2014-southwest-trip Research Archives

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COMPLETED: 2014 Spring Southwest-California Trip

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Southwest / California trip March 20-May 1, 2014.

Want to review the whole trip from beginning to end? click here

We finally made it home to Pasco. It took us six weeks and one day to make the loop through the mountain west, into the southwest, and northward into California and Oregon. We covered a distance of 6,378 miles.

Once again, we have to give thanks to everyone who met with us, supported or followed our journey. We feel very fortunate to have these periods of time to travel with one another and see so much of this great country. Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed our trip and learned something new about a place you never knew.

We appreciate all the suggestions everyone gave us and we’re sorry we couldn’t followup on all of them. I know I’d hoped to drop by and see Paul Barry at Willys America or Jerry at his truck/wagon shop in Rodeo, CA. However, since my daughter is supposed to be in Los Angeles in the fall/spring of next year, I figured we would be back down there soon enough and will stop by both places.

As for other upcoming trips, we may be going to Hawaii for a family wedding in September, so we may have a chance to report on a few jeep related things during that trip. We’d like to do a trip all the way to Key West that will take us through Texas, but resources will determine how and when that will happen. A trip to Europe to see readers there also hinges on that. Finally, there’s a trip brewing for August 2015 from Pennsylvania to Alaska, but I’ve not gotten any more specifics on that.

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April 30th: Part II – The Tilfords

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This is some elk/pork ‘bacon’ that Herm and Marty gave me. Parts are all fun to look at, but you know me and food. I can’t wait to try this!

After our meeting with R&P 4WD on Wednesday we drove north. It was 2:00pm. Our bellies were full from lunch. The temperature was 85 degrees (pretty high for this time of year in Portland). I was really looking forward to a short rest before our meeting with Herm and Marty TIlford.

We were minutes away from Ann’s uncle and aunt’s house in Vancouver when, as we crossed the Columbia river and entered Washington State exactly six weeks after we left it, Ann got a message from her uncle: “Can you help me find the dog?” It turns out Uncle Bob and Aunt Debbie had been watching their grandkids and their new dog, Bradley, who’d been a shelter rescue. Despite Aunt Debbie telling Bob not to let the dog off the leash, Bob wanted to train the new dog, so he’d unleashed him for a moment. Bad idea. The dog took off into the woods.

Bradley had only been missing a few minutes when we arrived. We offered to help, so we began to troll the neighborhood with it’s parks, tall trees, underbrush, and windy 1970s suburban developments.

So much for my afternoon siesta.

Ann and I split up to cover more ground. She wandered through a local park while I trolled the nearby junior high and high schools. It was at this point that I realized how awkward this could prove to be. I’m some middle-aged man slowly driving through school parking lots asking young boys and girls if they’d seen a lost dog. Even worse, had somebody asked, I couldn’t exactly describe the dog, since I’d never seen it! The words “stranger danger” kept cycling through my head . . .

Thank goodness for Herm and Marty, because after searching for two hours, I got a call from Marty letting me know they could meet with me. Though I had to leave Ann behind to continue the search, I couldn’t drive away fast enough!


Herm’s CJ-5 with a a few M-38A1 goodies on it. The hood has special louvres that Marty made. Herm says it really does help cool the engine. He runs terra tires on all four wheels.

Many people know Herm on the web by his internet name of ‘Herm-the-overdrive-guy‘. While he’s definitely a go-to-guy for overdrives (for servicing or for purchasing new or rebuilt ones), he also supplies many more products and services than that. He’s been involved with jeeping, jeeps and parts for decades and can has earned a wealth of knowledge from that experience.


I asked Marty why his dad painted the trannies different colors. I figured there might be a system. If there was, Marty said he didn’t know it.

Herm and his son Marty gave me a look behind the curtains of his home-based operation, which allows him to be around his family. One good reason this works well is that the business keeps him very busy. He says he can work on larger items like transmissions in the afternoon, then in the evening have a seat at his work bench, turn on the tv, and rebuild overdrives. He says he’s though about retiring, but he loves what he does and doesn’t know what he’d do if he retired.


Always nice to have a few parts hanging around. Lots of cleaned parts ready for sale.

He also continues to develop new products, several of which he explained to me. He was very excited about them. He feels he has an opportunity to fill some small vintage jeep drivetrain niches, to satisfy needs for which there are currently no solutions. Since I didn’t explicitly ask to share those ideas, I won’t get more specific here.


Herm’s got a few winches for sale, too.

Unfortunately, because I abandoned my wife to the dog search, I didn’t take too many photos. It’s too easy to get talking and forget to take them. But, I’ll make sure to bring her along next time so we can get an updated photo of Herm, Marty and I. Until then, here’s an older one.

So, thanks to Herm and Marty for taking the time to meet with me. And, many thanks for the elk/pork bacon. We’ll eat that for breakfast with some North Coast duck eggs on Friday 🙂

For those wondering about Bradley the lost dog, the story ends happily. The search was given up while I was gone. The grandkids were told and they were sad. However, at 10pm as I was going outside through the garage I spotted a dog peering around the corner of the house. It was Bradley. He’d found his own way home!

We’ll be home in an hour. Friday morning I’ll have some updates, a trip review, then I’ll take a few days off. All this ‘vacationing’ has worn me out.



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April 30th: Part I – R&P 4WD

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Rich & Paul (aka R&P) on the left. John and me on the right.

Wednesday marked the end of our sixth week of travel. Tomorrow we head home to Pasco. Our bed will feel great!

Ann and I spent the morning with R&P 4WD. In the evening I visited with Herm (AKA Herm the Overdrive Guy) and his son Marty Tilford. In between, Ann’s uncle lost his grandkids dog (still missing), so we spent several hours looking for the dog. On the plus side, I got to know their neighborhood really well! Since it is late (Wed night), I’m going to discuss my visit with R&P in this post. Mid-day on Thursday I’ll publish some updates and then publish a post about my visit with Herm and Marty.

Our drive from our motel in McMInnville to R&Ps location in Oregon City, Oregon, took about an hour. What surprise Ann and I about the drive through the rolling landscape of small farms was the large number of wineries in the area. We both agreed that there seemed to be more wineries, more signs for wineries, and more tasting rooms than both Sonoma and Napa combined! Or, maybe were were just thirsty?

2014-04-30-rp4wd-doorFiguring it wasn’t quite time to drink, we landed at R&P thoroughly sober and ready to look at parts! Rich and Paul, who started R&P in the 1970s, and John, who joined them a few years ago, greeted us warmly. R&P provides a variety of drive train services, including tranny/tc rebuilds, axle builds, brake products and more.

After some pleasantries, we dove into their newest items. They recently developed a bolt-on dual master cylinder installation kit especially for trucks and wagons. They had a nice demo until to show us how the adapter attached to the frame:

2014-04-30-wagon-brake1 2014-04-30-wagon-brake2They also demonstrated their new tow bar adapters and their disc brake kits. R&P was even kind enough to donate a disc brake kit for testing on Biscuit, so I’ll be doing a full write up on that when install them (thanks guys!).

Next we got a tour of their garage and parts area. Not surprisingly, there were a bunch of different axles, transmission and transfer case gears and more. Ann faced the biggest challenge during this portion of the tour as she’d put on a dress so she could enjoy the sun, not realizing she’d be inside a garage (though I’d mentioned this fact to her . . . ). She’s a good sport and did her job taking photos, risking grease spots on her dress at every turn.


We also spotted John’s CJ-6, which is undergoing some work at the moment. It seems he’s as busy as I am, which explains the state of both of our jeeps.


After that we wandered outside to look at a few more jeeps. Each of these has a variety of upgrades to meet the challenges of northwest jeeping. One update that really interested me were the vintage Offenhauser Buick V6 valve covers in the CJ-5. They got my attention. Boy do I have valve cover jealousy.

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Here’s another look at some of their jeeps:

2014-04-30-jeepsWe also took a look at a few of their projects.


2014-04-30-rp4wd-projectWhile there’s much more to share about our visit at R&P, I’ve got to get to bed. I’m exhausted. Thanks to John, Rich, and Paul for both our visit at R&P and for lunch.

Also, many thanks for being a regular advertiser on eWillys! John said he’s been surprised at the number of calls from around the world who say they’ve seen R&P on eWillys. How cool is that?

More on the remainder of our day tomorrow evening as I explain the hunt for Bradley (the dog).

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April 29th: Ann Flies the Goose

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2014-04-29-spruce-goose-cockpic-loresWell, what a surprise! On Tuesday the cold and rain showers forecasted by people paid to predict such things continued to be scared away by the blue sky and warm temperatures in Oregon. Such weather would have been perfect for the coast of Oregon, but our mind was too changed to change back.


We spotted this mural just as we were leaving Rogue River, Oregon.

Anyone who has ever driven north on Interstate 5 through southern Oregon knows what a pretty drive it is. Successive low mountain passes of about 2000 feet chase any boredom away.


Our Tuesday drive to McMinnville.

Our first stop of the morning was at Canyonville at exit 98. When traveling north with my sister back in December I’d spotted several jeep bodies on what I thought were shipping containers just off the Interstate. They were still there when we passed, so we pulled off to get a closer look at them. While there were no identifying ‘for sale’ information, I believe these belong to Del Blanchard, who is actually operates out of Myrtle Creek according to his website.


The body on the right appears to be a galvanized (no stainless) CJ-3B body. The one in between is a CJ-2A/3A Stainless. The body on the right is an all stainless CJ-3B body (I saw no indications of galvanized floor parts) that includes some interesting windshield tighteners.




Here’s a 2012 ad for the bodies:

Odd note: If you use Google’s street view feature, you can just barely see the jeeps on the utility boxes if you are in the southbound lanes of I-5. However, as of now, if you try to view the jeeps from the northbound lanes, the jeeps are not present. Nor are they present from the on ramp right in front of the utility boxes.

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April 28th: Firehouse #4

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Rick and I kneeling in front of men from Medford’s Firestation #4. They represent just some of the people who refurbished Rick’s CJ-2A.

We began the day with a quick trip over to the North Coast Co-op for some fresh bread, duck eggs (had to get 2 dozen), and some lunch items for a picnic at Redwood National Park. The co-op proved to be my favorite part of Eureka 🙂


Even better, there was a place that speaks “Jeep” across the street!

2014-04-2014-eureka-speakjeepThe clouds and rain promised by the weather experts on Monday never appeared. Instead, we were blessed with perfect weather for our drive up the remainder of the California Coast. Blue sky and a few clouds became a beautiful contrast to the tall, deep green forests we encountered.


Monday’s trip from Eureka, CA, to Rogue River, OR

During our drive we decided to stop at Trinidad. Dan had mentioned it in one of his comments. It turned out to have a high beach cliff with a beautiful view.


After Trinidad I expected to encounter a welcome sign for Redwood National Park. As we waited for the sign we were surprised to see a place called Trees of Mystery. Out front of the place was an enormous Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox.


Yep, that’s me leaning against babe’s leg.

After Trees of Mystery we continued searching for the welcome sign for Redwood National Park, but never saw it. It wasn’t until we reached Crescent City that I realized we must have driven through the park. Thus my plans for a picnic in the National Park was thwarted by signage, or lack thereof.

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April 27th: Crying Babies and Grungie Folks

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Beautiful drive over highway 299.

Well, it’s been an interesting day. My day started at 12:01am. I hadn’t been to sleep yet due to the crying of two kids in the room next door. Well, not just next door, but through the two doors that would have created a suite, doors so thin and porous that whatever food was being cooked in their room late at night wafted into ours. They weren’t good cooks.

The cries came and went for the next hour. Finally, at 1am, I woke up the proprietor of the not-so-fine establishment to complain. I figured if I was going to be awake, he was going to be awake. He wasn’t happy that I woke him. I wasn’t happy either. He agreed to call them. Amazingly, that seemed to help, at least for about fifteen minutes, though I can’t imagine he got on the phone with the two young children and explained the problem. I stopped caring about 1:30am when I fell asleep.


Our Sunday drive from Red Bluff to Eureka.

In the morning we awoke and got the heck out of there. So much for that deal!

We drove up to Redding and then over several ranges, which appear to constitute part of the North Coastal Ranges. We spent three hours driving through some beautiful country along lots of two lane highway.

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At one point we pulled into the lumber town of Weaverville. In the driveway of the Weaverville Garage was a VEC CJ-2A that needed some work.


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April 26th: Finding Virginia City

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I found this tree, decorated with bottles, growing out of this vintage Oakland automobile near Virginia City, Nevada.

Anyone who has met Ann knows that she has a good sense of humor. So, it probably isn’t surprising that she had all sorts of fun teasing me about driving down ‘Virginia Street’ in Reno (one of the main streets) or noting it when we arrived at Virginia City. Yes, Virginia’s name is stamped all over the Washoe Valley!


Our route on Saturday from Carson City to Red Bluff.

On Friday night it rained pretty hard, but by Saturday morning the rain had passed. Relieved at the partly cloudy weather, we ascended highway 342 to Virginia City, which in a valley surrounded by mountains. The landscape is pretty bare, except for the metal ghosts of mining operations.


Signs just off the road on the way to Virginia City.

We figured that given the cold and the potential rain and snow in Virginia City, there wouldn’t be many people. We hadn’t counted on Motocross Rally! The town was packed with cars and motor homes. Just a couple of streets down from main street (actually C Street) was the start and finish of the course. While not great timing for us, it seemed like a really great motorbike event.


The town was much busier than we expected.


In front of those awnings was the start/finish line for the motocross event.

Virginia City has the largest historic district in the West. The former boomtown is famous for the 1800s Comstock strike, its old west feel, tourism, and ghosts. Anyone who has watched Ghost Adventurers on the Travel Channel knows how much fun they’ve had at this city. The Washoe Club was one of the places they investigated.


The place has a wonderfully authentic, old, creaky feel to it. Check out how the water drains pour water onto the street! There was still a little bit of water dribbling from them.


I thought the Bank of America cash machine positioned underneath this Saloon was pretty funny.


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April 25th: Carson City

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The entrance to the Nevada State Museum in Carson City

Well, it had to happen. After five weeks of mostly great weather, the temperatures dropped and the rain arrived. So, rather than drive to and walk through historic Virginia City, we decided to visit the Nevada State Museum, then head to our motel to do some eWillys updates.

On our way to Carson City this morning we passed this unexpected mural tribute on the side of a building to Alice Ramsey:


A mural dedicated to Alice Ramsey, who in 1909 became the first woman to drive across the United States. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/womens-history/alice-ramseys-historic-cross-country-drive-29114570/?no-ist

The Nevada State Museum was a surprising amount of fun. There was lots of Nevada history told in interesting ways, such as a rebuilt ghost ‘town’, a working Carson City coin stamp (there used to be a US Mint in Carson City) , and an underground mine in the building’s basement that was great to explore. Much of the museum of dark, so we didn’t take many photos.


Entering the mine in the basement of the museum.


Along some of the walls were a variety of exhibits showing how mines operated.


This area demonstrated that sometimes the timbers would fail. Good thing I’m there to hold them up!


This is a huge bullion scale, the type necessary for the Carson City mint.


This assayer’s scale is similar to one my parents have, a leftover of the family smelting history. We also have a neat portable one that fits in your pocket. It’s got the counter weights as well.

Naturally, my wife found an explosive . . .


Hopefully the weather will improve for our visit to Virginia City on Saturday.

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April 22nd: Old Town Sacramento

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Given the public can climb into this old Ford, it was still a pretty nice car!. They even let me jump into it!

During the spring of 2013 my son Karson visited Old Town Sacramento and said it was a great area of the city.  Ann and I didn’t know for sure what to expect when we arrived there today, but we came away pleasantly surprised.

We began the day at the California Auto Museum located just a little south of the Old Town Sacramento area. Much of the museum’s collection came from Edward Towe, a Montana banker who assembled a large collection of Fords in Deer Lodge, Montana (some of his collection is still there at the Montana Auto Museum). That explains why many of the early vehicles and artifacts are related to Ford.


I felt like the museum started strong, with some good explanations and backgrounds. The exhibit is organized on a timeline, starting with some very early Fords.


A good display of how Camp Curry at Yosemite began. The Camp began as a tent camp in 1899 by David and Jennie Curry.


A pretty static display more typical of the arrangement of the early vehicles at the museum.

The demonstration of how/why a ring and pinion developed was particularly well done. There was a video (see below the picture of the R&P machine) of the R&P and played above a hands-on example that people could spin by hand. Well done!


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April 21st: Tom, Paty, Sparky, Bill, Lucy, Snoopy, Charlie, Linus, and More

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Apparently, Snoopy can be a little frisky sometimes!

Fun day today! We met some great people and had a beautiful drive through the Sonoma and Napa areas.


We drove from Santa Rosa to Sacramento on Monday.

The morning began with a trip down to Tree Line Teardrop Trailers in Petaluma where we met Tom and Paty Perkins. You can also find them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TreelineTeardrops.


Tom had contacted me a few months ago about finding a flat fender. He’d explained that the first vehicle he’d driven was his dad’s CJ-2A. So, he was interested in finding another one. As we exchanged emails, I learned he was building teardrop trailers. Fascinated by them, we agreed that Ann and I would stop by during our trip.


Paty and Tom quickly made us feel at home as they showed us the two different trailers in their driveway, one an off road version and one a lightweight (700lb) road cruiser that was being picked up by the new owner that day. One look at both of the trailers and it is easy to see how well made they are. This reflects Tom’s background in construction and finish work. Both Ann and I were very impressed, from the quality of the workmanship and materials, to the choices in stove top (high quality, sturdy, high btu burners) and portable fridge (ARB). Each trailer is built to order by Tom.


Perhaps the best selling point was how easy it was for Ann to climb inside. The doorways are wide and even with Ann’s bad knee and brace, she had no problem slipping inside. So sold is Ann, that she’s reviewing each trailer option as I type this.


Thanks to Tom and Paty for showing the trailers, the bees, the chickens and more!


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April 20th: A Sunday Drive to Santa Rosa

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2014-04-20-heather-nick-henryToday we enjoyed a relaxing morning and afternoon with Ann’s cousin in Belmont.


Sunday’s trip to Santa Rosa

Following our visit, we drove north to Santa Rosa. Except for narrowly avoided some jerk who almost hit us, the drive was pretty nice. We landed in Santa Rosa and were surprised to see Peanuts Character Statutes along some of the city’s streets.


Ann’s selfie with Lucy

A little research informed us that Santa Rosa is home to the Shulz Museum. We’ll be exploring that tomorrow after meeting with Treeline Teardrop Trailers in Petaluma. We got a couple additional stops before we head to Sacramento on Monday evening.

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April 18th (& 19th): San Francisco

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We found a bunny at Monopoly in the Park in San Jose

Happy Easter Everyone! We found this bunny especially for the occasion!


Our drive from Santa Cruz to Pacifica on Friday.

On Friday, having rid my body of the wicked sushi curse from Santa Cruz, Ann and I left Santa Cruz for San Jose using the notoriously dangerous Highway 17. When I lived in the Santa Cruz area I drove this highway regularly and I can attest to the danger.

Fast speeds + narrow lanes + no shoulders + lots of mountain curves = dangerous highway.

Not only did I witness multiple accidents, but several times I came close, really close, to being involved in an accident myself (while going the speed limit). In each case there was a car broken-down and sitting in a lane of the highway near a blind curve.

Fortunately, I’ve learned that avoiding rush hour traffic on 17 is one way to increase the odds of making it over alive. On this day, I kept my ‘alive’ streak intact.


Woz way named for Steve Wozniak of Apple fame.

Our first mission of the day was to locate the world’s largest permanent monopoly board at Monopoly in the Park. We found it pretty quickly, just off ‘Woz way’ (named for Steve Wozniak of Apple fame). We quickly discovered one downside to the monopoly board’s location. No close parking. Here are some pics once we trekked over to the board, which was smaller than we expected, yet still very fun.

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The next stop was the Pez museum in Burlingame. I can’t remember why I had an inkling to search for this bit of oddness, but it proved worth every dollar we spent on it ($3/per person). Much to my surprise, Ann knew about some of the Pez history, as Pez originated in Linz, Austria, where one strain of her family originated.


The owner and museum guide.

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April 17th: Revenge of the Sushi

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I had big plans for today — a trip out to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, a walk through downtown Santa Cruz, and an excursion to the Mysterious Mystery spot.

Alas, all that was put aside as I wore a path between the bed and the toilet. Was it the sushi or the artichokes? Who knows, but something didn’t agree with my stomach.

I felt much better by the afternoon. We even made it to dinner at the Santa Cruz Diner for dinner (though I had breakfast), which has appeared on a number of food shows.


That’s a mural inside the restaurant. Ann was concerned the mermaid might get her! BTW, she is the understanding wife who hadn’t combed her hair yesterday. She’ll do anything for a photo!

So our plans to locate the worlds largest Monopoly board, visit the Pez Museum, and visit with Dan and see his Traveller will still occur today.

One thing I did have time to do yesterday was plot the remainder of our trip. The top is cut off, but I’ll provide that later on in the trip.



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April 15th: Strolling Monterey

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2014-04-15-wharf3Today we didn’t do much but relax and wander around Monterey on a mostly cloudy day. Monterey has two wharfs, one more tourist oriented and one more local oriented. We started at the latter by grabbing some clam chowder at the Sandbar & Grille Restaurant. The chowder tasted good, but was a little too much potato chunks and too little clams.

After lunch we got on our tourist vibe with a walk to the other more notable wharf.

2014-04-15-wharf-signThe ‘tourist’ wharf even had an unofficial greeter:


It doesn’t look like his fishing is faring to well.


At the end of wharf Ann got busy with her camera, so I got busy photographing her.

As we left the wharf I decided to see if YELP could find an interest ice cream place. Sure enough, YELP found Kai Lee Creamery in Pacific Grove. Kai Lee was started six months ago by Butch Adams who had no experience in the industry. His goal is to make ice cream that is organic, gluten-free, non-soy, all-natural, vegetarian, and handmade.

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April 13th: Port Why-Knee-Me

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Dinner off of Hwy 1 overlooking the Pacific Ocean. After all the craziness of the northern LA traffic, we found a peaceful spot for some dinner with a postcard-perfect view.

Our first objective on Sunday was to grab a bagel at the Old New York Deli & Bakery Company in Newberry Park, California. I’d spotted the bagelry when it delivered some bagels for an event at the Hampton Inn where we stayed Saturday night. They looked so good, that I made the bagel place a must stop. Thankfully, the bagels didn’t disappoint. They were chewy and tasty. If you are in the area, give them a try.


A map of our trip from Thousand Oaks to Pismo Beach.

From Newberry Park, we drove to Port Hueneme to visit the new Seabees museum. If are like me, you are unsure how to pronounce the name of that Port. I learned it is pronounced Port Why-Knee-Me, named for a local tribe. Again, Hueneme = Why-Knee-Me

On the way to the museum we encountered this terrible fire. Ann determined it had been a medical building (we pulled up to a gas station to fill up while watching the action).

2014-04-13-fireWe put the fire behind us and soon arrived at the new Seabee museum. Unlike the old location (which is the only address we had), the new address does not require access to the Naval Base, making it less of a hassle for non-military visitors to visit the museum. It’s very easy to spot the museum by the large “Seabee” out front:


You can see Henry parked in the background.

The beautiful new building replaced some leaky, smaller buildings. The entrance sure looks welcoming:

2014-04-13-seabee2Inside the building is a spacious lobby where a change in exhibits is in progress:

2014-04-13-seabee3This is a creative use of landing grates:

2014-04-13-seabee4There were several rooms that shared the history of the Navy’s civil engineering program. One question we had was how did the Seabee’s originate and get their name? The answer involved the problem of civil engineers fighting in a war.

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2014-04-12: Dan’s FCs and The Lost Romanian

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Dan Horenburger and I in front of his Streamline FC Motorhome. See more pics here: http://thefcconnection.com/dan_horenberger_fc_motorhome.htm

Our home for Friday and Saturday night was the Thousand Oaks Hampton Inn. Thousand Oaks was great in part because they had some good food stores. The local Whole Foods had some sliced bison meat they sold in a warming bag (kind of like they do with chicken). Since Ann avoids beef most days (beef protein sensitivity) having some Bison was a treat for both of us!  Not only do they have food, but this small community seems to have more shopping per square foot than most. There are shops everywhere, but not many houses (that we can see) to support them all.


Saturday we did a big loop. The drive north and west on 23/118 was particularly beautiful, due to the beautiful rocky and hilly terrain. The remainder of the drive (especially 101) was full of traffic.

On Saturday, after sleeping in late (due to being awakened by some walking very heavy in the room above us at 4:30am), our first adventure was a meeting with Dan Horenburger, who has collected an amazing collection of Forward Controls. It was a unique treat to have him share their history with us.

Dan explained that he was brought home in an FC after being born. Clearly he caught the Willys Sickness within just a few days of his birth, the poor guy. By his mid-teens he purchased and rebuilt his first FC. By then there was no turning back, so instead of medication or therapy, he embraced it. Since then he’s spent many years searching for unique vehicles. Fortunately, his professional (carousel restoration) allowed him to travel far and wide to search for them. As you will see he’s been successful.

Here are some of the Fire FCs he owns:

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He also has this rare driller attachment on the back of an FC-170:


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April 9th/10th/11th: Disney/Eating/LA Traffic

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Restored 1903 Olds built to replicate one driven across the United States in 1903 from New York to San Francisco.I’m checking out the flywheel.

Most of this week Ann and I stayed with Josh and his wife Quinn. Josh a long time friend of mine that I haven’t seen in nearly four years (and had yet to meet Quinn and their new son Jacob). So, we spent a couple evenings having a few drinks and catching up (yes, probably more important than even eWillys!). I even got a chance to do some cooking: poached salmon in a mushroom stock with rice pilaf for dinner and some eggs benedict with hollandaise made, in part, from a vinegar/shallot reduction (best hollandaise I think I’ve ever made from scratch — sorry, no pics).

On Wednesday Ann and I made it back to Anaheim for day two of our Disney adventure, this time in the Disneyland side. It was a good day and we stayed until the very end to watch the water show and fireworks. I can’t imagine the coldest of hearts does feel their inner child peak out as disney music booms from the speakers while the water shows, dancing, and fireworks fire up the imagination. Here are a few pics:


Welcome to Disneyland!


Me about to ride the Thunder Train.


Ann with the Matterhorn in the background.

After a thorough exploration of the park, I concluded there are no jeeps on the premises. However, during the Jungle ride, I am pretty sure I spotted an upside down Mighty Mite. Though I couldn’t positively prove this was the case, after Googling it, I discovered there are pics of a Mighty Mite from the Disney World Jungle Cruise on the G503 site. I guess I’ll just have to go back and investigate more . . .

On Thursday we drove down to meet a friend of my mothers and her husband on Balboa Island. They took us out to Ruby’s on Balboa pier:

Even we couldn’t pull of this photo. It’s from this magazine: http://newportbeachmagazine.com/taste-of-the-town/

We gorged ourselves on hamburgers, fries and chocolate shakes. The best part of the day was getting some of the down low information on my mother from her longtime friend. And, as Mom reads that previous sentence, she is wondering just what Karen told me . . . lol 🙂

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April 8th: California Adventure w/ Mrs. Soggy Bottom

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Yep, I found the Willys truck near the Grizzly Water Slide in the California Adventure Park. How could I resist a photo with it? Of course, I could not.

Our goal for today was simple: Go to Disneyland’s California Adventure Park. This was made possible by the kind donation of a reader who wishes to remain anonymous coupled with Disney’s active military only three-day $129 park hopper pass. That pass allowed us to do one park yesterday (California Adventure) and one park today (Disneyland). (how is she still active military you wonder? The Air Force refuses to release her fully from duty because of her role).

Map of California Adventure Park

Even better, because Ann can’t stand for long periods of time, Disney’s handicap system provides us a way to avoid standing in lines for the ‘fast pass’ tickets. I won’t go into explaining how the Disney Fast Pass vs the standard waiting line vs the single line vs the handicap line all differ from one another, because it does get a little confusing. But, I do have to thank Disney for making the experience possible for Ann (and others).

Now, why am I calling her Mrs. Soggy Bottom? Because we made the mistake of riding the Grizzly Water Ride as our second ride. She got his with a lot of water, causing her shorts to get wet. It was she who called herself Mrs. Soggy Bottom 🙂

The “Cars” ride was by far our favorite. It starts as typical ride, but then turns into a road race. Pretty fun! What I found most amazing about this ride was the rock wall over and behind it. The rock looks so real and is enormous (see second pic — huge!!). I’m sure it is fiberglass/plastic/cement . . . but the paint, and look, down to the dirt at the bottom of one of the faux mesas’s was incredible.

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Some other pics:

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Tomorrow go back for a second day. This time we will go later and stay late to see the evening water show.


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April 7th: From McDonald’s to Ruby’s

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On the pier @ Huntington Beach, California

On Monday we and my ‘squaw’ awoke in our ‘teepee’ to a beautiful morning. The $70 we paid for a night at the Wigwam was a splurge for us, but we slept well and enjoyed the uniqueness of the experience.


The grounds are nicely kept and the area was clean.

Our first task of the day was to visit San Bernardino’s contribution to the world: The very first McDonalds in 1948. It turns out the ‘birth’ story of McDonald’s are actually two stories, the official McDonald corp stance and the actual truth. Thankfully, the founder of the Pollo Loco restaurants in Southern California has saved this original history (despite McDonald corp efforts to tell a different story). Even better, he’s made the museum free. Now, I wouldn’t drive hours out of my way to visit this, but if you are near San Bernardino, it is worth a short detour in my opinion.


Though not the original build, that is part of the original sign and this is the original location of the very first McDonalds.


Part of the mural on the side of the building commemorates the launch of the first McDonalds.

According to the McDonald corp, the first McDonald’s was started by Ray Kroc in Des Plaines, IL. It turns out that, yes, the Des Plaines location was the first McDonald’s Kroc started. But he launched that one as a franchisee of the McDonald brothers. It wasn’t until 1955 that Kroc bought out the McDonald Brothers and gained control of the business. Here’s some fast-food info:


History of the Hambuger

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April 6th: Wurlitzer to Wigwam

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Our wigwam for the evening . . .

We began the morning driving the I-10 to the El Capitan theatre (owned by Disney) at the heart of Hollywood. It wasn’t all clear to me how this would play out, but somehow we were going to hear Rob Richards play on one of the last five remaining “Fox Specials”, of which Farny Wurlitzer once said were his masterpieces.


Not enough smog in LA to block out the Hollywood sign on Sunday!

Rob was kind enough to email me back in December to tell me he’d welcome our presence at the theatre so we could meet and he could play for us. How could I pass that up? So we agreed to meet on Sunday for a 12:40pm show. I didn’t quite understand it at the time, but Rob would play music on the organ as people streamed into the theatre prior to the movie (which today was the Muppets).


At the agreed upon time, Rob whisked us inside (comped tickets no less — how do these things happen to me?) and began playing for just Ann and I. He bounced between various disney songs as the pipes and bells and whistles bellowed from the right and left of the front row.


Blurry, but you get the point. We have the theatre to ourselves for a short time. We even scored some free popcorn and a drink!


Rob is playing as I watch and enjoy.

Rob played for about twenty minutes as the crowd shuffled into the theatre. When the movie was ready to begin, the organ began dropping into the state as he continued to play. A great ending to a unique opportunity.  It was our end as well, for we didn’t stay to see the muppets movie. We had other things to do.


Here I am checking out the walk of fame.

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April 5th: Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor

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We didn’t do a lot today. I got caught up on emails and ewillys, worked out (trying to do a better job of that this trip), and relaxed. We also slept. A lot.


Oh yeah, we also ate some ice cream, too. At a Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor no less (probably need to work out again).

When Ann and I were kids Farrell’s was the place to go for birthday parties (Me in Renton, She in Pasco). Farrell’s was loud, crazy and sugarlicious. Then in the mid-1980s Farrell’s closed quickly. The reasons for the closures are hinted at in this history of Farrells: http://www.farrellsusa.com/history-of-fun.php

So, when Ann found a brochure for Farrell’s in the lobby of our hotel, she got very excited. After unsuccessfully trying to convince me that we should have Farrell’s ice cream for breakfast, we agreed to go yesterday afternoon. Even better, it was located on old Route 66 (not that there’s anything left over from the original Route 66).


Picture on the wall outside of Farrells in Rancho Cucamonga

Though the wait was long, we enjoyed ourselves. The place still captured the spirit and look of the original Farrell’s. There is still the famous Zoo on the menu (feeds hordes of children). The sounds of birthday songs and drum banging reverberated throughout the restaurant. The ice cream was better than dairy queen, but certainly no Zingers. But, that’s okay. It’s all about the fun and about recapturing good memories from bygone youthful days.


A very happy wife. This was the first ice cream of the trip. No more until we hit Zingers in Oregon.

Sunday we get to hear a Mighty Wurlitzer Organ and receive a short, behind the scenes tour of it.

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April 4th: The Borrego Springs Jeep

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The Borrego Springs Jeep Sculpture — Awesome!

We spent Thursday night in downtown Palm Desert. The downtown area is beautiful and I’d like to explore it more some day, but on Friday morning we had no time to see it. Instead, we had a specific mission: find the jeep sculpture in Borrego Springs, California.


We drove from Palm Desert to Borrego Springs. From there we drove to Ontario for cheaper weekend stay and for a Sunday excursion to Hollywood.

Before leaving Palm Desert, more food was needed and, after some googling, we landed at Jensens. One look at the deli case — lobster pot pie, sliced medium rare lamb, and more — we knew we’d better tread carefully, or we wouldn’t have any money left for the remainder of the trip. We couldn’t resist a few slices of lamb, but did pass on the lobster pot pie (Drats! I really wanted to know how that tasted).


Ready for our trip into the desert, we drove east before turning south. The highway took us down the western side of the Salton Sea. Back in my Manyone Network (circa 2006 and pre-eWillys) days I worked with a group to develop a portal about the unique aspects of the area. I’d always wanted to see the sea in person and finally got that chance today. While I’d seen it in photos, it is much bigger in person than I’d imagined.

When we reached Salton City, we began our trek west to Borrego Springs, but part way along our journey we discovered a bit of jeeping nirvana: Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area. First, we spotted a sign for a “4×4 Obstacle Road”.


Henry saw the 4×4 road sign and was ready for some off road action. But then he saw the pipes and tires and thought better of it.


This is part of the obstacle course. A large pile of tires is on the left and some drainage pipes are on the right. The hills are steeper than appear in this photo.

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April 3: Joshua Tree National Park

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Ann and I enjoying a perfect day at Joshua Tree National Park.

Our goal today was to make a quick trip to Joshua Tree National Park and then hit a motel in Palm Desert early, so we could rest and wash some clothes.


However our quick trip to the park turned into a four hour stay, between a long hike and the long drive through the park. Part of the delay was my fault, as I took a bunch of photos:


Joshua has two entrances on the north side and one on the south side. We planned entered via the northwest entrance out of the city of Joshua Tree. There’s a good visitors center at that location, so I’d recommend starting there. The visitor’s center also isn’t far from this Willys Truck that his hawking firewood.


A truck in Joshua Tree City outside of the National Park.


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April 2: It is Cold, Windy and Raining . . . This is the Mohave Desert?

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We left Arizona and entered California under a few dark clouds.

On Wednesday we began the morning by driving to the Route 66 Museum at the old power station in downtown Kingman.


Map of our drive on Wednesday April 2

On our way, there were more classic motels, but one in particular caught our attention. There was much more going on at this hotel — murals and themed rooms — but our photos didn’t turn out good enough.


After many photographs, we finally made it to the two floor power station. Downstairs you’ll find a gift shop and visitor’s center. Upstairs is the entrance to the museum where we purchased our tickets. The cashier was an older gentleman who at first seemed gruff and bothered by our presence, but then warmed up as he got into a short presentation about how the tickets we purchased were good for three museums in the area. We also learned that active military folks get in free.

The museum tour starts with some history of the trail which proceeded the route. However, one of the first things I spotted was a photograph of a jeep from 1943. It’s the only jeep I saw in the place.


From there more history unfolds: the need for good roads, the construction of Route 66, and the success of the towns following WWII, until the opening of Interstate 40 in 1984.


These maps showed chunks of the early highway with some interesting information.

In the middle of the 66 history is a large diorama that shares Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath and his use of Route 66 in the book.


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April 1: From Scottsdale AJs to Seligman Sundries

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A piece of eWillys is now a part of Route 66 history at Seligman Sundries

We began our day by replenishing our food supplies. Unlike our trip to the East Coast last summer (we each gained ten pounds), we’ve been more careful about what we eat. This has meant many light dinners of good cheese, smoked meats and some crackers. Since Ann shouldn’t eat cows milk (beef protein sensitive since a baby), we’ve been shopping for goat and sheep cheese. Since AJs Fine Foods, Trader Joes, and Whole Foods are good sources of that cheese (and close together in Scottsdale), we decided we’d better stock up so we’d have dinner for the next few days.

After our shopping was done, we drove toward Mayer, AZ, where I’d learned about a place called Arcosanti. Below is an example photo of the place and more images here. I thought it warranted a closer look.


I wanted to drop by Arcosonti, but we accidentally passed it.

For some reason, I thought this unusual development was outside Mayer, Arizona. It turns out it is near the intersection of I-17 and Hwy 69, which we’d already passed. So, we ended up touring Mayer for a short time before resuming our trek north to Route 66.

But, it wasn’t all for naught, as we did find this collection of odd vehicles just before Mayer. There’s a couple jeeps among some vintage trucks.


A lineup of trucks overlooking the freeway.


A wagon and a truck just to the left.


An M-38A1.

We soon found ourselves in Chino Valley, where I spotted this collection of vehicles. Based on what I see I believe all five are Austin Champs, like the vehicles I bought and, fortunately, sold a few years ago. I just check Google Map’s satellite view, but had no luck as they don’t appear on it.


Austin Champs in Chino Valley.

From Chino Valley, we drove north until we turned east on I-40. Soon we found a Route 66 exit and began to get our kicks on Route 66.


A sign that greeted us as we exited Interstate 40.

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