My Search For American Muscle – Part II

Hello again, and welcome to another addition of My Search For American Muscle!  I’m back with another interesting story of how I am shopping for a classic muscle car and why I probably will never own one!  Time to kick some more tires – virtually this time.

In the last episode I wrote about my admiration for the GM A body cars (Malibu/Chevelle, Skylark/GS, LeMans/GTO, Cutlass/442) and chose for my first look-see a 1967 Oldsmobile Cutlass 442 convertible.  This bad boy was local and looked great on the internet, but wasn’t quite what I wanted when I went to see it.  In retrospect, maybe my expectations were too high. Maybe that car would have been just fine for me. Maybe I should have bought it. I could be out in the garage polishing the fenders right now and worrying about a shovel falling on it. I guess I will never know, as the car was sold and off the seller’s website within a week. The seller said that he bought and sold them quickly. That ain’t no lie.  Oh well, it’s gone.  You can read about the 442 in Part I here:  My Search For American Muscle – Part I

 

PART II – The 1967 Plymouth GTX

Although I really do like the GM cars from the muscle car era, I don’t limit myself to just GM.  I can admire something about all of the offerings from the Big Three, as they all took a turn dominating the muscle car era.  When I was a kid the first car I remember my parents buying new was an 1972 Plymouth Sport Fury Suburban station wagon.  I was playing with my friends “down the street” as I always referred to it back then, and was on my way home on my Schwinn for dinner and saw that we had company.  But it wasn’t company; my dad had purchased a new station wagon that afternoon.  I can remember pretty vividly pedaling down the path to my house and seeing it for the first time.  Pretty exciting stuff.  

If you are not familiar with 70’s station wagons, they were huge and fun to play in as a kid.  Three rows of seats, with the back seat facing backward so you could make faces at the driver of the car behind you, which we did constantly.  

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This isn’t our car, but looks just like the one we had in the same color.  The fake wood grain is falling off this one too.
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The door could swing open or fold down and it had little footpads on the bumper.  Imagine a 10 year old me with a Moe Howard haircut staring at you from that window.

We drove that Plymouth everywhere, I think we even drove it to the top of Pike’s Peak in Colorado on vacation one year as well.  It wasn’t long before Dad acquired another Plymouth.  I believe it was a ’66 or ’67 Satellite/Belvedere or possibly a Fury sedan, I don’t really remember the details well.  I do remember that it was white with a light blue interior.  Dad did some welding work on a sign that Mr. Skiniotis was having him build for a used car lot they were starting in town, and I think he bartered with them to get the Plymouth.  The details are kind of fuzzy after 45 plus years, but it was a cool car and Plymouth was definitely leaving an imprint on my youth.  

 

THE PLYMOUTH/DODGE B BODY

Okay, so now you know that I do have a liking for Plymouth and particularly what were called B bodies.  The B bodies included many cars from Plymouth and Dodge, but the really cool B bodies were those produced between 1968 through 1970, and they were lead by the likes of the Charger (think Dukes of Hazzard’s General Lee), Coronet R/T, Belvedere GTX, and the super cool Road Runner.  The engine offerings for these cars were 383 and 440 cubic inch monsters, but the big dog was the Hemi.  As popular as the Hemi was then, they are insanely popular now.  A 1968 Charger with a Hemi engine could cost you at least six figures.  That’s way out of my price range.  But due to the popularity of those ’68 through ’70 cars, the non-Hemi cars are up there in price as well.  Turns out, I like some of the less popular models as well, and I tend to buck the trends and fads somewhat.  I like to be different, and the 1967 Plymouth GTX kind of stands out for me.  At a car show full of Camaros, Chevelles and Mustangs, I bet a ’67 GTX would definitely stand out.  In 1968 the designs of the cars were starting to look more to the future, with redesigns part of most of the Big Three car company offerings.  That made them immediately popular.  The ’67 model was really the last of the ’60s era car designs in my humble opinion.  The ’67 GTX has very sharp lines, looks like a box on wheels, whereas the ’68s started taking on that “Coke” bottle design with curves.  That being said, I love the look of the ’67, and they are much cheaper than the second generation of B bodies.

The first ’67 GTX that I found was being sold by a classic car dealer in Tennessee.  It was another red car (the 442 was red as well) and a four speed too.  It looked great and I watched it for a few weeks.  Then it was gone.  They sold it.  So with the 442, I felt I needed to hurry up and seal the deal, only to learn to slow my roll, and then find out another car I was keen on was no longer on the market and I missed out on it.

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1967 Plymouth GTX in Tennessee. Gone in 60 Seconds, give or take a few weeks.

So I kept looking and stumbled on to a beauty, another ’67 GTX, this one a convertible.  I stopped looking at other ads.  This one was the one for sure.  Take a look:

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’67 GTX in Turbine Bronze Metallic!
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Looks new!
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440 Super Commando, BABY!

This one is a Super Commando big block, a rag top, and in a not very common but super cool color!  I’m ready to hit buy.  But it’s in the LA California area, and although it’s about at the max cost that I want to spend, I’m sure shipping isn’t cheap either.  

We were in Pasadena for the Tournament of Roses parade and I wanted to go see the car, but we just couldn’t find the time to look at it with the busy schedule we had.  I contacted the dealer’s salesman and tried to get the lowdown on the car.  He said that it was all original and super clean (aren’t they all), and that it was a car originally from New Mexico, spent some time in Arizona before a complete restoration about 5 years ago, and then bought by him and brought to Cali.  I asked if there was any video of it driving and he said he could provide some of it running, but not driving (hmmm…), and would send me some pictures of the underside of the car (still waiting…).  I was really considering buying it sight unseen, but decided to wait to see the video and extra photos.  One downside to the car is no power assist on the brakes, but I can probably live with that.  Adding a vacuum booster is a possibility as well, and they’re pretty cheap.  

I got a little impatient waiting on the extra photos I requested and decided to see if the internet could provide some background into the car.  I found a lot of related listings that were just cross posted ads relating back to the dealer.  But then I Googled the VIN.  

It seems this car wasn’t just a New Mexico/Arizona/California dry climate car like the salesman believed.  (For the record, I don’t doubt that he didn’t know more than he passed along to me.)  This car has spent time in Virginia and Florida, as well as being sent across the Barrett-Jackson auction block a few times, selling in Las Vegas, Nevada for $57,200 in 2009; Scottsdale, Arizona for $44,000 in 2012; and in Palm Springs, Florida for $28,050 (no reserve) in 2013!  There were two more listings that I found from Fort Lauderdale, Florida listing it for $40,000 and $44,000.  I also found a video of the car for sale from Fort Lauderdale for $58,900 from 2013.  Video of the GTX

Something weird is going on with those prices.  Also, the car seemed to have two restorations, one that gives it a look that it sports today, and another to replace the under hood insulation and to remove the two white stripes on the car. 

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Same GTX sporting two white stripes in Virginia
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Rear view
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This picture book documents the restoration and is currently in the possession of the current dealer.

So it’s got a history, big deal.  Cars that are more than 50 years old are bound to have a history.  It doesn’t really deter me from this car, but it does add a little bit of intrigue to it.  

I’m thinking of hiring a classic car appraiser from the LA area to go take a look at it for me.  It might cost me $400 bucks for the service, but at least I would know more about the condition and drivability of the car.  Something to think about.  I’m no longer in any big rush.  Maybe I’ll look at the GM A bodies again.  

It’s kind of funny how I vacillate between “got to have it now” and “I had better wait.”  Lots of thoughts keep popping into my head about making a classic car purchase.  I worry that it won’t hold value, which is somewhat silly because the trend seems to constantly be going up.  I also worry about breaking it doing something silly.  There aren’t many parts available for the ’67 GTX like there are for later models.  And I also sometimes think that it is a dumb move to spend so much money on a 50 year old car when there are lots of other things to spend that money on that can give me just as much joy.  It’s just that those cars are special.  And I want one.  

 

 

 

 

2018 Running & Triathlon Year in Review

2018 RUNNING AND TRIATHLON YEAR IN REVIEW

 

 

30th Running Year

I can wrap up 2018 in a couple words:  overtrained and rainy.  In 2018 I turned 55 years old and it certainly feels like it.  The work I did in the three prior years while maintaining a three plus year run everyday running streak turned me into a pretty good runner and triathlete until it became too much.  By the beginning of 2018 I was starting to feel beat up and it only got worse.  By the time I made it to the starting line of my first Boston Marathon in April I wasn’t sure I could even finish it, but I did, in the rain, the first of  many 2018 events run in rainy conditions.  The day after running Boston, I ended my running streak and spent the rest of 2018 trying to recover and rebuild.  There was a little bit of success there, but I am still searching to recapture the ability to get the personal bests that were happening consistently in 2016.

2018 just wasn’t my year for running.  I was in a groove the past five years or so, claiming at each year end that I had just had the best running year ever.  But not this year.  It seems like I have plateaued, hit a wall, or just plain have gotten old.  I’m not sure about the excuse of being old, as I have set plenty of personal bests the last few years in both marathons and Ironman and qualifying for and running my first Boston Marathon.  I think I may have just pushed a little too hard toward the end of 2017 and into 2018 that I need to reset myself.  It’s hard for me because although my body reminds me daily that I’m in my mid-fifties, my brain still acts like a twenty-something.  The brain is writing checks that my body cannot cash any more.  I think I need to put my training on some sort of budget, but my brain has already declared that I’m doing two more marathons next year.  Dumb brain.  Anyway, I did try to dial it back into a rebuild this year, dropping my 3 year running streak and taking more rest days, as well as not trying to set a personal best on every damn training run (thanks a lot, Strava).

30 YEARS – WOW!  One thing I’ve been thinking a lot about as I run is that I have been doing it for 30 years now.  I started experimenting with running in my teens and college days, but I didn’t start keeping track of my miles until 1989, when I started to see myself going farther and getting faster and wanted to see how I improved over time.  I just kept writing it down.  Now I log it with an app, which has taken some of the fun out of it because I used to write down comments and notes about my run when I logged it by hand, but I do not do so as much now.  I used to hand write this yearly wrap up as well, but I think I enjoy sharing it on this blog page more.  I can add photos and leave and share memories that I can look back on easily.  Some day I will get around to writing about the years and miles of running I have accumulated, but for now I will just keep on running and enjoying the miles.

 

 

2018 – RUNNING REVIEW

Here’s a monthly wrap up of my running miles and milestones.

JANUARY

  • Total Runs:  31
  • Average Weekly Miles:  35.5
  • Total Hours:  20.4
  • Total Miles:  142

Nothing much of note in this month.  Training for the Boston Marathon had begun.  I do remember it being super cold and occasional runs in the snow.

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I tossed some older running shirts that I never wear.  That is a big move by me.

FEBRUARY

  • Total Runs:  28
  • Average Weekly Miles:  29
  • Total Hours:  17
  • Total Miles:  116

Still training for Boston in the cold.

MARCH

  • Total Runs:  31
  • Average Weekly Miles:  40
  • Total Hours:  23.4
  • Total Miles:  159

The plan upped the mileage this month preparing for my date with Boston.  I did my one long run on 3/23, an 18 miler.  I had no intention on doing any longer runs.  I was pretty sore and had no energy.

APRIL

  • Total Runs:  23
  • Average Weekly Miles:  27.5
  • Total Hours:  16.3
  • Total Miles:  110

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My first Boston Marathon!  I think that might be Des Linden behind me.  Maybe not.

Yay!  I ran my first Boston Marathon!  It was quite an experience that I will never forget.  I beat Galen Rupp!  Okay, he dropped out and I didn’t, but technically I think that still qualifies as a win.  (The link to my race reports will be at the bottom of this post.)

Immediately after finishing the Boston Marathon I kept the promise to myself that I would drop my running streak. I needed to recover from 3 plus years of running at least a mile every day.  It was a good challenge, but it had worn out it’s welcome.  Here’s the wrap up of the running streak:  RIP Running Streak

MAY

  • Total Runs:  17
  • Average Weekly Miles:  25
  • Total Hours:  14.75
  • Total Miles:  100

Recovery from Boston was pretty quick and I started enjoying some milder running weather.  I was kind of surprised that I hit 100 miles this month.

JUNE

  • Total Runs:  18
  • Average Weekly Miles:  23
  • Total Hours:  13.3
  • Total Miles:  93

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Had fun running the 5K with the youngin’s, Ben and his girlfriend Emily.  Ben was the overall winner and Emily grabbed 1st in her age group and 13th overall.

I jumped back into the 5K race season with a decent but slower than usual finish time, but still nabbed a first place age group award in the getting old division at the Frankfort Short Run on a Long Day 5K.  As nice of a finish that is, I had my first ever Did Not Start to a race I had signed up for.  The weather on race day morning of the Batavia Triathlon was threatening enough for me not to waste my time driving up there, thinking it would be canceled.  I took a gamble and lost, as the race was delayed and shortened, but it’s a punch to the gut when you drop out when others committed to it and got it done.

JULY

  • Total Runs:  17
  • Average Weekly Miles:  33
  • Total Hours:  19.7
  • Total Miles:  135

The corral seeding came out for the Chicago Marathon and they put me in the E corral, which is weird because the time I used to qualify for the race should have put me in the D corral from the start.  So, I applied to move up to the D corral based on that previous qualifying time and hatched a plan to move up to the C corral by trying to run a qualifier in a half marathon.  So on 7/21 I toed the line in Hoffman Estates and attempted to run a sub-1:35 half marathon.  I was kind of shooting for the stars, and missed it by about 4 minutes, but it was a pretty good time for a rainy half marathon in July.  I was happy to be in the D corral.

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‘Murica!  The people behind me were finishing the 10K as I wrapped up the half marathon.  I love when that happens.

I also did the Manteno Tri at the end of this month, with Kari doing the duathlon.  We both did well, placing 2nd in our age groups.  Fun race.

AUGUST

  • Total Runs:  20
  • Average Weekly Miles:  39.5
  • Total Hours:  23.4
  • Total Miles:  158

Marathon training was ramping up again.  I did the Chicago Triathlon with my Gunner mates and our side kicks.  That was a hot race.  First time that I HAD to walk a portion of a running race as the temp was into the 90’s.

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SEPTEMBER

  • Total Runs:  19
  •  Average Weekly Miles:  42
  • Total Hours:  24.2
  • Total Miles:  167

Highlight of this month was running the Frankfort/New Lenox Running Club’s 20 mile training run.  I did surprisingly well and built a lot of confidence on a mid-September Saturday.  Since it’s not a race, here’s the link to that report:  The Dreaded 20 Mile Training Run

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Last few feet of the F’NRC 20 mile training run.

OCTOBER

  • Total Runs:  17
  • Average Weekly Miles:  25
  • Total Hours:  15
  • Total Miles:  102

I gave my best to the 2018 Chicago Marathon but it just wasn’t my year.  I held on and was on pace for the first half and slowly lost it from there.  The highlight of the race was running with my son Ben, who was running his first.  And boy did he, finishing in 2:47.  Impressive!  I dialed it way back after the marathon.

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Running the marathon with my son was the highlight of the year.

NOVEMBER

  • Total Runs:  13
  • Average Weekly Miles:  21
  • Total Hours:  12
  • Total Miles:  83

I really went into recovery mode in November and I think it paid off.  I find that my feet and calves were no longer killing me like they were in 2017.  I did start adding some bike spinning on non-running days.

DECEMBER

  • Total Runs: 15
  • Average Weekly Miles: 20
  • Total Hours: 12
  • Total Miles: 82

 

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2018 RUNNING TOTALS

  • Total Runs:  249
  • Average Weekly Miles:  27.8
  • Total Hours:  211.5
  • Total Miles:  1447

 

LIFETIME RUNNING TOTALS

  • Total Lifetime Runs:  4589 – 153 runs per year average
  • Total Lifetime Hours:  3335 – 111 hours per year average
  • Total Lifetime Miles:  24995 (Really?!  Missed it by 5 miles!) – 833 miles per year average

 

TRIATHLON REVIEW

This was a dial back year of sorts for triathlon.  I signed up for three and only started two  as I chickened out for the Batavia Tri.  But the year was pretty much dedicated to doing the Boston and Chicago marathons.  I was thinking that 2019 would be a bigger year for tri’s but I’ve already signed up for two more marathons!  I am definitely planning on another Ironman in the next year or two.  Swim and bike totals were way down from 2017.

SWIM TOTALS:   Total Swims:  11  /  Total Distance:  14,475 yards

BIKE TOTALS:  Total Rides:  75  /  Total Miles:  1484

 

RACE REPORTS

 

GOALS FOR 2019

I was really planning to take it easy in 2019, seeing that I didn’t re-qualify for Boston, but that just made me mad.  Ben and Emily qualified for Boston 2020 and now I wasn’t content to be a spectator, which I was just fine with in October.  But I thought it over and decided to give it one more shot at qualifying.  I looked around and found the Spring BQ 26.2 in Batavia, IL in early April 2019.  Fortunately, I met the qualifying standard to get into this race and I look forward to running it.  It’s an 8 lapper on a bike path, and they treat you like an elite with a table for your own sports drink and nutrition – cool!  I hope to dial it in, lock it down and run sub-3:35 for another BQ and join Ben and Emily in Boston.  But if it doesn’t happen, I’ll once again be glad to be a spectator in Boston.

Speaking of dialing it in, I’m going to utilize Don Fink’s Mastering the Marathon plan for us older athletes.  It’s geared to the over 40 runners, which I certainly qualify.  There’s more recovery and I can swap some runs in the plan for running related activities, in my case cycling.  This will hopefully still prepare me to do well at the marathon as well as allow me to gear up for the triathlon season.

Regardless of how I do in the spring marathon, I plan on taking it easy for Chicago.  The only way I push hard is if my buddy Jeff wants to run it together, but I don’t think I can keep up with him.  I’m thinking I might put that race away for a while even though I have legacy status to maintain.  Running it every other year would maintain my legacy status.  I might focus on 70.3’s and Ironman for a while instead.

Of course I still plan on running my favorite local 5K’s and the triathlons I like to do.  I’m already signed up for the Batavia Tri and will definitely sign up for Manteno again.  It’s a fun race.

That’s it for 2018.  See you on the trail in 2019!

My Search For American Muscle – Part I

MY HISTORY WITH CARS

I was born in 1963 at the tail end of the baby boomer generation, and I think we and maybe the first of the Generation Xers are the last of a breed of guys who think the muscle car era (1964 through 1972) was the greatest period for cars ever.  We may be the last group that can appreciate the beauty of these machines and the last that may appreciate the value they hold.  These are the cars we grew up around.  Maybe your parents had one.  Maybe your cool uncle came back from Vietnam and bought a GTO.  Maybe the neighbor down the street would roar past your house in his Mach 1.  Maybe it was a cool guy in your school whose dad let him have a Chevelle.  For me, the biggest influence was my brother Jon.  He was eight years older than me and was into going fast.  He had a 1968 Camaro that I think he rolled into the ditch near the high school, probably showing off.  He also had an orange and black 1969 Chevelle SS, that I begged him to drive me around in.  I can clearly remember getting in the back of it and driving to Old Chicago, a suburban indoor amusement park in the early 1970’s where I experienced eating Wendy’s for the first time, and watching an old guy hand roll cigars in the window of a tobacco shop.  I think my sister might have even thrown up in the back seat once, not sure on that.

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My sister Sue and the ’66 Ford Mustang, circa 1979-80.

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Believe it or not, this was a color photograph.  Pictures sucked back then.  Neither the sign nor the house in the background are there anymore.

 

My first car was a 1966 Ford Mustang, a car whose radio would only work if the lights were on, and the brakes would work sometimes, only if I really stood on the pedal.  When Mom found out about the brakes, Jon was enlisted to find a replacement.  It was a beater 1974 Chevy Vega, a car that got me through high school but was far from a performance vehicle, although it did have a four speed manual transmission that made driving it at least a little more fun.

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A stock photo of a 1974 Chevy Vega.  I had the same exact car, just imagine it with more rust.

 

In college I found a 1971 Olds Cutlass 442 for sale for $1000 in Macomb, Illinois.  I called my mom and asked if I could use my savings to buy it.  She agreed, and the deal was made.  Then I learned some hard lessons about buying a 23 year old car for $1000.  The original motor wasn’t there, and in it’s place was a Buick 350.  I didn’t know any better to even check.  The body had a little front end damage that was not really visible from a distance.  And it wasn’t long before I could see where the body had been repaired with body filler.  There was lots of it.  But inside it was pretty nice, and it drove well enough for me to drive it around and get the occasional thumbs up from someone who could appreciate a car from that era.  I even courted Kari in that car, cruising around going nowhere in particular, even though I had a nice new 1987 Pontiac Sunbird Turbo GT by then.

Then Kari and I got engaged and married and I sold the not very original 442 for $500 so that I could help fund our honeymoon.  Five hundred bucks.  Today you can sell the rear bumper of a 442 for much more than $500.  I was thinking that I was kind of dumping this car on the guy that bought it because the transmission was fried, no longer really wanting to go in reverse.  But when he came back with the money to pick it up, he was driving a cherry 1970 442 that looked brand new.  His intention was to restore the car for his daughter.  I was glad it was going to someone who knew what he was doing, and I hope that the car is still out there today.

 

MY SEARCH FOR A MUSCLE CAR

Since selling that 442 back in 1992, I have often wished that I could have another muscle car to drive around in.  I can remember back in the mid to late 1990’s I even started a muscle car savings account at the bank and would throw some money into it hoping to save enough for another car.  The problem that arose however, was the market for them exploded.  Baby boomers were now in a position to buy them and they were scooping them up.  Prices skyrocketed.  Some of the Hemi powered Mopars were fetching well over $100K, with the rare Superbird reaching close to a million bucks at some auctions.  I knew that I wasn’t really positioned to purchase a muscle car with three young kids, a mortgage and college to pay for.  I think I emptied that savings account to help pay for one of our houses we moved to, or the minivan that we bought for our growing family.  So I waited.  Waited until I turned 55 years old.

On my birthday this year, my wife gave me a birthday card that was car themed and on the bottom she had written “Let’s go pick up that classic hot rod!”  I was floored, but excited!  She had seen that I had been looking online at old cars for sale.  I was looking just because I like to look at them, but she also could tell that I was interested in getting one again.  Thankfully, prices for classic muscle cars has come down quite a bit.  The 2008 economy tanking affected the values somewhat, and they came down to more reasonable levels.  But they are starting to creep up again.

So I began looking in earnest for a car.  What did I want?  What could we afford?  Lots of things to consider.  It was almost a burden, because the cars I really like are the most popular of the muscle car era.  I particularly like the 1970 Chevy Chevelle SS.  That’s really the dream car for me.  But I see those all the time and Chevelles are really expensive.  So I broadened my list to include not just the Chevelle, but all of the GM A bodies – Buick GS, Olds Cutlass, Pontiac GTO.  I really like the 1970 through 1972 era for the A body, but there is another year that really stands out for me – 1967.  That year seems to me to represent the last of the old 60’s cars before the newer 1968 style ushered in a new look that would take those car styles into the 1970’s.

But I didn’t limit myself just to GM.  My dad had a 1965 or 1966 Plymouth Sport Fury III sedan that I remembered from being a kid.  It was a cool car, painted white with a nice light blue interior.  On summer days when it would rain, I would go out and sit in the car and listen to the raindrops pound away on the roof of it.  It just had a cool interior.  One muscle car from mother Mopar that reminds of that Fury is the 1967 Plymouth GTX.  The lines on that car are super sharp, and it just looks aggressive sitting still.  The Dodge R/T is very closely related, so that car is on my list as well.

So I guess I’m not saying no to any of the cars from that ’64 through ’72 era, it’s just that those are the ones I like.  I was looking mostly online on the Hemmings Motor News website, one that had a ton of cars.  I found several that I saved as favorites.  The trouble is many of them are located several states away.  That meant that I would have to plan on taking a trip to see them and budget for shipping costs to get them delivered home.  Lots of things to consider now.  I told my friend Carl that it was becoming a pain in the butt for me!

 

THE FIRST TEST DRIVE

I was searching on eBay and found a 1967 Olds Cutlass Supreme 442 convertible in an ad.  This car was local too, being sold in Huntley, Illinois about 55 miles away.  The listing had a ton of pictures and I was blown away.  A convertible 442 that looked awesome and I could get it locally.  It listed for $45,750.

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A red 1967 Olds C/S 442 convertible for sale in Huntley, Illinois.  Are you drooling too?

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One of the best looking 1967 GM A bodies in my personal opinion.

This car had me drooling.  The pictures made it look like a show winner.  This car was sexy.  I now knew that this one might be the one.

The engine was billed as original to the car.  I studied and decoded the body tag on the firewall.  It indicated that it was a 1967 442 built in the third week of April.  The one discrepancy was the paint code, it showed a “P” which meant a Pewter color and this one was “arrest me red.”  The other thing that bothered me was the underbody was painted the red body color and most all of the ’67’s that I have seen are painted black on the underside.  It was super clean though, and all of the floor panels looked original and in great shape.

I contacted the owner, a guy who ran a dealership called National Muscle Cars, and arranged to go see it.  I just didn’t feel comfortable making an eBay offer on a car without seeing it in person.  I promised him that I wasn’t just some tire kicker and that I was serious about acquiring a collector car.

Kari and I drove up and met with the guy.  He was super cool and told us that he acquired muscle cars as a hobby and did a lot of buying and selling.  This was the only car he had for sale at the time.

My first impression of the car was wow, it looked awesome and sounded cool too.  We did a cursory walk around and I liked what I saw and we took it for a spin.  It was the test drive that started to change my mind about the car.  The very first thing I noticed was that the compartment lid in the shifter console would not stay closed.  For a car that was billed as having an extensive restoration, to not put the effort into making sure the lid would stay closed seemed odd to me.  Plus it had some weird bolts in the bottom of it securing it to the floor that did not look factory correct to me.

The transmission shifted hard into gear and it seemed that it just wasn’t shifting very smooth.  I decided to put my foot into the gas and there was no get up and go to it.  It rode pretty smooth, but the drive did not thrill me like I had hoped.

Upon getting back to the shop, he let Kari and I look the car over.  It was then I could see some of the little flaws that from 5 feet away you wouldn’t have noticed.  It was a piece of chrome trim that was loose around the the convertible top that made me think that this car’s rotisserie restoration was just basically a repaint and not much more.  For nearly $46,000 bucks, I wanted a little more of a solid car.  I didn’t want to have to correct every little thing.  I told the guy that I would have to think about it, but I had already decided to take a pass.  It just seemed to me that if I was finding these little issues, there would be more that I would discover later on.

I thanked the guy and Kari and I drove to the local Culver’s and had a quick bite to eat, and I explained to her why I didn’t think this was the right car.  We agreed that there are many more out there, and there was no rush to buy the car right away.  I learned to make sure to put in the time to check them out before committing.  These are cars that are 50 years old, and were basically driven hard by baby boomers and people like me for  five decades.

I guess that I will need to kick a few more tires.  The search will continue!

 

2018 Chicago Marathon Race Report

2018 Chicago Marathon

October 7, 2018 / Chicago, Illinois

Time:  3:52:07

Place:  11629 Overall / 8508 Male

 

For my 19th time, I hereby do declare I WILL NEVER RUN ANOTHER MARATHON AGAIN!  This time I MEAN IT!

This Chicago Marathon will definitely go down as one of my most memorable.  The race was my third long distance race this year that was run in the rain.  It brought back memories of Boston last April, cool temps, wind and rain.  This was a light version of Boston though.  The temperature was near 60 degrees instead of 40, and the rain wasn’t pouring.  The wind was only noticeable when running certain directions, and only briefly.  Thankfully, Boston taught me how to manage crappy running weather, but you can never be fully prepared.  And it turns out I’m not sure I was fully prepared for this one.

I was looking forward to running Chicago, as my son was going to be running it as his first marathon.  Notice I didn’t say that we would be running it together.  He’s fast, I’m not.  Well, not as fast as he is anyway.  But I looked forward to sharing that experience together.

Here’s the lowdown on how the Chicago Marathon went for me.

TRAINING

After finishing the Boston Marathon I needed to give my body a break.  I was beat.  I showed up at Boston way overtrained and worn out.  The day after Boston I ended my three year running streak of running at least a mile everyday, and told myself I had to get myself right again.

After a trip to the doctor, I learned what I was kind of assuming, that I had thyroid issues.  Blood tests confirmed it, and now I’m taking a synthetic thyroid medication for the rest of my life.  I had thought that it might change things for me metabolically, but my doctor buddy said not to expect miracles.  He was right.  I really struggled to lose the ten pounds I had gained over the winter and spring.  Eventually, I did drop a few pounds, but nothing like what I had expected.  One positive was that I wasn’t as tired as I had been before, so that is a plus.

In mid-June I began following the same 16-week advanced training plan that I usually use.  I also had been doing some triathlon related training, hoping to throw in a couple of races before the longer mileage weeks started to kick in.  I ended up doing a sprint triathlon in June and the Chicago Triathlon in August.

I was a little nervous about the training after struggling with the Boston training and the race itself, but it actually went pretty well.  The highlight for me was the 20 mile training run I did three weeks out from the race.  I was able to hold my 8 min/mile pace fairly easily through that run and it really gave me a confidence boost.  You can read about it here:  The Dreaded 20 Mile Training Run

 

RACE WEEKEND

I took Friday off and headed to Chicago to attend the expo with Ben and his girl friend Emily.  Every year that I had gone to the expo I would see proud Boston finishers parading around in their Boston Marathon jackets and be somewhat envious.  This year, even though I didn’t really need a jacket, I decided I was going to peacock the hell out my one Boston Marathon finish and sport that damn jacket at the expo.  I wasn’t alone.  I saw numerous Boston 2018 celebration jackets.

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Me, Ben and my jacket heading to meet Emily and go to the expo.

 

We ended up getting there around midday, and man was it crazy!  I had never seen it so crowded before.

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For a minute I thought I was in the corral of the actual race.  This was just the holding area to get in and pick up the race packet.  I had never seen it this bad before.

Ben and I got our bibs and started the trek through the expo.  We ended up spending money on mostly disappointing official Nike marathon gear and other odds and ends.  We caught a glimpse of Deena Kastor and then decided to get out of there.  The expo can be overwhelming after awhile.

Saturday, we all met downtown in the late afternoon and met at our hotel, the Chicago Palmer House Hilton.  The hotel lobby was impressive, the rooms not so much.  It’s location to the race start area was ideal, but a little bit of a hike from the finish.  The Chicago Hilton is a better option for being closer to the finish, but I didn’t book it fast enough and had to settle for the Palmer House.  I will say there were better dining options nearby, and I opted for the Corner Bakery and got some loaded baked potato soup and bread for an evening carb load.  I had already eaten some pasta at home around 1 pm, so I think I had enough carb loading for the day.

Ben and I talked some race day strategy and I laid out my options for what to wear in the race.  I had already kind of chosen the outfit, but I had brought some options in case I changed my mind.

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Only thing not showing is my matching grey with red Hoka Cliftons.

Sleep went well except for a weird moment in the middle of the night where I found myself sweating like crazy.  I got up, used the bathroom, and went back to sleep.  The alarm finally went off, and I got myself ready for the day.

 

RACE MORNING

Ben met me at the room and after some last minute assurances, we decided it was time to head to the corrals.

 

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It wasn’t raining yet, but we wanted to keep warm.

We were advised to go into the corrals by entering into a specific gate based on our corral assignments, but I wasn’t having any of that.  The first and closest gate was at Jackson and we got in line.  Just as we were getting near the inspection point this Chinese guy cuts in front of us.  Then he couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t let him carry in his sling bag because only the clear plastic gear bag was allowed.  Fortunately, they let him put it into his gear bag, which he should have done in the first place.  Off to a great start, but we weren’t done with him yet.  As you pass security, there are event photographers ready to take your pre-race photo, so Ben and I decided to do so.  Just after the guy takes our picture, we realize the guy photobombed us.

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We made an international friend!

I’m smiling in the photo, but I was laughing right after it when I realized he was in the photo too!  Here’s one without Mr. E10796:

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Still laughing about our friend.

Ben and I got to the split where Corrals A and B went one way and C through E went another.  I told him that I loved him and that I was proud of him and that I don’t tell him that enough.  We hugged and I headed straight to the toilets.

Once in the corral I found it pretty empty as I was there pretty early.  So I headed to the front of it to the rope that separates the C corral from D and just hung out.  I used my portable urinal (my nearly empty Gatorade bottle) under my plastic bag three times before the race started which surprised me, as I had used the port-o-lets twice before getting into my corral.  Nerves I guess.  After the anthem the start horn blew and I pulled the plastic garbage bag off and tossed the bag and bottle over the fence, and we started the 7 minute shuffle to the start line.  Ben said he crossed the line within 10 seconds.  It took me 7:18 to cross it.  I gave him a head start.

 

RACE

Start to 5K:  Overall Time:  0:25:12 / Ave. Pace 8:07 min/mile

I started off well and felt pretty strong, although my first split was about 8:15 min/mile which surprised me a little.  It is hard to concentrate on pace right at the start because we are still packed tight a little, and you spend more time getting through the field than thinking about pace.  It was in that first half mile that my Garmin lost track of me as we were under Randolph Street and Wacker Drive and put my split a couple of tenths off at each subsequent mile marker.  Ben was going to hit his lap button every mile, but I’m done with that business.  I had decided I was warm enough without my homemade tube sock arm warmers and stuck them in my shorts in case I needed them again.

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Ben (in blue) coming thru the 4K area where our cheer crew was waiting.

Our Cheer Crew was amazing.  Kari and Rebecca, along with our friends Jeff and Jill were there, plus Emily and a couple of Ben’s running buddies from Loras College braved the wet day to cheer us on.  Although I had told Kari to stick with Ben, I saw Jeff and Jill up through the half way point, and then Jeff at a few other spots.  Seeing everyone was always a big pick-me-up.

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Me greeting the Cheer Crew.  

 

5K to 10K:  Overall time:  0:49:03 / 5K Split:  0:24:31 / Ave. Pace 7:54 min/mile

It was raining pretty steady now but I wasn’t cold really.  I managed to get my pace under 8 minute miles and was feeling good.  Nothing out of the ordinary through here, just still going north.

 

10K to 15K:  Overall time:  1:14:29 / 5K Split:  0:24:27 / Ave. Pace 7:59 min/mile

Miles 6 through 9 really had nothing remarkable about them.  Right about the 10K mark the 3:25 pace group went by me and I took note of that.  I usually see an Elvis impersonator through this stretch, but I’m guessing that he wasn’t into the rain this year. I did start to sense I was getting a blister on my left pinky toe from my shoes being soaked.  That was a little surprising because I had lubed up my toes very well.  Kept my average pace near 8 min/miles.

 

15K to 20K:  Overall time:  1:39:55 / 5K Split:  0:25:26 / Ave. Pace 8:11 min/mile

As I neared the halfway point, I started to tell I was slowing a little.  The effort was getting harder even though I was on top of my nutrition plan.  I felt okay, but that would change as I passed the halfway point.

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Wet, but still content.  (This photo won’t stay center justified for some reason!)

 

Halfway:   Overall Time:  1:45:42 / Ave. Pace 8:29 min/mile

I hit the halfway and felt not so great.  I was only 45 seconds over my intended split of 1:45:00 for the half, but I knew that I was losing it.  My average pace dropped from 8 to 8:30 min/mile and I really didn’t see how I was going to maintain it.

 

Halfway to 25K:  Overall Time:  2:06:32 / Split:  0:20:51 / Ave. Pace 8:36 min/mile

At the 14 mile area I saw Jeff and Jill and said I wasn’t feeling good any longer.  It seemed like I was being drained of my energy.  We had just passed a couple little inclines downtown, but I don’t think that was a factor.  I was starting to realize that this was going to be a get to the finish line in one piece marathon for me.  My time goal of 3:30 was slipping away.

 

25K to 30K:  Overall Time:  2:34:01 / 5K Split:  0:27:30 / Ave. Pace 8:51 min/mile

I generally call this section the Dead Zone and it was no different this year.  It’s mainly just runners along this portion as it is the farthest west part of the course.  I will say though, that I expected the rain to drive away the crowds this year and in reality, the course was pretty populated with cheering fans.  My time is creeping closer to the 9 min/mile average.

 

30K to 35K:  Overall Time:  3:03:47 / 5K Split:  0:29:46 / Ave. Pace 9:35 min/mile

Running through Pilsen and Chinatown are highlights of the race usually, but not this time.  I just wanted to get past the 20 mile mark and know I had 10K to go.  It was in this section that the 3:30 pace group passed me by like I was standing still.  I was resigned that my goal of finishing 3:30 was gone, and I also knew that being sub-3:35 for a Boston Marathon qualifier was pretty much out the door.  I was a just finisher now.

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Mile 21 – Chinatown

 

35K to 40K:  Overall Time:  3:37:22 / 5K Split:  0:33:35 / Ave. Pace 10:49 min/mile

Hello 3:35 pace group.  Goodbye 3:35 pace group.  I was walking the aid stations now and willing myself to keep moving forward.  In 2016 I was passing these zombies, this year I was one of the un-dead.  Along this section I did get a pick-me-up though – I saw the guy that is always at Ironman Wisconsin on Old Sauk Pass wearing the orange afro-wig.  He was cheering us on here as well.  I stopped and said hello to him because we spent some time with him on that course cheering for Jeff and his sister Jan.

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I wish I had a good side, but sadly I don’t.  This definitely isn’t it.  I feel bad for E8772, having my dumb ass in his photo.  

 

40K to the Finish:  Overall time:  3:52:07 / Split 0:14:46 / Ave. Pace 10:50 min/mile

I saw Kari and Rebecca waiting for me after the 25 mile mark and I stopped to say hello.  Not much longer and I would be done.

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Saw Kari and Rebecca and I headed to their side of Michigan Avenue.  

I started to press forward and make it up Roosevelt Road and head to the finish.  As I was climbing Mount Roosevelt as we marathoners call it, a volunteer said to “Fight up the hill!”  I told her I was a lover not a fighter.  She laughed and then I heard her yell, “then Love up that hill!”

As I headed toward the finish I heard my name get called out from the stands.  I turned to look and saw Calvin Jordan, a fellow runner from New Lenox that I had met this fall.  I made a beeline over to him and said hello.  I think he thought I was nuts not sprinting for the finish, but I was glad to end the run with a friendly face and hello.

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Wrapping it up.  

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Finally done with 26.2 miles.  

 

Conclusion

The goal for me was to take advantage of a 10 minute Boston qualifying cushion that I would receive just by turning 55 years old.  But in September, the BAA decided to reduce the qualifying times by 5 minutes.  So I went from needing a 3:40 marathon to 3:35, which didn’t seem to be out of the possibility for me seeing that I had ran a 3:25 in 2016.  But this just wasn’t my year.  I wanted to join Ben and Emily in Boston in 2020, but instead of being in the field, I will happily go to be a spectator.

I think my main issue this year was volume, and essentially too much of it for a guy in his mid-fifties.  When I finished Boston in April, my body was beat.  Everything hurt.  So I dropped the 3+ year running streak I had and worked on rebuilding myself.  I was really feeling pretty good again come summer, and when I did my 20 mile training run in late September, I held that 8 min/mile pace well.  Just wasn’t my year this year.

But I must say I’m very proud of my 3:52:07 finish.  Being sub-4 hours is always pretty cool.

 

Ben made me very proud.  He crushed his first marathon in 2:47:11!  After the race he seemed like it was just another day of running to him!  Not tired at all.  The next day I went out and got my Chicago Tribune and saw that he was in the banner photo at the top!

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I also found this photo of him online.  Not sure where that hard left turn is, but seeing that the field is pretty spread out and the sparse crowd, I’m guessing toward the latter part of the race.  It could be up near mile 8 though.  

 

We wrapped up race day back at the Corner Bakery with some hot soup and then headed for home.

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The Trump Tower was off to the left of me and I was trying to pull Ben over to get the sign in the photo, but he wasn’t having any of that!  Proud dad with his running boy!

 

 

 

Memories Of A Now Gone Park

Yesterday I was on an after dinner walk with my wife Kari, and daughters Ashley and Rebecca.  As we wound our way back through the neighborhood, I headed toward the park to deposit some of the trash I had picked up on the walk in the trash bin adjacent to the playground.  I saw the swings and couldn’t resist.  I hopped on one and began swinging.  The girls soon joined in, with Rebecca also swinging, Ashley opting to walk on the balance beam and with Kari heading for the main play set.  I followed Kari on the bouncy bridge, across the pedestal bridge, and back on to the wobbly bridge that lead to the corkscrew pole, in which, of course, I had to spin down.

The memories of taking the kids to this park when they were young came flooding back.  Having to hold hands as they made it across the wobbly bridge; lifting Ben up to the monkey bars to help him get around; giving ‘underdogs’ to all three of them on the swings; to even our dog Lucky, teaching him how to climb the steps to take a trip down the slide.  We maybe spent five minutes playing around before heading home.

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2009 – Ashley on the playground

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2009 – Rebecca on the springy dinosaur we naturally called Barney

Today I started my noontime run, which takes me past that very same park, and I was shocked to discover it was gone.  All of the equipment removed.

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2018 – No more park

It was surreal to me.  The park was now surrounded by some plastic caution tape, acting as a barrier to keep others away.  But it was almost like crime scene tape to me – someone had stolen the park that had generated all those memories that we had just recalled.  For the next 7 miles, I thought only about that park and the times I spent there with the kids.

I’m sure the park district has plans to replace the park with newer equipment, equipment that will be just as much fun to the kids of today as the old stuff was to my kids.  But the memories of playing at our park, will now just be what we have stored in our minds, with no physical equipment to hop on to rekindle those memories.

I am glad I made that stop at the park last night.  It was like being drawn there to say goodbye to an old friend, without even knowing they were leaving.  I wish I had more pictures to remember it by.

Live Classic Rock Songs That Are Better Than The Studio Versions

I was listening to Classic Vinyl on SiriusXM radio in the car the other day when they played the original studio version of Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band’s Turn the Page, and it didn’t seem right.  It sounded different in my ear, as I was used to the live version of the song.  That got me thinking about live versions of rock songs that are much better than the original studio version.  Songs that if the radio DJ was going to play that one specific song, he or she would grab the live version over the studio version every time.

Not sure what propelled the popularity of live albums during the 1970’s.  You don’t see them being as popular in later decades.  Live music and concerts were growing to huge proportions in the 70’s.  It may have been a money grab from the record label, but I’m just guessing.

So here are a few of the songs I could easily think of that the live version outshone the studio version, maybe not on the charts, but definitely were played more on the radio.

 

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BOB SEGER & THE SILVER BULLET BAND – Turn The Page:  Live Bullet (1976) – I’ll start with this song as it was what made me ponder this in the first place.  Apparently the song was never released as a single, but it got lots of airplay on FM radio in the 1970’s.  The original song was recorded in 1972.  Not only did Turn The Page live fare better than the studio version, the songs Travelin’ Man/Beautiful Loser, and Katmandu also are songs that you only heard the live versions on the radio, not the studio versions.

 

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KISS – Rock and Roll All Nite:  Alive! (1975) – Originally appeared in studio form on 1975’s Dressed to Kill album, but the KISS ALIVE! album version is what was played on the radio.  Gene Simmons sang the song, but I think it’s Paul Stanley shouting “I CAN’T HEAR YOU,” “C’MON” and “WHAT?!” which are classic and intergral parts of the song.  12 year old me wore this album out.  The live version made it to #12 on the Billboard charts in 1976.

 

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Paul McCartney & Wings – Maybe I’m Amazed:  Wings Over America (1976) –  Paul McCartney wrote this song in 1970 and dedicated it to his wife Linda, in an effort to heal after the Beatles break up.  After forming the band Wings, they released a triple live album, and it reached number 10 on the singles charts.  The drumming on this live version really stands out.  Can you ever recall hearing the studio version?

 

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Lynyrd Skynyrd – Free Bird:  One More From The Road (1976) – Another live album from 1976, and this won’t be the last on this list.  This one is a little bit of a cheat, as the original studio version did just fine on it’s own.  Matter of fact, the studio version hit number 19 on the charts in 1974, with the live version making it to number 38.  But in all actuality, “What song is it you wanna hear?”  The live version answers that question.  “FREE BIRD!!!”

 

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Jackson Browne – Running On Empty:  Running On Empty (1978) – I had this album on cassette and it popped into my mind for this post, but I was very surprised to learn that it was never released as a studio version.  They recorded this one live and released it as a single, which reached #11 on the charts.  The Load Out was also was released as a single and hit #20.  But radio generally plays the two songs The Load Out/Stay together.  So I guess the live version can easily be better than the studio version if the studio version never existed.  Honorable mention to this one.

 

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Cheap Trick – I Want You to Want Me:  Cheap Trick at Budokon (1978) – Two songs stand out on this album, I Want You to Want Me, and Surrender.  I Want You to Want Me was originally released in 1977, it didn’t even chart.  Was Cheap Trick even known until at Budokon came out?  I certainly had never heard of them.  The song went to #1 in Japan, no surprise there.  But it also hit #7 in the USA.  Surrender did well on it’s own, as the studio version hit #62, and was not released as a live single from what I can tell.  The studio version of Surrender stands on it’s own and didn’t need the live version to bolster it.  What is interesting about I Want You to Want Me is how Robin Zander introduces it, in a very clear spoken English so that the Japanese audience could understand.  I crack up every time I hear it.

 

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Peter Frampton – Show Me The Way:  Frampton Comes Alive! (1976) – Easily the greatest live album ever released.  It was the best selling album of 1976.  And it held the top spot on the album charts for 10 weeks.  I’m slightly embarrassed to admit, I never owned this album.  But you couldn’t escape it anyway.  The song was one of three singles released from the live album, joining Baby, I Love Your Way, and Do You Feel Like We Do.  Show Me The Way hit #6 on the charts, and did slightly better than the other two.  I’ve seen Peter two times now, both in good old New Lenox, Illinois, where I grew up.  Incredible guitarist.  I don’t believe I have ever heard the studio version of any of Frampton’s songs.

 

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REO Speedwagon – Ridin’ The Storm Out:  You Get What You Play For (1977) – Ridin’ The Storm Out hit #94 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.  The original version appears on their third album, also called Ridin’ The Storm Out, but here’s the odd part – Kevin Cronin doesn’t sing the original version, a guy named Mike Murphy does.  Cronin left the band due to “creative differences.”  But he does in fact rejoin the band to lead them to greatness, and still is leading them today.  Kevin introduces the song by yelling “LAST SONG PEOPLE!”  And on that note, I will make this the last song on this list.

 

 

 

Dad To The Rescue

I spent this Father’s Day in my typical fashion, goofing around doing my typical stuff. I enjoyed a nice bike ride with Kari and spent some time swimming on a very hot day. The extended family appeared and more swimming and good food and talk was enjoyed.

At one point in the conversation we talked about the need to purge some of the junk in our house, and I admitted that I was the hoarder in the family. “But I’m a neat hoarder!” I exclaimed, and the wife agreed.

After dinner everyone was getting ready to leave for home. I noticed that Ben’s car had a brake light out. I thought I had a spare, so I attempted to fix it. It turned out I had a different bulb than what he needed, but I remembered that my mom had this old cabinet thing with a bunch little odds and ends in it. Sure enough, the bulb we needed was in there. My mom had saved the bulb, and I had saved the cabinet full of junk. We swapped out the bulb and off Ben drove.

I had barely got my tools put away when Ben pulled back into the driveway. I could see that his front tire was flat.

We pulled the tire and I couldn’t see any nails or punctures anywhere. I filled it with air and pushed it around the back to the pool to check for leaks. The problem became apparent immediately, the vavle stem was leaking.

That could have been a problem, but thankfully I had a tool – a tool that was my Dad’s that I had kept. It’s probably been in my possession at least 40 years or so. A simple little device to remove and install a valve stem core. Hoarder? – pffft. Please.

I tightened the valve stem and tested it again and it was still leaking. The valve stem core must be bad, no longer holding air. That’s a problem, because I knew that I didn’t have any extra valve stem cores laying around. I may be a hoarder, but I’m not crazy.

But wait! The tool itself was just a cap on an old valve stem, and the valve stem itself probably had a core in it. Sure enough, I pulled it out and was kind of shocked to see that valve stem cores had not been reengineered in 40 years. I put the old one in and surprisingly it no longer leaked. Fixed!

So on Father’s Day, I was able to save my son’s day, thanks to my dad leaving behind a simple tool for us to use nearly four decades later. Dad to the rescue for sure.

Happy Father’s Day!