A woman's perspective of living with and loving a Mercedes-Benz Maniac
Authored by our own Bonnie Fancy.
Reprinted with permission from The Star Magazine. November / December 2008.
Road trips are an interesting way to spend time with your Mercedes Maniac. Granted, there are some people who would rather have a root canal than spend several days on the road with their spouses. These are the ones who let the Maniacs drive across country and fly out to meet them. To each his own.
Not only do road trips give you quality time with your maniac, uninterrupted by phones, kids or pets, you get to see things you might not have seen otherwise. It can also be a safety issue.
Whenever we go to Starfest or any other national event we drive. Well, Ernie drives most of the time, but I take over if he gets tired. I'm married to a man who does not think it is too far to drive from central Massachusetts to Detroit in a day. That's twelve hours. Several days of travel like that and he gets tired. I would rather take over than have him fall asleep at the wheel. Besides, driving through the foothills to the Rockies is fun.
Along with the scenery, museums and other places to see, there are people to meet. We have met people from all over the world on our road trips. The Rte 66 trip included people from Australia , Austria , England , Ireland and Canada as well as from all over the United States . It was fun discovering how much we had in common. There are also the people you meet on the way.
In Erick , Oklahoma we stopped at the Roger Miller Museum . The woman there had known Miller personally. We spent some time listening to stories about his high school days where he spent more time pulling pranks such as putting lit firecrackers in the heating ducts than he did studying.
We spent two nights in Williams, Arizona on that trip. The first morning we ate at the Pine Country Café. The hostess was knitting a scarf when we got there. She wasn't happy about the way it was turning out. We went back the next morning and I asked her about the scarf. “Oh, I didn't like it so I ripped it all out.”
It was at the Pine Country Cafe that we saw some real cowboys eating breakfast before going off to move livestock. A phone rang, and one of them stretched out his leg and took a cell phone out of his jeans' pocket. For someone who grew up on the Lone Ranger and Marshall Dillon that seemed pretty incongruous.
In San Bernardino , we were having breakfast at Denny's when Ernie joked, “You've got a boy friend.” To my right there was a window to the waiting area. A little boy with big brown eyes was staring at me. I waved at him and he ducked down. We played peek-a-boo until his family was seated.
On one trip, many years ago, we were coming through Cheyenne , Wyoming and had to wait out a blockage on the interstate heading east. Naturally, we waited where there was food. I asked the teenaged waitress what the kids did in Cheyenne . “There's nothing to do here,” she said. I told her kids in Massachusetts had the same problem.
On one trip across Canada we were at a rest stop on the shore of Lake Superior somewhere between Sault Saint Marie and Thunderbay when another couple discovered they had locked their keys in their car. We lent them a hanger and a trucker showed them how to use it. Afterwards we passed around a container of homemade cookies.
Even breakdowns can be an opportunity rather than a tragedy. We were driving through Nebraska when a car came up beside us and the passenger motioned for Ernie to put down the window. He did and the girl said. “You tail pipe is on fire. Sorry.”
We pulled off at the next rest area and Ernie figured out that the boot that holds brake fluid had split, spilling brake fluid onto the exhaust system. We got back in the car and headed east to the next town—Cozad. We checked in at hotel and asked about service stations. One fellow agreed to open early for us although he doubted he had any parts for a 1960 Mercedes. The next morning we went to the garage and the man put the car up on the lift. He didn't have the parts, but was able to jury rig it with duct tape. We ate breakfast at a place he recommended and went on to Grand Isle where we rented a U-haul and towed the car the rest of the way home. You don't meet people like that staying on the interstate.
It was a breakdown that took us into Wilkes-Barre , Pennsylvania . Again, no one could fix the old MB, but they could tell us where to rent a U-Haul. They seemed genuinely sorry they couldn't do more.
The other thing we've found is good food. We get off the highway and head to a town. We look for the café with the most pickup trucks out front. We know the food will be good, plentiful and reasonably priced. We are frequently the only strangers in the place, but not for long. People get curious about the car and a conversation starts. I'll never forget the conversation about weather that I had with an old cowboy in Wyoming . I asked which direction the weather usually came from. His answer; “Well, mostly from the west, though we've had some good storms from the north and the south too.” The only way he could have been wrong was if something had blown in from the east.
With gasoline prices the way they are, I'm glad I went when I did. I've seen more of the United State and Canada than most people have. I wouldn't have missed it for the world. If you get the chance, hit the road. North America is a beautiful place full of nice people.