Blog Entry #1 September 23rd to 24th 2015 – Cary, NC to Darien, GA

9-23-2015 Dan and Jean Fuccella with 1950 Willys Overland Jeep Station Wagon

Jean and I have begun what has become our annual trek and test of marital fortitude.  Like our past treks to Mississippi, Central Florida, Western US, and Maine, this trip looks to provide a combination of hours of sole-soothing cruising and seconds of high tension combativeness.  Breaking my vow never to let Jean carry anything but soft folded maps, I have condescended to her request to tote along the large, heavy county map books; which are capable of inflicting serious injury when thrust at this driver along with the words “here, you figure it out!”

Its kind of like the person with one foot in boiling water and the other on dry ice – on average all is quite pleasant.

Around noon on Wednesday, September 23, 2015, Jean & I finally extricated ourselves from professional and household obligations in Cary, NC; making it as far as the NAPA Auto Parts dealer to pick up a spare rotor, distributor cap, and point file for the trip to the Florida Keys in our trusty 1950 Willys Jeep station wagon. This parts stop was followed by lunch just up the street from NAPA at the Havana Café before starting out on the trek to the Florida Keys.  At this point having no idea what either our back-roads route or first night’s destination might be.  We did know that the trip was to include a stop at a former client and dear friend in Georgetown, SC.

Warning: Car Stuff

Before we get into the trip; a moment for details on car preparation.  Jeep is in top notch shape. After electrical connector issues on our trek West in 2013 and before our trip to Maine in 2014, we completely rewired the Jeep and replaced all ignition components, voltage regulator, and the overdrive kick-down switch. Also, after the trip to Maine, we totally rebuilt the brake system, including the retrofitting of a dual master cylinder and new brake lines.  Last minute preparations this month included new distributor cap, rotor, & spark plugs, cleaning and resetting the points, and replacing the accelerator petal and the Jeep’s body mounts which had the consistency of concrete after 65 years of service (imagine).

Back to the trip.  We did, in fact, make it to Georgetown, SC on Wednesday evening, where, as the guest of our friend Melvin were treated to an insider’s tour of the town the following morning.  Melvin’s family members are long standing contributors to the Georgetown community; which includes the founding of a funeral home by his great-grandfather that Melvin directs today. It was a memorable visit with a fine friend to an impressive city.  Thank you Melvin.

Thursday, September 24th Jean and I headed down the Atlantic Coast to Darien, GA where Jean lived up to her reputation as champion raw oyster gobbler at a local seafood restaurant.  After dinner, we were treated to a situation that frequently occurs with the old Jeep.  Basically, the Jeep is a chick magnet.  On several occasions Jean and I have been accosted by women who cannot resist the urge to tell us just how much they “love your car”.  It doesn’t seem to matter that Jean is sitting in the Jeep.  Usually, they just rest their arms on the driver’s window sill and express their admiration (of the car, of course) through the driver’s window.  On this occasion, as Jean sat patiently in the passenger’s seat, a fairly attractive red haired lady (not as attractive as Jean, of course), extricated me from the driver’s seat and “forced” her way into that location to us how much she loved the car.  Jean and I had a good laugh after she jumped out and scurried off.

I should mention that on the way to Darien GA, we encountered a torrential downpour as we passed to west of Charleston, SC.  The next morning we learned that a tornado had touched down near the route that we followed – at the time we were in the area.  Spooky.   We did encounter a few tense moments during the downpour.  In the midst of the darkness and blinding rain (I will tell you about our wimpy windshield wipers some other time) we noticed that the ammeter on our instrument panel was indicating charging failure.  Not a good thing to encounter when trying to maintain forward motion in a blinding rainstorm driving down a 4-lane secondary road.  Withour headlights on, we figured we were probably good for a half hour of  before the battery would be drained to the point where we would experience ignition failure.  Fortunately, the rain backed off; and whatever had caused the charging disruption (most likely water shorting out the ammeter behind the instrument panel) ceased and we were back in business.

Blog Entry #2 September 25th 2015 - St. Simons Island and Starke, FL