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The Year 1999 in Review
Martha and I put over 8,000 miles on the MGA this year. We got the engine put together 3 days before the Heartland Regional in June, and with about 300 miles on the engine and overdrive transmission we left with the rest of the Flatwater Caravan for St. Joseph, MO. The run down Route 7 was as delightful as always, although the eatery we had planned to utilize had closed.
The field on the courthouse lawn in St. Jo. was a beautiful venue for a car show - the view of the show from the top of the hill was spectacular. As always we had several local winners, including, but not necessarily limited to, Marvin Marshall, Steve Espelund, Leo Thietje, Jerry Trainer and Dan Forehead. We shared a few buckets with the Kansas City area Triumph drivers, were blessed with the company of Miss Lizzy at the banquet and were honored with the presence of John Twist in our unofficial hospitality suite. But the real award for valor should go to Ryan Ries and Renae Drewel who drove a newly installed and untested overdrive transmission in their almost equally new (to them) and untested B. They made it back, after losing a heater hose, by filling the radiator with their drinking water and with water from a rain gutter. Renae is reported to have kept smiling throughout it all. It is interesting that such reports of Ryan were omitted from the tale.
There were several drives into the country and club events, including Fish in Union and the Marshall's annual 4th of July bash (yes, there were loud explosions, yes there were car alarms going off about 5 blocks away, yes the police did visit and yes the fireworks at near by Rosenblatt Stadium were spectacular) and then, with about 1200 miles on the drive train, the tour of the year commenced.
On July 6th,with the party behind us, we were back on the road with the Marshalls and the Espelunds, for a two week and 4200 mile trip to the coast of Oregon, by way of Dannebrog, Carhenge, Chadron, Lusk, Jackson Hole, Mountain Home, Boise, Cottage Grove, Coos Bay, Florence, Boise, Rawlins, Saratoga, the Snowy Range, and Olie's Big Game Lounge in Paxton.
Sports car driver's nightmare!
At each stop a conversation similar to this occurred: "Yes it is an MGA. It is a '57. We are going to the Oregon Coast (Later changed to we have been to the Oregon Coast and are returning to Lincoln, Nebraska.) Yes, they are great cars. A number of people did sell theirs, and we almost sold this one when the kids were smaller, but luckily we did hold on to it. No, we have not had any major problems. Yes, we do drive them frequently. I don't know, what leftover parts do you have, and how much do you want for them?"
While on the trip we learned a few lessons. Spare fuel filters are a good idea. A spare generator might be OK as well, as are spare ignition parts. Take an extra coil THAT HAS BEEN TESTED before you leave. Do not leave the extra distributor cap on the workbench.
The mountains are more spectacular when they are viewed from an open car. The coastal highway is best viewed from an open car. The people in the western half of the United States are still friendly and trusting, almost beyond belief. It is good, occasionally, to ride with someone else in their car and for their partner to ride with your partner in your car; cabin fever can occur in an open MG after 1500 miles. Unless the difficulty is really major, Red Green is right. You can fix most anything with a little wire and the handy man's friend-duct tape!
The voyage, on the whole, was good. All involved would travel together again, although we did need a break between excursions. In fact we may endeavor to trek together again next summer. Talk is of going east. We may well be dining on crab cakes in Maryland next summer.
A week after our return the club had scheduled a show at the Strategic Air Command Museum that was followed by a short tour to an ice cream parlour in Springfield, NE. A combination of terrible heat and humidity, uncooperative schedules and LBCs in need of repair conspired to keep the attendance low, but those able to attend reported extreme enjoyment. Thanks again, Jerry and Nancy Needham, for organizing the event.
In early August, some of our number drove west on a tour with the Motor Patrol. Save for some rain at the beginning, a traditional part of the Motor Patrol's August activity, the weather was beautiful. The voyagers breakfasted at the Kochs in Milford and then drove to Cozad, where they established a "home base." From there they drove to North Platte, where they toured the Bailey Yard (rail yard of the Union Pacific), and Buffalo Bill Cody's Scouts Rest Ranch and Museum. Additionally, there were tours along the south side of the Platte River. We are told that the excursion maintained the tradition of 20 miles per gallon and 50 miles per meal, all of which were reported to be quite good.
Labor Day weekend means the Kansas City All British, and a good party at the Marriott. The drive down was memorable for the very heavy rains. We, who drive LBCs, expect a bit of moisture when we drive, but many of us were enduring demonstrations of Bernoulli's principle not previously experienced by man.
Your reporter and FWAHC President Marshall also experienced a strong dose of humility when walking from his room to mine with a bottle of scotch and a bottle of bourbon, both open, in hand. As we walked past the desk we were wished a good evening by the desk crew. We understand that as we advance in middle age we are no longer viewed with fear and trembling, but to be viewed as HARMLESS? That is almost unbearable. Among the class winners were Steve Witt, Jerry Trainer, and Jim Stork, with Leo Thietje and Ken Grant also taking awards. The drive home was dry, but Ben Anderson's Sterling made intimate acquaintance with a large dog. The dog died and the Sterling came home on the hook. Score it Sterling 0, Dog 0.
The final driving event of the year was the October Loess Hills Fun Run put on by the Nebraska Triumph Drivers. As always, the event began in Council Bluffs, IA at the KMart and ended in Council Bluffs at the Pizza King Restaurant, with a pleasant drive to the park in Logan, IA in between. The weather was wonderful, the scenery was great, and the fellowship was warm. Thanks, Don and Chuck, for a wonderful event.
The leaves have changed and are falling, and the days are getting shorter. Each cool morning reminds us that the time is short until the snow and salt drive us inside for another winter. As we sit by the fire and view the photographs of the year's events we will feel the warm glow experienced while driving a British sportscar yet again. We will be grateful for another successful driving season, and we will begin to dream of the year to come. Two thousand is going to be a great driving year.
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