Earlier this year Salty A members visited our meeting to officially invite us to join them during their activities and tours in the upcoming months. There were a couple of tours that really caught my interest and I started day dreaming of what it would be like to travel to those ‘exotic’ places with a more experienced touring club. Unfortunately my day dream came to a screeching halt when Bill recited the club’s rule, “if you do not think your car can make it, do not bring it.” My visions of grandeur quickly became those of upset club members standing around my car, hands on hips, tapping their feet in disgust on the side of the road. Granted my dad’s phaeton has been really good to us and we have not had any major problems yet, there is always that doubt in my mind that something will happen. Clyde later tried to encourage me saying that even the best running Model A can give out at any moment, needless to say, I ruled out the possibility of going on any of their tours. On the other hand, Clyde showed interest in going on the Wendover – Ely tour as he has taken his Model A on that route a few times.
For the next couple of months I hounded on Clyde to go as I wanted someone to go and report back to us to see what it was like to ride with the big dogs. About a week before the tour Clyde informed me that he was planning on going and that he had extra space if I wanted to go. I was excited and terrified, but came to the conclusion that if I were to travel anywhere in a Model A, Clyde would be the one I would feel most confident in traveling with. (sorry dad 🙂 )
We left Clyde’s house Thursday morning to embark on our 500 mile trip. We headed out and around the back side of Flat Top mountain where we would meet up with the Salty A’s and Beehive A’s in Tooele. Our first stop was Karl Smith’s military vehicle museum. I was expecting a typical museum filled with various exhibits and informative plaques, but was quite surprised as to what we would find. The museum was basically a large garage housing all types of military vehicles ranging from commander cars, to a Volkswagen Kübelwagen, mobile artillery, various troop transports, tanks and about a dozen half tracks equipped with any style and assortment of weapons you could think of. There was even a WWII radio controlled mine. We had the opportunity to roam around the facility and enjoy getting up close to some amazing equipment, the shear size of the equipment was astounding and some even sported a good 3″+ thick armor. The stories these vehicles could tell would be amazing!
Our next stop was the Utah Firefighters Museum located at the Miller Motorsports park. This museum is still in the making, but is coming along quite nicely. They had various displays of firefighting apparatus as well as numerous fire engines that have served all around Utah. The equipment ranged anywhere from the early 1900’s up to the late 1990’s. They even had a ’29 Model A firetruck that started out as an Air Force brush truck, later converted to a clown truck in the circus and then restored back to being a firetruck. It was quite fascinating to see the progression of the equipment and be able to compare the various engines side by side.
After visiting the museums we stopped in Grantsville to gas up the cars and get lunch before we headed out for the Salt Flats. Prior to leaving for this trip I checked Google Maps for a route to Wendover that would bypass I-80. Google provided a route but gave me a warning that the route included “restricted usage roads”, so unless we could convince the military to let us cut through Dugway, I-80 was our only option. I have read numerous horror stories of Model A’ers dying from being rear ended on the interstate and was quite leery of the idea. Although there were cars and semi trucks flying by us at 80mph I was very surprised and relieved at how well driving on the interstate went. Denny Sprecher, who was in the trouble truck, might have seen a different view as people came up on our slow moving convoy, but for the rest of us, it did not seem too bad. I do not think I would venture on the interstate on my own, but as a convoy it went well.
Although I may have crossed the Bonneville Salt Flats as a kid with the family, I could not remember much of the trip so I was kind of excited to see it. Needless to say there is not much out there to see, so I am not surprised that I did not remember much. Just a vast flat open desert of white salt that was cool in its own unique way, but very monotonous. After we passed the first little section of the flats through Skull Valley and started climbing Grassy Mountain I told Clyde that crossing the flats was not as bad as I had thought. He chuckled and told me that we had not even scratched the surface yet. As soon as we started descending the mountain I could see what he was talking about. As far as one could see looking in any direction, all you can see is the white barren landscape of salt. Okay, so it was going to be as bad as I thought. To help pass my time I decided to take some advice I was given and count the trees between Tooele and Wendover. Unless you count the sculpture “Metaphor: The Tree of Utah” as a tree, the official count is ‘0’. We did take the opportunity to stop at the sculpture in hopes of catching a good shot or two. Unfortunately my lens was not quite wide enough to get our whole convoy and the ‘tree’ in one shot.
Back on the road, we slowly watched the small mountains in the distance start to grow larger. Unfortunately about 15 miles out of Wendover the road took its first victim. Troy’s Huckster got hungry and decided to eat a couple of teeth off of its timing gear, bringing his truck to a stop. While many heads were under the hood trying to diagnose the problem, I took the opportunity to check out the salt and also grab a few shots of the A’s on the side of the road with the salt flats as their background. I was grateful for the chance to get some cool pictures, but my condolences went out to Troy as we were only on day one of our three day adventure. Although Clyde had a replacement timing gear under his seat, we did not have the proper tools to replace the gear. With that and the fact that there was no shade to be seen, the Huckster went onto the trouble trailer where it would stay for the remainder of the trip.
Our next planned stop was the air museum in Wendover, unfortunately they closed shortly before we rolled into town so we headed straight for the hotel. Although the museum would have been nice, the bed at the hotel was calling my name and it felt so good to relax for a bit. Riding in a Model A can be quite tiresome, even if I am not the one driving. After relaxing for a while we headed over to the Rainbow casino to hit the buffet. I never thought that I would admit it, but our bright orange club shirts would have been very convenient at the casino when Clyde and I were looking for a familiar face to sit next to.
To be continued……