Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Welcome To Dallas

We spent several days in Dallas enjoying a mini family reunion for my wife's side of the family. One evening looking to do a little shopping to avoid the heat, I dropped some passengers off at the front of a store and was pulling away to go park the van when someone floored it in reverse from a parking space as I was driving by. There was a huge bang and the van shook despite the fact that I was only doing maybe 3 miles per hour at the time.

We got out to look at the damage and I was relieved to see that there had been no body damage. The lady who had backed out had a bumper hitch on and it had destroyed our hubcap and put a huge hole in the tire but that was it. The lady immediately set into us about how recklessly fast we must have been driving since she didn't see us (or the twelve plus feet of van that passed behind her before she hit the last three foot part of it.) My uncle-in-law, who lives in Dallas, ran interference with her loud vocal assault while my brother-in-law and I changed the tire in the 100+ degree heat without the proper jack tools. We ended up using a seat locking lever to jack up the van by hand which took us over twenty minutes and wore blisters on both of our hands.

My uncle tried to exchange information and the woman was quick to give over her insurance information but wouldn't let us see her drivers license. So I had my uncle call the police while we were dealing with the tire and just about the time we finished they showed up. The lady went sprinting for the car so she could get her story in first but by some twist of fate, that turned out to be the backup car and the officer doing the investigating came up to me first. As it turned out, in Texas, if there isn't a $1000 worth of damage, there is nothing the police will do. However, they did force the lady to hand over her driver's license which led us to the discovery that she wasn't driving her own vehicle and was driving a 'friends' vehicle.

With the help of the police, we 'exchanged' information and went on our way. It cost me about $130 to replace the tire which leaves me in a quandary. Most of me wants to file a claim against her for her loud obnoxious thirty minute verbal assault that we endured while changing the tire. As I recently found out from my wife's incident, insurance companies almost always find the person backing up to be liable and I do believe this lady was liable. However, despite someone doing an illegal turn across three lanes of traffic and ramming my wife's car, the insurance company made us liable for 20% since my wife had just backed out of the space. In my recent incident where someone ran a red light trying to turn in front of me and lost, their insurance company is also trying to find me 20% liable since I didn't 'see' them. That claim is going to litigation by my insurance company. According to my insurance company a relatively new law that had nothing to do with finding fault in auto collisions has been interpreted by courts as if two vehicles are moving, both share some fault in every accident no matter what happened. Insurance companies are taking full advantage to reduce the payouts of their poor driving clients. My dilemma is do I risk getting dinging on my insurance premiums if I file a claim and am found 20% responsible for a third time in two months? Fortunately my insurance guy understands and I think he will send a letter with the receipts to the owner of the car's insurance company and see how they respond. Depending on their response will determine whether the claim get filed or I'm out the $130 but still intact (maybe) insurance premiums. Oh joy.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Stops Along the Way

A tour of Iowa isn't complete without a stop at Adventureland. I don't know how long it has been around but I do know I've been going there for 40 years and though most of the rides have changed, the ferris wheel is still there. The other favorite of mine the Log Ride was finally ripped out last year but not before my daughters got to experience it.

In recent times, they have doubled the size and added a water park so we decided it would be a good time to spend a day cooling off before we started our long driving journey. The kids really enjoyed it though we all lost each other a time or two among all the slides and water features. Eventually though we got everyone found and it was a quiet drive home because I was the only one awake, a sure sign that fun had been had.

A couple days later we began our Midwest tour driving south towards our first stop in Kansas City. One of the free places we like to stop to stretch our legs and which is still free to the public is the Federal Reserve Bank located there. They have a nice museum about how money is made, handles and adjusted as well as a place where you can see them processing money. In short, in ten minutes you can be within inches of more money than your parents, you and your children will ever see in their lifetimes combined. They also have a display showing almost every single coin every made in our country's history which even if you aren't a coin collector and I'm not, it is way cool to see.

With ten people and being on the road for over a week, we decided to reduce our expenditures and so we forewent our normal stop of eating some Korean BBQ that we normally feast on when in Kansas City. Instead we walked across the street and ate a picnic lunch in the shade at a war memorial park. Well fed and legs stretched, we continued south to our next destination which was a mini family reunion in Dallas, Texas.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Doesn't Take Shit From Anyone

Smack dab in the middle of our tour of the Bridges of Madison County is the town of Winterset and the birthplace of John Wayne. We have always stopped to visit the gift shop/museum in the neighboring house to enjoy the air conditioning and to look at the John Wayne memorabilia part way through our bridges tour. You couldn't beat the price since it was free though it costs money to actually go in the house which I have never done.

Since our last visit, they razed several other nearby houses and built a gift shop/museum and tore down the old one. They promised lots more memorabilia so I was looking forward to visiting it. However once we got inside, we saw the gift shop had been reduced to a tiny fraction of what the old gift shop used to sell though it now took up about ten times the space which was nice since you could now move freely about. However, all the memorabilia had been moved behind closed doors and they were charging $15 per person to see it. Seeing that I was with 9 other people who really could care less about John Wayne, I couldn't see paying $150 to go into the museum. I was disappointed to say the least and since I am almost always with people, I will probably never stop back unless I come with some John Wayne enthusiasts. Sadly, I found out that many other free museums and such that I frequent are disappearing fast but more on that in later posts.

We walked around the gift shop until everyone had cooled off from the hot muggy weather outside and then we walked over to his house and took the obligatory pictures in front with the sign and got on the road to see the remaining Bridges of Madison county. We were happy and it still didn't cost us a dime.

[A word of explanation on the title of this post: A guy walks into the store to buy some toilet paper and the clerk showed him some Charmin toilet paper 4-roll pack for $10. The guy wanted something cheaper so the clerk showed him some cheaper stuff that came in an 8-pack for $10. Still wanting cheaper toilet paper, the clerk showed him the generic stuff that came in a 16-pack for only $5. The guy paid, took his toilet paper and went home. The next day he returned to the store and told the clerk that the toilet paper must be John Wayne toilet paper. The clerk puzzled asked him why. The fellow said it was rough and tough and (see post title).

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Writing On the Wall

As I have written about before, the Bridges of Madison county have painted a portion of each of their six covered bridges white to allow graffiti to happen in hopes of discouraging people from writing on the bare wood sections. People are ignorant and assholes and still write everywhere but those who are respectful of these bridges and treasure them, limit themselves to the white washed areas that get repainted periodically.

I have visited the bridges many times over the years despite never having seen the movie or read the book about them. I keep coming back because I am fascinated with the graffiti. If you look back in my archives, I probably have a dozen posts on this subject alone. I've always regretted not bringing a marker along to leave "my mark" but this time I remembered and brought a handful to pass out among my extended family. They had a blast leaving messages for others to read.

I left a few of my own but for the most part I walked along taking pictures of the messages others felt important enough to write down. Most are dull and expected but here and there something grabs my attention. This post is a collection of those images.

This last one is my youngest daughter's attempt at leaving her mark and she chose the railing out front. I really liked the fact that she even drew a stick figure.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Bridges of Madison County

Another trip we like to take people on who visit us is the Bridges of Madison County/John Wayne tour, both of which happen in Madison County around the county seat of Winterset. Although the bridges are beautiful and I enjoy taking pictures, perhaps the most entertaining part is reading what people have written on them. On a portion of each bridge, caretakers have painted over some of the timbers in white paint and encourage people to leave their mark. They are then painted over each year and the process goes on. This year for the first time ever, I remembered to pack a few sharpies so that I could leave my mark along with my guests. More of that in another post. For now, here are the rest of the Bridges of Madison County. Since most were taken in panoramic mode to get the entire bridge in one "frame", I only put the reduced sized pictures on here to save time.