Sunday, October 5, 2008

No, this was the Maverick

Every time I hear John McCain and now Sarah Palin declare themselves mavericks, I have to laugh, because all I can think of is this, the Ford Maverick, a rather cheap but phenomenonally popular car in its day (1969-1977). They were everywhere when I was in high school and college. Every dorm parking lot had dozens of them. Many hundreds of thousands were produced, but they're extremely rare today. That might tell you something about the workmanship. Or maybe they were so cheap ($1,995 list!) they might have seemed disposable, like the relatively new no deposit, no return soft drink bottles (how was that for a bad idea?). Buy one, run it into the ground, then throw it away and get something new. Of course the Maverick wasn't the only cheap piece of junk being made at the time. The Pinto, which tended to explode when rear ended, was its smaller nephew, Chevy had the Vega, prone to a melting aluminum block (when was the last time you saw one of those on the road?) and Chrysler had the highly lamentable Plymouth Volare and Dodge Aspen. Rex Harrison shilled for the Aspen as Henry Higgins singing "It's unbelievable!" That was certainly true, at least in regards to how quickly they rusted. And what of American Motors, which had been producing reliable, economical compacts long before the Big Three? They offered the startlingly hideous Gremlin and the weird Pacer.
Speaking of old paint, get a load of these what-were-they-smoking color choices: Anti-Establishment Mint, Hula Blue, Original Cinnamon, Freudian Gilt, Thanks Vermillion, Black Jade, Champagne Gold, Gulfstream Aqua, Meadowlark Yellow, Brittany Blue, Lime Gold, Dresden Blue, Raven Black, Wimbledon White, and Candyapple Red. And Ford had trouble coming up with names for the Edsel? What the hell color is Freudian Gilt? And all those hippies in a market for a new car (and not a third hand VW bus) would have surely selected anti-establishment mint. (I think we can assume that would not have been maverick McCain's color choice.)

Santorini, Part 3 The Volcano and Thirasia

The volcano, called the island of Neo Kameni, is in the center of the giant caldera and takes about a half hour by boat. The island is uninhabited and almost completely without vegetation. Here and there I saw a struggling weed.

A view from the top of the volcano, looking south towards the smaller island of Palaia Kameni and the tiny Aspro Nisi. If you look closely you can see the in the center a small gathering of boats. This is where we'd go next -- a hot springs (see below). The volcano is growing a little every year in several thousand years will fill in the caldera, making Santorini a round island once more.

After a few hours in the heat, we went to a hot springs along the shore. About half the passengers elected to jump off and swim to it. I was tempted but passed. Apparently it's not terribly deep, but it's required that you be a strong swimmer, which I'm not. Someone panicked and had to be thrown a life preserver.
We then went on to the little island on the west side of the caldera, Thirasia. One could elect to lunch at the several simple cafes along the shore, swim or sunbathe on the pebbly beach,
walk up the stairs to the town at the top of the cliff or if you'd prefer,
ride a donkey up instead.
A few days later I went back to Athens for one day, the low point of the trip. The hotel Royal Olympic desk clerk seemed to think providing hot water was an optional service to their guests. London was as I had left it, cool, breezy and showery, but after nine broiling days, I had a newfound appreciation for it. As the days get shorter and colder, however, I'll soon change my mind.