Rerouting to Terror!


On September 6th Tim and I headed for Vandergrift, Pennsylvania to attend Drive-In Super Monster-Rama, an event that features 8 classic drive-in horror movies over two nights. This would be our 3rd Monster-Rama, and we’d be meeting up with friends from Maryland and Nebraska to enjoy these excellent film prints.

This is part one of my trip diary, in which we learned (in Jessica’s words) that our navigation would not be ruled by fact-checking.

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Tim and I arranged to meet at the university parking lot that we use for work. I arrived early, so I stood in the morning air reading my copy of Introducing Evolutionary Psychology: A Graphic Guide. The dev manager for my current project pulled in a few spots away from me, and she advised me to try going further from work for my vacation.

Moments later Tim pulled up. We transferred my luggage to his car and drove closer to work for breakfast before starting the trip. Who did I cross paths with on the way into the restaurant?

At this point, she’s probably convinced that I’m not actually leaving Ann Arbor.

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Dude walked into the restaurant wearing a white t-shirt with the custom message “Have you seen the sporty new Toyota Kamikaze?” I suppose he believed this to be an insightful enjoinder to buy American, but it’s really a notice to those around him that he’s the loneliest xenophobe in a cosmopolitan town.

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There’s a reason Tim calls us The Fiasco Brothers

We were following the GPS and wound up on rural Ohio highways instead of the tollway. It took about forty minutes to get back on course. The entire time, the GPS voice continued to attempt to get us back where we didn’t want to be, saying “rerouting” with increasing venom.

Tim expected it to say “For fuck’s sake, Lehnerer. Get on the road.” I awaited the more prosaic “Lick my balls. You’re on your own.”

As we eventually drove down our chosen road, we could hear it still muttering at us to reverse our course.

“Well,” I said. “We should be good for the next several hours.”

“Yeah,” he agreed. “We’re no longer listening to the GPS!”

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There’s a World Cup pinball machine at the service plaza where we ate lunch. A note stuck under the glass helpfully points out that the game is only for entertainment purposes.

So much for my dreams of football glory!

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After much confusion within a half an hour of Vandergrift, we decided to once again heed the GPS. With some apprehension we pulled in at a motel where Lake’s Roadhouse was supposed to be. The motel had no name but was attached to a bar called Ricky Lake’s Place, which could be assumed to be our destination.

There was a sign on the door of the motel office saying to call a number. Tim did so, and a woman came out of the bar to meet us. She seemed both to be surprised at our arrival and to know who we were. She asked us to give her some time to get ready and told the bartender to give us some free drinks.

Being me, I whispered to Tim that our bodies would be found in the lake — which is weird, because it’s all rivers around here.

We had our free drinks (a lager and a Shirley Temple), and Tim talked up the Monster-Rama to the bartender, who might actually come as she digs Vincent Price and Boris Karloff. Also the drive-in is just a few hundred feet down the road and admission is only $10, so really there’s no excuse for not going.

Wanda came back, and I know her name because she wrote it and her number on a slip for us in case we had some kind of motel-related emergency. Tim paid upfront for our stay, and the rate was so good he called our friends driving in from Nebraska to let them know. Wanda offered to leave the door unlocked on a room for them (they’d be getting in pretty late), and they could square things with her on Friday morning. It was a generous offer, but they were locked in to their previous reservation, at least for Thursday night.

I was beginning to feel confused by all the respect, decency, and trust. It felt like a rare episode of “The Twilight Zone” where the unexpected twist is that life is good.

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