Sunday, May 31, 2009

Photos of Pensacola and Alabama, Again!

31 May 2009 Pensacola, FL to Andalusia, AL 140 miles

I've included the pictures from Pensacola that I wrote about yesterday now that I'm powered back up. Pictures Left to Right: Dauphin Island; Henry finally gets to Florida; Fort Pickins Campground--notice the trees, this is the devastation still visible from Katrina in 2005; White Sands of the beach; Peggy as a Blue Angel. We spent the morning at the Museum of Naval Aviation on NAS Pensacola. With his love of anything to do with airplanes, as well as being a military history fanatic, Dave was going absolutely ga-ga over the displays of planes. This is a must do if you ever make it to Pensacola--and it is free!

We had a quiet and uneventful drive this afternoon and once we hit Andalusia, AL, decided to get a hotel room so we could charge everything that needs charging since the campground at Fort Pickens did not have any electric power--besides, it is the first of the month and I have bills to pay and banking to do before we can continue on our travels.

For those of you following our trip, thank you for your kind comments. To BT Marshall, we should hit New England sometime in mid-to-late July--we think--but our route and timetable is not set in stone.

Tomorrow we will continue our journey toward Andersonville, GA, and then onto Maysville, GA.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

White Sands and Ghost Crabs

29 May 2009 Mobile, AL to Pensacola, FL 122.8 miles

We left Mobile just after lunchtime, after browsing through numerous antique stores. From Mobile, we headed south to Dauphin Island to take the ferry across the mouth of Mobile Bay to Fort Morgan. This is where, during the Civil War, Admiral Faurigot (spelling may be incorrect) breached the Southern defenses to enter Mobile Bay with his command of “Damn the torpedo’s, full speed ahead!” The ferry ride was a 40-minute trip with cool breezes and sightings of a few dolphins thrown in.

Unfortunately, we ended up driving through downtown Pensacola in the late afternoon again in order to reach our next stop over—Fort Pickens—which is part of the Gulf Islands National Park. This island is long and narrow, and apparently used to be covered with Pine and Oak, but Hurricane Ike wiped most of it out in 2005 (I think). The campground just opened last week for the first time since then. However…no showers or flush toilets—just the coveted “Pot O’ Gold” porta-potties.

We were serenaded last night with a symphony of sounds—a variety of birds, as well as a chorus of frogs and other nightlife in the bushes. It was the first night we’ve had without cloud cover—the stars were stunning. This morning, we went for a walk on the beach…fine, white sands. Our “walk” turned into a 2 ½ hour hike—we’re guessing about 7 miles with the route we took, down to the beach, to the fort, and back along the nature trail. We actually saw a shark swimming along the shoreline about 20 feet offshore, along with a stingray and numerous blue crabs. We learned that the “gopher” holes in the sand actually belong to the ghost crabs.

We will be staying here another night. Tomorrow we will be going to the Naval Air Museum in Pensacola, before turning north toward Georgia. I am very low on power, and nowhere to plug in here, and there are not any pictures yet because of camera it may be a couple of days before you hear from us again.

How do YOU spell Mississippi?


27 May 2009 Baton Rouge, LA to Ocean Springs, Mississippi 177 miles

We have met some of the nicest people at the campground we were at. People offering us stuff to drink, helping us with electrical issues at the camp site, heating our food in their microwaves, to making coffee in the morning and hunting us down when a sudden downpour came. Truly, nice, nice people! Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the car is an automatic draw--especially when people find out we have traveled from California. I'm getting ahead of myself...

I am amazed how quickly our driving time flies—David says it is because of his outstanding personality and witty conversation. From Baton Rouge we drove east on Hwy 190 through Livingston, Hammond, and Covington, before skirting the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain. We landed in Slidell, LA right around lunch time and found a small café in the old historic district called Ali Baba’s—great food! We also took some time to wander through some of the local antique stores. From Slidell, we followed Hwy 90 into Mississippi along the Gulf Coast. Wow! This area has some beautiful, beautiful white beaches. There is still a lot of rebuilding being done since Katrina.

We got some great pictures of the Louisiana countryside, and then our camera started going on the fritz. Most of our pictures from today are on the big SLR, and now we are having trouble getting the pictures transferred. I’m not sure what we are going to do about that.

We are staying in Mississippi tonight at the Gulf Islands National Park just outside of Ocean Springs. Nice campground, and very friendly people. The temp is only about 85; it is a bit muggy though.

28 May 2009 Rain, Rain, go away!

We woke up and as usual, went and showered and then began packing up. We had just finished rolling up the tent and storing it in the car, and were in the process of loading the last 4-5 things when the sky opened up and within seconds, literally, it was pouring rain. The rain only lasted about 15-20 minutes, so we were able to get the car re-arranged since we had just thrown everything in before the rain started again. We waited out the storm in the ranger’s office gathering some great information on roadways and the ferry to Gulf Island and Pensacola. No oatmeal today…we headed out to find a restaurant to sit out the rest of the shower. Unfortunately, this volume of water showed us that our roof does in fact still leak, so today’s agenda includes finding the right type of goo to seal the roof.

On the road again…

Ocean Springs, Mississippi to Mobile, AL 67 miles

From Ocean Springs and the Davis Bayou Campground we headed east toward Mobile, Alabama. We had plans to meet up with Joe and Sandra Green, the brother of fellow Capitol A’er Ken Green, later that evening. It was a short mileage day for us, which was kind of nice.

We took the opportunity to do some sight seeing in the afternoon, a suggestion from Joe Green, and went to visit the Bellingrath Gardens and Home. This is a fabulous botanical garden and home of the Bellingrath family, who started the first and most successful Coca-Cola franchise in Alabama. The gardens are incredible, the home exquisite, and the cruise on the Fowl River refreshing. This was well worth the admission fee.

From there we headed into Mobile to Joe and Sandra’s home. We went to dinner with Joe and Sandra to The Original Oyster House, which had great food, and an even better view of the Mobile Delta and the bay. Sandra and Joe offered us a bed in their home for the night. Thank you Joe and Sandra—it was wonderful to meet you!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Crossing the Mighty Mississippi

In case you didn't know, Model A enthusiasts are an amazing bunch of people! We are modifying our daily mileage goals, as well as our original planned route slightly to reach certain cities and events that we have been invited to. The first of these is in Maysville, GA. We've also heard from other "friends we haven't met yet" in Guilford, CT and Kelly, Iowa. For those "old" friends we may miss due to the changes in our plans, we'll catch you on one of our many other travels later when we pass through again. To our new friends, we'll be in touch as we get closer to your towns.

26 May 2009 Sulphur, LA to Baton Rouge, LA 168 miles

Being in Louisiana is a challenge for me--I don't know how to say the names of most everything I see...thank goodness for maps with the spellings on them...We drove into Lake Charles and stopped for some photo shots along the shore—this is a huge lake--simply beautiful! Opelousas, LA, gave me the first real feel of the bayou and what, in my imagination, I pictured Louisiana to look like. We crossed the Atchafalaya River and the National Wildlife area there. Just after we crossed the river, the highway passed by numerous groves in the swampy water, part of it over an old causeway. I’m not sure, but from the signs posted, I think a “bayou” is similar to how they use “slough” in Sacramento. Every bayou we passed looked just like the delta waterways.

Shortly before we hit the Mississippi region, there was some road construction along the highway. The crews had to lay down miles of 12x12 boards—David thinks they were about 30 feet long—just to drive the equipment on because the area was so swampy. We crossed the Mississippi, and inadvertently turned south—I think through an area we probably shouldn’t have been in. We were looking for somewhere to eat…when a local police officer turned around and started following us, we just kept going and ended up it a safer part of town. (I like to think the cop was making sure we got through ok.) Just by chance, we ended up back at the Mississippi River Frontage area, where the museum is, as well as the USS Kidd (ship and museum), and the Belle of Baton Rouge Casino is moored. We found a place to park and ate at a place with a view of the river and then walked down to tour the USS Kidd. While we were eating, the first of several rain showers hit.

Henry poolside in Baton Rouge, LA

Monday, May 25, 2009

More thunderstorms and a taste of Louisiana

Sunday: We had some tremendous thunderstorms and heavy rain on and off throughout the afternoon over the weekend, which we enjoyed from the comfort of Jackie's living room, and the car was safe in the garage. Dave spent the morning re-tightening whatever it is he does on the car and checking fluids. We had a great visit with Peggy's sister and nephew. Thanks Jacks!
We subtotaled our mileage to date...2,824.8 miles so far!
Lake Houston, TX

Monday, 25 May 2009 Sugar Land, TX to Sulfur, LA 188.4 miles

Today, we left Jackie’s and headed north, then east, up and around Houston in a effort to bypass the downtown traffic. We passed Lake Houston, and settled back into our small town travels. Something we’re noticing…many of the side roads that go through the old historic towns follow along the railroad tracks…imagine that! We traveled along Highway 90, into Beaumont, TX, (which was deserted--must be because of the holiday), and then because we turned the wrong way, continued on into Louisiana. We did have to get on the interstate for just under a mile to cross the Sabine River, but then were able to catch the Old Highway 90, then criss-crossed on various side roads to miss the interstate. Because of this, our mileage was longer than we planned.

Downtown Beaumont, TX

Sabine River, LA

Ladies...driving tip: When you are driving, and are coming up on road kill in the center of the lane, and the "navigator" says, "take it down the middle" he means to center the car over the road kill--not to center the car down the middle of the road! (I did miss the critter!)

We ended our day in Sulfur, LA. We are holed up in a hotel again, due to severe thunderstorms. They sky is dark, and it is very humid. Lightening is flashing in the distance.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Crawfish--not crawdads--and the Alamo!

We made it safely without any further mechanical trouble to Adkins, TX, and had a great visit with the Madrid family. Yesterday, we went into San Antonio to see the Alamo and later walked along the River Walk, enjoying the cooler temperatures and sights.

On the River Walk

On Friday we drove 197 miles from Adkins, TX to Sugar Land, TX. It was a lot of driving, but we wanted to reach Peggy's sister's before the holiday traffic picked up. We stopped in Gonzales, TX for breakfast at a small local café. Just about the time we finished eating, Joe the Barber stopped by our table to visit and ask about the car—we also talked a bit about California and other travels. As he left, Erwin, a long time Gonzales resident, sat down and reminisced about his coupe that he had had “many, many years ago.” I am just amazed at the friendliness of the people we have met, and how they stop and introduce themselves—not just the nod, or “hi” you would typically get in California. I guess in these smaller towns it is easy to recognize the visitors. We drove another hour or so, and then stopped in Eagle Lake, just to stretch our legs. We met an older couple there who own the local furniture store and visited for awhile on the sidewalk, talking about the car, our trip, and the community. Eagle Lake is a big rice growing community similar to the Sacramento rice community, as well as a big goose hunting region. Driving along the road, it felt an awful lot like driving down the levy roads south and west of West Sacramento.

On Saturday we drove down to Galveston to the Hidalgo beach house for a crawfish and crab boil, and deep fried catfish. This area is still showing some signs of Hurricane Ike damage from last fall, but there are some neat, neat, houses. These critters we were going to eat? We did learn that in the south, they are called crawfish—not crawdads. This was as fun to watch as it was good to eat! They heated this huge pot of water with seasonings, a bulb of garlic, a bunch of onions, then dumped in a bunch of crawfish, along with potatoes and corn on the cob. The tables were covered with newspaper, and the crawfish were dumped on the table tops. After lessons on how we were supposed to eat these critters, everyone just dug in! After two batches of crawfish were cooked, the crab were cooked. Delicious!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

On the road again...with a little help from new friends!

19 May 2009

After exploring numerous options, on Monday morning, (May 18th) we were able to get in touch with MAFCA member, David Casey in San Angelo, TX, who offered his Model A expertise and his garage to help get us back on the road. With the help of John, the local towing service, and AAA, we headed 83 miles south to San Angelo and David’s garage.

The two Davids spent the next two hours dismantling the engine, and once the head was off, discovered that the head gasket had blown between numbers 3 and 4 cylinders. After some discussion, they decided to replace the head gasket and put all the other parts back on to see if this was the problem. David C. was pretty confident this would fix the problem…David G. was pessimistically hopeful. Another two hours or so, and it was test drive time….HALLELUIA! This seemed to do the trick…we were back in business.

During this time, Henry was supervising from the cup-holder seat, and I was visiting with fellow Model A’er Dr. Yates Smith, who is a local club member with David C. We had the official supervisor chairs and occasionally offered our assistance.

Once the Davids cleaned up the work area, David Casey and his beautiful wife, Lynn, graciously invited us to stay for dinner and offered us a bed for the night. We had an enjoyable visit them, and this morning, they sent us on our way after a wonderful breakfast. David and Lynn, thank you, thank you, thank you! There are not enough words to describe our appreciation for your help and hospitality!

On the road again….We traveled 154 miles to Fredricksburg, TX through some beautiful country. The myth that Texas is flat is not true! In Fredricksburg, we had a wonderful German meal at one of the local eateries, toured through the National Museum of the Pacific Theater (where we learned that Fredricksburg is the birthplace of Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz), and found a campsite at the local Ladybird Johnson Municipal Park.

Tomorrow we head to Adkins, TX, just southeast of San Antonio to visit with long time friends from Coronado days, Mike and Holly Madrid.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Trouble with a CAPITAL T!

17 May 2009 266.7 miles
Carlsbad, NM-to the Caverns-back to Carlsbad then to Big Spring, TX

The day started out great, and ended with a capital T—Trouble finding camping and Trouble with the car!

We sat out a rain and high wind storm in Carlsbad, NM Saturday night, and woke to clear skies, so we headed to Carlsbad Caverns. Much like the Grand Canyon, pictures just don’t do it justice. We got there early in the day (and the week before the daily crowds begin) so we were virtually alone along the walk down through the natural entrance. Simply AWE-INSPIRING! This park is a MUST DO for your bucket list!

After the caverns, we headed east. In Hobbs, NM, the car started running hot, so we stopped to cool it down, added some water, and let Dave do his trouble-shooting; Dave thinks it was just a stuck thermostat, and we continued on our journey. We headed toward the next town, and a local county park that we were told has camping, but when we got there, it was RV’s only—no tents—so we continued on. About 15 miles west of the next town, and our stop for the night, something happened with the engine. At first, Dave thought it was the distributor, so we pulled into a hotel parking lot and he changed this out—didn’t work. He is now thinking it is a piston (#4 is not firing), so we are looking to trailer the car to my sister’s house in Houston (about 500 miles away) where he can pull the engine apart and see what is going on. This is kind of hard to do in a campground or hotel parking lot. We are currently weighing our options.

In the mean time, it turns out that a group of Texas Community College criminal justice instructors are starting a conference here (Big Spring, TX) on Monday. Through conversation about the car and other topics, they learned that Dave is recently retired from California ABC, and since they had one of their presenters cancel at the last minute, asked Dave to present on “something related to CABC.” For doing this, they have offered to pay for our hotel room for the night—which was very nice!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Hot! Hot! Hot!

11 May 2009 Palm Desert to Parker, AZ 200 miles

The drive through the desert was like visiting an old friend…memories tumbled one after another as we drove across Rice Road toward the Colorado River. This was the route we normally took for family vacations and river trips most of my life. There were a few changes: the shoe tree is now a shoe fence; the old store in Rice is a pile of rubble; and the names along the RR tracks are still there.

12 May 2009 Parker, AZ to Mesa, AZ 207 miles

We got up at dawn—no alarms, but natural awakening—and broke camp by 6:00 AM. This was partly by design, in an effort to do most of our driving in the early morning to beat the heat.

Up until today, the roads we have traveled have been as familiar as our back yard. This was new territory for both of us. From Parker, we traveled southeast toward Wickenberg, then took Hwy 74 across the north end of Phoenix. This was a beautiful route, with hillsides covered with Saguaro, Palo Verde, Mesquite, and Cholla. We were trying to bypass the “big” cities by staying to the outside edges of town, but we still ended up in stop and go traffic. Temperature in Mesa today was 103. It is supposed to get cooler--only to 98 tomorrow.

13 May 2009 Mesa, AZ to Safford, AZ 174 miles

What a beautiful drive. The mountains east of Phoenix/Mesa into Globe, AZ are just stunning, and much of the flora was still blooming! We stopped for the night at Roper Lake State Park in Safford, AZ, and after setting up camp went into town to get some dinner. On our return trip, Dave got another shot at fixing flats...we couldn't believe we got another one. This time on the right rear tire! The tire pump we were carrying couldn't pump up the tire enough (or Dave just ran out of oomph!), but thankfully a neighboring camper had an air compressor on his jeep so he filled us up.

This lake is very similar in looks and feel to Lake Havasu, but on a micro scale. We were able to take a dip in the water to cool down and then spent the evening stargazing.

14 May 2009 Safford, AZ to Silver City, NM 180 miles

Does it seem like we are traveling more miles than intended? This is partly due to lack of camping accommodations between towns in this arid Southwest! We were strongly advised against traveling along the border by a friendly waitress whose husband was a deputy sheriff, so we headed for the hills--besides, the temperatures were cooler! Stopping to take a picture of the "Welcome to New Mexico," we noticed our water jug sitting on the running board of the car. We're amazed it didn't fall off on this 30 mile leg!

We camped for the night at "City of the Rocks State Park" just south of Silver City. This campground was amazing...very similar to Joshua Tree National Park in California, but smaller. Our campsite was surrounded by towering rocks, so it was nicely shaded. Once the sun started going down, much to our surprise, we discovered that we had a small bat cave within 10 feet of our tent site. We could hear them starting to wake up, and then got to see them fly out into the night. We tried diligently to get a picture of the bats flying out, but even on automatic, they were too fast for Dave's trigger finger. Once the bats came out, the bugs disappeared! Yeah!

15 May 2009 Silver City, NM to El Paso, TX 190 miles

We mapped our route for the day to travel from Deming, NM toward Hatch, which would allow us to follow the Rio Grande south. It was again beautiful...then....MORE TIRE TROUBLE! Just north of Las Cruces, NM, our third tire went flat...front passenger side this time. So, once again, in 98 degree temps, Dave practiced putting on the spare in record time along side the road. Using the MAFCA directory, we were able to get in touch with Rick Black in El Paso, looking for information on where to get Model A tubes in Texas. (Which, by the way, there is not a local parts store.) Rick was kind enough to meet us in his 1931 Deluxe Tudor--a beautiful, beautiful automobile--with his two spare tubes to get us on our way. Rick, it turns out, is the MAFCA Webmaster!

After changing both this tire, and checking the front driver's side, Dave decided to change it as well. Apparently, the stem was rotted on all the tubes, and he figured it was just a matter of time before the forth one died as well. Anyway, thanks to Rick, we now have all new tubes so hopefully we won't be changing any more flats. On the plus side, at the next gymkhana, if there is a tire-changing relay, we've got it covered!

We camped at Hueco Tanks State Park, just east of El Paso for the night, and are looking forward to another amazing star studded evening!

Monday, May 11, 2009

11 May 2009 We're Getting Warmer!

It has been a few days since we wrote…mostly because Peggy has not been feeling well. Because of this, we shortened our stay and visits in Southern California as planned, and holed up with family so she could rest. For those of you we missed, we promise, we will return for an extended stay! This morning she woke up feeling 95% up to speed. Thank you for your prayers.

The reason there are not many pictures for this leg is because this area is so familiar to us, we have permanent pictures imbedded in our brain that we basically forgot to take pictures. San Diego (Coronado) was home to us for our early married years and most of our children’s childhood before we moved to Palm Desert (Palm Springs area). We spent Mother’s Day weekend with Dave’s mom in Pomona. Before leaving Pomona, Dave worked on the car—lubing parts and pieces, tightening bolts, and checking the fluids. We left Pomona and stopped for a coffee visit with Peggy’s uncle. From Uncle Jims, we heading along Route 66 through San Timotaeo Canyon to Yucaipa where we crashed a Mother’s Day lunch with Peggy’s sister Jeri and her family. While we were there, Dave worked on changing the transmission fluid since he “had over lubed the joints” whatever that means! Anyway, he said the car is shifting much better now.

We spent Sunday night with good friends Wade and Somer Little in Palm Desert, who live across the street from our old house. It was good to catch up and enjoy the wonderful desert evening. For our Sacramento friends…when we got here yesterday, it was a balmy 103 degrees. The passenger side air conditioner began malfunctioning so Dave dismanteled it to get it in top working order for our trip across the desert.
This morning (Monday) it is currently 75 and sunny at 7:30 AM. We’ll be leaving here soon, heading toward Parker, Arizona, hoping to beat most of the direct heat driving through the desert.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

6 May 2009 SLO to Mission Viejo

266 miles; 21.15 MPG

We left SLO and much to our dismay, the planned route through the mountains/high desert above Santa Barbara were closed due to the fire that was raging there. Our only options were to go back north and across the Mojave desert, or continue south on Highway 1/101. We headed south on Hwy 1, which paralled the 101 for most of the way, but were able to stop off at Pismo Beach for a photo shoot of the car on the beach.

We continued traveling south through Lompoc enjoying the sights of California agriculture at its best…yum…strawberry season. Eventually, Hwy 1 joined up again with 101—yes, a freeway—but no way around it—at Gaviota State Beach until we made it through Santa Barbara and Ventura.

Leaving Ventura, we continued south on Hwy 1 through Oxnard, and back to beach front coastline around Point Magu. I’ve always heard of this, but have never seen this part of Southern California. We hit Malibu, and then Santa Monica, with its roller coaster on the pier. Our original plan was to find a place to camp/stay in or around Santa Monica, but once we hit this area and the traffic issues we opted to exceed our 200 mile day maximum to take advantage of long time friend Laura and her boys in Mission Viejo. The trip through LA, in stop and go traffic was uneventual, but we did make it through LA without touching a freeway! Just 2 ½ hours to do it!

We eventually hit Huntington Beach, and traveled along the coast on our way to MV. Then our first mechanical mishap…about 5 miles from Laura’s, we had our first flat since we bought the car. We did learn that it was maybe not a good idea to store the jack under the back seat…we had to unpack the entire car to access it and get the tire changed!
Next stop: Backtrack to Fullerton to Moss’s to pick up a new spare tube, then we’re heading to San Diego.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

5 May 2009 Big Sur to San Luis Obispo

107 miles

Our trip from Big Sur to SLO was beautiful traveling along the California coastline. We stopped a number of times for the senic views, elephant seal beach, and Ragged Point. Just stunning! We had lunch on the picnic grounds of Harmony Wine Cellars, before making our way to our daughter’s in San Luis Obispo, CA.

4 May 2009
Sacramento to Big Sur, CA

211 miles; Average 17MPG; no car problems :)

We left under cloudy skies from Sacramento and headed south, through the Sacramento Delta. Our first two lane highway challenge became apparent when we hit Livermore. How to get around the bay area without freeways? We actually found a little used highway (except for 5 cyclists and 3 cal-trans trucks) that skirted east around Freemont through hilly terrain along Calaveras Road—we felt like we were in the middle of the mountains—gorgeous views, happy “California” cows grazing, and nobody but us. San Jose was not real exciting…traffic and side streets until we hit the old mission road south, traveling through Morgan Hill to Hwy 152, east of Gilroy. We then headed west, through the enchanted forest between Gilroy and Watsonville. Finally we were able to pick up the Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1) to Monterey, where we had sea-side fish and chips at Fisherman’s Wharf. Continuing south, we traveled to Big Sur, with plans to camp…then the rain hit. At first just a drizzle, but when the campground host mentioned a guaranteed rain fall during the night, we opted to rent a small cabin at Riverside Campground and Cabins. And the rain did come down! RAIN, RAIN, GO AWAY!