Five O'Clock Somewhere

Welcome to Five O'Clock Somewhere, where it doesn't matter what time zone you're in; it's five o'clock somewhere. We'll look at rural life, especially as it happens in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, cats, sailing (particularly Etchells racing yachts), and bits of grammar and Victorian poetry.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Life with the top down

A convertible – especially a small one – gives a totally new point of view

Now that my brother Jerry has returned to Prague, we’re keeping his car for him. The Miata that took him on his epic 2004 road trip and again on the just-completed mini-road trip is to be kept safely in our garage, sheltered from the elements.

Of course, cars need to be driven every so often, or else they deteriorate: The battery dies, the tires go flat (or worse, they sit in the same position for so long that they’re not round any more), the oil gets sludgy, and the gasoline goes stale. So Jerry instructed us to take it out and drive it every couple of weeks to keep it in top condition.

This afternoon we had an invitation from Bartender to go sailing with him on his Thistle at Cochiti Lake. Tadpole had a music lesson, so it was just Pat and me … and given that the Miata is the most fuel-efficient vehicle available, it was a no-brainer to take it to the lake. Sunscreen on, hats in place, top down, off we went. It was a breezy but sunny day, excellent weather for being in a convertible.

When we got to the lake, we discovered that it was more than just breezy; it was windy – too windy for a Thistle. The Etchells would have been wonderfully happy with this wind, but then the Etchells has a big slab of lead on the bottom of the boat to keep it upright. And Cochiti is so small that with the winds that were there today, the Etchells would have been to the other side of it in just a few minutes.

But the lightweight Thistle, with just a swing centerboard, would have been most uncomfortable in the stiff, gusty winds, and none of us was particularly eager to risk a capsize that would dump us in the water. So we bagged the idea of sailing, and Bartender returned to Santa Fe while we headed back to Albuquerque.

Still, the afternoon wasn’t a total waste. After all, we did get the car out to keep it happy. And we really enjoyed the top-down experience. The relationship between the occupant of the car and the world outside of the car becomes totally different.

Passing through the village of Peña Blanca, we could hear the sounds of cattle and sheep in their fields, kids playing basketball at the community center, grackles and magpies in the trees, and the rush of the water in the community irrigation ditch, or acequía, sounds that, in an enclosed car, even with the windows open, we would never have heard or would have heard only faintly.

Pickup trucks and large SUVs have really impressive suspension systems when they’re viewed from below.

It may seem silly to have the top down but the windows up, but at freeway speeds, having the windows up reduces the noise to the extent that, at least most of the time, it’s possible to have a conversation.

Toyota Corollas and Chevy Cavaliers are really big cars.

Even on the freeway, restaurants make their presence known by their aroma. Barbecue is especially notable in this regard; it can be detected a half-mile away.

Part of what made Jerry’s blog special when recounting his travels was his unique point of view about the places he traveled through. I now know that having the perfect vehicle – literally – was also part of that point of view.

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Blogger nanseeking said...

Thanks, Carol Anne. I enjoyed the trip.

Mon May 07, 10:43:00 PM MDT  
Blogger Lydia said...

Blame Jerry...he said that the idea of you and I being in the same room scared him or some such Jerry-ism. So naturally I had to check out your blog. Your style of writing is delightful and makes me wish I still bothered using all the nun-induced writing skills!

Alas you are stuck with my vampire stories and ramblings over in Pikers. I will try to spot check your blog often since it is great. Makes me want to take up sailing, again.

Tue May 08, 04:10:00 PM MDT  
Blogger Carol Anne said...

Lydia, Pat and Zorro and I hope to get to San Diego sometime in the not-too-distant future for some really good sailing with the San Diego Etchells fleet. Maybe you can come aboard as crew.

Tue May 08, 11:19:00 PM MDT  
Blogger Lydia said... we dare tell Jerry? Or let him watch the mushroom cloud on the horizon?

My cousin kept a 29 foot wooden sail boat at Shelter Island up until his death. I was in high school and my brother and I were bummed we couldn't swing keeping it.

the email works

How many people read your site? eeep...okay write down and edit my email out...k?

Wed May 09, 06:03:00 PM MDT  

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