Together Again!

Ok…where was I? Right! I didn’t think I’d have much to say about my journey from Fargo to Sturgeon Bay, but as usual, life, the way God makes it, is always full.

First I must say Fargo surprised me. Apart from its standing as a backwards place, full of half crazy mystical characters, the area and the people I visited with were not comedic at all. It was a small but suprisingly metropolitan city in a God awful cold and windy place. That’s all I learned about Fargo this trip. I just stayed the night, got a pizza, and drank a half a can of PBR and talked with a few nice folks!

From Fargo I headed east to Brainerd MN and visited truly a wonderful couple who have a cute cabin also in Polebridge Montana. Bill was and still is a faithful friend and prayer supporter of our son and it’s always a joy to see both he and Kathy. I appreciated thier hospitality, their faith and fellowship. Great people, nice home, super close family. And like all hospitable hosts they fed me well! So typical of good hosts and always a blessing, a good host asks when you’re trying to leave early morning, “Would you like an egg before to leave?” Sure, it’s just an egg you think. Twenty minutes later delicious yummies are produced and always the finest combination of conversation and eating begin. Thanks Bill and Kathy!

Bill and me!
“An egg!”

Around 8 a.m. I’m on the road again and soon after I am traveling around Saint Paul Minnesota, ironically the most dangerous part of my journey so far. The crazies are out at that time of morning. They’ve had too many cups of coffee and are all in a rush to get somewhere important. At least a sane person would think so. The semi trucks and their trailers were flying by me. All were speeding and darting in and out of traffic searching for that slight edge over the other to get where they were going. Besides their speeding, the roads were worn and groved which made the old van bobble and weave. At moments I thought, “This is it! I was going to hit one of these groves and big semi was going to fly by me and suck me into it. Soon after there would be all sorts of antique Metro van parts for sale on Craigslist.” But I survived, barely, and that’s not rhetorical drama, it’s truth, the “barely” part!

Now a while back, before I arrived in Brainerd, I started hearing a pinging sound. For those of you not familar with the mechanical workings of old vehicles; the timing can get out out of wack, and “advanced timing” on an engine can make a pinging sound. It happens when the piston fires late in the engine progression. A well timed engine fires just before “top dead center.” I’ll not bore you with further mechanical details, but that is what my enginge was sounding like. I needed to adjust my timing, so I thought.

So at first the noise was not that loud so I drove on. I had more important objectives I was going to see Jackie, my wife, and make my destination, Stugeon Bay Wisconsin. But gradually the pinging became louder, “the distributer must have loosened, I thought!” I pulled into the next gas station, the Flying J near Hudson Wisconsin. I came prepared! I had a timing light with me and I checked my timing. It was right on, so I something else was wrong. I looked around and could not see anything striking, so I decided to reproduce the sound by opening up the throttle and accelerating the engine. This is where pinging occurs. It’s also sometimes associated with vacuum advance. As I pulled the throttle linkage I noticed the power steering fluid holder shaking. So this was the culprit, not the timing.

Welding the bracket

The bracket had broken at the bend. I suppose a stress fracture. After all the steel is at least 40 years old. We used an old bracket off another vehicle. “Well now what?” I thought. I have about all the tools I need in the van, but I don’t have a welder. I called around and one person recommended another until I finally found an outfit that could weld my bracket bact together. It was Veterans Truck and Trailer Service in Hudson, WI.

Great people worked there. When I pulled up they was like a bunch of girls flocking to a new puppy. “What year is it?” “What engine do you have in it?” “Look he put four wheel drive in in!” The guys were great! Young and enthusiastic diesel mechanics.

They were obviously all proffessionals. Their shop was fantastically outfitted and the were very busy working on several eighteen wheeler’s. I was thankful they had the time to fit me into their busy schedule, I told them I desperately wanted to make Sturgeon Bay by nightfall.

Yhe bracket was not a hard fix and it only took the pros a half hour shop time to remove and weld the break. Fifty bucks and a bunch of fun with the young men and I was rolling again.

Darkness fell and it got cold again, but by seven thirty I made it. My eight hour drive had turned into and eleven hour experience, but I was with my bride. We were together again! It was a well worth it journey. After hugs and kisses, I wanted some Perch and a beer. We stopped into the most typical of northern Wisconsin restaurants, The Greystone Castle in Sturgeon Bay. The place was filled with mounts and stuffed fish, good food, and friendly people.

We will spend a few days together in Sturgeon Bay then begin our retirement journey in earnestand together next week. First stop Madison to see our Son, then a short stop in Wheaton/Glen Ellyn Illinois to see my sister and high school friends. Then on to Kentucky! From there you’ll have to follow to find out!

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