MIS: Second to Last

Our second to last trip to MIS, Jeff and I necessarily down-graded and downs-sized and became van-nies.

Due to his extensive experience handling large MIS operations many previous years, Jeff managed to load:

A full size, regular, stand-up gas grill, with a full tank

3 hard coolers & 1 soft-cooler, full of food and beverages

Pots, pans and utensils, paper plates and plastic cups and miscellaneous mismatched real cutlery from our combined collection

4 lawn chairs, in case we had visitors

A free standing, aluminum canopy, that we’d practice assembled the weekend before to get the hang of it

Night clothes for Saturday night and day clothes for Sunday day, and extra clothes for rain/mud/or whatever strange thing may come our way.

2 sets of headphones and a radio bag, a camera, a couple of pillows and blankets

… all into a minivan.

This was the trip we found our wedding caterer at, purchased a race-car cake mold with fondant Dale Earnhardt edible ‘stickers’ for Jeff’s grooms’ cake and acquired an amazing racecar painted rock that I still treasure. It was also the trip that set us on an infield adventure path where no one we knew had ever gone before.

Despite the reduced size accommodations, everything else about race-weekend was just as huge. Specifically, as usual, stamina was a must, in every way. Remembering to eat and drink water – was crucial. A lot of folks didn’t see it that way. I’d venture to say most of them believed beer was the holy grail of sustaining food and adequate hydration.

Not normally a water drinker, I kept hydrated with bottled coffee and Mt. Dew – for sugar, caffeine, and occasionally some water for wetness.

Sunday morning, I was sipping a sturdy Bloody Mary courtesy of our neighbors, when I felt a weird twinge in my back. Seconds later , it was a sharp stabbing pain and I yelled out loud. I went to get up out of the chair, and suddenly the pain was so intense my knees buckled.

Jeff wanted to know: first, “What are you doing?” and second, “Are you ok?”

At first, I said, “Yes… ” I was fine, thinking I’d been stung by a bee or wasp. After another sharp jab, I told him “Maybe not…”  I thought I pulled my back somehow, sleeping on the hard van floor, walking around too much the previous day, sitting in an awkwardly angled chair.

Jeff offered me a hand up. About halfway there I was zapped with a scream-worthy shock. I dropped back down to the ground. Something wasn’t right.

I spent a few minutes lying on the ground trying to stretch my back out, as the locals watched and sipped spiked morning beverages. I spent another few minutes in a chest-to-the-knees, elbows-on-the-ground position because my imbibing audience came up with the theory that I probably had gas from drinking so much soda. Neither offered any relief. The zings and pings were becoming more frequent and growing more severe.

When I started to cry, someone suggested we flag down one of the frequent infield security carts that seemed to pass by on a regular basis. It took about a half hour of waiting and searching, until a walking patrol was located and a radio call was made.

The arriving driver assessed my still-on-the-ground situation from his still-in-the-cart seat and casually directed us to the infield infirmary, pointing about ½ way across the infield.

Quote for the Week:

2018 08 14 No amount of preparation ever covers the unexpected jakorte                   Bonus Photos:

2018 08 14 race car rock 2001 jakorte.jpg

Enjoy this week’s Discovery Link:

How to Hydrate: By Age

 

Bus-ted 3: Like This!

Jeff had Race Friends. People he’d met previous years. He’d keep in touch with email or through ICQ. There are several that stand out in my memory, but the first one I met really left an impression on me.

From my slightly terrifying seat on the top deck, I heard a commotion down below. Jeff had his binoculars stuck to his eyes, and didn’t seem to notice anything. I thought I heard someone shout for Jeff, so I scooted over to the rail.

Scanning faces, I passed by a fellow with a red shirt and a raised beer bottle. He must have been very hot, because he kept raising his shirt almost over his head. Repeatedly. He was with two other men and they were both shouting something I couldn’t make out.

A head popped up near the roof-mounting ladder and caught Jeff’s attention. “Hey,” he called, “So and so is here!” (No, I don’t remember his name. I do remember he was going to come to our wedding. But, that was before 9/11 happened.)

Jeff lumbered over to my side of the deck, took in the scene and delightedly began waving. As Jeff smiled down, the fella once again began picking up his shirt hem, practically smashing his fists into his own head.

“I can’t figure out what he wants,” I informed Jeff.

Suddenly, there was a wide-eyed, frantic man standing next to me using that universal chop-to-the-neck sign that commonly conveys “Stop!” “Cut it out!” I glanced down and then up again. By then, Jeff had switch to a two-handed chop, and still the main guy carried on.

“Do you know that weirdo?” I asked. “Yeah,” he sighed, “I’ll be right back.”

It almost immediately got quieter down there. Shortly, without fully climbing up, Jeff peered at me from between the rungs. He asked me to please come down and meet his friends from Canada. To my relief, red-shirt had stopped spazzing by the time I got to the ground. His friends seemed to be missing, too.

Jeff introduced him to me and me to him, and then I was embraced in a big, sweaty, beer-soaked hug. He was very f-ing glad to meet me, he crowed. He enthusiastically shouted to Jeff (who was standing right next to him) how f-ing happy he was that he had a girlfriend. He told us he had to go catch up with his f-ing friends, because they were only f-ing stopping by on the way to their f-ing awesome seats in the stand.

I figured he was pretty drunk, and Jeff smilingly agreed he’d probably had a few and would likely fall asleep in the stands.

“Sounded like he was saying something about a shower,” I commented. “Is there a shower in this bus?” “No,” Jeff replied.

“Well, did he tell you what he wanted?” I pressed. “Yeeaaahhh,” Jeff drawled.

“Now, don’t take this the wrong way,” he started. “He didn’t know you were my girlfriend or he’d never have asked ya….”

“Well,” he said, scratching his bearded chin. “I guess I’d better tell ya how it is. It’s kind of a tradition at races…. he didn’t mean anything by it….”

“He was just yellin’ ‘Show us Yer T-ts!” he continued.

“Seriously?” I squeaked.

“Ya know,” Jeff noddingly explained as he grabbed his shirt hem and pulled it over his head, “Like this!”

Quote for the Week:

2018 08 07 Even if you speak the same language jakorte

Bonus Photos:

Jeff may have invented the selfie before there were cell phones with cameras… on the bus roof, always with binoculars, radio and headset, and a camera around his neck.

Bonus Bus Photos

Bus-ted 2: Popcorny

We shimmied and shuddered to a slow halt.

After I was sure that the brakes that didn’t seem to be slowing fast enough for my liking, actually proved to work (weakly but did the trick,) I wide-eyed eyeballed Jeff who was inexplicably grinning like a proud papa who’d found a cherry life-saver at the end of the roll.

I might have screeched a little in frustration before indelicately inquiring, “What the hell is wrong with your bus?!”

“What?” he regarded me quizzically.

“What?!” my voice rose a notch.

“Huh?” Jeff countered, completely puzzled.

I threw out my arms, explosively. “How could you NOT NOTICE I was practically POPCORN?”

Jeff guffawed, took a look at my expression, and quieted quickly. “I thought you were just having fun, being funny…” he replied cautiously.

Then, he kinda threw caution to the wind when he p-shaw-ed his right hand in my direction.

“It’ll get better,” he advised.

“What will get better?” I asked.

“The tires…” he answered, drawing his brows further together than they naturally were. “They’re just  flat… from sitting too long.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “We’re driving around on flat tires?” Then this knowledge from my father’s vault of advice that actually stuck with me jumped out of my mouth. “You’re not supposed to drive around on flat tires!”

“Nooo,” Jeff shook his head, and flapped his hands. “The tires aren’t flat. They’re just flat on the bottom… from sitting too long. They’ll round-out once they warm up, though….”

I just stared at him while my non-race-bus brain was sorting it all out. He was very much suppressing a smile I knew wanted to break loose. The height of my eyebrows must have discouraged him. To his immense credit, Jeff pulled himself together and didn’t laugh at me.

Annunciating like an elementary school teacher who just realized the entire class didn’t speak his language, he emphasized with exaggerated patience. “That’s… what… we’re doing… out here….making… the tires… go … round…”

I remained silent, so, he, continued, dramatically. Drawing circles in the air with his index finger, Jeff pointedly punctuated his next words: “Rounding. The. Tires.”

“You could have told me,” I pouted.

“I DID tell you!” Jeff defended.

“Well, that didn’t explain, anything.” I harrumphed. “I thought you meant ‘the wheels on the bus go round and round.'”

He couldn’t help it then, he reared back his head and roared with laughter. “Just wait ‘til I tell the guys…”

Jeff slapped his knee a few times, and swiveled fully back into the driver’s seat.  He punched the gas, and popped the clutch.

As we began to roll, Jeff shifted his chin in my direction, and shouted, “Hold on, Popcorn!”

Quote for the Week:

2018 07 31 anything you say in jest jakorte

Bus-ted

I didn’t fully understand the situation. I knew we’d be ‘camping’ on a bus and grilling and watching races.

I didn’t know the bus would “go-in” on a Wednesday or Thursday. I didn’t know the bus would require a pre-race day running to see if it would start and stay started.

I didn’t know a test drive was required to determine if the bus would continue to run once out on the road. To see if it would keep running while driven, and if not, to fix whatever seemed to be wrong. And lastly, as Jeff put it, “to make sure the wheels on the bus go round.”

The first two were accomplished without me, which was fine. The last one, made me laugh thinking of that old school bus song. Historically, Jeff had been a great tour guide, so I was looking forward to getting a first ride around the local back streets.

We climbed in the remarkably less stinky bus. Jeff cranked the key hard to started the engine. It coughed a little, but then chugged to life with a roar. I didn’t remember school busses ever being that loud, but, then again, a lot of the usual interior was missing. Plus, as it turned out, it was a bit of muffler, too.

I sat on the side bench, next to the door, in view of Jeff, and happily settled in. It took a while to get out of the driveway, which seemed a little more rutty to me than usual.  Seatbelt-less, I slid off my seat little when Jeff turned the corner onto Roger’s Highway. I grabbed hold of the bench, slightly embarrassed and sat myself back into the seat.

He didn’t seem to notice my floundering, but I watching him wrangle the shifting and the wheel and the spring-loaded driver’s seat.  I grew concerned. Driving that thing was taking tremendous effort and a good deal of his strength. I was remembering a skinny, hippie bus driver I had once, and didn’t recall him having that much trouble controlling the bus.

Having crested atop a slight hill, the stuttering beast picked-up speed on the flat-away. I was launched into jumping bean mode. Catapulted; repetitively airborne. Landing with ungraceful “oomph”s.

Honestly, I was flopping around, bounced off of and back into my seat with no chance of steadying. There was no point in trying to speak. Having ridden up many long rises on wooden roller coasters where it was fashionable to create warbled screams for fun, I intuitively knew I’d be incoherent.

It’d be like shouting into a fan, while riding a bike downhill on a dirt road. I would have had to catch my breath, first, anyway. The way this experience was going didn’t seem like it’d lend itself to that likelihood, anytime soon.  

About three minutes into our excursion, I finally got the chance, when Jeff necessarily downshifted at stop sign.

Quote for the Week: 

2018 07 24 the wheels on the bus jakorte

 

Stairing

It’s true.

I am often compelled to take an awkward photo – one that I’m not even sure why I’m taking. One I obsess a little over – to delete or not. So, it ends up safely staying on my phone, saved to my cloud, downloaded to my computer; lingering with no real use or draw.

Until one day, when I find myself without words. Unable to form sentences of condolences, I scroll through unreasonably hoarded memories searching for inspiration, a photo prompt, anything that will spark the conversations I have to begin.

I found it filed under spring’s May adventure. I went for another reason; saw what I wanted to see. It wasn’t as impressive as I’d imagined. Truthfully, disappointed, I moved on to try and find a more engaging reason to make the trip worthwhile. Leisurely exploring gifted me three themes: architecture, modern art and whimsy.

I took the same route down as I had going up; on foot, on stairs – noting to myself perhaps there’d be a picture in it, later. Hours later, travelled down, I turned to evaluate that thought.

I found that ‘later’ came with more impressive light and a focal exclamation point. I likely took a dozen and a few views. Hard to tell, because I whittled them down to the three I was having trouble letting go. This time, I looked a little closer. Somehow, a connection sparked between the three photos and the three recent events that needed those words I was looking for.

I still don’t have the words. I do, however, have the hope of heaven and a picture that  paints a thousand words.

2018 07 17 holding onto photos jakorte

with love for BD, JS & JK, their families and their friends.

 

 

Meet the Bus

I met The Bus on my first trip to Tecumseh. Parked next to a pole barn/garage, which later successfully served as a wedding reception venue, it wasn’t immediately visible from the road. Yet, it was certainly Jeff’s pride and joy and the perfect vehicle to gather friends and family. The bus’s main function was to provide lodging in the Michigan International Speedway infield during race weekends. Although, it did also serve as a wedding shuttle, once.

My tour initiated with an abrupt, boot-heel push- in of the rusty accordion door and a push out of a strong odorous something… a little… hmm… Dank? Rotten in Denmark? Wet dog who’d just taken a 12-hour hot beer bath? I hesitated, but Jeff barely notice the sharp tang. Not wanting to be rude, I held my breath. Then, when I had to breathe, it was with a hand over my mouth and pinching my nose until my nostrils were sealed. “Oh!” Jeff exclaimed. He wasn’t, however, moved by my predicament or by the many fragrant forgotten un-treasures.

That first, and relatively only slightly assaulting smell, turned out to be a loaf of petrified, hideously green bread hiding beneath on of the liftable storage/seat benches. Jeff amused himself by rapping his knuckles on it and scientifically wondering what he might find inside of it if he were to break it. I requested he not experiment in my presence by squealing, “Oh. My. God! Don’t you dare!”

Deeper, near the back of the bus where the trouble-makers usually sit, the real, abusive attack began when Jeff pried open the off-white lid of an insulated cooler. The reek that jumped out and slapped us turned out to be a half-dozen half-leaky or fully exploded beer cans encased in the previously well insulated blue bottom of the tub. Two six-packs of bow-lidded and likely skunked beer cans were hanging out in there, too.  Jeff just shook his head, lamented, “Well… that’s a shame.”

Adding even more moldy atmosphere were numerous sets of soggy shoes and one stray, randomly strewn clothing and a few moldy towels. “Oh. My. God!” I said, backing away as fast as possible. “Yeah,” Jeff shrugged, and followed my retreat path.

As we reached the front of the bus, Jeff suddenly smiled widely. “I’ve been wondering where that shirt went to! It’s my favorite!” He was, in my opinion, unsoundly, and deliriously happy as he grabbed at a wadded ball of crunchy fabric resting on the window ledge next to the driver’s seat.

“Um, I don’t think that can be salvaged…” I ventured.

“Nah,” he replied, still grinning. “It’ll be ok after it’s washed.”

I remember thinking, “I hope he’s not serious…” I must have not hidden my doubt well, because he laughed. “I’ve washed stuff worse than this before!” He shared, waving it at me, adding,…”at least, it’s not dried cow-pocky! That stuff’s haarrddd to get out!”

Even as a city girl unfamiliar with cow-anything, I got his drift. Somehow, I forgot to remember to not use my nose. I let go a laugh, followed by a gag. I tripped a little on the tiny, awkward half-spiral stairs that were more suited for school children sized feet. I wobbled, recovered, wobbled, got one foot on the ground, wobbled some more and saved myself from a complete side-plant by settling into a one-knee tucked under me, sitting position.

 After he stopped laughing, and wiped his eyes, Jeff looked back at the bus. “Yeah,” he scrunched up his nose, “I guess it’s gonna need some cleanin’ up before the race.”

I told him, I’d be glad to help with the cleaning, but he’d have to get rid of all the stinky stuff, first – without my help.

“Ok,” he agreed, amicably. Then, with a twinkle in his eyes, and hands on his hips, Jeff chuckled a tongue-in-cheek question. “Do you always fall like a ballerina?” I rolled my eyes. “Because,” he continued, “I’d kinda like to see that again!”

Quote for the Week:

2018 07 10 One man_s trash isn_t always another man_s treasure jakorte

 

Racing Heart

Before Jeff, my knowledge of stock car racing could fit in the palm of my hand.  And, that’s only because I’d had my first NASCAR experience at Michigan International Speedway, two weeks prior. Before that, my race knowledge would have fit on my pinky nail – with room to spare.

I was working for a company with a Pepsi connection who’d come up with tickets and pit passes for a Saturday race. I went with a coworker who was super excited, and went on and on about not ever having been in the pits.

Skeptical me wasn’t sure I’d enjoy wandering around garages or watching cars go in circles. It was actually pretty exciting to be so close to the pit boxes and watch the cars squeal in for service. I was blown away. First by the size of the crowd, second by the heat, third by the cars in the pit and lastly by the sheer volume of media present.

After a few hours, I came away with a dusting of sunburn, fine dirt dust everywhere, the smell of hot tar in my nose, hot feet, a little bit of a hearing issue, a lanyard and a hat. The lanyard and the hat went to Jeff on our second weekend. He was my first exposure to the rabidity (in a good way) of die-hard, racing- hearted NASCAR fans.

In Jeff’s case, any potentially obtainable or even absolutely unobtainable NASCAR thing, warranted a wide-eyed, lip-pouting, hand splayed, verbal ooo-intake-of-air exclamation of …. something undefinable, truly. He’d look like a puppy eyeing a brand new ball. , and it always made me laugh. As goofy as he looked each time, I’m sure I looked even goofier always grinning like I’d never seen anything so adorable on a grown man.

Unfortunately, months later, my gifted lanyard resulted in an additional, tacked-on violation, along with a no-belt violation and a reckless driving ticket. All on the same  traffic stop for ‘cutting off’ a state trooper, being unbelted and having my NASCAR lanyard ‘obstruction’ hanging from his rear-view mirror.

When Jeff matter-of-factly informed me I hadn’t “seen nothin’, yet,” he also pretty positively asserted I’d be going with him to the next set of races.

Since he was also nodding at me emphatically, as if it was already a done deal, I shrugged and said, “Sure, I’ll go.”

Quote for the Week:

 

2018 07 03 Speaking from experience sports dont make sense jakorte