Route 66, Roy’s Cafe Lighting, Fly-In and Vintage Military Vehicles

A big shout out and a military salute to Albert Okura, founder and CEO of the Juan Pollo restaurant chain. Albert is our clubs benefactor and long time friend. By club I am referring to the Inland Empire Military Vehicle’s Preservation Association – IEMVPA

WANTED NEW MEMBERS – the old ones are Vietnam war era and before we start losing them we need replacements. Must have a military vehicle or be in the process of procuring one.

Unless you are into Route 66 history, a private airplane owner and pilot, Route 66 history buff or into WWII era military vehicles or even knowledgeable about the McDonald’s hamburger museum in San Bernardino then you may not know about the annual fly in or some some of the following:

This past weekend we rocked out with a camp over at Roy’s Cafe with the one of the highlights being the relighting of the neon sign that has sat silent for decades since the decline of traffic on Route 66. Roy’s Cafe and Diner is located in a town called Amboy and is owned by Albert Okura.

Yes Albert now owns this town; formerly a water stop for the Pacific Railway. It was told to me that back when trains were powered by steam they needed lots of water to make steam. With steam they could run all day so water stops were spread out every 30 miles.

Water stop towns such as Amboy were created. The next town I believe started with a B and the following one with with a C and the next one with a D; to keep things simple for the train engineers.

Today all that remains available from Amboy is Rose Café a restaurant a motel a gas station a gift shop and right across the street is the Amboy post office.

Several miles away is the Amboy crater. Yes a crater to hike on, estimated to be 79,000 years old. Lava flows as old as Amboy Crater itself now blanket the surrounding area. The most recent eruption was approximately 10,000 years ago and the next probably by the time we get to Mars.

The volcanic crater is 944 ft (288 m) above sea level, about 250 ft (76 m) above the surrounding basalt lava plains. So go climb yourselves a volcano and then stop in at Roy’s Cafe.

The scenic and solitary Amboy Crater was a popular sight and stop for travelers on Route 66 before the opening of Route 40 in 1973 just one year before my teenage road trip across America in a new VW beetle. I have no idea if we ever made it this far but, we did reach Flagstaff and hiked the Grand Canyon.

Okura is just one of many along Route 66 from Santa Monica to Chicago that is working to preserve and restore a vital part of Americana auto history. Just one town at a time. The Japanese when asked why they want to visit Route 66 responded by saying that they want to see what young (200 years old) America was able to build in such a short time. Others from even the Czech Republic Route 66 club have visited Roy’s as their club poster is proudly displayed.

Our vintage military vehicles club was invited to partake in the fly in and the lighting ceremony that may become an annual event. See the flyer below. And if you get a chance buy his book and read how Albert did it.

Thankfully for all of us on the ground airplanes have a way better maintenance schedule that is not taken for granted unlike some military jeeps on our convoy.

Our delay started out with a starter issue on an MB jeep that evolved into a battery issue that ended up resolved with a new regulator. Five auto part stores in Barstow within a five mile radius and no one seemed to have any jeep parts we needed.

With our first vehicles problem resolved and the start of our return trip on the mother of all roads Route 66; the second MB military jeep problem reared its ugly head. This time a lose driveline on account of badly worn u joints.

Ujoints connect yokes that also allow drive shafts to move fore and aft as vehicles go over bumps or dips in the road, which effectively shortens or lengthens the shaft.

Since military vehicles are four wheel drive we have front and rear drivelines. Only problem was this 1944 MB jeep was modified so that a new front driveline was never installed. If it was then he could’ve just driven it home as a front wheel drive vehicle.

Several pilots roamed into our fire circle the first night. The first pilot was an older gentleman wearing a cowboy hat. On his way to a pilot group get together he brought us a box full of chocolates. He began by saying that “life was like a box of chocolates”.

Just kidding. I will not now go down the path of making fun of any of these pilots for they truly earned it on this fly in. Some even landed on the mother road. Most slept in or out of a tent right by or even under their personal airplanes.

The second pilot that wandered into our fire ring circle was a 24-year-old female carrying an unopened box of Oreos. This girl should make her parents or grandparents proud. She said bought her airplane for $24,000 is an engineer by trade works for NASA and on top of that owns two airplanes which she stores in a hangar in Mojave. I know. I know. My two airplane junkies nephews are probably thinking not if she is single and available but, wondering what the second plane looks is. WANTED WOMAN WITH PLANE. Please send pictures of plane.

The convoy stopped at the Route 66 museum in Victorville. Definitely worth a visit. More memorabilia than you can find for hundreds, if not a thousand miles on Route 66.

Now go get your kicks on Route 66.

Get Your Kicks on) Route 66” is a popular rhythm and blues song composed in 1946 by American songwriter Bobby Troup.

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Cabo at Work and Mi Casa

The waiter like most in classy restaurants introduces himself to Patti and I; by welcoming us and asking if this is our first visit to Cabo and the restaurant. Why no of course; and don’t you remember me, I respond- I remember you?

Without so much as missing a beat he begins by adding that he’s worked at Mi Casa for the past twenty four years.

I begin to wonder if he gets asked this same question allot but, then (maybe he does) as he quickly pulls out this well worn and laminated picture of himself in his white clean and pressed waiter shirt.

Mi Casa su Casa is one of our favorite stops while visiting Cabo. Another is the “Office “.

Something about the atmosphere in Baja, the open air seating, the simple decor, bright colors that add to deliciously tasty prepared meals and the margaritas; the freshest caught seafood and always great seeing the lady making your fresh homemade hand tossed tortillas.

And this guy is ready to go to work. Only to him he approaches it always with a smile.

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SDJC Death Valley Jeep Trip

My wife Patti and nephew cancelled out on this 2019 three day Death Valley jeep trip with the San Diego Jeep Club (SDJC) also known as the Rick Henton Memorial Day Run. So here cheerfully submitted is my trip write up to all.

Before and after General Store. Maybe one day it will become a Family Dollar if the mine makes a comeback.

The plan was to meet and camp out at Ballarat, (Trona) California, ghost town on day one of four. Days two and three Death Valley and Panamint, California.

In the span of a three day Veterans Day weekend we visited several ghost and mining towns, some not all partook of the homemade moonshine, and I unfortunately missed out on some prime rib going around.

The jeep group visited and explored places like the Barker Ranch where Charles Manson was captured; we attempted and partially succeeded in a potluck dinner after getting threatened with $240 tickets by a park ranger for parking, potlocking and possibly harassing a fifth wheel camper out of their turn about on their private camp spot culdesac. More to this story than times allow.

We came across and conquered Titus canyon with a fair amount of dust raising and we almost got to visit Ubehebe Crater – as was planned.

Apart from a visiting Trailhawk from Arizona aka Renegade Jeep that caught an errant rock this busting a rear differential and needed a real jeep towing – the trip was damage and mechanically free for all courtesy of Rick Henton.

An extremely well planned and executed outing with a salute out to the clubs Trail boss – Mike Mattern.

Years ago I helped a friend deliver a 50 foot powerboat to San Diego. When we finally arrived and walked up the dock to the gate there stood a sign declaring that this yacht club was the friendliest yacht club in all of San Diego.

What is it about San Diego? My exact thoughts about the SDJC – by far the best and also the friendliest!

This Veterans Day weekend was my first outing with the San Diego Jeep Club and let me say that the founder, leadership and present board can be extremely proud of its current membership and the way a newcomer is made to feel.

At least half a dozen new first time members made this club run. I believe I counted twenty four jeeps including three Renegade Trailhawk jeeps.

The first day had us mingling with miners and mule team drivers. Correct. The miners hobby was to go in and explore old mines. These guys were the loudest campers but, played some good music – after once again cheating death after their mine outings.

The mule team drivers unbeknownst to the rest of us were on hand to partake in a twenty horse team or more mule team wagon recreation event for the tourist.

If you are not familiar twenty mule teams were teams of eighteen mules and two horses attached to large wagons that transported borax out of Death Valley from 1883 to 1889.

I started to hitch my mojito jeep to the wagon to see how easy it pulled but, old age seems to be mellowing me out.

In the old days your laundry soap to get to you first traveled from mines across the Mojave Desert to the nearest railroad spur, 165 miles (275 km) away in Mojave. The routes were from the Harmony and Amargosa Borax Works to Daggett, California, and later Mojave, California.

After Harmony and Amargosa shut down in 1888, the mule team’s route was moved to the mines at Borate, 3 miles east of Calico, back to Daggett.

There they worked from 1891 until 1898 when they were replaced by the Borate and Daggett Railroad.

And now I’m home, the jeep is clean inside and outside, the belly is fed and I’m also clean. So why travel all that distance to join like minded people with like minded jeeps? Must be something still in us from days gone by and the pioneering spirit that built this country. I unfortunately never got a chance to meet Rick Henton but, you can be sure that his spirit was with us this 2019 Veterans Day as we continue to honor our military veterans who serve and served in our nation’s armed forces.

God bless America

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Maintenance Physical and More

This morning on my drive to obtain a physical I roll over on the road a recent road kill – a raccoon. The poor critter was probably in the prime of life- like me now; when he made just one fatal choice to cross a country road during rush hour.

This raccoon road kill brought me back to years ago while in my early twenties. Mike Hardy and I were in USAF Survival school at the time. We were heading to town (Spokane, Washington) population then somewhat in the 300 thousand range. To me coming from Miami and Mike from New Jersey; this was a small town.

We drove the road into town from Airway Heights, a yet smaller town just outside of Fairchild AFB.

Suddenly up ahead Mike spots not one but two roadkills. One a rattler and the other a raccoon. Possibly ran over during low light hours. We stop to access the carcasses and determine that the six foot rattler is a fresh kill and deserving of a skinning and an eating.

While Mike works on the rattler I make a decision that a Daniel Boone type cap can easily be made with the carcass now in front of me. We finish the task at hand and place the remains in the bed of my 1966? International 4×4 pick up truck.

That evening as we drink beer and bbq a rattler I remember running around the yard acting like Daniel Boone fighting off a band of Indians. If you are not familiar with Boone he as a young adult, supplemented his farm income by hunting and trapping around the year 1775.

I’ve since lost track of that ‘coon cap but, still have one on my shelf. Perhaps a reminder of when life was simpler and two young men skinning a snake on the side of a road to eat was not such a big deal. No photos to post, no big drama story that needed to be embellished.

Perhaps my walking down the middle of a river yesterday for exercise with my nephew was not such a big deal but, the memories can last a lifetime.

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Jeep Camping Pismo Jeepfest

She’s come a long way I silently think to myself. Now when pulling a big hill on our new 2019 Jeep JL or dropping down to the other side of yet another mountain range the progressively louder breathing noises emitting from my Patti are down to a low rumble. Maybe it’s my bad right ear. Don’t hear quite as good as I used to.

There is absolutely no way I could accurately describe or write down the sounds for you.

For the retired this is our lives. If planned, well then travel, places to visit, things to do happen. Without planning and venturing further and further from home we just continue to live our daily lives.

Something like Ahhhhhh, Ohhhhhh. Possibly vowel sounds spoken aloud?

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A Retirement Story

Most retirees enjoy a good hobby or two. Some become so passionate in their hobbies that it consumes their every waking and possibly even napping moments. I’m not one of them and neither is my new friend Hugo. We both share a love of military vehicles and that is why we joined a club in San Bernardino devoted to the preservation of military vehicles. The Inland Empire Military Vehicle Preservation Group is sad to say a dying club. Simply put not enough young people are interested in keeping the tradition alive. Unlike Hugo who goes all out in restoring to its original condition both a fighting US and a British personnel transporter I prefer to keep the memories alive by supporting the club in my own way.

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I love old classic boats and Jeeps

I love old classic things, especially teak lined boats and jeeps. And also I feel a need, at times to focus on near lost cause projects.

Yes at times, I am known to have gone to great expenses to resurrect a boat or a Jeep for another twenty year life span. That’s about the working life of a jeep or a boat according to yours truly.

And just maybe in another life span I’ll also come back with the proper skills to do the job right.

If you resurrect your boat or jeep project correctly, then you add another twenty year life span back into it; if you are able to keep it or if the right owner takes it off your hands.

Take this ’59 Willy’s for example. It spoke to me then and now it continues to do so. I’ve come close to taking it to a paint shop on several occasions but, then stopped myself. Somehow she has rattle can spray paint written all over.

This new Jeep will also be a classic someday. Easier finding a friend than a new jeep. All I have to do is go on Facebook and even today I come across two coworkers from a long time ago that are now in the final years of their careers.

The following was written not long ago and never posted.

The 59 Willy’s is almost ready for a trip across America on Route 66 but, far from finished if you go by the picture above.

Soon the roll bar will be powder coated the body will be one color and the new Bestop soft top will be added.

This is the little jeep I feel will connect me more with America and its old highway and not the new Jeep. And so (retirement) time continues marching on.

Now get out and start using and enjoying your boat, jeeps or classics a little more.

“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.”

– Albert Einstein

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The Photographer

My generation will likely not grow old thinking, I wish I would’ve taken more pictures in my younger days? Why? Possibly because our brains weren’t wired the way they seem to be now.

In today’s world we look-for any excuse to use this highly sophisticated device that we always carry that is still referred to as a phone. No longer do you easily spot that nerdy picture taker from afar who never leaves home without that 35 mm camera hanging around their neck.

And what if you lost that phone or upgraded from Android to an IPhone like I did earlier this year? Where do those pictures go?

Above one of the first pictures I found taken by me in 2019 that will likely survive as a result of the ICloud.

And I don’t need to write about that picture to recall the exact moment I took it or the hike I was on. Somehow that information today I believe will always stay in my head. Or will it?

And now one of the earliest (2010) era pictures saved on my Google Photos account. Prior to this date it was either Kodachrome or Kodak.

And no the Kodiak bear picture was not Photoshopped, a word at that time I had never heard of. And yes I still think that I continue to do stupid things like that today even though I like to think that I am older and should be wiser.

The original Kodak bear picture was taken by my friend Petr on my Fujifilm XP WiFi capable camera. An app would download your picture if you chose not to remove the SIM card to transfer the picture from to your computer.

And why document the above or anything else for that matter?

Because for instance my single typing finger just got tired. And so as I looked down on my smartphone and the WordPress app, I suddenly notice a small microphone on the lower right corner. Why hadn’t it occurred to me earlier that I could simply dictate my story? Because like I said earlier my brain is not yet wired that way.

Words now flow from my eyes while looking down at a picture or screen to my fingers tapping on a smart phone or keyboard. Perhaps one day they’ll flow easier by simply speaking and a device will capture that sound and turn it into a written word on a device.

Perhaps change is a good thing. Perhaps slowing down to take a look at the past once in a while is also a good thing.

The picture above was taken over nine years ago. It’s also a reminder of how time continues marching on, waiting for no one.

“Do not wait; the time will never be ‘just right.’

Start where you stand, and work with

whatever tools you may have at your

command, and better tools will be found as you go along.

– George Herbert.

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