Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The evolution of Vintage Trailer Magazine

It's not very often that you come up with an idea that nobody else has had. I'm pretty proud of the fact that my magazine was the first one in the world made specifically about vintage caravans and trailers. 

I started the magazine back in 2011 after having received lots of positive comments from people about my stories on this blog and in other magazine I was writing for as a freelancer. I love writing and sharing stories, I love vintage style, vintage caravans and traveling and this allowed me to combine all of my passions into one pursuit.

The magazine soon had subscribers from all over the world and got a lot of attention! I tried to cover stories from as many places as the stories were coming in from and began traveling regularly between the places where most of the readers came from: Australia, America and New Zealand which, coincidentally, were places I had spent the most time growing up in as well. I was born in Australia and my mother is Australian, my Dad was born in Canada but grew up in America. We spent several years in New Zealand when I was growing up. I went to college in Los Angeles, got married and had my kids in Australia and my Mum lives in New Zealand, so I consider all of these places home...

Knowing that the word "Caravan" means something completely different in America than it does in Australia, I registered and trademarked the name Vintage Trailer Magazine as well to cater for our American readers.

The next step was finding a U.S. based printer that could reproduce the same high quality and glossy publication that I wanted so that shipping costs to send it to the subscribers wouldn't deter the growing American market and I am pleased to say I have now been able to do that.

Although it was a little disheartening that others came along and copied my idea, I knew I wouldn't be the only one forever and take heart in the old adage that "mimicry is the highest form of flattery". And maybe I'm a bit biased, but I still think mine is the best!

In 2014 I set up a home and office in Oregon, where my sister had lived for the past 18 years and fell in love with the place! So many trees and rivers and mountains and snow... I think it is as close to heaven as I've been! I sold my 1965 Viscount "Vicky" to buy a 1953 Hudson Hornet to use in America and set off on a huge trip to discover more of my new home, from California across the top through Washington, Idaho, Montana, South Dakota and Iowa to Illinois with a 1956 Mercury trailer in tow.

From there I joined up with the Sisters on the Fly Route 66 trip and made some amazing friends who were just as wild and adventurous and brave as I was. I am so thankful to real life sisters Maurrie and Becky for sharing their passions with so many and creating a group where women can be girls, but still be empowered and silly too! This is Becky's trailer on the cover of Vintage Trailer Magazine Issue 26 - that's their Amazing Mum Maizie in the painting. Now she was a wild one!

Every time a new issue comes off the presses I feel as excited as a mother who has just been handed her brand new baby for the very first time. Even though I pore over every detail for the months leading up to print day, whenever I have the actual magazine in my hands, it's like I am seeing it for the very first time... every time! It never gets boring.

I make myself comfy, have a nice cup of hot chocolate or a sweet treat and sit and read it from cover to cover and every story takes on a whole new dimension when it is there on paper in front of me. I read it as if I have never seen it before, and it honestly feels like that! 

How it all comes together is still a bit of a mystery to me, but somehow it does, from the skeleton to the fleshing it, it comes to life in pieces until the day a new magazine is born. And, like a new baby, it's exhausting and it keeps me up at nights many times, but I still love it to bits! 

Here is the latest issue #29 of Vintage Trailer Magazine - out now.
Subscriptions can be ordered at

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Trailer Park Life

Sometimes you know, what goes around comes around and you find yourself getting that funny feeling that life really does revolve in circles... hopefully outwardly and with a slight improvement at every circumnavigation, but somehow still, in circles.

For the past six months while I have been adjusting to life with Rheumatoid Arthritis and a significant reduction in my income while I was not working, this has been my home. It's not exactly Shangri-La and it has its limitations (ie: No running hot water or toilet and it's a bit of a walk to the amenities block) but at least it is vintage! It has served its purpose well and provided me with the perfect place to rest up and have some healing time. Summer here was great. Right behind my caravan there is a lovely pool surrounded by tropical palms and nobody else seemed to use it. I was in there every day, soaking up as much sun as I could to ensure my Vitamin D levels stayed good, and swimming sixty laps a day (it's a small pool) which really helped me get the mobility back in my ankles and hands. When I first came here I could barely walk and my hands looked like this:

I spent a lot of my time confined to my very comfy pillow top bed so the smallness of my space wasn't really an issue, besides my favourite TV shows are the ones all about Tiny Houses and I figure this is just as cool as a tiny home, right?

For the first two months before this place came up for rent I was living in Betty and had no TV, so I read a lot of books from the give and take library down at the office until I had saturated my capacity for romance novels (for some reason that seems to be the most popular type of book left behind by grey nomads!) 

Moving into the onsite caravan felt like luxury after being confined to 13 feet for that long. I was able to get my TV out of storage and even had a full sized fridge to keep my stores of fresh pineapple, paw paw, rockmelon, ginger, spinach, celery and spinach for my morning green smoothies. Oh joy! Pineapple and ginger is grown locally so that is a special treat that is also good for me.

The other great thing about being here on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland has been the best ever beaches: Caloundra, Maroochydore, Mooloolabah are all just a short drive away and more sun and the magnesium in the sea water were especially healing for my aching body. I went to the beach a lot. My daughter came for visits and we'd go to the beach together so that was nice too.

Sunshine makes me happy!

Inside my caravan there is the bedroom, a dining area that I use as a desk when I am on the computer, and a small kitchen area with a plug in hot plate and fridge. The front of the caravan is a spare room where the kids stay when they visit and that I use as a dressing room the rest of the time.

The hard annex on the side of the van is where I have my lounge room and TV and book shelves and is where I set up my rowing machine. I bought some fluffy white rugs to cover up the yucky blue green carpet that was in there and brought in a vintage lounge suite and the super cool coffee table I got from Greazefest a few years ago and tried to retro it all up a bit.

Out the back I have my 1960s wrought iron outdoor setting that matches the long seat that I have out out the front. It needs to be restored eventually, but I think it looks cool there with the umbrella.

Unfortunately the new owners of this park are in the process of developing it to become an over 55's retirement resort. Most of the other renters here have moved on and their caravans have been given away free for removal and the annexes demolished. My caravan's days are numbered... and eventually, some time soon, it will be taken away and demolished too. Sad... It's the end of an era; for me, and the park and so many others around the country.

Time for me to think about where to from here... Good things are coming!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

In search of Mary Poppins

(And my journey with RA...)

I came back to Australia in December to a broken down Cresta with no engine in it, and my pink caravan Betty stuck in a shed out in Leyburn, three hours west of Brisbane. To top it all off I was, much like the Cresta, very, very sick.

All of my furniture had been packed into a shipping container when I left my house in Maleny last February. It was weird coming home to no home, and even more frustrating having no car.
My main priority in coming back to Australia had been to spend Christmas with my kids and to try and get my health issues sorted. Medicare is a wonderful thing when you have a chronic illness.

After my Route 66 trip ended in Ventura in June last year, I had noticed when I got up the next morning that I had severe pain in both of my feet and my hands. I assumed it was some kind of strain from the big drive. I could barely walk to the bathroom and as I shuffled along, with every step feeling as though I was walking on shards of broken glass, people asked me what was wrong.
“I think I have Hudson Pedalitis”, I replied jokingly. I never for a moment suspected it was anything bad.  

But the pain got worse and worse. And then it started moving around my body. A week later I awoke shrieking in pain as a sensation that I could only describe as like having a blunt drill bit boring into the bones in my feet. The slightest touch caused unbearable pain and even the weight of the blankets was more than I could stand. 

The pain then moved into my shoulders and arms. I found it hard to dress myself and didn’t even have enough strength to pull the sheets up when I slept. My fingers started swelling and bending in strange angles and within weeks I became so crippled that I couldn't stand at all and needed help to get to the toilet. At one point I even needed a wheelchair to get around.
Something was seriously wrong.

After about a month I realized that this was not just muscle strain. I ended up at a Critical Care Clinic and they ran some blood tests and I was quickly referred to a rheumatologist.
“You have Rheumatoid Arthritis”, he said, and I burst into tears. My Rheumatoid Factor was 267, which he told me indicated the more severe form of seropositive RA. He also said mine was obviously a particularly aggressive case because of the sudden onset and debilitating effects it was having on me already.

Having been told by the clinic that RA was suspected, I had looked it up, and nothing I had read about it instilled much confidence in me. The prognosis was not good and I could find no evidence anywhere of anyone ever having cured it.
“Are you sure?” I asked.
“Yes”, he said. “Your blood tests are off the charts high, there is no doubt you have RA. But the good news is that at least you don’t have Lupus”.  I think that was his attempt at humour.

So I feel this need now, one year later, to tell my RA story and how it has affected me. RA shattered my confidence. I have always been a fit and health-conscious person. I eat healthy food, preferably organic when I can, and enjoyed exercise and going to the gym. I rowed an hour a day and used to climb cliffs and dance for hours. 

I had always believed that if I looked after myself, and treated my body with respect, that I would be healthy. I felt my body had betrayed me. During the past twelve months I have navigated my way through the five stages of grief as I adjusted to the fact that the bouncy, bubbly, energetic, capable and proudly independent person I had always defined myself as being, was gone. What was left was a tired, sore, sad and frustrated person who needed help to do the most basic of tasks.

So what had I done wrong? It’s hard not to assume that when a savage disease like this hits you. I looked for answers everywhere, and desperately hoped for a natural solution. I went on a super restrictive ant-inflammatory alkalizing diet and hoped I could get by without taking the drugs I had been prescribed: Prednisone and a highly toxic chemotherapy drug called Methotrexate. 

Because RA is an autoimmune disease caused by the immune system attacking and destroying the joints, the drugs they use are given because they suppress the immune system. I don’t know about you, but I kinda like having an immune system!

Anyway, long story short, it takes the specialists a very long time to get the treatments right.  They try the cheapest drugs on you first, watch as you continue to suffer in unbearable pain and immobility before trying the next (more expensive and more effective) drugs. 

I am now on the third tier of this process.  I am not sure if it is the new drugs, the restricted diet, the six months off work I have had under doctors orders (during which I slept a lot - sometimes up to fourteen hours a day!) or the Bikram yoga classes I have been taking five nights a week for the past month, but I am feeling 1000% better. I can walk normally again and my strength is slowly returning.  I accept my limitations and have learned to adjust to life with RA. I still have slight pain if I exert myself too much, but compared to what it was, I feel great! I trust in my body's innate ability to regenerate and heal. I have regained my mojo and now have a renewed sense of purpose and zest for life and a deeper appreciation than ever for noticing and treasuring the good things in my life.
Never take what you have for granted. Life can change in an instant.

So, back to Mary Poppins…
I managed to borrow a car and relocate my caravan from out west back to the showgrounds at Maleny where I planned to camp a while until I knew what to do next. Not being in any particular rush, I decided to turn the journey into a bit of a historical treasure hunt.  The roads between the Darling Downs and Maleny take you through some absolutely stunning parts of the countryside. I like to take the little back road just past Gatton that skirts around the Toowoomba range and and winds along Ma Ma Creek with its caravan-friendly speed limit of 40kph and stunning rock cliffs. 

I always make sure I stop in the charming picturesque stuck-in-time country towns like Clifton, Esk and Kilcoy that are filled with historic old buildings that I love so much to grab a bite to eat or a drink and check out the local shops to do my small bit to help the economies of these places.  

The last leg of the journey takes me from Woodford upwards to the Blackall  Ranges where rolling green hills give glimpses through the mist to those “now I am home” Glasshouse Mountains.  

There’s something about that view that never fails to take my breath away. The sight of it always inspires me to start me singing the Carpenters: “I’m on the top of the world, looking down on creation…” at the top of my lungs.

I had recently watched a movie on TV called Saving Mr. Banks about the difficult relationship Walt Disney had with the author of Mary Poppins producing the film version of her semi-autobiographical story. In the flashbacks to her life, there was a scene when she attended a country fair with her parents as a child and I saw the banner “Allora Country Fair” in the background.

I knew there was an Allora in Queensland and that it was not far from Leyburn, so I assumed our Allora must have been named after an English one. Then I heard the Australian accents and realized it was actually set in Queensland!

That was it. I was a woman on a mission. I was going to go to Allora and find Mary Poppins house. Setting off from Leyburn, I made sure I really took my time and made a real road trip adventure out of it. There’s something about country Queensland that has always really appealed to me. Especially after having spent so long in America, it just all felt so very typically Australian - like home. 

The gum trees lining the roads, the paddocks filled with long, dry grass that swayed in the wind. The historic old buildings of the small towns that dot the vast open spaces of not much else in between.

I love the sight of kangaroos nibbling the short fresh shoots of grass along the roadside ( you just have to slow down as they do tend to jump out in front of you unexpectedly!).  I love the way the sun seems to cast a unique sunbaked golden glow that I have only ever noticed when I am on the road in Australia. I passed through fields of blooming sunflowers and sorghum, stopping to take photos of every wondrous part of my journey.

It felt good to be back in the land where I was born, to feel the red brown dirt under my feet, and have the scent of eucalyptus in my nostrils. I felt alive and free and in no rush to be anywhere. I took my time and savoured every moment, sight, smell and sensation.  It was bliss! I even bumped into my good friend Wirruunga with his rainbow coloured bus who had stopped for lunch at a rest area. He was also heading back to Maleny after a big trip way out west - small world!

Pulling into Allora, I stopped at the petrol station to ask for directions to Mary Poppins House. Right at the end of the main street, past the quaint old shop fronts unchanged for over a hundred years, it sat. Just like it was in the movie. In fact, I later found out that the producers of the movie had consulted with the owners of the house to get every feature of the stately old Queenslander home to scale so that the one in the movie is an identical replica of the actual home that P.L Travers lived in back in early 1900’s.

I parked Betty right outside the house and wandered around the little town a bit and then down to the nearby creek and as I did so I imagined the young Helen Goff, as she was known back then, sharing this same walk hand in hand with her beloved father.
I was amazed that I had never heard about this link to such a famous author, that after all these years living here, I had never known that such a famous writer had been born and raised right here in Queensland!

Life is full of surprises and sometimes it just takes a road trip to discover them!

PS: Vintage Caravan Magazine Issue 28 is currently being printed and will be on sale on the 30th June. Order your copies now at:

Saturday, February 13, 2016

My Big American Road Trip

I am happy to report that my big American Road Trip in May - June 2015 panned out a lot more successfully than my big Aussie Road Trip had, although it was not without its incidents - as all story-worthy road trips are.
There was enough "epic-ness" to this journey to fill a whole book... and maybe I will one day!

After months and months of preparation, the time had eventually come for our epic American road trip to begin. My awesome hot rod mechanic Dave Jobe had installed brand new disc brakes, a new radiator and exhaust system and given the Hudson a full going over to make sure it was ready for the trip. I was sent off with gallons of fluids and strict instructions to check the oil, coolant and automatic transmission fluid every day. The prize giveaway 1956 Mercury was all packed and I had plenty of room to stash clothes and supplies to last me for two months on the road.  All that was left for me to do was to hook up, and hit the road.

On the 4th of May, I set off from Oakland Oregon, meeting up with my Sister on the Fly travel buddy Linda Hutt in Portland on the first leg of the journey to Chicago. We travelled via Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Minnesota checking out some amazing sights along the way. By the time we got to Deadwood in South Dakota, we advised by the KOA campground staff to move on as quickly as possible as they were expecting eight inches of snow the next day. After checking out the Presidents carved into the rocks of Mount Rushmore, we hightailed it on to the Badlands, keeping one step ahead of the storms, or so we thought…

The next morning Linda knocked on my door. 
"Lisa, what do you call this?" she said. 
It was snowing - a lot! Resembling an arid moonscape, the Badlands under snow was quite a sight to behold.  The storm had hit a day earlier than expected and when a motorhome pulled in piled high with snow that had just made a hasty retreat from the blizzard up on the highway, we knew it was time to move on.  The Hudson wipers struggled to keep the snow off the windshield and at the Pioneer Auto Museum in Murdo I had to pull over to scrape the snow off so that I could see where I was going.  

We finally managed to get ahead of the storm and by the time we reached Sioux Falls, the snow had subsided to heavy rain with wind, lightning and thunder.
The next day we planned to continue east to La Crosse, Wisconsin. A chance encounter at one of my many gas stops (the Hudson only has a fifteen gallon tank and towing was running at about ten miles to the gallon, so my petrol stops were frequent – thank goodness for cheap American petrol!) saw us make a change of route.

The Hudson always drew plenty of admirers wherever we went and at one stop in a small place called Albert Lea in Minnesota we met a lovely hot rodder called Brian who recommended we take a short cut through Iowa to Joliet to avoid the traffic and tolls around Chicago. He had a Willy’s Jeep in a truck and was heading that way, so he cruised with us for a while through the acres and acres of cornfields of Iowa until we pulled off at Waterloo for the night and he carried on. Brian had also told us that if we continued on this way we would drive right past the American Pickers Iowa store; Antique Archeology, so we made sure we stopped in there on the way to Joliet. Although they were closed for filming, Rob Wolfe (Mike’s brother) and Danielle Colby saw the Hudson and the caravan and came out for a chat and a photo.  American Pickers is my favourite TV show, so this was a definite highlight for me.

 On the 12th of May, after one week on the road, we crossed over the Mississippi river and cruised into Joliet, Illinois for the “Sisters Get their kicks on Route 66” kick off party with the rest of our Sisters on the Fly. On Wednesday we all went into Adams Street, in downtown Chicago for our group photo with the official start of Route 66 sign before hitting Route 66 with our caravans in tow and heading towards Springfield, Illinois.

We stopped at the Gemini Giant in Wilmington and the quaint old Standard Oil Gas Station in Odell with its blue and white Winnebago parked out front and in Pontiac I got a cool photo of the Hudson and the caravan with the Route 66 mural that is painted on the back of the museum wall. About thirty miles before Springfield, on some remote stretch of Route 66 in a place called Braidwell I heard a bang, smelt burning and the car seemed to be stuck in first gear. Not good!

I pulled over outside a rather scary looking abandoned old Motel to check the transmission fluid when a couple of my caravanning Sisters stopped to see if I was OK. I topped up the fluid and added some trans conditioner and managed to follow them to the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield where I camped the night with the two Connies (Yes, they were both called Connie!) who had stopped to help me.  

The next afternoon we set off to catch up with the rest of the Sisters but as soon as I pulled out I knew that I had a serious problem. The car would not budge out of first, so I pulled over and asked some locals if they knew of any transmission shops nearby. By some miracle, Steve’s Transmission Service was just around the corner from me, but by now it was 3pm on a Friday and Steve said he wouldn’t be able to work on it until Monday. So, much to my dismay, the Connies went on without me and I ended up back at the fairgrounds on my own. I called my mechanic back in Oregon and he called Steve and told him of my mission and how important this trip was, and Steve agreed to work on it over the weekend for me. Thanks Steve! In the meantime I had a new camping neighbor called Dorian Santiago who was resting his weary feet having begun his Hike for Humanity walking tour of Route 66 a week prior and that made me feel a lot less sorry for myself.

By midday on Monday the burnt out 700R transmission had been replaced with a reconditioned Turbo 350 and I was back on the road again and racing like Doc Hudson from the Disney movie Cars to catch up with the rest of the group. I drove straight through St Louis and managed to catch up with them all in Springfield, Missouri just in time for dinner that night. Phew - Crisis averted!

After two nights in Springfield, we hit Route 66 again taking in the thirteen miles that go through Kansas and Doc got to lead the parade of caravans as we came into town. I stopped in to see Melba and Dean at the Cars on the Route store on the corner where I got a photo of Doc with the tow truck that was the inspiration for “Tow Mater” in the Disney Pixar movie Cars before heading west to Claremore, Oklahoma. That night we all camped up in the rodeo grounds and had an awesome catered dinner at he Will Rogers Museum. I got a new neighbor called Kim and when we hit the road again we ended up travelling together stopping in at the Blue Whale in Catooza, for lunch at the Rock Cafe and marveling at the roof of the Round Barn in Arcadia before making it into Oklahoma City.

By this stage it had been pretty much raining non-stop since I had left Oregon and we were all getting a bit fed up with it. In Oklahoma City we were camped in the fairgrounds where we were invited to participate in the OGRA Rodeo with our petticoats and stick ponies.  The next day the rain got heavier and heavier until the campground was awash with puddles. Then all of our phones started honking with warnings about flash flooding and tornados.  I had no idea what to do but figured sitting in a caravan probably wasn’t the best place to be during a tornado, so I packed a small backpack with a few essentials such as my laptop, mobile phone and hard drive (so the business would be safe!) and a change of clothes and a bottle of whisky (to keep me warm!) and was about to head across the bathroom block (figuring a concrete structure would be safer than a fifteen-foot aluminium shell on wheels) when there was a bang, bang, banging on my door.

“Get out, NOW! Come on We’ve go to get out of here, there’s a tornado coming!” I jumped in the car with some other sisters and we were directed by security to the main auditorium of the fairgrounds and told to take shelter under the covered concrete stairs with a film crew from the New York who had been covering the rodeo. The large roller doors were closed and we were warned to listen out for the sound of a freight train that would indicate the tornado had struck. We watched live streaming weather reports on phones and i-pads as the tornado hit ground just thirty miles from us but thankfully it skirted around us and after a few hours (and a few shots of whisky) we were free to go back to camp.

The next morning the rain had subsided and we all packed up and hit the road as quickly as possible, keen to head towards Amarillo, Texas and promises of sunshine. On the way there, we stopped in at the Redneck capitol of the world in Erick, Oklahoma and were entertained by the hilarious Harley at the Sandhills Curiosity Shop before crossing the border into Texas where I got a photo of the Hudson at the U Drop Inn in Shamrock. Both of these iconic Route 66 stops were also featured in the Cars movie, so you can see why it was that I chose “Doc Hudson” to make this trip with me. 

That day, we took parts of Route 66 that had been closed due to floods the day before. We drove down over washed out bridges and across huge potholes on the original stretch of road that rolled up and down hills like a roller coaster through some lovely countryside but that gave us, the cars and the caravans some serious shaking. Doc had started sounding a bit like a Mack Truck and it became clear I had knocked a hole in my exhaust somewhere. The next day I was lucky enough to get on to a local hot rodder in Amarillo; Skeeter and his buddy Andrew who took Doc back to their workshop and fixed up the hole in the exhaust for me and gave the car a bit of a tune up. Thanks Skeeter and Andrew!

I finally pulled into Amarillo at around sunset (Yes, there was sun – and it was good!) and stopped in at the Cadillac Ranch that was just around the corner from our RV Park.
From Amarillo, we headed to the midpoint Café and crossed the line that meant we were half way across Route 66 before crossing the border into New Mexico. 

I stopped to check out the awesome car and memorabilia museum at Russell’s Truck Stop and really enjoyed driving through the town of Tucumcari with its old neon motel signs like the Blue Swallow Motel and the Palomino Hotel – Classic Route 66 at its finest.  From there I went to the Blue Hole at Santa Rosa and took a refreshing dip in the vivid clear blue natural spring that is icy cold all year round before heading up to Santa Fe.

After a couple of days in Santa Fe, I stopped in to see Vicki and her Hudson at Enchanted Trails RV Park & Trading Post and cruised solo along old 66 taking lots of photos of the abandoned old Motels and service stations along the way that I find so intriguing. I felt so right at home there on the Mother Road in my old car, and really enjoyed the freedom and exhilaration of plotting my own course and took my time to appreciate as much of it as I could and at around sunset I pulled into the historic El Rancho Hotel in Gallup for a well-deserved Margarita.

The next day we set off for Arizona taking in Holbrook and the Wigwam Motel and the Jack Rabbit Trading Post with its “Here it is” sign before heading into Winslow to stand on the corner.

That night we cruised on through Flagstaff and stayed in Williams where we were treated to a great night out at the Wild West Junction Saloon the first night and at Twisters Soda Fountain the next.

After Williams I drove through Ash Fork and Seligman to Kingman where I opted to stay at the Kingman KOA campground. As soon as I rolled into the KOA and checked in, the Hudson died right there in the driveway and I couldn’t get it started. The KOA manager towed me into my site and called a mobile mechanic friend of his who agreed to come and check it out the next morning.
So, once again, the sisters moved on to the next town while I stayed behind getting a new starter motor put in by the very reasonably priced Greg from Simplified Automotive. Thanks Greg!

I was back on the road by 2pm and decided to do what we had been advised not to do, and tow the caravan up an over the steep and winding “make or break” hill climb over Sitgreaves Pass that had been the end of so many early Route 66’ers “California or bust” journeys.  This part of the road was the most important to me, and the sense of achievement and satisfaction I felt when Doc, the Mercury and I made it to the top was indescribable. I was on top of the world and I felt it! Across in the distance lay the deserts of California and Nevada and below me the old mining town of Oatman, where descendants of the donkeys used in the mining days now roam free in the main street. I had made it and the end of the journey of a lifetime was nearly over.

I continued on old Route 66 for as much of it as I could across the dips and rises and bumpy, bumpy roads that shook my bones although some parts were closed due to flood damage. I managed to make it across the border to California and to the Bagdad Café just in time to watch the Sunset over the wrecked old Airstreams made famous in the 1987 movie Bagdad Café starring Jack Palance before getting into camp at Barstow at around 8pm that night.

The next day I was thirty-eight miles from our final destination of Ventura, California, when I realized I had no power and was just coasting down the big hill on the highway.  I pulled over but could not get the car to start at all. Of all the incidents that I’d dealt with and taken in my stride, this one got me.  I’d come this far and was determined to make it right to the end. Despite having taken out maximum AAA coverage before I left, this was the first time I actually had to call in for a tow. Willy the very funny and sweet tow truck driver thought it was my fuel pump, but I wasn’t so sure.
“You’ve got no fuel in your fuel filter,” he said and towed me to nearby Calabasas Car Care and told them to order a fuel pump for me. Being 350 Chevy powered the Hudson was always easy and cheap to get parts for, so I knew it would be an easy fix. Problem was it was now 4pm and they closed at five.

“You’ve got no fuel in your fuel filter,” the mechanic said. “We’re trying to get the part now”
Once again I assured them that I did have fuel in my fuel filter, but that it was clean and the filter was new. But they weren't convinced, so they unscrewed the connector hose and lo and behold fuel spurted out. Feeling quite smug with myself at this point we then had a new problem. If it wasn’t the fuel pump, what was it that had stopped the Hudson in its tracks? It turned out to be some dodgy old wring that had shorted the ignition out when it had broken loose and been touching the engine, probably from the bumpy roads I had been on the day before. About half an hour, a few new wires, $210 and some handy welding later, I was back on the road and feeling victorious. I drove straight to the beach, took off my shoes, walked across the sand and dipped my toes in the Pacific Ocean. We had made it!

Over the next day or so, a sense of real sadness swept over me. I had spent so long dreaming of doing this trip in an old car and caravan, and this was the end of the my journey on the Mother Road. I was exhausted beyond belief but feeling very proud of myself and totally in love with the car and caravan that had made my dreams come true.  Including my journey back to Oregon, I had drove almost 6,000 miles from one side of America to the other and back again and was on the road for two months. I made so many new friends and saw so many amazing sights; things that photos or words will never be able to fully recreate. It felt magical and surreal and I didn’t want it to be over yet.
I guess I’ve ticked a pretty major achievement off my bucket list now, and it’s going to take some time to recover, but I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.

 Thank you to all of my wonderful, amazing Sisters on the Fly sisters who partook of this epic journey across Route 66, to all the hard-working organizers and especially Maurrie & Becky (sisters #1 & #2) who started this whole crazy thing. What an amazing trip it was! There were almost 300 of us at the end of it, and 39 of us who "went all the way". I have made friendships that will last a lifetime and created very special memories that will never leave me...