Jill's road trip -- 06/08/04

Jill is driving to Minnesota with a couple of friends to spend a few days with some people they know online from playing Toadwater (a online game/community where, instead of running around with swords or assault rifles, you plant trees and radishes and build fences and join with others for fellowship and protection).

Interruption -- she just phoned to say they've crossed from Ohio into Indiana (cell phones are great!). She left here around seven a.m. yesterday, picked up Mark and Deirdre, and then headed off. Deirdre has grandparents in Pennsylvania (where they stayed last night) and in Illinois (where they are staying tonight).

Our vehicle situation is a bit short right now. I don't know if I mentioned this, but Jeremy had a problem with his truck ('88 Mazda pickup) a couple of weeks ago -- the catalytic converter caught fire! -- and nobody in the family seems to want to drive it. So we've been trying to share three vehicles among four people. Jeremy had borrowed Jill's Honda a couple times last week and he spilled some milk on the front floor. He took the floor mat out, thinking that took care of things, not noticing that the floor was wet underneath the mat as well. This really ticked Jill off, complaining that he made her car smell bad. And then Nancy had driven it and came back saying that the front end was making a grinding sound. Jill really went ballistic at that news -- 'twas a fortunate thing that her brother wasn't home at that moment. But then I took it around the block and noted that this was not a grinding sound and wasn't from the front end (i.e., not from the steering or the transaxle, etc.) but was a vibrating sound that came with acceleration and that had been there before, just not as pronounced. I figured it was somewhere in the front half of the exhaust system, probably either the exhaust manifold or the catalytic converter. (But I do software, not hardware, so don't count too much on my diagnostics.)

On the weekend Deirdre's father looked at it and said it looked to him as if one side of the seal on the catalytic converter was cracking away. So, the car is driveable but we didn't think she should take it on the trip because what if it cracked more and she ended up with that end of the exhaust system coming loose while she was driving hundreds of miles from home. So she agreed to drive my car.

So, from a parental perspective, thank goodness for cell phones (with nationwide free roaming and no long distance charges) and things like AAA memberships and credit cards and debit cards. She's called from each state (well, once she got through Connecticut and New York) and sounds very happy to be off on her adventure.

She and I were talking recently about Route 66 -- the 1960-64 TV program where Martin Milner (who later was on the police drama Adam-12) and George Maharis played two single guys driving up and down Route 66 (for those from outside the U.S., Route 66 was a main highway back in the days before the limited access express motorways like the U.S. Interstate highway system -- it was two to four lanes of blacktop roadway wandering two thousand miles from Chicago to Los Angeles, across the desert, through big towns and small towns) just two guys finding drama and adventure each week. Two guys just rejecting conformity and the nine-to-five materialistic world, tooling along in their Chevy Corvette (a brand-new one each season).

When I was Jill's age a friend and I had plans to save up money during our last year of college and take some unknown amount of time off after graduation and just drive around the country. We were inspired by Route 66 and also by John Steinbeck's Travels with Charley (where the noted author put a camper cap on a pickup truck and drove around the United States with just his old dog Charley for company) and by a general wanderlust. I was driving that old VW pictured on my home page (and that picture was taken during the academic year in question) but Mike had a 1963 Chevy Impala Supersport convertible, bright yellow, with a motorcycle rack on the back (Mike also had a small Yamaha motorcycle). So we were going to put the bike on the rack and head off into the sunset, seeking adventure, looking for America. Nope, never happened... real life intruded... and the summer we would have been cruisin' the highways and byways, I spent that summer as a cop [see Police Story (part one) and Police Story (part two) for more about that] and Mike had gotten married halfway through the school year and was going to summer school to catch a final course or two needed for graduation and then becoming a father.

Life intrudes and you get busy and the next thing you know you're in your sixties and you wonder where the time went.

Enjoy your trip, Jill.

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