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Right Turn and Return!!! 

Day #19

Wednesday 2 August

Start time: 9:20am                     Mileage: 84,874           Place:  Renton, WA – Vinny’s Place

Stop time:  5:00pm                     Mileage:  85,245          Place:  Hell’s Gate State Park, Lewiston, Idaho

Today’s Mileage:  371                 Total:   5,636

Average mpg:  17 - 20

 Starting out today our goal is to cross Idaho as a “driving” day.  We take both the highways and the byways – 90, 82, 124, and 12 mainly.  Interstate 82 has an interesting imprint pattern of three rows of dash scratched into the concrete in the tire paths. Not sure what purpose they serve – traction for the trucks? – however, they sure make the ride uneven. I finally found a way to straddle them. 

We have one minor “issue.”  We stop for gas in Pomeroy – there is only one very odd gas station – all self-serve pump and nothing else. Being a bit compulsive, I was checking the oil and the fan belt when I noticed the wire for the battery charger (an external plug-in battery charger that I added as an afterthought and hardwired into the system ,allowing them to simply plug in at night and keep the batteries topped off. The wiring was not as well-thought out as the engine wiring (which I protected rather well) but had been routed through the rear valance which they had to remove for the oil change and likely reinstalled leaving a bit too much slack in the wire.) was hung up near the lower pulley and was down to bare wire.  We whipped out the electrical tape for a quick-patch and anchored one section with a tie and duct-taped the other section to the frame.

The landscape changes dramatically from the Puget Sound area once over the mountains. The Whale handles the mountains in 1st without a problem - just does not seem to shift back easily in to 2nd.  The tall pines on the mountainsides give way to shrubs on flat lands reminiscent of Arizona.  The change is surprising. Soon we enter rolling farmlands of grain, apples, grapes, soybeans, and corn.  Who hasn’t had a delicious Washington apple or some great wine from one of the many small wineries?

The Columbia County Grain Growers are indeed  a masterful lot.  The fields where the grain crop is rotated look like gold and brown patchwork quilt.  Recently cut grain fields sport a maze-like design left by machinery wheels – it defies imagination.  The patterns are likely logical and rational from a harvesting standpoint, but are truly artist from just a visual standpoint.

Routes 124 and 20 are known as the Lewis and Clark trail so we wonder if they found the journey as interesting as we did.  At Dayton we saw a sign that states, “Dayton, Lewis and Clark stopped here to explore, so should you.” [Sorry no picture, on a crowded downtown street and no option for stopping or turning easily].

We pull into Hell’s Gate State Park for the night. It is a great campground – right along the Snake River; spaces are paved but have large grassy areas and huge shade trees.  We set up, have some microwave soups for dinner, work on our itinerary, and then settle in.  John will inaugurate the upper level fold-out hammock tonight.  We’ll see how excited he is about it in the morning!  So, we three sardines in the Whale’s belly bid you good night.


Day #20

Thursday 3 August

Start time:   9:41am                   Mileage:  85,524          Place:  Hell’s Gate State Park, Lewiston, ID

Stop time:   12:00 Midnight       Mileage:  85,820             Place:  Yellowstone National Park,                                                                                                                   Wyoming

Today’s Mileage: 575               Total:   6,211

Average mpg:  18 - 21


Up at 7am to call Yellowstone National Park for a campsite.  Resorting to making phone calls after on-line register was a disaster – the requirement is a 10-day advance reservation. The website gives campground names and the amenities.  Restrooms are close by, but the shower – “pay per sprinkle”  – is unknown.  The operator asks me what RV I have – not the length like everyone else has asked – so I tell her it is a VW Bus Camper.  She gives me a 30’ site in the central camping area.  When talking with “Home Base Bill” he wonders if we can squeeze in there. (Westy is under 15 feet long...)

With a place for the night secured, I wake up the kids. It was a chilly night – just like the time Bill said it was a little damp in our tent when there was 2” of standing water.  (Just for the record, a propane heater was purchased for the trip...for use moving or when camped... it was refused with "it's summer!") Although John likes the “loft-iness” of the upper level hammock, he had to zip up the windows during the night.  We were all a bit chilly and tired. I thought the kids were getting up so I curled up in a blanket to wait for them to get back from the  bathhouse.  I find myself being awakened by John who notes it is 9am!!! Yikes – the plan was to be on the road at 8am.  We break camp and get getting on the long day ahead of us to drive across Idaho and part of Montana to Yellowstone National Park.

We take scenic Route 12 into Missoula, MT, pick up Interstate 90, and exit onto Route 89 into Yellowstone.  Route 12 is absolutely gorgeous as it curves and winds along the Clearwater River.  This drive is worth the curves and turns.

Vince has some interesting info to add about the highways through here... guess it's a good thing the trip was dry:

The "red" roads in Wyoming, Montana, and South Dakota are composed of concrete that has bad bentonite mixed with it.  The below wikipedia site tells a little bit about its uses other than cement.  And how do I know this you ask?
On a previous motorcycle trip to Wyoming and Montana, there was much road construction with parts of the pavement being torn up and filled with a mixture of Bentonite and gravel.  Add a little moisture to this mixture to keep the dust down and it is much like riding a motorcycle on greased ball bearings!  Not a good situation to be in.  I saw a man lay down his Gold Wing on this stuff.  Another downside to this material is that once it dries on a surface, it has tremendous adhesive qualities and is quite resistant to water.  (Sorta like the cement they mix with it)  After a few miles of riding on this wet, slippery stuff, it gets all over.  I mean ALL over.  And if you are new to Bentonite as I was, one sees little need to rush to a hose and get the stuff off and went on my merry way till I found it convenient to rinse off.  No joke, I have soaked and washed, soaked and washed that bike time and time again.  Five years later, there is probably still some bentonite adhered to the inside of the fenders and frame.
One final note about dealing with this stuff.  On another occasion in Montana, I came upon another stretch of this stuff.  Not willing to go through this nightmare again, I motored back into town and went to the nearest tavern.  I asked around if anyone there had a trailer and would be willing to take me and the bike across this stretch of construction.  Five minutes later, a crusty old cowboy pulls up front with his dual wheeled pickup truck hauling a horse trailer.  He asked if I was the guy that needed a lift.  So, I loaded the Harley into the horse trailer, crawled in the cab with he and his wife and we took off across the Bentonite.  Best $20.00 I ever spent.  I highly recommend one do the  same when faced with a similar situation.  In short, when on a motorcycle, bentonite is not your friend.


Spotting a 110 convertible in Orofino, ID, we have to turn around to get a picture. (car corral) Lowell – a one-pump town -  has a declining population according to their Welcome sign.

In Missoula, we spot a Mary Kay pink VW bus-transporter.   Perhaps it needs to be painted black.  Ask Bill about his Mary Kay car!  ;-)

(Allante club research following the death of "Mary Kay" discovered that my 1993 triple black Northstar Allante was actually the "missing" Mary Kay "Mount Laurel Pink" car, the only one of the 6 cars that she retained for her personal use and that our her senior managers. [The other 13 Allantes built for her were hastily repainted before being sold.] My car was apparently titled to one of these execs who sold it to the owner of a Cadillac dealership who had the color so professionally and completely changed to black that it took help from an actual Allante engineer for me to actually find evidence of the pink paint (under an electronics module on an engine frame rail... an area he knew that was painted body color but was unlikely to have been thought of during the color change)

Before: After:


 Outside of Drummond, MT we watch helicopters hauling buckets of liquid – not sure what – to fight the forest fire. Amazing to see the firefighters in action as we quickly drove through the smokey area.  Many thanks to all our firefighters!

 It is now dark and we realize several things: we forgot to adjust the Whale’s “eye balls” so she is cross-eyed and near-sighted;  we are MILES from Yellowstone and no idea of time-distance and Ms. GPS cannot even find Yellowstone National Park in her “system,” (must not be big enough) and finally, we failed to account for the time change – we lost an hour!  UGH!

So, we trudge forward. I remind my navigator-son John that he picked this route!  Reaching the Roosevelt Arch we enter Yellowstone to find the gates wide-open and no one there – of course, it is midnight, but really? No one minding the gates to Yellowstone and to collect the $25 park fee????  We have a national park pass so I am not concerned.  Immediately the roads become rough, steep, and curvy – remember – it is pitch black out here.  I use 1st gear to climb and was switching to 2nd via neutral when - the rpms went up, the speed went down, the red light was on, and the “idiot buzzer” started squawking. Yup, there went the fan belt.  (First time it's thrown warm... so I guess the spring loaded idler isn't infallible and I knew the raised shift point of the PG with the 140 governor would increase the likelihood. Then Marianne tells me that when they changed the belt in Seattle, instead of using the belt that was carefully laid flat and prepared for her use, they picked up one of the new, but tightly coiled belts that I had thrown in as a afterthought.  I think this really demonstrates the need not to coil spare belts as many of us do.) I must not have gotten the acceleration slow enough before shifting. (There is apparently a slight misadjustment of the vale body... but not enough to drop the pan and readjust. Pulling into Drive from neutral, all works well. Pulling into Drive from Low does not get the trans fully in Drive so it won't shift up. So the procedure after manually selected Low is to pull into neutral then back into Drive. She could have easily over-revved the engine and thrown the belt if this wasn't done correctly...)  So John and I trundle to the rear and discuss…. The price of tea in China, how to replace the belt (we all have our own techniques), the design of the idler, and the fan belt system in general.  The belt is not damaged so on she goes. 

 The journey to the campground takes well over an hour through mountains, valleys, twisties, and turnies. In our tiredness, we try to “look on the bright side of life,” (whistle, whistle) as Monty would say. We are sure that Yellowstone is beautiful – if we could only see it – and  by tomorrow morning we find have seen it by night and day! An extra treat! As another car approaches us, it flashes its lights several times. I slow down wondering if they are signaling that they need help or if there is a speed trap ahead. Neither! On the passenger side of the road edge just about a foot from the Whale is a HUGE Bull Elk whose head it at the level of the passenger window – and the Elk is staring at us – nose to nose!  He does not move, but we do!

 We finally get checked in and find the 30’ site nestled high on the mountain and deep in the woods.  The bathrooms are fairly close (only cold water), the showers are 4 miles away, and there is no electricity!  Luckily, we have battery-powered everything. We set up quickly and crawl under our blankets – it is more than chilly tonight. The plan is to get up early (ha) to see Old Faithful and then heads towards Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota.


 UPDATE: In Yellowstone and pulled over for speeding! Uphill even! 58 in a 45? I think still in first gear! Marianne denies 58mph... I say "tell it to the Journal"! ;-)


Day #21

Friday 4 August

Start time:   7:30am                   Mileage:  85,820          Place:  Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming


Stop time:   10:37pm                Mileage:  86,413          Place:  Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota

Today’s Mileage:  593  Total:   6,804                Added remaining ½ quart oil from change

Average mpg:  18 - 20


Today we experienced the “highs” and “lows” of Yellowstone. We get up early and are on our way to see Old Faithful. Well, almost.  Seems the Whale does not like the chilly mornings either and she “burps” the fan belt.  We re-rig and restart.

The sights along the way are fantastic – the geysers, hot springs, meadows, and rock formations.  Words cannot describe them and pictures don’t do them justice. You have to see and feel for yourself.  This is a place to come back again. Well, until the  “stop.”

We have just climbed a big incline in 1st gear and the Whale had just shifted automatically into 2nd as we crest the hill.  The speed limit had been 35mph and I did not see any signs. The road ahead was straight as an arrow – one of a few sections in the entire park.  I am just starting down and I see a white truck – “stealth ranger” – parked on the opposite side of the road. I look at the speedo and we are doing 45 on the nose.  I go past.  He pulls out and follows me for a while, presumably checking out the historic MD tags,  and then turns on the  “blueberries and cherries.”  Note; I have a clean driving record – very boring. I pull over wondering if he is stopping me for not having a park pass in the windscreen.  He strolls up to the passenger window – what’s with that? – and informs me that I was doing “58.”  I blurted out “You have got to be kidding! In this?”  He informs me that radar does not lie and asks for the usual paper.  He comes back and asks if I am vacationing in the park and if this (referring to John and Katherine) was my family.  I confirm our purpose and their status.  He informs me again that I was speeding; and I explain that one “feels” it when doing almost 60 and that I surely was not doing almost 60. He tells me that he is from Germantown, MD; not to argue with him; and that he was not giving me a ticket, just a warning.  He also informs me that the muffler looks like it is dragging.


What to make of this?


We get to Old Faithful and wait about 40 minutes before it erupts. It is worth the wait and the warm sun feels good.


In the parking lot, we look at the now-cooled muffler and find the brackets held together by a bolt, have separated.  We decide the easiest thing to do is – get out the wire and wire her up!  Wired and ready, we  head out  - almost.


There is a huge pile up of cars ahead.  As we get closer we see herd of about 25 buffalo and thee of them are in the road –stalled. Cars on both sides are stopping to take pictures. The buffalo don’t budge.  Finally, the largest one crosses the road, and cars can squeak through.  We take some pictures as we go by.


It seems like Yellowstone goes on forever and we cannot get out of the park! Then we really can’t get out.  The East entrance construction is daunting. A “pilot car” leads us over miles of rough road that twists and turns going down the mountain.  Not fun and we lose about an hour and a half.


We curved and swerved with the Shoshone River and saw cliffs, rock formations, canyons, and landscape that were breathtaking.  Some tidbits from traveling through Wyoming :  the Continental divide is at 8,262 feet above sea level;  Granite Pass is 9,033 feet above sea level; after Granite Pass sections of Route 14 and I 90 are red concrete; Shell, WY has a population of 50 and has its own Post Office; and Elmer, WY with a population of 10 also has its own Post office.


Did I mention the reason we are hurrying out is to get ahead of the thousands of Harleys that are descending on Sturgis, South Dakota a few miles up the road from Ellsworth.  My brother Vinny alerted us to timing of Sturgis, the “invasion” of Harleys, and no hotels or campsites for days and miles along I-90.  Since leaving Washington, we have seen as increasing number of Harleys heading east. We smile and wave.  At one gas stop, a Harley guy was watching John as he checked the Whale’s oil.  The guy wondered “what was in there?”  and was extremely impressed with the “110” – as he put it – and just smiled.  He understood.  Air cooled – the way the go.


We arrive at Ellsworth AFB earlier than expected and despite being told the camp was full, we go see for ourselves, and find a vacant site – complete with electricity and hot showers. Life is good.

Day #22

Saturday 5 August

Start time:   9:57am                   Mileage: 86,413           Place:  Ellsworth Air Force Base,                                                                                                         South Dakota

Stop time:   10:17pm                Mileage:  86,904            Place:  Sunset Inn, Worthington, MN

Today’s Mileage:  491  Total:   7,295

Average mpg:  17 - 18


We wake up to the low rumble of the Harleys heading out. What a neat wake up call.  After a nice long, hot shower and some morning conversation with the Camp Host and some bikers, we head out for gas and food supply (commissary) run.

 The road to Mount Rushmore is a steep incline followed by a steep grade (10%) and another incline – all with curves and high gusty winds.  The roadside wind sock is out straight!  The Whale is “swimming” against the (air) current.  Of course, the Whale’s precise aerodynamics – a slightly rounded box on wheels – are not a plus for handling.  We fight the wind and gusts that move us half-a-lane over.  Such fun.

As we drive along we are surrounded by hundreds of Harleys, but this is no match for what we find when we descend into the little town just before the climb up to Rushmore.  There are HUNDREDS and HUNDREDS of Harleys lining both sides of the street and overfilling every parking lot. It is overwhelming. And this is not even Sturgis!!!!  It is way cool.  On the way back through we take pictures and stop to buy Sturgis gear.  This turns out to be a cool, one-time experience, unplanned experience for us. It was an honor to be a small part of such a neat event and such good folks.

From John Moody: "Should you wonder, Wash Post yesterday mentioned 600,000 bikers at Sturgis..."



First glances of Mount Rushmore are not what I expected – it seemed small.  However, once we walked through state flag-lined columns and into the viewing terrace my impression soon changed. We took the trail to get different views and perspectives.  This was something I have always wanted to see.  An extra treat was a Native American group, ARIO, playing in the open area.  The music is traditional, yet contemporary. I buy their CD and listen as we drive along I 90. Really neat.


Now for the boring part – I 90.  This part of South Dakota is very flat and very windy. We move along as with frequent “blowovers.” My hands are clenched on the steering wheel while I watch the “waving wheat” and brush for clues of the wind’s intensity as there are not any trees.  It is slow and torturous.  The only fun part is watching all the bikers heading west to Sturgis.

I – 90 has frequent “road closed” signs that are in place, just in case.  The first of a two-sign set that gets repeated along I 90 states, “Road closed. Return to {insert name of town}.”  The next sign states “Road closed. $1000 fine or six months jail” and is next to a set of opposing rail-road track-like arms that descend across the road. The “return to” towns likely profit from the returning travelers and although it is summer, we hope that we do not encounter any of these road closures. We encounter numerous work zones. Seems all the Midwest states, just like Illinois, have two seasons – winter and construction.

Today we are prepared for the upcoming time zone change. However, though we were aware of potential problems with getting place to stay, we decided that Minnesota was probably far enough to miss the “Sturgis” effect. Wrong.  For the first time on this trip I did not call ahead to a campground or hotel, as we decided that we would drive as far as I could handle to make today a shorter day. 

This was ironic because last night I was working diligently on the journal, email, and sending pictures (one at a time) – all time consuming, but fun. I was watching the time on my laptop that has been “stuck” on eastern time and that I had not changed it. So at 4:15am – 1:15am EST – I shut down the computer.  Imagine my surprise when I checked my battery-operated, non-digital clock and it is really 4:15am!   I crawled into bed last night and, of course, could not sleep.  

Marianne must have been tired because one of the pictures was labeled "mpunt rushmajkoire"

We stop at Sioux Falls to find we have passed a possible campground  (KOA) and that the two major hotels are full.  Driving another hour plus further, we get to Worthington where a campground might be a possibility, but we decide to just find  place or drive on.  After two “full” hotels we consult with Ms. GPS – remember her?  She could not find Yellowstone National Park (not if you don't ask the right question... ;-) ).  She finds several hotels within the local area, so John starts calling. After five calls, he finds the Sunset Inn.  Sounds a bit shaky, but turns out ok – after all there are Harleys lined up outside!

Day #23

Sunday 6  August

Start time:   9:50am                   Mileage: 86,904           Place:  Sunset Inn, Worthington, MN

Stop time:  7:40 pm                  Mileage:  87,415            Place:   Fish Lake Beach Campground, Volo, IL

Today’s Mileage: 412               Total:  7,807 (Guess my initial estimate of 7500 miles was WAY off...)

Average mpg:  16 – 18

Today was a “just drive” day. Took Interstate 90 & 94 all the from Worthington, MN to Jefferson, WI where we dropped off John who will take a flight back to California. We miss his company.

Minnesota’s section of I 90 has gusty winds, flat terrain, and is exceedingly bumpy – though somewhat rhythmic in the bumpiness.  We past two windmill “farmettes” – one with 3 windmills and the other with 6 – that are whirling in the wind.   In Oklahoma they have windmills farms with lots of windmills. Not sure why we have not yet fully harnessed the wind as a power source. At least Minnesota is trying. With all the wind we have been through in the past few days, we could have powered NYC!  

Minnesota also gets mention for being the second state where the “bug count” on the windscreen exceeded the square inch area of the windscreen itself. UGH!  We even caught a huge monarch butterfly in the wiper blade frame; we got it loose but are unsure of its survival.  We also sight a flock of about 40 wild turkeys – live ones; not the bottled ones.

We turn 87,000 near Minnesota Lake, Minnesota and we also get 93 octane petrol in Austin!  The Whale should be happier. However, she also “burps” the fan belt once again; this time on starting up after a gas stop.

As we were hoping that Katherine would not notice the signs for Wisconsin Dells, the traffic comes to a complete halt.  I do not “do” stop-and-go” highway traffic well; neither does the Whale.  (The hot idle in gear continues to be uneven...might be time to go through the carbs... I've checked and adjusted just about everything else...) We quickly exit and John finds some secondary roads that– you guessed it – bring us into the Dells.  

About three-fourths of the way though the main “Dell-drag,” Katherine spies the Trojan horse go-cart track that we all rode when we lived in Wisconsin.  Needless to say, Bill and Katherine have an on-going go-cart competition (Katherine cheats... too skinny...) and no matter where we are, no go-cart track is left untested.  The “car disease” is contagious and we are all seriously afflicted – just ask the rest of the family.

After the “detour,” we head are back on I 94 and moving along. After we drop off John, Katherine returns as navigator. She relies on Ms. GPS – who speaks with a British accent (We tried the full array of languages... Italian is lots of fun but not very informative if you don't speak the language... so Katherine decided on the "English-UK" setting... she sounds much more annoyed than the "English-US" voice when she say "off route- recalculating!")  – much more than John or I.  Apparently, she knows how to ask the “right question.”  ;-)

 We head to a campground near Volo, Illinois – yes, Volo with the HUGE car museum. Guess where we will be stopping in the next day or so!  Settling in, we eat our microwaved dinner and are reacquainted with how bad the mosquitoes can be.  Not a pleasant re-acquaintance.


Day #24

Monday 7 August

Start time:   NA                        Mileage: 87,416           Place:  Fish Lake Beach, Volo, IL

Stop time:   NA                        Mileage:  NA                Place:  Wauconda, IL – David & Darlene’s

Today’s Mileage:  NA            Total:   7,807

Average mpg:  NA

 Last night, in addition to the pesky mosquitoes, we had pesky camp-neighbors until late hours.  We become acquainted with “David” when we were checking in as his mom was yelling at him to come in from the water – she had ice cream for him if he came in. Hopefully this brief encounter with “yelling mom” was over, however, we were unpleasantly surprised to find “yelling mom” and “David” as our camp-neighbors – and the yelling continued.  So much for a quiet night.

We each have different plans for today; Katherine is spending the day with Jenna and Emily, her friends from school; I am doing the “chores.”  I drop Katherine off; fill up the tank (93 again!) and check the oil and head to the Laundromat where I fill up four washers. I am working on email until two children come by ask to see pictures of dogs, so we spend time looking for dog pictures via goggle. You don’t want to know how many sites you can find with dog pictures – way too many.  While I am folding my pile of laundry, the guy across from me asks, “Is that your VW with the MD tags”?  So we spend however long it takes to fold four washers full of clothes talking about the VairVW.  He was wearing a Porsche T-shirt. He told me about his journeys across the USA and how he would like to do that again.  He is in awe of our trip and the Vair engine propelling the Whale swimmingly across the various terrains.  He enjoyed the “tales” and wished us the best. 

I visit my Dad’s lady friend, Georgia and then have to pick up Katherine. (Buzz is already scheduled to fly out to IL for a few weeks' visit next month!)


Buzz and Georgia

But, WHOA! The Whale is unhappy.  After parking her in a nice shady parking spot, I spend about an hour sitting under shady tree at the Lake County park eating a hunk of goat cheese and a hard roll and reading.  Upon starting, the Whale throws the fan belt. THAT’S IT for this fan belt. I take it off – no damage – and lay it flat under the back cushion, and replace it with the flat belt that I should have put on back in Renton, WA.   I am getting quite good at this – not a good sign!  (Marianne also reports seeing some aluminum shavings from the alloy springloaded idler... if it keeps throwing the belt we may revert to the fixed stock idler which she's carrying with her. I'm curious to examine the alloy idler when she returns...) But WHOA again. Now the Whale is even more unhappy. She is sputtering and hesitating; I can’t keep the revs up and she falters and stalls. 

After a roadside stop and a call to Bill with me stumbling through explanations of what is and is not happening, he figures it is a vacuum leak. But where. Bill has an encyclopedic knowledge of Corvairs – I do not – even after a weekend of Bill’s pre-trip car clinic.  I stumble through following his directions.  I check the “usual suspects” (engine is too hot for her to easily check the most likely "usual suspects"... as I understand it, some people actually avoid burns to their hands and arms!... and since I know it's drivable, I tell her to wait until morning for a better examination.) but the engine is hot, the afternoon sun is hot on the roadside, and I am getting “hot,”  so I decide to get to my final destination (about 3 miles away) and look at things in the  morning when everything is cooler.  Meanwhile, Bill was in contact with Rich Carroll, a friend and Corvair guy in the area here (as well as former rally driver who once (1968) ran against Paddy Hopkirk and his Monte Carlo winning Mini Cooper S... and my former racing partner), just in case I needed help in the morning.


We are staying with friends, David and Darlene, our neighbors when we lived here.  David asks when the last time we had a home cooked meal was. After thinking about it, I realized it was about 24 days ago. David and Darlene prepare a wonderful Midwest meal of “steak and potatoes.”  Was great to have a great meal with great people.  Afterwards, ice cream sundaes were a treat. 


Day #25

Tuesday 8  August

Start time:   NA                        Mileage:  87,416          Place:  Wauconda, IL – David & Darlene’s

Stop time:  NA                         Mileage:  87,618          Place:  Wauconda, IL – David & Darlene’s

Today’s Mileage: 202               Total:   8,009

Average mpg:  19                     Added 5th Qt Oil at 87,618 (but first after the oil change in Seattle)

I head out to the Vair, pull out my tool box, clamps, bolts, etc. and set to figuring out the problem.  I re-check all the things from yesterday before calling Bill. In the meantime, David rounds up a couple friends who might be able to help.  Picture this – I am there with my head in the engine compartment and there a three guys standing around drinking coffee and wondering.  Comical.  Actually, one of them was an experienced diesel mechanic who determined that one starts plugging things to check for vacuum leaks.  I decided not to do anything until I talked with Bill.  So goes another “fixing by fone” episode.  I take the air filters off to see and feel the vacuum hoses that go from the carbs to the balance tube (the real "most likely suspects"... even though these hoses were fresh) and find that I could push the right one on about ¼”.  Bill seemed to think that was “IT.” A test drive around the neighborhood was  good – no sputtering or stalling.  I call Rich and let him know I think I have solved the problem.

I had already planned to stop by “The Vair Shop,”   Larry Claypool’s (world's premier Corvair expert AND well known collector of strange little cars...  ) world-renowned shop and car collection as part of our trip through Illinois.  Now I am glad to have an expert confirm the “fix” is  fixed.  Luckily, Larry is there.

We meet John, who later told us  he wondered why a VW  was pulling in.  Once he looked in the engine compartment, he knew.  Larry confirmed the hose problem (I used the same size hose that was on the engine AND that I use on all my Corvairs, but when hot this particular hose was expanding and getting pretty loose on the fittings... possibly the cause of my intermittent bad idle all along...) and replaced the hoses from the back (or front?) of carbs to the balance tube with  a “secret weapon.”   He also attended to the exhaust pipe that we held up by wire (a previous Yellowstone parking lot repair).  All is good now  - “Vair Shop approved.”  Heading to the Vair Shop was the best value for $4 in tolls!  Larry and Bill with “settle up” the details later – I am sure it will be creative.    

(Larry is "good people" and we admire and adore him and his wonderful family. Neither the Corvair world (nor the microcar world) could hope for a better expert and representative. Larry is routinely sought out by the press for comments on various subjects and has done an awesome job of correcting the perceptions of our oft-misunderstood Corvairs.

His place is also somewhere that I like Marianne to visit often. A lot of my car friends bring their wives over to meet me and look at my cars... with the implied message: "see honey, be glad that I only play with the cars I do... I could be a nutcase like Elliott...."... I have few friends that can do the same for me... and Larry is one of them. His collection far eclipses anything I could ever even aspire to! The downside is that he is so much better organized and uncluttered than I am that the visit is often just "a wash"... with Marianne being glad that I don't have as many cars but wishing I would keep my garages looking like Larry's...)


With Rich (and Grandson Dom, a serious budding car nut... inevitable considering the genes!) stopping by for a visit we had the starts of a Corvair convention.

Many thanks to everyone for being there for the "Vair"!


After losing the address to our destination, several phone calls, and consulting Ms. GPS (who took us on the long route to a nearby location), we finally arrive at Triple Z’s Martial Arts – the Tae Kwon Do school we used to attend.  They are in a new location and it is beautiful.  We visit with Mr. Brian,  Miss Sue, Miss Shannon, and Mr. Matt – all Black Belts and, more importantly, outstanding martial artists and instructors.  With moves to different states, we have attended several  TKD schools; this one is beyond the best! We miss them all, but keep them close in our thoughts.

Katherine with 4 of the "3 Z's"!

Marianne, Katherine, and the "3 Z's"!


Day #26

Wednesday 9 August

Start time: 9:35am Mileage: 87,618 Place: Wauconda, IL -David & Darlenes

Stop time: 7:16pm Mileage: 88,070 Place: Columbus, OH - Joannes

Today’s Mileage: 433         Total: 8,461

Average mpg: 19 - 21

We depart David and Darlene’ with more fun memories. David, a computer expert with his own business, made a slide show for us. The CD documents their March 2006 visit and our “whirlwind” tour of Washington, DC and Arlington cemetery. David was truly moved by seeing Washington and all of its monuments and history. He wants to come back and see the Smithsonian. Many thanks for the CD; it is beautiful and so thoughtful.

We head to the Volo Car Museum to take pictures outside as we do not have time to tour it.

Then we start our “drive day” to Columbus, Ohio. All goes well with the basic route through Illinois. As usual, there is a lot of constriction and heavy traffic, but at least it is moving. At one point, the Whale is in between two 18-wheelers that are moving right along. I am usually able to avoid this situation, but not this time. I yell to Katherine – “I don’t like being the Oreo cream filling in a truck cookie sandwich!” She laughs.

Crossing Indiana is less than interesting. Some thoughts that came to mind: flat, lots an lots of corn fields, Indiana wants me, Lord I can’t go back there, Indianapolis 500, my 4-H trip to Indianapolis for a 4-H trip for state horticulture competition (no laughing), Eli Lilly, Gary Indiana, Gary Indiana, and the home state of one of our nannies, Lisa.

Traffic comes to a complete standstill just before Indianapolis so we quickly jump off the upcoming exit and plot a detour. My navigator Katherine  is in the back seat downloading pictures and sending them to Bill. I am better with the maps anyway so I find several byways to get us around Indianapolis. Lost time, but the scenery was a bit more varied.

We turn the odometer 88,000 just past Dayton, Ohio and encounter a small shower. There have been only two other times this trip we have encountered the smallest and briefest of showers.

Once again we got caught in the time warp. We knew that a time change was coming, but thought it was between Ohio and Pennsylvania. Wrong! Now we are an hour later than we hoped.

Arriving at Joanne’s ( Katherine’s Aunt and Godmother) we head out to dinner at Vito’s with Jennifer (sister and Aunt) and her daughter, Christina. We sit outside as it is a beautiful, cool evening. With four different cameras, LOTS of pictures were taken.


Joanne heads off to work (supervisor for the Post Office)  and I start up the Whale to move her into the back driveway. After silencing the “idiot buzzer” for start-up and then releasing it, it continues to buzzzzzzzzzzz. I check and the fan belt is off. I notice there are more rough edges on the left side of the idler pulley and a few more shavings. It is dark and even with the nifty engine compartment light that Bill installed I cannot see well enough with the shadows, but I think the pulley may be rubbing on the bolt head behind it. I decide to leave it there until morning and then look again. I call Bill and wake him (it is 11pm and Bill has to be up at 5am!) to ask for advice. He agrees that I should look further in the morning and go from there; noting that I have a fixed (stock) pulley in my spare parts that I can swap in. Morning will tell.

I check email and see some amusing notes from the folks that email Bill. I think the following one is most appropriate:

“A Corvair in motion tends to remain in motion. A Corvair at rest tends to remain at rest."
(Apologies to Mr. Newton)

Next: New York and Homeward Bound


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