Traveling tends to magnify all human emotions.
Wednesday, April 11, 2018-Santee, California: Good morning…today marks the official day we start heading home!! But first a report on an event I attended last week, that I did not have enough room to include in Journal #12.
While Kit was spending time with JoAnne, her best friend from high school, I took the opportunity to attend the annual the Goodguys Car Show a few miles away in Del Mar, California.
This show, featuring over 2,500 hot rod and custom cars from all over the Southwest. It is an annual event sponsored by the Goodguys Rod and Custom Association…which at 70,000 enthusiasts strong, is the largest group in the world devoted to modified cars. The Del Mar show is a national event, and in addition to the incredible cars and trucks, there are vintage drag racing and autocross competitions as well.
So, what about that name? Well, in the 1950’s when returning WWII service men and women were reentering society, there was a fringe group of folks that modified their cars for more speed and performance and they were labeled by their neighbors as outlaws. So, to show that hotrodders could be good guys as well, an association was born.
The Del Mar show, being in the car crazy state of California, is reported to showcase the finest custom automobiles in the nation, and I couldn’t agree more!
There were traditional hot rods…
… and lead sleds…
…including this unbelievable vehicle built from a 1961 Ford F-150 pick-up truck!
The event also served as the annual meeting of the San Diego Woodie Club…showcasing a favorite automobile body style of mine.
Where I met one of the club officers from the National Woodie Club.
Who, coincidently, is originally from New England and mentioned the club was planning a national event in Maine for 2019! George, the national club secretary, convinced me to join the National Woodie Club of America, which I have. He also introduced me to a young man on vacation from New Hampshire who is working on his own Woodie, so we exchanged contact information as well.
The Woodie is the iconic surfers wagon, and ever since I missed out on buying one back in 1963, I’ve longed to acquire a vintage woodie…well, dreams do come true!
In addition to the traditional wood bodied station wagons on display, there was this very unique, full custom Studebaker.
A steel body car but clad in Maple and Mahogany…the woodwork was absolutely stunning!
And…it possesses a Mercedes 603HP DOHC engine to motivate this piece of fine art down the highway!
An amazing car!!
Another unique car was this movie prop from Grease.
The infamous 1949 Mercury, with the can-opener wheel discs still attached, and the signature of Olivia Newton-John affixed to the dash, was purchased from Paramount Studios by the current owner.
Fun to see that movie car up close!
Then there was this 1939 Ford COE truck, with a blown 455 CID engine sitting in the bed!
The weight transfer of the engine placement likely makes this vintage truck lift its front wheels off the pavement upon acceleration!
Also, a feature of the show is the Car Corral, where hundreds of cars were offered for sale…such as this fine looking 1959 Corvette.
And at $59,000.00…a pretty good deal!
As mentioned earlier, there are various activities taking place in conjunction with the rod and custom show…such as an Autocross for vintage race cars.
A timed event around a road course made up of traffic cones…the winner receives a trophy and bragging rights. As much fun as it is to see vintage cars race, the real draw is the number of high value original sports cars that compete…such as this AC Cobra!
Rare to see an example of this iconic seven figure Carroll Shelby built car outside a museum…
…but this guy was throwing it around the race course much to the delight of the crowd.
Another feature of most Goodguys events is a cruise road that travels the length of the show grounds. The public can then see and hear these beautiful cars under their own power cruising the boulevard.
What a great day at the Goodguys Rod and Custom show!
Well, it’s time to consider heading home…this morning (Wednesday, April 11th) we hit the road for the right coast, turn left, and meander up the Eastern Seaboard.
Underway from Santee Lakes Regional Park at 0857 hours under sunny skies and a temperature of 69 degrees. Kit navigated us through the countryside until intersecting I-8 which we took toward the eastern San Diego Counties Mountains.
Topped out at the 4,140-foot elevation at the Tecate Divide before dropping into the Sonoran Desert where the temperature is nudging up against 90 degrees. Kit and I made our way to the campground at Naval Air Facility, El Centro which, at -42 feet, is entirely below sea level.
Due to the rising temperatures, the campground is sparsely populated as most of the Northwest Snowbirds have flown home.
Thursday, April 12, 2018-NAF El Centro, CA: Had intended to just stay overnight, but woke to high winds from the west…not very good traveling weather, so spent the day doing laundry, catching up on administrative items, and reading. Due to the surrounding agricultural fields of this Imperial Valley region, we did enjoy a nice dust enhanced sunset however.
Friday, April 13, 2018: Yep, Friday the 13th, and we are hitting the road, and its still a bit gusty…but not as bad as yesterday when the winds averaged 44 MPH and gusted at over 60 MPH!
Underway at 0811 hours and continued east on I-8. After a pleasant drive, which included a stop for breakfast, we crossed into Arizona at 1149, and encountered our first Border Patrol checkpoint of the return trip.
Then found US-85 heading north and drove it to the tiny desert outpost of Gila Bend.
Decided to seek shelter at the Luke AFB Auxiliary Field as the winds started to rise again, so pulled in at 1440 and set up in their sparse and inexpensive campground.
As in El Centro, most folks have abandoned this spot as well to head home for the summer, and just as spring was budding out!
Saturday, April 14, 2018-Luke AFB Aux Field, Gila Bend, AZ: Well, that was an interesting night…the winds increased, and the trailer was rocking on its springs!
Spent the day, waiting for the winds to subside and then performed some truck and trailer maintenance. Also got a bit of kite flying in…no sense wasting those winds!
Sunday, April 15, 2018: Fortunately, the winds died down overnight and the morning dawned bright and sunny. Broke camp and hit the road by 0830 traveling north on US-85 before intersecting I-10 and heading east before moving over to I-17 which we took heading north once again. A few hours later, needing a break, we pulled into a convenient Wal-Mart parking lot where Kit participated in some retail therapy and picked up a late breakfast for us from their deli.
As you can see by the blooming Palo Verde tree…it is indeed spring time in the high desert!
Back on the road we continued north and started climbing into the mountains of the Coconino National Forest. As we gained altitude, the vegetation quickly transformed from desert to evergreens. Topping 6,000 feet, and nearing the town of Flagstaff, we pulled off the interstate, and found our way to the USAF Recreation Complex, Fort Tuthill.
Where we set up for a few days stay at a nice wooded campsite.
As much as we like the winter warmth of the American Southwest, it is nice to be in the cooler mountains surrounded by pine trees once again…reminds us of home!
Monday, April16 and Tuesday, April 17, 2018-Flaggstaff, Arizona: We have explored this area extensively over the past ten years, so decided to stick around this very nice campground and prepare, mentally and physically, for our upcoming transcontinental trek across the US.
Adjacent to the campground, Fort Tuthill features a nice lodge with a very comfortable lounge where one can sit in comfort and enjoy the mountain views out large windows that frame a giant stone fireplace…and that was Kit’s favorite spot!
There are also dozens of miles of hiking paths that allow easy access into the back country…which was my favorite feature. Walking through the Ponderosa Pines on a beautiful spring day brought about a pleasant assault on the senses!
The sight, smells, and sounds were mesmerizing…I stopped many times to just sit on an old log and take it all in! Continuing my climb brought me to an elevation of 6,695 feet and a large meadow with vast views of the Kachina Peaks, and 12,633-foot Mount Humphries looming over them.
Part of the hiking trail ran along the edge of this meadow and intersected a Rails to Trails (R2T) path that was built on top of an old logging railroad bed of the defunct Arizona Lumber and Timber Company.
Ambling along this R2T pathway, I could visualize an old steam locomotive barreling through the trees, pulling cars laden with freshly sawn timber heading toward the sawmills of Flagstaff. In previous years, I was able to find a few rail spikes and tie markers that had been cast aside…however, it appears other scavengers have picked through most of them, and many others were probably now hidden below the accumulating forest duff.
On the final day of our stay, a camper similar to ours pulled in to a site nearby. Jeff and Shannon are snow birding from Seattle and we had a lot in common, so a lot to talk about! They are planning a trip to New England later this year, so we invited them to dooryard surf in our driveway for a few days…hope they take us up on the offer!
A very relaxing two days camping in the woods of the Coconino National Forest, but tomorrow it’s back to work.
Wednesday, April 18, 2018: Up and on the road by 0730 hours under a sunny sky with a temperature of 34 degrees…for the first time in many years I had to clear a bit of frost from the windshield!
Found our way to Interstate 40 and headed east across the high plains of Arizona and on into New Mexico. I-40 is the second longest interstate in the country and for much of its East/West path lies on top of historic Route 66. Just past the town of Gallup, we tipped over the Continental Divide at 7,142 feet and began a slow descent into the South-Central Plains.
After a few rest, food and fuel stops, we rolled through the city of Albuquerque and made our way to Kirtland Air Force Base and our stop for the evening.
Thursday, April 19, and Friday, April 20, 2018-Albuquerque, NM: Had intended to only stay one evening, but the weather forecast until Saturday was for high winds from the north, so we just laid low, did some laundry and shopping, and goofed off. The campground is bare bones, but inexpensive and as the say… “Any Port in a Storm”!
This trip has been plagued by winds! Each year there are a few days Kit and I are delayed by unsafe travel conditions. However, this year there have been 8 days we were pinned down by high winds…oh, well, that’s life on the road!
Saturday, April 21, 2018: Woke to calm conditions, sunny skies, and temperatures in the mid 40-degree range. Broke camp and hit the trail by 0740 hours continuing east on Interstate 40.
Four hours later, we crossed into Texas and the Central Time Zone, and by 1548 made the border of Oklahoma…Yep, Texas isn’t so big this far north!
Stopped in at the Oklahoma Welcome Center to take a break and pick up information about the state park system. There was a nice lakeside park another hour east, but its been a long day and at 416 travel miles, we’ve already exceeded our self-imposed daily limit by over 100 miles…so we just spent the night right here!
Sunday, April 22, 2018: Kit and I enjoyed a very restful night and by morning, we discovered dozens of our traveling brethren had joined us overnight.
You may have noticed in the photo above, that we only extended the smaller of our two slides. One of the features we like about this camper is the ability to stay in it with the slides retracted…pays dividends when blacktop camping at a roadside rest or truck stop.
On one side we had a long-haul trucker, and the other a Campervan with this cute couple peeking out at us.
Hit the road at 0834 hours and continued our trek easterly on I-40.
There are many great things about traveling with a trusted companion…one of which is that they are on constant alert and help immensely in spotting roadside attractions, or hazards, while the driver concentrates on, well…driving!
After 300 miles, on the dot, Kit awoke to assist in discovering a lakeside Oklahoma State Park near the town of Vian and we pulled in for a two-night stay…which, is where we will pick up in Episode #14 of Bill and Kit’s 2018 Excellent Adventure. Stay tuned!
Kit’s Bit’s: Looks like I needed a bit of a snooze! The trip east has been fraught with wind warnings. We will have to pick up our pace to make it to the east coast. High winds have been our constant companion this spring. Climate change? Who knows… These long-distance days can be exhausting but, fortunately, we leave early and stop early for the night. There was a time when we wouldn’t stop until after dark which caused all sorts of problems. Looking forward to getting home.