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Sheldon Aubut's
Corvette Wagon Universe

Sheldon's Big Adventure


Friday June 16, 2000...  Finally, vacation...  I'm so excited that I can hardly contain myself.  I'm off to Ft. Myers Florida to pick up my Greenwood Sportwagon.

Saturday June 17, 2000...   My friend Lisa picked me up at 6:00 a.m. and we left for Minneapolis

(7:00 p.m. Wednesday:)  I've just started this diary but I am so tired I cannot finish tonight.  Took quite a while just to edit the photos so tomorrow I will get everything done.

It is now 4:00 a.m. on Thursday.  Last night at 7:00 I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer and laid down on the couch to watch "Bicentennial Man", a movie starring Robin Williams.  Didn't even get through the opening credits before I was falling asleep.  Hit the mute button on the remote and the next thing I knew it was 1:36 a.m.  Got up and watched the rest of the movie.  What a wonderful movie it turned out to be.  Now I am going to try to get some more rest, as I had gone 48 hours with barely any sleep and I am sure that I need to get caught up.  I will try to write more in a while.

Ok, back to Saturday:
Minneapolis is about 150 miles south of Duluth so Lisa and I had plenty of time to chat.  We stopped for breakfast at Toby's in Hinckley Minnesota, which is the traditional half-way stop.  Flight was un-eventful except for the usual delays at the airport, including waiting for the plane to get into it's parking spot at Atlanta while they broke into a van that was parked right on the plane's parking line.  But I did make it to Ft. Myers Florida where Joe Nieves was waiting for me at the airport.  His wife Irma was waiting outside in the truck and we went from there to a buffet restaurant for dinner, then to their house where I got my first view of the Vette.  It was awesome.  Bright red and looking for all the world like a muscular monster ready to run a race.  We didn't do much Saturday night, but the plan was to attack the car in the morning and get it ready for the 1900 mile trip home.

Click images for larger view.

Jose (Joe) Nieves, whom I bought the car from.
Roy and Susan Goyette, from the Guzzi List. They stopped by on Sunday and spent a few hours chatting, and supervising (Just kidding Roy).
Joe driving 1
Joe driving 2
Sheldon driving.
The spare mounted after tire exploded on Sunday night test drive.
Looking for shade after finally stopping when the brakes were lost completely in Ocola.
Scott at Cash's Citgo in Ocala after bleeding the brakes again.
Kevin, Scott the Cop, and Thomas
Damage 1
Damage 2
Damage 3
The aftermath.  The fender is scorched, buckled and seperated at the seam.

Sunday June 18, 2000...   Woke up early and Joe took me to the Flea Market where I bought a scissor jack for $8.  There was no jack and we thought it would be prudent to bring one with on the trip.  Also bought some sun glasses for $1.00 then we went back to the house where we had to adjust the camber on the left rear wheel which seemed to be way out of alignment.  Did that and fired up the car for a spin around the block.  On the first drive we discovered that the car had barely any brakes.  Upon inspection we found brake fluid all over the right rear tire.  Turned out the caliper was leaking quite badly and had to be replaced 

We went to AutoZone and picked up a Caliper, pads, anti freeze, Gunk carburetor cleaner, plugs, distributor cap and rotor and headed back to the house to get things in order.  Joe, besides being a Senior Investigator with the New York City Police Department, was in a former life an auto mechanic and owned a motorcycle dealership.  He is a wiz with tools and cars and in no time had everything installed and operating.  The brakes were a bear to bleed because the rear calipers on this Corvette have three bleeders on each one.  We got the car all together and took it for a spin around the block.  The brake pedal felt spongy and after a few miles of driving there were barely any brakes so it was back to the house for further repairs.

One of the other things that didn't work was the air-conditioning.  We knew this though as it was not working five years ago when the car was parked.  We thought we would get a chance to get to that also, but things were not destined to work out that way.  In 1989 Joe's uncle was sent by his wife to find a new "family car".  Unfortunately, (or fortunately?) he came home with this.  His wife was not very happy with him and refused to ride in it.  Later, they were having trouble and Joe made him an offer on the car and bought it with the intent of taking it to his second home in Ft. Myers Florida to use when he was there.  He towed it to Florida in 1995 and parked it in the garage and never got around to fixing the air conditioning and getting it on the road.  We all know how that is.  I myself have probably bought half a dozen "project cars" that never quite seem to get finished.  This was even better than a "project car" though as it did run and drive.  Joe is now getting ready to retire and needs to get rid of some of his "stuff".  He has, I believe, six boats, at least 9 motorcycles, and a bunch of cars and trucks at his house on Long Island in New York, his cabin in the Catskill mountains, his house in Florida or his land in his native Puerto Rico.  He will be selling most of it and moving to the Florida home.

About a year ago Joe asked me if I was interested in the car.  We know each other through NARMA (North American Russian Motorcycle Association) and he really didn't want to sell the car, but would like it to go to a good home if he did.  He said that if I would buy it he would sell it for a lot less money than if he sold it on the market.  At that time I was looking forward to getting my PT Cruiser so this car was out of the question.  Over the year though, the PT Cruiser kept being pushed back by Chrysler for various "holds".  First they ran out of manual transmissions and couldn't build it, then they ran out of touring suspension parts and it was on hold for a long time.  Just when the touring suspension parts came in they ran out of manual transmissions again.  That, coupled with the fact that Chrysler has an dealer allocation system that doesn't take into account any car as popular as the PTC and my frustration level was starting to rise.  When they told me that it probably wouldn't arrive until September or October I cancelled my order.  Living in Duluth Minnesota the last thing I want to do is get a new car just as winter is on the horizon.  Driving my new baby in snow, ice, slush and especially "salty" roads is automotive abuse of the worst kind in my mind.

I was so very disappointed that I wouldn't have a "fun" car to drive this summer.  Last year when the lease on my Ford F-150 SuperCab 4X4 ran out I had decided to drive my 1993 Ford Festiva until I could get a fun vehicle.  The Festiva has been a very good, dependable car but it is anything but fun to drive.  I guess I should qualify that with the fact that it really can be a fun car to throw around on the curves and performance wise it is not too bad, but image-wise, and self-image-wise it is terrible.  So it really needed to be replace, and with 105,000 miles on it the car is reaching the point where major repairs may be needed.

When I cancelled the order for the PTC I wrote Joe and said I might be interested in the car and what was the lowest price he could go.  He wrote back with a price that was more than fair and we started to make the arrangements to get the car paid for, transfer the registration in Minnesota so that I could legally drive the car home, and my flying down to get it.  He also had to drive from New York City just to get the car ready for me and get me on my way.  He really did go way beyond the call of duty on this one, driving all the way down there with his wife, spending several days working on it and then driving home so that he could be a witness at a drug trial on Wednesday.

In retrospect I should have had the car transported to Duluth.  There was a transport company that quoted me about $1500 to put it on a car hauler and deliver it.  But at the time a trip, cross-country, in a custom 1979 Corvette seemed like the real deal and a trip of a lifetime.  My plan was to get the car, be on the road on Monday, go first to Sarasota Florida to meet up with my new friend Scott from the SharkWerkes web site.  He is a Corvette fanatic and we have been e-mailing back and forth for some time.  Then I intended to stay Monday night at a friend from NARMA's house near Lake City Florida in near the Georgia border.   Then early Tuesday morning I had planned to drive through Atlanta to Birmingham Alabama where my brother Mitch lives.  There I was going to visit the Barber Motorcycle Museum and spend Tuesday night with he and his family.  Early Wednesday morning I was going to head out to Bowling Green Kentucky for a tour of the Corvette assembly plant, and a visit to the National Corvette Museum.  Then to really top off the trip I was going to show up at Bloomington Gold, which is the largest yearly gathering of Corvette enthusiasts.  They are expecting over 2000 Vettes and it would have been the high-light of my trip.

Before I left I had been searching the internet for information on Vettes and ran across Bloomington Gold.  I got so excited that it was the same weekend that I called them and talked to Mike in customer service.  When he asked what kind of Vette I had and I told him "a 1979 Greenwood Sportwagon" he said that when I get there I should tell the folks at the gate that "Mike told me to have them put me in the 'Mild to Wild' corral".  He said that even though I wasn't registered that they would like to have the car shown there.  That really excited me to know that I might have something that was unusual enough to even draw attention in a gathering of 2000 Vettes.

This looked like the dream vacation.  

On Sunday, after driving the car again and finding there was still a problem with the brakes Joe guessed that it was probably a problem with the master cylinder also so it was back to AutoZone to get one.  On both trips were were served by "Tonya".  She was incredible.  Knew just about everything there is to know about cars, and was beautiful besides.  Talking with her was an incredible experience and I even jokingly asked her if she wanted to go back to Minnesota with me.  The way she talked about cars and parts was almost sexual and on the second trip there we had to take the Vette so that she could see it.  Quite impressed she was...  Wish I had thought to take a photo of Tonya to share with you folks, but my mind was in other places...

My friend Roy Goyette, from Discovery Oil Company, came by with his wife Susan.  They were a pleasure to meet.  We have talked on the phone and by e-mail for quite some time, and last year he was one of the sponsors of the Land Speed Record Moto Guzzi Team.  We had a wonderful chat and I hope I get to spend more time with them some day soon.

Joe removed the old master cylinder and sure enough the fluid just drained out of the hose holes once it was disconnected.  That showed that it had a terrible leak-down problem.  He installed and bled the new cylinder and we seemed to have brakes again.  They still didn't feel quite right but they were working and that was what mattered.  We were finally done with the car about 7:00 p.m. and decided to take it to the freeway for a real test run.  Unfortunately it is about twenty miles from Joe's house just to the freeway but we went and did 17 miles to the next exit and returned along the same route.

After exiting the freeway we took Highway 41 to Del Prada Blvd which takes us to Joe's neighborhood.  About three blocks from 41, on Del Prada, there was a huge pop and then a thumping from the right front.  I slowly pulled to the side of the road, partially in the traffic lane because there were no shoulders, and parked the car.  The right-front tire was no more.  It had completely blown apart.  It appears that even though the tires on the car look good they must have dry-rot or something.  By this time the sun was starting to set and the mosquitoes were making their appearance.  Of course we were both in T-shirts and shorts.  Ouch...  Joe had his cell phone with and we tried to get his wife to load up the tool box, jacks and get them to us.  Unfortunately she was not able to lift any of those things into his Dodge Ram truck.  Then we spent some time trying to find his son who lived in the area, but without success.

So, here we are on a completely black night as the moon had not risen yet, on an unlit highway, sticking out into the traffic lane, being eaten by mosquitoes who, with my luck, are probably loaded with malaria, with no jack, no tools, and no hope...

Joe's wife was willing to come out and find us so we told her to leave, then Joe would have to drive back to the house, get the tools and come back to get me, leaving me on a dark highway, alone, with $1,000 cash in my pocket.  Not to mention my credit cards, travelers checks and the blood in my veins.  Everything I ever hear about South Florida is not always good.  I had visions of bad people stopping to offer me "help".  Argh...

Luckily Irma showed up around 9:15 so we could at least sit in the air-conditioned, mosquitoes free truck, and Joe's son, John Wayne, called Joe's cell phone to tell us he got our message and would go by the house and get the tools, compressor, and jacks.  Oh, did I mention that the spare was flat?

He finally arrived on the scene about 10:15, we filled and changed the tire and made it home around 11:00 p.m. after our three hour ordeal.  We sat around and talked for a while and then watched an old western movie.  Jose' (Joe) is a huge fan of old western movies and obviously his son, John Wayne, is named after one of his heroes.  Finally got to bed around 1:00 a.m. and we were up and moving again about 7:30 Monday morning.

Monday June 19, 2000...   Awakened to another hot south Florida day.  I have never been so miserable as I was on this trip.  Spent a lot of time outside working on the car in 100 degree temps with humidity in the 90's.

We took the car to Sam's club where I bought a set of four B. F. Goodrich Advantage GT tires.  The car had 225R60-15 Goodyear Eagles on it but I think these were really the wrong tires for it.  Especially because I had not been intending to buy tires and they would be way more money than I could afford.  Plus Son #1, who runs an automotive service center, used to run a parts counter, and also worked at a tire company told me that those were way too wide for the front of this Corvette.  The speedometer was also off by 10mph.  So according to the specs this car probably came with the 225R70-15 tires and that is what I got for $55 each plus mounting and balancing.

Then it was off to Wal-Mart where we let them change the oil, putting in Castrol GTX 10-40, and they did the full service thing, vacuuming the car, checking and filling all the fluids, washing windows and more.  Then it was back to the house to do some more adjustment on the rear suspension and re-bleed the brakes.

On our final drive of the day I moved the directional light stalk and either the screw came loose inside or the stalk broke but I no longer had directional lights.  We tried taking the steering wheel apart but the cruise control and directional light area would not come apart.  I suspect we were missing something but by this time it was just too late and I decided that wasn't the end of the world and I could drive it home like that.

I went to bed around 10:30 in anticipation of getting on the road about 1:00 a.m.  Joe and Irma were to be leaving at that time to get them both back to work on Wednesday.

Tuesday, June 20, 2000...   We actually got on the road about 3:00 a.m. and headed north.  They lead the way and I followed with the intention of following them until Ocala where they would have to head northeast.  About 30 miles north of Ft. Myers the dash lights went out.  A real problem in a car that I didn't trust.  Not being able to see the gauges lowered my confidence level more and then I also remembered that I would have no bright lights because the directional light stalk was broken.  So, no dash lights, no air conditioning, no door locks, nor high beams, no parking brake, but at least the radio worked and I have brought lots of tapes.  I flagged Joe down and he lent me his flashlight and I felt much better.

Just before Ocala, about 200 miles north of Ft. Myers, Joe decided to exit to check things out.  As they rolled down the exit ramp I hit the brakes, and nothing.  I was so glad that when they got to the bottom of the ramp they turned right without stopping as I was able to bring the thing to a halt as they pulled into a gas station.

I had a very hard time stopping the car, and just before it ran into a fence I put it in reverse at about two miles per hour.  No problem and the car stopped immediately.  It was actually a pretty gentle thud as the car was barely moving at the time, but without an emergency brake that was the best I could do.

We sat there for about an hour while Joe ran and got vacuum check valves and hose.  It was about all he could think about that could have something to do with it.  We thought about the booster, but as I understood it if your booster is out then your pedal will just be hard and require lots of effort.  We finally realized that it must be the brakes needed to be fled again.  A souped up Chevy truck pulled in so I asked if there was some place around that worked on cars.  He pointed to the Citgo station across the street.  Joe and I walked over there and the owner told me they could look at it immediately so I went back to the car and pumped the heck out of the brakes and actually had a bit of brake, then drove it across the busy street and into the garage.

The young mechanic at Cash's Citgo worked on it for an hour and a half, bleeding it over and over again, with Joe sitting in the car pumping the brakes while I did everything I could to avoid heat stroke.  I did find myself getting dizzy a couple of times. The charge for bleeding was $85.00 and with the $25 worth of gas it was a costly stop. Finally got rolling again and at the next exit Joe and Irma headed northeast and I continued north, across the Georgia line.

The car was running great but I tested the brakes a few times and they seemed to be getting softer and softer.  I thought maybe I should stop and have the brakes bled again.  I was about ready for another fill up on gas also so I pulled in at Alda Georgia, found a truck repair center where the folks seemed to know what they were doing.  At Cash's they had a lift and had to keep taking the car up and down to bleed and fill the cylinder, here they had a pit and that made things much faster.  They also bled the brakes a lot more vigorously than the other place.  When they were done the pedal was almost to the top.  I asked them what the charge was and they said $10.  They had worked on it for about 20 minutes and after having paid $85 for the same service 200 miles earlier I though $10 was way too cheap and I gave them $20 cash and forgot to get a receipt.  I then stopped next door and filled up the gas tank and I was once again on my way.

Fifty miles later I went through Tifton Georgia and smelled something burning, but at the time there were trucks all around me and I thought it might be one of them.  A couple more miles down the road I was just passing a slow moving truck that was in the right lane when smoke started coming from the dashboard.  I cut back in front of the truck, rolled to the shoulder and started to brake, but of course, no brakes.  I pumped them and pumped them but there were no brakes at all.  The car just seemed to roll and roll forever and I finally moved it to the grass to try to get it to stop.

When it was just about at a stop I shut off the key to cut the electric, and as it stopped I was out the door, around the car to the passenger side and started pulling my bags and the few tools I had out and throwing them away from the car.  Took maybe 15 seconds to do that, then I ran back around the car and popped the hood.  As I lifted it flames shot about six feet in the air.  I then ran around the other side again and grabbed my bottled water.  Because I had been sweating so much I brought about a gallon of water along in small plastic water bottles.  I ran back around and started to empty them on the fire.  It seemed to be all coming from the left side of the engine compartment and I was able to beat the flames back fairly well with just the water so I knew it wasn't a gas fire.

I wasn't able to put it out completely though because the fender was burning from underneath.  Just then a trucker pulled over and ran up with a fire extinguisher and we were able to get the fire out completely.  A pick-up truck with a man and his son also pulled up to see what they could do.

As we finally had the flames down the Tifton Fire department and the Tifton county Sheriff showed up.  At first we thought it was an electrical fire, but then one of the firemen, with a gloved hand, reached into the engine compartment, down near the headers and pulled out what appeared to be the remains of a shop rag.  It looks like one of the places that worked on the car must have left a shop rag under the hood and it must have worked to the headers and caught fire.  If I were to guess I would guess the last place I stopped but that is not for sure, really could have been any one of them.

The Tifton Fire Department wrote up a report and left.  The Sheriff told me he would call for a wrecker and have it towed to his "friend's" shop.  The other guy and his son were standing there when he said this and took me aside and told me that for a living he hauled cars, campers and boats, and he could haul it to his yard in Dallas Georgia, near Atlanta, and hold the car for me until I could figure out what to do with it.  He didn't have a trailer with him but said he could get one if needed.  Then the Sheriff insisted that the car be moved "within the hour".  He again said that his friend would come and get it.  Something about what he was saying did not ring right with me.  On the other hand the other guy seemed very generous and honest.  I wasn't sure what to do.

The Sheriff offered to call around and see if he could find a trailer that the other guy could rent.  He went back to his car and made some calls, and came back to us and said there were no trailers available for rent in the area.  Said he called U-haul and Ryder.  But then he said that another friend of his could sell us a trailer.  He called him and said he had a trailer for $800.  Then he gave the other guy, Thomas, directions to get to it, but said he only had 45 minutes left in the hour before he called his buddy's wrecker.

Thomas headed out and the Sheriff went back to his car leaving me standing in the scorching heat.  By this time I was getting a bit overcome by the heat again and had to go to his car and ask him if I could join him there.  He seemed a bit put-off by that but he did clean off the seat and let me in.  We chatted a bit and he did seem like a pretty decent fellow, but I got the distinct impression that I was just dollar signs to his friends and community.

Thomas returned with a wonderful inline-duel wheeled trailer.  He said that he had stopped at "Aubery Holly's place" and rented it for $100.  Later, in the truck on the way to Atlanta, he told me that he had stopped by the Ryder and U-haul places and they had plenty of trailers around and said there would be no problem renting one.  If that is in fact true then the Sheriff was not telling us the exact truth.  When he got back he told us that Aubrey Holly is an old time NASCAR racer who is building a new racing center for Bill Elliot.  He said that he knew of Aubrey and decided to stop there because they had a lot of friends in common.  At first Aubery was going to sell him the trailer for $1,400 but then decided to just rent it to him.  Seemed like a good deal to me so I went with it.

On reflection of all that went on at the site, I believe that if I had let the Sheriff call for a tow my car would be in someone's lot being charged $15.00/day storage.  I would have been charged a $75.00 "connection fee" for hooking up the wrecker, and probably another $150 for hauling it back to Tifton.  Then, there is no telling what I would have been soaked for fixing the car and have you ever seen those little signs at impound yards that say "not responsible for contents of vehicle"?   Even though I have insurance on it I don't know that I want the car being fixed in a small Georgia town where the Sheriff is friends with everyone.  Factor into that the fact that if it were fixed in Tifton I would have to find a way to get there from Atlanta if I flew to there, and I would have had to find a way to get from Tifton to Atlanta to fly out Wednesday.  After 30 days I am sure there would be a lean on the car.  And, I would have to have another one-way ticket to get it.

Instead we hauled it the 250 miles to Atlanta for the $100 trailer rental and $150 for Thomas.  Seems like a very good deal to me.  And then I would only have to get to Atlanta to get it if it were fixed there.  Thomas even drove me into the airport, a 45 minute ride late that night.  He and his son Kevin were absolute gentlemen and I even got to meet his wife and other son, and they let me take a shower before taking me to the airport.  We actually became friends during the course of the day and evening.

The car is in his fenced in yard, under the car cover, on the trailer waiting to find what will happen.  He dropped me at the airport in Atlanta at 1:30 a.m. Wednesday morning.  I sat in a chair the rest of the night and tried to get some sleep, but with the loudspeakers blasting every couple minutes there was no way to really sleep.

Wednesday, June 21, 2000...   I was able to change my flight and get out of Atlanta a couple hours early and had an uneventful flight home, arriving at 10:10 a.m.  The best thing about the flight was that I managed to get at least 1.5 hours sleep.

When I arrived home there was a message on my answering machine from State Farm Insurance.  They were working on my claim already as I had notified my agent from my cell phone at the fire site.  That is pretty good service.  All this time I had been thinking that I had $1,000 deductible insurance, but the lady at State Farm told me that on my "comp" I had $250 deductible and because the fire started from a rag it would fall under that.  That was good news.  They also suggested that I move the car to Duluth to have it repaired so that I would have input into how it was fixed, where, and what parts are used.  They said they would wait to send out an adjuster until I decided what to do.

I got on the phone with Thomas and he said that he should be able to get the car to me in the next few days.  I may have it by the end of the weekend.  Son #1's best friend owns a body shop that does lots of Corvette work and that is who will probably be doing the work.  Unfortunately State Farm cannot pay for all of the towing, and it will be expensive to have the car towed almost 1200 miles at $1.50/mile.  Ouch...  But with Thomas hauling it I believe it will get here in one piece and very quickly.  If I have a commercial transport company haul it this could take up to a month, and would not be a whole lot cheaper.  Besides, I am a bit paranoid and suspect things like the T-tops and the Blaupunkt Stereo might not be there when it arrives.

Where I am right now is just waiting to hear from Thomas as to when he can get it here.  I will have it dropped at my house where we can store it in the garage until the body shop and the electrical shop can get to it.

Thursday, June 22, 2000...  Spent the day trying to round up the money to pay for the shipping of the car to Duluth.  I just don't have $1,800 cash laying around.  The total transportation bill, including the trip to Atlanta from Tifton is $2,050.  Ouch.  But still better than the aggravation of trying to go get it myself.  Son #1, (yes he does have a name, Aaron) volunteered to go get it, but he would have to take days off work, without pay, and with gas, wear and tear on a vehicle, not to mention the pain in the neck it would be, this doesn't seem so bad to me.

Thomas called at 9:30 p.m., and said he was getting ready to leave.  I am going out of town for the night tomorrow, and he may get here before I get back, but the car is by now on its way to Duluth.  I will take lots of photos when it arrives.

Friday, June 23, 2000...   One thing that I have to address:  Several people have asked me if there is a "Lemon Law" in Florida, or how come I am not angry at Joe for selling me this car.  First I have to tell you that I went into this with both eyes open.  Joe told me that the car had been sitting for quite some time and that the only thing that didn't work when he put it away was the air-conditioning, but we both knew there might be other things after sitting that long.  The extent of those things really surprised both of us.  And Joe spent most of two days working on the car, getting it ready for the trip.  He also drove all the way from Long Island New York to get the car ready for me.  That goes way beyond what a seller would normally do.  He did this because we are Friends, with a capital F.  I wish this guy were my brother.  He is more than honest, and above board.

I knew there would be problems, but Joe did everything he could to correct them.  The car is not a "Lemon".  It is a car that sat for a total of 13 years with only being driven a few times.  It needed work and I really should have had the car transported here, and it was MY decision to try to drive it home.  Transporting it would certainly have been the prudent thing to do, but the lure of the open road, and the stops I had planned along the way overrode my objectivity.  Again, my decision.

Get mad at Joe????  Rather, I thank God that he has blessed me with a friend like this.  And the car?  I still think it is one of the most attractive, seductive, powerful, sexy, monsters on the road, and I cannot wait to actually drive it once it is fixed.

I am having it dropped at my son Aaron's house, (my old house) and he will put it in the garage there until the adjuster can come look at it, then it will be off to various shops to get it fixed.

10:40 a.m.  Just got a call from Thomas.  He is back in Georgia.  Turned out that his Significant Other's mother died last night and he was an hour towards Duluth when he had to turn around and head back.  Probably won't be able to get out of there until Sunday now, so I might see the car on Tuesday or so.  He was so very apologetic, but I told him to not worry about it and just get here when he can.

Saturday, June 24, 2000...   Had a quiet day at home.  Took the Ural Sportsman for a nice long ride, which brought my spirits up a bit.   Then in the evening my friend Lisa and I were planning on going to a movie and dinner.  Somewhere along the line we decided that there must be something going on it town that would be better than a movie so I checked the on-line version of our local newspaper and in the entertainment section under weekend activities it listed a performance of the Minnesota Ballet.  I tried and tried to get trough on Tickemaster but was unable, so I hopped on the motorcycle and ran down to the Duluth Entertainment and Conventions Center ticket window.  No Minnesota Ballet performance tonight, but there was a Broadway show, Stomp.  Tickets were double the price of the ballet but after my disastrous week I felt I needed a treat, and dinner and a Broadway show with a beautiful woman was just the ticket.  When I got home I looked at the date on the Duluth News Tribune entertainment section on the web and it was from March 24th.  I certainly should pay better attention but you would think a newspaper would update their web site once in a while.

We ate at Sir Benedict's on the Lake, went for a walk in the Rose Garden, saw the show, then did a walk along the waterfront and to the end of the lighthouse pier.  It was a beautiful summer's evening with the lights of the city shining across the waters of Lake Superior.  Just what I needed.

Sunday, June 25, 2000...  Received a call from the state representatives of the Libertarian Party.  They are in town at a gun show at the DECC and they invited me down to meet their candidate for the House of Representatives.  I will be running for Mayor of Duluth in three years and schmoozing is something I have to do once in a while.  I don't own guns, but I thought it would be a great place to show off the Ural.  So, off I went, parked the bike in front of the door and watched the people flock around it.  This thing always draws a crowd.  Can one imagine what kind of attention I will draw with the Corvette Sportwagon with a trailer behind it carrying the Ural?  How many politicians have people come to them?  Not that I am a politician, rather just a guy who sees the mayors job as the only way he can effect change in his city on a major scale.  But what a dog and pony show that rig would be...

9:30 p.m.  Received a call from Thomas.  His girlfriend decided to go with him and they are headed out the door for Duluth.  Should be here sometime Tuesday morning.

Monday, June 26, 2000...  My first day back at work.  Argh...

I keep thinking about the car, on the trailer and still covered with fire extinguisher foam.  I know that stuff is quite corrosive and I am wondering if I should wash it all off right away when the car gets there or if I should wait until after the insurance adjuster has had an opportunity to look at it... 

9:00 p.m.  Thomas called and he was in Trego Wisconsin, only 1.5 hours from here.  Gave him directions to the gas station on the Thomson/Esko exit near the house and at 10:30 I was waiting there for him to show up.  Only had to wait about five minutes before I saw his Black Chevy truck with the beautiful red car on the trailer behind it.  It looked absolutely gorgeous!  We chatted for a couple of minutes then we headed out for the house.  Aaron came out as we arrived, fired up his souped up V8 Chevy S-10 pickup and brought the neighbors out from their house to see what was going on.  Jeff and his son Steven came just in time to help unload the car from the trailer.  No brakes so we had to ease it off.  Once unloaded we moved it into the garage and popped the hood.

Aaron was like a kid in a candy store.  You have to realize that in my racing days I raced mostly big-block Mopars and I have been mostly a Mopar guy most of my life.  I've probably owned ten Chevys but they have never been my first love.  On the other hand, Son #1 learned to drive in my 1967 Chevy small-window pick up, and he has been a Chevy nut ever since.  He is known in these parts as "Nova Boy" because of the series of small and big-block Novas that he has built.  He has tons of speed parts for small block Chevys just laying around and you could see the wheels turning in his mind about modifications he could do to this thing.  

I really would like to keep it very streetable, so wild modifications are out, but I'm sure he will come up with things that meet my needs.  

Aaron and Thomas


Once the insurance company makes their determination then we can clean the fire extinguisher foam off, fix the wiring enough to get it to his shop, and then to the body shop.  He is the manager of Curtis Oil Tire and Auto and they will probably do the mechanical work, then it will be off to Custom Concepts Body Shop to get the body work done.  In a month or so this thing should be on the street.

Tuesday, June 27, 2000...  Called the insurance company this morning.  They told me that I needed to get it to a shop so they could have the adjuster come out.  I told them it was at the house and wasn't going anywhere until we get things settled and decided just what it needed, because it will probably have to visit several places to get everything done.  The guy finally relented and said he would get in touch with their, State Farm, Duluth office and have someone contact me.  Now I am just waiting for them to call so I can schedule to meet them at the house.

Met the adjuster at the car at 1:30 p.m., guy from State Farm named Bill.  He seemed very pleasant and efficient.  He went over the car, told me to now clean it up, getting the foam off, so the body shop can come give an estimate.  Rob from Kustom Concepts body shop is supposed to come over Wednesday evening to take a look at it.  He and Aaron grew up together and Rob does very good work and I would be very comfortable if it were in his hands.  If he can't do the wiring then Aaron will do it at his shop, but there is a chance this thing could be on the road in a few weeks.

Wednesday, June 28, 2000...  Another beautiful day in Duluth.  High expected to be 73, which to me is perfect weather.  Perfect T-Top weather if one had a Corvette to drive.  Soon...

I probably won't write here as often now until something happens on the car.

Wednesday, July 5, 2000...  Big news:  Aaron put in enough wiring to get the car started.  Running very rough as most of the hoses on the engine are burned but it does run.  And...  on the Fourth of July I found an auto parts store that was open which had a front brake caliper and Aaron switched that out also and we now have brakes!  Once we had the brakes working he fired it up and actually drove it around the block.  Today a roll-back wrecker will be coming for the car to take it to Uncle Dunbar's Auto Body.  I have known Rick Dunbar for quite a few years and he has done work for me several times.  He does very good work and in the same building is N.A. Auto Electric who will be doing the re-wiring.

Sunday, July 16, 2000...  Still no word on the Vette.  It is at Dunbar's and late last week N.A. Auto Electric and the insurance adjuster met and looked at the car, but I have not yet heard the report.  I'm just patiently waiting, but I sure want something to happen soon.  

Wednesday, August 9, 2000...  Still waiting!  The wiring harness and all the parts that were needed could only be found at ZIP parts, and the harness is on backorder.  They are telling me two more weeks for parts, then ???  to get things together.  I am beginning to wonder if I will get to drive this car again before winter sets in here in Northern Minnesota.  I've been awfully busy though.  Last weekend went camping at a friend's cabin.  The cabin was full of women with their kids so I camped out in the woods.  Had a relaxing weekend, away from "it all", sitting around a campfire chatting with friends for three days.

The week before I put on the second annual NARMA rally (North American Russian Motorcycle Association) in Cloquet.  Had a total of about 60 bikes, with 31 of them being club qualified.  It was a great time and if you are interested in seeing the photos check out:  http://www.narma.org/narma/rally_y2k/2000photos1.htm   The weather cooperated, the food was great, ride went off without a hitch, and a good time was had by all.

Tonight I am going, with a friend, to investigate an old abandoned railroad tunnel.  I'm told it goes through the hill for quite a ways but I never knew it existed.  The lady I am going with was through it last weekend and says it is quite interesting.  Should be another great adventure the way things go for me...

This coming weekend is the Minnesota Moto Guzzi Rally here in Cloquet.  Should be great fun, except for the fact that my 1971 Ambassador starter is once again torn apart on the workbench.  Looks like I will be riding my Ural to it for the second year in a row.  Pretty embarrassing...  If you are interested check out:  http://www.narma.org/guzzi 

I'm not sitting still waiting for the Corvette but I sure would like to have it up and running.  I keep telling myself to just be patient, and so far I have been able to be, but as winter approaches it gets harder to be patient.  I know it is only August, but around here we see Winter on the horizon around the beginning of September.

Tuesday August 29, 2000, Day 74...  Just before I left work last night I called Uncle Dunbar's.  Rick wasn't in but the receptionist, Jody said, "I think it may be done.  N.A. got all the final billing yesterday for the insurance company (State Farm)."  I said, "I'll call Rick first thing in the morning."

It is now 7:30 a.m. and I can hardly wait until 8:00 to call him.  I'm hoping that they will let me come and get it today.  This might be the day that the beast is unleashed on poor unsuspecting Duluth Minnesota.  The OOHs and AHs should be heard throught the land.  Small children will run and hide, women will close their doors and men will reach for their swords.  Priests and holy men will hold up their relics to defend against the second coming of the SPORTWAGON CORVETTE.

Sorry, getting a bit carried away again, but as you can see I am a bit excited.

While I wait to call them I suppose I could fill you in on what has been going on in my life.  Moto Guzzi rally went very well with about 100 bikes.  A bit less than last year but this year we were competing with the National rally which was the next weekend and lots of folks made their vacation plans for that week.  We did have a great time with perfect weather, great rides, and phenomenal food.  My friend Les Caswell from Caswell's Cycles in Mora Minnesota sponsored a pig roast Saturday evening and we all certainly got our fill of good food.  The bikes were awesome and I even got to ride Les's Moto Guzzi Bassa demo bike.  It was incredible and cracking the throttle at thirty mile an hour made the speedo hit 110mph in about the blink of an eye.  It was an awesome ride and I am sure glad there were no local constabulary on the road or I might have had a wee problem.

The rally inspired me so the next weekend Son #1 dropped my 1971 Moto Guzzi Ambassador at Caswell's.  Les is going to finish up the few things left to be done to get the thing on the road.  Starter is out, transmission is locked in neutral, but that is about all that it needs other than adjustments and having a few missing bolts put back in.

Been spending as much time as possible with my new girlfriend.  I actually have one again, and she is a sweetheart.  One year younger than I and she lives 90 miles away in Rice Lake Wisconsin.  Wish she lived closer but now I will have an excuse to do a lot of road trips in the Vette.  Heck, 90 miles is only an hour and 45 minutes and I can do that after work and still get back home in time for bed.  I could probably drive down there every night...  Why, I could maybe even commute. Then I would have to force myself to be in the Vette almost all the time...  Not a bad thought, but maybe a bit impractical, especially with gas prices the way they are.  

It is now 7:55 a.m. and I can't wait any longer...  Ring... ring... ring...  Jody answered, but Rick is in "morning meeting".  Drat, darn...  Left my number, now I have to wait till he calls me.  What is one to do.  Kind of like waiting for a baby to be born.  Which does remind me that my office partner was experiencing labor yesterday and went home.  Kirsten is ready to have her second child any day and they thought it might have been yesterday afternoon.  I do wonder how she is doing.  Might have to call her house later and see if there is any answer.  Won't call now though as I do have my priorities straight and I must keep my line open in case Rick calls....  Don't tell Kirsten that though.  I do care about how she is doing, but dang it, she has only been waiting 9 months, it seems like I have been waiting all my life for this Corvette.  She will just have to deal with it...  <chuckle>

Oh, my, it is now 8:00 and I suppose I should get to work.  After all the company is paying me to work for them, not to sit here typing.  I will drop back a bit later.  (Continued on page 2)

Page 2

If you find this diary of interest you may want to check out my other diaries:

1998 Ural Sportsman Diary
1998 Ural Deco Classic Diary
PT Cruiser Diary
Moto Guzzi Jackal Diary
Moto Guzzi Stone Metal
2003 Ural Patrol
2000 Mercedes-Benz SLK230

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