Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Down On The Street

Following up last week's Down On The Street, neighborhood edition with another slow-moving chunk of German iron.
Easily mistaken for a washing machine sitting on the street is this 1991 VW Vanagon (aka T3) Carat. This was the last year for a rear-engined VW van, the layout having run it's course over a 41 year span.
Allie and I really wanted one of these when we were first married, but at the time couldn't afford one. This example has the "Multivan" seating configuration that our EuroVan has. Two rear-facing jump seats, a table mounted to the driver's side in the passenger compartment and a rear seat that folds into a bed.
Sure looks better than the VW/Dodge Routan ("Crouton"). 100x more character too.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Propane and Propane Accessories

For once Allie and I were actually on the receiving end of someone's move. With every major move we've made, many household items were either given away, or sold off cheaply. Most of these things were either deemed too large or no longer needed; stuff like lawnmowers, gardening tools and furniture.

While we were sad to see our across-the-street neighbors pick up and move back to Florida after eleven months of California residency, it was very nice of them to present us with some of their propane-powered castoffs.

First up was a nice patio set and outdoor fireplace. The neighbors were certain that it wouldn't fit in their U-Haul.

I know of a certain dad who's going to spend plenty of time watching "caveman TV" when he visits later this summer.

Second up was a less-than-a-year-old grill.

Since I just bought a new grill last May, I don't need it. Offered to a few friends at work, but everyone is pretty much set - so after a thorough cleaning - onto Craigslist it goes.

Anyone want to buy it? (NEVERMIND - it sold Sat afternoon) I'll cut you a deal...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Pulse Jet-Powered Electra

Very cool!

More on the rocket bike here.

Down On The Street

Another cool (to me anyway) old German car in my neighborhood. A W123-body Mercedes 240D. Produced when engineering trumped electronic doo-dads, W123s are arguably the best constructed mid-size Mercedes Benz models ever made.
240Ds have a special place in my heart. Sure, it looks like an old-man's car with the painted hubcaps and dog-slow 64HP diesel motor (the indestructible OM616 4-cylinder), but I racked up many miles in one of these during a high school job as a porter at a Mercedes/Porsche/Audi dealership.
These cars feel like they were carved from a solid chunk of granite - and they've held up well too. The dealership's was dark blue and had about 250k on the clock but still looked and ran great. I should have checked the clock in this one, I bet it has over 300k.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Vintage Madison Postcard

A great image of one of my favorite parts of the Yahara Lakes. Looking south from the Yahara channel out onto Lake Monona. At the opposite end of the channel, cutting across Madison's Isthmus, are the Tenney Locks. A fun trip to make by boat. This card was never mailed - no notes on the back.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Board Meeting

Had fun with Celeste this afternoon at Carlsbad State Beach - she took her first stab at bodyboarding (I've also called it "California Sledding"). She really enjoyed it - was squealing in delight as the waves pushed her to shore. But after one incident where the board slipped out from underneath her, making her tumble in the wash, she was done for the day.

Note - put surf wax on her board next time. And don't send her out on a bigger wave.

Freedom Day

Satire from The Onion

Friday, June 19, 2009

VW California Biker

From the LA Times - "A Dream Van Come True"

A perfect van for my lifestyle.

Californian? Check (but that sounds odd).

"Biker"? Check (although "cyclist" is the preferred term).

Diesel *and* manual for 30 MPG? Sign me up!

Too bad they won't sell it here - not that I could afford the steep price tag anyway.



Nothing like a fresh set of premium Bilstein HDs to drastically improve the ride quality and performance of a VW Eurovan. After 8 years of suspending the heavy half of 4500 lbs of German schteel, Klaus' front dampers were getting soft. The van's front end would dive when braking and various clunking noises emanated from the front suspension when going over even the smallest sections of broken pavement.

Picked this slightly used pair up on VWVortex for a whopping $60 (vs. $250 or so new) and had them installed today. Much better-controlled movements. Should have been done months ago.

C is for Celeste

And it's made of Legos.
Part of the WELCOME sign at LegoLand California. Good thing her name isn't Wilma - that W looked hard to climb on.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Down On The Street

There are a number of interesting cars in my 'hood. Maybe not interesting to most people, but cars I'd love to have in my own personal fleet. Here's one of 'em...

"A2" Jettas are my favorite. Sold in the US from 1985-1992 with the GLI being most-sporting. Much more character than the current models.
This 16v GLI is owned by a VW enthusiast who is also a service writer at a local dealer. Looks great with round lights and 16" BBS wheels.
Maybe I'm partial to this era of Jetta because of my dad's great 1985 Jetta Diesel that was part of my youth. Even though it was saddled with a 52 HP diesel, with a 5-speed, sunroof and all-too-important tape deck, it was a lot of fun for a teenage driver.
The owner knows to call me if he wants to sell...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Five Perfect Things - Driving Albums

Summer is here - and that means road trips. My favorite driving albums are guitar based and either long or twangy. But all have great song cycles with no tracks to skip. These albums have been an essential part of driving thousands of miles across the US over the years.

Uncle Tupelo - Anodyne
Whiskeytown - Strangers Almanac
Grant Lee Buffalo - Fuzzy
Pell Mell - Interstate
The Rolling Stones - Exile on Main Street

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Carlsbad Postcard

Quick cell phone snapshot of the Canon Road strawberry fields and Agua Hedionda (the least-pronounceable of the area lagoons), taken during today's lunch ride.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Torrey Pines Beach Day

Some friends from Monona (who now live in Texas) were in town for an extended weekend. Allie's was happy to have her friend Rebecca her just as Celeste was thrilled to have her friend Anna.

I started out my Saturday with a group ride out at Daley Ranch in Escondido. There's a crew of 5 guys who ride just about every Saturday - exclusively on 29ers, most of which are single speeds. Had a great ride and met some new friends.

After lunch we packed up Klaus and drove down to Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. Allie and Rebecca did some hiking while I hung out with the girls down on the beach.

Another kid on the beach found a long strand of giant kelp. He kept a 30-40' whip-like strand and gave Celeste and Anna a gas bladder and a leaf.

A giant kelp gas bladder. Naturally filled with air (CO2?) to help keep the kelp upright.

Mermaid or kelp-girl?

mmm... beach sushi
Fun in the waves...
What the heck, more kelp. This time normal-size.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Down On The Street

I had to take a little trip down to San Diego this afternoon. While stopped at a light, this diminutive car grabbed my attention.
Why it's a Fiat 500.

I'm familiar with the new generation 500. Launched in 2007, it's a modern take on the classic Fiat Cinquecento. Very much like what BMW did with the Mini brand back in the early 00s ("the zips").

Thanks to Fiat's recent takeover of Chrysler, these cool little cars should be available here late next year. Build your own 500 at Fiat's 500 microsite. Like the Mini, it's very customizable.

So what's this one doing in the US? At first I assumed it was a manufacturer's media car. But look closely and you see a Mexican license plate. Yup, it's sold south of the border. One of the cool things about living here is seeing the odd Mexican-market cars from time to time. Small pickup trucks from Chevy and Ford (like the VW Rabbit pickup of the early 80s) and Renaults have been spotted over the past few months.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Sunday Afternoon Trip to the North Ponto

Ahh, a sunny break from June Gloom. Since I had to work half a day today, running bikes up to a photographer in LA, we didn't have a full day to do much in the way of exploring. So we took advantage of the nice weather and headed out to Carlsbad's North Ponto beach after lunch.

Roll with the pix...
looking north, venerable Encinas power plant in distance

take your parrots to the beach day

findin' stuff
beached mermaid?

spa treatments
how can you visit the beach and NOT bury a kid?
sand makes everything better

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Things I Miss About Madison pt. VII

Mounds Pet Food Warehouse.

Yep, I miss a pet food store. But Mounds is unique. In an industry dominated by one lame mega-chain (PetSmart) and an even lamer one (San Diego-based Petco), it was refreshing to visit the east Madison store a couple of Saturdays per month to get some noms for the dog(s). Humble and unassuming, the east Mounds would invariably have numerous other dogs checking out the chow and the good selection of durable toys.

Their propane refilling station was key to many grilling sessions. Unlike the scammers at Home Depot and AmeriGas, your 20# tank would actually be filled to capacity. HD and AmeriGas reduced their fills over the summer to 15# - for the same price I'd pay for 20# at Mounds. The 3/4 "fills" are one of the reasons we keep burning through the propane (the other reason being the mild weather).

And I can't forget the best thing about Mounds - you couldn't leave the store without 2-3 bite size Mounds candy bars.

Vintage Green Lake Postcard

Time for another postcard in the series. This one shows many of Green Lake's natural features - including Lone Tree Point, Sandstone Bluff, Sliding Rock (top right image - not labeled) and the same deer that is pictured on a number of my vintage Green Lake Postcards - like this one.

Nothing too exciting on the back side, just addressed to Clarence Netting of Hausfield, Ohio. Postmarked Aug 22, 1906.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Joe and the Boat - Genva Lake, WI

Joe and his family have certainly been enjoying the Aqua Fury / Dragonfly - my old 1957 Thompson Deluxe Sea Coaster.

Over Memorial Day Weekend she was put into familiar waters - Wisconsin's Geneva Lake (aka Lake Geneva). During my tenure as owner, it probably saw about 5-7 trips on Wisconsin's second deepest natural lake.

As far as we know, the boat was never used to tow water skiers or tubers by her previous owners (me and the Swans). Joe's kids got quite the workout in the chilly water being tugged around by the two stroke 1959 Johnson Super Sea Horse 35 (falsely labeled as "Super Quiet").

Look closely and you'll see her at the end of the last of the docks at the Riviera.

zoomed in

It's hard for me to look at these pics and not think that the boat is still mine. I feel like it's just another toy we left back in the Midwest to be picked up someday.