Saturday, May 02, 2009

On The Road - The Journey

...continued from On The Road - My First Tour...

As we left young Jeffrey he was about to embark on a country-wide trip in a tiny Toyota pulling a huge trailer.

Like I said... what could possibly go wrong?"

Fortunately, I was smart enough to have captured this adventure in my trusty journal (of "Dear Diary" fame) so I don't have to try to remember how this little trip played out some 25 years later. Here are some excerpts of the experience:

[The day before]
It was weird too - leaving everything just like that. When I left work I didn't tell everyone what I was doing so when I went that night for the last time I said "goodbye" like I'd be back tomorrow and just about everyone said "goodbye" the same way. It was funny. All my immediate close friends knew but everyone else I knew had no idea what was going on.

[Day 1]
So - on Fri morn, I got into my car and drove into the sunrise for the opportunity of my life.

Well, I must say that pulling a 5' x 8' trailer that's 3' higher and just about as heavy as my car was no barrel of fun. Especially since my car has a 4 cylinder engine with a 5 speed manual transmission. This meant I could never go faster than 50 mph (unless I was going down hill with a tailwind).

I got to Iron River Wis, about an hour from Ironwood when I ran into ice and a snowstorm - so bad I couldn't go over 35 mph. And someone told me it was worse on the U.P. so I had no choice but to turn down toward Madison and head for Chicago.

[Day 2]
The next day was a real bitch. I headed for Chicago into strong headwinds which were really slowing me up bad. When In finally got there I had to take the Kennedy Expressway and the Chicago Skyway - both which had about 2 million cars on them at once, and there's me towing an oversized trailer with a little yellow Toyota going 40 mph. Real fun.

6:00 p.m. - I'm driving on the Ind. Tollway or the "Mainstreet of the Midwest" as they call it (I 80-90) and I noticed my engine was steaming so I pulled over and looked at it. Well, my heater hose had rubbed against my manifold and burned through causing my radiator fluid to drain out. So here I was on this major highway at supper time with a hundred trucks a second passing me up, I had my trunk open, my flashers on, a handkerchief tied to my antenna and a worried look on my face - no problem right? I figured there would either be a cop or tow truck there within 20 minutes to get me off the freeway with all the CB's and everything.

I sat in my car for two hours freezing my butt off until I couldn't stand it anymore. In 2 hours not one cop came by and no one stopped. So I got out and started walking towards a light I saw at a distant farmhouse (it was dark by then) but I got about a block away when a truck stopped to give me a lift.

He told me a cop had passed him up only 5 minutes earlier and had to have come by me - boy was I pissed then.

[Day 3]
The next morning I started out again, driven by pure, raw excitement wondering about what could possibly be in store for me in this little town in Pennsylvania. All I could do was imagine. Was it going to be totally in vain or was I going to make lots of money and become a star? Well, I drove through Ohio that day and crossed the PA border that afternoon. It was then when I called the "studio" to inform them I would be there later on that night. But what I didn't know was, that Pennsylvania was going to be an uphill battle the whole way, literally.

For the next 10 hours or so I climbed and climbed. Lots of neat things happened at this time. One, I slowed down to a snail's pace burning out my 3rd gear and clutch to keep going. Two, there just happened to be "road construction" on this mountain so what does that mean? That means that only 1 lane was open causing traffic to back up behind me as far as I could see in my mirror. Not only for short stretches either but for 5 mile intervals, every 15 miles all day, it was terrible. And to top it off - there was a rainstorm and fog so thick you couldn't see the side of the road.

All good things must come to an end as they say and I finally pulled into Hazleton PA, my destination - almost. I still had to get to the studio.

Next Up: The Barn

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MYM said...

See, kids today have no idea what we went thru before cell phones! lol

You sure know how to do a good cliff hanger.

mom said...

OMG!!!!Sure glad I didn't know all that was happening to you!!!

Jeff and Charli Lee said...

drowsey - I was thinking the exact same thing. How did we ever manage?

mom - Oh yes you did, you just don't remember. I called you and dad that night and you helped me use my AAA card to get my car repaired for free. I'll never forget how happy I was about that.

Sarah said...

oooo this is going to be a good story i can just feel it now! did you lose the trailer? ever make it to the studio? get lost and miss it all and have to go back home again? who knows!

Kathy said...

Trust me when I tell you, the Pennsylvania roads are still under construction, 25 years later.

It's nice to read you still sounded so wide-eyed and excited after that horrendous road trip.

I'm waiting to hear that the trailer fell off entirely at some point.

Susan said...

I forget that everyone isn't used to all of the mountains and hills we have here in PA. When I drive West into Ohio it seems boring by comparison.

And as Kathy says, the status of our roads is pretty much the same today. Awful.

What is the trailer filled with again? I can't imagine that you'd need that much stuff!

Jeff and Charli Lee said...

sarah - These are all excellent questions. I guess you'll just have to wait and see as the saga continues.

kathy - It very easily could have. It was only attached by one of those temporary strap-on trailer hitches. It's a miracle I made it there at all.

susan - I am a keyboard player and in those days I had ALL the gear including 4 synthesizers, an organ and 2 huge speaker cabinets. All that crap weighed about 1000 pounds together. I owe my car a serious apology.

Shieldmaiden96 said...

What increases my pity tenfold is the fact that after all that, your final destination, your Promised Land, was HAZLETON.

I love the lament about being broke down at 'supper time'. Were you missing mom a little, at that point? :)

Anonymous said...

All that to get to Hazleton, Pa.? Sort of seems anti-climactic. ;) I thought you'd at least be going to Philadelphia or New York, but Hazleton? But can't wait to hear the next part in the journey. The studio has to be more exciting, right? ;) <-- okay, I've reached my two emoticon limit for a comment. Gotta run.

JD at I Do Things said...

"So I got out and started walking towards a light I saw at a distant farmhouse"

I thought that only happened in movies!

Ugh. I don't envy you tooling along the Kennedy AND the Skyway AND having to rely on the kindness of Midwestern strangers and their CB radios.

But you made it!

Mom Thumb said...

That sounds like a bitch of a trip. But I love the gross exaggerations that can only be conjured up by the young and naive. It's madness that a hundred trucks a second were passing and no one stopped.

Bill said...

I'll bet that a truck would have stopped if you had been a pretty woman. It might pay to travel in a dress and wig.

Babs-beetle said...

That all sounds about right. Well we don't expect anything to go smoothly in life. I hope it was all worth it though.

Anonymous said...

I love that mom wrote "OMG" That's so funny.
I would love to see you send any of your kids off now, in this situation! I couldnt do it! How different were the times, then. So what happened at the farmhouse?? Did you stay overnite with strangers? I know you've had a "few" things going on in your life, lately, but dont take so long to write this next chapter!! sis

Mooselet said...

I need the farmhouse story. In the movies there would be either creepy horror music playing as you walked or cheesy p0rn music. So what happened?

And the picture of your car and the U-Haul... classic!

Elizabeth said...

Wow, you were brave to set out on your own like that. But I guess we were all braver when we were that age.

Jeff and Charli Lee said...

shieldmaiden96 - Great point. Now that you mention it, it does kinda sound like I was needing my mommy a bit.

unfinishedrambler - I guess you'll just have to wait and see. For all you know Hazelton is like the Vegas of the Appalachians.

jd - The whole farmhouse thing WAS like a movie! Except I never got that far because I was saved by a trucker. But you should have heard how loud the dissonant music was getting right before he stopped!

mom thumb - Yes, the trucks were one big blur of vehicles. It was amazing.

bill - Uh, sure it could pay. But I ain't that kind of girl.

babs - "Worth it" is relative. But considering the path it led me down I'd say it was totally worth it.

sis - Did I stay overnight with strangers? Boy, do I have a story to tell...

mooselet - I wish there was a cool farmhouse story but like I said - I never got that far. I should totally write one though.

elizabeth - Brave. Stupid. Take your pick.

United Studies said...

I think my parents had the same car! Hahha!

Warn me ahead of time before you have another installment of this, so I can get all cozy in my chair with a cup of tea.

Ed said...

All this early Jeff explains a lot! ;)

Jeff and Charli Lee said...

jacki - I can send you the entire section from my journal if you want a really good story!

ve - Hey... I resemble that remark!

GaryHall said...

I at least got a one way airplane ticket.we stayed in an ex brothel hotel over a bar where we rehearsed Gary hall/classics IV your travel was much more of an adventure