Morgans Over America III, 2000


"Marv's Journal" - Marv's Morgan Over America Tour III

Photo taken at Bennington, Vermont during MOA III
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Comments by Vern Dale-Johnson, president of the Morgan Sports Car Club of Canada
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August 31, 2000 Arrived

Sept 1-2, San Francisco

Sept 3, San Francisco to New Orleans

Sept 4 — 9, New Orleans

VDJ notes: Rod arrived from Vancouver on the evening of Sept 4 and we’re up early on the 5 for the run down to New Orleans. Morgan is trailered as we plan to run the interstates. Only real pleasure stop is in Bowling Green Kentucky on the 6 to visit the Corvette museum — great adventure. We roll into New Orleans mid afternoon on the 7 and meet up with most of the MOA group. Introduction of Rod to Cajun food — he quickly tires of deep fried and decides “gator” tastes the same as “crawfish” but the beer is great!

Sept. 9 New Orleans to Baton Rouge (Port AlIen), 146 miles
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VDJ notes: Half an hour into this run and Rod is lost already — Isuzu nowhere in sight! He’s got Lisa with him, seems they went the wrong way on the interstate. Ginette has asked to ride with me, we take the easy route — follow the bus that says “follow me to the Jean Lafitte swamp tour” Bloody love-bugs everywhere, and into every cranny of the car. Thankfully, after the swamp tour, we see the rain bearing down on us, make a quick dash under a porch to put up the hood, then 2 minutes up the road, as we are visiting Oakwood we get drenched but the car is cleaned of bugs! Wet through the decision is no more stops on the run to Baton Rouge and the hotel to get into something dry.

Sept. 10, Baton Rouge to Vicksburg Mississippi, 161 miles

VDJ notes: This day has truly been “for the birds” We overheat (blown fuse in the fan circuit) then get a call from Ben & Judy — a buzzard has destroyed their windscreen. Rod answers his phone and we are soon all gathered to get the +8 on the trailer. That evening Ken Miles has Heniy help re-and-re his starter while George & Kathy Tollworthy have wrestled with a flat tire. Not an auspicious start to this run! Most of the Mogs get a proper wash to rid them of the remains of the “bugs”.

Sept 11, Vicksburg to Tupelo, Mississippi, 209 miles

VDJ notes: Ben’s car is trailered over to the glass man, with Keith Ahlers +8 along to both assist and as a pattern. Keith has given Rod a blast in his +8 and now we can’t wipe the grin off his face! Ease the old glass out of the frame in one piece to presenie for a pattern, straighten the frame over the knee, a new piece of glass is cut and with the help of some goo remounts with only minor cracks. This does take a couple of hours out of our morning so we’re late away. Lisa is riding with me up the Natchez trace — Indian mounds, a walk in the woods with the mozzies and horseflies, scare some buzzards from the roadside, several turkeys about, chickens, and a fox (but not together). FedEx truck tries to collect us as he corrects from a turn up an expressway off ramp. Late into Tupelo so no Elvis visit...

Sept 12, Tupelo to Chattanooga, Tennessee, 257 miles

VDJ notes: With Ginette for the day. A long drive then visits to some of the sites around Chatanooga. Rock City, Inclined Railway, and Ruby Falls. On the way to Rock City a Honda tries to collect us — 4 wheels locked as he slides across in front of me as I move left and (thankfully) sticks like a magnet to the guardrail. Another split second.... Bob Murray is right behind — he can’t believe he missed me. We keep going along with Rod with the lsuzu and trailer. A two martini evening!

Sept 13, Chattanooga to Cherokee, North Carolina, 243 miles

Sept 14, Cherokee to Ashville, North Carolina, 199 miles
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VDJ notes: Through the Smokies to Gatlinburg. Unexpected sidetrip to “Dollywood” — did Valentin Tanase forsee this? Back on the right route to chase Steve Roake (who was chasing Rod with Isuzu and trailer) around a thousand curves to the Blue Ridge Parkway — great run! Rod can’t believe the Isuzu’s handling! Pig pickins at Bull Creek Ranch hosted by Cindy & John El/er (NCMSCC member Bad Weaver’s sister). Great evening, great day.

Sept 15, Asheville to Lewisburg, West Virginia, 257 miles

VDJ notes: Ran with Ken & Pat Miles all day. Brief stop at the Martha Washington Inn in Abingdon for lunch. Arrive in Lewisburg early enough to do some laundry. Cassel Adamson, for the Virginia group joins us for dinner. Mary Coultard is AWOL, still not here at 9 pm and no message

Sept 16, Lewisburg to Flintstone Maryland, 236 miles

Sept 17, Flintstone to Mansfield, Pennsylvania, 216 miles

VDJ notes: Fog and cold til noon but not as bad as the day before — we had sleet on the high mountain drives. Front air cleaner has decomposed, no other issues...

Sept 18, Mansfield to Saratoga Springs, New York, 239 miles

VDJ notes: Early start with the Miles. Unfortunately Pam’s propane-powered +4 wouldn’t go so Rod loaded them on the trailer and along with Ginette he had 3 women to support him on the day’s run! Not a happy camper when he rolled into the Gideon Putnam Hotel, a lovely 1935 era hotel. Miraculously Pam’s woes seem to have cured themselves with the shortening of the high-tension lead so she’s off the trailer.

Sept 19, Saratoga Springs to Plattsburgh, New York, 217 miles
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VDJ notes: We visit the Adirondack museum — great display of rowing and sailboats, including sailing canoes. Up White face mountain — great test of the suspension and cooling system. Pam craps out again, this time in downtown Plattsburgh. We decide to trailer her into Montreal where there is a mechanic (than you Lome Goldman and Ron Friedman) who can work on propane systems.

Sept 20, Plattsburgh to Montreal, Quebec, 105 miles

VDJ notes: What a shit of a day! Pam’s on the trailer and we’re high-tailing it for Montreal. Roll in about 11 am to be met by Ron Friedman who takes us to his mechanic. Ivan finds a fuse problem but the propane issues linger. Lome & Audrey Goldman have invited Rod & I to lunch at the Ritz Carlton — highlight of the day! Lome leaves his +8 parked outside in the loading zone — the Concierge knows where he is. But we are interrupted by a call from Pam — Ivan can’t fix the propane system so... load Pam’s Mog back on the trailer for a “short” (read 45 minute cross-town) trip to the propane converter. Seems like they know what they’re doing so we decide to head for the hotel. Another frantic call from Pam, they can’t finish the car today. Decide to send Rod & Lisa to the hotel with the Isuzu & trailer while I head off with the OLBD!I to fetch Pam. Damn these streets are rough! Part way across the engine quits but fortunately we coast to a safe side-street stop and find the broken L. T. lead for a quick fix (rough roads have caused the radiator stays to flex so much they broke the lead!). Further on I witness the results of a couple of motorcycle street racers — one has impinged his bike under the front of a Toyota and he’s looking not too good on the tarmac 50 meters down the road. Later, with Pam on board, loaded with luggage, dodging the accident traffic, and the rain starting motorists are indicating we have a problem... unfortunately we think they’re just admiring the car...

Sept 21, Montreal to Quebec City, 156 miles

VDJ notes: Up before 5 am, can’t sleep and Rod is on a 7 am flight back to Vancouver. Roll OLBDII off the trailer (our overnight parking spot!) and with Rod head for Dorval. On the expressway... funny noises... no oil pressure. Shut her down and roll to a stop off the expressway under an overpass. Rod flags down a city bus and gets a lift to a gas station where a cab picks him up. Half an hour after I’ve pushed OLBDII onto the sidewalk, secured it, and determined the problem is an oil cooler line that has blown off it’s fitting. Probably happened the evening before but we didn’t notice. Finally been able to flag down a cab for a ride back to the hotel to pick up the Isuzu & trailer, Pam & Lisa and head out to collect OLBD!! (record time to load, in rush hour traffic) and up to Ivan’s. The shop we find to reattach the line makes no guarantees but the news seems to be the bearings are OK as there is no noise and good oil pressure. Without a driver for the chase car OLBDII’s rides to Quebec City while Pam & Lisa stay problem free.

Sept 22, Quebec City
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VDJ notes: Up early to clean off the plugs and run up the motor on the starter a couple of times to ensure we have oil well circulated. Seems OK. The day is spent touring old Quebec with Ken & Pat Miles. Find a great shirt for Rod and get all in the group to sign same. After dinner, wonder if the hose to the oil cooler is really fixed (as the shop had really crimped down hard on the old fitting). It was leaking so... with Henry’s help pulled off the oil cooler block and remounted the filter — no leaks! We hope but will know tomorrow.

Sept 23, Quebec City to Fredricton New Brunswick, 364 miles

VDJ notes: Quebec City to Toronto (a side trip!). Five miles into the day and no oil pressure (20 Ibs) so... stop and load onto the trailer, consult with Jeremy & Gill Harrison who are now driving the chase vehicle, and decide to head for Toronto. En route we’re discussing options and decide “why not the Caterham?” Call Nell Young to see if it’s running and yes, we’re on. Amanda not thrilled at the thought of entertaining us for the evening but on arrival a turkey is roasting on the spit. Get a chance to cut the lawn. Amanda not thrilled with the facial hair I’ve grown!

Sept 24, Fredricton to Truro Nova Scotia, 226 miles
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VDJ notes: Toronto to Fredricton, 959 miles. Out early, loaded up the Caterham at Neil’s then off to Montreal, down through Magog into Vermont, across from St. Johnsbury to Bangor Maine and then up to Fredricton. Having a second driver is the trick We agree that if we ever run LeMan’s it will be in an Isuzu — the car performs flawlessly, averaged almost 65 miles an hour. Arrived at 11:30 local time to a very relieved Henry.

Sept 25, Truro to Baddeck, 160 miles

VDJ notes: Up early to load Henry’s 4/4 onto the trailer. So cold the Caterham doesn’t want to start — finally give it a tug with the Isuzu & trailer. Decide right then that Jeremy gets the job of starting her first thing in the morning (experience, you know, with lots of British machinery — including a Lotus 7!). Half hour down the road and the local RCMP have lights flashing as we pull over. Jeremy does his best British excuse as the Sergeant asks if he knows the fine for doing 120 in a 90 zone — “It’s $146 plus 3 points on your license” I dig out the Isuzu’s registration but all he wants to contend with here is a warning and a caution that there are lots of radar units out so keep it down til we hit the divided highway. 4 hours later we are near Halifax & Jerry Elliot’s place (he has a racing Cortina and a newly acquired Lotus 7, Series II We get the engine out of Henry’s car then leave him to work things through. A quick run up to Baddeck in time for a lobster dinner, everyone is impressed with the replacement we’ve brought for my sick Mog.

Sept 26, Cabot Trail, Cape Breton Island, 174 miles

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VDJ notes: Others love the Caterham. Bill Buttons has to try it out and comes back with that Morgan grin from ear We do the run around Cape Breton, very rough but the Caterham has superb handling. Steve Kellerman’s +4 has died but after much deduction we think “valve” and locate a rod popped off #3 exhaust. We swap it for the intake rod and get him back on the road. A call to Jerry Elliot arid once again they come to the rescue — replacement push rods will be waiting for us at his place.

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Sept 27, Baddeck to Halifax, 224 miles

VDJ notes: Eventful morning — Pam’s propane distributor arrives back at the hotel, frozen! Through deduction, Jeremy diagnoses an air lock in her cooling system. Sure enough, we clear the block, fill her up with antifreeze and she’s off in convoy with us and Steve Kellerman to Jerry Elliot’s where we find Henry “whole” again. We celebrate that evening with the BA TANS group, including MSCCC member Stuart Clare who has helped get us connected with Jerry Elliot.

Sept 28, Halifax to Digby, 209 miles

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VDJ notes: Caterham off the trailer for the drive to Peggy’s Cove, Lunenberg (for lunch) and Liverpool (a photo op for Jeremy & Gill). Jeremy & Gill drive Hwy 8 across to near Annapolis Royal but as it turns cold and begins to rain we reload the Caterham for a diy drive into Digby. Jim Fisher of the BA TANS group arranges for dinner at the RWNSYC — he and his wife Hannelore become members. Henrick Rens surprises us with his presence in Digby, with his Morgan!

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Sept 29, Digby to Bar Harbour Maine, via Yarmouth and the “Cat”, 65 driven miles
VDJ notes: Beanie Baby hunt on to find Jeremy his “bears” — success, one Gloiy! Run through Bar Harbour with Henrick who will be heading home in the morning.

Sept 30, Bar Harbour to Augusta, Maine, 178 miles

VDJ notes: On the road out of Bar Harbour make a “quick” stop when / spot a “Ty” sign. A Beanie reseller. Jeremy has a field day adding to his collection. As always, the question is “did I pay too much?” Emile has major tire wear problem on the right front — looks like too much toe in. A brand new Michelin has been reduced to scrap in less than 3 weeks.

Oct 1, Augusta to Mt. Washington, New Hampshire, 189 miles

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VDJ notes: Drove Pam’s car while she tried out Lisa’s new +8. The car is hunting all over the road, must be a “toe out” problem. Up Mt. Washington in the Isuzu with Jeremy & Gill — tried out low range 1st & 2 to preserve the brakes on the decent. Great old hotel at Bretton Woods — worth the visit and take the cog railway!

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Oct 2, Mt. Washington to White River Junction, Vermont, 177 miles

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VDJ notes: We decide on a side trip to do some quick “outlet” shopping. Hit the Black & Decker and Levi’s shops. Caterham then off the trailer for the run from Conway to White River Junction — great afternoon. Keith offers me a blast in his 99 +8 — this machine is very well sorted out!

Oct 3, White River Junction to Bennington Vermont, 185 miles

Fall colours in Vermont

VDJ notes: Lisa issues the invitation to me to “chauffeur” her in her +8. You gotta be kidding! Of course! Drove it all day, what a fabulous car! We need one of these for LD driving — with the same comforts. Emile reports in on his "alignment" problem. Seems when his mechanic replaced a front spindle the alignment wasn’t reset — total toe-in was over 1 inch when it should have been a bit over l/8 inch. There will be a little discussion back in San Francisco regarding compensation for at least one new Michelin!

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Oct 4, Bennington to Newburgh Vermont, 129 miles

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VDJ notes: Just Jeremy, me, and the Caterham as Gill has gone shopping. Ran the Caterham until the Hudson Shaker Village then rain suggested we trailer it the rest of the day. Visited the fabulous Rhinebeck Aerodrome (but didn’t see their 3-wheeler). Made a stop at the Vanderbilt Mansion and as we were leaving saw Jim Nichol scooting in the Mansion so we followed him in — made Jeremy’s day! At the hotel, Jim arrived in his +4 along with 3 other local owners. Jim Dickson’s 4/4 is a real gem — he rebuilt it himself having one of his suppliers fabricate a SS frame, scuttle, etc. Looks beautiful and runs as well. Fred Cohen has trouble getting away after the visit so we (Henry mostly) get to work and narrow it down to a sticky carb piston. This is cleaned up and they are on their way. Great to see Jim Nichol, unfortunately the trike incident at MOG 30 left him with broken ribs making starting the trike over the last couple of months next to impossible but he’s now mended and back enjoying all his Morgans.

Oct 5, Newburgh to Hershey Pennsylvania, 203 miles

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VDJ notes: As most of the run is freeway we elect to leave the Caterham on the trailer. Do get some backs roads around Stroudsburg and the Delaware Water Gap. Actually glad the Caterham is on the trailer as these roads are really rough. In one back alley we encounter a flock of wild turkeys — 8 or 9 running along the road in front of us. Also several deer to keep it interesting. By the time we hit the expressways we are ready for a straight run into Hershey, arriving early in the afternoon. Unload and take a tour of the car corral — some Brits: 100/4, 3000, TR6, MGA’s, TD’s & TF’s, XKE’s and a beautiful American Austin Bantam... near the end of the day a black +4 DHC is delivered, ex Betty Neich car with a DC badge. Came from her estate, SN 68333. They are asking US$28,000 for it — interior looks original, some bodywork has been done but definitely more to do, runs well. We tell the vendor to think about the low 20’s.

Oct 6 — 7, Hershey Pennsylvania

VDJ notes: Up early on the 6 and into the quagmire — yes it is best to wear Wellies if you are going to do the swap meet at Hershey! Most stalls are opening up by 8 am, Jeremy & I walk until 3 pm, covered maybe 1/3 of the ,,place. A few fasteners, bulbs, used % in ratchet, cleaning materials, trailer bits, but little Brit stuff On the 7t Jeremy & I decide to do the concours field. Great vehicles, especially the American Austin Bantam’s, Cord’s, Auburn’s. Met 2 Morganistes — one from the MCCDC and the other an older +8 owner who may... start his restoration. I try to talk him into selling.. . Maybe? Last stop is the car corral to see how the DHC has fared. It is gone but the vendor is there — “What did it go for?” we ask. “$28000” is the reply. We shake our heads in wonder. This is Hershey.

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The banquet is great closure on a great trip. Lots of new friends, lots of new understanding of what makes this hobby such fun! Received a note from brother Rod to read out. His 6 points are:
1) Weather is awesome in Vancouver
2) Enjoyed the trip. Never to be forgotten.
3) Love Japanese engineering & reliability
4) The Isuzu was great
5) Thanks to all of the crew. Reinforces my belief that all Morgan trips should be group affairs.
6) Enjoyed the company, the back roads and the reinforcement that the trip is the joy and not just the destination.
My conclusion echoes Rod’s - great country, great organization by Steve, Kathy, Elaine, Steve, and Keith. Many thanked me for bringing the Isuzu & trader — it was a pleasure to help and for me a blessing when we needed to run OLBDII’s home. Would I do it again? You betcha! We’re even talking about maybe, just maybe including a run around lakes Ontario, Erie and the southern shores of Michigan in the next MOA in

Oct 8, Hershey to San Francisco

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VDJ notes: I’m on my way early. An hour up the road the phone rings, it’s Pam. She asks if I’m still on duty — “No Pam, I’m an hour north of Hershey heading for home”. She’s an hour west and says “it has just stopped”, then adds “this is a hoax, I'm sitting here with Jeremy - he told me to call you!” ... now it's time to think about home. Roll in late in the afternoon but enough time to clean up the Caterham and deliver it back to Neil, in one piece! Thanks, Neil. Next time you’ve got to be part of the run...

Notes from the East from the GoMoG website


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