Tick, Tock Clock

May 18th, 2012 by Forrest McClure

Last month the weather was so nice that we took the Globe Trotter over to Cherry Creek State Park for a night of camping. The park is only two miles away so it wasn’t exactly an adventure, but camping in April is always a little iffy in Colorado. Mostly, I just needed to get out and wanted to de-winterize the trailer.

I never sleep well the first night out. Sometime around four a.m. when everything is especially quiet, I woke because of the clock. Perhaps I was only partly awake because my mind was a bit foggy. I laid there listening to the clock tick, tick, ticking. It seemed so loud in the dead quiet. The tick, tick, ticks seemed to be speeding up though. I thought, what is wrong with that clock?

I don’t know how long I laid there listening. Was it 10 minutes, 20 or 60? At home, I can look at the clock by my bedside and tell myself I should get up. Next thing I know I open my eyes again and it’s an hour later. Time passes unnoticed.

It slowly dawned on me though that our electric clock didn’t make any noise and certainly didn’t tick. That made me sit upright and listen more intently. Where was the sound coming from? Patrice felt me getting up and woke wanting to know what I was doing.

“Do you hear a ticking sound?” I asked.

“Come back to bed. It’s just the clock.”

“Here’s the clock. See, it doesn’t make any sound.”

“Then what is it?” She wondered.

“Oh, no.” I opened a little compartment under the bed where the water pressure regulator and some valves are located. “Damn, it’s leaking.” The tick, tick, tick was a drip, drip, drip.

I ran outside in just my shorts to turn off the water and disconnect the hose. Then I hurried back inside to stuff towels into the tiny compartment hoping to soak up as much water as possible. Fortunately, there is an opening in the floor for a drain tube in the compartment and that let most of the water out. So, we didn’t have a flood.

Still, it puzzles me why the water pressure regulator chose to leak in the middle of the night. I checked it first thing after hooking up and there wasn’t a problem. In fact, I always check it after hooking up because I’ve had problems with it before. It is made of ABS plastic (it’s a popular brand that Airstream currently uses) and I can only guess that sometimes the O-rings don’t seal properly or that sometimes the plastic body just isn’t quite up to the task of handling the pressure.

I returned to bed and we slept in until about nine a.m. Then we wanted some water for washing and cooking. So, I hooked up the water and checked the regulator. It didn’t leak. I don’t understand why, but if I ever hear the clock ticking again I won’t be fooled (and from now on I’m turning the water off at bedtime).

Blogs, Death and Grandchildren

March 30th, 2012 by Forrest McClure

Okay, I’ve learned a lesson – I shouldn’t ignore my blog for months on end. I have some excuses, but you know, excuses are like… and everyone has one. When my trailers went into winter hibernation, so did I. There were other distractions. The biggest was my father-in-law dying. He was the patriarch of the family and left a big hole in our hearts.

He died in hospice, March 15th after struggling for years with lung, blood and heart problems, but it was cancer that finally got him.

He lived a long fulfilling life though and at the end, he had his wife and daughters at his bedside. That has to count for something.

There is still a lot to do but I’m beginning to catch up. This blog is one of those things. I knew the site had a big upgrade a while ago, but the big surprise was the 6,600+ spam comments attached to my postings. I was only able to delete a 150 at a time without getting an error message from the server. So, it took some time to trash them.

I apologize to those of you who posted legitimate comments. I just couldn’t handle sorting them out. As a result, everyone’s comments, even my own, are now gone.

Isn’t it sad that we have to put up with the vultures of the world? That’s what spammers are – scavengers. Of course, they forage in other ways too.

Several days ago, my mother-in-law received a note in the mail. It appeared to be hand written and said, “My wife and I are interested in buying your house… Please call us at 720-xxx-xxxx… thanks, John & Jane Doe.” (I changed the names because a complaint with the BBB is pending.)

The note really upset my mom. She didn’t know these people and didn’t understand how they knew her husband had died or how they got her address. She’s unlisted in the phone book. It especially frightened her because she is alone for the first time in her life and feels vulnerable. She even worried that someone might be watching her house.

My complaint to the BBB was that this kind of unsolicited inquiry is unscrupulous because it did not list the name of the business. A close inspection of the note revealed it was computer generated. The return address on the envelope and phone number in the note belongs to a realtor. Obviously, they scour the obituaries for leads. They might call that fishing, but it’s really just another kind of spam.

On a lighter note, my grandchildren were on their way to the funeral. They asked where they were going and my daughter told them, “to the cemetery to bury greatpa.” My four-year-old grandson said, “Oh, no, that means we have to dig.” My six-year-old grandson replied, “yeah, and dig a lot.” As Art Linkletter would say, “Children say the darndest things.”

Death of an Oasis

November 19th, 2011 by Forrest McClure

Water laws are complex and seem to trump all other laws. I’m pretty sure there are lawyers who specialize in water law and nothing else. In the case of Bonny Lake State Park, situated on the high eastern plains of Colorado, the law, in all of its unyielding wisdom, has killed an oasis.

I have a special affinity for Bonny. It was the destination of our very first outing in an Airstream. That, in turn, resulted in the very first article I wrote about traveling with an Airstream, titled Oasis On the High Desert Plain of Colorado, published in The Vintage Advantage, the newsletter of the Vintage Airstream Club. We love Bonny. It was created by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in 1951, the year I was born, for flood control of the south fork of the Republican River.

It is a 150-mile drive from our home. So, I can’t say we’ve been there every year, but almost. It is a great place for RV’ers to stop for a night or two prior to pushing on west to Denver, or east some place in Kansas. This year Patrice and I wanted to stay there for a couple of days on our way back from Texas.

The death notice came suddenly. Once the decision was made, there was little warning. Bonny Lake is a reservoir and the state began draining it on September 22, and closed it on October 1. This happened while we were traveling out of state.

I only sensed something was wrong when we got off I-70 and drove north on Highway 385. Bonny is 25 miles north of the town of Burlington. It was late in the day and one RV after another passed us going the opposite direction. I even noticed one motor home driver point us out to his wife, shake his head and laugh. I remember wondering why anyone with an RV would head away from the only state park in the area at what normally is the end of the driving day.

But we were tired from driving 417 miles, from our previous stop in Winfield, Kansas and arrived at dusk. So, perhaps I should be excused for not seeing the notice at the entrance to Bonny, but there was no ignoring the padlocked gate at the Wagon Wheel Campground. It was a puzzle though. I could see one RV parked there, so after meandering about for a few minutes I parked and walked over to knock on the door.

I didn’t need to. It was the sole remaining Park Ranger camped there with his wife. He saw me coming and came out to meet me. That’s when I got the bad news. He told me about Kansas demanding water and that the only way Colorado could give it to them was by draining the lake. Even worse, he said, was that the state actually planned to bulldoze the campgrounds – visitor center, marina, roads, RV sites, sewer, water – everything into a big hole and bury it – except for the picnic tables. Those would be saved so that they could be used in other parks.

The Ranger took pity on us and let us spend the night in the marina parking lot.

If I felt stunned, imagine how the locals felt about it. It will be devastating to their economy. Currently, the plan to bulldoze is on hold to give the county time to figure out if they have the resources to take over the campgrounds. The park though, is history. It is now officially part of the South Republican Wildlife Area and is designated a State Wildlife Area. Sounds environmentally correct, doesn’t it?

Except that, when the lake is gone, so too will everything in and around it. The surrounding forest will die. The trees were dependent on it. When they die, and they will die, the habitat that the wildlife depends on will go too. It might take a few years or maybe a decade or so, but much of the flow of the south fork of the Republican River is going to be diverted by pipeline to Kansas. At some not too distant point in the future, the river will be a dry gulch.

No longer will Snow Geese, cranes and herons and other waterfowl have this place for a rest. Eagles, hawks and owls will suffer because small game, not to mention large game, will be decimated. A letter from the State Wildlife officials dryly understated that, “The result will most likely be the loss of the entire fishery.” A fish salvage – all legal means of fishing, without limits – has been authorized in anticipation of the coming mud flats.

Just a few of the camping sites scheduled for destruction.

Rivers on the high desert plains are not like rivers say in Ohio, or any of the states east of the Mississippi. Our rivers here might not even rate a name in an eastern state, and the name would be creek, not river. The truth, I fear, is that the area in and around Bonny will return to its “natural” state – that of a desert. Sage brush, buffalo grass, cactus, and rattle snakes. I know that is what today’s environmentalist wants, but it is not without great cost and I know that I’d much rather have the man made oasis.

Luck Not Skill

October 18th, 2011 by Forrest McClure

October 11, 2011

We left Denton, Texas around 10 a.m. – an hour later than I wanted, but traffic was moderate to heavy on northbound I-35. Our destination was anywhere there might be autumn foliage.

In heavy Interstate traffic, I tow at 55 mph. I know that seems really slow, but I’m comfortable at that speed because I like keeping a generous following distance between me and the car ahead. Being vintage, none of my brakes are disk except for the front wheels of my tow vehicle. So, my breaking distance isn’t exactly exceptional. Coming to a stop from 55 is a lot easier than 60 or 65. Then there are the ST tires on my trailer that are rated for 65 mph. That maximum is only good under ideal conditions. My viewpoint is that I am never towing under ideal conditions, and though I’ve not had any problems with my tires that is likely because I keep my speed down, watch the tire pressures and temperature, and trailer weight.

I also like to drive with no music playing and, weather permitting, with the windows down. That is not what most drivers do. They drive with the stereo blasting away, texting or talking on their cell phone, windows rolled up, air conditioner blowing cold. Not only are they driving distracted, but insulated from the sounds of the road.

I used to drive like that when I was young, but when I became a police officer, I was instructed to not play music and always keep the windows cracked open a little, even in the dead of winter.  In the early Seventies, police cars only came with an AM radio anyway and that was supposed to be used to listen to news and weather reports during blizzards or other emergencies. Not that cops didn’t listen to Rock n’Roll, but really the radio was only for official use. In other words, we were supposed to listen to the police radio and for sounds of traffic and the city.

People have complained about cops being insulated by their cars for quite some time. It’s hard sometimes to flag down a passing police car because officers are going down the road in air conditioned comfort (they have to because of the body armor they wear today), sometimes typing on or reading off a computer laptop, and with the FM radio playing their favorite station. It might sound like I’m being critical of them, but I’m not. I’m just acknowledging that it’s a different time.

But I had the driving techniques I learned and used for so long serve me well. A lot of arrests resulted from my hearing a scream, a gunshot, a window breaking, or tires squealing, and I saved myself from collisions with other police cars, ambulances, or fire trucks running red lights or stop signs when we were responding to the same emergency situations.

So, my driving habits are the result of a couple of decades of experience, and I’m so used to driving that way that I’m not comfortable driving the way, “civilians” do.

That paid off for me today on I-35. A semi-tractor trailer passed us with its left inner dual rear tire making a “whump-whump-whump-whump,” sound. As he went by, I saw the tire was low on air, and remarked to Patrice that it wouldn’t be long before it would blow out. I no sooner said that and we heard a remarkably loud explosion. Not only had the inner tire disintegrated, but it blew out the outer tire as well. The carcass from one spun from one side of the road to the other in front of us. I changed lanes to avoid it, and cars behind us impatiently passed us on the right, only to have to brake hard to avoid chunks of rubber coming off the truck. One of those drivers, talking on his cell phone, nearly ran off the road. It’s amazing how much less control you have steering with only one hand.

We avoided an accident or at least kept our truck or trailer from being damaged by the tire carcass because I heard, then saw what was going to happen. That is what defensive driving is all about.

Not just good driving habits keep us out of trouble though. Right after we crossed the border from Texas into Oklahoma, we stopped for a few minutes at the visitor’s center. When we came out traffic on the interstate was backing up. Four or five miles up the road, there had been a bad accident – a man driving a pickup truck fell asleep at the wheel and rear-ended a semi-tractor trailer that had slowed for traffic. It took the fire department an hour and a half just to extricate him because his truck was crushed and trapped under the semi. Amazingly, he lived, but the accident closed down the Interstate for hours. Other vehicles were off the road, on the median or shoulder from taking evasive maneuvers. All other traffic was detoured onto side roads and it took us an hour just to go six miles.

Afterward, I wondered if our taking a short break at the visitor’s center had prevented us from being involved. Our break had only been for maybe five minutes. Time and travel speed would have put us in very close proximity if we had not taken a break. That’s a matter of luck, not skill.

Fall Travel

October 8th, 2011 by Forrest McClure
This year, we stayed home for the Summer and instead saved traveling for the Fall. So, we’re on the road now.
Our first stop was Camping World in Fountain, CO, to join with our friend, Barb Wool in a little caravan to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. We again decided to get out of Denver late at night to avoid heavy traffic. That worked pretty well, but just like last time, we ran into a cone zone (line painting) and had some cars zoom ahead of us only to slam on their brakes when the lanes went from five to one. That was the only really tense moment  though, and from there it was smooth sailing.
We slept the remainder of the night at Camping World, did some shopping in the morning, and then with Barb, continued on to Trinidad Lake State Park. We’ve used this park in the past as an overnight stop. It’s not too far off the Interstate and is a pleasant, quiet place.
From there came the climb over Raton Pass and into New Mexico. We had a tail wind nearly all the way to Albuquerque that gave us a little better miles per gallon and easy driving.
Apparently, Denver doesn’t have a monopoly on heavy traffic. The last time I was in Albuquerque was 1971 when the Draft Board bused me and some other 18 year olds there from Durango, CO (where I was going to college) for our physicals. It was a much different town back then. Like Denver, it has grown dramatically.
Fortunately, we made it to Enchanted Trails RV Park on the west side of town without a problem. There we linked up with over a hundred other Airstreamers and caravanned to the Balloon Fiesta the next morning.

Airstreams lined up at Camping World for the Caravan to the Fiesta

The Fiesta was wonderful. After awhile I realized that my face hurt from smiling so much. I went crazy taking pictures (only around 850 or so), and my back and neck ached from looking up. We hope to return next year with two of our grandkids.
Unfortunately, for the Fiesta, the Airstream group only stayed four days, and we took the good weather with us when we left. The rain and wind pretty much shut everything down afterward.
From Albuquerque, Patrice and I went to Roswell. We’ve never been there before, and I really didn’t have a clue what it was like. In my mind’s eye, I thought it would be some little community with a main street a few blocks long, eking out a living from tourists wanting to see flying saucers and little green men. The reality is there is a population of around 55,000 people and tourism is just a small part of the economy. But we did get to see a few little “grey” men.

"It's true, they do exist!"

Having now seen Roswell first hand, I doubt we’ll ever return. It was kind of disappointing. We did enjoy Carlsbad Caverns though. The only time I’ve ever been there was when I was a child. I mostly remember eating in the cafeteria deep down in the cavern, and told Patrice that was something we’d do. Now there is only a small snack bar by the elevators. Apparently, the cafeteria attracted unwanted wild life (mice?) and it was closed about two years ago. I also remember the place was much more lit with lights of various colors, but now the lighting has been greatly reduced. It’s all in the name of conservation of course.
Even the drive there was significantly different because there was a fire last June that left much of the surrounding area scorched.  In all, it made me feel like I’d waited too long to visit. Things change dramatically sometimes.
Our drive across west Texas was dusty, with a 30 to 40 mph cross wind all the way to Dallas. Today, it is overcast with a possibility of rain here in Denton, but we didn’t come here to see the sights. We’re here to visit my sister for the first time in about a decade. Other than visit with her, I really just want some down time to recover, catch up on emails, write and process some of the hundreds of photos I’ve taken.
We don’t know where we’ll go from here. It might be back home, but I’d also like Patrice to see the Autumn foliage. So, we might head for Arkansas.

Rubies and Flowers and Camping

September 13th, 2011 by Forrest McClure

The Modernism Show was smaller than last year. I especially missed Steve Cambronne’s work, as he didn’t attend this year. On Friday night, my youngest daughter competed for Miss Modernism but didn’t place. Still, it was nice that some of the audience told her they thought she should have won. The winner, Gracie Stein, is a nice gal though and even posed by the door of my Airstream.

The show seems to always run through August 28th, my wedding anniversary. This year was our 40th. That number is hard to imagine, but then so is the thought that we now have eight grandchildren. Rubies represent forty years and that is what Patrice got, along with my tradition of a rose for each year.

We celebrated by having coffee and cake with some of our friends at the show, Jim Cooper, Luke Bernander, Jim Lane, Chris Hildenbrand, Kim and Harry Truitt. My daughter, Molly, came with three of her six children in tow.

When the show ended at three o’clock, we simply continued west on I-70 with the Globe Trotter and camped in Golden Gate State Park for two nights. The park is well used but taken a little for granted. It is just a few miles north of the mountain gambling town of Blackhawk and so is convenient from the Denver area. Traffic is heavy from Golden to Blackhawk because of all the gamblers, but the park itself is a quiet hidden gem, populated with aspens and lodge pole pines. The campground has long pull-through sites, but the most level are the back-in sites. They are electric only, but there is a very nice new dump station.

Golden Gate State Park

No, this is not how many couples would celebrate their fortieth, but it was an opportunity for us to spend a cozy and private two days together without any distractions. Patrice was happy with that, and when she’s happy, I’m happy.

The park has numerous hiking trails and I took one listed as “moderate” on impulse. I’d told Patrice I was just going for a walk around the campground, but instead thought the two and a half mile trail wouldn’t be much harder or require any preparation. It’s been awhile since I’ve taken a hike and forgot safety. In my mind, I didn’t think it would be all that much more difficult than my daily walk around Heather Gardens. I should have let Patrice know where I was going. I should have taken water. I should have been wearing better footwear.

At first, the trail was easy, but it quickly became quite steep and covered with loose stones. I passed some hikers who were returning, but after that, I was alone. I suddenly realized that I was breaking all the rules. It was only a few hours till sunset to boot and the thought occurred to me that if I tripped or fell and injured myself, I could easily become one of those foolish flatlander tourists that make the news from time to time, needing search and rescue. The irony is that I had a pack with everything I was supposed to have back in the trailer.

Fortunately, the weather was great, and I made it to Panorama Point without too much difficultly, but from there I walked a short distance over to the road and took that back to the campground instead of the much more difficult trail. Still, I know what I did was stupid. I really do know better.

Patrice and I - together since we were teenagers.

The Enormously Popular and Unbelievable Mid-Century Show

August 17th, 2011 by Forrest McClure

Did you know there is an affordable event where you can show off your vintage or retro Airstream? It’s the annual Denver Modernism Show, August 26-28, where mid-century art, furniture, technology, cars, and YES, Airstreams will be on display at the National Western Stock Show Expo Hall.


Chris & Jim hang out with Rob & Shari Davis in front of their award winning 1956 Safari

Vintage Airstream owners were first invited to this event in 2008 and I believe that was the first time Airstreams were included as exhibitors at any modernism show in the country. So, we made a little bit of history. Vintage and new Airstreams with a retro design are welcome. Last year, Chris Hildenbrand & Jim Lane brought a 2006 Bambi Quicksilver and Jim Dauer & Susan Tiegs their 2007 75th Anniversary Bambi (designed by David Winick).

This year there’s more room for us – away from the rock & roll bands. So, if you want to show off your Airstream or even sell it, this is the event. Likewise, you have the opportunity to sell your own mid-century items and artwork. It doesn’t have to be Airstream related, just mid-century modern. Thousands attend this show. You can’t just buy this kind of opportunity.

That’s because it’s free to us! The cost of admission and participation is that you bring an Airstream and are willing to let the public view it on Sunday, August 28, 2011.

Worried that all that traffic might scuff the floors or scratch the finish? Don’t be, you are in control of who goes into your trailer. The public has been respectful of our property. We simply drape a ribbon or cord across the open door and they realize that they can look in, but not go in. Stage the interior, turn on all the lights (power is available), and open the curtains. This lets them look through the windows, but not open cabinets and drawers. Everybody is happy!

Don’t have anything to sell, but want to shop? There will be vendors from around the nation selling a wide variety of vintage and contemporary MID-CENTURY, ART DECO, RETRO, POP & MODERNIST FURNISHINGS, ARTWORK & OBJECTS. In addition, comedian, Charles Phoenix, returns to MC and entertain.

Want to really get into it and go back in time? Can you tap-dance, play an instrument, or sing? There will be a Miss Modernism Pageant on Friday night at 8 PM (open to the Mrs. too)! Throw out your preconceptions, it’s all for fun with Contestants judged on: 1) Retro Mod Style; 2) Charm and Personality; 3) and Talent! Enter to WIN a $500 Shopping Spree at the Denver Modernism Show, or a trip to Palm Springs Modernism Week!

There really is so much more to see and do that you’ll have to go to the website to read about it: http://www.denvermodernism.com/

Due to close quarters and limited maneuvering room, there are some restrictions. 30 amp dry camping is available outdoors for $20/night.  If you are interested contact Forrest McClure, at forrestrm@live.com or call 720-748-5328.

Life In the Land of Old

July 19th, 2011 by Forrest McClure

With the exception of 2007, this is the first May, June and July we’ve stayed entirely at home since 2002 – we were in California in 2003, Maine in 2004, Missouri in 2005, Oregon in 2006, Montana in 2008, Wisconsin in 2009, Ohio and Wyoming in 2010 and of course everywhere else in between and around those states. I’ve almost forgotten how nice Spring and yes, even Summer, is in Colorado, especially in Heather Gardens. Even the 10 days of Monsoon weather we just came through was relatively nice compared to other parts of the nation. We are really rather enjoying ourselves here in our retirement community.

Our “Monsoon” rains do result in some spectacular rainbows (photo taken with my cell phone)

Our ’85 Suburban, the one we call The Beast, has been running well, but it does love gas. It was my thought for a while, after Patrice had her stroke that we would make do with just one car. It was an attempt on my part to simplify, but really, it is almost painful to run errands with it. Going to the grocery store, the post office and any number of other places that are not much more than a couple miles away doesn’t even give its 454 cu inch engine the chance to warm up. Of course, that is the worst kind of gas mileage and I’m too ashamed to even say what our average has been.

So, about a month ago I started eying my neighbor’s car again. It’s parked right next to us in the garage. It’s a 1992 Honda Civic LX with only 30,000 miles on the odometer. My neighbor, we’ll call her Anne – not her real name – is in her Nineties and stopped driving three years ago. All four corners of the car had paint transfer from her brushing against the concrete pillars in the garage. There was even some paint transfer on The Beast when she turned before backing out (there was absolutely no damage to us). But other than those little booboos the Civic drives like a new car. It even has a new car smell.

Last year, I asked if she wanted to sell it, but she said she wanted to give it to her grandson. It has only collected dust since then, the tires slowly losing air, the plates expired. Her grandson wasn’t interested (I can’t explain that, because it makes no sense to me at all). A month ago, I made her a low-ball offer. She told her son to negotiate a sale. He said my offer was way too low, and I found his counter offer way too high. We were at an impasse. The car collected more dust and last week the front right tire was nearly flat. So, I filled all the tires up, dusted the body off and asked for a test drive. I was favorably impressed, and asked Anne how much she wanted for it. She didn’t know and I entered into negotiations with her son again. I can tell you third party negotiation is a, ahem… difficult.

We finally settled on a Blue Book value, compromising between Fair and Good values. Anne wanted to be paid with a, “thirty-five cashier’s check.” I told her I didn’t know what that was. She said her bank had told her that was the safest way to be paid. Now, Patrice used to work at a bank so I asked her, but she had never heard of it either. The next day I went to my Credit Union and asked the teller. She didn’t know. I asked her what kinds of cashier’s checks were available, hoping we could figure out what it was Anne wanted, but the teller was puzzled. “Well,” she said, “the only kind of cashier’s check that I know about is the certified kind.”

The light came on. Anne doesn’t hear all that well and misunderstood what her bank had told her over the phone. She heard certified as thirty-five.

I returned from the Credit Union with plenty of time left in the day for Anne to sign over her title and hoped I’d still be able to get to the DMV for temporary plates. It wasn’t to be. Anne wasn’t ready. She wasn’t even dressed, “My title is in my safety deposit box at my bank. My son will pick me up at one, but I should be back by two.”

You just can’t rush a ninety three year old. I said, “Okay, that’s fine.” I waited until three-thirty to call again, “Anne, how’s it going? I’ve been waiting for you to call.”

“Well,” she said in her thick German accent, “it turns out I haven’t had a safety deposit box for years. I guess I don’t know where the title is.”

Yeah, I thought to myself, I really should have seen that coming. “Okay,” I said, “it’s probably in your condo then. Is your son helping you look for it?”

“No, he went back to work. He’s very busy you know, but I’ve been looking as best I can. There are just so many papers and boxes. My sister, who died last year, I have all her financial documents boxed up in the closet. Mine is in there too, but I’m not sure which one it is. It’s going to take quite awhile for me to find anything, and now I’m so tired…”

The next day it occurred to me that no matter what, I had to make a trip to the DMV, and so I drove Anne there to get a duplicate title. We were able to complete the entire transaction with the clerk’s expertise and help.

First off, the clerk and Anne had the same last name. They hit it off right from the get go. The clerk just glowed at Anne. No doubt, she reminded her of her own grandmother. It all couldn’t have been more pleasant than if there had been a plate of fresh baked cookies and ice cold milk to snack on. The clerk gave me that look that only a woman can give. It’s the one that says, you’re going to do this if you know what’s good for you. Then she said, “you’ll be wanting to pay the fee for her duplicate title, right?”

“Sure,” I said, “why not?”

“And the emissions test?” She added.

“Of course,” I said. I know the seller is supposed to provide the emissions certificate prior to the sale, but then Anne would have to renew her plates, pay a penalty for each month they were expired and then have her son drive the car to an inspection station for testing, all so that I could return to the DMV – what – a week later, a month later? I’m patient, but I’m not that patient. “Not a problem,” I added and forced a smile.

That is how I got a new to me economy car. It has cleaned up just fine. The white paint transfers wiped off with Goo Gone. A dent in the left rear door popped out with a suction cup and the remaining scuffs on the bumpers I covered with matching paint. The clock wasn’t working and the radio wouldn’t hold preset stations, but that was because the fuse, labeled “Backup,” had been pulled so as to not drain the battery. I put the fuse back in place and everything worked. I bought a matching hubcap off eBay for the one Anne destroyed by parking too close to a curb, and last, but not least replaced the battery. Overall, I’ve spent a little over a hundred dollars on repairs and replacements. I have to say, it drives great and it is now almost a joy to run errands.

My nearly new ’92 Honda Civic LX

Tin Can Tourists

May 27th, 2011 by Forrest McClure

Last weekend we took our ’66 Globe Trotter camping for the first time in nearly three years. Discovered a few problems with it, the biggest was that our A frame jack seized up. Also, discovered a couple of minor leaks.

So, this week I’ve been addressing those issues. The leaks had me up on the roof. One source was a vent pipe that needed caulking. Then, as long as I was up there, I added some caulk to a vent and cleaned out the air conditioner. The fiberglass shroud on the A/C will need replacing soon. Woodpeckers have damaged it. They’ve actually pounded holes through it. For now, I patched them up with aluminum tape.

The jack hasn’t been resolved yet. I bought a new one, but it’s a poor fit and will be returned. The old one I finally managed to remove (it was such a tight fit that I initially thought it was welded). I’m going to take it apart today to see if it can be salvaged.

The rally was fun. It was held at the Starlite Classic Campground, about four miles north of the Royal Gorge and fifteen minutes west of Canon City, Colorado.

The campground was abandoned for years until the new owners purchased it just last year. They are creating a Rocky Mountain Mid-Century Modern version similar to the Shady Dell in Bisbee, Arizona. They’ve accomplished a lot in a short amount of time, and have a very respectable collection of vintage trailers available for rent, with a bunch more waiting for restoration.

Just a few of the vintage trailers available.

The rally participants were mostly Airstreams though. I was hoping for more alternate brands. Still, Allen and Barb Dice’s 1959 Flamingo was a hit in pink. Only fifteen and a half feet in length it can sleep up to six.

Of the Airstreams in the group, the star was Rob & Shari Davis’s 1956 Safari. It won VAC Best of Show at last year’s WBCCI International Rally in Gilette, Wyoming. They also hosted the rally and did a great job – thanks you guys!

Dice's 1959 FlamingoThe Flamingo's dinette is pretty in pink.

The rear of the Flamingo's interior. Notice the fold down overhead bunk.

The Davis's 1956 Safari and Chevy Suburban

Luke Bernander's TCT hood ornament. The slide in camper is an Avion of course, despite the Airstream label.

Being so close to the Royal Gorge we had to take a field trip there. Both Patrice and I have walked across the bridge when we were kids, but neither of us had ever  been down in the canyon itself. So, with five other friends we took a train ride from Canon City through the gorge. It was a bit pricey, but since it was our one and only time, it was well worth the cost.
The Royal Gorge sports the world’s highest suspension bridge and spans the Arkansas River at a height of 1053 feet.
The train we rode dated from the Fifties. It was a leisurely trip, and I doubt the train ever exceeded 25 mph.

The Royal Gorge bridge from "down under."

A shot of the dome cars from an open air flat car.

One of the other activities available in the area is some of the finest river rafting in the world. Right now the Arkansas river is at a moderate level, but just as soon as warmer temperatures get into the mountains the run off from this year’s near record snow pack will likely make rafting quite exciting.”Paddle, paddle, paddle!” River rafting is a big business on the Arkansas River.
While we enjoyed cool and somewhat windy weather, in the high mountains it was still snowing, even to the extent that it closed I-70 for a short time.

A Spartan Manor awaiting restoration. In background, clouds shroud the snow covered Sangre De Christo mountains.

New Axles

May 17th, 2011 by Forrest McClure

Last Monday night (the 9th) at 9 PM, I drove to Fort Collins. I pulled into Luke’s driveway at about 10:30 PM and camped there overnight.

Customer's axles lined up for installation.

About 8 AM Tuesday morning, one of Luke’s men, Dave, arrived. Luke repositioned my trailer. I unhitched and got a folding chair out and watched the two of them work. To get the trailer up high enough they added wood blocks to their floor jacks. If ever you decide to do this yourself, make sure you use a good grade of hard wood. They used some pine and it split, letting the trailer down abruptly. Fortunately, no one was under the trailer when that happened, and it was the only mishap.

Once up in the air, they had the front axle off in fifteen minutes. The rear axle was more involved because of a gas line.

Here you can see the difference between the old and new axles.

When both old axles were off, we made an interesting discovery. They were not the same. The rear was rated 4,000 lbs. and the front rated 3,200. The tube on the 4,000 was 3”, the 3,200 was 2.5”. Together, they do not provide the factory rated GVWR of 8,300 lbs. (even with the tongue weight subtracted) and may be the explanation as to why my rear tires had more wear on the outer edge and the front tires slightly more wear on the inner edge.

The axles never matched the stated GVWR

This difference in axle capacities was a surprise because I was not able to see the manufacturing plate on the rear axle. It was buried behind a holding tank. I am not sure how I feel about mixing axle capacities.

On a dual axle trailer, proper towing alignment is for the front to be slightly lower than the rear. Never tow with the rear lower than the front. That being the case, why put the lesser axle on the front? Would it not make more sense to put the axle bearing the most stress on the front and make the lighter one the trailing axle?

Regardless, I now have matching 4,000 lb. axles and new self-adjusting brakes. It might have been my imagination, but I thought I could feel the difference on the trip home that afternoon. The trailer now sits about 2 inches taller and that is a good thing in that it provides a little more clearance for that long tail to clear dips in the road.

It was money well spent to have this done. This was definitely a two-man job, and at times, I even jumped in to help. That, and there is no substitute for experience. I’ve only changed one axle on my own, whereas Luke has done many. As an added benefit, he diagnosed and corrected an electrical problem I’d created. He and his company do quality work and take their time doing it so that they get it right the first time. He doesn’t advertise, but instead relies on word of mouth. You can Google, “Luke’s Maintenance & Repair,” for more information.

Luke's own '65 Caravel.

About the Author

Hi, my name is Forrest McClure. I've been writing for the magazine since its inception. My wife and I travel with our 1966 20' Globe Trotter or our 1986 32' Excella. So, my primary interest is vintage travel trailers.