Bending Space and Time

August 2014

I bent space and time, again, in the '86 TA.  

Kind of had to since I underestimated my spare time before I had to leave on a very important trip.

It was 3:30pm.

I was supposed to be at my employee / friend’s wedding at 5:00pm.

I was in Columbia.

He was in Ocean Springs.

I probably should have left an hour ago.


More than likely.

Story of my life.  

I sat in my washed, waxed and prepped '86 TA, suit and tie and driving gloves.  I programmed the address of the wedding into my Garmin and waited on it to compute the route and time ... or as Han Solo once said way back in 1977 ...

"It'll take a few minutes to get the coordinates from the Navi-computer ..."


37 years later after Han Solo said that famous line here I am I'm sitting in my '86 Pontiac Trans Am with my own "Navi-computer" only it's called a "Nuvi" as in "Garmin Nuvi."

Garmin Nuvi is calculating the trip time and the route.

45% complete.

My employee's wedding is at 5pm today in Ocean Springs.  86 miles (how ironic).  2 hours worth of driving according to Garmin Nuvi.

It is very, very important that I make this wedding.  I have a wedding present for the bride and groom (cash for their honeymoon trip) and a fun bachelor gift for my employee (he's a Star Wars nut like I am so I got him the big 31" Darth Vader action figure).

Vader sits or rather stands, in his packaging, belted into the passenger seat of the TA.

Darth Vader is my co-pilot for this trip.

Computing ... 90%.

I wait.

Garmin gives me the low-down.

It isn't pretty.

Garmin told me that I would arrive at the wedding at 5:49pm.

That's 49 minutes late.


It is now clear that I must bend space and time, something that the '86 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am and I are really good at doing.

Windows up, T-tops on, AC blowing on max.   We head out, get out of Columbia as fast as we can, take Highway 13 south even though Garmin is telling me to go to Hattiesburg via Highway 98 and then take 49 south to the coast.  

Nay, nay.

It’s a trap.

13 is quicker but you have to work it hard to make it so.

Highway 13 south.

 I have a love / hate relationship with this stretch of road.  

It's lonely.  

It's rough.  

It's full of twisties.  

It's full of idiots and bumpkins.  

TPI and WS6 go hand in hand on twisty two lane MS county back roads taking shortcuts ... with WS6 you don't even have to take brake in the corners, just set the cruise at 70mph and steer.

I get out of Columbia as fast as I can, hit Hwy 13 South and set my speed at 70mph.

The speed limit is 55mph but on 13 south you drive either 70mph or 45mph.  It's weird.

Traffic was almost non-existent.

My luck holds.

I can almost hear Vader beside me say "The Force is strong with this one."

Tap cruise at 70mph and just ... drive.

The TA eats up real estate at a good pace.  Ipod cranking out the tunes ... metal upon metal, all '80's British and all '80's American hair bands.  Judas Priest, Kiss, Zebra, Motley Crue, Accept, Guns N Roses, AC/DC, Motorhead and others.

I make really good time.

I watch the Garmin recalculate the arrival time.

I've shaved off almost ten minutes so far just by choosing to take Highway 13 south.

If the Nuvi is right, I'll only be 30 minutes late to the wedding.

Still unacceptable.

I can do better than that.

I know I can.

I reach Baxterville, slow down to 45mph, cruise through the settlement, raise my speed on the other side and keep on keeping on.

So far, so good.

Of course there are the occasional lazy retards who get out and poke along; at one point I passed an 18 wheeler tanker, a pickup hauling a bass boat and a pickup hauling a travel camper all in a line, one behind the other and all at once.  I had some straight away free and clear, they were all doing 40 to 45 in a 55 zone and I just didn't have time for that.

“I need your help, Lord Vader.” I say.

I reach over, raise the Dark Lord’s left arm to the outstretched position and rotate his hand until it looks like he is using The Force.

“Okay, let’s do it.”

Glance left.

Check for oncoming traffic.

Long straight away, no entrances, no exits, no driveways.


Loud pedal flat to the floor and cut the thick padded Formula steering wheel to the left.

The 700R4 downshifts hard.

5.0 liter high output TPI engine torques hard to the right and screams under the hood.

Tachometer jumps and starts to climb north.

TA powers ahead.

Lord Vader, standing there in the passenger seat, arm outstretched, hand clenched, is clearing the way.  Or maybe he’s just Force choking the rednecks who dare go slower than the speed limit.

I pass the slow pokes ...

… first one.

… second one.

… third one.

There is a black and gold blur, screaming by, an artifact from the past coming on strong and loud.  A ghost from another era when cars weren't mediocre and music was still hard and real.

The Tuned Port Injected 5.0 liter V8 under the hood is screaming but it’s a good kind of screaming like a battle cry.

100mph showing on the speedometer, edging towards 110.


One handed.

Metal still playing, windows up, air conditioning going wide open, sitting in a factory Recaro driver's seat.

Total creature comfort and not a concern in the world for the forces of nature and the laws of physics that are surrounding me at this very instant.

110 miles an hour.

High speed, low drag.

A little over 110 mph showing on the speedometer as I pass the tanker truck in a flash of black and gold, a blur of velocity.

Edge back in front of the three far slower vehicles at a safe distance.

Hit "resume" on cruise cruise control.

Take my foot off of the loud pedal.

TA coasts, slows back to 70mph and bucks slightly as the cruise kicks in and steadies out.

I look over …

Lord Vader has lowered his left arm … how I don’t now but he’s back to standing straight and tall, arm back at his side.  


I keep on keeping on.

God, I love responsive, torquey American V8s.

The rest of the trip is pretty uneventful after that.

I hit Lumberton, slow for the residential and urban areas, and zip on through.

Clear sailing.

I make good time between Highway 59 and Highway 49.

Little to no traffic, some oncoming, no one in my lane, no one I have to pass because they are going slower than I am or slower than the speed limit.

I hit Highway 49 South and take up position in a group of cars and trucks that is doing 75mph.  I tap my cruise and follow them down to the bypass.

We continue, as a group, to do 75 miles an hour.

My Garmin Nuvi hasn’t been updated with the latest maps which would include the bypass so it goes nuts trying to recalculate my arrival time.  I watch it add time, subtract time, tell me to turn off on old roads that don’t exist anymore …  

I keep the TA pointed straight and true, the TPI V8 growling at 75mph, metal ringing in my ears, air blowing ice cold …

I clear Sanghani and hit Interstate 10 East towards Ocean Springs.  I take the on ramp at speed, check for traffic, and power out into the main flow with ease.

I am going to make this wedding.

The speed limit on I-10 is 70 miles an hour but if you go that fast you’ll either get passed or run over.

I bump the cruise up to 80 miles an hour, about as fast as I care to run on that stretch of road, and I’m still getting passed and left behind by eighteen wheelers and vehicles with both Louisiana and Alabama license plates.

Somewhere near Highway 57 I look down at the fuel gauge and see that the needle is starting to edge close to the orange striped “reserve” mark.

The way that I’ve been driving has taken me from a little less than three quarters of a tank of premium to my reserves in about an hour.  I’m literally on fumes.

Spirited driving.

It is 4:48pm.

The wedding is at 5:00pm.

I need fuel but I need to get to the wedding on time.

Do I risk it?

Do I keep on pushing my luck and drive straight to the wedding or do I get some premium and be a few minutes late.

 I make a decision … I need fuel.

A partial fill up shouldn’t take long.

I pull into an Exxon there off of Highway 57 and throw ten gallons into the TA, a partial fill up.  Three people ask me about the TA and compliment me on it.  They walk around it, looking at it, taking pictures while I pump fuel into the thirsty old girl then I hit the road again.

The wedding is three miles away.

I arrive at 5:03pm.

I am three minutes late … including the time it took to do a partial fill up.

Great day.

Great wedding.

I shaved 46 minutes off of my trip … yeah, I’d say that I bent space and time.

Lord Vader is pleased.

The Force is strong with me.