Interesting note on the coronavirus thingie. According to a recent copy of “The American Legion Magazine,” this year’s Super Bowl loss by the San Francisco 49ers to Kansas City Chiefs probably saved over 2,000 lives. That’s how many they estimate would have died after being infected during the victory parade in San Francisco. Since most recent S.F. parades have attracted over 1.5 million viewers, the timing of this last Super Bowl would have been a super virus spreading event.
Apparently, Kansas City type events don’t attract nearly so many celebrants. But then again, Kansas City and environs are populated by working class people who have jobs to attend to. K.C. isn’t over-filled with an abundance of monied liberals and welfare loafers like San Francisco. Sandi and I lived just outside the city for a short period right after we were married. It was close enough to qualify that judgment. We left.
Do you think perhaps that Super Bowl win was divine providence? Doubt it, but in Philadelphia in 1918, when 200,000 people gathered to support a parade celebrating the end of WWI, that event was recognized as a major accelerant for the spread of the Spanish Flu. That pandemic, by the way, had its own deniers and naysayers and resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of our citizens. Many just children or infants – sad.
On a happier note, around this time of the year, the highway over the Beartooth Pass is relatively free of snow and crud, including the usual glut of tourists. Which, combined with masses of extreme skiers congregating at the upper limits of the pass for an adrenaline-fueled run down those rock-strewn vertical slopes, makes a simple scenic drive a trip filled with anxiety, anger and frustration. You just don’t know how the terrified tourists in the oncoming cars and some in 40-foot RVs taking up both lanes are going to react to approaching traffic.
Fortunately, tourists in large numbers were notably absent a couple of weeks ago when Sandi and I drove over the pass, but the skiers made up for the lack of tourists. Those people are, in a word, nuts. They must have a death wish or something similar to dive off those vertical slopes. Let’s not dwell on the fact that many of these thrill seekers don’t even have enough imagination or intelligence to find spots to park off the highway, converting the narrow two-lane roadway into a one-lane venue. That must be comforting to those tourists who, against all common sense, insist on driving their oversize RVs over that narrow, winding portion of the road.
Sandi and I took the new, (to us) pony car up the pass for a break-in ride, but with some elements of caution, both going up and coming down. Since the tires are only about 15% I sought to err on the caution, speed wise. Besides, it’s too nice a drive to rush through it and this year since we didn’t have to dodge the droves of tourists who thought they were either a reborn Parnelli Jones or were paralysed with fear at the heights, which is not to mention people who have to park in the center of the roadway to get out and take pictures of the scenery, we could relax and really enjoy the ride. Gratefully, none of that, minus the skiers, happened on this trip.
In short, it was a beautiful drive with the windows rolled down, golden oldies playing on the CD player and very little traffic to be concerned about. Just miles and miles of the best scenery in America. Some things that are too tame for the young and adventurous are just right for us older folks.
As far as the Mustang goes, I’m getting new rubber put on this week, probably just to ease my mind. One thing I learned many years ago is to have good rubber and good brakes on my vehicles. It took me a few years to learn that lesson, but if you live long enough, you can learn. Well, maybe. Some don’t I guess. Learn, that is. That’s one reason there’s more white crosses along our highways than there should be. But I digress.
The car, an early 2000 Gen-4, a coupe model, preformed well throughout the trip. It was responsive to both the steering wheel and the gas pedal and had plenty of scat in any of its five gears for the ride. In some ways it reminded me of the little Porsche we used to own. We enjoyed driving the Porsche up and over the Beartooth Pass and occasionally over the Bighorns to Sheridan for lunch back when we owned it. One fall we were enjoying a drive over the pass and coming down the Red Lodge side of the pass when a giant black bear tore down the slope on the passengers side, barreled across the asphalt and disappeared into the trees on my side.
It was that quick. If I’d been driving five miles an hour faster, there would have been hair, teeth and eyeballs all over the place. And a wrecked Porsche. They say the two worst animals you can hit with a vehicle are hogs and bears, since they are low to the ground and made of very dense muscle. That’s something I prefer to let others find out and tell me about.
Other than rock chucks and bikers, that was the only time we’ve ever encountered wildlife on the lower road. But, now you know. Also, over 60 years of driving has taught me that only a fool drives fast on a road where wild animals, livestock or tourists can pop out at any minute. In this country, that’s just about anywhere. Besides, over the years I’ve learned that any danged fool can drive fast, but very few people are skilled enough to do it well.
That said, I’m still trying to figure out where the little Mustang coupe fits into the hierarchy of American automotive steel. It’s not really a sports car, more of a sports sedan, but the newer gen-5 Mustangs are really true American Muscle. Maybe our little coupe is a mini-muscle car, or something else completely. Jury’s still out on that one as far as I’m concerned. All I know is that like the ‘99 gen-4 convertible we used to own, I really like it.
That said, we saw a few dozen riders on motorcycles, maybe a half dozen tourists on motorized tricycles and about a dozen bicycle riders. That seems like a beautiful way to enjoy the ride through the mountains, given a good day, light traffic and no adverse weather. I loved dropping the top on our little Mustang convertible and enjoying the fresh air and sunshine that accompanies the outstanding scenery of that drive over the years.
For Cody locals who enjoy the drive and can ignore the usual traffic, it’s a wonderful way to spend a day. This year when we went it was in late June during the mid-week and there was hardly any traffic. There were only six vehicles in the parking lot at Vista View or whatever the Montana folks call that overlook and parking lot potty stop about halfway up. The one with the golden-mantled chipmunks for the kiddies to either feed or chase.
Now that’s where you’d think you could see a bear.