Day 7: A Hearse, Bikers, and the Tire King
Trip Start Jun 13, 2004
7Trip End Jun 19, 2004
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We traveled along, occasionally getting lost or spotting something fascinating at the side of the road. Michelle had noted a few things that might be interesting if they weren't too far off our route, one of which being a plaque parodying historical markers that stated, "On this spot, nothing happened on such and such a date." But we never did figure out where that was.
As we drove through the highway in Vermont, we saw signs for Castleton and Rutland. This caused Tristan to get incredibly excited. He informed us that Time Chasers, a movie skewered by Mystery Science Theater 3000, had been filmed in Vermont and the main character wore a Castleton t-shirt. All of us got excited at that point... well I did. I'm not sure if Michelle really cared, but since she was excitedly jumping around the entire trip, let's just say she's still jumping.
We stopped in Castleton to see if we could find a t-shirt like the one in the film, or anything familiar in town. Castleton is one small town. We went into a Mom and Pop store and gazed at souvenirs and snacks. They had lots of maple products, including maple butter in a cute little bear-with-a-hat jar. Tristan and I each bought one to give as gifts. But we couldn't find any t-shirts like the one in the movie.
Back on the road, we hit Rutland shortly afterwards. We didn't see anything recognizable, but still marveled at how we might run across some spot from the film or the big chinned star. Perhaps he had used the movie as a springboard towards a rewarding career pumping gas or sorting screws at the local hardware store.
As we drove along admiring the scenery, Michelle occasionally tried to take photos, with mixed results. She had tried to use her disposable camera earlier but threw it disgustedly on the floor of the car after missing a shot due to it not being advanced. Unfortunately, this set the tone for her photo snapping for the day and would contribute to her growing frustration and her thoughts of doing me bodily harm.
In one town we passed an Advance Auto Parts that had a big sign out front advertising "Jumbo Cashews $4.99/lb." Is this normal? Why would I ever consider buying cashews at an auto parts store?! Is this some strange Vermont tradition that I, an outsider, know nothing about?
Further down the road, we hit a snarl of unmoving traffic and found there was an accident ahead. I thought we would soon be part of the accident when Tristan almost plowed into the stopped car ahead of us. I swear it was the slight sideways sliding of our vehicle which saved us.
When the accident was cleared from the road, we headed merrily on our way, unaware of the traffic nightmare that lay in wait in New Hampshire. At this point I lost track of what state we were in. So I can't actually tell you where we were when I saw the odd looking person clomping along the sidewalk. I couldn't help but stare as I literally could not tell whether this person was a man or a woman. Tristan and Michelle couldn't tell either. The person was overweight with long straight hair, breasts, wore an oversized tshirt and leather motorcycle pants. They also had big boots and an apt description of their walk would be clomping. I eventually just gave up on this puzzler.
The biggest excitement of the day came when Michelle started screaming, "Tire King!.... Chris, get your camera ready.... Tire King....oh my god..... Tire King!!!!!!" I couldn't see anything from the backseat. As I peeked out my window to see what had Michelle so excited, I saw a sign through the trees that said "Tire King." I was puzzled at her excitement as I didn't think it was that funny a name, or a worthwhile photo. Between the curve in the road and sitting in the backseat, I couldn't see anything except the sign and part of the store.
Michelle aimed her camera out the window and was extremely excited. As we whooshed by at 50 miles per hour I finally saw why she had been screaming for me to get my camera. By the side of the road was a man wearing a red velvet cape and an oversized crown. Oh yes, I do believe we've seen the Tire King. He waved at us as we drove by.
I'm stunned. Michelle is angry because her camera missed the shot. She's also irritated at me because I did not have my camera ready. But how could I have known that the Tire King was actually a King and not just a sign about tires?
Michelle angrily ranted about missing the shot, and shortly after became quiet and sullen. It was at this point that Tristan chose to say, "Not to add insult to injury, but how did you miss that?" Oh boy, at this Michelle was hopping mad. Well at least she would be hopping if she wasn't strapped into the car.
She's giving this big explanation about aiming the camera and composing the shot, which is when I chose to offer the advice, "Hey, when you're in a car driving by at 50 miles per hour, just try to get the subject in the shot. Don't even consider composition. You'll miss a lot of shots that way" Later Michelle informed me it is at this instant when she wanted to pop me one. So I guess in that sense it really was good that she was strapped into the car.
Michelle's digital camera, like most, has a slight delay when you turn it on or press the shutter button. While a delay of .03 or .07 seconds is fine in theory, in actuality, it means trying to compensate for the delay while taking a picture. So the trip home had many frustrations where Michelle's camera would not turn on in time or the shutter delay would mean a missed shot. (Michelle actually did end up with a shot of the Tire King on her disposable camera, which is truly a brilliant photo as it's obviously taken from a speeding car.)
As we drove along - Michelle missing shots and Tristan taunting her camera - we started seeing bikers, lots and lots of bikers. We wondered if perhaps there was some sort of biker event going on as there were motorcycles everywhere. We were still unaware of the biker horror up ahead. Since we were hungry, we stopped to get something to eat.
If you want a big sandwich, stop at the Lockehaven Country Store and Deli. There was literally an inch of cheese in my sandwich. Quite honestly, it was too much, but impressive nonetheless. It was really good cheese but I had to get rid of some of it. I only ate half the sandwich and put the rest in the cooler, hoping that the overload of cheese wouldn't give me a stomachache while we were on the road.
After wolfing down the sandwiches in the car, we set off on our merry way. As we drove we started seeing herds of bikers everywhere. The roads went from being dotted with small herds of bikers to being clogged with motorcycles. It was a beautiful day, but there were too many of them for it to be joy riding. I started wondering if this was perhaps the big biker weekend in Laconia.
At 1:30 our joyous ride home came to a grinding halt as we got stuck in a huge traffic jam. Tristan's stop and go herky jerky driving started to make me feel incredibly sick and I had to crawl into the back of the car to dig the Dramamine out of my duffel bag. The more frustrated Tristan got, the worse he stomped on the brake and the gas.
By 2:19, Tristan was starting to lose it. We were still car deep in bikers and traffic, and it was definitely the weekend of Laconia, which guaranteed that it we would not be free from traffic for what an eternity. I was wondering if Tristan would perhaps go completely mental and start ramming cars.
Finally by 2:46, we made it past the worst of the biker traffic and were free to drive again. Nothing ever felt so sweet after that hour and a half of captivity in the biker traffic... and one minute later at 2:47 we practically rearended a trailer carrying a spa. Tristan's tires squealed and we all gasped as we headed toward the spa-hauling trailer. But luck was on our side that day my friends, and Tristans mighty grasp of the physics of fine driving saved our little group from certain disaster.
Continuing on our journey, we happened upon a casket containing a body falling out of the back of a hearse. We stopped the car and went back to check it out since it's not everyday you see that parked by the side of the road. The casket turned out to be made of cardboard and the body was a poorly made dummy, but we took pictures of it and it was pretty dang neat - although it looked much better if you zoomed by it at 50 miles per hour.
At this point, I went into a coma and don't remember much about the rest of the trip except that I kept thinking, I'm so tired, thank god I'm almost home. Why are vacations so much work and so tiring? Perhaps I shall seek a grant to study such a phenomenon and go on another vacation with my friends. Even though Michelle wanted to clock me and hurt my mighty camera, it was a fantastic trip and more fun than a barrel of monkey - and you know how fun they are.