Tuesday, June 30, 2009

We started with a brisk drive west on the interstate into Green River Wyoming. This was where John Wesley Powell launched his Colorado River expedition. Looking at the river as we drove by you can imagine that the men on that trip really had no idea what lay ahead of them. The power of the Colorado River is unseen this far north but later it surges through the Grand Canyon. Our adventure is insignificant when compared to theirs.

We had a visit with a lovely couple while we were stopped in Green River. They told us we were negligent in not informing the paper of our arrival. I think we are still not expecting to be recognized. We promised to be better at letting folks know what we are up to. We headed north to Opal into wide open country with huge blue sky wrapping all around us. The road was good and we moved along at about 30 mph. Clouds were building above us, sometimes blocking the sun which was a relief. The heat was not as bad as Iowa or Nebraska but it was getting warm. Rain was falling from the clouds but it is so dry here that it wasn't hitting the ground. It was a little weird to be driving under falling rain that we could see but not feel.

We stopped in Opal, ate a quick picnic lunch, looked at what we think might be the hotel that Alice Ramsey stayed in and then moved on to Kemmerer. We drove on by thinking we had enough time to get to Evanston so we should push through. The road from Kemmerer to Evanston was not busy and wide open. The cars were moving well and with a brisk tail wind we were cruising at 40mph for about 15 miles. I never touched the accelerator, just held on. We passed another big wind farm and a HUGE number of sheep. At first we though there were about 500 sheep, then we decided about 1000. Even now I think our estimate was short. There were sheep everywhere. We reconnected with I80 and drove the last 14 miles to Evanston. At the state park we saw the most majestic elk just lying in the grass enjoying the late day sun. We found a place to camp, ate a very large meal at a wonderful Mexican reataurant (Don Pedro Family Mexican) We were so stuffed that I was glad we had walked there, it gave me a few mintues to walk back, or waddle back.

Malcolm will need to pull my back right wheel tomorrow to check on some grinding noise but other than that the car seems to be in good shape. On to Lehi from here.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Today was a long day on the interstate. The was no getting away from it. In order to follow RT30 you have to run on I80. Fortunately the shoulders on the highway are almost a full lane wide so they aren’t too difficult to drive down, although the rumble strip adds an element of excitement. We were motoring right along going about 38-40 mph when a large dark THING loomed in the distance. We were pretty sure it was not a chunk of tire. At slower speeds one does have a lot of time to think about this stuff. It quickly became apparent that the THING was a large bloated dead antelope lying across the entire shoulder. We could smell it before we got to it. You know it is really difficult to swerve and hold your breath, while not getting hit by a truck all the time doing so with your eyes closed. I was not going to hit it, no matter what, but it was close.

We drove the interstate for about 40 miles when we saw Dan and Dorothy had pulled off at an exit. She had told us earlier that she was not at all comfortable on the shoulder so we figured that she was going to try the gravel road that we could see running parallel to I80. We weren’t sure where it went but it appeared to be going in the right direction so we kept our fingers crossed. We hadn’t seen them until we were up on the bridge past the exit so we kept going hoping we would meet up at some point. We pulled into a very busy truck stop and Malcolm called Dan. They were out there somewhere heading our way. While we waited we had a long chat with two guys from Texas who were working in the oil fields. They were telling us all sorts of stories about Wyoming. Kind of a good ole boy department of tourism. Really nice guys.

Dan and Dorothy made it to us. Dorothy looked a little shell shocked. Apparently the road was quite something and less direct than it looked. After that she decided the interstate was the lesser of two evils. Just as we were heading out a car pulled up and a woman jumped out. She asked if we were the ‘Alice Ramsey girls’. I made sure to clarify which “girls” we were, and we were the ones she was looking for! She has been following the Twitter. That was pretty exciting for both of us.

Leaving the truck stop the Cadillac purred along at a pretty good clip. We made it about 30 miles in about 45 minutes. I was feeling really good about the day in general. Then, just as I was thinking that it was going to be another great day, I lost all power. The engine sputtered, backfired, burped a huge cloud of black smoke and came to a rolling halt on the side of the road. Malcolm worked the carb a bit thinking it was an altitude issue and off I went rolling merrily along until BANG it happened again. The big burst of black smoke was an indicator that my car was just not happy. After the third time, cleaning the plugs and tweaking the gas flow I gave up. We loaded it in the trailer and drove to Rock Springs. I took a long walk, talked to Mom and got over the frustration. We found a campsite early enough to work on the cars, Abby helped Dan replace a tire on the T, and Dylan helped Malcolm with the Caddy. Chances are Dylan was more helpful.... Hopefully all will be well when we take off this morning.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Laramie to Rawlins Wy

Wind..... that about covers it.

We drove out of Laramie on 287/30. We drove out into the middle of nowhere. As far as we could see there was just rolling hills and sky. Every once in a while we saw an antelope and the antelope saw us. They always look so surprised. We drove into a headwind all morning, if we turned south a bit, we still drove into a headwind. We were well bundled up as the temperatures were brisk to say the least. Dorothy was moving right along, the Cadillac was not as happy. Dylan and I couldn't speak to each other much unless we yelled so we just listened to the roaring of the wind in our ears. I just about jumped out of my skin when a train came up along side of us and blew his horn.

We passed a small group of bicyclists struggling along up a hill and entered Rock Creek. Later we found out they were riding from Texas to Alaska. I wonder if they really looked at how far that is? We stopped in Rock Creek to wait for Dorothy and Dan who were behind us after stopping for a minute. We went in for a visit to the general store and met Carol. She took us out to meet Aaron and Kelly at the welding shop and they came out to see the cars. They were so enthusiastic. We pulled open the hoods and they climbed in. It is really gratifying to meet guys who just love to look at the cars.

Later a rancher stopped for a visit. He told us his family had been there since his great-great grandparents came out with the wagon train many years ago. They broke down in Rock Creek and that is where they stayed. He also told us that the Lincoln Highway used to go through town perpendicular to where it went now. The old gas station used to face the road. When they moved the highway the owner turned the station so that it still faced the highway. There were a number of interesting old buildings that really gave us the flavor of the town in it's heyday.

A young girl drove up to take photos of the cars. She told us her family was renovating the old Lincoln Hotel. We drove over for a look. This was where Alice Ramsey stopped for the night. We chatted with the family for a minute and gave them the info we had. They were happy to hear that as they were trying to date the building, so this gives them at least 1909 as a date to work from.

We pushed on from there to Rawlins. Again we entered the great expanse of grass and sky. A giant windfarm grew in front of us as we drove towards it. The giant blades turning slowly in the
wind looked like dancers on the ridge. The wind was still pushing us hard backwards, or so it felt. We climbed hills slowly and descended quickly. Driving through Sinclair past the huge refinery was a bit surreal. The town is beautiful. Old adobe style buildings centered around a town green with a very lovely fountain. Eventually we came to the end of the old road and had to do a brisk run down the interstate to Rawlins. Fortunately we fit on the shoulder so that is how we did it. The trucks whizzed by but we had no problems and we did go a lot faster! Camping for the night. I could not get my head onto the pillow fast enough.

Sinclair, WY.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Cheyenne to Laramie....Oh what a day!

After making sure we had enough clean laundry for the next week we headed off. At this point we are off our earlier planed route. We are still trying to stay on the original route, which will take us along some interesting roadways. We headed out west of town into beautiful empty countryside. We drove past the Happy Jack Wind Farm where huge windmills turned slowly and gracefully next to us. It's a funny thing about these windmills. You either hate them or love them - I am of the latter group. I love seeing the big blades slowly turning in the wind. The sky behind them was dark and foreboding of storms to come. We were driving right towards it.

We climbed up and up into the mountains, then tuned south onto Vedauwoo Rd, aka. CR700. We were heading to the Ames monument. The road was gravel, and pretty popular with the dirt bike crowd. We surprised a lot of folks who didn't expect to see us coming towards them. The road climbed into some amazing country. We were having a pretty good time negotiating the bumps and holes when the rain started. The sky above us turned angry almost instantly and the rain came down with a vengance. Dylan and I couldn't cover up fast enough so we got soaked instantly. As Dorothy moved along ahead of us, my engine decided at that exact moment to act up so I was stalled for just long enough to get the only dry parts on my body wet too. Then, to make it much more interesting.....it started to hail. There is nothing as challenging as an open car in a hail storm. The temperature dropped about 30ยบ and we drove as fast as we could for tree covered road. We finally caught up with Dan and Dorothy at the end of the road. I jumped out of the car, dove into the trailer, teeth chattering. There I found a dry sleeping bag to climb into while everyone covered up cars and bodies.

After the rain let up we drove on to the Ames monument. The monument was built to mark the highest point on the Transcontinental RR. While we were there we met a utility worker who had satellite weather in his truck and he showed us the storm. It was heading east, and we were at the back of it. The temperature had dropped enough that we were all bundled up. We drove on to the Summit rest stop for a quick stop and check of the Caddy's carb. It was still giving me a bit of trouble at this elevation. Then we drove on in search of an alternate route to getting on the interstate. We were not excited about driving on RT 80 if we could avoid it. We drove down another road, past a herd of cattle, off into the hills. We found the road that the map said would take us to Laramie. It climbed a sheer rock face for about 10 feet and faded into the scrub. We decided that we would be nuts to take it so back we went, onto 80. That was a bit of a hair raising drive. Only 9 miles to the exit and I drove it on the shoulder. There was enough room for me and I was very happy there. Trucks flew by, Malcolm drove behind me with his lights on, but given that it was a steep decent through the canyon it was really more of a high speed fall. At the end, having survived our hairraising drive on the interstate we whooped with the joy only a near death survivor can geel and pulled into dinner. The first hot meal of the day. Sleep came early and fast, we were probably asleep before we actually got to our rooms. Dorothy was still talking but she was so darn tired that we sent her to bed, following close behind.

Ogallala NE to Cheyenne Wy

167 miles today! We followed Rt 30, the old Lincoln Highway all the way to Cheyenne. The maps showed that 30 ran with the interstate from Pine Bluffs but when we got there Malcolm found someone who knew the roads and he told us, 'just keep goin' where you are, the road goes all the way to Cheyenne." The road was really nice, not busy with long straight bits that allowed the cars to really cruise. Dorothy was motoring along at about 38 mph and if there was a tail wind the cars got up to almost 40. With a tail wind and a down hill it was all I could do to keep the Cadillac at 40. I'm not sure how it would handle going faster but at times it seemed to have a mind of it's own and just wanted to open up and fly!

The open cars offer a different sense of the world as you are driving along. The heat of the day, the smells along the road, and the people who greet us. At one point we drove along an extensive railroad repair project. For about 10 miles there were groups of workers with huge machines on the tracks. Each group waved as we went by. By the time we had passed my arm was a little tired from all the enthusiastic waving. No queenly subtle waves for us.

We stopped in Sidney for lunch and were interviewed and photographed for the local paper. That was fun! Our first publicity stop. Now maybe a few more people will know about us. It would be awesome for us to meet just one person who actually had heard we were doing this too.

We hit the border of Nebraska and Wyoming, stopped for a photo op and eventually arrived in Cheyenne around dinner where we met up with the McKays. Ken and Shirley offered us camping space in their yard for the night. We had dinner with them then went to their house. Ke showed us his cars. He has some real beauties. We met Max, their miniature Daschund who has a tail that won't quit, and is almost as fast as his tongue which can place more kisses than any dog I have ever met.

We had delux accomodations in Kens brand new trailer, much nicer than a tent. Then it was off bright and early in the morning to do laundry, work on cars a bit, look for more bearings and then away we go......

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Wednesday June 24 to Ogalalla NE a 150 Mile day!!!

Again it took a while to get moving. Mostly because everyone was a still little waterlogged after the rain, and maybe a bit shell shocked. We drove back up to town and unloaded in a school parking lot. Dan had a public information session while we were getting ready. It was a very enthusiastic crowd to say the least. Each one of them honked the horn, then when they were done they came to my car. A few hundred beeps later they discovered the dogs. We became old news!

As we were working on loading things into the cars a woman drove up. She had overheard our conversation in the AAA office and had to stop. Her name was...... Alice Ramsey! We all had a good laugh. This Alice is leaving for a drive to Alaska with her husband. Go Alice!

We finally left after lots of chatting and headed off to meet up with a Rick Kuntz, he had contacted me via the Early Cadillac Group and so as we passed through we stopped for lunch and a visit. He showed us the really nice '06 he was working on and gave us a tour of his barns. We are suckers for barns full of cars. After a long stop for visiting we motored on to North Platte. We made such good time we went all the way to Ogallala for the night. We did a 150 mile day today. The heat was impressive, so much so that as we traveled through the shade of large trees the temperature dropped measureably. At one point I was tempted to stop for a bit just to cool down. But with plenty of water, Gatorade and sunscreen we are holding up well.

On to Kearney

We said good bye to Delilah and Ron and left their house around noon. The T's radiator had been fixed and put back on the car. Thanks to a wonderful man who said he'd work on it as soon as we could get it there we weren't delayed too much. It was stinking hot by the time we got on the road, and the humidity was oppressive. We went through the area on RT 34 that had been hit by a tornado a few days ago. The house was still standing but one whole wall was gone. The trees were shredded and the corn field was bare. It was a sobering sight. We had heard about it but were still shocked at the devistation. Fortunately no one was hurt. The family is ok. The whole idea of tornados really unnerves me. I have been watching the skies as the storms build south ad north of us.

Both cars ran well and we made it to Kearney Nebraska before calling it a day. We camped at Fort Kearny State Park. The lake was so inviting and it was really warm. We went for a late swim after dinner to cool off. It was still pretty warm by the time we went to bed and off in the distance clouds were building. The weather report was for a clear night so we weren't worried. At about midnight the first storm hit. I'm not sure I can remember another time when it has rained that hard. It rained off and on until about three am. I could not sleep. I was worried about Dorothy, Dan and Emma in the tent. Bridgit was trying to sleep under me to get away from the thunder and I wasn't happy when the wind shook the trailer. Needless to say it was a long night.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

We are in Waco with breakdowns

Yesterday began with a really hard rain that dumped about two inches of rain in about 30 minutes. Large chunks of hail fell in the rain. I was really glad we were still in the house. We spent a few hours at Speedway Motors museum in Lincoln. Lots of amazing race cars, engines and pedal cars. There was a Model T display with every accessory that could be purchased. The display was really fun to see. There were lots of bits and pieces the auto enthusiast could get.

We left Barb and Myron's after lunch, I guess the humidity was about as high as it could get. We stopped for a picture by an old DLD sign and then headed out. I got about 6 more miles and the Cadillac died. I had no gas in the lines and after a number of attempts we put it in the trailer to go find some place to work on it. I got in the T with Dorothy and we drove on. The T was running really hot and our feet were frying in the cab. When we stopped the radiator was steaming and we weren't sure what was actually happening. We met up with Lineley Kessler near Utica and followed him to Waco to Virgil and Doug Lierman's service station. Dan caught up with us there, he had run to Omaha to pick up some bearings for our fan. Doug and Dan worked on the radiator and determined that there were a few leaks. Virgil, Malcolm & Dylan worked on the Caddy. They pulled a huge chunk of tank sealant out and eventually got it all cleaned out.

We have been taken in by Lindley's cousins, Delila and Ron Dey. They have taken great care of us while we are stopped by mechanical difficulties. We've been fed well and kept cool in the heat of the day, fed the goat and played with the dog. Dorothy is with Malcolm at the radiator shop and we are dragging our feet. It is still hot and humid.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Photo updates from Dorothy's camera

New photos posted on the Yahoo site

Crossing the Missouri to Lincoln NE

Even with an early wake up we still didn't get on the road until 11. We seem to be slower and slower at getting started. Of course much of this is car related with repairs, or maintenance but I still think we are not moving quickly as we are putting in long days and are tired. There is a good part of this though. We do have the most interesting moments when we take it slowly. Yesterday while getting ready in a truck stop near Rt 30 we had a chance to chat with some of the Valhallas, a motorcycle group from NE. I went into the little restaurant to order Dan some breakfast because he was in need of food. I walked in right behind about 20 bikers. It was pretty clear that the only waitress was a bit frazzled at the huge influx of customers. So, I pitched in. I took orders, served coffee and juice, bussed tables, shocked the heck out of the guy in the kitchen and generally had a lot of fun. I chatted with two rather large bikers about Rt 30 across NE and they gave me the lowdown on the road. Nice guys, kind of intimidating women. Go figure.

We stopped for lunch and while we were eating saw Emily Anderson go by. We had a moment of excitement, it is the first time we've seen her. Glad to see all is well with her trip too. After lunch we crossed the Nebraska line then zigged and zagged all over the country side to get to Lincoln. We got our wires crossed a bit and ended up on the East side of the city instead of the West side so we got to drive through Lincoln. Saw a camel at the zoo, that was interesting. We made it to Myron and Barb's house in one piece. Myron and Nathan (their son) showed us their amazing car collection and Barb cooked us a huge dinner. We had a great night talking and sitting in their nice cool house. We are going to take a layover day and do laundry, work on the cars, and do a bit of visiting.

Boone to Missouri Valley

Heading towards the Missouri River. The day looked like it would be ok, and that was about as good as it got. We were on Rt 30 driving along when the rain started. At one point we lost Dorothy, she had pulled over because her engine was loosing power. We pulled over and put the tarp over us as the rain pounded us. Dorothy caught up and we made the decision to get off 30 as we were probably hard to see and were not feeling all that safe. We looked at the map and found a route that would take us where we wanted to go. We didn't realize just how much of that would be gravel roads. Dorothy took off and the Cadillac didn't. It only took about 5 minutes to get rolling but by then I had lost sight of her in all the hills. At a road construction site the flagman told me she had gone by so I followed the route and hit the gravel. Drove to Grey and found the road I thought we needed to take was a dead end. I got some advice which I decided to ignore....silly girl and headed down the road. I really hate to backtrack and moving forward seemed like a good idea. (I was wet, and my thinking was shorting out a bit)

We followed the dirt for a ways until we came to a road I didn't want to go down. I have enough experience with mud to know when to say "Uncle!" We did eventually find ourselves in Irwin, and there was Dorothy!. The sun was out and the day was getting better and better. We drove together until Missouri Valley, camped at Willow Island State Park. I slept like a log and woke up about 3 hours before I was ready. On to another day.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Boone Iowa all the way!

We made it 130 miles today! The Cadillac ran on magneto and ran so well that at times I had trouble holding it back. (Sue, call Art and tell him, because we know he'll never see this here)

We started the day with a call from Doug McNair in California giving us an update on the weather. We were surrounded by storms, with chances of tornados, hail and heavy rain. The sky looked ominous. Dark and heavy. I have sworn off watching Storm Chasers. I know just enough about tornados to be really nervous. I told Malcolm if I saw that truck any where near us I was driving fast in the opposite direction. The rain hit us just as we drove into a gas station. We filled up and hid under their cover for a bit as we battened down the hatches. The attendant came out to tell us that the storm was just north of us dropping huge amounts of rain and hail. We had to get moving. As we started off, the rain slackened but the wind was still a problem, and the sky looked nasty. We had no trouble and the sun eventually came out. By lunch time we were under blue skies and it was getting hot.

Dorothy had problems with the T so she rode with me a bit until we could get somewhere to fix it. Ate lunch then worked on the T, it was running better so off we went. We battled cross winds and headwinds which, at times, made it difficult to hold a straight line. Tail winds blew us up and down the hills of eastern Iowa. We stopped for a late snack at Niland's Cafe in Colo. There we met Iona who graciously showed us the restored gas station, and fed us rootbeer floats and the best chocolate cake in the entire world. Niland's was a 'one stop' on the Lincoln/Jefferson Highway. Definately worth a stop if you are ever in the neighborhood. If you do, give Iona a big hug for us she is a lovely woman. Later we met Randy, a big Iowa guy who wandered over and asked if he could give the crank a try. He was the most enthusiastic man I have ever met. So, sure we let him crank. We thought we might need to weight down the front, like I said, big guy. He lit me up with one pull and off we went into the sunset. We ran through Ames with our lights on, the new headlights work really well. Into Boone just as dark settled in. All in all a good day.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Turn here

Following the old Lincoln Highway

We left in the morning rolling right along. The Caddy seemed to be moving along well until the very first hill. It was steep. There was always some question about my ability to down shift without stalling. It appears that I can do it pretty quickly when the need arises. Thank goodness. Once we got on the long straight roads the car ran well. (It's all the darn stop signs that really make it difficult). We could have held 38mph but there were a lot of rolling hills. The country side is beautiful, the sun was burning off the haze and the day looked like it might get hot. It did. We ran with the windshield down which keeps us cool but was tough on the face. Lots of windburn.

I missed a turn in Fulton IL and ended up on the wrong road, we thought we could just skip over on that road and get back on track but we weren't sure. I hailed a guy in a pickup and he offered to turn around and drive us over to the right road, so in return I sent Dylan to ask if his son would like a ride. It turned out his little guy, Jason, has Down's Syndrome. He doesn't talk but he can sign and he makes it pretty clear what is on his mind. I told him to hold on and he grabbed my arm and told me to go. He steered a bit, had me honk the horn, and told me to follow his dad. He was so happy, I was so happy, we jabbered like little kids all the way down the road. He was asking me all sorts of questions. He was a lovely little guy. It was a very happy moment for both of us. I only wish I could have given his dad a ride too.

Sadly we had to say goodbye to Art and Sue. They needed to go back home. I miss them both already (Although Art was probably really happy to be able to drive at a pace slightly faster than 35 mph. He is a real trooper that guy.) Thanks for the good roads, the good times and the good laughs.

We drove over the Mississippi into Clinton Iowa. I got a call from my mother giving me the message that an AACA tour would be stopping there tonight. We were sorry to miss them. That would have been a fun visit. But we were a little behind and wanted to get some miles under us before the rain hit. We stopped in Calamus looking for lunch and then headed on to Wheatland. Dorothy and Dan decided to stop for lunch, we went looking for a spot in the shade to work on the car. One of my coil boxes was acting up and Malcolm wanted to work on it. We drove on to Lowden where we were "found" by some folks who'd heard we were coming. Apparently there was a phone call that we had been spotted in town. There was a little confusion for a moment. They thought we were the Anderson group. But they were very sweet, spent a lot of time chatting with us and didn't seem too disappointed. We got to see a very nice 1904 orient in the Kemmann Chevrolet Dealership. What a sweet little automobile. You meet the nicest people when you move slowly.

We headed on to Cedar Rapids. I almost made it today but lost the battery box about 10 miles out of town. It's a gonner. Malcolm put the car in the trailer and we went to the hotel. A makeshift service department between the trailers for shade worked pretty well and while Malcolm started working on the magneto and Dorothy made some calls. For about an hour there was a pretty significant conference call regarding Splitdorf Magnetos. Thanks for all the help and advice guys. We'll let you know soon if it works.

Cedar Rapids Iowa with a bad coil

We made it to Cedar Rapids. I almost made it all the way today but had a 10 mile trailer ride to the hotel. One of my coil boxes has died, and my magneto is fouled, probably from all the backfiring. The boys are doing a parking lot fix as I type. I'll post more later. This was an interesting day, I met some really nice people today.

Dixon, Illinois

Malcolm testing the car at the Headquarters for the Lincoln Highway.

We got a bit of rain yesterday. Enough to make the driving difficult. We have no top on the Cadillac, or front doors for that matter but surprisingly we didn't get soaked. We would if it rained harder and longer. The car was running well up until that point, except for the brakes which didn't like being wet. It changed the way I was driving, I needed to allow a long distance to stop. At one point Dorothy decided to stop at a yellow light that I thought was going through and I almost ran into her. It would have been an interesting insurance report. I used the hand brake and stopped, missing her by about a foot, the light changed and the car had stalled. Dylan was on top of it, he jumped out, cranked, we started and chugged through the huge 4 way intersection. I yelled to Dylan to get out and push, at that point I noticed the flashing lights of a police car behind us. Dylan pushed, we started moving, he jumped in and we limped to a side road. The policeman waved and drove on. I really thought he was going to stop us. I was pretty sure there might be some Illinois law about pushing through large intersections. Everyone at that intersection waited for us, it was really kind. I'm sure they were either laughing or impressed with how fast Dylan can move.

We made it about 6 more miles down the road and decided to pull into a church yard. The Car was not happy. Earlier I had lost a piece of the carburetor. Malcolm had repaired it but I was still fouling plugs. He worked on it tested it, and worked on it some more. Nothing helped. We sent Dorothy and Sue on and told them we'd catch up. A lovely young woman came from the church to talk to us. After a bit she asked if I minded if she said a prayer. I was touched and said anything you can do to help would be great. Now this is the amazing part. As she was praying, the car started twice. When she was done, it was much better, and I was able to drive the last 15 miles to Dixon. (Apparently we weren't looking at this whole carburetor thing in the right way)

Dinner with Sue and Art from Illinois Brass Touring, Sue will stay with us until the Illinois/Iowa line then she has to go home. Art has been driving sag. He is the most patient man, truly. I am happy to have met them both. I will miss them when they leave us.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Emma Ohio to Monee Illinois

The day started well in Emma Ohio. Nice Amish country, lots of buggies and beautiful farms. The roads were great, long stretches with no stops. Car running well. Only one detour threw us off course a bit but not so much that we couldn't find our way back.

The big problem happened when we stopped for gas. I had a leak out of the carburetor that dropped all my gas. Malcolm caught up to us and was able to do a roadside fix but afterwards the Car wasn't running all that well. Sent Dorothy on ahead with promises to catch up. With lots of backfiring and chugging we moved on slowly. We made it to a late lunch with the Peter and Charlene Kesling, members of Illinois Brass Touring club and Carol & Ted Davis at the LaPorte County Historical Society Museum, which is home of not only the historical society but the Kesling auto collection it is a spectacular place! http://www.laportecountyhistory.org/KeslingAuto.htm

After a tour of the museum and seeing as much we could in way too short a time we headed out for the second leg of the day. I got about 6 miles down the road when I started having trouble again. The car was still running badly, after I heard a big bang under the hood I decided to continue would risk hurting the car so I pulled over. It turns out that it was a backfire caused by a clogged gas line. We worked on it and tried again. No luck, I had no fuel getting to the engine. We finally decided to trailer it to the hotel in Monee and work on it in the parking lot.

Seems to be running better tonight. We had a nice pizza dinner hosted by the Illinois Brass Touring Club. Hot shower and a cool pillow and to bed.

Blog note

Finding internet access is a little difficult. I won't be able to post every day although Dorothy will continue to Twit throughout the day. So you can keep up with our progress there. Just click on the picture of the three of us to go to her twit.

Sunday- The longest day

Finally, I have internet access so I can update:

Dorothy's car has engine issues that will prevent it from going on. So she went home to regroup and get another car. She will be driving the Model T.

We left Vermont at 5:30am Sunday morning. I had not slept a wink the night before. Just too many things flying around in my head. I ended up getting about an hour of sleep before the alarm went off. Way too tempting to just ignore it.

We drove for 18 hours to get to where Dorothy was. She decided to take advantage of the good weather and start driving again. We caught up in Albion Indiana, just a bit over the Ohio line. Camping at Chain O Lakes state park. Very nice spot. But I am so tired I can't think.

Manchester Car Show Saturday

Charlie and Carl offering their good karma to the Cadillac before we head off for Ohio and beyond. Lots of well wishers. Lots of good thoughts from everyone who stopped and chatted.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Engine Trouble

Malcolm received a message on his cell phone today around lunch time. The Regal has serious radiator and engine problems. Dorothy is in the Pierce still heading west. They are near Cleveland where they hope to get the Regal repaired tonight.

Yesterday Fred Gonet of G&G Restorations did an emergency room repair on my carburetor. It seems to be happier but still spits a bit of gas when the car stops. Better than the leak it had before. Now there is a valve that is acting up. It's always something... I guess if you just don't fix everything nothing new will happen. Doesn't Murphy have some sort of law for this.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Furiously packing and working on the car. Malcolm welded, and hammered, and added a lot of Loctite and new nuts. We have new supports for the windshield so it should stay up at 40mph.
This last minute scramble always finds me spinning in place.

I was asked why this last minute preparation. In a nutshell, I was told on May 25th that I was on hold. I needed to hear results of two tests done by my doctor in early June before I was able to go. If the results were ok, I was going on the trip, if the results were not good I was probably going to surgery instead. (Not my idea of a fun thing to do). I found out Monday at 3 that I was cleared to go. Being terribly superstitious I did no planning or packing. I figured if I was ready to go, I wouldn't. So even though I knew I would drive the first day no matter what. I didn't know until the very last minute that I would be continuing.

We will be at the Manchester (VT) car show this Saturday before driving out later that day. Come visit if you are in the area.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Day 1, Vassar College

Day one. Tuesday June 9, 2009. We decided to start here rather than NYC. It seemed safer, kept us out of Emily's way and, as it was where Alice spent her first night seemed as good a starting point as any. We drove down from Vermont late on Monday. We spent a long night sleeping in the trailer with the car. The rain was coming down so hard by the time we arrived at the campground we decided not to set up and just go to sleep. We were comfortable and dry, although it smelled a bit like gas.....

Heavy rain and booms of thunder woke us periodically through the night. I was worried we would end up spending the first day sitting inside waiting for the storm to end. Dorothy was held up by terrible driving and was still making her way to Vassar in the morning. (Sadly, Carol was still in Oklahoma waiting for a part, and would not be joining us until later.) We met at the college around 10am. Unloaded the cars and started to get ready. A number of folks wandered over to chat and ask us questions. There was some confusion as to who we were. We did explain a number of times that we were not connected with the Alice Ramsey Celebration drive that Emily Anderson is doing. (For those few who have not heard, she is driving a fully restored Maxwell, which is an awesome automobile and the same model Alice drove. Her trip is an amazing recreation of the drive. ) It was during one of these conversations that Dorothy said, "Well, we're the road trip" Which pretty much explains our trip and gives the name to this blog. We are the no frills, girls just want to have fun trip. We will be joined by other women and friends along the way. It's a brass and gas party.

After photos and hugs and lots of good luck wishes, we drove off on the first leg of the trip. I honestly can say that I was too nervous to be nervous. This would be the longest drive the Cadillac had done since it had been placed in the barn almost 90 years ago. I had no real idea what to expect.

The drive itself was pretty uneventful all things considered. Malcolm rode shotgun and kept me tuned with the car. I still have trouble shifting into high, I could use about 2 more inches on my leg length to really work the clutch. I did figure out how to make the long reach on the shifter though. I was inspired to add a piece of rope that I can grab and pull to get it out of high gear. It works beautifully! Another two inches on the arms would be helpful...although I might look a little funny as I am only 5'2".

I am still learning how to drive this wonderful car, but I am tuning a good ear for engine noise and especially for the "ting" of parts rattling off. We lost a hubcap somewhere near Hudson NY and a nut off one of the hood hold downs about 10 miles before that. We knew something had bounced free, and figured it out as soon as Malcolm started to open the hood. The only thing that really took us by surprise was when the windshield flipped into our laps. Malcolm has great reflexes and caught it just before it hit my head. We made it to Albany and called it a day.

Currently I am back in Vermont to make last minute repairs on the carburetor which is leaking, and make some other fixes (like better bracing for the windshield, wait for Dylan to finish finals, and spend two more days at school before heading west to join Dorothy and Carol in Ohio. Dorothy is still motoring on. She is in western NY tonight as I write this.

A 'calendar shot' of the car taken a number of years ago by Ozzie Sweet. That's us driving. We weren't in the actual calendar photos, Ozzie used real models but he took this great photo of the three of us, and gave it to us as a thank you. How cool is that!

The Cadillac

This is the car I will be driving! The Cadillac is a beautiful 1909 Model 30 Demi Tonneau that Malcolm's father, Bob, bought in June of 1939. It had been put in a barn about 1919 and there it sat for 20 years. Bob was concerned about the scrap iron drives, and that this beautiful car might be destroyed for the war effort. He bought it from the original owner, paying not only for the car but an extra $2.00 for the gas in the tank. The car, stayed safe in the car barn at Malcolm's grandfather's house in NH for many years. Malcolm and Bob started restoration in the hopes of driving it for our wedding in 1984. We drove it from our wedding, but it was a very short drive. It drove well but still needed a lot of TLC under the hood. Two years ago I told Malcolm about this crazy idea that Dorothy had broached. What would he think about the Cadillac driving across the country? Could it do it? He talked to a lot of guys aobut this, got a lot of advice and started working. There are many talented men out there who have built new parts or rebuilt original parts, replaced glass and welded the radiator. Every one of them has worked quickly in order to get this car ready for the trip.

A little history: The Cadillac was created by Henry Leland, who was from Barton Vermont. He was an incredible man who took machining parts to an art form. This car was one of the last built before Cadillac was taken over by GM. To learn more see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_M._Leland or try to find a copy of the book Henry Leland: The Story of the Vermonter Who Created Cadillac and Lincoln.