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When this sci-fi story was published in 1962, six men had gone into space, two from the USSR and four from the US. All the flights were brief, however, and the subject of radiation exposure (as addressed in the story) remained a genuine question.

Based on what we knew at the time, the premise of this story technically was possible. Far-fetched, but possible.

Today, we still haven’t gone beyond the Moon. When we set out on extended voyages to Mars and elsewhere, you can bet factors will surface that we didn’t anticipate.

Does that mean the premise of this tale still could turn out to be true? Far-fetched, but possible.

———

A Bad Town for Spacemen

By Robert Scott
Published in Worlds of If Science Fiction, July 1962

I stepped back out of the gutter and watched the tight clot of men disappear around the corner. They hadn’t really been menacing, just had made it obvious they weren’t going to break up. And that I had better get out of their way. I got. We were well trained.

The neon of the bar across the street flickered redly on my uniform. I watched the slush trickle off my boots for a while, then made up my mind and headed into the bar. It was a mistake.

New York had always been considered safe for us. Of course there were many parts of the country that were absolutely forbidden “for your own good” and others that were “highly dangerous” or at least “doubtful.” But New York had always been a haven. The stares there had even been admiring sometimes, especially in the beginning.

But things had changed. I had realized that about half an hour after touchdown, when we were being herded through Health Check, Baggage Check, Security Check… you know the lot. Before, there had been friendly questions, genuine interest in the Mars colony, speculations about the second expedition to Venus, even a joke or two. This time the examiners’ only interest seemed to be in fouling us up as much as possible. And when we finally got through the rat race, New York was bleak.

I should have stayed with the rest, I guess, and of course a public bar was the last place any smart spaceboy would have gone to. But I had some nice memories of bars, memories from the early days.

The whole room went silent, as though a tube had blown, when I shoved through the door. I got over to an empty table as quickly as I could and inspected the list of drinks on the dispenser. This one had a lot of big nickel handles sticking up over the drink names and the whole job was shaped like one of those beer kegs you used to see pictures of. What I mean is, this was an authentic bar.

Phony as hell.

###

From the way this sounds, you can guess the kind of mood I’d gotten in. The noise had picked up again right after I sat down and some of the drunker drunks were knocking the usual words around, in loud whispers and with lots of glances at me.

One of the pro-girls (her hair was green and her blouse covered her breasts — another change while I was out) gave me a big wink and then jabbed the man next to her and squawked with laughter.

I fed a bill into the change machine at the table and then dribbled several coins (prices had gone up too) into the dispenser.

I guess I must have had several, because after a while I began to feel cheerful. The noise that was coming out of the box in the corner started to sound like music, and I got to tapping and rocking. And smiling, I guess. And that’s what triggered it.

People had been coming and going, but mainly coming. And the crowd at the bar had been getting louder, and one guy there had been getting louder than the rest. All of a sudden, he slammed down his glass and headed for my table. He orbited around it for a while, staring at me, and then settled jerkily down in the chair across from me.

“Why all the hilarity, spaceboy? Feeling proud of yourself?”

He looked pretty wobbly and pretty soft and pretty old. And very angry. But I was kind of wobbly myself by that time. And anyway there are strict rules about us and violence. Very strict. So I just tried to make the smile bigger and said, “I’m just feeling good. We had a good run and we brought in some nice stuff.”

“Nice stuff,” he said, kind of mincing. “Buddy, do you know what you can do with your sandgems and your windstones?”

“We brought back some other things too. There was a good bit of uranium and — “

“We don’t need it!” He was getting purple. “We don’t need anything from you.”

“And maybe we don’t need you.” I was getting sort of fired up myself. “Carversville is self-sufficient now. You can’t give us anything.”

“Well, why the hell don’t you stay there? Why don’t all of you stay off Earth? There’s no place for you here.”

I could have pointed out that we brought things that Earth really needed, that Mars and Venus had literally worlds of natural resources, while Earth had almost finished hers. But he began to quiet down then and I began to feel the loneliness again, the sense of loss. You can’t go home again… that phrase kept poking around in my skull.

Suddenly he sat up and looked straight at me, and his eyes really focused for the first time. “What lousy luck. What incredibly lousy luck. And how could anyone have known?”

It wasn’t hard to peg what he was talking about. “It was probably good luck that the first space crew was selected the way it was,” I said. “Otherwise you’d have had a dead ship full of dead men and no knowing why. But that one man brought the ship back.”

“Yeah, yeah. I know. And the scientists figured everything out. About radiation in space being lethal to almost all types of man. But there was one thing that made a man immune. One thing.”

“The scientists tried to find a protective covering that would be practicable. They tried to synthesize slaves that would protect you. It wasn’t our fault that they couldn’t.”

“No, not your fault.” His eyes had begun to dull again. “Just a matter of enough melanin in the skin. That’s all…” Then he straightened up and slammed his fist on the table. “Damn you, did you know I was a jet pilot a long time ago? Did you know I was going to be one of the space pioneers? Open up brave new worlds for Man…”

He sat there staring at me for a minute or so and the last thing he said was, “Don’t you come here again — nigger.”

I got up and left the table and walked out of the bar. I wasn’t provoked. As I said before, we were well trained.

###

The first time I realized where I was was when I bumped into the fence around the spacefield. I must have walked all the way over there from the bar. I had a memory of crumbling buildings and littered streets. Things had changed while I had been out there. They were letting the city run down.

As I started to walk along the fence to the gate, I saw the ship towering against the stars. The stars and the ship. And tomorrow there would be colonists getting aboard.

I stopped and looked till I knew where home was and who the real exiles were.

I stopped feeling sorry for myself. And started feeling sorry for them.

Thoughts du Jour

Tama the Station Master

In January 2007, the manager at the railway station in Kinokawa, Japan, gave the title of Station Master to his cat Tama, with the primary duty of greeting passengers.

At the time, ridership was down. The station was operating with reduced staff, and Wakayama Railway had considered closing the operation. But after Tama was appointed, ridership increased. The company joyfully stepped in, creating a gold name tag for Tama’s collar and designing a special station master’s hat for her.

Thereafter, Tama appeared in the news regularly, usually when she received a promotion or award. Tourists flocked to see her. A ticket booth in the station was converted into her office.

In 2010, Tama’s mother Miiko and sister Chibi were named Assistant Station Masters. In 2012, a deputy named Nitama (“Second Tama”), was appointed.

Tama died in 2015 and was succeeded by Nitama, who remains in office today.

According to a study, Tama generated about one billion yen for the local economy. A newspaper pointed out that she was the only female in a managerial position at Wakayama Railway.

The White Bridge

In 1926 in my adopted town of Jefferson, Georgia, a concrete arch bridge was built across Curry Creek, replacing an old wooden covered bridge. At the time, reinforced concrete was the latest thing in bridges — practical, cheap, and versatile.

Curry Creek Bridge is its official name, but, as I learned when I moved to Jefferson in 2006, the locals call it the White Bridge. I had to accept that description on faith, because the bridge needed a serious cleaning. Like most aging concrete bridges, it was an unsightly, moldy gray. It was, like, the Ugly Bridge.

Finally, late last year, the Highway Department gave the bridge some attention. Structural repairs were made, and the entire thing was sandblasted and stripped of accumulated grime.

When the project was completed and the tarps removed, I drove downtown to see the White Bridge restored to its former glory.

Alas, nine decades of exposure to the elements had taken a toll. Yes, the bridge looks much better, but it isn’t what you’d call white. It’s more the color of a banana (the fruit, not the peel). Or eggnog. Or mayonnaise.

I guess the Mayonnaise Bridge is better than the Ugly Bridge.

Seven Wonders

The ancient Greeks were big on the number seven. To them, seven somehow represented perfection and held the promise of personal enrichment (lucky seven). Hence, when some Greek deep thinkers decided to make a list of the wonders of the world, the list was bound to be seven wonders long.

The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World are/were the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, the Colossus of Rhodes, the Lighthouse of Alexandria, and the statue of Zeus at Olympia.

All seven are located in the Mediterranean region, the back yard of the Greeks. The rest of the world? Meh.

The list isn’t official or binding in any way, of course, and over the centuries, it has been modified regularly. Frequent additions were the Roman Colosseum, Stonehenge, the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal, etc.

In 1997, in an interesting twist, CNN listed the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Named were the Aurora Borealis (northern lights), Grand Canyon, the Great Barrier Reef, Mount Everest, Victoria Falls, Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro Harbor, and the Paricutin volcano in Mexico.

Regarding the last two: the harbor at Rio de Janeiro is the world’s largest natural harbor. It has 130 islands and is ringed by mountains. Paricutin volcano erupted unexpectedly in 1943 in a farmer’s field, grew to 1,400 feet tall, and went dormant in 1952, leaving a cinder cone that is now a popular tourist attraction.

The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

The Questions…

1. During WWII, how were the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence safeguarded?

2. What company owns, among other brands, Lamborghini, Audi, Porsche, Bentley, Bugatti, and Ducati?

3. By what name is the painting “La Gioconda” better known?

4. How long is an eon?

5. In parts of Europe, and in many countries that once were part of the British Empire, what is the day after Christmas called?

The Answers…

1. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the documents were moved to the US Bullion Depository at Fort Knox, Kentucky. After the D-Day landings in 1944, they were returned to Washington, DC.

2. Volkswagen AG.

3. The Mona Lisa. The painting by Leonardo da Vinci is believed to be a portrait of Lisa Gherardini, an Italian noblewoman whose husband, rich businessman Francesco del Giocondo, was a big shot in the Silk Guild.

4. In common usage, an eon usually is an indefinite, very long period of time. In astronomy and geology, however, it is one billion years.

5. “Boxing Day,” which originated eons ago in the UK. It probably is connected to an old tradition of giving gifts to people working service jobs or to the poor. Boxing may refer to a Christmas box given to the needy or to church donation boxes.

The London new wave band The Dream Academy was formed in the mid-1980s, intending to make their mark using uncommon instruments and sounds. One item on their list was to create a song with an African-style chorus.

They did it in the band’s first, biggest, and only real hit, “Life in a Northern Town.”

Nick Laird-Clowes wrote the lyrics after working in the port city of Newcastle, where many workers were left unemployed when the shipyards closed down. The melancholy feel of the song reflects how the lives of the locals were affected.

The Dream Academy broke up in 1991, but still tours now and then.

The Dream Academy: Kate St. John, Nick Laird-Clowes, and Gilbert Gabriel.

Life In A Northern Town

By The Dream Academy, 1985
Written by Nick Laird-Clowes and Gilbert Gabriel

The Salvation Army band played.
And the children drunk lemonade.
And the morning lasted all day, all day,
And through an open window came,
Like Sinatra in a younger day,
Pushing the town away. Oh.

Hey-oh-ma-ma-ma
Dee-dew-dee-ny-ya
Hey-oh-ma-ma-ma
Hey-ya
Life in a northern town.
Hey-ma-ma-ma-ma

They sat on the stony ground,
And he took a cigarette out,
And everyone else came down to listen.
He said “In winter 1963,
It felt like the world would freeze
With John F. Kennedy
And The Beatles.”
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Hey-oh-ma-ma-ma
Dee-dew-dee-ny-ya
Hey-oh-ma-ma-ma
Hey-ya
Life in a northern town.
Hey-ma-ma-ma-ma
Hey-oh-ma-ma-ma
Dee-dew-dee-ny-ya
Hey-oh-ma-ma-ma
Hey-ya
All the work shut down.

The evening turned to rain,
Watched the water roll down the drain,
As we followed him down to the station.
And though he never would wave goodbye,
You could see it written in his eyes
As the train rolled out of sight.
Bye-bye.

Hey-oh-ma-ma-ma
Dee-dew-dee-ny-ya
Hey-oh-ma-ma-ma
Hey-ya
Life in a northern town.

Hey-ma-ma-ma-ma
Hey-oh-ma-ma-ma
Dee-dew-dee-ny-ya
Hey-oh-ma-ma-ma
Hey-ya
Life in a northern town.

Hey-ma-ma-ma-ma
Hey-oh-ma-ma-ma
Dee-dew-dee-ny-ya
Hey-oh-ma-ma-ma
Hey-ya
Life in a northern town.

Hey-ma-ma-ma-ma
Hey-oh-ma-ma-ma
Dee-dew-dee-ny-ya
Hey-oh-ma-ma-ma
Hey-ya

Hey-ma-ma-ma-ma
Take it easy on yourself
Hey-oh-ma-ma-ma
Dee-dew-dee-ny-ya
Hey-oh-ma-ma-ma
Hey-ya

Hey-ma-ma-ma-ma
Take it easy on yourself
Hey-oh-ma-ma-ma
Dee-dew-dee-ny-ya
Hey-oh-ma-ma-ma
Hey-ya

https://rockysmith.files.wordpress.com/2021/01/life-in-a-northern-town.mp3

Boogeyman

A boogeyman is a fictional being, sometimes male, sometimes female, used by adults to frighten children into behaving. The entity is known by a variety of names in cultures around the world.

In Spain, if little Diego doesn’t go to sleep, he is told that El Coco will come in the night and carry him away in a sack. Little Diego’s blood runs cold, and he tries valiantly to fall asleep.

In the US, conservative politicians use the same shtick to frighten right-wing voters. They warn of a vaguely-defined thing called “socialism,” an abomination that will take away Uncle Fred’s rights, freedoms, and way of life. Uncle Fred’s blood runs cold, and he donates money to the GOP.

You, being a level-headed person, no doubt are aware that socialism is not evil per se. Socialism is a point of view — a range of political and economic concepts. I struggle to explain the idea accurately because I haven’t studied economics since my sophomore year in college.

But I’ll try. The crux of socialism is that society itself should be in charge and control things for the common good. To a socialist, the degree of private ownership we have under capitalism is a definite no-no because capitalism is, well, ruthless, selfish, and totally unconcerned about the common good. Capitalism is an I’m for me first concept.

Beyond that, devotees of socialism disagree on the controls and regulations needed, the form of government that works best, etc.

It’s also a fact that the US government freely practices socialism in all sorts of ways. Society is social, so that’s inevitable.

Those socialist programs are quite familiar: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, NPR, PBS, NASA, highways, bridges, dams, garbage collection, health care, food stamps, farm subsidies.

Not to mention public schools, public beaches, public housing, public zoos, public museums, public buses, public landfills, state and national monuments, prisons, the court system.

Plus the VA, the National Weather Service, FEMA, the IRS, the Peace Corps, farm subsidies, Amtrak, student loans, fire and police departments, street lighting, public defenders, the Amber Alert system.

Some of the biggest federal departments are socialistic to the bone: the Departments of Agriculture, Transportation, and Energy, the US military, the FDA, the Postal Service.

You get the picture.

My political beliefs are decidedly liberal, and I believe that the purpose of government should be to share the wealth — to use the public’s money to help the public, leaving nobody behind. To that extent, I reckon I’m pretty much a socialist.

But I’m not a firebrand about it. I’m at the moderate end of the spectrum. In general, I think America has genuine potential, although it needs serious work.

Namely, we need to wrest control of the country from the billionaires. We need to develop better ways to rein in the crooks, cheats, and parasites and focus, honestly and truly, on the common good.

We could start by abolishing the Senate filibuster; taxing the rich with great vigor; cutting the living hell out of military spending; and creating a new “Medicare for all” health care system that cuts out the for-profit corporations and provides full medical care to everyone, period.

That last suggestion is how the health care systems function in half the countries of Europe, so we know it works. We have the template.

As for Uncle Fred, the MAGA crowd, the GOP politicians, and the rest of the conservative world, I say it’s time they put up or shut up.

Some of them may quietly agree that many aspects of socialism are positive. But if they truly believe that socialism is evil incarnate, they need to stick to their principles.

They should refuse to accept Medicare and Social Security. They should resolve never to call 911, because fire and police departments are socialistic by definition.

They shouldn’t use public parks, libraries, or beaches or send their children to public school. And they should drive only on toll roads.

Put up or shut up.

Pix o’ the Day

More favorite photos I’ve taken over the years.

Useless Facts

More “Useless Facts for Inquiring Minds.”

● The national parliament of Iceland is the oldest governing assembly in the world. It dates back to 930 AD, when Viking chieftains gathered in an open field to discuss mutual issues. The field was the site of Icelandic government meetings until 1798, when it was moved to Reykjavik and, finally, indoors.

● In 2007, actor Nicolas Cage won an auction for a dinosaur skull, bidding against, among others, Leonardo DiCaprio. Cage paid $276,000 for the skull. A few years later, evidence surfaced that the skull had been stolen from Mongolia, and Cage had to return it. He didn’t get his $276,000 back.

● The letter e is used three times and pronounced three different ways in the word Mercedes.

● In 2005, remains were found in South Dakota of an extra-large cousin of the Velociraptor popularized by the Jurassic Park films. The new cousin, Dakotaraptor, was about 18 feet long and weighed 500 or so pounds. The largest known cousin so far is Utahraptor at about 23 feet long and 600 pounds.

FYI, Velociraptors actually were about the size of a turkey. Spielberg knew that, but he really liked the name Velociraptor.

● Martin Luther King, Jr. was born Michael King, Jr. When he was five, his father changed both of their names to honor Martin Luther, the German theologian who started the Protestant Church in the days of Columbus.

● In 1920, the “American Professional Football Association” was established in Canton, Ohio. Five of the 16 original teams were based in Cleveland. In 1922, the group changed its name to the “National Football League.”

● Pistachio nuts are especially dry and high in fat content — so much so that when the nuts are transported, the temperature, humidity, and air pressure must be carefully controlled to prevent them from over-heating and exploding.

● The Clowns’ Gallery-Museum, a display of clown costumes, memorabilia, and reference material, was founded in 1959 in the basement of Holy Trinity Church in London. Due to the growth of the collection, the museum opened a second location in Somerset in 2007.

Final report on my recent RV trip to the Southwest.

———

Mansfield, Louisiana

Half the trip from Georgia to Arizona is crossing Texas, which takes a good two days. On April 5, returning eastbound, I finally left Texas behind and stopped for the night in Mansfield, a forgettable little town in the middle of Louisiana. As usual, no campgrounds were nearby, but Mansfield had a Super 8.

Super 8 is owned by Wyndham now, so the chain is a bit nicer these days. The place actually was clean and comfortable.

After a decent supper at a Chinese place across the street, I retired to my room to watch a DVD movie on my laptop.

At some point, I opened the nightstand drawer and took out the phone book, the idea being to find a map and get oriented.

As I flipped through the pages of the phone book, a small piece of paper fell out and fluttered to the floor. The notepad-size sheet had a Super 8 logo at the top and was covered with writing in longhand. I picked it up and read it.

It was a heart-breaking message written by someone in great emotional distress. And it was dated five years ago. Chances are, it had remained undetected in the phone book until I found it.

This is what the person wrote:

———

Tuesday

July 25, 2016

The Pain???????

Why do I always get hurt. I try and try to do my best. People just [want] me to do things for them

Lord I’m tired I cant keep Putting myself Down like dis Im hurting and hurting I feel like Im going to hurt myself if I Dont get sum help.

———

The slang usage — “like dis” and “get sum help” — suggests that the writer was young. The rest is a mystery.

The incident was especially distressing because, frankly, I can’t relate to inner pain and turmoil on this scale.

The fact is, I’ve been fortunate. I’m a stable, grounded person. Life is good. Other than being in my waning years and having to put up with arthritis and other annoyances, I have no real complaints.

Not so for the anonymous note-writer who stayed in room 104 of the Mansfield Super 8 in 2016.

I hope he or she is in a better place today.

More about my recent RV trip to the Southwest.

———

Abilene, Texas

Chili’s Grill & Bar is not one of my favorite eateries. In fact, until the first week in April, I hadn’t eaten at a Chili’s in a good 10 years. But it was getting late, and fatigue and circumstances led me to pull into the parking lot of the Chili’s in Abilene.

I grabbed a face mask, locked up the RV, and headed toward the entrance. Visions of quesadillas and burritos danced in my head.

As I approached the front door, a derelict lurched past me, mumbling to himself.

Derelict is the word that came immediately to mind when I saw him. He was probably in his 60s, rail-thin, with long, unruly white hair and a long, unruly white beard. He was clutching three or four white plastic bags that bulged with unknown possessions.

His clothes and shoes were shabby, and he wore neither hat nor socks. He looked like Gandalf, if Gandalf were dressed in rags, lurching, and mumbling.

Clearly, the old man occupied a world of his own. He didn’t look up, even though I had to step aside to let him pass.

My conclusion: he probably was mentally ill and homeless. I wondered how he survived from day to day.

Inside, perusing the menu, I abandoned thoughts of Mexican food and chose the Smokehouse Combo, featuring pulled pork BBQ, beef ribs, and corn on the cob. To be honest, every item on the plate turned out to be bland and disappointing. Which is why I am not a Chili’s person.

About halfway through the meal, a waitress appeared at a booth near me and ushered in — you guessed it — the derelict.

The old guy struggled to maneuver his plastic bags onto the table in front of him. He was a sad study in fumbling and wasted motion.

Moments later, the waitress appeared again and delivered a steaming cup of coffee. For the first time, the old man sat quietly and sipped his coffee.

Before long, he got up, collected his belongings, and shuffled off toward the men’s room. Five minutes later, he returned to the booth, stashed his stuff, and sat down again to sip his coffee.

Then the waitress returned and said something to him. The man immediately stood up and began collected his bags, this time with more urgency.

At that moment, my waiter walked by, and I flagged him down. “Are you throwing the old guy out?” I asked.

“Not at all,” the waiter told me. “He said he has to leave — has someplace he needs to be immediately.”

“Look,” I said, “Get the poor guy a hamburger or something. I’ll pay for it.”

“Oh, we already collected money and offered to buy his supper. But he insists he can’t stay.”

Meanwhile, the man had gathered his stuff and was making his way to the front door.

My original thoughts returned: the poor fellow no doubt was mentally ill and maybe homeless. I couldn’t imagine how he survives from day to day.

Dressed in rags, lurching, and mumbling.

More about my recent RV trip to the Southwest.

———

Flagstaff, Arizona

I’ve rarely had vehicle problems on the road, but, well, life is like a box of chocolates.

The last time I drove west in the RV was in September 2019. On that trip, before heading east again, I had the RV checked out at the Pep Boys in Flagstaff. They changed the oil, looked for problems, and pronounced it good to go.

This spring, I stopped at Pep Boys again — but not for a routine once-over. Somewhere back in Texas, I discovered that I had no headlights or tail lights. The turn signals and brake lights worked, but that was it.

The mechanic found a burned-out headlight switch, replaced it, declared my battery on its last legs, replaced it, checked for other issues, and sent me on my way.

That was the morning of March 31. The rest of that day was spent as described in my previous post: driving to Tusayan, finding a massive traffic jam courtesy of the spring-break hordes, and retreating to Flagstaff.

I found a motel, proceeded to Beaver Street Brewery for supper (three-sausage pizza with mushrooms and caramelized onions, plus two pints of their very excellent Midnight Black IPA), and slept soundly.

The next morning, I was on the road early, eastbound on I-40. I planned to pick up I-25 south and drive down the Rio Grand Valley to Hatch, the “chile capital of the world.”

Over the next couple of hours, cruising at 75, I began to notice that the engine occasionally was skipping. Running slightly and uncharacteristically rough. It wasn’t extreme, but it was noticeable.

I had thoughts of the engine dying and leaving me stranded in the desert 50 miles from the nearest town.

But the engine didn’t die. I drove on with my fingers crossed.

Then, about 40 miles west of Gallup, my check engine light came on.

Oh, hell.

Stopping made no sense. I needed to reach Gallup and find a mechanic. Gallup probably had a Pep Boys, right?

So I slowed to 65 mph and drove on to Gallup, the check-engine light shining brightly, the engine still ominously sputtering every few seconds. On the way, I Googled Pep Boys, and the nearest shop was, thank God, at the first Gallup exit.

The store manager said he would take a look when time permitted, although repairs might take a day or so. I asked if any motels were within walking distance.

He pointed across the street to a handsome SpringHill Suites. “Newest in town,” he said.

Thus, instead of being marooned in the desert with a blown engine, I checked into a SpringHill Suites and took a nap while Pep Boys tended to my RV.

At about 3:00 pm, the Pep Boys manager called. He said the spark plug wiring harness was old, brittle, and in the process of self-destructing. They replaced the harness, and all was well again.

The next morning, I was on the road to Hatch and points east. That afternoon, I picked up a non-Interstate route that took me through a succession of smaller cities and towns and avoided all that nasty Interstate truck traffic.

The good news: the RV ran smooth as silk, all the way home. The bad news: between the repairs, the motels, and the price of gas, my wallet took a serious hit.

The view from behind the wheel. In springtime, the bugs are as troublesome as the college students.