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Blog posts : "General"

In the beginning...

February 7, 2018

I remember when I decided to go to the east coast. It was because of a hat. I made my decision during a great weekend spent on the west coast of Vancouver Island (the “Island”) at Long Beach near Tofino. In those days, it was much harder to get there. The road through the central mountains from Port…

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My new book is underway - Cars I have known

December 23, 2017


My grandfather had a blue 49 Ford like the one in the picture above well not exactly. His Ford was a little bit rougher however it was an amazing piece of equipment. I don’t know how Grampy had trained it but he was convinced that it like to eat grapefruit.


Now I know that most people probably have not fed their automobiles grapefruit. In fact I have never known anyone before or since that fed grapefruit to automobiles. But Grampy did.

This is how it worked: the old Ford was prone to stalling in warm weather. In retrospect I guess the fuel line went too close to the heat of the engine and the fuel would turn from a liquid into a gas in the pipe and the engine would s starve and stall.


I have heard that wrapping a fuel line in a wet cloth to cool it off will solve the problem. I have even seen this done. However for some mysterious reason Grampy would use a grapefruit. He would slice it in half and rub it over the fuel line to cool it down. He would even rub it all over the carburetor. And I remember on one occasion, I stood watching while he was rubbing it over the carburetor grandma tried to start the engine. The engine fired up and the  vacuum in the carburetor began to suck on the grapefruit like a hog eating watermelon. Which is something you don’t see every day.


That car also provided the introduction to witching:

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Cross Canada Adventures - Stealth Camping

December 23, 2017

Before we left home, I had been doing a little work on the Marmot van because I wasn’t happy with the interior layout. I wanted to install some kind of air conditioning. In 1981, when the van was built, dashboard-controlled air conditioning had not been installed. I priced out some options and an aftermarket installation was going to be more than half of the price we paid for the van. Even if I had gathered up a system from an auto wrecker and installed what I could, I still would have been obliged to have a licensed technician complete the installation and that amount of money and effort was not what I wanted.

The solution turned out to be a home air conditioner, an inverter, and some batteries. It was not really cheap, but the price was at least reasonable to me and the install was pretty straightforward. But before I took on the job, I did a little research on van conversions. That’s when I came across an article about stealth vans. Evidently these are vans that people in cities live in. The owners just move about finding unobtrusive places to park each night. With a stealth van, you don’t pay rent. Cool idea!

So having been paying $30 or more a night for camping spots that weren’t really even up and running, I suggested we “stealth it” and use the money to buy a meal. We agreed on the plan and it seemed a good one.

Here is our stealth van


Actually, the plan was quickly modified to read: sleep in a box store parking lot. It turned out that some box stores had hatched the scheme of allowing RVs to park overnight. It actually works in the favour of the store because, instead of making a campfire, visiting with the other campers, or walking to see the river or lake or whatever, the hapless traveller sitting in the RV in the parking lot eventually succumbs to the lure of the hardware department and spends at least as much as a campsite would have cost.

So walking out of the store with our purchases, we were not particularly pleased to see that the parking lot was pretty much empty except for a couple frantic shoppers who ran in and ran out with a carton of cigarettes or a jug of milk and a couple of shady characters sitting in an old pimped-out Oldsmobile. It appeared they had a number of acquaintances who stopped in for a quick chat and perhaps were loaning our guys some money or perhaps were buying homemade jewellery. It eventually occurred to us that their transactions might have been of the unlawful kind. Seems a lot of money was changing hands and they were doing a pretty brisk trade. We decided it was not the place to be in the middle of the night. Okay. Plan B.

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Farm Boys and the Goderich jail

December 22, 2017




I had a shower and got cleaned up while Shorty’s dad made supper. Before we sat at the table, Shorty’s brother Bill arrived. Bill and I hit it off right away. Bill had been slated to help with the pigs the next day. He was really glad that he didn’t have to cut pigs, and I was happy when Bill invited me along to go out for the evening. We ate our fill and Shorty’s dad wished us well as we climbed into Bill’s red and white ‘67 Impala.

It was when we drove to Bill’s buddy’s place that I learned that Bill had a case of beer; and his buddy Dan was to bring along another case. I offered to chip in for the beer, but Bill said that by helping cut the pigs I had contributed more than enough. It was when I saw Dan packing 24 bottles of beer that I asked about and learned the eastern definition of a case of beer. Well, at least we weren’t likely to run out. Dan and I were introduced over the first of the 48 beers.

Bill and Dan filled me in on the program for the evening as we drove. There was a dance in a town about half an hour away and the girls in that town were reputed to be friendly and fun-loving, especially if there was plenty of beer around. Not only had my companions scouted out a likely venue to meet friendly girls, but they had also procured enough beer to ensure the success of their plan. As I drank my second beer, it seemed that I had taken up with a couple of smooth operators and it promised to be a great night.

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