Having come and gone, Dark Lord Day 2010 is but a recollection for those who participated.  Like last year, I wanted to elaborate on the experience, whether it was overwhelmingly pleasant, like last year, bad, or different.   Allow me to skip to the denouement and reveal the end result of the complications of the day in summing up my experience:  Different. Different isn’t always bad.

See that?  That’s me holding part of the guts of my minivan in the parking lot of a car parts store 20 minutes away from 3 Floyds brewery, and several hundred miles from my home in Toledo, Ohio.

Not quite Dark Lord Day...

The morning of Dark Lord Day, Mike, Sandra (my wife), Ivan (my son) and myself set off from Indianapolis, Indiana, where we stayed the night before, in our 2001 Nissan Quest.  20 minutes into the trip, the minivan started convulsing.  After nearly two hours on the road, the van was shaking so bad and refusing to breach the 55 MPH mark.  I told Mike that I HAD to pull over at the next exit, which I did.  It happened to be our final exit.

We pulled into CarQuest and diagnosed the problem.  It was my distributor.  It had actually come apart inside.  In fact, when I pulled it out, the ball bearing tinkered onto the ground.  The poor little spark plugs in my V6 had no clue how to fire.  The reality set in.  I HAD to fix this now.

After a series of extremely unfortunate events (no distributors were local and had to e ordered, the first distributor I waited 45 minutes for was defective, the second was in Chicago and I had to wait nearly two hour for, when it did arrive a helpful mechanic who had since left did not leave the engine in position one, and I didn’t have a timing light, so it took my inexperienced self nearly an hour to get the distributor timed right to the engine) I got the car running…7 HOURS LATER. In order to make it home to Toledo on time that night, Sandra and I only had an hour now to spend at Dark Lord Day.

Did this ruin my day or even my Dark Lord Day experience?  No.  Here’s why:

1.  It brought Mike, Sandra, and I together.  I only get to see Mike once a year, on Dark Lord Day.  Friendship is far more valuable than any beer event.  Mike and I had each brought an ensemble of our home brews to enjoy the night before the event.  Besides the fact that we had an amazing time reconnecting and reminiscing, we discovered that we each had completely different styles of brewing that are so complimentary to each other, it proved that operating a future brewery together was very feasible.

2.  The van broke down.  How is this a good thing?  That distributor had reached the end of it’s life span and was going to fail.  I’d much rather have it fail while I am driving it.  It would have been a horrible situation had it failed while Sandra was on the highway with our five kids coming to pick me up from work.

3.  The circumstances actually revealed the inerrant goodness in mankind.  The CarQuest store’s employees, whose parking lot I rolled into, were amazingly kind, letting me use any and all of their tools, and actually coming out frequently to help me install the part.  In fact, when I needed to pull the first spark plug to determine the position of its piston and it was discovered that the store did not have the correct socket, one of the workers actually drove to his house to get his for me to use.  One of the workers, who spent about an hour helping time the distributor turned out to be a beer geek, who was actually counting on a friend to get his Dark Lord for him.  Additionally, the distributor was retailing for nearly $500, and the store cut me a deal at $280.   I fully endorse CarQuest Auto Parts.

Nate, Rich, Mike, Dave, Aaron, Stuart, Aaron

4.  I still got to go to Dark Lord Day.  So what if it was only for an hour?  When I arrived, people I had never met patted me on the back and said, “Mike told us about your van.  Bummer, but we’re so glad you can make it!”  Since I couldn’t wait 3 hours in line, Mike worked his magic and got me my beer anyway.  In the hour I was there, I got to meet a couple of bloggers who turned out to be stand up guys in real life as well as on there websites:  Dave from the Drunken Polack, Aaron from Captains Chair, Stu from Friday Night Beer, and Aaron from the Vice Blog, to name a few.  These guys acted as if they’d known me for years, and were willing to share all their beer with us (but I only drank a minuscule amount.  I’m all about sober driving).

Different, yes.  Bad, no.  Whether it be in your living room or at a festival, beer as an experience brings folks together, and can bring out the best in like minded individuals.  While the weekend wasn’t my ideal, it was ideal nonetheless, and I’m grateful to Three Floyds for creating the opportunity once again.