Monday, October 28, 2013

The end is near.....grin

Saturday at 8AM the Princess and I left the WAWA in N. Stafford, VA and cruised 31 miles to Manassas, VA.  Our objective was the Burger King near the airport so we could be part of this year’s Bull Run Street Rodders, Fall cruise.  This club puts on a cruise every year in the Fall that we always try to attend as they are an experienced club that knows the value of a lazy drive through the Virginia countryside.  And that they always end their outings somewhere that has good food adds a bonus to the day.

When we arrived at BK there were already a few cruisers in the lot and more began arriving as some of us grabbed a bite to eat inside.  Since the event is as much of a social thing as a car thing, most of the guys significant others come with them.  I know some of the ladies don’t care much for car deals but they will go for a ride in the country to find somewhere to eat….almost as good as shopping….almost!  Since some of the ladies rarely accompany the guys, this social time allowed us to get reacquainted with old friends and meet new old friends….always a good thing.
Shortly after 9am we all woke up some of Detroit’s finest of yesteryear, and headed W. NW to Stephens City and the Butcher Block Buffet….about 57 miles.  Driving around in a vehicle that is old is always an adventure….but some of our rides are almost 90 years old….that’s Ninety!  Every creak, shake, noise or vibration adds to the experience of the day.  We truly do not know if we will come home under our own power or ignominiously on a roll back.  But since we are in a group of 15 + vehicles we feel safer….I think it’s a herd mentality.  The collective knowledge and skill that is represented in our little traveling car show can usually fix anything well enough to proceed or return home.  That sanguine feeling is something that’s missing when we travel alone….so we prefer traveling in a group most of the time.
Traveling the Virginia countryside, in the Fall, can be fraught with surprises.  Not the least of which is meeting another fellow sojourner out for the day with their prized example of coach craft from yesteryear.  We met a young man traveling opposite from us in a pale green 1952 Buick.  As is customary we all waved and smiled….a knowing acknowledgment that we were doing something that few in our hurry up, hi-tech world will take the time to do.  Enjoying the day riding around in a touchable reminiscence of yesterday!  Some need to get acknowledgment of their handy work by competing for awards.  Some hide their rides in garages and trailers.  Some brave the rock chips and bug splatters to enjoy the rides the way they were meant to be enjoyed….by driving them!  While we cruised the byways we picked up a few other cruisers that folded in with us as we kept rolling toward Stephens City.
We arrived at our destination to find that the club had secured permission to park our rides in the adjacent business parking lot so we wouldn’t be subjected to the bumps and bruises on our vehicles that often accompany parking with non-car people traveling in their daily drivers.  The Comfort Inn has done this in the past and it’s an example of local businesses helping each other get through their business day. 
Soon after we secured the vehicles we all descended on the Butcher Block Buffet.  The Bull Run Street Rodders had negotiated with the managers of the restaurant for a great price for all of us and a semi private room so we could be seated together.  That kind of pre planning is crucial to a successful event.  If you can’t find enough to eat at this restaurant then you just don’t want to eat.  Everything they prepare is exceptional and that it’s a buffet means you can eat enough to last till Thanksgiving…grin The service for our group was as always, top shelf. The wait staff is attentive and so helpful its difficult not be impressed.
Too soon it was time to depart….we had to get home before the deer came out!?  One of the collateral benefits of the restaurant location is that it allows us to take many different routes to end up in the same general place.  So as the parking lot emptied the cruisers were going like a starburst in all directions….really cool.  We motored home by a different route to give a new look to the day as we headed back to Stafford….I love this hobby!
Sunday we left to attend the last show of the year at Family Diner in Fredericksburg, VA.  We like to frequent this eatery during the year and always try to support Monk & Debra when they have a show.  We got a late start so we arrived around 11:30. And why did we get a late start?  I read a warning on Facebook that the time was going to change on Sunday….Ok….that means we could get some extra sleep.  But the Princess couldn’t sleep so she got up early to change all the clocks.  Now at our home….we….have….clocks.  Grandfather clocks, mantle clocks, microwave clocks, coffee machine clocks, stove clocks, kitchen cabinet clock, computer room wall clock, family room wall clock, garage clock, three car clocks, two cell phone clocks, two computer clocks, a projection clock in the bedroom (don’t ask), an alarm clock, a Princess watch clock….we got clocks.  The changing of the time at our home is a bi-annual event of epic proportions.  So when I started getting the warnings on Facebook about the time change I made sure the Princess was alerted.  In years past we were passive about it….we would look at the computer or cell phone in the morning, that is supposed to automatically change, and say….good grief, the time changed and then kick into clock changing mode.  This year I decided that we would be pro active and change BEFORE the morning so we would wake up and the time would be right.  A plan!  Without getting into too much detail….I told the Princess the wrong weekend!  I didn’t find out till AFTER she changed most of the above mentioned clocks.  It was not a happy time in the Shotwell hovel….angst just doesn’t adequately describe the mood.  A noxious blue cloud of very UN Princess like verbiage directed at me, the minion, might be a little closer to what happened.  In the end the Princess announced to me that the clocks were NOT going to be changed back….we would just deal with it this week….OK, I knew that!
So when we arrived all the lots were full and we parked on the street, which was ok as we did not intend on staying for the end of the event.  There were about 70 cars in attendance that varied from near new to a T-bucket.  Even Wyatt traveled from Annapolis with his DeLorean to be part of the day’s festivities!  I really liked the yellow and blue ’51 Chevy Pickup….a very nice ride.  The Virginia Stockers car club assisted with the registration and kept the event moving in the right direction.  The event was to be a Halloween deal so some of the people dressed up….Kandy and her zombie was over the top scary, I think Kandy liked the chain part, grin.  Monk & Debra looked like they stepped out of a Grease movie set.  Too much fun!?  There was also a band, Black Jug Relic, which belted out the tunes while the munchkins wore out the moon bounce!  It was a fun event and a fitting end to the show season around here.  There will be a few more cruises like our Over The River And Through The Woods Run November 30 and the Toys For Tots run December 14 and don’t forget the Veterans Appreciation display at Golden Corral on November 11.  We’re getting close to the end of this season….the Princess is starting to whine already….it’s going to be a very long winter me thinks.   

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

It's what we do....

Saturday the Princess and I started out from the N. Stafford WAWA at 5:15AM….then met Dan, the homeless guy, at the Lake Arrowhead 7-11 a few miles out Rt. 610.  Dan then led the way while we cruised 32 miles to the Culpeper Regional Airport and their 14th annual aviation extravaganza called AirFest.  This is the 5th year our group, Cruisin For Heroes, has supported AirFest by providing a special vehicle display for the 6000-8000 spectators to wander through on their way in and out of the AirFest event.  We usually start to plan for the next year’s event a couple days after the current event happens….so for a year we have been planning this year’s display.  Last year the folks at the airport asked us to increase our presence by about 100%!  So all year we have been inviting special cars that come with special people that can interact with the spectators at AirFest 2013.

This year we also had help in the form of financial assistance from Chrysler of Culpeper that would change the makeup of our display a little.  We also had invited special Corvettes, Camaros and Mustangs to show the evolution of the Generations of each mark.  We also had some very special race cars and motorcycles booked.  We had to arrange special unloading and parking of the trailered vehicles that would be attending.  Each member of CFH has been planning for the 2013 AirFest event for a year.
This year we also had a last minute welcome participant in the form of Ray & Terry’s Team Fisher House race car.  They had been planning on attending another event and at the last month they were able to be at our event.  Since CFH’s main charity is Fisher House Foundation this was a very welcome addition to our display, in fact it would become the centerpiece of the display!
It began raining here about October 7th and was continuing as we left on a dreary Saturday the 12th.  We had a couple meetings in the last month with the airport folks, Tanya & Tony, to determine if we could still have a display if it rained and where we could set up.  Since the weather guessers were all over the board as far as the Saturday forecast we really didn’t know where we would be till the morning of the event…at 6AM….in the dark….in the rain.  We met with Tony shortly after we arrived onsite and he found us an area on the ramp where we could be safe and strategically located so most of the spectators would walk near our display on their way to the rest of the event.  Without Tony’s assistance the event would have been a total bust for us.
As previously instructed, the 7 brave souls that shook their fist at the rain and decided to drive their special cars to the airport began arriving between 7:30-8:00.  We set them up next to Chrysler of Culpeper’s cars and near the Fisher House racer of Ray & Terry.  Everyone pitched in to set up canopies, chairs, coffee & donuts then settled in to endure the long, wet, cold day.  There were 48 people that thought better about subjecting their vehicles to the deluge that was unfolding before them and stayed home.  We had instructed everyone that their safety is the most important thing to us and if they thought they might jeopardize themselves or their vehicle by attending the event....we were encouraging them to please stay home….there is always 2014.  And in the end if all 55 people decided to come out and play in the rain we didn’t have anywhere to put them….it would have been a chaotic mess.  So I’m glad we had 7 cars instead of 55!
I began photographing what I could in the rain and the others began talking to the spectators as they trickled into the event.  This event it always the high point of our year…we really like to share our hobby with the spectators and tell them about Fisher House.  So many people do not know what Fisher House does for our Veterans and it’s our mission to try to fix that.  The point of the Team Fisher House race car is to pique interest in the car and while talking with spectators about the car, share about Fisher House too.  We were a little disorganized most of the day but Lou & Ray still managed to interact with many people that had no idea what Fisher House is…that’s a win!  It is uplifting to see a parent giving their very young kids money to put in the Fisher House donation barrel….it’s a teaching moment for us all!
Because of the playground fight in DC that caused the shutdown of our, OUR Government there were no FAA Inspectors available to oversee the event’s flying.  It was a moot point because the weather ceiling was maybe 2” most of the day so nothing flew while we were there.  Some of the vendors stayed home and other planned displays were also absent.  Those that showed up tried but in the end the incessant rain prevailed.  There was about 30 aircraft to see tied down on the ramp….not the least of which was the P-51 and the Yak-11…two neat allies from WWII.  I would have liked to see them both fly.
About 11AM the airport announced that there would be no airshow because of the weather.  We kept going till noon then decided to call it a day.  Everyone worked like a machine to take down our little encampment and make sure everyone’s stuff got back where it belonged.  We made sure we didn’t leave any trash and just that quick it was over for us.  It was a good day to follow through on the commitment we made to the airport and Fisher House….we hope that a few more people now know what Fisher House does for our Veterans.
There are just a few more events we will attend this year, one on November 30 and the last on December 14….so any additional entries to this blog may be limited to those dates….and then we will begin our adventures for 2014 in late March.  It's been a fun ride so far this year.... 



Monday, October 7, 2013

I'm STILL hot.....

Friday we cruised to VA BBQ in Fredericksburg, VA to attend the weekly Friday night gathering managed by Fredericksburg Classic and Muscle Car Club.  It was a “normal” cruise of about 50 cars....but although the weather was clear with fluffy clouds….it was hot….very hot.  All of the cars were the usual suspects….nothing new tonight!

Saturday we decided to visit the Mopar show at Chrysler of Culpeper, near Culpeper, VA.  Tony and his crew put on a well run event.  The owner of the dealership, Wade Schick, hosts the yearly event to showcase….what else….Mopars!  This show is usually heavily attended by very nice late model types and the muscle cars of the 60’s & 70’s but what the early years may lack in numbers they make up in awesomeness!  The other thing is that since Mopar absorbed Jeep and AMC years ago, you get to see some strange stable mates at Mopar events now….the silver ’73 AMX Javelin is a good example.
There were over 70 cars in attendance including the sea foam green ’40 DeSoto that was just perfect and the grey ’47 Plymouth which was a rare piece too.  My favorite was the brown/tan ’41 Plymouth Pickup.  I have never seen one in any condition and the workmanship done to put this truck back on the road was impeccable.  The detail is so cool….take your time looking at the pictures of it.  The Princess passed out our flyers for the Over the River cruise in November and the Toys For Tots in December while I captured images of all the vehicles and the event in general. 
We left the Mopar show in Culpeper and cruised to Manassas and the weekly cruise at Burger King by the airport.  The Bull Run Street Rods manage the event which entails them sitting in chairs at the corner of the entrance near their hot rods and waving to the cruisers as they come into the lot or as they leave!  No music….no 50/50….no trophies….  Just good food, good restrooms, good friends and a never ending display of special vehicles.  People cruise in, park….visit then cruise out on their way to somewhere else.  That’s how cruisin is done!  Oh yeah….they have ice cream there too….
Of the 80-90 vehicles that cruised in I think the rowdiest was the black ’31 Plymouth with the mega cube Hemi….a car just on the edge of streetability.  I don’t normally notice the Vipers but there was a gun metal grey one with black stripes that caught my attention while I roamed around.  One of the neat cars I had seen before but didn’t really look at it closely was the brown ’71 Ford Torino/500 Halo….yeah a “Halo”.  They were built for only two months, Feb & March, of 1971….a very rare find.  Thankfully the owner accommodated all my questions then showed me all the documentation he had accumulated….a neat guy with a neat car!  Here is more about him and his car;
Dan & Ramona joined us with their ’55 and we all had lunch at BK.  Later Dan passed out flyers for our events then we all had ice cream before we cruised home just as the sun began to set.  Yes we saw deer on the country roads we use….yup!
Sunday we decided to attend the sixth annual Hayfield HS event in Alexandria, VA.  The event is in the shopping center next to the HS and is managed by the auto shop teacher and his students.  There are a couple restaurants close by and Giant food allows us to use the restrooms inside.  This show is open to all kinds of vehicles but not many late models attend.  There were a couple newer ones but most were 60’s-70’s muscle cars or older hot rods.  I really liked the Lt. Green ’32 highboy tub….driven by a lady!
The event is on asphalt which usually isn’t a problem….but Sunday the temps got up to about 458 degrees!  I thought Al Gore fixed this?  I had sweat dripping off me in places that I can’t talk about and the Princess was doing a slow, sweaty burn under the umbrella….  The sun’s thermonuclear radiation was beaming directly at us and when we tried to escape the direct assault….it would bounce off the parking lot and assail what was left of our pitiful selves.  I think my feet were sticking in the asphalt as I walked around….  I knew we couldn’t endure the heat very much longer!   When I got back to the truck from taking pictures of the 80+ vehicles I found the Princess sitting under her umbrella, chugging down water, glaring at me with that “Princesses do NOT like to sweat like this” look.  I knew it was time to leave! 
We left about 1PM and decided to cruise some of the areas in NoVa I had worked in years ago….so much has changed.  We worked our way to Rt. 29 and cruised it to Opal.  A friend had shared with us that there was a restaurant in Opal called Barbeque Country, near the truck stop, that served the best BBQ around!  Truck stops are not usually our first choice in cuisine but after surviving being nearly incinerated by the sun earlier we must have thought we were bulletproof….we decided to give it a try.  We had been driving by this place for 30+ years, never stopping because of the way it “looked”.  Not real inviting.  And it was a truck stop….what is wrong with that picture?  So we pulled up our sweaty big peoples pants and trudged into the bowels of the “best BBQ around” restaurant. 
The place is clean, open and inviting inside.  The d├ęcor is what you would expect at a truck stop, functional, simple and clean like an old time diner.  The staff was friendly and helpful.  When you order your food they take out your choice of meat from the oven and chop it up in front of you like the best Japanese steak house would….chop chop chop.  The portions are large and the taste is very enjoyable as are the prices!  The Princess gives Barbeque Country four stars!  Whatever that means?
So we were about finished when a couple we knew came in….and said Hi Chuck & Linda!  It was Bill & Linda….a couple fellow sojourners on the hot rod runs we do.  They were going home from PA and saw our truck in the parking lot.  Bill thought we might be broken down so they stopped to check.  Bill was sitting with us at the cruise last week when Doug mentioned the restaurant and he had not stopped either….because it looked uninviting!  So we all moved to an area where we could talk and Bill & Linda could try the food.  After about an hour and a half of talking and laughing we said our goodbyes and went on our separate ways.  Is this a neat hobby or what….yup….