Friday, December 18, 2015

Toys For Tots 2015

Saturday, December 12, 2015 would be the 6th running of Dan’s Toys For Tots event, the Santa’s Helpers Toy Run.  For the last four years we have begun the day at Chili’s in N. Stafford.  The manager, Derrick,  opens the restaurant early for Dan so we can have brunch and mingle a little before we cruise north.   The last two years have had a low turnout because of the weather, one year it snowed!  This year the weather was perfect, even a little warm! 

People began arriving shortly after Dan set up at 8AM….and they kept rolling in till right before we left at Noon.  This event is becoming very well known to the point that other clubs join in with us….  The Fredericksburg Classic and Muscle Car Club, Northern Virginia Mustangs, Virginia Stockers….and others I haven’t seen in a while!  This year 109 vehicles joined in with us!  We have always had a ‘Police’ escort, without the escort it would be bedlam at every intersection.  The Fredericksburg Classic and Muscle Car Club also presented a generous donation check to our group, Cruisin For Heroes, for The Fisher House Foundation!  How cool is THAT.

As soon as the Sherriff’s escort arrived, the group left Chili’s and gathered in the nearby commuter lot for the drivers meeting then they departed north, to the National Museum of the Marine Corps near Quantico, VA.  I left Chili’s early so I could setup and shoot a video of them arriving at the Museum.  Parking at the Museum was….special….but we all managed.  The night before the event Dan received an email from the Museum stating that because of heightened security concerns they would not be allowing people to bring the toys inside the museum but they would receive them in the parking lot!  This is a big change but we adapted.  I think we overwhelmed the Marine driving the Toys For Tots truck….I had a Richard Dryfuss, Jaws flashback….’you’re going to need a bigger truck’ as I watched the toys pile up!  Everyone was to bring one unwrapped toy to donate….most of the hot rodders brought bags of toys!  Going to be a bunch of happy kids in our area this year!  As it worked out they had to make a couple trips to the warehouse to empty the toys from the truck….how cool is that.  We had an absolutely amazing day….Please check out the pictures and video….and plan to join us next year! 

Unless something unusual presents itself, this will be the last blog entry for 2015….the farm truck is put away for its long winter hibernation till March 2016.  I want to thank you for following us around through this blog….it’s why we do it, for you!
I also made a website that displays our Vacation we took this May, you may want to check it out too;

The Princess & I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a fulfilling New Year.


Sunday, November 29, 2015

Over The River And Through The Woods Run 2015

Saturday, November 28, 2015 we launched at 8AM for the 7th annual running of our Over The River And Through The Woods Run.  In years past we would begin the run at a ‘meet-up’ place that was kind of geographically centralized for the prospective participants….so some would not have to drive much further than the others….we always tried to make it fair for everyone.  We would leave as a group from the meet-up and cruise to a restoration shop.  Then from the shop we would cruise a short distance, usually less than 20 miles, to a restaurant for a late lunch.  Then we would disperse individually from there to our homes.  Last year after we left the meet-up location with about 30 cars we arrived at the restoration shop and there were about 20 more cars already there!  Since the restaurant wasn’t a buffet, this made for a very bad experience because they didn’t know the final number of 70 people that they would have to serve until about 15 min before we arrived….it was a bad deal.  So this year we had the start/meet-up location at the restoration shop then cruised to the restaurant so we would have a good number for the restaurant about 2 hours before we would arrive there.  We will only use buffet restaurants for this run in the future. 

So the people began to arrive at B & R Customs, 202 Freedom Ct., Fredericksburg, VA, before 9AM and continued to join us till right before the leave time of 10:30.  The owner of B&R, Dave Burrage, and some of his staff welcomed us all with hot coffee, donuts and cold soft drinks.  They were available to answer any questions about the services they offer and talk about some of the vehicles they were working on.  Their shop is always very clean and tidy, a sign of an organized mind.  They provide a needed service for those of us with ‘special’ rides….not every shop can or will work on the old ones as well as new ones. So many shops just cater to daily drivers and not special rides.  If you need something done to your ride you may want to consider checking out B&R’s services. 

Soon it was time to begin our cruise to the food!  We left the shop and made our way to the first pit stop in Ferncliff….about 47 miles….for most of us.  Some took a little side cruise (Lou, you have to give up the hat).  I didn’t think about the restrooms at the pit stop, I just checked them for being clean and asked the owner to make sure they would be clean on the 28th….but it didn’t register that they were single bathrooms.  We had quite a line waiting to get in the men’s room.  When everyone’s bladder was empty and their gas tank full, we departed on Rt. 250W and followed it for 27 miles till we came to Charlottesville, VA and the Wood Grill Buffet.  We have used this restaurant a few times before and knew what to expect.  The Princess & I checked it out a couple weeks ago to make sure they weren’t renovating it or doing something else that would be a surprise.  We also reserved a private room for our group which was nice too.  The food quality is always excellent and the food choices are amazing.  The service can be overwhelming when 40 people show up for lunch but our waitress was on top of it and in the end most everyone wobbled out like the Willy Wonka Blueberry girl….I think they were happy.

We all said our goodbyes and trickled out of the parking lot toward home.  Some would do some shopping on the way home but most just headed for the barn.  Our 81 mile trek back to Stafford was dotted with light rain, not enough to get the road wet but just sprinkles on the windshield.  A fun day on the road….we have one more event this year then the truck will take a rest till March.  The event that we have left is Dan’s 6th Annual Santa’s Helpers, Toys For Tots cruise.  We will be cruising to the National Museum of the Marine Corps to drop off toys and so our kids/grandkids can meet Mr. & Mrs. Santa….don’t miss it!  

Monday, November 16, 2015

Paws4Vets 2015

Last year in November our friend Bill E. told us about an event his daughter, Susan P., was putting on in Fredericksburg for Veterans….something about dogs.  We weren’t really too interested but because of our friendship with Bill we said we would come out and see what it was all about.  We found out that another friend, Ron L. was going to provide the music for the event!  We convinced a couple other friends to come out so at least we knew we could hang out with friends and listen to cool music….it wouldn’t be a wasted day. 

As the day unfolded we began to understand the event much better and the impact it had on individual Veterans, in this case, Walter P.   Walter is a Vietnam Vet that lives with PTSD and since he has been coupled with ‘Jackson’, his service dog, he is better able to cope with his demons.  The “Dog Walk” helps to pay back the organization, Paws4Vets that provided Jackson for Walter.  The dogs are given to the Veterans but they agree to have ‘fundraisers’ to pay back AND pay forward the many thousand dollar cost of the dogs.  The ‘fundraising’ part of the event was a small fee to walk your dog on a marked out route and the proceeds from donated ‘silent auction’ items.  We had a great time that day and after experiencing the reason for the event we decided to figure out how our group, Cruisin For Heroes, could partner with Susan to help her next year. 

Last year’s event was on November 8th….and the first of the 323 emails for this year’s event began on November 9, 2014!  We decided to see if we could partner with the local chapter of Rolling Thunder Inc, Virginia Region 3, since they are always looking for ways to directly support Veteran’s needs.  We had a meeting with their rep., Mac M., and the event began to take shape.  We had meetings with Susan, Stafford County, Vendors and other ‘car people’.  We wanted to help Susan cast a larger net to have more spectators come out and support what they are doing.  Susan decided to use Curtis Memorial Park for its location and sprawling, woodsy layout.  The biggest drawback from the event in ’14 was the time of year was very chilly….it was sunny but cold.  Susan would change that for this year by having it on October 3, 2015.

The week before the event, hurricane Joaquin made its way up the East coast and met with a storm system from the north.  The two systems would collide to produce massive quantities of rain in our area.  Some coastal flooding and many streams & rivers would rise suddenly.   The event would have to be postponed….never a good thing.  Susan met with the County to see what could be done and if they would lose the $350 deposit for the park.  The only other time the park was available for her use was….November 14….in the cooler part of the year….yup!  So we all scrambled to change the ads on the internet, newspapers, radio and flyers.  It was a massive effort but it’s what had to be done.  So Susan, Rolling Thunder, the vendors….and Cruisin For Heroes began sweating out the weather for Nov. 14th.

Some say that in Virginia if you don’t like the weather one day….just wait 24 hours and it will change….there is some validity in that.  The weather during the week leading up to the 14th was unseasonably warm but on the 12th the temps started dropping….and dropping.  The 14th would be sunny but cold.  The cool weather would be dealt with by the participants but the needed spectators would stay away.  Attendance by spectators was optional, it was mandatory for us!  Brrrrrrrrrrrr…..

The day broke with the sun rays filtering through the trees, as advertised but with no wind.  It wasn’t too bad if one could be in the sun.  Otherwise it was very cold.  Then about 10Am the wind began….which made the chill factor a minus 263 degrees.  All the vendors set up and the people with dogs began to trickle in to the event.  The Fredericksburg Classic and Muscle Car Club came out with a large group of its members to support the event.  Some other ‘car’ friends braved the bone chilling weather to join with us too.  Then the Rolling Thunder motorcycles rumbled in.  The Princess & I rode for over 40 years and know how much fun it is riding in very cold temps….with a 60 mph chill factor! These guys & gals could have stayed home and been nice and cozy….but it’s not in their nature to abandon a fellow Veteran.  Thank You….Rolling Thunder riders, for supporting the event!

The ‘theme’ of this year’s event was 50’s Rock-N-Roll….and some, like Bill & Jo-Ann, would really fit the part….to include driving a ’57 Chevy!  Some of the dog owners would dress the dogs in 50’s attire; you have to check the pictures out.  Elvis (aka Curly Cue the clown) joined us to keep the event rolling and led the dancing later in the day.  Ron L. donated his time and equipment to DJ the music all day long….even though he should have stayed in bed and nurse his sniffles.  The vendor that was selling coffee was very busy and they soon would be feeding the participants too. 

One of the things we suggested to Susan was to have more things in the silent auction that were not just dog related this year.  I think it worked!  Some of the people bought stuff they really didn’t need….but wanted anyway.  I think Bill B. needs to bring his trailer the next time we have one of these events…..Debbie accepted the challenge to ‘win it all’….?  I never knew that auctions were supposed to be a challenge….silly me….  I overheard a biker couple talking about an auction item, something about it wouldn’t fit in the saddle bags….I interrupted and said we could deliver it for them.  By the look on HIS face I don’t think I’ll get a Christmas card from them this year….  Arlene finally found the perfect, just right thing that she absolutely needed….it was so big that Ron L. had to haul it away for Lou….check the pictures.

As the day’s events unfolded it came time for the testimonies of the Veterans that have service dogs….their stories are heart wrenching and victorious at the same time.  These very special people need & deserve our support.  They dutifully put on the cloth of our Country and did our bidding to protect the American way….it’s our turn to protect and support them any way, any time we can. 

After the testimonies Susan had some presentations recognizing those that helped with the event.  Then Mac gave Susan a check for $500 for Paws4Vets from Rolling Thunder Inc, Virginia Chapter 3….how cool is that!?  Then they had the contest for the best 50’s dog costumes….that was fun too.  Then it was time for the 50/50 drawing followed by the silent auction winners.

Except for the low spectator turn out because of the cold weather I think the event was a success.  Next year I hope Susan plans the event for June or July….  Be sure to check the pictures, there are over 200 but it captures the character of the event….try to join us next year….you won’t regret it.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Visiting a very special place for Veterans Day 2015

Wednesday was the eleventh day of the eleventh month….in America that means it’s Veteran’s Day.  A friend had told me about a Vietnam War Museum somewhere near Ruckersville, VA a few months ago and I filed it as something to check out over the winter.  Then last month at our AirFest event a gentleman talked with Lou about the Vietnam War Museum that he volunteered at and that we should check it out.  Lou is a Vietnam Veteran and put together a private cruise to the Museum on Veterans Day.  Lou & Arlene, Fred, David and the Princess & I met up at the Reva Fire & Rescue from 4 different directions.  Then Lou led the motley little crew south on Rt. 29 as we tried to find our way to the Vietnam War Foundation Museum. 

Lou is a firm; no make that devoted, advocate of the GPS technology.  We had a little….diversion….from the route to the museum.  But hey, it was a very nice day to be driving aimlessly around the spectacular Virginia countryside.  It really was fun for me.  I usually lead our cruises but today I was just following David’s awesome blue Mustang, who was following Fred’s red/white ’57 Dodge, who was following Lou’s red ’53 Ford Sunliner, who was following Helga….that lives in Lou’s GPS.  Lou explained how something had happened to his GPS….how Helga was getting him back for not updating her software on a regular schedule….how sunspots effect the GPS satellites….how the clouds were articulating the signal and bending it because of the coriolis effect north of the equator….or something like that….  He finally admitted it was an operator programming error….?  So now Lou is the keeper of the “Boone & Magellan Broken Compass Award” and the “Daniel Boone Hat” for leading us astray….until the next leader leads us off course.

When we turned off the hard road onto the single lane, nicely maintained gravel road we still hadn’t seen anything resembling a museum, much less one with armored vehicles, helicopters and airplanes!  After cruising a little further we finally made a left turn and tucked in near the trees was the unmistakable outline of an Army Huey helicopter!  Then I saw an Air Force O-2 Skymaster (The Duck) on the left of the road and poking out from the trees behind the Huey was the nose of a C-47 Gooney Bird….it turned out to be an AC-47, a much feared gunship of the era.  The museum volunteers swarmed our cars to help us park then welcomed us to their special place.

This museum is a treasure trove of artifacts from the Vietnam War….but it’s so much more.  The volunteers breathe life into the inanimate objects of that war.  They tell the stories both personal and general of the war that took so many Americans from us.  They tell the story from getting off the bus at the draft center, then to boot camp, then to being in country.  They share the sad stories and the funny ones.  The harrowing near death experiences to the surreal unexplainable encounters with the horrors of mortal combat.  The volunteers share and educate from the perspective of ones that were there, not ones that read a book about it.  They also keep a sharp eye out for people that know they want to visit but can’t.  They help them with their demons in a constructive way that transcends a loose fellowship to a brotherhood. 

One of the Volunteers is a Mr. Shotwell….yeah, Shotwell….I saw him but was unable to meet him before he left….next time.  Well Mr. Shotwell is a master model maker, painter, restorer, archivist, researcher….most of the “built” items in the museum has felt his hand on them.  The murals on the walls were done by him.  The armaments that were incomplete were made complete by him.  Check out the rockets in the pod on the wing of the O-2!  We were able to meet the curator/owner, Craig, for a brief conversation right before we left….but Bob was our host/guide for the day.  Bob was patient with the ones that didn’t know anything about the items displayed and was also able to explain them in depth for some of us that wanted more information than usual.  But his patience and kindness with us was the best….  Pretty much everyone in our great Country has been touched by that time in our history and this is a place that will make the books come alive. 

This museum is only open to the public a few times a year; you should contact them for their schedule.  The museum is a “hands on” deal, they encourage the visitors to touch and sit in/on many of the vehicles.  They encourage schools to schedule field trips to their museum to better understand a very important part of our history.  We are going to corroborate with them on an event next year….stay tuned! 

This is the link to their website;

This is their Facebook page;

These are the pictures we took of our visit;

After our visit to the museum we gathered up and began our cruise to….FOOD.  The Princess & Arlene like to visit Ciro’s Italian restaurant if we are within….50 miles of Elkton, VA….so we ended the day with a great Italian meal.  Our cruise back to our respective homes was uneventful and pleasant….I love this job/hobby!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A day in the park....

Sunday, some of the members of Cruisin For Heroes gathered at the BK in Manassas, VA to cruise to the Northern Virginia Mustang Club’s annual picnic in Sterling, VA.  We met some of the Bull Run Street Rods members that were meeting up for their cruise to Graves Mt. 

The picnic was held at the amazing Algonkian Regional Park that overlooks the Potomac River.  The NVMC invited us, in part, to present us with a $500 check for The Fisher House Foundation!  This is what we do in our group, raise awareness and dollars for Fisher House Foundation.  It was a day of hanging out with friendly, like minded people, eating awesome food cooked by ‘Blue Smoke Barbeque’ and enjoying the amazing scenery….  It was a little cool but the fireplace at the pavilion worked just fine.  Thank you guys and gals of Northern Virginia Mustang Club for hosting the picnic and for your generous donation to Fisher House Foundation….it will make a difference.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Playing in Fredericksburg Virginia....

Friday we made the last visit of the year to VA BBQ in Fredericksburg, VA….it’s just getting too cold to sit outside in a folding chair.  Most of the ‘regulars’ came out to play but the turnout was a little thin.  I really like the ’71 Ranchero….and Bobby’s ’52 Ford pickup was just perfect.  It’s interesting how many hot rods don’t have a heater….I can do without A/C but must have a heater.  The temp dropped with the sun going down and before it got dark most of us were on the road home.  Denny had to make a little detour on the way home….it’s amazing how slow that car of his fills with gas….and he doesn’t have a heater and the windows don’t roll up!  Hard core!  This cruise is closed till March or April of 2016….see ya then!

Saturday we cruised to Fredericksburg, VA and the Pep Boys ‘the last show of the season’ deal.  The show is hosted by the local Pep Boys store and is free!  It is aptly managed by the Fredericksburg Classic and Muscle Car Club….they really know how to make a show fun. 

When we arrived there were about 30 cars already parked but they kept coming in till there was about 70!  That was phenomenal considering that the only advertising was just the last month and through flyers on Facebook!  If this show is advertised better next year they will need more parking spaces.  The venue is a little tricky getting into but some of the spaces back up to grassed areas, which is nice to set up camp on.  The store has restrooms they let us use, which is always a welcome option.  There are a few food choices close by and as always Wes was selling hot dogs….they are good hot dogs and they get cheaper the closer it gets to the end of the show….hehehehee  Just incase your ambilanted dingle arm needs replacing in your ride….I’m sure the folks in Pep Boys has one in stock!   They are very helpful and knowledgeable when it comes to vehicles.

The club played great music all day….the announcements were at a minimum so the music was king!  Pep Boys provided a bunch of trophies (free, remember) and the club ran a 50/50 for their charity.  The club provides a Christmas for many local families….families that would be forgotten but for the generosity of the local ‘car’ people and the dedicated work of the club.  The 50/50 was won by a gentleman that drove the white ’62 Chevy convertible, almost $160….he gave it back to the club to use for their charity work!  I love this hobby and the people in it!

The event attracted all kinds of vehicles….from rat rods to original antiques like the black Packard….hot rods of every stripe….new Chargers, Challengers, Camaros and Mustangs…..Nadine brought her custom VW, Bubbleicious to the event, always a crowd pleaser.  AND….there were even a few cool trucks, like Jimmy & Annie’s GMC…..and that old black farm truck!  This event would be the last big show around here; it was well received and appreciated by all the folks that attended.  Please check out the pictures at;

We have three more events we are involved with this year, Paws4Vets-11-14-2015, Over The River And Through The Woods Run-11-28-2015 and the Toys For Tots-12-12-2015.  Come out with us before you put your special ride away for the winter….

Monday, October 19, 2015

Chrysler of Culpeper all Mopar event....

Sunday the Princess & I headed to Culpeper, VA to attend the 6th Annual Mopar show hosted by Wade Schick’s Chrysler of Culpeper dealership.  The event had been rained out twice so when the weatherguessers said no chance of perception for this weekend, we all breathed a sigh of relief….  But it would be a little chilly….hmmmm  We launched at 7AM from the WAWA in N. Stafford and 44 miles later we arrived at the dealership.  The Rappahannock Region Mopar Club manages the event with the able assistance of Wade and his staff at the dealership.  This year the Mopar club only had 5 of it’s members managing the event but those 5 acted like there were 20 members running around getting stuff done!  Having been in a club years ago that put on events at an auto dealership, I know the work involved in moving so many vehicles off the lot for the event, then back on again when it’s over.  Having an event at a dealership has the advantage of great restrooms, shelter from the elements (rain, cold, wind, heat), better vendor spaces and vehicle centric problem solving.  Wade supports this event and others in the a responsible, influential member of the community should.  Even though we don’t drive a Mopar we always try to attend this event when our schedule allows.  This year they would be giving part of the events proceeds to Fisher House Foundation so we wanted to represent them and Cruisin For Heroes at the event.

There were a few vendors that would brave the cold & wind to attend….one of them was the local Bruster’s Ice Cream store.  They have partnered with Cruisin For Heroes in the past and are going to support a monthly cruise in 2016 for Fisher House Foundation.  Sunday they would dress up an unsuspecting employee in the “Scoops” costume and extort money from all the show goers for the two charities represented at the event.  In the end they collected $250 to be split between Fisher House Foundation and Hospice of the Piedmont.  WOW….!

We set up our FH info area at the corner of the covered ‘porch’ of the building, we thought it would get the most exposure….it did.  But it also put us in the path of the 379 mph wind that was howling most of the day.  And you do know about ‘chill factor’ right?  The temp was about 43 degrees so with the wind it made the ‘chill factor’ close to absolute zero!  I thought it might be a little chilly so I dressed appropriately, even wearing long pants.  Something I usually don’t start till January.  But with that much wind blowing it was just numbing cold….

There were about 79 Mopars in attendance and one Chevy farm truck (not registered).  They ranged from a 1948 Chrysler to a near new Challenger that still had that ‘new car’ smell.  It would have been more interesting if more ‘older’ cars attended….but….I love the 60’s-70’s Mopar Muscle cars and the new Muscle cars too!  My favorite was the white ’63 Dodge 440 with a 426 Wedge….just too gnarly for me!  I knew it was special when the owner woke up the old wedge then backed off his trailer.  I tried to get a video of it while he parked but the staccato of the exhaust pulses overwhelmed my camera mic and it just sounds loud.  I remember when these puppies would roam the drag strip pits in SoCal.  To see/hear/feel a bunch of these Mopars and a few 409/427 Chevys; all growling and lurching around in the pits is something one never forgets.  It was like a bull fight; they would snort & bark back and forth at each other….like sumo wrestlers throwing salt.  Anyway, that was my favorite of the day.  Another thing that made my day a little warmer was the amount of Plumb Crazy cars in attendance, I can’t remember seeing that many at a Mopar event before. 

The Mopar club tallied up the judge’s findings and announced the winners while handing out the plaques.  Of course they were all winners; just look at what they drove to the event….except for the farm truck.  Fred, the Princess and some other willing hands helped us fold up and pack away our display.  We really were happy the event was over because I was numb throughout.  My fingers were so numb, I had trouble fumbling for the ignition key to start the truck.  At least the old farm truck has a heater, unlike someone that I will not mention, that drives a red/white ’57 Dodge, that makes it a point to roll up his windows in the summer heat to remind us that he has A/C….hehehehehe  Next year you need to check out this event….if you own a Mopar you will enjoy it.  If you don’t….you have a year to fix that….

Sunday, October 11, 2015

AirFest 2015

Saturday morning began at 4AM for us….we had been planning this event since October 12, 2014.  It was our 7th annual Culpeper Regional Airport AirFest 2015.  The airport puts on a free airshow event at the airport and our group, Cruisin For Heroes, provides a lot full of special interest vehicles for the 7000+ spectators to check out as they enter and leave the airport ramp.  We hand pick the invitees for their personality as well as their special ride….we don’t want grumpy people representing our hobby to the curious spectators.  We also don’t want junky or uninteresting vehicles to display….we really have to pick the rides, that’s why we call it an invitational display.  We spend most of the year at car shows and cruises picking out our special subjects to invite.  We try to carryover about half of the vehicles from previous years and the other half to be new vehicles & people.  We currently have about 70 people that have committed to assist us if they are available!

This year we again invited some clowns from Love-n-laffs Clown Alley to offer face painting and walking around among the spectators doing clown stuff….this was very well received the first time last year.  Another group we support, Paws4Vets, attended to display & explain their service dog program.  Rolling Thunder Inc., Virginia Chapter 3, had a canopy to explain the many ways their group supports our Veterans.  And our group, CFH, staffs our Fisher House Foundation canopy all day to share the mission of Fisher House with anyone that wants to know.  We provide all the participants with a token of our appreciation in the form of a yearly specific, custom designed plaque reflecting their day at the airport.  This is the second year that the cost of the plaques was assumed by Chrysler of Culpeper so we invited them to display some of their new cars and staff the event with a canopy and salesmen. 

The vehicles we provide vary from a super modified race car to a stock 1947 Chevy Pickup.  We have a 2006 Ford GT-40 and a whole bunch of hot rods.  We have G&K Pulling Team bring out some of their ‘Garden Tractor Pullers’ and this year for the first time we invited a restored Military Jeep complete with all the period correct accoutrements….like a pintle mounted M-60.  We have muscle cars both old and new.  We have motorcycles and this year one of our invitees was a lady that has a yellow & black Camaro she calls Bumble Bee.  She has a costume she wears at special occasions that makes her look like a ‘transformer’ figure.  She was at the entrance to our display lot and most of the kids going into the airport ramp paused to see and chat with her while their parents took pictures of them.    I think she really added to the enjoyment of many kids Saturday.  The spectators mingle among the vehicles and ask questions of the owners….while it provides a little stimulation to the memory banks of many people.

Like I said above this is our 7th year at this…..we have it pretty well figured out.  Like any event held outside, weather is a concern and we usually begin stressing about it two weeks out.  My Dad was a fighter pilot in WWII, he flew a P-51 Mustang and I remember him relating to me that the weather people back then “got it right” about half the time.  I have read accounts of our air missions in SEA and weather was always a critical part of the equation….and it was wrong many times.  So we watch the weather a lot when we have an event we are putting on.  I have four weather sites I consult to try to get a consensus on what will happen in the next 24 hours!  And that makes me crazy….the same people want to change my life because of something they say is going to happen a long way in the future…..but they can’t get a 24 hour forecast correct!?  That….is a discussion for another time.  We had experienced some major rainfall in addition to the wet remnants of hurricane Joaquin running up the coast the week before our event.  We checked the display lot Friday afternoon and it was in stable condition.  But later that night a major cold front came buzzing through and apparently dumped massive amounts of water in the Brandy Station area (the actual location of the airport).  We are about 35 miles from the airport and had some rain but only for 20-25 min and not too much actual water with it, mostly just wind.  We arrived at the display lot at 6AM….to a soggy field in the dark!  The first vehicles we park are the trailered ones….which are also the heaviest ones…..which found the soft spots and promptly sank. 

One of our group members was absent that day, another one was late and one was about two miles away handing out special entry passes to everyone.  So there were only three of us, in the dark, in the mud….waving our flashlights around.  One of the trailer displays that didn’t have any trouble with the soft ground, had a massive Ford 4WD truck.  He volunteered to extricate the stuck truck & trailer.  But we discovered that there were other “soft spots” in the lot as another vehicle promptly got stuck too.  It was an antique so we got it out with the help of the hands of the other people that brought vehicles.  Our group huddled and determined that about 1/3 of the display lot was unusable!  As the sun’s rays started peeking over the horizon I noticed/remembered that our critical traffic control guy (the late guy I mentioned above) was still not at his station as some of the display vehicles were driving right by our lot.  I tried to call him, no response.  The display vehicles kept coming in and I had to park them in a holding lot while we gently worked the vehicles through the quagmire to a safe area one at a time.  Then my “late” guy drove up abruptly, jumped out and announced that he had hit a deer on the way in and was dealing with that when I called!  He quickly took up his spot and began directing the cars and helping the process….whew! 

We have only one entrance & exit for our display lot so we usually park the display cars from the back to the front to avoid collisions and confusion.  With so much of the lot unusable we had to carefully pick out where the ground was stable enough to park the vehicles and by taking time to do that, the number of the cars in the ‘holding lot’ was mounting up.  Plus we also had to allow space for the cars that hadn’t arrived yet so we had to bunch up some of the vehicles in the back of the lot.  As it worked out about 10 people decided not to attend so the space we were holding for them was utilized to spread out some of the remaining vehicles, but we never unknotted the bunched up vehicles in the back.  By the time we realized we would have some extra room the school busses filled with spectators that had parked at the two Culpeper High Schools, began to arrive!  It was just too dangerous to try to move cars around with people walking through the lot.  As soon as all the vehicles were parked we turned our attention to setting up the canopies for the Dealer, Paws4Vets, Clowns, Fisher House and our hospitality canopy with the coffee & donuts we furnish.  Rolling Thunder Inc is a pretty much self contained group; we just watched them set up….grinning….

This year the airport had many more aircraft in their program, I’m told about 50 altogether.  I am busy all day with our display and rarely get a chance to see the air show or visit the static displays and vendors.  It seems like I take a water brake around 11 then we begin our award distribution then I try to photograph our part of the deal then it’s time to help everyone pack up and exit the area.  Everyone in our group has done this before; we know what has to happen so it just gets done!  I want to thank the guys in our group; Andrew Robertson, Dan Crane, Fred Davis, Lou Realmuto for their tireless focus on making this a great event for the spectators and the volunteers.  We want to thank the Volunteers for taking their time and bringing out their vehicle to support the mission of Cruisin For Heroes and Fisher House Foundation; Bill Bell, Bill Errera, Bill Morris, Bob Randall, Brian Murray, Corey Beach, Dallas Beach, Darryl Dawson, Dave Whetzel, David Beans, Don Rogers, Duane Mitchell, Glenn Conrad, Kandy Woehler, Mac McDonald, Mike Curles, Penn Jones, Raymond Carrier, Ricky Thornton, Ron Lacasse, Steven Dohl, Stuart Sullivan, Tim Ketchum, Tommy Kirtley, Warren Little and the Rolling Thunder Riders.

We have begun planning for next year’s event and will learn from this year’s experience.  We already have 8 volunteers….are you up for it?

Please check the pictures that Bill Errera, Darryl Dawson and I took at;

Sunday, September 20, 2015

To Goochland.....and beyond

Saturday we left the N. Stafford, VA WAWA at 8AM and cruised 70 miles to Rockville, VA in Goochland County and the 24th annual Field Day of the Past event.  Last year while Lou & Arlene and the Princess & I were scouting out some routes for cruises we passed the event area.  Being the off season not much was going on when we visited.  A few old friendly guys in coveralls that were working on some of the massive machinery came over to Lou’s car and started a conversation with us.  They told us a little about the deal and the event they have in the Fall.  They invited us to take a cruise around the grounds to check out everything.  We made a mental note to plan for a trip back when the event was planned on September 18-20, 2015. 

We left with two vehicles….two more joined in as we drove through the WAWA at Cosner’s Corner then we met two more as we passed the old Moore’s Store in Chilesburg, VA.  Lou led from Chilesburg to the event….on a GPS directed route!  I get more than a little nervous when Lou fires up one or all three of his GPS’s and announces….I can get us there!  Sometimes he takes us on roads with no lines, wandering through forests that cover the whole road, like a green tunnel, while going over creeks & streams.  That’s when I start listening for banjo music!  And, yes we always get there in spite of the fog of battling GPS units….but I like paper maps….grinning.  So Lou’s route was a very pleasant way through the rural Virginia countryside to the cheese….it was a route we have never driven before….that’s always a cool deal. 

This event is held on a sprawling 50 acre plot with dirt/gravel roads winding through the compound.  The owners “rescue” old buildings and equipment from surrounding environs to be restored then displayed as part of their “park”.  They are part of the ‘Rockville-Centerville Steam & Gas Historical Association’ that rescues, restores, maintains and displays machinery of days gone by.  Any gearhead would be interested in these machines of yesteryear that are part of the fabric of what makes America great.  It’s always good to see/hear/feel the machines that built our Country.  And the buildings like the Post Office that have been rescued, restored and displayed on the grounds, spur a memory of our childhood and provides a touchable example for today’s generation to experience.  The Post Office is actually a ‘working’ Post Office during the event with a retired Postmaster on site to officially cancel any letters mailed from the event’s Post Office….how cool is that?  There were many food concessions and other crafts and memorabilia.  When Lou & I sent our Princesses off to forage through the different vendors we were pretty confident we would be OK….but one of the other spectators remarked that most vendors would take credit cards….we knew we were doomed.

This time of year I usually do my “outside” work around our home.  I had been cleaning our deck and pressure washing the siding, then washing some windows the week before.  So….my mind tells me I’m still 40 years old….but my body reminds me that I’ll be 72 in three months!  I was very worn out Saturday…to the point I didn’t visit any of the vendors and could only manage to take pictures of about 1/3 of the vehicles present!  Next year I think we will plan for a two day deal and stay at a motel nearby….we’ll see.  We highly recommend this event….but you can’t see everything in one day….you need to plan for two days.  And if you have a ‘special’ car I would encourage you to be an ‘exhibitor’ (car show) entrant.  The cost is only $15 (you only have to pay if you want your ride judged) and you get to park in the middle of everything instead of a couple miles away and then have to walk or be golf carted to the event grounds.

It was a very hot day so around 3PM most of our group decided to cruise 45 miles to Tim’s Seafood Restaurant by Lake Anna for dinner.  That’s when we realized how many people were attending the event….the Virginia State Troopers were doing traffic control as far away as I-64.  We worked our way to I-64 and jumped on it to escape the vehicular craziness.  We exited the Interstate onto Rt. 522 N and ran it the rest of the way to the cheese.  After eating too many scallops and shrimp and oysters and clams and codfish and hushpuppies we decided we really needed to get home….burp!  Our little group broke up with some going north to the Culpeper and Wilderness area and some going over the 208 bridge on Lake Anna then towards Fredericksburg.  The closer we got to Fredericksburg the louder the Princess complained that she didn’t have dessert at Tim’s….and how we were getting closer to Carl’s….and we hadn’t been there for a month or so….and that she really really really wanted to stop at Carl’s.  She tried to call Ramona & Dan that were following us, to enlist their help to convince me to go to Carl’s….but they were rocking out with their music and didn’t hear their phone ringing.  But when we turned right onto Fall Hill Ave the black ’55 turned with us….they knew!  So I changed our route a little to accommodate her wishes.  It’s always the best thing to do….you have no idea.

After testing the ice cream at Carl’s (it’s still good, you can go ahead and visit them….you’re welcome) we had an uneventful cruise back to the Shotwell hovel.  I love this hobby.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Wright's Dairy Cruise 9-6-2015

Sunday at 11AM we left Stafford with Bill & Jo-Ann then picked up Dan & Ramona on the way out.   When we had cruised 26 miles, we went past the ice cream place on Rt. 29 & Rt. 28, where Roy & his wife joined us.  We cruised another 22 miles and joined up with Fred & Debie and Lou & Arlene.  I usually lead our adventures but I wanted to follow today….Lou (with 3 GPS’s) agreed to lead us the rest of our 74 mile cruise to Staunton, VA.  Lou found this cruise a couple months ago and we decided to give it a try. 

After a couple unscheduled stops along the way we arrived at the cruise around 2:30….  Since we hadn’t attended this cruise before we didn’t know how it worked.  The cruise is advertised to be held from 2PM to 5PM.  After talking with some “regulars” they said you had to be onsite around 9AM to get and decent parking!  When we arrived ALL the “normal” parking was taken.  With a wink and a nod the Police directed Lou that we could park up a side street near a townhome area and walk down to the event.  We parked.  It was way too much walking for me so the Princess took all the pictures of the event AND the trip along the way.  Bill Errera also let me use some of his pictures too.  Lesson learned, next time we get to the twice a year cruise around 8:30.  We are 120 miles away so that will make for an early launch…..but I think we can manage.  It looked like about 140 cars drove through and/or parked.  There were a lot of “spectator” crowds too.  It felt like a cruise to put on our calendar for next year.

We packed up around 4:45 then decided to return home by a little different route that would take us through Elkton and an Italian dinner at Ciro’s.  Whenever we get within 100 miles the Princess begins to whine around 3pm….  After eating too much Italian food and topping of the fuel tanks, we cruised 90 miles north and home….  Everyone peeled off the group as we got close to their home….The Princess & I were the last ones on the road.  Another great day driving around the Virginia countryside with friends in our hot rods….I love this hobby.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

A Cruise In weekend....

Friday evening at VA BBQ in Fredericksburg, VA was another special time visiting with friends.  It must be the cooler weather that brings out another 3-4 people to add to the growing mix of usual suspects.  After 7PM or so cars from the cruise at the other end of town came to visit….it’s all good. 

The green ’53 Ford that was being followed by a wooden boat of the ‘50’s was the center of attention most of the evening.  The original ’40 Chevy Master was stunningly done….and Warren’s Chevy AD is pretty cool too.  The chameleon painted Mitsubishi 3000 belongs to the guy that we met at this years Screech Cruise to Williamsburg, VA.  He didn’t run with us but got ahead of our group and took pictures of us as we passed through Tappahannock, VA….glad he feels comfortable enough to visit on the Friday cruise.  We broke camp around 8:30 and cruised home.  Another pleasant evening slips away as visions of snow shovels and parka’s loom in the distant future…..hehehehe

Saturday we decided to visit the Burger King in Manassas by the airport and the weekly cruise hosted by the Bull Run Street Rods.  We usually try to visit this cruise a few times during the year even though a lot of other shows and cruises vie for our attention.  This cruise usually attracts about 100 cars and I think they almost made that number this week.  This cruise is attended by a wide mix of rides and tonight we were visited by a local group of Jeeps.  Some members of the Fredericksburg Classic and Muscle Car Club met us at the cruise as did our friend Andrew….we all set up camp under and around one of Burger King’s concrete picnic table/seats with the umbrella….it was on one of the few grassed areas and was very comfortable.  It was also in the middle of all the traffic so we got to see/hear most of the rides that attended….how cool is that? 

There was a beautiful maroon Model A nestled between a new blue Camaro and a lt. green ’54 Chevy.  A candy root beer brown ’72 Nova with the seldom seen sunroof option, this car won 1st place last year at the Nova Nationals.  The orange ’71 Challenger was one of the original parade cars at the Indy 500 that year!  My favorite was the blue Model A Pro Street PU that must have been a race car in a former life.  When we left he was in front of us….he stepped on it a little, very violent….like the RedRat was….  Some say this cruise is being taken over by “new” cars….for me I like ALL cars, new or old.  We all should be able to play well together.  Anyway, check out the pictures and see what you think.  I think it’s a good mix of special cars….and then there was those Jeeps….grinnng.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

A day at the beach.....

We rolled in to VA BBQ Friday afternoon….it was warm but the humidity was way low….nice and comfortable.  The Princess & I set up camp and soon Ron joined us and the circle just kept getting bigger.  Bill & Jo-Ann joined up then Susan, Walter & Jackson set up chairs.  Susan is Bill’s daughter….AND it was Bill’s birthday!  Jo-Ann had donuts for us….then Susan brought out an ice cream cake!  So…..we had a party….as much of a party as people over seventy can have, in public….hehehehehehehe

The lot began filling up with some new to us rides.  Jim C. brought his white ’67 Plymouth Belvedere wagon that he is restoring….drive train first!  The yellow Ranchero was back but I couldn’t track down the owner….next time….   A nice red ’31 Ford sedan, Jim’s yellow ’72 RoadRunner, Bob’s yellow SSR, Marla’s red Chevy pu….just a lot of visitors made up the over 60 cars for the evening.  The last one was the red, traditional ’32 Ford 5 window with the killer Ford motor….more on this piece another time.

I think we were almost the last people to leave the lot beside the host club….a very cool cruise.  You have to visit if you are in Fredericksburg, VA on a Friday evening….it’s a lot more fun than staying home and mowing your lawn ya know…..grinning

Saturday we cruised to Fredericksburg, VA to help manage the Cruisin For Heroes, 2nd Annual Mid Summer Thunder Cruise.  Our group, Cruisin For Heroes, puts on events to help support our Veterans, in particular the Fisher House Foundation.  You can read more about our group here; .   Last year we cruised to the Meems Bottom covered bridge near Mt. Jackson, VA….it was a well attended, much appreciated event so we wanted to try to conjure up something special for this year.  The Princess & I had attended the Labor Day picnic at Jim Stills Antique Motors in Colonial Beach, VA a few times in the past and always had a good time.  And whenever we are in Colonial Beach we try to parlay the visit into lunch or dinner at Wilkerson’s Seafood Restaurant.  We needed to plan an event that incorporated both deals….  I began to make contact with Jim Stills in February this year and shortly after he & I had a date set I contacted Jay Wilkerson to see if we could work something out that would complement the museum visit.  In March I began designing the advertisements to include the internet ad and then the flyer handout.  We were on a roll.  The only thing we had to stress about was the weather….but it was 5 months off!  Yeah right….  Friday, one day before the event, we found out that there was another event planned at the museum the same day as ours!  It would begin in the morning but our group would arrive around 12:30 and they were expecting 10-12 cars from us.  When we left the start point I got a call from Wilkerson’s asking if the event was really cancelled for the day????  We had 44 vehicles rolling toward Colonial Beach by then….stress….you have no idea….  I assured them we were still planning on being there around 3PM.  They wanted a number of people that would be attending and I had to remind them I didn’t know because the amount of people at the museum that would be going to the restaurant with us was still unknown until we got to the museum!  And the new revelation that the museum would be having their own event and we didn’t know how many of those people would be attending the restaurant with us.  Stress….hmmmm  It’s a balance we try to achieve by not making people commit to our events for our convenience.  We know life throws things at people that they have no way of knowing about and we feel they don’t need the stress of whether to break their commitment to us or to deal with their personal problems.  We take the stress instead….it’s how we roll.

The start point was a Sheetz gas station on Rt. 3, in the Ferry Farms area of Virginia.  Lou & Fred quickly realized the cars that began to show up were more than the Sheetz could safely handle.  They decided to gather across the street in a large truck parking lot….that would work!  To be honest I expected 25-30 cars to show up….was I wrong!  We ended up with 45 special cars (Wes would join us soon after we left the start point) and a couple daily drivers, all rolling to the beach.  We tried to plan for that many vehicles even though we didn’t really expect that many.  We had set up two intermediate leaders, Lou & Fred, to be in the group about 12-15 vehicles apart.  They knew the route we would take, in case we got separated.  They could lead everyone behind them to the destination. Dan was the Vulture, he was the last car in the group, so he could check on anyone that dropped out while keeping in contact with me as we rolled.  We did get separated a couple times but we always reconstituted the group.  I love it when a plan works….

When we arrived at the museum I knew parking would be a little tricky….but I also knew that Jim had more than adequate parking around the museum and across the street around his business.  Jim frantically welcomed all of us while JV and some of the other Colonial Beach Cruisers helped park all the unexpected vehicles.  They “got er dun”.  We were parked in under the trees and all around the two lots….no “scheduled”, in between the lines parking….no siree!  It worked out very well and the people began strolling through the museum.  I really like a “cruise” instead of a show.  In a cruise all different kinds of rides can enjoy the day.  New cars, old cars, stock cars, modified cars, done cars and in progress cars….everything.  No competition or testosterone involved thank you very much!  We ALL play together well….just to enjoy the hobby and each other’s company.

Jim’s museum is like a time capsule of a Ford dealership in 1954….complete with wall murals and display engines.  Period memorabilia was placed all around the museum as were pristine examples of the 1954 Fords.  Jim also has a whole herd of ’54 Fords outside; waiting to receive the TLC they need to take up residence inside.  Jim is an enthusiastic owner….literally running around making sure everyone is getting the attention they require and answering any questions about his little piece of automobile heaven.  He is a really great host.  Around 1:45 I began noticing people clumping and talking….a sure sign that some were ready to move on.  I called the restaurant to let them know we would be leaving the museum at 2PM instead of 3PM.  Then we announced to everyone that we would be leaving at 2PM (an hour early) to cruise to the restaurant.  Some would leave early….”to beat the rush” ????  Since they arrived early at the restaurant they would have to wait a little till the restaurant got geared up for us being early.  The owner of the restaurant had agreed to begin the normal Saturday buffet at 3PM instead of 5PM….just for us!  When the main group arrived, parked and moseyed inside….the restaurant was just about ready!  They called their wait staff to come in early and really flexed to our early arrival time.  I would actually take my last picture outside in the parking lot at 2:42 before I went inside the restaurant.

The buffet fare was great but some would order off the menu instead (why? Grinning).  When the wait staff got control of the group they were superb….  Everyone that stayed had a great time and probably ate too much while enjoying the relaxed ambiance.  Be sure to check out the pictures….I think a lot of blue point crabs died Saturday! A couple people have allowed me to share the pictures they took at the event, Kendra Sullivan and Ron Lacasse both contributed to the image collection, thank you for adding to the day’s experience for all. The view across the Potomac is just too cool….you have to visit this restaurant when you are in the area….you won’t be disappointed.

Around 4:30 we formed up to cruise back to Fredericksburg and visit the world renowned, Carl’s Ice Cream shop.  Most of the Fredericksburg Classic & Muscle Car Club would attend but Rick would lead the dash to the ordering window.  I think that would be a very dangerous place to be, between Rick & Kim’s truck and the ordering window of Carl’s….hehehehe  We all tested the ice cream at Carl’s….to make sure it was still ok, it was!  It’s a public service we provide, you’re welcome! 

After Carl’s we all cruised home and recounted the days activities….a great time with old friends and new friends while lazily cruising the Virginia Byways…..I love this hobby.