Road Trip, XVI-2

My folks never needed to wait for Labor Day to take a road trip. I was not born in the back seat of a 1940 Buick but I might have been if my dad hadn’t gotten a job the week before. [From Road Trip 2013]

1940 Buick Special

Rufus sent me an advertisement flogging the five most awesome American roads to drive. I wrote about it then and it’s time to revisit it now.

See, I have a new truck, a tankful of gas, and a desire to leave North Puffin before it gets really cold and not get to South Puffin until it cools off. And until Colonial gets the pipeline fixed. The North Carolina price gouging law has taken effect. It doesn’t help.

“We’ve seen fuel disruptions like this before and want to reassure people that there’s no need for alarm at this time,” said NC Public Safety Secretary Frank Perry.

OK. I’m definitely following Horace Greeley‘s advice.

I’m plotting a road trip for October. I have a yearning for the blue routes: diagonally down toward the Southwest on the outbound leg and then along the southern border to home.

You may recall my obsession with the Not So PTT. “I can fit SWMBO and everything I have to carry and even an RV-size washer-dryer into a cargo trailer. There’s room for the three-esses, room to cook, room to sleep, room to poke a ‘puter,” I wrote. “There is not room to change your mind.”

Good sense prevailed. I was well aware that this $5-10,000 solution would cost me twice as much in twice as much gas as just driving, all so I can save $30-40/night on motel rooms and sleep in a Walmart parking lot for free! That and the couple year build time meant I couldn’t have it ready to leave in a couple of weeks.

Since I decided against the cargo-trailer-cum-camper, I’ll couch surf with friends if I can find any and otherwise hit the Motel 4-1/2s along the way. It’s sort of the 5,000 mile long way around from North to South Puffin.

Hint to old friends and friends I don’t know yet: if you recognize any of the places on my route, I’m open to suggestions for anything from a quick beer to a free night on your couch. I am (mostly) housebroken.

I’ll leave North Puffin the first week of October.

I’d like to see the USS Cod submarine and the Statue of the Flying Housewife and maybe take an Airstream Factory Tour and, of course, see the happy Blue Whale of Route 66. As usual, I’ll try not to go too many places I’ve been before.

Having said I won’t go anywhere I have been, I’ll make my first stop in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania because my Aunt Dot who turns 96 this year lives there. She and my folks met when they all lived in an apartment house in Philly before I was born; I spent time every summer with her boys in Annapolis and they with me.

I’ve discovered that a number of US cities that have state names. I’ll have to miss Wyoming, Minnesota, or Minnesota, California and Google has never heard of California, Georgia, but I put California, Pennsylvania on the list first and I might make it through Kansas, Vermont, and Georgia, Kansas, outside Wichita, as well as Vermont, Indiana, just before I get to Kokomo which I want to visit because I like the name. I’ll probably miss Indiana, Pennsylvania, but I might make it through Pennsylvania, Alabama on my way back. Sadly, I can’t get to Alabama, New York but I’ve been in Florida, New York, and I’ll try to find New York, Florida, but Florida, Ohio, is also probably too far north of my route. On the other hand Ohio, Texas, is a possibility but Texas, Maryland, will have to wait until I come back north. Maryland, Louisiana, is sort of on the way from Shreveport but I could see going through Louisiana, Missouri.

Martin’s Ferry and maybe Moundsville, West Virginia sound interesting.

I may have to leave the Police Museum and the USS Cod for another trip because Cleveland may be too far north. Jackson Center for the Airstream Factory Tours is a bit north of my route, too, if I want to see the Statue of the Flying Housewife in Columbus. Dayton, where my Aunt Betty lived, has the Carousel of Inventions.

It’s a couple of hours out of my way but I’ll probably head up to West Lafayette, Indiana, to see where my cousin and his family hang their hats. I won’t stop in Huntington, though, because I don’t know anyone at Shuttleworth Conveyors there anymore. It would be good to stop in Brazil because there are no mosquitoes and get fired up over St. Elmo, Illinois, because how could I not?

Can you drive a truck through the St Louis arch?

I’ll more or less follow the Mother Road from there.

The Mark Twain National Forest has 1.5 million acres of beautiful public land with sections of the Ozark Trail and the historic Greer Roller Mill. Maybe I’ll get the lead out in Joplin, Missouri and I have to stop in the railroad town of Chandler, Oklahoma, simply because my grandmother was a Chandler.

Amarillo calls me because it was the “Helium Capital of the World” and that is lighter than air. That city has one of the largest meat packing plants in the United States, right next to the only nuclear weapons assembly and disassembly facility in the country. (Really, it’s the Cadillac Ranch that I want to see.)

Unfortunately, I’ll be too late for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta with over 500 kaleidoscopic hot air balloons rising up at dawn over the New Mexico landscape but I’ll likely stop at the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History and the Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum. I’ll stop at the Western New Mexico Aviation Heritage Museum in Grants, New Mexico.

Acoma PuebloPetrified ForestI definitely want to see the new Eagle Aviary in Window Rock and float around that part of New Mexico and Arizona (Tsé Bii’ Ndzisgaii, or valley of the rocks) that includes the area surrounding Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, the Navajo Nation equivalent to a national park where my mom painted.

The westward leg will end in Paradise Valley.

I’ll rest out there before heading east along the southern border; that’s a story for our next installment.

It will be good to get away from the idlers and imbeciles running toward November 8.


Irksome Revelation

Longtime San Antonio Spurs star Tim Duncan retired last week. The 40-year-old forward was one of the oldest players on the court; he had spent his entire 19-year NBA career on the Spurs. “It wasn’t any fun any more,” he said.

You can be washed up as a basketball player at 30 or as a race car driver by 50 but the Stones and Chicago and show you can still be a rock star at 70.

Robert Lamm who may be the youngest of the old rockers is the old man of Chicago; he was born in 1944. There’s a long list. Mick Jagger was born in 1943. Paul McCartney, Al Jardine and Brian Wilson (born 1942). Eric Burdon, Paul Simon and Artie Garfunkel (born 1941). Ringo (born 1940). Dion (born 1939). And Leonard Cohen, forced by finances to go back on tour in 2008, was born in 1934.

Chuck Berry (born 1926) will perform his 207th show at Blueberry Hill in his native St. Louis on August 13.

“So do you think you should’ve been a rock star?” SWMBO asked. “With the drugs, sex, fame, fortune and all that annoying crap? Because you want to be on the road at 70?”

Jeez. Sex, fame, fortune. When you put it that way…

The full Social Security benefit age — the unofficial official retirement age in the U.S. — is 66 for people born in 1943-1954; it gradually rises to 67 for those born in 1960 or later.

Huh. I turn 67 this week so I did the “fun” test, too. First I had to list what I actually do. Alphabetically, of course.

  • Goof off
  • Invent stuff
  • Keep an Arts Council going
  • Photograph stuff
  • Renovate houses
  • Repair houses
  • Run a small business with engineering and IT clients
  • Stage concerts
  • Travel
  • Write other stuff

I like to be on stage but I never wanted to be a rock star. My hands aren’t big enough to hold a basketball but I never wanted to play ball. I was a race car driver and would still do it if someone would pay me but it’s tough to win as we get older.

Upside Down Camaro Races at LeMonsDangerous, too. Ove Andersson was a Swedish rally driver and the first head of Toyota’s F1 program who died at 70 in a vintage rally crash in South Africa. Bob Akin, journalist, television commentator, and champion sports car driver, was killed at 66 in a crash while testing a Nissan GTP for the Walter Mitty Challenge. J. D. McDuffie, 52, died in a crash at the Glen. Dale Earnhardt was almost 50 when he died in a crash at Daytona. Neil Bonnett died at 47 when he returned to racing after retiring.

Still, Morgan Shepherd took the wheel of the Number 52 Toyota at age 71 and became the oldest driver ever to start a race in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup series and became the second-oldest NASCAR Cup winner (after Harry Gant) when he won in Atlanta at the age of 51. He had made his Cup debut in 1970 but, even with no chance to grab a competitive ride, he still has no plans of slowing down.

OK, no slowing down, just changing direction.

  • I’ve already spent entirely too much time doing Windows 10 upgrades this month and didn’t have any fun. Some of my IT clients have already retired and I have now passed all but one of the rest to a really great shop in St Albans. Cool. IT Department will close this year.
  • I like goofing off. Keep.
  • Ditto inventing stuff, photographing stuff, renovating stuff, traveling, and writing other stuff. I should do more of that and improve the workflow so I have time to do #2.
  • I’m ready. If I never have to fix anything in an old house again, I’d have time to do #2 and #3.
  • I like the arts and enjoy the people but I’m not in North Puffin enough any more to do it justice.

Volunteer Chief Cook and Bottle Washer Needed
Longtime local arts service organization chair is stepping down. The search starts now. Inquire within.

“When I start hitting the wall or something, then maybe it’s time to get out,” Mr. Shepherd told Sports Illustrated in 2013.

Morgan Shepherd gives us all hope innit. Maybe we could race a little again, too?



Christo has authorized a team led by Vermont artist and water expert Parker Vogt to do a series of United States environmental projects starting this year.

Replay the Bay, their first project, will be unveiled with joint receptions in Highgate Springs and Alburg Springs, Vermont, tomorrow. They have covered the entire surface of Missisquoi Bay with a double layer of floating panels of woven polypropylene fabric. The top layer is the white of winter snow and the underlayer is a rippling, iridescent, blue-green. Read more

News, Part II

I guess we don’t have my cuz to kick around any more, eh.

The Canadian federal election was held on October 19. A huge plurality of Canadians (OK, 39.5%) gave Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party the boot after nine years and elected Justin Trudeau to head a new Liberal government. Mr. Trudeau takes office on Wednesday.

Canada has 25 different political parties, all contending for seats in Parliament. From the Alliance of the North to the United (neither of which won a single seat) plus the Animal Alliance, Bloc Québécois, Bridge, Canada Party, Canadian Action, Christian Heritage, Communist, Conservative, Democratic Advancement, Green, Independent and no affiliation, Liberal, Libertarian, Marijuana, Marxist-Leninist, New Democratic, PACT, Pirate, Progressive Canadian, Rhinoceros, Seniors, and Strength in Democracy, There were almost as many Parliamentary candidates as Republicans running for U.S. President.

Like Mr. Obama, Mr. Trudeau campaigned on “Real Change” and “Hope and Hard Work.”

Voters could make up pretty much anything they wanted to match those slogans and the press did the same. Mr. Trudeau has promised to raise taxes and spending, run a deficit, oppose the oil industry, and plans to embark on a vast program of public works spending. Pretty similar to his father. And Mr. Obama. Except he supports international trade deals and the Keystone pipeline project.

Last week, we looked at the quantity of non-news behind the Twitter or Facebook “headlines.” This week, we’ll pay attention to the quality of the news and commentary you get from any source.

Justin TrudeauAmericanthinkerdotcom says of the Canadian election, “the disasters have already begun. Fasten your seat belts, Canucks, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.”

The Canadian online conservative political and social commentary platform Rebel Media reported “The Canadian dollar dropped nearly two percentage points after Justin Trudeau’s Liberals swept to a majority in the federal election.

“That’s almost two cents in four days.”

Two whole cents!


The pundits used the bumpy road to mean way more failures than successes ahead for our northern neighbors. I agree that Canada has more troubles ahead.

But these pundits want to stir you up about it by cherry picking a fact and spinning it. (And, yes, this column has picked just one reported fact for discussion out of the Americanthinker article.)

Rebel Media was founded in February by former Sun News Network host Ezra Levant.

Mr. Levant noted that the “precipitous drop” has a profound effect on Canadians. What Mr. Levant didn’t note is that the Canadian Dollar has fallen pretty steadily since 2011 and is now back down to about where it was from the 70s on.

“It’s like every Canadian just got a pay cut.”

               Famous Fakery
• Faked peer reviews prompted 64 retractions at Nature.
• 60 Minutes aired a story in 2004 that showed memos that showed then-1st Lieutenant George Bush had gone AWOL. Except the documents were obvious forgeries.
• Both New York Magazine and the New York Post reported on a Stuyvesant High School senior who made $72 million on stocks. Except that alluring story was, well, fake.
• The Rebel Media claim that the Canadian dollar dropped two points after Mr. Trudeau’s election. Except the election had little to do with it.

CBS rightfully fired Dan Rather over the Bush-National Guard story.

The Globe and Mail noted back in August that the Canadian dollar is under attack on several fronts, from the collapse in oil prices to the different paths being taken by central banks. “The loonie lost about 4% in July, sank to below 76 cents U.S. at one point [August 3] and again [August 4], and won’t stop there, according to analysts who expect it to tumble further to about 73 or 74 cents. It’s at 76 cents today.”

The loonie has been weakening for several years.

Editorial note: as a consumer of Canadian dentistry, I’m quite pleased in the return of the “weak” loonie. An exam and cleaning cost me $68 U.S. last month. The same service cost $95 U.S. in 2014.

So, the Canadian dollar did indeed drop a couple of percentage points after Mr. Trudeau’s Liberals won a majority in the Canadian elections but that’s probably not Mr. Trudeau’s fault. The two very real questions Canadian Conservatives should ask are
1. Why should we trust any media that cherry picks a few facts to lie to us?
2. What will Mr. T do to strengthen the loonie?

The rest of us have just one very real question to ask of the Twitter or Facebook or even our traditional news feeds:
Why should we trust any media that cherry picks a few facts to lie to us?


Just Words

I have a little man-crush on Antonin Scalia.

Justice Antonin ScaliaAfter all, how many Supreme Court Justices could call a decision “jiggery-pokery”? Mr. Scalia did in his dissension to the King v. Burwell decision, otherwise known as the Care Package for the Unaffordable Care Act. Here he was absolutely right on the Law and right that lay readers and lawyers alike “would think the answer would be obvious — so obvious there would hardly be a need for the Supreme Court to hear a case about it.”

Next up, Obergefell v. Hodges, otherwise known as the Same Sex Marriage Decision. Here Mr. Scalia is wrong on the Law but dead-bang on in his description of the Court and the fallacious route they took to arrive at the right decision:

“Take, for example, this Court, which consists of only nine men and women, all of them successful lawyers who studied at Harvard or Yale Law School. Four of the nine are natives of New York City. Eight of them grew up in east- and west-coast States. Only one hails from the vast expanse in-between. Not a single Southwesterner or even, to tell the truth, a genuine Westerner (California does not count).”

“The opinion is couched in a style that is as pretentious as its content is egotistic… one would think Freedom of Intimacy is abridged rather than expanded by marriage. Ask the nearest hippie.”