Life’s a TRip, Episode 13

By Ojijaak

Hi! Remember us? It has been too long since we last visited. I anticipated a lapse, but not of this length.

As I start – re-start, actually – this episode in first draft, it is New Year’s Eve, and that is also Polly’s 45th birthday. She wears it well.

So…a lot has happened since we last visited. I will bring you up to date in an abridged episode.

When I last reported, Polly and I were just arriving at home from Tipp City, and her overdrive had failed. I was scheduling ophthalmic surgeries (again), and Nokomis was unwell. In the short form, I disassembled Polly’s column-mounted overdrive switch three times to no avail, the surgeries were successful (at least to date), and Nokomis had only suffered a pulled muscle.

Looking ahead from that point, Polly was scheduled to appear at the Vintage Triumph Register (VTR) Nationals, October 6-11 in Dripping Springs, Texas. The VTR National Convention, or “Nationals,” is a significant event including any sort of activity for any sort of Triumph, and the car show is nothing short of eye candy of the third kind.

Registration and Participation Decals.

I wanted Polly to show well In Dripping Springs, so I found a rehearsal event a week earlier that we could attend without driving too far out of our way. Polly would be great, but I knew that I would need a refresher in show preparation. We started our journey to Texas with an intermediate stop in Elephant Butte, New Mexico, for a meet and show called the Rio Grande Valley Regional Rendezvous. The RGVRR is an annual event sponsored by the British Automobile Owners of Albuquerque. A bit out of our way, but the only good opportunity for me to practice making Polly look her best before Nationals.

I do not know whether or not you have visited West Texas. I had not until I arrived having driven east out of Roswell, New Mexico, with its peculiar affection for Little Green Men. I can say that I need never visit again. I overnighted in Stanton, Texas, at a Comfort Inn. If you are ever faced with that, I suggest that you keep driving. Stanton was a blight on the devastation that is the Permian Basin. The Comfort Inn should be de-franchised by Choice Hotels – seriously. Keep driving. Sleep in a freight yard, or on the roadside with rattlesnakes and leprous armadillos. Keep driving.

Nokomis and I took a break near San Angelo.

For a few hours beyond Stanton, the landscape does not improve…Then you approach San Angelo and the Hill Country beyond. I have visited Texas before. I have seen Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Amarillo and the rest of the Panhandle, as well as a few of the border towns. Texas saves her best for the Hill Country. I had never visited Hill Country, but now that I have, I will visit again.

Polly at the show.

As to Nationals, the events were generally great fun. There were daily breakfast runs, a visit to a vodka distillery, autocross, a TSD rally, a gimmick rally, the car show, meetings, and tech sessions. All that I attended were fun and/or informative, but my best times were spent with members of South Texas Triumph Association, who more or less adopted me for the week. My thanks to them and my compliments to Hill Country Triumph Club, the event host club.

We toured Hill Country with a great group of Triumph owners.

Just outside Dripping Springs, I found (guess what?) a craft brewery. Twisted X, it was called, and it was a fine landing after a long day’s drive. Members of my adopted club drove to a small town called Wimberley for lunch. The roads were fun, the lunch was good, the town was beautiful, but just being with like-minded people was probably best of all.

By week’s end, with Polly still wounded, it seemed logical to continue eastward to Tipp City, where the Macy experts could put Polly’s overdrive right. What the hell? The old girl and I would not be as close to Tipp City again in the foreseeable future, and autumn weather was holding fair.

From Dripping Springs, we drove to Bossier City, Louisiana. From there to Jackson, Tennessee, and at the end of our third day, we arrived in Dayton. We slept less than ten miles from Macy’s Garage. Good weather and nice scenery were with us all the way.

Early the next morning, I delivered Polly to Macy’s shop foreman, Austin, who had us back on the road before lunchtime! I have raved on so many times before about the Macy method and work ethic, but truthfully, I know of no other specialist garage anywhere that is so expert, competent, and conscientious. Really, Polly’s awards (we’ll get to those) belong to these people; I just drove her and cleaned off the dust and bugs before the shows. That is no effort; that’s the fun part.

From Tipp City, we were westbound once again, but by a slightly different route from our July TRip. It was mid-October, after all, and there could be snow in the high passes. That was still a few days ahead, so we made our usual stops in Atchison and Topeka, Kansas.

This TRip was different in many ways from the earlier one. Even relatively featureless Illinois was more scenic. The leaves were turning, and we crossed the Illinois River on a (free) ferry operated by ILDOT. There is no bridge, so the state highway is routed by ferry.

That night was spent in Hannibal, Missouri. I like Hannibal, mostly. I like Mark Twain. I found the Mark Twain Brewing Company. I like craft beer. If I did not feel pressed by the season and the need to get Polly home, I would have stayed a day or two longer in Hannibal.

Other than the joy of driving the best TR6 in North America and listening to her authoritative exhaust note, the rest of the TRip was uneventful. Polly did manage to eat a brake caliper mount bolt, and that required some creative work at a grinder because these bolts just aren’t in the bin at Home Depot, but that was not a big deal. After our last visit to Topeka’s Blind Tiger (I admitted that I like craft beer), there were no more brewpub stops on our route. I know, I know…I can’t explain that, either.

On October 20, Polly, Nokomis, and I arrived at home. Since that date, I have driven each of the girls a few times: Polly to a Cars and Coffee meeting and a few excursions of about fifty miles each, Sara for a very short mountain blast ending with a fuel stop a mile or so from our driveway, and Annie on a similarvoyage. By November 1, all three fuel tanks were filled and treated with Sta-Bil. By tradition, I choose not to venture forth much during November, and by December, the evil winter weather pattern had become wetter than is our norm. Now here we are at the end of a very good year. Sara and Polly are idling in the garage in birthday celebration. Annie, the loyal MG is tolerating the all-Coventry event without complaint. Time to reflect and to look forward.

To recap the year, Sara showed twice. She scored 98.1/100points at Triumph Register of America and earned an Award of Excellence at Dayton’s British Car Day. Polly was judged Best in Show at RGVRR, and took second overall (top scoring TR6)at VTR Nationals. It is worth mentioning that only a Macy-built 1957 TR3 outscored Polly…by ONE point in the Judged Concours Improved Touring class. Hell, I would give a car that was old enough to vote when Polly was built the same nod. Annie is still my loyal and (mostly) dependable Franken-B. The year was good to all of us.

Quo vadis? The new year has more questions than answers at this point. First, I am severing my membership with one of the national Triumph clubs. Sadly, there is just no real value to that membership for me due to my location and those of the club’s activities.

The 2020 Nationals will be held in Galena, Illinois. I could make that drive to defend Polly’s title, but the meet is scheduled for the last week of August, and that means more hot weather and the possibility of heavy storms on the Plains. I was fortunate piloting Polly through that area three times last summer; how badly do I want to double down and tempt fate?

Before anything else comes winter maintenance. Other than the short day drives to keep the girls in good shape, sometime –probably early March – will come oil changes, lubrication, and underbody cleaning. These are things that I really do not want to take on when the weather is nice and longer TRips can be taken. These cars are fun, but for those who want to enjoy them and pass them on one day, the detail work is a must. I do best to plan this sort of work when weather is likely to be cooperative, meaning dry and not hot.

For the moment, I hope to drive Sara and Polly on February 10, Sir John Black’s birthday, and “Drive Your Triumph Day.” If possible, I hope to attract nearby LBC owners to a meeting on February 9, a Sunday, to discuss the possibility of establishing a local club with the intent to affiliate with national marque-specific organizations such as VTR. That is an ambitious plan, and it may represent only wasted time and effort.

Triumphest is to be in San Diego; that would be fun, and Sonoma beckons from the north to visit wine country. Geez! That would mean driving the Pacific Coast Highway. For now, the girls and I rest, but if you happen across a freaky-looking old fart in a vintage Mimosa or Signal Red Triumph with a blind dingo riding shotgun, give us a wave.

The rant:

I am going to make the reader do the work this time. It is a one word rant, and you can either try to guess what I mean by it, or you can work out your own meaning:


Hint: “Why not?” is not the correct answer, and will result in a failing grade for the semester.

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