Thursday, March 10, 2011

Street Art vs Death Driver

Yes, my new nickname is “Death Driver” to match my son’s nickname of “Death March”. His refers to his preferred style of backpacking which means no stopping for water, snacks, bathroom breaks or pictures. Mine is now earned for having been to 4 states and 4 grad schools in a total of 37 hours.  With so much time behind the wheel, the “art” which one finds along the road kept me quite entertained.

I learned about “street art” from Mark Soppeland. Years ago we were driving to Cleveland to see a show and happened upon one of those wide load trucks carrying a large wrapped item that resembled a gazebo. His resulting commentary (and lesson) was hilariously funny. It is very true that what was on that flatbed truck could have been a Christo sculpture or some very small item with adequacy issues. Nonetheless, I learned to appreciate the mental stimulus of playing guess what’s behind tarp number one. Personally if some of those loads were turned 90 degrees on the truck, they would not be so wide.

As part of our American roadway system, one will find all kinds of art incorporated into the construction. Just outside of Dayton, the bridge abutments have carvings of the Blue Angels fighter jets in some type of formation. Just what I don’t know as the speed limit is 65 (translation….70) so the view is fleeting to say the least.  Someplace along our route, the roads would split and divide rising in spiraling bridges that criss-crossed each other like ribbons.  The lower edges were painted shades of blue which probably disappeared in summer time, but with grey skies and rain, the blue was rather vibrant. Thank goodness my “naggie” was on duty so I could look at the view and listen to her directions.

Small town country roads are full of statues (giant cow on a post), billboards and “fences”, the latter of which was made from a hundred or so old bicycles painted red white and blue. Memorials abound as well and I often thought of making a picture book of the thousands I have probably encountered over years of driving back roads. A morbid bestseller at best I suppose.

When driving on main highways (Indiana and Michigan have a 70mph speed limit!! Translation…..76) it is fellow drivers that keep me entertained. Truckers are great, people in little foreign cars are aggressive and kids in clunkers are oblivious. Minivaners like myself tend to allow the latter two some leeway and watch each other’s back (or would that be bumper) because chances are there are kids in the car. I find out all kinds of things about people from their stickers and decorations which help decide if you are passing material or wide berth warranted.  Probably the most fun is trying to decide what people were thinking….which translates to nothing most of the time. Case in point….

The road is under construction and therefore divided into to two lanes. Both go the same place, but there is a big wide median of grass, gravel, floodwaters and hence…MUD between the two lanes. So…if you see a car which tried to cross this median with its nose buried up to the wheel well in mud and the back end up in the air….what makes you think that you have the magic flying car? So…if you are driving along and see 2 cars in the median, one buried to the wheel well and the other turned on its side in obvious panic that it made the wrong decision and turning back did not work out…what makes you think you have the flying car? Having now passed three partially submerged vehicles, most people would put 2 and 2 together and wait for the next exit to find a way to the one they missed because car number one shut down the exit side forcing all the traffic into one lane which has no exits. But I guess if you are driving a moving truck and don’t know any other way to get to your exit, the magic flying fairies are on your side so there is no way a heavy truck will sink. No way….right?……..wrong,  he did not realize that fairies don’t work in the rain. Vehicle number 4 is a moving truck cab now in the mud and sinking like quicksand. Americans being as skeptical as we are (or just plain stupid slow learners) evidently decided that the 5th, 6th and even a 7th vehicle would surely make it because stuff like that only happens to other people. Just two cops and one tow truck were working the whole 7 mile scene probably figuring if you are that dumb then you can just sit there on your trunk in the pouring rain and wait.  At least these folks provided some entertainment for those of us racing snails on the roadway.

Dorothy was right however, there is no place like home!

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