The fall season is more optimistic than spring.

Louder, showier.

Fall’s prediction of renewed life is bolder, because to believe in new life you have to look past fall, past winter, and believe in the spring.

It’s difficult not to wax cliched when writing about the scenes I have seen from northeastern Ohio, southwestern Pennsylvania, western New York State and Massachusetts along the way.

This morning, as I head down I-81 toward North Carolina, bright trees line the highway and pop in the grass median.

I saw Holsteins grazing amid gray rock outcroppings in Pennsylvania, and a rusty red vine wrapping the trunk of a bright orange hardwood in West Virginia.

Fall is sprung.

A UAA nugget

I have been emailing back and forth with Leo Kocher, the wrestling coach at the University of Chicago, about setting up an interview time when I am in Chicago next week.

(He has coached Chicago wrestling for 32 years, including 21 All-Americans and two D3 champions. In Cleveland, the Case Western Reserve wrestling coach, Bob Del Rosa, has mentored the grapplers for 44 years including four national champions.)

We finally agreed on a time, and Leo also invited me to practice. When I told him I probably would come on Tuesday, he reminded me that practice Tuesdays is at 6, because it’s science lab day.

Honey is the mother of invention

Last night about 6 as I was entering New York or crossing the GW bridge or bumping along the New Jersey Turnpike, my refrigerator fell out.

The cabinet that once held it in place gave out at the top. It’s kind of hinged now, with the bottom still attached to the cabinetry and the top swinging free.

The fridge is fixed now, with a couple of 2 x 2s and an aluminum pole that I also use to prop up my hinged bed platform when I need to get something out.

I also tied an empty plastic bag around the pole so I won’t hit my head when I “cross the kitchen.”

And she’s still cool. Saved my beer.

The commonwealth of mixed messages

Virginia license plates used to say “Virginia is for Lovers.” Perhaps they still do, but there isn’t a single Virginia car parking in the welcome center where I am taking a break.

But on the sign marking the Commonwealth of Virgina at the border with West Virginia, the current message is “Virginia Is Open for Business.”

What about Honey’s tires?

Yesterday it took me about four hours to drive 30 miles because I had to stop at an interstate truck stop soon after setting out.

I thought I had blown another tire. Upon further review, the mechanic figured out that the rubber valve stem extensions that facilitate airing up double truck tires had been installed improperly and my shiny plastic fake chrome wheel cover had carved them like a knife slices into a pumpkin. Thank goodness only one went flat.


On Thursday I bought two new tires at Hogan Tire Service in Waltham, Ma.

This morning I departed Waltham about 9:45 and had another blowout about 11.

Didn’t realize what had happened at first, but pulled in to a TA center on Interstate 84.

Now I’m sitting and a little bit unhappy. Waiting for Honey to get pulled into a service bay to see what my options are. Really anxious to get back to Atlanta for a couple of days. Only 1,023 miles to go.

The good news is that I double checked my fantasy football lineup this morning and activated Robbie Gould of the Bears because my regular kicker, Nate Kaeding of the Chargers is hurt.

Reminds me of the wisdom of that old saw, “Always draft a back-up kicker.”

At least a couple of people have mentioned that they were jealous of my adventure. At this moment,  it seems to me there is nothing of which to be jealous.

Stay tuned for tire news.

Writer Kevin Austin and Honey, his untrusty 1984 recreation vehicle, are touring universities for Austin’s upcoming book on the University Athletic Association.  If you see him, stop and help him work on Honey, or at least wave.

Excerpted from Kevin Austin’s blog:  2010 UAA Ultimate Road Trip

Kevin Austin

Kevin Austin

Kevin S. Austin is from Poncey Highland -- and proud of it, Atlanta, GA, United States. Reporter, writer, newsman, clown. Hail fellow well met.  He recently embarked on a 45-day road trip to visit each of the eight universities in the University Athletic Association and attend soccer matches at the schools for a book he is writing.