Friday, November 13, 2009

Following our Adventure

It has now been three months since we completed our grand adventure, and we continue to re-live the trip. We are amazed at the number of people who continue to stumble on our blog even now!

The number one question we have been getting is "What was the best part?" It is hard to pick just one...but I think the answer is "The Smiles!" By this, we mean the smiles we brought to the faces of people who simply watched us drive by, the smiles of the kids when they were allowed to climb in the car and honk the horn, and the smiles we have when we think of all the wonderful people we met on the trip.

Last month we gave a slide show of a fraction of the pictures we took to our club members who were interested in seeing more. We've also submitted an article to the MAFCA Restorer magazine, for you Model A folks...we'll see if it ever makes the cut!

Our next "Big" adventure--Model A style--will be to travel up to Vancouver, BC next summer for the 2010 MAFCA International Meet. We have yet to decide just how we will get there! Maybe we'll meet some of you there!

If you are new to blog following...please understand that the blog is posted with the newest entry displaying at the top of the page. If you plan to read about our entire adventure, make sure you start on the May 4th entry, and work backward. You will find a link to each page in the archive dates on the left hand side of the page.

We hope you enjoy our adventure as much as we did.


Monday, August 10, 2009

A Capitol Homecoming!

9 August 2009 Oroville, CA to Sacramento, CA 90 miles

Homeward Bound…Our last day was short, and somewhat emotional. The plan was that some of our club members from the Capitol A’s were going to drive out to meet us just south of Olivehurst and caravan back to the steps of our State Capitol where we had started this adventure.

We left Oroville and worked our way south toward Marysville on the back roads so we were not battling the traffic on Highway 70. Some of the roads we were on might as well have been dirt ones they were that bumpy! As we neared our meeting spot, Dave and I both commented how excited we were to be seeing everyone…and boy did we have a surprise…

As we crested the rise over Highway 65 at Forty Mile Road, we were greeted by two lone cars, Pat and Paul Menz in their 1930 Roadster, and Jerry Bengel in his 1931 Sport Coupe. Hmmm…so much for the big welcome…Oh well, we thought…it’s Sunday…it was short notice…It sure was good to see them!

After hugs and a few stretches, we got back in the car and headed down Forty Mile Road. Much to our surprise, other club members had parked their cars along the way about every ¼ mile, and they joined the caravan home…Bob Smith, Chris Globis and Linda Dressel, Alfred and Donna Dukeshire, Wayne Rogers, and Don McCulloch. I have to admit…as we picked up each A, with a wave and an aah-oo-gha, I got a bit teary-eyed.

We continued south until Dave noticed we had lost half of our group, so we pulled over to wait…it turns out that Wayne’s radiator cap had vibrated off. It was a lucky thing that we had a parts car with us…Unable to find it, they caught back up to us and Dave and I quickly unloaded our gear to get to the spare cap that Dave had carried with us for this trip. Bob had a gallon of water so we were back in business!

Continuing south, we eventually made our way into downtown Sacramento. As we turned onto Capitol Mall, I got all emotional… again,…especially when we saw the other half of our welcoming committee with their A’s parked along the curb by the rose garden. What a welcome we had! Naturally, hugs and handshakes were given, and many, many photos taken. We truly did feel like celebrities! After pictures, those of us who didn’t have any immediate plans headed off to Susie Burger for lunch and a time of visiting. Boy did we miss you guys! But…all good things must come to an end, and we were anxious to get home…

From the State Capitol, we made the short journey to our home in West Sacramento where we had a happy reunion with our German Shepherd, Maggie. The house was quiet when we entered, and we almost felt like strangers in someone else’s home. It was kind of eerie. It has been over three months since we left home…I’m sure it will take a week or two to get completely unpacked, caught up, and used to living in a real house again.

I know you’ve been waiting for them…so here they are…

Our Model A Adventure Stats

Miles Driven: 10,995

Gallons of Gasoline: 613.55
Average Miles per Gallon: 17.9 (This number went down after we lost the overdrive.)

Number of Travel Days: 98
Hotels: 27
Camping: 38
Friends and Family: 32
Home Sweet Home: 1

Number of states we touched: 30

This trip has truly been an adventure of a lifetime, and one, I’m sure, we will talk about as one of the highlights of our lives. However, it would not have been possible to embark on this journey alone…

Special thanks to…

Dana, our daughter, who willingly gave up 3 months or more of her life to take care of our home and dog.

Sacramento Capitol A’s for their moral support, incredible send off, prayers, and the wonderful welcome home.
The Hornby Island/San Salvador gang who kept an eye on things around home.

Pat and Paul Menz for the behind the scene organization and support.

Bob Felkins for his 11:00 am status reports.

M.A.F.C.A. for publishing a member directory and contacts in each state…just in case there is a problem.

Our Pit Crew…

Paul Menz, our mechanical/technical hot line for support services.

Rick Black of El Paso, Texas, MAFCA Webmaster, for supplying us with the tubes we needed when we realized all of ours were rotted.

Dave Casey, master mechanic, and Yates Smith, supervisor, of San Angelo, Texas, for parts, shop time, and mechanical expertise when we blew a head gasket, and Dave knew that our trip was over…

Mike Butcher, of Mike’s “A” FORD-able Parts in Maysville, GA, who had every part we needed and new tires for Baby in stock.

Benny Bohanan and crew, of Bentley’s Antique Auto Restoration of Maysville, GA, and his ace engine man, Scott, for providing shop space and manpower to get us back on the road.

Gordon Eanes, of Days Inn in Commerce, GA, for his generous hospitality and the use of his car while ours was out of commission and in the shop.

Dave and Becky Krolak, of Nostalgia Works in Sharpsbug, MD, for rescuing us from Antietam Battlefield when our overdrive died, and for shuttling us back and forth to the hotel…not to mention his mechanical expertise.

Ron Meyer, of Meyer’s Ford Model A Parts of Williamsport, MD, who had a spare drive shaft and torque tube he was willing to sell us.

Our Bed and Breakfast Support…

Kristina Gill, San Luis Obispo, CA
Laura Quiroz, Mission Viejo, CA
Joan Putnam, Coronado, CA
Joe and Karen Maggio, Coronado, CA
Marie Gill, Pomona, CA
Wade and Somer Little, Palm Desert, CA
Dave and Lynn Casey, San Angelo, TX
Mike and Holly Madrid, Adkins, TX
Jackie Hidalgo and Family, Sugarland, TX
Joe and Sandra Green, Mobile, AL
Randy and Linda Rydbom, Tipton, PA
Bruce Marshall and Cookie Smith, Haverhill, MA
David and Michelle Strelneck and the Lambert Family, Bath, Maine
Brad and Joie Gill, Eden, NY
Marvin and Carol Manske, Kelly, Iowa
Merrill and Betty King, Wallowa, OR
Chuck and Lydia Coiner, Alturas, CA

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Into and Out Of the Sierra Nevada

Pictures L to R: Peggy and her dad and step-mother; Heading down Highway 395; Campsite in the NFS between Lake Almanor and Quincy; East Branch of the North Fork of the Feather River at the Campground; Railroad and tunnel near Keedie; Railroad bridge along the Feather River.

7 August 2009 Alturas, CA to Twain, CA 195 miles

We’re heading over the Sierra’s today—or at least part of them. Once again, forest fires are dictating our route. We had originally planned on heading south through Lassen National Park, but fires near Burney and the Lassen Park area had these roads closed. So instead, we’ll head south and cross the mountains near Lake Almanor.

It was actually a bit chilly today—much more so than yesterday. We headed out after a quick breakfast and were soon heading south on Highway 395. David was a good boy scout this morning--about 30 miles from Alturas, a lady was stopped along side the road with a flat tire, and she was trying to manhandle her spare out of the trunk. We stopped and Dave changed it for her and got her on her way.

Our goal for today was about 15 miles west of Susanville. The drive was nice—a lot of high desert, with the mountains raising in the background, and then occasionally we would climb in elevation and we’d be in the pines for a bit before dropping back down to the sagebrush. We reached Susanville around noon and stopped for lunch before heading toward Lake Almanor. This was a pretty drive as we began climbing in elevation again, but traffic was stop and go. The roads to Lassen were closed, so traffic was being detoured through Susanville, and CalTrans was doing road maintenance along Highway 36 and had the road closed to one lane for most of the drive, having pilot cars leading groups through.

As we neared Lake Almanor, we noticed the clouds were building—and we were hearing thunder rumble. We really shouldn’t be surprised at this point—it is almost becoming comical. Many of the campgrounds around the lake were full (not to mentioned way over crowded)—so we kept driving.

We’ve finally landed at a National Forest Service campground along the East Branch of the North Fork of the Feather River between Lake Almanor and Quincy.

Pictures L to R: Feather River; Feather River near Tobin Bridge; Tobin Bridge with a train crossing--where Dave nearly gave Peggy a heart attack; Coming into the Paradise Valley.
8 August 2009 Into Quincy and then onto Oroville, CA with a detour through Chico 136 miles

We had virtually no cell service at this NFS campground, and no electricity to charge the batteries. Last night when we got here, we walked around the short trails and down to the river, before building a campfire for the evening.

We decided to drive into Quincy before heading into Oroville today. The drive was beautiful, along the East Branch of the North Fork of the Feather River. We also passed Keedie, a small town named for a pioneer surveyor who engineered the route for the railroad along the Feather River in 1905. This rail bed is pretty impressive to see, as it is often about 60 feet above the river bed, on a small ledge in the cliff side. We spent the morning walking around Quincy, and then went into the Plumas County Museum. I love these small museums because they have such an eclectic mix of items on display. This museum really had some great displays highlighting their county’s history.

Back at the campsite, it was with happy sad feelings today as we broke camp—last night was the last night we will be sleeping in the tent for a while. However, I must admit...It will be nice to be in our own bed again! We headed south-southwest along this branch of the Feather River, winding with the curve of the river. Surprisingly, most of this route was downhill, which was nice, and also surprising to us...all along this branch of the river, PG & E has installed hydro-electric stations. David gave me a scare when he climbed up on a cement wall next to one of the bridges—the drop was straight down to the river about 200 feet below. I was not happy—even if I’d have been a rich widow if he had fallen!

It wasn’t until we came to the cutoff to Pulga that we had our last climb of our journey—albeit, a very small climb, before dropping down into the Lake Oroville area. The temperature was actually nice for this area in August—I don’t think it was even 85 degrees. We decided to head a little bit north to Chico/Durham area since we have time to kill, and we could do some antiquing before heading into Oroville.

We’ve checked into a hotel room for our last night…primarily so we can shower and look somewhat human for our homecoming. Plus, it is very hard to get a campsite on a Saturday night.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Surprise in Alturas, California

Signal is sketchy here, and our battery is low...I'll add more pictues when we are in a better cell reception area.
Pictures: Locomobile; 1921 Marmot.

4 August 2009 Lakeview, OR to Alturas, CA 54 miles

Three months on the road! Wow! However, I actually thought we’d be a whole lot longer getting to this point. It will be a short drive today to Alturas, to visit with Peggy's dad for a few days. We are much later in leaving the campground this morning (10:30) because he has plans for this morning.

The drive was pretty quiet as we passed small ranches/homesteads in the high desert. We were surprised to see how low Goose Lake water levels were. They were so low that we could barely see the water’s edge—most of what we saw was the white lake bottom. We found out later that this lake has an average depth of only eight feet—its deepest point is about 20 feet, but that is on the western shore of the lake, and we were traveling down the eastern shore. We only had one small climb today, up into the pines near the Pit River XL Ranch Indian Reservation. After this small climb we dropped down into Alturas, CA, which sits at 4,372 feet. Dave was pleasantly surprised…no ecstatically excited…at what he found in Alturas…

Each year, for the past 31 years, a local rancher by the name of Mr. Flournoy (who is a big Pierce Arrow collector) sponsors the Modoc Tour. The Modoc Tour is an invitation only tour for pre-1921 luxury touring cars. Their homebase and starting point is in Alturas, CA, (where they book all available hotel rooms in town) and on Tuesday, everyone arrives and they do a short 30 mile drive around a local reservoir, before a big dinner at the ranch. On Wednesday and Thursday they tour to different places, including Crater Lake and Kalamath Falls, OR.

We stopped to look at the cars, and had some people ask if we were there for the tour…it was intriguing to think we could join them, but after talking to some of the owners, it was mentioned that the only A’s on the tour were very, very, good friends of the Flournoy family. We didn’t quite fit in, either age-wise, or in horsepower…Pierce Arrows, an early Cadillac, a Hispana Suiza, a Marmot, and many others that were not off the trailers yet. It was nice to see that these cars were being driven! One of the couples, who trailered their Pierce Arrow all the way from Minnesota asked us if we had been up in Burns, OR a few days ago. I guess they had seen the car, but never did manage to catch us to talk. We also met Vince Bakich, the owner of the 1921 Marmot, along with his wife Sandy, and 5-year old son, Pierce—obviously, a big car fanatic.

We also got a new idea for a tour for our club…One gentleman mentioned that he also had an A, and had just gotten back from a tour in Hilo, Hawaii. I guess they put the cars on a transport, and then had a week long tour on the Island. Could be fun…

5/6 August 2009 Alturas, CA 16 miles

We spent the morning visiting, and then got our laundry done while my Dad and Lydia delivered their newspapers, something they do once a month. This gave us a chance to get the car cleaned up, pictures transferred and labeled on the computer, and my journaling caught up.

This afternoon, we are heading out to some pond, “up the hill” to see where my dad does most of his fishing, and then later this evening, Dave and I are going to Doc Martin’s for dinner. Doc is a retired Riverside Sherriffs Lieutenant, who Dave knew from Palm Desert days.

Dad’s fishing pond is about a 45 minute drive from his house—it is up in the “high” country—more pines and mountain than high desert sagebrush. It was a nice drive, and I think my dad and Lydia are enjoying showing us around their area.

Monday, August 3, 2009

California Here We Come!!

Pictures L to R: All four...highway scenes along Highway 395.

3 August 2009 Burns, OR to the State Line just south of Lakeview, OR 154 miles

Boy did it rain last night! We had decided on a hotel because of the heat, but really lucked out. We had a pretty hard rain, and over the mountains through Divine Pass where we almost camped was a solid wall of black clouds, rain, and lightening. God was certainly watching out for us! Again!

We had a nice drive today in the high desert…and were fortunate to see a real cattle drive…cowboys on horseback herding the cattle down to ?? somewhere other than where they were. Not a whole lot to see in this area of sagebrush and cattle, in fact, this was probably one of the more isolated stretches on this trip.

We were just kind of watching the world go by and were surprised to come upon a lake—suddenly the topography of this Oregon desert changed. Now, the lakes are pretty darn shallow, especially this time of year, but the reflection of the canyon walls on them were sure pretty. Most of them are simply low spots in the topography, and fill when there is rain. As we came into Lakeview, OR, we passed another cattle drive…this one was by two 18-wheelers cruising down the highway.

It looks like Dave will try his hand at painting when we get home...We have had a couple of gasoline accidents on the cowl, and it is looking pretty sad. On the plus side, this will force him to get that spare gas tank that has been sitting at home prepped and sealed. And who knows...maybe it will lead to a bottom up restoration some day. After all...he is going to need something to occupy his time.

We stopped for the night at Goose Lake, which straddles the California and Oregon border. We probably could have made it to my dad’s in Alturas, but were kind of tired of driving. Thunderheads are building again…I have a hunch we’ll get hammered with rain later this evening. The campground host said they got some good-sized hail yesterday. Tomorrow we will cross back into California…three months after leaving Sacramento. After spending a few days with my (Peggy's) dad for a long overdue visit, we will work our way south for the last few legs of our journey.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Doe--A Deer, and the Great Train Robbery!

Pictures L to R: Henry on the train; The Great Train Robbery; Pond left by the Sumpter Valley Dredge.

1 August 2009 Union Creek Campground near Philips Lake, Baker City OR

Our campground neighbors were talking this morning about a local steam train that they were going to go on so David went over to ask them about it. As a result, Dave, Henry and I spent the morning and a good part of the afternoon riding the railroad.

Sumpter Valley Railway was one of the most colorful and longest-lived narrow gauge railroads in the nation. It began in 1890 as a train to haul lumber, and eventually expanded to haul timber, mining supplies and equipment, and passengers. During its 57-year history, the SVRy was vital to the settlement and development of the eastern Oregon region it served. Today, this railroad is a narrow gauge steam train that runs from McEwen, OR to Sumpter, OR on weekends. Brought back to life by a group of volunteers who have rebuilt over six miles of rail line and fully restored two original engines, this train travels through the forests and gold dredge tailings of the Sumpter Valley.

It was a beautiful ride through the pines, following part of the Powder River and passing many, many ponds left over from the Sumpter Valley Dredge operation which ended in 1954. Henry was excited when the engineers told him he could come up into the engine and blow the whistle. However, he was not real excited when the train was raided halfway up the mountain by the bandits on horseback.

Not long after we returned to camp, Dave serviced the car to get it ready for our last week of traveling. While he was doing that, I was busy putting stuff away, as a huge thunderhead was building in the west, and appeared to be heading our way. The rain never did fall on us, but it sure got cloudy, a bit breezy, and the thunder was booming. We did have a number of people stop by to visit and ask about the car—something we are always happy talk about.

2 August 2009 Baker City, OR to Burns, OR 138 miles

Pictures L to R: Heading down into the valley; Deer Crossing; Climbing Divine Pass.

The Day of the Deer

We got started early today, as we heard that the temperature was going to be in the nineties and we were heading into the high desert region of eastern Oregon. The drive was pretty uneventful as we made our way over to Highway 395. We started at an elevation of about 3600 feet and by the end of the day had climbed two different passes that topped out at over 5,150 feet.

We saw our first buck of the trip—a young one; called a "spike buck" according to Dave, his antlers were only one point, and they were still fuzzy looking—ran right in front of us as we were heading up the first of the three climbs we had today. Then, after stopping for a grocery re-supply in John Day, OR, as we were heading back toward the highway, three deer stood at the intersection, looking almost as though they were waiting for traffic to clear. They safely crossed right in front of us--in the crosswalk!--to the other side of the roadway, walked across a parking lot and into some trees bordering the lot. A short time later, a doe and her fawn stood frozen where they were trying to make it up a steep incline right next to the highway as we were passing by—I don’t think this was their normal crossing place, as the fawn seemed to be having difficulty getting up the slope.

We drove across the high desert for a while before dropping into Divine Canyon as we neared Burns, OR. There were thousands of butterflies around—we passed a patch of bright yellow flowers that looked like they had white booms on them—those blooms were white butterflies.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Two Kings and Seven Devils!

Pictures L to R: The switchbacks...if you look closely. The upside was just as bad; The Big One; Way in the background are the Seven Devils in Idaho; Us on top of Mt. Howard; Wallowa Mountain View; Wallowa Lake and Valley; Betty and Merrill King--our hosts.

30 July 2009 Clarkston, WA to Wallowa, OR 141 miles

We got up very early today…Dave had spoken with Betty King, from the Capitol A’s, and we are meeting her and Merrill in Enterprise, OR between 10 and 11. Enterprise is about 90 miles away.

The drive was b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l! With the early morning light the colors were golden toned as we followed the Snake River for the first 5 miles or so…then we turn inland and upward. Dave didn’t mind the inland so much, but he was not real happy about the upward—three separate climbs up and two down the side of canyon walls. The first one was not quite so bad, and as we reached the top, we were actually surprised to see the flat plateau. We felt like we were on top of the world, as the road curved along the cliff walls before turning further inland. Down in the valley, along the river, was the north end of Hells Canyon National Park. Up on this plateau is farmland—for cattle feed, I think. The golden hay was slowly waving and off in the distance we saw a coyote trotting through the field. Further along, we saw a doe and her two fawns along side the highway. One of the fawns was on the highway side of the fence, and started looking a little panicked when mama moved away as we drove by. I sure hope she figured out how to get back on the field side of the fence…

We slowly climbed in elevation until we were once again surrounded by pine forests. This was where Dave got a bit grumpy…when he saw the switchbacks heading down. However, with nowhere to go but forward, we continued on. It really was pretty…but also incredibly steep off the edge of the roadway…like almost vertical! We’ve decided that those three switchbacks were probably the worst climbs we’ve done on this trip.

After a brief rest, we continued on into Enterprise. Along the way we saw a herd of long-horned cattle, and a bison ranch. We met up with Betty and Merrill, and followed them into the town of Joseph (also named for the Chief) where we stopped for a root beer float before walking around the town. This town was neat to visit…somewhat of an artist’s colony…and when the logging and lumber mills closed, the space was converted to bronze foundries. The town has bronze sculptures along the main street—some incredible work. We stopped in one of the galleries and were just amazed at what we saw. Unfortunately, the pieces we liked were a bit beyond our budget.

We continued up into the canyon to Wallowa Lake, stopping at the gravesite of Old Chief Joseph (Chief Joseph’s father). This is definitely somewhere we will come back to visit. They have a campground at the end of the lake, and then the rest is hike-in trails and campgrounds up into the backcountry. We did take the tram up to the top of Mt. Howard, elevation 8,150 feet, and walked around the trails up there for a bit. Looking to the north, you can see the lake and the Wallowa Valley, and Washington state off in the distance; To the east, a view of the Idaho side of the Snake River and Seven Devils, the mountain peaks forming the east side of Hells Gate. To the south were the magnificent mountain peaks of the Wallowa Mountains, still spotted with snow, and waterfalls falling nearly to the lake level. To the west was Chief Joseph Mountain. Certainly well worth the cost of the tram ride!

We eventually made it back to Betty and Merrill’s home in Wallowa, which is the town where Betty grew up, and had a nice visit with them. Dave and Merrill eventually made it out to the cars (Merrill had his A up there) and they worked on a carburetor problem on his 1931 Victoria.

31 July 2009 Wallowa, OR to about 15 miles south of Baker City, OR 123 miles

Merrill mentioned that Betty has always wanted to open a Bed and Breakfast, and given the way we were treated, I think she would be a success. After a good night’s rest, we had a gourmet breakfast before leaving their home and continuing our way south.

The drive through the canyon leaving the Wallowa Valley was beautiful. Meandering along the riverside, the cliffs and mountain sides towered over us. Once outside the valley, we turned toward LaGrand, Oregon, a huge farming community. Merrill and Betty had mentioned that the crops grown here are hay, alfalfa, sugar beet, and mint. We also saw some fields of sunflowers. As we passed the mint, it was being watered, and the aroma was wonderful driving by.

Skirting the base of the mountains , we were soon driving through high desert scrub brush before dropping into Baker City. We stopped to stretch our legs and walk around before refueling. Our initial goal was to reach John Day, Oregon, which is near Highway 395—the highway that will take us nearly all the way home. However, when we headed back up into a mountainous area along the way and happened to pass by a beautiful lake and saw a campground we decided to check it out. Union Creek Campground on Philips Lake almost has it all...Pine trees…shade…water…no showers...and it is Friday noon—once late afternoon hits, we have found that it is nearly impossible to find a campsite if the weather is good. We decided to stop and stay—it will be a two day stay, because finding a site on a Saturday is even harder.

“Camp” is set, and Dave is sitting reading while I finish up the last two days of journaling. We may go take a dip in the lake a little later…