Hello!

Welcome to The Epic! I am launching this blog as a manifesto for and a guide to living well. The title and motto of the blog are taken from the Epicureans, at least some of whom believed in the notion that not one minute of the future was guaranteed to them and that as a result they had the duty to live life to its fullest every moment.

I believe in discovering fun and pleasurable things wherever I find myself each day and I am told I have a knack for unearthing them. My hope is that by sharing in my pleasures and some of my ways of finding them you will begin to collect all the riches that lie in the moments of your life. They are there. Take them! All our lives should be.....Epic.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Unexpected Road Trip



When I was a boy, my Dad would receive the J. C. Whitney Automotive catalog in the mail. My brother and I would go through it page by page, ogling the shifters, carbs, and other parts with which one could "soup up" a car. If one actually OWNED a car, that is. It will come as no surprise to the reader that my favorite part of the catalog was the portion offering windbreaker jackets with sports car logos embroidered on the left chest. The one I dreamed of was the black jacket bearing the crossed racing flags of the Chevrolet Corvette. I had never seen a Corvette. But, those crossed flags. My brother and I would sit and talk of what cars we would have and the places [other than the middle of the North Woods] where we would drive them. And, wherever we drove, we would wear manufacturer's logo Whitney jackets. If we could ever save up the twelve dollars to buy one. We never did. Years passed by. In the usual fashion.

But, once in a while, what appears to be a travel fiasco morphs into an Epic break. Take last week. A bit late arriving in Orlando. The rental company fouled up my reservation. So there was no nondescript microsedan wating pour moi. Which is a bit of a problem when you have to travel three hours round trip for a meeting out in a rural area. The rental clerk made me promise to return the car in one day, not a moment later. And handed me the keys to this car...

My first Corvette. Actually, the car given to me was a little different than this 2009 model. My car was a convertible. With 1000 miles on it. And the color is "Velocity Yellow". Fancy that. My road trip the next day had turned into a Road Trip.

As I have admitted, my previous experience with Corvettes was limited. That means I had none. So to say that I was delighted to have the chance to spend a few hours on the road in this iconic American sports car was an understatement. The fun began immediately. When I left the restaurant after dinner and discovered that they had parked my car right up front. Right next to the cars the sports stars and other celebrities were driving. Had there been any in town. The young man handling the valet desk that night said "That is one great car". Taking a line from James Bond referring to a Thunderbird in the book "The Spy Who Loved Me", I replied drolly "It's a rental".

The next morning, I found myself roaring down the Interstate until it connected with State Highway 27 bearing south-southeast past Cypress Gardens toward Miami. The Old Route. Perfect for trying out a car of this sort. I say "roaring" because the engine in the Corvette fairly begs to be turned loose and then snarls at you when you do not accede to its demands. I found the 'Vette (all of us Corvette men say "Vette", it's what we do) more quiet than I had expected (especially for a convertible) but it was not quiet. It rode more smoothly than I had expected, but it was not a smooth ride. All as it should be. The seats were very comfortable. The trunk just enough for a short business trip. Or a long non-business trip with that one small leather case you save for such occasions.

The weather was gloriously sunny and hot. I found myself driving through a large orange grove. The scent of the fruit trees was lovely. Even at speed. Because, you see, when John Mellencamp's version of "I Fight Authority" came on the stereo there was only one thing to do. As they say where I live, it was time to "let 'er eat". So I did. Now, I have no basis for comparison among sports cars, but this car was MORE than fast enough for me. It felt like it was flying. At very low altitude. The stereo was superb. They put the bass speakers down in the leg wells, and when one cranks the volume WAY up (as I did), the slight bit of slack in a well tailored pair of trousers down by your calves moves from the bass vibration. Not a little movement. A LOT of movement. In short, the stereo ROCKS.

The only thing I did not care for about this car is, I suppose, typical of the fifty year old driver. Getting in and out of it is a drag. I know, play the violin a little louder please. You have to sort of make a controlled fall into the driver's seat. This takes considerable effort BEFORE cocktail hour and dinner, but afterwards it is a personal dignity challenge of high order. Trust me. When exiting the 'Vette (all of us Corvette men....oh I mentioned that) you find, happy hour or no, that you are a living demonstrative of the principles of inertia. When you get yourself at rest in a Corvette driver seat, you tend to remain at rest. Overcoming inertia to get yourself up and out of the car to a (hopefully) standing position, while wearing a suit, requires a considerable amount of force. Supplied, of course, by only your left arm. One finds oneself making (in the words of Bill Cosby) "your father's noise" when he would get up from his arm chair for dinner. Consequently, the careful, fiftyish 'Vette driver must watch carefully once parked to make sure there is NOBODY who can see, or hear, you trying to get out of it. Or all is lost.

Actually, I loved my time with this car. In fact, when I left my appointment, I checked the map and saw that I was only 168 miles from Miami. I REALLY wanted to drive the rest of the way down that highway. Take it to the Atlantic. Park it there. Gaze out. See what happened next. But, no. Duty called me back to Orlando and then to Chicago. The end of one Epic Road Trip. The beginning of another...

I did not rush out and buy a Corvette windbreaker upon my return. But now, at least, I am qualified to wear it.

7 comments:

Turling said...

My only Corvette experience (notice, I'm not qualified to say 'vette), was as valet in Newport Beach. A 1978 Stingray. White. Black interior. And, the one thing I remember from that car.....that drop. Even at 18, I thought I had gone straight through the floorboards to the ground. And, no, unfortunately no Ferris Buehler experience for me that day. I drove it all of 17 yards. Round trip.

CashmereLibrarian said...

My husband will be so jealous! I will warn him about the dignity issue in case he ever has a similar opportunity...

What a fabulous road trip!

M.Lane said...

Turling, good to see your comment! I love that 17 yard road trip. There has to be a story in that!

Cashmere, thanks! You with the best blogname ever. There are only two paths open when you ride in one of these at my age. You either get fit really fast or you get some sort of hoist. From your NYC photo I would say your husband is SIGNIFICANTLY more fit than I am so he should be ok.

ML

Ben said...

What a blast! I'm thrilled for you.

Bet you played it cool walking out to the car from the rental desk, then secretly called the Irish Red Head: "Guess what I'm driving ..."

M.Lane said...

Ben, have we met before? That is EXACTLY what I did. Then I called my brother, the car nut.

ML

The Machinist's Wife said...

And I thought I was a lucky girl driving a honey-murkot coloured mustang several blocks around a small country town in the midst of what is now called Kwa Zulu Natal...

You wrote this beautifully, as if we were in the passenger seat with you. But no, we couldn't be, could we?

M.Lane said...

MW, thanks so much for the compliment!! And for signing up as a follower! I could have been convinced to take that car to another continent and drive you about...

By the way, your blog is very interesting!

ML