This weeks update is more of a photographic essay as the past seven days have been relatively uneventful.
The highlight of the week was a quick phone call from Bob Bell of True West magazine. His recovery from a recent heart attack is truly a reason to be thankful.
For the first time in many weeks I was able to close at noon on Saturday. The second treat was a visit from a friend of the family I had not seen for several weeks. She is a delightful young lady that exemplifies the best of the upcoming generation.
As it turned out it was a full day of blessings. When I got home my son, his wife, and our granddaughter were there waiting for me. Visiting with them and playing with Sarah took precedence over working on my wife’s well worn but dependable Olds. My experience with the GM built cars of the early 1970s leaves me with the impression the drive trains are some the best ever built but the bodies and interiors are some of the shoddiest.
When we bought the car fourteen years ago for $350 it had just a shade over 45,000 original miles. Though it had been driven sparingly by an elderly lady the door panels were loose, the headliner was sagging, and there was a bit of rust around the back window. For most of our married life my wife and I have had dependable vehicles. However, we usually had one that was for town use and the other our road vehicle. When we bought the Olds our second vehicle was a very original, one family owned 1950 Chevrolet 3100 truck.
For the first eight or nine years we drove the Olds everywhere from Phoenix to San Francisco, from Albuquerque to Las Vegas. In recent years it has been relegated to semi retirement making a trip to the store once a week and to my mother in law’s house on the other side of town every couple of weeks.
Even though the car has a shade under 90,000 miles on the odo, that and the fact we do not have a garage is a large part of the problem. The first owner parked it in a car port but the sun baked the rear seat and trunk. Now the paint is gone as well as the interior.
I have kept up on oil changes, lubrication and tune ups but recently the car has developed a random problem of stumbling on acceleration and on occasion back firing through the carburetor. So, Saturday afternoon I swept aside the cobwebs, pulled the air filter, and got to work. We have been talking about selling the car but in either case it needed to be fixed
I doused the carburetor with cleaner, set the idle, adjusted the mixture, and set the timing. This improved things quite a bit but there is need for a new coil. That is a project for next week.
For reasons unknown these things seem to run in series. On Thursday I lost a front wheel cylinder on Barney the Wonder Truck, my 1968 Dodge Adventurer. Since I wouldn’t have time for both I bought two front wheel cylinders from Napa ($22.00) and farmed out the labor to Steve’s on Route 66.
The pastor of the church I attend in Peach Springs called on Thursday and asked if I would be able to help with Sundays service as he had been asked to hold service in Second Mesa on the Hopi reservation. That was one reason I knew there wouldn’t be time to work on both vehicles and finish my Independent Thinker column for Cars & Parts. My wife was bit under the weather so the trip to Peach Springs on Route 66 was a solo journey. The day was warm and sunny, the Hualapai Valley was the greenest I have seen it in years, and as a bonus there were fields of golden California poppies sweeping across the valley floor.
As always I enjoyed services in Peach Springs. In fact this is about the only church where I have been completely comfortable. I don’t know if its the old hymns, the people, or just the unpretentious simplicity but I always leave refreshed.
On the way home I stopped at the old Hackberry General store, a survivor from the glory days of old Route 66 that has weathered many years of changing times. The current owners have transformed the property into a near perfect time capsule of Route 66 as I remember it.
The cars that crowd the parking lot and the trucks that roll by may be new but here its easy to imagine what Route 66 would be like if the interstate highway was still nothing more than an engineering proposal.
The property is littered with a wide array of vehicles in various states of decay or repair. Cattle, horses, and burros are still kept in the corrals. Tourist still stop by for cold drinks and trinkets, gawk at the cowboys, and take pictures of everything. Today there was a delightful mix of customers at the store that leaves little doubt that in this part of the country Route 66 is more than a lure for tourist from throughout the world, it is also still a living highway.
There was a contingent of motorcyclists from Europe stretching their legs. The locals were well represented with dusty trucks with equally dusty, goose necked livestock trailers. The orientals arrived via tour bus. Then there were those “Getting their Kicks on Route 66” in their vintage cars.
Today there was an elderly couple from California with a nice 1956 Ford sedan, a couple from Kingman out for a ride in their restored Chevelle, and another group of seniors with a couple of older Corvettes.
The old town of Hackberry, a community that predates Route 66 by at least fifty years, is located to the south of the highway and railroad tracks. The original alignment of the highway and its predecessor the National Old Trails Highway run through the remains of town where the most prominent building is the mission styled two room school house last used in the early 1990s.
In recent years development in the form of hillside homes has been transforming this lovely canyon. Nothing, however, compares to the changes being wrought by large scale gravel pit operations.
All in all it has been a delightful week full of blessings. And with that thought in mind I can look forward to next week with a degree of excitement and anticipation.