Ahhhhh the double entendres abound! Before anyone gets too worried, I'm not writing after spending a night in the slammer for a DUI or anything... I was too tired last night to write anything that anyone would EVER want to read, so I spent the evening sleeping and being ravaged by one single mosquito. Now a quick aside... I realize mosquitoes have brains just slightly larger than Rockstar, but this one musta been the Einstein of the insect world. She managed to bite me not once, not twice, but three times in the one area she was safe to do so. I can touch most anywhere on my body with either my hand or the stump, but there is about a four inch square on the back of left shoulder I cannot reach, ever. The three big lumps all look like a tight shot group all within a circle the size of a soup can lid. Can you guess where they were? I was not amused. I once was terrorized my a mosquito while I was in flight school. Each night for several nights in a row, I would awaken to a HORRIBLE stinging sensation, but could never seem to swat her. A few times I caught a glimpse as the light came on, but never could I lay that final "hand of death" on her. Finally one night I got nailed on my cheek, and I was done. It was two in the morning, and I was prepared to do battle. I closed the door, turned on all the lights, and began the search. I was not going to sleep until one of us was done. I tossed sheets, moved furniture, and more or less destroyed my room. Every so often I'd catch a fleeting shot of her as she barrel rolled into a corner and then split-S'ed back in another direction. Air battles over Berlin were less intense than this. Finally she made the mistake of going high, and silhouetted herself against the white of the ceiling. A fatal mistake, and she paid dearly. Now most people would call it a night and head back to bed, but not me.... nooooo.... I had given blood for this victory, it was time to gloat. I took the small insectile corpse and placed it at the base of my lamp where I could view it triumphantly as I drifted off to sleep, and could again enjoy the fruits of my battle each morning when I woke up. She stayed there for a week until I showed my girlfriend at the time, who proclaimed me to be "weird" and threw it out. Oh well.... little victories, right? Unfortunately this mosquito last night lived to bite another day... Now, on to the 'burban and beer!
I got the opportunity to tour the Janesville GM plant where suburbans are made! Sadly the gas crunch is causing the plant to be closed down in the near future, so there was no joy in Janesville, for the mighty Suburban has been struck out. The plant itself appears to be somewhat small, until you get inside and see the 34 miles of assembly line snaking their way through. The front is a two story brick structure built in the early 1900's as a tractor factory, and was converted to the Chevrolet factory in the 20-30's if I remember right. I actually thought the building looked suspiciously a lot like many public school buildings built during this era. Once inside, I was told no pictures or vid, so those will be sadly lacking... I first noticed the relative "quiet" of the building. The noise level was about that of a cafeteria, and therefore not at all unpleasant. We took a tram around as the guide gave random factiods and I sat transfixed at the automotive process happening before me. Everywhere I looked was some section of the assembly line, seeming snaking along, unordered, somehow resulting in a finished vehicle. While there were quite a few robots, they were mostly involved in the welding/flipping of parts, and everything else was people powered. Throughout the factory workers gave random waves and smiles as the tour passed, and the next vehicle arrived. The only part of the factory that even had the slightest industrial odor was the paint area, and even that was light at best. The factory itself turned out to be HUGE, with two railroad lines running right thru it, delivering parts that were needed just as fast as they were used up. At the back of the factory was the quality control sort of area. There vehicles that rattles or otherwise didn't make the grade were repaired and readied for transport. All in all I'd suggest that anyone who has never been in a factory take one of these tours just to get an idea of how complex a process it is to make something that you use daily with no thought at all as to the intricacies involved in its' build.
I, on the other hand, had worked in a factory once before in my life, and it was a reinforcing experience to say the least. After I got out of the Army, I worked at the MTD factory for a few months making lawnmowers for the world. For roughly 615 times a night I would put on the same washer and cotter pin, then a hanger with nut and lockwasher set up before the mower moved to the next spot in the line. Roughly 614 times a night I would reaffirm to myself that I was going to work reaaaaaaally hard in college so that I would not have to do that again. Between the repetition and carpal tunnel syndrome, I wasted no time in deciding factory work wasn't for me. I found it odd how much the lady who worked across from me loved the work. To me it was repetitious to the point of being mind-numbing. To her though, it was easy and afforded her the opportunity to talk to everyone around her without having to stop to "work" as it was. I must admit that our ongoing dialogue about the truthfulness of the space program was interesting, though. Hard to believe that there are people who truly believed, at least at the time, that the space shuttle was a hoax, and it really just landed in Africa, where it stayed a few weeks before being relaunched back to the USA for "re-entry." Everybody is different, I suppose!
Well after taking a few shots of the factory and the obligatory "old vs. new" shots of the Bean, I loaded up again and headed to my next stop. My plan was to stop in Black River Falls to visit a local microbrewery. Along the way I saw an odd rock formation known as "Castle Rock" just off the highway. Well I jerked the Bean over to the exit, and with tires howling made the turn into the 'park'. If there's one thing I love, it's unique natural formations. Well it turns out that this rock was a remnant of an ancient glacial lake island, now in the middle of the forests of Wisconsin. I had noticed that the way up was almost completely flat with random big hills rising out of fields like the backs of some sort of giant whales in a sea of green. It turns out these are from the glacial ages, too. Well I parked and grabbed RTD and ran up the hill to try to get a good shot of the formation. I finally stopped to evaluate the area, and quickly felt a sting on my leg. I looked down to see no less than thirty blood suckers hovering excitedly around the new Ruby Tuesday's of the Castle Rock area. Dang. I took off running again, but every time I stopped we were set upon by mosquitoes like some sort of biblical plague, so the layover was short.
Back out on the open road, I drove thru the rainy miles until I reached Black River Falls. I looked up the address to the brewery, and headed on over. I arrived at the Sand Creek Brewing Company shortly after four, and headed inside. I was recognized immediately as I walked in, and took a moment to bask in my fame. After they helped me get my head thru the door, introductions were made, and a beer somehow materialized in my hand. I knew I was going to like this place. I couldn't help but laugh at the thought of my microbrewery loving roommate suffering his way through Air Force officer training as I lived the dream. Stuart, that beer was for you... sucka! Now go do push ups. The brew master there, Todd, then took me on a tour of the building, and my fascination of how how such tasty beverages were made was indulged in ad nauseum. The building was originally a brewery built in the 1800's by a family whose four sons all suffered untimely ends. Oddly enough, only one was alcohol related, and that was when his personal whisky still blew up in his basement, taking him with it. After that it became a turkey processing plant, and ultimately BACK to the brewery which it is now (though under a different name etc.) After the tour was over, and more beer had found its' way into my hook (hold beer, never gets cold, so maybe there IS a benefit...) they showed me the bar area where I sampled more tasty beverages. After a bit more people showed up and I switched to Root Beer. Call me a lightweight, but I recognized that I was reaching the point where I was about to "come up with great ideas" and knew I needed to go non-alcoholic for a bit.
As more people came, I asked if I could bring RTD in, and kick it up a notch. I was told I could, so in came Rocky. I made sure to wind his spring all the way up to ensure he was in full RTD form, and he didn't fail to disappoint. Once inside he made a quick bouncy tour of all the people there, and identified Todd the brew master as the one most likely to give him attention, and started trying to fight. I explained RTD'a love of "the fight" and after a few rebuffs, Todd finally indulged and it was game on. Out in the main lobby it was Rocky Smackdown with anyone who cared to play, and it wasn't long before several people were covered in Rockstar Funk. After a bit he ended up outside where the steak was being grilled, which was no surprise to me. A young girl out there was quickly enamored with Rocky, and kept trying to get him to come to her. When she asked how to get his attention, somebody recommended "meat." Well this was easily enough done, and the poor young lady spent the next hour yelling "MEAT!!!" at Rocky, with interestingly little effect. Don't worry, he doesn't listen to me either, but I think maybe she missed the point. Watching Rocket run around in his drool dragging circles with a little girl chasing after him yelling "MEAT MEAT MEAT" was too much, and I headed back into the bar. I've heard there is a Hollywood saying of 'never work with kids or animals, because they'll always steal the limelight.' how true this is because no story I could come up with could compete with the sight of THAT dynamic duo.
Well after a bit, the steak and potatoes were gone, more beer had been consumed, and people had begun to drift off. I have pretty much decided if med school is a bust, brewer might be my next life attempt. Finally everything wound down, and the brewers informed me they had gotten me a room at a local hotel. Figuring a good shower was worth it, I graciously accepted and headed to the room. By the time I got there even RTD had calmed down a little bit, and I decided to wait until today to write up these adventures. I must admit that I was amused at touring a brewery and an automobile plant in the same day. Luckily I didn't tour any local jail cells like so many other people who try to mix cars and drinks in one day. Go responsibility! I stopped back there today as their request, and was loaded up with a few cases of brew to enjoy at the end of each day, so I should be in good spirits until then! I hope tonight to end up in the Dakotas somewhere, where I will try to write a bit more. I met an interesting older man today, so I think I'll give a shot at writing a bit about the people I meet in the next post. Check back tonight to see if I figure out HOW to do it! Until then!