Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Fini!    Downhill from Tahoe, didn't stop for anything but gas and a burger. They were paving the old Altamont Highway so we did it the hard way, over the Altamont on 580. Heavy, heavy traffic, beat up old road trying to beat up our poor old Model A's and the occupants. Home at 2:00.

Here are the final statistics for us. 3161 miles, 29 stops for gas, 171.9 gallons, 18.4 mpg overall even with my leaking carburetors, and we had 2170 hits on this blog. Patti has unpacked everything, done laundry and is making her list for Whitefish, MT on July 29. I took a nap. Hope you enjoyed our adventure, and thanks for your support. And goodnight Mrs. Calabash, where ever you are.

Monday, June 28, 2010


We are all ready to be home. How can you tell that? We agreed to leave at 6:00 AM, and at 5:30 we were all loaded and out in the parking lot, so we left at 5:30, pedal to the metal, heading for Tahoe, 300 miles, our destination for today. Every morning when we hit the road, we go through this little exercise where we have all the windows rolled up because it is chilly, so in the absence of wind noise, we get the full benefit of the miscellaneous engine noises. Is that a new one? I don't remember that sound. This usually goes on for about 10 miles as we slowly increase speed and build up the wind noise. And as the day wears on, by two o'clock, sailing along with all the windows open, we don't give a damn how much noise the engine is making.

It took four summits and one pass to get here. John had one more flat tire out by the Fallon Naval Air Station, he is now out of spares. But we are forging on, we still have one spare between us (mine) so we won't start serious worrying until we have another flat. As we came west, it began to heat up, and as we came through Carson City, the outside air temperature climbed up to 98 degrees. We elected to go over Spooner Summit, a daring decision, considering the lack of places to pull off. It was a ten mile grind. I flirted with vapor lock, periodically burping for the first two thirds of the climb in second over and second, and finally the outside air temperature had gone down enough that the engine smoothed out for the last third. I know Patti was really nervous cause she didn't say anything all the way up. Anyway, tonight I put John's Zenith carb on for the run home, both my float valves are just weeping too much fuel and screwing up the mixture. We spent the evening sitting on the deck at our cabin, recharging for tomorrows charge to the finish. John is happier tonight, because unlike last night, we have kleenex, coffee pot, continental breakfast,and a shower that works, but no room key, ce la vie.

I took a little video coming down from Spooner Pass.

And then Patti took a little video, don't tell her I posted this.

We are really looking for one day without any mechanical adventure.

Here is what you do when you are bored.

This is John making a pass, the only one of the trip.

Oh, oh, John putting on his last spare.

A leisurely lakeside dinner.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


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Okay, homeward bound, Salina to Eureka, no tourist stops, we are ready to be home, and the cars are ready to be home. Pat says it is time to be home when your maps are in pieces. Between Salina and Eureka, we climbed six summits and three passes, the highest being 7732 ft. Don't know what the difference is between a summit and a pass, the Model A works just as hard on either. After yesterdays experience, we are really gun shy about gasoline, we stopped in every town. We never got below a half tank.

Went past my favorite store in Scipio, one of these days we are going to catch it open. 

Not much to look at today. West of Delta, which is incredibly desolate, we began to notice these little mounds along the road. We finally figured out they were anthills. Each hill was about 9 to 12 inches high, about 18 inches in diameter and stood in the middle of a 10 ft bare plot of ground. We finally had to stop and take a picture of one of them. Turns out they were red ants, probably maneaters. And mosquitos found us, we must have been 20 miles from the nearest water, how do they do that? Only other thing worth looking at were a couple of 24 ft wide dump beds for the giant trucks that they use in the open pit gold mines.

Both cars did fine today until we got to Ely, then believe it or not, my carburetor float sank. Car began to sputter and we were leaving a trail of gasoline, so we ducked into a city park and pulled the carb one more time and changed the float. Rest of day was uneventful. This evening I began to worry that I no longer had a backup float, so applied some JB weld and a patch made out of a piece of Bud Light Lime beer can, who knows this might even work in a pinch. And then John rummaged around in his parts box and came up with a Zenith carburetor, so John is carrying a spare for me, but it dooesn't fit on his truck which uses a Weber. Mighty nice of him, I say.  What else you got in that box, John?

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Some days start so innocently and then turn into an adventure. Since the forecast temperature for Moab was 98 degrees for today, we hit the road at 6:00, figuring that we would be there and gone before it really heated up. On Interstate 70, we passed a music festival at Mack, CO which looked like a western Woodstock, must have been a thousand cars there.

We made really good time to the Cisco turnoff for the back way into Moab, which is designated as a scenic byway called the Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway, we call it the Guzzetta Cutoff. And Scenic it was, If you are ever in this part of the world, be sure and take Utah state route 128 between Moab and Cisco, UT. This is an incredible drive down a sandstone canyon with the Colorado River on its way to the Grand Canyon. Towering sandstone buttes and canyon walls at every turn.
The Guzzetta Cutoff, we were a little worried at first.

Especially when we saw this.

But then it turned into this.
and this

and this

After brunch in Moab, we took a drive up into Arches National Park, wow, the arches, the buttes and the sandstone pinnacles are so spectacular. These puny little pictures cannot begin to portray them. If you look real close, you can see people standing in the bottom of these arches. 

We came out of the Arches shortly after noon, and decided that we could easily make Salina, Ut for our overnight stop. We refueled one more time in Moab and made a beeline for Salina, a distance of (we now know) 159 miles. (Do the math) John asked if we wanted to stop in Green River and we said Naaaa. Now this is where the day became very interesting. Heading west, we encountered some endless climbs in second over and a blasted headwind that reduced my speed on the flats to 40 mph at full throttle and gobbled gas at an ungodly rate. Plus, we started smelling gasoline. We stopped at a rest stop just before exit 116 and John and I discussed the situation. Both of us were wondering if we could make Salina. While I changed the float valve in the carburetor, Patti and Judy bought some Indian jewelry from a little native American boy. His father materialized from somewhere and they had a discussion about the nearest gasoline station. He gave them some directions that sounded like we ended up on a gravel road somewhere, sounded like the twilight zone. They also tried to buy some gasoline while John and I worked. First truck that came in was a working pickup that looked like he should be carrying gasoline. Turned out it was a diesel pickup, and he normally did carry some gas but none today. Next a truck pulling a boat came in, looked like a sure thing, no luck, but they did offer Patti an empty 5 gallon can. Meanwhile, carburetor was back together, seemed okay, so away we went. On the first upgrade, we discovered that it was bucking and starving for fuel so we pulled over at the next exit #116.

John and I continued to work on the carbuetor, while Patti and Judy flagged down another pickup truck. He had about an inch of gasoline in a can. He did say however that if we continued down 803 and turned left onto 10, we would find gasoline in the town of Emery, and if the gas station was closed, just go knocking on doors and they would come and open it. We noted that the map said that was a dirt road, but he assured us that it was paved all the way. After more tinkering on the carburetor, looked like it was solved again, so off we went. This time the engine was a little raggedy, backfiring every time I lifted my foot off the gas, and the gas gauge was going down rapidly as we watched. After about 25 nervous miles heading to the NW off the freeway, we did finally come to the little town of Emery. And it did have gas pumps, even though the first one we saw was out of order (gulp), but the second one was okay. We filled both cars and I drove off to find a shade tree. Incidentally, they had tee shirts for sale that said, I ran out of gas in Emery which was very appropriate. More work on the carburetor, mixing and matching parts from my two units. Where is Chris Pelikan when you need him? Anyway, I finally got a combination that didn't leak and which ran smoothly, no more backfiring or missing. And that's how we finished into Salina, collapsed and had a beer.

We spent 12 hours on the road today, not necessarily moving all the time. and with all the zigging and zagging that we did, it turned out that we covered 395 miles. Whew!! Thanks to John and Judy for sticking with us.

This evening, we did receive an email from Beamans, who also had a little gasoline experience.
"Almost ran out of gas today. When we got to Wells, NV Bob put 10.2 gallons in the car, so we must have an 11 gal tank. It was close to spitting out in the middle of no where! We came down a small road (hwy 93) from Twin Falls to Jackpot, NV and thought it was mostly down hill. Wrong. We went up and up and up and then there was road work and we had to stop twice! Bob turned the car off a couple times and we coasted when there was a small downhill between the ups! Quite interesting. Won't let the tank get below 1/2 again! "

Friday, June 25, 2010


(Click on any piture to get a larger version)
We awoke to a view out of our window of a beautiful smooth, clear lake in Estes Park. It was spectacular. Checked out at 7 and followed Chris and Sharon to Alluvial Falls. Bob took off stomping through the bushes to get some wild flower pictures. All of a sudden there was some movement beside him. It was a lady dressed in camouflage complete with a camera and huge lens all wrapped in camouflage. She was focused on the woods across the meadow waiting for a shot of a bighorn or elk. Don’t think she was happy when bigfoot came stomping up beside her.
Heading for the sky,,
      found snow...

We said our good byes to the Pelikans and wished them safe flying (that’s a Patti pun). John & Judy, Bob & Patti headed west which in Rocky Mountain Park means UP, big UP!! Not much high gear was used in this climb. Just as we reached the top, we met some antique touring cars coming the other way. We snapped pictures on the fly of them and they snapped pictures on the fly of us. One of the cars stopped at the visitor center at the top to refill his radiator, so we asked where they were from. Turns out, it was a group of 13 guys who get together every two years and take a 2500 mile tour in their pre-1914 automobiles. The ones that we saw were a Locomobile, a Peerless, a Pierce Arrow, a Lohr, a Cadillac, and a Stanley Steamer.

The highest point on the road through the park was 12,183 feet! No wonder we were huffing a bit and no wonder we are in second gear. At the visitor center we saw a yellow bellied marmot, Gus. Apparently the staff are fond of Gus and his family of young ones. Marmots in Estes Park hibernate from mid August to May 1. During hibernation their heart rate slows to 2 beats per minute and their body temperature drops to 34 degrees.

Crossed the Continental Divide again at Milner Pass elevation 10,759 feet. Saw a herd of 25 – 30 elk with the babies gamboling through the tall grasses. At Granby Lake we saw lots of white pelicans. How do they find these lakes so far from the ocean?

About 4 miles before the small town of Wolcott at the top of a very long climb, we started smelling gasoline rather strongly so Bob decided to have a road side seminar on carburetors. He had to use rags to touch the bolts because they were so hot. Took out one carb and put in another he had under the seat in about five minutes, yea. Not so fast it didn’t work. I think he took it out and in about 3 or 4 times, just wouldn’t work. Finally, took the original carb’s float valve off and blew it out good. Seems to be okay again. On to Glenwood Springs, CO for the night, all of a sudden we have entered hot country, high 90’s in Glenwood Springs.  Had a touch of vapor lock, so wrapped my gas line for tomorrow.

Last two pictures:  A big ark-shaped building in Estes Park, are we expecting a new flood?  And a shot of Glenwood Canyon from I70.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


(click on any picture to see the larger version.)
Cars went in all directions today. Beamans headed NW for Jackson Hole and Yellowstone. Christensens headed back west retracing the trip east. Meneelys and Guzzettas headed south on Wyoming 487 and 287 for Rocky Mtn Natl Park, and were accompanied by Pelikans.  Lots of animals out there amongst the grazing cattle, saw hundreds and hundreds of antelope, lots of prarie dogs, one fox, 2 deer,3 elk and 2 llamas(?). Major windfarm constructions are going on out there on these windy plains. Wyoming is very very green and has quite a few wildflowers. There are lots of natural waterholes, and they must be full of mosquitos, because we began to do a mosquito study as we went along. We have scientifically determined that the center of the windshield is practically mosquito free and but as you go towards the sides, the mosquito splats get more and more close together.  You can see that in the photo of the road taken through the windshield.

Notice the mosquitos in the left picture?                  Stopped for roadwork on the right.

We stopped in Medicine Bow, population 274 for gasoline (high priced) and breakfast (very reasonable) at the Victorian Hotel which was an imposing structure and the only structure in town that would not blow away in a big wind. The servings were enormous, pancakes hanging over the edges of a dinner plate. We met 6 prairie dog hunters from Alabama, they asked about the Model A's and we asked about prairie dog hunting. "What do you do with a prarie dog." "Let them lie, we can shoot 50 or 60 of them and overnight they just disappear." Amazing what some folks do for fun and how far they are willing to travel to do it.

As we approached Laramie, and saw a couple dear amongst the antelope, and the range was really green and not a cloud in the sky, we had the thought that we must be home, home on the range, where the deer and the antelope play, where never is heard a discouraging word and the skies are not cloudy all day. Shortly after that, as we were leaving Laramie, the Pelikans car stopped going forward. No connection between the engine and the rear wheels,and from the noises made when the clutch pedal was pushed in and out, sounds like the clutch disc center is spinning freely. Chris produced what is known in Colorado as an H strap. This amazing little device allows you to quickly hook the bumpers of two A's together for a short tow. Basically loops over the bumper ends of both cars with a strap between, no metal hooks to go flying, takes about 15 seconds to hook up and away you go. We towed Chris about a mile back to Laramie and into a little park. A quick check of the GPS showed that they were only 117 miles from home and within Triple A Plus range so Millie (the A) went home on a flatbed and Sharon went home in an air conditioned cab. Chris noted that they would get home and get a modern and join us in Estes Park as originally planned and commented that that was the mark of a real Model A driver. I remarked that a real Model A driver would go home and borrow a real Model A to resume the trip.

I am quite amazed at the performance of the A. Today we were at 7000 ft altitude and we could cruise at 55 in overdrive on the flat, course we dropped to 45 on most hills. Got a phone call from Beamans, they were in Jackson Hole at 1:30.

Here are a couple more pics: Entering the canyon to Estes Park, prairie dogs (aren't they cute little varmints?), and on the steps of the Stanley Hotel in Estes, built way back by the same Stanley of steamer fame.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


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Ahhhh, it was nice to spend the whole day in the same town. First order of business today was to retrieve the cars from the Casper Event Center. Then a tour through the Interpretive Center, nice exhibits on the four trails that all passed through Casper. The Oregon trail, the California Trail, the Mormon Trail and the Pony Express Trail.

Did a little downtown shopping. Huge western clothing store, got a couple new cowboy shirts. Went on to the only antique mall in town and found 10 Model A's already parked in front. Only John G found something that the vultures missed, a tire gauge. Patti had to try a new saddle.

This afternoon, all the A's went to the local Ford dealer for an ice cream social. There are 156 cars registered on the tour and I think we overwhelmed the place, they had to send out for more ice cream, guess they just didn't understand about Model A's and ice cream. And then this evening we all went out to Fort Casper for a BBQ, and had buffalo burgers and buffalo bratwurst. The local Pony Express chapter directed traffic for us, and collected letters which will get a Pony Express postmark.  Wrapped up the festivities and went home to pack. Early departure tomorrow morning.

And look who showed up at our hotel, the Pelikans!!!!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Great day for a drive, cool morning, bright blue skies, we pushed off at 7:30 for Casper, Wy. Bob M had to take a little downtown tour of Evanston just to say we did it, and then we headed out. I must say that Wyoming is incredibly green this summer, all the little streams are running full, and there are lots of wildflowers here and there. Also must note that the wind is always blowing. I think that it hasn't stopped blowing since I first traveled through Wy back in 1956.

We hit a stretch of highway that had been tarred and seeded not too long ago. We had not been paying much attention to the road, just sailing along fat dumb and happy enjoying the scenery until we met a truck coming in the opposite direction and we got a nasty chip in the windshield from a flying stone. Being now alerted, we tried to minimize further damage by hugging the right shoulder whenever a car or truck passed us. Even then we cringed at every vehicle, listening to the stones hitting our fenders and left side. Fortunately, this stretch was only about 5 miles long, but we have lots of new paint chips.

We stopped at the Wind River Mountain and Beaver Valley Overlook for a photo op and met a BLM employee who fixed us up with some BLM maps and took a group photo for us. The Oregon Trail and the Pony Express locations are well known and shown on the BLM maps and you can actually drive on a lot of it, although it is all dirt road and some is two lane track. As we talked, we asked about grazing rights and who owned the land etc. The BLM allows one cow per 50 acres and leases land to oldtime local ranchers for $3 per head per year. By todays standards, that is pretty cheap,and some of the ranchers turn around and sublease it for $10 for an easy profit. Gotta love this capitalistic society.

As we pressed on East, we began to notice this distant range with a notch in it. As we got closer, we realized that it was the Split Rock landmark. We stopped at the Split Rock Overlook because Oregon Trail ruts are supposed to be visible there. As we left the parking lot, we instantly became mosquito bait, they must have heard that some juicy Californians were coming. Needless to say this was a quick look, never could pick out the Oregon Trail but did see some mighty pretty wildflowers.

We stopped at the Mormon Handcart Museum and absorbed a little Mormon history. A lot of the items in the museum were items that were abandoned along the Oregon Trail as the travelers pushed west and struggled to lighten their wagons and handcarts. It was here that one of the guides pointed out a section of the Oregon/Pony Express trail that we could drive on for a mile or so. Got a good video on that one.
Click here to see it: Driving on the Oregon/PX Trail

Next stop was Independence Rock, a landmark used by the wagon trains going west. Two energetic Model A drivers named Bob decided to climb ot the top of Independence Rock. This made the ladies very nervous because unbeknownst to the climbers, there were 4 buzzards circling them. It was worth the climb as the 360 view at the top was spectacular and we discovered some of the old names and dates scratched on the rock by the pioneers pushing west.
"Bob, come back here!"

Small specks down there.

We had a fantastic 360 degree view. Click here. 360 View from Independence Rock
And found some of the old markings up on top of the rock.

Arrived in Casper and we have had a moderately exciting evening. Late in the afternoon, we heard sirens going off all over town. The hotel workers said it was a tornado warning. I must admit the sky was pretty black. Pretty soon the announcement was made in the lobby that a major hailstorm was eminent and we could take the Model A's to the Casper Event Center and get them under cover. Lots of folks scrambled to do this, as it was beginning to rain mixed with hail. So our Model A's are now parked on the floor of the Event Center, which would be equivalent to parking on the floor of the SJ Arena. One final note, we met up with the Pelikans from CO tonight.

Monday, June 21, 2010


(Click on any picture to see a larger version)
We departed a little later than usual today because our first stop (at Fort Bridger) was only 30 miles away from Evanston and did not open until 9 o'clock. Fort Bridger originated as a trading post founded by Jim Bridger, later became an army fort, then a stage stop, then a stop on the wagon train routes, then a pony express relay station and finally a stop on the Lincoln Highway. Lots of restored buildings and contents. The gentleman in the mercantile played the part of an 1850 shop keeper very well, he knew his merchandise but we surprised him with a little knowledge of our own at the risk of being dated. We checked out the livery and found a rather large beartrap of very unusual design. We tried to open it but had to be satisfied with the enclosed picture. And right next to it, was an orange and black restored 1930's motor court, rooms for a dollar, pull-in garage included. Even had electric light powered by an antique Delco generator. Everythings up to date in Fort Bridger.

The mercantile had this sit-tub for bathing.
Can you imagine using that?

We had to rescue Bob B from this giant beartrap.

             And these were the 1930's
                 tourist cabins.

Second stop was at Little America for a 50 cent ice cream cone, now that certainly drags in all the Model A drivers. And you know we all came out with more than just ice cream cones. So the come-on advertised on the roadside billbords really works.

Took the 2 lane roads to the NE, Wyoming routes 374, 372 and 28. First interesting stop on this route was at the Mormon Ferry across the Green River. There is an actual replica of the original ferry parked up on the bank, too bad, would have made a good Model A picture if we could have used it. Getting across this river was very risky business for the wagon trains. The enterprising Mormons put in the ferry and charged $5 per wagon which was a very dear price. Some folks elected to cross on their own and many wagons and people were lost in the waters. Our group collected souvenir rocks as our A's are a little too fast on the hills. Mary B collected mosquito bites, sacrificing to protect the rest of us.

On the ferry.

Halfway to Lander, we came to an actual crossroads at the village? of Farson. Big enough to have one gas station and one mercantile store/cafe. All the Model A's stopped here to refuel. FYI, Gas prices have been ranging from $2.75 to $3.49.

Moving onward, we crossed the Continental Divide at 7550 ft. Two adventurous souls decided to take a dirt road to the restored gold mining town of South Pass City which now boasts of a population of about 7. This town had a very shortlived gold boom and at one time was the 2nd largest city in Wyoming having a population of 3000 at that time. Today the old ghost town is partially restored. It turned out to be very interesting and we spent way too much time there, as a result, did not get in to Lander until 5 o'clock.

Dirt road in.  These cows are watching the traffic.

      Bob M gets a bear hug.

Old time Hotel room
 can you spot the
chamber pot?

                                                                                      Dirt road out.

After dinner, we spotted Bill Rose and Alleys just pulling in. Bill has a problem with his air conditioning bracket which has broken all four ears which hold the compressor. The car is still going but the compressor is hanging off the alternator and the alternator pulley is rubbing and the compressor belt is rubbing. Bunch of guys all stuck their heads in and tried to figure out a simple fix, not easy. So any of you guys that have AC, you better inspect your mounting bracket, this seems to be a very common failure.

All the best minds.