Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Bare Bones on the Road

This is the first posting to "Bare Bones on the Road". At the suggestion of a co-worker, I'm setting up this blog to chronicle my 2006 road trip in my '32 roadster. The road trip is a part of the Street Rodder Magazine 2006 Road Tour. I'll be participating in two "legs" of the Road Tour. The first will run from the Vintage Air headquarters in San Antonio, Texas to the Los Angeles Roadster Club's Father's Day Show and Swap in Pomona, California. The second

"leg" will depart Pomona on the day following the Roadster Show and make for Pueblo, Colorado for the NSRA Rocky Mountain Nationals on the next weekend. This leg will be sponsored by SoCal Speed Shop.

This summer's road trip represents the latest in a series of trips that I've taken in the roadster since its' completion in 2002. That first summer, my brother Jim and I drove it to Bonneville for Speed Week in August. As they say, if you're at all into hot rods, you've got to go at least once. I'll never forget it, and I WILL be back again.
The next trip was in July 2004, when I traveled up US Hwy 395 to Bridgeport, CA, turned left, crossing the Sierras and into Yosemite National Park. Then on to the SF Bay area to join up with more (40) hot rods for a trip to Victoria, British Columbia for the Northwest Deuce Day hosted by Al Clark and the fine city of Victoria. Return to San Diego was via the coast hiway with newfound friends Ron Tanner (the Almond King of Fresno County), brother-in-law Dick Freund, and Reno Paul Giannoli. My wife, Sue Ann, accompanied me on the trip south and was a good sport despite the cold, foggy weather common to the Oregon/northern California coast. The roadster now has seat heaters because of that experience, but I doubt that even that will convince her to repeat the route. The picture should capture the mood.

Summer 2005 took me back to Victoria, BC by way of the Good Guys show in Puyallup, Washington. My friends Paul and Melodie Crain caravanned with me across Puget Sound via ferry to join Sue Ann, who flew into Victoria to meet up with us. After a couple of days in Victoria, we went to the town of Campbell River on the northeast coast of Vancouver Island. Sue Ann and I can now say that we've been almost everywhere on Vancouver Island that one can go by car or motorcycle. (First trip there was ten years ago on motorcycles.) Returning to the Seattle area saw Sue Ann opt for wings, not roadsters, for the return to San Diego.

OK, so on to this year:
Randy Clark, (picture below) proprietor of Hot Rods and Custom Stuff in Escondido, California
(http://www.hotrodscustomstuff.com) will accompany me on this first leg. HR&CS is where we built "Bare Bones", my '32 Ford Roadster. Randy is the reason that this trip came to be for me. He asked me early in the year if I wanted to travel with him to Texas to go to the LA Roadster Show. That made perfect sense to me, so I said, "Sure, count me in."
We'll depart Escondido at 5 am on Wednesday, June 7th. The early departure is set to help us avoid the majority of the San Diego inbound morning traffic, and some of the heat of the desert. Our going-in plan is kinda sorta 500 miles per day (depending on sore body parts, fatigue, interest level, etc. Since Mapquest says 1300 miles from Escondido to Schertz, Texas (our hotel location), that means two and a half days.

The next post should be from somewhere on the road.

June 8, 2006
I tried last nite to get on line, but since I'm a novice not only at blogging, but also at getting online on the road. We stayed at the Holiday Inn in Deming, New Mexico last night and they have wireless internet in the rooms. Well, I don't know nothin' about no wireless. So, here we are at my friend Ronnie Hale's in Kerrville, Texas tonite, and he was kind enough to not only loan me his wire, but take me to Walmart to get a Wireless Thingie for my computer so I don't get foiled by technology again. OK, that's enuff of excuses, here's the scoop:

June 7, 2006 Road TourDay 1
Randy Clark and I met up at 5 am at his shop in Escondido, California and head south on I-15 in San Diego and then I-8 Eastbound, headed for Yuma, Arizona for breakfast. The day dawned clear and bright, after ran east out of the morning marine layer (fog, to you inlanders). The plan was to cross the Colorado River Bridge from Winterhaven, California and into Yuma, Arizona, take the first exit right by the old Territorial Prison, and eat at the Cracker Barrel. Great plan except for one hitch. Yuma was closed today, sorry, come back some other time, you can't get in! Actually, the right lane was being re-paved and ALL of the exits to Yuma were closed. It wasn't until we were clear on the east side of town that we were able to exit. We found a nice little down-home type cafe with a Harley parked outside, so we knew it'd be OK. It was.
The last few days the Phoenix area had been hit with significant sand/dust storms. We were heading a bit south of there so hoped that we wouldn't run into that stuff. That's a great way to sandblast your car, and neither of us needed that today.
It was in the 90's today. Toasty, but not unbearable. We got a few rainshowers, but nothing significant.

Randy and his '32 coupe behind me

Somewhere in Arizona or New Mexico

The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful until we got about 25 miles outside of Deming, New Mexico. We were fortunate to have missed the sandstorm I mentioned earlier, but now we got a variation on that theme - a mudstorm!!!! The wind kicked up, which picked up the dust, then it rained. Result - flying MUD !!

We made 643 miles this day. Not too bad for two old farts in short-wheelbased hot rods. I'll update more tomorrow, assuming this internet connectivity thing comes together.

Before closing, by POPULAR DEMAND, I felt compelled to post a more FLATTERING picture of my long-suffering, tolerant, patient, best-of-sports wife, Sue Ann. How's that, Babe???

June 8:

We left Deming, New Mexico after breakfast headed for a day in Texas. The mud storms had subsided overnight, but there was still a lot of moisture in the air. Note the rainfall up ahead and yes, we got a little.

It didn't take too long before we got to El Paso, Texas. It's about 500 miles from El Paso to San Antonio, so we had to eat up a fair amount of road today, too. My car was performing flawlessly. For you techno-weinies; engine speed at 75 MPH is 1,900 RPM (due to 3.25:1 rear axle ratio, 31 inch tall rear tires, and 33% overdrive with the 700R4 transmission), oil pressure was rock solid at 53 psi, alternator charging voltage is 13.5 volts, and most important, engine coolant temperature is steady at 170 degrees, regardless of outside ambient temperature, and average MPG for the day worked out to be 18.8 - not bad for a "Blown Cheesegrater" (Randy's term in reference to the supercharger and louvers on the deck lid).
Randy, on the other hand wasn't faring quite as well. He had a wheel/tire vibration at about 70 or so MPH. Also, he's geared lower and doesn't have the advantage of overdrive. Consequently, his engine was singing along at about 3,000 RPM (vs. my 1,900), making his engine work harder, which also means giving off more heat. Temperature was about 230 for him. We kept our speed down to compensate for this, so weren't able to take advantage of the Texas speed limit of 80 MPH. (Fast forward to Friday for a moment.) Randy's spending the day getting these problems addressed. He had called ahead and discussed his situation with Rick Love, Vice President of Making Stuff Happen at Vintage Air, Inc. (our gracious hosts for this leg) Rick made arrangements in San Antonio for tire "rounding/shaving/balancing" at a local tire shop, and then for a rear axle gear change (3.00:1) at another local shop. This should cure all of his ills.

Traveling through west Texas is where the term "miles and miles of miles and miles" was coined. Damn, there's a lot of land out here !!!!!

They even have their own UFO landing site here, too.

We made good time, and Randy and I went separate ways temporarily at Kerrville, Texas. Randy went on to our hotel in northwest San Antonio so he could get to the appoinments I mentioned, early the next morning. I got off in Kerrville to visit my buddy Ronnie Wayne Hale. Ronnie Wayne and I worked together for about 4 years at Northrop, on the US Navy unmanned helicopter project called "Fire Scout". We both retired from there, and are both now "consulting". Ronnie and his lovely bride, Maggie, have a lovely home in the hill country outside of Kerrville. Maggie was in the Los Angeles area tending to family matters, so I wasn't able to visit personally with her but we had a nice talk on the phone. Ronnie did the Texas-mandatory steak BBQ on the grill, and it was great. I got a little tour of the town of Kerrville, and it's an idyllic little community. Thanks, Ronnie and Maggie for your hospitality.

June 9th:
Ronnie and I took the roadster into Kerrville for breakfast after washing the mud and bugs accumulated over the last couple of days off of it. We went to the Hill Country Cafe, which is a quaint little eatery in the middle of beautiful downtown Kerrville. After a fine breakfast we were walking out and two of the waitresses went outside to check out the roadster. The cute one with the hot pants and tasteful tattoos asked for a ride around the block. Obliging, bend-over-backwards gentleman that I am, agreed that that would be the appropriate thing to do, since she was quite a competent waitress. In my eagerness to get this chore over with, I gave the throttle a bit more nudging than required to acheive forward motion, and consequently, "lit up" the rear tires. Beautiful downtown Kerrville thought that a thunderstorm befell them in the middle of a bright summer morning. After the promised ride around the block, I returned the wide-eyed young lady to her post at the cafe. Ronnie got in, we bid the ladies good-bye and drove away. Before we got 50 feet down the street, Ronnie said, as he pointed to his left, "I'm surprised that you're back so soon, 'cause that's the police station right there, and there across the street (pointing to his right) is the courthouse." Kerrville PD, I owe you one!!
I bid Ronnie adios, and head into San Antonio to check into the hotel. As I said before, Randy was tending to things on his car. I called him and he was at the tire shop, and didn't feel that he could talk freely right then about the situation there, but I got the sense that all was not well in River City. He had to be out of there in a little while to make his next appointment at a speed shop for a rear axle ratio modification, but felt confident that he'd make it OK, that the excitement had died down for now. I'd have to get the details later.
Randy returned to the hotel and told me a story about the tire shop that you would probably not experience at your local Sears Tire and Auto Center. This place didn't sound like it was meant to be experienced by the average citizen. Two of the "business partners", one a male, the other a female became embroiled in a "domestic dispute", and before long the police were called (by both parties) to mediate. No, Randy was not involved, he was an innocent bystander, caught up in a perfect storm of a misunderstanding. I'm sorry that the details are sketchy, but you can get the drift. Contact Mr. Clark for more details, if you feel a compelling need to know. It sounded like an episode from "Cops." End result is, all is fine with his coupe and he should have mile after troublefree mile.
We went to Rick Love's home in New Braunfels, on the Guadalupe River, where we admired his 5-window '32 coupe. Rick will be our Trail Boss starting on Sunday, and did the quarterbacking to make this leg of the Road Tour happen. We were joined by George Packard, Operations Manager at Vintage Air and long-time hot rodder along with Jim "Jake" Jacobs, hot rodder icon of Pete and Jake's renown. We gathered at Rick's to go to a restaurant called the Clear Creek Cafe for catfish dinner. Missing from our dinner party was Ron Ceridono, Technical Editor of Street Rodder Magazine, who unfortunately was being faced with a technical dilema at that moment. He shut his car door (last year's Road Tour car, the '36 Ford coupe), and locked his electronic key fob inside the car. I met up with Ron later in the evening at the hotel, and he solved the dilema by removing a hinge pin from the door hinges, almost taking the door completelyoff of the car, and fishing for the fob with a length of welding wire. Write that one up for the magazine, Ron.
After dinner, we stopped by Danny Zoeller's home/garage. He's got lot's of cool old hot rod stuff squirreled away. Neat guy, neat place. Thanks for the hospitality!!

June 10:
Today's a laid back day. Cleaned up the car, ready for the next layer of bugs. More folks are showing up. For the hot rod guys in the audience, we have: Jim "Jake" Jacobs and Leroi "Tex" Smith. Cars are here displaying license plates from New York, Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, and, oh yeah, California. Vintage Air is hosting a kick-off weenie roast and registration get together at their shop this evening. We are scheduled to depart San Antonio at 7:30 tomorrow morning.

Here's the report from the weenie roast at Vintage Air: All of us who are participating on the Road Tour assembled at Vintage Air this afternoon. We were graciously hosted by their employees who volunteered to come out on their own time to run the grill, ice down sodas, give us a tour, get us checked in, etc. Thanks to all of the staff at Vintage Air, you're great !!!! Go to their website for details on their "cool" stuff. (http://www.vintageair.com)

Some of the hot rod culture icons who are here are represented in the photos below:
Jim "Jake" Jacobs, the Jake half of Pete and Jakes hot rod parts is here from Apple Valley, California. Jake and Pete started designing, fabricating, and marketing hot rod chassis parts to the general public in the early '70s. These same parts are still on the market today, and performing just as effectively. Jake has built some iconic cars, including a '34 Ford 3-window coupe, that defined the term "hot rod". On this trip he's driving his Model A Panel Truck.
Leroi "Tex" Smith, who probably is one of the most influential hot rod hobby writers, publishers, organizers, build-it-on-a-working-man's budget builders, came in from the mountains of Driggs, Idaho. He's an all around neat guy, and a wealth of history on hot rodding as a culture.
Randy Clark, my driving companion from Escondido, California is a hot rod builder of some renown. He's won some prestigious awards for some cars that he's built, but in my book, he's biggest acheivement is being a great guy.
Jimmie Vaughn is with us from Austin, Texas and is a world-class guitar player and hot rodder. He's driving his 1935 Ford 3-window coupe. Riding in the shotgun seat of his coupe is his guitar case, so I'll bet we'll hear some licks during the evenings.
Ron Ceridono is the Senior Technical Editor of Street Rodder Magazine, and would have gotten the "long-distance" award for coming on the Tour from his new home in Hawaii had he driven his own car. Instead he's driving last year's Road Tour car, a '36 Ford coupe. He's been applying his technical editor skills quite a bit to the '36, getting this and that fixed on the car. Tex will be riding along with Ron, and I advised him that I have an open seat available in my car for him, if and when the '36 has to come home on the hook.
Jerry Dixie, from Ohio, has the dubious pleasure of driving these Road Tour cars around the country all summer.

Jake trying on "Bare Bones"
Tex and Jake

Jimmie Vaughn (center) and Ron Ceridono (right)

Randy Clark (left) and Jerry Dixie (to Randy's right)

Tuesday nite, 10 pm, June 13th, 2006:

Yeehah, what a trip !!!!!!!!! This thing has been phenomenal. I'm updating tonite after several days inabsentia, because of lack of internet access. Last night we stayed in Fort Davis, Texas and the only thing that they never heard of such a thing. We stayed at the Hotel Limpia, and the light switches were the push on/push off from the 1940's.
Anyway no more excuses, and on with the story.

Sunday, June 11th:
We left San Antonio, Texas about 8 am headed for Fort Davis, Texas in the Big Bend (southwest) corner of the state.

On the way we stopped in Lantry, Texas to visit the site of Judge Roy Bean's courthouse. How anyone ever found it in those days is a wonderment to me, 'cause, Goddam it's out in the middle of nowhere !!!!!!

Fort Davis is a quaint town, and as I said, it's a step back in time. That evening we were the guests at a private "Star Party" at the McDonnell Observatory about 20 miles out of Fort Davis. It was pretty neat. After the sky darkens, they had telescopes set up for us to look at several planets, a star, and the rising moon.

Monday, June 12th:

We got up and started looking for a place to have breakfast. The hotel dining room didn't open until 8 am, and this was about 6 am. The only place open in town was Mary Lou's (I'm not kidding). It was adequate, at best. We head north out of Fort Davis to intersect with I-10 westbound, but went thru a lot of cattle-ranching country to get there.

We were treated to lunch and a shop tour at MSD in El Paso, Texas. Some more folks joined up with us there for the trip. We pressed on to Willcox, Arizona for the nite. One phenomenon that I've noticed is that in small towns, word gets out pretty quick that "hot rods are in town, and they're at the XYZ Motel, come on and see." So all evening long, there's a parade of people on foot looking at the cars, and people who are really "too cool" to get out, so they cruise thru the motel parking lot looking at the cars from their cars.

Tuesday, June 13th:
Today is an easy day in terms of mileage. We go from Willcox, Arizona to Phoenix, Arizona. Heck, we don't even leave the state! But, oh boy, what a long day it'd turn out to be. Our first stop was a visit to the Pima Air and Space Museum outside of Tucson. We spent about three hours touring there. As we were leaving there, we were on a major thouroughfare headed to the freeway onramp, when all of a sudden, my car lost electrical power completely. It was like someone shut off the light switch - deadder than a doornail. I coasted to the side, and Ron Ceridono, being the Magazine Technical Editor, offered that it could be that luggage movement could have accidentally clicked off my battery master disconnect switch, located in the trunk. Good thinking, Ron. Except when I checked, that was not the cause. I checked under the dash, and found that the terminal stud nuts on the main feed fuse had vibrated loose, causing the power loss. I retightened them and was back on my way in 5 minutes. Then over to a hot rod shop in town called High Speed Rods and Customs. They graciously hosted our lunch for today, and provided lovely young ladies to model with the cars for photo opportunities.

Since we were getting closer to the California State Line, I kept my roll of "Randy's Texas Hold 'em" industrial strength duct tape handy in case he tried to bolt for Escondido. His wife, Peaches, admonished me to not let him break from the group and head home early. "Tape him to the car if you have to!", she implored me before we left.

We head out from Tucson "the back way" headed for Phoenix for the nite. I had Street Rodder Magazine Technical Editor Ron Ceridono accompany me on this stretch. Ron was without a ride now, because the '36 Ford coupe that was the Road Tour car last year, had seen it's fair share of abuse and was misbehaving badly, so it was left behind in El Paso. We even got my buddy Steve Sbelgio on the phone in Whittier, California to try to perform long-distance, sight-unseen diagnostics. But, to no avail. It's diagnostics and repair will have to wait for another day. So, Ron'sriding with me. He had been riding in a air-conditioned car all morning, and I issued him a challenge, that being an old roadster guy himself, he should try one on for size again. He couldn't let that "double-dog dare" go unanswered so he hopped in. Well, brothers and sisters, by the end of the afternoon, I think Mr. Ceridono wished he had backed down from that challenge. It was 110 degrees out in that friggin' desert this afternoon !!!! GODDAM, it was hot!!!!!!! But we made it OK to Phoenix and SoCal Speed Shop, Phoenix Division for an evening of reparte and snacks. Thanks folks. Finally, to the hotel in Peoria, and a welcome dunk in the pool, where even the water felt dry.

Wednesday, June 14th:
Randy's and my day started out dark and early at 4 am as we left Phoenix headed for California. We didn't want a repeat performance of Randy's car running hot in 110 degree ambient temperatures. The drive in the early morning desert, cool, clean air was great, both on us and the cars.

The rising sun, and Randy's coupe.

Desert morning moon.

The last of the indigenous Sonoran Desert Saguaro cactus that we'll see on this trip.

We made good time and got into the Riverside, California freeway construction congestion in about 6 hours. It took us another hour to get to our hotel in Placentia (Orange County). "I LOVE LA," as the Randy Newman song goes. NOT!!!!! It made us long for the simple life we left behind in Fort Davis, Texas. Remember, no phones, no internet, no traffic, Mary Lou's Cafe? I think I remember a song by Waylon and Willie that struck a familiar chord here.

We joined up with the group in Corona at Barry White's Street Rod Repair Company and across the street at Marcel DeLay's Custom Metal Shaping.

Here's Barry's shop.

An aluminum car body being shaped "from scratch" the old fashioned way at Marcel's. He and his two sons, Marc and Luc are incredible craftsmen. (and yes, that's a Rolls Royce being customized in the background)

Sunday evening, June whatever:

Wow!!!!!!!! What a busy weekend !!!!!!!! This is the absolute first opportunity that I've had to catch up on the updates. Not many miles put on, but a lot went on the last few days. Here goes:

Thursday, June 15
The group went to the Peterson Automotive Museum in Los Angeles today, but I opted out to go to visit my buddy Steve Sbelgio at Eclipse Engineering in Whittier, and perhaps change the oil in the roadster. Steve pulled the drain plug and found this trimmed fingernail-sized steel fragment on the magnet of the drain plug.

After exanining it we guessed that it was a piece of a valve spring dampner, which is located inside of the primary valve springs. After pulling the valve covers, we confirmed that at least two dampners were broken. This didn't prevent the engine from running just as well as ever at normal hiway speeds, just don't try to rev the engine because the valves would "float" and cause serious damage. The danger, however lie in additional fragments getting into the lubricating system and causing catastrophic results. The valve springs needed to be changed. Steve's good friend and master drag race engine builder, Bob Morgan had fresh springs handy so I went to his shop to retrieve them. On the freeway going up to Bob's place, a double-dump truck jack-knifed a short distance in front of me, but I was able to avoid an accident. The truck got airborne, and I was sure that this was going to be a huge mess. I was able to get around him (the driver was OK) and I went ahead with my mission. We found a total of nine broken inner valve springs. We did the right thing in deciding to change them.

And after he's done wrenching on your car, he even washes it for you!!!!!! What a prince this Sbelgio guy is. Thanks, Steve.

The rest of the day was uneventful, and I got to spend some time with Steve, and his lovely wife Colette over dinner. The Road Tour folks had a great time at the Peterson Museum and got to see some "behind the scenes" activity there, too. Their real adventure though was experiencing Los Angeles freeway traffic for thirty miles. Most of them took two hours to get to the motel, but those who knew and took "short cuts", spent three hours !!!!

Friday, June 16:
This is the first day of the LA Roadster Show, and is generally "Move-in" day for the exhibitors and swap meeters, so is not open to the general public. We started out by visiting the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Museum which is on the LA County Fairgrounds where the Roadster Show is held. This is a really cool place for anyone who's interested not only in drag racing history, but the history of hot rodding itself.

The Los Angeles Roadster Club (LA Roadsters) has been hosting this event for over forty years. Of course, the focus is hot rod "roadsters" which, like myself, are there in big numbers. There were probably well over one thousand roadsters registered during the 3 days of the evnt. When I registered early Friday morning, I was number 73. Folks literally come from all over the world to attend this event. If you think that I'm nuts for driving from San Diego to Los Angeles via San Antonio, Texas, consider the sanity of my friend Ron Tanner (red roadster pictured below) who drove from Fresno, California to Los Angeles via Indianapolis, Indiana !!!

This evening, SoCal Speed Shop in Pomona hosts an open house at their facility and it's quite an event. The city closes several blocks of Grand Avenue in order to accomodate all of the hot rods stopping by to visit. SoCal Speed Shop was originally opened in 1946 by Alex Xydias the day after he was discharged from the Army. It was located in Glendale, California and was a have for early "hot rodders" who were racing on the dry lakes of southern California. This was one of the birthplaces of the speed equipment and hot rodding industry/sport. Pete Chappouris entered into an agreement with Alex in the 1990's to use the name and continue in the tradition that Alex had started so long ago. They are among some of the best in the business, and are celebrating their 60th anniversary. They will be our sponsor for the next leg of the Road Tour departing for Pueblo, Colorado on Monday.

Just a small part of the street in front of SoCal Speed Shop on Friday evening.

After leaving SoCal Speed Shop we had dinner at Mama Petrillo's Italian Restaurant in LaVerne with the Sbelgios, Randy and Peaches Clark, Ron, and myself. We ate massive quantities of great food. Thanks, John.

Saturday, June 17th:

Ron Tanner's car was misbehaving a little bit, so we went back to Whittier to Eclipse Engineering once again. I love ya dearly Steve, but we've got to stop meeting like this ! Steve diagnosed a fouled spark plug caused by a bad fuel injector. He changed the plugs, and since he didn't have the correct replacement injector, we went on our way back to Pomona. (As a post script, Ron drove back to Fresno on Sunday and had no problems.)

Spent the rest of the day at the Roadster Show walking and talking, and talking and walking, then walked some more.

Sunday, June 18th:

Sue Ann joined me at the Roadster Show today for her obligatory walk thru the roadsters, and then a lunch of a tri-tip steak sandwich. It was great to see her. I love you, Sue Ann !!!!!! This was another day of talking and walking. I'm sorry for not posting a bunch of pictures, but it would be impossible to capture the essence of this event. But here's one of yours truly.

It's kinda sorta the half way point now, and I've racked up 3,014 miles since leaving Valley Center a week and a half ago. Tomorrow morning, it's off to Las Vegas and our first stop on the way to Pueblo, Colorado. This next week will take us to the north rim of the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley in Utah, and the Rocky Mountains. It should be a super trip.

By the way, Jerry Dixey, our Road Tour host, is chronicling our trip as well, and his writings can be viewed at (http://www.streetrodderweb.com)

Monday, June 19th:

We started a new tour group today. This is called the SoCal Speed Shop leg of the Street Rodder Magazine Road Tour 2006 headed for the National Street Rod Association (NSRA) Rocky Mountain Nationals event next weekend in Pueblo, Colorado.
We mustered at the mother shop of SoCal Speed Shop in Pomona, California.

See Friday's entry for a brief introduction to Alex Xydias and the SoCal Speed Shop. Probably the seminal car that created the SoCal Speed Shop image in the 1940s and 50s was the belly tank Lakester built by Alex and his crew. Using a 315-gallon auxiliary, wing-mounted fuel tank from a P-38 Lightning, Alex, a member of the Glendale Sidewinders Club, assembled his race car using a 1939 Ford V8-60 motor. Shown here at Bonneville in 1952 the car ran a best ever of 198.34 mph. By then it was powered by a 296-cubic-inch Mercury V8.

Here is a picture of the Lakester with Alex at El Mirage dry lake, where we Southern California Timing Association (SCTA) members race to this day.

These two previous photoes are courtesy of the SoCal Speed Shop website at www.socalspeedshop.com and I invite you to find out more about their history and current offerings there.

Here is a picture of the Lakester taken this morning in the SoCal Speed Shop Pomona.

We left Pomona with about 30 cars. There were some of us holdovers from the San Antonio leg and a bunch of new folks. Shown here in front of me are Norm Jones and his copilot, Johnny Stanford from the Austin, Texas area in Norm's early Chrysler hemi-powered '32 Ford roadster, clearing Cajon Pass, headed for our first nite's destination, Las Vegas, Nevada.

Our route was Interstate 15 through the Mojave Desert, and into Las Vegas, Nevada. Before reaching Baker, California, we cross Zzyzx Road.

Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org) offers the following as an expanation for Zzyzx.

"Zzyzx, California is a settlement in San Bernardino County, California, formerly the site of the Zzyzx Mineral Springs and Health Spa and now the site of the Desert Studies Center. The area is also the location of Lake Tunedae, one of the refuge habitats of the endangered Mohave tui chub.

Zzyzx Road is a 4.5 mile/7.2 km long, part paved and part dirt, rural collector road in the Mojave Desert. It runs from Interstate 15 generally south to the Zzyzx settlement. The name Zzyzx, pronounced /ˈzaɪˌzɪks/ (pronounced as "Zeye-zix" with the accent on the first syllable, rhyming with "Isaac's", not "physics"), was given to the area in 1944 by Curtis Howe Springer, claiming it to be the last word in the English language. Springer made up the word's pronunciation. He established the Zzyzx Mineral Springs and Health Spa at the spot, which was federal land that he had no permission to use. He used Zzyzx until 1974, when he was arrested by the United States Marshals for misuse of the land as well as alleged violations of food and drug laws, and the land was confiscated by the government.

Since 1976, the Bureau of Land Management has allowed California State University to manage the land in and around Zzyzx. A consortium of CSU campuses use it as their Desert Studies Center."

OK. Whatever!

Our first stop today was in Baker, California - the "Gateway to Death Valley." We feel that we have truly reached the gates of hell. In case you can't read the temperature on the world's tallest thermometer, it's 106 degrees F.

We reached Las Vegas, and the Gold Coast Casino and Hotel, our nite's accomodations. We went to the SoCal Speed Shop, Las Vegas facility for refreshments and hospitality. Thanks, folks.

Finally, for tonite, a shot of me and Alex Xydias.

Tuesday, June 20th:

The route today was from Las Vegas, Nevada to Page, Arizona on Lake Powell. The roundabout way is to go via the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, so that's what we did. We left Vegas before dawn, as seen here.

We stopped at a Harley Davidson dealer because one of the guys promised to pick up t-shirts for a friend. The dealership was hosting the "Saints and Sinners" run which went from Salt Lake City to Las Vegas. One of the Sinners went out to steal my car, but I prevented the theft. Devils are allergic to photos, so she was gone in a flash when I took her picture.

The road to the North Rim is pretty desolate, and it takes a special breed of person to live out here. As you can see, it's a simpler way of life.

Seeing the Grand Canyon from the North Rim is kinda like looking at the back side of a waterfall. It's the same canyon, but somehow it seems different. Maybe it's the lack of crowds. It really was a pleasure to admire the canyon in all of its' glory.

The forests on the Kaibab Plateau, which forms the North Rim, were experiencing forest fires, and these two photos illustrate the area where the fire had recently been through, and the view from about 25 miles distant. The smoke was evident even 100 miles away.

On leaving the Grand Canyon, the most direct route to Page was closed because of the fire, so I had to detour around it. That detour was about 100 miles. That's one thing about this area - distances are HUGE. I'll never complain about a ten-block detour again.

Page, Arizona on Lake Powell was our destination for the nite. In case you didn't know it, the western US is experiencing a drought. Lake Powell is 106 feet below its normal level. That's not INCHES - that's FEET !!!!

Obviously, I'm running behind in my updates, but by the end of the weekend I should be caught up. Stay tuned, there's plenty more !!!!

Wednesday, June 21st:

This will be a MONUMENTAL day, including: Navajo National Monument, Monument Valley, Colorado National Monument. Today's drive from Page, Arizona to Grand Junction, Colorado includes some of the most phenomenal scenery on the planet. The colors, the geometry, and the sheer size, are awe-inspiring. This is the scenery that comes to mind when you think of "The Wild West" and Roadrunner cartoons. I'll let the pictures do most of the talking, but just say that these were in or near Monument Valley which straddles the northern Arizona/southern Utah border. This is also Navajo country.

Occassionally, you'll see a sign warning of "Falling Rocks." They're not kidding!

On arrival n Grand Junction, Colorado we were hosted by Darrell Zipp (Zipper), of
Zipper Motors. We were treated to chile and live bluegrass music. It's not every garage you go to where you sit your meal on a 200 mph Bonneville streamliner and listen to bluegrass.

Zipper also has an interesting collection of motorcycles, including "Kaw-Lija", the wooden Indian.

Also on hand was Sam Welch, who's trade is gun engraving. He showed off his version of a Model A hot rod shifter that he created. He started with a plain revolver kit and added the engraving and gold inlays to personalize it. The workmanship and detail is incredible, so I've used a larger picture format to allow you to see it properly. And yes, when you pull the trigger, the horn blows.

We capped off the evening with a personally guided tour of the Colorado National Monument outside of Grand Junction. It's a drive up to the top of the mesa, where you can view the escarpment and the city lites below. Really cool, and thanks Zipper and friends.

Thursday, June 22nd:

This is the last day on the road with the Street Rodder Magazine Road Tour. The people that I've met on this tour have been great. Today we travel from Grand Junction to Pueblo, Colorado. Even though we stay within the confines of one state today, we traverse the Continental Divide once more. Though I crossed it twice before on this journey between Deming and Lordsburg, New Mexico those crossings go largely un-noticed except for a rather obscure roadsign. That's not the case with Monarch Pass as you'll see. I head out from Grand Junction in advance of the group to accomodate my wanderings off of the beaten path. I was intrigued by a feature on the map called Black Canyon of the Gunnison River National Park not far off off our designated route of US Hwy 50. Since I opted to buy the National Park Pass at NorthRim, I figured that I might as well use it. I wasn't disappointed. This is probably one of the least publicized of the National Parks, but it offered a miniturized version of the Grand Canyon. The Gunnison River carved this Canyon, and it did a fine job. See the photos here.

The Gunnison River is dammed upstream of the Canyon to form Blue Mesa Reservoir, the largest body of water in Colorado.

It rained a little bit while I was having lunch in Gunnison, and since it looked pretty threatening to the east, I decided to put the top back on. I crossed Monarch Pass at over 11,000 feet altitude. It was a bit chilly at that altitude, and both me and the car had more difficulty breathing. As the sign points out, the Continental Divide marks the line where rainfall makes its way either to the Atlantic or the Pacific Oceans.

You'll recall the "Falling Rocks" caution that I mentioned yesterday? Well today we had "Falling Haybales" as a load got loose on a tractor/trailer. No one got hurt, but some livestock's dinner was going to be late tonite.

Nearing Pueblo, I got diverted again. This time by the Royal Gorge Suspension Bridge. This is the tallest suspension bridge in the world, at 1,050 feet above the Arkansas River. It was built in 1929. It's road surface is wooden timbers. It's only 18 feet wide, and yes there's oncoming traffic, and pedestrians. I met a tour bus coming the opposite way right about at the middle of the bridge, and it was all I could do to move over a few inches to the side to allow passage. You don't want to look down, but I had to take a picture. I just pointed the camera kinda-sorta down and out, without looking thru the viewfinder. The result is shown here.

Arrival in Pueblo was anticlimatic after that bridge crossing!

Friday, June 23rd:

Today we went to the NSRA Rocky Mountain Nationals at the Colorado State Fairgrounds. It's a great venue, and the grounds are well kept. There are shady spots, and I claimed one for myself. A lot of the Road Tour group opted instead for a bright sunshiny spot near Jerry Dixey's Primedia tent. One of our guys, Kenosha John, was interviewed and videotaped for the local news coverage of the event. He's the perfect ambassador for agents of the road. He built, and has been driving his T-bucket for 35 years. He has carried a family of 5 in this car to events! He's one of the most positive, fun-loving, make the best out of the situation people that I've had the pleasure of meeting. I hope to meet him and his lovely wife Pat again in our travels.

Speaking of travels, I've decided that driving a roadster is preferable to sitting in a lawn chair at an automotive static display. So, I'm going to shove off out of Pueblo tomorrow morning and start meandering my way home to San Diego. I'll try to figure out a route tonight after I finish up his blog update. Many thanks to Jerry Dixey, our fearless leader, and all of the folks on the Street Rodder Road Tour. You're a great bunch and I've enjoyed traveling with you. See you on the Road.

For the rest of you, stay tuned - it ain't over 'till it's over. There's more to see.

Saturday, June 24th:

I decided last nite that the roadster's seat fit my butt better than a lawn chair, so I left Pueblo this morning headed south for 75 miles, then picking up US Hiway 160 headed west. The first stop for sightseeing was the Great Sand Dunes National Park, southwest of Pueblo. Here, North America's tallest dunes rise over 750 feet high against the rugged Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The wind-shaped dunes glow beneath the rugged backdrop of the mountains. This geologic wonderland, containing over 30 square miles of massive dunes, became a national monument in 1932. And it's really tough to walk in them, because your feet sink in just a little, adding a lot of resistance. The people walking up the dune, far out have to really be struggling. This little girl and her dog didn't seem to mind, though.

I left the Dunes and headed west again to Wolf Creek Pass. Yes folks, the same Wolf Creek Pass made infamous by C. W. McCall in the 1970's song of the same name. For those of you who don't remember the story, it goes like this:

"Me an Earl was haulin chickens on a flatbed out of Wiggins, and we'd spent all night on the uphill side of thirty-seven miles of hell called Wolf Creek Pass. which is up on the Great Divide.

We was settin there suckin toothpicks, drinkin Nehi and onion soup mix, and I said, Earl, lets mail a card to mother then send them chickens on down the other side. Yeah, lets give em a ride.

Wolf Creek Pass, way up on the Great Divide
Truckin on down the other side

Well, Earl put down his bottle, mashed his foot down on the throttle, and then a couple a boobs with a thousand cubes in a nineteen-forty-eight Peterbilt screamed to life. We woke up the chickens.

Well, we roared up offa that shoulder sprayin pine cones, rocks, and boulders, and put four hundred head of them Rhode Island Reds and a couple a burnt-out roosters on the line. Look out below, cause here we go!

Well, we commenced to truckin and them hens commenced to cluckin and then Earl took out a match and scratched his pants and lit up the unused half of a dollar cigar and took a puff. says "Aint this purdy up here."

I says, "Earl, this hill can spill us. You better slow down or you gonna kill us. Just make one mistake and its the pearly gates for them eight-five crates a USDA-approved cluckers. You wanna hit second?"

Wolf Creek Pass, way up on the Great Divide
Truckin on down the other side

Well, Earl grabbed on the shifter and he stabbed her into fifth gear and then the chromium-plated, fully-illuminated genuine accessory shift knob come right off in his hand. I says, "You wanna screw that thing back on, Earl?"

He was tryin to thread it on there when the fire fell off a his cigar and dropped on down, sorta rolled around, and then lit in the cuff of Earls pants and burned a hole in his sock. yeah, so it set him right on fire.

I looked on outta the window and I started countin phone poles, goin by at the rate of four to the seventh power. Well I put two and two together, and added twelve and carried five; come up with eighty-two thousand telephone poles an hour.

I looked at Earl and his eyes was wide, his lip was curled, and his leg was fried. And his hand was froze to the wheel like a tongue to a sled in the middle of a blizzard. I says, "Earl, I ain't the type to complain; but the time has come for me to explain that if you dont apply some brake real soon, theyre gonna have to pick us up with a stick and a spoon."

Well, Earl rared back, and cocked his leg, stepped down as hard as he could on the brake, and the pedal went clear to the floor and stayed there, right there on the floor. he said it was sorta like steppin on a plum.

Well, from there on down it just wasnt real purdy: it was hairpin county and switchback city. One of em looked like a can fulla worms; another one looked like malaria germs. right in the middle of the whole damn show was a real nice tunnel, now wouldnt you know?

Sign says clearance to the twelve-foot line, but the chickens was stacked to thirteen-nine. Well we shot that tunnel at a hundred-and-ten, like gas through a funnel and eggs through a hen, and wiped that top row of chickens off slicker than scum off a Lousiana swamp. Went down and around and around and down till we run outta ground at the edge of town. Bashed into the side of the feed store in downtown Pagosa Springs.

Wolf Creek Pass, way up on the Great Divide
Truckin on down the other side
Wolf Creek Pass, way up on the Great Divide
Truckin on down the other side

Well, that's C.W.'s story, and here's Wolf Creek, the Pass, and the tunnel. I didn't take a picture of the feed store in Pagosa Springs, cause it weren't there.

I'm overnighting in Cortez, Colorado and in the morning will visit the Anasazi Cliff Dwellings in Mesa Verde National Park. And, who knows where from there????

Sunday, June 25th:

Mesa Verde National Park is dedicated to the preservation of dwelling sites of the Ancestral Puebloan Indians (formerly called Anasazi). The cliff dwellings are situated in large alcoves in the walls of the deep sandstone canyons. The park includes over 4,000 archeologicalsites, approximately 600 of which are cliff dwellings. The first picture is a view looking back onto the valley floor around Cortez, as I'm climbing up to the mesa. The next is of a horse who's grazing was disturbed by the whine of my blower drive, "You horse's ass," he says. Then a shot of one of the valleys between two mesas, whose cliff walls hold the cliff dwellings. Finally shots of Square Tower and Cliff Palace.

After leaving Mesa Verde, I decided to head kinda sorta southwest and visit the Petrified Forest National Park, which is within Arizona's Painted Desert. It's about a 200 mile drive through the Navajo Nation. In the town of Ship Rock, New Mexico is a Navajo "village" along side the highway, consisting of government-provided shacks. I shouldn't let my socio-political beliefs taint this epilogue, but I think that this is a perfect example of the outcome of expecting the government to provide for you. Thanks, but no thanks Uncle Sam, you can keep your free hovel, I'll work for my own.

The drive south from Ship Rock to Gallup, New Mexico had me watching the sky just to the east. It was dark grey, and I could see rain falling in some areas, and lightning. This area is being affected by drought conditions, but I hoped that Noah's Flood wouldn't happen today. Fortunately for me, it didn't. I got some sprinkles, but no deluge.

I got to the Petrified Forest National Park in the afternoon, and it loops north into the Painted Desert north of Interstate 40. Here's a couple of shots of that area. I'd like to see this area in early morning or sunset conditions, the colors would be even more dramatic.

Then, as you approach the crossing over I-40, you come upon the remains of a late-'20's to early-30's Studebaker. It was left as a marker to signify the location of the original Hiway US 66. I-40 follows Route 66's original path quite a bit thru Arizona, all the way to it's terminus near Barstow, California.

Another 30 mile drive south of I-40 gets you to the fields of petrified trees.

I overnited in Holbrook, Arizona.

Monday, June 26th:

I wasn't sure where I was going to head to today, so decided to kinda follow my nose and see where it led. I decided to head south from Holbrooke and get into the White Mountains of Arizona. That was a good choice. The desert is neat and has its allure, but I found the mountains to be a refreshing change of pace. I followed the Mogollan Rim westward. The town names such as Snowflake, Show Low, Pine, and Strawberry promised an interesting day, and it was.

View OF the Mogollan Rim.

View FROM the Mogollan Rim.

Woods Canyon Lake

Tonto Natural Bridge.

Coming down out of the mountains into Camp Verde. The town of Sedona is to the right, Cottonwood straight ahead, and Jerome and Mingus Mountain to the left.

I was originally going to head north to Sedona, but a forest fire in Oak Creek Canyon (one reason for going there), and the look of thunderstorms in that direction convinced me to call it a day and head for the Phoenix area for the nite.

Tuesday, June 27th:

This is going to be my last day on the road. It's an easy, freeway push from Phoenix to home. I got an early start to avoid both Phoenix morning traffic and some of the heat.

Arizona in my Rear View Mirror

Windmills generating electrical power in San Gorgonio Pass on I-10 near Palm Springs, California. San Gorgonio Pass is one of the windiest areas in the world and is home to 3,500 electricity-producing wind turbines. The electricity generated by the wind turbines is used by the customers of Southern California Edison Company. The San Gorgonio wind turbines produce approximately 600 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) every year. This amount of electricity is enough to meet the needs of 100,000 typical homes or about 250,000 people.

You can tell that this is in southern California by the freaky cars. This Mini was touting the merits of Gran Marnier Margaritas. The bridge we are passing under is West Lilac Road over I-15 between Fallbrook and Escondido, and goes almost directly to our house.

Finally, the end of the line, at Hot Rods and Custom Stuff, where Randy Clark and I started this adventure three weeks ago.

Six thousand miles, at least that many smiles, no sunburn, car's still in one piece (one minor difficulty solved by my buddies Steve Sbelgio and Bob Morgan), a bunch of new friends, a lot of new sights, a ton of memories. As they say, "It don't get no better than this!" Jerry Dixey informed me that Pueblo was hit by a hailstorm on Sunday afternoon. I was supposed to have been there, but if you remember, wanderlust sent me back on the road early. Another side benefit to those I've already mentioned is that I lost ten pounds !!! I'll publish the book, "The Hot Rodder's Road Tour Diet". Or, "How to lose ten pounds in three fun-filled weeks sweating your ass off in an open-topped, open-wheeled, blown cheesegrater in searing Arizona/New Mexico/Colorado/Utah/California heat, and love every minute of it. Perhaps the proceeds will finance the next Road Trip?

In closing, I'd like to say THANKS to a few special people: first and foremost, my wife Sue Ann, who supported me in this adventure, and thru all of my hot rod-addictive behaviors; our sister-in-law, Jan, who dog sat for us in our absence; Steve and Bob for assistance rendered turning a potential disaster into a positive experience; the guys from Vintage Air - Rick Love, George, Packard, Danny Zoeller, and Jack Chisenhall. One comment about Rick, made by Jerry Dixey a week later when we were detoured by forest fires at the Grand Canyon, was: "If Rick were here he would have called a day ahead of our arrival here and saw to it that the fire was put out.") That's Rick - attention to detail. Jerry Dixey, who has to do this for a living. Believe me, it ain't easy. Ron Ceridono and Tex Smith - you guys were great troopers. Ron, I think that you and I could have been mistaken for a couple of grease spots after the run from Tucson to Phoenix. New definition to the term "HOT". Also all of the fine hosts we had along the way: MSD, the Peterson Museum, Hi Speed Speed Shop, SoCal Speed Shops in Pomona, Phoenix and Las Vegas, especially Alex Xydias, Darrell Zipp and crew at Zipper Motors, John Petrillo for dinner in LaVerne, and a host of others. All of the participants themselves were a pleasure to come to know. All of you were great. Randy Clark, who first initiated this idea, "Thanks, Buddy it was great!" Finally, thanks to everyone who I met during these last three weeks, I'll never forget it. You all made it the trip of a lifetime.

If you don't mind, please give me your comments as to whether or not you felt it was worth your time and effort to keep up with this journal, or any other comments.

Later !!!! See you on the road!!!!!!!!

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