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Day 31 – Tuesday May 29th: Nous Aurons Toujours Paris

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<– Day 30 – Monday May 28th: Grilling in the Rain | Day 32 – Wednesday May 30th: Little Town, Big Ideas –>


David, Russ and Ann in front of Russ’ “Alaska Or Rust Shrine”. Russ lives in Paris, Illinois. The Post title is a French translation of the famous line from Casablanca, “We’ll always have Paris.”

Day 31: On Tuesday we drove from Charleston, West Virginia, to Paris Illinois.


On Tuesday May 29th, we drove from Charleston, West Virginia, to Paris Illinois.

On Tuesday, we started from Charleston early, as we had a long drive to Paris. Our first stop of the day was Huntington, West Virginia, for gas. It turns out the city is considered by some to be an epicenter for opioid addiction. We saw this firsthand.

In Huntington, we randomly chose a Speedy Mini-Mart just off the freeway. As I gassed up the jeep, Ann went inside for a bathroom break. Of the 10 people I saw either milling about outside at the edge of the station’s property or having parked and walked inside, 6 looked addicted to something (funky skin color, haunting eyes … something wasn’t right). Inside the Mini-Mart, The conversation between a customer and the cashier included the difficulties of coming down too fast. We couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

A couple hours later, we headed into the heart of Louisville from the east, then turned north to cross the river into Indiana. This sent our nav system into a panic, partly because, according to our nav, we were not longer on a bridge. Instead, we were driving on the river itself. The nav system restarted navigation several times trying to make sense of the situation. It took a couple miles before everything righted itself.

Sometime later, while still heading north, we spotted a sign for Goat Milk Stuff. The billboards looked intriguing enough to learn more, so we took a short detour.


There are two buildings, one for goat-based health and beauty products, and the other for goat-milk related products and sweets.


The place wasn’t packed with foods, but what was there tasted good. As goat cheese goes, it wasn’t very “goaty”. Instead, the cheese was smooth and tasty. The store offered free samples. We left with garlic goat cheese.goat-milk-stuff1

Bob Christy, this is for Mindy, for you 🙂goat-milk-stuff2

With our goat needs satisfied, we left for Paris Machine, a business started in 1944 by Russ Lawton’s grandfather. Russ, along with Cowboy, accompanied us on the trip to Alaska last year with Charlene, the yellow Jeepster.

To make sure Ann and I didn’t miss his shop, Russ put out a couple beacons near the entrance.


As we stepped inside Paris Machine, there seemed to be an endless series of metal working machines, at least three of which date back to 1944 (the three used to start the business). Russ has found that many of his most trust worthy machines are the old ones. They just work.

As we toured the several-building facility, Russ echoed the same concerns that other folks in the trades have made: Finding dependable youngsters with basic tool knowledge who want to get their hands dirty learning a trade is near impossible. I’ve heard the from Jeep mechanics, Air Force personnel, and other trades people.

For me, having all this equipment was a dream. It’s no CNC, but I wouldn’t know what to do with that stuff. I still remember building my first jeep with a hacksaw, cutting 1/2″ thick chucks of metal for various purposes. That will teach a person patience. As Joe Bee said when he visited Russ, “I could build some stuff here”.

I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Russ’ machines. I was a kid in a candy store!!
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Russ showed us how his new (old) Piranha machine works. Since I’ve never been around a real machine shop, I was in awe.

One of the ways Russ is adding to his bottom line is through the manufacture of spreaders like this:


We eventually got to Russ’ jeeps. Besides the Blue/white wagon and yellow Jeepster, Russ has a couple projects, including a CJ-6, a truck, and a wagon. Here I am pointing out the problem with the saginaw steering box I ran into on Lost Biscuit: Those mid 1970s boxes will loosen, leading to cracking along the front cross member welds. Ann thought it was funny that I was suggesting to a machinist like Russ how to fix it.



Poor Russ had to drag me kicking and screaming from his shop, as it was time for dinner. I wasn’t ready to go, as I had things to build, but a man has to eat.

At the Tuscany restaurant in Paris, Ann and I were joined by Russ, Stacy, Donna, Kathy and Dave, all good friends who have jeeps. Everyone belongs to the local Red, White and Blue Jeep Club in Paris.


After dinner, we stopped by another member of the club, Scotty, who has a beautiful shop with some neat vehicles, including Russ’ very first jeep, a CJ-3A to which Scotty added some Rat Fink art (apparently, once a jeep enters Paris, it never leaves; It just gets bought and sold amongst members).


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Scotty also has a few other vehicles:

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Once again, Russ had to drag me out kicking and screaming, as I wasn’t done, but we had more to see. This time, it was the group’s clubhouse/party place. The “barn” was originally, not surprisingly, a barn, that has been transformed by Scotty and the rest of the crew into a wonderful space for relaxing. The walls are filled with stuff (note to my mother: I think we have everything we need, but the barn and stuffed animals, to build something similar).

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From the clubhouse, we dropped by Dave and Kathy’s place, where Dave showed off his jeeps. The 1957 CJ-5 has the King Sealy 0-9 speedometer, though Dave noted it wasn’t working quite right. I forgot to mention to him that I happen to have a NOS version of that speedometer that I don’t need.

Dave is also rebuilding an early wagon. He has a photo of his mother in front of a similar wagon many years ago, so he hopes to finish it and stage her in front of it, holding the framed photo of his mother dressed in a similar outfit holding the frame photo he keeps of her in the garage. It would make a great photo.


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From Dave’s, we headed southwest to Cowboy’s place for the night. Cowboy wasn’t around today, as he’s out helping get the Willys Jeep Rally ready in Oxford, Ohio. But, his wife Donna was gracious enough to host us in their country home. Not surprisingly, there I found more jeeps. It was late and dark when we arrived, but I did get photos of Cowboy’s “Hatari” Scrambler.

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Just behind the Scrambler is Cowboy’s beloved stock M-38A1 “Old Blue”. It was partially trapped, so I couldn’t get good photos.

By the time we finished later Tuesday night, I was exhausted, hence the delay in this morning’s post.

On Wednesday we had planned to drive up to the Hall of Fame Route 66 museum. However, Ann was having some intestinal issues yesterday and I could use some sleep. so we’ve decided to skip that this trip and, instead, head more directly to Jim’s place in St. Louis, where we plan to spend the evening. Besides, there’s another good Route 66 museum in Oklahoma City, so we’ll go there.

<– Day 30 – Monday May 28th: Grilling in the Rain | Day 32 – Wednesday May 30th: Little Town, Big Ideas –>


5 Comments on “Day 31 – Tuesday May 29th: Nous Aurons Toujours Paris

  1. Blaine

    I think I had the same navigation issue near your place Dave. The simple answer is that they moved the river since the mapping was done.

  2. Joe in Mesa

    Wow: dream garages, work spaces, and machines! It’s enough to make me actually want to see Paris (Illinois, at least ;-)).

  3. Bob in nc

    As much time as you spend on the road, what is your favorite road song?
    40 years ago when I was doing a little driving, it was always, on the road again by Willie.

  4. David Eilers Post author

    Blaine: Could be caused by the local radiation from the Hanford site?!??

    Joe: Right???

    Bob: This song by Phil Collins has been a favorite of mine since hearing it for the first time while riding my bike through New Zealand in January of 1986.

    Grant: Thanks Grant. That’s our alternative for the Hall of Fame museum. It’s rated pretty well.

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