Politics & Policy

On The Road, Day 1

Coffee, check. Cosmo, check. Cell-phones, check.

9:25 A.M., August 16, 2001

Horror of horrors.

I met Doug at the Starbucks near the Tenley Town metro around 9:00 P.M. We’re wearing shorts, Tevas (or whatever trendy brand of high-end open-toed shoes we’re wearing), and max-casual short-sleeved shirts. We buy some coffee, no doubt harvested by exotic poor children — “It’s their tiny hands that make it tasty.” We load up my Passat with my laptop, our cell phones, and, of course, one super photogenic dog.

It dawns on us: We are a real life Volkswagen commercial. And . . . we are ashamed.

10:40 A.M.

The good news is that notorious D.O.G. is cool with riding in the car. We were worried that he’d be spazzy like a six-year-old on pixie sticks. But he’s digging it. He is having trouble staying awake, however. [Click here for Trip Pics]

5:34 P.M.

Doug, Cosmo, and I have just left Mud Hen Stadium in Toledo, Ohio. The Mud Hens, made famous by Max Klinger of M*A*S*H, claim to be the most popular minor league baseball team in America and, well, who am I to argue? I bought a swank Mud Hen cap and some other vital trinkets that may come in handy if I need to barter my way out of Toledo or prison — a minor distinction to some.

In my Mud Hen cap, I look like a buffoon. [Reminder: Click here for Trip Pics] A few feet over from me there’s a gentleman sitting at a table. I just told him that the guy who played Worf in Star Trek: The Next Generation also played the Klingon lawyer in the movie Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Clearly, he finds this fascinating.

Beyond that, there’s not much else to report, except for the fact that the Pennsylvania Turnpike is too narrow and so is the Ohio Turnpike. But that’s only news to people who don’t care.

6:41 P.M.

We just entered Indiana. It looks remarkably like Ohio so far. It even has egregiously expensive tolls, just like Ohio and Pennsylvania. I know these have been state-owned tolls, but I can’t help but wonder how similar this experience is to the libertarian nirvana of all privately owned roads. After all, in such a glorious world, I could be paying Bill Gates for the privilege of using Microsoft Highway 3.0 — make sure to download the yellow stripe down the road. Sorry, I will try to hold off on the gratuitous libertoid jabs until the Great Plains. 7:31 P.M. (6:31 P.M. CST)

Some things require no commentary.

7:34 P.M.

We arrive at Notre Dame. Cosmo is eager to leave his mark here. No offense to the Fighting Irish.

As we walk around the stadium (and past “Touchdown Jesus”) I see a statue. I assume its Knute Rockne or the Gipper. But it’s Frank Leahy, the famed coach — which must be obvious to all the people who think I’m a moron. I asked Doug to take my picture alongside the statue. All of a sudden Cosmo runs up to us and his hackles are straight up like a good martini, or maybe a better simile I can’t think of. He barks at Leahy’s marble doppelganger furiously, protectively. We don’t take the picture because: Cosmo HATES Frank Leahy.

I don’t know why, but theories are welcome.

Coming Soon

Mishawaka, Indiana: Purgatory without the scenery.

South Bend, Indiana: Mishwaka with better lighting.

Super 8 hotels: Petri dishes of badness

Also: My ANWR critics suck pond water.

And: For critics who hate these self-indulgent travelogues, see my syndicated column.

(Click here for Day 1 Eve.)


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