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Old 10-24-2004, 04:20 AM
Tuckerfan Tuckerfan is offline
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Tucker's Tales From The Highway W/Pictures!

Okay, let my start out by saying that this is probably one of the stupidiest things I have ever done. No, really, as much as I love the car, only a fool buys a car off of eBay that's 1186 miles away, and then drives it back. I was very lucky to make it back, considering what all could have gone wrong. I mean, the car's 35 years old, has probably well over 100,000 miles on it (the odometer currently reads just over 30,000, which could be accurate since the car does have it's original spare). Thankfully, I've managed to figure out how to take the price of the car, the tickets, and every other expense for this Quixotic endeavour off on my taxes. Now, I'm going to have to split this narrative up in sections since, it'll be too long for the board to accept in a single post, so if you want to skip over the narration and head directly to the pics (which won't make much sense without the narration, I'm afraid), you can go here. Of course, if you do that, then decide that the pictures don't make any sense, come back here, read the narration and then go back and click the image links, you'll suck up the microscopically small amount of bandwidth that my free image account is allowed, and no one else will get to see the images. So make up your mind now as to what you're going to do, and then stick with it.

Let me also say that Vivitar ViviCam digital cameras are crap. Not that it takes bad pictures, it doesn't, when you can get it to take pictures. That's the problem with the thing. It has two buttons on the rear one which turns the thing off and on and handles the timer and lets you cycle through half the menu options. The other button handles the flash, deleting your photos, indoor or outdoor exposure, and the other half of the menu options. There's also a delay in getting the camera to do anything when you push a button, so you're never really certain as to what setting you've got the thing (or even if it's on) in, and you've only got 60 seconds from when you turn it on to take a picture or it shuts itself off "to save power." On or off that thing sucks batteries dry like a high dollar hooker, so why they bothered to put a "power saving" mode on it is beyond me. Now, if you're sitting around the house, trying to take staged photos this isn't much of a problem. However, if you're trying to take pictures of things out in the real world, more specifically, if you're trying to take pictures out of a moving vehicle you'll have a much more satisfying experience if you smash the camera with a cheap, disposable film camera, and use that to take your pictures with. So, when I got home and uploaded the pics from the camera to my PC, I discovered that about half the photos I'd taken contained such stunning vistas as this. Worthy of Ansel Adams at his finest, doncha think?

Add to that, my stupidly packing my camera with the extra batteries in the most inaccessable part of my backpack, so that I had to wait until I got on the bus to dig out the camera, and I didn't think to do that until after I had passed one of the most interesting sites I saw on the trip (more about that later), and you've got a recipe for a lot of blurry pictures or no pictures at all. I also didn't take too many pictures of the folks I saw along the way, since I didn't think it'd be too nice of me to post them on the internet with snarky comments.

With the excuses out of the way, on to the trip. I spent three hours in the Nashville Hellhound station waiting for the bus. Not because it was late (that came later), but because the only way I could get to the station was to have a friend of mine drop me off on his way to work. Surprisingly, the station wasn't in the middle of an area which looked like Baghdad this time. I last took a bus in 1987, and both the station and the area around it looked like a warzone.

About an hour before the bus was scheduled to arrive, a blind guy and his female traveling companion came into the station to wait on their bus (sadly, the same one I was going to be riding). As the blind guy's traveling companion tried to guide him to a seat, she kept saying things like, "See, it's to your left." and "See, there's this TV." Finally, he snapped, "I don't see! I'm blind, remember!" After they got settled in, he apologized. Frankly, I don't think that he needed to do so.

After that, a guy about 22 years old plunked down next to me and started talking to me. He'd been stuck waiting outside the station all night, because when he tried to get on the bus the night before, the security guard smelled alcohol on him and kicked him out of the station. Then, while he was waiting for the bus, a couple of homeless guys tried to mug him for his garbage bag filled with clothes. He became my single serving friend for the trip.

He was only passing through Nashville, on his way home to Portland from the Carolinas. He'd moved out there with a friend of his, to start a business buying up foreclosed properties and reselling them. That turned into a deal where he did all the work, and his friend kept all the profits, so after about a month of this, he called the folks, and they sent him a bus ticket home. So he stuffed his clothes into a trashbag and headed back. Frankly, I'd have rather walked.

When we piled onto the bus, I grabbed a seat close to the front, since I figured that the Amish gentleman behind me wouldn't cause too much of a ruckus. (I talked to him a couple of times when we stopped, very nice guy.) Unfortunately, that meant I was sitting close to the blind guy, who talked almost incessantly with the driver, when his traveling companion wasn't narrating what was passing by. ("It's a cornfield!" "There's some cows, and they're grazing.") Although, I did get some relief eventually.

Now, for reasons known only to Hellhound, they routed the bus through Clarksville. When we got off the exit, I noticed row after of row of identical steel sided buildings. Now, everyone always complains about stripmalls and chain stores reducing America to a bland, homogenous landscape, but these were all family owned companies that I saw, and not the latest crop of Mega-Lo-Marts or whatever.

Even more entertaining was the "Historic River District" in Clarksville. I've no idea what was so historical about it, since the oldest buildings I could see appeared to date from the 1950s at the earliest. Generally, when I think of something as being historical, I think of it as dating from around the 1920s or before.

It was on the way out of town, that I saw something, which later inspired me to dig out my camera. You know, long after we'd passed it, and I couldn't take a picture of it. On the opposite side of the road was the remains of a nasty accident. No idea of what happened, as there was only one vehicle visible. It was a Chevy Caprice (note, not the one pictured, but the same body style) which literally had the entire front half of the car flattened. It looked like someone had driven a steamroller over the front end, and then backed it off. In some ways, I felt sorry for the owner of the car (I'm assuming he survived since the interior of the car wasn't covered with blood), since he'd obviously spent a lot of money on the car. New paint, new wheels, new interior, and who knows what else. Of course, in other ways, I was glad the car was totaled, because it had been painted a hideous safety cone orange with a canary yellow interior and the world was spared from a rolling eyesore.

Our next stop was Evansville, IN, and if I'd had sense, I'd have taken pictures of the station, since it dated from the 1930s or so, and while tiny, it was in pretty good shape. The only thing it needed was the brass polished, and it would have looked as it must have in Hellhound's glory days.

Overall, the whole trip to St. Louis (where I had to change buses) was pretty quiet (at least when the blind guy and his traveling companion were sleeping ). Before I had left on this trip, everyone was telling me that I was incredibly calm for someone about to undertake such an endeavour. Mind you, I was panicking on the inside. Especially, after I figured out that I most likely wasn't going to have enough money to make it back. If nothing went wrong, gas was no more than $2.00 a gallon, and the car got 18 MPG, I'd be able to make it. However, I figured with my luck, that the car would die on me in Godforesaken, KS, and I'd spend the rest of my days living in the car, waiting for some passing motorist to come and rescue me.
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Old 10-24-2004, 04:26 AM
Tuckerfan Tuckerfan is offline
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Still, it was possible that I’d be able to make it. Even if gas was more than $2 a gallon, or it got less than 18 MPG, I had my checkbook with me (my bank, in their infinite stupidity hadn’t bothered to send my new checkcard and my old one was expired) and if I made it back any time before Saturday noon, I could swing by work, cash my paycheck, and have the cash in my bank account before any checks I wrote could clear. That was the plan, anyways.

Mind you, I didn’t have all that much to go on, as far as the car’s condition was concerned. I had the sellers word that the car would run, that it leaked oil, and I had some pictures of the car which appeared to be in good condition, other than some minor rust spots. The seller could have been lying about everything. So, yes, I think that the phrase “powerful stupid” does apply. Still, I did get a good deal on the car (I bought it for roughly one quarter of the price they’re selling for on eBay), and all the car carrier companies wanted more than I paid for the car to haul it back. Given that I could barely afford the price of the car, there was no way I could afford to pay them to haul it for me.

If you’re still awake at this point, I promise that things will get more interesting in a bit.

When we got to St. Louis, everyone on the bus ooohed and aaaahed when we saw the Arch. Having never seen the Arch (or even been that far west) before, I have to say that it’s mighty impressive. The sheer size of the thing reminds me of the World Trade Center towers. It’s hard to believe that the thing can stand up, but it does. I had hoped to be able to take time to go up in it on my way back through, but sadly, that was not to be.

It was at St. Louis that we had to change buses, and had to suffer through an hour and a half layover. I will say this, that the inside of the Hellhound station is most impressive. Even the front of the station is pretty to look at. However, the view from the station left a lot to be desired. Right after I snapped that last picture, I had this heavyset guy walk about and jokingly say, “What about me, man? Don’t you want a picture of me?” I almost took his picture, but just at that point the camera shut itself off, and he wandered away.

The big problem we had in St. Louis is that there simply was no where to sit inside the station. It was jammed with people and every available seat was filled. So myself, and my single serving friend that I talked about earlier, sat out back of the station, smoking cigarettes while we waited for the bus to come. While we were waiting, the guy who joked about me taking his picture came up to us, and asked me if he could have the itinerary from my ticket. He claimed that he’d lost his ticket and that he was trying to get to LA, and that the folks inside said that if he could present his itinerary slip, they’d print him out a new ticket.

Now, I really wasn’t buying this. I figured that he was most likely just trying to get a free ride and that if I gave him my itinerary, one of two things would happen. The first would be that he’d pull it off and I’d be stuck with him as a “buddy” on the trip out to Denver. That’d totally suck. There’s nothing worse than a mooch who spends all his time telling you how great you are for helping him to beat the system. The second was that they’d figure out what was going on, and boot me off the bus for trying to help him. At that point, I really couldn’t think of anything worse, than being stranded in St. Louis. Little did I know what was to come.

When the bus to Denver showed up and unloaded, I noticed that it was packed with people. This didn’t bode well. Sure enough, when we got onboard, there was hardly any room. I managed to squeeze into a seat next to a guy who’d traveled to Kentucky to look at a car he’d seen for sale on the internet. He said that when he got there, the car didn’t look anything like the photograph, so instead of buying the car and driving it home, he just caught the first bus back. Yeah, I know, I was thinking the same thing: That could be me.

In front of us, were three of the most annoying people I had to deal with on the bus. One was a New Yorker who’d moved to Alaska and was traveling back home after being somewhere on the East Coast. Generally, I like New Yorkers, because of their “I don’t take nothing, from nobody” attitude, but this guy was such a jerk, that I think he must have been kicked out of New York for being so obnoxious. He was a ham radio operator, and he had some of his gear with him, that he pulled out and was setting up while we were waiting for the driver to show up. Evidently, earlier on the trip, he’d had some problems with another passenger on the bus. She was an aging hippie who’d obviously done too much acid back in the Sixties, and had flaked out the first time he pulled out his gear and started using it. She thought he was broadcasting lethal levels of microwaves to everyone on the bus and had spent their trip to Denver complaining to the driver about it.

This time, she’d sat several rows up from him, and didn’t even notice that he was on the bus, until he started picking at her again. She immediately headed up to the front of the bus and sat down in the handicapped seats (obviously her’s being mental ). Thankfully, that ended the problems I had with her. It didn’t solve the problem with the New Yorker, or the guys next to him.

The guys next to the New Yorker, it turned out, had both been magazine salesmen. You know those scam jobs, where they send college students around the country and door to door, getting them to sell grossly inflated magazine subscriptions? Each one of them had
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Old 10-24-2004, 04:29 AM
Tuckerfan Tuckerfan is offline
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to try and out do the other in their tales of making the killer sale. One of the guys claimed to be really wealthy and was going to be starting his own reality TV series. Somehow, I managed to restrain myself from shouting, “Well, if you’re so wealthy, what’re you doing riding the bus?”

When those two exhausted their tales, the New Yorker got the one closest to him interested in the ham gear he was using. So, naturally, he went on and on about it, showing him the illegal modifications to it, which allowed him to pick up things like cordless phone calls and the like. When he wasn’t doing that, he was switching the light above his head on and off, while he made some adjustments to the gear.

Both I and the guy next to me were really ticked off by this, because we both wanted to catch some sleep, but couldn’t, because of the conversation and the constant light switching. Naturally, things got worse.

We rolled into the Kansas City station at about midnight, and all had to get off the bus because it was the end of the driver’s shift and we had a one hour layover. So, we spent an hour in the bus station, waiting. I broke down and bought an overpriced beef and bean burrito from one of the twirl and hurls, because I was starving, and too tired to dig in my backpack and dig out either the bag of beef jerky or trailmix I had in there. (My backpack weighed in at around 50lbs with all the tools, manuals, and maps that I was carrying.)

At 1 AM, they announced that they were going to be reboarding the bus for Denver, so all of us lined up at the gate, and stood there. For fifteen minutes. Then one of the passengers went over to the ticket counter to find out what was going on. It turned out that our driver hadn’t shown up. So, everyone started milling around, while the folks at Hellhound do whatever it is that they do when a driver fails to report to work. Based on my experience, that’s nothing.

One of the passengers waiting at the station had been an aspiring singer/songwriter for thirty years, and he decided to pass the time by playing his guitar. Naturally, the aging hippie had to join him in singing Joan Biaz songs. I really hate Joan Biaz songs. I have ever since that horrible New Year’s Eve I was forced to listen to them while tripping on shrooms. I also hate aspiring singer/songwriters who have no clue about how to go about getting a career started (Here’s a hint: Have some talent!). And I also hate aging hippie chicks who embody the worst aspects of the Sixties.

Then, mass chaos broke out when one of the passengers announced that our bus had disappeared. Everybody started panicking because we’d all left all of our stuff on the bus (except, for the singer/songwriter). Thankfully, it turned out that they’d simply shifted the bus over one slot. Eventually, someone at Hellhound figured out that they had a driver who was going to be riding the bus to Denver anyway, so instead of letting him catch some sleep, they made him drive the bus. By now, it was a little after two.

We all piled onto the bus, and then they started adding more passengers to the bus. Pretty soon, every seat was filled. The poor folks in the front had to be subjected to a guy I started calling Mr. Wiffy.

He reeked like he hadn’t had a bath in over a month. Granted, at this point, most of us were pretty pungent by this time, but the entire front of the bus was thrashing about like they’d all been subjected to a poison gas attack. Naturally, things got worse. You see, even though we were fully loaded and had a driver, we still couldn’t leave. Why, I’ve no idea. All I know is that we didn’t get moving until after 2:30, and that everyone of us promptly burst into applause. Oh yeah, Hellhound didn’t bother to compensate us for our suffering. (As I shouted when I found out when Hellhound had no idea of what they were going to do about us not having a driver, “Remind me again why this is better than flying.”)

All seemed well. We were on the road, almost two hours behind schedule, it’s true, but at least we were moving. The New Yorker had packed away his ham gear so he could catch some sleep, and the magazine salesmen were crashed out. Then Mr. Wiffy farted.

Have you ever fallen into an open septic tank, and only been able to make your way out by climbing over the rotting corpse of an elephant that’s been baking in the desert sun for a couple of days? If so, then you’ll have some idea of how bad this was. Literally everyone on the bus (other than Mr. Wiffy) was screaming and thrashing about. People were clawing at the windows desperately trying to find a way to get them open. At least one person went into the bathroom for some fresh air and to throw up.

Finally, one of the magazine salesmen stood up and said, “Does any of the ladies on this bus have some perfume or body spray?” One gal got up, and the two of them dug through her bags until they found two bottles of perfume which they promptly emptied on the floor of the bus, to everyone’s relief. We all pretty much fell asleep at this point.

We stopped in Salina, got a new driver, got rid of a couple of passengers (sadly Mr. Wiffy wasn’t one of them), and headed on towards our next stop at Colby.

When I awoke, the first thing that I noticed about Kansas wasn’t how flat it was. I grew up in Ohio, so I know what flat countryside looks like. No, the first thing that I noticed was that Kansas smelled like manure. I know it wasn’t Mr. Wiffy I was smelling, because this was definitely preferable to him.

At Colby, we stopped at McDonald’s so people could get something to eat, and stretch their legs. Bizarrely enough, Colby has a visitors center. Why, I have no idea. As proof, I offer these stunning vistas of Colby. I guess with there
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Old 10-24-2004, 04:34 AM
Tuckerfan Tuckerfan is offline
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being so little in Colby, having a McDonald’s and a Taco John’s is something to get excited about. I dunno. I grew up in a town that was too small to have a McDonald’s or a Taco John’s, but we didn’t get so excited about having a feed store that we had to open up a visitors center to tell everyone about it.

Later on, I dug out my cellphone so I could call the guy I bought the car from that the bus was going to be late, so he wouldn’t be stuck waiting for me at the bus station for two hours, when I discovered that there’s no cell service along I-70 in western Kansas. (I tried to take a picture of my cellphone, showing this, but thanks to the wonders of digital photography all I got was this.) Now, I wouldn’t be surprised at not having cell service if my cellphone company was some small, Tennessee based operation, but it’s freakin’ based in Kansas! How can you claim to offer nationwide service when over half the state you’re based in doesn’t have service? I didn’t get a signal again, until I was on the outskirts of Denver. Needless to say, I was having visions of the car breaking down out in the middle of Kansas and someone finding my skeletonized corpse in the front seat decades from now.

Oh yeah, while we were stopped at Colby, I went into the bathroom at the McDonald’s to take a leak, and Mr. Wiffy was in there. He was washing his hands at the sink. The first thing that popped into my head was, “Dude, don’t stop with the hands.”

Thankfully, the worst was over, and we got to Denver. I’ve got to say that Denver’s a beautiful city. Really, it is. The inside of the Hellhound station was nice, and the area around the station is quite nice as well. I managed to get hold of the seller, and he picked me up at the station.

Now, to add to the list of the idiocies I committed on this trip, he and I got so involved with talking about old cars, that I forgot to do a lot of the things to the car I had planned to do before leaving. I didn’t think to check the coolant level or condition, lube the chassis or anything like that. Eventually, I left, now several hours behind schedule, thanks to Hellhound. (I had planned on spending a couple of hours prepping the car for the trip, so the time the seller and I spent gabbing wasn’t unplanned.)

The first thing I did was to stop off at a gas station to fill the car up. Lo, and behold, what did I spot at the station? A 1971 Chrysler Newport! I pulled up to the pump next to it and while I let the beast feed, I took pictures of the car. After I was done filling up, I got an idea of just how expensive the trip back was going to be. The car has a 24 gallon tank, notice that there was some gas in the
  #5  
Old 10-24-2004, 04:40 AM
Tuckerfan Tuckerfan is offline
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tank before I started filling up. Oh yeah, the gas gauge doesn’t work, so I had to use the tripmeter to figure out when it was time for me to fill the car up. I did the smart thing, I put a 100 miles on the car, filled the tank up, and then used that to calculate my mileage. I ended stopping about every two hundred miles to top off the oil, so if there was a gas station, I’d refill the beast as well.

My first stop after gassing up was to Wallyworld. I bought some oil, a gallon of distilled water, jumper cables, powersteering fluid, and a bottle of Sobe. (At none of the gas stations I stopped at, would anyone give me a free refill of coffee [I had my own coffee cup]! I mean, just by gassing up, I made their stock jump 30 points, you think that they could be decent enough to give me a free cup of joe, but no.) The message under the cap of the Sobe bottle was
Quote:
Bathe the stiffmeister
Along with spotting the ’71 Newport at the gas station, I took that to be a good sign. Oh yeah, check out the view from the Wallyworld parking lot.

I’ve always maintained that the idiots who run TDOT don’t have a clue when it comes to highway management and now I have proof. Notice what traffic looks like in Denver. As you can see, I’m moving at a pretty good pace. It’s 4 PM local time. Now, in Nashville, at 4 PM, no matter if you’re headed in or out of the city, traffic is at a standstill. Denver’s a much larger city than Nashville, and yet there’s no gridlock at 4 PM. I was able to further confirm this when I got to St. Louis the next day.

My original plan was to simply do a fast burn back to Tennessee once I picked up the car. I generally only get about 4 hours of sleep anyway, so I figured that I’d be able to make the 17 hour drive back with little trouble. What I didn’t count on was the bus being over two hours late or me not being able to get much sleep while on it.

I gave it my best shot, though. Now the car was built when the US had “own risk” laws regarding highway speeds, this meant that if there was no other cars on the road, you were free to punch the car up over the speed limit if you so chose. Let me just say that the car will do 90 MPH without you noticing. I did really open the car up, but could only get her up to 105 MPH, which tells me that she needs new plugs, because she should have been able to do 120 with no problem. Some time around midnight, I started getting sleepy, so I pulled off at the first rest stop, shoved everything in the front seat on to the floor and went to sleep. Much more comfortable than the bus.

One thing I quickly discovered about Kansas, in addition to there being nothing there (more of which later), is that apparently, it’s some kind of local custom to not actually use the urinal, but to instead piss on the floor directly in front of it. Exactly what purpose this serves, I’ve no idea, but it held true for every rest stop in Kansas, while none of the others I stopped at in Colorado, Missouri, or Tennessee were like that.

When I awoke, I spotted this out the rear window. As you can see there was an interesting collection of vehicles being hauled somewhere. Now, if you thought that Colby having a visitor center was exciting, well, then, just look at those rocks! They’re moldy and that excites people in Kansas!

Actually, I’m kidding. As you can see here and read on this sign, they’re actually a quite interesting formation, and in all fairness I will say not all of Kansas is flat. I did also, notice a ton of classic cars for sale along side the roads in Kansas, so it has that going for it as well.

By this time, I was running low on money, and I would have liked to have stopped in Lawrence, KS and driven past William S. Burroughs house, but I really didn’t think that I could spare the gas, so I just blew through Kansas, hoping that I’d be able to find a gas station that would take out of state checks (I didn’t). I did, however, discover that the radio in the car worked quite well, and that KCUV plays some really cool music. Sadly, however, it soon faded out, and the only stations I could tune in were either in Spanish (Calente!), sports (How ‘bout them Dodgers?), country (My baby left me and stole my dog), farm reports (pork penes up a point), or vicious discussions about local politics (Jane Simmons wants nothing more than to raise your taxes so that your money can go to providing abortions for whales!), none of which I cared anything about.

In desperation, I figured I’d try drafting behind semi’s to hopefully improve the car’s gas mileage. The day before, I’d picked up some bad gas at some point, and that drove my mileage down to 14 MPG, instead of the 16 MPG I had been getting. Then, about two hours out of St. Louis, I realized that unless I found a gas station that’d take an out of state check, I was totally screwed. Then I remembered that my best friend Gary had a sister who lived in St. Louis. So I gave him a call, explained the situation to him, he called his sister, and she graciously agreed to meet me at a gas station and loan me some money so that I could get home.

Something that I noticed about Missouri rest stops, in addition to being nice and clean, was that they had some odd rules. If you notice, it says that you can only walk small pets, so I guess if you’re traveling with a great dane, you’ve got to let him crap in the car.

Whew! I don’t know about you, but I’m beat. There’s more to tell, so I’ll pick this up tomorrow.
  #6  
Old 10-24-2004, 04:52 AM
Amp Amp is offline
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Great, not only do I have insomnia but now I've got to wait till Og knows when to hear the conclusion of Tuckerfan's road trip.
  #7  
Old 10-24-2004, 04:53 AM
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I want to read that just because of its sheer length. I'll be back.
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Old 10-24-2004, 04:58 AM
Tuckerfan Tuckerfan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amp
Great, not only do I have insomnia but now I've got to wait till Og knows when to hear the conclusion of Tuckerfan's road trip.
Tomorrow, when I get up. Right now, I'm nodding off at the keyboard.
  #9  
Old 10-24-2004, 08:17 AM
Cisco Cisco is offline
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Very interesting story, I look forward to hearing the rest. I really should document a cross country trip like that some time.
  #10  
Old 10-24-2004, 09:27 AM
Early Out Early Out is offline
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I can't wait for the next episode. I really hope Tuckerfan survives! Surely the writers won't kill off the best character.

Oh, wait...

Great stuff! Makes me start itching to do another long road trip (but not on a bus, thank you very much).

(By the way, Tuckerfan, I'm intrigued by your comment about writing off this whole expedition on your taxes. What did you say your Social Security Number was, again? )
  #11  
Old 10-24-2004, 10:02 AM
racer72 racer72 is offline
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Brought back some memories of when I got out of the Navy. Bought a 1969 Dodge Coronet Sunday afternoon for $400, discharged out of the Navy Monday morning and drove from San Diego to Tacoma in 30 hours. The trip included 2 flat tires, just missed getting creamed by a semi, borrowing a tire then leaving it at the wrong gas station (while I was buying 4 new tires), and locking the keys in the car at a rest stop.
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Old 10-24-2004, 02:12 PM
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Great saga Tuckerfan. The names you assign to people, like Mr. Whiffy, are outrageously good! Good looking beast.
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Old 10-24-2004, 02:31 PM
Tuckerfan Tuckerfan is offline
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Okay, where was I? Ah, yes, Missouri rest stops. I’ve got to say that they’re some of the nicest I’ve ever seen. Very pretty buildings and so clean on the inside. They also have these sinks which when you stick your hands in the opening, automatically spray soap and water, and then a few moments blow dry your hands. Totally cool. The sign that I found most amusing was “Pet Comfort Area.” Every other state’s rest stops have signs that say “Pet Walk Area” or something similar. Even more amusing, that I didn’t notice when the I took the picture, was that the sign was directly behind a fire hydrant.

On my way into St. Louis, I drove past the town of Lake Saint Louis, and though you can barely make it out, was surprised to discover that they apparently have a gay water tower. That rainbow colored streak you see in the photo is what was painted on their water tower, a rainbow, of course, is one of those symbols which has been adopted to show gay pride. How a water tower can be gay, and how it can be proud of it, I’ve no idea, but apparently it was.

Also, in Missouri, I decided to document one of the most annoying things which can be found on any interstate in the US (so any of you Missourians out there reading this, don’t think that I’m singling you out, I just happened to have the camera handy when I decided to snap the pictures). Both this idiot and this one, were driving well below the speed limit in the middle lanes of the interstate. If you know these people, please, take them out and have them shot. I realize that not everyone is comfortable driving 70 MPH or better, but if you’re not going to drive the speed limit, then get off the interstate, damn it! There’s nothing worse than suddenly coming up behind one of these morons, and having to jam on the brakes so you don’t slam into the ass end of someone who can’t handle the bone crushing acceleration necessary to get their car into second gear.

So after my rescue by Gary’s sister (BTW, she’s almost 60, doesn’t look a day over 45, if you ask me), I headed back to the interstate to make my way home. One of the things that I passed by on my way out of town was the Busch brewery in St. Louis. That has got to be one of the most massively huge buildings I have ever seen. (And yes, I was in NYC back in 1986, and went in the WTC, so I’ve got a very good idea of what massive buildings are like.) Even more amazing, is that I couldn’t smell the place.

I grew up not too far from the Busch brewery in Columbus, OH, and when the wind was right, you could smell the most wretched odor (well, to be fair, it wasn’t nearly as bad as Mr. Wiffy) coming from the place. Perhaps the wind was blowing in the opposite direction, or my sinuses had been destroyed by Mr. Wiffy, but I couldn’t smell anything.

As I was leaving St. Louis, I was also passed by the only Honda Insight I saw the entire trip. I realize that not everyone wants a tiny car that looks like a hamster, but I would have thought that I’d have seen more of them, especially in Denver, but I didn’t. I didn’t see any other hybrid vehicles on my trip, either.

The rest of the trip was fairly uneventful until I crossed the Tennessee state line. It was there that the batteries died in my CD player (I only wore the headphones after dark, when I could be certain that I wouldn’t have to worry about getting a ticket, since in some states it’s illegal), so I fired up the AM radio in the car. Now, I’ve always maintained that Tennessee is a really crappy state when it comes to radio and TV broadcasts. I live roughly 35 miles from Nashville, where most of the transmitting towers are located, and its well-neigh impossible for me to pick up anything. Without cable, I’d only be able to pick up about 3 of the 8 TV stations in town. (And two of those are the Jesus freak stations.) The FM reception isn’t much better, AM, well, forget about it, especially after dark. All I can pick up then is static.

Imagine my surprise when the first thing that comes blasting through the speaker is WOAI out of San Antonio! Yes, I understand all about atmospheric reflectivity, but that doesn’t explain how I can’t pick up any of the local stations during the day, and then get a station from over a thousand miles away, blasting in with crystal clarity. When that faded out, I picked up WBBM out of Chicago and listened to it the rest of the way home. (Not that there was much to listen to, since it seemed that they spent most of their time giving out traffic reports. I had no idea that things were so bad in Chicago that you had to have 24 hour traffic reports.)

Now, I’ve got a cat, and I was kind of concerned about her, since this was the longest I’d been away from her. I had a friend who’d promised to stop by and feed her while I was gone, but unlike every other cat I’ve ever known, this cat likes nothing better than constant attention. My friend’s got a wife and kid, so I knew he wouldn’t be doing more than stopping by, feeding her, and then heading home. I figured that she’d probably be upset with me when I got home, it turns out I was right. She still hasn’t completely forgiven me for leaving her alone for 3 and a half days. She spends her time alternating between giving me dirty looks and begging for attention. Of course, it might have been my appearance when I got home that freaked her out so much.

Before I wrap this thing up (and I haven’t told everything that happened on the trip, but I wanted to try and keep this as brief as possible, so I cut out things like the New Yorker’s tales of his battles with the FCC, Border Patrol, and the military), I want to do two things. The first is to offer an idea of the massive scale of the car. I couldn’t figure out how to get the timer option on the camera to work when I wanted it to (mind you, I could get
  #14  
Old 10-24-2004, 02:33 PM
Tuckerfan Tuckerfan is offline
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it to work just fine when I was trying to snap a picture in a hurry, thus missing the shot I really wanted) and I didn’t relish the thought of trying to train anyone in how to use the infernal thing, so what I did was park the thing in front of my trailer near my two other cars (Oh, BTW, if anyone wants a deal on a dead 1984 Honda Accord, I’m your man!) and take some pictures. The red car is a 1990 Pontiac Grand AM. As you can clearly see, the Chrysler dwarfs the two of them, and at 4200 lbs, it probably weighs as much as the two of them combined!

The second thing I want to do is offer some advice for anyone foolish enough to do what I did. I won’t bother trying to talk you out of it, since I know that there’s no way anyone could have talked me out of the trip, but I will tell you what I wish I’d done. I should have boxed up all my tools, manuals, and the like, and Fed Exed them to the seller and then taken a plane to Denver. Also, make sure that you have plenty of money, and in addition to buying ample supplies of things like oil, water, and the like, buy a bunch of fuel system cleaner and add it to every tankfull. That way if you get bad gas (and the way the station maintains their tanks has more to do with getting bad gas than does the brand of gas) like I did, you’re not stuck on the interstate, freaking out because the car has suddenly started sputtering and making weird noises. If at all possible, try to take a traveling companion along with you, so that if the worst happens and you do break down in the middle of nowhere, you’ll have an extra pair of hands to help you repair the car, and if worse comes to worse, you can always kill and eat them for food. Finally, when you get to where you’re going to pick up the car, buy a gun, or at least a paintball gun, because sooner or later, you’re going to be stuck in front of some halfwit on the freeway who doesn’t realize HIS BRIGHTS ARE ON!!!! And the only way that you’ll be able to free yourself from the blinding glare filling the interior of the car is by having your traveling companion lean out the window and “explain things” to him with Smith & Wesson’s finest.
  #15  
Old 10-24-2004, 02:36 PM
Mr. Blue Sky Mr. Blue Sky is offline
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I learned how to drive in a 1970 Newport! It was a dull gray with a black vinyl top and solid black interior.

I hated that car.


Oh, nice demon cat you have there!
  #16  
Old 10-24-2004, 02:48 PM
Tuckerfan Tuckerfan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Early Out
By the way, Tuckerfan, I'm intrigued by your comment about writing off this whole expedition on your taxes. What did you say your Social Security Number was, again?
It's 567-68-0515. [size=1]Actually, that's Richard Nixon's,so don't panic an alert a mod.[/url]

How I figured out to take the thing off my taxes is pretty simple. I'm a machinist, and since I plan on doing some modifications to the car as I restore her, so that I can show off my skills as a machinist and hopefully either land a better job or get enough side work that I can have a few extra hundred dollars in my pocket every month.

Mr. Blue Sky, I learned how to drive in a 1971 Newport, have missed that car almost from the moment I got rid of it.
  #17  
Old 10-24-2004, 02:55 PM
astro astro is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tuckerfan
It's 567-68-0515. [size=1]Actually, that's Richard Nixon's,so don't panic an alert a mod.[/url]

How I figured out to take the thing off my taxes is pretty simple. I'm a machinist, and since I plan on doing some modifications to the car as I restore her, so that I can show off my skills as a machinist and hopefully either land a better job or get enough side work that I can have a few extra hundred dollars in my pocket every month.

Mr. Blue Sky, I learned how to drive in a 1971 Newport, have missed that car almost from the moment I got rid of it.
I would encourage you to run this deductibility strategy past a CPA before utilizing it.
  #18  
Old 10-24-2004, 03:00 PM
Tuckerfan Tuckerfan is offline
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Originally Posted by astro
I would encourage you to run this deductibility strategy past a CPA before utilizing it.
You don't think that it'll fly? I don't see why not. I am a machinist, and I intend to put a lot maching work into the car as I restore it, plus when I'm done, I'm going to enter it into car shows, not to mention I'll be putting pictures of the car up on a webpage advertising my services as a machinist.
  #19  
Old 10-24-2004, 03:20 PM
Batsinma Belfry Batsinma Belfry is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tuckerfan


Of course, it might have been my appearance when I got home that freaked her out so much.
So that's what you look like.




YUM!

You're cat's cute too.
  #20  
Old 10-24-2004, 03:30 PM
astro astro is offline
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IANACPA, but with respect to the question of where recreational enjoyment use ends, and use as an advertising tool begins, may not be quite as cut and dried as you think. IIRC there are some fairly specific IRS "linkage" tests you need to pass muster on before such a deduction will be accepted. Make sure you are fully informed as to what they are. Prudence now is cheaper than penalites later.
  #21  
Old 10-24-2004, 03:43 PM
astro astro is offline
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As side note, it might be useful to post the deductibility question re your purchase and intended use, in GQ as a separate question.
  #22  
Old 10-24-2004, 04:00 PM
Tuckerfan Tuckerfan is offline
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I'll do that, thanks for the suggestion.
  #23  
Old 10-24-2004, 07:16 PM
Queen Tonya Queen Tonya is offline
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Great thread, love the car.
  #24  
Old 10-25-2004, 12:06 AM
Tuckerfan Tuckerfan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hillbilly queen
So that's what you look like.




YUM!

You're cat's cute too.
Thanks.
I bet your's is too!
  #25  
Old 10-25-2004, 01:43 AM
Cisco Cisco is offline
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Originally Posted by Tuckerfan
I bet your's is too!
::groan::, is this how doper couples start?



How long will it take to restore the car? I can't wait to see it. There are few cars worse than an old clunker like that that barely runs and looks like crap, and there are few cars better than a sweet ride like that done right.
  #26  
Old 10-25-2004, 02:47 PM
Cinnamon Girl Cinnamon Girl is offline
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Great job, Tuckerfan! I love everything about road trips, but I don't get to do them enough myself. So, I like to live vicariously (sp?) through others and I'm a sucker for a good road trip story with pictures. You made even the typical mundanity of the road trip interesting. Although I'll pass, next time, on pictures of urinals, thank you very much! Kudos!
  #27  
Old 10-25-2004, 03:28 PM
Necros Necros is offline
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Dangit! Wish I had known you were coming out here. I could have even checked out the car in advance for you. The Walyworld you got all your car supplies from is all of four minutes from my house!
  #28  
Old 10-25-2004, 03:46 PM
Necros Necros is offline
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And, of course, then I could have shown you what a really big car looks like: http://www.100megsfree4.com/cadillac...68/eldo68d.jpg (not mine, but mine looks the same).
  #29  
Old 10-25-2004, 04:39 PM
NurseCarmen NurseCarmen is offline
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I used to have a '63 Newport. My best buddy had a 72. His was bigger than mine. He called it "The Sponge", because it was big, yellow, dripped a lot, and sucked up all his money.

It would appear that there is a wide swath of Kansas that is now bugless thanks to your windshield.
  #30  
Old 10-25-2004, 08:10 PM
Tuckerfan Tuckerfan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cisco
::groan::, is this how doper couples start?



How long will it take to restore the car? I can't wait to see it. There are few cars worse than an old clunker like that that barely runs and looks like crap, and there are few cars better than a sweet ride like that done right.
Actually, hillbilly's married, so..........

I'm hoping to have it done within three years, but it all depends upon my cashflow situation. Of course, I doubt that I'll ever really be done with the car, as I intend to make a bunch of improvements to the car (Car nuts, don't panic! There's nothing I hate worse than someone who takes a nice old car and hacks it up so that it can't be easily restored to factory condition. Everything I do will be easily correctable by someone wishing to return the car to stock. Admittedly, some holes will have to be drilled in the body, but they'll be patchable in a few moments with a welder. I hope, though, after I'm gone that the car winds up in a museum, or at least in the hands of a collector who respects the changes I've made or returns the vehicle to stock.) and no doubt each one will inspire me to make others.

Necros, oh yeah? You think so, huh? Well, check out the specs and get back to me on that.

NurseCarmen, what the windshield didn't get, probably got gassed by the oil spray. "The Sponge," I like that.
  #31  
Old 10-26-2004, 12:51 PM
Necros Necros is offline
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Weight:
Newport, ~4200. Eldo, 4500+
Length:
Newport, 224", Eldo, 221", so you got me there.

So you're bigger, I'm heaver. But may car moves a little bit, too.
Newport, 383CID, 255 HP
Eldo, 472CID, 325 HP, 525 TQ

Let's call it a draw.
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