Sent: Wednesday, April 25, 2001Don't worry, the rest of the story will be told. The last two days of the trip involved long driving hours and motels that provided for no access to the Internet. I will send along the remaining part(s) of our travelogue, but for now just wanted to let everyone know that I arrived back in Connecticut safely--to a surprise welcoming party of friends--and that to the best of my knowledge, Gerald and the Vampire are safely "put to bed" in Massachusetts.More tomorrow, this Road Dog is going offline...jeff
Part Four: Homeward BoundSent: Wednesday, May 2, 2001
We may even be home by the time I send this burst out. (We are--and have been for more then a week before I finally finished this...) We've been driving longer days--home is within easy reach today (Tuesday). Unfortunately, Zanesville, OH (where we stayed last night) doesn't have a local EarthLink dialup node. (You'd think with the ATT/Roadrunner HQ sitting across the street there might be an Ethernet connection, but no such luck.)Anyhow to bring you up to date on our doings.After Saturday's fan belt fiasco, Sunday was a breeze--a really big breeze. We were on the road at 6am and quickly dispatched with the remaining distance in New Mexico. Still making progress we moved through Texas stopping only for fuel. Reading the billboards made us regret not making it to Amarillo the previous evening--our restaurant choices would have been... Well let's just say we would have actually had a choice--and some them looked pretty interesting.
I started writing this message "on the road" but didn't get it completed until I'd been home for a week.
Car spotted at truck stop in Amarillo--we never saw Candice though...
After I got us started (allowing Gerald time to wake up completely) Gerald drove most of the day--a first. He really seemed to bond with the 101 on Sunday. I kept asking if he wanted me to take over but he refused my offers.
Past Oklahoma City the weather started to get a little bit nasty. First the wind came up--we were forced to slow way down as the east bound lane wanted to gawk at a semi trailer truck that had blown over on the other side. (The westbound traffic was at a complete standstill.) A little further down the road we ran through the storm front itself--heavy rain and high winds soon pushed water through the nooks and crannies in the cab. Fortunately, we were able to push through the front--but the wind gusts stayed with us for the rest of the day.
We passed numerous storm chaser trucks pulled off to the side of the road--shooting pictures of the cloud formations. Many of them were from local TV stations so it's possible the Vampire was seen in passing. We were in fact mistaken for storm chasers by a citizen in Oklahoma City. (We didn't have an ananommeter mounted on the roof though--another item for Gerald's growing list of add-ons.)
Our position was being automatically broadcast the entire day. Unfortunately, there weren't any digital repeaters around to pick up our transmissions so reports back to the Web site were spotty.
Gerald trying to earn "spare change" to cover fuel costs.
When we got to Tulsa we stopped to try and find a Kinkos (free Ethernet uplink) and to call Patrick Eagan, a local bomb squad officer and military vehicle enthusiast who owns a 101. While Gerald was talking to Patrick on the pay phone, I was approached by a young local girl who wanted to know if I was driving "that?" I confessed. "Well do you think you could get my car started?" I don't know...but I can take a look. "You MUST know more about cars then I do." (True perhaps, but my choice in cross-country vehicles would seem to indicate a certain lack of intelligence so it might be a wash.) Anyhow, to my credit, the problem was quickly solved. Her Nissan was equipped with a brake pedal cut-out. Once she applied her foot to the brake the car started right up. I was back at the Vampire before Gerald finished getting directions to the Eagan's.
Patrick and Karen live just outside of Tulsa. While we sipped much-appreciated glasses of ice tea we had a chance to crawl over Patrick's RAF "Rapier" 101--also a 24 volt model, GS body style equipped with a winch. Gilbert Perry, who owns a 12 volt GS 101 was visiting Tulsa and hurried over to see the Vampire Vampire as was Patrick's father, Chris. Chris is a retired diesel mechanic and, as Patrick explains, "I jump in and when I get in over my head, he bails me out."
The Rapier and the Vampire
Gilbert, Chris, Gerald, Karen and Patrick in front of the two 101's?
After photos and conversation Gerald and I were ready to get back on the road when Patrick asked if we wanted to see his other British vehicle. Patrick didn't get his 101 because he's a Land-Rover enthusiast, but rather because he collects military vehicles. So when we got down to his garage we found a CVRT Scorpion --a tank--sitting there. Gerald wasted no time in crawling up into the turret and playing tank commander.
"I wonder what Joan would say if I came home in this?"
Finally, it was time to hit the road for real. The storm front had caught up with us and we wanted to get a few more miles down the road before turning in for the night. At a gas stop--coincidentally also the World's largest MacDonald's, we asked about good places to eat. We were directed to the buffet at a truck stop a few miles down the road--just over the border in Missouri.
Of course by the time we arrived the buffett wasn't open but we were able to order from the menu. My margarita (payment for changing the fan belts) was still nowhere to be found however. As we walked back to the truck it began to rain. As we buckled up the rain increased and the wind began playing a certain note. "Is there really anywhere specific we need to be tonight?" I asked Gerald. "Why?" I answered that I thought we should stay right where we were for a little bit. It proved to be a wise decision as the rain became blinding and the wind quite fierce--shaking the Vampire on it's springs. We were also treated to quite a light show as lightening illuminated the entire sky. It really was beautiful. We were listening to the reports from various HAM opertators as the storm reached them.
Finally the storm ran it's course and we were back on the road for another couple of exits where we decided to hole up for the night. It was from this motel that I sent FOV pt. 3 off into the Ether.
After that the trip seemed to change focus a little. Previously it had been about the drive but now it seemed more focused on getting home. Gerald really wanted a "down" day to prepare for his upcoming trip to Turkey. We decided to drive a long day on Monday to help insure our Tuesday arrival. Not much to report--we drove, stopped for fuel and chatted on the CB.
Vampire and it's "good buddies."
Driving was pretty much split equally that day. We stopped at a little cafe in Indiana for a home cooked meal. The occupants of the bar next store did pour outside to have a look at the 101 and make inquiries. I assured them that there was no invasion and they returned to their stools.
After dinner I took the helm and we pushed on to Zanesville, OH. (Birthplace of author Zane Grey!) Nice hotel, but no local EarthLink. Just as well, we were beat. The next morning was more of the same until we got midway into New Jersey--basically the general area where I call home. The traffic pattern changed from "interstate relaxed" to "urban assault." Gerald proposed I take over at our gas stop--he needed to get some rest for his solo push home. I don't think he rested much however--I guess my urban driving makes him nervous. (My rule of thumb for NJ is to signal, make sure someone isn't right beside you, and MOVE before your signal is interpreted as being an invitation into the lane space--So far no hits, no errors.)
We stopped off in Pound Ridge, NY to visit with Jared Silbersher, another 101 owner. He reported that Chris Velardis was on his way too. (Can you guess what he drives? You're right, but his is an ambulance body model.) Gerald wanted to get on the road for home so we diverted Chris to Darien, CT. Jared was going to accompany us so we could get pictures of all three. When we arrived at the Goodwives Shopping Plaza I learned that my friend Frank Kemp had been working the phones--there was a welcoming party there to greet us. Questions were asked and answered. My gear was moved into my car. Still no Chris. We posed the two 101's together and took photos. Finally, Gerald had to get on the road--he looked really wrung out. A final invitation for him to stay locally was refused and he was on the road for the final leg of the journey.
As he put it to the LRHAM mailing list the next day...
Just as any proper vampire would the 101 snuck into town at 1;30am. No one saw it happen. A moving 101 is way to noisy to have much of a radio conversation. APRS worked fine when we were within range of digipeaters and had batteries for the GPS (will have combo power and data cable next time.)
Full report and web site later.
Thanks to Jeff, KB1GDP, for help on every part of the journey and to all the hams who helped.
That's our story and we're sticking to it. Thanks for reading!
Jeffrey A. Berg Purple Shark Media Rowayton, CT firstname.lastname@example.org
My garden is full of papayas and mangos.
My dance card is filled with merengues and tangos.
Taste for the good life, I can see it no other way.
--Jimmy Buffett, Lone Palm (live version)
Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four
Photos and Text Copyright 2001, Jeffrey A. Berg