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

 

Daisy, part I

Timeline: First day of spring 1994, South Bend, IN

Welcome the 180 chassis to its new home  ⬇

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Rewinding the clock to 1969, a Methodist minister in Fargo, ND, the Rev. Mueller, trades in his trusted 1958 Mercedes 220S sedan for a new Cadillac DeVille, thus verifying that belief in Christ may reap material benefits.

In nearby rural Northcote, MN, John Dunn, bend-in-the-road Texaco station owner, buys the Benz; $ 600 for the car + an extra $50 for the 4 piece fitted luggage in the trunk.

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Fast forward 25 years of everyday driving, Mr. Dunn passes away, the sedan is offered by the estate, and I’m driving it, cautiously, 300 miles home. In remarkably original condition, it has the standard color scheme; black exterior, lush red leather interior, and enough wood inside to fund a South American lumberyard.

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The car had one unusual and expensive option (~ 175 US$ in 1958 now = $1476 today ), a transmission in transition, operating without a clutch pedal, the segue of manual to automatic. M-Benz named it Hydrak ©, which found few supporters (burned out clutches) and became a handicap at the time of sale.  The operation, although flawless, proved too tricky for the average driver, took practice getting used to, a rare misstep in German engineering.

However, I loved it, as no one ever asked if they could take the wheel.

The car became our tribute to the similar 1955 Buick, Morgan Freeman transporting Jessica Tandy in the classic film, “Driving Miss Daisy”. Daisy became my daily driver for several summers, work, play, and the occasional wedding.

photo ⬇ courtesy, Barrett-Jackson LLC, all rights reserved 1998

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Wife, Lynn, practicing her Princess Di wave for the adoring masses, July 4th, 2004, parade, DeTour Village, MI. Note, steering wheel mounted, illegal necking knob off our tractor.

My bridge partner, a very close friend, once asked me to go to the local mausoleum, for a photographic favor.  A family dispute involving a distant, disenfranchised stepson living in Manhattan, who received no inheritance from his wealthy stepmother, felt her death was a hoax. He demanded evidence of the burial vault. A favorite photo resulted :

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Alas, Daisy became the victim of being # 9 in an eight car barn. The old ponton roundbody was sold on eBay to a shopping center magnate in Hong Kong. The Los Angeles agent for the new owner revealed that the Chinese government prohibits ‘vintage’ cars on the road, hence, Daisy was condemned to a suspended turntable in a mall atrium, an obscene display of Western imperialism, never to be driven.  Little different than a stationary pole dancer in an adult night club.

A political shame, until, perhaps, the next insurrection in Beijing….?…

Stay tuned,

“but I don’t want to go to Hong Kong”  ⬇DSCN9480.JPG

 

©insightout2017

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