Forget about Emotional Support Musical Instruments, airports understaffed due to the government shutdown, trains, and Wisconsin…can we talk about automobiles, again?
We can. The North American International Auto Show opened for
its final January at Cobo Hall in Detroit. We will the final vestiges of a cold
auto show on the shores of the Detroit River, before it goes into its
scheduling conflict with Motor City Pride over the use of Hart Plaza.
However, there are still several debuts that should be discussed
here. Because, in the end, it’s all about product.
Let’s talk about what made the headlines at this year’s NAIAS…aside from the water main break affecting Cobo Center and downtown Detroit.
Early Saturday morning. It’s dark outside. Even as we past
the Winter Equinox last month with the promise of longer daytime hours, I still
end up fumbling in the dark.
A good night’s sleep at a downtown Minneapolis hotel helped.
I felt a spring in my step. There’s no ice to slip on. Just concrete in the
dark, and an almost quiet light rail station. The Green Line to Union
Depot…that’s a different story.
This was the start of my latest Day Trip Challenge. This
Winter Edition yielded a day’s worth of adventure. I was looking forward to it
with some trepidation.
You probably guess that this is yet another travel-related
Well, the theme of this month in V&R has been travel.
You probably found that a lot of this month’s content is centered on this
subject through this month’s historiography and a few other related topics.
After all, the automobile is related to the way we travel.
It certainly changed the way our country has been traversed by tourists for the
past 80 or so years.
It is a place that should be very familiar to you. You know
how to get there, you know when to check in to which airport at the terminal
you need to be in. You know how the security lines run. You are also reminded
of the local flavors you enjoy outside the airport. That is, if they appear
inside the terminal.
It is also the place that reminds when you arrive that you
are almost home. The familiar lights of the city, combined with familiar
landscapes, become clearer when your flight is about to land.
When I travel by air, my home airport serves as a reminder
of the work that needs to be accomplished by the time I board my flight to when
I land back there again.
Let me tell you about my home airport – Minneapolis-St. Paul
This was the first line from a jingle that encouraged
travelers to ride the rails on Amtrak – the passenger rail service that
traverses the USA. Amtrak had its ups and downs since its formation in 1971 as
a national semi-public sector organization consolidating the many companies
that provided these same services for well over a century prior. It remains the
largest rail passenger service in the country running on 21,400 miles of track
to each of their 500 destinations. In 2017, Amtrak carried 31.7 million
passengers on its network.
Before 1971, passengers had to ride on privately-run
railroads to get from city to city in this country. Rail was extremely popular
from its inception in the 19th Century well into World War I. To
transfer from one railroad to another, they had to go to different depots in a
single city, or head to a single station where these lines all met as a hub.
You have a what? And, you’re taking that on the plane?!?
What prompted those questions was my last trip to
Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. I was picking up my roommate from
her flight from San Francisco. In the baggage claim area, I noticed a lot of
parents and other loved ones waiting patiently for their passengers to come
home for the holidays. It must have been the last day of finals at any given
institute of higher education or the last work day before the holiday break.
While I witnessed scenes of families reuniting with each
other, I noticed a lot of dogs roaming baggage claim. Neither of them belonged
to the Transportation Security Agency.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t a few of the “legacy carriers” – major airlines in the USA – announced that they would ban “emotional support animals” on their flights? At least, Delta Air Lines announced they would not let such animals to fly inside the cabin on long haul flights.
We hope you made it through the New Year unscathed. Our headquarters
had its share of strange weather through the holidays. We had snow, then rain,
more snow, icy conditions, a brief warmup, then more snow, and culminating in near-to-sub-zero
That’s what you get for living and working in Minnesota.
How do you quantify that fact? Simple. You look back,
celebrate the highlights, bless the low moments, and look forward to the new
Certainly, V&R had some highlights. We had some
successful turns with various vehicles and was happy to present them to you. We
did some travel, a couple of auto shows, a couple of media opportunities, and
some adventures along the way. We also made our presence our in the car
community – locally within the Twin Cities and a bit beyond.
We covered and made commentary on various issues and topics
along the way. We memorialized some of the greatest figures in the automotive
world. And, we’re just scratching the surface here.
And, we are about to award another #VOTY. That was quite the award season in itself!
Your audio system has ears. They emit those sounds to your
ears. And, you both enjoy each note, each lyric, each beat…each groove.
To close out this column for the year, I compiled the tracks
I have been listening to on the radio – terrestrial and satellite – and through
streaming and app-based channels. There are a lot of great tracks that have
wafted from the speakers of the various vehicles I worked with this year alone.
Compiling them is no easy task, to be truthful.
Let’s get this list going for 2018. As I always say…be
Victory & Reseda is a website/blog telling the story of the automobile through the eyes of freelance automotive writer Randy Stern and friends. This website/blog serves as a virtual intersection of the automobile, its culture, the past, present and future of personal transportation. It also features travel pieces that center on the automotive experience.