VINTAGE CAR! VINTAGE TRAILER! VINTAGE PEOPLE!
Roadtripping Notes: The journey is our destination . . .
with the little car that could — a 1937 Chrysler Airflow and a 1936 Airstream Silver Cloud
It’s all about the journey. Make the most of the road you find yourself on. – unknown
In a few days, we will be embarking on a three week plus roadtrip with our 1937 Chrysler Airflow towing our 1936 Airstream Silver Cloud wooden/masonite trailer. Our final location before returning home is the 61st Wally Byam Caravan Club International (WBCCI) Airstream Rally which includes new and vintage Airstreams in Salem, Oregon. There will be pre-destination caravans within the Oregon boundary with the Vintage Airstream Club to Baker City, Bend and Brooks to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Vintage Airstream Club — a VACation.
Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it. – Greg Anderson
Stop being afraid of what could go wrong — focus on what could go right. – Yoana Dianaka
We’ll keep our fingers crossed that our vehicle will keep us on the road with Chuck’s expertise and knowledge making maintenance adjustments as we travel up, down and across roads. We’re not as old as our vehicle and trailer, but are aging — and just like our vehicles — need checkups and maintenance.
Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been. – Mark Twain
We know that every trip — long or short — with a vintage vehicle can be an experience and adventure acknowledging the fact that sometimes you are stranded or stopped beside the road to make a repair. However, Chuck has made some minor adjustments to the Chrysler over time in preparation for this 2,700 mile trip. Now is the time to test our road survival skills. We’ll see how that goes — best intentions, etc., ha-ha.
Blessed are we who can laugh at ourselves for we shall never cease to be amused. – Terri Garey
Take the scenic route . . .
Anytime you leave the main road it can bring you to a new place to explore. Stop and look around. Sometimes you don’t actually have the choice whether or not you stop with a vintage car and trailer. Instead of constant worry, stay positive until you can’t — enjoy the detour; enjoy the scenery. Take a chance, take an exit . . .
If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere. – Frank A. Clark
Be flexible — adventures and new experiences await.
Take a road trip, there’s no limit to the number of places you can see for the first time or maybe even revisit places you’ve been. Folks, young and old, learn so much along the way traveling by automobiles, because they have the possibility of making a quick stop in the middle of nowhere and may continue along at their chosen leisure within our wonderful and diverse continent.
There is no moment of delight in any pilgrimage like the beginning of it. – Charles Dudley Warner
Okay, here we go — the trip begins.
To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with. – Mark TwainFirst stop, 72 miles later — gas station (the first of many). Someone there said, “You must have had it a long time.” Was that because we looked as old as the car? M-m-m (we’re not quite that old)! This was just the first of many comments we found amusing. While traveling, we received our first text from the vintage Airstream group with a form asking to be filled out for future reference and needs. We had to abstain due to the fact we were already on the road and had no means to fill it out and return it. In the “any special needs” section on the form, the only one I could think of was the desire to locate “the fountain of youth”. Also, we had not brought a bathing suit for a future stop at Belknap Hotsprings in Oregon which would be later on the tour because ”we did not want to frighten anyone”.
Chuck gave me the assignment to watch the car’s instrument panel and heat gauge — especially while climbing hills. The gauge hit 212 degrees in the Red Rock Canyon area. Chuck had installed a microwave timer (yes, a regular kitchen microwave knob purchased from the internet) he attched to an electric fan to help the cooling while going over hills and pulling over to stop while getting gas (thank goodness).
Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel across the country from coast to coast without seeing anything. – Charles Kuralt
We pulled over just to take a photo in the Red Rock Canyon area where we’ve camped for over 50 years. We use to dune buggy in this gorgeous area in the 1960s and early ‘70s but it has since been closed off to vehicular traffic. You can still hike in to see the spectacular rock formations, desert cliffs and buttes. This area has served as a backdrop in many movies and television shows. Once again — and it’s still day one (June 7th) — we had to pull over next to a campground in Big Pine while Chuck siphoned and blew out the gas hose because the old gas tank had debris in it, and it gets into the line (first of many similar pull-overs off the road). Chuck brought along a 5 ft. gas hose to run down the gas line to blow it out. Then we had to make another stop with a seemingly huge oil leak, so we sought refuge at Brown’s
Town Campground in Bishop, California, for the night.
We set out early the next morning to climb the Montgomery Pass (7,196 feet) knowing it was going to be a real stress test for the car engine. The engine is original to the car and is a straight 8 flathead. We would not have been able to achieve this climb later in the heat of the day.
One of my favorite sights along US 95 along the road going into Hawthorne, Nevada, are the dedicated war signs honoring veterans “ . . . who have sacrificed in the name of freedom …”. US 95 is designated as the Veterans Memorial Highway.
With oil continuously leaking, we pulled into Scotty’s Campground in Hawthorne, Nevada. The continuous oil leak’s origin was not known to us at this time until after we returned home. Upon inspection, Chuck realized it was coming off of the fuel and valve cover gaskets. On each travel day, we probably used about 1/2 quart of oil.
It is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult task which, more than anything else, will affect its successful outcome. – William James
Onto Winnemucca . . .
Drive your vintage car and trailer through the USA . . . America’s the greatest land of all . . . Oh, the places you’ll go! . . . You’re off to Great Places! . . . You can steer yourself any direction you choose . . . You’re on your own . . . And you know what you know . . . And you’re the one who’ll decide where you go . . . you’re off to Great Places. Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So . . . get on your way! There is fun to be done! . . . It’s opener out there, in the wide, open air. – Dr. Seuss
We visited new friends, Jim and Jean, in Winnemucca, Nevada, who have such a charming ranch/farm. We enjoyed their company, hospitality, watering their fields, feeding the calves Beavis and Butthead, as well as their horses, donkey and dog, Alli. We were enthralled with Jim’s banjo, guitar and cello skills and the viewing of his collection of old Winnemucca photos.
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. – Izaak Walton
It’s always good to take time out and take a snapshot or two of abandoned places. Oh, would I love to have this trailer park sign . . .
Gotta stop for gas and lunch . . . Rome Station, OregonWe touched the border of Oregon but then entered Idaho and stayed at a beautiful campground on the Snake River RV Resort in Homedale. Chuck enjoyed talking with the fishermen along the shoreline wishing he’d brought his fishing pole . . .
Arrived the next day at Mt. View RV Park in Baker City, Oregon, to begin our official first segment of the VACation. We were received by very nice staff in this western themed decor campground. We enjoyed plenty of shade during our stay. We arrived there a couple days early and were able to explore the surrounding area at our leisure and to watch the other vintage trailers arrive.
While shopping for light groceries along the way, folks would see us drive up in the old Chrysler. When we checked out of a store or the deli counter, folks seem to already know us. The Chrysler got every bit as much attention throughout the trip as the old trailer. No one was a stranger. Although our trailer has a two burner stove inside that works, we brought a one burner Coleman to make coffee in the morning or warm a pan of soup (which we only used a total of two times ). The trailer only has an icebox meaning we couldn’t store food for any length of time. I’m a clock eater but settled for one or two meals at inconsistent times. Without a bathroom in the trailer, I roughed it by taking showers in the parks, when available, and using their restrooms. I had to use a water pump each morning to brush my teeth and remarked, “I’d hate this water pump if it wasn’t so darned cute!” That was roughing it, but I managed it — it was a part of the trip. I know, I know; some places in the world would be overjoyed with these accommodations — and I appreciate that fact — I do know exactly what I have been blessed to enjoy . . .
One half of knowing what you want is knowing what you must give up before you get it. – Sidney Howard
We met a nice couple, George and Jeanne, who invited us to see their collections and interests (boat, motorcycle, Ruby the Travel Eaze trailer and their dog, Cooper) at their 1890’s victorian style home. We even went to breakfast with them to the popular Lone Pine restaurant in town. It was a very relaxing and pleasant morning.
When other vintage Airstreamers arrived in Baker City, we learned that it was the first night of many impromptu and planned happy hour cocktail parties accompanied by talented musicians and singers led by Nanci Drag whose goal was to keep the music going every evening! She provided sheet music and a CD for each trailer. Her musical gatherings were a delightful fest!
Without music, life is a journey through a desert. – Pat Conroy
While exploring the town, we ate lunch at Burger Bob’s Drive-In which has been around since 1961 started by Bob’s father. We sat on a bench waiting for our pastrami sandwiches and the rapport, humor and hilarity that ensued between Bob and his local customers was off the chart. He even stepped outside to look at our car. This was one example of the state of happiness and smiles permeating throughout our total time in Oregon by its inhabitants.
We are at our very best, and we are happiest, when we are fully engaged in work we enjoy on the journey toward the goal we’ve established for ourselves. It gives meaning to our time off and comfort to our sleep. It makes everything else in life so wonderful, so worthwhile. – Earl Nightingale
After lunch, we traveled to Gold Country via the Chrysler to view the Sumpter Valley Gold Dredge which was recently restored. Thousands of miners dredged and chiseled millions in gold from the Elkhorn Mountains and Powder River. There is a small museum in town which was closed while we were there, but we had the best-ever corn dogs at a little stand near the Sumpter Valley Railroad station and narrow-gauge track which was used by miners and loggers more than a century ago. We also stopped at the McEwen Railroad Station on our return trip to Baker City.
Back in Baker City, we went to the Oregon Heritage Museum which had local history exhibits and displays. It housed an interesting geology section on rocks including ones that glow in the dark. It is housed in a 1920 natatorium (I had to look up that word in the dictionary and extend my vocabulary) with exhibits on ranching and mining.
Our main interest at the museum was to see part of the Wally Byam collection. Wally, founder of the Airstream Company, was born in Baker City. The Airstream Company was incorporated in 1931. Today, Thor Industries is still manufacturing the Airstream brand.
Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare. – Japanese Proverb
Back at camp, we had our nightly meeting to plan and organize the next day’s events and activities and to make travel plans before moving on . . . thanks to our chefs, Dan & Jeannie, for our delicious meal. Thank you to Paul Drag (leader), Dal Smile and Shirley Bollinger (co-leaders) for all their diligent work in making this caravan such a success!
The next day, we visited the national historic Oregon Trail Museum Interpretive Center which featured interactive displays telling the story of the Oregon Trail.
That evening, Dal hosted a wine and cheese party for the group at Robert Anders Gallery on Main Street. Amy V. volunteered and became our official photographer for the caravan.
If you see something that moves you, and then snap it, you keep a moment. – Linda McCartney
We stopped by the Baker Heritage Center on our way out the next morning to get a picture of our Airstream in front and side of the museum.
Our journey took us onto the Oregon Scenic Highway through mountains of forests, cattle country and rock formations. We stopped for breakfast and, by chance, met up with Dal and his beloved dog, Calli.
No region in the world shows a more complete sequence of Tertiary land populations, both plant and animal than the John Day Basin. – Ralph W. Chaney
Next stop — the Paleontology Museum, John Day Fossil Beds. The Thomas Condon Paleontology Center was named after Condon because he was the first person to recognize the importance of the John Day Fossil Beds.
Some beautiful paths can’t be discovered without getting lost. – Erol Ozan
We had to stop in Mitchell to get gas. We spotted an old Coronado trailer which we had taken a picture of years ago — looked the same, hadn’t changed. We accidentally took off in the wrong direction (my bad). We could not get over the last hill to reach our next destination and had to pull off into a small campground where we enjoyed p-nut butter and jelly sandwiches (our main staple on the road). Saw no one else around until a truck pulled up and took out a riding lawn mower which began to toss wood and rocks our way until we politely asked him to mow elsewhere. We were not there because we wanted to be; we would move on as quickly as the over-heated car would allow.
We moved along toward the Wilson Ranch Retreat which included dry camping, an evening catered dinner and a morning breakfast; however, as always, we needed to move on early in the morning before breakfast to drive during the cooler air. We needed to be off the road by eleven — twelve at the very latest, or we were likely to be on the side of the road with an overheated car . . .
We stopped to eat breakfast in the small town of Condon. The restaurant was also small; booths became filled. Everyone started bussing their own plates to the counter to help the owner/cook; she was very busy but displayed a nice, relaxed disposition. Everyone pitched in to help — clearing the tables and stacking the dishes until another waitress would arrive. Such great attitudes from these folks; it was very heart warming — another accommodating, comfort stop in Oregon.
One of the great things about travel is that you find out how many good, kind people there are. – Edith Wharton
Onto Hood River and camping at the WAAM Museum (Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum) . . . it rained, so Chuck seized the opportunity to wash the car and trailer with the rainwater. Pizza was ordered, and we all sheltered to enjoy pizza.
The next day, some folks took the option of driving to Timberline Lodge at Mt. Hood; we chose not to because of our overheating ordeals. The early morning view of Mt. Hood from the distance was breathtaking. Before moving to California from Oregon as a child, I had fond memories visiting the area with my family.The last stop of this segment on the caravan was at J Bar J Ranch in Bend, Oregon. The sunsets were gorgeous.
Justin and Ana of Flyte Camp, nationally known trailer restorers, held an open house, barbecue and Bend Classic Tow Show in Bend.
Surround yourself with people who are going to motivate and inspire you. – Charles
The caravan group then went onto the Simax Hoodo Group Campground near Crescent Lake and the Belknap Hot Springs. We went off the grid while the others went to these sites thinking the hill climbs would overheat the Chrysler. Instead, we went to visit Paul & Nancy B. at their home and camping overnight in their driveway and sharing his collections, visiting the city of Bend, enjoying the Good Spirit Brewery (Bend is famous for its breweries) and enjoying the special 360 degree view from the volcanic Pilot Butte State Park
. As we drove up to a gas station in Salem on our way to the Car Museum in Brooks, the lady attendant yelled, “Vintage car! Vintage trailer! [looked inside our vehicle] Vintage people!” She had a huge smile on her face, we laughed, got gas — and she gave us directions for returning to the freeway to travel to the Car Museum at Powerland in Brooks — our next stop, the Vintage Airstream Club Rendezvous.
While we were at the Powerland Heritage Park, the 38th Annual Antique & Collectibles Swap Meet sponsored by Early Day Gas & Tractor Association, was taking place . . . I gave myself a timeout so I could pout knowing there was not room in our tiny car and trailer to purchase anything, especially the rust pieces that I tend to find (or do they find me) and take home on our roadtrips for yard art and my faux mine. The prices seemed so reasonable. Chuck went with a couple of other trailerites and mentioned to the guys he could not purchase anything or he’d be in trouble with me. All of a sudden he returns and tells me to walk along with him; he’d found a little trailer he liked. Well, there was seemingly no way we could tow it as it was sort of falling apart — but he did mention, if we purchased it, we could fill it with rust pieces. He walked away saying he’d be back soon; I walked around pretending to buy some of the things that I’d seen the previous day. Time passed and he hadn’t returned, so I looked around once more. My cell phone rang (Chuck never uses his, so it was a surprise when it was him). He told me to return to the car museum immediately. What’s up? There he was in front of the museum with the little trailer and some of the pieces I’d pretend-chosen. What a surprise! What a guy!!! Ironically, we found items that were so much cheaper there than back in SoCal. We weren’t thinking clearly in our excitement that we’d have to return, stay in hotels on the drive back up and eat out — guess they weren’t cheaper after all. We would also be able to visit a daughter in nearby Portland, Oregon, which we had been wanting to do (and we did upon our return to Oregon a couple weeks later).
The VAC parked their trailers in the back field on beautiful grass with shade trees behind the car museum which was under expansion construction. The three oldest trailers parked in the front on the asphalt which got pretty hot during the day. The vintage caravaner group purchased a paver tile for the front of the museum as a thank you for the CEO’s hospitality. We already purchased one from Vintage Trailer Camp the day before. The museum relies on grants and donor funding — a worthy cause.
There comes a moment on the journey when something sweet, something irresistible and charming as wine raised to thirsty lips, wells up in the traveller’s being. – Patrick McGill
Caravaners enjoyed their final meal together.
You haven’t failed until you quit trying. – Anonymous
Our caravan leader presented us with a bottle of champagne reminding us that was the promised reward for arriving at the final caravan destination (folks along the way could not believe we were actually driving the Chrysler that far — we believed — high hopes on our part, maybe). We were able to divide the bottle with our fireside friends later at the Salem fairgrounds.
Fred Coldwell, renowned trailer historian, gave two informative talks on the famous Oregon Pendleton wool blankets and shared a portion of his magnificent vintage blanket collection with special designs and national park blankets.
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. – Maya Angelou
On Saturday, June 23, we rendezvoused with other vintage Airstreams at the Chemeketa Community College parking lot to parade 2.5 miles into Salem to the Oregon Fairgrounds. It was well organized, and we met many new smiling vintage Airstreamers. The short parade through the city was ho-hum (my opinion only), but the parade through the fairgrounds was unexpectedly awesome! I was totally unprepared for this exuberant reception by modern Airstreamers. They were lined up waving and clapping. We felt so appreciated. I did not know how emotional that ride would be for me. It was impressive! I felt like a queen bee, and I hope every vintage trailerite felt the same way! Chuck and I were delighted that we’d actually made our journey and last destination . . . Hallelujah!
A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs. It’s jolted by every pebble on the road. – Henry Ward Beecher
We enjoyed the many smiles around camp. Chuck had some food on his lip while standing and talking to our new friends from Texas, Candy and Bill, when she smilingly said in her beautiful Texan accent, “It’ll taste good when he gets to it.” Another favorite comment was when historian Samantha from the “to be built” Airstream museum visited us inside our trailer and she exclaimed, “I got to sit in my puzzle today.” We actually had the puzzle with the Airstream Silver Cloud she was talking about sitting on the counter top. Dal kept reminding us about what a strange estate sale we’d have one day with some of the rusty junk and objects we collected along the way . . .
Sharing the champagne, camaraderie and music with our vintage trailer family at the WBCCI International Rally. . .
There were many spectators (of all ages) enjoying the vintage trailers throughout the time we were there. There were group activities, daily events, meetings, sponsored hospitality moments, a variety of presentations on trailers and other topics, and various Oregon tours available. We did not participate in those activities; we stuck around the vintage trailer camp. Saturday was open house.
After the open house, Chuck gave a presentation, “Saving a ’36 Silver Cloud”, beside the trailer. Discussion included where it was found, its previous known history and condition when it was discovered, its restoration and what parts to maintain, restore or change and what he learned in the process. It was the hottest day in Oregon so far for us! It was a small crowd.
A tourist is a fellow who drives thousands of miles so he can be photographed standing in front of his car [in this case, the trailer]. — Emile Ganest
We only stayed at the International Rally for three enjoyable days as planned. The weather was warming up and we knew we needed to begin the trip home — once again, early morning wake up and shutting down the operation between eleven and noon.
Each time we pulled into a gas station, sometimes as the engine would start coughing, we would pause and say, “Wait for it!” Then the big bang backfire!
Once again, we were following the Oregon Trail/Applegate Trail. While eating fast food in Grants Pass, we were given an offer to camp free for the week if we stayed in town until the next weekend for their car show. Sadly, we had to decline.
Another pullover; stopped at a small campground in Ashland. First thing we noticed was a familiar vintage trailer. It was our vintage trailer friends, Mike & Betsy, who were visiting friends in the area and camping in their 1955 Airlight “Rear Door” trailer. Pulling into the site next to us for the night was a brand new Airstream on its very first outing — the oldest known factory- produced Airstream and the newest camping side by side. Pretty cool! Small world!
Left the next morning passing by Yreka in California; had to stop four times to cool the engine going over steep grades in the Siskiyou Mountains and Mt. Shasta area.We were on our way to visit our friends, Shannon and Ellen, who had recently moved to Shingletown. The Chrysler started vapor locking. We only made two miles at a time before stalling. Many folks pulled off to offer their assistance and to talk, talk, talk. It was so hot sitting and standing out in the sun; and I had to remind myself this was a part of our adventure. Finally, we called Shannon and he came and saved the day! He pulled the trailer over the hill with his truck, and the Chrysler then had no problem making the last couple of miles. What we didn’t know beforehand was that it was a 9% grade. Yikes! Shannon thought we were familiar with the area. Chuck says he would not even have tried it if he had known . . . well, it’s a good thing because Shannon was a perfect host, and we loved his new home — and, of course, his collection of vintage trailers.
Another gas station stop and a fellow trying to take some photos yells as he fumbles while trying to get a quick picture screams, “I’m gonna be pissed off if I didn’t get those photographs!” A young man with a huge grin pauses his car in front of ours and shouts with thumbs up, “You guys are on time travel, welcome to the 21st Century!”
We spent the night in a campground in New Delhi. On the way out in the morning, we could not find anyone to open the gate. A untility truck driver got exasperated with us because Chuck was out looking for help and we were blocking the exit. I took a picture just in case he hit the trailer or side mirrors on the car. There was no secret to the gate, we just hadn’t driven close enough to trip it.
The next day, our plan was to drive to the bottom of the grapevine and stay overnight in a nearby campground recognizing that we would reach the area fairly early in the day, but it would be too hot to start the climb. We enjoyed our last dinner of peanut butter and jelly. We were just trying to pass the time which was helped by enjoying a little pinot grigio and Bailey’s Irish Cream. We were only about 67 miles from home; however with all the wacky stops with the Chrysler, it took us two hours to get to the summit of the grapevine having to pull over three times. We were so close to home, I actually started holding my breath thinking, “Not now, not now, just a little further”. The anticipation and anxiety of making it all the way was growing. The only car parts that stopped working altogether were the emergency lights and turn signals. Chuck would put his arm out to signal a turn or lane change, but I worried a little that no one this day in age would even being mindful of what he was doing. Folks don’t even use their automatic turn signals most of the time (I find that worrisome).
And at our last gas station stop, an onlooker remarked, “You got old stuff. I love old cars. No one does anymore, they look right through them . . .” Happily, that was not our experience on this trip.
Effort only fully releases its reward after a person refuses to quit. – Napoleon Hill
Was this trip worth it? Absolutely. It fulfilled a dream for Chuck, and we made some wonderful new friends and visited with ol’ friends along the way. We won’t forget the folks we also met who invited us into their homes and shared their collections. Would we do it again? Stay tuned . . .
I’m glad I did it, partly because it was worth it, but mostly because I shall never have to do it again.” – Mark Twain
And on our 55th wedding anniversary, we drove into our driveway. I want to thank and exclaim my admiration to my love and best friend for taking us on this journey adventure. What a way to celebrate life and each other doing something we love to do — a roadtrip! Of course unpacking and washing clothes, the car and trailer is always a drag.
Here are a few more travel quotes to share just because I couldn’t fit them in anywhere:
If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there. – Lewis Carroll
Courage: the most important of all the virtues because if you’re not sure where you’re going, you’ll probably end up somewhere else. – Anonymous
Some make it happen, some watch it happen, and some say, “What happened?” – Anonymous
Try and fail, but don’t fail to try. – Stephen Kaggwa
Establishing goals is all right if you don’t let them deprive you of interesting detours. – Doug Larson
If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time. – Unknown
You must have long-range goals to keep you from being frustrated by short-range failures – Charles C. Noble
Happiness comes when you believe in what you are doing, know what you are doing, and love what you are doing. – Brian Tracy
The grand essentials of happiness are: something to do, something to love, and something to hope for. – Allan K. Chalmers
The more I want to get something done, the less I call it work. – Richard Bach
Don’t wait. The time will never be just right. – Napoleon Hill
And one of my all-time favorite quotes that can be applied to any and all things: When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us. – Alexander Graham Bell
To Steven & Patti, Paul B., Shirley & John, Fred, Dal, Paul & Nanci, Gail, Amy, Vince, Bill & Candy, et al vintage Airstream caravaners — thank you for putting up with us. We enjoyed meeting and traveling with you . . .
2,700 miles . . .