After a long period of separation, during which RustyButTrusty’s headquarters and vast team of writers relocated to the lovely Portland, Oregon metro area, the fleet was brought up to its new headquarters. Two good friends with mechanical skill and/or a desire to drive old cars were enlisted. After several months of disuse, the cars were woken from their slumber and forced to make up for missed time. Sadly, there was not enough time to explore west coast back roads, as part of the incentive for driving up in convoy was a visit to the Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville, OR. So the trip was a simplified version of the 700 mile dash up the interior of California and Oregon. Do you like sweating on hot, vinyl seats because it’s 90 degrees out? Nobody said this lifestyle didn’t involve suffering…
Crossing the new eastern span of the San Francisco Bay Bridge, you can see a rapidly disappearing (perhaps gone by now?) piece of technology that was most likely rusty and not so trusty, at least not in an earthquake. One section of the eastern span became famous for collapsing in the 1989 Loma Prieta quake, and locally it was famous for crumbling pavement and the infamous temporary S-curve to route traffic around the connection to the new eastern span.
Moving out of the Bay Area into the central valley on I505. Have you ever looked in your side mirror and noticed a 2002 and Alfetta preparing to pass you? No? Well, you’re not alone. Remove the truck from the image and apply a retro effect popularized by a well-known photo site and you’d think this picture was taken in about 1980.
Same for this one. This stretch of road was also notable for a sighting of what looked like an open-wheel race car with fenders and lights added. The spider was unable to pass its final SF Bay Area smog test, so the move was cause for celebration. Did you know you can go to the Washington State Department of Licensing and, for about $125, they will issue you a set of plates which, for a 30-plus-year-old car, will exempt you from any smog testing? There’s no feeling like being able to finally find a work-around for an arbitrarily applied law (the exemption cut-off is for pre-1976 cars – why?), tougher emissions standards than when the car was sold new, and the fact older cars like this only cover a few thousand miles a year in a good year. Sadly, the tradeoff involved losing the 24-year-old vanity plates on the car.
After a stop for lunch in Weed, CA at the Mt. Shasta Brewing Company, this was the first stop in Oregon. Unfortunately, there was no shot of the Welcome to Oregon sign because they don’t feel that way about Californians… or was it because 3 old cars buzzing along at a fun speed on curvy mountain highways missed the pull-off? At any rate, this random rest stop provided relief for at least one driver.
It also provided some light-hearted entertainment when a characterful local bounded out of the shrubbery at the rest stop and chatted up friend Jarrod about the Alfetta. Just as quickly, he was back on his way to investigate something behind this temporary tourist welcome center. Which was closed, incidentally.
The Saturday night stop at the Rodeway Inn in Eugene, OR was entertaining. A college town during summer break is much more manageable for 3 post-graduate-age guys, though as it happens, this Rodeway Inn was where the entire cast of Animal House stayed during filming. And truly, that’s the only remarkable thing about the place, aside from the ground floor rooms that all faced the central parking lot, making it easier to keep an eye on the cars. As before, have you ever looked outside your hotel room window and seen this?
No visit to Eugene is complete without a stop by the Sports Car Shop, which had a few interesting old cars and motorcycles in the window. And once again, we were chatted up by a characterful, shirtless Iggy-Pop-looking local, singing to himself while pushing his shopping cart along, who was very supportive of the idea of a roadtrip in a set of old cars (is that good or bad?). For the second leg, we had some time to split off the arrow-straight I5 and take Peoria Road to the 99W – not too curvy, but much more scenic and with fewer big rigs. Nice when you’re the only thing on the road and can set your own pace, even if you don’t know what that pace is since your speedometer decided to take a nap for the entire trip up.
Beautiful. The spider’s rebuilt suspension has a fairly compliant ride, so driving all the way with the top down was not as exhausting as you might think. Copious use of sunscreen was required to avoid redness, and constantly having to change the radio stations to make up for the broken 20-year-old CD player added to the demands on the driver, on top of having to keep an eye on the water temperature of the engine, whose failing fuel injection pump was tuned lean in the last attempt to pass smog.
After an amazing stop at the aforementioned Evergreen Aviation Museum – the Spruce Goose is like the Grand Canyon of airplanes, but the whole thing is an amazing collection that is not to be missed, and the water slide is a 4-story structure with a 747 propped on top and 3 slides coming out of the exits – and some suffering through Portland I5 stop and go traffic, this is the successful arrival in Vancouver. So what’s the lesson? A move with old cars is an opportunity to reconnect, not only with your old car, but also with a friend or two, as well as the local color. Not to be missed for sure.