The good thing about going the better part of a week without writing is that it provides an opportunity to step back from the urgency to weigh in on every piddling thing that springs to mind, and instead take the big picture. Yes, that's a nice way to phrase it, and it glides softly by the avalanche of ideas, news items, and observations that the freight schedule prevented me from recording. So to make up for lost time, and soothe my conscience, here are some random observations from the road:
* There are precious few things that can compare with the heavenly pleasure of seeing the first morning drops of sunlight glisten off the ice and snow in the mountains. Although watching such an exquisite galaxy of crystal reflections from the warmth of a show truck, while sipping a rich, dark roasted coffee and listening to classical Christmas music can cause one to feel so sweet toward the world that one is apt to come down with a cavity.
* However, one of the things that can actually improve on the singular experience described above, is to sleep in, miss it all, and feel well rested instead.
* If ever I feel lonely while driving, I look forward to the next truck, car, or emergency vehicle that has pulled off on the right shoulder of the highway. Because as soon as I see them and try to move over just one lane to give them a margin of safety, an everlasting parade of vehicles will suddenly come speeding up to my left and put a stop to my thoughtfulness. One is never really alone when one needs to change lanes.
* By the way, if you see an 18-wheeler signaling his intention to move over one lane, please let him do it. He's not trying to ruin your day by making you actually take your foot off the gas for a few seconds, but he does see hazards further down the road that you can't see, and he's trying to avoid them so that everyone gets from Point A to Point B in one piece. Just last week, while driving in the northeast, a travel trailer was on the shoulder of the interstate and a gentleman was working under the trailer with his legs stretched out into right lane. I turned on my left turn signal, which evidently was the signal for the locals to engage their native instincts and tighten up the formation so as to keep me from moving over. They didn't see the trailer, or the guy in the road. Faced with the option of pushing them into the ditch or giving the gentleman a pedicure he would never forget, I instead put the left tires on the center line, braked as hard as I safely could, and gave a long blast of the air horn. Well, Grandpa heard it and pulled his feet in faster than the Wicked Witch of the East after she lost the ruby slippers, while the drivers to my left were none too appreciative of my encroachment. I guess they were running late for their next wreck.
* If you happen to find yourself in Edgefield, South Carolina tomorrow, please come out and honor some troops who will soon be deploying to Afghanistan. I've been asked to bring the Ride of Pride, and have it on display during the afternoon, and then drive it in the local parade in the early evening. I'd be delighted to say hello to you.
* It's a giddy feeling, cleaning and polishing the truck before an event like this. Nothing but the shiniest, mirror-like polish for the troops. Though the flags might be another matter. There is a large American Flag and two POW/MIA flags that attach to the frame on the rear of my truck. Now, I'm not a mechanic, and that's putting it politely. In fact, if at first I don't succeed, I find that demolition can be right cathartic. But as best I can tell, the three things welded onto the frame in the back are there to hold the things that will attach to the other things that are attached at the top to the flags. Now, all of these things have a total of nine holes in their sides, so that little things can be stuck through the holes and keep the things in place. But the thing of it is that where the things stick together and the holes match up, there will be a total of six holes to stick the little things through, so naturally, only three things were provided to stick through the six holes. I'll have to come up with some other things to stick through those things so the things won't go flying off the truck frame thing when the wind picks up, which it will because Murphy's Law is not a thing to take for granted.
* If everything stays in place and I don't cuss too much, they are putting me up in a motel tomorrow night. I feel special.
* I've noticed that some age groups take notice of the Ride of Pride more than others. Men seem to take in the sight more than women. People who appear to be in their 40s or older also seem much more likely to take notice. I've seen them slow down and drive along side of the truck while the passenger takes photos. Meanwhile, the 20-something will never raise his nose from his smartphone or electronic tablet … and neither will his passenger.
* You give me a bowl of truck stop chili and I'll give you the 1812 Overture.
* You can tell a lot about a town by how friendly the waitresses are.
* Reading the electoral postmortems, I've seen no small number of Republicans who assure us that future success requires us to travel light, and that this is done mainly by throwing overboard certain defining principles they see as weighing us down. There is a word for people who equate the rule of law with racism or nativism, or who refuse to speak in defense of the unborn, who cede our oldest institutions and culture to secularism (which is fast becoming its own religion), or who speak of private property rights and economic growth in the dumb language of "tax breaks for the rich." They're called Democrats.
* A couple of years ago, I wrote about the growing obsession with your retirement plan. According to Byron York, among others, the plans are beginning to take shape. Meanwhile, at Pennsylvania's Community College of Allegheny County, the instructor's hours are being reduced in an effort to save an estimated $6 million in Obamacare-related costs. Oh yes, and now that the election is over, the administration unveils plans to cut Pell grants by 33 percent. I wonder how many hopey changers are going to have an unpleasant rendezvous with reality soon?
* Do you find it interesting that some of the same people who lined up for a chance at the $500 million Power Ball also voted for a President who spends that much every 80 minutes? Speaking of which, I hear he's gearing up for yet another multimillion dollar vacation at our expense. It's so refreshing to have someone in office who relates to the average citizen.
* In the unsolicited advice department, I would suggest that House Republicans pass a genuine pro-growth plan that seriously addresses unfunded commitments and fiscal reality, and then leave town. But I'm afraid they won't do that. They'll muddle through, compromising on just how high the Democrats want them to jump, and when it all implodes, they'll take the blame for it. They'll take the blame in any event, so they might as well stick to those principles that made America the economic powerhouse it used to be.
* Speaking of leaving town, I have a parade to prepare for.