ROADS REPORT: Action and adventure

The perfect ingredients for a memorable Father’s Day on the road

Blog Entry June 24, 2014

David Matthews has been chronicling the unexpectedly humorous side of transportation news for his Roads Report column since 2000. The stories are all true.

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Leap of faith


What better way to celebrate dad this year than to re-create his all-time favorite TV show on the crumbling bridges of South Carolina?


That’s what a man was forced to do recently when a bridge he was crossing near Charleston began to cave in.


When a 15-ft section of the bridge in front of him suddenly collapsed onto a moving train underneath, the man was forced to make a split-second decision. He could hit the brake on his Chevy pickup and hopefully stop short of the chasm or hit the accelerator and try to jump it, “Dukes of Hazzard” style.


In true Southern style, the man decided to hit the gas, play a little “Dixie” on his car horn and—after pausing briefly in mid-air for a commercial break—managed to land safely on the other side of the bridge, shaken but uninjured.


Ironically, at the same time the bridge collapse was happening, the local county council was discussing an ordinance that would allow residents to vote on whether to continue a 1% sales tax to fund road-improvement projects.


Having a blast


If you want more bang for your buck, fly dad out to Anchorage, Alaska. A traveler there just this past April discovered the car he rented at the airport came loaded with explosives.


Fortunately, it was all part of routine training for the police department’s bomb-sniffing dogs. Officers got permission from a rental company at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport and picked out a car in the parking lot to hide a small amount of explosives in.


Unfortunately, the officers’ selection never got relayed back to the rental counter, and before the K-9s had a chance to locate the vehicle, it was rented out to a customer.


It took police a few hours to track down the car, but once they did, the driver was said to be very cooperative and not at all alarmed about driving around all day in a car bomb.


Actually, police say they use such a small amount of explosives in order to challenge their dogs that the driver was never in any real danger.


“When we say ‘explosives,’ it’s not a stick of dynamite,” Jesse Davis, chief of Airport Police and Fire at the airport, told the Anchorage Daily News. “It’s a very small piece of explosive.”


No word yet on whether the driver will be filing a very small lawsuit.


Put the pedal to the plastic


For the dad who’s environmentally conscious, there’s a new hybrid vehicle on the market that gets 1,800 miles per gallon and sells for less than $5,000.


The only drawback is that if you need to travel farther than 14 miles, you’ll have to start pedaling.


It’s called the “Elf” and it’s a three-wheel hybrid bike-car made by Organic Transit in Durham, N.C. Looking like a cross between a tricycle and a rickshaw, the Elf weighs just 150 lb, has a 350-lb payload and can reach speeds up to 30 mph. Recharging its battery takes 30 minutes from an outlet, or seven hours by sunlight via solar cells in the Elf’s roof.


Among the 300 customers who purchased an Elf when they first became available in March was Jerry Seinfeld.


“He just happened to stumble into our little store here in Durham,” company founder Rob Cotter told ABC News. “He kept looking and looking at them, spent about an hour hanging out with us, telling jokes. Then he ordered a real fancy one.”


Though the base price of the Elf is $4,995, a top-of-the-line model costs more than $10,000.


Make no bones about it


If dad’s not one for exercise, then maybe a ­“Cowasaki” motorcycle is more his speed.


The limited-edition Cowasaki is made entirely from animal bones . . . and doesn’t actually run.


Created by Reese Moore, 65, of Orange City, Fla., the bike consists of cow skeletons (each wheel is made of an entire cow spine) along with bones from alligators, goats, wolves, raccoons, turtles and pigs.


Because it takes about a year to collect enough bones to make a bike, there are only nine Cowasakis in existence. The most recent was up for sale during Daytona Bike Week in March for $55,000.


When he isn’t building things out of dead animals, Moore trains whales and sea lions, builds museum exhibits and performs in Timucuan Indian re-enactments.


Despite all that weirdness, one thing Moore has never done is actually ride on a motorcycle. R&B

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