The Brazen Hussy and Friends Go to the Rose Parade By George P.
Claudette (my lovely bride) decides that we should see the Rose Parade at least once before I die. (OK! Reasonable suggestion.)
Claudette (my beautiful wife) thinks that going in our 1967 Airstream 17½ foot trailer would be a cosy way to do it. (Cosy is good. I'm listening.)
Claudette (my resourceful mate) finds out that the Wally Byam Caravan Club International (aka WBCCI - the Official Airstream Owners' Club) is going to have a rally in Pasadena for the Rose Parade. 25 trailers max. (Hmmm.)
Claudette (my friendly companion) discovers that Jim and Lynn G., Airstream owners and fellow RACC members, are going to go to the Rose Parade and the WBCCI rally sounds good to them. (I'm done - cooked - finished - no chance - shut up and smile George.)
Claudette (ever the clever one) suggests that the Brazen Hussy would be the perfect tow vehicle for Bessie. (Bessie is her name for the Airstream. Now I'm really trapped. I've been preparing the Hussy for towing the Airstream. But not necessarily 1000 miles to Pasadena and back.)
SOOOO - on Monday, December 27, 2010, Bessie is hooked up behind the Brazen Hussy and after a late start (isn't that always the case), amid threatening rain clouds, with Puck (our 4 year old, 12 pound, Bichon Friese guard dog) sitting in Claudette's lap, we depart. (Puck is in Claudette's lap because there is no space inside the Hussy. It's like a telephone booth – only harder to get into – ask Claudette. On second thought, please don't!)
At this point I must digress. I am a class A, number one, large, worry-wart. I cover this up under the guise that I'm planning well. So what am I worried about? I'm not worried about the Hussy towing Bessie (much). We've done it before - to Columbia (CA) and back - no problems. I'm not worried about the Brazen Hussy breaking down (much). She's done that too. What I'm really worried about is the GrapeVine. Not only is the GrapeVine steep, but the weather at this time of year is very unpredictable. Will the Brazen Hussy be able to tow her friend up 4000 feet, in traffic, with everybody looking? Is it going to rain (or more likely - snow)? Am I going to be standing beside the road, with icicles dripping from my nose, looking like the idiot that I really am? Only one way to find out!
It's dark and raining when we pull off of Hiway 5 for dinner at Harris Ranch. A long and tedious ride with no problems (so far), but I'm done in. (Worrying does that to me.) At dinner we find out that you can dry camp (now there's an oxymoron - dry camping in the rain) in the Harris Ranch parking lot, for free. (Dry camping, for you wooses who don't know, means that you have no water, electrical or sewer hook-ups - just you and your bed, battery, holding tanks and a propane heater, roughing it in a warm, dry, aluminum can.)
We get in touch with Lynn and Jim. Impossible as it sounds, they started even later than we did. They suggest that we turn-in as they aren't sure when they will get to Harris Ranch. So, it is the next morning when we see Jim out walking Ozzie, their 4 month old, Australian Sheppard puppy. (Puppy? That cutie-pie is 45 pounds of the best behaved, AKC, young man you've ever seen.) Now Puck is very happy. It has stopped raining. Life begins to look good and breakfast even better. Jim says he will follow us. Cool - I like being the pod leader. (Oh-ooh, I forgot about the GrapeVine. And they are going to be behind me. Oh no! More to worry about. Not about Jim and Lynn - their rig is super cool. I'm worried about breaking down and people we know will be looking. This is stupid! I've broken down and half the club has been looking. So what's new.)
About an hour later we hit the GrapeVine. It's clear and sunny (one worry down - thousands to go). I slow from 62 mph and tuck in behind a doubles rig that is hauling at 55 in the third lane. After a couple of miles I'm starting to relax. Maybe we're going to do it. All the gauges read normal. Everything sounds good. I look in the side mirror - where's Jim? He's way the hell back there. Later, I learn that he's sane and doesn't feel like pushing it. (These normal, intelligent people take all of the fun out of it. What the hell is a hot rod for? Trailer - what trailer?) Jim catches up with me after we crest the summit and now my big worry is LA traffic. (Hey - if I'm not worrying, what am I else am I going do - be happy?)
At 1:45, after some surprisingly easy driving, we arrive at the Pasadena Unified School District Administration Building parking lot - our camp ground for the next four nights. (Hey kids, don't knock it. Half a block away is Trader Joe's and Macy's; we're 4 blocks from Colorado Avenue (the parade route); 3 dinners and 4 breakfasts are provided - and we're hidden away from traffic amid school buildings where the kids are on vacation and best of all - toilets. Total cost - $328.)
Of course, the shiny, two tone green, hot rod Ford pick-up and the cute, polished aluminum, Airstream trailer make a big entrance. (Why do you think I'm willing to worry so much. Sure, I've got an ego - and the empty wallet to match.) Jim and I get el primo parking spaces and I don't make an ass of myself backing up. Jim? - hey, he's a pro - no problem. Of course, the guys have to do the setup, while the girls take care of the dogs, answer all of the questions and show off the interiors of the trailers. Jim and Lynn's rig is brand new and much nicer than our old babe, but everyone is polite and welcoming.
Happy hour starts at 4:30 or so - just like an RACC gig - eat, drink and be merry. (Unlike an RACC cocktail hour, there's no one telling lies – at least I think so. ) We are glad that we have had good training - we fit right in. The host club has had a big (30 by 40) tent set up and dinner is served in comfort, but coolness. A storm is coming our way.
The first night and most of Wednesday it rains, but between our cosy aluminum cans, the tent and the friendly people - who cares. Wednesday is spent flopping around, fixing things and shopping. Jim and Lynn decide they are up for going to see the Peterson Auto museum and Jim is even willing to drive. It is well worth the trip. If you're a gear-head this is one place you don't want to miss. Back at the parking lot there are a couple of propane catalytic heaters, booze, friendly people and enough munchies for an army - everything is warm and makes a nice end to the day.
About this Rose Parade - it ain't just a parade. It's a multi-day happening. There is the band fest at the local community college football field (the bands will knock your socks off - 350 to 500 musicians in each band and they are incredible - there's a bagpipe band and one of the pipers is Mike Carr, Pat's brother - small world). Then there's the float decorating, the museums and the famous houses. There is too much for normal people. But who said we're normal? We're Roamin' Angels.
And there's the night before the parade. The day before the parade people start getting their spots. And the city has rules. Chairs can be placed out-of-the-way, beside the sidewalks, but can't block pedestrian flow. Chairs must be no wider than 24 inches. But that ain't nothin' - it's the bleachers surrounded by chain-link fences with port-a-potties. There must be a million of them – everywhere – even on bridges. At a specified time, on the day before the parade, the chairs can be placed on the sidewalks at the very edge of the streets. People bring out their beds, blankets, heaters and, if the cops don't catch them, their favorite warm-up fluid. People guard their places all through the night. Our group drew straws to guard our chairs from Friday noon until 8:30 AM on Saturday, the day of the parade. We got from midnight to 2 AM. HAPPY NEW YEAR!! Cops were everywhere. About 1 AM there was a big fight about half a block away. 10 cop cars, 2 ambulances and the police helicopter with a BIG searchlight. That'll keep you awake!!
The parade lasts about 2 and 1/2 hours. Only 1 float got towed. (Bruce B., who used to work for Fiesta Floats building floats, insists it wasn't one his ex-company built. Yeah, sure Bruce! Hey, you're the one who told me that the company went to hell-in-a-hand-basket after you left.) There were so many great bands. And there are more horses than at the Draft Horse Classic. And of course, the biggest hit of all are the pooper scoopers. They are fabulous in their white coats - 1 broom, 1 shovel, and 1 rolling garbage can following every group of horses. Lets hear it for the pooper scoopers!
At the end of the parade there are 50,000 tow trucks, rolling along, blowing their horns, blasting their sirens and emitting more diesel fumes into the air than you'd ever want to breathe. Time to get out of Dodge!
We got rolling at about 1 PM. Immediately, the Brazen Hussy started acting up. She's back-firing, no power, acting like she was missing on at least one cylinder - maybe more. Of course I go into panic mode. We pull off the freeway and try to find a gas station. Jim and Lynn are following us. Here are these two Airstreams wandering around the doubtful city streets, Claudette is using the GPS to find a station and I'm acting like a jerk. It's a wonder 3 people didn't kill me. In the gas station there is no help. I check the plugs, wires, etc. and manage to burn myself 50 times. What to do? Maybe it's a case of bad gas. Probably it's karma - getting even for all of my ego-tripping.
Decision - let's keep going and see what happens. Out on the Hiway 205 we go. It takes forever to get up to speed, but once there she will drive at 55 - 62 without any real problem. Then we get to Hiway 5. I make a complete ass of myself. I can't decide whether to take the truck route, pull off the hiway, or keep going - so I do none of the above. I turn off onto what turns out to be a section of freeway under construction with a dead end. Traffic on Hiway 5 is zooming by on the left on the other side of a fence. Trucks are zooming by on the right on the other side of another fence. Jim and Lynn are following behind me wondering what has this idiot managed to get us into. (Oh - I forgot to tell you - I'm a great pod leader. Ask the people in Pod 4.)
OK - if I going to be an ass, let's really be an ass. I make a U-turn and drive back down the road. When I get to the end of the fence I turn right and go right into traffic on Hiway 5. Jim doesn't really have a choice, so he does the same, but I can hear him swearing a quarter of a mile away.
Boy-oh-boy - now I really have something to worry about. Hiway 5 traffic, the GrapeVine, a sick truck, a pissed-off wife and two ex-friends behind me. Hell, even Puck doesn't like me.
We manage to get over the GrapeVine - in clear weather too. A fill-up of gas doesn't help. Keep on truckin' has a new meaning. At 5:45 we pull into Harris Ranch, set-up for the night and go to dinner. Claudette, Jim and Lynn are being nice to me. Maybe time has softened the angry edges.
The next day we go onward - the sick Hussy doing 60-62. By now I'm resigned to the fact that if the engine blows it would only be fitting. We stop in Los Banos at the Airstream dealer to look at the new - and bigger - Airstreams, but the salesman figures were a bunch of losers and goes back to reading his book. We go onward to Sac-o-tomatoes for lunch. I do it again while looking for a restaurant – an unscheduled tour of some crappy part of Sacramento. (I'm sorry Jim and Lynn, if I had brains, I'd be dangerous.)
We finally wave good-bye to Jim and Lynn around 5:30 at Empire and 49. I think they are happy to see me go.
Some final thoughts;
Jim and Lynn were the most wonderful companions. I'd go anywhere with them again (if they'd let me - they might opt for Claudette and Puck - and get rid of me).
Worry-warts do have some luck - Sunday, as we were coming back from Harris Ranch, the GrapeVine got clobbered - snow, ice and traffic stuck for hours.
Travel time down: 9 hours. 462.6 miles. Gas consumed: 38.856 gallons. Miles per gallon: 11.9. Travel time back: 13 hours, 15 minutes, including 2 lengthy stops. 487.2 miles, including 2 detours. Gas consumed 40.02. Miles per gallon: 12.2. WHAT??? Sick engine and better gas mileage? Go figure. (The statistics above are for Karen S.)
After an accounting, the host club decides to return $60 to us. They didn't spend all of what they had collected. So that makes the cost of the camping, meals, etc. $268. OK, I can live with that.
Oh - the engine. Master engine man, David Brown, found that the distributor hold-down was a piece of junk and that the distributor wasn't being held down. The Brazen Hussy purrs again and is more than ready to bring Bessie along.
Me - I'll find something new to worry about.
Brazen Hussy & Friends at the Rose Parade • Buzzards Racing Receive Bonneville Trophy
Collector Car Meeting • The Plan • Pontiac Progress • Legislative Update
California Traffic Tickets Fines • Calendar