"Snoopy Went to Reno..... and Beyond"
Read the great story about Bob and Lynn Mills driving their 1953 MG TD "Snoopy" all the way from Collingwood, Ontario to Reno, Nevada. They drove to California, up the West coast to British Columbia, then back home. They traveled through or across 19 States and 2 Provinces covering a total of 13,784 Km's., met some really great people, explored small towns off the main highways, drank lots of wine and most importantly enjoyed each others love and companionship. From June 9 to July 20, 2011.
There are ten updates with photos of their amazing trip.
Snoopy Update #1 - June 9th 2011
1. Hi there, and Snoopy has made it successfully to the foothills of the Rockies......3,053 Km's. We're currently in Canon City(just south of Colorado Springs) and cooling off!!!!! Ever since we left the Chicago area we have experienced record breaking heat. From Chicago to St. Louis it was over 90f all day, 102f when we arrived, 100+ all the way to Kansas City, and 100f again to Dodge City. Snoopy had his tongue hanging out all the way.....and so did we. Windows off, top up and plenty of water was the only way we survived!!!!! To-day (western Kansas & Colorado was again 90f + all day but tomorrow should be much difference as we get up to 10 m ft in the mountains.
For the guys, the engine purred along at 3200 rpm, oil pressure constant at 60 lbs, engine temp held at 95 C. Yes, that's Hot, hot, hot.....but Snoopy moved along well at 95 kph. We didn't try to push him beyond this as we're carrying 75 lbs of luggage, all sorts of parts and extra fuel. The roller cam installed last year is working well and no adjustment to the valve clearance has been required. Lynn occupies 75% of the luggage space and similar on weight!!! . It may have been the heat, but our battery had a stroke and died in the middle of Kansas. Fortunately, there was enough left for a crank start and we were on our way to the next town for a new battery. Yesterday, we drove over something and a tire went flat. We were carrying an extra tube and a commercial garage got a great kick out of manually changing a tire on our spoke wheel. We were also able to patch the original tube and this will serve as a spare.
A number of us responded to an invitation and opportunity to do some laps on the Heartland Race Track in Topeka Kansas. Mom, (Lynn) was not too excited about this but decided to stay in the car. Wow.......what fun.....and attached is a photo.
We have made many new friends and enjoy drinks / meals together at the end of each day. Most nights local clubs host a beer tent and or BBQ. Most appreciated and a great opportunity to meet new folks and talk about MG modifications!!!! All 120 cars on the Rallye generally start off between 6 and 9 am and we sort of get together at different times throughout the day depending on when we stop for food, gas or whatever. It's a blast........but we're all cooked alive by end of day!!!! Of necessity, we're all pacing ourselves. Once we get to Reno there are nearly 1000 cars registered.
Great memories of staying with our friends the Winton's in Chicago who hosted a party with retired Martin Brower management, St. Louis Arch and museum, Dodge City and a shoot out at the Wyatt Earp Saloon, foothills to the Rockies and so many other great stops along the way.
So far, everything is meeting our expectations.......but, we would avoid Kansas if we were to travel this way again. Flat, uninteresting, windy, hot, smells from the 000's of cattle penned up in feed lots, and very few places to stop for fuel....or whatever. Fortunately we have our MG travel companions and everyone is looking out for each other. Dorothy, Toto, the Tin man, Lion and the Wizard can look after this huge State without any help from us!!!
The next two days will see us in the mountains and will get in touch again once we reach Reno NV. Sunday night.
Bob, Lynn & Snoopy
ps: pls. tell Fred Terry the deflector he built to attach behind the seats works perfectly and cuts out 90% of the swirling wind
Snoopy Update #2 - June 14th 2011
2. Wow.......after 4673 km's Snoopy has made to Reno, still has all his 'parts' in place......and so do we. We're travelling along with 6 other T type MG's and all of us were glad to exit the heat and boredom ofKansas.
It was now on to the challenges of the mountains as we prepared to cross Colorado,Utah and Nevada. All the T owners were experiencing some anxiety as we approached the first of the 16 mountain passes (all above 7500 feet) that would have to be crossed before we rolled intoReno.
The first was the Monarch pass in eastern Colorado. A long 12 mile climb to 11,350 feet. This was a learning experience in 60 year old cars with small 4 cylinder engines, non pressurized cooling, pot carbs, point ignition, luggage, full fuel and so on. We pushed the cars too hard and all boiled over before we reached the summit!!!!! A consolidation of thoughts on shifting points, using lower gears and slower speeds got us over the remaining passes slowly but without any issues. These little engines are absolutely amazing and while way underpowered by current standard are fun to drive and most reliable.
The road conditions and mountain scenery in these states was just fantastic and all of us are having a blast chasing each other through the twisties. MGA's and B's are blasting up the mountains but respectful of the slower cars......tooting and waving every time they pass us.
Every day since we left home it's been clear skies, no rain.......but hot. There's lots of snow on all the tops of the mountain passes and this just adds to the amazing visuals. I forgot to mention that in Colorado we took a side trip and crossed the Royal Gorge bridge. This is America's highest suspension bridge ......969 feet above the raging river below. This single lane bridge with wood decking can either be walked or driven. Lynn walked and I drove !!!!! A sense of vertigo was not to be avoided as the side rail fencing made is seem like you were suspended!!!!!
Each evening local MG clubs continue to host mini parties (beer, beans and burgers) and then many of them join in the next day and travel with us for sometimes many hours....or even all day. On average there's at least 150 MG's travelling each day in a loose caravan that generally gets underway between 6 and 8 am. At the end of day, we get together for yet another 'party' and strategize the next day.
Prior to arriving inReno the entire Rallye met up at a pre-determined location in Carson City and drove in parade formation the last 35 miles. Even though the main street had been closed for our arrival it was mass mayhem as suddenly dozens of additional MG's (not in the Rallye) wanted to get in on the parade and joined in. Lots of fun but eventually everything ground to a halt on the main drag!!!!!! We shut the cars down, people wandered off for a beer........and then we had to check into one of three large casino type hotels. Anyway, that's another story but eventually everything got sorted out and everyone's just looking forward to staying in one place for the next 5 days.
Cheers, Bob & Lynn
Snoopy Update #3 - June 19th 2011
3. Hi everyone
Snoopy has arrived in San Franciscoafter 5,213 adventuresome kms and not a drop of rain all the way from Collingwood. Our hotel is only 6 blocks up the hill from Fisherman's Wharf and our room from the 10th floor looks out onto the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. Wow....this is quite special with our MG group rate of $110.....and free indoor secure parking. We've decided to stay on for another couple of days and explore this wonderful city.
Our week in Reno was wonderful, a time to wash the bugs off Snoopy....and us. At times it seems like this adventure could also be called 'The Great wash & wear Tour' !!!!! Amazing what can be cleaned in a sink....or sometimes just wear it into the shower!!!!!! That's me of course....not Lynn.
So here's our top 10 from Reno:
#10. Our 22nd floor room at the Eldorado Casino Hotel looking west to 11,000 foot snow covered Mount Rose.
#9. Spending $25 on the slots......winning $40.......and walking away.
#8 Opening reception and dinner for 960 MG registrants at the Harrah's Auto Museum. Lots of photos to bore you with later......
#7 A drive yourself tour to Virginia City. This was the site of the famous Comstock gold lode from 1859. Over 40,000 miners living in this valley. REMOTE......and HOT.
#6 Valve cover racing. It's like a soap box derby with contestants using rolling models made from an MG valve cover. VERY competitive and lots of creativity. See photo below.
#5 More than 675 MG's of all marques parked together in a large park.....and don't even ask how many pictures I took!!!!!!
#4 Learning to ride a Segway and competing in a timed course competition with other MG participants. Yes......Lynn did better my time around the course
#3 Our drive yourself tour around Lake Tahoe with a picnic on the grass overlooking EmeraldBay. A VERY special day.
#2 Sitting next to 90 year old Gene & Deana Roth at our closing banquet and listening to his tremendous stories. That evening they were celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary, have owned their right hand drive TC since new (1947), and drove it to this Gathering from Southern California. What makes this all the more amazing is that Gene lost his complete right arm in an accident 30 years ago and does not wear any prosthetic device!!!!! Listening to him explains how he drives and shift gears is amazing.......
#1 The stupid grin on Snoopy's face as he came back from a night on the town. He was feeling frisky when we arrived in Reno and looking for some 'action'. We spent the big bucks and ordered up a 4 legged French poodle for a treat. What happens in Reno stays in Reno!!!!!!
Well, that's all for now....and will update in a few days as we start to explore southern California.
Ciao Bob, Lynn & Snoopy.
Snoopy Update #4 - June 20th 2011
4. Hi there and the last two mountain passes into San Francisco were snow covered but absolutely spectacular with clear skies and 40 f temps........then it was all downhill to San Francisco where it was 90 f for our arrival.
Driving into the city on a Friday night at 5 pm was not for the timid.....but the T's all held up well in what seemed like miles of bumper to bumper traffic. It took more than a beer or two to get ourselves sorted out on arrival.
The MG Club of Southern California were our hosts and the second photo will give you in insight into their mindset. A fun group to say the least and were most gracious in taking us on mini driving tours to take in the highlights of the city. Golden Gate Bridge, Twin Peaks, Presidio Park, Sausalito, Fisherman's Wharf, The Cannery District and endless bars.....to name a few.
Too soon it was all over except the group hugs, photo's and then everyone went their separate ways. A number of folks had decided in advance to ship their MG back to the U.S. east coast and fly home. Three transport trailers showed up on our last day in San Fran. and loaded up some 36 cars. Quite the operation and reasonably priced at $1200 per.
For us, the adventure continues and we're soon to head south on route 1 through Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur, San Simeon......and then inland to Yosemite before heading back to the coast and north to Oregon.
We're not sure what Snoopy might have eaten in Reno but seems to have some indigestion, so going to have a look see at a local MG restoration shop tomorrow.
We'll talk soon. Bob & Lynn.......and Snoopy.
Snoopy Update #5 - June 24th 2011
5. Holy crap ......... that French poodle hooker we set up Snoopy with in Reno not only screwed his brains out but left him with a 'pox' in his lower end!!!!!!!! Every time I depressed his clutch he made a squeal so I decided he should go into a clinic for a look see.
We found a fabulous British auto restoration shop in Morgan Hill CA. (wine country) called "On The Road Again". You can check them out at www.ontheroadagainclassics.com but these guys have not only a full restoration shop but it was hospital clean. Check out the photos below. Anyway, we had to pull Snoopy's tranny and replace a fractured release bearing. Never seen that before. That poodle must have got him really wound up!!!! While we were in there (the transmission that is) we also replaced his pilot bearing and an oil seal. The whole job was completed in 5 hours......without having to pull the engine....thank goodness. That's the last time Snoopy get's a night on the town!!!!!
After getting back On The Road Again we headed south to Monterey and Route 1 south through Carmel, Big Sur and on down to San Simeon. This road had only been open for less than a week following a huge land slide two months ago so were most fortunate. This road is perfectly suited to a 'T' car with so many twisties it's hard to do more than 60 kph. All three of us were smiling ear to ear as we zipped into one corner after another while making sure we didn't wander too close to the edge. In many places the cliffs drop away for more than a few hundred feet to the ragged rocks of the Pacific.
An overnight at an ocean front hotel in San Simeon (Best Western Cavalier Resort) was above our budget but quite the treat to hear the waves crashing on shore throughout the night. We were tempted to stay another night but the fog rolled in and decided to head inland for a planned overnight with Lynn's cousin.......Pat Williams and her husband Dave. They live on a 125 acre ranch about two hours inland and on arrival the temp was 100 f. Thanks Pat & Dave for you wonderful hospitality and memories.
The Western States have been experiencing a record heat wave so it's been top up on Snoopy. To-day as we drove further inland toward Yosemite the temperatures reach 106 f !!!! Poor Snoopy is being cooked alive and saw his temperature reach 110 C on the dash gauge. At that point.....on a long climb to 5000 ft. he boiled over. Fortunately we found a tree with marginal shade but that was enough.......and we drove on to our destination on the western edge of Yosemite. All three of us need a change in our shorts tonight.
The next two days we're planning on some hiking in Yosemite..............and will connect in the next week.
Ciao. Bob, Lynn & Snoopy.
Snoopy Update #6 - June 28th 2011
6. Hey Greame........we're sitting at this beachfront bar on the coast of Oregon tonight and had a drink.....and toast to your good health. The drink was advertised as a "Scottish Sunset" and so good, I ordered a second. Here are the ingredients: Absolut Mandrian, Grand Marnier, MacPellican's Scottish Ale, orange juice and a splash of Grenadine. A couple of these and you'll be holding your kilt in place!!!
Our trip up the coast of California and now Oregon is just spectacular. The weather is perfect, the roads are smooth, twisty and Snoopy is behaving himself. Life is good. Cheers, Bob
Snoopy Update #7 - July 1st 2011
7. Hi everyone and a HAPPY CANADA DAY. What an adventure this week has been.....including a scary incident.....but I'll get back to that later. We arrived in Victoria this afternoon (July 1st) having taken the ferry from Port Angeles WA. The Straights of Juan De Fuca were dead calm, not a cloud in the sky, snow capped mountains in the distance and two large cruise ships close behind. The voyage was magical and according to the staff quite unusual to have the crossing so perfect. Even as we came into downtown VICTORIA harbour we could see hundreds & hundreds of people milling about enjoying the start of Canada celebrations. Once we cleared Customs, Snoopy only had a block to get us to our hotel but we needed Police permission to do so as all the streets in this area had been closed to vehicular traffic for the rest of the day. What a party!!!!!! A large concert stage had been set up on the grounds of the Parliament Building (next door to our hotel) and different bands played all day and evening. A crowd estimated at more than 100,000 people sang and danced......and everyone had a blast. No hooligans were to be seen!!!!. Dinner on the waterfront and a huge fireworks display ended our day at midnight. Snoopy was already asleep in a protected area under our hotel and getting a much deserved rest after logging 7,445 km's.
Our week began on the northern California coast as we motored up Hwy 101 through the 'Valley of The Giants' (huge redwood trees). So........as we motored up what would have been our last twisty climb of the day we were yammering about where to stay for the night. Travelling without advance reservations is always a bit of an adventure in itself but we've never been disappointed. Anyway, we had just crested the peak and were hurtling down towards the first of many tight curves. I went to apply some brakes but........NO BRAKES!!!!! Pump the brakes a second time.........absolutely nothing......peddle to the floor. %#$#&^.....this is serious, so I quickly shift into third gear and grab the mechanical brake handle. MG's have a wire cable from a brake handle that retracts the rear brake shoes. Lynn is hanging on as Snoopy rockets through the first curve and we finally slow to a controllable speed before reaching the second curve. We coast through the remaining curves and finally find a place to pull over in this heavily forested area. As expected, the master brake cylinder is empty so it gets refilled. You do carry extra brake fluid on road trips......don’t you? I pump the brakes.....but nothing......so 'limp' the remaining 20 miles into Oregonand find a Best Western Plus. As luck would have it the local yellow pages shows an "Old Tyme Garage" with an MGA on the advertisement. Turns out the owner used to race MG's back in the ‘60's and books Snoopy for 8 am the next morning. The problem? A broken brake line. Age, vibration and metal fatigue caused the brake line to completely sever at the connector. No problem......according to Geo (the owner) and within 2 hours he fashions a new brake line and we're back on the road again. All part of the adventure when you're taking a road trip in a 60 year old car.
Our three day meanderings along the Oregon coast road were really slow because there's so much to see and do. The Oregon coastline is made for picnics and that's what we did each day. One day Snoopy took us inland to the Evergreen Aviation and Space museum at McMinnville. This world class facility was a big WOW. If you're an aviation buff check it out at www.EvergreenMuseum.org. This is now the permanent home for Howard Hughes "Spruce Goose". The 8 engines on a spruce framed aircraft that's both higher and wider than a 747 or Airbus 380 is awesome. To be able to sit in the same seat as Howard did when the plane briefly flew was an ear to ear grin.
Hey Richard, as we wandered north we drove into Nehalem OR. That's the small town with the riverside restaurant where the "Biker Boyz" spent an afternoon (beer & Oysters) some ten years ago. It's now been converted into a pizza parlour.......so go figure.!!!! Anyway, we did find a spot nearby that specialized in Oregon shooters. That's two raw oysters in a shot glass followed by two ounces of ice cold vodka. My stomach wasn't normal for a few days after that escapade!!!!!
We really loved Oregon and also spent time driving Snoopy on the beach, hiking in the forest, clambering up huge sand dunes, touring Oregon's largest cheese factory........and drinking some excellent wines. Highly recommend spending more than a few days for anyone planning to visit this beautiful State.
Moving north on the westerly coast road into Washington State is a much more rugged and raw experience with snow capped mountains, pristine forests, lots of logging trucks to watch out for..... and few gas stations. In one day we travelled through Washington and rolled into Port Angeles for our ferry to Victoria.
Well, that closes out another great week. We're here in Victoria for three full days and will update next week-end. Cheers and hugs. Mom & Dad / Bob & Lynn
Snoopy Update #8 - July 10th 2011
8. Hi family & friends. Our three sunny days in Victoria were busy, busy, busy.......as there was so much to see. Our activities included a two hour guided walk through Chinatown, the "Hop On - Hop Off" buses to explore at our own pace, the museum, a couple of Imax films, Sunday brunch at the Gatsby estate, and a walk about at fisherman's wharf. We were quite relaxed after the three days....and Snoopy was getting anxious to get a move on. Our drive north on Vancouver Island to Nanaimo also included a lunch stop at a university class mate of Lynn's.
The ferry ride from Nanaimo to Horseshoe Bay was again a sunny experience and we decided to overnight in Vancouver......in order to drive the 'Sea to Sky Highway' (to Whistler) with the morning sunlight behind us. Snoopy was in fine form as we zipped through the twistys with the sound of our exhaust bouncing off the sheer rock walls being music to our ears. Long shafts of sunlight broke through the tall trees and at ShannonFalls a torrent of water falling over the lip was framed by a rainbow. Unfortunately I could not capture this on the camera.
Our next stop on our way to Whistler was at Brandy Wine Falls. We had not hiked this 2 km forest trail before, so we took our time and made a picnic out of this stop. On arriving in Whistler we were able to snag a huge suite at the Tantalus Lodge for a give away rate of $85 ..... including indoor parking. We were spoiled with two king bedrooms, two bathrooms, living room with fire place, dining room, full kitchen and a large deck looking out to the snow capped mountains. The decision to stay for two nights was a 'no brainer'. Accommodation at the resort was built for winter traffic so always lots of choices at discount pricing in the summer.
The new 'Peak To Peak' gondola connecting the tops of Blackcomb and Whistler mountains was on our wish list (weather dependent) and we were not disappointed. It's a breathtaking 1.8 mile trip and we waited a bit in order to board one of two gondolas with a glass floor. At the peak of the ride you're 1430 ft above the valley floor, so not for those who suffer from acrophobia. We spent an entire day hiking on the mountain tops and at one point Lynn whispered........"there's a bear following us". Whoa.......a quick exit from that area.....and a photo as the bear ran across the snow and into a clump of trees. That was the end of the hiking !!!!!! A complimentary bus ride to the base of the 7th Heaven chair took us up to the glacier where we watched hundreds of skiers and boarders having a great day. A member of the ski patrol told us this was a 1 in 50 year record snowfall and many of what would have been alpine hiking trails would not open until early August!!!!!!
We next hit the road and went north from Whistler to connect with the mountain roads leading us to Kelowna. Here we stayed for two days with my U.W.O. room mate Bruce Wilson. Rehashing our times from the early ‘60's, great food, and talking until midnight was the order of the day. Bruce also took me to the largest assembly of British sports cars awaiting restoration, I have ever seen. My buds in the car club will have to wait until the Fall to feast on the photos.
We're now in Nelson BC exploring this area and tomorrow will be heading back into the U.S.via northern Idaho.......en route to Mount Rushmore inSouth Dakota.
Take care....we miss everyone.
Snoopy Update #9 - July 15th 2011
9. Hi family & friends.
When we last connected we were in Nelson BC and poor Snoopy decided to give up on his generator. I had to dig deep into my supply cache to find new generator brushes on the hopes that was the problem. Taking a generator apart is fortunately something I've done before but 12 volt electricity is not my forte and it was disconcerting to find some shards of loose metal inside. Not sure what that means!!! Anyway, after more than a few expletives and some lost skin on the fingers the generator was re-assembled, installed.....but still not generating any electricity. Mmmmm. What to do? It would take at least 4 or 5 days to get a new on from Moss Motors inCalifornia(my only supply) so decide to run the rest of the trip without. During daytime running only the fuel pump and brake lights draw power so the battery will easily last all day......I can remove each night.......re-charge.....and off we go again the next day. A visit to WalMart for a basic $29.95 charger.....and 'on the road again'. Yipeeee.......
On leaving town Snoopy took the north exit which takes us on a 30 minute ferry across KootenayLake. Once on shore the road winds southbound along the lake through heavy forest before exiting Canadaat the Creston border crossing into Idaho. By the end of day we've travelled on route 200 through some very rugged terrain along the Thompson river and found ourselves over night at a family run resort inTrout RiverMontana. Opening yet another bottle of wine we soon find ourselves invited by the owner to join in a Sunday night family BBQ. Later, sitting around a camp fire, watching the moon rise over the mountains, sipping coffee and singing 'Montana camp fire songs'. A special evening with lots of great memories. The locals refer toMontana as 'Big Sky Country' and we certainly agree!!!
Lynn's been buying a few clothes along the way and interestingly our clothes are starting to integrate themselves within our one suitcase!!!!! Seriously, both of us had many reservations on working from a single suitcase but everything has worked out well....we're still talking....and have not had a single argument. The only thing we need to check each morning is that we're getting into our own briefs!!! It seems like we're becoming road gypsies.
We really weren’t sure where to head next so head south intoIdaho and now Wyoming is only another day south......andYellowstone National Park. Yellowstone was the very first National Park in the world when it was founded. It was quite an aggressive climb for Snoopy as the road twists and turns through the approaching canyons. Bright blue sky and 75 f made it a memorable drive. Yes, we waited and watched 'old Faithful' do his thing but frankly that was a bit disappointing. What wasn't disappointing was the sheer beauty and magnitude of the meadows, forests, high plateaus, streams and wildlife. We spent an entire day here before deciding to head out towards South Dakota and Mount Rushmore. Our map indicated that of two possible ways to head east from Yellowstone........both had climbs to more than 9,500 ft. Damn.......this was going to be another tough one for Snoopy. The climb was fairly gradual but 25 miles in length before we reached the snow capped summit. Snoopy was just starting to pee his pants so we pulled over to let him cool off......while we admired the views. Once on the downside all was well again.
Mount Rushmore was absolutely spectacular and we spent a half day here taking in the history via films and Ranger hikes. Jefferson, and Lincoln. Past Presidents with vision, determination resolve and leadership. A monument that will endure for 10,000 years ....and more. The estimated wear rate on the granite is estimated at 1 inch per 10,000 years!!!!!
On leaving Rushmore we again head south to avoid the dull and boring interstate highways. I'm more convinced than ever that if you really want to explore what this country is all about and it's deep history then you need to take the back roads....time permitting. Once we motored into Nebraska we turned east on Hwy. 20 (the temp was 101 f.) and this will eventually lead us directly into Chicago. Today we'll reach Sioux City, Iowa.........and then pick up the pace a bit for the last 4 days home.
Ahhhhhh to take a deep whirlpool tub, and get into our own bed is going to be great. Our road trip will have a lifetime of great memories......but we're now looking forward to home and reconnecting with family and friends.
We'll next let you know when we're home.
Love, mom & dad.........Lynn & Bob
Snoopy now Home - July 20th 2011
Hi everyone and we're HOME.
What began as a vision more than a year ago (to cross America in our MG) has now been realized and we loved every minute of the journey.
We traveled through or across 19 States and two Provinces covering a total of 13,784 Km's., met some really great people, explored small towns off the main highways, drank lots of wine and most importantly enjoyed each others love and companionship.
Snoopy did an absolute incredible job and still has most of his parts!!!!! Those that fell off or broke along the way will get replaced over the winter. To-day he gets a soapy bath, a rub down with soft towels.........and then to bed for the next 9 months. Is there another MG adventure in the future? Nothing planned.....but we would never make him do anything like this again.
We certainly look forward to getting caught up with family & friends and will be in touch over the next week.
Love, Mom & Dad............Bob & Lynn & Snoopy