Later... Since i received so many comments on bus mechanics after a recent post:
So brokedownbus.blogspot.com after doing so well and taking me from Omaha to Chicago yesterday fell victim to a busted brake caliper. I'm stranded in Wilmington, Illinois -- a nice little town. Last night I befriended the local police, attend the high school football game, talked to my mechanical guru Mr James Adams (formerly transportation chief at ESA ) and shed a tear in my beer. James also explained to me why the bus cruises 10mph faster now: the guys at Rocky Mountain Diesel had disconnected the governor when they repaired the throttle linkage.
As luck would have it, Tom Brown, from brown's wrecker service, ordered the parts (caliper assembly and brake pads) that I needed and found a local mechanic who pulled the wheel off, disassembled the brake system on the back left tire, and replaced it with a lovely new assembly. What had happened was that the brake pads had worn all the way through, causing the pistons in the caliper system to overextend themselves, which in turn led to the destruction of the whole assembly.
Anyway, back on the road again, I drove like mad on highway 80 and then on 94 straight to Ann Arbor, Michigan filled with fans (including Tyson Cromwell -whom i missed) for the opening University home game as well as parents saying goodbye to their children who would start school the following Tuesday after Labor Day weekend. I was determined to meet the six Pyensons having a family reunion.
Despite a worrisome leak of power steering fluid, which compelled me to stop every hundred miles, I made it in time to have a great dinner and even better conversation with Kristen Fraser who begins an impressive PhD program in English.
Wandered around Ann Arbor on a beautiful fall day with Kristen until 3 o'clock, when we met the Pyensons. Catherine, the only family member living there, is in her second year of architecture school at U. Mich. Ben lives in Montreal and studies biology in an MA program. Nick along with son Anders and wife Emily, has like me spent the summer driving cross/country from Vancouver to Washington DC where he has a job as a curator at the smithsonian museum. Their father Lew is a professor at western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. Warm in their praises, All agreed that ESA gave them a more focused education and clearer memories of classes than any other institution that they had attended.
After lunch, I had more happy times buying cheese, olives, prosciutto ham, and power steering fluid for my drive the next day. Kristen and I did a lot more walking and sight-seeing followed by a late dinner and parting. Since Kristen wants to study Ecocriticism, I lent her a book written by alumnus Anthony Wilson , entitled Shadow and Shelter, which surveys the literary treatment of the swamp in Southern literature.
Drove south to Lebanon, Illinois, on 94 and then highway 69 south where
my former college roomate Will Painter and his wife Mary reside in a farmhouse with three Shelty collies and a beagle. Will's retired but busier than ever with engineering projects in the Dominican Republic and with a huge football stadium in North Carolina. Besides that, he's been a race car driver since we graduated and was off to Watkins Glen the next day. Mary, the saner of the two, trains dogs and runs the many projects going on around the house. Will fixed me up with a mechanic in Lebanon to try to figure out the power steering and loss of electricity issues in the bus and lent me a van for my trip north the next day. Will, formerly fanatical about our alma mater Princeton, has soured on the school ever since they refused to give his daughter Gallia enough scholarship money to attend, and has transferred that enthusiasm towards the military. Justly proud of his service to our country, ( he recently retired as a naval Commander) , he sports his Vietnam-Desert Storm Veteran's cap, has a big Go Navy sign printed on his trailer, a puppy named Shooter, and a number of American flags planted strategically around the house. I had almost forgotten how much I love this guy.
Left lebanon headed to Minneapolis on interstates 90 and 94 to see the John Maraists and Freddy Bowie. While passing through Rockford, Illinois, I remembered that an alumnus Jim Maier lives there. So I had already entered Wisconsin, thinking of Laura Kolar, a former teacher who was very proud of her natal state, when Jim called back. So I reversed course to visit him, his wife Michelle, son Andrew, and Brittany spaniel Maggie.
To be continued