Life’s a TRip, Episode 9

By Ojijaak

  • Polly the MG at Earlham College, July 2019

It was one hell of a TRip, wasn’t it? No plans, but almost everything we saw or did ran contrary to the minimal plans that I hoped to execute. It was, in short, the sort of TRip that you should have expected, and, like this introduction, all a contradiction. Let’s review:

Nokomis and I arrived in Dayton, Ohio, on June 26, after two long days on the road. To say that we were tired would be an understatement. That evening, there was a power outage that forced me to inquire at each restaurant that I visited about where I might find a simple burger or maybe a steak and a brew beforeturning in for the night.

At some point, we were directed to a pub called Jolts, only to find the now-familiar emergency lighting and no kitchen. On the other hand, I was served an IPA from Columbus Brewing that was not exceptional, but was very good. The kindly bartender also made some calls on her cell phone, one to a place called Buckhorn Tavern. I have already described it briefly in a previous episode, but I now add that you would be unlikely to find it if you were not already familiar. Having found it, you might not venture in based upon its outward appearance. Don’t make that mistake! Buckhorn Tavern is a good, not great, meal, and the conversation around the bar was welcoming and pleasant. I returned for another evening meal a few days later.

At this point, the few plans that I had made for the TRip disintegrated: Polly’s restoration, nearly done, would require another two to three weeks by estimate. Uh-oh. If you have been with us from the start, you will remember that the plan was to attend Pork of July in suburban Indianapolis, and then to leave early on the morning of July 6 for the other planned stop in Kansas on July 8. On June 28, it was clear that a new plan was needed.

Leaving Polly behind once again, Nokomis and I returned to Indianapolis in the rental car. The time that would have been spent introducing Polly to friends and family between July 2nd or 3rd and the final departure would have to be cut short and re-scheduled. The rental car agreement would have to be extended. Barring a miracle, Polly would not be present on July 8 in Kansas, though I would be…no excuses.

The solution was not at all what I had hoped for, but my cousin graciously assisted in finding a daycare for Nokomis on the July 4 holiday (a big thank you to Top Dog Boarding Kennel in Manilla, Indiana), and accompanied me to the Pork of July festivities at Oaken Barrel. The Barrel is the second oldest brewpub in the Indianapolis metro area, and July 4th was their 25th anniversary. Even without Polly, I could not miss this event; it is likely to be my last there in addition to the milestone status of 2019.

Enter the revised plan: Leave Indianapolis on July 7 in the Enterprise Express for a drive to Kansas City, spend the nightthere, and the night of July 8 in Topeka (longstanding tradition), and return to Indianapolis on July 9. You will forgive me if I do not describe the drive or the (lack of) scenery. We will cover some of this in a later episode.

After a few more days around Indianapolis, it became apparent to me that I could better conserve my travel funds if I returned to Tipp City rather than to spend hours and dollars at Oaken Barrel. After two more nights in Indy, I returned to Dayton to await Polly. It was July 11.

A few words about the delay, and, more importantly, about Dayton:

While the delay of Polly’s completion was not expected, even inconvenient in part, it was due to the Macy commitment to excellence. Before a TR leaves Macy’s Garage, it is inspected, and road tested. The rains of Spring contributed to a backlog of cars that had not been thoroughly tested. In addition, Mark found some imperfections in Polly’s paint on her bonnet and boot that he would not countenance. In all, I prefer the delay to an “almost perfect” Triumph. Well done.

As to Dayton, events since our departure compel me to say here that I found everyone in the community to be friendly and welcoming. I visited the Oregon District, where tragedy would soon strike. It is not a rowdy or uncivil neighborhood. Dayton is so much like the mythical average American city that I believe that anyone would feel at home there. It is that, though, that makes the senseless act committed there so unnerving. If Dayton could be anywhere, this violence could happen anywhere. Wake up!

On Sunday, July 14, Nokomis and I drove to Fairfield, between Dayton and Cincinnati, to attend British Car Day, an annual event organized by the Greater Cincinnati British Car Club. I wanted to see the MGs and Triumphs. Nokomis wanted to see the grass. The cars were great, the people were great, and the food was what one would expect at such an event. All good except the exceptionally high temperature and humidity. I retreated to the hotel pool.

While visiting with the folks at British Car Day, I learned of the availability of a 1962 TR4. It is also a Macy car. God knows that I am not in need of another LBC, but it can’t hurt to look, right? I first saw this car on the following Thursday, but inclement weather caused me to delay a drive until Friday, July 19.

Early that morning, I presented myself once again at Macy’s Garage. I had forgotten that, unlike TR6s, the TR4 requires a lift to the gear lever in order to engage reverse. Embarrassing. That was the last problem; the car is tight and clean. It drove well, and I started to think in terms of which accounts to use to source the purchase funds. Also, what to name this girl if I decided to adopt her? First, though, it was time for some thought.

In the meantime, Polly’s completion was my priority. Her steering wheel, the original, was found to be soft. It was usable, and it could be made to look good, but at some point, it was likely that it would begin to separate. I had to make what I can only term a compromise solution. A new wheel was ordered. I am not in love with it. The original wheel will be reconstructed by a neighbor of Mark’s, and will be sent to me later. It will be a wooden wheel, matching the new dashboard, and smaller in diameter than originally.

Finally, on July 24, I took Polly out for her shakedown. I was asked to clock 400 miles, identify any issues, and to return to Macy’s Garage. Polly and I dutifully drove through central and western Ohio and eastern Indiana. We rolled up about 425 miles plus a few that were not recorded beforehand. There were only minor issues, and those were quickly addressed on the morning of July 25, exactly one month after Nokomis and I pulled out of our drive at home.

We made a stop at Yokefellow U., where, in a sense, my long TRip had begun decades before. It was from there that I started this present journey; I reset the trip odometer and pointed Polly westward.

We spent just more than a day in Indianapolis to say my farewells – perhaps forever – to friends and familiar places. Although I had packed sparingly, fitting my bag, Polly’s spares and oddments, and Nokomis’ travel kit was an adventure in logistics. It did fit – just.

Oh, yes, the TR4? Well, she will join Polly, Annie, Nokomis, and me later. Her name, though, will not be Chris as previously stated. She will be Sara, Polly’s sister. I must be crazy.

See you next time for the rather mundane TRip through Illinois and Missouri. 


This episode’s rant:

Over the course of my travels this summer, I have driven through eight states on every sort of street, road, and highway. The roads in Indiana, my native state and the state with a budget surplus were the worst. Not even close were the second-worst roads in Missouri. Kansas has the best roads in 2019.

As to drivers, the worst that I dealt with were in Missouri. You know, the “Show Me a Drivers’ Manual” state. To that jackass who did his best to cut me off twice in a Kansas City construction zone, “Yeah, that’s right, you’re Number 1!” That’s what the finger means…

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