Chris Nichols



The Colony
Other stuff
Good stories
"The Colony" is the name my grandmother gave to a group of log cabins built in the 1930's on Narrows Hill at Deep Creek Lake, MD.  I've begun to document the construction and ownership of this group of cabins here
I use this page to document my personal interests and stories.  If you've got a classic "Dimesy" story that you don't see yet, let me know...there are so many
 Car-related stories - lots of my stories revolve around my cars. I treat them pretty hard - I have driven pretty much every vehicle I've owned into the ground.  They are for me both a means to get from place A to place B, and as an intro to a good story.
  • EZ Ryder - There are a lot of good stories around this car.  The EZ Ryder was an early 80's Subaru wagon, stick shift (of course) that I had for most of my college years.  One of the first features that passengers noted upon embarking was a series of slits cut into the ceiling material right above the rear-view mirror. These were designed and fabricated by me to hold my cassette tape collection (ah, yes, it was those days.  At least it wasn't 8-tracks) so that they were readily accessible at all times.  They were cut into the material with a steak knife borrowed from Charlie Brown's restaurant which was normally sheathed next to the ignition (this was Jersey after all).  While on the topic of Mad Max-esque booby-traps, instead of a normal gas cap, the EZ Ryder had simply an old necktie wadded up and stuffed into the tank. After losing multiple gas caps to the light fingered Jersey gas station attendants (who would happily sell you another from their collection for $10), I had decided that a necktie was good enough, effectively making my vehicle a mobile, if unlit, Molotov Cocktail.
  • Since it was four wheel drive, the EZ Ryder was called to go places where other vehicles would not dare. ​My college was very restrictive about student parking passes, and despite many attempts to forge a believable pass (this was just before Photoshop was introduced),within a few weeks of the beginning of the semester, I had a mountain of tickets and threat of towing if I got caught again with the vehicle on campus.  Drew had on its campus a sizeable arboretum with a large natural depression called "the punchbowl" by students sneaking out of the dorms for elicit activities.With only a few days until Thanksgiving break when I could re-strategize my parking situation, and no where else to stash my vehicle, I made a midnight run in the EZ Ryder into the Punchbowl.  I cut down some saplings to cover it over from prying eyes, and figured I would be OK until it was time to take it home. I arrived  lata day or twoer to find it gone.  My only option at that point was to visit the University's public safety office to ask the improbable question of "Dude, where's my car?" As it turns out, one of my "favorite" officers was working that day (what was her name-Lisa?).  She proceeded to go on a long a colorful rant about how she had to hike down into the punchbowl and see what idiot had parked his car in there.  She didn't like trees, or nature, you see.  Anyway, I got the EZ Ryder back after an expensive trip to the nearby tow yard.
  • We took a lot of memorable trips in the EZ Ryder, but a Sunday night trip to Philadelphia stands out. We, being college students, were up late, procrastinating on whatever assignment was due that week, and talk began to move to food, specifically Philly cheese steaks.  Suddenly, it was decided that we had to get to Philly and get some.  A far drive from northern NJ, to be sure, but not outside the normal range of college stupidity.  Except that there were 10 of us and one car. And it was 2am on a Sunday night. And there was a raging ice storm.  So of course, we departed posthaste, two in the front, five in the backseat (one smaller girls laying across the laps of four people across) and three in the hatchback(still not even sure how that one happened). The Turnpike and Parkway must have been closed, since all I remember is sliding from lane to lane on dark, windy hilly NJ backroads.   We made it to Philly  - I would say incredibly - but this is the EZ Ryder we're talking about, not some ordinary car that would have sent 10 moronic college  students to an icy grave.  But, not one of us had conceived of the thought that maybe the city of Philadelphia, especially the cheesesteak providers, would actually be closed at 4am on Sunday during a major ice storm.  Alas even Philly showed more sense that we had, and not only were the cheesesteak places dark, so were the diners!  We did finally find a diner that was open on our way back to Drew, but we had concluded that we were so pathetic that not only did the city of Philly dis us, but even Death couldn't be bothered to claim us.
  • ​Mr Incredible car - One of my more recent vehicles, this one was a 2007 blue Toyota Yaris.It was not a large car, in fact, every time I would get in and out of it, the entire vehicle would shift quite noticeably. My friend Scott thought it looked like the crappy car Mr. Incredible had to drive when he was forced to retire as a superhero, thus the name.  But, it truly was an incredible car, going places and doing things most SUVs wouldn't dare.  On one memorable trip, I had decided to scout out some camping spots in the Green Ridge State Forest.  Armed with my trusty decade-old park service map, I quickly got off the main roads looking for the perfect camping spot.  The roads kept getting worse, but I pressed on since there was one more campsite that looked great on the map.  I was on top of a fairly large hill and the "road" was a rocky, rutted  switchback at this point with the car scraping the bottom almost the whole time.  I finally got to a rut across the road that there was no way the car would clear, so I got out and filled it with enough rocks to make it over. I came to three or four more of these, and since there was no way to turn around or back up the hill, I filled in each of the ruts as I came to them. I finally made it to the bottom of the hill and the road opened up into a large parking area, where a bunch of guys were unloading their ATVs from their jacked-up  pickups.  I got a number of open-mouthed stares as I drove the Mr. Incredible car by.   A bit further along, I came to a  two-foot deep stream ford.  Since I wasn't going back UP the hill, and this was the only was out, I backed the Mr. Incredible mobile, gunned the engine and blasted through the stream (before and after photos to the right). Once the roads finally returned to first-world status and I got back to the forest office, I checked a contemporary map, and found that the "road" I had been traversing had been turned into an ATV-only trail.   
  • Green Dakota - When I joined the Navy and had a steady paycheck for the first time since college, I did what probably every new officer does and bought a new vehicle - mine was a 1996 green Dodge Dakota.  Nice truck that moved all of my stuff up and down the East Coast through all of my duty stations while on active duty.  It went on a lot of camping trips, went through four or five rear windows that got smashed out for various reasons and did its fair share of off-roading.  When I got out of the Navy and had a job with a longer commute, I got a smaller car and used the truck as my utility vehicle and it just didn't get the maintenance it needed. I was heading to a camping trip with my buddies in York, PA and was coming to a stop when a felt a "pop" in the brake line, then the brake pedal went all the way to the floor and the truck stopped slowing down completely.  Luckily, it was a stick, so I jammed it into first to bring myself to a neck-jolting stop.  Using the third-to-first method of controlling my speed, I managed to get it to a repair shop where they put it on the lift and found that all of the brake lines were rusted away.  Not wanting to deal with the truck for the weekend, I rented a mid-size sedan, loaded all of the camping gear into it (firewood and all) and completed a successful weekend of drinking around the campfire. The car rental place wasn't too happy about the bark beetles I left in the car, but hey - that's why I always get the insurance! I got a ride home and left the truck in an abandoned strip-mall parking lot. A few months went by, and I figured I should do something about the truck and found an auto auction place just a few exits down the interstate from where I had left it.  I arranged a ride to my truck and my plan was to just get it down to the auto auction using my gear-change trick for speed control - it was only a few exits!  I was most worried about getting the truck the few miles from the strip mall to the interstate - there were lots of stop-lights and traffic, but it turned out to be no problem.  We (I had the person who gave me a ride drive in front of me to give me advance warning of anything I may need to stop suddenly for) pulled onto the interstate entry ramp, and looking at the mileage saw it was only 6 miles to the auto-auction which was right off the interstate. No sweat.  A few miles go by, and then the engine temperature starts creeping, then racing up.  The radiator must have also been rusted out and lost all of the coolant while it was sitting.  I flash my escort car and we pull off - luckily I had just bought a huge bottle of water, and in it went to the radiator.  The temperature came down and we went another few miles, but then it starts up again.  We're about one mile away at this point, and all I want to do is just get this truck into the auction place.  The temperature is pegged beyond the "H" at this point and there's that distinct smell of hot metal in the air, but we're less than half a mile out so I press on.  The auction place is now visible in the distance - but only briefly since the engine starts producing a large plume of black smoke.  It's also making an awful undulating groan but we're on the exit ramp at this point.  I turn off the road into the auction -there's a large awning where you check in your vehicles, and luckily it's down hill from the turn off - the truck shudders up the last incline and finally dies,but it got far enough that I drift it in the rest of the way, still smoking and groaning.  I check in the vehicle inside, turn over the paperwork, and by the time I get back out, it was already gone, towed to the auction yard.  Another vehicle retired from my service. I think someone bought it for $75,mainly for the tires.
  • Cordoba - t-top, driving in the parade, CB radio and 8 track player
  • Mercedes SDL - never buy a car on ebay
  • Diesel Ford - never sell a car on ebay