Friday, January 15, 2010

KC or Bust!

Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty - a beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture. - Bertrand Russell

I have a confession to make.

I have not always been the model of safe driving.

Shocked you are, no doubt. Let me share ...

(cue way back machine music)

Back in the summer of 1984, my buddies Ken and Brian and I thought it would be a good time to drive to Kansas City and spend a week out there with Brian's Uncle. We would drive interstate 70 west from Denver to Kansas City, Kansas or maybe it was Missouri. Either way, we decided that this would be one of those great bonding times for us best friends and didn't even think about the fact that we were three teens (17, 17 and 16) driving across two complete states; without parental supervision.

Yeah, we were cool like that.

The plan was for us to take Brian's baby, his 1969 black fastback Mustang - with a 351 Windsor under the hood. (That is about all I know about that car, and maybe the fact that it's not very comfortable to drive across two states, but I digress). The three of us would each take turns driving, and just having a grand old time.

First problem, Ken didn't know how to drive a manual transmission.

Okay, so Brian and I will drive across two states, no biggie. We were young and we knew that we could handle it.

Second problem, Colorado east of the Rockies is nothing but flat, boring prairie, and the entire state of Kansas is the same way. Driving across boring plains is well, boring, and can easily cause one to "doze off" while driving. So, we planned on switching every two to three hours, or whenever we stopped for gas. Makes sense, sounds logical right?

Fate can be a fickle little friend, or maybe that's fiend.

Now what it was that came over us to do the following is still up for debate, and who knows, maybe someday we will find the answer. Although it has been 26 years since, so I'm not expecting any new revelations to come across my conscious any time soon.

We were cruising along the highway, minding our own business, when some (expletive deleted) decided to play games, by riding our tail, passing us, and then slowing down. You have all experienced that kind of friendly driver, no doubt. I, of course, was driving and whining about the jerk, so Brian finally tells me to just go ahead an gun it. I mean we had a 351 Windsor in a muscle car that was made for these kinds of things, right.


Problem was, I had never really driven anything that fast, and it wasn't my car, so I got nervous. However, we did have a deadline to meet and didn't feel like pulling over to switch drivers, so Brian could be responsible for his car, and our lives (like I said, we didn't think as clearly as we do now, back then). So we decided that the best course of action would be for us to switch places.

Yes, I said switch places.

While driving.

At 95MPH.

The plan was simple, Ken would hold the steering wheel, from the back seat, while Brian and I would switch seats. Oh, and we simply had to maintain our speed - didn't want the long forgotten four cylinder car that we smoked to get the satisfaction of catching up to us.

No, we didn't even consider the fact that we could have easily pulled over and switched seats and still been ahead of the other car, that would be just plain silly.

Back to the plan, I would maintain my foot on the gas pedal (to the metal) and crawl under Brian to the passenger seat. First up, switch to having my left foot on the gas pedal, while swinging my right foot/leg over to the passenger seat. I think I might have still had a little hold on the steering wheel at this point, but shortly our lives would be in Ken's capable hands. I will have you know, that the plan was working, perfectly, with the only flaw being when either Brian or I hit Ken's arm (the one steering), which made us all see our lives flash before our eyes, along with the cars on the right, and the shrubs, grass, I think there was a cow...

Obviously, we survived, but that was the absolute dumbest thing that I have ever done, in my entire life and I would not recommend anyone trying it.ever.

Funny thing, after having our lives flash before our eyes, we no longer cared about the dude in the car that we were trying to shake, and pulled over at the next exit to take a well-needed break from all the "action."

Again, the tortoise beat the hare by being slow and steady.

I have no idea why the quote mentioned above brought this story to my mind, but it did. Now you should try the same thing, go and find a quotation to use and see what comes from it. You will probably be amazed at what it inspires.

Or confused.

I should try and find the picture that we took before our trip with the sign that I got the title from. Remind me sometime to share our experience, from the same trip, while in Wichita. An incident, by the way, that we consider to be way more scary than the one mentioned above.

Also, I cannot imagine letting my kids do the same thing today (not the driver switching, the traveling with friends alone), it's a crazier world today, even with the invention of cell phones. Too many crazy people out there.