Leaving Minden, Tim's Transit cruised across Nevada like it was on rails, and we couldn't even feel the extra weight of the trailer. We'd opted for Highway 50, the Loneliest Highway, since it had more stuff to look at along the way, and we made it to Eureka, Nevada (population 610) that night. As luck would have it, Tim had a friend who owned a house there, and though he wasn't home, he was happy to let us stay - the key was under the mat. We were out the door by 6:30 the next morning, and wonder of wonders, found a tiny coffee hut on the main drag that, A) was open; and, B) served fresh-brewed espresso!
We made great time across Utah and Colorado, although we did start to feel the trailer as we crossed the Rockies. We hoped the addition of a 1300 pound Crosley, plus assorted spares wouldn't slow us down too much on the way back. Even with a stop at a junk shop somewhere in nowheresville, Utah, we still made it to Denver while the sun was up.
The next morning was the big day: time to pick up the Crosley! The owner lived about 30 minutes out in Aurora, a more rural area, a perfect place to pile up weird old vehicles - which he did. We pulled up to the address and the Crosley was parked in front of a big shop building, which was jammed full of projects.
At first glance I was a little disappointed that the body had more dings than I'd been expecting. There were also a few deep scratches that had been sloppily spray-painted - kind of a bummer given that the car had largely original paint. The battery box was rusted out, and one of the cables was nowhere to be seen. But the longer I looked, the more I saw.
We got about a mile when all hell broke loose.
As soon as we hit a big road and got up to about 50 mph, the trailer started to buck. We pulled over to make sure the tiedowns were correct, tightened everything a bit more, and cautiously headed down the road. And again, as soon as we got close to 50, the trailer started acting like it was trying to lose us. It bucked up and down and wobbled side to side - for one second I thought it was going to flip. We couldn't slam on the brakes, so we had to cut speed slowly... the longest 10 seconds of my life.
A further exam of the trailer and load and I thought I had identified the problem: the trailer hitch was too high, and the Crosley was too far back on the trailer, with most of the weight behind the wheels. I'd never given any thought to where to load a Crosley on my own tiny trailer - it only fit on one way - and luckily the cars had always ridden OK. We didn't have a way to secure the trailer while we adjusted the hitch, so we decided to head slowly back to Denver on surface streets and sort out the trouble at Suzy and Sean's. Twenty-five miles of stop signs and bumper to bumper traffic later we pulled up across from their house, sweating from our private remake of Wages of Fear. The good news is that the diagnosis was correct, and once we lowered the hitch and moved the Crosley a foot forward it rode perfectly.
We hit a light rain as we started into the mountains. I had a moment of horror as I realized that this was the first time the car had seen rain in nearly a half century... and then I remembered that it was, after all, a car. We pulled in for a pit stop and I was surprised to see that the rain was bringing out the original basket weave pattern! I made a mental note to see if I could bring it back somehow when I got home.
turned into paintings after we got home.
Finally, five days and 2300 miles after we left, we pulled up in front of my house, Crosley in tow. I unloaded all of my gear and unhooked the trailer from Tim's Transit. If we hadn't been so fried it probably would have been an emotional moment - it had been a great trip, and a chance to revisit old friendships that had gotten a little off track. Tim turned around down the street and honked as he drove past on his way home. I grabbed my sleeping bag and started up the stairs.