Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The last day, Sacramento

We decided to end our trip in Sacramento for a number of reasons. Not the least of which was we weren't ready to take any chances with the San Francisco traffic. There was some pressure to drive across the Golden Gate Bridge, and it was a tempting idea but Alice Ramsey took the ferry to SF, she never drove across the bridge as it did not exist in 1909. Dorothy was of two minds about this, but she had received news of an accident that had happened on the Model T tour where one of the cars had been hit by a truck. She was very upset by the news and it really showed us just how lucky we had been. We talked about it and my maternal instincts were in high gear. I felt that we had come a very long way without incident, and as we were a small group of two cars and two trucks we might just take the safe route and end in the state capitol.

We had contacted the California Automobile Museum and they were enthusiastic about our arrival. We had a nice leisurely breakfast packed our gear for the last time, pulled the cars out, did our morning maintenance and got ready. The ever faithful Ford started up and the Cadillac..... didn't. Nothing we could think of would get it to start. We pushed it through the parking lot, we primed, we pulled, we cursed, and prayed. Nothing was going to coax one more day out of this little car. Malcolm and Dan worked on it, rebuilding the distributor, checking wiring and finally, after about 200 cranks, many backfires and lots of false starts it caught. Dorothy was walking by and in her unassuming way, she nudged Dan, pointed to the underbelly of the car and we all saw transmission fluid pouring out from underneath. It looked like caramel syrup flowing with the breeze into a huge puddle of goo. Quickly we put a bucket underneath and tried to figure out what had happened. Why now? What had changed from an hour go that would make this happen? The boys looked at the transmission, tightened a ring and tried again. About 4 cups of fluid later we made the decision to put it in the trailer. Dylan and I would ride in the T to Sacramento.

It was now noon, and we were about two hours behind schedule. This was the first time on the whole trip where we had made arrangements with someone we didn't know to be somewhere at a specific time. And again the Cadillac was acting up. I was frustrated not to be able to drive the last day, but we were out of time and needed to go. The ride in the T was really different than the Cadillac. The little T can motor up and down hills puttering on with ease. The difference in the cars was evident and the ease with which Dorothy was able to shift and slow down left me a bit envious. That little car was a real trouper taking the 4 of us along. It also can go about 44mph which although is only a little faster than the Caddy would account for Dorothy's ability to leave us in the dust. It is an impressive vehicle.

We moved along having great conversation about all manner of things. We entered Sacramento City limits and drove along Broadway heading for the museum. We were also looking for 1930 Broadway. We found what would have been the address had it existed and took pictures. This is the address in NYC that Alice Ramsey departed from and we thought it would be a fun spot to stop and change into our clean (grease free) clothes. We decided to go all out and wear our motoring skirts, dusters and hot black leather boots. How those women survived in all that clothing I will never know.

We drove to within a mile of the museum and unloaded the Caddy. I was determined to drive the last little bit into the museum lot. It had come so far that it just seemed fitting. The car started up on the third pull and as I headed off I realized the T had stalled and would not start. For the first time on this whole trip I almost cried. I was tired, happy, sad and energized, a weird combination that makes for difficult emotional stability. I was thinking there was some sort of curse that would keep us from finishing. The cars had had it, and were letting us know. I was just about to stop the Caddy when Dylan ran over, told me Dorothy was running and to drive. We drove into the museum parking lot to little fan fare. We had made it. No press, no television, no welcoming party just us and the folks at the museum. It finished as it started, just us and a few well wishers. We were too tired to feel much of anything by then. Our adventure was done. It was sad, but we were ready, the cars were ready, and the boys were ready.

Derek Fleming was our contact at the museum. He is a delightful guy, and spent some time interviewing us for their newsletter. He asked some really insightful questions which got us thinking about aspects of our trip that we had not really articulated before that moment. He was terribly enthusiastic and I really enjoyed the time he spent with us. Afterwards we toured the museum. The collection of cars is impressive and the scope of the display is fantastic. It is another place that every auto enthusiast should visit. http://www.toweautomuseum.org

After our visit, we loaded up the cars then went into Old Sacramento for dinner. We had a wonderful dinner on the river, toasted ourselves, talked, and generally delayed our saying goodbye. Emma had two helpings of penne pasta! That little girl was hungry. We then went in search if ice cream as I owed her some for doing her math homework packet. We wandered around the old town for a bit then went back to the cars for one last group picture, hugs and more hugs then Dorothy, Dan and Emma went south to Freemont and we headed north to Tahoe, lost in thought, driving in the dark wondering if it was really over.


  1. What an adventure you all have had. You will be talking, laughing and crying at the misshaps. Now you should write a book I think for the young at heart and thoes that wish they gould have made the trip but were too young. At least put it it all on a CD. See you soon. Love Mom

  2. Congratulations on the completion of your cross country road trip. What a great experience! Thanks for doing the blog, I looked forward to reading each new post. I'm curious, did you ever check the gas mileage of the old cars? Thanks, and good luck on your next adventure.


    A Car Guy from Michigan