Sunday, December 25, 2011

No. 893 – Show Don’t Tell

Performer: Rush
Songwriters: Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, Neal Peart
Original Release: Presto
Year: 1989
Definitive Version: None

At Harbor Country News, I had neither time off nor money. At the Daily Herald, I had a little time off but still no money. But at the Flint Journal, I had both, so in 1990, I decided to take my first real vacation that didn’t involve family or friends. The choice was clear: Cooperstown.

But I decided to do more than just that. I would see Niagara Falls, swing up to Toronto and then meander through small-town Canada on the way home. Obviously, this would be a driving trip, and, like my journey through the Great Plains, I wanted to take almost all back roads. The exception would be from Niagara Falls to Toronto, although taking Canadian highways are, for the most part, like taking back roads anyway.

So I loaded up the Magic Mazda, had the landlord snap a picture to document my departure and headed out on a bright and beautiful October day. (I’m wearing shorts in the picture.) I crossed over the Blue Water Bridge at Port Huron and after a quick overnight around Chatham, I headed south to the top of Lake Erie, which I followed to Niagara Falls for a brief stop and then New York.

My plan was find a motel a little east of Buffalo, maybe around Auburn or Batavia. Rte. 20 cut across the middle of the state and would take me the next day all the way to the turn-off to get to Cooperstown—the perfect route.

Funny thing though, I couldn’t find any motels along Rte. 20. It’s not as if I were looking for a Red Roof or some other chain; I wanted to stay at Joe’s Place or somesuch independent fly-by-night stopoff. No dice. I kept driving from town to town—nothing, not even in the towns themselves. It was starting to get late, and I contemplated a drive up to Rochester. But when I learned that it was 60 miles off the beaten path, I turned around. I didn’t want to have to add that extra time to the drive the next day. (Buffalo also was ruled out for the same reason.)

I don’t know how many miles I drove around western New York looking for a motel, but I finally gave up. So I pulled off on a small farm road, found a nice dark curve under some trees that afforded a wide berth for passing and hunkered down in my car. I wasn’t afraid; I was tired, and besides I was in the middle of nowhere. Who was going to bother me there?

I put some shirts up on the windows, leaned the drivers seat back and turned on the radio. Game 2 of the American League playoffs was coming on, and Boston needed a win to even up the series. I listened for a while and when it became apparent that Oakland was going to win easily, I turned it off and slowly drifted off to sleep.

My journey to the Hall of Fame was definitely off to an auspicious start.

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