As I hurtled the 2013 BMW 335i through the unending corners of the “Tail of the Dragon,” I thought of my friend Phil. I pictured him in his 1957 Porsche Speedster, executing a flawless heel-and-toe downshift and sliding the beautiful black sports car through similar corners. Before riding in Phil’s Speedster, and in his father’s 1962 Austin-Healey 3000, I never knew that cars could perform like this. Those rides were an awesome revelation to a car-crazy 14-year-old. This trip to Tennessee and North Carolina was in honor of Phil—and, sadly, to attend his funeral.
Rodney Dangerfield: In my house I can’t relax. I told my kid, “Someday you’ll have children of your own.” He said, “So will you.”
Like George Burns, Woody Allen, and many others, Rodney Dangerfield was a regular performer throughout the Catskills “Borscht Belt” circuit. Now the resorts are closed and the stages are in ruins. But there is beauty, even in yesterday’s forgotten and deteriorating places, not to mention the mountains, lakes, and rivers for which this area is famous. The second half of my tour was every bit as exciting as the first.
A man is hit by a car while crossing a Beverly Hills street. A woman rushes to him and cradles his head in her lap, asking, “Are you comfortable?” The man answers, “I make a decent living.”
Milton Berle got laughs from that joke on stages throughout the Catskills Mountains in Sullivan County, New York. In 1952, the prime of the “Borscht Belt” Golden Era, Sullivan County had 538 resort hotels, 1,000 rooming houses, and 50,000 vacation bungalows. By the late 1960s, the great majority of these buildings were abandoned, burned, and/or bankrupt. But the land, the walls, and their stories remain—making for an extraordinary modern-day tour.
As I gazed at the vintage racing car, my thoughts immediately turned to the late actor and racer Paul Newman—and a conversation I’d had with him about this very car. My trip through Connecticut was to evoke many fond memories of cars and acquaintances, here and gone, as well as generating some new ones.
With a beautiful Spring day beckoning, I was anxious to gain more experience with the new BMW 335i and to locate several historical sights in Washington County, Maryland, that I’d never visited before. And major flooding was not going to slow me down. Game on!
The Delaware River beckoned for this trip… You just know a BMW tour is off to a really good start when an attractive toll-taker bats her eyes and says “I love your car. And you look really good in it!” It was the first of perhaps a dozen compliments I received. (Okay, all of them but one were for the car…)