Another year had past, and it was time for GT-5. We had just recently been transferred to the Detroit area. This time we had a real garage - with a house attached. There was room for Virgin, the restoration, the parts car, and during a hail storm, the Ford Granada. It was heated, insulated, and had an attic for storage - yes!
Diane at SFO
Diane began planning the trip during the move the previous winter. We knew we couldn't drive due to limited vacation time, so we decided, in addition to the GT, this would be a holiday for us. This was our first trip to California, and we were determined to see as much of the area as possible.
We flew to San Francisco about a week before the GT. We don't care what they say, it ain't quite the same without the "A." We played tourist in San Fran, taking the ferry to Alcatraz, driving down Lombard Street, driving the 55 Mile Tour, and frequenting the restaurants along the wharfs.
We traveled to Lake Tahoe via Yosemite. Unfortunately, we couldn't secure a room at the Ahwanee Lodge, so we stayed in a tent cabin: a wooden platform with framing covered by canvas. There were two hook & eye locks: one on the outside to keep the door closed when we went out, and one on the inside to keep the animals out while we were sleeping. This was surely as close to camping as Diane ever wanted to get (yeah right, see GT-8). It was really cold that night, and there were bears wandering around outside the cabin. When Steven got up in the middle of the night to "take a walk" (no indoor plumbing), Diane didn't hesitate to accompany him. There was no way she was going to stay in that thing alone. The next day we had the most beautiful drive to Lake Tahoe, even if it was in a rental car.
On The Back
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GT-5 was a real enigma. It was the first time that a GT had been held west of the Mississippi. There were only 35, or so, cars at the meet - total - and more MGAs from outside of California than there were from California. On the way to Tahoe from Yosemite, we came across a couple in their MGA, pulled off the road. Thinking there might be a problem, or the start of a car show, we pulled over to lend assistance. It turns out they were just admiring the view. During the course of conversation, we found out they had allotted two days to drive from LA to Tahoe - about 450 miles. Obviously they were new to long distance travel and MGAdventuring. We'd heard many a story about how Californians only drive within the city limits. This seemed to confirm it. Now the couple was worried that they weren't going to have a room for the night, since they were almost to Tahoe and a day early for their reservations.
The hotel was situated close to the Lake - and it had a casino. This was a novelty for midwesterners. In those days there weren't even bingo parlors in the midwest. We have a photograph that Steven had tried to take in the casino. But, alas, it is blurred because a very strong arm came down on Steven's. They don't like you to take pictures in a casino.
Of course the thing to see in Reno was Harrah's. It was big. Steven remembers wandering through at least five buildings of completely restored cars. The restoration shop was spotless and humming with activity. Talking with one of the guards, we learned that there were still about 3500 cars in storage waiting to be restored.
A Little Creek Water Should Help
A GT highlight for us was the caravan to Reno to Harrah's Automobile Collection. Neil and Thelma Griffin had driven their MGA to the GT from Michigan, nursing an overheating radiator. Neil and Tom Latta were in the "A" just ahead of us on the way to Reno. The altitude and the grade from Tahoe to Reno proved to be too much for Neil's MGA, so we pulled over to lend a hand. Well, a bit more that a hand - a tow. We ended up towing Neil and Tom to the top. From that point, all Neil had to worry about was his brakes. Our paths didn't cross again in Reno, so we don't know how they got back.
The next day, we attempted to drive around Lake Tahoe, but Diane spotted an art show, and we were stuck. We brought home two original works which are still on display in our home and bring back nice memories. There was also an antique, wooden boat show which caught the attention of some.
One of the problems at the meet was the tree sap. Everyone was warned to park their cars away from the trees (no easy fete) or to put a car cover on. Unfortunately, the warning was not heeded by some, and countless hours were spent removing the sap. We suspect that if an MGA sat under one of those trees the entire weekend, it would have been covered in tree sap. Maybe in 100,000 years someone might have uncovered a piece of Amber with an MGA imbedded in it! (Diane could only hope.)
Tennity's Mk II
Bob & Mary Tennity had driven a refresh 1600 restoration from Rochester, NY. By now Bob & Mary were the envy of (and inspiration to) people who attended GTs: retired and mobile. Steven and many new MGA enthusiasts learned a lot about mechanics and interior work from Bob over the years. He certainly was the grandfather of NAMGAR.
Ken Palmer and folks put together a really nice meet. You still hear whispers of GT-5 in conversation from time to time. For the midwesterners, the only problem was the lack of a copious quantity of the nectar of the gods: we were used to an unlimited supply in the hospitality room, but the hosts had only a case to offer. How were they to know? This was the first time that most had been to a NAMGAR GT.
All too soon another GT came to an end, and it was time to say good-bye. We completed our vacation by driving and sipping our way through the Napa Valley. When we hit San Francisco, we turned in the rental car and boarded the plane for home.
For the lo...oong distance meets, we've come to appreciate the relatively short plane ride, versus the dead butt, MGA ride home. But, on second thought... it ain't the same MGAdventure.