Update about blog

Come on over to my other blog, Alchemy of Clay and Living in Black Mountain NC, where the scenery and my ceramic arts life are combined. I've moved some personal blog posts, (as well as those that are about my ancestors) back here.

Friday, January 31, 2014

The Roving Toad

I guess I could sharpen this pic up a bit maybe.  But it's delightful when I remember the Kodak Instamatic tiny 110 mm camera I used to take it.  Then would take the cartridge into a drug store whenever we got home from the trip.

This trip is worthy of a whole story line, and I'll just hint about it today.  10,000 miles in 3 months, and covered most of the Midwest and western states, having started in Florida. The Van behind my son was The Roving Toad.

That's because it was an Open Road conversion, and of course a Roving Toad rhymed nicely.  Didn't look like a toad, but it kind of cornered like one.  And heaven help having crosswinds on a highway.  No less problems than many other campers of course.

The typewriter?  That's how I memorialized our journey, supposedly. But I also journalled other things too.  I'll have to look for those documents.  I already Xeroxed them and gave them to my older sons a while back, since they shared this journey with me when they were 7 and 11, or so.

Not as many photos of that trip as I'd like.  But I dare say there are already some of the National Parks available.  We camped in them, or State Parks, usually.  An occasional KOA was fun for the boys to go in swimming pools, or play pool while I washed our clothes, and enjoyed hot showers.

In 1974 we were a trusting civilization.  I never felt fearful as a single woman traveling with two boys.  It was a great adventure.  We certainly made many mistakes...and were blessed somehow to get through them all.  Our summertime trip took us from Tampa around the US returning to Tallahassee where we settled for a while.  I must have been the real Roving Toad myself.

Here's a better picture of the Roving Toad earlier when we visited my parents in Framingham, MA. 

I am submitting this to Sepia Saturday, for a theme related to vacations.  This week I think I get to say I'm posting something appropriate to the theme.  Yay me.  Come over to see the other posts that might come up from other bloggers...HERE.

My ceramic sculpture model looks a bit different.  But it is nice to have as a reminder of a faithful servant.

I sculpted it a couple of years ago, maybe 2012.  And as you can see, I drove it from 1972 to 1984.  I am sad to say my own negligence was it's demise.  I had lived in FL for so long, I didn't think of antifreeze at all.  I would just top off the radiator with water.  Ah, did it have a lovely engine too, a Chevy-Van 20, with a V-8, 356 engine (I think, not the 402) with a double barrel carburetor.  The camping equipment could run off a separate battery that was also charged when the engine was going.  So many mechanics had trouble figuring that out.  The design was far from perfect, but having been built in 1971 it was pretty spiffy.

So the story of the death of the Roving Toad is that I'd parked it in the parking lot in student housing at U of FL in Gainesville, and since there was a Christmas break, didn't drive it for maybe a week.  During that time there were 3 solid days below freezing...which was rare.  And when I went to drive it, it kind of sputtered.  So I checked oil and water, and the oil was gummy and full of water.  I'd cracked his little engine block from the ice in the system apparently.

So I was able to eventually sell it. I could get to classes still, on my trusty bike, which was the only way to move around campus. It didn't take too long to sell it because I had no way to get to a grocery store...I advertised it somewhere and sold it for a song.  The guy that bought it taught me something interesting about driving a vehicle with a cracked block.  He poured a big can of black peppercorns, not ground pepper, into the radiator.  And he said that might clog up the crack enough for them to drive it away.

He also got the 2 double beds, a flip over seat that was in front of the lower bed, a cabinet that included a small clothes closet, a full gas stove with oven and 2 burners, stainless sink, a working gas furnace, a portable toilet, a closet (where the toilet was located) and I don't remember what else.  I'd made curtains for the windows, and the upholstry on the seats and foam bed pads was kind of shot...but most of the equipment still worked.  I wonder how it all ended up.  Hopefully someone else got to enjoy it along the road as much as we did.  I think I had about 250,000 miles on it.  At least one transmission, lots of other bits and bobs.  

I bought a relatively little car next, also as advertised in one of those fliers, from a student.  It certainly wasn't worth sculpting to remember though.  Just a car.  There will never be another Roving Toad.


Tessa~ Here there be musing said...

Oh the first thing I noticed, was you at your typewriter...

Was it gray, and what they used to call a "portable"? Portable hahhhhh! We got muscles, just "porting" those things. -grin-

Lovely memories of a better time. Since you never felt afraid... And what wonderful memories you have...

(Who graduated college in 1958... -smile-)

Tessa~ Here there be musing said...

Oh and may I please "grab" your "Word Verification FREE" button, on your sidebar?

I'm seeing a lot of these (Word Verification things), in elder blogs. Why?????? Don't they know that there has been a blogging movement, to NOT even try to comment, in these blogs??????? -sigh-

Don't they know they are possibly losing readers/commenters, by using these nasty things???

I've been going along, and doing them, feeling like I shouldn't "rock the boat." But ya' know, you give me courage. You are "olden" and you don't mind saying what you prefer. So I am "olden" and I can do the same. I feel a post on this topic, coming. -grinnnn-

Thank you!


Tessa~ Here there be musing said...

And btw, I will link back to your blog, showing where I got the "Ban Word Ver." button.


Deb Gould said...

Love that Rovin' Toad!

B. Rogers, Living in Black Mountain said...

Sure Tessa, glad to support any blogger who will spread the word about "no word verification for comments." The one that really gets to me, is when I've written a really thoughtful comment before the "word verification" thing pops up. At least twice this week I've just sputtered and deleted my comment. I'm sticking to my guns!

B. Rogers, Living in Black Mountain said...

Oh, that was my son at the typewriter, hard to tell in that ancient pic. It was a bright blue Smith Corona, pretty portable in a hard case. Don't know when I let it go, but a long time before word processors came along.

La Nightingail said...

A great story! What a trip you had. And I agree - back in the 70's & 80's I took my kids camping during the summer when my husband had to stay home 'on call' for forest fires and never worried about being a woman alone with young children! Not so sure I'd do it now, though. Sadly, it's a different time. Until she no longer felt comfortable driving, after my Dad passed away, my Mom drove a VW Vanagan & loved it - especially for camping!

Postcardy said...

That was a cute little van. I thought most of the photos looked like a toy, but i didn't realize until the end that it was sculpture.

North County Film Club said...

I love your rendition of the van. What a shame that the real one died on you. But at least you have the clay one to remember all those wonderful trips.
Ladies of the Grove

Patrica Ball Morrison said...

You were absolutely nothing if not adventurous. I love the toad miniature. Today we call our HHR vehicle that we tow behind our motor home the toad...short for towed. common RV talk. And yes the typewriter recording the journey, so matching. Very good post

Bob Scotney said...

A super name for a vehicle that served you so well. The buyer got a bargain. Your ceramic toad had me fooled for a while; glad you showed us the real thing.

Karen S. said...

How fitting, and how wonderful. This was just too inspiring! Well down toady!

Karen S. said...

I want one of these too!

Jackie van Bergen said...

A great story. That typewriter - seems you were 'blogging' even back then

Lisa said...

What a fun read -- with amazing picture memories. :) Funny that a vehicle from the 70s and 80s could be called that! Doesn't seem so long ago to me... I especially love the sculpture that you made in memory of it! We grew up with a blue VW micro bus in that same time period that my DAd drove until it literally dropped in the late '90s. Then, we sold it for a song to a cute young college girl whose Dad was going to help her rebuild it and turn it into Hippie Van! Imagine! Wonderful memories for us -- and now all of us have crazy imaginings of where the old bus is now!

Mike Brubaker said...

A neat story and great art piece. My mom and I did a similar summer trip in a 1970 VW camper and have fond memories of the adventure. Roadtrips today cover interstate systems that all look the same. I prefer the old US routes.

Alan Burnett said...

Love it : The Roving Toad is a kind of suitcase of wheels isn't it. That trip must have been wonderful, seeing so much of your country.

Little Nell said...

How adventurous to take a trip like that with your boys. You clearly hold the Toad in great affection.

Wendy said...

My daughter is a Gator.

Love the Roving Toad, both the inspiration and the ceramic one.