Friday, August 28, 2009


I am, what is known dismissively to native Coloradians, a flatlander.

Mayberry is located 479 feet above sea level. Son Bunky, lives in Lake George, Colorado, elevation 8642 feet. I asked Bunky if my ears began bleeding overnight, just to tell the folks at home I loved them. Make no attempt to spare me. That part comes way later though. Allow me to begin at the beguin.

I left Sunday morning in near perfect conditions. Cool, sunny. Great for a long drive in a car without a/c. All went swimmingly until I hit the eastern most suburbs of Kansas City. Suddenly, and unpreferedly, I was awash in steaming hot antifreeze. Fortunately, I made it to an exit, got off the highway and waited for a tow.

So where do you go? I elected to entrust my 20 years old Mercedes to the local Benz store. I hoped they could diagnose, and have the parts on hand to get me on the road quickly.

What a treat. Naturally, they were closed so I had the car dumped by the gate, and hitched a ride to the nearest hotel. Across the street, as the crow flies, but a 2 mile walk over the interstate as the Toad walks. This adventure cost me lunch with the birthday boy and his family.

Let me tell you a bit about Mercedes Benz ownership in KC, this info I gleaned while spending most of Monday in the dealers waiting room. Either all MB's in KC are black, or black MB's in KC are unreliable. All the cars in for service were black. Not some, all. If I lived there, I'd have to have a red one, just because. Also, if you buy one black Benz, you have to have a second one for your spouse. They come in pairs only. Fascinating.

By 2pm the dealer had run my D&B, xray'ed me, knew the credit limit of the cards in my wallet, left me with enough cash to buy lunch and sent me about my way. I am grateful for the good care, and attention to detail exhibited by my new friends at Aristocrat Motors. It could have been worse, and of all the places for the car to break, that was the best of all possible places.

Next stop Topeka for a hi and hug with the birthday boy and back on the road. Drove to about the western edge of Kansas, thereby missing the opportunity to spend the night with Katy and her husband.

I owe Kansas an apology. This is the third time I have driven across the state, but only the first in daylight. My memory,and I have lived there several times, is that the state, bisected by highway 70 was straight and flat, and visually unappealing.

In fact, it is straight, physically beautiful in a stark kind of way, but the route is all up hill. Elevation rises 2500 feet from Kansas City to Goodland in the west.

Tuesday was more uphill climbing. I anticipated Tuesday would be a hard go, especially physically. I'm uncomfortable breathing in Denver, and had another 4000 feet to climb until I reached the summit of UTE pass. It was downhill from there to Lake George. While in Lake George breathing went well, but my ears and teeth hurt. Only now, am I feeling better.

I had a marvelous time with Bunky. We hadn't had an opportunity to talk in a very long time, and had a great time catching up. I'm very proud of him. He chose the road less taken, and all its attendant costs. He's holding up pretty well.

Wednesday. Funny story. Bunky drove me to the airport. I chose to wear a suit. Perhaps naively, I feel better treated when I'm dressed like an adult. In fact was offered an upgrade. As I boarded the plane the waitress asked if I was returning from a funeral. Tan linen has that effect. No, I said, I just wanted to dress better than the help.

I had a great time, I'm happier being home.

So what did I learn? Travel is broadening, and as much as I may be grateful for the myriad opportunity available in the western parts of the US, I could probably live with myself if I never traveled much farther west than say, Topeka. The wild west isn't my thing.



Dumbwit Tellher said...

Somehow "not", not "now"...ooops..

Dumbwit Tellher said...

Let me just say this, I love your stories. You sound like you have a lovely family Toad. Somehow, now surprised in the least! Glad you made it home safe & sound. "I", have a silver MB, no black here. When it needs repairing, I always have to sell another vital organ.

Mrs. Blandings said...

Welcome home. If it is not blazing hot, I find that trek across Kansas oddly soothing.

David said...

I don't know what to think of Aristocrat. I stopped in to ask about a repair, and they just pulled it in, fixed it, and sent me on my way. Seemed good. Later I stopped for lunch, got my wallet out of the console, and there was two dollars in it. I swear I had a 20 when I got coffee first thing in the morning.

Then they sent an invitation to the 2010 Rover preview, so I went. The sales staff couldn't be bothered to answer questions because they were too interested in the hors d'oeuvres and bar. I don't need to be fawned over, but maybe ask if I have questions, or how about unlocking them so we could look around inside?

Pardon the rant. Glad you got to see everyone, catch up with Bunky, and are home safe.

Pigtown-Design said...

I remember being amazed at Kansas, as well. We started on 70 and then switched to 36, miles to the north. we thought we'd get a more realistic view of kansas from something other than the interstate. i was shocked when we arrived in colorado to see that we were about 4000 feet. it's just small hills rolling upward.