Tuesday August 29, 2000, Day 74...
(Continued) 9:15 a.m. Just heard back from Rick, and now I am
even more on pins and needles. He said the electrical is done, and that we
can do the body work this winter. Just about everything is working,
including the air conditioning, lights, signals, brakes. Only things that
are not working are the horn, which is missing parts and was not working even
before the fire, they were not able to find a replacement windshield washer reservoir,
which was melted into a gob, and the driver's window doesn't seem to work.
They thought that was a problem with the motor, but it was working when I drove
the car, and for that matter, after the fire, along the side of the road I was
able to raise the window for towing using the switch. So that is something
we will need to take a look at yet. I'm hoping that it will not keep me
from picking up the car though.
The problem right now is that the insurance adjustor is on vacation this
week. But they have faxed up the paperwork to the local State Farm office
and hopefully they will return an ok to release the car. I'm
hoping. Cost so far is around $4,100 and that does not include the
bodywork yet. So as of now I have $14,000 into the car and the insurance
company will have probably about $5,500 by the time all is done. And there
is still quite a bit of work to be done on it before I will consider it ready
for prime time. But I do so want to drive it now that I am willing to take
it just the way it is and finish it this winter. It will probably end up
getting the fender repaired and a whole paint job, although the insurance will
just cover painting the fender.
So now I have to sit here waiting until the insurance company ok's payment,
so that the body shop can release the car. Argh...
10:15 a.m. Just got the word. I can pick the car up at 2:00
p.m.!!!!!!!!!! They will try to find time to check out the window but if
no time then I might have to bring it back for that. I will still have to
dicker with the insurance adjustor next week on his return but so far State Farm
has always treated me well and I would expect no less from them. I'm not a
big fan of insurance, or insurance companies, but I have had a couple of claims
with State Farm over the years on house flooding and such and they have always
come through without fuss.
Just a few more hours...
2:45 p.m.... It's Alive... Signed
the check for $4,154 and picked up the car. It sure needs a lot of work
yet, but by spring it should be in awesome shape. In a week I will pass
the keys to Son #1 and let him drive it and work on it for a week. He has
tons of small block Chevy engine parts laying around and he is going to breath
on it. I told him not to breath too hard though as I also want it
"dependable". As a matter of fact I told him that was the first
priority. Right now the timing seems to be off and the body shop tried to
time it but they said there were no timing marks. That seems strange but I
am sure Aaron can figure it out.
I left the body shop and headed up the North Shore just a
little ways to give it a little run. Noticed that the drivers window only
rolls up or down when it wants to. The engine heat gauge doesn't work and
the left turn signal doesn't cancel. Another thing is that there has been
a lot of strange things going on in the steering column and some of the parts
from the horn are missing and it has strange screws in it which interfere with
the telescoping steering wheel. So, I'm told, I can either have the horn
button on or have the telescoping steering wheel working. I opted for the
horn button for now until I can get a chance to look at it and determine what
parts I need.
The car is drivable and it should be interesting to see what
kind of response I get from the European Motorcycle crowd tonight. Funny
thing is that right now I feel like I could use a nap. I've expended so
much energy today just anticipating getting the car that now I am totally
beat. The car is sitting outside the office right now, and all the other
folks here have gone and taken a look. Responses were very positive and
they all liked it, some even calling it "way cool", and
10:00 p.m. A very interesting night indeed. Came
home from work at 5:00 ate a bit of dinner then off to Sir Ben's. Sir
Benedict's Tavern on the Lake is a British pub overlooking Lake Superior.
They have excellent sandwiches and a very good selection of beers.
Of course I was anticipating a "root" beer. It is only located
about three miles from my house.
Driving down London Road I was in the left lane and I noticed
a Minnesota Highway Patrol car in the right lane ahead of me doing about 25 mph
in a 30 zone. I slowly caught up with him and passed him. He was in
a right turn only lane, when he hit the red lights and pulled in right behind
me. Now here I am in a RED CORVETTE doing the speed limit and I couldn't
think of anything I had done wrong. I was as legal as I could
imagine. But there I was, with red and blue alternating lights in my
rear-view mirror. My next thought was, "Only I would get a ticket
three hours after getting the car back and doing the speed limit." I
turned on my directional light and pulled to the curb. Sat in the car and
waited for the officer to come up.
Me, "Hello Officer."
MHP, "Are those pipes legal?"
Me, "To the best of my knowledge."
MHP, "Aren't they straight pipes?"
Me, "I don't believe so, they have mufflers in them."
MHP, "But I don't see catalytic converters."
Me, "Eh, I don't think they needed them in 79."
MHP, "I believe they did. Did this come from Chevrolet that
Me, "I don't believe so, but they did come from Greenwood like this."
I'm starting to think I am about to get an equipment violation
ticket. That is all I need.
MHP, "These are considered straight pipes because they
don't have the catalytic converters and this would be ticketable."
Me, "How do you know that?... Are you going to write me
Officer Mike, "No, because I have one just like it. I have a 76 with
the same pipes and mine are rusted and now I have to decide if I want to replace
them at $1,300 or go with the stock system."
sigh of relief must have been audible... We then talked for about twenty
minutes, on the side of the road, with his lights going the whole time and
traffic going by by the hundreds. I suspect there must have been folks I
know in the cars, and I am sure I will be asked about it sooner or later.
I kinda felt like Arlo Guthrie in Alice's Restaurant. Only he was really a
nice guy and we exchanged names at the end.
Went on my merry way to Sir Ben's where there were only two
bike there when I arrived. They were both Japanese bikes
though....??? At a European Motorcycle event at a British pub. Who
would have thought? Soon a few other Harleys and Japanese bikes arrived,
and then a Harley and a Valkeryie arrived on their way around the circle tour of
Lake Superior from Cleveland Ohio. They were just passing through looking
for someone to tell them the hot spots in Duluth, saw the bikes and pulled
in. I chatted with them a while and of course filled them in on all the
good spots. It was kind of funny that by 7:15 there were no European bikes
and about 15 from America or Japan, but then the Euros started to arrive.
BMW's, Moto Guzzis, MUZ, Triumph, and Norton were all represented. We
ended up with a total of 38 bikes and one Corvette. It seemed to be the
hit of the party and I had to (got to) tell the troubled story of my Florida
trip over and over again. It was great fun, but I did get a bunch of
ribbing for bringing a car and not a bike.
All-in-all a great day...
Wednesday August 30, 2000... Last night was a
good night. I even managed to get a couple of photos of the
Corvette. Funny thing is that while I was shooting the pictures my
grandmother's old admonition popped into my brain, "It isn't worth takin'
any photos unless there are people in them." So I grabbed my friend
Laura and put her in the pictures. Her husband Mike and I are the only two
Ural owners in Duluth. I showed up at a European bike meet in a Corvette
and he showed up on his Harley. Go figure. But Laura is a great
model. He has also modeled T-shirts for North
American Russian Motorcycle Association.
Click thumbnail for
I took the car to work today, then at lunch I went and picked up
a few little things at the auto parts store and stopped by my son Aaron's shop
and let him and a friend take it for a test drive. It is still running
quite rich so he will do a bunch of adjustments this weekend. Also the
brakes still do not feel quite right to me.
I have also decided that if someone makes me a reasonable offer
I will sell the car. I guess I have just had one too many projects in my
life. This thing is starting to get sorted out now, but after all I went
through with it I guess I would just as soon let someone else finish it
up. It is about the most awesome car I have ever owned but my heart is not
in it right now. Kind of like a woman that beats on you, then cheats on
you; I am feeling right now like I need to move on. So if anyone reading
this is interested in making an offer please e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
or call me evenings at: (218) 525-0285
But, in the mean time I will keep plugging away at it, and who
knows, maybe I will fall back in love...
Tonight I have to go out to a friend's house and work on his
computer so I will get a chance to drive it on the freeway. We shall see
how it does.
Friday September 1, 2000... It
rained all day yesterday and it is a windy overcast day today that started with
rain. Because the rubber moldings on this car are 21 years old and I
haven't had the chance to go over them I decided to let the car sit for these
two days. Tonight Son #1 is coming to pick it up and he will drive it for
the weekend. I expect that by the end of that time he will have it
completely tuned up and running right. Besides it will do the Father/Son
this a great deal of good if Dad lets him play with his toys.
Last night my friend Roger stopped by with his girlfriend
Laura. He suggested a name for the car, "REO SpeedWagon" and it
sure does seem appropriate.
The car is really for sale
though. I've taken a couple of unexpected financial hits in the last month
and all of a sudden I find myself in the un-envious position of having to
struggle up once again. So, if you are interested please e-mail me
Sunday September 10, 2000...
Spent several hours polishing, shining and scrubbing the Vette. It is
AWESOME!!! This has to be the coolest, most incredible car around. It
really polished up and is looking good, except for the right front fender of
course. Patti is on her way up from Rice Lake Wisconsin to spend the
evening and I am sure we will be taking it up the shore. Son #1 had it all
last weekend and did a bunch of work on the carb and engine, but the carburetor
needs some parts and I have to get them ordered. Right now it is running
way rich and he says until we get the parts it will be doing that. But it
is still good to drive, so off for a ride we go...
October 2, 2000... I've been driving the car for almost a month now
and have lots of pictures to post when I get some time. Aaron (Son #1)
took it to "Cruise for Cancer 2000" a couple weekends ago and the car
was a huge hit. I've been taking it absolutely everywhere (my poor
neglected motorcycles are jealous) and having way too much fun. It is
starting to look like I will be keeping it, even though it has taken complete
hold of my wallet. Between my son, my friends, Patti and the rest of the
people I come in contact with I am on only one who even remotely thinks I should
sell it. Everyone things the car is way too special to part with and that
I must be crazy to even consider it. What is a guy to do?
Son #1 plans on rebuilding the engine and transmission this
winter. He is going to install a 2500 stall converter on the transmission
so the thing will launch like a rocket, put on maxed out heads, huge Holly
double pumper, slightly hot cam and a bunch of other goodies. By the time
he is done with it the thing should go as fast as it looks. Right now it
is just a bit of a sled. Seems the cam is about gone and there are just
too many mismatched parts in set-up of the engine. He and his buddy Rob,
who owns Custom Concepts Auto Body are going to fix the fender and re-spray the
whole car while it is down for the engine repairs this winter. When we
roll this thing out of the garage in the spring it will be a fire breathing rare
monster. Isn't life wonderful?
Here are two photos taken by my friend David Smith at the
Caswell Cycle's open house in Mora Minnesota this weekend. One of course
is the Vette, the other is me on a new 1999 Moto Guzzi Bassa that I took out for
a bit of a spin. I have been eying this bike for some time and want it in
my stable, but keeping the Vette will probably keep me off one of these for
another year or so.
Sunday October 21, 2000...
Spent a good portion of today patching the front fender. Just a temporary
patch of epoxy, but enough to keep everything together. Was able to get an
exact match of paint at the local auto parts store. From anything more
than thirty feet it looks pretty good. At least it will hold everything
together until winter when the bodywork is done and the car gets a new coat of
Below are some photos that were taken a few weeks ago when Patti
and I took a ride to Two Harbors Minesota.
Wednesday February 21, 2001... I bet
you have been wondering when I would update this site... Took me a while,
but I am ready to do it. Much has happened. I have gotten myself
wrapped up in trying to save the historic Duluth National Guard Armory, and turn
it into the "Dylan Arts and Music Center". A huge multi-million
dollar project, but I am confident that we can pull it off. When done we
will have an international class center. Check it out at http://www.narma.org/armory
Patti and I have hit it off completely. It really doesn't
get better than this. She moved to Duluth, in with me, and I am sure
it won't be long before we make it legal as it were. She got a job in the
Cardiac Care Unit at the regional medical center. She is a 26 year RN so
she was very much in demand. Funniest part of the move though was that she
has three dogs. If one knows me they would know that I have been a dog
hater since a kid. We had two dogs when I was young and both of them were
poisoned. My sister was mauled by two Doberman's and a family in the
neighborhood raised German Shepherds and they would get out and attack anything
in sight. So I grew up hating dogs and haven't seen much use for them in
my later years. Then here comes this woman, who I am madly in love with,
and she has a 13 year old Black Lab and two Shitzu (sp?). From the
moment that I met them they have turned me. When that big, female, old
lady sets her huge head on your lap, and looks up at you with those huge brown
eyes, one can do nothing but love her. And the little girls are a real
treat. It is funny to watch when I come home from work. They worship
me for some strange reason. They all jump around and won't even begin to
settle down until I sit on the couch and let them jump all over me and I pet
them. The upshot of this is that I have fallen for the dogs. They
have quickly become a part of my family. Funny how things like this work
Oh, Son #1 and his wife had problems and moved out of the house,
so I moved out of my comfortable apartment by Lake Superior, back to the house
in the country. Bad part is that now I have a house to take care of
again. Best part is that I now have my garage back so I can start to
re-build my vehicle collection. I've sold most of them in the last year
but this kind of gives me a green light to start collecting again. And now
I have a full shop to work on them.
Life is wonderful, and very busy. My web site design
company is picking up two to three customers a week. Growing much faster
than I had anticipated, which keeps me hopping, but it certainly is fun.
Soon I will start to work on the Vette. This morning was
-22 F. so it is still a little early around here to be working out in the
garage. Next year I will have to insulate it and put in a heater.
But for this winter it is time off to try to catch up with my computer stuff.
Wednesday May 2, 2001
Was driving the Corvette quite a bit, until.......... Sheldon
has another adventure going. Check it out at: http://www.narma.org/jackal
Had my Moto Guzzi Ambassador in for repairs but when told what
it would cost to finish it I decided to cut my losses and traded it in on an new
Moto Guzzi Jackal. The full story is at the above URL. Now I will
probably be riding that while son #1 swaps out my carburetor and fixes a bunch
of things. We were going to drop a 406 in the car but as of right now I
decided to just fix what is there for now.
I am loving the Vette more and more every day though. It
is slowly turning into an absolutely awesome machine.
Saturday October 27, 2001
Lots of things have been going on in my life since the last
report. In June I broke my leg. Ouch... Just about healed now
but it put a bit of a crimp in my summer. Then on July 24th I was
"downsized" at work. After almost 9 years there I was tossed
aside as if I didn't even exist. Pretty disappointing and for at at least
one day it was traumatic. But once I gave it some thought I decided that
this might be the perfect opportunity to really get my web site design company
going. I've been doing computer consulting and web design for many years
but have done it more as an after work hours hobby than anything. We've
got about 120 web sites that we administer for companies ranging from hunting
lodges in Alaska to Oil companies, national construction companies and all kinds
of things but I've never had to really get serious at it. I now am and we
are concentrating on adding new customers. This site is just one of my
simple private things but the ones we do range from simple to very complex Flash
movie sites. So life is going to get very interesting for me. Might
be tough times for a while until things get going better. Have to sell the
boat for sure: http://www.narma.org/searay
and have been trying to sell the Vette. There is a chance that I will be
keeping the Vette though. We are now going into winter here in Duluth and
I see little chance of it selling locally this time of year, and if I still have
it in the spring and can continue to make the payments it will probably end up
staying. I've really grown to love this thing.
One important thing that happened recently was
that on Thursday October 11, Randy Leffingwell, who wrote "Corvette -
America's Sports Car" and about thirty other books, was here and spent a
whole day photographing it for his next coffee table book. He shot about
300 shots of it and
he thought it would get a big spread in the book. That was quite
exciting. And what was most exciting for me was to know that at least one
authority on Corvettes realizes just how rare this car is. So far we have
been able to track down only five of these things. If there are only five
of anything in the world it would be rare, and he was thrilled to be here
Because of the job loss I would sell it right now
if I got a decent offer, but if it doesn't sell soon this is one car I might
have for a very long time.
Patti and I are still together and it
actually gets better every day. About the only conflict we have is that I
can't stand Country music and she lives for the stuff. Go figure....
But if that is our only problem it just doesn't get much better than this.
My book "Images of America - Duluth Minnesota" has been out for a
couple of months now and there is good news and bad news about it. The
good news is that it is so popular that it is sold out of it's first
printing. The bad news is that it is sold out, just at Christmas. It
is going into a second printing but won't be in the stores until late February.
December 18, 2001
Patti and I have set a date to get married and June 8,
2002 is going to be a big day in my life. It is great finally having the
feeling that I am with someone that I can comfortably spend the rest of my
life. I've had a lot of nibbles on the Corvette but as long as I can still
make the payments I'll probably just hang onto it. I'm already looking
forward to spring so I can start driving it again. This winter I am going
to have the carburetor rebuilt, the fender finished and a few other little
October 28, 2002
Patti and I did get married on June 8, 2002. I
finally did it and have never been happier.
I managed to only put about 200 miles on
the Vette this summer as I was so busy building and riding my 2002 Moto Guzzi
Stone Metal, with a Russian Sputnik sidecar frame and a Chinese "Flying
Tiger" police sidecar. It is quite the unit and can be viewed
November 30, 2002
I've decided I needed to fill in a couple more details
that folks might be wondering about... Son #1 (Aaron), his wife and
children are now living in Mesa Arizona. In moving back to the house in
Esko Minnesota I left Duluth (about 20 miles away) so now I won't be running for
office there. I did run for County Commisioner in Carlton County but got
blow out of the water. Esko is a very Finnish community and my being a
Frenchman didn't help at all. Not to mention the fact that I was running
against a Finn named "Liupakka" who is not only well liked but he was
the furnace guy in the area for many years so he's been in just about every
house in the county and knows everyone. He also ran a great campaign,
spending a great deal of money on signs and such. Trounced me royally he
Drove the Vette a couple time since the last post
and only wish I had the time and energy right now to finish it. The carburetor
still needs a rebuild and the fender is all epoxied and ready to grind, sand and
paint. I did put some matching rattle-can paint on it so it doesn't look
too bad but it needs to be finished. Winter is here now and it probably
won't be driven much until spring.
July 23, 2003
Patti and I have now bought a house in Houlton Wisconsin. A great place
but still with a tiny garage compared to what I had in Esko. Drat.
In late April of 2003 I sent the Vette wagon on its way to Son #1 in Scottsdale
Arizona. He'll be rebuilding the engine and making other changes to it. Below is a photo of it as it went down I35 in Minnesota on its way
August 4, 2003
My Greenwood SportWagon no longer exists. It is nothing but a
charred pile of ash. My son Aaron's other car broke down today so he had
to take the Vette and on the freeway in Tempe a wheel fell off and the car
headed towards a wall, he managed to get it away from that but found himself
headed toward the front end of a semi-truck, just then the gas tank exploded and
the car burst into flames. He whipped the wheel, avoiding the semi but slammed
into the wall on the other side of the freeway. He crawled from the car as it
burned to the ground and apparently is uninjured but the car is a total lost. It
is just sinking in that I almost lost a son today. Scary stuff. I'm sure glad he
I guess this will put a fitting end to my Vette diary and because I only had
it insured as a regular Vette I am sure it will also continue my trend of losing
money on every vehicle I've owned. I guess at this point the car doesn't really
matter, I'm just glad that Aaron is ok.
August 7, 2003
Aaron went by the wrecking yard today and took photos of what was
left. Apparently the insurance adjusters were also there today. This
is enough to make a car lover wretch:
March 23, 2010 Update:
Lots of water has passed under the bridge since my last update and life has
certainly flowed by for us. I lost some weight, started to feel a
bit better and found a perfect brand-spankin' new
2006 Chrysler Crossfire Roadster. You can
see it here. It was awesome and I absolutely loved it and for a
time I had both the SLK and the
Crossfire, then sold the SLK as I found myself driving the Crossfire all the
time. Then my health sort of crashed and I was losing the use of my legs.
By the fall of 2008 I had to rely on crutches or a wheelchair to get around.
I was in a world of hurt. Up till then my doctors had not wanted to do
surgery on my leg for fear of what could go wrong. It was not your normal
leg in that when I was ten years old I'd had an experimental surgery on my left
(my good) knee that made it tough for them to predict the results if they'd
started chopping. Here is that
In November of 2008 the docs finally figured they had to give it a try and
they cut off the top of my tibia and the bottom of my femur, inserted 8 inch
spikes up each and attached a bionic knee. To me it was like a miracle!
Two days after the surgery I was walking with only a cane and two weeks later I
was walking without support. Absolutely incredible. Unfortunately at
the time we didn't have very good insurance and I had huge medical bills to pay
and had to sell the Crossfire. I was absolutely crushed to once again see
one of my babies go away on a flatbed tow truck. So my "toy score" is now
just the non-running AMC Eagle SX/4 Sport.
I've been without a car now since February 15, 2009 which has been a killer and
it looks like I will have no toys any time soon. Patti still has her Buick
Rendezvous but in June of 2009 Patti lost her job as a telephonic Registered
Nurse and hasn't been able to find another. It has been 9 months so we've
had to pull in our belts and just try to get by. It is tough as she was
making good money and with what I took in we had our bills paid. Now it is
a struggle living month to month. Luckily I've been able to pick up a
little consulting work or some Web site design jobs for a little extra each
month. The saga isn't quite over yet and I'm sure there will be many more
adventures down the road. Vaya con dios....