Saturday, January 25, 2014

Cemeteries, Trains, and Rusty Thangs

Today is one of those days I feel like I've been up forever and half of forever has been spent driving. I know I easily put in around some five hours of road time today driving from Columbus to Atlanta to Winder and back. It was an adventure, for sure, worthy of no better partner in adventurous crime, Crystal.

Crystal showed up at our house around 7:00am. She was late because she almost forgot to let Otto out. That's how excited we were. We stayed up last night texting about how cold it was going to be but how excited we were to drive out to Atlanta to see the Oakland Historic Cemetery. One of our bonding traits is that we both share a same love of cemeteries and can easily devote a day or more to visiting random historic burial sites. They're awesome.

So, we get on the road and all is going well. We get to Oakland on time and it is just as beautiful as we imagined it could possibly be. Magnolias shading random graves, epic mausoleums, and all smack in the middle of the heart of downtown Altanta! The city developed around this site and there are a string of old masonry factories that surround the lot that have been converted to lofts! Across the street is a row of really awesome restaurants, a performance auto store, and a coffee house called OCTANE. Truly an eclectic mix.

We marveled at the splendors surrounding us for about as long as our fingers could function inside gloves. It was cold. Really cold. Like, despite wearing knee high socks, jeans, a tank top, long sleeve shirt, t-shirt, jacket, scarf, and hat, somehow my body was freezing and even my teeth were cold kinda cold. At that point, I said, "Screw it, we're touring the cemetery in the Focus." So we scurried back to the Focus and turned on the heater ASAP, driving past the lofts and talking about how it would somehow be our early-twenties college years dreams to have lived in the lofts in that neighborhood. It was so cool!

It was much more pleasant to drive through the cemetery now from the warmth of the Focus. We were more efficient in covering more ground quicker and all plans came to a slamming halt (literally) when I saw a train. I love trains. I don't know why, I just do. I went on an Amtrak once with my family as a kid and have been in love since. I stop the car and put on the parking brake, jump out the door, weave through tombstones and dodging graves only to hop onto a few different walls and marvel at the big steel beast. He was glorious! After taking some photos of my big distraction, we continued on our tour and decided to get some breakfast or lunch. It didn't matter, we were just hungry.

We stopped off at Six Feet Under, which is directly across from the cemetery. It was truly a hard call to make as there were a bunch of great looking places in the area, but alas, Six Feet Under prided itself as a pub and fish house and beer sounded like a great way to warm up. It reminded me very much of Moon River Brewing Co. in Savannah. It had that same vibe of edgy local kitsch combined with a pub-style menu, of course with their own spin predominantly focusing on seafood. Crystal got fried green tomatoes, the taco combo plate and an Angry Orchard, and I got a double order of mice toes paired with a Corona. She was stuffed and gave me the rest of her fried green tomatoes (which was actually the first time I ever had them and they're pretty awesome.) The jukebox in the place was probably the best feature. It was so unbelievably random playing artists like MC5, Elvis Costello, and Prince, to old Motown. I kept thinking about how my friend Katrina would have got a kick out of the place for the music alone. We talked with the staff as the pub hadn't got busy yet and seemed like it had just opened. It was a great place and definitely one I'll go back to.

On the way back to the Focus, we stopped in the Barnett Performance to look around. It was nothing like Summit. In fact, I think all those years we lived in Reno and we'd go out to Summit to get parts for the Galaxie and the Oldsmobile, well, let's just say that has spoiled me and pretty much ruined any performance retail stores from here out. Still, it was interesting to check out and I took a card in case Columbus doesn't have anything good to offer in that area. We walked back to the Focus and discussed what to do next. It wasn't even noon yet and we had already taken a few hundred photos of the cemetery, had food, drank beer, and had a whole day left.

"I'm gonna call Terry," I said, looking through my gmail for the response from a Craigslist post I inquired about on a 74 Charger. I emailed him about it a few days ago and told him I'd like to check it out but was going to be out of town this weekend. I think he assumed I was going to be a no-show and was surprised when I asked if he'd mind if I came out to check out the car.

And so the adventure continued...

We hit the road and no less than five minutes after we got on the highway, I had to pee. Somewhere between all the coffee, water, and beer, I was determined we had to stop. I pulled off the highway in search of the supposed Shell station that was .25 miles away. I saw it and lo and behold, it was on the left side of the road, behind a median. We spent what felt like an eternity waiting at the light a few go's until it was our turn to get the turn arrow. I hung a Louie and ran into the station looking for the restroom, relying on my 6th sense to find a bathroom anywhere to guide me in the right direction. The attendant said, "You looking for bathroom?" I nodded and he replied, "It's out of service." DAMMIT! "Where's the closest one?" I asked. "At Chick-fil-a."

I ran out of the store at my fastest sprint, cautious to avoid cars thinking, "I bet people probably think I just stole something with the way I bolted out of there." Often times, people ask me why I run and to which I can now say, "I run because one day, I will need to use a bathroom really bad and the closest one will be .25 miles away and I can have the option of running there in under 2 minutes, or getting in the car, buckling up, trying to get out of a busy street and hoping to find another one in under 10 minutes." Do the math, people! It was a total win. I got to Chick-fil-a, went pee, came back and all in less time it would have taken me to drive. I got back in the Focus and hopped back onto the highway.

We drove another 60 miles out to Winder to check out Terry's car. Despite GPS trying to get us lost by telling us to go left when it meant right and vise versa, we managed to find his place in the time frame we told him we'd show up around. Crystal wasn't certain if I was going the right way, but alas, I knew we were in the right place when I saw an assortment of old Dodges in the driveway. We got out of the car and walked up to his porch to ring the doorbell, only to find it wasn't quite functioning. Luckily, his cats knew we were there and were "acting funny" and he went to see what was going on outside and saw us.

He took us to the back of his property where there were even more old Dodges sitting amongst various fenders, glass, and parts. It was as if he had his own little Dodge junkyard in his backyard! He was super nice and let me take photos of the car in more detail to show Jesse so we could discuss whether or not we wanted to pick up the project. Sadly, the damage to the car was well beyond or scope of abilities to repair, which was a complete bummer since he only wanted $600 for the body! But it wasn't a complete waste of time going out there. While we didn't buy the 74 Charger, he was nice enough to let me take some photos of his collection of cars. I joked with him that I had spent $40k in an art school tuition and I wasn't going to let it go to waste. He showed us his only non-Dodge, his Roadrunner that was like the same one Daisy Duke drove in Duke's of Hazard and his beloved Super Bee, and another Dodge he had since he was 17 and has refused to part with. He keeps getting more cars, but doesn't have time to work on them all and has been trying to figure out which ones to part with and which ones to keep.

He seemed somewhat nostalgic and bittersweet when we parted, saying he hopes if we get the car we devote the time to it, but if he never heard from us again, he wouldn't be upset. I think he just wants what anyone wants and to see his car treated right. If we can't do it, someone else will, and if no one else does, he's going to hold on to it. A rather heartbreaking and poetic moment in something as mundane as shopping for a car.

As Crystal and I headed home, we were hellbent for some cheesecake. Crystal looked up some places and found a French Bakery not too far away that had 37 reviews and sounded promising. So we exited the highway again on our now 160 mile trip home. Having been awake since 5:30am with around 3 or 4 hours of sleep from the night before, sugar or caffeine sounded like a fine idea. We arrived, parked, and got out only to find it was closed. Crystal was disappointed as she was certain a place with 37 reviews had to be good. I asked, "Of those 37 reviews, did any of them mention it was closed Saturday? If not, I'll be reviewer 38..." We laughed at the situation more and decided to just go to Steak N Shake.

Once again, on our way to Steak N Shake, we were pressed with one of us, this time Crystal, having to pee badly and dealing with a left turn light and drivers that didn't know how to drive through a turn light. Fortunately, we got our turn, got in to Steak N Shake, Crystal peed, we had dinner, got shakes and really, it was uneventful, and we headed home.

By the time we got back to Columbus, it was almost 6:00pm. We had been out for some 11 hours driving for roughly 5 of those hours. All in all, it was a good day full of silly adventures, singing in the car, good food, good friends, good photo ops, and good fun.

Additional photos from this adventure can be seen on Facebook under the Cemeteries, Trains, and Rusty Thangs album.

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