; in an effort to gain weight, this visitor consumed at least three cognac, and three caramel toffee truffles. While no one was looking.

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If you questioned who was tardy to the bus, day one, please repeat this sentence, the only phrase learned all week; “Enschreitenblatten schalteniedlich verkehrsgesellschaft ? “

Loosely translated….”you don’t say ?”

 

©insightout2018

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.

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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