Tag Archives: eggadventures

Can’t blame tools if you don’t have them…..

Sunday April 2nd, and day one of Copperstate 2017.

By the time I reached the stadium, it was obvious we were heading into a perfect Arizona day. Blue sky and fluffy white clouds overhead, with enough sunshine to remind those of us in an open top car, the importance of sunscreen.

Cousin dearest had yet to rouse himself, so I started the final prep before driver’s meeting. Everything was fine, with the minor exception of the soft top. Still up, and different enough from my old MGB to ensure I should double check before putting it down. Unfortunately, cuz seemed to be operating on voicemail only, so I was left to stare at the car, hoping my psychic powers of persuasion would come through.

And then, Matt appeared! Matt was the previous owner and clearly the answer to my request. Quick handshake intro as he began to explain the process. Moments into the conversation, cousin dearest called back; deeply concerned I didn’t touch anything, as roof lowering was ‘a slightly tricky process’ which required both of us. Reassuring him that, with Matt standing in front of me, I was confident in our ability, I was a little taken aback when he repeated the same instruction to me, in a slightly more serious tone. Three attempts to explain to him that Matt was helping and Matt was the person he bought the car from, seemed to fall on deaf ears. So, I opted for plan B – reminding him that no morning should start without coffee, and hung up.

By the time Harry meandered onto the field, we not only had the top down with tonneau in place, I’d met most members of the local Triumph Owners Club, been quizzed about the rally, when the car was moving to England and managed to have an excellent pre-driver meeting breakfast. Impressive, even by my usual standards!!

Our first day was a gorgeous cruise from Mid to Northern Arizona, ending in Flagstaff. A total of 150 miles that would include driving through such little towns as Strawberry and Pine, as well as the almost 50 mile stretch of perfect road, known as Lake Mary Road. Definitely in my top five favourite sections of Arizona driving.

The Triumph sounded happy from the time we left the stadium, however it took a combination of side windows up and endless noodling with hair to stop me resembling a haystack in a tornado. Unfortunately no amount of cajoling seems to persuade any cap to stay on my head, once I’m moving at anything faster than walking speed, so my only choice was pigtails tucked as tightly into my neckscarf as possible!

As one would expect, our proud father kept up a pretty consistent commentary about his car’s performance, but there was something neither of us could ignore….the speedo. No matter how either of us drove it, the needle barely reached 70 mph. Not an issue on the smaller roads, but as Harry finally had to lament “considerably underperforming when compared to The Egg!!” This statement was clearly difficult to make, judging by the unmistakably plaintive wobble in his voice. Within the first couple of hours, it also became apparent that seats would have benefited from reupholstering at some point, but otherwise we chose to be cautiously optimistic about Trusty’s ability to complete the event.

Being in an open top car lets one see, and appreciate, the surroundings in a more holistic way. 360 degrees of visibility, especially with the scenery we had to enjoy, made the whole experience far more visceral. I opted for the more cautious approach in terms of skin coverage – applying sunscreen regularly, and was extremely happy with the choice of prescription sunglasses (www.zennioptical.com – crazy cheap!!!). Meanwhile, Harry embraced his inner boy scout and insisted on wearing shorts with those English regulation socks that reach far enough up the leg to be dubious at best.

We drove, we talked, we laughed, we even managed to stay on course…until a rather strange sound accompanied by frantic shaking started eminating from the driver wing mirror. Pulling over I then discovered that despite my suggestion/recommendation/gentle pleading, Harry had decided against buying any tools to have ‘just in case’. Working instead on the car equivalent of ‘The Secret” in terms of positive thinking. Now, I have no doubt in the laws of attraction, personal growth etc when applied to more esoteric aspects of our world….but when it comes to old cars, I like to follow the insurance rule – better to have it and never need it than etc. etc.

I could only offer a couple of pens and a nail file (not the metal variety), however luckily for us, one of the swag gifts we received just happened to be a pencil sized multi headed screwdriverey thing. Perfect!  As the following video will confirm….

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Final countdown starts now….

Saturday afternoon and I found myself landing in unseasonably cool, Phoenix weather.  At the taxi rank with a suitcase appropriately sized to hide a sumo wrestler (containing enough clothing to address a minimum of three completely different climates), I texted cousin dearest to advise of my impending arrival.

Without question, the sensation of automotive panic one usually feels at this point was noticeably missing; replaced instead with the realization I truly could meander through the next few days with a totally different set of priorities than usual (Factor 40 or Factor 70, hair up or down, just which of the multitudinous jackets should I wear today) – because it’s NOT my car!!! Hey, I can even pull a Clarke and sleep for hours, should I so decide!!

Meeting at the stadium, I sensed a gritty determination that was new.  Fervently polishing his chrome wheels, second guessing his decal placement, packing and re-packing the boot (trunk) to ensure it looked rally appropriate…dearest cuz was the human embodiment of a Tasmanian Devil in comparison to previous years, and it rather suited him.  I was introduced to the TR6, and I’m fairly sure he grew a couple of inches as he gave me the guided tour, fatherly pride apparent from every flick of the polishing rag.  It really was rather endearing.

Each car is decked out with race number and name of driver/co-driver.  However, it seemed only reasonable that we should be driver and driver this year; an easy modification thanks to the invention of scissors.  And I’m happy to say, the car really does look great.  Clearly loved by the previous owner; including a clean engine and nice straight lines everywhere you’d want to see them.  A combination of Royal Blue paint and tan interior; which is an elegantly understated choice, highlighted perfectly with the shiny spokes.

We started it up, and after a minimal amount of choke and coaxing, the engine came to life.  A slightly different note than the Egg, delivering a healthy consistency of rhythm that suggests many happy miles to come.  Clearly my offering of a Lucas wiring harness to the rally gods has paid off.

And then to the next best part of Saturday – catching up with old, and making new friends.  There’s a good percentage of first timers this year, a few faces we’ve not seen for a while as well as the closest members of my rally family.  Stories are swapped, introductions made, or just hugs and smiles shared with great people.  Having lived over here since 1995, the concept of family has definitely expanded, and I’m extraordinarily lucky to have such a varied selection of friends that contribute to my personal global village.

As the afternoon wore on, the sun decided to peak back out from the clouds, bringing that final re-balance.  It’s going to be another great rally, I can feel it!

Would you like a side order of broken fan-belt with your lunch, sir?

Two weeks and counting to Copperstate 2017, and this year’s rally feels less like a well-oiled machine and more like a re-enactment of the Titanic.  To say the last few weeks have been interesting, would be a perfect example of English understatement; and to be fair, dear reader, will make little sense if I don’t turn the clock back to 2015.

Two years ago, this particular Copperstate lunch was supposed to be nothing more than very tasty and rather uneventful, somewhere in the backwaters of Northern Arizona.  I was enjoying varied conversation with fantastic gearheads, whilst my navigationally challenged cousin was being introduced to the joys of technology and the infamous Bring A Trailer website.

And then it happened…. before I could even reach over to pick up the milk for my coffee, said relative had reached into his pocket, found and dialed a phone number and announced triumphantly to some random person at the end of his phone, “well, I think we have a deal!”.  The entire table went quiet as we all turned to look at the deliverer of this pronouncement, and my heart missed a beat.Instead of the usually mild mannered face I’ve become used to seeing asleep in the passenger seat, I was presented with the classic symptoms of ‘Buy Now, Think Later’.  Slightly myopic grin, mixed with the unmistakable red mist in the eyes that only comes from that first-time adrenaline rush of successfully bidding, sight unseen, on something one REALLY doesn’t need.

crazy face

I frantically looked at the rest of our table, hoping I was wrong; but their combined expressions of abject horror confirmed my greatest fear.  A long, uncomfortable pause followed by closing and re-opening my eyes didn’t produce better results.  Nothing else for it, but be strong and look at the iPad to answer the question I did not want to ask. I gripped the table, glanced down, and there, staring defiantly back at me, in all its rumpled, orange glory, was the culprit.  One decidedly aging, non-running Jensen Interceptor Mark II.

Having finally snapped out of his dubious purchase love-bubble, H immediately sprang into action; explaining we must leave immediately, so he could complete the transaction.  Clearly this item was far more popular than I realized, if there was an actual possibility it would be snapped up by another equally optimistic individual before we could complete the rest of our day.  So, as our rally buddies headed for Jerome to experience my favorite section of road in the entire state, we drove through a collection of no-horse towns to find something that resembled a real bank, rather than just ATM’s in liquor stores.

By the time we returned to base that evening (having probably covered more miles that day than most would be enjoying all week), said transaction was complete and Harry had the entire plan mapped out…. ending in our return in 2016 & the great unveiling of his new acquisition (it even included balloons and a marching band).

The only upside I could see, was insisting we show up in period costume. 1971 will never be remembered as a high spot for men’s fashion, but the idea of seeing him in polyester slacks and stick-on mutton chop side burns, as I insisted we listen to the Greatest Hits of The Osmonds on 8-Track, was quietly appealing.

70s fashion

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, why are we now desperately trying to find a lifeboat before the iceberg reaches us?  After all, as Harry pointed out, he (translation we, or more likely, me) had a year to complete the task of Jensen resurrection & that date was reached 12 months ago.

Because, as everyone knows…you take the time expected for said project, double it, add the age of your first pet hamster at its sad demise and maybe, if you’re lucky….really lucky……

Fast forward to 2016 Copperstate and the Trusty Egg performed in all her bulletproof glory.  The subject of the Jensen a regular discussion over breakfast, lunch & dinner; with a combination of commiseration “aah, English electrics, what could possibly go right?”, confusion “wouldn’t it have been cheaper to buy one already finished?” or fascination “he lives in England and decided to buy a car in America, but not ship it home?”.  Harry added to the excitement by buying a gas barbecue in Phoenix and then taking it, boxed,on the entire rally, leading to the mistaken four-day assumption we had the final piece to complete the car, and it was only a matter of hours before Orangina would appear.

And so, moving swiftly along, we come to Copperstate 2017.  More than reasonable progress has been made with the Jensen, but my practical nature ensured the smart money was on my application going in with The Egg as car number one, and Orangina as the back-up.  Lady Luck decided to smile again, and confirmation arrived in early February that we’d made the cut once more.  As this event continues to grow in popularity, and receives unanimous praise whenever featured in articles, I consider our repeat inclusion to be a real compliment.  And so, Egg preparation began in earnest.

Opportunities to get out and drive included a fantastic run with the LA Porsche Club last month, that took us up to Ventura and back down to Malibu for an early morning boost, and ensured we easily crossed the threshold of ‘300 miles in 3 months’ requirement.  A comprehensive list of possible issues to be checked by the Egg Doctor was made before booking her in for the mechanical inspection, as well as the decision to switch out tyres this year to the Classic Porsche range from Pirelli (reviews are extremely favorable, and they look great!!)

All was good in my world.  Enough time to balance a hectic work schedule without additional stress, all signs pointing to go with the car. What could possibly go wrong?  Until an email arrived; containing one seemingly innocuous question….

Tune in next week for the next episode 😉

 

 

Summer Camp for grown-ups

Realising I’m the least consistent blogger I (and probably you) know, it seems appropriate’s I squeeze a few excuses into the mix before we head back to AZ together.  It’s not that I dislike blogging, actually the reverse is true, I just forget it requires both focus and attention to maintain.  Despite that, my passion for The Egg and her adventures continues, and we had some great post-Copperstate jaunts last year.  I was lucky enough to introduce her to Rod Emory, had the opportunity to tour the Singer factory and headed out to Palm Springs on a road trip after Christmas with perfect driving conditions.  All great experiences I had every intention of sharing; but, when the option to sit down and type or grab my keys and head out again are presented…well, hopefully you understand.

Best news of January 2016 was confirmation our application to Copperstate 2016 had been accepted.  With every year the event continues, their number of applicants and great cars increases, & with it the possibility we may not make final selection.  Fortunately the combination of my cheeky little car, English accent and hapless navigator scored high enough again that we all reached Phoenix in a state of mild euphoria, yesterday.

There’s a total of 87 cars on the rally this time, and I’m thrilled to report an excellent turnout on the 356 front.  Of particular note, two gorgeous examples painted in an extremely rare colour known as Smyrna Green, a triumvirate of absolutely perfect Speedsters and a bullish Pre-A that started life as a Carrera Panamerica race car, but was sadlDSC00850y never raced.  It’s worth being on the rally this year just to hear the exhaust

 

 

 

 

Coming back for year five, my excitement has morphed into something different.  The mix of great driving roads and stunning vistas never stops inspiring, but as I scroll through the app (simply called copperstate 1000, absolutely worth the download) and see so many familiar names, there’s a sense of “family” reconnection that’s irresistible……this is the best not-quite summer camp for adults, evah!

Our first day was a total of 231 miles and took us from the glorious sunshine of Phoenix to the colder, wetter climate of Flagstaff.  Gentle stretches of comfortable undulations in the morning, giving all cars a chance to reconnect with the Arizona tarmac, and then more challenging twisties as we headed from Prescott, through Jerome and Sedona, until we reached our final destination.

DSC00870With altitude increasing so did the rain, but The Egg continued un-phased.  It may be 50 plus years since she left Germany, but the combination of damp and wet are stamped into her vehicular DNA.  Plus, the Egg Doctor’s decision to replace bushes and king pins following last year’s event provided additional grip and tension to every turn of the wheel, allowing us to drive every corner with confidence and precision.

Suffice to say all is just as consistent on the navigation front.  He’s back, he’s family and he may well be for sale on eBay with no reserve before the end of the week!  I adore my cousin, truly….but when his plan for the afternoon starts with a quick nap, I find myself not only remembering the cat’s attempt DSC00878to smuggle himself into my suitcase fondly, but wondering how quickly felines could learn to map read.

 

 

We depart on Saturday

95 cars filled the Tempe stadium by early Friday evening.  Another great selection, with a few wonderfully idiosyncratic inclusions to help celebrate the 25th anniversary of Copperstate 1000.  As we caught up with friends, and watched the sun go down across third base, the general consensus was this could only be another fantastic event.

An early start today, thanks in equal part to excitement and sun creeping through window blinds I’d forgotten to close properly.  The stadium car park was equally full of interesting cars, as this event has become a great reason for all the local gear heads and enthusiasts to bring their own vehicles out for inspection.  Hot rods, muscle cars, genteel vintage and tricked out modern all played happily together as  mutual appreciation conversations surrounded them.

At midday, we had the first drivers meeting; and within 30 minutes all engines were running & cars began their slow procession towards the starting flags.  Although the run was shorter than usual, the organizers ensured that what we lacked in mileage would be more then made up for in variety of scenery & ideal highways.

Within ten minutes we were heading away from Phoenix and out towards long sweeping bends that would take us into the Ponderosa.  The Egg was more than happy to keep up with her larger engined companions, however our joint enthusiasm was slightly dampened as I noticed the temperature gauge needle climbing a little too close to the redline for comfort.  As she runs so smoothly now, it’s become almost impossible to remember that she’s a middle aged lady, and there’s always a little more acceleration available it seems!  However, dropping back to a slower speed, and letting her coast down the hills as we enjoyed the quickly changing scenery soon resolved the problem.  Unfortunately not everyone was quite so lucky, and we saluted a few other vehicles on the side of the road as we cruised along.

I continue to be surprised by how quickly the environment changes in this small state, and today’s journey was no exception.  Sandstone oranges and reds soon replaced with gorgeous shades of green and purple as we headed to higher altitudes, and through little towns like Peyson & Strawberry.  This was ranch land, as proven by some really impressive log cabins, and long dirt roads that seemed to lead nowhere!

Playing chase and be chased by a variety of other entrants, we both agreed the high spot of the journey was sitting behind a 1932 Lincoln Boattail speedster.  The car was immaculate, with gorgeous sweeping lines that shouted Art Deco at the top of their lungs.  Chatting with the owner later in the afternoon, I discovered that the coachwork was new and had been done in the style of two renowned american custom builders, Hibbard and Darrin, who worked in Paris in the late 20’s and early 30’s.  Not only was the restoration stylistically correct, all materials used were correct for the period.  It really is a piece of industrial art.

Beautiful boattail

Beautiful boattail

As the temperature continued to slowly drop, The Egg’s mood was unmistakably exuberant.  This is her type of driving conditions, and we were rewarded with smooth handling at every corner and a final bug count on the bonnet, that easily ran into triple digits.

By the time we arrived at our final destination in Flagstaff, it was a case of follow the sunlight to ensure the remaining not so warm temperatures could be appreciated.  Swapping stories, I was given a simple but worthwhile tip regarding engine temperature.  If you’re concerned, rather than reading the gauge, stop and see how long you can hold the dipstick.  More than 3 seconds, nothing to worry about. Hopefully I won’t need to test the theory tomorrow, but it’s good to know!

Egg 1 - Bugs 0

Egg 1 – Bugs 0

Really, I can’t make this stuff up

With The Egg happily packed in its carton and heading to AZ by yesterday lunchtime, I didn’t have much reason to update my blog before kick-off.  Until, that is, hapless cousin arrived; and bought with him yet more internet gold.

Returning home last night I found his trousers on the driveway, iPad on the deck and an otherwise quiet house.  Confused, I checked the garden shed (usual location for most lost Englishmen), but still no luck.  As I reached for my cellphone, he bumbled into the kitchen, munching his way through a bag of crisps (US translation: chips) and proceeded to share his woeful tale of a lost iPhone.  However, before you hit the “oh no” button, dear reader; I have to mention this is actually a replay of a conversation we had when he visited a couple of years ago.

My perfectly pre-ordered super shuttle picked him up and deposited him to the final destination. Unfortunately, the excitement to actually experience sunshine first hand was so great, he didn’t notice his phone sitting on the seat as he climbed out.  Desperate to change into shorts and a dubious ensemble of purple socks and checked shirt (clearly doesn’t pay any attention to the Instagram reposts of great menswear looks I share with the world), his entire focus was Vitamin D.

The only glimmer of hope on the horizon was Apple’s genius development of GPS & synching.  Forlornly he stared at the iPad, now taunting him with confirmation said phone was sitting somewhere in Glendale, as I called customer service to explain “our” predicament.  One extremely helpful lady, later, and we had reassurance they’d do everything possible to reach the driver and make arrangements for a later return.

Jetlag provided Harry with an early morning start, and he was horrified to realise the phone had managed a round trip to both Burbank and LAX airport before 6:30am.  With a quick nod of thanks to Apple, he used another apparently useful feature and made the thing start beeping as loudly as possible.

Which is why my morning started at 6:37am, with a call from a complete stranger, informing me had my phone.  An interesting statement as I’d grumpily answered the thing 5 seconds earlier until he explained there was a message flashing to inform it was lost and who to contact.  An electronic version of Paddington’s label, really.

The Rally Gods were fortunately smiling on us as man, phone and super shuttle were literally (if the iPad GPS was to be trusted) now less than a mile away en route to their next pick-up before heading back to LAX.  I reassured the very nice voice at the end of my phone, we could be wherever they were in under 4 minutes, if only they would wait.

Which is why by 6:45am, I was driving through my neighbourhood in my PJ’s.  In no mood for red lights before my first coffee, I opted for a couple of quick U-turns and reached our destination with almost 30 seconds to spare.

Back home, coffee in progress, and dearest cousin Harry mentions he’d travelled to Atlanta in February, and had managed to do the exact same thing AGAIN before returning to London.

Before I could deafen him with my silence, he smilingly pointed out, “look on the bright side; we’ve already had a quick practice run of dodgy navigation requires quick driving reflexes, just before this year’s event”

…..Remind me again, what would we do without family?!!

paddington

Good grief, is that the time? I’ve been gone for ages!!

I’m not the world’s worst blogger, but after seeing how long it’s been since my last post, I may deserve the title of “World’s Second Worst Blogger”

It’s not that I don’t enjoy this pastime, the complete opposite is actually true….I just feel obligated to have something exciting to report to my three regular readers (Auntie Colleen, the Cat and some very nice person in the Los Feliz area) to warrant their ongoing support.

It would be so much easier if he'd be a back seat driver.

It would be so much easier if he was a back seat driver.

Fortunately they are in luck (although with said cat staring at the computer as I type, there is additional pressure to make this entry both interesting and typo free (extremely difficult when feline’s head seems to be constantly moving in time to the Stereophonics track playing in the background), as the automotive updates are considerable.

In no particular order –

Copperstate 2015.  We’re in!! Again!!  Woohoo, I AM Penelope Pitstop!!!  Navigationally challenged cousin has already booked his flight from England and I’m considering purchasing socks with L & R stitched into them to help with this year’s map reading.  Or, glue the map book to my arm in a slightly McGuyver fashion whilst he recounts stories of all the really interesting things he can see out of the window that are totally irrelevant to our journey.  Better still, it’s 25th anniversary for the event, so an extra driving day has been added.  What more could a girl ask for?!

Talking of anniversaries –  The Egg and I hit a pretty impressive milestone in the past few months, as we’re both 50.  I know this to be true as I treated her to a certificate of authenticity last year, and I had a big party this past January.  Happy to report that other than minor modifications for each of us (she’s been painted a couple of times since new, I now consider the hair salon a necessity rather than an option), we’re both essentially factory originals.  Can’t help feeling the gap will start to widen in her favour over the next few years, but c’est la vie!

Badger hats?  Just call me an early adopter ;)

Badger hats? Just call me an early adopter 😉

Following Copperstate 2014, I planned to start fixing some of the more cosmetic issues (after all, we are – sorry, SHE IS 50).  Fortunately our Egg Doctor decided to check her in case any other problems may have appeared following the 1000 miles we added to the engine.  After a thorough examination he subsequently made an executive decision to replace the kingpins, due to concern there was just a little too much play as we took the corners.  Knowing enough to appreciate the importance of a round hole versus an oval where this particular car part is concerned, I was only too happy to support the plan.  Once I had the keys back, I was completely overjoyed….because, I love The Egg; and have forced my closer friends to suffer the song I wrote to celebrate this particular fact.

It’s a simple song, consisting of that one line repeated over and over, at the top of my voice with no discernible note in tune and clearly I should not be giving up my day job anytime soon.  On the drive back from Torrence, I not only sang this catchy little number, but had added enough choruses to justify a 12″ extended remix with possibly a second version from Mark Ronson chucked in for good measure…the difference was INCREDIBLE.

Faster, more responsive, no slight wandering irrespective of speed or road surface, she now glides round the corners better than I could ever have imagined.  It’s as if I have my own Outlaw – a brand new car in a vintage body.  The Egg Doctor assured me she was now bullet proof, and with every additional mile I’ve added since; he’s been proven 110% correct.  The only thing stopping me from considering more road trips is finding people to join me, as this car is unstoppable!!!

Additional highlights of  the past few months also included a couple of fantastic driving events by the most exciting addition to the automotive magazine world; Petrolicious.  If you are not familiar, please check them out at http://www.petrolicious.com – as the variety of articles, information and fabulous car photos are superb.  Better still, they not only like to write about driving, they’re happy to organize it for the rest of us!  I’ll expand on both events in future posts, but in the meantime – please give them some support.

Maximus Felines is now sitting asleep next to me, so I’m tentatively hopeful he considers my return to the digital age worthwhile. Auntie Colleen is currently asleep in England (& ” you know how much I hate those computer things, so don’t forget to post me a copy”), so thanks in advance my dear Los Feliz reader and I hope this made you smile.