Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Rolling Mustang Gathers Some Moss

After so many miles into the hinterlands and so much time spent on the tortured tarmac of inland by ways, it seems time to draw back to the lowcountry. Flying over parkways and parking at Bat Caves, finding lost lakes and losing counties in the rearview tires one's tire. It seemed incumbent for the Rolling Mustang to gather some moss.

Be it ever so humble there's no place like home. The modest cottage pictured is not truly home, but close enough. It certainly has bountiful moss to gather and ample room inside and much to record if it cannot be saved.

A little birdie let it be known that this fine old plantation and its grounds may not long endure in its present form. The heavy hand of development hangs over these oaks we think. We are here to roll up the moss and save at least that much from the developer's mitts. These graceful grounds may soon give way to subdivided lots, perhaps redecorated in cute and trendy ways, but certainly plundered for the green, the long green.

If the blue Windveil has any mission at all it would be to dash across the land and record what is left of grace and beauty, character and class, goofiness and funk. It seeks to place itself at every doorstep where change is in the air and just a few miles ahead of these ill winds of change.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Preacher's Getaway Car

The Windveil is crouching here just behind an assembly hall for a church camp we discovered in a remote location. You'd never guess this was here. We're at the innards of this encirclement of cottages which makes up this rustic retreat which has been used for years by a church group. This is the infrastructure for the old time camp meetings.

The hall is lined with many long rows of very wide wooden benches on which the faithful and those being drawn closer to the faith are to be seated. On a podium there's a lectern from which the minister delivers his messages.

The accommodations are a bit this side of the Four Star amenities and by design one would think. Each cottage has a rude cooking spit, a faucet for running water, hard bunks and roughly hewn furniture and not much of it either. Seated engagements are held in very small outbuildings wisely placed at some distance. The clear purpose is to isolate young folks from the worldly ways, from the soft comforts of idle teenage living and focus the kids on the spiritual rather than the comfortable. Today, however, it's as deserted as Jonestown. It somewhat resembles Jonestown after the clean up crews swept up the Dixie cups and the spent faithful. Pretty quiet.

I wandered the great expanse of this hall and tried to project myself into the camp meeting. I wondered how it must be for the flock when the preacher is really giving them the Word, giving them hell since that's where they're going if they don't accept the Wordl

I then even more fantastically projected myself up at the lectern preaching to a packed house while extolling virtue. I might be able to summon a bit of scripture from my distant recollections and draw on some righteous indignation from a minibottle or two. I have the strong feeling that sooner or later someone would rise to their feet and point to me as an infidel, an impostor or perhaps recognize me from my less sanctified past. One minute I'm Jim Jones and the next they're all pouring their Kool-Aid on the ground and moving my way.

In a blink of an eye even the best demagogue can tumble from his lofty perch and take on the sudden scent of a mortal. When that happens, the leaping preacher needs to have his getaway car crouching near the narthex or better still at the back door with the motor running.

Praise the Lord and pass the keys.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Roll Out the Blue Carpet

For the first time the secret assembly plant for the 2005 Mustang GT is finally revealed. The internet was filled with all sorts of wild stories about production delays, scarcity of parts, strikes in vendor plants, front end suspension fantasies, and, of course, alien sabotage on the assembly lines. For those of you who had to wait for months on delivery, here's the reason why.

As you can see from the background vegetation, this ain't exactly Dearborn, Michigan. It's not even an industrial site and it's surely not a dealership. This is, in fact, a secret facility camouflaged to avoid detection by aircraft, down an unmarked dirt road with misleading signs.

In this photo taken with a hidden camera one can clearly see many of the components which go into the manufacture of the GT. Notice the handsome artwork above the door which throws yet another curve ball to the curious while maintaining the equine lineage. The red cage contains the guard bird which squawks its shrill warning when uninvited guests appear. What appear to be banners above are really large paint chips color coded for the car.

One the right the shelves are overflowing with the intricate fittings and exotic design treatments for the Mustang. The item shrouded with a white canopy is the secret weapon: the dreaded 4.6 Liter V8 engine. On the left is an empty canister which had held the solid rocket fuel cells on which the vehicle runs.

Each month one vehicle is completed for which they roll out the blue carpet. You see none of the highly skilled German scientists who are employed to design and build the car. They were concerned about certain provisions of the Patriot Act which might interrupt production when they are deported. Remember, you saw it here first, We celebrate the quintessential American Pony Car and say to the Japanese automakers, " Have a rice day ".

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Set the GPS for BBQ

On first glance it may appear that the Windveil has halted at a checkpoint in captured Argentine land now occupied by the US as our flying flag suggests. After all you see Pampus Grass at the rear and exotic plains beyond the car. Observant readers will notice the Sweatmann's Bar-b-que sign at the upper right.

Yes, we never did leave the airspace of Orangeburg County, SC, but had landed in a porcine paradise.

This was another one of those exploration days ( aren't they all? )which took us up into the heart of dairy farming country where some exotic hybrid has turned all the emergent peanut plants I saw last month into cotton. Clemson has been called in and will address this freak event of nature after football season. We went on prospecting for old time family Barbecue near Eutawvile, SC.

New for 2005: Ford includes BBQ sensors in the grille of the Mustang GT. As an option one can order a Pickled Pigs Feet filter which prevents the car from swerving into the countless Dew Drop Inns and honky tonk tackle shops which populate so many of the back roads where we seek are back ribs.

We are gathering a series of Way Points to be programmed into our BBQ-GPS so that we can reach our chosen pork points more directly and use less of the special sause which is poured into the tank. On the GT's fuel gauge it says HOT SAUCE ONLY.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Two Seater meets Two Seater

The Two Seater Mustang pulls aside another two seater, an off road type. Ford promoted the comfort which the 2005 Mustang offered, but the other two seater has certainly earned its own reputation for comfort as well. As to the quality of the ride, both are pretty steady there, but the Mustang is clearly a softer ride.

With the famous equine motif, the Mustang is fancifully considered a mount as well as the other one. Old #7 has what has been called a porclein pony showing further kinship between them. For escape from the immediate family, both offer some advantages there. One has the option of leaving the seat in either the upright or down position with both.

Both are two door, hard top models, however, a second party approaching the Mustang might be a bit more interested in entering while another person is seated than might be the inclination with #7. In both cases a guest might well be releived after exiting. Which one is better on gas ?

Both are suitable for reading. In the Mustang you're good for maybe a few pages, but in the other one you can go through the whole catalog sooner or later. The Sears catalog is a real page turner.

In the Mustang one might experience a very slight weight gain, while in #7 one is almost assured of at least a small weight loss. The Mustang is highly touted for it's many conveniences while old #7 IS the convenience. When the passengers of each have had a good ride, both are likely to leave some rubber behind.

In one breakaway issue, when it comes down to being wasteful, Old #7 is far worse than the Mustang. Of course, the Mustang is a far more free and casual proposition while the other two seater always has follow up paperwork.

FBI statistics report that the Ford Mustang is stollen far more often than the other two seater. Go figure.

Monday, November 14, 2005

In Search of Alternative Fuels

We do a lot of zoom-zoom over those secondary and back roads of the Palmetto State. With an eye toward alternative fuels we decided to tie up at Sonny's and Son ABC Store on Hwy 6. Stepping inside revealed a nice, clean renovated store with all wares brightly displayed. In South Carolina, everyone knows that the Red Dots represent the hot spot in any community. Sometimes their customers are still seeing spots the morning after.

I figured that those fellows know something about how alcohol's made and sold and I know a little something about how it's consumed, so I walked in to begin a discussion on how the alternative fuel, Ethanol, might best be applied to our current Arab oil addiction.

The gents were cordial, open and willing to chat. When you say Ethanol inside, there are puzzled looks and shrugging, but when you clarify your comment to ask after the famous "Old Everclear" which is 190 Proof Grain Alcohol, everyone is smiling that knowing smile which comes when such a hallowed name is invoked.

A quick review of the pricing schedule indicates that this alternative fuel comes to about sixty-eight dollars per gallon US which is a little more than fuel at the gas pumps. Beside this, all the empty glass bottles mean having too many of those blue recycling bins aboard for even a short trip.

It all seemed like such a good idea at the time, but the devil is in the details. So goes another not-ready-for-prime-time alternative fuel. The men at Sonny's decided to take care of their patrons dependence upon Ethanol: sell them more and that I would take care of the Mustang's dependence upon gasoline: buy it more. On leaving everyone was happy and standing back I couldn't help notice how the Windveil Blue went so well with the Red and White in the background, thus making a suitable picture for Veterans Day.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Water Wheel meets Hot Wheels

I will resist singing, " Down By The Old Mill Stream ", but I could not resist stopping at the spillway downstream of Highland Lake in Flat Rock, N.C.

Here Windveil Blue meets the cool blue water of that lake as it tumbles endlessly over the spillway imparting quite a picturesque backdrop for this photo.

It provides and even more convenient environment for the barn red buildings behind the blue car. This is something of a quasi chalet of sorts which has been fully redone to take on the aura of Hickory Farms meets Niagara Falls. I don't believe that this exact spot has drawn many honeymooners, but I, myself, have nearly gone over the falls in years past and without benefit of a barrel.

Water from the spillway is diverted and ducted to a water wheel clearly seen in the background. No one seems to be inside of the barn red quasi chalet, but the wheel turns always. There is no apparent application for this ever turning water wheel, but perhaps it is generating electricity to supply the massive developments which have encircled Highland Lake just as this pastoral scene must draw countless visitors who in turn decide to settle in these developments.

Perhaps no one lives there, but someone is taking good care of the window boxes..

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Thomas Wolfe Hood Oranament

I never thought this car needed any dressing up, customizing or adornments. I did, in fact, special order that the so called " spoiler ", that fanciful appendage which looks something like a transverse wing be deleted at the factory. So clean were the car's lines I felt.

Content in this Windveil Blue automobile with such clean lines, I found myself coursing through the streets of Hendersonville, N.C. Suddenly I am drawn to a cemetery in which some fine old families are planted. Unable to resist a tour, fate drew me to the final address of the famous playwright, Thomas Wolfe. There is at that site erected an angel which recalls his famous play, " Look Homeward Angel ".

I stopped at the very spot and confronted the scene carefully. Suddenly it hit me that the only thing this car could possible use was the right sort of hood ornament and the Angel would do nicely. Very nicely.

Unseating the statue was fraught with some effort, but finding the body shop which could fasten this ornament to the Mustang hood is taking more time than I thought.

It was nice up in Western North Carolina two weekends ago and I did spend an untoward amount of time and effort on this special project. As the shadows lengthened and the sun went away, I too, had to look homeward.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Headstones to History

While it is near the center of the fast growing seat of Berkeley County, there remains a steady calm, a hallowed hush, but for the happy songs of birds on that day.

Faithful readers will find ruined brickworks a recurrent theme in our rolling album. These are often churches which have cemeteries which have headstones of note. Whether by unique design, age or unusual inscriptions we are drawn to these markers. In the same cold ground lay both victor and vanquished, assassin and martyr, players and spectators of their times. The headstones give us some sense of the nature of those commemorated. Some are pushing up daisies and some are probably pulling them down as they did in their living years. Here as in other burial sites we note the peace which came finally after a long active and rewarding life often described in the stone. We also note the short lives of children ended before they really began often by diseases in the distant past, more often by mistake and madness in modern times. They were robbed of the opportunity to make a history.

Where we note the record of long productive lives, we think " well done " in a detached sort of way, but where we see the death of a child a century ago it feels like a fresh sorrow. Those robbed of a chance to make their own history we mourn the most.

Why do we embrace and pose with ruins of ancient structures? While grave markers seek to tell posterity of the departed flesh, these ruins are headstones to history. They tell the broader story of the history of the times. They are the last traces of those errands into the wilderness of the New World and bear the markings of the influence of man and nature upon those efforts.

Upon the sacred turf we tread lightly, move gently among the ruins and take our leave in muffled tones with the proper clutch release to prevent leaving our mark. It is a compact between decent people that the remains of old souls be respected. With the exception of inevitable lovers' initials cut into softened mortar, we also leave ruined buildings to themselves. The history of Biggin Church, however, tells of repeated attacks upon its house of worship to such an extent that the faithful made off with most of the bricks to avoid further insult to the physical plant of their faith. That is an interesting story which hopefully does not gain favor with the living today in other places.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Steed Creek Investigation

Here, as if to prove that we actually drove Steed Creek Road, the Windveil parks at an intersection on this embattled byway. Anyone who can or will read the POST & COURIER knows that resurfacing and possibly widening Steed Creek Road has been proposed. The resulting controversy has created more hot air than Hurricane Hugo and more smoke than forests' famous mascot could inhale.

Speaking of mascots, a host of rare creatures are alleged to reside herein thus imparting a sanctity which new asphalt would violate. Sightings of a cougar came from several different people who seemed to be hugging the same tree. An ivory billed woodpecker "might" have set up housekeeping in there and now there's talk of a panther moving about those woods. Someone provided a photo of a deer carcass lodged far up in a tree as evidence that a cougar ..or panther had hauled it there, no mean feat. No one has proposed that the woodpecker did this, however.

The road cuts through Francis Marion National Forest connecting Moncks Corner to Hwy 17 North near Awendaw and is known as Hwy 402 as well as Steed Creek Road. It's a pine lined road which provides a handy route for anyone from Charleston who dashes up to Moncks Corner for the cat fish stew, but finds that The Dock Restaurant has been sold then takes Plan B to Georgetown. It's an essential path for that sort of thing and even more useful for logging trucks and even a few who commute to actual jobs.

The positions seem to be: 1 - Any roadwork will kill the killer cats thought to be in residence, upset the ecology of the region and cause the trees to stop breathing, 2 - The road is in terrible decay and must be repaved..and widened at the shoulders at once, buffed up and made smoother than a baby's backside, 3 - The road is sound, free of any legitimate reason to exist and in no need of repair.

We pushed our way down this road from Moncks Corner to Hwy 17 to both seek a sighting of existing wildlife and to determine the condition of the tarmac. We saw no critters who might be drawn to the drone of the 4.6 Liter GT engine. We were neither lost in the bottomless potholes nor overturned by detached road pieces.

I don't want to follow those morons who made a rap music video with which the police identified, located and jailed them so I won't discuss any violations of the posted speed limits. I will have to say that cruising along at a rate which drew turpentine clean through the pine bark, we had no problems. To be certain, there are more blemishes on this road than on the face of most teenagers and the surface is unlikely to be mistaken for silk. Long slender fissures have been filled and patched like a bad spackling job on an old Charleston house. There are no shoulders except for grassy gravel patches where broken beer bottles and shards of chicken bones lay in wait for one's tires. The apparent composition of the asphalt emulsion changes by the yard. It's not an award winner, but is quite navigable by alert drivers. Just as most Charleston streets form natural speed humps, this road warns the conscious drivers to take extra care. It ain't pretty, but it still works.

The road we can all see, but the endangered creatures we cannot. No clear cutting, subdivisions, water or sewer lines, Wal-Marts, drag strips, hog farms, or mega churches seem proposed in conjunction with or are likely to be attracted by repaving Steed Creek. We don't doubt anyone's word, but when a paving contractor writes a letter to the editor claiming to have seen that cougar haul a deer up a tree or the woodpecker put ivory against pine, we'll be happy to help pull up the pavement and let it all go back to seed. Until then a smooth new surface doesn't seem the end of the world

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Transylvania Terrace

After the trip to Bat Cave, NC, it seemed appropriate to continue this creepy theme.
A nice brisk drive across Henderson County's scenic mountain roads took us to Transylvania County. In the photo above the Windveil is poised on Transylvania Terrace and about to launch the next leg of our trip. Since Halloween has become a month long celebration and on the brink of becoming a national holiday, the least we could do was pay homage to one its primary fear factors.

If Anne Rice can turn from vampires to writing about religion then we felt that this heavenly blue Mustang could lay down a few miles in vampire territory. Not that we're superstitious, but it seemed a good idea to lock the doors and run the windows up to make sure that Ms. Rice did not fly in the window. Fortunately, we were never bitten in the neck and the only blood suckers we encountered were at the gas pumps.

Happy Motoring as our friends at Exxon used to say.