Travelogue: But, Where Shall We Go With This?

Now, which journeys would Victory & Reseda take me?

Can’t stop the questions, can I? There is a good reason why I’m asking these questions out loud. For an online automotive blog to differentiate itself from everyone else, one must find different approaches and way to keep you engaged.

Somehow, it worked. In recent comments, I showed my honesty about the product that was acceptable in context with the automobile. In another article, a reader noticed my “prose” in terms of the review. That was something I felt intentioned to do when I discuss these vehicles with some form of context to them. It is this context in prose is where the vehicle and life intersect.

My point is using context as a driver to frame an automotive review. The context for the last review was my Capstone presentation at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. The vehicle served as an integral part of the story using the metaphor of the finish line and the arrival to that point in style. The Lexus IS 250C served as the proper metaphor in this story; but was also a story onto itself.

When someone asked me about my automotive writing, I point out the loss of storytelling in this genre. I look back at Brock Yates with the stories of the Cannonball Runs as originally told in Car & Driver. I also look at how P.J. O’Rourke balanced his political outlook on life with a Subaru wagon, or the dueling luxury trucks off to a hunt with the late David E. Davis in Automobile magazine.

Then again, I find Jeremy Clarkson’s columns in The Sunday Times as the ultimate in this form of storytelling – as interesting as they were. Clarkson was known for telling something of a story – possibly unrelated to the automotive subject – then, review the vehicle. Perhaps it was a rant against Tony Blair or about some group he had strong opinions about.

In all, that’s storytelling. That is what I intend to do. But, what other stories shall I tell? And, where would these stories come from?

I guess I should think out loud again…indulge me, if you would:

THE CAR AND THE CITY – THE HOME BASE: The Twin Cities is where I make my home. It is also the proving ground for most of the vehicles I drive for this blog. Post-winter conditions with potholes needed mending that could swallow a tire whole. Summer conditions ranging from comfortable to humid with mosquitoes. Then, there’s winter: Snow, sub-zero temperatures and the battle for grip. When other parts of the country get hit with conditions like Minnesota’s, I always have a lesson to parse out for those unfamiliar with icy roads or the twists and turns of climate change.

The reason why the Twin Cities remains the primary proving ground for an automobile are places that are familiar as somehow transported to this area. Freeways that combine the best (and worst) of all the places I lived before: Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, Washington, D.C. and Madison. Even the streets have the feel of these places, all wrapped up into one area. Add the rural areas to the mix – and you have perhaps a good proving ground for any vehicle.

Keep in mind that this blog is not just about cars. As with before, I will cover all sorts of four-wheeled conveyances – within reason, of course! I haven’t done a pickup truck piece in years and would love to one before petrol gets up to $4.50 a gallon.

THE CAR AND THE CITY – ELSEWHERE: You can feel a city by running its roads. What if these roads were ones taken before? How does one add to experience of trodden pathways form the past?

With new subjects to review, why not subject them to these old roads?

What I have in mind are stories with context based on the place I have in mind. For Detroit, it is the experience of affirming Chrysler’s message to the world in their initial spot for the 200 featuring Eminem. My first trip there was laden with experiences I’ve waited a lifetime for. I’d like to experience them again – maybe catch up on places visited before and adding new places along the way.

For Los Angeles, it is yet another homecoming. This time, I want to pay homage to the name of this blog and honor where the spirit of this space amongst the automotive scribes came from. It also about family and old friends – and connectivity we continue to have decades after sharing our lives together.

For Washington, it is the place where my first professional success was made. It is also connecting my country’s history with my own path connecting with old and new friends. It also means rediscovering the magical paths outside of the reach of the Beltway – the spaces where I loved to roam. Places where I took what I learned from my home state to a new climate trodden with history.

Lastly, I am finding Chicago as a proper hub for various adventures. I’ve always wanted to meet some automotive history in places, such as South Bend and the area outside of Kalamazoo. Or, back to up Madison where I once called home. Or, maybe chase a dream down to St. Louis or Indianapolis. The possibilities are endless!

CONTEXT – IN COMBINATION WITH THE HEIRLOOM: It is the intersection of two of the things I love is where you will find me in heaven. Last year, over July 4th weekend, I had that opportunity with a visit to Eau Claire, its historic ballpark and the eventual Northwoods League champions – with a 2010 Dodge Challenger to take me there.

I would love to do this again.

There are many options near and far to accomplish this. There are a couple of places where the Northwoods League play where I’d like to check out: Mankato and Rochester. There are also some independent league spots in Fargo and Sioux Falls that I am interested in testing a vehicle’s long distance and fuel consumption abilities. I am also thinking of the Chicago area, Detroit, the Washington area and Los Angeles on possible combination pieces with The Heirloom.

These are just a few ideas I have in mind. One can dream up the possibilities of stories to cover with subjects willing to be tested to its limits. In all due time…

Photo by Randy Stern

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