MttS Pre-Launch

Tuesday July 3rd Melrose, MA to Ramsey, NJ

Welcome to East bum-fuck New Jersey. Here we are in the middle of nowhere. We are kind of near New York City. I say kind of near because we’re not really near anything. New York is simply the closest reference point you could give a police officer if you had to tell them where to recover my body at this morgue of a hotel.

As I write this, I’m trying to figure out a plan of how I’m going to document the trip. I don’t know which details I should leave out and which I should leave in. Which details make for a good story and which details I want to include just so I’ll remember they happened. Whether I should publicly complain about my road trip buddy or whether I should keep those thoughts in a separate word document hidden away for my eyes only. Should I keep it to bullet points or list form and only expand on the important things, or should I write the whole thing in narrative form like it’s a story. In all likelihood I’ll end up with some hybrid combination of the two depending on how tired I am on each leg of the trip. Perhaps I’ll figure it out along the way. Perhaps I’ll form a system as I go and have it down by the time we make our way back to the Bay State. All I know is, we’re so not prepared for this.

Jump to 5pm when Pete arrived at my house. After a short check of what we have packed we hop in Alice to start our first unofficial day of the Mini Takes The States rally. I say unofficial because technically the rally starts tomorrow. Me and Pete are on our way to a Best Western in Ramsey, New Jersey to get a jump on some of the driving. The rally is set to begin at the Mini headquarters in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey. On the MttS map, the starting point is shown as being New York City. I guess that’s more politically correct than saying the trip starts out in East bum-fuck.

The ride starts out fairly uneventful. We hop right on the highway, Pete starting off the first leg. It’s a regular buddy movie and the atmosphere in the car is surprisingly light hearted.

Jump to a few weeks ago when me and Pete were hanging out at his house. We had recently come to the decision -after several months of teetering on the fence- that we were actually going to participate in Mini Takes the States. Pete had been saying that he would want to do a DIY “rear seat delete” if we did in fact participate in the rally because he didn’t want to put the seat backs down and put our suitcases on them because the prolonged weight might ruin the leather. So, we went out to his car and within a matter of minutes Pete had the seat backs and seat bottom (the bottom is only one piece like the bench seats old cars have) out.

We took the car for a spin and there was a tremendous difference in road noise. We could clearly hear the fuel pump, and even the fuel itself sloshing around in the gas tank. It’s amazing what a few inches of sound deadening can do.

Jump to 7:47pm at a Panera in Southbury, CT. After a 45 minute food break we head back to the road. This time it’s my turn to drive. Though Pete’s owned the car for several years, I’ve never driven it. Instantly there’s a lot of feedback from the car. The steering is very tight (go cart like) and the throttle is touchy. Couple that with Pete’s nerves about me driving his car, my nerves about driving his car, his watching of my every move, my general dislike of driving period, and the oncoming night, and you have a bad combination.

It’s Celebration V all over again. The mood in the car is completely different. Much heavier, much quieter. My right ankle is tense and every bump in the road sends the car into terrible shivers. After I don’t know how long of driving and a thought to be mistaken exit, I pull into a parking lot. We figure out where the GPS is taking us and after a short conversation, decide the best move is a Chinese fire drill.

Seating and life restored to normal order, Pete makes up time speeding along this narrow two lane highway. We see several deer along the side of the unlit wood-edged road. If any decided to jump out there’d be nothing we could do. The whole time I’m eyeing the side of the road, not blinking, on full deer patrol. I’m silently dwelling on my poor driving performance. Couple that with Pete’s pointing out of my driving flaws during our little pit stop. Couple that with my already self conscious thoughts about my driving and there are knots in my stomach. My romanticized version of this trip is slowly turning into a less shiny reality.

The deer don’t jump out and soon we’re back to four lanes, traffic, and crazy New Yorkers. A jaunt over the Tappan Zee bridge and minutes later we’re at the hotel.

I [we] have six more days of this.

After binge reading so much Chuck Palahniuk, it’s hard for me not to emulate his writing style. Even as I write this, I wonder, does reading good writing make you a good [better or decent] writer?

Total miles, ~225

Money spent: $11.25 for food; $6.15 for deodorant

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