Driving from Maine to California

Author: Randy

Wrap Up

Total miles driven: 4,365

Assessment: A trip of a lifetime. This ranks up with any of our SCUBA, Asian or European adventures.

Favorite Spot: Impossible to choose.  Kim & I have decided it was the journey, not the destinations that made this trip special.  Highlights were the cruise to Perkins Cove, driving on country roads, Niagara Falls, and seeing Kim’s relatives.  And just generally meeting some of the nicest people.  We were so far from home, with California tags, we actually had folks follow us off the freeway to come talk to us.  The mid-westerners were particularly aggressive (not meant in a bad way at all) at coming over to talk.  I found them incredibly welcoming.

States Visited: 22

1) Massachusetts
2) Maine
3) Vermont
4) New Hampshire
5) New York
6) Ontario, Canada
7) Pennsylvania
8) Maryland
9) Virginia
10) West Virginia
11) Ohio
12) Kentucky
13) Indiana
14) Illinois
15) Missouri
16) Kansas
17) Nebraska
18) Colorado
19) Utah
20) Arizona
21) Nevada
22) California

Things that broke

  1. Brake Light Switch (replaced)
  2. Lift gate weather strip (glued and taped)
  3. Transmission Computer Display (not fixed)
  4. Starter became loose (fixed at home)
  5. Air Conditioning (worked well enough)
  1. Door Conduit folded instead of sliding into door (WD40)
  2. Headlight switch knob came off (bought Allen wrench and reattached)
  3. TheThrottle Position Sensor slipped (re-adjusted and tightened)

Biggest surprises

  • I knew the engine burned some oil.  It burned through 6 quarts or a quart every 727 miles.  It doesn’t leak and runs great with no plug fouling.  I’m leaving it.
  • The car ran great at 12,000 feet.  I was so unsure that I left it running while we made frequent stops going through Loveland Pass.
  • The car ran COOL. Even in 106 degree heat with the A/C on, the car ran 180 degrees.

The Driving

Best Drivers: Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania.

Surprise: From Virginia on I was surprised how the drivers would tailgate.  Rural areas were no exception.

Worst Drivers: No contest.  The drivers on I15 from Las Vegas to Corona.  Cars swerved from lane to lane, sometimes crossing 2 lanes to gain one car length.  But it wasn’t California drivers.  It seemed some kind of infection affected drivers from all states.  Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Arizona & California cars were all crazy.


California is a rarity in that trailers are not allowed in the fast lane, with some exceptions.  And they have a slower speed limit.  We got used to Tractor-trailer rigs passing us.  But it was the culture that these different laws apparently enable that concerned me.  I watched truckers cut-off cars, swerve violently to change lanes and nearly hit cars.  We had one nearly run us off the road.  Our lane ended and the trucker came from behind to box us in.  And there was a red light immediately ahead.  It made no sense.  I’ve not encountered that blatant “anti-car” culture in California.


Everyone says you don’t need a GPS in the car if you have a phone.  Well, we were in many, many locations where we had no cell signal at all and the phone could only tell where you are, not how to get where you are going.  Similarly, we were in some areas where my onboard GPS would give up and just say it didn’t have enough information to provide guidance.  I also found that if my onboard GPS didn’t have information on an area, it would route you around it, sometimes adding hours to the trip.  Because we used both we did ok.

After 4,365 miles, home at last… more to come

Las Vegas was as hot as the forecast. Fortunately, the Woodie’s A/C worked well enough. My IR gun was reading 50 degrees at the outlet. The trip from Cedar City to Vegas was only 2 1/2 hours, giving Kim plenty of alone time with her beloved slots. I had noticed the car sounded funny when starting. Specifically, it had that ’57 “Chivee” sound with the starter. Sure enough, the starter was loose. But when I went to tighten it, I realized the fix wouldn’t be so easy. In fact, the starter has a clocking mechanism that allows you to rotate the starter to any position to clear any obstacles. The screws locking the position are actually on the inside of the starter. So we just hoped the car would start 3 more times. Once at the hotel, once to get gas and once in Barstow. It did, we’re home and the starter has been fixed and the screws secured with Loctite.

I will have a few more posts to summarize the states, the drivers and the changing terrain. Stay tuned.

Cajon Summit, 3,777 ft. Almost home.
Casa Morford, about 100 ft!

This Is Not A Drill!

We are in the middle of Utah, 100 miles from the next services. Kim goes to pass a semi and suddenly we hear our honking and our GPS display is flashing. What kind of alarm is this? Engine failure? Imminent explosion? It took several seconds for me to realize it was my car alarm. The GPS was flashing because the headlights were flashing. I reached over to the keys and hit the disarm.
The second set of keys had fallen on the floor and when I moved my feet I triggered the alarm.

Murphy’s Law

A few days ago, Kim and I noticed that it was getting more and more difficult to accelerate after stopping. I knew this symptom was a result of my Throttle Position Sensor linkage over centering. The TPS is used to tell my transmission how much throttle I’m giving the engine and the computer will adjust the shift points and firmness accordingly.
Sure enough, the TPS had slipped a little. I rotated it up and set the linkage to bring the sensor up and stop the over center problem. Now all that was needed was to recalibrate the TPS for its new mechanical position. It’s an easy task and I had the manual with me. You just access the transmission display and start the calibration. Takes about 30 seconds. Unless the display is totally black, which was my case.
So with my adjustments, the transmission thinks I’m giving the engine more gas than I am. It shifts later and firmer. I called the computer manufacturer and determined that the display is not needed for the transmission to work properly. I just have to live with the more aggressive shifting until I can get the display fixed.

Over the Rockies!

At dinner last night it was suggested that I take US Highway 6 instead of staying on 70 and going through the tunnel. The Woodie is non-computerized and carbureted, with a fairly stiff cam. I was worried how it would run at nearly 12,000 feet. But no problem, she pulled right up. The temperature gauge never moved.

11,990 feet up!
My shirt says “It’s All About The Wood”. I bought it at the Louisville Slugger Museum, but it’s ideal for the Woodie!

Changing Terrain and Old Friends

As we continue our westward march, we have enjoyed the ever changing terrain. In Missouri we encountered rolling hills with trees, corn and soy beans. Now this…

Unfortunately, we passed a truck that was kicking up rocks and picked up a crack.

The dark object on the left is a piece of paper I put there to get the phone to focus on the windshield and not on the car in front. That crack is about 1/2″ but looks to me like it’s going to grow.

This brought us into Longmont, Colorado. Western Digital had an office there and I had several friends living in the area. I had dinner and reconnected with these old friends. It was worth the trip up there. I wound up getting some good advice for my travel over the Rockies the next day.

More Family History and Mid-America

After a great stay in Gallatin, MO we headed west toward southern Nebraska, stopping in the little town of Concordia, Kansas. We like to drive 4-5 hours a day and Concordia did the trick for us. In the morning we made the quick trip to my mom’s home town of Lebanon, NE and spent the night in the big city of McCook. I had taken mom back to where she was born in 2003 and knew where everything was. I got to visit a bit with my mom’s dad, Elwin Devoe. Elwin was working on the farm when mom wasn’t yet two. He scratched his finger on a fence. Today, we would put some Neosporin and a band-aid on the wound and call it a day. But there were no antibiotics in 1924. He was sick for months before going to the Mayo Clinic where he died. He is buried in Lebanon. As are his parents and a slew of other relatives. So we stopped by to say hi and cruise the dying husk of Lebanon.

The little cemetery is remarkably well maintained. It was being mowed when we were there. A small kiosk had been built with maps to every grave.
This is the Grimes’ Gas Station. For some reason, after mom’s family moved to California, they moved her house behind the station.
And this is mom’s old house. Remarkably, it’s in almost the same shape I saw it in in 2003. At the very far right is my car in the gas station.

Air Conditioning and Places Traveled

Mixed news on the A/C… it worked all day today. I called Vintage Air and they think it might be hot water leaking past the control valve. I’m thinking about a way to clamp the heater hose.

These are the states (and countries) we have visited so far!

  • Massachusetts
  • Maine
  • Vermont
  • New Hampshire
  • New York
  • Ontario, Canada
  • Pennsylvania
  • Maryland
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Ohio
  • Kentucky
  • Indiana
  • Illinois
  • Missouri

And six more to go before we get home!

Visiting Family History in Daviess County, MO

We made it to mid-America! Corn and Soy Beans everywhere! My paternal grandparents were both born in Daviess County. But with 3 star hotels in short supply, we stayed in Chilicothe. The cities of Lock Springs and Gallatin define small town America. Truly beautiful country.

Talk about small back country roads!

We stopped by Lock Springs cemetery and found my great grandmother and her parents. I couldn’t find my great grandfather at the much larger cemetery in Gallatin. But the car looks cool at both places.

Rainy Day to St. Louis

We had rain and thunder all night. Things cleared up enough for us to make the short trip to the Louisville Slugger Museum

It seems Kentucky also has a few distillery tours as well. I may be coming home with a couple of bottles.

We continued west crossing Indiana and Illinois before getting to Missouri and Central Daylight Time.

Suddenly we started seeing a lot of rods. Ultimately, we found that the Frog Follies car show was happening this weekend near Evansville, Indiana. Here’s a small sample…

As you can see, we had some rain. None real bad, but it was there.

Farewell to New Found Family

We spent the morning touring Argillite, Wurtland and Greenup. Along the way we saw this

1951 Ford 2 Door

I was pretty excited at seeing this car sitting out until we got closer. It’s actually pretty eaten up with cancer. All the windows are rolled up but the trunk was open. It’s probably had critters in it. Chrome was in bad shape. Unfortunately, it’s probably right where it should be.

We spent so long touring Kim’s family’s houses and cemeteries, we didn’t get on the road until 11:30. Our destination was Louisville. We stopped for lunch and when we started off again the A/C started acting up again. It won’t get cold. But this time it is at least cool. Funny, it was working great before the stop. After… not so much. Tomorrow we tour the Louisville Slugger Museum!

Kentucky Hospitality and Kim’s People

We drove from Gettysburg to Roanoke on Sunday to meet with Kim’s Uncle Ralph and aunt Paulette. They are incredibly gracious and giving hosts. By staying two days in Roanoke, I was able to get the A/C serviced and it’s currently working!! We also were able to visit the D-Day memorial in Bedford, VA. To understand why it’s there, read up on the Bedford Boys.

Today we travelled to Ashland, KY, where Kim’s family is from. On the way we stopped for lunch.

Apparently, Bob Evans is a thing out here!

About this time I took a peak at where the other 3 California Woodie cars were. Here’s the map.

Here’s some pictures from a small May / Hern reunion that Ralph arranged. This was at Golden Corral. My new favorite place in the whole world.

These are Kim’s people! So nice and welcoming!

A Civil War Buff’s Dream Come True

We spent the entire day touring. We hired a private guide, who had to drive the Woodie. After completing the guided tour, I took the car back out and retraced the steps again. To stand at Little Round Top and see the topography made the battle come to life for me. We went to both sides of Pickett’s Charge and I saw what they saw. I walked along a small trail that General Lee used to ride out to the returning troops to apologize. I could not have done what they did. Toward the end of our tour we made it over to a small covered bridge and I took this picture…

Long Day to Gettysburg

Today was one of the longest drives as we drove from the banks of Lake Erie, NY to Gettysburg, PA. And it was hot and humid. And my A/C failed. After we got to Gettysburg I made a trip to Auto Zone for some refrigerant. But that wasn’t the problem. Fortunately, we had some cloud cover and humidity only hit about 90% while we toured the Battlefield.

My People!!

Just a little over an hour away from Niagara Falls is the village of Fredonia in the town of Pomfret. One side of my mom’s family settled there before 1820. My 3x great grandmother died in 1845 and is buried there. So we made the short trip over and “we” (meaning Kim) did the laundry while I walked the cemeteries with the help of Ann, the local cemetery administrator.

But first we stopped on the American side of the Falls.


Ezra Thompson was only one of the dead relatives I was able to visit.

When we stooped for gas on the way out of town I spotted my favorite discount tool store,

Maine to Cooperstown

So updating a Blog takes time and sometimes things are out of order. But I’m in Niagara Falls right now and not driving the Woodie today so here’s another catch-up blog.

Here’s a picture of the 4 cars that were shipped from California and we’re all driving back. All totally different routes. What a hoot!

All going from Ogunquit, ME to California
And here’s the pinup version

Right after this picture was taken, Kim & I were off to Cooperstown!

We really focused on staying on smaller roads…

After driving through a few rainstorms we entered New York.
At one point we were briefly on a dirt road as we came into Cooperstown from the back…

Welcome to Canada!

A pretty easy trip from Cooperstown to Niagara Falls, Ontario. The roads have sported beautiful scenery and easy driving.

We drove through several rain storms, but eventually the skies cleared.
A trip outside California is a vacation from high gas prices. These are nice prices!

After about 4 1/2 hours, we arrived at Rainbow Bridge and the border. {CAPTION}

Our good friends from Toronto, Hart and Rayanne arrived at the hotel about 1/2 hour before. We are easy walking distance to the falls and Hart took this picture for us. Today the real tours!

Catching Up

We are having so much fun the only updates to the blog are those I email in.  But lots more has happened.  During the cruise the other day, we stopped at MotorLand in Arundel, Maine.  Great vintage cars on display and some for sale.  They expected 50-75 and I think double that showed up for lunch.  When I mentioned to the owner that I needed a stop light switch he offered to have it delivered to the shop and installed.  Great guys!

The cruise was amazing. What an introduction to the beauty of Maine. I cannot believe it has taken me this long to visit this area of the country.

The cars lined up for the cruise

Unbelievable day in Ogunquit

We started with a quick breakfast followed by a short drive to Wells, Maine, for the Woodies in the Cove (see previous post). After the awards there, the host club (Sonny Perkins) had arranged for a parade of cars with a police escort! Even with a bit of rain during the parade, the streets were lined with appreciative folks waving and cheering us on. We concluded the parade with a loop around Perkins Cove.

We met up back at the hotel with our new friends John and Lori (1934 Ford Woodie) and had drinks and shared some fun stories.

The day was capped with a lobster dinner at Lobster in the Rough followed by an auction. The best quote of the day came from this auction as Bill Sampson was doing his best to close the sale at the highest price: Do I have thirty dollars? Do I have thirty dollars? I have thirty dollars in the rear!

Soon to be ex-president, Bill Sampson, auctioning of the beautiful Woodie quilt

Woodies in the Cove

Great time here in Wells, Maine. Awesome weather. And I did some upfront investigation and found there was a laundromat across the street from the show so the laundry is done!

We made it to Ogunquit!

We attended a Boston Red Sox game at Fenway Park our last night in Boston. We left during the 6th inning because of an incoming storm. We got back to the hotel just as the rain started to come down. In sheets. For hours. The game was suspended in the 10th inning in a 4-4 tie. Glad we left. The car was parked outside so the valet staff could watch it. I was relieved when I opened it up this morning and my efforts to waterproof the car had paid off. It wasn’t dry, but it wasn’t the disaster I had before.

I was terrified of driving out of downtown Boston. It turns out to have been no big deal. Got on the freeway in just a couple of minutes. We were in Ogunquit 90 minutes later.

We got to open road and I set the cruise control. Several minutes later I tried to disengage it by tapping the brakes. Nothing… just kept cruising. I realized that I must have no brake lights. Sure enough, a little diagnosing at the hotel has revealed a bad stop light switch. At home, I could get this switch from 4 different places 10 minutes from house. In Ogunquit, it will be a 1 hour round trip to a store that carries them! We aren’t in California any more! {CAPTION}

On the way!

After waiting and agonizing for another week, the new shipper turned up today. I am much happier with these guys; a) they took the car and b) they seemed to really know what they were doing. Nice guys. Still, my stomach was in knots. First we put the car on top. That didn’t quite leave enough room for another car. So off it came and they backed it on the lower ramp! The air suspension helped. Without it, I’m not sure the car would have been low enough to be on the bottom.

Should be about 18,000 when I’m back home.
This was nerve wracking enough. Backing it in about killed me!
Here she is all tucked in and ready to go. There’s a bucket T behind the Woodie.

Assuming all goes well, I will have my baby back in my arms in less than a week.

False Start

A couple of days ago I got the call scheduling the pickup. Everything is ready. The car is packed, gas about half full (why buy expensive California gas?) and the car is completely serviced. Scheduled pick up was noon today. First thing this morning I made sure the tire pressures were correct. Finally the truck showed up! Right away he sees the car, mentions how nice it is and then said he was expecting a car instead of a Wagon. He said multiple times “we should be good”. When we went out to his truck he said he “should get more money for this” and asked how much I paid. Everything fell apart. He negotiated with Montway Auto Transportation then came over and said he was leaving. I sure hope Montway can find a replacement to meet my time schedule! I mean, I booked this like 2 months ago!

I’m talking to the shipping Broker after the trucker said he wanted more money.