Tuesday, May 31, 2011

2430 in 11

I was on the road at 5 this morning after grabbing a coffee at Dunkin Donuts.  Bloomsburg, PA is a hopping place at that hour, a lot of Bloomsburgians are up and at it. 

I motored east on Interstate 80 and cruised along for an hour or so when my engine started running rough.  I pulled off the road and changed one set of points in my distributor, then the other set, both to no avail.  I sputtered along some more and tried changing the condensor.  I thought I had the issue figured out but then the engine really started running rough.

I managed to get off the highway and rolled into a truck stop.  My sights were set on finding a nice shady spot, but I was like an airplane descending without power.  I was not in a position to be fussy.

Once I parked in the bright sun, I began trying to figure out the problem.  On my '09 cross country trip, my truck was acting the same way and it was a fuel pump issue.  I tried changing the pump, but that was not the problem.

While I worked, a dozen people stopped and offered to make a call or to help out.  One man told me he didn't know anything about cars and he felt bad leaving..  Another drove up the road and brought lunch back to me.

It took me awhile to figure out but finally I discovered a loose nut inside the distributor.  The nut held the two point wires onto the coil and condensor pin.  Once I tightened it up, I was back on the road.

From there I drove 235 miles non stop and landed home at 6:30.  It was not the day I had planned, but it all adds to the adventure, right ?

When I got home, the GPS read 2430 miles.  It not hard to pile up the mileage zig - zag - ing around Indiana and Pennsylvania.  From starting the trip at my friend Tim's, to seeing Lancaster, PA, the Harley Davidson Factory, Gettysburg, The Air Force Museum, The Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum, Hoestetler's Hudson Museum, The South Bend Truck Show, Notre Dame, The Studebaker Museum, and going to the Indy 500,  I feel like I covered a lot of ground in eleven days. It was also great to see my Old GMC Truck buddies and to meet and talk to a bunch of strangers while traveling.  There is no easier way to meet people than to drive an old car or truck around the countryside.  It is great fun, and I really enjoy doing it.

Monday, May 30, 2011

600 Down, 335 To Go...

I hit the road about 7 this morning.  That is late for me, but I was kinda tired from yesterday so I slept in a bit..

Originally I was going to take 90 through Cleveland, Buffalo, and Syracuse to get home.  But I have driven that road before and it's a boring ride.  So today I hung a right in Ohio and drove through Akron and Youngstown and on into Pennsylvania.  Anytime you can avoid Cleveland and Buffalo you've done a good day's work.

I didn't take any pictures today so here are a couple from the race yesterday.

Before the race, the 1911 Marmon Wasp made a couple of laps.  This car won the first running of the Indy 500 in 1911, 100 years ago.

I took this shot as the pace lap went by.  The cars were never lined up this nicely again..

If you look closely you can see the winner's trophy making its way over to Dan Wheldon.  He won the race after J R Hildebrand hit the wall on the final turn.

I drove just over 600 miles today and pulled into Bloomsburg, PA at about 4:30.  After a little dinner downtown I will be looking forward to bed.  I did notice there is a Dunkin Donuts downtown so I may make a little detour before hopping back onto 80 for the final 335 miles..  Good coffee is hard to come by on the road.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Right At Home

Today was awesome.....

I was outta bed at 3:30 this morning.  A few weeks ago I arranged to park my '53 inside an Indianapolis Firehouse and hook a ride with Engine 17 to the Indy 500.  The Chief asked me to be there at 7 am, then the Officer in Charge of the Engine called and asked me to be there a little earlier.  I certainly did not want to be late.

I rolled out of Kokomo, Indiana at about 4 am thinking there may already be race traffic.  There was, but as I arrived at Engine 17 I found they are on the outskirts of the city. I ended up getting there way early. But better way early than a minute late.

I hung out in the parking lot until an early riser came outside to greet me.  Scott brought me in and gave me a tour of their newly remodeled station.  It was beautiful.  Soon the day shift arrived and I met the crew that was going to take care of me today.  Indianapolis assigns four to an Engine and they were all great guys. They were detailed to the track for the race they had packed a grill and plenty of food and drinks.

We started out to meet at a staging point where there would be other apparatus gathering for the ride into Speedway.  The Indy Track is actually in a town within the city of Indy, confusing I know.  Speedway is techically where the track is located.

We hung out in the staging area for 15 minutes, got our briefing, and were on our way to Speedway.

We had a police escort and our own travel lane.  If you look to the right, you can see the traffic stopped...

Once we arrived at the track, I found out Engine 17 was assigned right outside the South Gate.  The Chief told me to wait and sure enough an IFD ATV arrived and brought me inside.  It was cool..

There is plenty to see once inside so I started looking around.  I did not have a garage pass cause I didn't know I needed one but walked over anyway.  I couldn't get inside the fence but did stick my camera lens through the chain link fence and got a shot of one car.  As luck would have it, that won the race.  Go figure..

I walked a little more looking for something to eat.  Walking to a counter, I saw a sign for a scrambled egg breakfast.  I ordered one and the gal told me she was all out.  I asked for a coffee and she told she was out of that, too.  I laughed and asked if she knew that was a race going on today, she laughed and said, " Have a beer ."  I told it was 8:00 in the morning.  She said , " Honey, loosen up.  It's Race Day  ! "  I found breakfast somewhere else and it did not consist of beer.

The track is enormous, there are thousands of people.  Activity was everywhere.  I made my way to my seat and was lucky to find a few real race fans there.  I don't know anything about racing so I was lucky they were there to answer my questions.  After the opening festivites and the Star Spangled Banner , etc, it was 12:03 and time for the start.  The pace car lead the pack around the track three times then dropped off. 

The roar of those engines, the cheering of the crowd, the high octane exhaust fumes, the speed....  I'm gonna tell you, it was awesome.  Everyone should experience the start of an Indianapolis 500 once in their life.

Click here for a short clip of the start...

After awhile I went down closer to the track and took this clip...

Short clip

Seeing the video is one thing, being up close is something else again...

Near the end of the race I walked toward the finish line to see the gates had been opened.  Usually you need to have a ticket to a particular section to enter but not so near the end.  So I walked in and found an empty seat six rows back from the finish line.  From there I got a good shot of the " Yard of Bricks " .  That is the name given to the finish line...  In the above picture it is to the right side.  Danica Patrick's car is the light green one, she is the only driver I know....

After the race, I made my way back to the Engine 17 boys and found there was a radio station broadcasting right next to them.  So we sat and listened to the music and helped out a few race revelers with sprained ankles and stuff in their eye,  etc.

On the ride home, the boys offered me dinner at their station which I gladly accepted.  Steak and chicken and burgers went on the grill and the usual firehouse banter ensued.  Even though I am a thousand miles away from home, I felt right at home.

I had a great day.

Tomorrow I will hit the road for Massachusetts.  My plan is to make Buffalo tomorrow night but I will play it by ear.  I hope to be home Tuesday....

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Indy 500 Tomorrow.

I was up early this morning even though there was not a lot going on.  Some of our group took off for home, a few others stuck around.  My friend Andy and I adjusted a few things to smooth out a rough idle on my engine. 

A few of us went back to the show field and looked around some more.  I said good bye at about 2:30 and headed south for Kokomo, Indiana. The ride was an easy two hour drive straight down Route 31.  I passed a lot of flat farm country along the way. Kokomo is an hour north of Indianapolis so it was a good spot to lay up for the night. .   Today and tomorrow's route is here

Tomorrow I am meeting Indianapolis Engine 17 at 6:45 am in their quarters to hook a ride.  Although it is only about an hour from here to Indy, I want to leave early in case there is race traffic.  Watching the news at the hotel tonight, I see the gates open at the track at 6 am.  The track holds 250,000 people so this ought to be interesting.

I didn't take any pictures today but I'm sure I will take a bunch at the track tomorrow.

Ding, Dong, Ding

I had an appointment at the Notre Dame Fire Department at 8:30 yesterday morning for a tour of the University.  The station was only 5 minutes from my hotel so it was an easy ride.  I pulled in to find their Assistant Chief conducting their daily shift meeting.  When it was over, I met the men of  'B' Shift.  Of course the B, I was informed, stands for Best...

The station itself was impressive. Built in 1945, it was originally manned by brothers and priests.  That pracitce continued on a part time basis until the early '90's.  Now it is occupied by 4 full time firefighters working 24 shifts for an average of 56 hours a week.

I was met by Asst Chief Tim Hoeppner then introduced to the rest of the shift.  Two of the firefighters, Mike and Rick, invited me to hop into their Engine 41 for a ride around the campus.  The Chief said if they recieved a call, just take me along.  I was hoping for a something to happen during the morning but unfortunately, nothing did.

I quickly discovered these Mike and Rick had keys to all the fun places.  Whenever we encountered a sign that read, 'Do Not Enter', or 'Restricted Area', we walked on through.  We started with a tour of the Main Building, also known as the Administrative Building.  It contains the signature gold dome that most people associate with Notre Dame.

The inside is quite impressive.  The halls are adorned with restored oil paintings and the walls and ceilings are all hand painted.  The wood doors, trim, and handmade wood paneling are beautiful..

This shot was taken up and under the area of the gold dome.  All of the work was done by hand. It was really impressive.

We moved on to the Stadium and took the elevator up to the media room and a couple of other VIP areas.  Recently remodeled, the stadium seats over 80,000.

The next stop was the Basilica.  As you may expect of a Catholic Univerisity it was unbelievably ornate.  As I stood outside and admired the steeple, Mike and Rick asked if I would like to climb to the top from the inside. We entered, and they unlocked the side door and we started up the narrow stairs.

As we climbed, the system of bells and strikers came into view and the stairs become more like rickety ladders.  For some reason I did not expect it to be all heavy timber construction but it was a complex system of beams and cross supports.  I kept going and got to the clock level where I noticed there was one motor with 4 different shafts that ran out the clock on each corner. 

As started down, I did not realize that the bells would ring on the half hour.  When the first one struck, I quickly put my fingers into my ears.  It wasn't one simple dong but a melody that lasted a couple of minutes.  It was great fun to watch all the strikers activate.

Mike and Rick toured me around Notre Dame for about three hours.  There were good guys, I really enjoyed the morning.

From there I drove back to the truck show and hooked up with my friends.  Lots of them drove their old iron from all parts of the country, including Kansas, Texas, Minnesota, and Washington State.  So you can see there are other knuckleheads who drive these things around the country.

Today, Saturday, I will make my way south to Kokomo, Indiana.  Tomorrow morning I need to be at Indianapolis Engine 17 at 6:30 am sharp to hook my ride to the Indianapolis 500.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Hurry Up and Giddy Up

The sky was black this morning as I rolled out of Auburn, Indiana.  The easy way was to head north on 69 then west on 80 to find South Bend.  Looking at the map, I noticed I could head north on 69 a short way then cut west across Route 20.  I decided that since I was not in a rush, the easier ride on 20 would be the ticket.

My hunch was right, 20 was an nice drive with little traffic.  After awhile I approached the town of Shipshewana.  There was a small restaurant at the junction of 20 and 5 so I pulled over for a cup of coffee. 

As I walked in, I heard the clop clop of the Amish buggy and looked up to see it blending in with the day to day traffic...

My waitress was an Amish woman. My attempts to engage her in conversation were not that successful. Usually I can get get a little dialogue going but a lot of my questions were answered with a polite , " I couldn't say yes and I couldn't say no."

I paid the bill and walked outside to find a couple of guys looking over my truck.  One of them asked if I had been at the ATHS show in Auburn, Indiana in 2005.  When I told him I was there he remembered talking to me and seeing my truck.  They had stopped because they were trying to find a local Hudson Automobile Collection.  I walked back in and asked the waitress about it, she told me the museum was a half mile way.

We all drove up the road and found the Hudson Museum easily.  I walked in to find a plain but new building that was loaded with beautiful cars. There were sixty or so beautifully restored Hudson automobiles and trucks from the teens to the end of production in the late '50's.

After a few minutes I was approached by an older man who handed me his card, his name was Eldon Hostetler. It only took me a minute to discover he was the one who had assembled the collection. 

Eldon was a very friendly man who told me he was born of Amish parents.  As a young boy he was taught to work on the farm.  He recalled that the first words he learned were, " Hurry Up and Giddy Up."

In Eldon's words, he did not "sign up' to be Amish.  He continued to do farm work then began to work on some ideas to feed and water poultry.  During his life Eldon make a large fortune with his poultry servicing equipment and eventually applied for and received 60 patents.  As his wealth grew, he began to collect cars.

As we talked, he took me behind the ropes and talked about the electric shift on the Hudsons he admired as a boy.  The first cars of his collection sported the electric shift and other Hudson oddities like the hidden radio. Eldon delighted is showing me the details of many of his cars. 

When I was ready to leave, I asked him what he was going to do for the rest of the day. Eldon said he had 5 acres of grass to mow at home so he needed to get going. Eldon is 88, and quite a character. I had a great time talking to him..

After my Hudson education I headed north again toward South Bend.  I rolled into the truck show to find a few of my old GMC Truck friends had arrived from around the country. These guys are the reason I came to the show in South Bend so it was great to see them.

Tomorrow I am off to Notre Dame for a tour of the campus. It should be fun..

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

It's a Duesy ....

I was the only one in the hotel laundry room at 5 am . Since me and my clothes were clean I needed to so something about my scroungy truck.  My GPS told me the Butler Car and Doggie Wash was only a mile away.

I asked just to use a hose, I didn't want to run through the automated car wash.  The two men who worked there were quite nice and directed me to a shady spot then rolled out the hose..

The guy on the right is Bobby Mcgee. Janis Joplin sang about him, then we didn't hear from him for years. Who'd a thunk he was working in a car wash in Dayton, Ohio..

Once I got spiffed up I headed back to the Air Force Museum.  The lighting is a bit dim and some of the planes are so large it is tough to get good pictures.  I spent another three hours looking at some enormous planes including a B - 52 Stratofortress.  It was so big I couldn't get far enough away for a pic.

While inside I could hear it pouring on the roof of the hangar, then I could hear thunder.   When I came out, it had cleared so I headed north and west to Auburn, Indiana.  I never unfolded my map but just trusted the GPS. It was a nice combination of highway and secondary roads.  I drove through small towns like Neptune and larger ones like Van Wert, Ohio. Today's route is right here..

You can tell two things from this pic.  The first is I am back on the Lincoln Highway, Route 30.  The second is that it is going to rain, hard and soon !

As I got close to Fort Wayne, Indiana, the skies opened up with rain and vivid lighting.  It was quite a ride for a half hour or so.  As I approached the Auburn - Cord - Duesenberg Museum in Auburn, the rain slowed down.  I paid my ten bucks to get in and was immediately impressed.  I have seen a lot of car museums but nothing like this one. The building was built as the corporate headquarters for the Auburn Automobile Company.  It was started in 1929 and took a year to finish at a cost of 450,000 dollars.  It is packed with rare models for all three brands, Auburn, Cord, and the ultra stylish and lightning fast Duesenberg.

As you enter there is a '31 Duesenberg to the left.  For those of you trying to find me the perfect birthday gift, that will do it.

The museum is filled with the rare and beautiful.  There is only of these ever built, a 1929 Auburn Cabin Speedster.

The yellow Cord in the top center rotates in a circle.  Standing halfway up the grand stairway, you could imagine it was 1936 and you had a pocket full of money to spend on any car in the showroom.

The museum is filled with many earlier fine cars and examples of engine and engineering breakthoughs that were way ahead of their time. I spent a couple of hours there and really enjoyed it.

My Auburn hotel was only 5 minutes away so I dashed to the parking lot and splashed my way there. South Bend is only 100 miles from me so I will have a short ride tomorrow. In fact, it will be the shortest of the trip so far.  My GMC buddies are converging on South Bend, it will be fun to see them...