I had been looking forward to this trip north for at least two months and just like the kid at heart that l am, my excitement intensified as August 4th neared. My original plan was to leave at 4:am on that Thursday and use Wednesday to get everything ready and go to bed early-yeah right? Because l would be gone for at least 10 days, l had no less than 20 items on my checklist for Wednesday, including finally buying a twin blow-up mattress for the back of my (big-ugly) Chevy 3500 van. I had already outfitted the van with a rear vent for the portable A/C unit that I planned to use when sleeping in the van. A 2000-watt generator was the other piece of that system. If l left on Thursday morning the plan was to basically drive straight through to Reno a 13 to 14 hour drive. But, as the trip-prep on Wednesday dragged on and on and that checklist got smaller and smaller, I decided to just leave as soon as the van was loaded. l drove off at 5:pm on Wednesday afternoon, thinking l would just stay overnight in Las Vegas a 6 hour drive pulling my empty open car trailer. The trailer would carry home the 1978 Chevy Nova that l had already sent the owner in Buckly Washington (east of Tacoma) a $500.00 deposit to buy. When l got to Vegas at 11:pm l was still wide awake and decided to push on until l got tired. At 1:am l really wasn’t tired, but the next little town was two hours farther north, so l pulled into a big dirt lot that was full of semi trucks, fired up my generator, plugged in the A/C unit, blew up my new 15″ tall twin bed, threw on some blankets to sleep on and fell asleep pretty quick. The A/C and a little 5″ fan worked fantastically. I slept for three hours and got back on Hwy 95 North before the sun came up in the east.
I rolled into Reno before noon and quickly called my cousin Ed Gilbert that had been there since Tuesday from Oregon. He and his wife Marsha and his son Jason and his wife Jessica were there for a full week. My sister Deanna lives in Sparks, literally 8 blocks from Victoria Square where so many of the HAN events took place including the nightly cruising, car shows, vendor & craft displays and the Drag Races held in the Nugget Resort Casino parking lot. I was excited to meet up with all of those family members. I stayed at my youngest sister’s house while in Reno/Sparks. Deanna and l had a great visit, then on Sunday morning she headed North to Beavercreek Oregon with me, so she could visit with our aunt Shirly (Ed’s mom) and our cousin Sandra. Driving in the (big-ugly) van with Deanna was so much fun. We laughed and talked the entire 10 hour drive. I even taught her the 20 Questions game, which surprisingly she had never heard of before. Ed and Marsha left Reno at just about the same time, but arrived at their home in Beavercreek two hours before us. Obviously, we were in no rush, and remember l was dragging my open car trailer on those winding two-lane roads until we hit Interstate 5 north of Medford Oregon. Deanna stayed with Sandra and flew back home to Sparks on Wednesday night.
While in Reno Ed and I went to several of the HAN events and we also went to look at a 1978 Nova that was for sale in Carson City. I mentioned earlier about the ’78 Nova near Tacoma that l’d already sent a deposit on, but if l found one that was in great condition for less money, l’d let that go and lose the $500. Ed carefully inspected the Nevada car and advised that it wasn’t horrible, but definitely needed at least $4000 to $5000 in repairs and upgrades. On Ed’s advice, l offered the owner $3500 which was $2000 less than his asking price. He countered with $4500 and l declined. That decision turned out to be one of the best I’ve ever made in my Car Nut Ball life. On Monday August 8th, Ed and I headed north to see that original Nova and both of us had our reservations about its owner claimed rust free condition. Lets just say that we were both stunned at how nice and truly rust free this 45 year old car was. I knew it was coming home with me as soon as i walked around the car, but still asked to do the traditional test-drive. I literally drove the car a half mile, realized that it shifted and stopped and ran better than expected, so turned around and said OK SOLD SOLD SOLD, lets get it loaded on my trailer. I sincerely thanked Ed several times and told him how much l appreciated his knowledge and advice. He too was very impressed at how nice this all original survivor Nova is. The five digit speedometer showed 69,600 miles. Of course we figured that it had turned over several times in its life and probably had more like a few hundred thousand. NOPE, when l got back to Arizona l found an envelope with old receipts going all the way back to when the car was new. The mileage was correct, because the last one showed 69,200 in 2021 and all the other receipts were less than that. This Nova obviously was always garage kept and even the dash is in like new condition as is the original paint, with a couple added dings here and there. I’ve had the car home for about two weeks and l’m still amazed at how straight and nice it really is. But remember, l’m a Car Nut Ball, so I’ve already replaced the front bench seat with a pair of very comfortable bucket seats, l’ve also installed the brand new dual-pass aluminum radiator that came with the car. A new Alpine AM-FM stereo with Bluetooth and two Rockford Fosgate 6″ x 9″ speakers will arrive any day, as will the 22,000-BTU underdash air conditioning system. The tires were brand new, so by early September the original low horsepower 305 V-8 powered Nova should be ready for some serious cruising.
I must mention, that while at Ed’s house for four of the days we worked on my 1957 Ford two door Ranch Wagon Restomod. Our goal was to repair or reprep the car’s 2021 custom paint job, that simply wasn’t done right by one of my racing buddies. The Ford looked great from 15 feet, but up close you could see the flaws in the paint job. Ed taught me the proper way to sand a vehicle and ingrained into my brain how important the pre paint preparation is. I always knew it was important, but really never understood exactly what that meant. In only four days of working with Ed l have a much better understanding of the hows and whys, but definitely need to go back and work with him some more. His knowledge has taken over 50 years to acquire, l’m at least 45 years behind. Ed just started his 10th year of publishing the Roddin’ & Racin’ Northwest newspaper, that l’m proud to say that l talked him into doing. THANKS AGAIN ED!!!