Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Day 11: Road to Dallas

(listen to today's theme)
I am currently writing from a pretty cool library in the area around Dallas. A few feet from me there is a crowd of kids singing along a theme to encourage reading amongst the youngest. Do not tell me that is not adorable and heartwarming. With that spirit, I will narrate everything that happened throughout yesterday, which is a lot.

The morning started with a fresh shower at Kevin's, followed by the preparations to depart from his house. I put some air in my tires (thank you Kevin for letting me use the air compressor!) and met one of the family's ponies, a beautiful creature just brought from Mount Olympus.

We had breakfast in a local diner full of bikes and policemen; however, the tension was not there. I had hash browns from the very first time in my life, and quite liked them! The time came to say goodbye, and we both parted our ways. On to Berry Hill farm, then!

Uneventful drive. I stopped at Milano, TX, to communicate with R_Leo (Randy), who gave incredibly accurate directions to his farm. Milano had some interesting abandoned buildings, product of this crisis, as well as a very friendly local villager who, in the middle of her yard sale, waved goodbye at my funky train. I thought this song would be relevant.

I arrived to Randy's, who greeted me right outside his farm in a little diesel golf cart. Immediately after a small tour of the friendship train and a quenching glass of ice cold water, we took a tour of the farm. Randy had formerly been a city boy, but decided to opt for a healthier lifestyle by getting some land. So far, I think he is living the perfect life: close to Mother Earth, but still in touch with technology and civilization; knowledgeable about what is alive and is mechanical; with a loving, kind wife, the loyalty of his two Chow-Chows and the skill to make things work; well traveled and down to Earth. Not your average farmer, a person whose knowledge would make a cubicle dweller look like a redneck.

Randy's farm is beautiful, full of expansive hills, a couple ponds and very healthy, well-cared-for cows. He also owns a noisy donkey and a majestic horse who loves apples. I must confess, his rare euro 240D looked dull compared to the many interesting things surrounding it.

Time for lunch. Mouth-watering ribs and sausage, accompanied by one of the best briskets I have ever had: flaky, tender, layered with thin veins of healthy far. Absolutely superb. Randy keeps his meat in an old ice cream truck with a powerful freezer, which does the job wonderfully.

Time came for Dallas, a city of tall skyscrapers and high temperatures. I stopped by Woody's Smokehouse in Centerville to grab username Panzzer some buffalo jerky, as well as some for the trip. And absolute must if you are on the road!

I met gear-head and Panzzer at the Hard Eight BBQ, and talked Mercedes after a hefty amount of beef. I ended up camping in front of Panzzer's, and today I am headed towards a junkyard to grab a euro bumper for Newport. I will stay in Dallas for today, in hopes of meeting other members. Until then, wish me luck finding cool W123 stuff!

It's a HUGE trailer! And Kevin's wife is VERY, VERY tall.

Kevin's dog, commando style. It dragged itself like that for a good 20ft!

Follow that dentist to... breakfast!

Two beauties in a parking lot.

The way to Woody's.

An old diesel locomotive at the side of the road!

R_Leo (Randy) and his son.

Never a dull moment at Berry Hill Farm!

"People are going to think I am a redneck", Randy said.

Imagine waking up to this. Who needs Manhattan?

The cow did know I was taking a picture. It stood perfectly still.

Huddling in the shade during a hot, hot day!

Motherly affection.

Do you think I was born yesterday? Whoops!

Dallas, in the distance.

Panzzer's 300CD and gear-head's 560SEC.

Their respective owners.

Motherload of MEAT.

Day 10: Good Ol' Boys

(listen to today's theme)
Immediately after writing yesterday's entry, I was approached by a very friendly lady who asked me (the sore thumb city boy using the massive 17-inch laptop in the restaurant) about the Scotty trailer.

I got out of Frog County and kept heading West on I-10. Something that you notice when you enter Texas is, stereotypically, the size of everything. The roads, for some reason, seem wider than in New England or Europe; they are laid with generosity on the land. I had some unnerving experiences with tailgating F-250 pickup trucks and pimped-out, gazillion-inch-chrome-wheel beaters cutting me off. Somehow I am getting a wide picture of the kind of drivers nationwide, which I will post at the end of the trip, perhaps in the form of a antropological map.

Garmin Sandiego guided me to a dead end full of logs. A quick call solved this issue, so I got ready to make a U-turn. Towing a trailer on a narrow dirt road, I got in part of the neigboring field and, as you would expect from a heavy, rear-wheel drive car with almost bald tires, I got stuck. I unhooked the trailer and, once Kevin (halman2228) arrived, I drove out of the shallow ditch I had gotten into.

In no time we were in his backyard, admiring his collection of Mercedes. Two W116s, one R107, one gorgeous cream W113 (my absolute favourite of the bunch) and two W126s: one sedan, one coupe.

"Do you have a swimming suit?" Kevin asked.
"Yes, I used it yesterday in the beach".
"We'll go to my brother's pool".

We changed clothes, but unfortunately we failed to remember to take out cell phones with us, which made it impossible to reach exemplary member H-townbenzoboy. We are terribly sorry for this, my friend!

Down in Kevin's borther's, we were welcomed by an energetic, edgy lady. I met both of Kevin's siblings, one of which owns a stunning, signal red R107 300SL, euro import. Absolutely gorgeous.

Some good talkin', massive platters of BBQ steak, rib and chicken, a case of cold beers and a volleyball tournament took care of the afternoon. Before leaving, I claimed my prize for outstanding sportsmanship, an ice cream sandwich. It was a good day!

On to Kevin's house, I was invited to stay over and charge my electronics. Currently writing from Kevin's dell laptop, I say: Mercedes owners of Dallas, here I come -after a visit to R_Leo, that is.

If you ever wondered what is the frog capital of the world, there you go!

Sometimes clouds get so beautiful one cannot but stop and shoot.

Big-ass refinery in the border with Louisiana.

The eyes of Texas are upon me, this time.

Texas is NOT a deserted land! Take that, stereotypes!

Much to my shame, Newport is not a 4x4.

Halman2228's workshop area, a collection of pristine rust-prone jewels.

Mercedes, trees and friendly dogs. Who wouldn't?

Kevin's fluffy creatures. The big one demands constant petting.

A great, relaxed afternoon of Texas hospitality.

Watching the "CatDog" theme. Halman2228 (Kevin) is the middle guy.

This is the best "Welcome to Texas" ever!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Day 9: Mirando al Mar Soñé

(listen to today's theme)
There are two kinds of McDonald's: those who like people and those who don't. If you are up to a quick eat the difference will be negligible; however, if you carry a laptop with 20 minutes remaining on the battery, it really marks the difference between life and death. Interestingly enough, some McDonald's will not encourage people to stay for too long by not having a single electrical outlet in the entire restaurant available to the public. And that, dear readers, is a big pain in the butt.

The night of the 27th I roamed endlessly for a place to sleep, driving amongst parties (one of which seemed quite interested at whoooo'ing at my rig) crowded by young, sunburnt tourists. As if Spring Break had never ended! Driving along the dark coast, I found a small spot where two RV's where parked, right next to the beach. Parallel parking was a 20-minute chose, so, fed up, I unhooked the little Scotty trailer and put it by the coastline, in alignment with the car. A deep breath of brine breeze, and on to bed!

The next morning was worthy of a postcard. Squinty like a mole, I opened the hatch of the Scotty, to reveal the breathtaking waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Needless to say, I put my swimming trunks and darted into the waves. The water was of a bright turquoise blue, very transparent; the sand was white and fine. A good Round-Up shower later, I hit the road.

I would like to extend my sincerest congratulations to GatorBlue92, as I did not know he was going to have a baby. Due to this absolutely excusable event, I could not meet with him, so, improvising on my feet, I drove a few hours north towards TX76513 (John).

John is a prime example of the Hospitality State, a true gentleman from head to toe. He looks like a hybrid between Stephen Fry and Jeremy Clarkson, which is quite suitable for a man so closely connected with his transportation, or with transportation as a whole –working in the field. He not only showed me his cars (Holden Jackaroo, MB 300SDL, BMW cabrio, W220 E430) and invited me to a wonderful glass of tea; he let me do a much-need basket of laundry.

We met with his girlfriend –a charming, animated Southern lady– and had dinner at one of the best Italian restaurants I have gone to in the last year. John, if you are reading this, I shall take revenge for your generosity in San Francisco when you visit! It seems that the fastest drawer (of credit card, that's me) does not always win the match in the Wild West!

Back on the road, I headed South again. Two hours into the road to Houston, I began feeling sleepy, so for good caution I stopped at a truck stop for some decent sleep. Road hypnosis can be very dangerous: time slows down, the universe shrinks to bright spots of life, and one's eyeballs start agitating as if they were in an awake REM state. Not cool.

The next morning I woke up in the intense, humid heat of Louisiana. Still heading towards Houston, I made a fuel stop, where a young, charming Indian lady asked me about my journey. In that same stop I tried connecting in the local McDonald's, however I had the issue with the electrical outlets. Currently writing from another location (this time with electricity), I am ready to enter Texas in a couple hours.

Mercedes owners of Texas, I can't wait to meet y'all!

Nighttime scene in Florida. A building shaped like the RMS Titanic.

I have never been more thankful for that little ham can trailer.

What do you do when you wake up to THIS? You take a swim!

Florida's streets is the equivalent of floating California in the Caribbean.

Ridiculously tacky resort. UUUUUGHHH!

Best picture of the sand dunes I could take with my limited mobility!

A cop followed me closely on this bridge. Then he turned around (?).

Prepare for cliché: Sweeeet Hooooome Alabaaaaaaama!

Downtown skyline in Mobile, Alabama.

Pretty cool Spanish Baroque, Mission style building in Mobile.

Wonderful Mississippi! Do not even listen to what Phil Ochs has to say.

Hallmark mileage! 70k and counting!

This is a PeachParts inside joke more than anything else.

Sit on the porch, relax and sip some sweet iced tea!

What you see is John, TX6513. What I see is two men wearing sandals.

In the jungle, the mighty jungle, Newport sleeps tonight!

Dear Chad, I finally could put that MercedesShop badge on the car!

Follow that Russian mafia boss! His S430 will take us to... dinner!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Day 8: Sliced Calzones

(listen to today's theme)
From the Florida welcome center I zoomed through long tracts of highway on to AquaticEdge's home, with the slight taste of fear in my mouth, given his energetic warning about the policemen in the area. No worries, I am a granny at the wheel.

The rest of the day was simply wonderful. Lots of talk about Mercedes, followed by my first visit to a Pick'n'Pull. First things said, their prices are incredible, despite not having a terrible amount of Mercedes. There were some good finds, like a VW Type 3 hatchback and a 450SEL with beautiful door panels, as well as some Japanese rarities.

On the way back our conversation got into deeper matters, followed by a walk in the beautiful parks surrounding AE's property, with quiet, placid bodies of water and weeping trees. I charged my battery and moved on to dinner at a local Italian restaurant, were we had a Salami Sub and a Ham Calzone, both excellent.

What can I say? Meeting with AE was everything one would expect out of a micro-GTG. Conversations starting with automobiles, soon moving to deeper aspects of life, with random turns (Weebl, anyone?) and significant social relevance. All in an afternoon, folks!

I kept driving, to boldly go where no W123 has gone before. I just drove through Panama City, a small-scale city of excess with Hummers and blonde, scantily clad women accompanying muscular dudes who happened to walk in the same, gorilla-like, arms-towards-body pose.

Thanks to McDonald's once again, for the patience of their employees, who have let me stay late in their restaurant leeching their electricity and wifi.

Good night to you all!

Taking a rest at the Florida Welcome Center.

The Welcome Center itself. Did I mention Florida clouds are amazing?

Infinite, straight roads on this flat, flat lands.

Ceci L'AquaticEdge. J'aime sa voiture!

Epic Pic and Pull. Very cheap prices, too!

MG Midget... oh, sinful!

A rare bird, not too far gone.

"Slammed truck", flying emblem of idiocy worldwide.

The environs of the AquaticEdge castle.

What a shrine of peace!

"As long as you don't bother the alligators..."

These were the grounds of an old plantation.

A quick stop before saying goodbye.

Can it get more Florida than this?

I finished the Calzone before I realized I had to take a picture.

On the way down South to Panama City.

Old, new, facelifted. Three generations, one driveway.