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!

To Fargo I Go!

On the road again

After my drive through Montana, reading about my trip from Glendive to Fargo could be considered a disappointment. The drive to Fargo is all four lane highway, a very good one in fact. So, after bouncing my way along narrow roads to Glendive Montana I was ready for the freedom to take my eyes of the road now and again.

Four lane Hwy 94 east of Glendive

The first one hundred miles or so is comparably very beautiful. The terrain is similar to South Dakota’s Badlands, but different. It’s almost moonscaped. There is also The Theodore Roosevelt National Park on the west end of Hwy 94 in South Dakota. I did not visit the park, but it looks very interesting. I’ll see it someday for sure!

Outside Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Eventually I passed through flatter terrain and one of the most productive oil reserves in our country called the Bakken formation. Williston and the Dickinson area produce the most oil and there are billions of barrels left to us by God. Just a little further east several wind farms spring up polluting the skyline. I personally think oil rigs are less visually oppressive. Yet, my libertarian side says, “if both are on private land, I have no say, just opinions.”

One Opinion
Another Opinion

I did get a little sleepy along the route. I took a 5 minute nap and picked up some Mountain dew. See video.

Video

Some have asked how Ania, our 115 lb Polish Tatra dog is doing. I asked her myself, but I got no response. She’s not being rude, she just can’t speak human. My impression is she’s quite happy: With the change of scenery and all the new smells I think she’s reflecting suggestive happiness. On the North Fork, where I live, the land is pristine. A few animals and guests who visit us are all she has to sniff. Conversely, every rest stop has a smorgasbord of droppings and discharges for her inquiry. You asked!

Our hairball!

Well, anyway, my trip across North Dakota was certainly not as exciting as waiting to hear if I froze to death or launched my van into a deep ravine, but based on the great quality of the road itself it was a nice drive. I’m now settled into a pet friendly, Red Roof Inn, resting comfortably. Tomorrow, Brainerd, MN to see great friends who have a cabin a couple miles from us in Polebridge. I’ll skip that post, unless the van slides off a bridge into the mississppi river or someting of the sort. Later…..

Lonesome Highway

Made it to Glendive Montana! This morning the van started with the first turn of the key, it was 22 below. I had two block heaters on the oil pan; one 100 watts the other 200 watts. It was about 7:30 am when I fired up the old gender neutral beast; I have not decided which sex “it” is yet. I think I’ll name it after the trip.

Almost immediatly the roads outside of Great Falls become devoid of inhabitants. I suppose it was the cold. Most rational people are not fond of long journeys bounded by high winds and 22 below zero temps.

Basically, my ride was uneventful except for the bumpy ride, blowing snow, high winds, and below zero temps. The winds were around 20 mph with gusts topping 35 mph. Visibility was not an issue most of the time. Fortunatly for most of the ride the winds were at my back. Later on in the day they became crosswinds and that was daunting. When I added the fourwheel drive it lifted the van about 2 inches and it is now a bit top heavy and its profile is susceptible to wind gusts pushing me around.

In spite of my unusually foolish travel window, Montana is such a beautiful place, and a long ride across this route is highly recommended. There are the dramatic landscapes and a vastness one does not experience in other places. The the savagely harsh windy weather actually helps make the plains gorgeous and a place worth of a visit.

Sure I was nervous about the conditions and the dangers of this journey, but many do it on nicer days and now that I will be hitting the freeway tomorrow I’m sure I’ll miss what I’ve left behind, I already do!

Traveling is often a get in the car and go senerio. But I did this time what I don’t normally do, I stopped, got out of the van, and felt the raging cold winds against my face. I took in the views and felt what it must be like to live winters in such a windy and cold place.

Winnett Montana is such a place. I topped off my gas tanks there. Although I had a 3/4 full tank of gas and was chugging along just fine, when I saw a small sign that said “gas,” I hit my brakes. In lower case lettering, on a weathered board, the sign said nothing more. I remembered seeing Winnett on the map, but it is actually off the Hwy. It is tucked up against some rimrock bluffs about a half mile off Montana 87/200 in the middle of nowhere. I could tell immediatly after I hit my brakes and backed up to make the turn. This little town is not visited much by outsiders I thought. Even in the summer months one would have to ask why anybody would stop here? If my old van got just average miles per gallon I too would have just cruised by. B & D Services, is this gas stations formal business name, it’s nothing like a typical gas station.. There are no lights, no canopies to keep customers from the elements. There were just two pumps sticking out of the ground in a large dirt parking lot. In a big barn near the pumps their was a half light door with a faded sign hanging inside that said, “Open.” I entered and a nice but matter of fact woman asked, “May I hep you? I replied, “I’d like some gas please.” She said, “follow me I’ll show you how the pumps work.” You see credit cards are not accepted in the pump itself it is on a separate pole and the gas pumps were of a style I have not seen since the 1970’s. The lady took my card and inserted it into the payment pier and said, “there you go,” and she walked back to her hideout. I say hideout because inside it had only one set of shelves with oil products on them and that was all the retail business she was doing. No snacks, no drinks, nothing a consumer would buy. There was a bathroom, some furniture, a wood stove, and a back office area where she had been doing paperwork and eating a salad till I showed up. It really was not set up as a business. It was more like a rural man cave where a few of the 186 residents came to visit, stand by the wood stove, and fill up before they drove to Lewistown for groceries, it is the nearest town 54 miles away. As I pulled away I noticed a large old tower. I’m not sure what it was used for way back when, and I’ve seen many similar. In front was a run down shack, and a sign in that fit the town vide perfectly. See below:

Small Town Big Dreams


Like so many rural western towns there has not been any population growth. In Winnett three census cycles have passed and the population has varried by only three residents. Most towns like this have lost most all of their people to dreams vanished. Here, in Winnett it has virtually stayed the same, that’s wierdly good news for this place. I don’t know how it happens, how a small population stays the same for thirty years?

Well, not much else to say and I need some sleep. So I will just post some photos and a short video. They say a lot.

Note: Across the nearly 400 miles I saw about 10 semi trucks and a dozen cars. See, there are others crazy like me!

Zoom in, I pity the Amazon Prime delivery guy.
At Hotel

A Change of Plan…

I was all ready to leave Monday, but the weather forecast changed and I read it is supposed to be -39° in Polebridge tonight with -55 below wind chills. Ouch! So I started to think of alternatives and asking God for the wisdom to make a good decision.

Making America Great Again with Ania, lighten up!

I’ll make this short! With Jackie’s help we found out that some hotels have plug in outlets for vehicles and we found one in Great Falls. It was already 10:30 am, but I thought if I left immediately I could make the 5+ hr trip to Great Falls where it will only be -22 below tonight, and I could plug into their power (being on grid has advantages).

Just outside of West Glacier

Before I could leave or make the reservation I had to get the Van started. Last night it was -22 below at home so this would be a good test for the Great Falls option. After hooking up a second magnetic block heater and connecting my battery charger for an hour I tried to start it. No go! But it turned over slowly. I waited a little longer and tried again, three more times. Finally, it barely started and I was off.

Near Marias Pass

The van ran well. The road was a little sketchy through the lower end of Glacier Park, but I soon hit mostly dry pavement after I got past East Glacier.

In winter the roads heave and I bounced my way all to Great Falls. It’s quite exhausting. Nonetheless, I’m so glad my plans changed. I would never have gotten the van started tomorrow (I may not here either, but I have a shot). Also, I think God knew, and your prayers helped; I would not have made the Glendive objective in one shot, I’m exhausted.

Exhauted because I was cold while driving and all the bouncing on the road. It was between -5 and -15 outside the whole way and the van got as warm as 54° and as cold as 45°. I realized after I got here that I must have bumped the off/on switch for the diesel heater and it clicked off about an hour before I got to Great Falls and that’s when I froze. I thought the inside temperature was a result of falling outside temps. The van also has tiny air leaks that I must get fixed should I do somthing as crazy as this again. For now I just stopped and used duct tape! Always bring duct tape on adventures!

Duct tape on my side door
Meriweather Lewis of Lewis and Clark fame

Well, that’s it for the first leg. I start all over again tomorrow, maybe. If the van does not start I’ll stay another day, I’m retired right! No deadlines! The next leg is the worst, both road and weather wise, gusty winds are forecasted and cold temps again. Goodnight from Great Falls.

The Journey Begins 3.04.19

Well….After a mad flurry of preparations and long hours in my cold garage working on my Metro van, I’m heading out from Polebridge Montana to pick up Jackie, my love, in Wisconsin Monday morning. From Polebridge, our home, to Glendive Montana is 571 miles, the first leg. It’s an absolutely beautiful, but barren drive. In winter it can be also very dangerous and I’m not sure I can still do 11 hour non stop, knuckle busting, road trips. But I think the adrenaline will help.

Ready to go!

This past month we have had unusually cold weather and lots of snow. On the plains and tonight, Saturday March 2nd, in Lewistown Montana (on route) it’s currently -21° below with wind chills of -41°. It is forcasted to get even colder, down to -29° later tonight.

Monday I’ll be too busy trying to say warm and on the road to post pictures; and cell service is spotty. So, today I went on the State of Montana Road Conditions website and copied some photos from their live road cam’s.

The new bridge in Hungry Horse

These photo’s should give you an idea of the terrain and current road conditions I’ll be experiencing Monday. I’m sure I’ll stop and take a few pictures myself and I’ll share them when I have time, but for now these will do, they are pretty good!

Geyser Montana on Hwy 200 3.2.19
Along my route a little bit after Great Falls at sunrise! 3.02.19

Before I say anytimg more, please pray for a safe journey. The old van has only two shorter “summer journey” experiences. I don’t have a clue how it will do in below zero temps and icy, snow covered highways, but I’m optimistic and have faith.

Lewistown Montana the morning of 3.02.19
Lufborough, about 150 miles from Glendive.
Nowheresville!

The same people who constantly threaten us with global warming and can’t get each day’s weather right, are projecting more cold and windy conditions, but a clear and sunny Monday March 4th. I hope they are right on this one! I told my mom, “We Montana’s are adventurous and I’ll just enjoy the ride!”

I’ve pretty much done all I can do to be safe. I’ll be filling my tank with gas at every opportunity and I’m carrying 7 gallons in spare plastic gas cans just in case. Gas stations are few and far in between along Hwy’s 87, 89, and 200 and “conditions” can change quickly.

Towns with populations of twenty are 100 miles apart. You cannot very well break down and walk to the farmers house without freezing to death. I’ve called all the gas stations along the route and I asked about the road and how late they stay open. Some said 8 O’clock others said 10 p.m “maybe”. The longest stretch without gas, if they are open, is 150 miles. I think/hope I’ll get 200 miles out of my van’s tanks and with the extra 7 gallons I should be fine. I only got about 11 mpg this last summer; and fuel efficency goes down in cold winter weather. I’m also bringing extra gas in case I get into a wind whiteout and have to wait it out idling; it doesn’t need to be snowing to get a whiteout. But just in case all fails, I also bought and installed myself a really interesting diesel heater that works independently of my engine. I installed it just last week and tested it. It works great! It’s a Chinese brand. It has a glow plug and a diesel drip pump. It heats the glow plug then drips diesel fuel into a housing with fins.

Chinese Heater in my van

A fire inside the housing produces heat and the fins warm up. A small 12 volt fan kicks on and blows air past the fins and it produces 5kw of heat at full power. The inlet sucks outside air and the outlet vents the diesel air outside the van so no smelly fumes or exhaust dangers. The only issue I see is that it runs off an auxiliary battery. I’ve only tested it for four hours. It worked great for four hours on my old battery until it shut off when the voltage dropped too low (a safety feature). Now, with a brand new AGM auxillary battery, it can be charged by my alternator and protected by a battery isolator when the enginge is off, it has a 105 amp hour capacity. I think the heating unit draws about 30 watts continually and about 400 watts on start up to heat the glow plug. I’m hoping It will run 6 plus hours before having to recharge the battery. I’m hoping because the company did not specify the actual wattage used or how long it will run, those are my numbers based on info I gathered from website bulletins boards. One hint nobody mentioned, for those who may want to buy one of these heaters is, it’s best to start the heater with the engine running and charging the alternate battery. Basically letting the alternator heat up the glow plug. This way the glow plug startup process won’t drain the battery. The start up of one of these heaters can remove as much as 20% of your storage capacity and reducing your run time significantly. So, besides the diesel heater, I have a Buddy Heater and 3 canisters of Propane. This could give me 3+ hours of heat in an emergency. I’ll also have a lightwight synthetic comforter, two fleece blankets, two cheap Kmart 40+ degree sleeping bags, my winter jacket, all my clothes for the long tour, and my 119 lb dog. I hope that’s enough because there is not room in the van for another thing!

Because it is the van’s first big, untested, winter journey I also felt like had to bring a bunch of tools, wrenches, sockets, spare fuel filter, my honda generator, an impact driver, a battery charger, a solar panel, and a goal zero lithium “generator.” They call the Yeti Goal Zero a generator, but it is actually just a battery with a built in inverter. I can use it to power my electronics and it recharges by shore power, 12 volt cig lighter, or solar.

So here is the routine I expect to do at each below zero start up. First I’ll try to stay at a hotel in Glendive if I make it that far. In the morning it’s supposed to be about -14°. So I will bring my generator into the hotel to keep it warm. In the morning I’ll bring the generator out to the van, chain it up, start it, and hook it up to the installed 100 watt block heater I added to the engine. I’ll let that run for about an hour to heat the oil. Many cars can start at below zero temps, and mine probably could too if it did not have a new engine. The enginge is still in the “break in phase” so I had to add Lucus Oil Stabilizer. “It allows motor oils a higher degree of lubricity which reduces oil consumption and operating temperatures.” It is a must for new “older” engines along with a zinc additive. The problem with the Lucus Oil is that the stablizer is really thick and needs at least 5° temps to flow properly, per the manufacturer. Anyway, hopefully the engine will start and I’ll be on my second leg of my journey. From Glendive I’ll head across North Dakota, again in freezing, below zero temps, through Bismarck, through Fargo, and hopefully bed down somewhere near Minneapolis. All this travel will be on interstate so not as much to worry about after Glendive. I can do rest stop breaks and bathroom breaks pretty much at will. From Minneapolis to Sturgeon Bay Wisconsin, that too should not be very eventful?

So, there you have it! Preparation will meet opportunity Monday morning, but God is always in charge and my wishes are not always His. Wish me through prayer God’s speed and the wisdom to make this a safe journey. Thanks for helping me write by giving me somebody to write to; thanks for letting me share our journey.

Prequel – 1961 Metro Van Tour

I’m still working on a few last minute fixes before I head out to pick up Jackie. So until then, a few of you were interested in what the van looked like before I started the renovation. I’ve put together a mess of photo’s for you to see below. I’ll not bore you all with long detailed explanations. I think you can see for yourself it has been a journey. There are many more things I’d like to do after we get back from our tour, but until then……

Day One


Not to bad right?



Well, this is the real story! It was quite rough, and looking back, “What was I thinking?”
I kinda like the old seat. But the old van did not have two seats, it never did. So I got some “old” new seats.
In the beginning, after a quick paint job and before the new engine. A short drive!
Engine out

Sold Engine and Axles to owner of Metro in Canada

Turbo 400 Trans and 205 transfer case

Engine In
Krell Jones – Krell’s Customs – Columbia Falls, Montana
Master Restoration Specialist
Starting up the engine for the first time.
New rear end bolted right in, out of late 70’s suburban. Front axle was a different challenge.
New Steering Column and dash
Up on the rack

Done, with new drive train. Before I did any work to the inside of the van.

Well that’s it for now. I’ve a lot more to do like re painting and fixing all the things you can’t see. But the tour comes first. We will work out the bugs and fix things accordingly. I think it’s better to start something and use it, then go back and fix things that really bug you! Next post will be from on the road!

“An Articulate President”

“Unfortunately we don’t have an articulate president!” This statement and critism about our president I saw in a Facebook thread this morning. It’s mostly a true statement, and I’ll not argue against it by itself or in context. But we should not confuse having the ability to speak fluently and coherently with having the ability to express our ideas or “sell” a concept with comprehensible skill. Nor should we equate verbal skills with intellectual giftedness.

This is a personal issue for me. It’s like having my own oysters kicked when I hear of people criticised for their lack of verbal eloquence. It makes me righteously angry and you had better get out of my way when you do so!

We can all comb our hair, brush our teeth even get a makeover to help us appear eloquent. But our delinquent verbal or social skills are not always laziness or indicative of our gifted minds. Yes gifted! We all have the ability to think! And most of us have the ability to understand views, concepts, theories, facts, emotions, etc.. And although we may not have the verbal eloquence of an elite, silver tongued Yale law school grad, we know what we mean in our own minds, even if we cannot express our words eloquently.

I’m a frusturated speaker and a retarded preacher! God never gave me the gift. I can go over my words in my mind a thousand times, but when I open my mouth my tongue reveals disjointed, sometimes incomprehensible, jibberish. In other words I can say what I don’t mean (just as my wife) and create misunderstanding and confusion; a psychologist might say I have symptoms of communicative dysforia. You know the more common saying, “He’s certainly no rocket scientist” best describes me.

I grew up with this sociological inadequacy and it made me self conscience to some degree. Fortunately I was athletic, and I had football skills, so grunting was acceptable, but you had to be cute, funny or a star player to be popular; I scored in at least one of these, not everybody is as fortunate. As I got older I still struggled internally. I realized with training, financial success, even fearlessness, I was not going to be a smooth speaker. I was destined, as President Trump, to repeat myself, have pregnant pauses, slur my pronunciations, and make poor word choices to make myself clear. Speaking was, and is, frustrating and it may be why I like to write. My son has a favorite and familiar saying when he finally understands my verbal assaults, “Ok, I get it dad, quit beating the dead horse,” he says.

So to all of God’s people who cannot fully express themselves in graceful utterances: Expressing oneself readily, clearly, and effectively is not in the least an indication of your intelligence or indicative of the value of your ideas. Remember that!

The quick-witted and slick tongued are not free to be merciless nor dismissively arrogant, there are accountants in heaven. We know in our own hearts what is right, what is good, and what is acceptable. And the best arguments do not have to be eloquent to be understood or believed. So while it it refreshing and mostly entertsining to hear from an eloquent speaker or read a specially gifted author, we should never dismiss a person of any stripe for their lack of eloquence. In fact I look forward to hear from those less fortunate, for in them is the same God that created me. In them are thoughts, emotions, imaginations, ideas, and better ways than I can ever think or be. Thank you President Trump for being real! Thank you all the people who are tongue tied, poorly spoken and incapable of giving coherent, clear, and effective expression of your ideas and feelings. I love you as I love myself!

Retirement Tour- In a 1961 Metro Van

Our van in the Polebridge July 4th Parade

We’re only days away from beginning our tour. I’ve only yet to set the timing, hook up the vacuum advance, air up the tires, install a cheap Chinese diesel cab heater, and pack up.

Eight degrees of initial timing and no more than 34 degrees of total timing at 3000 rpm will do just fine, I hope! Though I can always make adjustments along the way I’d like to get it right before I leave. I’m picking up my bride in Sturgeon Bay Wisconsin. She’s flying there tonight and landing God willing, tonight. A hole in a snow storm here in Montana was her delight and she got off the ground safely. So now she can see her mother before our trip. The plan is to let Jackie, my wife, visit mom for a couple weeks, then head out!

The first leg of the journey I’ve done many times but never in an old under powered, poorly heated van. I should not give you the impression that the van is an old jalopy. It was however a sight to see when I bought it at a vacant lot in Columbia Falls Montana. The owner said his father, or grandfather, I don’t recall which, had parked it in a field at least 20 yrs before and it had been parked there ever since. He said he used it as a camper van, and the old man traveled to Mexico many times in it. On the windshield and the back windows were authoritative Mexican government stickers all about. It was cute, but truly in rough shape. At first sight I only saw potential and asked if it ran. The answer was, “not sure!” So I gathered up a gas can and an old battery, did some wire tying and cranked it over. It fired up to everybody’s surprise. “I’ll take it,” I said. An hour later it was sitting at our business. I had it towed because it didn’t have plates, but more so because I didnt know what else might not work.

Sure, it was one of those impluse buys. But we bought it for only $1,400, it was not much of a risk. We could just paint our business name on it and plant it in front of our shop if all else failed; a big cute sign that we could write off.

Sleeping Quarters

But it wasn’t long before I had it running good enough to get around town. And boy was it fun to drive. Fun because it reminded me of the old days of driving a stick on the column. The manly smell of oil burning, and the lifters rhythmicly clanking brought back many feelings and good memories. For this was not the first old vehilcle I would own. My first car was a 1936 Plymouth Coope. I cut my teeth on that old girl. Learned about popping gears, and timming, and hotwiring to get it to go. Then it was all I could afford and all my mom could loan me to buy a car. This time I wanted a project, I needed a project. But I soon found the old Diamond six cylinder, the transmission and parts to work on the old Metro were almost extinct. International Harvester was the brand but back then they used parts from Chevy and from whoever they could find them to build their vehicles. The only aftermarket parts I could find was a master brake cylinder. But the kicker for me was the day I drove it to town and lost a hubcap. I retaced my route, even walked it for several miles in search of the hubcap. It was gone! Somebody must have nabbed it. And so were gone my hopes of having an original classic vehicle.

Kitchen Area

I searched online and in magazines and came to the realization I’d have to buy several vehicle’s of the same make and year along with having things custom built at exhorbitant prices to make the dream come true.

The Cockpit

I didn’t take long to conceed and began thinking about other options. I heard from a friend that there was a good mechanic in the valley that did restorations. I thought maybe he could put in a completely new drive train and convert it to a four wheel drive. But at what cost? You see I usually do things myself. I’m generally pretty cheep or frugal if you like nicer words. I built my own home and it took nine years if that gives you perspective. But this time was different. We had a good year financially and I was getting a little too old to learn all the things needed to do such a conversion, besides it had been since high school that I turned a mechanics wrench. Krell Jones of Krell’s Customs got the job! He was very patient with me and let me come over to watch, help, and talk about his progress. He normally does complete, body off, restorations of vehicles he’s familiar with, so for him this was a treet as well as a challenge. A low budget challenge to boot. It took, if I remember right, about 8 months of off and on again work to get it running. He did not do it the right way, the way he wanted to. That was to take off the body, scrap the old and install the new. He had to pull the engine from inside the cab, figure out how things would fit, weld in motor mounts and install a new short block Chevy 350 crate engine that I had built and bought from Pheonix Engines. I can’t remember the torque ratio or many details beyond it having a beefy crank shaft and 326 horsepower off the dyno. We decided on a bomb proof turbo 400 automatic transmission and a rebuilt 205 transfer case. I also had him install a new steering column, wiring harness, custom gauges, and a Vintage Air heat and a/c (I havent hooked up the a/c yet). After some overheating issues, i also had a custom dual core aluminum radiator built.

As you can imagine by this point I was committed. The money was pouring out of our savings and into a classic old van that still had no proposed use except to run well enough to drive in Montana and beyond.

New Seats

Here is where van life and retirment converge. Why not make it again into a classic travel van? A new Mercedes Sprinter Van would cost way more than what I had into the Metro. Jackie agreed! Besides she thought it looked cool too. You see, we are both peas in a pod when it comes to liking different sorts of unique things. In a way it’s a curse. Furniture at Ikea is cheap and everybody buys it. But that’s exactly why we can’t. Of course we like the cheap part, but what usually comes with unique is expensive! For some things like underwear, socks, and maybe a winter jacket we can go to Costco and buy what 400 others have bought that day. But like unique door hardware and screen doors (former business we owned), being different was the draw. The same would be true for this old van.

Driving the old looking, but good running Metro gets all kinds of attention. It has become a game we play while traveling to count the number of waves, thumbs up, peace signs, and hang loose’s we get between waypoints. Of course we also get some strange looks but they are always happy strange looks. Jackie describes our van as like something out of the movie Cars. It’s cartoonish. It also has that “rat rod” look. It’s quite original on the outside besides the crappy paint job I put on it just to stop the rust. When I purchased it the former owner had painted it with brown and beige house paint – with a brush – and it had flying ducks painted on it’s side panels. Then it was ugly cute. Now it’s just cute!

Since we got it running and since Jackie finally decided to retire with me, I’ve been working on the inside making it into the travel van we can’t afford except by sweat equity. This is also a curse; and a blessing. Doing things yourself saves a lot of money, but learning how is also a challenge.. Usually more than half of everything you build or repair is labor. Sometimes it doesn’t look as good as a professional would do it or the materials need to be sewn or crafted to “make it work.” But in the end the joy can be had by the preparation, the learning, the effort, and the savings. And let’s face it, the pride that comes with the joy in seeing an 8 year old giving us a thumbs up as he’s driven by in his mom’s Escalade is priceless.

Well, besides describing the sunroof installation, electrical system, solar panel set up, roof rack installation, and describing how we will be staying warm, sleeping, cooking, showering and using the porta potty, that’s it for now. When our journey begins I’ll be updating my blog between campsites and interesting places. I hope you enjoy the journey too.

Bob and Jackie

Pantsuit Envy

This one is sure to get me in trouble with some, but here goes. It happens that whenever I read, wherever I get my news, there are gobs of articles about women seeking equality or protesting their tribe as oppressed and suppressed in society. For me it is actually sad that this taxonomic category has taken root. For all the historians, God has categorically made man and women different for many reasons. Equal pay for equal work is not exclusivily a feminist category. “Reproductive rights” is not solely a womens issue, ordinarily it would be called a moral issue. Women’s sufferage is over. As far as I know the right of women to vote in elections changed a hundred years ago. So, to me, at the heart of this radical, white pant suit, backlash is envy and more kin to the exploits of Cruella than Cinderella.

If we look at people, male and female, as individuals created for the glory of God we will see that each of us is given talents, abilities, and traits not only specific to gender but more likely specific to the purposes of God. As a man I do not expect to get paid more than a harder worker. I don’t expect jobs better suited to others to be granted me because I’m a man. I expect that I’ll get chosen because I’m better liked, better qualified, that I have a more famous reputation, or that I will be a better “fit” to the goals and culture of the organization. Sure, opportunities should not be given based on race or gender alone (sexuality is a whole different matter). For instance, let us take “social equality.” It’s a term often associated with feminism. Feminists believe in “social equality for women.” Sounds good right! But what is “social equality?” What does it mean for a woman to be socially equal to a man? You see the problem is definitional. If it means a woman should have the right to make the same amount of money for the same work generally, well that’s true. But if she thinks her talents are equal to a man’s just because she is a woman, well that’s subjective. It will always be subjective and she is envying a position she has no right to own solely based on her gender.

I remember playing college football at a major university in the 1970’s, about the time when feminism was taking root, and one day the coaches came in and said, “men, that’s what they called us, not the boy’s that we were, “today there will be women reporters in the locker room, you better mind your manners, get dressed quickly and for God’s sake if you’re coming from the treatment rooms wear a towel.” The whole thing did not seem fair! It was our locker room, a man’s sanctuary. Of couse it was unfair that male reporters had access to the players when the women did not. But the solution was not to give women access, it would have been better, in my opinion, to give both genders access after we showered and after we were dressed. But in this case feminism won the day. From that forward the agenda seems to have gotten more radical.

Today the whole solidarity issue would be wonderfuly accepted if women were celebrating their feminity and giving glory to their creator. I say give them their own locker rooms, their own identity. But when the solidarity becomes a political issue for dividing and conquering the man cave, that’s going a bit far.

As for all the articles, lighten up ladies. If you can run as fast, jump as high, and take the hits like a man you can be on my team. If you can sell as much, think as fast, and make decisions suitable to those in charge you’re hired. But if you think showing off white trousers in solidarity at the State of the Union is making the case for equal access to a man’s world it’s not. If at the State of the Union, the congresswomen, again, wear white pant suits it will certainly distinguish them from the congressmen, it will symbolize and expose their holy garments as hypocritical. They will display the personal, expensive, privilege of their own careers, while maliciously bemoaning the idea that others, unlike themselves, are incabable doing quite well under patriarchy; they will covet the qualites of men (and votes), while denying the liberty of being wonderfully made a woman.

Progressive “Christianity”

It’s complex, but progressive Christianity is in general a false religious system. It centers around not Christ, but around sinful practices. It is a culturally acceptable rebellion against traditional, and dare I say biblical, truths. It twists scripture and forthrightly denies all teachings it disagrees with. It uses Christianity as it’s platform, and sinful behavior as its center. “Believers” use Christ because His teachings on the poor, love, and general kindness “fits” the liberal narrative. It’s just a hustle, not a grace by faith thing!

You will also find a strong political bent to this perversion. It centrally consists of 99.9% activist Democrats who agree with such positions as abortion, homosexuality and all LGBT “rights.” It is anti hell, does not believe in absolutes, and of course it’s anti Trump, anti Pence, anti Franklin Graham, anti all great preachers and teachings of the past. It’s about the future; social justice, love, unity, spirituality, diversity, and the environment, sounds familiar right? There is even a website set up that directly states its purpose is for progressive Christians is to “Resist and Pray.” Resist against Trump and pray to the god who agrees with their lifestyle and views. CNN just today 1/25/19 published one of its posts, that should tell you something about the movement. Obviously, the emphasis is on resist and reconstruction, for by opposing traditional Christianity new liberal social constructs and sinful convention’s can blossom (see: http://www.resistandpray.org).

The complex part about progressive Christianity is that some of these people have made a sincere profession of faith in Jesus Christ and are seriously committed to know Him better. Their issue is not sincerity, but rather their lack of knowledge about biblical truth. Young believers have always had this issue, I did! They look around them and see a kind of Christianity that “fits” them and they are attracted by it. They associate with others who agree with them, they get together for coffee, love the music, and learn just enough biblical verses to support their beliefs. Often their parents religion was just too traditional, or their parents never really took their own faith seriously. Or likewise, they used their faith for gain or “fundamental” acceptance of their own views on issues like skirt lengths.

I realize I’ve blasted this movement (rightfully so), but I could also do the same for many other religious and quasi religious movements. Fundamentalism in many forms, the health and wealth gospels, many charismatic and traditional denominations like the United Methodist Church have serious errors in what they believe and teach. The issue always comes down to what we believe and why we believe it. Just remember if you believe anything about Christianity that departs from the teachings of the bible your beliefs are only a construct of your own mind or culture.

So I recommend you regularly read your bible and pray. God is fully capable of teaching you His truths. I have been doing this for more than 40 years. I’ve grown a lot. I’ve changed my views on many issues and I have become more loving, more kind, more knowledgeable. Above all this I have more joy, and Christ has my heart.