Monday, September 14, 2009

Land Of The Lost

It's just Day Two of our cross-country trek and already we have a losing record. Today, I lost the gas cap to the SS Bauer. I lost my credit card. I lost my brakes. I lost my sewer service. And I may be losing my sanity.

We began the day at the Bauer Clan’s ancestral home- a secluded cottage in rural Indiana. After a shower and a quick bite we headed for the next town and picked up some supplies at Wal*Mart. (Motto: we run all the competition out of town and sell you crapola from China.) Then we stopped for gas. That’s when I realized that I left the gas cap on the pump back at the Exit 3 Fuel Stop in Pennsylvania. So, we head back to Wal*Mart to buy a new cap. Sigh…

Back on the road, we head west on route 20, passing various corn and soybean fields. It turns out this is a familiar theme across the Midwest- corn and soybeans everywhere. I’m guessing there isn’t much to do in the Hosier state. Apparently, the locals pass the time by conjuring up interesting names for their towns. We pass through Mongo, Plato and Legrange. And don’t get me started on Shipshewanna and Mishawaka.

Some hours later, we pull in at South Bend for a peek at the Notre Dame campus. That’s when we lost the brakes. We ended up at a garage one block from the ND campus. The mechanic tells us he has to rebuild the front brakes- new rotors, new calipers, new pads, the works. So Trina and I took Mika and headed off to see the legendary home of Knute Rockney and the Gipper. It’s actually a very pleasant place with lots of history. We visited the Cathedral, the Grotto, and the football stadium- getting a good look at Touchdown Jesus.

Three hours later the garage invites us back to examine the bill. I won’t say it was sticker shock. And I won’t even tell you how much it cost. Let’s just say it rhymes with a mousand dollars. Undaunted, I pull out my wallet, and yes, the Visa card is gone. We spend 20 minutes searching my pockets, the RV and even the dog. No dice. I have to call up their emergency line and tell the Visa people that I’m an idiot. The best we can figure is that I somehow dropped the plastic while installing the new gas cap…

Back on the road, we motor into Illinois, Land of Lincoln. We stop at a KOA campground in LaSalle. When I tried to hook up to their sewer, I discovered the sewer hose had somehow fallen out of the storage tube on the back of the RV. So I bought a new one. Then I hooked up the water line and the hose ruptured. So I bought a new one. But when I turned on the water, it started shooting out of the faucet in the kitchen. So, we had to use the shower and sinks in the public washroom. Before turning out the lights Trina says “I love you” pausing to add, “you’ve got some bad mojo. Stay away from me!”

So, I slept with the dog.

Mission Mileage to date: 703

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

On The Road…

Day one breaks damp and dismal. The plan? Get on the road for the adventure of a lifetime!
We spent the previous four weeks preparing for our daring cross-country expedition. At 6:24am it appears sub-critical weather imperatives may force us to scrub the mission… but we soldier on.
Trina goes to work. Really. Trina goes to work leaving Steve to finish packing the SS Bauer- our specially-equipped RV. It’s a 22-foot long Road Running Rocket with a fuel burning monster under the hood. We expect takeoff by 9:00am. But at 9:05 the pre-flight check is still underway. The crew is desperately searching for mission-sensitive materials. But with time running short, no one could find that missing case of Budweiser.
Suddenly, Trina appears and fearlessly orders launch without the required liquid lifeline.
Captain’s log, star(t) date 9/10/09ish
10:17am: The SS Bauer sets forth on her amazing trek quickly approaching lightness speed.
10:18: first red light.
10:23: first bathroom break.
10:50: pit stop at the vets to pick-up meds for Mika the wonder dog.
11:25: stop for antihistamines to treat first mission casualty. Trina stung by yellow jacket. (don’t ask)
11:27: Less than 90 minutes after takeoff we rocket past known science into unknown frontiers- We are now an amazing 11-miles from home base.
1:55: This is where our MiniWinnie shows its stuff. That fuel-burning marvel of modern science first makes it’s refueling stop. Captain (expletive deleted…)
1:58 Captain finally stops expleting over half tank top-off costing $65.77. Curse those alien beings at Exit 3 Fuel Stop.
2;32 Passing apex of no-return. Entering distant galaxy known as the Ohio Turnpike.
7:01 Now off all known charts. Stop to visit Steve’s Uncle Bob. Bob lives in the boyhood home of Paul Siple- noted Arctic explorer. If you spent a couple winters in Northwest Ohio, the Arctic would probably look pretty good.
7:30 Nutritional supplies running short, we attempt emergency landing in Indiana. Forced to stop at Steve’s family’s lake cottage. Situation appears hopeless. But wait… the store is still open. We buy steaks, salad and Bud. First mate Trina informs captain there is no room in cooling capsule for Bud. Captain threatens to mutiny his own ship. Bud now safe. Mika has Porterhouse bone. But danger lurks. The SS Bauer is perilously close to the “E” galaxy.
Tomorrow, the adventures of Indiana Groans…
Mission milage to date: 447

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