Roll Me Over
Loc: Minnetonka, Minnesota
A three-hour tour...
06/08/05 12:01 PM
Well, I’m back . And whilst I was driving through Wisconsin on the 4th day of my 2 day trip to retrieve the RS from Massachusetts, for some reason I kept thinking of Gilligan’s Island...it was supposed to be just a 3-hour tour (and I know you are all singing to yourself “a 3 hour tour...”). Maybe it was because “the weather started getting rough”...but I digress. Rather than bore you with a blow-by-blow recount of my travails, here are some thoughts and “highlights” along the way:
- Mapquest cannot be trusted...it told me 1106 miles, address to address. I came to realize it was more like 1350, a rather significant difference that would have impacted my planning. Maybe Mapquest thought a Trooper has submarine capabilities, and could drive straight across Lake Michigan (that’d take a helluva snorkel!)
- if you do this sort of cross-country driving in older vehicles, get AAA! I came to realize that I have been lucky in the past, never had a serious problem in 4 trips to Moab and back. When I was sitting there on the side of the road with steam rolling out the engine compartment at 1:30 AM in the middle of Nowhere, NY, the first two people I met asked me if I had AAA. When I said no, they gave me a “sucks to be you” look...the one guy said his buddy would tow me if I had AAA, but he was passed out at home (this was late Saturday night) and couldn’t be roused for cash, apparently. About then, I thought I heard banjo music...
- the people of Jamestown, NY were very nice, helpful people…but I wonder what they do on Sunday, because virtually nothing is open for business, particularly auto parts delivery.
- While driving across NY at night, there are lots of deer (duh). So many that it is more nerve wracking than daytime driving, despite the far greater traffic in daytime. Anyway, I managed to avoid the freshly killed deer that suddenly appeared in my headlights, laying across three quarters of my lane...and get this: despite my high-speed lane change avoidance maneuver around the deer, my Trooper didn’t roll over and explode in flames! Take that, Consumer Reports!
- The state of Ohio apparently wants to make a point about the excellent value their toll roads offer, by allowing the free section of I-90 east of Cleveland to deteriorate the most gawd-awful stretch of road I encountered...at least until I got to Chicago.
- Should I be uneasy that the Motel 6 west of Cleveland has bulletproof glass at the check-in window, and that they needed my license plate number or “the police will be knocking on your door”??
- I wish I had a camera for a picture of the 18 wheeler that was completely upside-down in the grass on the other side of the Indiana Turnpike...some poor slobs were unloading boxes one-by-one and carrying them up to the road to an upright truck.
- If you are west of Indiana and expecting a FedEx Ground package, it may have burned up in the semi-trailer that was completely torched...(in the median of course, so both directions could be backed up for miles...). Was somebody shipping fireworks via FedEx?
- While the tolls in Ohio and Indiana seem to accomplish something (road construction every 15 miles, apparently), what is the purpose of the tolls in Chicago? How can toll roads be in such terrible condition?
- And where are all these people going at 1:00 PM? I cannot imagine what rush hour in Chicago is like. It was 90-plus degrees, I had no air conditioning, and there I sit for at least a half and hour in mid-day traffic.
- Why does I-90 west of Chicago make you stop half-a-dozen times to pay another 80 cents? Can’t they just give you a ticket and collect the entire amount when you leave the tollway?
- Let’s see what’s on the radio here in the middle of Wisconsin...Tone Loc, figures . Wait, what’s this? A tornado warning for “Jackson County in west-central Wisconsin”...I’m in west-central Wisconsin...sunny right now, though...not sure where Jackson County is, my dinky little road atlas doesn’t show counties. Oh, there’s a sign, “Now Entering Jackson County”. Wonderful. And that anvil-head I see straight ahead must be the storm in question. Maybe I’ll just stop for dinner and let this thing slide on by...hmm, “Next Exit 12 Miles”. Doh! Finally an exit, and just beyond some VERY threatening clouds. Hey, that one is rotating ...so here I am enjoying a casual dinner at the Taco Johns in Black River Falls, watching a wall cloud rotate just to the northwest (for those of you not from the Midwest, a wall cloud is the pre-cursor to a tornado). Fortunately, the storm is moving northeast and will miss me...my plan has worked! (one of few that has worked this trip).
- Whew, made it through that downpour...at least now I know the all wipers work on this Trooper...hmm, sky is kinda black up ahead, wonder if that’s gonna be a problem. Well anyway, let’s see what is on the radio...classic rock, figures. Wait, what’s this? A severe thunderstorm warning for “Chippewa Falls in west-central Wisconsin”. Doh! That’s straight ahead of me...I really need the road to turn right now...whew, it did, just enough to go through the tail of the storm instead of the heart. Hellacious gusty crosswinds though...that guy in the rental truck sure got a scare, nearly got blown off the road . And my trooper took both hands to keep in the lane, too. And that guy in the pickup that thought he would wait out the storm under the bridge probably didn’t count on getting stuck up to his axles in mud...(too bad I don’t have any recovery equipment, mud tires, or a vehicle that is running right or I woulda helped him...honestly, I would have!)
I wish to extend my thanks to everybody who offered to help while I was stranded, particularly Kasia and Sean Strawmeyers of MWIOR for their moral support, as well as everybody on the Wire. You guys are the best, and I hope to see you all sometime in the future to thank you in person!
Steve Carlson - 95 Trooper LS expo rig