Monday, June 30, 2014

There once was a man in Hood, VA....

Friday the Princess and I took part in a very special event….  One of America’s Sons, Marine SSGT David H. Stewart, was killed in Afghanistan on June 20, 2014 and he was being returned to us….  He was escorted from Dover, DE to Stafford, VA by over 100 motorcycle riders.  All along the 200 mile route people came out to pay their last respects to a HERO, a Father, a Husband….  He will be missed but never forgotten.  These men & women have chosen to put on the uniform of America and keep the wolf outside the door.  They do this every day, 24/7….some come back whole….some do not.  They all come back changed.  Please take the opportunity to thank a Veteran for their service every chance you get….they deserve our respect and support.

As some of you know there are two cruises in Fredericksburg this year. Both cruises are run by friends and we have been trying to support both of them.   Last Friday we visited the DQ cruise and I was overtired from working in the yard all day.  I just walked around like a zombie and don’t remember anything about the visit.  This Friday I wanted to have a meaningful visit, take some pictures….just enjoy ourselves with friends.  We arrived around 5PM and moseyed inside the DQ to get a reprieve from the heat and sample some of the food.  When we came back out we set up the chairs & umbrellas.  We visited with friends for about 15 min….and it started to rain!  Just a random sprinkle at first but within a few minutes it was like standing on the deck of the Maid of the Mist under Niagara Falls.  We packed up our sopping wet chairs and umbrellas into what was rapidly becoming a flooded pick up bed.  I put on the wipers and we began our trek home in the deluge.  At least we had a roof over our heads….Bill & Debbie drove their Model T race car….no top, no wipers….hmmmmm  We stopped for fuel at the WAWA on Rt.1 near Harrison Road, then continue going North in the rain.  But before we passed VA BBQ, about 4 ½ miles from DQ, the rain had stopped!  It was dry the rest of the way home!  Amazing times! 

Since the truck had received copious amounts of road spray/slime and then dried on the surface, we had to wash it as soon as we made it to our driveway.  Then take everything out of the bed and put on the fans….because someone….forgot to lock the bed cover down to make it seal watertight!  And the Princess reminded me who that “someone” was….she said she could make a checklist for me of what to do if it rains….if that would help….you have no idea.

Over the last few years when we cruise South we have been passing a little museum tucked away in the rolling hills of Virginia a few miles North of Standardsville, but we never stopped.  Sunday we were going to rectify that as we began our adventure from the WAWA in Stafford at 7:30.  We picked up Dan & Ramona along the way to our start point in Opal, VA, about 27 miles away.  We launched from there at 9AM with 3 more cruisers and stopped in Brandy Station, about 10 miles away, to pick up Lou & Arlene.  We cruised 27 miles to the Sheets gas station in Madison, VA and picked up one more car.  We had been alerted that the restroom facilities at the museum may not accommodate a lot of people so we made more pit stops than usual on the way there. 

As I said before, we have passed the Roaring Twenties Car Museum many times but to be honest I never noticed it till late last year when we attended the Crosswalk cruise in Harrisonburg.  Actually the Princess noticed it….one of those “Hey, look at that!” while I was negotiating a narrow double curve road, trying to keep all the parts of the truck together and on my side of the road.  Then it’s “that looks like a cute little museum, why aren’t’ there cars in the parking lot, is it closed, I wonder if they have special hours, should we call them or go back and look at it, I wonder if they have a website, how far is it from Standardsville, have you ever heard of it”….my ears started to bleed about then….  Over the winter Lou mentioned that it might be a good cruise destination and Andrew said their Camaro Club had visited it too and enjoyed it.  So in the spring Lou & I made an onsite visit to check it out and see if it would be suitable for a Cruisin For Heroes cruise.  It was!  We explained to Martha, the owner, that one of the reasons we cruise is to raise awareness of Fisher House Foundation.  So since we were doing the cruise for charity she agreed to waive the customary fee of $10 per person.  Shortly after that visit, I made arrangements with Martha to visit with a small group of car enthusiasts’ in the summer. 

The museum is a showplace for a lifetime of collecting things by John Dudly.  Sewing machines, chain saws, mowers, tractors, gas pumps, all sorts of little knick knacks….and….of course cars and most anything connected with cars.  The display is a little cramped but the items are well preserved and in great condition.  The collection of stationary engines and old outboard boat motors is impressive.  But the cars….An air cooled 1925 Franklin, the Grey Dort from Canada, a 20’s Cleveland, A Surlesmobile of 1945, Nash, Dodge, Whippet, Reo, Ford and too many more to write about….just be sure to check out the pictures.  One cannot see everything in one short visit….you must spend some time immersing yourself in these artifacts.  Say hello to Martha and tell her you read about it here.

When the group was ready to move on we all saddled up and cruised 24 miles to the Wood Grille Buffet in Charlottesville, VA.  Even though we arrived at a busy time, the restaurant arranged some tables to ensure we could all sit together.  Planning is everything!  We have dined here before and if you go away hungry it’s your fault….they have everything you can imagine and it’s a cut above normal “buffet” food.

Too soon we were all ready to cruise home.  We had made some new friends and seen & experienced things that we would park in our memories for a long time.  We began our 80 mile cruise back home with the others; they all ran with us till “their” road turned off.  For the Princess & I, this is what we want to do with the remaining time God lets us have our hot rod.  Shows and cruises have their place but cruising over the road on day trips, experiencing something new, meeting new old friends, sharing our passion with others….that’s what it’s all about for us.  I love this hobby.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Good O'l Days again

Between the truck repairs and rain, our weekend was turning ugly.  We ventured out Friday evening and visited the cruise at the DQ in Fredericksburg, a fun time!  But Saturday we scrubbed the trip to Tappahannock and the Rivahfest because of rain.  Sunday was forecasted to be rain free!  When I opened the garage door Sunday at 5AM and saw the driveway was dry I started to get a little excited.  Maybe today we can ride in the old truck to the show.  I packed the truck and went back inside to crash around on the computer a little while the Princess got ready (I am a keyboard addict, not in recovery yet!) but when the Princess came down she announced that it was raining?  Why does it take me 3 min to get ready….but the Princess takes over an hour to get ready?  If I’m wearing short pants all I have to do is make sure my socks match….and I’m good to go!  I went outside and sure enough the driveway was wet.  I thought it might just be fog or heavy mist, so I stepped outside and looked up, in the dark, and it immediately started to pour!  Yup, it was raining.  We didn’t know how long the rain would last and I really didn’t want to drive the freshly cleaned truck in the rain if I didn’t have to.  So we decided to transfer all our stuff to our little zip car.  Since we were going to put up a Fisher House canopy we had a lot of “stuff” to transfer and reconfigure the little car. 

Around 6:15 we began our 21 mile journey to Occoquan, VA and Prince William Cruiser’s 22nd annual Good O’l Days show, in the rain.  We “work” this show because we feel called to contribute to the efforts of the club and help make this one of the Premier shows in this area.  The club is a Military Veteran friendly club that contributes many dollars to various Veteran organizations throughout the year.  Fred & Debie, Dan & Ramona and the Princess & I all contribute our varied talents to the worker pool so Steve and the club can ensure a seamless, positive experience for the participants and spectators alike.  Dan assisted at the check in point where the club collects the money to get into the show….would you really want to argue with Dan about anything?  The ladies worked the T-shirt sales and 50/50 ticket processing.  The Princess says it’s kind of like shopping shopping, only in reverse?  You have no idea….  Fred & I helped with the registration table till a little after noon when I began documenting all the vehicles in attendance through the lens of my camera and Fred & Dan watched the Fisher House booth we had set up.  We took turns manning the Fisher House booth, there were just few questions about that organization during the day.  We may have to rethink our efforts for a Fisher House presence at car events.  It usually works out much better when Ray & Terry attend with the Fisher House race car.  Something about a race car that attracts people.

Even if we didn’t work this show we would attend it.  The club runs the deal like a Swiss watch….always on time and every movement knows just exactly what to do and the wheels spin on jewels to make the motion smooth as glass.  Most of the members are “old hands” at the show thing and because of that they have participants from three states that attend.  It’s like going to a chain restaurant….you know what to expect, they have done this before; the menu is the same every time.  The food is typical ‘car show’ variety….good but not something you would take your best girl out on Saturday night to sample.  The restrooms are a variable….sometimes good….sometimes not so good.  Sunday they started bad but got good….what a concept!  The venue is exceptional….rolling grass with trees on some of the perimeter spots for the early arrivals.  The club awards many trophies at this event, which is one of the reasons some attend.  But there is always a small minority that pays the entrance fee to support the cause but don’t participate in the competition.  There is always a disparity between the dollars collected and the number of “registered” vehicles.  This Sunday there were about 205 registered and another 10-12 paid but not registered!  Sally and her helpers collected around $1200 for the 50/50….it’s her most visible contribution to the show….she is such a ‘people’ person this task fits her perfectly!

This event attracts all kinds of vehicles….from the “high dollar” Riddler types that seldom see a road mile to cars like Jerry’s gunmetal grey ’30 Ford 2dr sedan that is driven everywhere.  I liked the white early 50’s Ford fire truck and the black ’68 Camaro convertible with the red interior.  I also liked the blue/white ’65 Chevy PU….very simple and neat as a pin.  There were quite a few Mustangs; Marvin’s red ’67 caught the judge’s eye too!  Then there was the grey ’64 Riviera….with the silver scallops…..someday…..  Gary brought his Track Racer, flathead powered of course!  Please be sure to spend some time with the pictures….the group is so varied and interesting, you will find something that you like.

After the awards were given out, on time, we packed up our stuff and motored home.  Once we were inside our hovel we both instantly collapsed in our favorite chairs and didn’t wake till 9PM!  I guess we were exhausted but didn’t know it….something for us to ponder.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

A quiet weekend close to home.....

Friday evening the Princess and I cruised to Fredericksburg, VA and the weekly cruise managed by the Fredericksburg Classic and Muscle Car Club and hosted by VA BBQ restaurant.  We arrived about 4:30 and there were only about 5 cars parked!  We set up and waited….about 5PM the cars started to arrive and by 6PM there were about 30 cars.  Ron and his friend, Donna, set up their chairs next to us then Fred came in, then Bill.  A little while later Bill & Jo-Ann parked near us and we had a little gab fest circle!  We tried some of the BBQ food while we ate and talked as the lot kept attracting more cars.  There is another cruise on Friday night a few miles away, a new one that is drawing people away from this established cruise.  Some people cruise to VA BBQ for a couple hours then cruise over to the other cruise….and some begin at the other cruise and end up at VA BBQ.  So the lot is always a little active and my plan to wait till the sun sets behind the trees to take my photographs just won’t work anymore.  A few cars of note escaped my camera lens when they left early, I’ll have to capture them another time.

A green ’35 Ford sedan with period correct speed equipment parked a few spaces from us.  I was able to take a few detail pics of the engine and interesting turn signal lights on top of the headlights.  I have never seen turn signals like that.  Parked in front of us was a white ‘63   Pontiac Catalina ragtop that looked like it just drove off the dealer lot!  Part of Bill’s display for his brown ’57 Chevy 2dr hardtop is a drive in movie theater speaker stand!  Very authentic and it gets a lot of questions from the younger crowd….I guess everyone is younger than us!  Grin

About 9PM we all gathered up our stuff and said our goodbyes….we all had a very good evening sharing some of our life stories, teasing and joking with one another in a good natured way….It’s what friends do!

Saturday the Princess and I cruised 29 miles to Manassas, VA and the BK cruise.  I don’t think it’s possible to get a good parking spot anymore so we have been parking up on the berm around the East side of the lot.  It’s grass which we like and it’s a little elevated and seems to get a little more breeze.  This cruise is very dynamic as cars are coming and going all the time.  And the afternoon sun is brutal for me to take pictures so I usually only photograph about 70% of the vehicles that attend.

This afternoon the neatest ride was the tan/green ’30 Plymouth roadster original.  To say it was immaculate was like saying the Grand Canyon is a hole in the ground….it was just perfect.  I’m glad people with original cars feel comfortable bringing their cars out to a cruise where they are in the extreme minority.  A black ’32 Ford 5 window, chopped/channeled with Hemi power growled to a stop in between a blue Chevelle and a red/white 60’s Chevy pickup!  It’s so neat to watch how the different disciplines mesh just fine and play nice with each other in the close confines of a parking lot.  Most of the time!  The Princess met a friend she had not seen for a few years….they caught up while walking around checking out the different rides.  About 8PM we decided it was time to pack it in….a nice and uneventful cruise home….on lesser traveled back roads….I love this hobby.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Driving Mrs. Daisy

Friday the Princess and I left Stafford, VA and cruised 102 miles to Harrisonburg, VA so we could attend the Crosswalk Adventures, bi-yearly cruise at the First Church of the Nazarene.  We attended this event last year in the Fall and was very impressed….so back we go.  It had rained for a few days in most of Virginia and we were not sure if we were going to go till Friday morning.  Finally the rain moved out around 10AM, the roads were dry with a few puddles occasionally on the shoulders but nothing the big black Chebby truck couldn’t handle.  It was still overcast and it seemed like we were chasing the rain in front of us all the way.  As we left Standardsville and began approaching Lydia we noticed we could not see the top of the mountains!  Fog was covering the top half….this would be interesting.  As we ascended the mountain the ceiling kept getting lower till we were actually in it….Fog!  We slowed down and started picking our way around the corners and road edges.  It kept getting darker and the visibility was soon less than 50 feet.  This was Rt. 33, a major East/West highway in these parts.  The locals use it like their private race track sometimes and I just knew something would break out of the murk and into our space, which would put the tailgate near the headlights.  Lights on, wipers….uh, I took the wipers off at home because the rain had stopped….they were neatly wrapped up under the seat….not much good there.  We trudged on, ever alert to something plowing into us or us plowing into something in front.  It was a very tense 20 minutes that seemed like a week.  When we passed under Skyline Drive the fog was gone!  The sun was out and I’m sure we were doing our best mole in the sun look while our pupils adjusted to the intense sun. 

As we descended we passed a “Runaway Truck Ramp-Gravel” sign….?  This really didn’t give me a sense of calm….I instinctively tapped the brakes, just to be sure.  I didn’t want to pass up an opportunity to plow into a bed of 4 million tons of gravel with the truck.  Why can’t they have “Runaway Truck Ramp-Jell-O” or “Runaway Truck Ramp-Goose Down” or “Runaway Truck Ramp-Toxic Sippy Hole”, I think everyone would make sure their brakes worked for that one.   As I watched the ramp signs disappear in the rear view mirror I checked the GPS and noted we were getting close to our destination and it was about 2PM, we would be early.  We rounded ‘Dollys Knob’ at the outskirts of Elkton and passed over Rt. 340 on our way through Massanutten….the cheese was very close now.  The Princess and I had left more than a little Harley tire rubber on these roads, this was part of what we called going around the block.  A 240 mile day ride that we made at least once a month when we rode the WideGlide. 

When we turned into the cruise lot at 2:30 it was nearly empty!  Five or six cars and a dozen chairs holding parking spots.  So we had our pick where we would spend the better part of the next 7 hours of our life.  Next time we will park closer to the DJ….and the restrooms!  While we waited, we were able to watch Zach and the other volunteers set up the event which was refreshing to me.  I usually am the one fast walking around, answering questions, waving my arms, making sure everything goes as planned and when it doesn’t we have to come up with a solution quick….yup….I like to watch others do that too. 

This is a cruise in the best sense of the term.  There are no trophies, no door prizes and no charge to register.  Just get together with like minded folks and visit.  The restrooms are in the church and great….something important for us old folk.  The church provided food at a very reasonable price….and a great variety too.  It was tasty, not normal “car show” fare.  The DJ kept the music going and they had games for the kids and adults.  The Sherriff’s office was offering ID and fingerprinting for kids.  The event filled up to overflowing by 7PM and when we left around 8:30 there were 405 vehicles registered with another 150 or so just cruising in and out.  A lot of people didn’t know you were supposed to register, we didn’t last year!  There was no cost to register and the church would then have your address to send you a reminder for the next event.  They also would have a more accurate count of the vehicles that attended and where they came from.  It is an outreach program of the church….nothing wrong with that.

I tried to take pictures of all the vehicles….no way!  I took most of the ones on the main lot but gave up when I realized they were parking the vehicles everywhere….grass, gravel, road….everywhere.  I shot a video from the main road to get an overview of the event but it doesn’t do it justice.  The vehicles ranged from all out race cars to original antiques and everything in between.

We met our friend Dave and his Granddaughter Lindsey near the end of the event and decided to go to eat somewhere when we left so we could catch up a little.  So….when a person is in Harrisonburg and is hungry….only one place to go….Wood Grille Buffett.  After the manager came by our table the 18th time we realized we might be consuming way too much food (buffets do that to a person).  We said our goodbyes and cruised to the Comfort Inn to end our day.  Whew!  Saturday morning we had an uneventful cruise back home and recounted the previous days adventures all the way while we took in the Virginia countryside. 

Saturday afternoon we cruised 29 miles to Manassas, VA and the BK near the airport.  We usually arrive early enough to get the parking spaces we like….not today.  We ended up parking on the berm behind the actual parking lot.  It’s about 4’ higher than the lot and it worked out just fine.  We set up our chairs & umbrellas after we visited the restaurant for a late lunch.  Those “Satisfries” are pretty good as are the rest of the choices.  I grew up on fast food so this is just fine with me.  We had a couple inquiries about the umbrella set up we have….the Princess says I need to market them….hmmmm  A couple young men parked next to us….and I began smelling charcoal burning?  They came over and asked us if we wanted a hot dog, they were going to grille some!  We declined but later I had a conversation with them.  I explained that they may save a few dollars by cooking out but that the BK was our host and it was not real cool to bring your own food to a restaurant.  I understood the cost saving they had….and I have been there too once….but it’s still not cool to do that.  They acknowledged they understood….I hope they really did.  The vehicles that cruised in were the usual suspects….a good mix of new and old, with more new than old it seems.  I’m not sure what that means but it is what it is!  We broke camp right before dark so I could see better driving home….getting old isn’t for sissies.

Sunday afternoon Dan & Ramona and the Princess & I left N. Stafford to begin our 59 mile cruise to Gordonsville, VA and a late lunch at the BBQ Exchange restaurant.  Along the way Fred & Debie joined us and then we were three hot rods cruising.  We have visited this restaurant before and liked the food choices and atmosphere.  It’s nothing fancy with paper plates and plastic utensils but the prices are fair and the quality of the food is superb.   The only drawback is the parking….it’s tight and on gravel.  But we have been lucky and always found suitable spots for our hot rods.  We lingered while we ate and tied up their table a little too long but we hadn’t seen each other for a week so a lot of catching up was in order.  Too soon it was time to hit the road again.  This time Fred agreed to lead us on the way back.  I usually lead the groups and it’s so much more relaxing to follow taillights than watch the group in the mirror all the time, thanks Fred.

We had an uneventful cruise home….another weekend driving the Virginia byways and immersing ourselves in what God has provided for us….I love this hobby!