Peer Pressure made a 257-mile trip this past weekend to the Eastern Shore without a hitch. The kids loved it, I had a smile on my face the whole time, and it was her first visit to the shore–about as close as I’ll ever let her get to salt water.
I had no issues with starting, overheating, or odd distributor explosions. I am noticing that braking is getting wobbly up front, probably due to the rotors being warped (the only parts we didn’t replace during the brake job this spring) so I’m going to have them ground or replaced next month.
After that, it’s getting a set of road-going tires. Mud-Terrains are good for mud but loud as shit at 60mph.
Saturday I drove over to Brian’s house to join a bunch of guys helping him transplant a refreshed 345 into his Wagonmaster. The morning was gray, and I tried every rationalization I could to drive Peer Pressure over with my Hydroboost parts to see if I could have some of the experts help me install it. As I was loading up, rain started to fall and the radar showed a huge front moving in, so I switched to the Honda and begrudgingly drove over.
Almost everybody else had the same strategy I did, because there were only two other Internationals there out of twelve guys.
I stood around and soaked in as much of the knowledge as I could, offering help, a flashlight, or spare hand wherever I could. I’m not experienced enough by years to attempt a transplant myself, but seeing these guys do it so quickly is an inspiration.
By noon the engine was mated to the transmission and in the truck, and as I left at 3:30 the carb, AC, distributor, starter, and alternator were all installed.
Via a Facebook post later in the day, they got it running at about 6:30 that evening. Not bad!
This morning I met up with Brian H. and made a run down into Annapolis to pick up a Traveltop. I was a bit hung over, but Peer Pressure fired right up and made the trip easy. After meeting the seller at his house, we wound up talking to him for a good hour and a half before we started turning wrenches. It turns out he’s been buying and parting out trucks for the past couple of years, and he wants to thin his collection out a little.
This top is in really good shape. It’s baby blue with a roof rack, and apart from some minor rust issues under the driver’s window and leaks where the chrome strips sit on the top, it’s clean. The liftgate is in fantastic shape, the handle works perfectly, and the glass is all good. I’m going to pull the sliders out of my spare top and replace these as well as the seals, and maybe weld up a lot of the holes before painting it white.
He threw in a set of Kayline bows he had laying around, and I picked up a spare windshield with a tiny crack in the side as well. We made sure to invite him up to the next wrenching day in the springtime, and hopefully we can get a couple of other locals to meet up when the weather gets warmer.
Our holiday in New York was wonderful but brief. We enjoyed visiting with my family, and Finn is now at the age where we spend less time trying to physically stop her from getting into things she shouldn’t and more time telling her. But overall, she was really well-behaved and polite. Unfortunately, she also started out with a viral infection that worked its way down into her lungs, becoming bacterial bronchitis (or something like that). She spent a good portion of the ride home mercifully passed out in the carseat.
The weather was very mild and sunny up there, which was a real pleasure; usually there’s a howling frosty wind sweeping down from Canada to chill the bones. We took a couple of walks to work off our Thanksgiving dinner and enjoy the sun while it lasted.
Returning home, we scrapped a lot of our plans for Sunday to get Finn to the doctor, pick up medicine, and relax before the week caught up to us. I got the pumpkin ale bottled while the girls napped, and sorted out some early Christmas planning while watching football in bed. Finn was up and down a few times before going to sleep, and woke us at 1 with a bad dream. I slept in the guest bedroom after we installed her in the big bed to sleep next to Mama.
So today has been a lousy one for the Lockardugan clan. Finn came back from the river with a fever, which has been spiking and falling with alarming frequency and severity, which resulted in a seizure at the vet’s office this afternoon. She was at the vet’s office because Geneva the cat has gotten to the point where she needs to be put to sleep. Poor Mama has been bouncing between caring for Finn and handling Geneva’s final hours, and I can’t imagine it’s been easy.
The river trip itself was great, up until Finn got sick. The water was calm and warm, and we all enjoyed the chance to float and relax. Finn tried on her life jacket and spent almost an hour riding on my back as we floated in the current, and it was almost impossible to get her away from the dock and the water. She even stayed up to roast some marshmallows by the fire before going to sleep.
Sunday morning she got us up early and I took her down to the dock to watch the mist roll out over the water. We laid on the couch inside and watched a little Cat in the Hat on my phone while everyone slowly rose, then had a tasty breakfast Mr. Scout put together. Finn was uncharacteristically low-key after breakfast (whenever she turns down bacon, something is seriously wrong) and her food came up in my hands while she sat on my lap.
The pediatrician says her fever symptoms brought on the seizure, and they’re doing some tests to see what brought the fever on. For now, she’s curled up next to me on the couch while Mama says goodbye to Geneva at the vet’s office.
I will miss that feisty little girl.
I did a 160-mile round trip out to West Virginia in the Scout this weekend, and Peer Pressure ran flawlessly. I’ve never been able to tell what my speed is (larger tires and a speedo with no provenance) but I’ve suspected that it’s indicating slower than actual. I passed several SHA radar signs—the ones that measure your speed and display it to you—and found that 50 mph indicated is somewhere around 60 mph actual. So, there’s that. I also found that I got her up to 60 indicated, which means she’ll do 70-75 mph with no worries. I will say that hitting expansion joints at that speed on Triangle springs is a dicey proposition. Apart from that, and my ladies being in a separate car (one with air conditioning and airbags), the ride was perfect. The outside temperature was warm but not sticky, the sun as at my back, and the roads were mostly clear.
I got one guy who pulled up next to me in an Acura SUV, honked his horn to get my attention, and gave me a huge thumbs-up and a smile. He stuck a camera out the window and shot a picture on the way past.
I still feel a little queasy from the exhaust fumes, but it sure was nice to warm Peer Pressure up and drive her into work. I wonder if a hardtop would cut down on the smell.
I did represent the Scout on my Christmas list; at the top was a new gas tank sender and J-hooks, as well as some inexpensive speakers and a Service manual. Come on Santa!
I chose an absolutely glorious day to drive up into Monkton/White Hall to meet with a nice fellow and buy a spare Thermoquad for Peer Pressure today. Apart from one minor hiccup with lousy battery cabling, the old girl ran like a top, and we ventured out into farm country, blowing up clouds of leaves and passing by cows, horses, and IH farm equipment of all vintages. Erik is a real nice guy with a stable of drool-worthy trucks, and he gave me my pick of two Thermoquads. The one I chose looks like it was recently rebuilt itself, and comes with all the associated hardware I’ll need in case of replacement.
Later in the afternoon, I got a call from Mr. Scout, who was in town and behind the wheel of Chewbacca on her maiden voyage across the Bay Bridge. He stopped in to say hi and we looked her over; the work he did is spotless and the truck is beautiful. We took a short spin up the block and he made me get behind the wheel for the return trip. She feels great; the engine is strong, the brakes are sharp, the wheel is straight, and the truck feels tight, like it just came off the showroom floor. Well done, sir. You’ve made me proud.
The weekend was long and tiring, but lots of fun. The Lockard Reunion was a rousing success, and we left Disney the way we found it. Jen’s aunt Jane brought a bin full of old family pictures as well as a current geneaology, and the documents were the source of a lot of conversation and memories. One of the cool things we learned was that at one time her father’s family owned a good portion of the businesses in their hometown. Some of the pictures showed huge advertising signs with the family name that she’d die to have now.
Ty and Lorie are doing very well, and Bonny was just as cute as a button. They have a beautiful house set back by a lake and old trees (a rarity in most of Orando, I’m told.) I think I took more pictures of their baby than of the Lockards, because she was just so photogenic. And to keep the streak alive, Ty showed us Heavy Metal Parking Lot (our last visit in Houston, we screened The Dancing Outlaw) which I’ve heard of but never had the privilege of seeing. And it was as funny as I thought it would be—it brought me right back to high school, and I could laugh at these people without getting the crap kicked out of me (the folks in this video made up about 70% of my high school population, no lie.)
Jen and I spent our Saturday afternoon at MGM Studios, which was not the showcase of gay pride we were expecting, but still fun. We got our pictures taken with Buzz, Woody, and Jesse the Cowgirl from Toy Story; we rode the Aerosmith roller coaster (good ride) and the Tower of Terror (merely alright). We got rained on twice, and ate plenty of fried American foods. In the evening we met up with the fambly at the Wilderness Lodge, then boarded a bus for Epcot, where they had arranged an ice cream social for us after the fireworks at the lake. The family mingled and told stories until 11, when they took us back home. Sunday was spent in one of the side lounges at the lodge, where we looked through pictures and had barbecue.
I’m currently about 30,000 feet above Georgia on my way to Orlando for the Great Gathering of Lockards, where Jen’s father’s people are reuniting together for the first time in years. I volunteered as the Dutiful Boyfriend to accompany her for moral support (and to prevent her from killing any of her family while she’s there.) The occasion is made all the more interesting by the fact that this is indeed Gay Day at Disneyland, so the arch-conservative Waltons from backwoods Pennsylvania will be surrounded by thousands of happily queer folk. I am bringing camera with fully-charged batteries to document the looks of disgust, incredulity, and finally, resigned acceptance from her father, Captain, USN (Retired.) Oh, kids, this is gonna be great.
I’m also coming up with righteous reasons why I shouldn’t have to wear the Lockard T-Shirt, only rumors of which I have heard. (I have mental images of an ultraviolet XXL shirt with a muddy photo surrounded by some huge bubble lettering.) The occasion is also made great by the fact that we are not staying with The Mouse, but with Jen’s good friends Ty and Lorie, who recently added little Bonnie Rose to the world.
Interesting phenomena: I did a Google search this week on french striped grunts and the sixth or seventh hit was from my own site. Sweet!
Observations on flying three times in the past two months:
- USAir gives you pretzels. I hate pretzels. Southwest gives you Air Crisps and peanuts.
- USAir’s seats are more cramped. But their planes are cleaner. (and not as ugly as Southwest’s.)
- The cattle-call method of seating sucks, unless you’re on a 2/3 full flight.
- You can’t have baggage with all kinds of straps hanging off it or they make you sign a waiver that makes it OK to lose the bag.
- I’ve gotten better at the preflight security check. I can have the laptop out of the bag and in the tray in five seconds flat.
- iTunes is a lifesaver. If I didn’t already have enough reason to buy an iPod, I have a good one now.
- Next flight: more DVD’s.
- Southwest’s customer service rocks. The phone did not ring once when I called to switch flights; when I was immediately connected, I started to stammer like I got caught passing notes in Chemistry class and the CSR had to wait for me to remember why I called.
- USAir’s ticketless baggage system is awesome. I’m hooked.
The May issue of Scientific American has a very fascinating article on “scale-free” networks. Researchers have done numerous studies on the Internet and found just how similar it works to things like single-celled microorganisms and viruses. Great writing in this article, by the way. Lots of good information.
(Disclaimer: it was sitting on the toilet in the men’s room at work as bathroom reading. I don’t currently subscribe.)