Monday, July 7, 2008

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride

Summer Sun, 20 x 28, oil on linen
A beautiful barn across from my Uncle Reid and Aunt Marilyn's ranch in Oregon.

The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame was my brother Todd's favorite book. At least when he was young. It was the adventures of Toad that most entertained my brother, and he would entertain me with his retelling of Toad's catastrophes.

I found kinship with Ratty, who says somewhere along the way, There is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Well, until last week.

I headed out for Denver a bit late last Tuesday - no surprise there - but looking forward to the show as I am feeling pretty good about the work I have put together this spring. By Thursday morning I was looking to arrive right about on time as I headed across Nebraska. At about 9, a truck pulling a big horse trailer was merging down the on-ramp along I 80, I switched left, came around admiring the handsome buckskin in the trailer, and merged back right ahead of the truck/trailer.
Corn Crib, Summer, 30 x 30 inches, oil on linen.

And the back fell off the van. Or it felt that way. A tremendous lurch, the back dropped all out-a-whack. I looked in the rear view, expecting to see daylight and the truck trailer running over all my paintings. But the van was intact. I checked the passenger side rear view and there was a huge shower of sparks jetting out the back. And then a blur passed me on the shoulder to the right, dropped down in the ditch, and launched off the far-side. My wheel cleared the barb wire fence by at least ten feet, sailed 50, 60 feet and landed in a corn field. I could see the corn vibrate as the tire continued on it's way - doing about 70 mph. Fortunately it was a big field.

All the visions of long-ago driver's-ed flashed through my head. Shouldn't I be battling to keep control, to keep from going into some highway death-roll? My life flashing before my eyes? I've always known the Jug was not a high-performance, quick turning demon. It's not her job. She's a tank. Turns out she really likes to go straight. I put the blinker on, pulled over, a few calls to AAA had me a tow truck in 20 minutes. The great guys at Moguls Transmission in York, Nebraska got on the phone and found me some salvage parts, and had me back on the road by 3:30. An advantage to driving an old ...... I mean vintage, Chevy van is parts are plentiful.

The show in Denver was great, I'm leaving a few pieces behind. Off to get a matching pair of tires, then up to Wyoming to fish for a few days, and on to Yellowstone for some drawing/painting/hiking/fishing.

When you have your car worked on, always check the lug nuts yourself.

Corn Crib, Winter, 30 x 30 inches, oil on linen.

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