Monday, July 11, 2011


Welcome to California.  Isn’t that a great picture???  Wanna see it really big?  Click on it.


Here are a few statistics and observations about the Cowboys and Coal Mines Model T Tour.  They ended up with 96 registrations even though they had a cutoff at 80.  Our registration number was 80 even though we mailed at the earliest opportunity.  Four countries were represented, Canada, USA, Australia, and England. There were cars from 4 Canadian provinces and 14 U.S. states.  Alberta had the most cars registered with 28, California was second with 21 cars and Washington was 3rd with 16 cars.  Cars that came the farthest:  one car from Australia, and then Ontario, Indiana, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Wisconsin.  

We put 2449 miles on the Bronco and got a little over 12 mpg.  One new trailer tire was purchased. Now that I have replaced all 4 of the original tires, do you think I am done?  In Alberta, we put about 500 miles on the T.  Only problems were with the carb.  If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, and where in the world did I get that load of rusty watery fuel? 

National Model T Ford Club tours are always great, it gets us out into country we might otherwise not visit, and we get onto the backroads and drive in the slow lane, which gives you the time to really see the countryside.  Western Alberta was beautiful, rolling green prairie ending abruptly at the snow covered Rocky Mountains. Just like driving through a postcard.  And everything is on such a big scale, the ranches are huge, thousands of acres each. This year, they said that area had 500% of normal rainfall, it poured down rain right up to the day our tour started and then it was beautiful.  A little windy at times, Pincher Creek is the wind capital of Canada, they say, one thing is certain, they have a lot of wind machines all churning out electricity. 

We alternated between ski jackets, hoods, gloves and earmuffs and short sleeved shirts, depending on the time of day and where we were. The Canadians laughed at us.  There we would be all bundled up and the locals would be in shorts and sleeveless tee shirts.  We did find this little tome that kind of explained it all.

At 50F, Californians shiver uncontrollably, Canadians plant gardens.    At 35 F, Italian cars won’t start, Canadians drive with the windows down.    At 32F, American water freezes, Canadian water gets thicker.    At 0F, NY landlords finally turn on the heat, Canadians have the last cookout of the season.    At –60F, Santa Claus abandons the North Pole, Canadian Girl Guides sell cookies door to door.    At –109.9F, Carbon Dioxide freezes into dry ice, Canadians pull down their earflaps.    At –173F, Ethyl alcohol freezes, Canadians get frustrated when they can’t thaw the keg.    At –459.67F, Absolute zero, all atomic motion stops, Canadians start saying, “Cold, Ehhh?”    -500F, Hell freezes over, the Toronto Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup.

To you T drivers, you missed it, don’t miss the next national tour.

Friday, July 01, 2011


Happy Canada Day

The final day in Alberta, and the wind is still BLOWING, we did 76 miles, 30 miles flying east with a direct tailwind, 15 south with an in one side and out the other crosswind, and 30 more going west with a direct headwind. 

The destination for the day was Fort McLeod.  We filled the main street with Model T’s and kind of took over the place.


The attraction in Fort McLeod is the old historical fort, historical home to the North West Mounted Police.


And today was Canada Day, the equivalent of our 4th of July.  Not quite as noisy as ours but more parading and pomp and circumstance.  We attended the official flag raising ceremony and then a precision riding demonstration called the Musical Ride.



Crowd loved it, we all got free Canadian flags.  I think we are now unofficial Canadians.   Then off to the local high school track for some more unofficial Barnyard Cruiser non-races.  Crowd loved it, even though it was rigged like professional wrestling.


Final activity tonight was the final banquet, stuffed again on Alberta beef.  And then we packed up, put the car in the trailer and tomorrow head south, we need to be home early next week, so  this will be the last blog until we get home and then I will write an epilogue.  Hope you enjoyed following our adventures, we sure had fun. Thanks for following along.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


We did 100 miles today, piece of cake, except for one little detail.  I think we had a Chinook, tremendous cold wind blasting 30-40 mph from the west coming down off the Rockies, and it was a little chilly.  I think the way you tell a Chinook is when the horses all turn their backs to the wind.  Everybody named Pat dug out the ski jackets. See that tree leaning in the background?  Click any picture for a bigger version.TDSC00381

Scenery still spectacular,  our trail today took us out through the wind farms, which were really humming.


We stopped at the Lundbreck General Store for hot anything, and parked in front of the “oldest liquor store in the west.”  It was closed so no hot toddy’s. 


Out back was a replica of the two story “biffy” that used to be behind the Lundbreck Hotel.  But the builders didn’t get the replica quite right, can you see their error?


Caught this one of Bill and Pat having their picture taken.


Lunch stop was at the Sierra West Ranch.  More of that great Alberta beef,  we hurt ourselves again.   But we earned it by taking a little trail ride.  Bob, Bill and Patti saddled up. Pat Bratt said nooo, nooo, nooo, so she took pictures.


Couple rounds in the paddock and then the cowgirls took us up over the hill.  Patti was a little nervous when she found out that her horse was called Thunder.  Absolutely great to ride across the prairie with the wind rippling the grass like waves and the Rockies off to the west.  We did walk a little funny for a while afterwards, though.  The folks below were our hosts.  Bonafide Alberta ranchers, really nice folks.


Finished off today’s tour at the Lundbreck Falls on the Crowsnest River and then back to Pincher for BBQ and entertainment at the local C0-op Market.  We are in no danger of starving.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Scenic Waterton  Lakes National Park was our destination today, about 100 miles for a pretty easy day.  Pincher Creek is noted for the wind blowing and it didn’t disappoint us today!  We had to hang onto our hats in one heck of a crosswind.  But the scenery was gorgeous with majestic mountains, waves of blowing grasses and Model T’s traveling up and down the hills. Nothing more pleasing than 95 T’s heading out in the same direction.



Had another little carburetor problem today (seems to be my nemesis.)  On the first hill out of town, began to sputter, starving for fuel.  We pulled into a cemetery (appropriate, huh?) and I drained water and crap out of the carb and sediment bowl and beat on the sediment bowl to knock the crap off the screen.  Kinda think I got some junk when I fueled up this morning.  Ran fine after the second stop for treatment.  We  arrived about 9:30 in Waterton Park. Amid the peaks are the Lakes which are carved out of the rock by ancient glaciers. The wind was blowing and there were small white caps forming on the water. The quaint town is home to herds of deer roaming freely, grazing, resting  and watching the tourists take their pictures.  These deer didn’t even look up when some folks walked by on that sidewalk three feet away.


All the Model T folk were scheduled for a 2 hour boat tour, but I declined,  the lake had way too many whitecaps, and that boat was way too loaded for me. 


So we went up to the Prince of Wales Lodge and enjoyed the view of the lake out of the wind.



When we returned to Pincher, we toured Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village with 16 heritage buildings. The most interesting building was the Doukhobor Bath House which was used every Saturday for weekly baths. The Children were bathed first on Sat. afternoons, then the ladies bathed, then the young men and finally the older men. Also on the grounds there were two different graves with a small fence around each one. Bob was very upset with the “stakes”that were used.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011


70 miles today, heading back towards the west, out of the cattle country and into the coal mining country. 


Visited the Frank Slide where the mountain suddenly came down because of the coal mines underneath and buried 90 people in the town of Frank.  Stumbled onto this log house being built for shipment to Yellowstone.  The two Pat’s darn near bought one.


Then onto the Bellevue Coal Mine, where we all donned hard hats with miners lamps for a trek into the mine.  This was one cold place, 34 degrees F in the mine.   And just for fun, they had everyone turn off their lights, now that is really black. 


This was our guide in the mine.  We didn’t have miners that looked like that when I worked in a mine.


In the afternoon, we returned to the Heritage Acres for a BBQ and a “barnyard cruiser” demonstration, which is really a synonym for “model T races”.  Lots of fun, group of guys all got together and decided to build T racers from all their junk parts.  So some are real elementary and some were pretty sophisticated.   All are stock powered.   They ran them around a dirt path two at a time, lots of dust and noise.  Crowd loved it.  That is the pace car in front.


And this cool rusty parts racer made ingenious use of all Model T parts to build it.


They fed us twice today, lunch buffet in Crowsnest, and then a BBQ by Okotoks Ford at the Heritage Acres.  We are definitely well fed.  Dig the BBQ trailer.  The grill is on the back, the tanks are under the hood.  All the supplies are hauled in the box.  These guys up here definitely have time on their hands in the winter time.


Monday, June 27, 2011


Our trek today took us all around the Alberta prairie to the South of Pincher Creek and included a loop through the northern edge of Glacier Park.  The snow covered Rockies dominate the vistas to the South, West and Northwest.  There was a long tour and a short tour.  About 20 cars including us took the long tour, so we covered 168 miles, the equivalent of an Endurance Run.  TDSC00192

Our longest stop today was at a Carriage Museum in Cardston, AB. Literally hundreds of restored carriages, wagons, and sleighs.



On the road, rolling prairie, green, green, green, always a snow capped vista everywhere you look.  This is primarily grassland cattle country, and they are definitely well fed.  The grass is up to their bellies.




In the late afternoon, all the cars gathered at the Great Canadian Barn Dance for another Alberta beef dinner,  if you were a hardy soul, you stayed for dancing, we headed for Pincher, got in about 8 o’clock and flopped for a nap.   Cars performed well, no major glitches, and we had ice cream for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Relatively uneventful day surrounded by beautiful scenery,  just fine with us.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


135 miles to Pincher Creek by Bronco, 20 miles to Welcome Social by T.  What a day!!!  The drive from Cranbrook to Pincher Creek is through some of the most majestic snow covered mountains that you can imagine.  Impossible to capture with a camera.


This part of the Rockies is big coal mining country.  We stopped at the town of Sparwood which is a giant coal mining center.  And this is for Bob Jr.  In the park they had a display of what is now antique mining equipment, and believe it or not, this was the identical equipment that was used when I worked one summer in an underground coal mine in WV.   The vehicle below is a coal buggy, that is used to haul coal from the face, where it is being dug, to a loading point for either a conveyor belt or a rail car.  It is so low because the coal seam is typically about 4-6” high and you have to be real careful about cracking your head.


The other thing they had in the park was this one of a kind giant truck which was used in removing overburden in a surface coal mine.  It has a 16 cylinder, 3300 hp, 10320 cubic inch diesel driving a generator which drove electric motors in each wheel.  The thing actually looks to be in great shape, ready to roll.  Those people down there are full size people.


Anyway, we have arrived in Pincher Creek, lots of Model T’s going every which way.  We unloaded the cars and headed out for the welcome party at the Heritage Center, about 10 miles north.  Just before we left home, I had changed the carburetor on the runabout, (you know fixing or improving something that isn’t really broke.) and did a little test drive, seemed to be fine.  Well on our drive to the Heritage Center, we did a lot of spitting, bucking and twiddling the mixture knob, and when we got there, the damn thing quit and would go no more.  After dismantling and mantling the carb for about 45 minutes, I gave up and inquired about a lift back to the hotel where I had my original carb in the trailer.  One of the local club folks said, “take my van over there, the keys are in it.”  Can you believe it?  As we drove off, Patti yelled out the window, “Thank you, our name is Meneely..” Got the carb, put it on and life was restored. 


We could hear some commotion down at the other end of the complex, where they were having some T races, short races of about 200 feet.  Got the T and jumped  into line.  So the deal is, the passenger goes to the finish line and at the start, sprints to the car, where the driver is standing by the front fender.  As soon as the passenger touches the front fender, both jump in, hit the starter and head for the finish line. A little electric crank and drag, you might say.  Patti wasn’t too enthused about this, so Bill said he would assist.  Well, in our first race, Bill sprinted, we jumped in, the T fired right off and we won. Except, Bill pulled a muscle in his leg, so it wasn’t looking too good for any more races.

Here we are, got the jump at the starting line, heading for the finish.  That T is haulin’, for a T that is.

off the line

The next race was a hand crank and drag, which I really wanted to enter, so Patti finally said she would do it, be the passenger and the sprinter.  This was working out fine until Pat stepped in a gopher hole about half way to the car and went head over teacups.  Bill and I ran out to pick her up, and she says, keep going, so both of us sprinted back to the car, I spun the crank and the damn thing started right off, we jumped in and came in second.  Now we all know just how tough this lady is,  although I fear she will be a little beat up in the morning.   Notice, she has lost her glasses to boot.


I think I now owe her really big time.  Pat Bratt said she looked very graceful when she fell, but I think she is just being a good friend.  What a day, we are beat.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


350 miles today.  Long day, looked at lots of wheat fields, corn, potatoes, alfalfa, vineyards and then lots of trees.   Bought a new trailer tire in Spokane, this has to be a world record.  Rolled the tire out of the trailer, gave it to the tire guy, walked into the office and paid for it, came out as he was rolling it out of his shop and back to the trailer.  Total elapsed time, about 10 minutes.  Got an email from the Pedroni’s saying that they were on a Columbia River cruise on their new “riverboat”.  Well, we crossed the Columbia River twice, looked up and down and they were no where to be found.

Anyway, here are a couple pictures that we could not resist.

Question:   Do quilters drink or do drinkers quilt?  Patti ran into this store, fortunately, she came out with some cloth, not booze.



Bill and Pat may have found a new car.  By the way, somebody tell Don Cole, we saw another AA truck with express bed for sale up here in Idaho.

TDSC00097 This turkey welcomed us to Canada.



At the border, the Canadian border guard had on a bullet proof vest, and there were at least a half a dozen others milling around, also with bullet proof vests.   It looked like a swat team getting ready for a bust.   Wonder if this is standard garb now?

Friday, June 24, 2011


Fun day, we left Klamath and headed up to Crater Lake. On the Upper Klamath Lake we saw 3 bald eagles. Patti was so excited she couldn’t sit still. Guess what we found at Crater Lake?   Snow and lots of it.  The road was only open from the South Entrance up to the lodge.   Crater Lake National Park is the oldest park, created in 1902.  Put that trivia in your thinking cap.  Anyway, we did enjoy the view from the veranda at the lodge, the lake was completely still and perfectly mirrored everything, even the clouds.   500” of snow last winter and I don’t think it will all melt this summer.   Not being able to go out the North Entrance meant that we had to go back the way we came and circle way around, added about 50 miles to our days driving. Anyway, here are a couple pictures at the park.


The snowbank below must have been nearly 2o feet high.


Look at that perfect reflection.


They still have the rocking chairs.


And we have a little story for Ray.  Remember when we went to Calgary back in 2003, I think it was.  My Model A generator crapped out as we rolled into Madras, OR.  We spotted an old 20’s Dodge at the edge of town, so we went to talk to the guy about locating a Model A generator.  Well, he called a friend and the friend took the generator off his Model A truck and handed it to me and said to mail it back when I was done with it.  Drove it all the way to Calgary and back home  and sent it back to him.    Well the good samaritan still lives at the edge of town and now has quite a collection of old iron in the field by the road.  We talked to him and he remembered our visit way back when.   One of the cars is for sale, a mid-20’s Dodge coupe, restorable, runs, $2995. Whattayathink?


And so our day went.  On the home stretch for the day,  going up the Columbia Gorge, and nearly to our hotel at Hermistion, OR., I kept thinking that I was feeling a little vibration.  Stopped and inspected the trailer tires, found nothing obvious, but the stop was pure serendipity.  On the hill above us were 4 bighorn sheep about 30 yards away, watching us very intently.  If a guy set out to see a bighorn, his chances on any given day are probably 1000 to 1.  But there they were, big as life.


When we finally got to our hotel, I jacked up the trailer wheels and finally found a lumpy tire, so I put on the spare. Now, I have to get a new spare tomorrow.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Bay area to Klamath Falls 381 miles.  All the equipment is working, no high load miss in the Bronco, got about 14 mpg until we hit the up part and then average dropped to 12. Cheapest gasoline so far $3.73 in Dunnigan.  Spent a large part of the day with Mt. Shasta in our view as we approached it from the South and then circled around it to the NE.  Here are a couple pictures from the day.  Double click on any pic to get a giant size version.


And here is the puzzle for the day.  What is it that is in front of us?


On the other side of Mt Shasta.


Stopped at a Veterans Memorial alongside Hwy 97. This Living Memorial Sculpture Garden has 132 acres devoted to the veterans from the Revolutionary War to the present.