December 18, 2017

Farm Sex

Posted on October 16, 2012 by in Urban Acres

Farm Sex

Farm Sex……..Mistakes Happen

Sex down on the farm has been fast and furious in the chicken yard.  A few days ago Annabelle and I were sitting around a bonfire in the back near the chicken house when we heard a commotion. Several of the roosters were having their way with a small brown hen.

All of a sudden Annabelle started hollering and jumping up and down.

It seems that one of the chickens that we thought was a hen is actually a rooster.  I assured Annabelle that we were down to two roosters, and it turns out that we actually have four. We started watching closer and a large gold feather footed chicken that my daughter named Gigantor, who was supposed to be a rooster, is actually a HUGE hen.  Now that we think we have them all sexed correctly, the correct count is four roosters and eleven hens for a total flock of fifteen.Gigantor

Gigantor  …  Does this look like a hen to you?

I did some research on the (I KNOW IT ALL internet) and here is what I came up with: You can hold the chicks up by the scruff of the neck (like you’d hold a baby kitten) and let their feet dangle. It claims the males will pull their legs up while the females will always leave their legs dangling. That was very interesting, but my chickens are grown, so I looked a little further and came up with this: Do they have long, wispy, pointed feathers just above the tail (saddle feathers)?

Problem:  We have trimmed the feathers on one side so they can’t fly out of the pen, so I guess we have to ask them to turn to the other side so we can verify their sex. Ok, I got to confess, this sex on the farm problem has come up before and Annabelle has never let me live it down.

Many years ago when my kids were small they watched the movie “City Slickers“,  and they saw Billy Crystal help on a cattle drive and deliver a calf, which he called Norman.  Afterwards they all wanted a Norman to look after, and being a good Dad, I tried to make it happen.

Annabelle and I went to the old Algoa Auction barn, and a small calf came into the ring alone.  I swear that the auctioneer didn’t say what the sex of the calf was, and we were seated up in the nose bleed section, and my glasses were fogged over, so I told Annabelle that the calf was a heifer.  She let me buy it for $40.00, and it wasn’t till we had paid for it and had it tied down in the bed of the truck that I learned that it was in fact a bull calf.Hen ? Rooster Photo

This chicken was believed to be a hen, He is actually a rooster.

Annabelle chortled and guffawed all of the way home and she has told this tale far and wide for the last twenty years.  Since that time my sexing of animals qualifications has always been called into question.  But we all thought the gold feather footed chicken was a rooster, it wasn’t just ME.

Newt

 

 

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Seeing God’s Country ……. Fun Trips

Posted on August 28, 2012 by in God's Country

Seeing God’s Country ……. Fun Trips

 Fun Trips

Freight has not been moving very well lately and I’ve had a couple of weeks in dry dock, so I decided to write about some of our more memorable trips we’ve taken.

Pensacola Beach

Pensacola Beach, Florida is a beautiful resort town and we were fortunate enough to get a run there.  Back then we were driving Ole Gray, a 1999 Dodge 2500 diesel with a pipe rack on it.  The Boss actually bought this truck for me after I retired and it already had 95,000 miles on it.  Now don’t get me wrong, for a Cummins diesel motor this is just about break in mileage, so it was a heck of a deal.  It had a five speed standard transmission and what they called a quad cab design.  The back bench seat was about 12″ wide, and hard as a chunk of concrete, but we managed to sleep on it when we had too.  It was later sold with 438,000 miles on the odometer.  It was a damn good truck!

Pensacolla Beach

But back to the story… I had never been to Florida, and we were both excited to make this trip.  I had been to the Pacific Ocean on a motorcycle vacation trip once, but the Boss hadn’t ever seen anything but the Gulf of Mexico. We loaded the material on the pipe rack and headed out on our exciting journey.  As I recall it was a straight through drive, so we had to drive all through the day and most  of the night to get there, so we arrived bone tired.  We arrived at about 6:00am CST, and we couldn’t deliver the load till 8:00am EST.  I would like to mention that the drive along IH-10 across the Florida Panhandle is a long desolate haul.  There are very few fuel stops or towns along the way.  I noticed that there were call boxes about every half mile to call for help if you broke down.  These were left over from a time when cell phones didn’t exist.  We didn’t have any problems, so I don’t know if they still worked or not.

Pensacola Beach

We found the drop point and it was near the beach, so I told the Boss that if she wanted to go see the beach, we could drive over there and I would take a little nap.  She agreed and we found a parking lot just off the sand and we walked around to check it out.  I had watched a lot of Miami Vice and seen pictures on the TV, but when they said that the sand was a white powder, they were really telling the truth.  I’ve walked on the sand in Galveston before and it packs when you step on it, but this stuff never packed down, and it was like walking on volcanic ash.  Each step was laborious, and we didn’t go too far.  There were two beach patrol officers sitting in a four wheel drive Ford SUV, and an ATV.  Since it was in the winter time the beach was empty, but they were there just in case I guess.

Pensacola Beach

The most unusual thing I found was that the water was an aquamarine green.  I had never seen water so beautiful and so green.  There was no brown in it like the water in Galveston, Texas.  Down the beach a ways was a long pier that stretched out over the water for about half a mile.  It was a wooden pier, but appeared to be in good repair.

That’s saying something because the reason we were there was to deliver some high dollar copper pipe to repair some apartments that had been damaged by a recent hurricane.  Parts of the town were still showing signs of damage, and some of it was closed off to public traffic, but the beach was open, and was strikingly beautiful.  We sat there for a while and saw two tractors with big balloon tires go by dragging beach sweeping rakes to drag any debris off the sand.  Apparently the city fathers understand that the beach attracts the tourist’s dollars, so they went about cleaning and maintaining it first, after the storm passed. Most of the tourist places were closed for the winter season, so we didn’t stay too long, but given the opportunity to go again, I’d sign up for that trek in a heartbeat.  I’m sure that during the summer months that it’s a great vacation spot with a lot of fun things to see and do.

Miami

When the call came in for this run I was tremendously excited. Being a big fan of Miami Vice in the eighties, I expected to see skimpily clad women and Cuban cocaine dealers hanging out on every street corner. My kind of trip!

The load was a crate that was supposed to weigh 3200 pounds and be 48″ wide by eight feet long.  I went to pick it up and it turned out to be 4800 pounds and 50″ wide.  When the forklift operator put it in the bed of the Wonder truck I heard a crunch. When I looked in the bed, I saw that the inside fender wells had been smashed flat by the excess width and weight.  The wonder truck has a suspension enhancement system on it, so the springs didn’t collapse, and the tires seemed fine.

Miami Beach

I said to myself, “what the heck, the damage is done now”, I might as well haul the load and get paid for it.  I didn’t mention this to the Boss till we were well on our way, and she wasn’t pleased.  After that, I now make sure to verify the weight and dimensions of all the loads I haul.

Experience is a hard teacher some times.

 I hit the load/haul button on the Wonder Truck’s transmission, activated the jake brake, and off we went.  The crate filled up the entire bed of the truck, but it didn’t catch too much wind, so I got reasonable mileage. We made it to Florida without any problems, and then made the turn to go south all the way to Miami.  The Boss is the navigator, and she wisely made the decision to get us on the toll road that travels south from IH-10 to Miami.  The trip is long, but we didn’t have any problems, and we got there on time because of it. The delivery point was a freight station where they accept freight, send it through customs inspection and then it’s forwarded overseas.  We had about a two hour wait to get unloaded, and I had a communication problem because the receiving clerk spoke minimal English, and a lot of Cuban.  I sat waiting, listening to the other drivers chattering in Cuban. Not understanding a single word, I felt embarrassed for not having taken Spanish in high school when I had the chance.

Miami Beach

When I got unloaded I was able to see the damage to the Wonder Truck and it wasn’t pretty.  The truck was still very new at that time and I felt bad for getting it damaged.  The load was delivered and it was now sightseeing time.  The Boss directed me around and we saw all the waterfront cafés and eateries that we had seen on TV many times.  Something I had never noticed before was that all the outside dining tables had green overhangs on them to block the sun. They had a water misting system attached to them to cool the patrons as they ate or drank coffee.  It was kinda like the supermarkets do to the vegetables in the produce section. Weird, but necessary I guess.

We wanted a hotel room that faced the ocean because we don’t get to Florida very often. The one we found had a small elevated U-shaped driveway where you parked and went inside to check into the hotel.  I parked the truck and left the motor running with the Boss inside the cab.  Apparently they move your vehicle if the traffic gets backed up, because when I came back out my truck had been moved, and the Boss was very excited about it. She said a handsome Cuban man just got into the truck and moved it farther down the driveway.  I was highly annoyed but the Boss assured me that the young man was very polite and took great pains to assure her that she would be OK.

I think maybe she was a little happy to be in the company of what she described as a very handsome young man. 

The hotel was very expensive, $250.00, for one night.  It was a nice hotel, but once you got up into the room you could tell that it was very old, and was in the process of being renovated.  Our room was nice and faced the beach.  We took a nap, and by the time we woke up it was nighttime, and a lot of the beach and pool amenities were closed for the day.  We put on our swim suits and made it down to the beach any way. We found that for about fifty feet the green Atlantic water was choked with sea weed.  We braved the sea shrubbery and waded out into the water, but it was quite cold, so we didn’t stay long.  The pool was closed for the night so we couldn’t swim there either.  We gave up swimming, got us a bite to eat at a Cuban sandwich shop and went back to bed.

On the way back, we took a route that took us along the west side of the Florida peninsula.  We saw many small towns and tourist traps.  By this time I had run out of cigars, so the Boss went  about finding me a smoke shop.  We stopped at this little place and the clerk sold us a few cigars, and then I jokingly asked if he had any Cuban cigars? He said he did and that they were $15.00 each.  I didn’t dare spend that much on one cigar, but the Boss decided otherwise.

She went back inside and bought me a Cuban Monte Christo cigar.  The band read Hecha de Cuba (Made in Cuba).  I saved that cigar for almost a year because I decided I wanted to smoke it after my youngest daughter’s wedding.  We made our way back home without any problems.  The sightseeing in Florida was great, but make sure you bring plenty money if you intend to stay in Miami.  All in all we had a great time and I don’t know if that cigar was really made in Cuba or not, but by the time I smoked it, it really didn’t matter.

Possibly smoking a REAL Cuban cigar after walking your baby daughter down the aisle… life just doesn’t get any better than that.

The

Working Tourist

 

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URBAN ACRES

Posted on August 28, 2012 by in Man Cave, Urban Acres

OFF TO MARKET …… WELL NOT REALLY

The time has finally come to thin the flock down to a more manageable number.  The feed bill has been sky high with the flock going through a twenty five pound bag of grower feed about every five days.  They have been eating like horses, and Annabelle said that we needed to do something.  Between her and my daughter, I’m afraid that she has fallen in love with some of the chickens, so I had to get her to help me sort them out.  My daughter found someone in Brazoria county that was willing to take our excess chickens, since there were no longer enough left to take them to market. It was decided that we would get rid of five of the smaller ones.

Off ti Market Chickens

I got me a wire coat hanger and bent it as a catching tool with a hook on the end and went out to the chicken yard.  I was so happy that Annabelle wanted to help me sort them out.  The weather was humid and I thought that it might rain.  We got out the lawn tractor and trailer and I found an old wire dog box to use, so we could transport the chickens. Me and Annabelle worked together to hem the flock into a corner, so I could reach down and grab them, (the clothes hanger hook idea didn’t work).  She chose some of the smaller breeds because they looked like the proverbial Road Runner from the cartoon series.  I like the big bodied breeds because I thought that if we ever did get to eat them, they would be bigger and better.

The flock members protested loudly as we trapped them one by one. They seemed to know that some of their brothers and sisters were leaving and wouldn’t ever be coming back.

Chicken Yard

Little did they know,  the selected ones would have an even better life. They would be moving to a large farm where they could roam about freely and live out the rest of their days as free range chickens. Within ten minutes the deed was done.

Four roosters and one small hen were caught and secured in the transport cage, and were hauled to the back end of the wonder truck for transport.  By this time we were both hot and sweaty. We went inside to clean up before we went to the farm and naturally it started to rain. Annabelle started to worry that the caged chickens might drown.  She wanted me to break out a tarp to cover the cage during the transport, but I assured her they would be all-  right, and that if covered they might smother or get too hot.

As we drove to the farm it started to rain, cats and dogs.  By the time we got there all of the chickens in the cage were wet and nasty.  I unloaded them one by one into a secure horse trailer, and the farm wife told us that when her husband got home he would put them in the barn.  She said she would keep them there a few days, and then turn them out with the other chickens.  One gnarly looking old rooster was out in the front yard, and he was looking with great interest at the new roosters about to be released into his kingdom.  When we left, Annabelle and my daughter were happy that the chickens had a good home.

I don’t know if we are ever going to get a fresh organic chicken to put in the freezer out of this adventure but stay tuned, we should be overrun with FRESH eggs pretty darn soon!

Newt

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Old School Cool

Posted on August 23, 2012 by in Classic Rides, Man Cave

Old School Cool

1955 Chevy Belair

My #1 son- in- law called me last Friday afternoon and told me of a local car show in nearby Alvin, TX, so I packed up my camera and met him and my daughter at the show. This show was a combination of early and late model cars, trucks, and motorcycles and it was in full swing when we arrived.  Despite being only 9:00am the Texas heat was oppressive.  We strolled around for a bit before stumbling into a black and white 55 Chevy Belair.  I’m drawn to the tri-fives because it’s what I grew up seeing my older brother (Skipper) driving and working on all of the time. The simplicity of the black and white color combination belies the real beauty of this 55 Chevy.  It’s like someone had taken a classic car and updated it with all of the modern amenities to make it faster, safer, and more comfortable, while keeping it showroom new.  The car was built by Johnny Patke and his son’s Donnie and Ronnie of Pearland, Texas over an eight year period.  Let’s break it down and see how they did it.Big Head Caps

 If you need a hat that fits…this is the place to go! www.bigheadcaps.com

Exterior:

The two tone paint job was painted by Eric’s Custom Finishes 1806 Stone Road in Pearland, Texas.  It features GM white on top and GM black on the bottom.  When purchased, the body and front clip was acid dipped to remove the years of accumulated paint and rust.  Mr. Patke said that when he bought the car some eight years ago it was maroon and gray and had some problems with rust here and there.  He said that he had to cut out and replace the trunk deck floor area due to rust.  He and his sons worked many hours sanding repairing and smoothing out the body to get it ready for paint.

Frame:

This was a frame up restoration. After taking the body off the frame, it and the front suspension as well the rear end were powder coated black for rust prevention.  The rear end is a 12 bolt posi-track with 3.73 gearing off of a 1969 Chevy Camaro.  The rear end has drum brakes and the front brakes are hard stopping disc brakes.  The front suspension is an updated version of the factory suspension.

                                                             Engine:1955 Chevy Belair

The small block 350 cubic Chevy was over bored .30 making it a 355 cubic inch motor.  It has a very healthy cam lope at idle.  The engine features an Elderbrock high rise aluminum intake and four barrel carburetor.  The valve covers are aluminum, and spark is provided by a MSB brand ignition and a Continental 12 volt battery.  The battery is concealed by a chromed battery box from Classic Chevy Parts.  The engine was dyno tested at Pearland high school after it was installed in the car and showed 335 horsepower at the rear wheels, with an estimated 400+ hp at flywheel.   It was assembled by Dale Bridges of Custom Performance Engines in Houston, Texas.  The cooling for this small block power house comes from a Griffin aluminum radiator, and two 10″ electric fans.  Moving rearward from the engine is a Performance brand clutch with a (Scatter-shield) bell housing, and then a Muncie four speed manual transmission.  The transmission is topped with a Hurst brand chromed shift lever and white shift knob.

Interior:1955 Chevy Belair

He used a black and silver color scheme for the upholstery. The black and silver bucket seats are out of a 2005 Pontiac GTO. The rear seat is upholstered to match the front and the custom made console, (complete with convenience lights) is from Salbana Custom and Classic upholstery. It is well appointed indeed and features an under dash air conditioning unit from Vintage Air. The windows are from Classic Chevy Parts and were tinted light black by John Simmons of Tomball, Texas.

 Wheels & Tires:1955 Chevy Belair

The front tires are (2.25 x 60 x R-17) by Extreme Performance mounted on a special 8″ custom ordered American Racing Mag wheel. They features a custom offset so the larger tires could be used on the classic 55 Chevy without tubbing the wheels wells to make them fit correctly. Custom order 10″ (offset) American Racing Mag wheels are mated to (2.75 x 75 x R-17) Extreme Performance tires are mounted on the rear.

Mr. Patke said that he got some help with this build from Wayne’s Hotrod Shop in Pearland, Texas but most of the work was done by him and his sons in their large man cave. And their man cave is something else! I had the pleasure to see it during this photo shoot, and it had all of the amenities that a man could want to be happy.

 “The only thing I didn’t see in this man cave was a juke box.”

 Till next time, be safe out there and if you see this 55 Chevy cruising by, take time to wave, honk and give him a thumbs up, because it’s really a GOOD THING to save cars like this from metal recyclers.

 Juniors Boy

Tractor Ad

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Chicken-cide

Posted on July 26, 2012 by in Home & Hearth, Urban Acres

Chicken-cide

Good morning friends and neighbors.  Newt, the greenhorn farmer here again writing about my exploits around our citified farm…

It’s time again for a report on the chicken flock, or what’s left of them.  Varmints are afoot in the chicken house.  One evening, I walked out to the chicken yard to throw them some old bread and table scraps from Annabelle’s kitchen and I saw a white house cat munching on the carcass of one of my large white chickens. Now this was just an ordinary white house cat, not a wild variety.  We live in a semi-rural area and I’ve seen several cats skulking around my property, and I never thought a thing about it.  I had a hard time believing that a domesticated ten pound house cat could kill an almost full grown chicken. Then I remembered how a feline kills.  They grab their prey and clamp their jaws around the windpipe of the hapless victim, smothering it. This lovely house cat was munching on my chicken when it looked up and saw me approaching.

I threw a scoop of chicken feed at it, plastic scoop and all, but kitty cats are quick. 

 It scampered up a tree, jumped onto the roof of the chicken house, and disappeared like a white streak in the evening darkness.  Prior to this I had kept my pit bull ranch dog, Koda from chasing cats, but if I ever see another one in my yard, I going to turn the sixty five pounds of teeth, anxiety, and bad attitude loose.  She probably won’t be able to catch one, but maybe they will steer clear of my chicken house in the future. We got rid of the possum problem, now its other people’s house cats killing my investment and hard work.

The number of the flock is down to about 25 chickens, so now Annabelle and I are thinking that we are probably going to keep them all for eggs.  They all look like hens for some reason, so hopefully soon we are going to have fresh farm eggs for breakfast.  The life of a green horn farmer is so wrought with obstacles.

Onto to other things about the farm:  Mowing the grass has taken a lot of my time and strength lately.  It’s been raining every other day, and the grass has been growing like bad weeds.  My Craftsman push mower quit running on me, and I had to mow with an old style centrifugal force manual push mower that Annabelle had bought at a garage sale sometime in the past. The purchase of this back breaking mower is how the Craftsman push mower came to be.  I tried once or twice when she first bought it and I pronounced it way too difficult to use, but now I was in a pickle.  I can mow the front yard with my lawn tractor, but it mows unevenly and the front yard has two big trees and a ditch to contend with every time you mow.  I broke out the old centrifugal force mower and got after it.  The grass was cut evenly but higher than I liked it.  I had to mow every other day with this old antique mower to keep the front yard from looking unkempt.  Antique Lawn Mower

This went on for several weeks, and then I ran across a face book post by an old friend, Howard Phelps.  It seems that after Howard retired from law enforcement he started a lawnmower repair business out of his house.  I called him up and told him my problems and he said “sure bring it on over”.  I took him my Craftsman 6 horsepower push mower and a gas powered weed eater.  He kept them four days and called me back and said they were ready.  I asked him what he had to do, and he explained that the carburetor on each machine was just clogged up and dirty.  He cleaned them up, replaced the necessary fuel filters and they run perfectly.  I am running his business card with this story because I know him to be an honest fellow who apparently does good work, and has reasonable prices.  I’ve been mowing grass like a fiend ever since I got the mower back. Kemah Lawn Mower Repair

Last month Annabelle bought me a great new wheeled gas powered weed eater.  It’s a Ryobi T-720 model with a 4-cycle engine (no mixed fuel), with two wheels and a trimmer head.  It starts real easy, and seems to be very powerful.  It can whack the hell out of weeds, but for some reason it tends to break the string off when you use it on full power.  I’ve bought a different brand of plastic string to use on it. I’m hoping that it solves the problem.  Heaven knows I have plenty of use for it around my place.Ryobi weed eater

News Flash, Stop the Presses!

The murderous possum that has been terrorizing the chicken population of the Green Acres farm has been hunted down by a duo of Texas peace officers in a ambush reminisent of the Bonnie and Clyde shooting in 1934.  One member of the posse alerted another member and although it was a dark and rainy night the elderly LEO approached the killer with weapon drawn.  The murderer had struck again having just killed a teenage five pound hen, who was just starting her life anticipating have many eggs and perhaps a few chicks of her own.

The elderly LEO approached the murderer and illuminated the killer with his weapon mounted flashlight. The killer looked up from his victim and flashed a toothy smile, just daring the LEO to act.  The LEO saw that a chicken-cide had just occurred and reacted quickly to protect the lives of the terrified bystanders who were frozen in fear.  He took careful aim and fired one life saving shot that ended the career of the murderous possum.  This killer had killed both adult and baby chickens during his four month rein of terror, and he met his fate during the commission of his last heinous crime.

The elderly LEO hurried to get out of the rain, reported his actions to his supervising partner, and called it a night.  He slept fitfully that night but realized that it was just excess adrenalin and not remorse over eliminating a killer. I hope you enjoy this little story, and don’t forget to give old Howard a call if you need small engine repair.  He’s a good man just trying to make a living by giving his customers good service.  Till next time, may you have fair weather, and a cool breeze to make your farm work more enjoyable.

Newt

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Rural America

Posted on July 26, 2012 by in God's Country

Rural America

It was Thursday afternoon and I was mowing the front yard on the riding mower, when I saw the Boss waving her arms at me from the front porch. She had the cordless house phone in her hand, so I turned off the mower and hollered at her, “Who is it?” She said, “Its Nellie”, our boss. I answered the phone all hot and sweaty and he asked me if I wanted to make a run to North Carolina? I immediately said yes and he told me that I needed to rent a trailer, because the company wasn’t sure that the two tool boxes that I was going to get would fit in the bed of the wonder truck.

Amish Parking     I called a local equipment company about two   blocks from the house and they had a 16’ car hauler that I could rent. I called Nellie back and told him that I had found a trailer, and that’s when he explained that the load was actually in Hamilton, Michigan. He said that we needed to pull an empty trailer to Michigan, load up two tool boxes and then bring it all back to Houston.

I should have known that this was a bad omen, because this was to be no ordinary trip.

We had to drive straight through to Michigan, some 1245 miles, and then drag the loaded trailer home to Houston and be back by the following Monday morning. That meant we needed to make the 1st leg of the trip in twenty one hours. I explained that there was no way we could drive that far in that amount of time. He just said “do the best you can.” I rented the trailer, fueled up the wonder truck, and bought a few things from the grocery store, and by the time I got back home the Boss had packed up everything and within just a few minutes we were off like a herd of turtles.

I drove all that day and at about 2:00am the next day, we had to stop and buy more fuel so I had the Boss take the wheel. Now she is a good driver, but she has very little experience pulling a trailer. Being a real trooper she took off, and after a few minutes she calmed down because she said that this little trailer was easy to pull. It had little marker lights on the front part of the trailer fenders that she could see in the rear view mirrors and it did not sway at all. This helped her a lot and she drove about 300 miles while I tried to sleep in the back seat sleeping berth. When I woke up she was pulling into a truck stop to get more fuel. I asked her if she had any trouble and she said no. She said if we ever bought a trailer, this was the kind she wanted to buy.

I took back over the driving duties, and we made it to I-55 headed to Chicago, IL. The Boss was reading the map and decided we could avoid all of the traffic in Chicago if we detoured east through rural Indiana and then turned north towards Hamilton, Michigan. I agreed, so we detoured through the Indiana heartland and saw miles and miles of farms, crops, small towns, and not much else. The Boss noticed that all of these farms were all impeccably well cared for by their owners. You never saw any dilapidated buildings, high grass, old cars, etc. They all looked like something out of a travel catalog.

The Boss found a highway that the map indicated was scenic that ran along the east side of Lake Michigan and decided to take it so she could look at the water as we passed. This was a bust, because we couldn’t see anything for all of the trees. Michigan calls itself the land of lakes, but they should be called land of lakes hidden by big tall trees.

Hamilton is a small town, but it had a few restaurants, a grocery store, and most of the basics of a small town. We finally got to the Trans Canada power generating station where we would get our load, and we were two hours late. We were supposed to be there at 8:00am, and we arrived at 10:03am. I was sure that the people there were going to be angry, but when I talked to them they didn’t even know to expect us on that day. So much for driving hard to meet a deadline. The Boss was some kind of upset at all of this nonsense, and I must agree with her.

Anyway I got the two tool boxes loaded onto the trailer, (they could have fit into the bed of the wonder truck with room to spare). I was talking to the man that loaded the boxes and he asked where we had driven from and I told him Texas. He asked about the weather, and I explained that it was hot, damn hot. He laughed and said that he understood hot, cause he was from the bayous of south Louisiana. He said that he and his wife had moved to Michigan because she had gotten sick and could no longer stand the oppressive heat. It was about 68 degrees where we were standing and very comfortable for a summer morning.

Naturally after such a long drive we were both starving, so we went to Hamilton to get something to eat. Using the rule of which restaurant has the most cars in the parking lot, we choose a place that was half ice cream parlor and half restaurant. Being north of the Mason-Dixon Line, I stuck with the classic Philly Cheese Steak sandwich, but the Boss ordered fried fish. She said that she could smell the fish.

She thought that being that close to so many freshwater lakes that it would be fresh and good. We waited a while, and then the meal came out. I went at mine like the starving dog I was, but the Boss tasted hers and pronounced it “fishy tasting”. Needless to say I was shocked and awed at this statement, but she is entitled to her own opinion, so I encouraged her to send it back. She pondered this for a minute, and then decided to just eat the french fries and salad and leave the fish. As we were eating a woman at another table apparently smelled the fish and went on and on to her companion about how good the fish was at this particular establishment, and lamented that she wished she had ordered the fish.

The Boss grimaced and I suggested that she just turn around and trade plates with the fish loving lady, but she thought might be unacceptable. We finished and left and the Boss was still hungry. Imagine that!

On a different trip the Boss had found a woman in an Amish community somewhere in Pennsylvania that sold handmade fresh butter. The Boss loved it so she bought about ten pounds of the creamy stuff and we packed it back home in a cooler. She had great homemade butter for several months, and she wanted to repeat that experience by going to Elkhart, Indiana. It was supposed to be the big Amish community in the area. She gave me my directions, and drifted off to sleep. I was headed to Amish country pulling the trailer loaded with toolboxes, in search of butter. We didn’t get too far before realizing that we were both exhausted, and we stopped for the night in the middle of the afternoon.

Amish CountryAfter sleeping like dead people till the next morning, we got back on the road to Elkhart, Indiana to resume our butter quest. We were headed down I-196 near South Haven, MI when I spotted a billboard that read Dutch Farm Market.  We had been driving a few hours so I knew the Boss needed a bathroom break.  I showed her the sign and she agreed that we should stop.   We parked the truck and trailer in the large parking lot and walked in to find a host of fresh and frozen vegetables offered for sale.  Out on the porch there was a large bin of fresh asparagus spears.   I showed them to the Boss and she proclaimed them to be the most beautiful asparagus she had ever seen.  She checked the price and said that they were a great bargain.  We spoke to the ladies inside and they assured us if they were kept cool they would make it back home, and still be edible.  As we talked I learned that one of the ladies has two children that live in the Houston-Galveston area, so it was like talking to a neighbor.  We bought a few things, used the restroom facilities and went on our way.  We still hadn’t found any Amish butter, but the Boss thought that things were looking up.

We rolled along seeing the sights, and finally made it to Elkhart. We saw a sign for an Amish Farmers Market and pulled in to see what we could see. As it turned out the place was closed, but doesn’t it make a pretty magazine cover? It was a huge building complete with buggy horse hitching posts and weather vanes. I took a few pictures, but alas we had to move on down the road in our quest for the creamy delicacy that had so far eluded us. We drove through Elkhart and all we saw was a slew of places that made RV’s and travel trailers, but no quaint simple people driving horse and buggies. We stopped at several roadside fruit vendors sights along the side of the highway, but no one knew where any Amish butter makers could be located.

Finally we stopped to eat lunch at a nice little restaurant, and when we went inside we noticed that all of the waitresses were dressed in Amish apparel. We just knew that we had found the Holy Grail of Amish country and that pounds and pounds of butter awaited our arrival. This was not the case, but being wily and cunning the Boss began to interrogate the waitress and manager of the restaurant and a twenty something year old plain looking girl stepped up and said that we should go to the town of Shipshewana, Indiana. She said that was real Amish country. It was about ten miles down the road, so off we went.

When we drove into Shipshewana it was like driving back into the 17th century.

Black buggies and dark colored horses crowded the road and since it was a Saturday, plain looking men and women, boys and girls, babies and dogs were everywhere you looked. Something I’d never seen before which was interesting were all the Amish young people riding bicycles. Young men in plain dark clothing wearing knit caps, and young women wearing long dresses seemed to be the only ones riding the bicycles.

We drove all the way through town seeing the sights. This took about ten minutes, and then we turned back around and stopped at a hardware store. The Boss just knew that we would find butter here, and she wanted to buy a large plastic cooler that would keep our treasured butter cold all the way home. They had a few coolers but none met our needs and the prices were astronomical. This particular hardware store however did have anything and everything that an Amish family might need to run a large household.

The next place we stopped at was kind of an Amish tourist trap. You could buy everything from a Thomas Kincaid painting to a full blooded boxer puppy dog. Nowhere in town was anyone selling butter. We stopped at an Amish grocery store feeling sure that they would have butter because it was a large store.

Bulk Food StoreThe Boss went inside and found many a strange food, (inexpensive I might add), and it was like the food was the deconstructed version of what we (the English) eat. You could buy things like a two pound bag of the multi-colored marshmallow pieces from a box of Lucky Charms cereal. No cereal, just the marshmallow bits. When I saw her buy a fifty (50) pound bag of fresh potatoes for less than $10.00, I knew that the Boss was infatuated with the place.

We bought a whole shopping cart full of groceries and had to find room inside the wonder truck to get it all back home. A little Amish boy (about 12 years old) wheeled our purchases out to the truck and hefted the bag of potatoes into the truck like a grown man. Embarrassingly I asked him if it was alright to tip him and he said sure. I gave him a five spot and he wheeled off riding on his cart like it was a roller skate. Curses, we still hadn’t found any butter. The quest continued unabated.

We drove away headed down the road for a place called Amish Acres in Nappanee, Indiana. This is kind of an Amish showplace where they have musical theater, a historic farm, and country style dining. The Boss felt sure that someone there could direct us to an Amish dairy farm where she could find the golden yellow butter she sought.

We drove along the back roads of this flyover state just amazed at the beautiful pastoral scenery. When we arrived and I could see rather quickly that this was a tourist trap. We walked inside of the gift shop to look around and the Boss bought was a little magnet depicting an Amish horse and buggy for our oldest daughter who collects such things. We got to talking to the older Amish woman running the place and she didn’t know of anyone selling homemade butter, but she thought that the restaurant portion of Amish Acres might have some they would sell her.

I waited in the truck while the Boss went to the restaurant building to investigate and negotiate. Within a half hour she came skipping back to the truck with a pound of butter, and she was beaming with a smile from ear to ear. Finally our butter quest had ended. Great balls of fire, I was sure glad.

I really didn’t want to drive back to Pennsylvania from here, (you know just down the road a bit), to buy BUTTER!

The ride back was somewhat anti-climatic. The trailer pulled fine, the weather was mild and we delivered on Monday before noon. Till next time, travel when you can, enjoy God’s country by getting off the superhighways and taking the road less travelled. Sure it may be bumpy at times, but if you slow down a little and are open to new things I guarantee that you’ll enjoy the trip. “Till next time, be safe out there”.

The Working Tourist

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American Classic II

Posted on July 26, 2012 by in Man Cave, Sittin' At The Gun Shop

American Classic II

Last week at the gun shop I saw a pair of 1911’s in the case and I was immediately drawn to them by their price.  They both were less than $600.00 each.  They weren’t Colts or Smith and Wesson’s, but they did appear to have all of the bells and whistles that the aftermarket could supply for a 1911 pistol.    One was all black and the other was duo-toned, with a black frame and a chrome slide. They were both full sized Government models; 5″ barrels, and had Novak style white dot rear sights, a dovetailed white dot front sight, flared ejection port, extended slide stop, beavertail grip safety, combat hammer, skeletonized combat trigger, front and rear slide skeletonized combat trigger, front and rear slide serration, and an extended thumb safety.  These are some of the usual aftermarket extras that come on a vastly more expensive 1911 style pistol.

I quickly checked the serial numbers on both guns, hoping they were sequential so I’d have an excuse to add to my gun bill, but alas they were not.  I started checking them for quality, and saw that they both needed to have the feed ramp polished as there were visible machining marks. Now this isn’t really a bad thing because anyone that has knowledge that buys a 1911 pistol usually has a polish and throat job done to insure reliability.  I checked and saw that the hammer had intricate cobweb machining inside of the commander style hammer.  This doesn’t add to anything but appearance, but it’s a nice touch for a low end pistol. After asking permission I made sure it was unloaded and cocked the chromed pistol so I could dry fire it.  There was about 3/16″ travel before the trigger broke, but it only took about five pounds of pressure, and it had no over travel.  Not too bad as far as unaltered factory triggers go.  You can get used to this trigger break with practice, or pay a gunsmith to improve it.

I looked down the sights and saw they were the three white dot variety, which suits me just fine because it’s what I’m used to looking through.  Some people like the all black sight picture, but three white dots are easy for me to pick up.  I also noted that the front sight is dovetailed into the frame, so it’s easily changeable for aftermarket night sights, etc.  I looked at the frame under the gun shops magnifying glass and couldn’t find any rough tool marks on it.

These two AMERICAN CLASSIC II pistols were both .45acp caliber, but when I checked the (Metro Arms Corporation) website    http://metroarms.net  I learned that they are also offered in .40 caliber.  Both the slide and frame are made of 4140 steel with an overall length of 8.375 inches.  This is a full size Government model and its empty weight of 37.28 ounces helps reduce felt recoil.  I tend to like the Commander sized .45’s (4.5″ barrel length) and Metro Arms Corporations also offers 1911 pistols in this size.

 The stocks (grips) on these two pistols were light colored hardwood, and close inspection showed some imperfections in the diamond cut checkering, but consider the purchase price before dismissing this as a bad thing.  It’s easy to change the stocks to something that might appeal to you. When I handled the pistols I noticed that all of the controls appeared to be in the right place so your muscle memory manipulation of the controls shouldn’t be affected.

I have several Colt “O” model 1911’s, but if I were a young officer working for a progressive department that allowed 1911 auto pistol carry, I’d sure think about stuffing a AMERICAN CLASSIC II into my duty holster.

Remember; always buy what works, not just a name brand.  For either a cost conscious customer, or a true aficionado of the 1911 pistol, these two American Class II pistols really deserve a second look.

Till next time shoot straight in both thought and deed, practice your gun craft often, and always support your gun rights by joining and supporting the NRA.

Juniors Boy

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California Dreaming

Posted on March 17, 2012 by in God's Country

 

 

“Go west young man” as the saying goes and it finally happened for us.  After many trips across this vast country, we finally got the call to make a hotshot load to California.  Visions of meeting movie stars danced around in the Boss’ head I’m sure. I went to California on a motorcycle vacation trip back in the late 90’s, but the Boss has never been and she has been asking for this trip for several years. We had about 45 minutes to pack our clothes, close up the house and make arrangements for our two dogs. Being a real trooper, the Boss pulled it all off within the allotted time.  We would have been at the pickup point on time if not for an 18 wheeler accident on I-45 near the South Loop that help up traffic flow for about 45 minutes.  Naturally nervous Nellie (the owner of the hotshot company) called checking up on us, but he had to deal with the Boss, so it all came out alright.  He is the type fellow who calls you every five minutes to see where you are, and when you’re going to be able to pick up the load.  He is always in a near panic every time he calls, thus the moniker “Nervous Nellie”.

 

After waiting for about 45 minutes, we finally got loaded about 1:30pm and set the GPS for Colton, CA, the delivery point. It showed that we had 1505 miles to travel in two and a half days to make the delivery at 7:00am Pacific time.  That Pacific Time requirement would come back to bite us in the behind several times before this adventure was over. We headed out west on I-10 and made it to within 80 miles of El Paso that first night before pulled over in a rest area to sleep. We figured that we’d save the cost on a hotel, since we were only going to sleep a few hours.  Now I’m 6’3 and the “wonder truck” is about 5’3 from one door to the other.  While the Boss is able to sleep comfortably in the back seat, I’m folded up like an accordion in the front.  When I’m exhausted I can actually sleep pretty good, but I pay for the cramped sleeping quarters in my arthritic knees and back later.

 

Since we are always under a time limit before the load gets delivered, we eat mostly what we can buy at truck stops when we stop for fuel. Despite the heavy tool box we had on the “wonder truck”, we managed to get just over 20 mpg on the highway. The new higher speed limits on IH-10 really helped us rack up the miles.  The speed limits ranged from 70 to 75 and then to 80 mph. Going through El Paso on the second morning we tried to stop at a place where they sold (allegedly) handmade Native American Indian (NAI) blankets.  Despite a valiant attempt to get to the place (we made three U-turns along the feeder road trying to get there), the time change had put us there one and a half hours before the place opened. Crunch… the first bite of the time change.  Too bad, it looked like a huge store with all kinds of things the Boss would be interested in spending my (I mean our) money on. But being a true driving partner, she said that we didn’t have that much time to kill if we wanted to stay on schedule, so off down the yellow brick, (err: I mean concrete highway) road we went.

 

We crossed over into Arizona and went through miles and miles of rural country side that really didn’t look much different than West Texas, except for the distant mountains and buttes. At about 11:00 am we pulled off the freeway into a small sleepy Arizona town and began looking for a place to eat lunch. It was lunchtime for us, but with the time change, the hometown folk were still eating breakfast. The Boss doesn’t really like chain restaurants, so we use the “who has the most cars in the parking lot rule” to determine where to eat. The streets were empty except for this one place. As I passed it I saw four pick-up trucks pull over and stop. I told the Boss that looks like a place we need to go. We walked into this café and we were the only gringo’s in the place. There were a lot of young and old Hispanic men in straw hats sitting at their tables eating some type of soup with large white spoons. This aroused the Boss’ curiosity.

 

She ordered a stuffed chili relleno pepper wrapped in a flour tortilla and I ordered a bean and cheese burrito plate. We both ate what we ordered, but the Boss pointed out the soup that everyone in the place had ordered. She determined she wanted what they were having. I told her she didn’t even know what it was but to order it if she wanted it and I would help her finish it, if she couldn’t.  She asked the cashier to give her some of what everyone else was having. He asked her if she knew what it was and she said no. He told her it was menudo. She said ok and confirmed that she wanted some. I had heard of this Mexican delicacy before, but I did NOT know what it was made of or how it tasted. When she got her bowl, she took one sip and pronounced it was way too hot for her palate, but proceeded to add the fresh chopped onions and squeezed lime on top of it so she could eat it like they were. Being a “HE MAN” who is used to eating hot food, I told her that I would eat it for her. Little that I know that menudo is a very hot tomato based soup that conceals boiled cow intestine. I ate several spoonful’s before the sweat started pouring and I realized that the meat was chopped up cow gut. We didn’t finish the menudo and I wasn’t hungry for quite a while after this breakfast. This will be our first and last foray into menudo I think.

 

By now I have run out of cigars and the Boss just started using my new I-phone (given to me by my #1 son-in-law) to locate some stores. Once we finally found the place with the help of the I-phone GPS, the cigars were so expensive that the Boss only bought five. The leather couches in this place cost more than all of the furniture in our house. I know it’s funny that I let the Boss choose my cigars for me, but it’s because she has a better memory than I do, and she remembers the ones that I tell her that I like. She also has a better recollection of prices, and usually always stays within the budget I set for her. Thanks sweetie! We reset the GPS and it took us back to I-10 so fast the Boss didn’t really have the chance to look around Tucson very much. We did stop at one place for fuel and they had a plethora of allegedly NA Indian trinkets on sale. I checked the stickers on some of these things and saw they were made in China, so much for real  NA Indian artifacts! We got back in the truck and checked our watches and wallets to make sure we hadn’t been scalped at this tourist trap.

 

As we neared Phoenix the Boss spotted a roadside flea market. I needed to stretch my legs so we stopped. Apparently the flea market was winding down, because there were only five booths still open. The first little place was a semi-permanent rock sales place called Poor Man’s Rock Sales. Hundreds of rocks of all types and shapes were displayed on some wooden boxes set up on saw horses. The Boss loves rocks. She bought a piece of pink quartz and a sea shell that caught her eye. We were both confused on how the man’s display had so many sea shells in the middle of a desert.  Maybe he had them imported from China? Legs stretched and trinkets bought, we loaded up in the truck again headed to California.

 

We were stopped at the state line and we were grilled by a man at the checkpoint for fruit that all travelers must go through upon entering the State of California. Now I understand the reason for the checkpoint, because in the past decades someone brought in some type of insect (parasite) that devastated the California citrus crops. What I didn’t know was that they demanded to know if you had a dog of any kind in your vehicle and wanted to know where we were going and why we were going there. They also wanted to know where we were coming from.  I guess the next thing will be that you have to have travel papers to cross state lines, ala (Nazi Germany). Pretty stern for a fruit and vegetable inspection point in my opinion.

 

We travelled down I-10 through California just fine until we ran into a traffic jam just outside of Beaumont, CA. Traffic was stopped and it took us about three hours to travel twelve miles. As we sat waiting for the traffic to move, we saw motorcycles driving in between the stopped cars. I know this is illegal in Texas, but based on the number of motorcyclists doing it; it must be legal in California. They were also driving on the median lane on both the outside and inside portion of the road. We even saw an 18 wheeler gasoline tanker passing on the outside median. In one spot a woman and her friends pulled off the road and ran up under a tree to relieve themselves. I guess they couldn’t wait to get to the rest area. We finally got through this mess and got to our hotel in San Bernardino, CA. While checking in we asked the clerk for a good place to eat dinner and she recommended a restaurant named Coco’s just down the road from the hotel. Rachel Ray claims this is the best way to find good food in a strange town (ask the locals).  She is not always right, it wasn’t that great. We went back to the hotel and passed out. The load had to be delivered at 7:00am PCT, which meant I had to wake up at 4:00am CST to deliver it.  Needless to say the very tired Boss was not pleased being woke up at Pacific time (Crunch).

 

The GPS got me to the location where the delivery was supposed to be located, but it wasn’t there. The location was a business park. Finally, I found someone coming into work and they told me to go the other direction. Sure enough the address I needed to go to was almost a mile from where the GPS told me to go. Load delivered, finally. We have an agreement (the Boss and I) that once the load is delivered, she is in charge of the route and the fun begins. She wanted to see the (PCH) Pacific Coast Highway. I had extolled the virtues of the scenic beauty I had seen when I took my motorcycle vacation and had driven the PCH from San Francisco to Los Angeles. So she selected a route that would place us on PCH near Laguna Beach, Aliso beach, Dana Point, etc. At Laguna Beach the City of Laguna Beach provides a covered parking area for the small sum of $1.50. The concrete walkway down to the beach was beautifully adorned with flowers and plants and was expertly manicured. We took many pictures of the rock formations, the pristine beaches, the flowers, etc. Trekking through the deep sand and the numerous steps down to the sand wore out these two old flatlanders, but it was beautiful. See the photos?

 

Just a few miles further down the PCH we came to the Aliso Beach facility. While not as elaborately adorned as Laguna Beach it had great waves. That morning they ran about three feet, but they were perfectly formed and loud. The photos can’t show the crashing noise they make, but we are going to try to upload the video we took. It was a little too cool for surfing, but I can only imagine how crowded this beach is in the warmer months. We got lost a few times because in this portion of the PCH is highly populated and in some spots it’s an eight lane highway. You have to look down the alleys between the houses in some of the towns to even see the Pacific Ocean. The Boss was very disappointed at this turn of events, but we still had a good time. All went well until the Boss chose a scenic highway called CA-74. This turned out to be about thirty miles of sharp turns, switchbacks, and ignorant people driving through this dangerous area like their pants were on fire. The Boss had a touch of motion sickness due to this mountainous road, and it wasn’t pleasant.

 

The Boss wanted to see the Pacific Ocean on this trip, and I wanted to see the Grand Canyon. We headed that way, and as the elevation of the highway rose, the weather turned colder. Then it started lightly snowing. Now I do most of the driving on these trips, but I do NOT like driving on snowy pavement. It never got heavy enough that I felt it necessary to turn the driving over to the Boss though. She has more experience driving on snow and ice and I gladly let her have it when necessary. The Boss had procured us a pamphlet that explained that the North Rim portion of the Grand Canyon National Park was closed during the winter months due to snow, but the South Rim portion was open to visitors year round. We arrived at the Grand Canyon National Park at about 4 o’clock in the afternoon and the temperature display on the “wonder truck’s” computer said that it was 22 degrees outside.  The parking lot and the walkways had been swept, but there was about eight inches of snow on the ground. I don’t really know the elevation of the parking lot, but I can assume that it’s high, because the Boss and I both had trouble catching our breath in the thin air.

 

We went to the Grand Canyon Visitor Center and the Boss spoke to one of the helpful U.S. park rangers.  He directed us to Mather Point, that’s just to the right of the building. Now remember we had been driving all day, we were exhausted and hurting from walking in the deep sand of the beaches, and were having trouble breathing. We finally made it over to Mather’s point after a few stops to rest and were treated to an exquisite wintertime view of the Grand Canyon (that’s one of them on the cover).  Now I’ve seen many pictures of the Grand Canyon and they all show a summertime landscape. I’ve never seen snow pictures of the canyon, so I shot photographs as fast and furiously as I could. This was a location I wanted to see on my lifetime bucket list and I was not disappointed. We stayed for about an hour and we were both freezing to death. On the way out we saw some of the wildlife of Grand Canyon National Park. We were driving along towards the exit gate when we saw several cars stopped ahead. Being seasoned park travelers we knew that this usually means some type of wildlife has stopped to pose for pictures. I used my cell phone camera to take several pictures of some adolescent mule deer as they pawed through the snow to forage on the grasses underneath. Really pretty deer!

 

After we left the park we took a scenic highway towards Flagstaff, AZ. Then the light snow started. It was dark, so I slowed way down and managed ok until I came to a stop sign in town. I stopped completely I thought, I had my foot on the brake, and I felt the truck still moving forward. I looked over at the Boss and exclaimed, what in the heck caused that? Then we both realized that we were on pavement that had a layer of ice on it, and the tires did not have any traction. We made it through the stop sign and got further into town. We were going very slowly, and the truck was sliding around, and so I pulled into the first hotel I found. We stopped and checked with the clerk and everything was looking good till I asked for a smoking room. That’s when she told me that there were NO smoking rooms at the inn. Thankfully, the Boss had taken it upon herself to get behind the wheel, and I was regulated to the passenger side. I climbed in, quietly relieved, pulled my seatbelt tight, said a few quick prayers and we were off.

 

Now the “wonder truck” as I call it because it’s a wonder that the Boss let me buy it, (long story) is a 2008 Dodge Ram diesel that has a great deal of torque when it comes from the factory and I have installed a power adder that develops a great deal more torque. To put it bluntly the accelerator is very touchy. Immediately after pulling out onto the street the back tires started losing traction and it made the back end of the truck start sliding sideways. The Boss started complaining about the tires and saying that they should do better on this icy road. I explained that they were street tires and were not designed to handle icy roads or snow. This went on for a few minutes until we finally we found another hotel that had smoking rooms. It was a few dollars more expensive than I wanted to pay, but it had an attached restaurant, so I didn’t argue. They red-lined us to a room in the back of the hotel where the undesirable portion of the populace who smoke are sent. The Boss had a great deal of trouble getting the truck through the parking lot because it hadn’t been plowed, but we finally got into the room and we walked down to the lobby of the hotel that led to the attached restaurant.

 

It was Valentine’s Day, so the Boss ordered a steak, (medium well) and I had a Cajun Alfredo dish with shrimp. The Boss decided that due to all of the stress of the icy road driving that she would have a cocktail and ordered a margarita on the rocks. We waited, and we waited, and we waited some more and about twenty minutes later the waitress finally came over with the Boss’s cocktail. She had one sip of the concoction and said it was terrible and too tart to drink. She wanted to tell the waitress to take it back, but she never came around again until she walked up with our meals. First thing out of the box, the Boss cuts into her steak and it was almost raw. It had a nice char on the outside, but the inside was blood red. The chef must have thought we ordered it medium rare. By that time we were starving, so the Boss gamely proceeded to eat this slightly heated piece of bovine. My dish was prepared with some type of round macaroni that you buy for children to decorate their artwork with. I managed to eat it, but it was NOT good.

 

When the waitress came around a few minutes later, the Boss politely mentioned that her steak was undercooked and tough as boot leather. The waitress apologized and flittered away. We both understood that the waitress had NOT cooked the steak herself, so getting mad at her was pointless. Much to our surprise the manager came over a little while later and asked about our meal, and after the Boss explained about her steak and drink, she said that she would comp our meal. We told her it wasn’t necessary because we ate the meal and rightly should pay for it, but she insisted that the establishment would absorb the cost. That was a first for us. Never in all of the meals that we have eaten in our travels has a business ever comped a meal that we didn’t like. I must say I was impressed. We were so impressed, we went back there for breakfast the next morning. It was great and we didn’t mind paying for that meal.

 

We managed to get out of the snow and into the casino area of Arizona. We stopped at Sky City, AZ and the Boss fed the one armed bandits, while I slept in the adjoining hotel. She didn’t win anything, but she had a good time and I caught up on my rest for the drive back to Texas. If you have ever had a hankering to drive to California, I hope this little story helps you out. There really is a lot to see “out west” and it’s a beautiful place. The people were polite, although they are in a mighty big hurry. The hotel and food costs were mostly reasonable, which surprised us. Diesel and gasoline fuel prices are between fifty and sixty cents higher than in Texas, but I think it’s a state tax that causes that difference. And you always hear about how strict the gun laws are in California, but in almost every small town we saw a gun shop or a pawn shop with a “guns for sale” sign.  I was flabbergasted.  Come to find out California has a CCW law just like forty eight other states.  It’s only Illinois that still hasn’t really read the 2nd amendment to the constitution yet. All in all it was a great trip, and it’s one that I’m glad we took.

 

 

The Working Tourist

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Classic Rides – 1957 Chevrolet Sedan – December 2011

Posted on January 4, 2012 by in Classic Rides

The year is 1957 and in January the United States was rocking to the sound of a youthful Elvis Aaron Presley on the Ed Sullivan show. This was the crowning year for what we car guys call the Tri-Fives. Arguably the classiest of the 55-57 production years was the 1957 Chevy Bel-Air Coupe. It was sleek, long, powerful, stylish, and heavily adorned with scads of chrome plating. Its stylish tailfins, toothy front grill, powerful V-8 (283cid with 283bph) engine bespoke volumes of the American youth culture of the time. People loved their cars and President Eisenhower or “Ike” as he was called was building and inter-state highway system. It would allow the motoring public to drive from coast to coast on a smooth ribbon of concrete highway. The wide expanse of the new super highway would allow you to “Open it up” if you so desired and the local highway patrol wasn’t watching too closely. Malt shops were rocking to the sounds of “Buddy Holly”, “Chuck Berry”, and “Little Chubby Checker”.

Poodle skirted teenage girls were doing the bop, jitter-bug and the peppermint twist. Each of them trying to catch the eye of that “Back Seat Romeo” leaning against the juke box in his chino’s, white t-shirt, and sporting the latest duck-tail haircut who happened to have a 57 Chevy idling in the parking lot. America was in love with it’s cars. This was the time of drive in movies, drive inn diners, and parking in the moonlight down by the bay to watch the “submarine” races. This month’s featured car is a 1957 Chevy Sedan belonging to longtime Santa Fe resident Wayne Kessler. Mr. Kessler explained that he bought this beauty in its current condition and just enjoys driving it for nostalgic reasons. He went on to explain that he had a 57 Chevy when he was in high school and another one back when he was serving in the military. He likes to load up his family in this sedan and drive to get do-nuts on Saturday morning and go to church on Sundays. When I first spotted this beauty several months ago I approached Mr. Kessler and asked him if he would agree to allow me to feature this red and white sedan in the December edition. I thought it would make a great ride for Santa Claus, and sure enough a picture of the car and Santa made the front page of the magazine. The 1957 Chevy sedan is almost completely stock. The only major difference is the power plant. The original “Blue-Flame Six” has been replaced with a late model 350cid Chevy small block. Atop this mill sets an Elderbrock 4-barrel carburetor and high flow air breather. The exhausts are duals with “Cherry Bomb” glass pack free flowing mufflers that emit a deep mellow tone until you accelerate.

Then they roar to let the losers know you were there and now you’re pulling away. Mr. Kessler explained that as the speedometer goes towards the right, the fuel gauge goes towards the left, as his “57”, is not the most economical car to drive.

The manual transmission is the three on the tree variety, which means it’s a three speed mounted on the steering column. Most people under the age of fifty wouldn’t have any idea on how to shift this transmission, as today’s youth are used to automatics. As I recall, pull it towards the driver and down towards the floor is first, up, slightly back and then up towards the roof gets you to second and straight down from second gets you into third gear. Reverse is pull towards the driver and straight up. Neutral is in the middle. The last three on a tree that I owned was a silver 1975 Chevy C-10 half ton pickup truck. My parents gifted it to me for graduating high school, and the third day I had it, I was down shifting from third to second coming off IH- 610 in Houston and for some reason it hung up in second gear. The dealership sent out a wrecker to tow it, and the necessary adjustments were made and it never happened again. Mr. Kessler’s 57 sedan has a bright red and white paint scheme and this continues onto the red and white interior. During the photography session he opened up the trunk. It was cavernous, and it made me recall that one time my brother had me, my sister, and a girl cousin hide in the trunk so we could all get into the drive in without paying the additional dollar a head fee. I also seem to recall a strong gasoline smell, and remembered that the gasoline fill port was located under a piece of tail fin trim just above the driver’s side tail light. I checked on this 57, and the builder left it as it came from the factory.

The front grill is adorned with copious amounts of chrome as well as two protruding bulbs on each side protected by black plastic tips. I’ll leave it to the reader to visualize and imagine what those look like. Without question the beautiful front grill and the tail fins on the 1957 Chevy are the two most visually stylish parts of this car, and what almost anyone of a certain age can identify as a 57 Chevy. I’ve actually seen booths in diners and bars that utilize the tail fins of this car as part of their construction. Mr. Kessler’s sedan is not encumbered with power steering, and he explained that this necessitated the largest diameter steering wheel that Chevy ever equipped a production sedan with to turn the car.

There are also no power brakes or air conditioning in this car, although both were available at the time of production for an additional charge. Maybe this sedan started life as a police car, as they were usually ordered stripped down to reduce costs. When you see this beautiful 1957 Chevy Sedan tooling around the roads of Galveston County, just smile and wave and realize that a man is reliving his youth and I personally wish him well. Maybe one day I’ll join him in my own Classic Ride if I can ever get the Boss to buy me one. Till we meet again Classic Ride fans, here’s wishing you happy motoring in whatever you choose to drive.

Juniors Boy

You can read about and see photos of our previous classic rides at www.santafegoodnews. com.

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Santa’s Classic Ride

Posted on December 11, 2011 by in Classic Rides

The year is 1957 and in January the United States was rocking to the sound of a youthful Elvis Aaron Presley on the Ed Sullivan show. This was the crowning year for what we car guys call the Tri-Fives. Arguably the classiest of the 55-57 production years was the 1957 Chevy Bel-Air Coupe. It was sleek, long, powerful, stylish, and heavily adorned with scads of chrome plating. Its stylish tailfins, toothy front grill, powerful V-8 (283cid with 283bph) engine bespoke volumes of the American youth culture of the time. People loved their cars and President Eisenhower or “Ike” as he was called was building and inter-state highway system. It would allow the motoring public to drive from coast to coast on a smooth ribbon of concrete highway. The wide expanse of the new super highway would allow you to “Open it up” if you so desired and the local highway patrol wasn’t watching too closely.

Malt shops were rocking to the sounds of “Buddy Holly”, “Chuck Berry”, and “Little Chubby Checker”. Poodle skirted teenage girls were doing the bop, jitter-bug and the peppermint twist. Each of them trying to catch the eye of that “Back Seat Romeo” leaning against the juke box in his chino’s, white t-shirt, and sporting the latestduck-tail haircut who happened to have a 57 Chevy idling in the parking lot. America was in love with it’s cars. This was the time of drive in movies, drive inn diners, and parking in the moonlight down by the bay to watch the “submarine” races.

This month’s featured car is a 1957 Chevy Sedan belonging to longtime Santa Fe resident Wayne Kessler. Mr. Kessler explained that he bought this beauty in its current condition and just enjoys driving it for nostalgic reasons. He went on to explain that he had a 57 Chevy when he was in high school and another one back when he was serving in the military. He likes to load up his family in this sedan and drive to get do-nuts on Saturday morning and go to church on Sundays. When I first spotted this beauty several months ago I approached Mr. Kessler and asked him if he would agree to allow me to feature this red and white sedan in the December edition. I thought it would make a great ride for Santa Claus,and sure enough a picture of the car and Santa made the front page of the magazine.

The 1957 Chevy sedan is almost completely stock. The only major difference is the power plant. The original “Blue-Flame Six” has been replaced with a late model 350cid Chevy small block. Atop this mill sets an Elderbrock 4-barrel carburetor and high flow air breather. The exhausts are duals with “Cherry Bomb” glass pack free flowing mufflers that emit a deep mellow tone until you accelerate. Then they roar to let the losers know you were there and now you’re pulling away.

Mr. Kessler explained that as the speedometer goes towards the right, the fuel gauge goes towards the left, as his “57”, is not the most economical car to drive. The manual transmission is the three on the tree variety, which means it’s a three speed mounted on the steering column. Most people under the age of fifty wouldn’t have any idea on how to shift this transmission, as today’s youth are used to automatics.

As I recall, pull it towards the driver and down towards the floor is first, up, slightly back and then up towards the roof gets you to second and straight down from second gets you into third gear. Reverse is pull towards the driver and straight up. Neutral is in the middle. The last three on a tree that I owned was a silver 1975 Chevy C-10 half ton pick-up truck. My parents gifted it to me for graduating high school, and the third day I had it, I was down shifting from third to second coming off IH-610 in Houston and for some reason it hung up in second gear. The dealership sent out a wrecker to tow it, and the necessary adjustments were made and it never happened again. Mr. Kessler’s 57 sedan has a bright red and white paint scheme and this continues onto the red and white interior.

During the photography session he opened up the trunk. It was cavernous, and it made me recall that one time my brother had me, my sister, and a girl cousin hide in the trunk so we could all get into the drive in without paying the additional dollar a head fee. I also seem to recall a strong gasoline smell, and remembered that the gasoline fill port was located under a piece of tail fin trim just above the driver’s side tail light. I checked on this 57, and the builder left it as it came from the factory. The front grill is adorned with copious amounts of chrome as well as two protruding bulbs on each side protected by black plastic tips. I’ll leave it to the reader to visualize and imagine what those look like. Without question the beautiful front grill and the tail fins on the 1957 Chevy are the two most visually stylish parts of this car, and what almost anyone of a certain age can identify as a 57 Chevy.

I’ve actually seen booths in diners and bars that utilize the tail fins of this car as part of their construction. Mr. Kessler’s sedan is not encumbered with power steering, and he explained that this necessitated the largest diameter steering wheel that Chevy ever equipped a production sedan with to turn the car. There are also no power brakes or air conditioning in this car, although both were available at the time of production for an additional charge. Maybe this sedan started life as a police car, as they were usually ordered stripped down to reduce costs. When you see this beautiful 1957 Chevy Sedan tooling around the roads of Galveston County, just smile and wave and realize that a man is reliving his youth and I personally wish him well. Maybe one day I’ll join him in my own Classic Ride if I can ever get the Boss to buy me one.

Junior’s Boy

All SHARES & LIKES are really appreciated!