By suggestion of TigerLilly, who's been doing some traveling of her own lately: a place to talk about one's travel adventures (in the physical world!). Great road trips, the time you got a gig crewing on a yacht, your years in the Peace Corps, the time you walked the Great Wall... You get the idea!
Nixon was definatley dosed when he went to the Wall -- what was it he kept muttering? "it is indeed a Great Wall... it is indeed a Great Wall... it is indeed a Great Wall..." (shameless paraphrase from Doonesbury circa 1975) The Great Wall is accessable from Beijing in 3 or 4 typical tourist drop off spots, but Badaling is the most common - where Nixon went. It was re-built in many places for tourists since during the Mao era a lot of local folks just kind of picked up the stones and carted them off to build their own 'little walls' The thing to do, is take a really cheap Chinese tour bus up to the Wall, OK, you will NOT have a tour guide who speaks English, and you will not have any idea of where you are at any given moment or where you are going, but you will have an experience, and you will get to Badaling after a while and after stops at plenty of schlocky tourist sites on the way. We got into the habbit of having the driver of the bus write down what time we would leave so as not to get left behind. (key advice - please take note!) OK, the real advice, Go early! Even going eraly, there will be literally thousands and thousands of people there. And now the ULTIMATE advice; Wherever you arrive at the wall, if the crowd turns left to go to the Wall, please turn right. You will eventually get to some guarded gates or stairs leading up to the wall. The gorgon at the gate is not evil, and being westerners you will usually be allowed to access the Wall at these less than well-known spots. This means, (we went up to the wall 3 or 4 times back around 1990, and again around 2000) you will be on a semi-private area of the Wall overlooking the valley accross which you will see the throngs of tourists. On one occassion, the soldier stood up, kind of gestured with his rifle that we should go back; we smiled, I took out my camera (a big rig in those days) and he immediately got into a pose. I went to shake his hand, slipped him a US $ or 2, and he let us up. Other times, we simply found some broken down stairs and made our way up onto secluded areas. We packed a picnic lunch and essentially had miles of the wall to ourselves to enjoy. Hiking about 20 or 30 minutes in reverse of the crowd, in the opposite direction away from the parking lots, we found our way. From pictures or videos, you can not fathom how long that fucker is. Like a snake winding through the mountains, it stretches farther than the eye can see. And NO, it is not visible from "space" like the urban legends of NASA might suggest, but it is a really, really cool place. Who else here can say that they got laid on the Grate Wall of China?! peace.
I knew that crap about being seen from space was bullshit! I hear they have some bowling alleys at The Wall that can be heard from space, though! Bowling is the biggest tourist draw for China, in fact. I don't know this first hand ;-) I've only been to the Great Bowl of China which is over on Radford over by the In N Out Burger. Those are "grate" burgers!Hey great to "see" you again, CC Joe. Hope the green tea wasn't too much for your 'puter. Fuck it Dude, let's go bowlin'...
you gotta pacify my old lady since it was her 'puter; not mine. no permanent damage, apparently, but there is a distinct odor. that said, green tea is healthy, and it keeps me strong, so she forgives you. thanks for the welcome back, always nice to be 'home' I am here, kind of part time for the next few weeks, but with a bit of luck, I may get techno access to start up the game show again in a few weeks. bowling is incredibly popular in China I am told by Chinese friends, by the by. back in 1990 did they have the satellite photo technology to take pictures of license plates from space like they do these days? if so, there may be some really emBARE-ASSing pics of us floating around the CIA offices... I should have said it is not visible with the "naked" eye from space. (ouch- that was a terrible pun) "fucking feds!" Tony Soprano
Good job CC Joe! I should've guessed that you might be the one to bring that entry up. In these paranoid times one thinks they know the score when they "see" things but little do any of us "know". CIA could easily stand for, Culinary Institute of America or Curiously Intuitive Adult(s). My son attempted to attend the university of the former in NY (we couldn't afford the tuition) while I would love to start a real assemblage of the latter. I have no real interest in foreign politics, have never been paid a cent for anything I've ever cooked and care little for our domestic spying program, albeit run by NSA not CIA, truth be known (but the satellite photo thing is something I hadn't thought of, frankly). I am glad no foreign spammers have begun clogging up our site with crap postings, links to porn and such (I can find my own porn, thank you very much). Sorry, I have a bit of Andy Kaufman in my personality (and he's tryin' to get out!). Anyone ever see, "Man on the Moon"? (sorry, wrong thread). Viva la Revolution!
The wife and I honeymooned in the Riviera Maya!!! All Inclusive resort at Dreams Tulum. Treated like royalty and the beaches are as white and as soft as can be. Highly recomend this journey!!!
Too many epic journeys to mention...Here's the latest, just got in off the road and feeling it! Just finished a big tour around Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Belarus and Russia! The route which I improvised along the way with the help of a few books and advice from fellow travelers upon the road was: Hamburg>Quedlinburg(sweet!)>Wernigerode(beautiful!)> Lutherstadt-Wittenburg>Dresden(classic!)>Leipzig(excellent!)> Naumberg>Weimar>Erfurt(fantastic-w/ a bridge with houses and shops on both sides so that u can't even see the river!)>Gotha>Mittelbau-Dora>Fulda>Kassel>Marburg(nice!)> Frankfurt(crappy!)>Hamburg>Stettin>Warsaw(I like!)>Vilnius(nice!)>Kaunas(not so touristy and interesting!)>Klaipeda>Nida>Liepaja>Ventspils>Kap Kolka>Riga(Russian mafia strip-joints)>Turaida>Cesis>Valka(crappiest Communist style hotel ever!)>Tartu(primo!)>some little villages in south east Estonia whose names I forget which were lovely>Lake Piepsi>Tallinn(my fav. baltic city!!!)>Haapsaalu>Kuresaare>Parnu>Riga>Vilnius>Minsk(strange place-had fun!!)>Brest(nice time had!!)>Grodno(pretty but small!)>Vilnius>Kaliningrad(Russian crap housing blocks that make the ghettos in the USA look stylie but folks there keep their self respect still!!)>Warsaw>Berlin(more museums and art galleries then u can shake a stick at!)>Hamburg!!! Did gigs in Tallinn, Minsk and Brest and just roamed around the rest meeting far out folks! Crazy to play gigs in a dictatorship! I'll post some vids from that on youtube later this week. Highlights: Not getting arrested for playing freedom music in Belarus, even after doing a medley on the street in front of the Presidents Palace and having it videoed. Hitching a ride on a boat to cross a river I didn't see on the map in rural Estonia and not missing the bus I was trying to catch. Having a Belarus soldier help me out taking me around Brest even letting me wear his army hat for a photo op in front of T-34 tanks at a war memorial. Finding out there really are good folks out there, everywhere, who are "on to IT"! Are you kind?
Looking at extending this journey in a few more days if I can organize a couple of little things first! More to come most likely... ;) Are you kind?
The woman was somewhat shocked to discover that the most cost-effective route between Sevilla and Frankfurt was via Palma de Mallorca. Not Barcelona, not Madrid, but Palma. "Oh well," she said to herself while fighting through Air Berlin's complicated, yet user-friendly online booking system, "have never been to Mallorca, so can at least see it from the air". As was a short weekend trip, the woman only had one small duffel bag with her. She had to check it though, due to strict flight regulations against carrying on such things as toothpaste. (we all know how dangerous a strong, anti-cavity substance can be), so she checked said bag in Sevilla, via Palma, ending up in Frankfurt. Bag was an ancient, brown sport duffel bag, with a whopping 4 kilos. Flight itself between Sevilla and Palma was uneventful. The woman had a wonderful view of Palma from the air, and all was good. Was a small problem in the Palma airport with a drunken, annoying Argentinian shouting about having 10,000 euros in his sock, who was very annoyingly and persistantly attached to the woman. Unfortunately he was also on the same plane, but is another story. So the woman finally landed in Frankfurt, in the middle of the night, and was waiting at the baggage belt with her new friend from the plane, who helped her shake the annoying Argentinian. She waited and waited, but her bag did not come. She was very annoyed, because the bag not only contained the dangerous toothpaste, but solution for her contact lenses, AND the brand-new soccer shoes that were a birthday gift for her daughter, from the woman's new boss in Spain. The very first brand-new pair of soccer shoes the woman's daughter had ever owned, so was precious cargo indeed! The woman found out the next day that her bag had made a journey from Palma, not to Frankfurt, but to Copenhagen. The day after that the woman learned that the proper Danish airline employees seemed incapable of dealing with the matter of this missing brown bag, and were refusing ALL communication with the baggage authorities in Frankfurt. Needless to say, the woman's daughter was asking her every 5 minutes when the bag is coming, and her son was asking too, as he was anxiously awaiting the tin of Spanish octopus salad that was also in the bag. Is the 3rd day, and bag is still missing. Stay tuned for further adventures of this small brown bag and its solitary trip to Copenhagen, eluding the Danish baggage handlers. ********************************** Don't part with your illusions. When they are gone, you will still exist, but you have ceased to live. Samuel Clemens
Doc Holiday said as he looked down at his feet, and then promptly died. Yes TigerLilly, at least "we" can find humor in life which, according to my personal observations, is one blessing not shared by those making it such. Very enjoyabe story and I'll attempt to imagine an attuned conclusion, for both you and your kids. Keep us posted. The Dude Abides!
GRTUD-to look for humor in distress. Keeps the abyss at bay sometimes. Will update the brown bag travelog when I know more.********************************** Don't part with your illusions. When they are gone, you will still exist, but you have ceased to live. Samuel Clemens
The woman spent three nights sleeping in her contact lenses, which did wonderful things for both her eyes and her mood. Unfortunately she was blind as a bat with no vision correction devices to aid her weak eyes. And contacts were so trashed from flying and sleeping, that she was afraid to take them out-that they would crumble in her hands, and then she would be able to see nothing at all. Of course her glasses were on the European travel adventure with the rest of the bag. As the woman was a "take charge of her life" kinda gal, she spent many hours on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday on the telephone. Talking to the poor, helpless baggage claim authorities in Frankfurt (who were VERY polite and understanding on the phone), squeezing money for new contacts out of Air Berlin airlines directly, attempting to reason with very rude Danish airport personnel, shrieking and throwing the phone when the Danish baggage retrieval authority telephone line made the following announcement every half hour when she called: "We are sorry, but due to an unusually heavy workload, we cannot take your call right now." Beep, beep, beep, beep (throwing the woman out of the telephone line) The woman's daughter spent the days reminding her mother how much she "really really wanted her new soccer shoes, and wasn't it a wonderful day to go out and kick". Her son kept telling the woman that her eyes were all red and runny, and wouldn't it be nice to be able to eat the octopus salad that was in the brown bag, and didn't the woman know how much he LOVED octopus salad, and what a special treat was floating around undeservedly in Denmark. In the meantime, Air Berlin told the woman that she should make a detailed list of all items in this wayward bag, and that Air Berlin would be so kind as to replace them on the 6th day of the little brown bag's solo adventure. The woman was NOT pleased at this idea, she did not want new things, but her own shabby little brown bag back. Her daughter was NOT pleased either, because she wanted the shoes that had been bought for her as a gift, and not replacement shoes. The woman's son said "Cool, you can make a really elaborate list, and get new shoes for ME too!" Little opportunist that he is. And then suddenly, on Saturday afternoon, and with no warning, the doorbell rang. The dog barked in the yard (her signal that was a strange adult in front of the door). The woman opened the gate to the yard to find a gigantic, bald-headed man standing there. A big scary-looking guy, who nevertheless had a very friendly expression on his face. A man who greeted the dog who was sniffing his crotch by then with "hey Du fines Tier, Du, bist Du ein lieber Kerl" (did notphase the dog's frantic crotch-sniffing one whit to be taken for a male dog, when she is not) and a man who was proudly clutching the woman's small brown bag. There was alot of rejoycing taking place in the woman's yard that moment. The woman was smiling. The big scary-looking bald headed man was smiling. The children were jumping up and down and trying to snatch the bag out of the man's hands. The dog stopped sniffing long enough to prance around and chase her tail (her version of celebrating) A quick examination was made of the bag's contents. None were missing, nor the worse for wear and tear. The little girl had tears of delight in her eyes when she had her new shoes in her hands. And the big, scary-looking man looked genuinly pleased with himself, and was enjoying the delight that his presence brought to the woman's yard. The woman sent him on his way with a nice tip, a handshake, and many smiles. The brown bag was covered with stickers in Danish, saying "rush" and things like that, but otherwise had nothing to tell about its big adventure, all alone in Copenhagen. The woman and the brown bag have to do this whole trip backwards again, very very early tomorrow morning, and the woman is somewhat concerned about what adventures might befall her small brown duffel bag THIS time. ********************************** Don't part with your illusions. When they are gone, you will still exist, but you have ceased to live. Samuel Clemens
Glad to hear the good news of the Brown Bag's safe travel There and Back Again. The Dude Abides!
was the toothpaste ok? Croatia would be a nice place for the bag to this time :-)))))))))))))))))) Bob - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Spanish Jam
was fine, but toothbrush was ruined by hand cream that leaked. But after such an adventure, I feel lucky that was the only mishap-and a minor one at that (was getting to be time for a new toothbrush anyhow) Croatia would surely be a more efficient location for my bag to end up than Denmark was. If it would go there, might be tempted to go after it myself! :-) ********************************** Don't part with your illusions. When they are gone, you will still exist, but you have ceased to live. Samuel Clemens
has the bag set off for the latest Phil and Friends show, or Bobby's 60th birthday party :-) B- - - - - - - - - - - - - - Spanish Jam
This time it arrived in Sevilla WITH me, and quite likely in better shape than I did.********************************** Don't part with your illusions. When they are gone, you will still exist, but you have ceased to live. Samuel Clemens
first, Doc Holliday is a folk hero of mine (yeah yeah he was a bad guy and all that - I know I know) so I always appreciate seeing a Doc reference! TL - I had a green canvas duffle bag that was supposed to go to NYC with me in 1984 when I flew from DC. My green bag had a great vacation without me, and ended up on one of the Virgin Islands, although I can't remember now which one. It was very strange to look at the airport tags when I finally got it back, to see where it'd been. May your little brown bag come safely to you soon!
TigerLilly,You may have started a new genre in literature; Lost Luggage. The Lost Luggage Chronicles could be a collection of Lost Luggage short stories. I see a movie with lots of these stories; it could be a collection of movies about each story, or an avant- garde type of thing following each piece of luggage and the luggage is the main character, the people are merely supporting actors. If it was done in Hollywood it would involve a man and woman each getting each other’s luggage and then noticing they have it and meeting and falling in love, a romantic comedy. Or it could be a tale of espionage, I get the wrong luggage which contains the secrets of why the Rhino is mute and they send Owsley after me. Oh but maybe that is a subgenre, Wrong Luggage instead of Lost Luggage. If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite. Wiliam Blake
If you go to Glenwood Springs Colorado make sure and see the gravesite of Doc Holliday. I went there with my cousins when I was a kid and it made an impression on me that we would go see the grave of an outlaw. If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite. Wiliam Blake
Hal, what a good idea-"Chronicles of Lost Luggage" see izzie already has an episode to contribute too! Your Hollywood plot reminds me of the film What´s Up Doc, from the 70´s, with Barbara Streisand, Ryan O´Neal and 5 mixed up plaid suitcases. One with jewels, two with personal items, and of course people end up falling in love, and.... Will think about another lost luggage episode and write it when am inspired. ********************************** Don't part with your illusions. When they are gone, you will still exist, but you have ceased to live. Samuel Clemens
could be a whole new sub forum also - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Spanish Jam
Had a plan with a friend, and needed to buy some socks. Can't tell you what the plan was, as is personal, and not really the point of the story, but I REALLY needed socks, which is the important part. As I was slightly insecure about venturing out into unknown Sevilla, I was mentioning my dilemma at work. My collegue Jesús very kindly offered to show me where HE would go, were he in dire need of socks, so we went after work. Jesús took me to a teeny shop near his home. The entire store was probably no more than 20 meters large, with a counter, and tons of stuff displayed behind the counter. Tons of women's stuff, in every color of the rainbow. Hmmm!! Suddenly occurred to me that this was quite likely to turn into a situation where I would have to rely on being able to communicate with at least one of the women in Spanish, in order to accomplish the mission. Jesús must of read the brief look of panic in my eyes, ?cuz he smirked at me. He was going to enjoy watching how this exchange went. It was my turn, and I ended up with the younger of the two women asking how she could help me. I told her I needed to buy some socks (so far so good, she understood me). She asked me what sort of socks (so far so good, I understood her). This is where things got a wee bit verbally challenged, from my perspective. I knew what I wanted, but could I tell this in Spanish? So I did my best, which was obviously not good enough, because not only did the younger woman proceed to show me almost every pair of socks in the shop, explaining about each one at great length; but the older woman seemed to feel compelled to join her. Both were being very sweet and kind, speaking v-e-r-y- s-l-o-w-l-y, and gesturing alot-also blissfully ignoring the line that was forming behind me. It got harder to admire socks and listen to lengthy descriptions of the merits of each pair, as was distracted by the patience of the line of other customers. They were chatting happily amongst themselves, and didn't seem to mind at all that the two clerks had been giving me their undivided and exclusive attention for the last 20 minutes. Whoops! Am on a roll, but is getting long. Think I will post, and with part two tomorrow. ********************************** Don't part with your illusions. When they are gone, you will still exist, but you have ceased to live. Samuel Clemens
it is much easier in a supermarket, you just grab what you want i am sure they have them in Sevilla, there are plenty in Granada, Almeria and every other large town in Spain But then we wouldn't be delighted by your story telling :-))) you wern't the story teller in Terrapin by any chance Bob - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Spanish Jam
Jesus probably had a sense of humour. I live in a tiny Spanish village, but we have two Supermarkets, both open 0900 to 2100 everyday. normally in Spain it is 1000-1400 and reopen 1730 to 2000 monday to friday Saturday just morning. These supermarkets stock loads of weird things, Electric sockets, Socks and underclothes, every colour thread you can think of, allsorts of weird things. The two women who run these supermarkets are married to brothers who don't speak to each other. The women stock all these things so people don't go the other shop. Many a time i have been waiting to buy a carrot for half an hour or more while they put the world to rights with another village woman There are also 2 bars in the village and different people use each one . The main bar put it's prices up 6 months ago and loads of village people don't use the bar now village politics Bob - - - - - - - - - - - Spanish Jam
Bob,Socks needed to be either white or black. And was no Terrapin storyteller, regretfully. Models for the tempo and style I was shooting for was actually somewhere in between Arlo Guthrie and Mark Twain, ie: slow, informal wry humor w/ridicule about small details. Was shown magenta, turquoise, orange, purple, brown, yellow and... Was shown knee socks, sport socks, tights, half-tights, ankle socks, wool socks, cotton socks, nylon socks, and who knows what else. Was a sock sensory overload! And yes,Bob, Jesus does have a sense of humor. After about 3 minutes of watching my concentration for admiring socks, he was in stitches. What was convulsing him even more was when a few if the patient customers in the line behind me started chipping in to the discussion. Everyone was so kind and helpful that I ended up buying 3 pairs of socks instead of one. This after I had politely turned down perfume, shocking scarlet nail polish, a hairdryer, and hot pink eyeshadow, and all sorts of other bizarre items. After a good 45 minutes, Jesus and I finally escaped. We burst out of the door of the shop, and had to hold each other up for the next 3 blocks from laughing so much. This might be somewhat anticlimactic after the dramatic buildup in Sock Shopping Part I, BUT never fear-the adventures from that night are not yet over. But yet again, is a longer post, so will continue later. ********************************** Don't part with your illusions. When they are gone, you will still exist, but you have ceased to live. Samuel Clemens
the eye shadow might have been nice bOB - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Spanish Jam
For Halloween perhaps! :-) So what Sevillian chronicle next? Choices are: 1.) Jesus learns how to change a tire 2.) The ladder-stealing telephone man 3.) Confusion and insulting one of the few Sevillians over 75 who can speak English ********************************** Don't part with your illusions. When they are gone, you will still exist, but you have ceased to live. Samuel Clemens
this could be 21st century version of the Washington Irving classic - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Spanish Jam
What can be next? The suspense builds.Almost a challenge, Write a story about an object and keep it interesting. I know that changing a tire is often a mini -drama. If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite. Wiliam Blake
I may be the only Dead Head in Turkmnistan right now, currently working on the laptop and listening to the Dead/NRPS Vine 1970/05/15. Ashkabat is extraordinary..wide boulevards, every grand building clad in white marble, few cars. The people have been very kind and friendly (like most people). Cold air, grey skies. Off to the remote shores of the Caspian Sea tonight...could be an adventure till the next time................
the Caspian Sea! Always thought it was cool looking on the map, but I know NOTHING of that part of the world. Say more!
Yeah, that sounds really interesting, I hope to make it to the Caspian sea in summer. I always love to hear about strange places, I find it inspiring. J Are you kind?
Do you take photos? If so can you email them? Intriguing places. If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite. Wiliam Blake
badger, if you take pics, please host them on imagevenue.com and please post them here on the board, too. pretty please with sugar on top! peace. "There was once a road through the woods Before they planted the trees. It is underneath the coppice and heath, And the thin anemones. Only the keeper sees That, where the ring-dove broods, And the badgers roll at ease" Kipling
"I am from Caspiar, an Island in the Caspian Sea. It sunk."
What song is that from? Strange line considering that the "sea" has shrunk! Must be a Phish tune... Are you kind?
We raced across town that morning making all the required stops as if we had rehearsed the procedure the day before. Dropping off keys to our house and stopping at the bank, we moved with such efficiency that we had plenty of time to pick up something to eat before heading to the airport. Arriving at the ticket counter just minutes before the mandated check-in cut off time we felt as if we had made a three point shot to win the game just as the clock ticked the last couple of seconds. Minimal preparation for this trip seemed to be paying off so far. Coming to a rest in our seats on the plane we finally had time to unwrap our biscuits and hash browns. I like it when the plane pulls away from the gate; it pretty much means that they hadn’t found what was in my bag. It’s funny, the charge I get from sneaking contraband. I guess it’s sort of a kin to the sick pleasure I got by being me at a military school, or shoplifting as a kid. I just want to get away with it. I’m not one of these people who profits from this kind of thing, and somehow that makes me feel just in my mission to live the way I damn well please. Anyway, most of my friends tell me that taking weed to a Phish show is like taking sand to the beach, but really I didn’t want to be bothered; I just wanted to enjoy the show. Besides, all you have to do is get a little creative and it isn’t really a problem. It used to be that you could put a bag in your shoe, or even in your pocket and get away with it, but not these days, no sir, these days you have to get creative. Your ass isn’t even safe anymore. I really can’t believe that I have to spend all of my effort figuring out how to hide my stash instead of planning my trip. It’s only weed folks; what the fuck is wrong with this place when I am made out to be a criminal and criminals are made out to be our leaders and role models? Anyway, if you call a place paradise you can kiss that place goodbye. Now we are forced to put forth thought toward an activity that takes full responsibility for irresponsibility, and damn-it if the fun just got wiped right out. All things being equal though, all I have to say is that this was still our America, and hell yes there was marijuana in my bag. We were on our way to the last Phish show ever, and no I don’t have to be high to enjoy it, but I do have to know that I can get high if I want to enjoy it. Does that make sense? It would if you value freedom. Sitting back in our seats we began to discuss our plans. First we would get our asses from Mobile, Alabama to Manchester, New Hampshire by plane where we had a rental car reserved. We had packed as much camping gear in our luggage as we could carry, but being restricted to what we could check, we really didn’t have much. A tent, sleeping bags, a couple of changes of clothes each, and assorted other knick-knacks made up our gear. All of this fit into a couple of duffel bags and my Mountain Smith Bug-A-Boo day pack. I called it the mother ship because it had everything we really needed including our tickets to the show. I guess that was what our plans were based on; we had tickets to the show and a pocket full of cash. What could go wrong? We had certainly gone further with less in the past. Phish was putting on their farewell performance in the town of Coventry. Coventry is a small town in Northern Vermont. The show was taking place at Newport State Airport on the grounds and adjacent fields on August 14th and 15th 2004. The information read: “COVENTRY is the band’s first-ever home state festival, and first public outdoor Vermont appearance since 1995. Located amidst the rolling hills and lush green Valleys of Vermont’s Northeast kingdom, COVENTRY will be Phish’s seventh “city size” festival, with an expected turnout that will qualify it as Vermont’s most populated city for the weekend of August 14th and 15th. As with all prior Phish festivals, COVENTRY will see the band performing three live sets each day, with on site camping as well as numerous attractions and art installations created by teams of talented artists and performers.” Given that information we were confident that we would arrive the day before, get in our car, and drive up to Coventry with plenty of time to get to know the area before the show started. Shows like this usually have interesting food both inside and out, so we even planned to eat inside instead of bringing much of our own food. We actually put off taking our honeymoon for this trip. We were calling it our honeymoon, but we got married the following weekend so it was kind of a preemptive honeymoon. Still, it kept us from being able to take any other kind of trip, so all in all it was our honeymoon. It would have been nice to take a trip after our wedding to just relax and be pampered and shit, but this was history. You have to be ready and willing to put things off and travel to make stuff like this. Hell, that’s part of it. I almost feel like I am selling out by flying. We should have, in order to have done it right, been driving the little Nissan truck my friend gave me leaving our much more efficient, reliable, and comfortable (not to mention legal) Pasaat at home. I like to fly though. There is something about the airport, especially Atlanta, which appeals to me. It’s like this narrow spot in the river that we all rush through. We are exposed to people we normally avoid, and people who normally avoid us. I am most definitely a people watcher by nature. I think the feeling I get when I watch people is fear. I’m not saying that I am afraid of them exactly, but more like I feel the fear around me in a sense, like an aura. I feel like the weight of the world is gone, and I am no longer the future leader of tomorrow I once was, but rather a drop-out in so many words. I guess I just got the message all wrong, but I always thought of leaders as people who believed in things, fought for the good of us all, and opposed the evil oppressor to set us all free. The root of it all has been infected. Without a doubt we do live in a great country, but doesn’t being great come with some responsibility? The nickel and dime industry preys on us to the extent that we must each dedicate our lives to somebody else’s higher purpose in order to receive the currency that fuels us. What ever happened to my purpose, or yours? The sadness that money causes makes me cringe and feel sorry for those people out there striving for a promotion and missing the best years they could have ever had with their children. A sick obsession, and to what end? I guess I did all the prep work right alongside my fellow future leaders only to find out that there was a vast difference between what I felt was right and what was expected of me. I guess I see what might have been at the airport, and it makes me happy to be me. Anyway, there we were, a couple in our thirties trying to live down our twenties, and forsaking all things responsible to see a band play music. Out of all the people we knew who wished they could have done this; we were the only ones going. It wasn’t really convenient, and we couldn’t really afford it, but it was history and a chance to be surrounded by good souls. With the exception of the people who make money on the road the rest of us account for an awful lot of irresponsibility. Hell, it isn’t like vendors are exactly responsible people or anything. I just think of it as our responsibility to keep irresponsibility alive. Now it was real. We had left the sterility of the airport and were thrust out into the wet cold of New England. Man we were excited, and what a far cry we were from a month before when we pulled the trigger to come on this trip. I guess it must have been two months…huh. As soon as we heard about Phish’s decision to break up after Coventry, we immediately knew that we had to go. Putting off our honeymoon to Amsterdam, which we also couldn’t afford, we ordered our tickets the day before they sold out. The first thing we wanted to do after getting our rental car was to purchase a cheap cooler and expensive beer. We arrived in the early afternoon, and the traffic was just kicking into gear. The weather was a gloomy New England day, much the same as a gloomy “Old” England day I guess. Clouds hung motionless overhead, and the cool felt strange for August. The first gas station we pulled into had a pretty good beer selection and sold Styrofoam coolers. We loaded up on Newcastle and a couple of Gator-Aides and off we went. Soon after we were on our way and payin’ tolls to follow the path that lead to Coventry. We drove the day away and happily welcomed the dark evening. Having left civilization behind in a sense we began to get hungry and sort of regretted our decision to just eat on the road. There wasn’t much on the road between New Hampshire and Vermont. Finally an oasis appeared in the form of a truck stop in Lebanon, New Hampshire. After a full hour of nothing on the road we happily devoured whatever they had to offer. I tried to ignore the very Boston-esq sounding rendition of “Sweet Home Alabama” being performed in our honor by the owner, but the pain was much to bear. It was a small place, and we might as well have been wearing Mardi-Gras costumes the way he immediately recognized that we weren’t from around there. It wasn’t a bad experience, but there is little comfort in small town hang-outs when you aren’t from that place. Meanwhile there was a Taco Bell and everything just one exit down. Well, we were fat and happy and back on cruise control before long anyway, and probably better off. What could I have possibly told you about Taco Bell? “What exit were we looking for?” I asked Marjie. “Uhmm……Exit 26,” she was shuffling papers and maps as we talked. “Well there goes 24,” I got excited as I realized that our timing for this conversation was ideal. “Yay!!!” Marjie responded in her usual fashion. Her natural positive energy is why I love her, among many other reasons. “Okay,” I got serious for a moment, “we must be getting close.” Marjie studied the directions. “Yep, close to something,” I added. It was just about that time that we came upon what appeared to be a wreck or something. We drove down the left side a short while, but it didn’t take long before I realized that everyone was politely pulled off to the right in what was actually a really long line. “Maybe we should get over to the right,” Marjie said what I was thinking. “Yea, I think you’re right.” I was thinking that she was right. Then I thought that maybe I hadn’t thought it at all, but rather the idea had been planted there by her. Then I began to wonder how she could just get into my head like that, and I immediately suspected that she must be some kind of mutant or something. She flagged this car down and we got in line. I then began thinking that maybe she was more like a Jedi and uses mind control to help my aimless ass along in life. I decided to always trust her when I realized that mutant or Jedi, she was very much my guardian angel. We thanked the guys who let us in with a wave, and we pulled behind a Pacifica from Maine. It was around 8:30 P.M. I smiled at my guardian angel. Sometimes a silent smile holds much love beyond words. I soon realized how a rental car made me as homesick as a hotel room. Even with Marjie right there beside me, I missed the smell and feel of our car. (She would have won that one, there is no way we would have been sitting here in my buddy’s illegal truck.) All sorts of cars passed on the left with a variety of license plates and stickers identifying them as fellow travelers bound for the same destination. I kept wondering where they were all going. That lane kept a movin’, and our lane kept a mostly sittin’. Hours passed and we could still see the place where we had started. We switched drivers and took turns walking and peeing. We got stoned, we talked, and we listened to music. Was the joke on us or on the left laners? A few cars behind us bailed out. Did they have to circle around and get shuffled back to the end of the line? Who knew, but hours invested in our spot made it difficult to consider finding out. Our ill-preparedness hit hard when the Pacifica began to produce sandwiches right in front of us. They had also been making rum and cokes throughout the night. I walked up a good way and found a place to pee. There was so much activity on the roadside. Several carloads were out on the side of the highway, and there was dancing in the street. I struck up a conversation with a guy who claimed to have walked a good way up. He confirmed that the left laners were being shuffled back. He also said that there were only 15 ticket checkers and that people were falling asleep causing gaps in the line. It felt true enough because it explained the randomness of our motion about every 45 minutes or so. There was nothing to do really except go back and fill Marjie in on what I had discovered. About 1:30 A.M. I decided to make the back seat comfortable for my sweet bride to lie down. I got out stretching while she caught some Z’s. I stood there and watched these three guys talk to two chicks who were wandering by. After they left I observed the three of them divide up the two chicks they were likely to never see again. It was amusing, and they had lots of energy. They were playing heavy metal albums, and one of them reminded me of my friend Blaine’s younger brother Britton. He was the one with all the heavy metal trivia. My mind tried to wrap around all the different types of people who were drawn here this weekend, and all the motivations they had to make such a trip. It was about this time that we had to start rationing our water, and reclaiming water from the cooler. Man what a honeymoon. I am a veteran of the long hard road, but having Marjie with me made it seem harsher than ever. I was happy to share a side of me, though, that hopefully she would rarely get to see. Still, a family that gypsies together is bound to stay together. What better way to begin our lives together than to team up for basic survival. We could have always bailed out, but we didn’t even consider it a possibility. You know, if you take your girl to Cancun or something, and she smiles, well that is what is supposed to happen, but if you take her to the top of Vermont and sit on the side of the road for hours on end without any food and very little water, well that is when her true spirit shows, and if it shows a smile then let me tell you that there is nothing on this earth more beautiful than that. I stayed in the driver’s seat the whole night. Every hour I made an entry in my journal, and looking back it reads like a man’s journey to insanity starting out completely rational and positive and ending up with whole entries that only read, “Cheesecake…Cheesecake…cheesecakake…Ceeseekakee.” I spent the night hours making friends and buttering the Pacifica guys up for a possible food purchase. People would randomly walk by shouting things like, “NUGS, anybody got nugs, will trade shrooms for nugs…a cap for a bowl people…anybody got nugs?” It was the turning point for many, but the majority stuck it out. Sometime during the night I had been turned on to the radio station being broadcast from inside the show. The Bunny, 92.1, was our only source of hope and information. The DJ came on about seven in the morning to tell us that a traffic update would be coming soon, but it took a couple of hours more to find out that the situation had been caused by rain flooding much of the campground. We began to loose hope when the Pacifica from Maine finally bailed out. It was getting pretty awful out on I-91. It was 9:15 A.M. when the hammer fell. Thousands of people turned away. The once polite right lane society had immediately filled both lanes, and it was well past noon before we got out. We scurried along listening all the while for a message telling us what to do now, but all they could tell us was that we would be able to refund our tickets and that they would come up with something nice to make it up to us. We cruised along through all the traffic. We saw I-91’s highest elevation, and we even saw the famed exit 26. It was apparent that the moving we experienced was little more than filling the voids when people bailed out. I guess the joke was on us after all. We saw camps and the remnants of a good time. Some cars had no people, and one guy was walking along trying to motivate everyone to leave our cars and walk in. I only heard Phish being played from one car as we passed. Many cars brandished signs like, “phuck em.” People were everywhere, and the trash was piled up. The closer we got to exit 26, the more primal and savage it became. Vermont got pissed on good that night, and it wasn’t pretty. After all the sacrifice and hardship, being subjected to a room at the Hampton Inn of White River Junction was a fate worse than suddenly finding out that you are an accountant. It did feel good to drive after all the sitting though, and the Taco Bell, oh the sweet sweet big beef burrito supreme was nourishment fit for a gypsy king. At the end of the day though, we found ourselves back in the sterile environment we had purposely left behind while our motivation for doing so was happening just right up the road. We ordered pizza and tried to find a bar. Ultimately visions of our Lebanon experience kept us away from the White River Junction night life, so in the end there was nothing to do but smoke a bowl. Thank God we had that. There were other travelers and thieves among us at the hotel, but nobody knew quite what to do. We pretty much decided to salvage our weekend and just go see what there was to see in the area. Marjie was very excited. She had been dieing to go see the Cabot creamery, but I had told her that there would be no way we would have time. Well now, it had become our number one destination. I don’t know what everyone else did, but we loaded up and headed for the back roads. Now this was Vermont. Farms and dairies spotted the landscape, and if I had never realized it before, I was reaffirmed in how I wanted my life to turn out. Just being among this beautiful landscape melted away years of stress imposed on me by our highly commercial and competitive society. It made me realize that we are all dieing, but only a few of us are living. We stopped at a cross road fishing store where we would turn to head toward the Cabot farm. We had to stretch and pee, and the stream across the way was begging for my bare feet. As I came out of the store I noticed another car in the lot that didn’t belong in much the same way as our car didn’t belong. Recognizing our own kind, I struck up a conversation. Exhausted and excited, the group explained how they were taking the back way in to Coventry, and it turned out to be the same direction as we were already planning to head. I ran inside to tell Marjie. She emerged from the bathroom and I explained the situation. Hurriedly we loaded up on whatever supplies the place had to offer, and we hit the road. We still made our stop at the creamery, but we didn’t take the tour. The landscape was amazing as we drove further down the real rabbit hole. This was it, the way in. We stopped at a gas station that welcomed Phish fans on their sign to get some information. We found out that all non-local vehicles were being stopped about 30 miles out or so. We pressed on, it didn’t seem to be slowing anyone else down. As we got closer we started seeing yards full of tents and cars. This amount of activity was unusual for this corner of small town America, but somehow it was fitting. This was the area where Phish was born and raised, so this must be the place for it to be destroyed in a blaze of tents. We followed a sign down a side road to a yard where people were camping. A local woman was picking them up for $20 a piece, and so we asked if we could pay our way too. We loaded everything we needed into my backpack, and we ditched the rest. When our ride arrived it proved to be a tight fit, but I stuffed myself into the hatch-back area, and away we went. I couldn’t see what was going on, but it was worth it. They dropped us at the final road block. No more cars were permitted past the turnoff toward the airport. I was happy to be free and on my feet, so the hike was a welcome change. We couldn’t believe we were there, especially since we woke up that morning in White River Junction. People in droves moved upward toward the energy. As we neared the top we began sharing stories with other fans and soon we could see it, the door to Gamehenge, the turnstiles that would count at least two more people. Finally our tickets were reduced to stubs, and we were set free on the other side. We still had quite a ways to go, but the people and the campground fueled us with excitement and curiosity of what lay ahead. You could tell that there were many cars that would not easily escape. Suddenly I was happy that we weren’t residing among this mess. From the looks of it, it seemed for sure that we would have had trouble making our Monday Flight. Even still the nastiness was a sight for sore eyes, and the closer we got the more I couldn’t believe that we had done it. I have never felt such a sense of accomplishment just for attending a concert. Around a corner and there it was, Shakedown Street. It was an open air head shop complete with food and drink. It was our mall, the place where commerce took place, and the busiest part of the show. The first place we stopped was called the Common Ground Café. It had a seating area, and we needed to rest. Two random guys who seemed to have been there a while offered hospitality, good spirits, and shots of Curevo 1800. Moving on we passed through crowds of people and we followed the flow toward the stage. Artwork, balloon rides, and Ferris wheels made us feel like we had entered a different land, and indeed we had. The closer we got, the more we slowed our pace to take it all in. What can I say, it was magic. The desperation of a guy trying to find nugs on the roadside had been replaced by an abundance of everything. With plenty to go around, we made ourselves comfortable. We spent the next several hours exploring. I don’t think our feet stopped much at all. Around the stage we danced, and in the interim we walked though Shakedown Street. As the day turned to dusk we realized how tired we were, and realizing that made it all too apparent just how far away our car was and that we didn’t exactly know where it was. Eventually we decided to leave before the final set was over. Shakedown Street was quiet but not empty. Some people lingered as we did, and we wandered until we found ourselves back in the camping area and the road home. Through the trees we heard a familiar chord, and then “WIL-SON” rang through the night as the crowd joined the band in a final rendition of one of their oldest numbers. Knowing it was almost over our head start felt good and right, and so hearing one of our favorite songs through the trees like that was somehow made better than seeing it through the randomness of the crowd. We were no longer fans, we were travelers, and we heard it as we should, with our feet pounding the ground through the dark. Just outside the gate a van pulled over and a woman beckoned us inside. Good fortune was ours. Her name was Celeste, and hers is the only name I remember from that day. Celeste was a happy, glowing, Janis Joplin type who was a professional vendor on her way to the Dead show in Atlanta. Even though her marriage depended on making it on time, she took the time to help us find our car. We gave her bad directions back to the highway by mistake, but we later ran into her at an I-91 rest stop, so we know she isn’t still lost up there. Anyway, thank you Celeste, we promise to pay it forward. We took a moment to exhale before getting back into our car. We were married the next weekend. Marjie wore a Shield Maiden’s gown from The Two Towers, and we made our vows in front of a 100 year old springhouse in the mountains of Northeast Georgia where I was raised. We told our story to everyone, still happy to have even survived it. Mostly I could see that our guests just didn’t understand. “Aren’t you too old to go to Woodstock?” What can you say to that? It’s true that Marjie and I were in a struggle to grow up, but growing up doesn’t necessarily mean growing out of something, and growing older doesn’t mean a damn thing except your hangovers get worse. The last time I saw the Grateful Dead was in 1994 at Nassau County Coliseum, and one thing dawned on me then. I knew as Jerry walked out on stage that I was witnessing a living legend practice his craft. It literally made tears well up in my eyes when his nine fingers picked that guitar. We never even got close enough to the stage to see the band at Coventry. It isn’t that they aren’t great, they truly are or we wouldn’t have been compelled to make the journey. It’s like this, Jerry came from another time and space, he was an alien who came in peace, and his band lives on after his passing because of his powerful energy. You see, Mike, Paige, Jon, and Trey are four guys I feel like I could be friends with, and even though their music is genius, it isn’t the sum total of the art they create. Growing up I watched my father struggle to keep himself and everyone around him clean. He isn’t content until all is bleached and freshly painted. I personally think that it is our dirt and scars that define us and tell our story. You can work hard your whole life and take a few years to travel in the end and see the world for yourself basically from the comfort of your chair, or you can choose to spill your blood, sweat, and tears into the ocean for a chance at front row seats to the real world. Comfort is nice, but on the other hand you could have something beyond comfort that few will ever understand. Comfort is an illusion anyway, a carrot dangled in front of us. I prefer truth, because if I can’t be comfortable then I would rather have the knowledge that at least I don’t have to worry about it. We fought hard and struggled to be among four musicians and thousands of fans. The canvas was us. It was beautiful and dynamic. It was freedom, and it was dirty. People have made a business out of music festivals, and they finally commercialized Woodstock, but we evolved. Now that we revel in commercialism, Phish created something beautiful by going out into the woods with us to destroy it, and that destruction was the art we left behind. Some art you see, and some art you hear. Still other art must be read and processed in your own mind. This was different than that. It was all of it, and it was none of it. Phish made art you have to experience, and by experiencing it you became part of it. In other words, you don’t stand back and listen or view, you aren’t moved by it; you live it, and you are changed by it. People talk about the breakup of the band, and opinions are thrown around, but like Robert Frost said, “It means what it means to you.” I see their breakup as a random extension of their art as a whole. In some way, because they did what they did and I experienced it, no matter how grown up I ever get my true spirit will always remain in tact.
Hey man, that was well written! Keep up the good work! You made it easy to picture! Are you kind?
y didnt u put this great story on the tribe around the fire storytelling site?peace..:-)
I wrote this story while standing watch in the engine room of this ship that didn't go anywhere. It was kind of different. I got a bunch of reading and writing done. Anyway, we were sitting off of this little Island in the south Atlantic called Ascension Island. To go ashore I had to get off watch a little early, runupandshower, down through the galley, and catch a launch before it leaves at noon. Then a half hour ride to the pier head. Nobody drunk, everybody kind of stares at each other. The people from Ascension, Saints cause they are from St. Helena really, nobody is actually from Ascension, the Saints usually just smoke and joke around in their fast British drawl that might as well be as foreign a language as anything else. There is a nice Hatteras sport fisher moored out in the harbor, mostly old beaters otherwise....the air force has a nice governmentie looking fishing boat tied up out there. The water is clear blue, you've never seen anything like it. Yellow fish, thousands, and a break a long the beach called long beach off to the right of the pier head looks like it can't be real because nobody is surfing in it. There are two old guns half way up the first brown hill. Ascension is mostly klinka, and has been referred to as being the place on Earth most similar to the moon. The way it looks is strange, all red and white, sparse plants, then as the mountain rises...Green Mountain...it slowly becomes rain forest. From the water it almost always looks like a cloud engulfed mountain. Then we get to the pier head. Everyone gets off as the boat passes the concrete pier. It isn't much, just a small ledge with some old wet ropes dangling for you to get your balance. Up and over and toss my life jacket to the guy on the launch and tell him I'll be back for the next one, and sling my backpack over my shoulder. Most of the other guys don't hike. he he he I kind of laugh inside and I make the half mile up the hill from the pier to the pub in no time, and I am always the first to thumb a ride to the air force base. Man, Ascension Island, I haven't thought about that place in a while. Warm, always warm... They had a post office there, a U.S. post office, so you could send a letter for just a stamp. They also had a phone in the library that had a direct line to the U.S. so you cold use a regular calling card and call home. Otherwise, forget it.....sometimes Island politics would keep us from being able to use the phone, and it was our anniversary so I got paid good money to write that story while on watch and then take it all the way to the post office and then go back down to the pub afterward and drink beer for three hours and watch the world cup....Olsen's Lager from South Africa....man do I miss getting drunk at the Saint's Club....cool ocean breeze and the whole world all to yourself outside...what was I talking about?
Any photos of Ascension? I'm always fascinated by the places less traveled. I've actually made a point of reading up on these strange islands scattered around various parts of the earth that most people never hear about let alone have the chance to visit. Often they have strange historical significance. Places where odd things may occur. Are you kind?
I've got lots of photos, but we have moved three times in the last three years and alas I am between darkrooms. We are getting settled in here and I am going to build one right away so that I can catch up on all kinds of work. I also have St. Helena, which is another island in the S. Atlantic. In the meantime, if you want to see some photos from somewhere else, to to this page: http://hozomeen.myjalbum.net/Bangladesh/ and these are the photos I took on our trip to Coventry: http://hozomeen.myjalbum.net/Coventry/ Later Gator
Marumures is a regional of Romania famed for its beautiful landscapes, wooden houses and traditional folk culture. You can still visit fairytale wooden homes, where most everyday artefacts are made in the way they have been for centuries. People here are mainly orthodox Christians, and observe the ceremonies and festivals of that belief, wearing traditional costumes and singing ancient hymns known from nowhere else. Monasteries still thrive here, on one day we had a wonderful Lenten vegetarian lunch with the monks of a monastery perched high on a hill with a glorious view of the forested hills, framed by snowy mountains. Our plan had been to hike up a forest valley, climb up the ridge, cross over into the next valley and hike back down. But recent snowfalls meant that it was impossible to get over the ridge, so our host came up with an alternative. He had heard that there was an old mine in the valley which was disused, but still maintained by the state mining company. He phoned to ask if it was possible to cross between the valleys underground! To our amazement the miners were delighted that someone wanted to visit; they had some ideas of turning their mine into a tourist attraction. So there we stood, armed with flashlights, rubber boots and old mining helmets, outside the rusted metal door to a hole in the side of the hill. We nervously followed our guide inside, along old rail tracks inside a 10 foot high rock tunnel and soon the light disappeared. For three miles we walked through the heart of the mountain. Mostly the tunnel was in good condition but in places we had to climb over small collapses, under fragile looking wooden props and through flood waters. In side tunnels were the rusting remains of decades of dangerous endeavour; old rail cars, machinery and occasionally shafts down to the tunnels in levels below. People have been digging metal s out of this hill for over 500 years! We saw blue rocks of copper, crystals of leads and zinc studding the wall. It was dark damp and creepy and so exciting. From time to time, when the walls seemed to close in and I thought of the 3,000 feet of rock above my head, I found myself singing ‘Gotta get down to the Cumberland Mine, that’s where I mainly spend my time...’ After two and half hours in the cold and dark a tiny smudge of light on the tunnel wall told us we were near the end. We emerged, blinking in the light, through another rusted gate into a beautiful forested mountain valley still covered in snow. Our guides passed round a bottle of homemade plum brandy to celebrate. We had walked through a mountain! But our journey was not over. For the next two hours we staggered down an unmarked trail sinking deep into the snow, following the trail of a solitary wolf that had passed that way a few hours earlier. Finally we reached a logging camp, where miraculously a barbecue lunch was waiting as well as more plum brandy. Then onto the final stage of the journey; 25 miles on the rickety but still functioning logging railway courtesy of an amazing contraption called Matilda, a VW minibus adapted to run on rail tracks. For an hour or more we slowly clattered along the rails through vast forest alongside a deep muddy rushing river, finally reaching town as dusk fell.
Grate story, badger! It reminds me of another rabbit hole, I've traversed several times, except the brandy was another substance. "I will walk alone, by the Black Muddy River and sing me a song of my own..."
Very cool story CB.Did you find my precious while you were there? If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite. William Blake
and very well told. Felt like I was right there with you.What a nice treat! Conversation is always more interesting than recitation, so speak your mind and not someone else's.
I see we have the same tastes in adventuring! Off the beaten track! That tale is a one that is to be treasured! Nice for around the campfire to the grandkids or friends! Are you kind?
Anyone have any suggestions or tips?
I would suggest going to Simatai. It is about 1.5 hours from Beijing. Simatai still has the original walls unlike the spots closer to Beijing which has been rebuilt. You can actually play in the towers and cross through one of the trader gates into Hebei, or in other words the other side of the wall. You can actually see how it would have felt to attack the Wall etc. Very intimidating. You can hike down the wall about a mile and see where the Japanese made their official invasion which the Japanese made a point to break through the wall before they invaded Beijing. This part of the wall actually scales the top of the mountains so in some parts it is only 2-3 think and about 5 feet tall, but you would have to have a lot of balls to climb up the cliffs below. Pretty interesting and if anyone needs more info let me know as I would be happy to give some tips.
Thanks for sharing, I was wondering how your visit turned out. How Alive you all must have felt! Inside the mountain, following wolf tracks & then to top it off, VW rail car?? Right On.:-) Take any pictures?