Posts tagged ‘road trip’

A Study in August, Part One

9 August, 2012 | | 2 Comments

So there we were, moving up the highway looking for adventure, surprise, birthday cake, and the thrill of the open road.  We’re celebrating many things this month, including SOBUMD’s dad’s birthday, our 20th wedding anniversary, and my leave balance – this is the longest I’ve ever taken off work – and we’re celebrating by getting out of the usual rut for a while.  For a change, I’m taking enough time off that I’m going to try to post a few notes from the road, rather than writing them all up at the end.  Plus, pictures to come!

We were making good time heading up I-95 on a beautiful Saturday morning, just the six of us in the minivan – myself, SOBUMD, the three lunatic children, and Mister Frank Sinatra.  Singing along with Come Fly With Me at the top of my lungs in that minivan, I realized that if I were any more whitebread, someone would have to pull me over and slice me. 

Thank goodness the whitewash didn’t last – we love Frank, but once that CD was over we started to rock that van, we gon’ drive all day, we gon’ light it up, with the Ella way.   With Taio Cruz dynamiting our speakers at top volume, it was a religious experience – it was almost like being in church.  This feeling was exacerbated by driving past the shrine to “Our Lady of the Highways,” which travelers zooming up the side of Interstate 95 in northern Maryland toward the Delaware border will see out of the corner of their eye as they pass it doing 85 mph.  The shrine, a 12-foot statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary facing northbound traffic, was created by the Oblates of Saint Francis de Sales after a 17-car pileup in the 1960s that killed several people. 

Is it me, or does the term Oblate sound suspiciously like something out of a religious order invented by Dr. Seuss?  St. Bartholomew and the Oblates?  I think I read that one to the three lunatic children recently.

Like anything enjoyed at 85 miles an hour, though, even the awe and reverence inspired by the sight of a 12 foot BVM holding a bible like a radar gun didn’t last.  Our musical review moved into the second-most recent Green Day song, which reminded us of the new Foo Fighters song, which moved us to play the very newest Green Day song, which I mentioned sounded quite a lot like the Dead Kennedys.  The next thing I knew, we were rocking our punk-ass selves up the highway on our way to a Holiday in Cambodia.   I’m so proud – our little lunatics listen to punk!

I’ll leave you in the capable hands of Jello Biafra and the boys while I play connect the dots with the next installment.


Road Trips, Mall Rats, Highways, and Evolution

17 May, 2012 | | 3 Comments

I’ve put 500 miles on the Blackfish this week, just going to meetings. That’ll happen when your meeting on Wednesday morning is just south of Richmond and your meeting Thursday morning is just south of Delaware. Wednesday morning I woke at 0430 and drove to Ft. Lee, VA, meeting the cohort at the predetermined rendezvous point at the appointed time with military precision. It’s the same cohort I usually travel with to Huntsville, and so by meeting at the appointed time with military precision, I mean they were half an hour late. By the predetermined rendezvous point, I mean, of course, Waffle House. There is something greasily satisfying about Waffle House that makes it the perfect road food.

Ft. Lee is just down the way from the Petersburg National Battlefield, where Gen. Ulysses S. Grant cut off Petersburg’s supply lines, leading to the fall of Richmond and Gen. Robert E. Lee’s surrender shortly thereafter. Since the Civil War has come up in about a dozen conversations in the past few months, and I was done studying earned value management and zombies, I decided early this week that I’d finally pick up The Killer Angels, Michael Shaara’s famous book about the battle of Gettysburg. It had been on my to-read shelf for more than 10 years, but I always assumed it was a somewhat dry rendition of the facts of the battle, and found something else to do.

If you haven’t read it, it’s NOT a dry recitation of facts and history. It’s a well told, well crafted story with engaging, tragic, larger than life characters and fascinating dialogues and internal monologues. Within the first 15 pages, I was hooked, and I asked SOBUMD with her amazing library-foo to see if it was an audiobook somewhere. She brought it home the next day, and I’ve been listening to it for 5 hours to and from Ft. Lee and now today 4 hours to and from Aberdeen, MD. It’s a great story – I can’t wait to see how it ends, so if you’ve read it already, don’t tell me!

This morning I awoke again at 0430 and drove, this time, to Aberdeen, MD, arriving in time to find, no, yes, wait for it – a Waffle House. I can’t get enough of their greasy lovely food, nor into my older pants. Aberdeen is prettier than I expected, and the meetings there went well.

I took I-95 to Aberdeen, but I took the smaller Rt 40 most of the way back, at least into Baltimore. The interstates are fine for getting places quickly, but that’s about the only thing they really have going for them. On the slower, older, blue highways, as William Least Heat-Moon calls them, you can see the older America. It has stoplights. Some of them are at the intersection of the Past and the Future, where a simple car repair shop has a distinct carport right next to the highway and suspiciously Greco-Roman architecture, and you realize that this was once a filling station for highway traffic, 60 years ago, before the interstate came through and left this piece of road as a Left Turn to Nowhere.

The interstate, were you to open your windows while driving it, which is not always a great thing to do at 80 miles an hour, smells of diesel fuel and stress. The 20 miles of Rt. 40 I drove this afternoon smelled predominately of honeysuckle, and I left my windows down for all of it.

On the older roads, too, you can sometimes find those places where men of industry have started businesses next to icons, the features of the landscape that stick in the imagination, natural mnemonics that ensure you’ll remember their restaurant or gas station because it’s next to the Biggest Rock In Town or something. Mind you, once you’ve made that Left Turn to Nowhere, sometimes the true entrepreneur needs to create their own mnemonic, their own unforgettable icon to ensure you come back and tell your friends.

Chicken On The Roof

Chicken On The Roof

To wit, the Chicken On The Roof Grill. Don’t have a handy natural outcropping or memorable piece of landscape? Put a 20-foot plastic chicken on your roof and name your shop after that!

I didn’t stop. It was on the other side of the road (why did the Chicken On The Roof Grill cross the road?), and I wasn’t hungry. A spot of internet searching reveals that most reviews are along the lines of “take the Beltway, the food sucks,” so perhaps it was for the best.

Arriving home, I found I was in time to pick up the younger of the three lunatic children from school, and so fitting plan to deed I did that. This is always interesting, since right after school is about the only time they’ll both talk about their day. (I think they clear cache after about 10 minutes.) It turned out, on questioning, that the Reigning Queen of Pink had a bad day. This involved food that she’s not allowed to eat being substituted with other food she’s not allowed to eat, plus boys yelling at her. Number One Son asked, “Why were they yelling?”

BUMD: “They’re probably yelling because they’re 3rd grade boys, and 3rd grade boys are stupid.”
Reigning Queen of Pink: “All boys are stupid, and you [Number One Son], meaning no offense, are no exception. No offense, you understand, but you’re one of them.”
Number One Son: “How could I be offended at a true fact?”

These are the future leaders of our country.

Speaking of the future leaders of our country, because driving 500 miles in the last 36 hours wasn’t enough, I then this evening went downtown to Pentagon City Mall for a dinner meeting with a group from my company. The dinner was excellent, but of course the best part was before going in, I took the opportunity to circumnavigate the mall and notice the people, the sounds and the sights and scents and the sense of the place.

I almost wished I hadn’t. There, then, below me, were the quivering masses of humanity, walking and falling and running around in Spring Field Trip Season. Every other person was wearing a school logo or name tee-shirt, I suspect to help identify them to the leaders. It looked like there had been a mass breakout from the Sing Sing or Rikers Island Juvenile Detention Center, and all the escaped juvies had decided to go to the mall, yo. One group stood out in “Class of ” shirts, and instead of the year, they listed the names of everyone in the graduating class – the whole class. (You can do that in a small town. My graduating class would have needed the front and back of Hagrid’s dress robes to fit us all.) Those were the shirts; the young boys were otherwise in their best brown baggies and sporting their Bieber cuts.

The food court at a large mall may be 80 percent of what’s wrong with this country. Starting with the lack of Scotch dispensers. Smoke from the indoor BBQ joint clouded the upper levels, the sweet smell of charcoal, grease, and co-pays pungent in the air. I saw a fat man pay a thin man for a massage, in an open-air massage parlor – very likely the only physical human contact he gets all day.

There are no happy endings here.

Under the roar of it all, the songs of birds, struggling to hear each other inside this glassed-in urban forest they’ve adopted as home. Darwin would be proud; in 10 short years, these sparrows have evolved into flying mall rats, perfectly suited to life under the glass bubble. I noticed that they seem to instinctively flock toward younger children – genetic selection and experience has taught them that a 3-yr-old is more likely to drop the pretzel than an 8-yr-old. Mind you, the kids probably drop the pretzel out of surprise at seeing a bird in the mall. It makes you wonder if the pretzel shop lets the birds in, to drum up business by getting overstressed parents to buy new twisted baked goods to calm irate prepubescent consumers. No happy endings.

Like the like the open-air masseuse, like the Chicken On The Roof, like Longstreet and Lee at Gettysburg, there are no happy endings here. All I can tell you is that if you’re going to put 500 miles on your car in one week, make them good miles. Look out the window. Roll it down if you can. Skip the Interstate, skip the mall. Turn left next to nowhere, and explore the small spaces. You might find something neat, you might wonder how it got there, and you might wonder how the hell you’re going to find your way back to the road, but you’ll be glad you did. Tell ‘em the Big Ugly Man Doll sent you.

Of Lunches, Dinners, and Breakfasts

21 April, 2012 | | 6 Comments

0415 is a disgusting and unholy time of the morning, but there I was, awake and getting dressed.  Yep – we’re going back to Huntsville.

SOBUMD and the three lunatic children dropped me off at my folks’ house Tuesday evening.  As I’ve gotten older, the bedtime routine with my parents has evolved – I miss the bedtime stories, but the good-night Scotch is a welcome addition.  This kids acknowledged my blandishments about behaving for SOBUMD with their usual nonchalance, left with SOBUMD, and we shortly retired to sleep.

I may have mentioned in previous posts that my father collects penguins.  I’m used to all the birds around the house, but I’ll confess the penguin mobile over my bed was freaking me out a little.  The windows were open, and the little bastards were swaying, floating gently just below the ceiling.  Penguins just shouldn’t fly, ya know?  Of course, I’ve only myself to blame – I’m pretty sure we bought it for him.

Time in the wee hours progressing in the manner of a dream, I suddenly found myself thanking FOBUMD for the stay and the ride to the airport and walking into the eerily empty, post-apocalyptic vision that is DCA before 0500.  Neither the folks from TSA not the ticket agents speak, not even to each other.  I guessed they were communicating through some godless pre-dawn telepathy, as though to break the silence would profane even further this already unholy hour of the morning.  As I make my way to the check in desk, they all stare at me like somnambulant feral zombies, with only their eyes moving, waiting for any sign of weakness.  I had the distinct and uncanny sense that, were I to stumble, even for a moment, they’d be on me like a pack of hungry dingos on a baby.

I have no memory of checking in.  I suppose it’s possible that I might have supressed such a memory to protect my sanity, such as it is.  The next thing I remember was boarding a plane, finding my seat, and getting up again to make room for my cute twin blonde seatmates.

Things were looking up.  I like this dream.  So did they, evidently – they were both asleep before we pulled away from the gate.

As I reseated myself, an even more stunning brunette stopped in front of me and asked if she could move my hat.  I took it from the overhead bin and, after watching her struggle for a moment, offered to help with getting her carry-on up into the bin.  Mind you, when I say carry on, as far as US Airways is concerned, if it has wheels, it’s a carry on.  This was proven by the fact that she was pulling a 1973 Ethen Allen hardwood dresser that was taller than the Reigning Queen of Pink.  It had rolling casters on it, though, so it’s a carry on.  For $25 per checked bag, I didn’t really blame her.

My sleeping beauties made a few kind remarks about how strong I was, how polite I was, and US Airways redefining “carry on” – and drifted back to sleep.

I have vague and uncomfortable memories of channelling OJ Simpson in the airport at Charlotte, NC, which is somewhere between “bigger than I expected” and “fucking enormous.”  Mind you, when I say I was channelling OJ Simpson, I don’t mean I was jumping over furniture and people, I mean I looked like a slow-moving white Bronco going through the interminable hallways.  Walking out to the tarmac to board the next hop, I realized that happiness is seeing US Airways loading your luggage onto the same plane you’re boarding.  Mind you, since my luggage is technically smaller than most Buicks (at least smaller than pre-1990’s Buicks), I could have saved myself the worry and just carried it on.

We landed in Huntsville, where I was reunited with my luggage, rental cars, and that smell of Alabama air that is unlike anything else.  It’s not just roast pig, it’s something else undefinable.   It was a nice day, so with the windows down I drove about until hearing from my cohort that they’d meet me for lunch.  That right – it was time for Thomas Pit.

It remains a subject of myth and legend up here in the northern climes, but it’s real, and it’s been real since 1932, when between 80% and 90% of all Huntsville voted for Franklin Delano Roosevelt and put their faith and their BBQ in the New Deal.  Since then, it’s been pulled pig the best way, in a smokehouse behind the restaurant that may have seen a layer of paint on the outside, but the inside is just the same as it’s always been.  You cook pigs for 80 years, you get damn good at it, is my guess.

But I was stymied!  The cohorts were late getting out of their meetings, and we were all due back to work (I do, actually, work sometimes, hard though that is to believe) in short order.  We settled for nearby and quick.  It was Steak-n-Shake.

I have to admit that Steak-n-Shake does not suck.  The problem lies in its reach – I can go to Steak-n-Shake without leaving my home state.  (I don’t, but I could.)  I’ll go to chains at home, but when I’m travelling, I want to eat the local fare, not homogenized Generican food you can get anywhere.   However, in this case as in so many others, omnivorousness was trumped by expedience, and we retired back to the work.

Dinner turned out to be a return to the Ol’ Heidelberg, which lives up to its name by hanging multiple pictures of the bridge over the Rhine showing the ruins of the old Heidelberg castle in the background.  The surest sign that you’re not really in Germany is the wait, though – people don’t actually wait, usually, for dinner in Germany; if the place is full, you go down the street a block to a place that isn’t.  In this case, we waited for 20 minutes outside in the fading nice day, until we realized that we could get beer and then bring it back outside to keep waiting, but with beer.  Elements of my cohort were keen on a repeat of the last trip to the Ol’ Heidelberg, which involved Spaten Optimator.  My cohort whispered, “Optimator!”  I looked at her and said, “Optimator!”  But again, we were stymied!  They had Spaten, to be sure, and they had a few other varients, but not the Optimator.

What’s that you say?  A locally brewed Porter, you say, on draft?  You can recommend it since I liked the Optimator?  Hmmm.  Well, what’s it called?

“Big Bear.”  How could we go wrong with a local brew called Big Bear?  And so, we had us some Bears.

It turns out that Big Bear Black Bear Porter is actually brewed in Florida.  Now, local can have several meanings, and Alabama does – and I keep forgetting this – border Florida, so I was willing to give the waitress a pass on that, until I realized that it’s brewed in Coral Springs, which is just shy of Ft. Lauderdale and more than 800 miles from Huntsville.  We’ll settle for “redefining local” and roll with it, since it’s really, really good beer.  The Black Forest Schnitzel, veal topped with a Marsala wine sauce with mushrooms, onions, and the all-important bacon, was amazing as well.

The next day dawned with a shot a breakfast in the hotel, which turned out to include waffles.  That’s it.  Just waffles.  There was no protein, no meat, nothing but waffles and something that had been carefully manufactured to closely resemble butter.  Physically adjacent to the hotel, however, was a Waffle House, where they serve more than just waffles.  Oh, yes they do.

Several sausage and grits and waffles and biscuits and eggs later, I resumed the work with the intrepid cohort and we carried on our way.  Today, the dawn had broken in our favor, and the Great Pig was smiling on us.  Lunch was on for Thomas Pit.

This is the best pulled pork I’ve ever had.  I’ve said it before, I’m sure I’ll say it again.  The cohort – and we dragged several new mouths to this font of pork – tended to agree with me, to the extent they spoke at all; mostly we ate.  Mouth melting piles of hot porcine goodness, with a tasty tangy vinegar sauce next to it – excellent but not needed on pig this good.

But all good things must come to an end, even lunch, and the cohort split up for planes and offices and hotels. I met the boss back for dinner at Dreamland – Ain’t Nothin’ Like ‘Em Nowhere – and we split a rack of ribs; they were fine, good perfectly adequate.  Plus they changed the channel so the boss could watch the boxing match hockey game, which was nice of them.  We broke some pig, solved the socioeconomic problems of the world, and retired to our respective hotels to prepare for the morning’s flights.

0445 is a disgusting and unholy time of the morning, but there I was, awake and getting dressed.  Despite the hour, I was actually late to check in for my flight.  The US Airways ticketing lady was nice enough to put me on a later flight without charging me anything extra, so that was OK.  For a very nice change, the HSV TSA folks didn’t find any reason to take me aside and ask me about those embarrassing pieces of cutlery in my bag, mostly since I’d taken a different bag this time and deliberately failed to put anything with an edge on it in the new bag.  Ha!  That’ll show ’em.

My luggage and I eventually found our way back home, and SOBUMD picked me up in time for some lunch before she had to rush home to get the kids from school.  We went to a great Irish place called P Brennens, and had a plate called an Irish Breakfast.  Despite the afternoon, it was the first breakfast I’d had, and it was great.

It’s good to be back in my own bed – the beds in all the hotels are lacking something, no matter where I stay.  Mostly they’re lacking SOBUMD, but that’s a different post.  Huntsville was once again marvelous in food and people, and I was glad to have gotten to introduce more of the cohort to Thomas Pit.  With any luck, a return to their primal pig lies somewhere in my summer!

Return to Rocket City!

9 February, 2012 | | 5 Comments

Remind me never to stay in this dump again.

No, I don’t mean Huntsville – I’m enjoying Huntsville.  I mean the “Quality” Inn to which I retire each night at the end of my meetings.  I’m being harsh, sure, because there’s nothing really wrong with it, except the burn holes in the sheets and the clothes-iron scorch marks on the floors and the way the AC/heater is competing with the headboard to see which can pull away from the wall fastest and the odor that you just can’t quite place and the stains of dubious provenance in the bathroom and the lack of insulation under the door and the drawer handles that pull away in your hand and the three mismatched chairs that have forgotten the meaning of comfort and of which exactly none fit under either the desk or the table.  Also, there’s a phone in the bathroom, over the shitter, presumably in case you drop The Big One and want to call the Guinness Book of World Records people.  Why that bothers me more than the rest, I couldn’t tell you. 

I’ve tried twice to tip the service folks who clean the room.  The first day I left two singles on the side table by the bed, since I’ve been told that leaving money on the pillow is a no-no these days as it could imply that you think they’re hookers or something.  When I returned, the money was still there so, in the name of scientific discovery, the next day I left it on the pillows, to make sure they understood that I hadn’t just accidently left two singles on the side table, despite the fact that no one had slept with me.  When I returned, the money was still there.  Either there’s a policy here about not taking money the guests leave or they just feel unworthy, which, working here, I would completely understand. 

But we’re not here to talk about the hotel, we’re here to eat!  Thomas Pit remains the best pulled pig BBQ I’ve ever had, even if their cole slaw and potato salad look like they went through the same ricer.  Tasty, but an odd texture for things to do to a potato.  I dragged my cohorts to Thomas Pit within 45 minutes of landing in town.  Wheels down, grab your bags, rent a car and drive to lunch. 

Ain't Nothin Like 'Em Nowhere

Ain't Nothin Like 'Em Nowhere

Next stop, following meetings, was Dreamland – Ain’t Nothin Like ‘Em Nowhere.  And it’s good.  It’s very good.  I had pulled pig at Dreamland for dinner.  And lunch the next day.  For dinner the next night – whoops, the cohorts wanted to go to Dreamland, where I decided that one must leave one’s comfort zone in the name of scientific discovery, and I had the ribs.  The ribs are good, but not great.  Since my cohorts (most of them) had been to Dreamland before, the consensus was that they were uncharacteristically off their game that night.  Also, we were travelling with one of the team who is currently on a strict health diet regime and was running somewhere between “high-maintenance” and “fussy eater.”  Since she could only eat vegetables and meat cooked without most of the things you’ll find meat cooked with at a BBQ joint, she eventually consumed 17 pounds of raw broccoli and a busboy, before she could be restrained and reminded that she wasn’t in Arizona, where I guess that kind of thing is still legal.  Presumably insurance will cover notifying his family, but it was still a hell of a dinner bill.

To make certain that I did not become too homesick in between meetings and eatings, I talked to the three lunatic children every day.  Talking to Number One Son on the phone is an exercise in brevity.  “Hi Dad!”  “Hi Big Man!”  “Bye Dad.”  “Oh, uh, bye!”  He’s a man of few words.  Plus, to ensure I had all the trappings and cheerful reminders of home, SOBUMD called me as I was going to sleep so that I, too, could hear the damn cat cleaning his testicles as loudly as he possibly could. “Thwoock.  Thwoock.  Thwoock.  Thwoock.”  She had shooed him off the bed into the hallway, and we could still hear the furry little pervert. 

I’ll tell you, there are days when I find myself in Huntsville Alabama in meetings discussing types of lubricants for air compressor maintenance, periodicity of how often those lubricants are utilized for their intended purpose, and the role of the person administering the lubricant in capturing the data concerning just how many thumbfuls of grease he or she has just applied to that air compressor, and I wonder where my life went wrong. 

But then I remember I’m here for the food, and it’s all good again.  Driving back from my most recent meeting, I saw – and you cannot imagine my surprise – a BBQ joint.  And not just any BBQ joint, but a member of the Gibson family!  (Devout readers will recall the pilgrimage I made to Big Bob Gibson’s in Decatur last time I was here.)  This was a shotgun shack just outside the gate from Redstone Arsenal called “David Gibson Bar-B-Q” and looking about as much like a restaurant as my old gym locker.  The sign was small, the place was tiny – a BBQ joint of dubious provenance if ever there was one.  I remembered the need to throw myself into adventure – in the name of scientific discovery – and turned hard right into the path of least resistance, and pig.  

David Gibson's Pulled Pig

David Gibson's Pulled Pig

It’s good pig.  It doesn’t don’t look like much, but they put the cole slaw on their pulled pig sandwich, and they have nice thick-tangy-spicy barbeque sauce, and they have white sauce, and they have a very nice vinegar hot sauce, and their slaw is what slaw next to pig ought to be.  I asked the lady behind the counter if the David Gibson was in fact related to the Big Bob Gibson’s that I’d – and she pointed to the sign explaining their history before I could finish my question.  I guess they get that a lot.  It’s run by Harold David Gibson, son of David S. Gibson and grandson of Big Bob.  The place has been on that spot since 1960, and still uses hickory wood in man-made pits, just as the Gibsons have for the last 82 years.  You can tell – this is BBQ made with smoke, time, and love. 

For dinner, which was not too far behind, and why should it be since we’re here to eat, we mixed it up a bit.  Huntsville has a long German tradition, being as how when it was Rocket City we “imported” quite a few German rocket scientists here to help us get to space – on my way to several meetings, I passed the Wernher Von Braun center going up and coming down.  We went to a place called the “Ol’ Heidelberg” which lived up to its name by hanging multiple pictures of the bridge over the Rhine showing the ruins of the old Heidelberg castle in the background.  The décor looked less like a German restaurant and more like an American restaurant trying hard to look German, and succeeding pretty damn well.  The desserts in front were tempting, but our mouths didn’t really start to water until the waitress – in full biergarten regalia – rattled off the beers on draft and mentioned Spaten Optimator.  My cohort whispered, “Optimator!”  I looked at her and said, “Optimator!” and we high-fived.  If you’ve only had it in bottles, it’s to die for on draft.   The rouladen was fantastic, served with cucumber salad, red cabbage, and spetzele – it was the best German meal in a restaurant I’ve had since I left Germany.  (My mother-in-law is German, and both she and her daughter SOBUMD can cook circles around my local fare.)   A fantastic meal.

Tomorrow, we fly home, preceded if I am lucky by one last stop at Thomas Pit – a pilgrimage to touch the primal pig before I return to the antiseptic skies of the Greater Metro DC area, the industrial homogenous pig that is Red Hot and Blue, and my wonderful SOBUMD, and the three lunatic children, and the noisy ball-licking cat. 

It’ll be good to be home!


A Thankful Countdown: Day 10

14 November, 2011 | | No Comment

I’ve decided to count down to Thinksgiving, and take a moment each day to think about things I’m thankful for.  Today had a pretty clear winner.

Number Ten:  I’m thankful for really good customer service.   Also, for the state of Indiana.

You see, there was part of the last Chicago road trip (Day 2, for the die-hard fans) that didn’t make the write up, largely because I completely forgot about it while typing – gunfire will do that to a man.  Halfway up from Columbus Ohio, in the middle of the Cornfields of America, the gasket holding the windshield onto the car came loose.  We pulled over, tucked it in, and pressed on.  It came loose again.  I rolled down the window, grabbed the flapping black hosepipe at 75 mph, and mushed the minivan like a Toyota dogsled, whipping them huskies hard a-gee. 

Then SOBUMD pulled over again, and made me cut the flappy part off – ostensibly so that it wouldn’t pull the rest of the gasket from the window, but mostly so other drivers wouldn’t run off the road laughing at me.  She’s very safety conscious. 

We stopped again at the nearest available spot, which turned out to be an Indiana State Highway Welcome to Indiana (State Motto: “At Least We’re Not Ohio!”) Rest Area.  The gasket, despite my repeated and concentrated fretting, was still coming loose.  We debated the merits of just removing the windshield and driving the rest of the way to Chicago with the radio up REALLY LOUD, but the kids vetoed it – sissies are afraid of a few insects.  Since we were going to stand there until a solution presented itself – an event that did not strike me as imminent – I picked up a “Welcome to Not Ohio Indiana” informational brochure.  It was eight pages long and about 8 inches tall by 4 inches wide, with glossy paper. 

A solution presented itself. 

I folded up the brochure, folded it again, and then again, which at this point represented a very thick cross section of the Cornfields of America, and I jammed it in between the windshield and the bit of the car that should have a gasket holding the windshield on and keeping it steady. 

We drove to Chicago.  We drove around there a lot.  We drove home.  We forgot all about Indiana.

Today, 6 years after SOBUMD had Safelite install this windshield, a technician from Safelite came to the house, removed the cross-section of Indiana brochure that has been holding the windshield onto the car for the last long time, and repaired the gasket.  For free.  When Safelite says “warranty,” they mean warranty.  SOBUMD reports excellent service from their phone reps and the technician.

Yeah, I think I can be thankful for that.