Another 49 State Histories?



In all the fuss about car crashes I haven’t taken much time to sell the soap in the last few weeks, which is ironic because now we have to pay for a new car. Luckily I don’t have to pedal my own Dial this time: Just before we left on vacation Kay Kauffman did a review of Hoosier Hysterical.

I shared this review in a few places when it first came out, but you can’t blow your own horn too much, especially if you’re Muhammed Ali. (This is totally untrue—lots of people blow their own horns too much. That’s why election season now lasts three years.)


Kay lives in the midst of an Iowa cornfield that was probably just harvested; follow her blog so she has something to talk about in coming months other than walls of wind-driven snow blowing in from the north. (I’ve never been to Iowa, but I loved The Music Man.)

The only problem is, Kay suggests I write histories of the other 49 states. I spent a whole year researching Hoosier Hysterical: running all over the state, seeing parks and historic places, taking photos …

Actually, it sounds like fun.

50 Authors from 50 States: Oregon Art Scene: T.L. Cooper

50 Authors from 50 States: Oregon Art Scene: T.L. Cooper:     Oregon is well known for its outdoor life. Last year I focused on some of Oregon’s hiking trails, so this year I decided to ...

Mural unveiling is Thursday

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A turkey run to Turkey Run part 2: A bang-up job

Part 1 was here:  http://markrhunter.blogspot.com/2016/09/a-turkey-run-to-turkey-run-part-1-what.html

Part 2 is ... painful.




You owned a car for seven years. You named it “Brad”. You loved Brad. You two had been through everything together: three jobs, twenty trips to Missouri, a wedding, and a dog. Nothing could replace Brad.

Then you totaled him.

Okay, so I’m paraphrasing the lady from the Liberty Mutual commercial. But I really did love my car, even though I never developed the habit of naming inanimate objects. It was a 2006 Ford Focus. It was reliable, constant as the evening star.

I kind of like Logansport, too. It’s a nice little city, about 90 miles from Albion, close to a two-hour drive. We decided to stop there for pizza, on our way home from our shortened camping trip. We were driving down East Market Street in the late afternoon, with the sun to our back, which means the sun was right in the face of the young man who was trying to turn left into

BAM!

They say a car’s airbag inflates instantly, but they also say time slows at moments like that. I watched it inflate. Ironically, although I had about half an instant to stand on the brake, I didn’t actually see the impact—just the airbag coming toward me. The other driver, I assume, hit the gas to clear oncoming traffic, but the sun blinded him and he accelerated straight into us.

By the way, as much as I love my car, it was paid off. His was ten years newer, and he’d only made two payments. At least he wasn’t hurt.

My first act was to check Emily. Emily’s first act was to check Bae. Her reasoning is that the dog was not belted in, while I had both belt and airbag, and I’m just glad anyone was reasoning at all at that moment. She also reasoned that the car was on fire, which she rather urgently pointed out to me.

On a related note, an airbag is deployed by a small explosive charge, which is how it comes out so fast. The speed is helped by a powdery substance that helps the material come out smoothly. Add those two together with the smashed radiator and yeah, it looked like the car was on fire. I’m glad it wasn’t, because after checking my car’s occupants I decided to check the other driver, and my door wouldn’t open.

You get a sinking feeling at moments like that. You get another sinking feeling when you realize you’re two hours from home, and your car’s going nowhere. And a ten-year-old car, smashed all the way to the passenger compartment? It’s going nowhere, ever again.



Well, except by tow truck. With a major street blocked, I had little time to grab a few things. Our suitcase, of course. It was all the way in the back of the trunk, behind all the camping gear. I had to unload the trunk, then load it again.

Then it was gone.

Blood was dripping from my hand; Emily was limping; the dog was confused. We were two hours from home. The insurance company was prepared to get us a rental car, when the rental company opened in the morning. Meanwhile, they said we could be reimbursed the cost of a taxi to the nearest hotel.

I don’t know how many taxis allow a 90-pound dog in. I have a fairly good idea how many hotels do. My oldest daughter and son-in-law dropped what they were doing, loaded the grand-twins into their van, and drove two hours to pick us up. The next day, in a rental (which made me incredibly nervous), we came back and got about two carloads of stuff out of Brad. I mean, the Focus.

It wasn’t just the camping gear—it was everything. My wonderful Focus, with the brand new tires and full tank of gas, will not be seen again outside a junk yard.

The rest is anticlimactic. The attention-grabbing blood came from a little gash on the inside of my index finger. How is a mystery, but considering the abrasions and bruise on my arm, it’s related to the airbag.

Emily’s foot, like my arm, hurt a little. Then a lot. The doctor recommended an x-ray as a precaution, which meant a trip to the ER on a Friday evening, during a full moon. Yes, we were there exactly as long as you’re thinking, but it’s probably best to know when someone has a broken foot. She got crutches, then a “boot”. The boot looks like she’s being converted into a cyborg. This is how Darth Vader started, people.

The only thing left is to give thanks; when the chips are down Hoosiers are wonderful. People rushed over with alcohol wipes and towels for my finger, which looked way worse than it was. The other driver admitted his mistake, and at no time were words or fists thrown. More than one person stopped to see if they could help, and everyone (of course) loved the dog.

I have to mention the employees of Bruno’s Carry Out Pizza. I mean, we were on our way to get pizza, right? On one side of the street was a car for sale, which I found ironic, and on the other side was Bruno’s. I don’t know what they thought when they saw us coming, dragging a suitcase and hauling bags, and looking very nervously for traffic as we crossed the street.

But it was great pizza.

There’s a bench in front of Bruno’s. We may have been their first ever eat-in customers, although we were technically outside. They got water for the dog, and when I found out my daughter’s family hadn’t eaten and went in for another order, they gave it to us for free.

I wish it hadn’t happened—I love my wife not limping, and I loved my car, and not making car payments. But all you ever hear about is bad people doing bad things. Good people outnumber bad people—sometimes it takes bad stuff to be reminded of that.

Oh, I almost forgot: This whole series of unfortunate events started when the temple of my glasses broke off. The makers of the frame had been bought out, but the optometrist office managed to find a spare part—which didn’t exactly match, but worked just fine. Another example of someone going the extra mile to help out.

If you look very closely, you can see a difference. So ... don't look closely.

A turkey run to Turkey Run, part 1: What could possibly go wrong?




I’m considering not taking vacations anymore. Too stressful.

I have to go back to work for at least a week before my stress levels fall enough for the stress of work to start getting to me again. Then I start needing a vacation, because the last vacation was too stressful. If Joseph Heller hadn’t already written it, I’d hit the best seller list with my own Catch-22.

Let’s start at the beginning, when we decided to vacation at a place called Turkey Run State Park. It was the vacation that ended up being a turkey.

A few days earlier, as I cleaned my glasses, a temple fell off. The temples are the parts that hang over your ears. Remove one, then try to wear your glasses. Yeah.

Whenever it’s time for new glasses I try to get the same frames, because the only thing worse than wearing glasses is wearing new glasses. And every time, that particular frame is no longer available. Every time. It’s like some kind of sick joke within the frame making business.

But this time, the optometrist office didn’t tell me the frames weren’t available. They told me the frame manufacturer wasn’t available. They’d been bought out. The optometrist was going to try and find some spare parts, which was fine except I was about to drive three and a half hours away.

Here comes the repeating theme of this story, which is that things kept working out even as my stress levels rose. During my last eye exam, my eyesight had hardly changed at all. I slipped the old glasses into the new case, and there they waited for a catastrophe just like this one.

It reminds me of the line from Apollo 13, which went something like, “I think we’ve had our glitch for the mission.” They didn’t stop to consider there might be more than one glitch.

We managed to fit all our camping gear, and the dog, into my beloved 2006 Ford Focus. I probably wouldn’t have used the term “beloved” before, but I really did love that car.

Guess I’m telegraphing the ending.

Wait--I have to sleep outside with you? What did I do?


Let’s go back to the dog, Bae (It’s short for Baewulf, and yes, I know it’s misspelled—don’t tell him). Bae had started his fall shed. He must have been exhausted, growing so much fur. We would open a window, and a tornado of hair would blast past us. It looked like a cloud of smoke, pouring from the car. No wonder he sleeps so much.

Meanwhile, Emily got a sore throat the same night we put a deposit down on a campsite. By the next morning she had a cold so bad I’m still not sure it wasn’t the flu. I bought a case of Kleenex and a barrel of Nyquil, and she laid on the couch and didn’t complain, because she’s not me. We were still going on vacation, she declared, because our deposit was non-refundable.

We’ll just eat the cost, I told her. Your health is more important.

She swept aside a two-foot drift of dog fur and gave me a glare that actually made me retreat into the next room. “I’ll pack the car,” I told her. She really hates wasting money.

The strange thing about this whole story is that we had a wonderful time, whenever we weren’t miserable. We’ve compromised on our camping style: She gave up the two-man pup tent and hard ground, and I gave up the giant camper with a generator and satellite TV. The important thing is the inflatable air mattress. We had a nice site, a roaring fire, and S’mores. We had some great hiking trails that traversed rivers, suspension bridges, and canyons. Yes, there are canyons in Indiana.

We had leash laws.

This was one of the less scenic areas!


See, in a state park there are rules, and one is that you keep your pets on a leash. The lady with the dog on the trail either wasn’t holding the leash tightly enough, or was letting her dog roam, and drag the leash behind it. It saw our dog, Bae. It wanted Bae.

It wanted Bae for dinner.

I found myself quite literally in the middle of a dogfight. To our dog’s credit, he went on the defensive. However, Emily was there. When there might be a danger to Emily, “defensive” becomes a snarling, clawing, biting, 90-pound whirlwind of kick-ass. There’s no reason I can think of why my attempts to drag him away didn’t result in major blood loss.

Which brings us back to our “all’s well that ends well” theme. No injuries. The lady dragged her dog away and apologized profusely, and once Emily knew Bae was unharmed she restrained herself from going after the lady.

There was also no injury half an hour later when a much friendlier dog came running after Bae, wanting only to make friends but not realizing our dog had just been traumatized.

Leashes, people. It’s a thing.

We lasted about a day and a half. Emily was still sick, the dog was stressed, and that was it. We decided we’d come back the next week and spend a few more days there, because Turkey Run State Park was really a wonderful place.

All we needed was transportation.

Next: The “Trip” Back

S'Mores, people.