Monday, August 30, 2010

Are we there yet?

Friday morning and our little group met at the WAWA in Stafford, VA to begin our 238 mile trek to Macungie, PA. We are going to be part of the 32nd Annual Wheels of Time Rod & Custom Jamboree. We left the WAWA at 4:30 in the morning….before the sun came up….in the dark! What are people doing that are driving around that early. Shouldn’t they be home in bed? We stopped in Springfield, VA and joined 4 other cars and continued north to PA. We stopped in Thurmont, MD for breakfast & fuel and picked up 2 more cars. Since no one had any vehicle problems we arrived in Macungie around 9:30 and the place looked filled up! We picked our way through the parked cars and people walking around till we got to the rear of the event where we found enough room for 9 cars to park together….it turned out to be a good place as the weekend unfolded. We set up and began to check out the event.

The location of the event is the Macungie Memorial Park and there are 42 acres of rolling grass fields which was needed for the 1,750 cars that were registered. The event is on grass and normally that would be a good thing but with all the foot traffic and vehicular traffic by Saturday afternoon the dusty dirt was floating everywhere. Some of the bathrooms were porta potties and some were permanent facilities….but they had an attendant that told you which one was empty (I guess that’s for the people that couldn’t tell if the green or red was showing by the handle!?). It was customary to “tip” the attendant after you were done? Although I never saw him do it, I was told he also kept the units clean…. There were many vendors from pin stripers to car builders. Many food vendors were there and the variety and quality of the food was great….PA always has good food. There was a live band playing all the time, many different bands but someone was playing all the time for the 3 days we attended! Women’s World and the craft section was very special too. Usually after the Princess goes to those places I get to have a showing of the treasures she has liberated from a vendor….and she tells me that the vendor clearly didn’t know the value of what they were selling….hmmm, yeah right! Usually I just nod and think….yard sale fodder or more stuff I’m going to sell on eBay this winter. But this time the Princess and Sally actually got some good stuff and they had a good time doing their touchy/feely/talkie thing in and around all the stuff for a few hours while they trolled for treasure. I’m so happy that we now have an antique, hand operated corn creamer! You can’t imagine how long I have been waiting to cream corn, I was actually waiting for a steam powered one but the antique implement will help improve my eye/hand coordination, what a deal! As more Ladies attend the events, the organizers would do well to cater to them more….some are driving their own cars too so “car” things, that they would be interested in, would be a good idea too! Are you listening organizers? Cha-ching?

The organizers had something going on all the time, if you got bored it was your fault, they kept you busy if you wanted to be….kinda like a cruise ship! There was a race car area that was cool and they lit up the big twice motored Chrysler rail while I was visiting that area….it was neat to hear the old motors run. They had games for kids and adults to keep you occupied as if trying to look at 1,700 cars wouldn’t keep you busy. Sunday they had a pro street cruise and burn out….that was special….can you imagine how quick a 66 year old, old guy can move when a crossed up, out of control Ford PU is coming at you with the motor screaming and tires smoking? I have video! And speaking of sure to check out my one handed, over the shoulder camera shoot, out the rear window of the RedRat while I looked at the LCD screen of the camera by looking at my rear view mirror....while driving 60+....notice how smooth the RedRat goes over a bridge transition....grin

The cars….there was every kind of pre-1969 vehicle you could imagine….and some you could not imagine unless you were abducted by aliens or something. I guess it’s the long winters that generate the ideas for some of the vehicles. A couple of them were very….creative. Although there were many out of state cars most of them were native PA cars. Pennsylvania has a rich history of hot rodding and I think along with California and Ohio it has to be in the top 5 states of hot rodding activity. The venue is sprawling and I couldn’t cover everywhere so the pictures I took only represent a small selection of what was there. There were many more “custom” cars than I had seen anywhere in a long time….that type of car showcases the talent, skill and imagination of a builder better than traditional hot rods do and there was no shortage of customs at the show. Although I do like cars built after 1969, a limited year event does have a special feel….everything there has someone’s dream on display….not just something that was in a showroom the day before. And with the attendance they had, it proves they don’t have to bend to the “you have to invite everyone” syndrome to have a successful event. The spectators paid $5 a person to get in and the stream of people didn’t stop, even as we left for the day! Also as we left the town of Macungie each day the local people sat in chairs along the street to watch/hear us cruise out! That was cool! I think this is a must attend show at least once….maybe twice? Get your motel room early, they go pretty fast and the Starlight Diner has great food!

We left for home on Sunday about 11:30 and one of the cars had to stop for repairs before we got to the halfway point near Gettysburg on Rt. 15 & Rt. 30. In fact we were making the repairs on a narrow country road, in the middle of a corn field, in the flight path of a barnstormers airport, how cool is that? We ate lunch at Hoss restaurant then filled up the hot rods and continued south….why does it always seem longer going home than going to an event? It seemed like I was in the RedRat for days till we got home, the steady drone of the big block at 2800 rpm can take a toll. Did I say that? We did get home finally but I don’t think I want to look at the cars for a few days. But by Wednesday I’ll start to get them ready for next weekend and the adventure continues….

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Got Bugs?

After many emails, a few phone calls and a schedule change, the day was finally here to go south and visit Larry and his friends at the Iron Bridge Sports Park cruise in Chesterfield, VA. We gathered up some friends and left Stafford at 2PM to make the 106 mile trip to the cruise. We had six cars traveling to the cruise, Ron-’28 Dodge, Bill-’70 Chevy PU, Fred-’66 Barracuda, Jim & Linda-’08 Vette and the Princess and me in our coupes. The trip took about 2 ½ hours with one pit stop near Mechanicsville. The road was great most of the way but I-295, as usual, was horrible….the “repairs” that were made left a lot to be desired and the transition on & off most bridges was a header scraper for some of us….at 55+ mph! We arrived around 4:30 and all of us still had our parts that we left Stafford with….except maybe Fred?

The cruise had about 50 cars parked when we arrived so we knew it was going to be a busy night! Larry and the owner of Iron Bridge Sports Park have put together a very comfortable cruise and it seems to serve the needs of the local cruisers just fine. The parking is on asphalt but if you are on the perimeter you can set up your camp on grass, which is always nicer. There is only one way in and out so vehicle control can be effectively achieved. Access from Rt. 10, a main thoroughfare, is uncomplicated and the event can be seen from Rt. 10 as well….which no doubt helps the participation. The restroom facilities are top notch and the onsite grille is great. I like this kind of food when we are running the cars, it adds to the nostalgic feel of the event. When your only choice is the upscale food chains it takes something away from the feel of the event for me. And the food was great and the food order taker/cashier/server was a hoot….she fit right in with our “car” humor….she helped make the experience fun!

Oh yeah….and they had cars! As with any cruise some cars came and visited a while then cruised out….and another one came in! So getting a hard attendance number is difficult but I think if everyone was counted it would be between 140-160 cars….not bad for Friday. And the cars were all types and conditions. I had only seen 4 of the cars previously….the Munster car, Chuck & Cindy’s Chevelles and Ron’s ’32 5w coupe….the rest were new to me! I was having a sensory overload of sorts because of all the very nice cars….and there were so many Mustangs….isn’t that what Larry drives? I like the red & black ’57 Ford convertible, the green Chevy PU that squeeked his tires when he turned a corner while parking, the red ’59 DeSoto was very cool too. I think the car I liked best was the copper Anglia panel with the turbocharged 2.3L four banger! A very courageous idea and masterful execution…. This cruise is every Friday and is advertised on the Car Club Council of Central Virginia’s website. I highly recommend this cruise and plan on returning when we can.

We decided to pack up and make our return trip around 9PM….Fred, our pathfinder in the group, said he had a different way back that would save some miles….so after a long day, a few miles shorter on the way home was greeted enthusiastically by all….especially me as I wouldn’t have to lead back. The route turned out to be a little shorter but it was much quicker and we should consider it both ways next time. I think it was a little longer for Fred though as he got temporally bewildered and thought he would go South for a few miles before resuming his Northward trek….grin! (No we didn’t follow him!) Fred can always be counted on to add a little excitement to our trips!

Saturday the Princess and I had been invited to attend the Prince William Cruisers annual picnic. It was being held at Roger & Mary’s home and was a hoot….the club members have accepted us as friends, it must be the Princesses strawberry pies that she brings!? We ate too much and then decided to cruise to Orange, VA and check out the monthly cruise at the Burger King on Rt. 15.

We arrived at 4:30 and there were already 70 cars parked….another good night!? Steve was amazed that the area was filling up that early but he found some good parking places to set up anyway. Sally was driving her very orange ’70 Mustang and parked next to the Princess….so they can discuss “Princess” things I guess? DJ Ron & Anita provided the audio ambiance for the event and was much appreciated. The music is the lubricant that keeps the event going along….think about it….when the sound stops, what happens? Anyway Ron always makes an event memorable and that night was no exception. About 180 cars cruised the event and a lot of them were the usual suspects but some were new to us….like the black ’62 Chevy deuce with a 572! And there were about 4 Cyclone’s at the cruise but the one that stopped my clock was the very dark green ’66 pro-street….a very nice ride! My favorite was the red ’63 Plymouth 426 SS car….one of my top 10 favorite cars.

The Princess and I walked around taking pictures and talking to friends when we spotted Bill doing what he does….a nice pearl ’39 Buick rolled in and Bill was on him like a politician on a pile of money. He was asking questions, writing everything down in his memo pad and taking pictures….he must have a database of cars that would rival a Madam’s little black book. He will sometimes attend 3 shows and a couple cruises….a day! Just getting info that he compiles in neat photo albums. You have to talk to him when you see him at the next show….he will be there!

After Ron gave out the awards the Princess said it was time to go since she didn’t get one….tell me again how you spell brat? So we gathered up and started home. Since the others didn’t know how to get into Stafford the back way I was elected to lead, a real bummer for me. The cruise home was uneventful except for the bugs. The bugs swarmed me between Orange and Culpeper to the point it was difficult to see out my windshield….they were blowing into the car with me but it was way too hot to roll up the windows so I just shared the cockpit with untold numbers of little wiggly things for the next 60 miles home….in the dark. When we got out of the cars in the garage at home they looked like they were flocked with some kind of flakey fish food! The Princess spent the next two hours cleaning off the bugs before she called it a day….sometimes the Princess can be very helpful….grin That’s our deal, I keep them running and she keeps them pretty….it works for us!

Monday, August 16, 2010

What is that wet stuff all over my car?

Friday’s cruise was literally a wash out (rain) but Saturday the morning broke with that big light in the East sky cranking up what would become a Chamber of Commerce, picture perfect day for the Fredericksburg Classic & Muscle Car Club’s annual car show. The show is held at the Chancellor Baptist Church in Chancellor, VA and offers a paved parking lot for the cars but the perimeter grassed areas can be used for setting up canopies and chairs…. The club has always run a great show and this day was no exception. The restroom facility was only 500 miles through the woods from the show area but when you finally got to them they were inside the church and very welcome. I think I saw little benches to rest on before you walked back. The food was catered by VA BBQ and was OK….I just wished they would have advertised that they had hot dogs….no one knew they were selling them and near the end of the show they had so many left that they started selling them for $1 each! This show always has a few vendors and Saturday I think they had 4-5 of them set up. Some thought the entry fee of $20 was a little pricey but I have to remember that this club, like most other “real” clubs, contributes greatly to charitable organizations because of their efforts. This club specializes on local families that have missed the normal government safety nets and need a hand….$20 doesn’t seem like too much….

This show almost exclusively represents local road driven cars…. But this year someone brought their trophy car in a trailer….does this car ever see a road? Those that know me know I don’t compete in the shows so I don’t have a dog in this race but although that car was very nice and it won best of show, I thought it was tasteless to drag it to a small local show and impress the lesser country bumpkins with this national caliber trophy car! I don’t see the payback for spending 200K on a car to get a $30 trophy? It seems it is more about flaunting the owner’s wealth than sharing his passion of the hobby with everyone. I have no problem bringing a trophy car to a local show so those that are not able to attend a “trophy car show” can see it….but the car should not compete, it should be displayed. I’ll get off my soapbox now.

I think there were 115 cars which included some club cars. The club cars were not allowed to compete for the trophies, which is as it should be. There were a few “special club recognition” awards presented to their members for their service to the club and community. The car I liked the best was the silver ’34 Chevy 4 dr. Master….a very nice ride and the burgundy/black ’31 Ford 4dr Sedan was cool too. There was a good mix of new and old cars which is also a good thing when you are trying to maximize the amount of $’s you raise for your charity. I think it will be a very long time, if ever, before we go back to narrowly restricting the year of the cars that can participate in local shows.

The award ceremony was long….some complained about the length….some rudely left as soon as they received their trophy. I liked the way Gary ran the award ceremony….he took the time to announce the name of the sponsor for each trophy, the name of the winner, the car the trophy was for and any other pertinent information. He allowed each winner their 1 minute of time in the spotlight….sometimes this is the only time a person gets recognition for their labor of love….Most of us appreciated the way Gary presented the awards. The trophies were very nice and worth competing for! After the ceremony we packed up and cruised to Bruster’s in Stafford, VA

We arrived at Bruster’s while Ron was setting up so we parked and walked to the nearest restaurant for linner (lunch/dinner). When we came back the lot was almost full of cars! It’s amazing how many cars will come to this cruise, that night I think there was 60-65 cars that parked….some just cruised through but didn’t stop!? JV brought his orange BBC powered speed boat….he says it goes over 100mph! He says he is going to become a psychiatrist because he knows what crazy is! He also drives a T-Bucket….yeah, crazy pretty much describes it. This cruise is heavily attended by new cars and muscle cars so we try to attend when we can….to balance out the year mix a little, grin. Most of the cars were the usual suspects but there was this black ’39 Pontiac. This car was not easy to walk by, it’s so interesting. It has many modifications to the body and the interior is handmade. After talking with the owner a little I found out it was made by his dad and has the running gear from a ’74 Lincoln…. This is a great example of true hot rodding….making something out of different cars….not just buying parts from a catalog and assembling a car. This car was built by one man….he did everything on the car except balancing the drive shaft! This car is not my cup of tea but you have to admire the ingenuity and execution of this man’s ideas and skill….you have to look closely when you see it, check it out. I am going to try to do an article on it this winter. We left the cruise about 8:30 so we could get ready for tomorrows show.

I consulted the weather guessers early in the morning and they said if we got rain it wouldn’t get here till 3-5PM. I had spent a lot of hours during the last two weeks cleaning underneath the hot rods so I was not looking forward to rain and the road spray that would get all over and under the cars. It was cloudy when we left but I thought we would be able to attend the show and return without getting wet. We arrived at the Water’s Edge Round Up show in Woodbridge, VA around 8:30 and parked under the pine trees at the end of the lot. About 10:00 it started to rain! Then it stopped, we dried off the cars and it started to rain again and wouldn’t stop till about 3PM. So the cars got wet, the underneath got road spray that I’m not going to try to clean off until we return from our 3 day car show in PA later this month. I think there were 40 cars registered and when he realized the rain wasen’t going to stop raining, Steve called the show around1PM. We gathered inside the restaurant and the club gave everyone (but me-my choice) a plaque for their diehard participation in the event. So we now have a rain date to make up this show on October 10, 2010. This was a difficult exercise for the PW Cruisers and the sponsor, Water’s Edge but they worked through it and we hope for better weather on the 10th! It was a wild ride home in the RedRat but I think I like it that way….maybe JV and I can open a practice together….grin

Monday, August 9, 2010

Cruisin around Virginia

Friday evening and we worked our way for 50 miles to Colonial Beach, VA and the bi-monthly cruise hosted by the Colonial Beach Cruisers. As I mentioned before in my blog….this is the place to be on the first or third Friday evening of the month. The food and service at Fat Freda’s Restaurant never disappoints and as always the CB Cruisers make you feel welcome. This night we spent time listening to the live music which is provided at Fat Freda’s and talking to the regulars. Benny & Susan, a couple that we have know for many years but seldom see, dropped by and we spent some time catching up. I hope they have time to sit with us in the future. The ’37 Plymouth sedan delivery was very cool….and it has Mopar power….are you listening Ron? There were 15 or so cars but the one that I liked the best was the orange/purple ’68 Chevy PU, it was very special. I had seen it at a cruise months ago in S. Stafford but they left before I was able to really look it over. The interior is the nicest I’ve seen for a while with the alligator inserts and the paint & graphics are stunning too. The tubbed chassis supports a much modified BBC. The engine compartment is….Spartan to the max. But the most impressive thing is the mural on the tailgate….it depicts a man that worked for the owner and was killed protecting our freedom. It matters not what you think about the wars we are engaged in to these Warriors. They do our bidding and some pay the ultimate price for doing their duty. We must NEVER forget them…. Whenever you see a Military person take the time to shake their hand and thank them for their service keeping us free….it makes a difference to them.

We cruised home together in the RedRat because the Princess had been under a spell during the week….something about getting dizzy and running into door jambs and stuff. I think she was really dizzy because her doctor prescribed some dizzy medication….I always suspected she took medicine to make her that way….no person could be that way without some chemical help! I didn’t say that….hehehe Anyway she doesn’t like the RedRat…it’s too noisy and jerky….it rides harder than hers….the seats are not leather like hers….she can’t use the CD because she can’t hear it….and she has no room for all her support stuff and the wind coming in the windows messes up her hair?! I hope she gets better soon.

Saturday we meet up at the WAWA at 4PM and began the 76 mile cruise to Mechanicsville, VA and Brunetti’s Italian Restaurant cruise that is held there every Saturday evening. We had visited this cruise whenever we attended the Richmond NSRA Nationals…. but since this event has been cancelled we decided to cruise down to visit anyway. It is a nice easy cruise on less traveled roads through the country side of the tidewater area of Virginia.

Fre-Ray Sounds provided the music for the event and it’s always music we like with very little announcing to disrupt it. Brunetti’s restaurant has the best Italian food around, and the portions are large….I MEAN large….this time the Princess told me what she would share with me so I didn’t have to order a child’s plate because of all the food I couldn’t eat on the regular size plate! You know they really serve oversize portions when Dan gets filled up….no ice cream tonight! Burp…. After the dinner we checked out all the cars that came and parked and those that just cruised through real slow.

One of my favorite cars is the ’59 Pontiac and there was a very clean red drop top that parked next to the Rat. If I had the room and money for 10 cars the ’59 Poncho would be one of them! They had a good mix of years from a new paper tag Camaro to the ’30 Ford sedan and most everything in between. The blue ’37 Ford track racer was imposing with the large front & rear tires….and there were two of those little beasts! I liked the green ’49 Chevy 2dr with the modified straight 6 cyl motor and the pearl gold VW was tidy too. There were many nice drivers but I liked the blue & white ’50 Ford PU the best. There were 6, ’55 Chevys present just to confuse Dan. After we had been there for a while Mr. & Mrs. Scottie from Manassas cruised in with their pretty, purple and powerful ’30 Ford PU….he said they just wanted to check out what Chuck was doing? Hmmmm somebody actually reads this stuff!? Just to complete the mix of cars a couple of pro streets rumbled in with their funny smelling exhaust? It was a magnificent evening of absorbing the car culture in this area but it was time to begin our return home. We try to leave before dark whenever we can to lessen the chance of arguing with a deer for road space while we travel the back roads….the big critters are everywhere it seems. We had an uneventful trip back and I put 135 miles on the RedRat and used 10.2 gallons of 93 octane which gave me 13.2 mpg! The Princess says she has a calming influence on me and I didn’t spin the tires and make the exhaust get loud one time while she was with me? She said she should ride with me all the time and I would get better gas mileage….I’m doomed. I hope she gets her medication balanced soon....this might become a permanent condition….grin

Sunday three of us cruised near Remington, VA and the Moo Thru ice cream deal. We had passed it by a few times and Dan wanted to try the ice cream so today was the day! The ice cream was good and the prices were a little high but hey the ambiance is what we came for. Where else could you sit in sweltering heat within mere inches of Hwy 29 and the traffic going by at the speed of light? If the heat didn’t melt the ice cream then the wind from the traffic would! The parking was a chore; the lot needs to be bigger. It was an ok experience but I think Carl’s is better. Not that I would know anything about eating ice cream….not me….

Monday, August 2, 2010

The long and noisy road....

Friday evening we found our way to Glory Days in Woodbridge, VA and the weekly cruise hosted by Prince William Cruisers. There were about 20 cars that came out and the nicest one was the dark green ’55 Chevy post…I had see that car at a show a year ago but not since. Bill’s Willys is always a crowd pleaser with the Hemi! We stayed till 11PM talking with friends and when we left the Princesses battery was dead….it’s not her fault that the key was on ACC, she kept whining! She said they shouldn’t make a lock that the key can be removed and still be on ACC. Steve called his son that lived nearby and brought jumper cables and we drove it home on the alternator. I took the Optima battery to Advance Auto the next morning and replaced it with a better, side post only Optima….we’ll see if this one lasts 3 ½ years like the old one.

Saturday we gathered up everyone at the WAWA in Stafford, VA and cruised 76 miles Purcellville, VA and the Summer Thunder Cruise-in. This event has been going on for many years and it never disappoints. Last year we left around 4PM because of the rain that was coming down in Biblical proportions. This year the weather looked much better. There was a glitch in the start time of the event on the website I always consult to plan my activities….so I thought it started at 9AM and the day before I found out it started at 2PM! It’s too late to change the start time so we left Stafford at 7:30. Did we arrive too early? Does a Pete Jackson gear drive make a lot of noise? On the plus side we could pick anywhere in the event to park! So we parked by the entrance to the ball diamond, near the fence. We had a great view and began to settle in….then the vendors started arriving and began parking on the other side of the fence….there went our view and they effectively blocked the breeze too….oh well so much for planning!? Since we were starting early we had planned another cruise for the evening in Stafford, so we were planning on leaving Purcellville at 3PM. But now they were starting at 2PM. Needless to say that while we were leaving many others were just arriving. You can see in the pictures that the field was not full but I’m told that by 5PM parking was scarce! Next year we will be there around Noon and plan to stay till the end!

This event is billed as a cruise….no trophies, no competition….my kind of event! The event has a good mix of new vs old cars. I would guess that when we left it was about 70% pre 1970 vehicles. There were so many cars that I started taking group photos instead of individual ones. I liked the orange ’57 Chevy post and the black & fuchsia ’57 Chevy sedan delivery. I also liked the black ’54 Buick Skylark. But the most impressive car there was the Stone, Woods and Cook Swindler II. This car was run by SWC in the early 60’s as a B/GS then in ’62 they put in a bigger Olds motor and moved up to A/GS and began running under 10 seconds. The same year saw Doug Cook debut the Swindler A which was also an Olds powered ride but built much lighter….it’s said it was 1000 lbs lighter! It took the team a while to get it dialed in but when they did they made the Swindler II move back to B/GS (more weight) and ran the Swindler A in A/GS. It kept the team busy! Remember that this was a time when the cars were not paid to race….they got paid ONLY if they won and then they got $100-$300 for a win. And the cars were in the “Gas” classes….they had working headlights, taillights, wipers, windows, doors, passenger seats, complete interiors, generating systems, mufflers and very restrictive engine setback and height rules. They could have been driven on the street! The big guys; SWC, K.S. Pittman, Big John M and the like would sometimes get a pass on some of the rules but we had to have all that stuff or we couldn’t run! This was a class that hot rodders and spectators could relate to because it was like something they could drive on the street, it was a very popular class of racers. But it died out in the early 70’s when the late model bodied gas classes began to blur with the emerging funny cars….and the funnies made piles more money than a gasser. Anyway the car at the event brought back many memories….

When we left at 3PM I decided to take a less traveled route back home and went on Rt. 601 by Mr. Weather. This is a super secret government installation that is used for emergencies or something….did I say that? Now I have to watch out for the black helicopters.... They have a lot of very sophisticated gear at the gate to check you out and the guards are not your generic gate guards but very unhappy looking people carrying M4’s. We drove by and waved….grin Then on back to Stafford and the Cruise in progress at Bruster’s Ice Cream. We parked separated from the people already there so we would not infect the ambiance of the cruise. The attendance seemed a little off as they only had about 50 cars for the night. The usual suspects were there but the car that caught my attention was the yellow ‘68 Camaro with the hot rodded 6 cyl motor! The Clifford Research parts make the motor bark just a little better. I had a ’70 AMC Gremlin that I hot rodded the inline 6 the same way….it’s never a V-8 but a 6 cyl you can respect….nice car! And another very black Camaro with nice flames and a motor taller than the roof! I bet the State Troopers love him. Hehehe Someone said their weatherberry showed a bad storm cell moving toward Stafford so we packed up and cruised home.

Sunday we again gathered at the WAWA in Stafford, VA and then began the 114 mile cruise to Capt. Georges Seafood Restaurant in Williamsburg, VA. It’s a nice cruise on back roads and we leave the Interstates for the vacationers. The uneventful trip took about 2 ½ hours and when we arrived I don’t think I could hear, the RedRat is very noisy. The food was as I remembered, which is very good and plentiful. And thankfully the service is still impeccable. We waited for Dan to eat way too much food then we began our trek home. We stopped about half way home for fuel and a potty break. A few miles after we left the pit stop, the Princessmobile began to run rough? She kept whining, I didn’t do anything, not me! Anyway we all got around the front of the car with the motor running and the consensus was it was not real bad broke and that we should be able to drive it home. I gave the Princess the option of driving the RedRat and I would drive her car but she said she would rather drive her broken car than put up with the RedRat!? I think she is way too picky and I told her she is way too hard on her equipment…. She said she may have to get a better mechanic because the one she has can’t keep her car running more than a week at a time? She also said some things I can’t find on my keyboard. We got back OK and I checked out her car…. #4 intake spring broken! I know what I’ll be doing this week….I didn’t want to do yard work anyway….hehehehe Another fun filled weekend driving 500 miles on Virginia roads.