ON AUGUST 23, 2021, I traded in my 40th anniversary gray 2004 Mustang Convertible – HAUNTER – for a 2020 55th anniversary black Mustang Convertible. This was a difficult goodbye; the original HAUNTER has been with me 16.5 years — since before my son Shaun was born! Almost 1/3 of my life. I put 215,000 miles on that car and drove it to virtually every author event I’ve ever attended. It’s also in the background of the full crop of my author photo that I’ve used for over 15 years. Here’s a picture of the two side by side, just before I drove off the dealer’s lot:
I’m going to miss that car, and it was hard to let go. But… it was time. There were many things wrong with it and I was never sure anymore if I was going to make it home when I took it out of the garage. There was a short somewhere in the electrical system that kept draining the battery, and the convertible top and radio both “half” worked. The windows no longer sealed with the convertible top properly so water dripped on me when it rained. And it’s been leaking oil for over five years. Nevermind the rust growing around the wheelwells and the holes in the trunk floor and the driver seat. Sixteen years in Illinois is hard on a car, even with proper maintenance. And 215,000 miles is… a lotta road to cover!
So… here’s to HAUNTER… RIP old girl! And here’s to HAUNTER 2.0. May we have a long life together!
This weekend, I finally got to take the new HAUNTER on a road trip and got more used to all of the gadgets and upgrades. A lot has changed in cars over 16 years. I never had cameras or phone syncs or heated seats or any of that jazz. Learning the new dashboard has been like sitting down in an airplane cockpit for the first time!
A friend of mine in Michigan was hosting a two-night pinball playing party at his house (he has built his own pinball arcade with upwards of 40 machines!) so I decided to road trip up there to see him and play, as well as do some writing and visit a couple of my favorite breweries.
On Friday, I had dinner at Bell’s Brewery’s Eccentric Cafe in Kalamazoo, and finished a longish short story I’ve been working on while sampling some great stuff. Their pork nachos made for perfect writing finger food and I tried their Roundhouse and 1st Friday IPAs as well as their Mango Habanero Oberon (that was super warm!) and their Uberon (warm in a different way, thanks to bourbon barrel aging). I also tasted their lighter Rind Over Matter and Tart Wheat Ale and brought back cans and bottles of the Uberon, Roundhouse and Mango Habanero.
Then I headed over to my friend Mike’s, where I played pinball for four hours and set a couple new personal best high scores on two of my favorite games that I don’t own – Star Gazer (1.5 million) and Bride of Pinbot (10 million). Probably weak scores for people who play those machines a lot, but I rarely get the chance and thanks to COVID, it’s been two years since I have played either of them.
Then I headed 45 minutes away up to Grand Rapids to visit one of my favorite taprooms in the country, Founders Brewing.
I worked on a couple chapters of a new NightWhere book, and tried their Hello Jane IPA which was good, but not as solid as their classic Mosaic Promise. Also tried Green Zebra, a really sweet gose that almost tasted like apple cider. I got samples of their session red, Scarlet Dawn and their KBS Cinnamon Vanilla Cocoa (12%!!!) and 4 Giants IPA (9%). I brought back bottles of both of the latter, as well as lots of Mosaic Promise, since this year they only released it for distribution in Michigan and it’s one of my favorite summer beers.
Then I drove back down to Kalamazoo and spent another three hours battling the silver ball before heading home. It was a fun and productive trip — a total “high score” of a weekend! (And my beer fridge now has a lot of new selections!)