Friends of Padre Steve’s World,
I have driven a lot of kilometers on German Autobahns. Back in the 1980s my cars wouldn’t get me much above 110 miles an hour. Since then I have tried to do better. Frankly whether people like it or not I do have a need for speed.
On American highways that is difficult to do and nowadays its not because our cars won’t go fast enough, it is because are not engineered well enough to make it safe. Likewise, factor in that many American drivers cannot drive nails much less highly engineered cars that are capable of high speed and people who even on good roads in optimum driving conditions manage to make driving unsafe for everyone else on the road. The fastest that I have ever driven in the United States was 114 miles an hour in a restricted HOV lane on I-64 in Norfolk early on a Sunday morning with no traffic. I dared not go any faster despite the fact my Ford Mustang was barely breaking a sweat because the road condition and engineering would have made it unsafe to go any faster.
The highest speed I ever got to in the 1980s was 110 in my 1985 Opel Kadett on Autobahn 3 heading north from Wiesbaden to the Netherlands. In the 1997 I got a rented Fiat Brava with a 5 speed manual transmission up to 130 on the same autobahn between Würzburg and Bonn. In 2006 I got up to 142 miles an hour in a rented 2006 VW Golf 6 speed manual transmission diesel on a Sunday morning between Nuremberg and Würzburg. This year I broke my record in a rented 2018 Ford Mondeo (the European name for the Fusion) up to 237 kilometers per hour or 147.2 miles an hour on Autobahn 4 between Weimar and Eisenach. The official specs say that the Mondeo with a 4 cylinder 2.0 liter turbocharged diesel engine with a 6 speed manual transmission tops out at 137 mph. Despite being fully loaded I took my vehicle to 147.2 mph, ten miles an hour higher than the specs. It wouldn’t go any faster. While driving on newer autobahns in what was once East Germany on a Sunday and on a national holiday it was easy to get a chance to squeeze every last ounce of speed from the car. On one stretch of the autobahn I averaged over 120 MPH for over an hour at a time.
So, Lord willing when we go back next year I will try to get a faster car, I really do want to break 150 MPH. But then that’s just me. Judy says that I should take one of those driving courses that certify drivers who carry high value passengers. Not a bad idea.
If you drive the autobahns be aware that not all sections have unlimited speed limits. I think that there are more of these sections in the former East where the German government has spent a lot of money building new roads and completely reconstructing older ones. Most of these roads are 6 lane affairs and on a Sunday or holiday when most long distance trucks are not allowed to operate you can get your vehicle up to higher speeds in zones where there are no limits. Where there are speed limits in on the autobahns they usually are in the 100-130 kph range. Likewise, construction zones are usually limited to 60-80 kph.
Anyway, until tomorrow,
I love collecting autographs. I have a lot of them, especially of baseball players including such greats as Hall of Fame players such as Harmon Killebrew, Ferguson Jenkins and the Duke of Flatbush Duke Snider. Yesterday on my way home from Camp LeJeune to Virginia Beach I got another autograph. What a lucky man I am.
The man who gave it to me was very nice and very polite and As I said I have gotten a lot of autographs in my life some that I have gotten for free and others that I have paid various amounts of money for. I have met some baseball greats including Hall of Fame players who I have received autographs for which I have paid nothing that I treasure. I have others that I have paid for at various autograph signing sessions which I also treasure. However it is the autographs of various State Troopers in North Carolina that I treasure the most. I think this is because they have cost me the most money and despite the professionalism and politeness of the various troopers involved if find that they are the most annoying to collect.
I am stationed about 210 miles from home which I try to get to as many weekends as I can. I have to drive on US 17 from my home and workplace near Camp LeJeune to the Hampton Roads area. If you are familiar with this highway you know that the area between New Bern and Windsor is nothing but an 80 mile long speed trap. Today I had a miserable drive home. I had knuckleheads that would not do the speed limit. I had other people driving in an unsafe manner that scared the bejezus out of me early in the trip. But the scariest part of the trip was when some sort of Redneck sociopath talking on a cell phone and writing while driving a red Buick LeSabre who probably abuses children did his best to endanger me between New Bern and Washington. The man almost ran me off the road and either tail gated me or refused to let me pass him. His actions were most threatening and I should have called 911 but was afraid that he would do something to retaliate. I’m sure that he didn’t get cited for anything.
So when I pulled into Williamston to defuel and refuel I was pretty stressed due to this local shithead’s threatening behavior. Thus after conducting said defueling and refueling operations and getting back on the highway I figured that I was in good shape with nothing but 4 lane highways ahead of me for the rest of the way home. However I forgot the little speed differential at the Martin and Bertie County line where the speed limit drops for no real reason from 60 to 55 miles an hour. Normally I am aware of the change in speed limit because I know the area is a speed trap but I was still a bit rattled following my encounter with the local sociopath in the red Buick LeSabre. Unfortunately my cruise control and GPS does not automatically adjust to such arbitrary changes in the speed limit. Since I was feeling the kind of stress that I had felt in various convoys while serving in Iraq I simply didn’t notice the change in speed until the polite State Trooper nailed me.
The trooper was very polite and had my cruise control and or GPS alerted me he would, by his own words would have let me off with a warning. Instead I either pay $171 to the law abiding citizens of Bertie County or about $100 more to a lawyer to get me off on a mechanical violation or some other non-descript offense. I’ll probably pay the extra $100 or so just to avoid my insurance rates going up. I haven’t figured out what I will do yet except to minimize the damage and buy a good radar detector upon my return to North Carolina. I figure if they want to set up speed traps then I should do my best to ensure that I have fair warning.
Sad to say that the NC State Trooper’s autograph at a speed trap will cost me more than some baseball legends autographs, but such is life.