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.