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December 24, 2009

Car Photo of the Day: A White Christmas Eve

Filed under: Car Photo Of The Day — chuck goolsbee @ 5:09 pm

It is Christmas Eve and we’re at my parent’s house in Colorado. We’ve been skiing for the past few days. Colorado could use some snow, in fact about two feet would make the skiing a lot better. Today’s Car Photo was taken a few summers ago at Artist’s Point at the end of the Mt. Baker highway. It is a wonderful scenic drive not far from our house, and it is never lacking for snow. The nearby Mt. Baker Ski Area in fact has over seven feet (over two meters for my metric friends) of snow right now. Send some to Colorado… please!

I hope all of you have a great Christmas this year!

December 22, 2009

A Father & Son(s) Road Trip: Seattle to LA, and Back. (Part Three.)

Filed under: Cars,father-son roadtrip — chuck goolsbee @ 4:45 pm

Note: The following is a re-write of my father-son road trip story for the JagMag.


Now joined by my younger son Nicholas, age 15, we began the return journey to Seattle from Los Angeles. For the first two days of our journey we would be accompanied by my friend and host Larry Wade from La Canada, California, along with a Wade family friend from Norway, named Øyvind Aamodt. Larry drives a 1962 E-type OTS and we met via the E-type group on jag-lovers.org. With Larry leading the way we would not have to do much in the way of navigation for the first couple of days, as it was just a case of “follow that Jaguar!” Having already been down the coast, we chose to head for the California Sierras for some sightseeing and mountain driving.

Nick & Chuck Goolsbee departing on the northbound leg of the journey.
Nick & Chuck Goolsbee departing on the northbound leg of the journey.

Larry leads the way out of the La Canada/Flintridge area straight through the Angeles Crest mountains that loom over Los Angeles’ northern horizon. (The same mountains suffered significant damage from the large Station Fire later this year, so we were lucky to see this area before it was burned.) The flora of the Angeles Crest is really interesting, with all sorts of alien-looking desert plants that Nick and I have never seen before. We drop down into the very western edge of the Mojave Desert, then jump over the Grapevine on I-5. Entering the Central Valley is like driving into a broiler. It is 109°F and climbing. We raise the tops of our E-types in an attempt to get out of the sun, but the heat is inescapable. I’ve never driven this car in such blistering heat, though thankfully it runs cool thanks to a well-functioning radiator. We stop for gas on California Highway 99 and Larry suggests we stop for lunch a bit up the road, where we can buy “huge cisterns of lemonade”…

Cooling off the cars and riders at In-N-Out
Cooling off the cars and riders at In-N-Out

The lunch stop is at In-N-Out, the legendary California fast-food outlet. This violates one of my road trip rules (No Fast Food) but this exception is easy to make as the conditions demand a stop, and the air-conditioned comfort and cold lemonade really restores our spirits from the oppressive heat. Unfortunately the lemonade could not help my car. My starter motor, always problematic in hot weather, now refuses to turn. We push-start out of the parking lot, and resume our journey. (It turns out that the last start that starter motor had in it was that morning, and we push-start the car all the way home from here!)

Dropping the tops upon arrival in the mountains.
Dropping the tops upon arrival in the mountains.

The temperature drops rapidly as we climb the Sierra foothills, and the trees provid welcome shade. Nick and I feel much better to be out of the broiler of the Central Valley. We arrive in Yosemite National Park in mid-afternoon, stopping at several scenic vistas as we approach the famous Yosemite Valley.

Scenic view approaching Yosemite Valley
Scenic view approaching Yosemite Valley

I had not visited Yosemite since the mid-80s, but this is Nick’s first visit. As we enter the valley all of the batteries of our digital cameras run dry, so instead of shooting photos I provide my son with a guided tour of the valley’s sights and major rock formations. He loves every minute of it. Exiting the valley we drive towards Tioga Pass to the White Wolf campground where the two E-types once again draw stares from other campers as the most unlikely RVs ever seen. We enjoy a great night out under the stars.

The two E-types stop at Olmstead Overlook above Yosemite Valley. Half Dome in the distance. Note what the woman on the right is photographing!
The two E-types stop at Olmstead Overlook above Yosemite Valley. Half Dome in the distance. Note what the woman on the right is photographing!
The 65E and Nick soaking up the sights at Lake Tahoe.
The 65E and Nick soaking up the sights at Lake Tahoe.

The following day we drive through Tuolumne Meadows, up and over Tioga Pass, down to Mono Lake, then lunch at Bridgeport. This is where Larry & Øyvind turn back to LA, and Nick & I continue north. We say our farewells, then make a stop at Lake Tahoe to admire the deep blue of Emerald Bay, then double-back onto US Hwy 50 and towards the Bay Area. As we come down through California gold rush country I call David Shield, another E-type owner I know through jag-lovers.org and arrang to meet him and another another E-type owner, Tom Pope for a cool drink. Our plan is to allow the sun to set before we again entered the Central Valley!

Meeting fellow E-type owner David Shield in El Dorado Hills, California. David's pristine S2 OTS on the right.
Meeting fellow E-type owner David Shield in El Dorado Hills, California. David's pristine S2 OTS on the right.

Cool drinks and socializing complete, we venture west just as the sun began setting and our drive through the Central Valley is far more pleasant than yesterday’s oven. We stay the night at a friend’s house in Lafayette, a pleasant little town in the hills east of Berkeley. Of my two sons Nick has always shown the most interest in cars. He enjoys helping me work on them, and likes to visit car shows, events, and museums with me. Our objective in the Bay Area is to visit the Blackhawk Collection in Danville. First thing in the morning we find our way to this stunning museum located oddly enough in a shopping center (thankfully at the top of a hill, like my friend’s house in Lafayette for easy roll-starting the E-type!) The Blackhawk Collection is a must-see for any car guy, as it is an excellent display of all forms of automobile from the early days through the present, with an emphasis on pre-war full classics, and post-war sports and muscle cars. Among the cars on display is our car’s doppelganger:

A 1963 OSB OTS E-type, sitting between a T-bird and Phil Hill's first Ferrari.
A 1963 OSB OTS E-type, sitting between a T-bird and Phil Hill's first Ferrari.

The museum is so amazing that Nick & I spend two hours more than we planned for ogling cars. Once again on the road we discuss the cars and I ask Nick which car he would pick to have. He immediately answers “the E-type.” Hoping to provide a lesson in Economics I suggest that the Mercedes-Benz 540k Special Roadster might be a better pick. Why? He already has a silver-blue E-type convertible and the 540k is worth about $6million. He can buy about 100 E-types with that amount of money! It is fun to watch his teenage brain process that information. After all the hot driving we plan on heading for the cooler coast for the rest of the way home. Our route goes over the Bay Bridge, through San Francisco, and then over the Golden Gate. I provide commentary on our surroundings while Nick soaks it all up. He commemorates his passage over the foggy Golden Gate bridge with a self-portrait:

Nick takes a self-portrait as we cross the Golden Gate.
Nick takes a self-portrait as we cross the Golden Gate.

We head up the coast for what becomes a magical afternoon and evening. At first Highway 1 is choked with traffic, but a construction stoplight stops us for 20 minutes and once underway again we never see another car ahead of us! The road is a joy, the weather is mostly excellent (despite a short section of thick, cold fog around Mendocino that had us bundle up), and as the sun heads for the horizon we stop and hit the beach to enjoy the sunset.

A fog bank in Mendocino dropped the temps low enough for us to bundle up in warm clothes.
A fog bank in Mendocino dropped the temps low enough for us to bundle up in warm clothes.
Stopping for the sunset near the north end of CA Hwy 1.
Stopping for the sunset near the north end of CA Hwy 1.

Nick runs around on the beach and climbs rocks while I shoot sunset photos. As the sun slips below the waves Nick stands by my side with his arm around my shoulder; we’re both very happy. We’re utterly alone on this northern California beach, and it is a wonderful moment I will treasure for the rest of my life. We climb back in the Jaguar and (after roll-starting it) continue north in the lingering mid-summer twilight. Darkness falls as we leave the coast and climb towards the Redwoods. We find a hotel and turn in for the night, very tired-but happily so, from a long day’s adventure. The next morning we see the big trees, enjoy a breakfast in Eureka, and head north for Oregon. Traffic is once again thick on US 101, and we take advantage of every scenic loop alternate to escape the parade of RVs, motorcycles, and construction delays. Weather alternates between fog and sun and we stop at several beaches when the conditions are right. We catch glimpses of marine mammals on a few occasions, and even once spot a yellow Ferrari 275 GTB/4 going the other direction on 101! At one stop where I had my telephoto lens on my camera in the vain hope of photographing a pod of porpoises we spotted, I snap a shot of Nicholas that has become my favorite recent photo of him:

We make it about half-way up the Oregon Coast and stop at a small motel in Yachats that advertised a heated indoor swimming pool. After a day of running around on beaches we really need a swim! The clerk offers us a cool room in the form of a lighthouse which turns out to be funky and fun. Nick sleeps on a very high bunk which he thinks is cool.

The view of our unusual hotel room.
The view of our unusual hotel room.

The morning finds the E-type the star of the motel’s parking lot, with a dozen travelers admiring its beauty. I deputize them all into a push-starting crew, and they enthusiastically agree. The parking lot was flat, and Nick is happy to have the help! Traffic on 101 is again not conducive to spirited driving but side-trips prevent me from going insane. A highly recommended alternative to US 101 is the Three Capes Scenic Drive. It is occasionally crowded with bicycles but is otherwise blissfully empty of traffic. Nick & I enjoy a lunch in Astoria, then cross the long bridge into our home state of Washington. Just as on the southbound leg of the trip the weather forecast in our home state was for rain, so once we approach Olympia, we opt to hit I-5 and bee-line home for Arlington. Sure enough as we near our home the rains begin to fall.

A rainbow above our hometown of Arlington, WA welcomes us back.
A rainbow above our hometown of Arlington, WA welcomes us back.

Arriving home is, as always, bittersweet. These almost two weeks on the road with my boys are so amazing that I didn’t ever want it to end. The car however needs to be fixed (I have a new starter installed with the help of both my boys within 10 days, just in time for the Monte Shelton Rally in Oregon) and I have to get back to work. Each of my sons has a unique personality and makes for very different traveling companions. Given the chance I’d hop in the car with either of them and drive off for parts unknown. Traveling in a vintage car is a reward in and of itself, but doing it with my kids makes it so much more enjoyable. While I doubt we’ll be able to repeat such a lengthy journey anytime soon, I hope to make many more with them individually whenever the opportunity arises in the future. Even if the car breaks (as old cars are wont to do) we can tackle most any repair, and we’ll get to know the car, and each other better along the way. As I stated at the beginning of the series this is the best way to get young people interested in old cars. Go on a road trip with the next generation of potential enthusiasts. Let them experience first-hand the joys and occasional trials of vintage motoring. Old cars are things to be used and enjoyed, best of all with your children.

Happy Birthday Nick!

Filed under: Goolsbee News — chuck goolsbee @ 1:08 pm

My son Nicholas turns sixteen today. And yesterday.

An oddity of his birth is that the state put the wrong date on his birth certificate. To be honest I can’t recall which day (21st or 22nd) he was actually born, and which one was the clerical error. Funny how those things play out over time (I’m certain his mother knows though!) We’re taking him out to dinner tonight, but I thought I’d reminisce a bit with a few photos of him that I’ve shot over the years. He’s always been interested in cars, so he’s tagged along with me on a few adventures…

Age 9. Navigating for me on our 2003 trip with the 65E from Colorado to home.
Age 9. Navigating for me on our 2003 trip with the 65E from Colorado to home.

Age 11. Posing with a Lotus at English Classic Cars in Chilliwack, BC.
Age 11. Posing with a Lotus at English Classic Cars in Chilliwack, BC.

Age 11. The Lotus actually fits him!
Age 11. The Lotus actually fits him!

Age 12. Riding along on a JCNA Slalom.
Age 12. Riding along on a JCNA Slalom.

Age 14. Sitting in Philippe Reyns racecar at the Northwest Historics in 2008.
Age 14. Sitting in Philippe Reyns racecar at the Northwest Historics in 2008.

Age 11. Standing by the broken 65E when we were going to the Northwest Historics in 2005.
Age 11. Standing by the broken 65E when we were going to the Northwest Historics in 2005.

Age 7. Smiling over a Christmas gift from his Grandmother Bishop.
Age 7. Smiling over a Christmas gift from his Grandmother Bishop.

Age 15. Looking studly on the Pacific Coast Highway.
Age 15. Looking studly on the Pacific Coast Highway.


Happy Birthday Nicholas!

December 20, 2009

Car Photo of the Day: HMX 87

Filed under: Car Photo Of The Day — chuck goolsbee @ 8:11 pm

This is a semi-famous registration number. Can you guess the car?

December 18, 2009

Car Photo of the Day: Opel of your eye

Filed under: Car Photo Of The Day — chuck goolsbee @ 3:59 pm

Last time I pictured this Opel on my site I received an email from somebody in Germany asking me questions about it. Unfortunately I have no data on it, other than the fact that it appeared at a local car show here in Arlington, WA. It certainly is a nice example of something you don’t see much of these days.

Obscured by Clouds, Catching a Rainbow

Filed under: Photography — chuck goolsbee @ 12:11 pm

No, this isn’t one of my rants about cloud computing hype. I’m talking about real clouds here, not mythical ones. As I was leaving my house this morning a rainbow caught my eye. What was most striking about it at first was the fact that it was partially behind some clouds at first. In all my years on this earth I have yet to see a rainbow that is mostly obscured by clouds.

Thankfully I had my camera with me (as I’m stalking the 787 around my office window these days.) I stopped, and backed up a bit, and stepped out of the car to fire off the shot you see above. I continued on my way, and at the bottom of the hill, where I turn onto SR 530 there is an old-style blue barn, and the rainbow was now clearly visible above that picturesque barn. Unfortunately this dairy farmer has stacked up shipping containers around the base of the barn so a little telephoto in-lens cropping to eliminate the eyesores…

Further down the road where the two forks of the Stillaguamish River meet and the valley opens up I noted how the light was playing all sorts of tricks and had to again stop and shoot a few frames. The rainbow was now casting a strange “shadow” of light from the low-angle sun we see at this latitude (48°N) this time of year. Another phenomena I have rarely seen, and until now never captured.

Sitting aside the road, with my camera atop a small tripod on my car’s roof, it was a great start for the day. Sort of put me at peace to stop and catch a rainbow instead of just trudging to the office through traffic again.

December 17, 2009

Let’s go for a ride!

Filed under: Thoughts — chuck goolsbee @ 11:15 am

From the YouTube page description:

The Known Universe takes viewers from the Himalayas through our atmosphere and the inky black of space to the afterglow of the Big Bang. Every star, planet, and quasar seen in the film is possible because of the world’s most complete four-dimensional map of the universe, the Digital Universe Atlas that is maintained and updated by astrophysicists at the American Museum of Natural History. The new film, created by the Museum, is part of an exhibition, Visions of the Cosmos: From the Milky Ocean to an Evolving Universe, at the Rubin Museum of Art in Manhattan through May 2010.

I love visualizations like this. Thinking at scales like this is very hard for the human brain to do. Seeing it helps, but the timescales involved in traveling this distance overwhelm even my fairly open mind.

Hat tip to Tom Negrino via twitter.

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