Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Big Road Trip: Days One through Three

Just throwing in a few photos from the road for the Patio Boat faithful and the non-FBers among the crowd. In general, photos from my iPhone will go on FB on a regular basis, and wil tend to be quick snapshots of whatever we're up to during the day. Photos from the good camera will go here, and will tend to cluster around touristy things that are worth breaking out the good camera for.

The Day One report -- We left Wolverine Lake around 12:30 pm on Sunday. We stopped in at the original Pizzeria Uno in Chicago for dinner:

Then we headed West on I-90...

...until a thunderous downpour led us to call it a night and stop at the Relax Inn in Stewartville, Minnesota.

Day Two -- We made a reasonably early start out of Stewartville and early in the afternoon we stopped at the one and only World Famous Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota:

After a quick visit to the Corn Palace (the exterior of which is under reconstruction, as you see in the above photo. It'll look better in 2015. I promise.) we got back on the road and arrived at Badlands National Park, South Dakota, in time to set up camp and catch a lovely sunset:

Day Three -- The next morning kicked off with an equally lovely sunrise:

After we broke camp it was time to do a bit of hiking and exploring in the Badlands. Because we look pretty small in some of the pictures below, I'd like to point out that Monique is the blue dot, I'm the green dot, Malcolm is the red dot, and Henry is the white dot:

 After we left the Badlands we made a quick lunchtime stop at Wall Drug for a glass of free ice water, five-cent coffee, and lunch. The lunch at the Wall Drug Cafe wasn't all that costly, but it did cost a bit more than the ice water and coffee.

Then it was on to Mount Rushmore:

After Mount Rushmore we visited its rising "famous dude carved out of a mountain in South Dakota" competitor, the Crazy Horse monument, now in its 66th year of carving. To give you a sense of the scale of this vast undertaking, you could fit all four presidential heads at Mount Rushmore inside Crazy Horse's head:

(To help give this thing a bit of scale, if you look closely at some of the terraces you can see large bulldozers and bucket loaders as little yellow dots in this photo.)

After visiting the Crazy Horse monument we headed down to Wind Cave National Park to camp for the night. But a series of looming thunderstorms on the western horizon led us to instead settle for a quick picnic lunch...

... before beating a hasty retreat to the secure and dry Holiday Inn Express in Custer, SD. Malcolm and Henry were of course heartbroken to have to hang out at the indoor pool and hot tub instead of potentially getting electrocuted before sleeping in the mud. But they covered their disappointment amazingly well. Really, amazingly well. It was quite convincing the way it seemed they preferred a pool and a dry mattress to camping in the rain. 

But they're good lads, so I know they must have just been covering their disappointment at not getting to experience camping in a giant thunderstorm, so as not to make me feel that I let them down by chickening out in the face of Mother Nature. Brave, brave boys.

Monique covered her disappointment pretty well, too.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Big Road Trip: Day Zero - The Dream Cruise

As many of you know, Monique and I are off on a big road trip for the next couple of weeks. We're bringing our nephews Malcolm and Henry along on an expedition to the Badlands, Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone, the Rocky Mountains and -- if everything works out right -- the World's Largest Ball of Twine.

Sadly, the Corn Palace is under construction in 2014.

I hope to bring you a few blog posts from the road. But before the trip, Arsen, Henry, Malcolm, and I warmed up by taking our dream car -- the 1999 Jaguar XJ8 Vanden Plas Supercharged saloon -- to the world's largest automotive event, The Dream Cruise! Here are a few photos, plus my thanks to Malcolm and Henry for wielding the camera while I drove.

Loaded up in the dream car and ready for The Dream Cruise.

If it looks like the World's Largest Traffic Jam on Woodward Ave., it must be The Dream Cruise.

Arsen said, "I hope I see a Studebaker today." Not two minutes later ... a Studebaker appeared behind us.

1973 VW Thing, presented over burled walnut.

I've never before seen the big rims on a mid-70s Stingray. It looked a lot better than I would've thought.

This Buick Riviera found a small window in the left lane, punched the accelerator, and flew by the backed up traffic ... all the way into the hands of this waiting cop.

Starsky & Hutch in the house.


MG Midget.

Now here comes an awesome looking dream cruiser:

There goes an awesome looking dream cruiser....

Sunday, August 10, 2014

A Patio Boat first: a correction!

Well, whaddya know. Somebody wrote in to correct my mistake in incorrectly identifying the owner/creator of an extremely cool Gremlin in my post about the Gremlins I saw at this winter's Detroit Autorama.

I believe this to be the first correction I've had to make in more than 600 posts. Sadly, I suspect that is more a comment on my lack of readership than the razor-sharp accuracy of my writing. (Admittedly, Monique has complained loudly about me calling Katie the Beagle a "fat beagle" in these parts But since a photo of that pudgy little bucket of furry love shows up at #35 on the list of images Google brings back for the phrase "fat beagle", who am I to argue with the geniuses at Google?)

In any event, I made the correction and threw a little Edit box down at the bottom of the post, as such:

[Edit: This post was corrected to show that Ray Lewis, Jr., was the actual owner/creator of the burgundy Gremlin. My apologies to Mr. Lewis and his inexplicably awesome Gremlin for the misattribution.]

I also reckoned I'd make an actual post with the correction included because ... well, I hate corrections that slink in the back door at the bottom of a post. So here it is, loudly proclaimed to my ever-dwindling blog readership. What you should really all do is click on the link to the post and check out that car. It's awesome.

Ahhh, if only all my mistakes were that easy to correct.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

2014 Concours of America, Part 3 -- Pickups

Another batch o'cars from the Concours of America, this time an assortment of classic pickup trucks featured in an exhibit called "High-Style Haulers: Pickups of the Jet Age."

1957 Ford Styleside Pickup (owners, James and Linda Costa of Lenhartsville, Pennsylvania) -- The Styleside was one of the first pickups to move away from the step-side pickup truck bed to the square box style that carried through today's pickups.

1957 Ford Ranchero Pickup (owner, Joseph M. Conlon, Sr., of Taunton, Massachusetts) -- Okay, a confession. The next few photos aren't really quite what I would consider to be pickups, even if they were in the "Pickups of the Jet Age" display. They're the half-car, half-pickup vehicles that had a great run from the late 1950s through the 1980s, when compact pickups bumped them out of automaker lineups. The Ranchero was an instant hit when it was launched in 1957 and Ford produced them all the way until 1979. Chevrolet followed up quickly with its own car-based pickup, the Chevy El Camino in 1959:

1959 Chevrolet El Camino Pickup (owner, Jane Argenendt of Jefferson City, Missouri) -- The El Camino was launched in 1959 by Chevrolet and immediately attracted a strong following of its own. This initial style ran from 1959-60. The El Camino was relaunched in 1964 and ran all the way until 1987.

1959 Pontiac Safari El Catalina Pickup (owner, Wm. "Tom" Gerrard of Manalapan, Florida) -- Pontiac considered trying to capitalize on the success of the Ranchero with its own car-based pickup for 1960. But after building this 1959 prototype they decided not to proceed.

1965 Dodge Deora Custom Pickup by the Alexander Brothers (owner, Tom Abrams of Canton, Michigan) -- Today's final truck is a custom-built hot rod that won the Ridler Trophy as Best in Show at the 1967 Autorama show in Detroit, Michigan. It started life as an A100 forward-control pickup. One of the neatest things about it is that the front opens to let in passengers kind of like a BMW Isetta, but on a much larger scale. The Deora was so popular that it gained its name as part of a model kit company contest and it was featured in the original 1968 lineup of Hot Wheels toy cars:

I think it still would've done quite nicely had it shown up at this year's Autorama. It's a great-looking truck.