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Can't keep a Stovebolter still
By Steve VandenBerg
Part Seven ~ Ready to hit the road home
I roll the Corvette out of the garage and drive around the block a couple of times. I drive it back in the garage and shut it off. I start it again and shut it off. I get out and look under the car. There is anti-freeze dripping from the lower radiator hose. I re-tighten all the clamps. I test drive again and no leaks this time. I drive around a bigger block and go to fill up the tank with gas. It all seems to work OK. The brakes work great. It is not overheating. I drive around some more and go back to Jo’s garage and change the oil and filter.
I called and talked with Bob (Jo’s brother in-law) for a while and asked him about the car and he said he would take care of the old gas and oil and get rid of the old gas tank for me. (That was real cool Bob. Thanks.) I then asked Bob why he hadn’t bought the car. Jo said that he wanted the car for years and never did buy it. Bob told me that Jo had a long-haired cat that lived in the garage and every time he went into the garage to check out the car, he would have a hard time because he was very allergic to cats. Of course, he had some other projects that always seem to work their way into his yard, too. I knew exactly what he was talking about. I think that the Corvette is number 17 for me. So, I guess I owe that cat a thank you to for living. Thanks cat.
I get everything back in the garage and park the Corvette in the garage. I go back to Aunt Louise’s house, clean up and I don’t remember what we did. I decided to get a start tomorrow and head towards Las Vegas rested up. That night, I decide to chance leaving a ring in Aunt Louise’s tub and take a long hot bath and do my best to get my hands and fingernails clean. My body is quite sore by now. My arms have bruises all over. Sometimes when I wash, I keep scrubbing my arms because they look dirty and it turns out to be a bruise on my arm that I am trying to wash off. My hips hurt from rolling on my side on the cement floor under the car. My knees are hurting from kneeling. One of the first days, my right knee hurt so bad. When I got on it, I discovered a pimple right on my knee cap. Probably had a small sliver in it and festered. The bump I had on my left leg was black and blue from the bottom of my foot to half way up my leg. It looked bad, but it really didn’t bother me too much. My hands were sore. I guess having an office job starts to soften a guy up.
I pack up my clothes in my suitcase. I am very short on space and there was a bunch of stuff in the Corvette already. So I decide to ship my dirty clothes and what was left of my clean clothes back home. I did have clean clothes on and a carry on bag with another change of clean clothes.
Kelly drove me to Jo’s garage and I got the Corvette and drove it back to Aunt Louise’s house and parked it in the garage. I then followed Kelly in the rental car to the Federal Express place and get the bag shipped off. The woman at the counter seemed to be making me jump through some hoops.
We went and dropped off the rental car at a hotel and made our way back to Aunt Louise’s house. Rueben popped in shortly before I left and so we checked out the car. We said our good byes and I left. Aunty Louise had never even seen the Corvette. I think I took off around 2-3 pm on Thursday.
I rolled out of Vista and headed for Las Vegas. I had to decide which route I was going to take home. The Southern route would bring me to Springtown, Texas to see Uncle Carl and Aunt Norma and provide a place for me to work on the car if needed. It would be my only “shop stop” available to me and would be another 400-500 miles further home. The Northern Route would bring me to Las Vegas and give me a “shop stop” were my cousin Craig works. My next “shop stop” would be Rapid City at my friend Porky’s. He runs an aftermarket Harley shop that I have worked at during the Sturgis Rally for the previous 9-10 years. Two “shop stops” and 400-500 miles less, a no brainer I guess.
I was thinking of driving up the coast through Malibu to see Dick VanDyke and Sean Penn’s neighbor. A few years earlier, I sold one of my 1928 International 1.5-ton six speed specials to a guy named Ron. He told me to stop by sometime to see the truck. He had since gotten the truck running and driving and said that Sean Penn had stopped over and they took a short ride. I didn’t think of it before I left, so I didn’t have his phone numbers or address. (When I got home, I ran across his number and told him my little story and he stated that I should have come on over. He also said if I ever came that way again, not to stop and try to talk to anyone. Apparently, the stars don’t like strangers.) Anyway, I just started on my way to Las Vegas.
The Corvette was running pretty good. I was determined not to beat it, so I took it easy. About an hour out, I stopped just to look around. I noticed that the smog belt had broken. No biggie, I guess since the Corvette knew it was leaving California. Everything looked OK. There was a vibration between 69 and 83 mph that worried me, and that car seemed to pull left a bit. I guess it needed an alignment. Temp was good. Amps were good. Oil pressure was good. That dang clock didn’t work though.
Well, I am rolling along and enjoying the car and thinking of what I might check out when I get to Las Vegas. Man, it sure is hot. The air conditioning doesn’t work. The heat just rolls off of the floor and transmission tunnel on this thing. I probably won’t have to turn the heater on in the winter.
WHACK, WHACK, WHACK, WHACK!!
I hear the rubber flying off the right rear tire and hitting the inside of the fender. I pull over quickly and look at the tire. The tire is shredding on the inside. I look around and see nothing but desert and the cars just flying by me. Literally hundreds of tires are shredded and lining the ditch of the highway on both sides. It must be 120 degrees out here and it will be dark in an hour. Crap! I should have made a list before I left. I forgot to get one of those cheap jacks, and the original wasn’t there.