Car Stories

This page is to let it all hang out. complain, moan, praise etc.

Re: Car Stories

Postby Tremors » 23 Jul 2012, 22:13

While I have greatly enjoyed writing my own stories and love reading others (that's a hint by the way), I do on occasion like to post special car related stories from the world outside of NSP. I came across this today, and I found it to be very cool. 8)

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-18910560
Enjoy.
I know who I am! I'm a dude playing a dude, disguised as another dude!
User avatar
Tremors
 
Posts: 1422
Joined: 09 May 2006, 15:28
Location: Back in the north country!

Re: Car Stories

Postby Tremors » 12 Oct 2012, 18:37

Tremors wrote:While I have greatly enjoyed writing my own stories and love reading others (that's a hint by the way), I do on occasion like to post special car related stories from the world outside of NSP.

Daaaaaaaaaaaaamn! Go Granny, go Granny, go granny, go!
http://autos.aol.com/article/102-year-old-woman-still-drives-her-82-year-old-car/?ncid=txtlnkusauto00000020


(And she changes her own oil and spark plugs too! Frickin' awesome!)
I know who I am! I'm a dude playing a dude, disguised as another dude!
User avatar
Tremors
 
Posts: 1422
Joined: 09 May 2006, 15:28
Location: Back in the north country!

Re: Car Stories

Postby Tremors » 23 Sep 2013, 21:06

Reputation

He stood quietly. Right-hand grasping his left wrist; feigning relaxation, he leaned back against an empty buffet table in the room reserved at the restaurant that evening. This character on the video screen, were it not for some degree of ignorance of what was about to be said, and were it not for the piercing eyes of his peers -- not the least of which belonging to Sarah, his high school mad crush, sitting among the crowd -- the young man in the dark cardigan might really have fully been as at ease as the image he portrayed. 8) His posture didn't betray him, and neither did the nonchalant look on his face, which wasn't obscured despite the graininess of the old video. He played the role brilliantly.

"David, ah, was already spoken about his affection with cars," Coach Percy began to the sound of knowing laughter. "Well, David and I had an experience with a car this year. We were going to one of our drive," he haltingly continued, searching for new words as soon as the old ones dropped from his lips, "visiting meets, and somebody decided they liked the rear end of my car a lot and decided to put the front end of their car darn near into the front end of our car, from the back."

A smattering of chuckles met the coach's words as he spoke. David, still in his relaxed pose standing just a couple feet to the right of the coach, listened intently; the corner of his lip curled up in a half smile, his head tilted slightly downward staring unfocused into the middle distance. He didn't care to make eye contact, and the coach wasn't looking in his direction anyway.

"Well Dave," Percy said, pausing again to assemble his rolling thoughts. "I spoke to Dave probably three years ago when I was subbing in a class for Mr. Gus, about some appropriate, inappropriate language..."

A slight curl in the lip and the sideways smirk on Dave's face grew wider. He tilted his head to look back at the wall in mock embarrassment though in truth it was his perverse pride showing itself. Though the video feed was jumpy, one could still see Dave joining in with the rest of his teammates in a shared chuckle.

And the coach continued.

"When we got hit, I didn't know whether to laugh or to check if everybody was okay because of his comments. I won't say them," he shot, then paused as more laughter interrupted the flow of his words, "but, it was funny. I had the feeling that Dave was going to get out of my car and tear somebody's lungs out." :lol:

The weight of attention shifted to Dave as his coach rested his thoughts for a moment. He crossed his arms in front of his chest, and looks up at the ceiling with a wry smile; his cheeks begin to flush. Dave said nothing.

Like those before and those after, this was his moment of recognition for a season of hard work running for the North High School's cross-country team. This was the traditional banquet at the end of the season. A time to reflect, celebrate and say goodbye to the seniors and anoint next seasons leadership. And it should be noted, this was November, 1990.

For Dave, this was his second spotlight for the evening. Not 10 minutes prior, Matt and Rachel, senior co-captains of the joint boys & girls cross-country team, awarded Dave for his Zen-like relationship to automobiles, the Wreckless Driving Award-with emphasis on being "wreck-less".

As Matt so pointedly observed as he presented this highest honor, "He (Dave) is quite a wild man out there". And while the words are not so flattering left to stand on their own, the video paints a more jovial picture, tinged with a bit of awe at the antics of this character behind the wheel. It was this that the coach made reference to at the beginning of his speech.

"So after I said okay, is everybody okay," the coach said. "I look back there and he has fire in his eyes. And I thought, geez, is he going to get me or is he going to get the guy behind me. We got everything settled down then I realized his concern for everybody else was as genuine as mine. And I don't know what it is about cars and Dave," he continued in a hushed, thoughtful tone as the coach's tale of this young man was now to come full circle. "But, ah, I don't know. But I think it might be...you might want to avoid it. Just not good luck with 'em."

As the laughter withdrew, Percy concluded his remarks by speaking to Dave's dedication to training, improvement and "Go Team" spirit. It was the kind of positive performance recap one would hope their coach would say about them before a firm handshake passes them their senior year School Letter and sends them off into the big world.

This is where the video ends.

I trust by now that you, as the reader, have figured out on your own that I am the young man in the video; the coach was mine; the story was mine. If only Coach Percy knew the depth and breadth of my strange personal relationships with automobiles; physically, metaphysically, whatever it is that cars are to me. Imagine my reputation, if he had ever read my car stories! :shock:
Last edited by Tremors on 28 Apr 2017, 11:19, edited 1 time in total.
I know who I am! I'm a dude playing a dude, disguised as another dude!
User avatar
Tremors
 
Posts: 1422
Joined: 09 May 2006, 15:28
Location: Back in the north country!

Re: Car Stories

Postby Tremors » 13 Oct 2013, 13:52

Big Shooter

Some time ago, in a previous Car Story titled The Night of a Thousand Tires I made a passing reference to a story that, after a recent, hilarious rehash with my friends, seemed worthy of its own retelling. Enjoy!

Tink...Tink...Tink.

Chi-busch!

Ahhh shit, I thought to myself as the sound of shattered glass rained down onto the nearby parking lot. Leaning against the stair railing by my front door, I lowered and shook my head less from embarrassment than of disbelief at what I just witnessed my friend Eric do. :shock:

Now perhaps the natural, if not irrational knee-jerk reaction might have been to run away, but the three of us, Eric, Jason and I just stood by and watched as the last bits a glass danced on the pavement next to the sedan. I once inadvertently kicked in a sidelight window by a door at my high school after gym class. My entire class was locked out and we pounded on the door in vain to get the attention of a couple of girls we could see down the hall. Once my foot went through the glass, 30 kids--myself included--immediately scattered to the 4 winds. :shock: At least this time I didn't run, but then again, this time I wasn't the guilty party.

The Pepsi sign along the side of the little convenience store across the street from where I grew up was a favorite target for some time. When my friends and I weren't plinking BBs off of it, it was bottle rockets or rocks or maybe even the occasional Roman Candle found itself bouncing off that sign or off of each other for that matter. For as long as I could remember the Pepsi sign had been slowly morphing into a rusty shadow of itself; shooting holes in it sure didn't help, but by that point it couldn't really hurt anymore either. The letters were still legible, but the red and blue were faded so much as to be almost indistinguishable from the white except where the dirty orange of oxidation wasn't commuting its makeup.

Hitting anything other than the sign had never been an issue before, but perhaps it was inevitable. It just happened that Eric was the one to make the mistake. It's not that Eric was any more dangerous with a BB gun than Ralphie at Christmas time with his Red Rider, but Eric took his eye off the target and as he lowered the air gun, he failed to remove his finger from the trigger well. A rookie mistake.

Jay looked over at Eric wide-eyed :shock: , but didn't say anything to him as he snatched the BB gun out of Eric's hand and stepped past us, walking into the house. I'm sure Eric was disappointed with himself and probably said so; I probably replied he was a dumbass. :oops: He knew he screwed up, and, even though he was a very prideful individual, I had known him to own up to his mistakes --probably more so than I do-- and I believed he had every intention of making amends. That is until Jason stepped out of the house and began firing.

Thunk. Thunk. Thunk.

A dozen times over he pumped BBs into his own truck parked in the street between us and the Pepsi target. Confused, Eric and I stood and watched him ding the ol' Orange Crush. Where rust already began claiming the metal of his 20 year old Dodge, the little copper projectiles blew clean through; elsewhere, the BBs didn't have enough momentum to do anything more than to dent to the metal and chip the paint. Apparently that was the point.

Once he finished his vandalistic volley, Jay stepped back into the house to put away the gun. No sooner had he put the little pea shooter in the closet, did North St. Paul's finest pull up.

Ahhh shit.

As the officer got out of his car, Jason stepped to him and reported how some nefarious vandals came around and shot up his truck, which was about the same time that the owner of the car parked at Silver Lake Market came out and took note of the damage to his driver side window. With Jason and the other man showing off the damage to their respective vehicles, the options were no longer so clear-cut for Eric.

Eric and Jay always had a unique friendship. Both guys are similar in ways they may not want to admit: headstrong; proud, often to the point of being cocky; sometimes all too willing to wear their heart on their sleeve (no doubt Oprah would approve); and ever ready to one-up the other. But for all of these similarities or perhaps because of them, tension sometimes grew. But even when in a sniping mood, when outside forces threatened, Eric and Jay rallied behind each other. This was one of those times.

Taking the initiative, and acting on his own, Jason copper-popped his own vehicle in order to spare his friend the legal ramifications of the mistake he had just made, despite his feeling that Eric was an idiot who would have earned his fate. This was a measure of loyalty to his friend. Whether calling the cops himself was Jason doing the right thing for the wrong reasons or the wrong thing for the right reasons, I suppose is any individual's judgment to make. Right or wrong, Eric was off the hook because Jay gave him an out, and in-so-doing, stripped Eric of the option to fess up. Had he cleansed his soul, then Jason would have gotten in trouble with "Johnny Law" for making a false report, and Eric would be busted for the busted window. Guy Code wouldn't allow Eric to do that in light of why Jay did what he did. The Orange Crush took the punishment so Eric didn't have to.
Last edited by Tremors on 28 Apr 2017, 11:25, edited 2 times in total.
I know who I am! I'm a dude playing a dude, disguised as another dude!
User avatar
Tremors
 
Posts: 1422
Joined: 09 May 2006, 15:28
Location: Back in the north country!

Re: Car Stories

Postby Tremors » 01 Nov 2013, 11:24

I didn't know it was still going on, but DAMN! My question is, why would you be so public about it?! Was there any speed law NOT broken?
http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/31/us/new-york-los-angeles-cannonball-speed-record/index.html?hpt=hp_t1
I know who I am! I'm a dude playing a dude, disguised as another dude!
User avatar
Tremors
 
Posts: 1422
Joined: 09 May 2006, 15:28
Location: Back in the north country!

Re: Car Stories

Postby Tremors » 19 Dec 2013, 23:49

Moving Day: The Return

Late November, 2012

I had made the drive a half dozen times before. Not much of an accomplishment if I were an over-the-road trucker; still, traveling across the country makes for a long road trip. As a soldier stationed at Fort Bliss in El Paso Texas -- the very western tip of the Republic -- meant that it takes a full 24 or more hours of driving, not taking into account stops for food & drink, sleep breaks, rest stops and "rest" stops for occupants both human and, as was often the case, pets too.

This time was different. This time would be the last run between Minnesota and the Texas, New Mexico, old Mexico borderland. This time I had my friend Jason riding shotgun.


Early July, 2012

Her white Grand Cherokee was loaded to its maximum carrying capacity. Behind it, the small trailer we rented was nearly bursting at the seams with clothes, mattresses, assorted boxes packed with who-knows-what, and my wife's great loves, her plants.

The Sun City wasn't living up to its reputation. The air was heavy and wet by El Paso standards. In an atypical fashion, the broad skies were cloud choked and a light rain began to fall as the kids wedged themselves between pillows, dog carriers, drink boxes, books and games intended to distract them from the miles that lay ahead. In the front seat, my wife prepared to leave. Outwardly these were the simple tasks of double and triple checking what was packed; that the Jeep's gages read normal; that her sunglasses were waiting for her use, tucked in the visor. On the inside she was summoning up the ability to say adieu.

Final kisses given; goodbyes said. The rain fell a bit harder now; the sky too seems to hate goodbyes. From the top of our concrete driveway I stood and watched as my wife and kids pulled away. As they rounded the corner at the intersection in front of our house, I walked out onto the quiet street, gave a short, simple wave and watched my family turn the corner and disappear from sight, not for me to see again for the better part of five months.

Army life is known to take its toll on a family, but five months away from loved ones is mild by comparison to the separation many military families have known. Over the prior two and a half years I had spent plenty of time away from my family, but this was different. I was nearing the end of my military commitment at year's end, and we decided it was best for the kids to move back to Minnesota and get established in a home and a school, rather than interrupt their routine mid-school year by moving back when my Army contract ended without a home, jobs or school to enroll in. For the next five months, they were moving on with the next chapter in their lives and I was left behind to honor my commitment.


Late November, 2012

The house seemed so open. Empty. Every sound amplified and echoed throughout. No furniture or personal possessions in a carpetless house will create that effect. The bed I made out of 2 couch cushions and a sheet along with my TV made up the totality of my living room-as-bedroom. A couple bags of clothes and the exhausted remnants of cleaning supplies rounded out the remaining items not taken by the movers the prior week. This Spartan existence was the culmination of my efforts to prepare the house before turning it back over to the Army and leaving.

With one day left before I could sign out and end my active duty career, I handed over the house keys and stayed the night on my friend Cuvie's couch. Cuvie is my Army buddy, and as the Army doesn't issue 1st names, he is simply "Cuvie"; one name, like Cher or Madonna.

Considering the long road trip I was to begin the following day, perhaps it wasn't wise counsel to stay up late drinking beer and playing video games, but it was my last night there, and hanging out with Cuvie the last few months helped make my time away from the family entertaining. Besides, as it was, the leather adhering itself to my skin was hot and made it difficult to move, like rolling around on flypaper. I wasn't destined for a long night of sleep anyway. Still, I had slept in far worse places in far worse positions, so to have the couch to crash on was greatly preferred to sleeping in my car outside of brigade headquarters.

Midmorning the next day Jason landed at the El Paso airport. He flew in just to drive back with me. With history as a guide, he probably hoped for some grand road-tripping adventure or at least an interesting story to tell.

From the airport we drove over to my brigade building on post. Convenient that Ft. Bliss geographically wraps its loving camo-colored arms around the civilian international airport so that we made the drive in just minutes. In just over three years I was witness to so much change in the Army, Ft. Bliss, my unit, and -- not the least of which -- myself, but now this major period in my life was over as I signed out from my unit.

Image

After signing out for the last time, I took Jay on a brief driving tour of Bliss and certain El Paso highlights before meeting up with Cuvie for lunch at Chico's Tacos on Montana Avenue. With only a few hours in the city, I could not imagine a better way for Jason to tangibly experience the essence of El Paso, than to bring him to Chico's.

Chico's Tacos is the local fast-food tradition. It is to El Paso what the Carnegie Deli is to New York City or Mickey's Dining Car is to St. Paul. A Sun City institution, whose notoriety grew outside the borderland when it became a subject of comedian Gabriel Iglesias' stand-up television special, "I'm Not Fat...I'm Fluffy".

It would have been sacrilegious not to stop by and get their signature three taco single order with fries and a cold Coke. In Chico's application, "taco" is a bit misleading as they are not like what most people envision a taco to be. What the customer gets are three tightly wrapped and fried, six inch beef taquitos that come in rectangular paper bowls and are drenched in a thin red sauce akin to watered down salsa. Actually, that's not quite right. "Drenched" is an insufficient descriptive; "fully submerged" like little Mexican submarines should accurately paint the right mental picture. The sauce being required not just to infuse flavor, but I suspect intentionally designed to dial back the crispiness of the taquito's shell; give the sauce a moment to work on the shell because crisp is good, rock hard is a tooth buster. And on top, covered like a gooey yellow blanket, a generous mound of artery clogging, heart stopping cheese!

One does not simply eat Chico's; one experiences Chico's holistically. It is a digestive venture whose presence refuses to be denied, as Jason would learn later in the trip. Decidedly not health food, but as we sat in the dated earth-tone Formica booth with the warm sunlight casting through the window, the three of us greedily ate our fill and enjoyed it.

A Chico's lunch was the right way, the El Paso way, to say adios! After lunch, in the nearby parking lot, in a final touristic moment, while Cuvie looked on quizzically, Jason snapped a picture of the Chico's Tacos sign. Of course, I In turn took a picture of him taking a picture of the sign! I guess I'm just funny that way.

Image

After a brief stop to show off the house I just gave back to Uncle Sam, we hopped into the fully packed sedan and hit the road. It was mid-afternoon and the sun was already beginning to hang low in the cloudless sky. "Carlos", my gold 300M, built by what was once the DiamlerChrysler Corporation, was a hearty road veteran of more than 200,000 miles under my command. I had little doubt it would bring us home.

The drive out of town was a long goodbye to the city which I had grown to love. Familiar roads and neighborhoods; favorite stores and restaurants; Ft. Bliss and Biggs Army Airfield, the places where people I knew were continuing their lives, here. All these I saw as we drove along, and just as quickly that part of my life faded away in my rearview mirror. The Franklin Mountains on the left guided us out of west Texas and into New Mexico where US 54 -- The Patriot Freeway no less -- turned north, as if handing us off to the Sacramento Mountains of Alamogordo 80 miles in front of us.

Image

Less a series of jagged peaks, than a more singular looking rock rising from the desert floor when looking from the west, the mountain range outside Alamogordo was painted a fiery red-orange hue in the fading light from the setting sun. The hazy gray ghost of stone that we first saw in the far distance from El Paso had warmed considerably as we approached the Sacramento Mountains. A few miles south of Alamogordo, under the eternal watch of that natural monument, we pulled up to the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Checkpoint that straddles the highway, halting traffic in the pursuit of crafty dope smugglers, general scofflaws, and illegal aliens of both the south-of-the-border or Roswell New Mexico escapee varieties.

"You citizens," the officer asked from behind his sunglasses. The black tactical shades and badge adorned tan uniform with gun on hip, spoke to his seriousness, though his tone was rather blasé. It was a question he asked a hundred times a day, and while he was obliged to ask it of everyone, Anglo faces seemed to elicit little concern about potential citizenship issues.

"Nein."

The officer, himself a man of clear Hispanic familial extraction, was more accustomed to Spanish, being so close to the borderland, if English wasn't the language of choice. The slightly bemused look on his face informed me, that speaking German was truly a foreign language as far as he was concerned.

"I'm wis sie Cherman Air Force out of Fort Bliss on my vay to Holloman [Air Force Base]," I stated in my best Hollywood style German accent. Four years of high school German, and the best I could do sounded like I was auditioning for the roll of Sergeant Schultz on Hogan's Heroes.

I had pulled this stunt before while driving through this checkpoint, and wanted to try it one last time. The agent looked over Jay, me and my car, clearly catching a glimpse of the glossy red Ft. Bliss post sticker which added an air of plausibility to my bullshit. Since the Germans hold a presence at both nearby Holloman and Bliss, having representatives of the Fatherland pass through would not have been completely unheard of. So long as he didn't call my bluff with a "papers please" maneuver, I'd be alright. If he wanted to push the issue, then hopefully he possessed a sense of humor.

"M'kay, 'ave a good day."

With a wave of an authoritative hand, and our own sense of juvenile satisfaction, we were off.

Image

It was almost dark by the time we passed through Alamogordo, and the parched khaki landscape was fading to black. Prior to falling into the dark abyss, we called our friend Aaron while still within sight of the cell towers of Alamogordo, and gave him an idea of our progress and dished out the usual bullshit and banter our circle of friends prefer to exchange amongst ourselves. No one can bust your balls quite like your best friends can; maybe it's a guy thing, but to quote Dionne Warwick, "that's what friends are for"!

For the next several hours, the world would cease to exist outside the bounds of the headlights shining on the gray ribbon of road ahead of us. The engine and tires hummed their singular tune while the aqua colored dash lights reflected faintly on the windows of the Chrysler, which seemed to add to the feeling of being enveloped by the great nothingness.

Eerie.

The purity of night we experienced in the desert is something fewer folks these days can appreciate as people eschew the darkness in favor of cloistering into brightly lit cities and suburbs. Even those in the countryside often aren't out far enough to avoid seeing the faint orange haze of nearby civilization, accurately, though derisively, called "light pollution", which dims the stars and draws down the ebony of an otherwise unspoiled night. Islands of well lit metropolises have spread out over the decades so that the true blackness of a purified night can only be found by the intrepid voyager willing to venture great distances from all others.

With no one to be found for miles on end and only a couple small towns along this leg of the journey, the night was its blackest; the shimmering stars above, the most numerous. Scanning the radio to pass the time, occasionally we could pick up faint cracklings of stations on the AM band bouncing off the ionosphere from parts far and away from this desolate place.

The Chrysler glided effortlessly on the smooth highway. The car's rhythmic "om" meditative chant was soothing. In this moment of vehicular Zen, we were one unit; a symbiotic merging of driver and car, where every gliding undulation of the road surface transmits effortlessly between the two; steering, accelerating and braking were an extension of the body, made without conscience effort. In all, a very holistic driving experience.

Rare was the occasion when another traveler met us on our darkened highway. Headlights would brighten in intensity as we drew nearer to the other; whoosh and that slight shudder from the turbulent air buffets the car, then the nothingness returns. In those fleeting moments passing -- literally -- in the night, we were no longer alone and were reminded that there was still a much bigger world around us, even if we could not see it. In faith we knew it was out there. Still, the all encompassing darkness and feelings of aloneness in the world were novel and exciting and, oddly enough, something to hold onto because of it.

We filled the void with conversations about family, friends, the Army, jobs, old stories and plans for the future. For several hours we drove; swallowed by the dark maw of New Mexico until sometime around midnight when we pulled into Tucumcari. Neon lights, the unique style of desert art-deco art and architecture, roadside motels whose design character was as unique as they were seedy and time-worn accented this small city. Tucumcari sits along the Mother Road and despite the modernity of Subway sub shops, chain hotels, digital bank building signs and the like, enough of the Route 66 Americana flavor could be seen throughout the town.

Several times I had crossed the historic highway, and this time I was determined to get my kicks on Route 66, if in no other way, than with a picture of one of the historic Route 66 road signs, and the darkness be damned! It's not that we weren't up for exploration or new adventure, but being that it was well past the town's bedtime, settling for a picture was really our only option for making memories on ol' 66.

Image

"Historic Route New Mexico US 66" read the sign at the intersection. We pulled the car onto the grassy side of the road near the adjoining Big Kmart parking lot, approximately 40 feet from the sign. As I walked to the marker, Jason set the timer on his Canon digital SLR camera and rested it on the Carlos' roof aimed at the sign I was now leaning on, waiting.

What happened next has often replayed in slow-motion in my mind, which I think makes it funnier, and was the source of frequent outbursts of laughter on my part for the remainder of the trip. I looked up in time to see my friend as a featureless human figure whose outline was glowing radiantly, backlit by the Chrysler's headlights in the night, with arms outstretched messianic style. As if in slow motion, with arms extended east to west, gravity laid the divine creature prostrate before me with a thud. I remember it looking so graceful right until the landing. In a fluid sequence of motion, Jay hit the ground, ate some dead grass -- figuratively speaking -- and the momentum from the bounce off his chest helped my friend get to his knees.

Flash

He was too far away and had set the timer with too few seconds to make it to the sign, so as I walked towards my fallen friend, the camera captured him in all his glory on his knees. The ditch he tripped in, was between the car and sign, and hidden by the darkness and shadow. For the next attempt we pulled the car closer to the sign, and got it right. Truthfully, I do not know which picture I prefer.
Image
Our expedition continued; eventually leaving New Mexico and briefly reentering the northern tip of the Lone Star State. Soon thereafter we reached the Oklahoma panhandle; crossing it in an hour before reaching Liberal--the city, not the politics--Kansas. As long, dark and dull as the New Mexico portion was, Kansas would prove again to me to be far worse. Were this portion of the drive taking place in the daylight, at least the Land of Enchantment had natural wonders to see. By contrast, Kansas, the centerpiece of the Great Plains, had little to offer visually beyond rolling, grassy plains and cropland from horizon to horizon. Beautiful in their own right perhaps, but to describe the vistas as "dramatic" would be charitable. Crossing the state in the dark of night really didn't hinder one's ability to sightsee.

We entered the southwestern corner of the state and had to travel its full length on back country highways in order to pass on to the next state, but experience had showed me there were worse ways to drive across Kansas. I made the mistake once of driving the toll way through the state and it proved to be no faster than no cost, alternate routes. In fact, the biggest drawback for travelers on the toll freeway is there are precious few exits along the route, and the ones there are, have no gas stations or convenience stores for folks to refuel or answer the collect call of nature. Travelers through Kansas, you are warned.

Three years earlier on a snowy January night my first time through, when my wife and kids in her Jeep, and I in my car, observed the ominous warning lights in our respective vehicles advising us of nearly empty gas tanks. No exits and no gas, and while we did carry a spare gas can, it wasn't enough to split between both vehicles. On fumes we arrived at an enormous travel plaza occupying the vastly expanded highway median near the Oklahoma boarder. The glow of the lights were an oasis in the snow; a beacon drawing us towards salvation from the desolation and cold. Were it any further away, we would have been stranded somewhere in that desolate state. Lesson learned.


Jason and I stopped in Dodge City for gas and refreshments. At the confluence of history, fiction and the passage of time, today/s Dodge City isn't as much Marshall Dillon and rowdy cowboys as it is truck stops, industrial parks, soccer fields, and souvenir shops trading on its famous, historical reputation. In Dodge City today, Gunsmoke isn't in the air, it's in reruns. And sadly, as hard as we looked, Miss Kitty wasn't to be found anywhere, so we drove on.

The hours dragged on. Around three in the morning, the faint glow of a pair of red eyes appeared out of the darkness. Then there were more. A dozen, then two dozen; soon there were a hundred or more of those ominous, burning eyes in the distance watching us from the blackness.

From horizon to horizon, the top lights from the individual mills' of the wind farms--the other major farming here--could be seen for 30 or more miles away on this flat plain. It was oddly pretty; like the stars in the sky came down and changed color just for us. It had to be for us, because we were as alone on this road as anyone could ever be. We cruised through the area, but it was the dots of light that seem to move as though we were still; to flow around us as we found ourselves effortlessly floating along in this red starry universe. The stream of glowing specks eased up after half an hour and faded out entirely behind us another quarter of an hour beyond that. That impenetrable curtain of darkness had closed on us again.

We made a late, late call to our pal Eric to harass him just as we had done with Aaron several hours earlier. Between fits of laughter, I regaled Eric with the story of "Messianic Jason" blessing Route 66 with his face, which was a real pick-me-upper at such a late hour. But the miles were taking their toll, and we were tired. Occasionally we trading driving duties; although I preferred being behind the wheel. When the dark and the boredom take hold, catnaps in the cramped passenger seat can only do so much; but this was an Ironman Drive; straight through, no breaks. We were going to get home in one day by God!

To stay awake, we conversed, though sporadically as the night wore on. When the passenger side of the conversation gave in to napping, there was the radio to play with or the stars in the sky to gaze at and wonder. I used the quiet time to think about my life; where I was going and what led me to this point. Would my career trajectory pull out of the nosedive it's been in? Five, ten years ago, could anyone have imagined I'd be driving in the middle of nowhere at this exact moment, having just left a stint in the Army? And at my age?! What's my next move? The smooth ride and the combined hum of the engine and tires on the pavement were again calming, and after a while all conscience though rested. I was awake, alert (enough), but my inner monologue quieted and my mind was at ease.

My ass is asleep.

I shifted position and pressed my body against the steering wheel, as I leaned so far forward as to nearly touch the windshield with my forehead.

Back hurts.

I settled back into my seat.

Zip, zip, zip, zip, zip, the white lines on the road shot past me. Occasionally I felt my focus shift off into the middle distance as road hypnosis began casting its spell on me. To stay awake in such dire circumstances, I learned long ago that pain can be your friend. A pinch to the soft, webby parts between the fingers keep ever watchful drill sergeants from meeting out discipline to sleepy recruits just as it does refocus driver attention onto the road. A poke from a small knife to the back of the hand works too, but perhaps the easiest and best stop-gap measure to keep the Sandman at bay when on a cross country trek is the cold bite of outside air when rolling down the window.

Outside of Kansas City, Kansas, is where the night surrendered to the march of day. The city, which effectively spans the border of Kansas and Missouri, was quiet and gray in the cool morning light. As a matter of custom I muttered the old "Toto I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore" line as we crossed into the Show Me State. Perhaps if we weren't so exhausted, it would have been amusing; perhaps not even then.

We cut across the northwest corner of Missouri and were struck--thankfully in a non-literal fashion--by the plethora of road kill deer littering the highway. Every mile had a trophy laid out along the roadside. Time to dial back the speed a bit and keep a watchful eye on the sides of the roads! After about an hour we were in Iowa, and greeted by its fabled nothingness. Desolate, harvested fields that had recently nurtured this season's corn crop stretching as far as the eye could see under a gray sky painted a bleak portrait of the Nation's Breadbasket.

The sun burned holes through the cloud cover, cascading shimmering shafts of light onto the land; sweeping, expanding, contracting, disappearing and reappearing at random. The sunlight did wonders to energize us after having rolled more than a thousand miles, with a few hundred yet to go. We were closing in on the Minnesota boarder when we found a fireworks store just off of the highway and parked. Nanny State mentality grips Minnesota politics and makes the best fireworks utterly verboten; makes buying them in neighboring states a necessity; makes the forbidden fruit all the more fun to enjoy back home!

Our ill-gotten booty discretely tucked away in the few accessible spaces left in the sedan, we returned to Interstate 35, and that eventually led us to Minnesota. The Welcome sign in the shape of the state was wonderful to see indeed! Minnesota meant Home to me. I had made it home.

Within a couple hours, we arrived in St. Paul and my worn-out old traveling companion poured his limp body out of the car and summoned what little energy he had to step inside his house where rest awaited him. He came a long way in a short period of time, bearing the cost of a plane ticket, and getting very little sleep over the last day and a half, just to ride back with me. I wasn't so sure I really wanted him to come down to El Paso for this drive. I saw it as my way of turning the page on an important chapter in my life, and it felt like something I should have done alone. Jay's motivation was the travel, the potential for adventure, and to make sure I didn't have to make this Ironman Drive alone. In the end, I was glad he rode along.

Forty five minutes later I pulled in to my wife's work and in front of all in attendance, we were reunited. Soon thereafter I joined my kids at their grandma's house. To see them again, was a bittersweet mixture of emotion; and I held them for what they must have felt was like ages.

The journey was over

We settled into a new routine; I started a new job, and closed on a new home a couple months later. Perhaps my wife and I will return to the Sun City. We have talked about visiting El Paso again one day. Having made such herculean road trips and having been a serious commuter prior to my time as a soldier really puts into perspective things such as travel, time and distance. I enjoy my time behind the wheel. The motion, the connection with the car and the road, feel good to me. They feel right. My sensibilities aren't the least bit upset by the prospect of a little road trip. That said, if we ever do return to El Paso, I think we'll fly there instead. Even a road warrior like me, can pull off the road every once in a while.
Last edited by Tremors on 28 Apr 2017, 12:19, edited 4 times in total.
I know who I am! I'm a dude playing a dude, disguised as another dude!
User avatar
Tremors
 
Posts: 1422
Joined: 09 May 2006, 15:28
Location: Back in the north country!

Re: Car Stories

Postby Tremors » 24 Mar 2014, 20:55

The Official: I Drive Like Jason T-Shirt that I owe my friend, has finally arrived. Granted, it took a few years...

Image
Image
I know who I am! I'm a dude playing a dude, disguised as another dude!
User avatar
Tremors
 
Posts: 1422
Joined: 09 May 2006, 15:28
Location: Back in the north country!

Re: Car Stories

Postby Tremors » 23 Oct 2014, 16:31

I'm a Sad Panda

Article after article I read recently is telling me millennials--damn millennials, get off my lawn!--are more into their cell phones than cars/trucks/ bikes (except the kind they peddle). That access to the world around them, meeting new people, experiencing new things and maintaining contact with family and friends is better done in a virtually sense through smart phones and tablets. Some data even shows that only a third of all eligible teens now have a driver's license. These writers seem to all be of the opinion that the youngins eschew the "ownership" concept for the "right to access" concept, so access to transportation is more important than owning the means of transportation. To me this seems like a happy willingness to subjugate themselves to others, be it businesses, governmental/quasi-governmental agencies, etc., but that's a topic for another day.

Is this the case? Unlike previous generations, are the Millennials a bunch of mass transit riding, city-livin' lovin' folk with little desire for the freedom afforded by the automobile? To some extent, that's probably true; although I do think these writers forget that Generation X and Baby Boomers spent a fair portion of their young adulthood as city dwellers whose use of cars would not be as necessary as when they began moving to the suburbs and exurbs, so that may --may -- mitigate some of my woe. In time.

Still, a generation whose childhood free time was sacrificed for regulated "activities" by omnipresent helicopter parents, might value the concept of "freedom", but find little value in exercising it (geospatially speaking of course), hence if they were raised with little desire to go out into the world, what benefit is a car to them? Well, to some of them; after all, we are speaking in generalities. And to be fair, I am exercising a fair amount of conjecture here.

It's not that I am anti-mass transit where, and for whom, it makes sense, it's just that I am pro-car. I enjoy the ability to choose where to go, when I choose to go, without being limited by another's established stops and set schedules, and as a consequence, be made dependent on those who provide that mass transit service. Freedom to travel in a purer form, is when one can take to the open road.

I favor the joy of driving: the feel of acceleration; the feel of the road telegraphed through the steering wheel; the pull of G-forces as I round a curve. If not stuck in traffic, it's all very Zen. If you cannot relate to my explanation, you are hopelessly lost to my point of view to begin with. I favor motorsports, even if by "sport" that means spinning tires or power-sliding a car's ass-end. I've always believed it's not necessarily about "fun cars" as much as it is about "fun with car".

I sense the millennials have no connection with cars that previous generations did. Whether it was the Greatest Generation modifying their Model As, Ts and other assorted jalopies out on the farm; Boomers American Graffiti style cruising in their muscled up chrome and curvy American machines; the Easy Riders and Motorcycle Mammas gettin' their motor runnin', heading out on the highway; the Xers raised with vehicles as heroic characters in TV and movies such as the Batmobile, Monkeymobile, The Mystery Machine, K.I.T.T and The General Lee, couldn’t wait to master their own freedom machines.

What do the millennials have? IPads. IPhones. Social media. Unless the automobile can be a platform to increase the functionality of the aforementioned technology, why should millennials bother if the automobile isn't representative of what millennials value? It would seem that is the question they have asked, and answered, for themselves as a generation.

This is where I become that sad panda.

We lose a piece of American independence with the loss of the value found in personal transportation, i.e. the automobile. 100+ years ago we were given this great gift that opened up our country to the average Joe, and while there are downsides to the automobile -- as there are to EVERYTHING -- I sense that great gift is no longer going to be appreciated. What does it say about the greater sense of American freedom and independence? What happens to our cultural sense of adventure? What happens to the great American road trip? Practically speaking, what becomes of our infrastructure, our highways, roads, bridges, and by extension, our ability to choose where and how to live if car ownership becomes too much of a hassle for the masses? Will we reach a social tipping point from which social taste or the social engineering of central planning drives (pun intended) the automobile to the scrap yard of history? Or will we perhaps be relegated to staid, soulless, self-driving auto-pods, which is an obvious emerging technological trend? What of the car guys??? THE...CAR...GUYS!

A sad, sad panda indeed.
:cry:
Last edited by Tremors on 28 Apr 2017, 12:25, edited 1 time in total.
I know who I am! I'm a dude playing a dude, disguised as another dude!
User avatar
Tremors
 
Posts: 1422
Joined: 09 May 2006, 15:28
Location: Back in the north country!

Re: Car Stories

Postby Tremors » 03 Nov 2014, 21:53

I don't have much use for the condescending "whisper talkers" of the (partially) taxpayer funded NPR, but there was Auto Talk-best show NPR ever had. Sad news today: http://www.cnn.com/2014/11/03/showbiz/celebrity-news-gossip/tom-magliozzi-car-talk-dies/index.html?hpt=hp_t3 :cry:
I know who I am! I'm a dude playing a dude, disguised as another dude!
User avatar
Tremors
 
Posts: 1422
Joined: 09 May 2006, 15:28
Location: Back in the north country!

Re: Car Stories

Postby StanHilliard » 04 Nov 2014, 16:01

Tremors wrote: there was Auto Talk-best show NPR ever had. Sad news today: http://www.cnn.com/2014/11/03/showbiz/celebrity-news-gossip/tom-magliozzi-car-talk-dies/index.html?hpt=hp_t3 :cry:

I agree. Very sad. :cry:
User avatar
StanHilliard
Site Admin
 
Posts: 149
Joined: 06 Apr 2005, 22:17
Location: North St Paul

Re: Car Stories

Postby Tremors » 26 Apr 2017, 09:59

Crime & Punishment: The Tale of Mr. Hood

700,000 cars are stolen every year in American; so says the FBI. Picture it: That’s almost one stolen car for every civilian employee of the Department of Defense, the federal government’s largest department. Obviously car theft has been, and will continue to be a big problem for as long as there are been cars to steal. Luckily with more than 260 million vehicles registered in the US, the odds of any one specific car getting nicked is rather small.

The early and mid-1990s were an exciting time to work security or law enforcement in Twin Cities. Crime as an industry was thriving. In those harsh years, the murder rate in Minneapolis surpassed even that of New York, and the city took on the unfortunate nickname “Murderapolis”. I had been kicking around the idea of becoming a police officer as a young college student, but in reality I was floating aimlessly along the river of life waiting for some direction to go. So unsure of what I wanted to do or who I wanted to be, and being in need of a job, I worked as a guard working for Stanley Smith Security. Our company was contracted by Minneapolis Public Housing Authority (MPHA) to protect about 20 of the city’s public housing high-rise apartments. What us guards lacked in pay, being all of $6.00 an hour, we made up for in bragging rights in that we guarded the roughest buildings in the region. Security was a natural place to gain experience while in school if pursuing a career in law enforcement, but my time in public housing would illuminate for me that I the fact that I was not right man to make a career out of combating with crime. Despite this, for the most part, I enjoyed my job; 95% boredom, 5% pure chaos.

MPHA had their own “in-house” protection force, Housing Patrol, who were city employees under the direct authority of MPHA and serviced all public housing buildings. Our relationship with them was generally good, but not always harmonious. They often provided invaluable assistance and acted as a liaison with the police department, but with bigger pay, bigger authority and bigger egos, we sometimes found ourselves at odds with some members of the Patrol. I once had to break up a scuffle between one of their officers and my partner in the lobby of one of our conjoined buildings, which nearly erupted into a much bigger melee when I entered the lobby--mace can discretely in hand--to back up my guy only to find two other HP officers around the corner standing along the back wall of the lobby watching. When I arrived on scene, they jumped up and moved in; presumably to back their guy up if I did anything. Good thing the mace was effectively palmed and out of sight, otherwise all hell might have broken loose. Luckily cooler heads prevailed and we had them to leave the property; whether we had the authority to do that or not I don’t know, but they left anyway. In the end, Housing Patrol and contract security needed each other, so the Battle of The Badges was more a cathartic release of frustrations than an irreparably widening fissure.

It was a quiet spring night in 1993. Another famously long winter released its icy grip on the city, and the local troublemakers were released back into the warmer world. Even criminals get cabin fervor. It was early in my shift and my partner wouldn’t be starting his 12 hour shift until two hours after I started mine, but one of MPHA’s Housing Patrol officers came by to hang out and talk about whatever it was we would have talked about back then. Work mostly I’d guess.

Housing Patrol carried no guns as they were not cops, but they had designated squad cars nearly identical to the police and would muster with the police department at the beginning of their shift where they were issued police radios. It was a crackling from his police radio that alerted us to trouble nearby. A pursuit of a car theft suspect a couple blocks away. A brief play-by-play of the neighborhood Cops-n-Robbers action complete with radio static and proper call sign lingo. We knew what was happening and where it was happening relative to us. With luck, we might get to see the action pass by our building.

Crackling over the radio came word the luckless joy rider crashed a block over. I’m sure we were disappointed at not seeing a car chase, but then came word from the unknown officer on the other end of the radio transmission that our hopes of seeing action that night may not have been dashed after all. The thief was running our way.

The Housing Patrol officer, who had comfortably been resting against the fender of his squad leapt to his feet. “Get ready,” he said.

I jogged down the left side of the double row of parked cars in the lot, crouching ever lower as I went along, until I was about halfway down the length of the 100 foot long lot. Meanwhile the Housing officer ran past the row on the right side, hugging the ten foot high concrete wall that separated our property and its driveway from neighboring properties. While I kept a fairly low profile, I was probably easier to spot under the parking lot lights than the Housing officer along the wall where shadows hid him. It was a clever, impromptu ambush.

No more than a minute had passed when the thief appeared and began to cut across our property. Minnesota law as it pertains to citizen’s arrest is--when last I checked--open to interpretation as to when it comes to pursuing and capturing a suspect. Generally one needs to have witnessed a crime to give an ordinary citizen cause to chase and hold someone for the cops. Having a reasonable belief this was the suspect, and perhaps more importantly, the fact that this individual entered our property where we had greater legal authority, gave us cause to hold this “trespasser”.

The suspect was a young man in his late teens or early twenties, thin of build with skin black as the night around us; a fact that would have greater meaning later on. The man walked briskly into the parking lot towards me, past the concrete wall and the Housing Patrol officer waiting in the shadows. He had slowed to a shuffle as he weaved through the parked cars. The guy stopped when I stood up and stepped out in front of him. We came face to face. His eyes wide in surprise. I assume he quickly realized I was a security guard and not a cop, but it’s hard to say what he thought in that moment.

“Hold him,” boomed an authoritative voice from behind the suspect. The kid whipped his head around to see the bulky Housing Patrol officer run up towards him.

“Come ‘ere,” I said.

Tightly boxed in between two cars, a big man to his front and an ever bigger man running up from behind, the suspect held his hands out away from his sides and surrendered quietly. He knew he was caught.

The suspect knew to splay his arms across the roof of one of the cars, and di so promptly. I grabbed the thief’s right hand put my Smith & Wesson handcuff on while the Housing officer got in on the action by pulling the suspects other hand back for me to slap the other cuff on. As I “perp walked” him back towards the MPHA squad car, the Housing Patrol officer put his police issued radio to good use and let the pursuing police officer know we had captured his crook.

A Minneapolis police Crown Victoria bounced its way into the parking lot while Housing signaled the cop with his flashlight. Judging by the way the cop driving the car whipped around the parking lot and came to an abrupt stop one would have thought the officer anticipated more excitement was to come. A bit too dramatic for the situation we had well under control.
I knew I would have to write up some kind of report on this, and was keen to trade cuffs with the cop and go about my business. I handed the miscreant off to one of Minneapolis’ Finest who, his massive left hand with an ironclad grip on the back of the miscreant’s neck, had complete control of the suspect.

Getting my cuffs back would have to wait. One of the cops was talking with the young suspect who had little to say as far as I remember; he may have been too busy shitting his pants in fear for all I knew, but the stoic look on his face didn’t betray it. Not so much a look of angry defiance, but a distant gaze as though he was imagining himself away from the situation he got himself into. Maybe this was a good thing, maybe not, but Iron Grip was clear in expressing his displeasure with this kid, which, frankly I could have cared less…but not by much. I never had much sympathy for the criminal element, and having been immersed in their environment for more than two years working public housing security, I really had little sympathy for this alleged perpetrator.

And then…

“Meet Mr. Hood!”

Umm, huh? Mr. Hood? :shock:

With one swift, decisive motion, Iron Grip slammed the young man’s head, face first, onto the hood of his squad car with a resounding thud.
I’m pretty sure my eyes couldn’t have been any wider as I tried to absorb what I saw. I wasn’t sure if the kid tried to make a break for it, fall down or just what the hell happened. Iron Grip was about to provide the answer.

“You dented Mr. Hood,” Iron Grip said feigning surprise. “Look at with you did to Mr. Hood.”

Whap! And this kid was given his second introduction to the suddenly notorious Mr. Hood. This time was a different, a “dryer” sound is how I would describe it. Why it should sound different from the last time his face kissed the sheet metal I do not know, but I distinctly remember Mr. Hood sounded different.

And it happened again.

“What are you doing to Mr. Hood? Stop hitting Mr. Hood! Mr. Hood…Mr. Hood….”

I’m not sure how many times Iron Grip slammed the car thief onto the hood of the squad car. Perhaps this was some kind of “live by the car, die by the car” type of street justice or maybe the cop just wanted to kick the ass of the kid who almost got away from him. I didn’t know and at that point I did not care. This was too awkward for my taste.

I was looking around for the metaphorical exit, but there was none. I had a lot working against me at that moment. I was responsible for this property, and it was not lost on me the fact there were security cameras on the building behind me; although poor in quality, the cameras covered the parking lot and were surely capturing the kid and Mr. Hood’s butting heads. If this weren’t enough, the suspect was still wearing my only pair of handcuffs on his wrists, holding him helpless as Iron Grip dispensed punishment. And last, but by no mean least, mine was the lone white face in this drama as everyone else, the cops, the Housing Patrol officer and the suspect were all black and this was a predominantly black south Minneapolis neighborhood. This was the era of Rodney King, Reginald Denny and riots, so the racial dynamic was not lost on me. It wasn’t my first arrest, and I had no reason to suspect this arrest would go down this way, but here I was. I just wanted to get my cuffs and get the hell away from here. This was the wrong situation for white boys like me to be poking their nose into.

Iron Grip’s massive hand was now essentially holding up this person by the back of his neck. A now noticeably dented and blood streaked Mr. Hood had dealt a vicious blow to the thief and it seemed clear to me he would not have been able to stand on his own. Like a losing prize fighter, the kid was punch drunk, barely hanging onto consciousness after his face was used as an instrument of automotive vandalism.

I said nothing save for possibly uttering a few “ahhs” of discomfort and confusion while looking towards the Housing officer for some telepathic guidance. And I got it. With a subtle head shake, from the look he gave I read, Don’t say shit. Let it go. Let them do what they do, it ain’t about you.

You damn right it’s not!

I was never so relieved as when Iron Grip, for simplicity, just gave me one of his sets of cuffs and I was free to go. The police placed the dazed automotive absconder into the back of Mr. Hood and quickly left us to decide what to make of what just occurred.

Monday morning quarterbackers are free to opine as they wish; and I'm not in a position to take a position on their judgments. I only put the story out there for your consumption. That night though the Housing Patrol officer did provide his opinion on why that cop turned a Ford Crown Victoria into a face tenderizer. It was his contention that while Iron Grip may have been angry about the chase, perhaps more was going on that I couldn’t understand...the implication being because I'm white. His contention was, as both a black man himself who happens to work in a law enforcement related field, that young, black criminals let down the black community and as a whole make it look bad. That what went down may have had more to do with a black man who feels judged by the criminal actions of other black men.

It’s a theory anyway, right or wrong. I'll not touching that nearly quarter century old hot-potato. :|
I know who I am! I'm a dude playing a dude, disguised as another dude!
User avatar
Tremors
 
Posts: 1422
Joined: 09 May 2006, 15:28
Location: Back in the north country!

Re: Car Stories

Postby Tremors » 26 Sep 2017, 11:44

For the love of Betsy — a love letter to a dying car

http://www.twincities.com/author/frederick-melo/

"They say that love is blind. I say that love is a pebble in your oil pan, one you choose to keep."
I know who I am! I'm a dude playing a dude, disguised as another dude!
User avatar
Tremors
 
Posts: 1422
Joined: 09 May 2006, 15:28
Location: Back in the north country!

Re: Car Stories

Postby Tremors » 19 Jul 2018, 14:18

I know who I am! I'm a dude playing a dude, disguised as another dude!
User avatar
Tremors
 
Posts: 1422
Joined: 09 May 2006, 15:28
Location: Back in the north country!

Re: Car Stories

Postby Tremors » 20 Nov 2018, 10:45

Sooner or later we all take that final ride. For this mechanic, it was special.

https://www.foxnews.com/auto/mechanic-takes-last-ride-on-favorite-truck-used-as-hearse
I know who I am! I'm a dude playing a dude, disguised as another dude!
User avatar
Tremors
 
Posts: 1422
Joined: 09 May 2006, 15:28
Location: Back in the north country!

Previous

Return to Rants

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests

cron