Friday, April 30, 2010

Making amends

For those that don't know,
the phrase started as an anti-litter campaign;
note the background for how well it is working.

Even if it bothered no one else, I'm dissatisfied with my last two post. They were distinctly of the been-here, seen-that nature, which, quite frankly, I personally would find rather boring to read. No doubt, this blog is intended partly as a way to maintain contact while on the road, but I'd also like it to aspire to more than just a schedule of events. To that end, my goal is to provide the unique aspects of travel I enjoy and how I respond to what I'm seeing and being on the road.

So yes, to begin, that means more bridge photos;
This one crosses the Canadian River in Oklahoma;
It is very rusty, very grassy, and through breaks in the pavement, one can see wood decking.

I stopped just down from the bridge along the river for a five hour nap in my 24 hour push to cross Oklahoma and Texas, hoping to be in Taos, NM for the weekend and a bike shop group ride. In addition to the cool old bridge, Oklahoma surprised me; it is beautiful country, particularly the mountainous northeastern section, but even the rolling hills and grasslands of the west struck me as a special place. To some extent, I think this is my own reaction to feeling like I've finally made it into unfamiliar terrain and landscapes. Kentucky and Arkansas were giving hints of the transition with gigantic beetles and armadillo roadkill, but OK was real, "I don't think we're in Connecticut anymore, Toto."

Not only are the beetles big,
but Kentucky has poison ivy, ticks, and guns everywhere.

So a thing about guns and Kentucky: it is the only place I've ever been asked, twice no less, if I carry a firearm for safety, and one of those people was a park ranger. OK, maybe I was just lucky to pass through the state without being raped by a pack of wild turkeys, but really, I think people there might be a wee bit paranoid. My logic, and I shared it with one of my questioners, is that with everyone in the state packing heat, they will automatically assume I am too, so no need to actually carry the damn thing. Anyhow, again, I made it through unscathed (although I was questioned by a cop in Tennessee for seeming suspicious as I walking around town looking at old buildings--even when I offered my i.d. so he could check my clean record, he never quite became friendly), but I maybe I'm just amazingly lucky.

Speaking of luck, how is this for a good shelter in an electrical storm:
An uninstalled, dry, grounded, metal culvert pipe!

To close, I must give some props to Karlee, the car. (For those who haven't read obscure Steinbeck, the name--and I'm not one to name cars--comes from his travel memoir, "Travels with Charlie") She's been trucking right along, and let's face it, 240 Volvos are pretty much trucks, getting a nominal 33.5mpg (and one magical tank was 35.2!) which has me happily exceeding the 30mpg I'd hoped to attain. Only one failure to report so far: half the right side hood hinge snapped and has now been replaced by two heavy duty zip-ties until I can reach the part of the country that is likely to have old Volvos in a junkyard--i.e., probably when I visit my mother in Seattle.


  1. SAlem,

    I just read quite a few posts I have not visited for quite a few days. Spin & roll on.

    Steve Douville 4/30/10

  2. Hey Salem, I'm in Portland, OR at the moment, checking up on email, etc. at a library. Good to catch up on you and Karlee.

    This town has the richest bounty of RWD Volvos I have ever seen. I have seen countless rust-free 122, 140 and 240-series cars, plus a PV544 and a P1800 ES parked on the street. I haven't been to a junkyard out here (best to avoid the temptation to ship rust-free Chevy Van parts back to CT), but I'm sure it would be enough to make a Northeastern gearhead cry.