Car Stories

Our next two MIS trips, we joined the ranks of day-trippers.

For the first one, we still had my little Dodge Neon. The car hadn’t yet been through a damaging hail storm, a ride through a ditch on a water-covered road home and one full-on accident.

The hailstorm repair left it with a leaky sunroof, a tail light that had not properly been reinstalled, and back seat floorboards flooded with water. Lesson learned: Pop-up, post storm, windshield replacement and dimple remover outfits that camp out in parking lots, aren’t the best way to go.

Jeff was driving for our low-car off-road experience. We were coming up on a corner, and as we rounded, we noticed the truck in front of us weave. It ran off the road, into a ditch and drove right up over the drain pipe to land on someone’s driveway.

When that water-ballet ended, I realized there were two other cars stalled in the water that the truck had been trying to avoid. Headed for a collision, I shouted at Jeff, “Ditch! Ditch! Ditch!” Jeff swung the car to the right. I’m not sure how our little car didn’t roll. It really should have, since Jeff was on the up side of the down-slope. Jeff kept hold of the wheel, veered back to the left, gunned the engine and tried for a similar path to the driveway that truck was, thankfully, no longer in.

To Jeff’s credit, he didn’t even try to clear the pipe. He just jammed on the gas and barreled us up one of the graveled sides. The underside scraped along the rocks, but we made it to level ground. Without stopping, Jeff maneuvered us out of the driveway. We skidded along a white picket fence that I am still amazed we did not crash through or damage in the slightest. We shot around the standing water, completely avoiding the stalled cars.

Neither one of us said a word. Finally, at the first stop light we came to, Jeff sort of chuckled. “That was some pretty fancy drivin’,don’t ya think?” I agreed and remarked how I just could not believe we came through that unharmed, with no damage to the car.

Jeff tapped the side of his head with a curved pointer finger. “I was thinkin’ like a race-car driver,” he grinned , proudly. “Good thing, I’ve seen a lot of races!”

Our amazement ended about a half-hour after that, when just a few miles from home, the Neon began to smoke under the hood. We’d busted the radiator. Later, I noticed a raw, red spot on Jeff’s left temple where he’d scraped against the window frame and roof. That wasn’t that much of a surprise, considering he normally drove the car with a height-adjusting, slight-head tilt, anyway.

The third strike against my mini, really too-small-for-Jeff, but great gas mileage commuter car, was pretty much a head-to-side collision. That time, I was driving the same ditched road. A little farther on down the stretch, I approached a green traffic light, that quickly turned yellow. I considered hitting the brakes, but when it became clear I wasn’t going to be able to stop in time or behind the line, I hit the gas.

It was Jeff’s turn to shout. “Stop! Stop! Stop!” A large white truck had decided to beat the light on his side and cut directly in front of me. Even standing on the brakes, I hit their right front tire, head-on.  Jeff ended up with deep bruising and a seat-belt rub across his chest. The crazy left-turner ended up with a broken front axel on his brand-new truck, and a ticket.

I didn’t end up with a ticket, but we did have to have the car towed from Saline to Tecumseh. Our insurance paid for a rental car, since the police report had shown the other driver to be at fault. The Dodge dealer inspected the damage, and estimated repairs.   Before we had a chance to get back there, it occurred to us all of our purchased Christmas presents were still in the Neon’s trunk. We didn’t have any real storage space in our apartment, so we figured the best place to store it all was in the car.

When we did finally get to the car shop to discuss the repairs, it became clear that it might be time for a new car, anyway. So, we traded the Silver Pea (as Jeff referred to it) for a much larger, used, gold Buick Century. Not long after, we began to see a lot of gold Buick Century’s driven by a much older crowd. So much so, that it was actually a little difficult to locate ours in parking lots, sometimes.

Quote for the Week:2018 09 18 It doesnt matter who you have beside you jakorte

MIS: Souvenier

Some things are super clear. Other things… yeah, no.

I do know I wobbled a third of the way across the infield to the bathroom at least twice on my own.  I sipped on water and MT Dew, ate some peanut butter crackers and dozed off a lot.

On my ventures out, I would notice people sitting nearby, but never thought much of it. I’d get a wave and be asked how I was doing. I was doing great, because I wasn’t in pain. I’d come back exhausted and crawl back into the van.

I later learned that Jeff’s friends next to us and some a few rows away had taken shifts to make sure I didn’t need help. One of the women had even followed me to the bathroom. I had no clue.

I remember sitting in the front seat. I don’t remember Jeff packing up the van, or leaving. We stayed put until most of the crowd had rolled out to conserve gas. I remember lying down on the not very grassy spot next to the van because sitting up was just too hard. I don’t know how long it took us to get home. I don’t remember how we got the van back to his Mom’s house, or how I ended up in bed at ours.

I do remember waking up around 9 PM and wondering what had happened. I was very, very sore all over. Monday, I made an appointment with my doctor for Tuesday. By Tuesday, I thought the whole thing was silly and that whatever it was had worked itself out. Jeff convinced me to keep the appointment. I’d run out of pain pills by this time. I felt ok, but had a fever and what felt like a bladder infection.

Sent home with antibiotics and more Vicodin, I was told to take a few days off. On Wednesday, Jeff had gone to work and I was on the phone with my Dad. I was telling him this story, when I realized I actually felt like I might want to full-fledged pee, instead of the pitiful dribble I’d experienced. So, I toddled off to the small half bath under the stairs in our townhouse and kept talking.

When I was finished, I check the collection “hat” I’d been provided with to “catch the grains of sand” that they hopefully believed I would pass, at some point. I was dumbfounded to see an orangey, odd-shaped rock. “Dad,” I said. “I don’t understand. I haven’t been outside today and Jeff isn’t home and I’m not wearing sneakers, but somehow a rock got into the bathroom thingy.”

He asked me to describe it. It was ‘L’ shaped. Each branch was about 1/4 inch and covered with spiky bumps. It didn’t look like any of the stones we had in our gravel drive or flower bed.  I briefly wondered if Jeff had decided to play  joke on me.

“Congratulations,” my father announced. “You’ve passed a kidney stone!”

“I peed that?” I sqwalked, incredulously. “Really?” After a beat, I enthusiastically added, “Vicodin, maaaannnnn. That’s some good shit!”

I’d been told to drop off whatever tiny grains and sediment was captured by the sieve at the lab. So, I dutifully put the pebble in the provided bottle, and waited for Jeff to get home. Jeff was astounded and enamored. “OOOhh,” he peered into the open container. “Let’s keep it…” He suggested, “as a souvenier…” 

I informed him I was supposed to bring it in for analysis. “Well,” he pondered, “Can we wait a few days? Maybe you can pass another one… and then, we could keep this one!”

Quote for the Week:  2018 09 04 beware of underestimation and biologically narrow jakorte

MIS: Second to Last (MIS-adventure)

While they were vampiring me for a suitable hydration vein, Jeff was happily wandering around looking at stuff.

By now, race start was only two hours away. I told Jeff he didn’t have to stay with me. “You should go watch the race,” I said sincerely. “Just come back and get me later.”

“You won’t be here that long,” the needle wiggler commented. “You’ll be outta here way before the race starts.”

I was starting to feel a little fuzzy, and wondering how that was gonna work, when Jeff found another staffer and pulled him aside.

These are the things I heard him say, before the vicodin fully kicked in.

“This is so cool!” he exclaimed to the other one.

“NONE of my friends have ever been in here. I’m the only one!” He sounded pretty pleased about my predicament.

“Hey! Is that blood?” referring to a spot on the floor. “Which driver is that from?”

It wasn’t from a driver. It wasn’t even blood; just a permanently stained splatter spot of some other sort.

Jeff was actually disappointed. “Awww,” he said. After a beat, and with some thought, he added, “Guess it’s kinda a good thing you don’t see too many drivers…”

“I was hoping you had a good story to tell me…” he continued. “Got any good stories?”

 “What else is here? Do you have an operating room? Can I take a tour, see everything else?”

Before I slipped into lala-land, I barked at Jeff. “Hey! Over here! I got a problem and you’re taking a tour!? Get over here and hold my hand!”

“Ok,” he agreed, “but, this really is cool!”

They sent me back to the infield (in a cart, I’m told) with a paper RX for Vicodin for when we got out and wishes for good luck.

I said I’d be fine, as Jeff headed off into the stands, ticket in hand. I mostly slept in the van with the cargo door splayed. I remember being happy about blankets, but, honestly, I’m not sure why. Not only are MIS race weekends usually hot, most times muggy, being in the middle of all that tire/tarmac and exhaust generated heat made it even hotter.

Some things are super clear. Other things… yeah, no.

I do know I wobbled a third of the way across the infield to the bathrooms twice on my own.  

Occasionally, I would notice people sitting nearby, but never thought much of it.

I later learned that Jeff’s friends next to us and some a few rows away had taken shifts to make sure I didn’t need help. One of the women had even followed me to the bathroom. I had no clue.

I don’t remember packing up the van, or leaving. I don’t remember how we got the van back to his Mom’s house, or how I ended up in bed at ours.

I do remember waking up around 9 PM and wondering what had happened.

Quote for the Week:

2018 08 28 it doesn_t take much for some people bad situation jakorte

 

MIS: Second to Last (part 2)

We were met at the door by a scrub-wearing fellow, who ushered us in.

The very first question asked was “How much have you had to drink today?”

That was an easy answer. “Half a bottled coffee and about two sips of Bloody Mary.”

“And how much did you have to drink yesterday?” was the second question.

“A bottle of coffee, a bottle of water, and two cans of Mt Dew.”

“That’s it?”

“Yeah, that’s it.” As an after-thought, I amended: “I might have had two bottles of water, actually…”

“No alcohol?”

“No.”

“Use any drugs? Smoke anything?’

“No.”

“Are you sure?” He pressed, with more than a bit of incredulity in the tone.

“Yeah, I’m sure.” There may have been a bit of annoyance in my reply.

In retrospect, I’m sure it seemed highly unbelievable that anyone would drink no alcohol or engage in any type of illegal activity for a whole day at MIS. My annoyance increased when he turned to Jeff and asked, “Does that sound right to you?”

“Yeah,” Jeff affirmed. “She doesn’t like beer … or water…”

A wave of pain and nausea hit, accompanied by little black spots that seemed to be getting larger. Suddenly I was on my back on a gurney, being asked to describe what happened from the beginning.

It started in the middle of my back and then moved left. I traced the path of pain on my back, adding that the pain was even a little lower. By this time, it had turned into a constant zinging.

“It’s likely you’re dehydrated,” he commented. Then asked, “Ever had a kidney stone?”

“No.” I replied.

“Well,” he lead-in, “seems like you’ve got one now.”

I very much doubted that.

“There’s not much we can do for you here,” he told us. “We’ll give you some fluids and some pain meds to hold you over.”

“Oh.” I thought about the situation, and reluctantly realized what that really meant. “I’m so sorry, we have to leave, Jeff.”

His shoulders went down a little, as his voice went up a notch. “Before the race?”

“Yeah.” I frowned at that, feeling badly. “… and I don’t think I can help you load the van.”

As I was finishing thinking aloud, the medic turned, and announced, “You can’t leave.”

“Yeah, that’s right!” Jeff’s enthusiasm returned. 

“What?!” I was astounded. “Why can’t I leave?”

“You can’t get a vehicle out of the infield while a race is going on.” “Jeff explained snapping his fingers smartly. “Can’t drive the van off in between race cars …,” he laughed. “The only way to get out, is to walk out, and you’re not walkin’ very good. Then, we’d have no way of getting home unless we called someone.”

“Well, how do injured drivers get out?” I countered. Two dumb-founded men stared back at me.  It was Jeff that took up the draft on this one, by somberly stating, “The race usually stops for that.” 

Jeff reasoned it all out. “By the time we get out to the road, the race will likely be over. It’ll take hours for someone to drive in to get us. It’ll be faster to drive out… after the race.”

My response was a grumbled grunt. 

Quote for the Week: 2018 08 21 assumptions will be made based on company kept jakorte

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