Chicagoland MG Club
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Fall Color Tour - Part 1
October 13, 2002
A letter to the Chicagoland MG Club:
I can’t tell you how nice it is to be connected to your members via your excellent web site. Three years ago, my wife and I moved from the north side of Chicago (Wilmette, IL) to the "country" (Darlington, WI).
We use to take Sunday drives up Sheridan Road, especially in the fall to enjoy the color of the leaves turning red, gold, rust, and so on. While we live in an incredibly beautiful area, one gets busy and doesn’t always take advantage of the beauty around them. I recently have been building a 12x40’ workshop so that I could continue working on my favorite project, my ’69 MG B Tourer. Up until I finished (well, almost), it has been all time consuming. I realized that it had gotten to the point that I had not had the MG out for a year. Then, I noticed your advert for a Fall Color Tour right up in my neck of the woods.
I told my wife, we should really go on this. She proceeded to remind me that our church was having its annual Dinner, and I was slated for dish-washing duty. Then, she said if you want to go, I will fill in for you. Needless to say, the idea of going was looking better all the time. I knew there was a reason I fell in love with her.
So, I went down to my local NAPA dealer and bought a new battery. Next, I opened the shed door and looked at my somewhat forlorn’d looking MG. It had gotten covered partially with some hay that had fallen down from the loft above. I thought, Oh Great, if I die today, someone will find my car and end up telling how they discovered it in a barn in Wisconsin. Well, I couldn’t let that happen.
I installed the new battery. I then pulled on the choke, turned the key and waited for the sound of the electric fuel pump to begin ticking. Nothing! I checked the battery connections and gave each a twist. Yep, it needed a little tightening on the negative terminal. I finished, turned around, said a little prayer and turned on the ignition. Oh, yesssssss.
After the ticking slowed down, I cranked for a ten count. Then, I did it again. Not a pop. Once more, and it coughed. My heart started to race. Again, I tried one more time. It coughed and fired. The last time, it began on two cylinders and then all four kicked in. I pulled off the parking break and left the barn, literally.
After pulling it around to my garage, I blew off the remaining hay, then, I washed it. She was ready. Yes, she. As masculine a car as an MG is to me, especially with a glass pack on the exhaust, she is still too much of a personality to not realize that personality is feminine. Anyone that doesn’t keep up with maintenance realizes that their MG will become a "She who must be obeyed..."
Now, it was time to contact the MG club and see if I could join them?
I sent Mike Olson an email asking if I could join the tour? He was gracious enough to invite me along, even if I wasn’t a member. But, after having met many of the members, I somehow wasn’t surprised by the graciousness.
On the day I was to pick up the group in Warren, I was so eager I left an hour too early. I realized that I was really excited about driving my MG. I had filled the tank the day before and was ready to go. Knowing that I had made it to and from the gas station encouraged me for the tour day. I pulled out of the drive and headed to Warren, IL.
Oh joy. As each mile passed I knew this was going to work. Slowly, the engine reached tune, and it just sounded better and better. By the time I got to Warren, we were ready. I shut off the engine to wait across the street from Casey’s fill-up station with the almost certain knowledge that it WILL start again.
At about 11:30, the group arrived. After a short rest and refuel stop, we were off - and running. It appeared that the group was behind schedule for lunch in Galena. As I was doing 55 mph, the "Flying Dutchman" passed me like I was standing still. My only excuse is that we, no I, go slower out in the country. I picked up the pace, much to the relief of those behind me, I’m sure. The fun part was to sightsee and go fast safely (sound familiar?).
I was relieved when we got to the golf course parking lot in Apple River Canyon for a brief respite. I must admit I was enjoying the cacophony of sound that was coming from my solid lifters in proper adjustment at high speed. That, and the view from inside the cockpit kind of reminded me of being in an old Spitfire fighter plane. I especially enjoy tapping on the oil gauge and tachometer to get them working. My radio had a blown fuse, but who cares. After all, the car looked pretty good and was running well. Also, there was no rain or snow and the weather was really like fall weather should be - yes?
I must admit that I admired the courage and fortitude of those who were riding with the top down. It was a bit nippy. I chickened out and kept my top on and used the heater. Yes, it worked and the control valve was new and not leaking. Life was good.
We departed after 15 minutes and the driving got more intense. Jeez, and I use to race. Oh well, our next stop was at Christmasinthevalley (.com - a little bit faster way to get there). They offered snacks and hot apple cider which I’m sure hit the spot for many of the drivers and passengers. After 20 minutes, we were off again. Our next stop was Scales Mound, the highest point in Illinois. As the sign says, "Jesus Saves". I guess this means that we were at the closest point in Illinois to Heaven. The scenery seemed to indicate this.
The last part of the trip to Galena went pretty quickly. When we arrived, Galena was jammed because of its "Fall Festival". If you could find a spot, it probably cost a fiver to park. I know I had to park in the lumberyard at the other end of town and hike to Boone’s for lunch. It was just as packed as the rest of town. As we were eating, "Cowboy" came in and visited. He had to leave to wire up his exhaust system. Typical of these race drivers!
Finally, it was time to leave. I had to get back to see if my wife needed help washing dishes. I can only say that I had a great time and wish to thank everyone for their graciousness. You have a great club and I wish you all the very best from a non-member. Also, "go fast safely".
John H. Hastie - Darlington, WI
See more photos at: www.chicagolandmgclub.com/photos/falltour02