Monday, December 8, 2014
Saturday December 6, we cruised about 4 miles to the Chili’s Restaurant in N. Stafford, VA and the beginning of the 5th Annual Toys For Tots run. Our friend and fellow Cruisin For Heroes member, Dan, pretty much orchestrates the whole event. The Chili’s manager has his staff open the store early so we can start forming up around 9AM….they usually open at 11AM. We don’t leave till about Noon so there is plenty of time to socialize and have brunch. The Princess flits around taking pictures and checking on people to make sure they are being taken care of and are having a good time. I usually take most of the pictures at the events we attend. But the Princess is getting much better dealing with the technical aspects of photography to the point that she is taking much better pictures and giving us all a run for our money on the quality of her images! Fred and Bill also chronicled the day’s activities in photographs and were joined by Yvonne at the Museum. This year Chili’s has embraced the Toys For Tots charity full tilt as there are many more Chili’s stores that are collecting toys for the program this year. Our Chili’s also gives 20% of the days gross to Toys For Tots! And there is to be a special presentation to the USMC Toys For Tots program this year from Chili’s!
The weatherguessers were forecasting rain most of the day with periods of heavy rain. But when we were ready to leave home it was dry! And last year snow was forecasted so the only one that drove a hot rod was Dan and his black ’55 Chevy. Dan was committed again this year so I decided to take the truck even if rain was likely to fall. I knew the Northern Virginia Mustang club was going to join us this year and most of them would be driving their Mustangs….so we HAD to show up with something special. In the end there was about 20 “special” cars and another 30 daily drivers. Some other people met us at the Museum and made the day’s total near 60….I think? It is exceedingly difficult to count them all but I think 55-60 would be close.
Dan arranges to have the Stafford County Sheriff Deputies escort us all the way to the National Museum of the Marine Corps, located in Triangle, VA., about 9 miles away. This makes herding the vehicles much safer and enjoyable than if we tried to find our own way up Rt. 1 with a group that large. I think the Deputies like to help us plus they get a free brunch at Chili’s thanks to the donations of the cruisers that make the trip with us.
At 11:20 it began to rain so about 11:45 the participants began to make their way to the commuter lot on Mine Rd. where we would all assemble for the trip. Deputy Crane ran the “drivers meeting” explaining which lanes we needed to stay in and why. Also which route we would be taking and that we should keep the distance between vehicles closed up if we can and other pertinent safety information. Everyone listened intently and knew we would be in good hands. After all the necessary instructions were given to us I asked Deputy Crane “were we allowed to do burn outs”….everyone laughed….I think Deputy Crane was laughing too….I think….grin.
Our cruise to the Museum was a thrill with the Sheriff’s cruisers blocking traffic so we could have safe uninterrupted passage north. I think some of the people that were held back at intersecting roads thought they were witnessing a funeral or something. Some just stared, some looked solemn and some waved….I wonder if people wave at a funeral procession? Anyway it was a hoot! Too soon the trip was over and we all parked, then carried our toys inside to the waiting Marines by the Toys For Tots display.
It seems like every year we bring more toys to the Museum….even though we have fewer cars because of the foul weather. Could it be that some are just bringing a lot of toys? Yup….I think that’s what is happening. The amount of toys was overwhelming the Marines that received them. They moved the security ropes out a little farther every few minutes as they unbagged more toys. That’s always a good sign that the event is doing what it is supposed to do….provide toys to kids that would otherwise have a bleak Christmas. The United States Marine Corps Reserve has managed the Toys For Tots since 1947 when Major Bill Hendricks began the program. This time of year the Toys For Tots presence is ubiquitous around here since the Marine Corps Base Quantico (“Crossroads of the Marine Corps”) is part of our local community.
After all the toys were delivered some in our group, that had never visited the Museum before, began exploring the facility and those that were not first timers visited parts that held a special interest for them. This museum houses the storied history of the Marine Corps displayed in real artifacts and other teaching aids. There are a number of ever helpful Museum staff members that can assist you with your visit or you can self guide your travel around the building. There are a few different levels and many individual rooms; you just can’t see everything adequately in one 2-3 hour visit. If you haven’t been to this museum you need to put it on your bucket list.
Mr. & Mrs. Santa Claus was in the Museum from Noon to 3PM and the ever lengthening line of munchkins waiting to talk to the jolly old round guy, stretched half way around the first floor! The line consisted mostly of little people with their parents in tow. Mr. & Mrs. Santa look, talk and act just like the real deal….you have to check them out when you can. They visited with each child and talked about what the child’s parent had written on a “wish card” when they queued up. Then as they left Santa, they put the card in a waiting mail box….to be sent on to the North Pole. How cool is that!
After an hour or so Tony led some of our group in singing some Christmas carols, acapella! This year he passed out lyric sheets….which is good….but some of us….senior folks couldn’t read the small print, grin My thought about singing is that it’s better to be loud than good…. We all enjoyed the fellowship, the day, the mission.
Pictures here; https://www.flickr.com/photos/53063560@N05/sets/72157647312913083/
Pictures here; https://www.flickr.com/photos/53063560@N05/sets/72157647312913083/
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Saturday, Nov 29, 2014, a small group of cruisers left the N. Stafford, Eustace Rd. WAWA to begin the first leg of the 6th Annual, ‘Over The River And Through The Woods Run’. We would meet others at the WAWA in South Point, VA and leave there precisely 10AM for our 47 mile trek to Oilville, VA. About 20 cruisers rolled south on Hwy. 1 to the old Arcadia Store where we turned onto Arcadia Rd. and made our way to Chilesburg where we would meet up with 5 more cars. Winding our way south on the lesser traveled Virginia country roads through Beaverdam, VA and a few more little wide places in the road. The road was enchanting and the scenery was amazing. This is why we take the “back roads” whenever we can….it is just adds so much more to the day’s adventures. When we arrived at the intersection of Rt. 250 and Oilville Rd., we made our only pit stop at the BP station. Three of our group had stopped way back near Arcadia Rd. to assist Richard and his radiator belt problem on his ’60 Corvair….so while they caught up with us we all waited in the parking lot of the BP and adjacent car wash.
As soon as we were all together we started the last 6 miles to Page Custom Rods & Restorations, which was the destination of the day. When we arrived we found another group of 15 cruisers already in the parking lot of the shop. We drove around and finally parked on the access road to the shop…. I knew some were going to meet us at the shop….I just didn’t know how many would be there or what time they would arrive.
The owner of Page Custom was one of the friendly staff that showed us around their shop. They do really magnificent work….and they do just about anything from adding an upgrade to complete, frame off restoration or custom hot rod. It’s always better to see how a shop operates when they “showcase” the projects that are under construction AND the completed ones. You can tell a lot when the car is apart and going together. Mr. Page & Rusty graciously showed us around and answered any questions we had….they were impeccable hosts. They have a painter named Bobby that is renowned by most that know what a great paint job is supposed to be….really top notch. Some of the shops we have visited over the years had a “snobby” persona….not at Page….they are “car guys” that are happy to serve your needs. If you have anything you need done to your ride that you can’t handle….just check out Page and see what they can do for you. http://www.pagecustoms.com/
Since the other group of cruisers arrived before us, they had done their visiting of the shop and were milling around in the parking lot. Some left for the next stop at the restaurant before we got the whole group together. We cut our visit a little short so we could all cruise to the restaurant as a group. I had called the restaurant twice with the increasing number of cruisers that would be visiting for lunch. My Mom once told me that if you can’t say anything nice about someone….don‘t say anything at all. So….all I’m going to say is that I had to wait 2 hours for a glass of water at the restaurant….that’s all I’m going to say about the lunch.
Our group cruises a lot….if you have read my blog you know that. Most of the times I lead because I know where we are going and I think most expect me to be in front. But….sometimes I ask others to pick up the front of the pack so I can enjoy the trip too. As any of you that travel over the roads know, sometimes the GPS or maps take you somewhere you weren’t expecting…. You get lost, or as my Marine Corps friends say “temporarily bewildered, never lost”. We usually manage through the process and always have another “story” to tell that adds to the humor of our group. I always wanted to have a sort of traveling award for the leader that gets us lost. So the Princess and I made a certificate up and bought a coonskin cap and presto the “Boone & Magellan Broken Compass Award” was born! Since our excursion to Ft. Belvoir recently, to present a donation check to the Fisher House on base, went a little awry when Fred & Lou led the pack, we decided to make Fred the first recipient of the BMBCA. At the restaurant we presented Fred with the award and with the charge that he must take it wherever he cruises….and prominently display it for others to see, and ask about it. He was further charged to protect the coonskin cap from his puppies so they don’t use it for a chew toy. Fred good naturedly accepted the award and began his lobbying for Lou to lead soon!? Fred will keep the award until the next “leader” has an ‘opps’ moment, then he can award it to the new confused leader….fun, ever heard of it? After the presentation some of the cruisers began leaving the restaurant and by the time we ate there were only 8 of us left! So we began the return to our homes via a different route from the one we used to get here. We always try to change the look of the scenery on the way home. It was a good day to cruise and be with our friends while checking out a primo shop….next year you have to join us. It’s always the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
Sunday, November 23, 2014
On October 6th this year I received a forwarded email from our friend, Fred Fann, which is the President of the Car Club Council of Central Virginia. It was a message from Judy Popov, the Marketing Manager for Welburn Management, inquiring about a “car show” for a Grand Opening of a local McDonald’s in Spotsylvania, VA. After a couple messages back and forth, our group, Cruisin For Heroes, agreed to assist Judy with her request. We were to provide 12 vehicles to be displayed in the McDonald parking lot. We were to share the lot with two Spotsylvania Sherriff vehicles that were to be used to “stuff a cruiser” with food for local needy families and a couple very large pieces of rescue equipment from the Chancellor Volunteer Fire & Rescue. For providing these vehicles for a 5 hour display the Welburn Management Company would make a $500 donation to Fisher House Foundation.
Since we only had 54 days to put the display together….we had to move quickly. We had to ensure that our display grid would include only spectator friendly vehicles with friendly, outgoing owners. The weather is always a consideration and since it would be in late November it could be cold and/or wet! After considering our choices of vehicles/owners we decided to invite Ken & Carmen Billings with their 55 Chevy BelAir, Bill & Debbie Bell with their ’23 Model T Speedster, Rick & Kim Sinclair with their ’03 Chevy Silverado, Bill Errera & JoAnn Meneloas with their ’57 Chevy BelAir, Bill & Linda Barnes with their ’65 Plymouth Valiant, Denny & Betty Raymond and their ’34 Gatsby, Duane & Valerie Mitchell and their ’67 Mustang, Ron Lacasse & Donna Aker with their ’69 Camaro. Then with Lou & Arlene and their ’53 Ford Sunliner, Dan & Ramona Crane with their ’55 Chevy, Fred & Debie Davis with their ’57 Dodge and the Princess & I with our ’49 Chevy truck, this would provide the rest of the 12 vehicles for the display.
After a hiccupping start in Stafford the group began to arrive at the site from all directions of the compass. There were a couple abandoned vehicles in the parking lot that had to be removed but everyone finally got settled in for a cold day at McDonald’s. The cloudless sky allowed the sun to shine brilliantly belying the fact that the air temp was about -258 degrees with a 40 kt wind making the chill factor about absolute zero! We all took turns going inside the warm restaurant for coffee and burgers….then back outside to interact with the spectators that milled among the vehicles throughout the day. The cold made it difficult to do my normal impersonation of a flightless bird….running around waving my arms and making noise. I tried to keep my hands in my pockets if I could and keep the talking to a minimum so I wouldn’t frostbite my vocal cords….grin Everyone persevered and I’m told that they all enjoyed the day out with their hot rod. The fact that we earned $500 for Fisher House Foundation was not lost on anyone either, it was another good day for our Veterans and the other organizations the Welburn Group shared with!
Judy was managing the event like a Swiss watch with the official ribbon cutting ceremony beginning at 11AM that included the big check presentations. Mr. & Mrs. Welburn and their family all participated in the Grand Opening ceremony….it was a family affair. The Spotsylvania County Sherriff’s Office, Chancellor Fire & Rescue, Fisher House Foundation, Spotsylvania County Public Schools all received presentation checks. The National Wildlife Federation presented Mrs. Welburn with the “Certified Wildlife Habitat” certificate & plaque and our group, Cruisin For Heroes, presented Judy with a plaque of appreciation for working with us to serve our Veterans through Fisher House Foundation.
Ronald McDonald was energetically cruising through the crowds stopping at the different activity stations, doing magic tricks and other feats of wonder to the amazement of all. Sparky and SafteyPup, the Fire & Rescue mascots, also mingled inside and outside with the crowds while they posed for pictures. They had a face painter working tirelessly with her magic paint while the DJ kept the mood very upbeat.
It was a great day for McDonald’s AND the local community. This restaurant was built to be a certified eco-friendly establishment and is managed by sensitive friendly people willing to give back to the community while they serve it too. Stop by and check it out….I think you will be impressed.
Thursday, Nov 20, 2014…..we had an appointment at Fr. Belvoir, VA. Our group, Cruisin For Heroes, wanted to visit the Fisher House that was across the street from the sprawling Base hospital at Ft. Belvoir. Since it was a weekday not all of our members could make it so Lou & Arlene, Fred, the Princess & I were to represent CFH for the day. After three changes of convoy leaders (only three vehicles) we finally arrived a little late….but we had a good impromptu tour of the Base enroute to the FH…. Upon arrival we were welcomed by the facility manager, Roxanna Maria (Miss Roxy), and given an abbreviated tour of the public areas that were accessible to visitors at the time. The House is magnificently built and decorated to feel like a home….not a house! It seems that every need the Veteran and/or their family might have can be addressed onsite. The facility is about two years old and is usable for any need. The bronze plaque at the entrance says it all for me; “THE ZACHARY AND ELIZABETH FISHER HOUSE….THIS GIFT IS DEDICATED TO OUR GREATEST NATIONAL TREASURE OUR MILITARY SERVICE MEN AND WOMEN AND THEIR LOVED ONES”.
Reading and studying about a subject is always helpful….but physical immersion in the subject always leaves one with a much more visceral understanding of the subject….it is so much more meaningful to see/touch the Fisher House in person than looking at a picture in a brochure.
We visited for about an hour then Lou & I presented Miss Roxy with the “big” check that represented the proceeds from the Valley Mustangs Unlimited car club show in August. She said it will all help keep the lights burning and the heat on…. We feel so blessed to be the face representing all the people that donated to help Fisher House Foundation through CFH so far this year.
Saturday, November 15, 2014
Tuesday, Nov 11, 2014….Andrew met with the Princess & I at our home and we car pooled 125 miles to Staunton, VA to meet up with the Valley Mustangs Unlimited car club. Along the way, near Culpeper, we joined Lou & Arlene and Fred and followed them the rest of the way to Staunton. We arrived a little early in Staunton so we made sure the Dunkin Donuts were safe to eat….it’s a public service we perform whenever we can. When the sinkers hit bottom we drove to the nearby Lowe’s parking lot for a few pictures of the Mustang club that had gathered. When all the cruisers were accounted for we cruised to the Local VFW a few miles away. Valley Mustangs Unlimited had committed to donate the proceeds from the show they held in August this year to the Fisher House Foundation. Our group, Cruisin For Heroes, was presented with a check for $3094.12 in a ceremony in the VFW hall. It was a moving experience for all…. I was interviewed for a local TV station and I don’t think I embarrassed myself too much…. The camaraderie between the Veterans and the two ‘car’ groups was something to see and experience. The Respect was going both ways….really cool. It was a great day for all and especially for the Fisher House Foundation. I love this hobby
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Saturday, Nov 8 we began our adventures by attending the monthly breakfast hosted by the Fredericksburg Classic & Muscle Car Club at the Golden Corral in Massaponax, VA. This club always has these informal get-together’s during the winter. It’s a cool way to stay connected with each other while the hot rods spend more time in the garage than on the road. The gatherings are open to all hot rodders; regardless of club affiliation….it really is a neat deal. We visited and ate for about an hour then said our goodbyes and began the next leg of the day’s schedule.
We drove our daily driver because we didn’t know what to expect at the next event, the Paws4Vets dog walk? Two of our friends are connected to the organization and we wanted to support their efforts so for that reason we agreed to attend. We arrived at Old Mill Park in Fredericksburg, VA to find DJ Ron already set up with his traveling music trailer and two clowns roaming around. And….there were people walking dogs, what a concept! Paws4Vets is an organization that matches service dogs with Veterans that need assistance that they are not getting. The dogs can be trained to help PTSD sufferers, diabetic problems, blind or hearing impaired, as well as many other issues that the dogs unique senses can help the Veterans with. The cost of these amazing animals can be north of $45,000…..yup! The cost is high but the value is higher for the Veterans as their four legged companions truly make a life or death difference. The event was held to benefit Walter who is suffering from Vietnam era PTSD that was awakened recently by a bout with Lyme disease. His service dog, Jackson, was the gentlest little setter I have ever seen….and it is a constant companion for Walter that senses when Walter needs the attention to bring him back.
The event was held to raise money to pay it forward so the next Veteran will have the option of having a service animal in their lives. They had a silent auction and were taking donations for the cause. There were about 22 dogs on the “walk” pattern and some just came to support the event. Bill & Debie brought out the newly commissioned puppymobile with their dogs, Cooley & Riggins aboard. I think Bill has way too much time on his hands….maybe….but then again maybe the just a little crazy Debbie encourages him too much….you decide! Ron tried out the puppymobile but I think it had too much motor for Ron…..HO HO HO. After the closing ceremony we all packed up and headed for Shannon Airport….
You all know I like airplanes more than hot rods….I just can’t afford a flying machine nor do I have a place to keep one….so I just take every opportunity that is presented to me to be among them. Debie (not Debbie?) invited us to attend the re-opening of the airport with Debie’s boss, the new owner, dedicating it in a very informal event. Informal it was….but….there were some very powerful elected officials. Like Congressman Rob Wittman, Senator Reeves and others! The new owner, dedicated the airport to serve the area in a more aggressive and positive way and to help be one of the economic engines that take Fredericksburg into the future.
When we arrived we were directed to park in the overflow parking….just a little way from the entrance to the event….about 428 little miles away. But not to worry….we were able to walk on the rolling grass field to the podium area….actually it was pitted with deep holes that were camouflaged with the long grass…..it was an experience to traverse and remain upright! But walking with Debie & Fred while the Princess & I stumbled along must have been a sight to behold….but we made it. We listened to the speeches, watched some airplanes take off & land and decided it was about time to leave. Then Bill & Debbie arrived….hungry! They suggested we try a new, to us; Mexican Restaurant called El Pino on Rt. 3. We all like the south of the border food, so off we started….to retrace our steps….on the 428 mile trek back to the chuckling car. Whew….
The restaurant was superb….the food was great, the wait staff was very attentive….the prices were extremely fair. We all ate too much and had enough fun that other establishments may have asked us to leave….but here….they just kept bringing us food! I would recommend this restaurant….in fact we returned the next day with some other friends and it was like déjà, all over again with the great food and service. You have to check it out if you’re in Fredericksburg sometime.
Eventually we headed for home….about 12 hours of fun with friends….