Archive for October, 2013

Providence

Monday, October 28th, 2013

To some, the capital of Rhode Island, to others, however, upholding the natural order of the universe, an intervention into the lives of extraordinary people.

Hence, a sequel to Baptists and Prisons, the highway breakdown part II,  so why not fashion a rap stanza;

A major setack, a carburetor crack, aint cause for (bleep) dismay,

Rent a car, raise the bar, who give a poop, meet the 190 group,

Outta that funk, got beer in the trunk,

No (delete) delay, gonna be a  great day

Dateline: Punta Gorda, Florida

Event: Mercedes 190SL International Convention

A dire bathroom warning in the Sheraton Four Points reminds me that things could be worse than songwriting hip-hop.

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From our individual launch pads, members share only two things in common; (a) title to an orphan status car of erotic design, and (b), the right to trial by jury. From the first example built in 1954 to the last, 1963, now a half century past, this disparate owner group of thirty years standing has created a timeless thread, thriving, beyond the 190SL roadsters. To the core, the individual characters, made this journey memorable.

Yes, the cars are important but they are inorganic (aside from the tanned hides of recently deceased livestock). Blasphemy alert; the cars do not have a gender, a menstrual cycle, headaches, or bi-polar depression requiring serotonin inhibition. Yes, yes, you’ve given them pet names, assigned a sex, and cover them in heated nurseries with a  diaper.  Get over it; they are just cars, with neither memory, feelings, chocolate cravings, nor requiring prophylaxis against chlamydia.  Brace yourself for taser shock, the car doesn’t know you own it.DSCN1079

Red Hot with Swiss Cheese backdrop; @ Muscle Car City

A partial list of the people, real, organic, that authenticated a weeklong odyssey, none of which would have happened without driving misfortune:

Captain Bill on Tamiami Trail who gave me the best haircut in years.

Sharing breakfast and an autograph with acclaimed Cape Cod artist, Karol Wyckoff, before 7 AM.

Having the honor of introducing Kent V., a retired American Airlines captain from TX, to John McC., retired Air Canada captain from BC.  These two looked the part; tall, handsome, distinguished, and either could perform the cameo role of Hudson River hero, Sully Sullenberger, or Leslie Nielsen in the movie, Airplane!  I knew, immediately, that John, like Leslie, was a Canadian when he pronounced ‘about’ as ‘aboot’.

Native New Englander, Henry Magno, a dedicated gearhead, and Marcia Herrara, a Nebraskan companion with encyclopedic knowledge of 3rd world infrastructure, disease, and reproductive health. Unlike most Massachusetts residents, they do not regard Rhode Island as a suburb of Boston.  Which it is.

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Scratch ‘ride in a camoflouge swamp buggy’ off my bucket list. Henry….hmmm, not so sure

Dining with legacy member and first timer Mary Anne Westphal and sidekick, Ken Lowman, refugees from Gainesville, home to the FL Gators.  This, a relief, after three dazzling hours of million dollar cars in Miles Collier’s private museum.

Catching a ride to dinner with Mike, Mary Jo, and young Joseph Herrmann, genuine Californians, the latter playing hookey while tap-dancing around middle school truancy.

In a very dark parking lot, I manage to thumb a ride back to the hotel with Hagerty rep, Jen McWhinnie, a SYT barely old enough to be my granddaughter. Without hesitation or equivocation, she offers the shotgun seat, unaware that I may possess outstanding warrants or priors as a serial killer.  Blind trust by one very cute kid.

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The Hagerty WOW factor, an unfair competitive advantage

Conference call with gurus, the two Dons and Walt Puryear, to confirm the fine points of carburetor installation with our mechanic Seth, 180 miles distant.

Depart Punta Gorda hotel, Friday, at 3:30 AM, clutching a used Solex PHH, a doughnut, and GPS.

Mark, Jerry, and  Seth, the A-Team of European Car Clinic, Ocala, FL, perform surgery on Baby Jane’s PMS and get us back on the road.

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Intensive care unit, intravenous 15W40, and skinned knuckles

Forewarned that the replacement unit might still run lean, sucking air from the resultant warping of both the intake surface and carburetor body, I was guaranteed safe passage to Indiana.  The long hill climbs in the south become a challenge to maintain 70+ mph, however the right hand lane, between semis, becomes your new best friend.

Avoiding a mirror replay of the trip south, fueled by anxiety and loneliness and robust Starbucks, I’m northbound on overused I-75.  It has the personality of styrofoam, and at each interchange, faceless motels, gas, and food too fast to be taken seriously.  Ringed in asphalt, like the excessive use of eyeliner applied to an aging prostitute.

Tifton, GA, Jericho, TN, and the mandatory stop in Corbin, KY for KFC, home to Colonel Sanders, and birthplace of the secret 11 herbs and spices; original, crispy chicken. Tastes better here, they say.

It isn’t.

A curious irony  at this convention, having attended ten over two decades, was peeling the veneer from so many delightful people.  The norm is to congregate with the familiar, the friends you’ve grown to know well, and become oblivious of newcomers.  Sans my wife, dog, and without a car, this became the best meeting ever, the result of a roadside calamity.  Divine intervention.

A future as a vulgar lyricist, i.e., challenging Kanye, Jay-Z, and Fifty Cent, is not in the wings for this contributor.  I gave up by singing, “What’s it all aboot, Alfie?” and opted for a moment of reflection in rural FL, Sholom Park.  An exquisite stoic beast three feet in length.

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Cincinnati, Indy, and home, sweet, ‘back home again in Indiana’, 2630 adventurous miles.  Home to dog, Jack, my darling wife, Lynn, reunited after ten days, we practice our flying butt bump  in the family room, as if we are in the end zone, and just taken the lead in the fourth quarter.  No small task when each of us has a vertical leap of three inches.

And no tattoos.

 

 

©insightout2013

 

Baptists & Prisons

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

dateline: Ocala, FL

alert: minor Airstream reference

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In Pooler, Georgia, a bi-polar city vehicle, the SquadTaxi

Traveling four days in a 53 year old mercedes roadster, twelve hundred trouble-free miles on the odometer, destination Punta Gorda, southwest Florida, and I’ve hit the wall. Unable to maintain idle, stalling at every intersection, I’m now on a flatbed headed to the European Car Clinic.

Suspicious that the car is running on only 2 cylinders, of the four available, I’ll have to await the diagnosis. Here’s hoping it isn’t open heart surgery.

Having driven vintage cars for>forty years, this is, quite simply, an adventure in motoring. What the hell, write a blog. The most visited national park, the Great Smokies, is nearly suffocated by the tawdry tourism of Pigeon Forge, Sevierville, Dollywood, and Gasplingburg. However, breaking through the pea soup fog in early morning sunrise, the view from above the clouds is an ecstatic panorama in resplendent fall colors….nothing ober nor uber, and not a single waterpark to dampen nature’s splendor.

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Mountain dew (actual) at pre-dawn on the boot lid

Years since I’ve made this trip, the Blue Ridge Parkway remains a great ride. The stop in Saluda,SC, the most photographed nostalgic main street in the USA, a visual delight. A shaded park bench, a honey crisp apple from the 1890 Thompson grocery, and a half hour of girl watching…makes for a reluctant departure.

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Oldest grovery in NC, where you can still buy a bar of BonAmi®

I-95 in Georgia is nightmarish except for sighting a continuous stream of motorcycles en route to Daytona Beach for Bike Week, the southern version of Sturgis, SD. A group of vintage Porsches, all owned and driven by Belgians, is on tour, a pilgrimage of sorts, from NY city to Miami. Le Tour de Automobile. Nice cars, good-lucking guys, French accents, and gorgeous women riding shotgun.

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Oooo,la, la

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Photoshopped image of my favorite redhead on R. Luhr’s BMX bike

Pastoral setting under the Darien, Georgia bridge, from the deck of Skippers, the best seafood restaurant in a state that worships peaches.

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Shrimp boats awaiting high tide

The most common vehicle south of Jacksonville is the 400,000 off-road fleet driven by elderly, white retirees. Not the ubiquitous Lincoln Town Car, Mercury Marquis, or Ford Crown Victoria, they’re all made by Cushman and E-Z-Go.

Promised airstream reference, Nintendo character demonstrates vista view windows on an aging retrofit for travel.

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In the same Hampton Inn parking lot where the old 121 chassis is being loaded on a flat bed for the trip to the clinic.

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Tim H., tow truck driver extraordinaire, tightens the straps

The title line is a tangential reference to Florida’s two most profitable industries. Not citrus agriculture, nor discount coupon travel guide publishing, oxycodone abuse, or even freedom from state income tax; Baptist churches and incarceration facilities rank #1 and #2. If you’re searching for Jesus here in the Sunshine State, they’ve got you covered.

Before or after you’ve sinned.

About the Author

Retired 1997.
Frequent travel. Loyal companions: wife, Lynn; dog, Jack.
Avocation: writing social and political satire.
Past life: three decade clinical pharmacy owner. Now in recovery.
Location: Northern Indiana, Eastern U.P. of Michigan, Southern Arizona

No telephone;
E-mail cspiher@aol.com