2018-trip-eastcoast Research Archives

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Eastward HO!: 2018 East Coast Trip

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OVERVIEW | Day 1: Sunday April 29th: It’s a Fluid Situation; at Least No Fluids Spilled! –>

UPDATE II: Because of events at the beginning of our East Coast trip, we were forced to change our planned routes (see original map at the bottom). As a result, this was actual route:


Original post from April 28th: On Thursday evening, we made it back to Pasco after successfully repairing the mower and my mother’s computer. Hurray!

We have a pile of things to accomplish before our goal of leaving on SUNDAY APRIL 29th. Ann’s managing the annual launch of the sprinkler system (from lawns to farms, she’s a water pro), meanwhile I did my klutzy best to set us back by sitting on my glasses. Sigh …. so I spent yesterday getting a new set of glasses. Fortunately, I’d already secured a prescription last week when I bought new contacts.

Now that Ann and I are on the same page in terms of travels (there was some initial confusion), we’ve scoped out the early part of our trip. Our first must-be-there date is Black Mountain, NC, on May 11th. The next is Aurora, Ohio, May 16th. Once we get to Missouri (which we think will be two days), we ought to be able to pin down our dates more specifically. Here’s the rough route:


On our agenda, are several jeep barns, a couple museums with early jeeps, the Pizza Hut museum (who knew?), Omix Ada museum, several family visits, the Midwest Willys Reunion, and much much more. Thanks to everyone who plan to share their jeeps, their homes and their stories with us!

  1. OVERVIEW: 2018 East Coast Trip
  2. Day 1: Sunday April 29th: It’s a Fluid Situation; at Least No Fluids Spilled!
  3. Day 2: Monday April 30th: Life’s Twists and Turns
  4. Day 3: Tuesday May 1: Weathering Oz
  5. Day 4 – Wednesday May 2: Old Friends
  6. Day 5 – Thursday May 3: Rainy Day Quilts
  7. Day 6 – Friday May 4: Parker To the Rescue!
  8. Day 7 – Saturday May 5: There’s a Coffee Shop Here?
  9. Day 8 – Sunday May 6: Somber to Soda
  10. Day 9 – Mon May 7: Jeeps, Rest & Laundry
  11. Day 10 – Tues May 8: Laurel, Hardy & Wood Cars
  12. Day 11- Wed. May 9th: Exploring the Palmetto State
  13. Day 12 – Thurs. May 10th: Willys to Hawgs
  14. Day 13 – Friday May 11th: Lawrence & Lubbeck
  15. Day 14 – Sat. May 12th: Ann Gets the Boot
  16. Day 15 – Sunday May 13th: Great Scott, Another Jungle Jims?
  17. Day 16 – Monday May 14th: Drive Them Jeeps!
  18. Day 17 – Tuesday May 15th: Cheese N’ Hardware
  19. Day 18 – Wed. May 16th: We’ve Arrived in Aurora
  20. Day 19 – Thurs. May 17th: No Rain Yet …
  21. Day 20 – Friday May 18th: Reunion Day 1
  22. Day 21 – Saturday May 19th: Mr. Infamous
  23. Day 22 – Sunday May 20th: Hittin’ The Road
  24. Day 23 – Mon. May 21st: From Summer Santa to the Police Academy
  25. Day 24 – Tuesday May 22: Rain N’ Fog in Coal Country
  26. Day 25 – Wednesday May 23rd: Steel, Strings & Sellersville
  27. Day 26 – Thursday May 24th: Architecture & Organs
  28. Day 27 & Day 28 – Fri/Sat May 25th/26th: What is Happening?
  29. Day 29 – Sunday May 27th: The Exley House Curse
  30. Day 30 – Monday May 28th: Grilling in the Rain
  31. Day 31 – Tuesday May 29th: Nous aurons toujours Paris
  32. Day 32 – Wednesday May 30th: Little Town, Big Ideas
  33. Day 33 – Thursday May 31st: Getting Our Kicks on Route 66
  34. Day 34 – Friday June 1st: The Route of Confusion
  35. Day 35 – Saturday June 2nd: Following the Western Cattle Trail
  36. Day 36 – Sunday June 3rd: Leaving The Plains
  37. Day 37 – Monday June 4th: Up and Over the Rockies
  38. Day 38/39 – Tues/Wed June 5th/6th: Road Home – Epilogue

OVERVIEW |  Day 1: Sunday April 29th: It’s a Fluid Situation; at Least No Fluids Spilled! –>

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Day 1- Sunday April 29th: It’s a Fluid Situation; at Least No Fluids Spilled!

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<– Trip Overview MapDay 2: Monday April 30th: Life’s Twists and Turns –>

DAY 1: When folks ask when we’ll be somewhere on this trip, I tell them it’s a bit of a fluid situation until we get closer to the East Coast. Case in point ….

Yesterday we left Pasco, headed for Grand Junction, Colorado. As we passed by Provo, we heard a strange noise like a tire popping, but nothing seemed amiss. We turned off at Spanish Fork and made it several miles up the canyon when we heard another noise followed by a ding: one of our tires was flat. Fortunately, we were able to pull safely off highway 6 (no fluids spilled, no damage, etc).

We put on the wimpy spare, then drove back down to Spanish Fork, where we spent the night. After a bunch of research on tires, we’ll hit Big O tire in Springville at 7AM to see what they can offer us. By the time we are out of here, we’ll have lost about a day.

Below is the planned route for yesterday … We are 3/4 of the way there.


And, the tire:


Finally, the phone issue. For five hours on Sat night/Sunday morning my phone showed no signs of life. Then, at 2am, when I happened to be awake, it popped on with a Facebook alert. After talking it over with Ann, we decided we would go ahead and upgrade my phone (it had been three years), as I no longer trusted it. We left early, reaching Twin Falls, Idaho, just as the store opened.

Purchasing the phone went fairly efficiently, though the transfer of info was slow, so slow that after we left some of my apps were still loading. By the time the tire blew four hours later, the apps were still loading. So, no Priceline app to reserve the hotel room in Spanish Fork and no Yelp app to help me locate a restaurant that was open (it was Sunday night in Utah after all). For sure, these are 1st world problems, but they didn’t help my day!

Let’s hope tomorrow goes more smoothly.

<– Trip Overview MapDay 2: Monday April 30th: Life’s Twists and Turns –>

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Day 2: Monday April 30th: Life’s Twists and Turns

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<– DAY 1: Sunday April 29th: It’s a Fluid Situation! | Day 3: Tuesday May 1: Weathering Oz –>

DAY 2: We made it to Rawlins, Wyoming, yesterday. Progress has been made.


Here’s what happened to delay our departure from Utah …..


After a stressful morning, a very happy wife.

It was an interesting day of twists and turns. Yesterday morning began with a startle. At 5:17am the motel TV’s audio, but not video, sputtered to life, crackling at first, then clearing up to broadcast some kind of TV news interview. I hunted down the remote in the dark, hit the power, thinking the tv would shut off, but instead the video came to life. I hit the power one more time, then the video and audio shut down. That was weird!

Later, as we were leaving the hotel in search of tires, Ann discovered that she didn’t have her purse. If not in the motel room — and it wasn’t there any of the 74 times we checked — then the only other place it could be was at the nearby Spanish Fork’s Cafe Rio, where we ate the previous night. We called the restaurant at 9am and were able to speak with the manager who closed the night before and was opening it that morning, learning that he hadn’t seen the purse. After another search of the motel room, we concluded it had been stolen after we’d left the restaurant. Gone were her cash, her banks cards, her military ID, her driver’s license, her inhaler, her new glasses, and some other stuff.

We are WINNING on this trip, lol.

Back to the tire search … based on my the previous evening’s research, we ended up at the Springville Big-O tire shop. They had the best local reviews and could get the original OEM tires (which no local tire-shops had in stock). Now, we just had to wait.

How to kill time on a rainy day? First, we thought eating breakfast was a good idea. Not wanting to drive very far on the crappy spare tire, we found a Denny’s just a block away. After being seated, the server asked what she wanted to drink and Ann responded “apple juice”.

Turns out, Denny’s sold out of that the day before. Poor Ann, she just couldn’t win …. having had enough by that time, she broke the soda embargo she’d put in place for the past month and ordered a Dr. Pepper. Since Ann couldn’t see the menu (reading glasses in the missing/stolen purse), she explained to the waitress that she could not read the menu, then described what she wanted: 1 egg over easy, 2 pieces of bacon, a bowl of grits, and the Dr. Pepper. I had the grand slam (2 eggs, toast, 2 pieces of bacon, hash browns). Continue reading

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Day 3 – Tuesday May 1: Weathering OZ

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<– Day 2: Monday April 30th: Life’s Twists & Turns | Day 4 – Wednesday May 2: Old Friends –>


Day 3: I thought there wouldn’t be much to share from yesterday, but boy did we find a wide range of weather! I’m a bit rummy after our long drive… hopefully most of this makes sense. Here’s Tuesday’s route:


We drove from Rawlins, WY, to Topeka, KS on Tuesday.

We began Tuesday driving in the snow and 30 degree temps through Wyoming. Brrrrrr. As we dropped into Nebraska the temps improved. Turning south, we drove into Kansas asthe temps rose to 82 degrees! It felt like summer, with blue sky surrounding us.

The only problem we faced regarding Kansas is that Ann is banned from driving there. Here’s the story:

My wife is banned from driving in the state of Kansas (and as far as we know is still banned). Yes, you read that correctly. It’s a funny story of how a comedy of errors coupled with some brain damage can get you banned from a state.

Many years ago Ann was driving a Ford Explorer (with Purple Heart plates) she’d just bought through Kansas with her grandmother in the back. Her granny had been in a car accident and suffered brain damage. Ann herself has some slight brain damage from Khobar and, when driving, sometimes get’s tunnel vision, so it is prudent of me to make sure we don’t miss exits (otherwise, she’s a very good driver). I’m sure the two were quite a pair.

With granny in the back seat asleep, Ann had the music on and was cruising down the freeway. At some point she noticed there were police lights in the rear view manner. So, she pulled over. The officer who approached her window was NOT happy, explaining that he had been following her for “some time” and that she had been speeding. Ann told him she was unaware she had been speeding and didn’t hear the sirens over the music.

That’s when things go interesting, for granny popped up from the back seat and started calling Ann by the name Kathy (Ann’s aunt’s name) and wanted to know where Kathy was taking her in a manner suggesting granny was being kidnapped. This caught the officer’s attention. Asking for her license and registration, the officer soon discovered that Ann’s boyfriend at the time, who worked at a dealership and sold her the Explorer, had not properly registered the Explorer.

To the cop, the whole situation was suspicious. Any officer would be suspicious about a woman who 1) wasn’t who she claimed, 2) was kidnapping an old woman, 3) driving an improperly registered vehicle, 4) speeding, and 4) not pulling over in a timely manner.

So, off to a small town jail they went. When they arrived at the jail, it turned out the jail was flooded, so they had to be ‘held’ at the local diner. Eventually, all was sorted out, but it took a while. The next day, they were released and off they went.

Sometime later, Ann received a letter from the State of Kansas claiming she was banned from ever driving in the state again.

Not long after entering Kansas, we noticed storm clouds off to the east. Here’s a pic from Phillipsburg, Kansas:


Philipsburg, Kansas, town square with the storm behind it.

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Day 4 – Wednesday May 2: Old Friends

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<– Day 3 – Tuesday May 1: Weathering OZ | Day 5 – Thursday May 3: Rainy Day Quilts –>

Day 4: Today we didn’t drive far. We left Kansas and the tornados behind, arriving in Missouri to learn that more tornados were expected.


We had a very nice stay in Topeka at the Best Western Inn & Suites on Tuesday night, even taking the opportunity to sleep late, so late we missed the free breakfast. It appeared a family owned the motel and they were very nice.

For example, at one point in the morning, I stepped out to get some ice from the ice machine. Next to the ice, the soda machine was being refilled. The woman in charge pulled out a Mr. Pibb and offered it to me for free, telling me that if I didn’t like it, I could have something else. I don’t drink it, but I figured Ann would. I’d definitely stay there again.

Our goal for the day was to drive to Whiteman Air Force Base, where Ann is officially still based, and obtain a new military ID for her, then meet up with some of her old friends. Dale, a co-worked and close friend of Ann’s, still worked at the base and was excited to meet us at the main gate.


Old work buddies Dale & Ann

That turned out to be a good thing, because when we arrived at the entrance, we discovered that my dependent-ID had expired, so if it hadn’t been for Dale, we couldn’t have gotten on to base to get her ID updated. To be fair, I hadn’t used the ID to access a base in 4 years, so I hadn’t paid too close attention to the date. Anyway, thanks to Dale, we accessed the base and found the place we needed to get Ann’s new ID and mine updated.

After that, Dale invited us back to his place to see Edith, his wife, who just had surgery. Ann had a great time getting reacquainted with them, while giving me a chance to finish up work by a reasonable hour. Now, if only those pesky Tornado warning sirens would stop going off we could go to sleep!

For Thursday,  we *think* we are heading through the Ozark Lakes, then on to Paducah to visit the National Quilt Museum. The weather may play a role in dictating our path.

<– Day 3 – Tuesday May 1: Weathering OZ | Day 5 – Thursday May 3: Rainy Day Quilts –>

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Day 5 – Thursday May 3: Rainy Day Quilts

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<– Day 4 – Thursday May 2: Old Friends | Day 6 – Friday May 4: Parker To the Rescue! –>


I think she’s forgotten all about the purse … someone is having a good day!

Day 5: We drove from Warrensburg, Missouri, to Paducah, Kentucky, spending most of the day driving in the rain.


Day 5: Warrensburg to Paducah

We began the day saying our farewells to Dale and Edith, Ann’s friends from her time living in Knob Noster and working at Whiteman with Dale. They hadn’t seen each other in two decades, so it was an all too short stay. Hopefully we’ll return some day.

We’d barely begun our drive when the rain began to fall. For the next five hours it wavered between sprinkles and pouring. Dale and Edith had recommended that we stop at the Osceola Cheese outlet on our drive south. We like cheese, so it was a pretty easy sell.

Driving south on highway 13, it wasn’t easy to miss, as a series of billboards made it clear that we shouldn’t pass it up! Thankfully, though it was 8:45, they were already open!

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Day 6 – Friday May 4: Parker To the Rescue!

• CATEGORIES: Features, Museums • TAGS: .

<– Day 5 – Thursday May 3: Rainy Day Quilts | Day 7 – Saturday May 5: There’s a Coffee Shop Here? –>

DAY 6: Today we drove from Paducah to Huntsville via the Sam H. Werner Military Museum. It was almost a total bust, but Parker Lowndes saved the day!



Today’s drive from Paducah to Huntsville

Today we had one objective: To visit the Sam H. Werner Military Museum in Monteagle, Tennessee, a museum that just opened last year in 2017. I’d seen pics of prototype jeeps, prototype lightweights and more and couldn’t wait to visit.

Once again, for the first half the drive, rain came and went. About noon, the rains finally left us. It was great to have some dry weather again!

We reached Monteagle at 1:30pm. The Werner Military Museum isn’t far off the interstate, so within a few minutes we were sitting in front of the museum. But something was noticeably wrong. The gates were locked and no cars were in the parking lot.


But it’s supposed to be open today!!!! NOOOOOO…..

Hmmm …. This can’t be good. The hours were Wed-Sun, 10-3, so it should have been open. But, it wasn’t. I looked to my left and there was a sign, torturing me. It read: Jeeps to Tanks, Come in and Visit Us …. trust me, I’m trying to get inside!!


Desperate, I turned to the website. There, I found two folks with emails and phone numbers. The first one went to voicemail. The second one went to Parker Lowndes. Thankfully, Parker answered.

Parker explained that the volunteer who should have been at the museum had to leave early. Could I come back tomorrow? I explained that I’d come a long way and had to head south to Huntsville later in the evening. After a short conversation, Parker offered to meet us at the museum but couldn’t be there until 4pm. I said we’d be happy to wait. It turns out, it was worth the wait.

It was real pleasure to meet Parker and learn about the museum. He took time out of his Friday evening to open the museum just for us and guide us through it. He explained that the museum has only been open a year, serving about 1000 visitors so far. They are looking for more volunteers, to rebuild vehicles and operate the museum. They also need to sort through lots of items; they are not lacking in museum content. If you are interested in helping, contact the museum.

Parker also mentioned that the museum will be hosting a Military Vehicle Show & Swap Meet May 18,19 & 20 for anyone interested.

The museum itself is divided into two large buildings. Here are a few pics from the first:


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Day 7 – Saturday May 5: There’s a Coffee Shop Here?

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<– Day 6 – Friday May 4: Parker To the Rescue! | Day 8 – Sunday May 6: Somber to Soda –>


Geoff and David in front of the Ford GPs at the Alabama Veterans Museum.

Day 7: On Saturday, we spent a pleasant morning with Geoff and Kathy, then drove down to Alabaster, Alabama.


A short drive today from Huntsville, Alabama, to Alabaster, Alabama.

Today began with a 10am rendezvous with Geoff and Kathy at the U.S. Veterans Museum in Huntsville, Alabama. On our way to the museum we spotted this CJ-5 on the side of the road advertising a tire shop. It’s the first ‘feral’ jeep we’ve spotted during this trip:


We arrived at the U.S. Veteran’s Museum to find the museum already open and our entry fairs pre-paid (thanks Geoff and Kathy!!).

A docent welcomed us to the museum and proceeded to show us around, telling us stories. When we first met him, I specifically mentioned that Ann was an Air Force veteran and that she’d been a weapons specialist. I’ve learned to do this because the older docents often assume that it’s the men that served and the men who know weapons (I can’t tell you how many folks assumed that I was the veteran when we used to drive around in Ann’s old Mustang with the Purple Heart plates).

I don’t believe the docent meant any harm and Ann claims it doesn’t bother her (I think it in fact does), but multiple times the docent assumed it was Geoff and I who knew things about guns such as the carbine vs. the rifle (Geoff did, but I didn’t have a clue; I could hear Ann under her breath answer his question) or his comment about our boys and the Purple Hearts (Ann’s received the medal, but it’s not a point of pride for her …. In fact, women have been awarded Purple Hearts since the first winner, a nurse from Pearl Harbor in 1941.) Eventually, Ann excused herself and wandered about on her own for a little while.

Apart from that minor issue, it was fun to wander around the museum with Geoff and Kathy. Of course, I enjoyed the jeeps the best, especially the Ford Pygmy and later Ford GP. It was the first time I noticed just how different the Pygmy was to the later models. Geoff knew enough about early Ford trucks to point out some of the parts Ford had used on their prototype Pygmy. Here are some pics:


Ford Pygmy, Ford GP, Bantam BRC-40, Willys MA, Willys Slat Grille


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Day 8 – Sunday May 6: Somber to Soda

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<– Day 7 – Sat May 5: There’s a Coffee Shop? | Day 9 – Mon May 7: Jeeps, Rest & Laundry –>


It’s been several years since either of us drank Coca-Cola, but it’s the World of Coca-Cola!

Day 8: On Sunday we drove from Alabaster, Alabama, south to Montgomery, then northeast to Suwanee, Georgia.


Our trip form Alabaster to Suwanee

We began the morning early, leaving Alabaster for Montgomery and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice and the Legacy Museum. Admittedly, that’s a mouthful and I can’t remember the name unless I pull it up on the web page. It was my son who suggested that we visit the newly opened complexes. His was a good idea.

As we headed south on I-65, the clouds FINALLY parted, giving way to blue sky for the first time since Kansas. The weather was perfect and remained so the remainder of the day.

We arrived in Montgomery at 8:30am. The Legacy Museum is several blocks (5 minutes away) from the Memorial, which sits on a hill overlooking the city. Since we had Museum tickets for 9am, we went to the Memorial first, hoping to beat any crowds and have the place to ourselves. I figured Sunday was an optimal time: many people would be in church and no downtown traffic. In this case, things worked out well.


From the EJI website

The entrance to the Memorial, as well as strategic areas outside the block-sized Memorial, were monitored by security guards. To enter, visitors must have a ticket and walk through a metal detector; there are also restrictions on what can be brought into the complex.

Once inside, we found a somber setting and a long path to ourselves, lined with occasional descriptions focusing on the 4400 extrajudicial documented killings that have occurred throughout the US.

Once we ascended a slowly rising path, we encountered a square structure, very earthy, with 800 steel blocks, each six feet tall, suspended from above by steel poles. I interpreted them as hanging coffins or tombstones. Each was inscribed with a county name followed by those documented who were killed in that county and the date they were killed. At first, visitors must wander between them like gravestones, but soon the deck-like slightly creaking wooden floor, begins to drop, until the floor is low enough for visitors to walk underneath the hanging objects.



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Day 9 – Monday May 7: Jeeps, Rest & Laundry

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<– Day 8 – Sun May 6: Somber to Soda | Day 10 – Tues May 8: Laurel, Hardy & Wood Cars –>


Blake showing me around Omix-Ada’s Jeep Collection.

Day 9: On Monday we had the chance to see the “Jeep Collection”, then we returned to our hotel for a long nap. We feel recharged and ready for our exploration of South Carolina today. Here’s a map of our upcoming travels for May 8 – May 10:


We’ll be spending the night of May 8th in Charleston, May 9th in Greenville (or somewhere there-abouts), and May 10th in Asheville.

Monday was intended to be a day of rest. Our goals for the day were to A) see some jeeps, B) take a nap, C) wash some clothes, and D) catch up on eWillys. I dare say the day was a success, especially the four-hour midday nap!

At 9am we arrived at the doors of Omix-Ada to Al Azadi’s Jeep Collection. Rather than lock the doors and hide (we can be scary in the mornings), they allowed us inside. One of the cool things we noticed right away about the building’s lobby are the full-wall photos of vintage jeeps that begin with WWII and march forward in history. Moreover, the exterior windows also had overlays, though the morning sun limited our ability to see what was there. There was no mistaking that we’d entered a world of vintage jeeps!

The lobby also had a few of the Jeep Collection’s jeeps, but in our exuberance to see the larger collection in another part of the building, we forgot to take pictures of both the lobby and the lobby’s collection. We failed!

Because Dave Logan, my contact at Omix-Ada, had a pre-arranged trip to Canada, Tyler and Blake walked us over to the area that housed the bulk of the jeeps. There, Blake let us wander around and take pictures. In my semi-sleep deprived stupor (I’d been up until 2am the night before), I spent more time talking to Blake about my books than I did taking pictures of the jeeps.


Blake patiently listening to my stories.

Fortunately for you all, Ann was there and she made sure to take more than 150 photos. And, as I look at the photos for this post just now, I see there were some cool photos on the walls above the jeeps in this area, too, many from press photos we’ve seen over the years. I truly did not see these while I was in there looking at the jeeps. I definitely must have needed more sleep!!

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Most of you have probably seen photos of the collection, but for those that haven’t, the collection lines the walls and windows of the entire space.


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Day 10 – Tuesday May 8: Laurel, Hardy & Wood Cars

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<– Day 9 – Mon. May 7: Jeeps, Rest & Laundry | Day 11- Wed. May 9th: Exploring the Palmetto State –>


This collection of wood cars owned by Gary and Jean was just stunning!

Day 10: On Tuesday we drove from Suwanee, Georgia, to Harlem Georgia, then on to Charleston.


Our drive from Suwanee, Georgia, to Charleston, South Carolina.

We didn’t expect any surprises today when we left Tuesday morning for the Laurel & Hardy Museum (or on Facebook) in Harlem, Georgia. The drive took a couple hours.

We arrived to find a modest building with signage starting at the Interstate making the museum easy to find.



Inside the museum we met Gary, a long-time Laurel and Hardy fan originally from Minnesota. The move to Harlem, Georgia, was specifically due to the museum. To say he’s a big fan might be an understatement; I’d wager he’s there number one fan.


Given the volumes of Oliver & Hardy merchandise, it wasn’t too surprising that I even found a couple jeeps in the mix:


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Day 11- Wed. May 9th: Exploring the Palmetto State

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<– Day 10 – Tues. May 8: Laurel, Hardy & Wood Cars | Day 12 – Thurs. May 10th: Willys to Hawgs –>

Day 11: Our drive was short on Wednesday, going from Charleston to Aiken.


Wednesday’s drive from Charleston to Aiken.

On Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, we spent time driving around Charleston. Ann did some research and discovered that Charleston was ranked the number one destination in the US and World in 2016 and has been a top destination for most of the decade in the US. By the wide range of languages spoken at our Holiday Express, I believe it!

Ann also explained that South Carolina is nicknamed the Palmetto State, after the trees. You’ll find Palmettos and half crescents of various designs on t-shirts and other objects for sale around the state. You can learn more about the palmetto and crescent here.

Charleston is a lovely city, very walkable, with plenty of shops, restaurants, sights, and things to do. The architecture feels old world and the roads are skinny, with some cobblestone, brick, and modern pavement in various sections of old town. We agreed that we could see ourselves returning at some point and spending more time here.


We were a about 2 miles(?) away from Charleston’s Downtown Market.

We only had time to explore one attraction in depth and that was the downtown market, a four block long daily (and sometimes nightly) market. It has both permanent and temporary shops. Parking was easy (right next to the market), even at the market’s 9:30am opening. By that time, tourists, and possibly locals, were milling about, tasting some of the local mini-biscuits (I can recommend them), and exploring the vendors.


Eastern end of the market.

These two shots show the permanent shops.


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Day 12 – Thurs. May 10th: Willys to Hawgs

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<– Day 11- Wed. May 9th: Exploring the Palmetto State | Day 13 – Friday May 11th: Lawrence & Lubbeck –>


Judi and Kieth Rhodes and Ann and I at Hawg Wild BBQ and Fish House in Hiawasee, Georgia.

Day 12: On Wednesday we drove from Aiken, South Carolina, to Asheville, North Carolina, via Hiawassee, Georgia.


We drove from Aiken to Asheville on Thursday.

Thursday began with a visit to Kaiser Willys, first meeting Rachel and Amy, then with a visit with Mike at the warehouse. Mike explained that KW began with his father. They’d go on road trips towing a trailer and, when stopped at motels, would sell parts out of the trailer to fund their trip. Eventually, they began selling parts out of their home, then when they grew too big, moved into a warehouse.


I’m sure I’m explaining something incredibly important!


I forgot my shopping cart, or I would have loaded up!


I think that sign ought to read, “Back your jeep up, open the tailgate, and load up!”

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Day 13 – Friday May 11th: Lawrence & Lubbeck

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<– Day 12 – Thurs. May 10th: Willys to Hawgs | Day 14 – Sat. May 12th: Ann Gets the Boot –>


Our welcoming party at Lawrence Elliot’s place. From Left to Right, Carroll, Ann, me, Van, Lawrence, Susie, and Phillip.

Day 13: I only had to drive for 20 minutes today. That was in the morning on our drive to Maury’s. For the rest of our drives, our Chauffeur and tour guide, Maury, took us all over the windy hills of Western North Carolina. I think he could make a living doing this with a DUKW and microphone. He was entertaining and informative! However, I suspect being an architect pays better, so I don’t see him changing careers just yet!

We started out the day by meeting Maury at his shop, where his GPW is located. The GPW, #58671, was drafted into the Army on August 25, 1942. Six years later, it landed in Maury’s hands when he purchased it from Tom Stanek, who’d done a restoration on it and learned that the jeep was a Bechtel reconditioned unit. Maury has written up all the history he’d uncovered on his GPW in a article titled “Tracing the History of GPW 58671”, which appeared in the Winter 2008 issue of Army Motors Magazine.

Here’s Maury giving us a tour:

maury-david maury-gpw maury-gpw2

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Day 14 – Saturday May 12th: Ann Gets the Boot

• CATEGORIES: Features • TAGS: .

<– Day 13 – Friday May 11th: Lawrence & Lubbeck | Day 15 – Sunday May 13th: Great Scott, Another Jungle Jims? –>

Day 14: On Saturday morning we went to the ER at the Veteran’s Administration in Asheville. The doc concluded that she might have some achilles damage. To be safe and to complete our trip, they put her in a boot.


Day 14 took us from Asheville, NC, to Lexington, KY.


From there, we drove to Lexington, Kentucky, where I spent the evening working on my presentation for the Willys Reunion. Since Hugo’s wife was injured in a fall just before they were supposed to leave for the United States, Hugo decided to remain in Brazil to care for her. Thus, I’ll be giving the keynote, where I’ll share both Hugo’s story and the story the Alaska Or Rust trip.

Tomorrow I’ll work on it some more, then head to Cincinnati to spend the evening with Scott Gilbert and meet his family.

<– Day 13 – Friday May 11th: Lawrence & Lubbeck | Day 15 – Sunday May 13th: Great Scott, Another Jungle Jims? –>

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Day 15 – Sunday May 13th: Great Scott, Another Jungle Jims?

• CATEGORIES: Features • TAGS: .

<– Day 14 – Sat. May 12th: Ann Gets the Boot | Day 16 – Monday May 14th: Drive Them Jeeps! –>


Scott and I about to enter the newest Jungle Jims grocery emporium!

Day 15: Though we spent months planning the Alaska Or Rust Adventure, Scott Gilbert and I had never met until Sunday.


We drove from Lexington, Kentucky, to Newtown, Ohio, on Sunday.

As Ann slept, I started Sunday in Lexington, Kentucky, with a coffee run that turned into a cool donut find. I’m not a big donut eater, but the evil donuts at North Lime Coffee & Donuts seduced me into trying a couple: a chocolate glazed and a sprinkled donut. The Chocolate glaze was cut square, giving it a unique look, but the better one was the simple sprinkle donut. It turned out to be a heavy, yet tasty, not too chewy, but substantive treat.


Each day, North Lime puts out a display of the day’s donuts. This was from a different day than I was there (You can see many more pics on YELP):


instead of the old fashioned donut boxes, North Lime uses branded pizza boxes. I thought that pretty clever and a nice update for the college crowd, as this was near the University of Transylvania in Lexington.


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Day 16 – Monday May 14th: Drive Them Jeeps!

• CATEGORIES: Features • TAGS: , , .

<– Day 15 – Sunday May 13th: Great Scott, Another Jungle Jims? | Day 17 – Tuesday May 15th: Cheese N’ Hardware –>

Thanks to Rick and Paulette for letting us take their Jeepster for a spin!

Thanks to Rick and Paulette for letting us take their Jeepster for a spin!

Day 16: Monday we drove from Cincinnati to Columbus, Ohio, via Roger and then Rick and Paulette’s places.


Monday’s trip took us from Cincinnati to Columbus, Ohio.

The first step towards facing your problem is admitting you have a problem. Yes, I have a problem. I have Jungle-Jim-itus. After saying our goodbyes to Scott, our first stop of the day was at Jungle Jims (just happened to be on our way, sort of). Our goal was to explore the gluten free aisle, then check out the coffee aisle. We were fairly well-behaved and managed to leave with only a few items.


When you need a map for a grocery store, you know you are in a big one!

Our second stop of the day was at Roger Martin’s house, where he plans on holding another Southwest Ohio FC gathering this summer. Since we won’t be around for that event, I got to have some early hands on FC fun. Roger’s been working on a green and gray FC-170. It runs great, but needs some more body work. He pulled it out of the garage and let me drive it around his property. I liked that it didn’t have a windshield!

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Day 17 – Tuesday May 15th: Cheese N’ Hardware

• CATEGORIES: Features • TAGS: .

<– Day 16 – Monday May 14th: Drive Them Jeeps! | Day 18 – Wed. May 16th: We’ve Arrived in Aurora –>


This is a real let down after driving jeeps yesterday! But, it is my first Amish buggy!

Day 17: We had another short drive today, going from Columbus to Macedonia, Ohio.


On Tuesday we drove from Columbus to Macedonia, Ohio.

I spent the morning working on my presentation, so we only did a few things today. Our principle goal was to head to Ann’s Aunt near Cleveland for a visit. But, on the way, we decided to visit two cool spots.

The first was Grandpa’s Cheesebarn and Sweeties Chocolates near Ashland, Ohio. Ann loves this place, so in 2013 we stopped here, but it was closed. This time it was open. She tells me that “Grandpa” still works the store, or was there the last time she and her mother visited in 2015.

Though we saw no sign of Grandpa, we did get to sample all kinds of cheeses and other items. Sure, most of the items you can get elsewhere at slightly lower prices, but by the time we sampled everything, we didn’t have to eat lunch. So, it was cost effective for us. We only bought 4 cheeses and some fermented eggs in beets.

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Day 18 – Wednesday May 16th: We’ve Arrived in Aurora

• CATEGORIES: Features • TAGS: .

<– Day 17 – Tues. May 15th: Cheese N’ Hardware | Day 19 – Thurs. May 17th: No Rain Yet … –>

Day 18: Not much to report. I spent Wednesday morning working on the presentation, then we drove to the Bertram Inn & Conference Center in Aurora, Ohio, which is larger than anticipated and very nice.


We knew we were in the right place when we spotted Bob Christy’s CJ-3B:


For the first time since we left Pasco, we unloaded much of the jeep in preparation for the Spring Willys Jeep Reunion this weekend. We enjoyed some fish tacos for dinner with Bob and Mindy Christy and caught up with them. I can’t believe it’s been five years since we’d seen each other in person!

After dinner, we finished off the evening by doing our laundry. Yep, an exciting day!

On Thursday I’ll be polishing up the presentation. We expect a lot of people to be rolling into the complex today in preparation for tomorrow.

<– Day 17 – Tues. May 15th: Cheese N’ Hardware | Day 19 – Thurs. May 17th: No Rain Yet … –>

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Day 19 – Thursday May 17th: No Rain Yet ….

• CATEGORIES: Features • TAGS: .

<– Day 18 – Wed. May 16th: We’ve Arrived in Aurora | Day 20 – Friday May 18th: Reunion Day 1 –>

Day 19th: We’ve picked up some cool things along the way on our trip, some of which we’ve added to the decor of our room. We’ll add some more before this weekend is over.


Ann spent much of the day stuffing Spring Willys Reunion participant bags with various freebies with Bob’s wife Mindy.

Bob and I snuck away in his CJ-3B to go visit the local Jeep dealership. On our way this car drove past us, then thought he’d show off his muscle. His ability to outrun an-f-head power jeep with a hydraulic lift was impressive, lol.


We were going to the dealership, because Bob thought he was picking up a few give-away items for the raffle, but it turned out his contact was gone today. However, Josh and some of the other guys were excited to see a vintage dually jeep outside.

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Day 20 – Friday May 18th: Reunion Day 1

• CATEGORIES: Features • TAGS: .

<– Day 19 – Thurs. May 17th: No Rain Yet … | Day 21 – Saturday May 19th: Mr. Infamous –>

UPDATE: Site was down for a while earlier today. The squirrels that power the state-of-the art server went on strike for more peanuts. We tossed in some salted ones and everything is back to normal.


Stacy, Russ and I chatting about Alaska Or Rust.

Day 20: Friday was the first day of the reunion. The expect rain didn’t show. It was busier than expected. It was great to meet so many readers! On Saturday, the rain is expected in the afternoon, but hopefully that stays away again. Late Friday evening, some of the Alaska Or Rust gang hung out under our awning. Naturally the conversation digressed from plutonium and radium issues to corncobs, butter and body parts. Alcohol may have played a part in that. We sure did laugh.

Here are some photos from earlier in the day:

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Day 21 – Saturday May 19th: Mr. Infamous

• CATEGORIES: Alaska Or Rust Trip, Features • TAGS: .

<– Post Trip Items: Alaska Or Rust!! 2107 …. The Book –> | Post Alaska Or Rust Item: FCA Brazil’s Video of Hugo Vidal –>

<– Day 20 – Friday May 18th: Reunion Day 1 | Day 22 – Sunday May 20th: Hittin’ The Road –>

UPDATE: This almost-one-year anniversary was the final event of the Alaska Or Rust Crew.


About half the Alaska Or Rust Crew. There were drinks and plenty of laughs on Saturday night.

Day 21: Saturday started at 5am and went to 1am Sunday morning. It was great to meet so many fans of my wife (I think she’s more popular than I am) and, of course, fans of eWillys. I appreciate everyone’s support, including the purchase of the shirts, books, stickers and posters. I nearly sold out of everything, so that helped cushion Day 1’s purse theft. Much appreciated! Here are some photos that Ann took (as I had no time):


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Day 22 – Sunday May 20th: Hittin’ The Road

• CATEGORIES: Features • TAGS: .

<– Day 21 – Sat. May 19th: Mr. Infamous | Day 23 – Mon. May 21st: From Summer Santa to the Police Academy –>


Sunday’s drive from Aurora to Harrisburg

Day 22: I’m hoping to have some regular updates for Tuesday morning …

We said our goodbyes on Sunday and drove from Aurora, Ohio, to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. We’ve got a tentative schedule that depends on whether a few folks have time to meet with us. So, as always the situation is fluid.

We know for sure that we will be going to the Hershey’s Chocolate World on Tuesday morning and the Crayola Experience on Wednesday morning. Wednesday/Thursday nights we will be staying with a cousin in downtown Philadelphia. Friday we hope to be driving down through Delaware. Memorial Weekend will be in Richmond, Virginia.


Tentative schedule from Monday May 21st through Monday May 28th

This is the tentative schedule for after Memorial Day Weekend. Stops include potentially a couple readers, a couple stops at Alaska Or Rust Crew homes, Route 66 Hall of Fame, a few Route 66 places, Will Rogers museum, Dorothy’s House in Kansas, Monument Rocks. We think we’ll be back home June 6th.


From Monument Rocks, we’ll take I-70, then cut up to Salt Lake, then home.

<– Day 21 – Sat. May 19th: Mr. Infamous | Day 23 – Mon. May 21st: From Summer Santa to the Police Academy –>

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Day 23 – Monday May 21st: From Summer Santa to the Police Academy

• CATEGORIES: Features • TAGS: .

<– Day 22 – Sun. May 20th: Hittin’ The Road | Day 24 – Tuesday May 22: Rain N’ Fog in Coal Country –>


Ann thought she should sign me up for the Police Academy. She has some strange ideas sometimes, but what the heck. I’ve never done that!

Day 23: We had a short drive on Monday, going from Harrisburg, west to Carlisle, then turning back east for Hershey.


On Monday we drove from Harrisburg, to Carlisle, and then to Hershey.

On Monday morning, we headed for John’s Hideaway Restaurant, a favorite morning destination of Bill, a retired PennDOT employee. Bill’s been going to John’s place since Reagan was in office (if my math is correct). And, I can see why. The family owned restaurant serves a good breakfast at a fair price. The restaurant is situated close to the local college, but apparently the nearby students aren’t searching out the classic diner. Too bad, as they are missing out! I doubt anyone else around town can beat the quality of food at the prices John’s offers.

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In retirement, Bill’s decided to grow his beard out. One of his grandchildren thinks he looks like Santa and frequently tests that hypothesis by tugging at his beard. I can see why he might be mistaken for Santa, as he’s a jolly fellow with a twinkle in his eye. Of course, he’s a bit more svelte than his plumper counterpart; but, perhaps he’s just sporting Santa’s summer body (Kind of like Tim Allen in Santa Clause)?

Bill really enjoyed his time at PennDOT, but now in retirement he says he is too busy for a full time job anymore. Part of the reason is that he’s too busy restoring vehicles. To show us what he’s done, he took us to his mountain retreat, where he has a couple of garages on a nice chunk of property. It’s a place for him to escape and pursue projects that interest him.

The first vehicle he showed us was his recently restored 1947 CJ-2A. It’s a beautiful jeep that Bill enjoys driving through the local mountains. It’s got an MD Juan body that needed quite a bit of reworking to fit correctly. He did a very nice job with it.



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Day 24 – Tuesday May 22: Rain N’ Fog in Coal Country

• CATEGORIES: Features • TAGS: , , .

<– Day 23 – Mon. May 21st: From Summer Santa to the Police Academy | Day 25 – Wednesday May 23rd: Steel, Strings & Sellersville –>


Jerry and the MB he turned into a Follow Me Jeep years ago.

Day 24: Tuesday we drove from Hershey to Drum, then south to Bethlehem.


On Tuesday we drove from Hershey to Bethlehem.

We began the day with a visit to Hershey’s Chocolate World. It’s a place we’d tried to visit back in 2013, but it had closed in anticipation of the construction of a new and improved(?) Chocolate World. Ann spoke fondly of the the place and her disappointment at not sharing it with me in 2013. So, you can imagine that she was pumped to finally be getting to see it again, something she hadn’t experienced since she was a kid. What could possibly go wrong with that scenario??



With entrance photos taken, perhaps the best part of our adventure was about to take place. As Ann walked toward the front doors, one of them suddenly opened, followed by a voice, “Ann, it’s so nice to meet you.”

Now, it’s important to know that one of the things damaged when Ann suffered her TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) is her ability to recognize faces. So, she has a really hard time remembering faces. Thus, when confronted with an unexpected welcome, she quickly get’s confused, wondering if she should know the person or not. And, given we’d just come from the reunion, she wasn’t sure if she should know who this stranger was.

In this case, she wouldn’t have, as the stranger introduced himself to me as Gordon. According to Gordon, he hadn’t realized we were going to be in town (he’s from Carlisle and is a fan of John’s Restaurant as well). Since he’d read that we’d planned to stop at Chocolate World, he thought it would be fun to stop and say a quick hello while on his way to Walck’s in Bowmanstown, Pennsylvania, to pick up some parts for his CJ-5. Ann and I were both humored by the gesture.


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