Archive for the ‘events’ Category

The Legend of Stoney Gilliam, II

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

The dash warning light is real.  Within minutes the truck has lost  power, reducing 70 mph down to 25 mph, so I choose to turn on the warning flasher and ride the shoulder.  Sans a GPS, I can only estimate that the next town, Springerville, AZ, is fifty miles distant.  Although the very large array of radio telescopes passed an hour ago may be able to detect visitations from other galaxies in the universe, I have zero bar cell service.

For more than an hour, rumble strips, a sick engine, and a few passing cars are all that are seen and heard. 35 miles on the clock.

And then, an angel.

A white SUV slows as it passes then pulls aside and awaits the sick driver and sicker truck.  Her name is Karla, a solo road warrior, with an innate trust for a fellow traveler in distress.  I could be Ted Bundy, serial killer, in disguise, armed and dangerous, a felon preying on good samaritans, but Karla didn’t hesitate. No questions asked, she tries her cell phone, to no avail.  However, her car is equipped with On-Star®, a clever satellite service that promptly answers and offers to call a AAA wrecker.  We part with a warm handshake, and within an hour the truck is loaded onto the flatbed tow, headed for the recommended service center, Round Valley Garage, Springerville, Arizona.

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Stoney Gilliam is stoic, soft-spoken, a weathered mechanic choosing his words carefully and sparingly.  He has the rugged good looks of NCIS’s Mark Harmon.  A late afternoon gaze at the truck through piercing eyes from under an old baseball cap and the computer scope reveals a very serious NG…failed injectors at 193,000 miles.  This had happened once before, in 2008, a whisper above 100,000 miles, and a shadow past the seven year  extended warranty.  GM, sympathetic, politely punched my tough s#it card, and wished me better fortune in the future.

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dateline: Springerville, AZ

nearest big box store, Show Low, AZ, 48 miles away

closest interstate ramp, I-40, 82 miles distant

Stoney’s son drives me to the vintage, 1960s, El-Jo Motel, conveniently located adjacent to a favorite local saloon/eatery, The Safire.  Not a misspelling to be confused with the lovely blue gemstone, The Safire had once been named The Safari, but a Phoenix restaurant of the same name requested the name be changed to avoid confusion.  Fat chance.

The claim to fame for the Safire; the Duke, John Wayne, frequented the place in the 60s.  He had been part owner of a large ranch just west of neighboring Eagar, AZ.  The cheeseburger was delicious, but the seat in the  dining room booth still retained the sculpted shape of the Duke’s rump, like the trusty saddle on an old gelding.

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The Duke, after lunch at the Safire

I spend the next morning, on foot, exploring the town.  A walk to the airstrip, a visit with the ladies in the Safeway store, the local museum where everyone important was named Udall, McD’s for an egg mcmuffin, and a brief busman’s holiday at the Western Rexall.  This is a hardscrabble town with little veneer.  You don’t live here to be monetarily rich.  Five interviews with ‘locals’ were consistent.  You’ll find characters, but no drunken Toronto mayor, or a Jersey FatGov; people seem to enjoy the isolation, fresh clear air, no parking woes, no traffic, and very little crime.  Everyone knows who you are, what you drive, and where the herd of elk was last seen crossing SR 180.

Because the repair, a 14 hour task, and parts would take several days to arrive, over a weekend + the vicious storm covering most of the U.S., Stoney offers to drive me to Show Low that afternoon, both to rent a car, continue on to Phoenix, and meet my wife, Lynn, arriving by air.  He promised me, unequivocally, he would have the truck ready in a week, and would not release it until he was certain it was 100%.  Believe me, his word is gold.

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L-R, Stoney, Chas, and the mended Silverado background

Strange, this bump in the road, a major inconvenience when I needed it the least, enriched my life, reinforced my faith in the basic goodness of people, and lead to quiet contemplation on the ride on AZ-80 from above the Mogollon Rim down to the Valley of the Sun.

Becker Butte Lookout

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Straight from the pages of Arizona Highways, the breathtaking scenery is as welcome as the thirty minute stop to remove fallen rocks.

Below, a genuine American Indian princess and AzDOT employee shares stories and candy with me while waiting.

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My sincere thanks to the support team and I wish them all the best:

  • Karla 
  • The wrecker driver with a clean sense of smell
  • Stoney, Nicole, their son, and staff at the RVGarage
  • The ladies at the El-Jo and the Paint Pony Lodge, in Show Low
  • Show Low, AZ., Hatch Toyota rental rep, Jolene Dailey, for the Rav4, efficiency, and a smile that can melt gloom and lighten the room
  • Princess SummerFallWinterSpring and her avalanche stories

A trip planned to cover 1800 miles in four days had turned into an odyssey of 2400 miles, over 14 days, sleeping in nine different beds, losing seven pounds, five days of food poisoning, and a small dent in the travel budget.

It was worth it.

 

insightout©2014

Knickers in a Knot

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

* a quaint britishism 

Lynn decided that WE needed to go to Chicago for MY birthday…you understand, shopping, the Art Institute, elegant dinner at a 4 restaurant, a stay at the historic Knickerbocker Hotel, which we were assured is LGBT friendly, yet maintains a no pets policy.  Transvestites are o.k., ear mites are not.

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Uniformed Doormen : when you lack the strength to push a revolving door

Convincing birthday boy that the outing was not a violation of our agreed upon, “no gifts, thank you” policy.  Rather, an experience, a memory to cherish forever (or noon a week from Tuesday, whichever comes first).

We shopped at two stores, The Disney and The American Girl, commercial shrines to the pre-teen and younger set. Employees with Mickey Mouse ears failed to control the enthusiasm of hundreds of little snots in need of ADHD meds and kleenex.  We’ve come a long way since Lionel trains, Lincoln Logs, and Daisy BB guns.  Nothing, in either store, made in the US of A…100% China.

The prized, memorable moment; upon checking in, the desk clerk (a recent grad majoring in leisure and entertainment, University of the Painful Truth) proclaimed, ‘sir, you’re all checked in, room #1130, and parking, only $42′.

I remarked that was much more reasonable than I had expected, really, only $42 for the room.

“sir, the room charge will be applied to your Visa card,  the $42 is for overnight parking only, and must be paid in cash”

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Days later, an e-mail request from

Expedia

requesting a first-person, customer review, so the following was submitted;

Millennium Knickerbocker, Chicago

Superb location, the ‘Knick’ has a definite European appeal. The restoration, replicating the ambient charm of 1927, was no-expense-spared and all first class. Yes, yes, the elevators are small & intimate, however, the on-board women all smell fresh and alluring, and they look as good as they smell. Why would you want an elevator with a two ton load limit ? Carrying a dozen, plus-size, weightwatcher rejects on a shopping frenzy does not convey holiday intimacy, even if you take a freight elevator.

The rooms are comfortable, very clean, with all the amenities you might expect, but rarely use. My wife and I, both in our mid-70s, did not avail ourselves of the bathtub gin in the fridge or the pay-to-play adult movies. But we thought about it. That, and sex in the tub……

The stay was delightful and the Knickerbocker will remain our first choice.  And look, I think most of the women on the lift were women. It’s not like I did a TSA pat down to check.  Or requested a DNA sample, photo ID, and the last four digits of their social security number.

24 hours later and this automated reply:

Your hotel review needs revision!  Oops! Looks like we need you to revise your review before we can post it on our website.

 

So, there you have it, the subject title for this essay: youll-never-get-your-knickers-in-a-knot2 Dont-get-your-knickers-in-a-knot

Having submitted a descriptive and honest portrayal of our hotel ‘experience’, it apparently did not meet the Expedia standard of suitability. I reviewed the rules/guidelines but failed to perceive where I’d gone astray.

My final word for your website police: WYSIWYG, What You See Is What You Get.  I’m elderly, approaching 80 y/o, retired, and adhere to the 1st year med student mantra..’do the patient no harm’. If you deem the submission (as it appeared above) as harmful, why not employ a niceness editor to eradicate wrongdoing?  Kind regards to all the staff at Expedia. Enjoy the upcoming holiday season, the winter wonderland, the serenity evoked by the baby Jesus, and quiet reflection on the Constitution’s 1st amendment.  And may all your knockers be in a knit.

Boy, I can’t wait for Christmas.

 

©insightout2013

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

 

Tesla : Preamble in tunnel vision

Monday, August 19th, 2013

The rosy fingers of a Saturday dawn are welcomed, late September, 2008, after the six mile drive and 2500 foot climb up the winding road of Rancho Carrillo. Named for Leo Carrillo, the Cisco Kid’s mischievious sidekick, Pancho, the ranch is an idyllic mountaintop respite from the urban torture of Orange County.

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The event, a popular cars & coffee excuse for the sybaritic motor culture in southern California, attracts a hundred vehicles of every ilk; none of which are routine, pedestrian, nor inexpensive.  The morning feature is a prototype electric sports car, the Tesla, rather sexy looking, attached to a 220 volt charging station that resembles the yacht cable on a marina pier or the type for a monster motorhome.  8007568972_d4077a73cf_cThree members of the Tesla team explain the virtue of electric cars, a century-old concept, now invigorated with advanced technology. Below, antiquated technology.

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DSCN1891The infectious enthusiasm of one, Elon Musk, a 37 y/o South African with the clipped accent of Ernie Els, is intoxicating.  Apparently now, my 190SL companions tell me, a billionaire from the sale of his popular credit card scheme, PayPal®, an unlikely visionary sipping on dark roasted Starbucks® morning blend. Referencing a possible IPO for the company in a year or two, he is impressive, yet I see only the failed ghosts of Preston Tucker, John DeLorean, Edsel Ford, and Malcolm Bricklin.

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By 9:30 AM, a local horse show commences, a gorgeous array from 4 years old to 40 years old, and the horses aren’t bad looking either.  We begin the invigorating downhill run, top down, on the legendary “zoom-zoom” road made famous in Mazda Miata commercials.  I’m smug, smiling, contemplating how laughable and foolish a stock offering would be for an unproved, limited production, six figure sports car.  Even as a dedicated gearhead, I could not, would not, embrace the fantasy. DSCN1903

 

On June 29, 2010, the stock, symbol TSLA, opened at $19.00/share.

On Friday, August 16, 2013, it closed at $142.00/ share.

The horses weren’t the only ones with blinders on that California hilltop.

 

©insightout2013

 

 

 

The 190th Day of the Year

Friday, July 12th, 2013

 

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dateline: Charlevoix, Michigan

Re: response to an editorial challenge

A ride through pristine countryside in northern Michigan, a beautiful July day, top down, with hot women as companions……lurid thoughts emerge as to how the day might unfold.  However on this day, 190th of the year, ours turned to, what else, infrastructure systems for clean water, sanitary sewers, and storm water management.

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Ever wonder about those circular grates at the base of cityscape trees?

On the shore overlooking the south arm of idyllic Lake Charlevoix, at the renowned foundry of the East Jordan Iron Works, three 190SLs convened to visit the largest manufacturer of manhole covers, anywhere.  What follows is all PG, for any reader whose mind might wallow in the gutter.  Where there is rain, molten iron reigns.

Within the twenty four hour window, the three aging 55 y/o Mercedes-Benz roadsters driven by club elders, logged a combined, astounding 1,236 miles, to meet and tour the EJ museum.  Corporate hostess, Erin Nickle, whose charm and feminine guile elevated fire hydrants, hydraulically operated sewer grates, and company mantra (durable products of high quality supported by unparalleled customer service) to a heartthrob level.  And she has gorgeous blue eyes, not that I noticed.

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Erin Nickle lectures Donald Freese, prominent steel executive & metallurgical engineer 

Treated as visiting royalty, we are afforded the opportunity to pose, along with a commemorative manhole cover, on the lawn of corporate headquarters.DSCN0505Combine the photo-op with a gourmet luncheon at the Charlevoix bridge, homemade ice cream in Petoskey, and a 56 mile escorted tour, by guides and fellow gearheads, Keith and Marie Ambs in their 1934 Plymouth coupe as the lead dog…well, it doesn’t get any better than this.

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L-R, Kathy & Don Drabik, Don & Shirley Freese, Lynn & Charles Spiher 

The moral to the story:  join up with old friends, and drive.

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The shadow of the Ambs 1934 Plymouth coupe looms large. Boyne City, MI

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L-R: Shirley Freese, Lynn Spiher, Marie Ambs, Kathy Drabik

Responding to the question; here’s some money, would you like to go shopping? Note that smiles had to be photoshopped on all four faces.

The immoral: did I mention that Erin was quite attractive ?

 

©insightout/2013

Detour, there’s a muddy road ahead

Sunday, July 7th, 2013

A retrospective, 5July2013

Community pride is manifested in many forms, e.g., Tulsa, OK (birthplace of Garth Brooks), Dyersville, IA (farm location of the movie, “Field of Dreams”), Tryon, NC (The Bulletin, smallest daily newspaper in the U.S.), the list becomes infinite.

DeTour Village, an aptly named town at the eastern tip in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, is so small it reflects 30 years in reverse to highlight its most recognized achievement.

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Reaching DeTour is simple. After crossing the Mackinac Bridge, turn east on state road M-134, uninterrupted, and ride the north coast of Lake Huron; the last, pristine, undeveloped shoreline on the entire Great Lakes basin. No McMansions, glitzy marinas, or requisite, garish vinyl clad condos. Locals refer to the highway simply by an adjective, the “Scenic”.

Located at the end of a forty mile cul-de-sac, a mere 3 miles across the St. Mary’s River to Saint Joseph Island, Canada and a claimed population of 420, it is home to the 1983 Girl’s High School basketball champions, the DeTour Red Raiders, with a record 26-0. One year prior, the 1982 team, 26-1, lost only the state championship game. By a single basket.

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No fluke however, as the David F. Miller coached team, in five years from 1981-1985 amassed a record of 124-5. Those are John Wooden, Adolph Rupp, Red Auerbach numbers.

Coach Miller today: a little less hair, the 80′s leisure suit retired, his presence still commanding

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Tonight, a reunion game to commemorate the victory, pitting the 1983 squad vs. the current 2013 team, has packed the gymnasium with more than 800 friends, neighbors, alumni, children, parents. The pre-tipoff tension is palpable. The 50/50 lottery pool totals a tidy $756.

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19 players from the three decade past era have returned and practiced in advance. They are not quite as buff as their championship photo. All nearing 50 y/o, their enthusiasm and competitive spirit have been ameliorated by menopause, marriage, child-bearing, and a few divorces. One, a gorgeous, statuesque, and pony-tailed blond, has six children and four grandchildren. She could easily audition a Celebrex or Cialis commercial on network television.  DSCN0451

“Let’s pretend we’re 18 again”

The game atmosphere is intense. Perspiration trumps inspiration, defense is tight, elbows flay, this is serious s##t. At the end of the 1st quarter, the elderly prevail, 4-2, but as the first half buzzer sounds, a nail biting 13-13 tie. The overflow crowd cheers every shot and roars at each score.  Teen-aged boys cheer their mothers on and boo their female classmates.  The battle of the sexes.  Shooting percentages, also in the low teens, but no one is keeping statistics.

What matters is that on this July Fourth weekend, small town America was the shining moment, a reunion night, a generational memory to savor for a lifetime. Briefly, time stands still, a time to be thankful we’re not in Kabul, Cairo, or Damascus, but in a high school gym adorned with a championship banner adjacent to the American flag.  Long may they both wave.

The final outcome.  Unimportant.

The Detour girls basketball team won.

And I did not win the 50/50 drawing.

 

Willie Nelson could sing, but he wasn’t always right;

Headed down life’s crooked road,
a lot of things I never knowed

And because of me not knowin’
I now pine

Trouble got in the trail
spent the next five years in jail

Should have read that detour sign

Detour there’s a muddy road ahead, detour….

Six degrees of unification

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

The ‘small world’ phenomenon is familiar to many, as mapped in six easy steps.

♥  2537 miles → Airstreaming → Mushrooms → retired medical professionals → writers → Queen Elizabeth’s dogs ♥

The distance from DeTour Village, MI, to SanDiego, CA is five days by car and 0.005 sec. by Google.  Our summer neighbors, acclaimed travel writer, Graham Mackintosh, and his RN wife Bonni, an accomplished mycologist, split their time in these two idyllic locales.

SanDiego is also home to writer, photographer, naturalist, and RN (ret.) Bill Doyle, and his partner, Larry Ko, a culinary chef extraordinaire & pediatric therapist (ret.).  Their adventures are richly documented on the Airstream site, History Safari Express…..an appetizing read.

Through our joint friendships, they were all able to meet at this ‘can’t miss’ affair, in scenic Balboa Park.

Caution: Leave your Lotrimin and Sporanox at the door

 

Bonni is always welcome in our cabin as a dinner guest, where she provides an assorted tray of mushrooms to sample with wine and dinner.  Hand picked from the wild of the upper peninsula, they can range from earthy to sweet….and always, the non-poisonous varieties.  It’s safe to ask for seconds.  Or if you require resuscitation, she is equipped with the nursing skill to insure your survival.

Below, the happy trio smiling in the ethereal atmosphere which can only be provided by fungi and air-borne spores:

L-R, Bill D., Bonni M., Larry K.

If this isn’t adequate evidence that hallucinogens work, enter Queen Elizabeth’s favorite dog, the Welsh Corgi…..another common bond shared at the fair.

Graham and Bonni’s irrepressible, PILI (pronounced, pee-lee), in mid-flight on the beach at Lake Huron

Larry and Bill, with MAC and TASHA in the CA desert, joined by an iron-rich hound in the background

Note: if they were my dogs they would have been named Mac & Cheese

 

We wished we could have attended, nestled in southern AZ, however did so vicariously.  Content to watch the final episode, season three of Downton Abbey, along with a favorite, the brassy Queen Mother and her corgis.

 

Perhaps someone else will link Kevin Bacon and the six degrees of separation to this text, but Lynn and I are grateful our mutual friends, living only a few miles apart, finally met at this BYOM* affair.

 

* bring your own mushrooms

 

©insightout2013

A scenic bypass on “The Longest Road”

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

Not an eternity, today marked two years since Life as Paperboys appeared, describing the introduction of editor/event organizer Rich Luhr to acclaimed American novelist, Philip Caputo.

Tonight, Phil retraces the trip from Patagonia to Tucson’s Alumafiesta with Insightout privileged to ride shotgun in his Tundra.  A wise choice, as our last venture, in one of my temperamental vintage Teutonic sedans resulted in running out of petrol; damn things require gas.  The bait, a delicious five course dinner prepared by Eleanor, fine wine, and a rare opportunity to catch up,  a prelude to Phil’s presentation of his soon-to-be-released travel memoir, “The Longest Road”.

Writers in a lighthearted moment, L-R, Phil C., Rich L.

A non-fiction account of a four month journey, spanning  > 16 thousand miles towing a 1962 Globetrotter, accompanied by wife, Leslie, and two English Setters, Sage and Sky, barely scratches the book’s underlying theme.

Apologies to Vonnegut, “The Globetrotterhouse Four” on the Pacific

Prior to the book release, readers might enjoy Leslie’s well crafted and humorous account of life on the road, keywestdeadhorse.  Aside from her editorial position for a major publication, runway good looks and stature, she has a unique and amusing view of the conditions, signs, and obstacles confronted in trailer life and all the crap most of us have endured.  A really good read.

Phil’s perspective of the human condition, the richness of his prose in 14 prior books and dozens of mainstream publications, promises an epic journey of the American psyche, shoulder-to-shoulder with William Least Heat Moon’s, Blue Highways, John Steinbeck’s, Travels with Charley, and Jack Kerouac’s, On the Road.   Be assured this is not an endorsement, as I have yet to receive a galley proof, but I’m anticipating a Charles Kuralt-like anthology, away from that ghastly motorhome, into an Airstream.

The exclusivity of tonight’s presentation, held in an inflatable, quonset hut/tennis pavilion, is clearly defined at the door.

The ambient temp in the building, a cool 58 F.

With a short introduction, and no warm up act, the headliner entertained the near capacity crowd for an hour.

A mirror image  of the afternoon trip, Phil and I return under still,  dark skies, across the foothills of the Santa Rita mountain range, toward our nests in Patagonia.  A pleasant hour, a couple of malted Mexican beverages, an opportunity to (alert: variation of a common vulgarity) “shoot the poop” sans outside distraction.  We had grown up, only a few months and thirty miles apart, 70 years ago, on the cusp of the industrial revolution, into blue collar families.  Personal setbacks and successes within our lifetime are tempered by trepidation for the future of our offspring at the dawn of the technology revolution.  Crack another Tecate.

The cliche, a must-read, is lame.  If you enjoy the road, airstreaming, and a thoughtful page turner on what makes us tick, do yourself a service and reserve a first edition copy of The Longest Road.  A decision you won’t regret.

Clutching an Illusion

Sunday, February 3rd, 2013

A vintage drive is still the best conveyance for transporting a mood.  Mine, the tempo for today, will be an effort to avoid the soiling of virgins.  A 50 mile drive through scenic high desert country, Patagonia, AZ to Tubac, AZ, in a late model Chevy truck is little consolation to the original plan: driving a 1972 plain jane, Mercedes diesel sedan to visit with Airstream royalty.

Sidelined with a burnt clutch, my Snow White remains at rest, while I suffer the ignominy of public parking, internally portraying myself as the dwarf, Grumpy, at a local Santa Cruz County Car Show.

The sad princess, at home, awaiting a pressure plate, throw-out bearing and clutch slave cylinder

On the cusp of Alumafiesta 2013 in Tucson, I’m privileged to join the event planners; their last gasp of relaxation before the kick-off on Tuesday.  Forget the Super Bowl, where millions of idiots turn on the TV to watch ads, the staff of R&B Productions called an audible….”let’s go to a car show”.

On a country club driving range, a sunny 70F in early February, thousands come to view 500+ wheeled vehicles of every ilk; a ritual about wishes and memories and generations holding hands.  An antidote to future shock, a reminder that the world got along perfectly without microwaves and spray paint and gourmet coffee and cellphones and cruise control.   It is a shining sanctuary from the possible, where every street and neighborhood and architectural element is Hispanic.  The attendees, mostly upper-middle class elderly gringos, silver-haired refugees from cooler climes, are living reminders that not only is winning the only thing, it isn’t even necessary.

The ultimate example of the fin crazed madness of the late 50s, eighteen + feet of 1959 Cadillac El Dorado, precipitated this dialogue.

“When this car was built you were only this big”……..” Nahh, you’re kidding, really ?”

Constant comparison with better old days are illusory and unreliable.  An older German man has driven his ponton, ’roundbody’, 1960 Benz 190 sedan, an anemic performer with the erotic buttocks of a biergarten fraulein.

84 HP, zero-60 mph by sunset

 

Overheard at every car show, the admonition, ‘ oh look, we ( may sub family, uncle, brother-in-law, grandfather) used to have one of those.’  And yes, I, too, owned a 1958 220S roundbody sedan from 1993-2007.  We called her Daisy.  After Daisy Werthan (Jessica Tandy), in the memorable movie of an old Buick chauffeured by Morgan Freeman.  Drove it to work every day during the summers, transported my daughter to her wedding, reveled in the Teutonic precision, and lusted over the dated pre-WWII styling.  In another irony, I opted to sell Daisy because of a tempermental vacuum operated clutch that I had grown to dislike.

Daisy, at a local mausoleum, the day before she left for the Orient.

The purchaser, an Asian mall developer, shipped our jewel to Hong Kong, where she now resides, suspended on a rotating platform in the atrium of a large shopping center.  A shameful fate, I still harbor guilt that she is no longer allowed to drive.  Like having a tubal ligation before a fertility rite.

On my way home now, imagining the 2001 Silverado I’m driving is a vintage ride, I enter a U.S. border patrol checkpoint, am racially profiled, and summarily allowed to pass through quickly.  Being an anglo geezer has its perks.

 

Prompting a Yogi Berra-like thought;

nostalgia isn’t what it used to be

Dining or Writing, it’s all relative

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

Our editor would prefer that the underpaid bloggers adhere to the following ethic.

DO NOT POST:
* Potentially libelous statements or damaging innuendo.
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XqqqqsMe.  Having departed APZ 2012, a fond farewell bade to Jackson Center, the gastronomic nightmare of central Ohio, we arrive in a nearby community for breakfast.  At the risk of violating #’s 1, 2, 3, 5 above, I can’t tell you the restaurant name is

For fifty years, I have avoided any restaurant featuring a female relative, e.g., Ma’s Kitchen, Granny’s Coffee Shop, Three Nieces Nut Shoppe, Sassy Sista’s Subs and Ribs…you get the picture.  At Aunt Millie’s we are welcomed by the day’s luncheon special on the blackboard easel.  “Creamed chipped beef on toast”, which a local diner, obviously out of editor control, had cleverly graffitied in chalk as “S##t  (vulgar synonym for excrement) on a shingle”.

We opted for bacon, eggs, hashbrowns with a side order of Lipitor served by a friendly waitress with cute knees.

Weeks follow and we find ourselves in Rochester , Minnesota.  The event, an annual picnic for transplant recipients.  300+, much like a traditional family reunion; third cousins, twice removed, meeting for the first time.

A warm day, a catered buffet under a large wedding tent, people coagulate into specialty groups; livers, kidneys (often accompanied by their donors), stem cells, and the elite cadaver organs, hearts and lungs.  High intensity medical chit-chat for drug side effects, lab values, clinic visits, and the necrology report of those who didn’t survive. Gift of Life Emcee, Steve Tarara and his assistant call out for photo ops.

Our Lynn (pulmonary fibrosis), second from right in pink and white, silver hair, next to her 35 y/o friend, Sarah (cystic fibrosis) 

And below, the youngest heart for an 11 y/o, a living doll

The only disappointment on the day….not reuniting with my three favorite nuns, Sr. Colleen, Sr. Pat., and Sr. Mary, all of the order of St. Francis, who did not attend.  Their excuse, rather flimsy I might add, was the need to take three of the elder sisters on an anniversary luncheon.  When they could have dined with us, the organists.

Their choice of restaurant, Baker’s Square, which hereafter should be called the “Six Sisters Diner”, so help me God.

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