Monday, October 8, 2018

Backseat Barkley Memories

For about 3 years I had a commute of about 4 hours each way every Monday morning and Thursday night. I was moving to Chicago to get married - but I had a career and a home in Indiana.  My home sold  finally, so I rented a little condo and continued the commute until I could get an equivalent position up North

Fortunately, I had a big, sturdy American made barge of a vehicle to haul Barkley, and later Abby, back and forth.

Sometimes there's miscellaneous cargo of the squirrel, and not so squirrely in the back..
Often it was dark when I left Monday morning, which was actually my favorite time to head out. It gave me another night "home"  and I missed the worst of the traffic.  At 3:30 a.m. the roads were mostly vacant, the sky nothing more than the thin deceptive perception of safety.
So I always made sure the doors were locked, and the road ahead clear. Then the night succumbed to day, and everything quickened, the traffic, my pulse, as the light spread over the road like water. Soon it's day and from the vantage point of a vehicle that sits up high, I could see all sorts of things.

Over the many months, I snapped quite a few pictures on the drive.  The photos aren't great as 80% of them are from the point and shoot in the glove box in case of an accident and yes, I need to wash my windows.  But it's fun to look back on some of the trips, "bed hair" and all.
The doggie gaze equivalent of "Mom - What the. . . .?"

This truck probably cost more than some of the houses just west of here.  You could have performed surgery off most of its surfaces.  The driver apparently very proud of it, wants you to know who is driving it by the giant day glo orange name across the back window.   At first I thought his name was "Tarzan".  Either I'm getting nearsighted or I REALLY need to clean these windows..
Driving through the freeway stretch of Gary (which is normally done at twice the speed of sound, the cops not even wanting to pull anyone over on that particular stretch), I saw what appeared to be the Batmobile.  At least the Batmobile Gary style.
The young man driving it was probably the best driver on the road, in and out of lanes discretely and expertly, yet not being stupid (unlike Vlad the Impala that tried to kill me several times).  I'm not sure what that hood ornament is.

On this same stretch of road, another trip, there was a vehicle for which I didn't get a picture as the traffic was to heavy to be distracted by a camera. There were a couple extra antennas on it.. One looked like it was Elmer-Glued on. It looked too new to be a Grand Marquis de Sade, more likely a later model Crown Vic, but the shape and color were such that hundreds of drivers in the past had likely slowed down in its presence thinking it was an unmarked cop car.

The driver, as well, was all in black, with a black baseball type hat, earpiece in his ear, muscled arms clenched on the wheel. In the back window, another black ball cap, this one with 3 letters indicating a squirrel type employer. At this point I started to grin, knowing a bit about such headwear. I can tell you one does NOT put them in the back window of their car, although you can buy souvenir ones on the internet. They're worn for a specific purpose and it usually involves a search warrant.
But what our Mall Ninja failed to realize, that despite the old police shaped spiffy car with the extra antenna or two, the clothing, the hat he bought on the net, and "the look", one thing just screamed "mall ninja!"

The yellow triangle in the window that said "Baby on Board".

I did get a picture of this. . .
Camouflage submarine?

Even with a state that's about as hilly as Saskatchewan, I still don't get more than 18 miles to the gallon.  But I bet I get more than this guy, driving a truck that appears to be made out of four separate vehicles with a camper that appears to be attached with Velcro. I kept my distance in case the wind picked up.
And, in an off the freeway foray to get gas in a safe area,  I saw this. Fifteen miles per gallon in hot pink.   I'd tint my windows too if my SUV was that color.
Then - this classic, another pink vehicle, a distinct shade of light pink  I recognized. It's a Mary Kay car I thought. You know, one of those new and shiny fancy cars with the sticker on the back "I Won It, Ask Me How - Mary Kay."

But as we got closer I could see it was a very beat up Volvo, with the rust marks to show its age. But it was pink. Pink, painted with a brush.

With a fresh and flawless Mary Kay "I Won It Ask me How" sticker in the back window.

The man driving it looked like the guy from the Red Green show and the car was full of junk, likely a run from the farm to the junkyard or dump.
There were quite a few drives though, where the cars were mundane, the landscape clouded with shadow and the camera stayed still.  Such were the mornings I looked at the light coming up in the sky, shooting upward in the darkness like the upward floating tresses of a drowned maiden sleeping in a motionless sea, I wish I could capture that.  I also knew that the cheap little camera in the vehicle, in motion, never captured it, that moment or the words in my head and I go back to my coffee and the thump of the miles.

I kept an eye on the weather as well, high winds not being a big concern in my vehicle, but definitely affecting other drivers I'd just as soon stay out of the way off.  I kept the radio tuned to the local alerts, and there is always the weather cow, one of the first pit stops on the journey. It's not the cheapest gas around, but the place was frequented by most of the local LEO's.  It was more country than the city and the bathrooms were spotless (unlike the ones up by Crown Point where I think they lock the gas station bathrooms to keep people from sneaking in and cleaning them). 
 Weather cow says it's windy with a chance of flurries
 Weather cow says it's sunny.
Weather cow says it's raining.
Look, Mom !  A trailer full of tractors!

Barkley could sometimes be a pest, with stops for walks, and begging for treats and Barking at the Dart Trucks (I think he thought the Dart guy on the back of the truck looked like the UPS man) But I so I missed him after he went to the Bridge, driving that big Chevy Subdivision of a vehicle, logging miles between light and dark, the clock on the dash only changing the minutes, it seems, when I look away, the slight of hand of time that shapes us all. There were some lonely trips before we got Abby, that is for sure.

Thank you, Barkley - for all the good trips and the good memories and for watching over us while we made that last year of drives without you.  We all miss you.

8 comments:

  1. Those were, indeed, good days.

    Miss him (and you).

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  2. Some of those posts were hilarious, and yes, you CAN see just about anything on the road these days...

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  3. Ah yes, we all miss Barkley, and the Barkleys we've known in our own lives.

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  4. The CD player is starting to disappear from new cars and trucks. Consider yourself warned.

    Darn kids and their Bluetooth phones.

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  5. Hello Dear:

    The item you thought was a submarine is very clearly a rifle scope for sniper wannabees. I think it is a Vortex Optimaxplex 300-900x6000 for the Barrett 155mm.

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  6. The things you see along the road! I once saw a little cracker box foreign car in the bed of a big, old Doge truck - looked to be secured by shock cords - not something to follow.....

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  7. Here in the more rural South, the things you see are somewhat different, but the overall effect is much the same. Of course, when you get around the big cities, things become more homogenized and you generally don't see these things.

    Now when do we get a story about the Atlas lathe?

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    Replies
    1. Northern Illinois Estate Auction $600 with ALL the tooling in pristine condition. And most husbands worry about their wife coming home with a $600 Chanel purse.

      Delete

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