GoF Here We Come!

“Where are you going?” asked the US Border Guard.

“We’re going to Buellton California”, I replied.

“Who’s we?” he asked.

“Me and the two guys in the lane behind you”, I replied.  He turned around and looked at Gary and Kerry in the 1955 MG TF in the lane behind him.

“Carry on” he said, and off we went for a quick pit stop in Blaine, before hammering down the I5 to the exit to Fairhaven.

It was 6:30 am on 23 June 2022 at the Pacific Truck Crossing. I’d spent the night at Kerry’s house in Fort Langley in order to save myself the extra hour it would’ve taken me to travel from West Vancouver to meet the team in Aldergrove.  As it was, today was going to be the Longest Day. Not only did we have a distance of 350 miles to travel, but today also included a ferry ride.  Our destination was Tillamook WA, on route to Buellton CA for the 50th GoF West meeting.

At the Shell station, just off the exit to Fairhaven, we met the rest of the gang.  Warren and Kerri Shott and their blue ‘53 MG TD, Alan Donaldson in his red ‘50 MG TD. Unfortunately, Kim was unable to bring ‘Scarlet’, his red ‘50 MG TD, since he had some concerns regarding the engine’s health, so he brought his Hyundai. Kim is the UnClub’s tail-end Charlie, since he always brings up the rear of any convoy.  He’s the guy who picks up any pieces that may fall off the cars in front of him. Kim knows everything there is to know about the T -Series cars and a very valuable asset to the team. It turned out to be fortuitous that he brought his Hyundai and had the foresight to include a tow-bar.

After filling up at the Shell station we decided, since we had enough time to get the 10:30 ferry from Coupeville to Port Townsend, we could make the trip via the scenic Chuckanut Drive rather than going down the I5.  And so, ‘The Magnificent Seven’ set off.

From Chuckanut Drive we merged onto Hwy11 and hit traffic.  I got separated from the rest of the crew behind a large truck and other vehicles and as we entered the roundabout to turn onto Highway 20, horror of horrors, I took the wrong turn off and found myself on a divided highway heading to Anacortes with no way to turn around until I reached Fidalgo Bay, at which point I was about half way to Anacortes. After doing a U-turn back onto Highway 20, it was pedal to the metal down to the roundabout and back on towards Coupeville.  Now I was far behind the crew.  Whether or not I would  make it in time for the ferry was my main concern. ‘Chillipepper’ didn’t let me down and we made it to the ferry terminal with time to spare. 

From Port Townsend we travel down the 101 along the scenic Hood Canal, with an obligatory pit stop for ice cream at Hoodsport.

Hoodsport pit stop for ice cream

Then it was on to Tillamook via Astoria. We rolled into Tillamook about 6:00 pm after a long 12-hour day.

Friday 24th of June. Today’s destination is Gold Beach Oregon, a mere 245 miles away. We proceeded down the scenic Highway 101 with a variety of weather varying from warm August sunshine to cold and misty.

Left: Arch Cape, Oregon Right: Humbug Mountain

Lincoln City, Oregon

Entering Coos Bay with Greg and Alan in front of me I noticed that the Shotts and Kim were not behind me. I signal Greg to stop.  We waited quite a while and when they didn’t appear I managed to call Kim, who informed me that the Shotts’ TD had experienced a catastrophic failure and he was unable to get it started.  He suggested that we carry on to Gold River and they would catch up with us.

Late in the afternoon they arrived at the motel in Gold River in Kim’s car. Kim informed us that after having to make adjustments at a mechanical shop to the tow bar in order for it to fit the TD, they had towed the car into Coos Bay to find a place to leave it. While trying to arrange to leave it at a Toyota dealership, a stranger pulled up and offered to let them leave the car at his house.  They took him up on his offer.

“Aren’t you concerned about leaving the car with a stranger”? I asked. “Say, when you get back there, the car is gone, and he just denies ever having seen you”?

Something to worry about for the next 8 days.

Heading to Ukiah California the next day along Highway 101, we detoured through the spectacular Avenue of the Giants and the Humboldt Redwoods State Park.  Humbolt Redwoods State Park.

Humbolt Redwoods State Park

Days 4 and 5 we continued along Highway 101 through Monterey, and Big Sur to the Golden Gate Bridge then on to the Old Pacific Highway (Hwy 1) and finally arriving in very sunny Buellton California.

Three Cars at Big Sur

The GoF agenda included displays of arts crafts photos, and models. Also featured were technical sessions, a funkhana, and the field car display [PICTURE River View Park Field Meet 1 & River View Park Field Meet 3] and a rallye/tour, receptions, and buffets dinners.

River View Park Field Meet

Three and a half miles from Buellton lies the Danish town of Solvang – Danish architecture, Danish bakeries, and a bust of Hans Christian Andersen in the town park.  No visit to Solvang would be complete without a sample of Danish pastry.

Danish and Coffee Solvang

Gary, who had attended many GoF meetings, suggested that we enter the rallye/tour with me as driver and he as navigator. Gary had a plan. After picking up our tour itinerary and the clue sheets we set off. However, I noticed that Gary wasn’t pay particular attention to identifying all the clues on the route, or worrying about our timing. We just enjoyed the drive along the scenic winding country roads. At one point we missed a turn and proceeded on our own tour, linking up with the itinerary further along.

Awards night and the Magnificent Seven from BC cleaned up. Alan won the second place in the Car Display TD Class, Warren and Kerri won the Hard Luck award. The group won the ‘Cumulated Highest Mileage’ for any MG club, with a total of 4345 miles. I won the individual long-distance award for having travelled 1474 miles from West Vancouver to Buellton and Gary and I won the rallye award for ‘Dead Last, But Finished’. That was Gary’s plan.

The Magnificent 7 Winners

After four glorious days in Buellton, we headed home on July 1. On the way to Monterey, California we detoured through the scenic suburb of Pebble Beach. The second day we travelled to Ukiah and on the third day to Gold Beach.

On the fourth day, heading toward Tillamook, Gary’s TF experienced a water pump gasket failure.

Roadside Repair Water pump gasket

Once again thank goodness for Kim, his Hyundai and the tow bar. After a brief roadside inspection, it was determined that we’d have to tow the TF to North Bend, where Warren and Kerri had left their TD. Much to our relief, there was the TD in the Good Samaritan‘s driveway. The Good Samaritan was a gentleman named Harold who extended us great hospitality while the TF water pump gasket was being replaced.

After five hours of repair work, we were back on the road to Tillamook.

The next day we headed home. But Gary’s woes were not over. Near Shelton WA, his TF got a flat tire! After a roadside tire change, we were on our way again. Three T-Series on the road and one behind a tow bar. Back up the 101 to Port Townsend and then the ferry across to Whidbey Island onto I20 over Deception Pass then the I5 at Burlington. At Bellingham, Gary Kerry, Kim and the Shotts heading off to the Sumas crossing, I peeled off to the Pacific Truck crossing, and Alan continued on to the Peace Arch crossing. Parting Was Such Sweet Sorrow. After another long day, I arrived home at around 10 PM.

Tony Cohen