Tuesday, July 30, 2013

There and back

Friday evening the Princess and I cruised to Fredericksburg, VA and the weekly cruise at VA BBQ, managed by Fredericksburg Classic & Muscle Car Club.  This is a weekly cruise till it starts getting cold in October.  We arrived early, about 4:30, so we were able to park in our favorite parking spaces next to Fall Hill Ave.  The DJ, Coach, always plays just the right amount of old and new tunes, his playlist is just right!  The 65 or so vehicles that cruised and parked or just cruised through help make this a cool spot to be on Friday night!

Most of the vehicles were the usual suspects except for the two Tesla’s….a white one and a grey one.  I guess they are a glimpse into the future of the automobile but at north of 100K and no noise….they are not my cup of tea.  And I read that if you drop your spotted owl sandwich on the seats it really leaves a mark….grin
We had a large group of friends come and sit with us and we all caught up on what we have been up to the last month.  There was a higher than normal bunch of hooligan drivers Friday, doing burnouts and driving recklessly.  It is an unfortunate thing that the club cannot really control, they can tell everyone to take it easy but in the end the individual drivers make the decision to be stupid or not!  So by 9PM we all packed up and cruised home.
Saturday the Princess and I took one of our “alone” cruises.  We like to just drive around the Virginia countryside and be thankful we can still enjoy this hobby together.  The preceding couple weeks I had done a lot of repair work on the truck as well as performing the mid season maintenance and wanted to make sure the parts didn’t fall off or start leaking before we ventured out too far.  So we cruised about 80 miles and ended in Fredericksburg at Family Diner for the cruise that evening.  We didn’t get in any rain till we came out from the diner and found the truck was wet….it had rained while we were eating!  It was about 6PM and there were no other cars showing up so we waited a little till the roads dried then cruised 17 miles home.
Sunday we met seven other couples that came out for the first annual Summer Screech Cruise.  We met in Fredericksburg, VA at the WAWA where Rt. 17 runs into Rt. 1.  The sky was foreboding with angry black and grey clouds and we actually got a couple rain drops on the way down from Stafford to the meeting location.  But it wasn’t actually raining so we launched on the inaugural cruise.  Our first stop was about 50 miles from the start just a little south of Tappahannock, VA.  We cruised into the Sheetz and filled up the tanks and drained the bladders….reminded me of riding the Harley those many years.  After about a half an hour we formed up and ran the last 60 mile leg of the cruise to Williamsburg, VA and Capt. George’s Seafood Restaurant.
The restaurant is nestled in the outskirts of Williamsburg on Rt. 60.  There are a lot of “tourist” things to do in that area, many outlet shops and the College of William & Mary is not far.  The original American settlement at Jamestown is just a few minutes past Williamsburg….so the area is always a very busy place.  But we came to eat and eat we shall. 
We started visiting Capt. George’s in the late 70’s and have never had a bad experience with either the food or service.  They serve some traditional American food but their specialty is seafood….any kind of seafood.  And did I mention it’s a buffet?  If you go away hungry from Capt. George’s….you really didn’t try.  Our group was ushered into the large group room where we had a long continuous table set up so our group of 16 people could all be seated at one table.  That was a very nice surprise.  Almost all of us exerised a modicum of restraint while eating and didn’t embarrass ourselves by the number of dirty plates the wait staff cleaned off the table around us….  Then there was the Princess….  She came to eat….crab legs!  It was a very dangerous place to be found between the Princess and the crab legs in the buffet.  I think she had 5-6 helpings heaped on the plate about a foot high.  Then there was the fried oysters, scallops and rice pudding….I started getting a little queasy watching her make each new mountain of food disappear….one fork full at a time….  She used to complain about eating so much and then riding the Harley for 3 hours….now she can sit in a nice comfy bucket seat in the truck….I’m doomed.   I think everyone’s belly button was popped out so we paid the bill, emptied our bladders and headed for the hot rods.
The weather had been nice coming down….a little cloudy but cool.  Now the weather was hot and sunny, what a change! 
We formed up and began the next 47 mile leg of the cruise to a Valero gas station right past King William HS.  Unfortunately a couple cruisers started getting low on fuel so an impromptu fuel stop had to be made.  We stopped about 2 miles from the scheduled stop and when we were back on track I didn’t know if everyone else wanted or needed to stop again so soon….so I kept going.  Big mistake!  Months ago I set up the stop for a lot of reasons….the clean restrooms, multiple fuel islands, a busy station so the fuel is not old and easy egress to Rt.30.  I also planned to use that stop to thank everyone for coming on the cruise as there would be no more stops after that.  So I began getting stressed about that and started looking for a place to stop again….but it was Sunday, we were in the country….not all fuel stops are open on Sunday.  We cruised through Bowling Green and switched to Rt. 2 and still no place to stop.  But as soon as the Bowling Green sign was fading in my rear view mirror….the sky ahead and to the west was getting dark….very dark….and I began to see lightning flashes!
The rain started easy for about 20 seconds then it looked and felt like we were driving underwater.  The wind was howling through the trees, stripping out the dead branch ends from the cicada hatch a month ago along with some good size branches and other debris.  I had put the windshield wipers on the truck before we left the house as insurance it wouldn’t rain.  But rain it did….so hard that visibility was about 50 feet and closing.  The lightning and thunder was incessant….the wind was blowing across the road buffeting the cars….especially the high and flat ones like Ron’s ’28 Dodge sedan.  It was a wild ride for about 25 miles till we were close to Fredericksburg!  Then communication broke down and people started leaving the column.  First Steve & Elaine disappeared then Bill & Linda stopped.  Then Roy & Sharon and Paul & Kim left.  Ron & Gene and Dan & Ramona followed me into a WAWA so I could get fuel and figure out where everyone went.  Ron & Janet honked as they went by us and soon after Bill & Linda did the same.  So….I think all were accounted for but it was a little stressful trying to figure out if anyone had trouble from the rain or were just close to home.  I need to do a better job of that next time.  The 6 of us talked a little at the WAWA but soon decided it was time for us to motor on home too.
I think all enjoyed the day….even the rain….even the 210 miles….it’s good to drive them cars a little….that’s why they have wheels & tires on them!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Back in the Burg for the Fourth

The Fourth of July in Fredericksburg, Virginia means attending the American Heritage Festival in downtown on Sophia St.  This event usually has over 9000 spectators milling through the many and varied vendors.  There is a 5K race in the morning and a parade then the end of the day’s adventures culminates with a primo fireworks display in the park by the river.  This is always a great day in Historic Fredericksburg, VA.  And they also have a car display….

We began attending the “car” part of the American Heritage Festival in 2006.  That year it was a sprawling show all along Sophia St and the little side streets that included the parking lot across from the parking garage.  In 2007 and all the years after that, the show was limited to the parking lot across from the parking garage.  In 2008 the organizer of the Heritage Festival contacted Brent, who was the contact person of Stafford Classics Car Club, about managing an event in the parking lot on the Fourth.  Since I was a member of the club at that time, I volunteered to manage the event in 2008.  Other club members; Dan, Andrew, Brent and Tony assisted me in the planning and execution of the event.  The theme was the evolution of automobiles in America, beginning with Dom’s 1919 Model T up to Stuart’s ’06 GT-40.  We had a great diversity to show the spectators.  We also secured a sponsor, VA Paving, so we could give all the participants that brought out their special vehicle something to take home them as a thank you for spending the day with us while they shared their vehicle with the spectators.  We also showcased the race car of Ray & Terry that ran as a supporter of Wounded Warrior Project.  We wanted the event to do something for someone else….not just the cars in the display.  Our little group did the same thing in 2009 except the theme was the American Pick Up; all vehicles were trucks from a 1923 model T to a 2008 Dodge Ram.  The spectators loved it and the Wounded Warrior Project race car once again raised the awareness quotient substantially for Veterans concerns.

There is an old established show in Culpeper, VA on the Fourth of July too.  We had wanted to attend it and some of our friends kept encouraging us to go and see.  So in 2010 we decided to give it a go.  We liked it so much we kept going in 2011 and 2012….it was a good show, see my other blog for the reports I made on it.
At a meeting in mid January this year our group, Cruisin For Heroes, decided we needed to explore attending the Fredericksburg event as part of our marketing strategy to showcase our current charity, Fisher House.  We began contacting Brent in mid January to ask if we could bring a small group of cars to his event in the Burg.  He was glad to have us back and I committed to bring 15 vehicles to his party.  One of the 15 would be the Fisher House racecar of Ray & Terry so we could again raise awareness for a Veteran’s cause.  We started making contacts in February for the event participants and had most of our lineup done by May.
At 6AM on the Fourth of July our little band of vehicles left the Stafford WAWA and cruised to Fredericksburg, VA.  We started arriving in the parking lot around 6:30 and the other participants started rolling in soon after.  By 8AM the lot was almost full and we began to set up for a hot and steamy day.  The Fourth always seems to be a very hot day….at the event in ’07 one of the club members was exhibiting early signs of heat stroke and we had to help him cool down quickly.  That same year the paramedics had to rescue a spectator from heat related stress.  So it’s usually hot at this venue and this year did not break the trend!
The event is a display, not a show.  There is no competition or stress about winning anything….we just stay near our rides and talk to the spectators as they roam through the display.  The purpose of the display is to provide the spectators with something else interesting to see while they visit the Festival and a person to talk to about each vehicle.  This is sometimes kinda tough because it’s natural for the participants to bunch up to socialize, which makes an intimidating situation for the spectators to ask questions.  So those of us who can, stay by our vehicles….often alone all day.  Stuart is a great example of that dedication to our mission….he parked himself behind his blue Cobra all day….all day!  He was up out of his chair talking to people most of the day, not much rest in the heat….but that’s how Stuart does it.  And Ray & Terry were interacting with people all day around their race car….putting kids in it for pictures and answering questions…..but that’s what they do.  Most of the participants were accessible for questions, that’s what the day is for.
This year I began to understand the impact we can have on people at an event like this.  Since I wasn’t “running” anything I took the time to watch the different interactions between spectators and participants.  Darryl told us of a man in a wheelchair that was being pushed by his son and he was giving the vehicles a cursory look until he came to Frank’s ’39 Chevy sedan.  He started pointing to the car and talking to his son….he got up out of the wheelchair and examined the car closer while talking to his son.  The car had struck a memory that he wanted to replay for a while….the man seemed energized and walked the rest of the display while he inspected the remaining vehicles!  I watched while a little girl shyly walked to our Fisher House donation barrel so she could deposit some money her dad had given her….as she left she glanced over her shoulder and gave me a quick little smile!  She probably didn’t understand about Fisher House but she knew she had done something good….she will remember that.  And so many Veterans stopped by to tell their story and so many people wanted to know what Fisher House was?  The first most asked question is; ‘what year is it?’ followed by; ‘I had one of those when I was a kid’ or ‘I always wanted one of those when I was a kid’.  Always interesting, always fun.  So….the day was a cathartic experience for me….all of us in our “car” community get recognition about our rides at shows and cruises….but for this deal we give back.  This is about the spectators, not us.
I was on my feet half of the day talking or taking pictures in the thermonuclear heat…..I think it was about 472 degrees!  But while I was sitting under the Cruisin For Heroes canopy, cooling off and talking with Fred and Denny, I was attacked from behind by a strange woman. She started rubbing my head and whispering in my ear….she was obviously delusional….maybe the heat.  Then she strolled across the shade and attacked Denny, fondling his chest and asking him if he had any money?  I was about ready to call the local mental hospital and tell them where their escaped patient was when the ladies in the canopy behind us, Debie, Arlene and the Princess, started to roar laughing.  They were hooting and hollering….laughing and pointing at us.  They had put that gullible woman up to that….they are so mean!  You know what they say about paybacks….grin
 Around 3:30 we started to break camp and leave for cooler climes.   A couple of us stopped by Family Diner and talked about what happened that day….we all had a lot to think about….but we did have a great day in the Berg.


Monday, July 1, 2013

Play Ball....

Friday the eminent threat of rain kept us home and the weatherguessers were forecasting massive rain for Saturday too.  So when I got up early Saturday to see what they were pontificating for the days rainfall I was shocked that they were downgrading the storms to 40% probability.  That would still be iffy since we were going to go an hour from home and I really didn’t want to run in the rain that far.  But….the Princess had been confined inside the house far too long to let a little rain keep us from making a drive south to the show.

So Fred and the Princess & I began our 37 mile cruise to Milford, VA and the Kanagroo Express, ‘These Colors Don’t Run’ show.  This was the first attempt of this group to put on a show and it went pretty well.  The venue was on grass, the restrooms were great with the Ladies using the inside permanent facilities and us guys using the porta potties….that worked out well.  I hate it when I’m inside a porta potties and some shrill loud lady is banging on the door yelling “Pregnant Lady, hurry up”  They had a lineup of vendors and the host business, Southern Truck & Custom, had their shop open for us to check out.  Coach was playing his outstanding inventory of music while interjecting some trivia contests to keep the day moving.  They had food but it was a little below what “car show” food usually is….ok but….  The day was just a tad warm but the gentle breeze kept us from leaking too much body fluid out….
Unfortunately there were a couple other shows the same day, one within 19 miles of this one.  This is something that is avoidable if the show planers would consult the websites on the net where shows are listed and respect the date when someone else already has a show planned.  The planner of the show in Milford listed their show early enough that the other planner could have adjusted their show….but they didn’t.  So….everyone loses!  The show we attended had 42 cars; the one in Fredericksburg had a few more than that and the one a little further north had about 30 cars.  So everyone’s attendance was lower than it could have been and the show planners did not make as much money for their charities as they could have….it’s a recipe for a lose-lose scenario and it is easily avoidable.
Of the 42 cars in attendance my favorite was the silver & orange ’55 Chevy big block….it was just neat as a pin and done minimally.  I also like the yellow & white Nash Metropolitan; we have seen that car at other shows over the years.  The Virginia Stockers and Fredericksburg Classic and Muscle Car Club came with a few of their members to support the show.  Both clubs are very active in local events.
The award ceremony was interesting in that because of the low attendance most people went home with a trophy, even the Princess!  The Princess also answered a trivia question correctly and won a left handed softball mitt….think about that.  The Princess, who doesn’t know a thing about softball and would never do anything as strenuous as softball, now has a mitt.   To offer a little insight into what I am going to endure….when the ceremony was over she came hobbling back across the field to the truck, holding up the mitt, yelling “Gentlemen Start Your Engines”.  I shook my head and told her I think she means “Play Ball”…..she says it doesn’t matter, it’s the same thing….I’m doomed.  After the awards were given out we cruised to Family Diner in Fredericksburg for dinner and to attend the weekly cruise that was going on there.  Debie met us there and had called ahead to Debra to make sure they were serving the Seafood Salad!  The Princess gets so whiney if she can’t have what she wants….Debie & Debra know!  A few more cars cam in so we stayed till around 7PM then cruised home….a long day….a good day.