Thursday, March 25, 2004

On the Road to Nowhere
Auto Interrogation Part Two: The College Trip
When the subject of questioning comes up, someone always brings up the "bad cop-good cop" routine. This will not be part of this monocled log, unless of course you have a thing about uniforms, harsh lights, industrial gray metal furniture, and cigarette butt infused coffee. If so, then it's off to the land of Paranoid Guys with time on their hands.

I'll be dealing with (hopefully) a smoother approach to information extraction.
Like the Christmas goose, fattening of the subject is in order. Nothing like a long car ride with beverages and munchies to lull one's target into the false belief that they are in a safe haven. Our trip out to College Land starts with a fill-up of gas, coffee, breakfast treats, and drinks at one of the lovely emporiums of packaged delicacies known in this area as
WaWa is a chain of sorts akin to "7-11" without the freezy drinks and the daily robberies.
It is not a town in Ontario.....
....Well, actually it is a town in Ontario, right by Lake Superior, that has a hugh steel Canada goose at the town's entrance. But that's a different story, filed under "Family Vacations & Large Animal Sculptures". A topic, perhaps, for future fodder.

So, thus laden with foodstuffs and fuel, we point the car toward the nearest entrance. The EZ-Pass is emitting its location ray, seatbelts are buckled up, coffee is already spilt, and my son & I are prepared for the next 7 hours of mileage. Little does he know.....

The weather disappears, as we drive through the Blue Mountain Tunnel. The hum of tires on asphalt reverberate against the body of the car while the tunnel's running lights hypnotize us, pulling us into the oncoming vanishing point where there is one bright light and the joining of my inquiries with my son's answers....

In between the three tunnels that we go through on our route from out East to Ohio is a Moebious Strip of montane farmland and squarrose houses. We are entering unmanaged Bucolica.

We pass the windmill field high on a plateau on our left. They mark the half-way point of the trip. I look over at College Boy. It's round 6 of 12; he's not on the ropes yet. Must have been training for this over his Spring Break. And here I was thinking that he was just lounging and inhaling Italian rolls, chicken cheeseteaks, and home cooking.

We've refilled with car and human fluids before we exited the Tpke. Once off of the turnpike, we are in the land of Men with Hats. Stopping here is not advisable, especially in the wee hours of the morning or the late hours of the night. People maunder about; simple questions of cash or credit disappear into a verbal stew of politics, government, The Man, hunting, and bear claws. The trip's long enough without the shark-eyed stares, peering from beneath the hats.

The stretch of road between New Stanton, PA and the West VA. line is dicey. Accidents are easy to come up on; everyone is pushing 75 on the 55 mph highway, trying to put a quick end to this piece of the trip. We zoom past cars with local plates, their windows caked with road salt and river silt. The automobiles are beat up,looking like quilts of multi-colored metal stitched together, hoping to make it through just one more PA winter. Exits are dotted with hubcap shops and scrapyards of soumarque.
The sun is shining, yet it's always perpetually gray.
The Questioning of the Son takes a break until we put this 60 mile part of the trip behind us. Woddy Guthrie and Billy Bragg are this trip's stretch soundtrack.

Shortly, we are on the outskirts of Wheeling, West Virginia. We drive across the River on the stone and cable bridge, now only 1/4 left to our destination.

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