13th Annual Birthday Party
Silver Lake, Ontario
June 22 & 23, 1996
This trip was unusual in that I had packed my bags and loaded the Rover by noon on Thursday for a 6AM Friday departure. It really makes the trip more enjoyable when at 1AM, instead of running around doing last minute packing and trying to stuff everything into the Rover, I'm sitting at a bar enjoying a Mount Gay & tonic (or several) and 'wowing' the young lady next to me with tales of my upcoming (soon!) journey.
Somehow, I dragged myself out of bed and. a shower being worth 5 hours of sleep, left on schedule... excited to be on the road, and about the event itself... carefree, save for nagging worries about mechanical failure. Although my Rover is in excellent condition and as trouble-free as a 30 year old vehicle can be, it's not totally bulletproof. Only 10 days before I'd been traveling home from a trip to Michigan when I had a breakdown,my overdrive unit failed. Unfortunately, this isn't the ordinary type of Rover problem that can be solved with ingenuity, duct tape and bailing wire. It requires that you have parts to either fix or bypass the overdrive. I was carrying neither, and spent two nights in a motel in Pennsylvania. For the first time, my Rover had failed to get me home, and now I my confidence was shaken.
Fortunately, I had a new toy to distract me. As a frequent sailor on other-people's-boats, I own a portable Garmin GPS, and had installed a bracket and power cable in the Rover. Dixon emailed me Lat/Long coordinates for Silver Lake which I entered as a waypoint so that I could track my progress towards camp. For the first two hours the Distance To Waypoint didn't change,I was scribing a giant circle around the camp. I began to question my wisdom at using the Route 66 software to map my route.
This didn't bother me for long. It was shaping into a beautiful day for a roadtrip. As soon as the sun warmed the morning, I removed the hood (roof) and enjoyed a rag top day, speeding along at a stately 50mph, cruising speed without overdrive, and alternating between listening to Jimmy Buffett CDs, chatter on the CB and for any noises indicating mechanical trouble. Even the usually dark force of Joe Lucas smiled kindly on me and hours later I arrived at the Canadian border,the Rover's first international checkpoint since I'd acquired her!
Route 66 proved it's worth by sending me over the 1000 Islands Bridge. At the Birthday Party I heard a story from another group who had crossed elsewhere... a place where French was the language of choice. This could have proved difficult as the Customs officer's primary concern was that I might be carrying a weapon. I can say I'm unarmed, though only preceded by the phrase don't shoot,in Spanish. However my French is targeted towards international survival phrases of a slightly different nature. Such as Je suis dèsolè, je ne sauais pas que c'ètait vôtre femme. Vôtre fille! Je ne peux le croire! Attendez, il n'est nul besoin de devenir violent. Or Garcon, s'ilvout plait, apportez moi la sauce Tabasco?
Fortunately, English was acceptable to the attractive young lady asking the questions and after convincing her that appearances aside, I wasn't a threat to Canada or it's citizens, I was allowed to proceed. Here I found the GPS to be useful. I used the Speed Over Ground feature so as not to attract the attention of the Ontario Provincial Police.
Arriving at the official campsite at Silver Lake, I quickly located OVLR Secretary Dixon Kenner camped out in the area that was to become The Netslum,the part of the camp staked out by a group of members who aren't all from the Ottawa area, or even from the same area, but who none-the-less know each other from the internet. Dixon greeted me with his typical g'day and immediately showed me his newest project,the Offroad Beer Cooler.
Before camp gets crowded Jan Hilborn gathers flowers with the idea of either deocrating The Netslum or giving Dixon's Green Beastie a proper funeral.
As more people began to arrive, many asked Where are those guys with the kitchen trailer? They were supposed to have been here hours ago!' The trailer, which was designed and built by OVLR members and serves as mobile HQ, communications center and chow wagon, eventually arrived. A number of people pitched in to get the canopy set up.
As a friend looks on, Al Richer goes to welcome Spencer Norcross. Al helped Spencer place his Wayback Machine upon a new frame and wanted to see how his handywork had held up to the journey from Boston. Al was supposed to convoy to the event with Spenny, but abandoned him after waiting 5 minutes at the designated rendevous.
pencer Norcross and his constant companion Bo arrived with three styles of event T-shirts that he had designed featuring photos from last years Birthday Party. There were many comments about Bill Maloney's Rover actually getting dirty and the Desperate Dale takes a nap under his Rover shirt quickly sold out. However, it was the Pray to Allah shirt that everyone coveted. This limited edition was reserved exclusively for members who traveled great distance to reach the event. It was never determined exactly how many miles one needed to travel in order to qualify, but we decided that it certainly farther than Dixon traveled,even if we measured his journey in kilometers.
Spenny not only created the Pray to Allah shirt on his back, he brewed the Nutty Brown Dog Ale in his hand too!
Shirts and bottles of ale were quickly distributed and people continued to arrive. Bill Caloccia, keeper of the Land Rover Owner Mailing List, pulled up in style. His Series Rover wasn't running, so he had to settle for driving the Range Rover. Tents were set up... lies were swapped... and fun was had at the expense of others. Christine had the latest line of OVLR fashions available. I purchased some swim trunks and a hat that were both both embroidered with the club logo. Al had to get presents for his wife and daughter,At least they received appropriate attire for their trip to the Downeast Rally two weeks later. While we were milling about someone made a startling discovery. There was a strange similarity between two of the Land-Rovers.
Don't bother asking for Grey Poupon. Bill Caloccia is not your typical Range Rover owner and he's not afraid to get out and test his vehicle's mettle. This photo was taken during Saturday's offroad drive...right after we forded the water crossing.
Dinner was up to the individual. A large group headed to a nearby motel restaurant where, once the management had a look at them, they were forced to dine outdoors. The large selection of Rovers filling the parking lot caused a number of passersby to slow down and stare,Shades of a Saturn Owners convention.
Friday night was spent socializing under a beautiful clear sky. Those of us used to civilization were amazed by the vastness of space and incredible number of visible stars. Camp chairs came out, bug candles were lit, and a small but intense group gathered around the Offroad Beer Cooler to talk about anything and everything. Several people ignored our warning to be careful of that gopher hole and we were forced to prescribe quantities of medicinal alcohol. Al Richer managed to avoid the pit, only to entertain us all when the lounge chair that he's boasted about swiping from his wife collapsed beneath him.
Battle of the Home-Brewers commenced with Spenny's Nutty Brown Dog Ale going head-to-head against Al's Churchill's Diesel Crankcase Stout. After several rounds of judging the international panel of experts declared the contest to be a tie,at least until more product was made available for testing!
Dixon Kenner and the shrine that was built upon the Green Beastie's bonnet. Another one of Spenny's creations, the Desperate Dale Tee-shirt is shown. The large hole in the head gasket illustrates Dixon's commitment to routine maintenance. He figures he ran it like that for a year or so...
Of course, Rovers were on everyone's mind. While admiring Dixon's The Green Beastie and the shrine on it's bonnet, Russell Wilson remarked This is the only Rover I've ever seen that makes me feel good about mine. Dixon was quick to deflect the remark towards others by quipping How could anybody spend ten grand on a Rover? As guilty parties exchanged covert glances Dixon fueled the fire further, And I'm talking about ten Canadian. This banter continued late into the night, until Mike Loiodice's arrival, preceded (by several minutes) by the sound of bagpipes blasting from his Rover's stereo system.
Spencer jumped up on Mike's roof rack to help unload. About the time he'd gotten everything down off of the rack Mike had chosen a camp sight about 50 feet away. Rather than carry the stuff, Spenny decided to pile it on the bonnet of Mike's Rover, despite pleas to the contrary. Unable to see through the pile of camping equipment, Mike parked the Rover the only way he could,by feel. Justice was served though, it was Spencer's 88 that served as the 'gone too far' marker. Bill Caloccia and I were both parked nearby. We let out a sigh of relief when Mike finally shut off the engine. Spenny just went over to his truck and pulled out the dent before any pictures could be taken. After Mike pitched camp, we continued carousing into the wee hours. I finally stumbled to my tent at around 3:30AM and immediately fell asleep.
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