Sunday, December 16, 2012

Merry Christmas....All Y'all....

Saturday morning around 10 AM people started to gather at Chili’s Restaurant in N. Stafford, VA to participate in the 3rd Annual “Santa’s Helpers Toy Run”.  Dan began planning for this year’s run during last year’s event!  He is a quiet but persistent planner.  People came from all around Virginia representing many different car clubs as well as other interested individuals.  The owners divergent vehicle interests were also well represented….from old school hot rods to new muscle cars and everything in between.  It’s about our mutual love for all things with wheels!

At 11:30 Mr. & Mrs. Santa arrived at Chili’s to mingle with the cruisers….no doubt to finalize his naughty & nice list!  Derek, the Chili’s manager, opened his store early for us and made sure everyone in his store helped us have a great beginning to our day.  Four of Stafford’s finest came to escort us to our final destination, the National Museum of the Marine Corps near Quantico, VA.  At 12:30 the Deputies marshaled us to the parking lot of Aquia Town Center then escorted the group up Highway 1 to the museum.  The cruise north was only about 7 ½ miles but some cruisers had come from as far away as Orange, VA….about 55 miles south!  On the way north we picked up another ten or so cars from Fredericksburg that were waiting on the side of the road and when we got to the museum the contingent from Prince William Cruisers in Alexandria were already parked!  WOW….the final “special” vehicle count was 77 and another 10 daily drivers were among us too.  A good turnout me thinks! 
I shot a video of the arrival at the museum and the day was picture perfect but the sun was not my friend when taking the video….I’ll get better next year….I keep saying that!  Everyone began unloading toys from their vehicles and heading inside the museum.  I think the Marines working the Toys For Tots area were not prepared for the sheer volume of toys we brought!  They were shuttling them out to the waiting 30’ truck to be taken to the distribution point later in the day.  A lot of happy kids would be the recipients of the good will of a lot of hot rodders that day….it’s what we do.  Ron and Tony led some impromptu Christmas Carol singing that added to the festivities and Mr. & Mrs. Santa were holding court for all the kids that wanted to see them.  Some of the cruisers had never visited the museum so they took advantage of this opportunity to understand some of the history of The United States Marine Corps and how they contribute to the fabric of what is America.  This museum is a must see deal anytime of the year….you have to put it on your bucket list!
I stayed outside with the vehicles to make sure all of the visitors treated them with respect….they did!  I also answered many questions some had about the vehicles.  I took pictures of all the vehicles that attended, please visit them below.
This was our last “official” event of the year so we now go into planning mode for next year.  Our group, Cruisin For Heroes, will be planning more cruises for 2013 so watch out for them on and .  We have these events to do some good for the charities we support but we also do them to have fun and put a happy face on our hobby for everyone we see during the year.  I also have some “winter projects” to perform on the truck….it was fairly reliable during the year, I’ll see if I can improve on that over the winter!
Please have a Merry Christmas and a pleasant New Year….we’ll be watching for you next year….we are saving a place for you to join us on our adventures!

Chuck & Linda Shotwell


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Over the River and Through the Woods Run 2012

OK….all the visiting munchkins have left our hovel….and we have eaten enough food in the last two days to feed a small village….what to do….what to do.  Oh yeah, it’s time for the fourth annual Over The River And Through The Woods Run!

The Princess and I begin planning the next years run the day of the last one….it’s a process.  Very complicated, confusing and secret….kinda like figuring out where our taxes go each year?  This year we wanted to utilize parts of last year’s route because many had commented favorably about it.  We wanted to use the same restaurant to end the event for the same reason.   Craig, the owner of Butcher Block Buffet in Stephens City, VA, had taken care of us very well last year so we wanted to return this year.  So all we had to do was find somewhere “car people” would like to visit near the Winchester, VA area.  I think we were lucky to find a good destination again this year in Vintage Motorcar Company, LLC.  After some preliminary communications we spoke with the owner Paul Rose, who after consulting with his staff agreed to host our cruise on November 24, 2012.  His business is normally closed on Saturday so to host our event he would have to make special arrangements to accommodate our schedule….Thanks Paul!
Some of us left Stafford, VA at 7:30 and cruised to the starting point, Burger King in Manassas, VA.  It was cold.  We left at 9AM with 19 cars and headed to Inwood, WV.  It would be an 85 mile trip on the Interstates but we took all back roads and the mileage was only 74 miles!  When we cruised through Haymarket, VA we picked up 3 more cruisers and now we were 22 cars.  Then in Marshall, VA we picked up 4 more cars and we were 26.  We made a pit stop at JJ Corner Store near Berryville, VA for fuel and stretching where we picked up 4 more cars and cruised to Inwood with 30 cars.  So in the group we had Ron from Richmond and two Mopar guys from Charlottesville and hot rodders from other parts of Virginia....It was very cool cruising and also a bit colder too.
Tony tried to make his part of the trip a little longer but finally made it to the restoration shop with the rest of us, I think those Mopar guys should come with a GPS….grin  Paul, his son and some of his staff made us welcome to his business and took the time to walk us through their incredible shop.  It always amazes me when we visit a shop like Vintage Motorcar Company of the detail of the restorations.  The takedown of the cars is in itself a task.  But they have to catalog and tag all the parts and determine what level of restoration needs to be done to each part.  The little parts that must be rebuilt or replaced and sometime built from scratch are often overlooked by car owners.   We usually just see the paint & bodywork or the interior or the engine….but so much more is involved with a quality restoration.  After spending a few minutes with Paul it was obvious that Paul & Co. knew what they were doing.  The depth of work and high bar of achievement they attain is nothing short of astounding.  As Paul says ‘he doesn’t build cars to be judged second….it’s the best or nothing!”   Paul took his time explaining to us about the detailed workings of his shop and how he reaches the level of quality that his shop represents.  He was very low key but authoritative….like a professor.  He asked for questions and would have had an engaged audience for hours.  But we needed to move on so at 2PM Paul ended his presentation.  We all thanked him and began wakening our cold beasts to motor down the road.  We don’t usually endorse the places we visit but Vintage Motorcar Company, LLC will be an exception.  If you have need of a quality restoration no matter how extensive or simple it is….you need to call Paul and go see him.  You will not be disappointed.
Did I mention it was cold….?  I have been bragging all summer about how cool the truck runs and I cleaned a mass of debris from the front of the radiator last week while repairing the leaking trans cooler.  It was blocking about ¼ of the radiator surface….so now it runs cooler.  But….Saturday the engine temp would not get to 100 degrees!  So the heater was blowing lukewarm air at best, like my heat pump at home.  This should be an easy fix….always something!
We arrived at Butcher Block Buffet around 2:30 and promptly began to chow down!  Craig had sequestered part of the back room for us and the grazing began.  The food at Butcher Block is what I call comfort food….not your little finger in the air type of cuisine but genuine country cooking.  I like this kind of food and everyone that commented to me about the food agreed.  That’s why we came back again!  Craig also arranged with the folks at the adjacent Comfort Inn to allow us to park our hot rods in their lot so they would not be subjected to door slams and zipper dragging….Thanks for that Craig
About 3:30 we said our good buys and began our cruise home, and it was getting colder.  Along the way home Sally took some photographs of us driving our cars, that is always a neat thing. 
One of the couples that usually accompany us on our adventures was celebrating their 50th Wedding anniversary and could not be with us Saturday.  But….we were invited to their anniversary party that evening so we cruised directly to Aquia Harbor, VA and the Country Club located in the community.  We met Jim & Linda, Lou & Arlene, Fred & Debie and Dan & Ramona at the Country Club then we all wished Ron & Jean well and helped them celebrate this milestone….something the Princess and I will do in a couple years too!   
This was a great end to the day….we motored home and discovered we had driven about 210 miles for the day….in the cold….I hear that the weather will be a little colder tomorrow and snow on Monday!

You can check out the pictures below....I took the first set, Sally Shifflett took the second and Carmen Billings took the last set....enjoy!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A very special time....

Monday we cruised to Massaponax, VA and the Golden Corral restaurant.  They were having a Veterans Day special where they honored Veterans with a free meal!  Sue and Coach with Fredericksburg Classic and Muscle Car Club organized a small group of special cars to come out and be on display for the Veterans to enjoy. 
At one point there were about 250 people waiting in line to go into the restaurant….unbelievable!  I think is so great for businesses to honor the ones that serve & protect us….most of them do their Duty then they fade into society and no one knows their contribution to who we are as a Country. 
Most of us stood by our vehicles to answer questions the Veterans had but the Princess went inside to personally thank all the Veterans she could.  She told me of one 83 year old lady Veteran that she talked to and was amazed how “spry” she was!  She does this every day we go somewhere….if someone is wearing a hat or jacket that indicates they are a Veteran or they have that “special” look of an active duty person, she will thank them for their service or welcome them home or some kind of recognition.  It’s really cool to watch her work!  I think it’s one of the reasons why God has allowed us to live this long….to thank others for helping to keep us safe.
We stayed about 3 hours then cruised back to N. Stafford….a neat deal….if you ever get an opportunity to thank our Veterans you need to count it as a very positive thing.


Monday, November 5, 2012

The end of the season is near....

Sunday the Princess and I cruised 16 miles to Fredericksburg, VA and the Car Hop Days Car Show at Family Diner.  This show is managed by Virginia Stockers Car Club and it was held to commemorate the first year anniversary of the Family Diner opening with the current owners, Monk & Debra.  Four of our friends came out for lunch with their daily drivers.  Debie had recently won a free lunch so she was cashing it in….but Fred still had to pay…..and pay….and pay.  Some ladies are so high maintenance, not unlike the Princess….hehehehe.

We frequent this diner anyway because of the superb service and the quality of the food….so a car show or cruise there is a bonus for us.  The venue is a little scattered and small for many more than 60 cars and there were 50 registered on Sunday!  Most of the vehicles were drivers and cars we see locally.  Coach’s graphically intense silver ’98 Camaro and Garland’s killer, lifted mulch hauling Toyota pickup are always a welcome addition to any show.  My favorite was the traditional black ’31 Ford Vicky.  The car has been on the road for only a few months and is a work in progress….like most hot rods.
It really is getting too late in the year to sit in chairs outside all day!  The Princesses lips were turning a little blue and since Halloween was over I knew she had to be getting cold….so we were glad the show ended around 4PM.  We cruised home with the din of the heater motor overpowering the exhaust sounds….I really have to fix that this winter!  I have to make the truck growl….it now sounds like a stock ’52 Buick….not a hot rod!
Our next adventure happens on November 24, 2012...the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  We make our 4th annual 'Over The River And Through The Woods Run'.  This should be another fun run.  Then the Toys For Tots run on December 15th will end the "normal" season for us.


Monday, October 22, 2012

Autumnal Consequence

Saturday morning at 7AM, Fred and the Princess & I left the WAWA in N. Stafford, VA to cruise 37 miles to Bowling Green, VA and their 23rd annual Harvest Festival.  Along the way we were joined by JV and his T-Bucket….that is a cool ride….on a couple different levels!  When we pulled up next to JV in the gas station, I rolled down my window while he was saying something to me….I told him “just a second, I have to turn down my heater, it’s making too much noise and I can’t hear you”….I don’t think he was happy with that!  He shot me a look that I thought would set me on fire!  Those guys that drive hot rods with no doors are so touchy.  So we had an uneventful cruise to Bowling Green through the awakening countryside.  It’s so neat to see the fog wafting up from the ground on these nippy mornings.  And the falling leaves giving us a kaleidoscope of color while you think….is that a leaf or a branch or maybe a large seed pod falling on us?  The gentle contact of the leaves on the cruising hot rod answers the question.  Autumn is one of the reasons we stayed in VA years ago instead of going back to CA.  It is a truly remarkable time of year while God reminds us of His handiwork.

When we arrived in Bowling Green we were parked on the street like we prefer and then set up for an intense day.  This event has over 10K spectators that walk past the cars during the day and we look forward to interacting with many of them, it is something the Princess and I enjoy doing.  I usually begin taking my pictures around noon after all the cars are settled in.  This year the crush of the spectators was massive to the point that I couldn’t get any clear shots of the cars when I started my photo cruise.  And at the same time I started feeling a little woozy, it might have been the 43 pound jalapeno burrito I had for breakfast that was reminding me who was really in control here….maybe not.  So after trying unsuccessfully to take a clear picture of the magnificent sea foam green ’59 Caddy next to us for 10 min I decided to sit this event out!  That was only about the 3rd or 4th time in 8 years I have attended an event and not photographed it!  I will have to rethink how I photograph this event or perhaps go somewhere else next year.  The restroom facilities at the event are horrible.  There are way too few porta potties and they are not maintained during the day….with 10K + people milling around it is just not enough. 
We left the event around 3:30 and cruised home….I just wanted the day to end, the burrito and squid poppers were residing at opposite ends of my body while they tried to escape….!  Come on Ice Cream….!
Tomorrow would be another intense day making a birthday delivery to PA and seeing the little people.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Day at the Airport....

Saturday we launched at 5:15 from Stafford, VA and cruised 48 miles to Brandy Station, VA and Culpeper Regional Airport to be part of their 13th Annual AirFest.  Our group, Cruisin For Heroes, has provided a vehicle display for the event since 2008.  Each year is a little more special than the previous so we were all excited for the day to unfold.

Dan, Dom, the Princes and I arrived before sunup and began to organize the lot.  Something was in the middle of the lot but we couldn’t be sure of exactly what it was.  It turned out to be a very large Military tent that was erected in the center of where we were going to be maneuvering trucks pulling long race car trailers.  We didn’t know if it was inhabited or not so we quietly walked around the big olive drab canvas tent looking for some kind of opening and when Dom found one and shined his flashlight inside he said it was empty!  Hmmmmm We would wait and see who claimed it since we were supposed to have the complete lot for vehicle display.  Always something to challenge us, grin.  So Dan and I decided how to bring the trailered vehicles in and park them so they would have reasonably easy egress after the event.  Ya have to be flexible. 
After last year’s event the airport manager, Tanya W., had asked us to have more vehicles….so….we invited about 40 people for this year.  A couple had cancelled two weeks ago and last week another 3 had either cancelled or said to count them as iffy.  On Friday another two cancelled so on the day of the event we really didn’t know how many people would show up!  This year Tanya had set a porta potty close to us for our use but most of the spectators coming in would use it before entering the air show!  Something to think about next year! 
Ron was leading the second group from Stafford that left at 6:30 so they started arriving around 7:30 and the lot began filling up….whew!  At the end of setting the vehicles out in their parking spots we had 29 vehicles to share with the expected 7 thousand people that would attend AirFest 2012.  This is the first year we invited a lot of vehicles that required trailers as we wanted to continue to vary our display.  All the vehicles were well received but I think Bob’s blue race car and Glenn’s group with the three pulling tractors generated the most interest. 
The reason we put this event on is to raise awareness and money for our charity, Fisher House; and this year we raised $276 from individual donations on site.  We are working to make this much better next year.
The air show was as usual superb….Tanya and her group assembles a great flying program and the vendors make the day go quickly too.  Art Nalls and his Harrier is a crowd stopper….and he did two programs this year!  You have to put this event on your calendar next year….you won’t be disappointed.  Please take some time to check out the YouTube clip and the still pictures….it was an amazing day. 


Monday, October 8, 2012

Small Town Day

Friday we cruised to Family Diner in Fredericksburg, VA for dinner then on to VA BBQ and the weekly cruise.  Most of the other cruisers were regulars with one exception, the maroon 30 Ford sedan.  This car was recently completed by its owner and is something to behold….a cool ride indeed.  The evenings are getting colder so the cruises are getting shorter….we left around 8PM.

Saturday, Fred & Debie and the Princess & I cruised 62 miles to Montross, VA and the annual Fall Festival and car show.  This is the first time we have attended this event and it worked out to be a fun day.  I don’t browse the “crafts” much so the car show was it for me.  The show was well attended for the venue….with quite a few cars from Colonial Beach Cruisers and the four from Stafford in attendance.  Yeah four, Denny showed up around 9AM and Ron overslept (he is newly retired so that’s ok) and didn’t arrive till around 10AM!  It’s refreshing to know Ron has been reading the “Retired Guys Handbook”….on page 43 we are to respond to questions like….”And just what do you do now?”  response>  Not much of anything and I usually don’t start that till Noon!  I think he will assimilate just fine….now Lou on the other hand is still struggling with that concept….hang in there Lou!
By the time everyone was in place there were 43 vehicles….which is a good showing for a small show.  I really liked the maroon ’60 Pontiac Tri-Power, 4 Spd.  That car was a real mean street machine back in the day.  Few people would expect a big heavy Tin Indian run like they did!  I also liked the black ’57 Chevy post with the 283, 2 4bbl….another fine representative from days gone by.  I think the center of the show was the blue ’70 VW with the trick paint and the many custom modifications.  The sound system would vibrate the ground and the engine sounded like it had been cleverly massaged too.  
But….the show ended at noon and at 2PM the parade began.  Now I have never been to a small town parade like this….it was something you might read about in an old ‘Life’ magazine.  I actually thought about that while we watched the parade from our chairs on the top of the berm in the show lot.  There were marching bands representing communities around Montross as well as Fire & Rescue squads across the area.  In fact we could hear the Fire trucks coming about a ¼ mile away and they were loud then.  But when they passed in front of us they were cranking out about a million decibels of ear bleeding sound!  My ears rang the rest of the day.  I have a lot of experience with that, years ago when I was a competitive pistol shooter few people used ear protection.  After the first few shots my ears would go mostly deaf and would ring the rest of the day….it’s how we did it!  That and loud engine noise is probably why I have to say “huh” a lot now….ya think?  They had floats and walking groups for various community organizations.  When the American Legion passed by with the colors most people didn’t stand up and show respect for our flag….that was sad.  The old people did but the young ones kept talking…. 
Since Debie was one of the crafty vendors we were going to wait till her day was done to leave….but around 3:30 the rain clouds started rolling in so the event coordinators were allowing the vendors to call it a day early.
The cruise back was uneventful and dry after we were about 20 miles from Montross….  Another day driving around the countryside of Virginia giving people something to wave at….I love this hobby.


Sunday, September 30, 2012

A very cool weekend

Saturday we left the WAWA in Staffor, VA at 6AM and cruised 115 miles to Topping, VA and the 17th Annual Wings Wheels & Keels show.  The event is at Hummel Air Field and presented by Middlesex County and Friends of Hummel Airfield.  We have been trying to get to this event for a few years and something has always come up so we were determined to make it this year.  At 4 AM Saturday morning the weatherguessers were calling for 80% rain at Topping but it would be reduced to 60% after 11AM….?  Pretty bleak….but since it wasn’t raining in Stafford we decided to take a chance and make the run.  We decided to break up the trip a little by stopping in ‘Office Hall’ (I don’t make these names up!) at the intersection of Rt. 301 & Rt. 3 to meet a fellow traveler that may come down from Annapolis, MD to run with us.  We continued on to Warsaw, VA to meet with a friend of Debie’s to give some stuff to and have another pit stop.  Then proceeded on to Topping, VA.  I have to file a complaint to the mapquesterians about their maps.  While plotting the route we would take I never realized we would be going over a bridge….a very narrow and high bridge, with low guardrails, that was about 720 miles long.  I really don’t like bridges….but this one was pretty bad.  If the mapquesterians would have warned me I would have plotted another course….but they didn’t.  So as we traveled south on Rt. 3 I was noticing little things like a lot more churches along the way….the closer we got to the bridge there were churches were every block or so?  Then the ‘last chance’ store?  What is that?  Then I saw the restricted truck sign and the high wind danger lights that should be flashing like a disco ball….I’m in trouble!  But I didn’t know the extent of my problems till we rounded a corner and came out of the trees…..There it was, The bridge to infinity and beyond!   It looked like it went into the clouds….I knew I was now on the road to 'The Cloud' that my techie friends are always talking about!  Sun was reflecting off my white knuckles on the steering wheel obscuring a clear view….or was it my eyes narrowing like an Eskimo in a blizzard.  My pucker factor was going to have to be surgically removed from the seat if we ever reached land again.  But then….just as the rusty super structure of the bridge was taking shape, we drove into the clouds and I heard a noise….like a voice out of the clouds….it said in a loud angelic voice   “Hey look at that ship down there, it looks like a row boat it’s so small” and “Look at that airliner, we’re as high as it is, wow”.  Mercifully while we are negotiating the rusty steel superstructure the voice couldn’t see very far because of the clouds.  Then the voice asks “Why is the bridge so rusty?  It’s still safe isn’t it?  Do they all shake like this?  Who inspects bridges? It will still hold us ok, right?”  And my favorite, “I think I can see through the bottom of the bridge!”  I’m doomed….  If I can just hang on a few more hours it will end….one way or another.  Later we emerged from the steel part to once again be subjected to the narrow part with very low guard rails….they might help to keep a street luge from going over the side but not much else.  Out of the clouds now and I can see land….then I started thinking about all the work I had done to the truck….the idler arm, control arm bushings, ball joints, wheel bearings, rotors, sway bar bushings, steering column rebuild, steering u-joint, brake pedal….the tape was playing in my mind of how any one of those things could fail and catapult me over the very low guard rails and I see myself falling…. falling…..falling into the cold Rappahannock River.  Finally, after what seemed like a week, we are back on land again….whew.  I have to write MapQuest a nasty letter about how they must warn travelers about bridges….the little line looks so innocent laying on that blue part of the map….it should be flashing red, with warnings and maybe little electric shock going to the mouse to alert the unsuspecting traveler about “The Bridge”.  At the very least there should be icons that say “Dragons Be Here” with blood dripping arrows pointing to the bridge.  After clicking back into my normal driving attitude the Princess yells….”There it is, turn right….quick….!”  We had arrived alive and I may be able to walk upright again in a few hours after I pry my fingers off the steering wheel. 

The event looked promising for me because of the airplanes but the variety of vehicles was interesting too.  We set up camp and began to enjoy the airplanes flying and the stream of incoming vehicles.  The rain held off all day but the breeze was relentless and very cold….very very cold.  The event had some very unusual antique boats but my favorite was the hand built Viking barge.  The local squadron of the Commemorative Air Force was well represented and I spent some time at their table.  There were many vendors present, more like a craft show which was neat.

While sitting in my chair and enjoying the event we struck up a conversation with our event neighbors.  They had a well done black ’32 Ford 5 window coupe….nothing too cosmic but very nice indeed.  The couple was easy to talk to, as most Virginians are, but we were all beginning to suffer from the cold wind.  Like the rest of us the lady had dressed for warm weather to include sandals with no socks, this will be important in a minute. The lady also had Diabetes.  She was getting very uncomfortable with the cold and her husband had some shop towels that he put on her feet, it helped but her feet were still cold.  I sometimes wear compression knee high socks to give me a little more support on uneven ground, like at this event.  But I also carry a spare pair of socks to change into if the compression socks start hurting or if it gets too hot for them.  So I dug them out of the truck and gave them to the lady with the cold feet.  I thought it was an ok thing to do….wrong!  When I did that the Princess was away getting food….when she came back she noticed the lady had socks….her friend Debie (who used to be my friend too, grin) ratted me out and told the Princess “YOUR HUSBAND gave them to her!  I thought I was putting into practice some of things I learned in all those sensitivity training classes the Princess makes me attend?  I guess that’s why we mortal men will never figure out women….ever!  It may be a long quiet trip home….hehehehe  I have a CD player….chuckle!
The judging class structure was new to us; we were in American 00-1945?  The vehicles ran the gamut from a Midget race car to a new Ferrari!  I have never seen a 1951 Crosley Super Sport or a ’49 Pontiac convertible, both were present.  One of my favorites was the yellow MGB with the 215 Buick aluminum motor, which is the cleanest MGB I have ever seen.  The Dodge fire truck was very unusual and the red ’40 Ford convertible was just too nice.  And the ’40 had a unique way to exhaust the engine compartment heat from the modular motor.  But my favorite was the ’37 GMC COE wrecker, something that looks like a lot of fun.
After the award ceremony we decided to cruise to the Family diner in Fredericksburg, VA for dinner and their cruise.  After another 2 ½ hour cruise we arrived at our destination and sampled some fine family cooking.  About 15 cars arrived for the evenings cruise but we were whipped….all day in the cold, windy environment had taken its toll.  We were so tired we didn’t even visit Carl’s Ice Cream….that never happened before!


Monday, September 24, 2012

Is it Monday already?

Friday evening Dan & Ramona and the Princess & I cruised 51 miles to Colonial Beach, VA and the bi-monthly cruise at Fat Freda’s restaurant.  Dan & Ramona’s ’55 is in the car hospital getting fixed from the deer hit so they drove their new red bullet Chrysler Town & Country minivan.  When we arrived there were 8 hot rods parked so we said Hi and went inside for dinner.  As usual the food was great….especially the shrimp.  The Princess said they were the best shrimp she has had in a long while….so I guess she is now a shrimp expert too.  That would make her the Shrimp Princess….?  I think I’m going to leave that alone.  The service was fun and the prices were fair….try it when you are in Colonial Beach sometime.  When we returned to the cruise lot everyone but one other truck was gone!  The lot was being taken over by daily drivers?  Maybe it’s too late in the season to sit in chairs outside….maybe not?  So we cruised 51 uneventful miles back home….  But….since we were going to be within 200 miles of Carl’s Ice Cream the Princess said we MUST go to Carl’s….with that over the glasses, through the teeth command that cannot be ignored….so we visited Carl’s!

Saturday we met Fred & Debie at Bob Evans in Stafford, VA for breakfast.  After we provided the customary old people abuse to the waitress we left Stafford at 8AM and cruised 68 miles to a little south of Culpeper, VA and the Chrysler of Culpeper dealership.  We had decided to attend the third annual Mopar Madness show that Wade Schick’s dealership was hosting.  Tony V. and the Rappahannock Region Mopar Club was managing the show for Wade and since we had heard good things about the event in the past we decided to check it out.  I have to tell you that that I was beginning to think maybe I should drive something other than our Chebby to a Mopar only deal….visions of little Pentstar and blue Mopar emblems stuck all over our truck was giving me second thoughts.  I knew if the parking staff directed us to the back of the dealership, next to the dumpsters, we were going to be in trouble!  But since we had a few friends in the club and since we are really a Mopar friendly family (we have owned a ’72 GTX RR, ’73 Dodge PU, ’34 Nash 4dr Sedan and a ’70 Gremlin, ’94 Jeep CJ) we decided to chance it….kinda like the reverse “occupy” scenario….we would be the 1% and the Mopars would be the 99%....scary!

My apprehension was soon proved unfounded….we were parked behind the owner of the dealership’s cars!  WOW!  We were welcomed and after we paid to support the charities I put a “Press” card in the windshield and all was OK….  I wonder if we would have received the same warm welcome at an all Ford event….?  Hmmmmm?  It is neat that “Mopar” also includes the AMC & Willys nameplate as I think that adds to the rich heritage of the Mopar history.
The event had much to see and do in addition to checking out all the cool Mopar cars.  Bruster’s Ice Cream, Snowie shaved ice and Maria’s Digital Photique provided something else to investigate.  The JROTC provided the Color Guard and roamed the premises talking about what they do in JROTC.  There was also a contingent of soap box racers that was very impressive, check out the zebra painted one!  The commitment of these young people and their parents is refreshing in today’s often too busy lifestyle.  One of the charities, Hospice of the Rapidan, had a table set up and answered questions about their contributions to the community.  The other charity was The U. S. Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Regiment.  The club had many T-Shirts for sale and the door prizes were the best I have seen at many a car show!  The goodie bag was complete and enclosed in a neat fabric, reusable little tote bag….with a Dodge nameplate on it, that is NOT going to end up in a trash can!  Gary provided the music and announcements.  His play list was great and easy to listen to.  His announcements and trivia questions were worked in nicely….I think he has done that before, hehehe!  The registration people from the club made that part of the event painless and quick….except for that old, almost retired guy….grin!  Tony and a friend collected money for the charity for the time they would wear the Bruster’s “Scoops” costume….I don’t think you could pay me enough to do that….hehehehehe!
The competitor’s field was varied and heavily represented in the post mid 60’s group.  The early years were not present in equal numbers.  Fred & Debie’s ’57 was one of the few early cars.  There were a lot of 60’s & 70’s Dodge & Plymouth examples as well as the “new” cars….but early 60’s and before were not well represented.  I have seen many examples of vehicles of that time frame around our area but they stayed away?  I hope that changes in the future or else this will be a “late” model Mopar event instead of a Mopar event.  That said I did like the new cars and especially the blue over silver SRT Challenger with the chrome and blue chrome wheels….THAT one can park in my garage anytime!  I also liked the red ’67 Barracuda with the slant 6 engine….so many V-8’s, the 6 cyl is a welcome choice.  The green ’67 Duster with a ring gear that must have been as big as his tires was nice too….I think it idled at 28,000 rpm….too radical for me….did I say that?  I think my favorite was Mr. Major’s yellow Charger R/T….I have always liked that car.
The weatherguessers said we were to receive severe weather to include hail in the late afternoon….  About 2PM the clouds started rolling around us, some were very dark!  So the award ceremony was begun a little early so we could escape the oncoming deluge.  One of the neat things about this event is the participation of the dealership owner, Wade.  He was involved all day, mingling in the crowd and taking part in of some of the closing ceremony.  I have attended many dealership hosted events and seldom ever see the owner much less have him so accessible to the attendees.  That level of hands on support is truly rare….Thanks Mr. Schick!
One of the things I to do is take a video of the participant vehicles as they leave an event.  This event would be perfect….there was only one way out, they would have to get into the loud pedal a little to merge on the relentless traffic on Rt. 29 so I would be able to video them under power a little.  But when I positioned myself I noticed the crown of the road….if anyone got out of shape they would be on a trajectory right where I was standing!  So….I hid behind the dealership sign….and….since I was hidden some of the drivers might not try to “show boat” for the camera….a good plan me thinks.  As it turned out all the participants were mature enough not to embarrass themselves and I got a few good clips of their leaving….nice.   A great end to a very enjoyable day mingling with Mopar people!  Fun….ever heard of it?
As we started to leave Debie and the Princess started whining about food, the Princess said she wanted a hamburger….so….our little group decided to visit the Bull Run Street Rods cruise at the BK in Manassas, VA….since it was on the way?  And now the weatherguessers were saying the storm would go north of us….and we believed them like we always do….because they are always right….right? 
We cruised in to BK and the lot was only about ¼ full!  This place is always jumping on Saturday but today not so much?  It must have been the weatherguessers again, scaring people away from doing what they really want to do by making them believe they would have more fun sitting inside their homes looking through the newest Jeggs or Summit catalogs while it rained outside….hmmm.  So….no rain here!
Dennis & Paul along with some of the other “regulars” were there and the sinister black/white ’54 Chevy car came in.  That car is really cool.  There was a gaggle of little “pulling tractors”.  I never knew they existed!  More about that in the future.  There were a few more cars that rolled in but we decided to call it a day….the Princess and I forgot to apply sunscreen and both looked like ripe tomatoes!  So we cruised 32 miles back home….I love this hobby!
Sunday we left Stafford and cruised 31 miles to Alexandria, VA and the Hayfield HS show.   We attended the first one a few years ago but have been unable to join them since then because of scheduling complications.  But this year we have been looking forward to being there to help the HS Auto Shop raise funds for their project car.  They are putting together a kit car and have it rolling now.
The event is in a shopping mall parking lot but still is a nice venue.  One of the benefits having it there is that spectators come through the field of cars and ask questions.  The Princess and I like that kind of thing….we usually prefer to interact with spectators than talk in cliques away from spectators.  John T. is the teacher from the school that organizes the event and with the assistance of his band of students and Steve from PWC the event runs very well.  The door prizes at this event are a welcome change from the bundle of shop rags….they give out gasoline cards.  And they have “Special” door prizes for the ladies, a gift card for 8 one hour sessions at a local ladies fitness center.  The Princess won a door prize….she always hoots and hollers and shows everyone within 28 miles of her whenever she wins anything.  But when she got back to the truck with her “prize” she wasn’t very cheery?  She got one of the “special” fitness prizes!  Now the Princess thinks that her fitness program consists of keeping me on the straight and narrow by constantly informing me of the error of my ways.  She gets that bus driver scowl and pointy finger going real good!  She said that it was very inconsiderate giving HER something about fitness!  Luckily John T. was walking nearby and overheard the whining.  He quickly stepped in and told her he would fix that….he took her fitness gift card and returned with a Shell gift card for $25.  Whew…. thanks John…..that could have turned ugly!  Chuckle
The car entries are varied from a couple stock Model A’s to very new Mustangs.  I liked the white ’53 Corvette with the stock 6 cyl engine!  When I compare Big A’s blue Vette to the white ’53, the evolution of the mark is just amazing!  I messed up with my camera and didn’t get a clean picture of the best of show vehicle.  I usually don’t care which vehicle is chosen for best of show but this time it was a vehicle I would have picked….the black 40 something Dodge farm truck is just perfect.  I have photographed it before and will dig up another photograph to put with this set of pictures. 
We had a great day interacting with spectators and friends but it was time to make the trip home.  We cruised back home and after we put the truck away we started getting calls from friends that wanted to go out and eat dinner.  I won’t go into too much detail….but….we may not be allowed to return to the Chili’s in Stafford. grin

Monday, September 17, 2012

Another Three Day Blur....

Friday we cruised to Fredericksburg, VA and the weekly cruise at VA BBQ.  Soon after we got parked and set up our chairs, I spotted Donnie walking around and we began talking about ‘back in the day’ stuff.  He is a very interesting guy….I may have to write something about him someday.  I guess we were standing/talking for a couple hours….because when we parted I collapsed in my chair and stayed there till we left!  So….no pictures that night!

Saturday we left Stafford, VA around 7AM and drove to Dulles Airport near Chantilly, VA.  One of our friends, Tony V., had suggested that we go with him on an Honor Flight welcome sometime.  It sounded like a neat idea so Saturday was the day we were scheduled to go.  We arrived around 8:20 and the flight was delayed till about 11AM….so we waited and talked with the other 120-130 people that had gathered to honor some of our Veterans.  When the Veterans began coming through the gate with their handlers it all came in focus.   They were not aware that we would be there to welcome them….some were in kind of a shock when we started clapping, shouting, holding up signs, waving American flags and walking up to them to shake their hands and thank them for their service and call to duty….it was a truly memorable experience.  There were young children as well as old people thanking them.  Please check out the pictures that one of our group, Lou R., took.  The Veterans were wearing the blue windbreakers, their helpers/handlers were wearing red and the Honor Flight group wore yellow.  The bikers wore black leather and the Princess and I wore red/white and blue! grin 
 There was one lady, a Navy Veteran, in the Veteran’s group but the rest were men.  All in various states of health….some had walkers some canes and some in wheelchairs but about half walked on their own!  We are losing about a thousand of these Heroes a day and this little gesture of thanks is something everyone can participate in.  The Honor Flight website explains it much better than I can so please visit their site at  After the Heroes visited the restrooms they loaded into the 5 waiting tour busses.  After they were secure they left for D.C. escorted by a group of American Legion bike riders!  WOW….  What a day….something I will always treasure.  We need to do that again….soon.    
On the way home Tony recommended we catch lunch at Santini’s near Chantilly, VA….a good decision!  So….a Greek was recommending an Italian Deli….this may not end well.  Happily we found that the food was great and unlike most Deli’s this one had more than ample room to sit and tables with chairs capable of supporting my svelte self.  Most Deli’s use chairs that would collapse if you put a Sears catalog on the seat….the ones at Santini’s could be used for safety stands under our truck!  I know not many of you think of such things but if you have ever picked yourself up from the floor after performing a failing stress test on a chair you would understand.  I recommend Santini’s when you are in the neighborhood.
Saturday evening we cruised to Fredericksburg, VA and the Family Diner cruise.  Even though I was still a little full from our visit to Santini’s earlier, the Princess said we must eat…. You ever see a picture of little birds in a nest when the adult bird brings the food….the little chicks screech with their mouths open….chirping, feed me feed me.  So we ate….again….within 4 hours….I felt like a tick that had been hanging on someone for a week….burp.  As I have said before the food is great at Family Diner and I really enjoy eating there….but for the first time I can remember I had to take food home in a doggie box….I hate that.  ‘They’ say that women always take food home but rarely eat it later.  Men, however, rarely take food home but always eat it later…. I think I can buy into that conclusion…. warmed up french fries at midnight are ok!  The Colonial Beach Cruisers paid a visit and there were about 20 cars before the night ended.  This is a very relaxed cruise….just friends talking about cars, life and anything else that comes up….even politics!  The night started getting a little chilly around 9PM so we cruised home and got the truck ready to the next day.  The Princess whined till I turned on the valve for the heater….heat!?  I guess fall is right around the corner.
Sunday we cruised 22 miles to Occoquan, VA and the Prince William Cruisers fall benefit car show.  As in years past their charity is Wounded Warrior Project.  This year they presented Wounded Warrior Project with a check for $7,177….not bad for a local car club!  Dan & Ramona and the Princess & I always enjoy helping them with their shows.  The Princess and Ramona sell T-Shirts, Dan helps Dave with checking in this year’s 185 participants and I help Jo and Roger with registration.  This show usually attracts a lot of participants with varied vehicles and this year did not disappoint.  Steve is able to make sure the show runs with Swiss watch precision due to the adept assistance from an army of club members.  Their working harmony is conspicuous and very few are left standing around long after Steve sees them.  I just wish Steve could bring more clip boards…..grin  Sally and her helpers sold more 50/50 tickets than I can remember, almost $1300....WOW!
The quality of vehicles is astounding and the ‘Best of Show’ was a work of art.  It’s not something I would drive but it was something to marvel at….the result of many craftsmen’s skill and effort.  There was a red ’71 Plymouth RoadRunner that made the Princesses blood pressure rise a little.  And I’m glad Bill & Lisa brought out their red ’37 Ford Slant back….the little travel trailer really sets it off!  But my favorite was the little yellow & white Nash Metropolitan….we see it occasionally and it is always an attraction.  While I was taking the photograph I overheard someone ask the owner, a lady, how much she would take for the car.  With no hesitation she said $100,000!  I guess that was just easier than saying it’s not for sale….chuckle…. 
After the award ceremony we had an uneventful cruise home….then another feeding stop at Hibachi Grille in Stafford….a very busy weekend….  Just wait till next weekend….we are going to “Occupy” a Mopar show, just wait till you see what I do to a New York Trooper cruiser….it may be on the evening news….or not?  We’ll see….hehehehe

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Wild and Crazy Weekend

Friday evening we cruised to the Family Diner in Fredericksburg, VA for dinner with friends then off to the weekly cruise of the Fredericksburg Classic and Muscle Car Club at VA BBQ.  We didn’t arrive at the cruise till around 7pm and most of the parking spots were taken!  The truck is long and it doesn’t turn tightly real well….so we parked in the travel lanes of the lot till something opened up.  There were around 60 vehicles and most were the usual suspects.  One of the new ones that caught my attention was the red Chevy Blazer Sport, 2 dr.  It is one of the finest examples of a car like that I have seen.  I also liked the yellow ’55 Chevy Pickup….I have seen it before but it really does stand out for more than its color!

Saturday our group cruised 16 miles to the Quantico Marine Corps base in Virginia.  They were having their first car show in a lot of years and we wanted to support their efforts.  I always like to be on base.  Being an Air Force brat I have lived on a few bases in my early years and I feel comfortable there. There is a complex entry procedure but when you get over that it is a neat place to spend your day.  Their contact person, Joey S., made the process very smooth.  They had a great food vendor, The Clubs at Quantico, who had done this before!  The food was superior, prices were fair and the service & attitude was impeccable….great job. The Porta potties were clean and well placed which was much appreciated by all.  Some of our group ventured into Quantico Town and the S & G restaurant for breakfast….a great idea from Ken B. the night before at VA BBQ and seconded by Ron C.!  The event was used to raise money for the Quantico Auto Hobby Skills Center….  I spent many hours in various Air Force base auto shops in my early years beginning at Minot AFB, ND.  With what little we pay our Warriors this is a much needed and deserved perk for them.
The day was warm but not hot but with a robust breeze all day.  We were planning on being able to set up our canopy on grass or gravel where we could properly secure it but we were parked on asphalt.  If the wind was going to be a problem we had to be able to secure our canopy so it wouldn’t be flying around the parking lot, bumping off the cars in the show!  So….what to do….  Since we now drive a hot rod with a spare wheel/tire I decided that would anchor one leg of the canopy.  Since I need to be prepared to repair things that may go awry with the truck I have been carrying a tool bag that weighs about 648 lbs!  That should fix another leg.  Fred and Ron dug out some tool boxes and other things that took care of another leg and the last one was secured with Lou’s cooler!  We laugh at wind now….grin! 
As we were setting under the canopy an Air Force C-17 flew over on final approach a couple times….really cool to see!  There were about 170 vehicles at the show….a lot for a new show….  We’ll see how it does next year.  There were many newer vehicles, about 2/3 were built after 1980 and the judging was done by participant voting for the different categories.  We liked the natural yellow ’55 Ford Pickup; we see this hot rod on the roads a lot….it’s good to drive them cars!  And Joe’s orange 66/67 Nova is always a welcome sight at a show.  You have to check out the pictures to see the many other vehicles that attended.  A neat show that we will try to attend again next year….so should you!  We didn’t try to go to the Family Diner cruise in Fredericksburg after the show because of the rain that was on the way….it arrived about an hour after we got home.
Sunday we left Stafford at 6AM and cruised 38 miles and met up with Lou & Arlene in Gainesville, VA then continued our cruise for 22 more miles to Herndon, VA and the 11th Annual Herndon Classic Car Show sponsored by the Dulles Area Chapter of AARP.  This is one of the most fun shows we do all year.  When we arrived at 7:23 there were already 15 cars parked!  Two were in “our” parking spots!  What to do….?  The staff member was trying to make us park down the street but we really didn’t want to go there.  So we decided to park across the street from “our” parking spaces….I could tell the staff guy was not happy with our decision but he helped us get lined up like he wanted and left us.  I put on events myself and I know the value of parking people where YOU want them to be….but sometimes you have to considered letting people park where THEY want to park to keep happy campers.  If we hadn’t been able to park where we wanted it would have made the day much less enjoyable for us.  So….where we ended up turned out to be better than our previous place and it will now be our new parking place for next year….I think we will be there by 6:30 next time!
The event has something going on all day along with the vehicle show.  The 50’s dancers were a hoot and the strolling Dominion Singers were great. Jimmy’s Old Town Tavern had ladies from the NOVA Roller Derby Team dressed in 50’s attire, on roller skates taking food orders.  Then they would bring them back to where ever you were sitting!  Kinda cool!  There were a couple other vendors and the Dairy Queen was open for business too.  Wiygul Automotive Clinic was the major sponsor. 

The quality of the vehicles is really top notch at this show and since the weather was superb many very nice cars came out.  There was a nice yellow ’55 Chevy post and a couple ’57 Chevys too.  Jason’s orange 50 something Caddie wowed everyone and the candy red Merc lead sled was present to collect his trophy.  I met a man I had not seen since the late 70’s when I was with Ryland Homes….he was working for one of our plumbing contractors and I recognized him almost instantly….good connection after all these years….I’m sure I will see Mike again at another event.  His black ‘55/’56 Ford post was nicely done and….it had a 6 cyl motor!  It even had speed equipment of the period and nice ceramic coated headers….a very nice build!  I also liked the green ’34 Ford sedan, the nicest I’ve seen.  Lou & Arlene took the theme of the show to new heights by dressing like something right out of Happy Days!  And their red ’53 Ford convertible just added to the scene…. 
We really enjoyed the day….good weather….good food….good friends….I love this hobby!