Daily Archives: March 24, 2010

Keith’s rides Part 3: Getting stuck in the Duster while getting a box of sand

[This is the third of several blog entries on the cars and other vehicles I have driven. It may or may not be of interest. Enjoy. Or not. It’s your choice. – KM]

I went off to the University of Southern Maine in fall 1980 to begin college and spent the first two years there pretty much dependant on friends with wheels and the university’s bus service between the Gorham campus and the one in Portland.

It was an OK situation, I suppose, since I had plenty of friends willing to give me a ride and the bus stopped near the Maine Mall in South Portland where I had a part-time job at Olympic Sporting Goods selling athletic footwear and other assorted athletic gear.

But my sister was to attend USM, too, and my parents felt it was time for a more dependable vehicle to carry the two of us back and forth between Gorham and Aroostook County, typically a six-hour drive with a meal stop midway in Bangor.

If I didn’t make it clear enough, let me do so now: The Bug, in its physical condition, wasn’t particularly safe for the roads, especially wet and winter Maine roads.

My parents got rid of the Bug and purchased a used Dodge Duster. It was plain and brown, brown and plain. And plain. And brown. But it worked fine enough for a while.

I don’t even remember how or when we got rid of that car. It may have happened after I went to California via the National Student Exchange where I attended California State University, Chico. If I couldn’t walk, I usually was able to wrangle a ride from one of my floor-mates and later house-mates, much as I had done the first two years at USM.

I suppose the only road-trip story I have about the Duster involves getting stuck at a beach in the middle of winter.

You see, I was an activity assistant at Robie-Andrews Hall, one of the residential halls on the University of Southern Maine campus in Gorham. (USM also had a campus in Portland, Maine, and I believe it now also has a campus or satellite campus in Lewiston, Maine.) The winters in Maine can be demoralizing – long, dark and cold. So I suggested we have a beach party.

An assistant decorated some butcher paper with a beach scene, but I wanted to add to the scene. I jumped in the Duster and drove to a beach about 30 or 45 minutes away. I pulled into the parking lot. Cold, cold wind was cutting through my coat and snow blowing about, stinging any exposed skin.

I took a shovel and a box, trudged to the beach, dug up some of the beach sand, trudged back to the parking lot, and threw the shovel and box of beach sand in the trunk. I climbed into the Duster, started it up and nearly immediately found that the car was stuck in the blowing snow. Ugh!

Fortunately, a town snowplow drove by before too long and the driver offered to use the snowplow to pull out the car. I’m sure the driver, a Mainer through and through, had plenty to say to his buddies back at the plow barn about the college kid he helped out of a snowbank.

I got the sand back to Robie-Andrews and put it on the floor under the beach scene and changed into a tropical shirt for the party.

Here’s a tip: Never schedule a wintertime beach party on St. Patrick’s Day. College students tend to follow the green beer before they follow the box of beach sand.

 Rides of My Life … so far

Part 1: Jeep Commando

Part 2: VW Bug

Part 3: Dodge Duster

Part 4: Chevrolet Caprice Classic

Part 5: Nissan pickup

Part 6: Suzuki Sidekick

Part 7: Isuzu Rodeo

Part 8: Honda CRV


Maine issues first red tide warning | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Maine issues first red tide warning | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram.

Meredith Goad: Not your average Joe’s | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Meredith Goad: Not your average Joe’s | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

[I’ve never had a religious experience quite like those repressed in this food column in the Portland Press Herald, but I very much am a Trader Joe’s fan and am happy that Portland appears to be getting its first TJ’s. I visit the local Trader Joe’s here in Stockton, Calif., at least once a week — dry and hot cereal, bread, Indian dishes, cheese, hummus, crackers, spices, pasta and pasta sauce, olive oil, eggs, milk, booze and much more. I do stay away from some of the bagged produce because it doesn’t stay fresh very long; part of that may be that much of it is organic so you have to use it pretty quickly anyway. The store here even carries Tom of Maine products. Overall, Trader Joe’s is a good thing. Here’s a link to the Trader Joe’s website for a small idea of what they carry. — KM]

Halfway to a green taxi fleet in San Francisco | ClimateBiz.com

Halfway to a Green Taxi Fleet in San Francisco | ClimateBiz.com

[I’ve not a big Gavin Newsom fan — I can take him or leave him — but this seems like it might be a great idea. I wonder if other cities are doing anything similar. — KM]

Coffeehouse observation No. 88

A chocolate-filled croissant and a coffee – now that’s what I call lunch!

Go to Coffeehouse Observer for more coffeehouse observations.

Home sales up in Maine in February | Lewiston Sun Journal

Home sales up in Maine in February | Business | Sun Journal.

Commissioner of Maine’s IF and W responds to Down East blogger | DownEast.com

Commissioner of Maine’s IF&W responds to Down East blogger | DownEast.com

[I immeatedly thought two things after reading the letter from the IF&W commisssioner: 1) this is what happens when non-journalistically trained writers (meaning the Down East blogger) are let loose; and 2) media in Maine should have known better than to run with the allegations presented without doing a extensive vetting of theinformation. Shame on the blogger. Shame on media in Maine. For full disclosure, I have linked to Mr. Smith’s blog in the past. Now I may not do it as frequently as I once had. … I must say, one of the commissioner’s lines was great. It included the phrase: “were nothing more than unsubstantiated coyote cries into the night.” — KM]

Fleeing from war, African finds peace in Maine | Bangor Daily News

Fleeing from war, African finds peace in Maine – Bangor Daily News.

Working on Girl Scout cookie-augmented girth

Girl Scout cookies 1

Box of Girl Scout cookies.

Yesterday I received a wonderful, wonderful surprise – eight boxes of Girl Scout cookies!

I’m not a big GS cookie fiend – I’m not the guy who is first in line to fill in the order sheet when someone plops one down in front of me – but it has been a while since I’ve indulged and I was due.

My sister, knowing that this past year has not been the best for me, and some of her much-appreciated helpers sent me the cookies from western Maine where she and her family live. A box each of Thanks-A-Lot Crunchy Fudge-Coated Treats, Thin Mints, Shortbread, Lemonades Lemon Iced Shortbread Slices, Peanut Butter Sandwich, Peanut Butter Patties (I like peanut butter), Caramel deLites, and, of course, Reduced Fat Daisy Go Rounds. (That was sort of like asking for a diet soda after ordering a large meal. Ah, well …)

Thank you, sister Sheri, nephew Max, niece Sophie, and brother-in-law Mark. (I believe Sophie may be a Brownie or member of some other paramilitary outfit that wields yummies instead of weapons.)

Oh, by the way, half of my next plane ticket home may be on them because after these cookies, I may have to purchase two tickets because I will be sporting Girl Scout-augmented girth.

Boxes of Girl Scout cookies.

Boxes of Girl Scout cookies.

Portland diocese penalizes homeless aid group | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Diocese penalizes homeless aid group | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram.