There is a buzz in the air these days. My mind is preoccupied with thoughts of adventure and interstate. (Strange, since the two are often mutually exclusive.) I’m finding it difficult to remain focused on the work left to do before departure.
This particular trip will be taking me and five other riders from eastern Pennsylvania to Speedway, Indiana for the Red Bull MotoGP race. I know the route well, having been to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway numerous times for the USGP Formula 1 races. (This was back when the United States still cared about Formula 1. Or, more accurately, when Formula 1 still cared about the United States.) I call it a route, but that’s a bit of an exaggeration. No GPS will be needed (nor is it allowed in this group). Our path will take us up a two-lane highway for about 20 minutes, where we will make a left onto the Turnpike, then continue straight for about 11 hours.
It will be a very different experience from my previous Indy treks. We took a Coachman RV on every other trip to the Steakhouse Capital. I never understood the draw that a recreational vehicle offered to the elders of our society until I used it just once. It provided transportation, shelter, and entertainment to its occupants. (Albeit the last one in the tragic drama of nauseatingly high fuel consumption.) We could set up camp (extend the awning) in a parking lot directly across the street from the speedway. Aside from the fact that we were situated on top of blazing-hot asphalt skillet, this location proved ideal since there was no traffic to battle after a long day spent at the track, food & beverage were immediately available, and there was the added bonus of being awakened at 7AM to the shriek V10s turning 20,000 rpm. Also, motorhomes also give you the ability to pack once and be done. You don’t even need a bag, just pack your clothing and toiletries directly where you need them; none of this hauling suitcases and sleeping bags in and out of vehicles every time you stop for the night. Read more
We were welcomed into Brian’s home at Lancaster Gate and were shown around the flat. There was a lovely sitting room, furnished with rather lavish furniture that was a bit past its prime. A formal dining room was located off the sitting room, dark and unused—yet well-stocked with tall bottles of unopened liquor. A small kitchen offered a bright contrast to the rest of the living quarters; its tiny appliances proved to be equal parts utility and novelty. Brian’s room was in the corner. Gordon and I would be staying in the spare bedroom at the end of the hall, conveniently located next to a large bathroom.
There were still two rooms left unexplored. “Oh, that’s Dieter’s bathroom and his bedroom. Please don’t go in there.” I was perplexed and a bit miffed. Here I was, being the best friend I knew how by intruding on his Canadian hospitality, and he had the audacity to refuse me entry into the rest of his home! He went on to explain. “This is actually Dieter’s flat and I act as a sort of roommate/caretaker. Dieter has schizophrenia. Don’t worry; he’s not a danger to anyone. I’m just here to keep tabs on him.” As we took our bags back to our room, we passed the semi-closed door to the forbidden bathroom. My curiosity got the best of me and I looked in through the crack. I saw shower curtain withdrawn to expose the bathtub, but instead of seeing towels drying on the rung I saw a large, foldable drying rack full of black dress socks. There must have been two dozen pairs hanging there, the air drying them to the crisp stiffness of cold English toast. Intriguing… Read more
I leave for the shore tomorrow evening. I’m not sure why those of us living in the Mid-Atlantic states call the place where land meets sea water The Shore, nor why elsewhere it is called The Coast, The Beach, or The Ocean. I do find myself reacting to the mere mention of The Shore as though someone was talking of The Plague or The Gout. I find it best to avoid any of them, for two reasons: 1) massive amounts of people (and massive people, more often than not), and 2) the traffic jams.
I must admit that I tend to dislike people, in general. I find them to be genuinely rude and inconsiderate of others (namely me). They also tend to speak too loudly and, while they’re at it, seem to have no concept of when to stop talking. I will admit that there are a few exceptions, and those are usually real gems. (I am not one of them, sadly.) However, by and large, most people fall into the category of Best Avoided, and a strict adherence to this rule has kept me alive and at least partially sane to this day. Read more
I was explaining the virtues of driving my 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit Diesel (aka “The Rabbi”, then later “The Whistle Pig”) and was greeted with a rather interesting response: “You’ll never get a wife in a car like that!” I found this a particularly shallow and unnecessary observation on his part. Of course I wouldn’t. I knew that. I had no plans of bird-dogging chicks at the local strip mall with this thing. No illusions of females swooning at the sharp turbine whistle emitted by the side-exit exhaust. The mismatched hatch would not make them weak in the knees. That isn’t why I found that car so appealing.
What drew me to it was it’s simplicity, the pureness of the driving experience, the excellent fuel economy (better than today’s uber-complex hybrids), and the fact that the $175 purchase price seemed relatively affordable. (Truth be told, the previous owner’s girlfriend told him to make the decision between her or the car, thus the quick sale and low, low price.) Yes, it is ugly, rough, and will mark its territory with the predictability and dedication of a terrier in a public park. I love the directness of the manual steering, the boost-induced giggles of a self-installed turbo system, and the honesty of its reluctance to get going on a cold winter morning. It has character. It is a bit special. Read more