Sunday, August 31, 2014

Be Prepared....

Friday the Princess & I took our hot rod and cruised to Culpeper, VA.  We had some loose ends to tie up at the Culpeper Regional Airport for our event in October and we met Lou & Arlene near the airport.  Lou & I do most of the grunt work for this event since he lives in Culpeper and I like airplanes….that we both are retired helps too!  The meeting went well with Tanya & Tony and I do believe this year’s event will be the best yet! 

The Commemorative Air Force is flying a restored B-17G around the Country; it’s called “Sentimental Journey”.  It is a beautiful representation of the type of bomber that took the war to Germany & Japan in WWII.  The love and attention they lavish on it is just mind boggling.  The airplane was at the Culpeper airport all week!  When we concluded our meeting with Tanya, the airport manager, she asked if we wanted to take our classic cars out on the ramp and take some pictures with the B-17 before we left?  Well….uh….Lou & I looked at each other and blabbered in unison “oh yeah, that would be a once in a lifetime opportunity to do something like that”….YUP!  We carefully motored out on the ramp and over by the glistening old bomber being careful not to run over any people admiring the airplane too.  We parked and took some of the most memorable pictures with our hot rods we may ever get.  What a deal….  After that photo shoot nothing could go wrong the rest of the day!

We floated away from the airport and headed to our next stop, Battlefield Ford and our meeting with the owner Gary.  We needed to tie down more loose ends with our AirFest sponsor. We met with Gary and had the fastest meeting I have ever had but also one of the most productive in memory.  We are set with the sponsor….on to the award company. 

Ed’s Trophy & Engraving has been making our awards for this event since we began six years ago.  Our event is not a competitive event, no trophies thank you very much.  But we do appreciate everyone that takes their time to come spend the day with us at the airport, sharing their vehicle and talking to the thousands of spectators that roam through our vehicle display on the way into the airshow.  So we present everyone that participates with a token of our appreciation….something to help them remember the day.  Our group, Cruisin For Heroes, puts on the event to raise awareness that hopefully will translate into donations for our charity, Fisher House Foundation.

After our meeting with Ed we cruised to Glory Days and an early dinner out on their patio….  The afternoon was pleasantly comfortable but we really wanted to be able to watch our hot rods while we ate….those of you that drive your hot rod will know what I mean.

After eating too many fish & chips we wobbled over to the weekly cruise at Arby’s.  This is a casual gathering of local hot rodders that just enjoy each other’s company and want to get together every week, even in the winter!  It’s in a very nice venue and will support about 25-30 cars, which makes it very cozy and friendly.  The food is good and indoor restrooms are always a plus.  There were less than 10 cars Friday, no doubt due to the Holiday weekend.  We may help promote this cruise next year, I really like it and it takes about the same amount of time to cruise 40 miles to Culpeper as it does the 18 miles to Fredericksburg!  Yes, traffic around here near I-95 or Rt. 1 is horrific on Friday evening….all year around.  And with the current construction it won’t get any better for a couple years!


The only drawback about this cruise is the close proximity of shopping for the ladies.  The Princess and Arlene should not be allowed to go shopping together….and when Benda goes with them the shopping bag count can go way up!  I think it must be like a competition….to see how much stuff they can buy….it’s a sickness I think?  Its times like these I’m sorry we drive a truck….like the Post Office, ‘If it fits, it ships’.  I may be able to keep the Princess near the truck if I hang up a chrome wind chime or something else shinny but Lou & Bob are on their own with their ladies!

We said our goodbyes around 8:30 and cruised to Bruster’s Ice Cream in Culpeper.  I think Lou’s GPS is hard wired with the Bruster’s address….we can’t leave the area till we stop there!  After Ice cream we had an uneventful cruise home….in the cool of the evening….windows down….smelling the smells of late summer.

Saturday we decided to cruise to Manassas, VA and the weekly cruise at the BK near the airport.  We met Dan & Ramona on the way out of Stafford and made the rest of the 30 mile cruise without incident.  When we arrived in the lot Dan found two parking spaces near the ice cream stand….coincidence?  I think not!  Dan’s most favorite food in the world is ice cream….never get between him and ice cream….it could get ugly!  The attendance was a little down; no doubt from the holiday weekend, but some fat tire cars came out anyway.  I always like to see/hear/feel those rides….it really is a visceral thing with those cars.  About 8AM we decided to call it a day and almost had another uneventful cruise home.  That is until Dan blew his deer whistle!  I think there is something on his ’55 that makes a noise that deer like, it attracts them.  This time he was able to stop before hitting one even though one was standing in the road….looking at Dan….like he was saying “come on big boy, is that all ya got?.  The Princess and I were laughing so hard I was having trouble seeing because of the tears….too much fun I guess.  You had to be there….maybe next time you will?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Mid Summer Thunder Cruise 2014

Friday evening just a few hearty souls ventured out with their hot rods….the weatherguessers were forecasting rain that never materialized.  There were about 20 vehicles but one that caught my eye was Pete’s new red ’88 IROC Camaro convertible with every option known to man.  It also has a very interesting interior.  There was also my favorite red ’59 Pontiac convertible from the Southern environs.  Then a late 80’s, yellow Buick GN (?) with a 455 motor….very interesting with the portholes on the front fenders.  Since none of the regular ladies came out, the Princess didn’t have any compatible conversationalists….so we went home around 8:30!  I know….Kim and us guys don’t count….it’s a Princess thing!

Saturday we watched it rain!

Sunday we left the WAWA at 8AM and cruised 27 miles to Opal, VA and the start point for the Mid Summer Thunder Cruise.  This would be the first one of this cruise for our group, Cruisin For Heroes, and we wanted it to be special.  We have been planning this since February and Sunday we would see how it would be received.  I almost rescheduled it because a show that I really like, Colonial Beach Nostalgia Drags, scheduled their rain date the same as our cruise.  I had a real struggle with this but in the end, my friend, Fred, said….don’t we do what we say we’re going to do?  “Light bulb”….YUP….we do!  So on with our cruise.

There were 12 cars at the meet up in Opal but Dan had to go home with his sick Chebby.  Then we picked up 3 more cruisers about 6 miles from the start when we turned onto Rt. 211….and lost the Studebaker when he turned off for home.  So I’m really struggling with this new math but I think we had either 13 or 4729 vehicles in our caravan, assaulting the roads on our 65 mile cruise to the Meems Bottom Covered Bridge near Mt. Jackson, VA.

The Meems Bottom Covered Bridge spans the North Fork of the Shenandoah River and is the longest covered bridge in Virginia at 204 feet.  It has been reconstructed four times from floods or fire since it was built in 1867.  It is on the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register, it is a special deal.  The Princess and I discovered it in the 90’s one day while we were cruising the Virginia countryside on our Harley and last winter we decided to share it with some of our hot rod friends.  This year we wanted to attend fewer shows but go on more over the road cruises.  Since few other people plan cruises around here, we decided that if we wanted to go on more cruises….we would have to also be the planners of them!  This is the 5th cruise we have planned and executed this year and have 5 more this year!  Next year we will be planning more if the interest is there.

The day was dreary and just a tad warm till we got over the first mountain….then it got more comfortable.  We had low hanging dark clouds that were taunting us all day but our wipers stayed in their hiding place!  Yes….I have my wiper arms & blades removed and stowed under my seat.  It seems that when the Princess is taking pictures out the windshield, on a sunny day, the reflection from the wiper arms is like a thermonuclear explosion….right there on my hood!  And the Princess does not like to look into the bright light.  The whine meter starts climbing….hmmm.

After our first pit stop near Luray we proceeded over the next mountain to Rt. 11 then turned north toward Mr. Jackson.  You really have to know this deal is there or you can drive right past the little sign that directs motorists to the bridge.  The long access road has mature trees along the path and a manicured buffered sod area between the 6’ high corn fields on both sides of the road.  The road is an active; VDOT maintained access road to homes and businesses on the other side of the bridge.  The Princess and I parked the truck on the side of the road then got out and began photographing the event.  Driving the hot rods is a visceral deal for us but reporting on it is a visual thing so please check out the pictures.  The Princess takes all the ‘on the road’ pictures so no old people were hurt in their truck as they documented the cruise.  All the cars drove through the bridge then turned around and came back through it.  Many of us took photographs of the cars as they exited the bridge….it’s part of what we came for!  Everyone wandered around the bridge and under the bridge….it’s a neat place to explore.  Rich was having a little trouble with his orange ’69 Dodge Daytona (minor) but had many many helpers offering advice and help.  It was not a disabling problem and the car was ready to go when we decided to move on to lunch. 

We cruised about 7 miles to the other side of New Market, VA and the Southern Kitchen restaurant.  We have used this eatery as a destination a few times in the past and have always been pleased with the food and service.  When we arrived we were about an hour and half early.  There were lines of people outside waiting to get in.  I knew our people would not like to wait so I squeezed (yeah little ‘ol me) in to the lady taking names for the wait list.  When I said we have 22 people she asked if we were the “car” people!  I stammered yes!  She said come on in we have your tables waiting!  WOW So the only inconvenience we had to suffer was the looks from the people that didn’t call ahead….note to self, ALWAYS CALL AHEAD!  We all settled in for another great meal at Southern Kitchen….did I say it is on Rt. 11 in New Market, VA and they are open 7 days a week?  I don’t know how they did it but they served all of our group within 5 minutes of each other….that in itself is amazing.  Usually when a large group orders off a menu some of the people are done eating before some even get their food.  There is plenty of parking and easy access….this place rocks!

After lunch some of the group visited a car show going on near New Market, some had to go somewhere else and some headed home.  Our little group of about 7 cars made our way back over two mountains again but when we reached Sperryville we took Rt. 522 to Culpeper.  It gave us a different look for the trip home and also provided an ice cream stop!  Our truck cannot pass an ice cream establishment if we are closer than….oh say….200 miles from one!  We have to stop!  So in Culpeper there is a Bruster’s Ice Cream store very close to Rt. 29, which is the route we will take going back to Stafford.  By the time we arrived at Bruster’s there were just three of us….the rest had peeled off and taken a different route home….no ice cream that way….just sayin.

We had a great day cruising about 200 total miles on some of the picturesque Virginia byways, enjoying old friends and making some new ones while driving our hot rod….I love this hobby.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The road or the lawn mower.....hmmmmm

Friday we settled in at VA BBQ for the weekly cruise managed by Fredericksburg Classic and Muscle Car Club.  A lot of the usual suspects rolled in along with a few new rides too.  The deep wine ’39 Chevy was perfect….it didn’t stand out till you started checking it closely.  So much attention to detail, it was just amazing.  And the orange ’37 Ford that I walked by thinking it was Special Ed’s orange ’39….they look similar with a quick glance.  I have to talk to the owner next time!  There were about 45 cars at the cruise….a nice night.  Our little cluster of friends kept talking through the awards, the 50/50 and almost all the cars leaving before we noticed we were nearly the last ones in the lot!  The weather was perfect, the company was engaging….they say ‘time fly’s when you are having fun’.  I can’t think of a more pleasant way to spend a few hours with friends and hot rods.  The Princess & I cruised home remarking what a cool hobby this is….

Saturday we launched from Stafford, VA on our 67 mile cruise to Gordonsville, VA and the Barbeque Exchange Restaurant.  Ever since our friend Bill told us about this place, we try to visit it as often as we can.   Denny & Betty left the WAWA with us and Dan & Ramona joined in on the way out of Stafford.  When we cruised past Culpeper, Fred & Debie joined with us in our quest for food.  This is always a lazy, non confrontational cruise through the rolling hills of the Virginia Countryside.  The Princess takes pictures along the way to try to give you a flavor of its grandeur….but you need to go with us sometime to absorb the full impact of what God has put here for us to enjoy. 

Cruising along is fun….until….we reach Gordonsville….and the circle of death.  In order to proceed through Gordonsville VDOT decided to install a traffic circle, or round-about!  I think these medieval devices are just a clever way for the government to subliminally train us to be more aggressive drivers.  One has only two choices once you get to the queue of the circle of death.  You can wait till someone in the whirling dervish of vehicles lets you enter the fray….but most of the time your driver’s license will expire before that happens.  Or….you can just aggressively push into the melee and hope you hit something smaller than you as you merge with the crush of metal mayhem.  Once in the swirl you have to keep uncomfortably close to the person in front of you lest any other driver dare merge in front of you.  All the while you have to keep track of where your exit is located so you can jump off the mind numbing marry-go-round without getting trapped.  This part of the exercise is very important because if you wimp out you will be sentenced to a life of driving around in circles.  This is when I usually think about that old Kingston Trio song….the one about the MTA.

So we all make it through the circle of death and into Gordonsville proper.  It’s a quaint old town with architecture from the 1800’s.  Its name came from the original postmaster, Nathaniel Gordon, who purchased the land in 1787 from a cousin of President James Madison.  He opened the post office in 1813 and the town’s name was changed from ‘Newville’ to Gordonsville at that time.  Gordonsville is also a hub of three major highways and has a railroad running through it too.  It was and is an important crossroad town for commerce as well as travelers.

Monday, August 11, 2014

The wheels keep turning....


Friday we had planned to visit the cruise in Louisa, VA….about 60 miles one way….but about two hours before we were to leave our friend Fred called me to say the cruise had been cancelled!  So I emailed and Facebooked everyone I knew so they wouldn’t go either….whew!  I don’t think we will schedule a return trip to that cruise.

So now we are mentally fired up to go somewhere with the hot rod….so since the next day would be a long road trip we decided to stay close to home.  We hadn’t visited the Fredericksburg DQ for a while so that would be on the agenda tonight!  About 22 miles later we cruised into the empty lot….way early.  That was ok because we could eat at the DQ….they have ice cream ya know….   I picked out the parking spot I wanted for an artsy photo shot later then we stumbled into the eatery to consume massive amounts of triglyceride laden comfort food.  While we were eating the crowd started filling up the lot and by the time we returned to the truck and started to set up our camp there were over 30 cars sitting….and by the time we left later in the evening there were over 60 vehicles that had rumbled to the DQ! 

This cruise attracts all kinds of interests in vehicles….from antique, hot rod, motorcycles, new classics, trucks, rat rods, traditional old school hot rods….pretty much everything.  Jeannette & Sue, the cruise managers, play cool hot rod music, give out some trophies, sell cruise T-shirts and run auctions and 50/50s for local needy families….they both work very hard to make the cruise experience a pleasant one for all and I think it shows.  The cruise is more transient than most.  By that I mean more people come in for a little while then leave to cruise somewhere else while other people come in to take their place.  Also one of the access by customers to the Dairy Queen drives through part of the cruise lot which adds some ‘busyness’ to the mix….everyone plays nice though and it’s all good.  Around 8:30 we decided to cruise home….tomorrow would be a very long day.

Saturday we would attend an event we have been planning on since last winter.  Dave & Raymond from Valley Mustangs Unlimited out of Harrisonburg, VA told me that they wanted to donate the proceeds from their 20th Annual All Ford Powered Show to Fisher House Foundation through our group, Cruisin For Heroes…!    They wanted us there to accept the donation and share about what Fisher House Foundation does for our Veterans.  One of our group members drives a red ’53 Ford Sunliner….so he decided to enter his ride too.  This is the same club that donated $1000 last year to Fisher House Foundation through our group.  It is curious that a club so far away from us understands the importance of supporting our Veterans through Fisher House but local clubs not so much….oh well. 

Lou & Arlene and the Princess & I were stressing for a week about the weather for this show date.  A week prior the weatherguessers were prognosticating massive amounts of rain for Saturday….flooding, tornados, hurricanes, sea water rising, apocalyptic end of the world stuff….typical for weatherguessers in our part of the world.  Lou & I kept close watch on four different weather sites and the Friday before made the decision, based on the aforementioned weather sites, that we would take our daily drivers because the forecast was 60% rain and rising!  Ok….we’re set.  After the Princess & I got home from the Friday cruise at DQ I checked the weather sites….the rain % was down to 20% or below!  I tried to call Lou but you know how early those retired guys go to bed so at 11PM I left him the message that we would take the hot rods tomorrow.  Early Saturday morning we connected by phone and got our trip underway.  We met Lou near Culpeper, VA on the way to Harrisonburg, VA.  Since the trip would be 105 miles for us we made a pit stop at the Sheets on Rt. 20 & Rt. 230….whew.  The route to Harrisonburg is one of the most pleasant rides we do….it is so typical of the rolling Virginia countryside….the ride is worth the effort in itself.

We rolled into the show about 10:30 and the fun began!  It was an all Ford show….we drive a Chebby truck….I see confrontation written all over this scenario.  So since I write a blog, take pictures and am published on HotRodHotLine I consider myself as a “Press” guy.  I made up a cool “PRESS” sign just in case there was trouble.  I pay the entry fee to support the charity but clearly didn’t have a horse in the race….  So, when the parking guy said “that’s not a Ford”, I announced to him, in my most authoritative voice, that I was a “Press” guy, see my sign?  He looked bewildered and asked his partner who shrugged his shoulders and grinned….  Then I bellowed “OK where do you want me to park?”  He shuffled me to another guy further into the lot….then one of the club members that know me said it’s ok….whew!  So since we were driving one of “Those” cars they put us way off in the corner….away from the real cars….grin  I felt like that kids story with the rabbit saying “whatever you do don’t send me to the briar patch”  Yeah, don’t make us park over in the corner, under a big shade tree, on the cool grass….no don’t send us there….chuckling….  The Princess quickly setup her chair and stuff to stake out this primo parking spot, giggling all the time!

This WAS a Ford show….it WAS put on by a Mustang club….it WAS hosted by a Ford dealership….so I would expect a few Mustangs would be present.  YUP….a lot of Lee Iacocca’s vision of what an American sporty car should be, were present.  I must confess that even though the Princess drives a red ’94 Mustang GT, that I bought her for our 30th wedding anniversary, I don’t know a lot about the newer ones.  All the different engines, superchargers and other mods that they can make to their rides give me confidence that the performance spirit is alive and well.  I think there was an example of every Mustang at the event except for maybe a T5.  Of the 120 cars that were registered, 94 were Mustangs.  The rest were very nice examples of the Ford marque ….except for one bow tie that snuck in! 

The judging process is a points based system….a strict go-no go deal, very objective and not subjective.  It is the only way such a diverse group of entrants could be fairly compared and judged.  It is a tedious way to judge but in the end most of the participants should feel it was a fair process.  Lou had slaved for weeks to get his ’53 show ready….it really looked pristine to me….and he got a “gold” award….cool stuff.  I thought we would get the dumb butt award for bringing a Chevy to a Ford show….I guess the chrome on the engine blinded the judges so they couldn’t mark the ballot….oh well, next time….grin

The event had a few vendors that included a Triumph motorcycle display….still running after all these years….they began in 1902!  The food vendor, Still Porkin, served up their restaurant quality fare….it really was that good.  The dealership provided restrooms were a welcome feature of the show as was the large amount of door prizes.  Not normal door prizes either….some really nice stuff! The club made another significant donation to Fisher House Foundation and on behalf of the Fisher House Foundation and Cruisin For Heroes; we sincerely thank them for their continued support of our Veterans.

 The club runs the event like a German railroad….everything happens when it should and how it should.  They all work together to make the participants experience a very positive one.  Something the participants will remember….and come back again next year!  What a concept!  If you drive a blue oval you need to put this event on your calendar for next year….you will not be disappointed.  If you don’t drive a blue oval….you have a year to fix that! 

After the awards were given out we said our thank yous to the club members and cruised to Ciro’s Italian Eatery near Elkton, VA.  Lou & Arlene and the Princess & I have visited this restaurant before and always try to stop in when we are in the neighborhood.  The food is superb, the wait staff is impeccable and we get to dine on the veranda overlooking the beautiful Virginia countryside.   Too soon the day was ending as we cruised 85 miles back to Stafford.  What a day….I love this hobby.