Thursday, July 25, 2019

A Funny Thing Happened While We Were in Olympia!

Road Trippin’
with Steve McCarthy

All was well at my Mom’s house. We had a nice rest, but the damn sun gets up there about 5AM, and our room doesn’t have great curtains. Sigh. On Sunday was the OTHER reason we trekked the Yellow Submarine up to Oly instead of the new Accord (this and the fact that the Honda is a lease and our mileage is limited!): A Car Show. And not just any old car show, a Car Show at the LeMay Museum in Tacoma for the Finish of the Great Race. You’ll remember we met them in Grants Pass (BTW, why did they drop the apostrophe? Too Intellectual for Oregonians?) and enjoyed seeing them stagger in whilst we were drinking several pints of Guinness. Long Time Friend Rene Crist (wife of a fellow Embree Bus Driver, Pat) alerted me to the show. Since she manages the collection at the LeMay, I took our attendance as a Royal Command. 

So, on Saturday, I scrubbed the bugs and crud off the Auld Beastie and Sunday we set off for Tacoma. Early. So early that we arrived before anyone else. Now, in SoCal, the usual line up for a big show is the Butt Crack of Dawn. Not so much in WA. So, we sat around, Marianne sipped on the Got Bucks Mocha she liberated from Mom’s pantry and waited. And Waited. And Waited. Finally, some folk showed up and kinda sorta organized things. 

They wanted to fill up the street next the the Museum first, but as cars lined up, I could see ‘em being sent down the hill away from the museum. “AHA!” I says to myself, “Self, wait until it’s likely you’ll be sent UP the hill and near the action.” So we waited. And waited. Interesting parade of stuff. Everything from a passel of new Dodge Challengers who all harumpf harumpfed past to the usual collection of Deuce Roadsters with SB Chevy engines to a some nicely restored old stuff to a few low riders to a poor Austin A30 that was trying to become a Stanley Steamer. Finally, right behind a gorgeous Triumph Italia (maybe the 3rd I’ve ever seen!) we squeezed into line and yep, climbed the hill to a spot right across from the Museum and all the action. SCORE! 

Once parked, we began to festoon the Yellow Submarine with our usual Car Show Stuff. Up Periscope! Attache Beatles Sunscreens. Info Sheet out and on windshield. Ready the 1969 copy of “Paris Match” magazine and my well thumbed and notated copy of “L’Etranger.” Then, Le Piece de Resistance. 

Just before we left on our trip, we were in the throes of a Complete Kitchen Remodel. Because they found Evil Mold, the project was delayed and not done until five days before we were to leave. WHEW, close call! One thing we did was take out the old kitchen table (a lovely oak piece that was Marianne’s Grandmothers) and move it to another room. So, that left us with LOTS of space. And nowhere for anyone to sit in the kitchen. Now since we decided on a vaguely French Bistro look, complete with a pair of nice Art Deco booze adverts, I thought a nice bistro table and chairs would be a great addition. In bright yellow. Marianne looked at it and said the fateful words. “Hey, those would be fun at car shows..” So, since we were driving the Wagon...

Yeah, we set up the table and pair of chairs, took out the nice picnic basket and set up the plates, napkins, silverware, wine, baguette, cheese, and pate. Très Français, Très  Chic, Très Amusant. The Crowd Went Wild. And we had reasonably comfy chairs to sit in for the day. 

After wandering about gawking at the cars, we touched base with Pat Crist, who, as the hubby of Rene, got us an extra ticket inside and out of the (GASP) BRIGHT SUN! St. Serendipity was watching our for us as usual. This would be the ONLY sunny day we’d have up there. Typical. 

Now, a few years ago I wrote about how great a museum this is. A really eclectic mix of almost mundane to truly exotic to wonderfully quirky. All displayed in what amounts to a giant multi-story parking garage. Which is a brilliant idea both for displaying and moving the cars and people about. 

So, we poked about a bit, spotted a perfect Citroen DS Pallas, a collection of EVERY Honda Motorcycle ever made, and then, a tattered, scruffy green Mustang fastback. So? you ask? Well, ladies and germs, it is THE Green Mustang Fastback. The Most Famous Mustang in the World. Yep, Steve McQueen’s ride in the greatest movie chase ever filmed. “BULLIT!” DAMN! Now, I hate the overuse of “iconic” but, yeah, this car IS TRULY ICONIC! 

Anyway, we wandered back out to the Yellow Submarine to await the arrival the the Great Race Cars, and WTF? There was something on the windshield. A big, red and black rosette and ribbon, saying “Best In Class!” Ah, common, we NEVER win stuff at car shows. We don’t fit the mold. Yet there, big as life was “Best in Class.” Pretty cool. And now, you’re asking “Which class would that be?” Well, “Most Unique” of course. No one can argue that a bright yellow Citroen wagon with funny tail lights isn’t “unique.”  After all, we’d spent the day doing the usual routine. “What IS that?” “Doesn’t that have the weird suspension?” “Are those tail lights stock?” “Is that the Ghost Buster’s Car?” “Is that an Opel?” (I’m not kidding, I’ve been asked that 3 or 4 times), and on and on. Always fun, always Très Amusant.

From there, the stay was a bit anti-climactic. Enjoyable, but we mostly hung around, had a nice dinner for my birthday, another on the Fourth, then a trip to see my sister and her husband’s new property. I gotta brag a bit. Little Sister and her hubby, right out of college started selling rhododendrons out of the back of their pick up truck and are now the largest commercial nursery in Washington. Pretty cool. Well, they’d just acquired  another huge hunk of land, this time south of Centralia, right on the Cowlitz River. If you are into salmon fishing, you’ll know this river. So, we all (daughter Brianna and hubby Paul had also driven up for my B-Day and a visit with G-Ma) loaded into Sue’s Odyssey. Lunch at the Olympic Club and a quick walk around Centralia, then to Toledo (no, it’s not too holey). But first, a stop at something called the “Mima Mounds.” 

These are a weird geological formation that has scientists scratching their heads over. It’s an oddity, that’s for sure. Huge open fields of close packed humps in the ground. Yeah, that’s it, but kinda cool. Made even cooler by the various explanations. Everything from something to do with glaciers to earthquakes to giant moles to aliens. Kinda fun. 

Anyway, those were the highlights of our stay. Next time, The Long Road Home. 

Saturday, July 13, 2019

“...And Crowds Gathered Where Ever They Stopped...”

Road Trippin’
with Steve McCarthy

Yes, readers, we are back. And to you of little faith, fie upon you. FIE I say! The Yellow Submarine ran wonderfully with only minor glitches that were best ignored. First, the Roads:

Route North:
Monrovia-Los Alamos-King City, via CA118 and US 101
King City-Woodland, via 101, CA 156, CA 152, I-5 thence to Clearlake via CA16 and CA20
Clearlake to Grants Pass via CA20, I-5
Grants Pass to Olympia vis 1-5.

OK, I know, a lot of I-5, but mostly the less boring parts and because it naturally rained as soon as we hit Oregon, we stuck to the easy route. 

On the way back, it was more interesting:

Olympia to Eugene to Coos Bay via I-5, Oregon 116, and US101
Then, except for the detour to Ferndale, US 101 all the way home, stopping in Garberville and King City for a night each. 

The Statistics:

2713 miles
53 hours driving time
51 mph average
22 mpg 

118 gallons of premium

2 qts oil

2 qts hydraulic fluid

Not bad for a fifty year old French car! 

It’s not a high speed racer, it’s a Froggy Low Rider. I need a sticker on the back that says “Pardon My Stately Pace.” It seems happiest at 55-60 mph which is fine with us. 

So, what new discoveries did St. Serendipity lead us to? Lots of ‘em. 

Rather usually for us, we did not leave at o'Dark Thirty. More like 9:30 am. This was so we could have lunch at Bob's Well Bread in Los Alamos. 

Keefer’s Inn in King City is still a nice, comfy place to stop, and the restaurant is surprisingly good, basic diner food. It’s still family owned, beats hell out of Denny’s and is worth the stop. And, yes, the rooms still have the funky original artwork from when the place was built. Far more interesting than the usual blah Motel Art. 

On CA 152 out of Hollister (and Sean the Unreliable, our GPS lead us over the San Juan Grade, a REAL Iron Bottom Road) we stumbled across the Casa de Fruta. A fruit stand on steroids. Great Place! Not sure if we were just too early or if it’s a weekend only thing, but they have a merry-go-round and a little train ride amid a collection of rusting farm equipment. The dried and fresh fruits are really good! 

From Sacramento we headed west to Woodland on CA16. They have a great Old Town and what looks to be a little tourist railway there. Lots of eateries and shops as well. Out of town, 16 is a great drive following Cache Creek. Lots of farmland and small communities, as well as a couple of old school resorts. Probably good fishing as well. This was why we took the dreaded I-5 to Sacramento, and it was worth it! 

Clearlake is, well, Clearlake. It can’t seem to make up its mind if it’s a funky lakeside resort town, a la “Ollie Hopnoodle’s Haven of Bliss” or the tweaker capital of California. My buddy Bill and his lady Danni took us to dinner (for my birthday, after much rug-beating) to a great place on the other side of the lake in Lakeport. It’s called Park Place and is right near the boardwalk. Fantastic food! Lots of GARLIC! 

From there it was back on CA-20 to Williams and Granzella’s for breakfast. It’s a great Italian Deli/Restaurant that offers good eats. 

Up past Shasta, we dined al fresco at a rest stop and made it to Grants Pass for the night. We stayed again at the Knight’s Inn on 7th and G, and for good reason. First, it’s a good motel. Most importantly, it’s a short walk to the Laughing Clam pub. Great food there, especially the seafood sampler appetizer. That and a Guinness is enough for dinner. Now, our whole reason for staying in Grants Pass was something called The Great Race. I covered it a bit in the last missive. It was having a stop over there, right in front of the Laughing Clam! So, we ate, drank Guinness and watched the Auld Crates putter through the day’s finish line. We also got to meet up with an old friend, Karen, from when our kids did Irish Dancing a LONG time ago. 

Next morning, under threatening clouds and drizzle, we headed back up the I-5, chugging up the mountain passes. The Auld Froggy Car did NOT like them thar hills! Breakfast was another recommendation, this time from buddy Tom. It’s a place off the highway near Azalea, OR called “Heaven on Earth.” They have cinnamon rolls to DIE for! They rival the Old West Cinnamon Rolls in Pismo, and that’s sayin’ something! These suckers are HUGE and drip with icing and butter! I guess it’s an odd little community of Mennonites, which explains the hymns in the muzak. Still, it’s well worth a stop. 

From there it was an easy, if wet, shot to my Mom’s place in Olympia. Next time, I’ll regale you with the tales of the return and the car show in Tacoma, where again, we took home a Major Award!