Wednesday, October 3, 2007

True Tales From The Fabled Road

Part Two

The departure from Athens was much less exciting.
Of course, by then I was an old hand at this.
Yeah, sure.
I can’t even convince myself of that all these years later.

The first leg, Athens to Frankfurt, I met a woman from Athens.
During our chat she told me about attempts to build a subway line
in Athens to relieve the traffic congestion.
Trouble was, every shovel full of dirt revealed more artifacts and
that caused delay after delay.
It seems the project was more of and archeological dig than a
Public Works project.

The arrival in Frankfurt lacked the drama and trauma of the first visit.
We entered through a jet way instead of deplaning on the ramp.
There were plenty of machine gun toting police inside but no gauntlet.
No time for a side trip to Dr Mueller’s. (If you have to ask, don’t.)

Frankfurt to New York.
I sat next to a silent guy. He didn’t say a word until we were nearly home. The Flight Attendant came around and he ordered, “Two Viskey’s.”
Then he asked for two more and put them on my tray table. (?)
We began to try to talk. He spoke very little English and as it happens I speak no Russian.
He was on his way to NYC. He had a subway map and that was it.
No one was to be waiting for him at the airport. He had some destination.
He showed me on the map where it was and how he would get there.
He showed me pictures of his wife and kids ‘back home’.
Another Soul in pursuit of the American Dream.
I often wonder what ever became of him.

Back in CONUS (Continental United States) it was dark, raining and cold.
Bags in hand I made my way to the rental car counter.
The rental counter was always like roulette. You just never knew what you’d land on.
This time I drew a Subaru Outback Station Wagon, Forrest Green. Yee Haw.

‘Where’s the light switch? Where’s the windshield wiper control? What’s that noise? Oh, rear windshield wiper. How did I turn that on? Where am I? Where am I going?’

I just started driving, glancing at a map without a real point of reference for my location or destination. I recall being ‘pretty sure’ of my direction.

The rain diminished and increased as the miles clicked by. Trouble was, I didn’t know how to adjust the wipers! Each attempt to match the tempo of the wipers to the rainfall resulted in some other system being activated. I finally gave up and just adjusted speed to visibility. That worked until the rain stopped. I had no idea how I had activated the rear wiper in the first place and less idea how to make it stop.

I made it to the Wilmington area but without a local map or a hotel reservation. I tried several times to call the guy on station. Answering machines picked up at the hangar and at his home. I was beginning to see a pattern here.

I pulled into a motel and secured a room. The girl at the front desk gave me directions to the room. I was already two steps ahead. I had a room AND directions to get there.

Back in the Subaru, I rounded the corner of the building and what did I see?

Yup, the airport. The RIGHT airport. Turned out, I could see the hangar from my room.

Wilmington was OK.

The guy on station was interesting, an active member of the “Society for Creative Anachronism”. Seems to me he was also studying. He was already on his way off of the hangar deck before he racked up the scars to show for his time there.

There was a neat bar down from the motel. Decked out in a WWII motif. Sand bags and artifacts/ memorabilia everywhere.

One night we went to the local Holiday Inn for karaoke. And, NO, I did not. I can still proudly say that I have never participated in karaoke (in any English speaking country).
There was one guy that was a real ‘stand-out’. Bad rug and all, belting out “Old Time Rock and Roll”.

Next stop, Andrews AFB Maryland, Thanks Giving, JFK’s Air Force One and Michael Myers. Until then, “… gimme that old time rock and roll, yeah!”

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