A road trip retrospective (subtitled: an examination of serendipity and a test of patience)

(Reposting for the morning crowd and so I can get more than one view for every two minutes it took to write this because yes I’m that needy.)

This is a fairly long, meandering, possibly a bit tedious piece full of references to my earlier writings. There’s a theme, but it’s much less interesting than warrants a post of this length.

Feel free to skim for the photos. I won’t be offended. As I told Chariotoflove recently, I don’t much like talking, especially making small talk, but I do love writing.

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Unlike my long trip to WV & the Outer Banks, this one was short, but still eventful. (Literally event-full, considering it was designed to get me to the Toledo Jeep Fest.) Took some photos, met some people, saw a damaged DJ owned by our favorite FP Jeeper.

As I mentioned last night, the trip featured serendipitous symmetry which was spoiled...but that very spoilage was serendipitous.


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This was the very first photographic opportunity on my trip: before I had made it more than five miles from home, I spotted this lovely International Harvester truck being transported to Fort Wayne. I trust the new owner appreciates it.

While I was still in sight of this one I saw another truck of similar vintage, this one a very very clean Ford. Sadly it was going the other way and I didn’t have time to take a photo. Considering I never see one of these on the road, instead sitting rusted out in yards in rural communities, seeing two of these (admittedly, one on a trailer) passing each other was quite the coincidence, but not the serendipity to which I refer.

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Just a few hours later, another truck from that era passed me on a highway in Ohio. I was going 65 and this Chevy passed me handily.

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This also is not the serendipity to which I refer, although seeing three such pickups in one day rivals my sighting of four Jeep trucks in two days.

No, the serendipitous symmetry that was spoiled Sunday evening was this: my first photo of my road trip was an International Harvester truck and so, very nearly, was my last.

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After spotting this still operational IH on my way home from Toledo, I decided that was a perfect capstone to my trip. I started with one, ended with another. Serendipitous symmetry, see?

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But then disaster struck. The culprit? A Jeep Cherokee.

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If my username were not clue enough, if the purpose of this trip were not clue enough, if my constant writing about Jeeps were not clue enough...I’m obsessed with Jeeps. Classic Jeeps primarily; I wouldn’t turn down a free Gladiator, but neither am I going to shell out 50k for one.

But I’ve been chasing a very specific configuration of XJ for a while now, and seeing this (former?) emergency vehicle with its interesting livery was sufficient to make me renounce my briefly-held determination to not take any more photos on the trip. Sorry, International Harvester, but you weren’t quite interesting enough.

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While visiting the Indiana State Fair (which I wrote about recently, including a few interesting vehicular photos and more sugary food ones) I found a shirt for sale at the DNR building, my favorite non-food destination. The shirt has a list of thirty-two state-run parks. Specifically a checklist.

So, in no small part because the shirt is yellow and I have a bit of an obsession with collecting yellow clothing to match my yellow Jeep, I grabbed it, and decided I’d do the needful.

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So, this weekend I had two objectives: the Jeep Fest parade, and start collecting parks. As you can see, I was able to grab three of them during this trip.


Setting aside my no-more-photos plan allowed me to visit the third park, Summit Lake, which is someplace I simply can’t go without taking pics. Sunsets there are simply too beautiful. (My favorite photo from Summit Lake isn’t a sunset at all, but sadly my only copies appear to be on a hard drive tucked away in storage, which hopefully still works.)

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Going to Summit Lake was the second-most serendipitous event of the weekend. (No, I haven’t gotten to the actual-most serendipitous event. Patience, grasshopper...although if you’re still reading at this point you’ve demonstrated more patience than I’d have thought possible. Especially from you. You know who you are.)

Summit Lake was, as usual, quite lovely, but (again, referring you to my own post, which I linked above and will link again because it really was a special evening) being able to spoil a family who I’ll never meet again, whose names I don’t even know, with a gift that will hopefully be around for a while was, indeed, very serendipitous.

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A few more photos from my visit before I proceed with the narrative.

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Another moment of serendipity, ranking nowhere near the top, was the arrival of a yellow and black Mini at Ouabache State Park (pronounced “Wabash”), parked one spot away from where a yellow and black classic Mustang had been parked a short time before.

Mainly I include this minor coincidence so I have an excuse to post the Mustang.

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The actual-most serendipitous encounter of the weekend was finding David Tracy.

He and I have met before: I crashed (figuratively, not literally) the Project Redwood trip to meet him and Andrew Collins on the snowiest day in recent memory around here.

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I also had the opportunity to enjoy a ride in his CJ-2A as we cruised last year’s Jeep Fest. Protip: no one stops a tiny flatfender at a Jeep festival even if it’s driving (carefully) on closed roads through crowds of people.

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This year’s encounter was the most serendipitous occasion of my weekend. I had attempted to reach him Friday night to find out whether he was going to be in the parade, to no avail, and Saturday after the parade and taking lots of photos of the exhibit I decided I would call the event a win.

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I had heard here that visiting Packo’s was a must (thanks, vondon302, for making that point in the comments on my article about Jamie Farr, Jeep, and Toledo) so away I drove. The original location, of course, because the original is almost always the place with the most soul.

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And there, serendipitously, I bumped (figuratively, not literally) into David’s DJ, which someone else had (literally, not figuratively) bumped into earlier. Fortunately David was fine, and the DJ mostly fine, but the delay had been enough to cause him to miss the parade.

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I have more photos and commentary about this weekend to share another day, but I think I’ve sufficiently tested the limits of your patience. I’ll close with a message from last year’s Fest and wish you all a good drive on the morrow (and all the days to come).

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