Monday, May 24, 2010

Road notes

It took me seven days to drive from Central Florida to New York last week, and it’s a good thing because I needed a whole week to mentally prepare myself for the final leg of the journey – the Cross Bronx Expressway – America’s worst road and anything but an expressway.

I played a few rounds of golf in South Carolina, and visited a couple of friends in North Carolina along the way. I made at least 50% of the trip on non-interstate highways, which added a little time but still made the trip go faster. This included most of the 105 mile stretch of the Skyline Highway through Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. I think it looks like the photo above, but when I got on at the southern entry point it was drizzling and I couldn’t see much out in the distance. There are only a few exit points along the way. I skipped the first one and shortly thereafter the drizzle turned to a steady, hard rain, accompanied by a dense fog that made even the 35 mile per hour speed limit impossible to reach. But I saw a lot of pretty trees and stopped at a couple of lodges operated by the National Park Service, which look to be worth a visit some other time. You can still actually see some local character in America if you get off the I-roads.

Road music was, as usual, heavily focused on the blues. I listened to several recent Roadhouse podcasts for the second and third time, as well as “Soul Monster” by Rod Piazza. The blues comes in so many styles I’m sometimes not sure how to characterize a group. Rob in a harp player in the Chicago style, but also plays a little jump blues and does a great cover of the old Sunny and the Sunglow’s song, “Talk to Me.”And I’ve probably heard half of the new album by the Mannish Boys and have to get the whole thing. They really rock. Woody recently gave me a couple CDs by Guitar Gabriel, a real-deal old-time Delta bluesman who was once a patient of his, but who has since gone to his reward. (I’m certain these last two facts are not related in any way.) He is well worth a listen.

Tom and Ray Magliozzi are surely the funniest guys on the radio. I download “Car Talk” episodes and listen to them on my i-pod while driving. You don’t have to be a car nut to love Tom and Ray; you just have to enjoy laughing. They crack each other up with cornball jokes and old stories about the cars they owned, their families, crooked mechanics and anything else that pops into their heads. Both are MIT-trained engineers and have run an auto repair business in Cambridge, Mass for many years.

If you’ve never heard them try the April 17, 2010 episode in which we hear a very funny story about how Ray was sick and got left behind when the crew went to South Beach for a little R&R this winter. Then a wealthy grandma calls in to complain that her grandson doesn’t want to drive the Mini Cooper she offered to buy him because it is a “chick car,” which leads to an interesting sociological debate. Finally, a nebbishy Washington bureaucrat suffering from DMLC (delayed mid-life crises) calls in with a question about preserving the top on his Miata convertible. This leads to the funniest bit of all when Tommy tells him about his 1974 Chevy Caprice Classic convertible, and weaves a philosophy of life into his insistence on putting the top down in May and never raising it again until October – rain or shine. It was raining as I listened to it, but it didn’t stop me from laughing.

10 comments:

fenway said...

The Car Guys are the best. I have to catch them on replay, though, as they're on the same time as The Baseball Show from April-October. Welcome home. In case nobody told you we actually had spring this year. Remember when we were young and there was such a thing as spring? When is the business school graduation? If the Sox are in town we "might could" take in a game.

Hankster said...

Wasn't it Yogi Berra who said that the Cross Bronx Expressway is so busy that nobody takes it anymore?

One of the Car Guys has the same car I have had since high school, an MG-TD. I used to drive it to my draft counselor in Northhampton, not far from your summer digs, back when we were Hiramites and Vietnam was Afghanistan.

BTW, did you check to see if a Nile Monitor Lizard or Burmese Python was hitch hiking in your trunk? They could make a dent in your local coyote population.

MikeyLikesIt said...

Long car trips and talk radio go together like beans and cornbread.

Car Guys helped keep me awake driving from Gulf Shores to New Orleans a week ago. I know nothing about cars but they're still entertaining.

kgwhit said...

A little known fact about the Skyline Drive is that not only was it built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930's but there were no trees. The forests were completely replanted by the CCC during that time.

d'blank said...

Hankster -- i believe that is Tom and his hasn't run in 20 years either.

Fenway -- got an ipod? you caqn download them.

Gaga said...

Hank, I'm very jealous the MG-TD is one of the coolest cars ever.

Yes,the car guys are funny. My favorite radio guys are Bob & Tom. Truely disrepectful of everyone.


Happy Trails!

Hankster said...

Gaga, as Dennis had intimated, it is certainly one of the coolest cars on one of the 3 days per year it actually runs. As the old saw goes, the reason why the Brits drink their beer at room temperature is because their refrigerators are wired by Lucas - the same company which wired MGs. There is a good reason why it has a crank behind the seat.

kgwhit said...

I owned an MG midget in 1971. I could never depend on the car. It wouldn't start at least half the time. I kept it for a year and then unloaded it on some poor sucker. Then I got a VW bug. I looked cooler sitting in the driveway in the MG but I got where I needed to in the bug.

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