Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Role Model

My father, Art Brown, has always been a role model for me. At 87 he plays golf, sometimes twice a week, works out at the health club where he chats with pretty young women, explores on the internet, and is someone I can call with an electronic question and have him figure it out over the telephone. He is also my good friend.

About a week ago, I met Bob and Dale, who is one of Bob's old neighbors from his Ann Arbor days. Dale is about 70 and doing fine, but slowing down just a little. Talking to Bob later, I was reminded of this trip where my 76 year old father and I went off-roading through Colorado.

We met in Vegas and drove up to Telluride, one of our favorite places. I just wish I had bought some property there the first time we visited, since I couldn't afford to live there now. On our first visit, the town was sleepy all year and the main street through the town was dirt.

From there we went north to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison and up to Marble where we found our first real off-road trail.

This trail follows the Crystal River up to the ghost town of Crystal City and its iconic mill, shown below. While there, we talked to a family whose great-grandfather had owned mines here in the silver rush. He loved it so much that he and his family have been coming back to visit every summer for 4 generations.

Rocky Mountain high country is full of color in summer.

Part of our off-road adventure was to cross over Taylor Pass, where Papa met some attractive young women having a day out of the city. My father has always been a babe magnet. It looks like that gene skipped a generation.

Finally, we looped back around to Telluride by a southern route. This shot is of the upper Rio Grande valley. Up near the headwaters, we crossed over a high pass and down into the Animas River valley and the town of Silverton.

A few days ago, Papa said he had enjoyed these travels and staying active in retirement. Paraphrasing, 'My 70's were good. You slow down a little, though, when you hit 80.' For me, that's a good measuring stick for the future and I'll do my best to live up to it.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Successor to Gidget?

Last week, I got together with Larry and Pricilla Poese and Bob Wilson for dinner. Along the way, the conversation turned to my having sold Gidjet and Larry asked what 60's rear drive car I was going to buy to replace Gidjet. I replied that, for now, the motorcycle is filling that role since its fun to ride and is actually good for my neck. Larry asked what about the winter, implying that 4 wheels is better than two in snow and ice. OK. In truth, I didn't drive Gidjet in winter for a long time, so the question doesn't completely apply, but its an interesting question anyway. So I decided to throw out a few ideas and look for other ideas from the comment section. The conditions are that it needs to be reasonably priced, fun to drive (even raucous), fit me, and give me a good driving position for my junky neck.

The first candidate, I saw parked on the road in Scotland while I was waiting for the ferry to Orkney Island. Not easy to find in the States, but a nice, rally prepared 1st gen Escort.

The next one was a lot of fun to drive, gave me good neck support, but also caused the neck problem on our last outing. Its great to be able to power drift on dry pavement with only 100 HP, but perhaps Lola is a little impractical on the street.

Still, its the only car I ever got a trophy for driving.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Old Photos can be Dangerous

I am still looking through old photos because I'm looking for pictures to support an old Gidget adventure that I had promised to share. Along the way, I keep finding all these interesting old shots of friends and whatnot. This is a wonderful shot of the mischievous Eva. Between the wonderful expression and that lovely purple dress, well what can I say.

Most of us know and love Bob Wilson, but do you remember him with full facial hair and a skinny leather tie? Ah, the 80's were good to us all. Once again, I have to apologize for taking the picture when he just took a bite, but you can't control that stuff 20+ year later.

These pictures are from Bob and Karin's wedding. Eva and Mike Tozer in this shot, and I feel a story coming on.

I hope my loyal readers will forgive these strolls down memory lane. Although I haven't stayed in touch with all of my friends from this time, those that I have, myself included, have led an interesting life since then. May the next 50 years be as interesting as the last 20.

Friday, September 12, 2008

VW Faces from the Past

Doug Klassen has been entertaining us all with his blog,, about motorcycles, life, and, marriage. Now he is planning on taking a break from the blog and I can respect that, but it always bothered me that in his blog photo, he looks like such a biker guy. Now admittedly, I haven't seen him for 20 years and I certainly don't look the same, but I happened to run across these pictures from the mid 80's and that's how I remember all my friends from that time. So for those of you who haven't read Doug's blog, give a look. Even if he hasn't posted something new, the archives are funny and well written. As for you Doug, keep up the good work, you are an entertaining writer.

OK, this isn't fair. But closed eyes is the only shot I have of Tom Dubecky. One of my favorite guys and somebody you can count on. He is also the only guy I know that could sit in the passenger seat next to Bill Pate on Portland Raceway, in the wet, looking down at an instrument to see what was going on with the engine, and not throw up.

This final shot is of Marv Younger with the old PIR proving grounds in the background. Another great guy to work with.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Wood Nymph

Fun Photo. The note on the back is "wood nymph". The lady is Tom Mulder, my old college roommate's wife, at least at that time. I wish my memory worked well enough to remember her name.

Alaska is an amazing place. You go from lush and almost tropical to scrubby bushes and tundra in just a few miles.

I went up to Alaska to visit both Tom and Mac, an old friend from high school. Both were working in Alaska and Mac was on site in the Kenai Peninsula, about an 8 hour hike into the mountains. Tom's wife and I took a few days to backpack into see Mac. The hike up the mountains was great and it was fun seeing Mac, but then we had to find a place to camp and there were grizzly bear everywhere. After a false start setting up camp, we were lucky to find a cabin that we could use overnight.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Old Friends

We had a couple of retirements here at Chrysler and that, combined with my accidentally finding old photos has me publishing old pictures of friends from when I was younger. These pictures are from the time just before I left Chrysler (volleyball games on Waterloo Rd.) and about a year later when I had joined VW.

The gents in the top picture are John Hawkins and Darrell Sterzinger. John just retired from VW this year, although he can't stand still so already has a new job working on alternative energy. Darrell was always laughing like this. I haven't been very good at staying in touch, but I think he is still working at Toyota. I hope he still laughs as much.

Those of you had to put up with my stories will have heard about the volleyball games we used to have when I was at Chrysler. Naturally, I'm the one jumping in the air. Next to me with his hands up is Steve Graflund who retired from Chrysler just a few days ago. Next to him in the front row is Larry Poese who came over from Chrysler to VW about the same time as I did and retired from VW this year. Finally, on the right end of the group is Dave Dobry who still works at Chrysler and who we get to see at the Points and Condenser Preservation Society. The rest are friends that have passed out of my life.

In case you are wondering about my t-shirt. These were in the black days of the Old Chrysler, so there was a fair amount of cynicism going around. The t-shirt was based on something that John Sahakian used to say on a daily basis. "Excuse me, but you've obviously mistaken me for someone who gives a shit."