Rendered Fat Content

Otter Summer 8.03-Toodle

Road trips always seem like better ideas before leaving home. After, long hours lost in acceleration begin collecting their tolls. The second day, we were dreading driving the second worst stretch of road in the continental US, Cleveland to Chicago via the Tollway, so The Muse became navigator to identify a route a bit more off the grid. She found one.

The beauty of road trips springs from the possibilities. Chart an alternate route and an alternate to the alternate might appear. Who could know if that Fresh Strawberries sign wasn’t put there just to lure us off that two lane state road onto the two lane county road? It worked, and not finding strawberries just encouraged us to branch off onto yet another unanticipated course: a fine, empty blacktop lined with red broken backed barns and the full flush of the season greening the fields. Off the tollroad, we found a full Midwest morning and rode it until the afternoon was half gone.

What might have been a high-speed drudge became an absolute delight. We even found strawberries, sold by a woman looking half again her age, tattoos sagging on sun-weathered arms, speech slurred from decades of faster-lane living. “Be careful getting back on that road, Hon,” she cautioned. “People drive like crazy out there.” We knew because we had become two of the crazy ones, windows down, leaving a trail of strawberry hulls in our wake.

We emerged from this dreamland two hundred miles further along, reluctantly rejoining modernity; submitting to the Tollway, and zooming anonymously into gritty Chicago. The flow of traffic precludes really seeing anything there, save the ass end of whatever you’re following. The slick drivers weave in and out as if they were in some kind of race while the rest of us white-knuckle behind a sedan with reliable-seeming Minnesota plates.

We held the hum of that final frantic freeway finish long after we’d reached the day’s destination. Then, we remembered the purpose of the road we’d travelled. Faced with the certainty of drudgery, we side-stepped our fate to toodle away at least half the day. We are not anything like a regularly scheduled conveyance. We’re on that once or twice a year parole from our interminable exile, going to collect The Grand Otter for a summer adventure. We could poison our intentions by following the shortest distance between two pointless points, or diverge in the interest of delight. Coming to that fork in that road, we took it.

©2013 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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