2022 was filled with family, friends, fun and adventures mixed in with a few “firsts.” At my age the first time to do things is still just as exciting. As I strolled through my pictures of last year, it sent waves of warmth, laughter, and a few wow, that was fun. Come along as I walk through the Chipmunk Adventures of 2022.
In December 2021, we welcomed our newest family member, my grandson Cassius. Born four weeks premature, we finally got to hold him in January of 2022. Oh, what a long-awaited joy that was.
February brought the snow, a lot of snow. It was all about digging out and going back for more baby cuddles.
A call came from a friend who asked if I would like to go to the Freedom Rally in Ottawa. It was a great cause, and I had never been to a rally before. I am in. I picked up my friends Tom and Dan. Our first stop would be Trenton to stay with our friend Jano. We would leave for Ottawa in the morning. I got up and made coffee. It was mighty cold out. How cold? When I threw the hot water left over from making my coffee outside, it made snow. That was cool, so I had to do it again. Lol. The rally was a wonderful experience, and I even met a few people I knew, that I had not seen in quite a while.
March began with a trip to Belleville to see and play with a few friends. C’old School Van Club are a great bunch of people and so much fun to be around. It was a welcome winter break of laughter and hugs.
In April it was time to get the cottage van ( my 1969 Econoline) out of storage and ready for summer play. The first tour with Tom and Kim and their Vanbulance is always something I look forward to. It is almost like a reward for making it through the winter. Lol
May brought me to Strathroy to Glenn and Kathy’s for a campout weekend. What a wonderful weekend spent with friends. Great bands, great food, and great friends are a perfect blend.
June brought us Vanfest 25! A custom van and truck show that I have helped with for 25 years. After a two-year hiatus, it was finally time to show your shine. Not only is this enjoyable to be at, but it is also a privilege to be a part of. A family of people that work all weekend, together, not a misstep to put on an event that includes bands, vendors, and the largest outdoor custom van and truck show in Canada. A four-day, which started 25 years ago at two days, an event that not only features some of the best custom-built vans and pickups but also hosts a full camping event.
People come from as far away as California, Florida, Massachusetts, and PEI, across Canada, all the way from British Columbia to attend and be a part of the Vanfest experience. With over 200 custom vehicles on the show field, there is something for everyone to go…ohhhhh that is sweet! It is held at Springwater Conservation Area in Aylmer Ont. This year the dates are June 8-11, 2023. If you are in the area stop by and check it out. You will be glad you did!
July started with a road trip to Tweed, Ontario. I had no idea that this small, in my opinion, road trip would introduce me to a wonderful friendship that has blossomed. My friend Tony had told me about Andy and Becky’s private event park they were building. I had seen pictures and decided I would stop and take a look for myself. Little did I know I would not only fall in love with the place but the beautiful people that own it. Andy’s creativity and fun nature is contagious. Becky has the most beautiful soul that lights up your world when she walks in.
Andy and Becky run two businesses from the park. An auto tinting business called Tint Tek 20/20. Any vehicle you have they have a tinting pattern for your needs. They also have BBQ in a Box. As you drive in, there are race cars and muscle cars parked around a large building. Getting closer, you could tell they did not work as cars. They were barbecues. Oh, how cool! The wow did not stop there. The small airplane was also a barbecue. I stopped by a couple more times this year. A friendship that feels like it’s been forever, and I hope it will last just as long.
While I was in the eastern part of Ontario I wanted to visit Kingston. I love the city of Kingston. It is a beautiful mix of history and modern culture. The Kingston Penitentiary had just opened for tours. I was excited to go for a visit. I was not disappointed. Check out my blog Kingston Penitentiary: A Tour Through the Ages.
Tweed was not far, so I took the backroads according to my GPS. I did not realize how backroads it was going to take me. Maybe I missed a turn, but the next one took me down a dirt road. A small tree had fallen across the road. I could not fit my 69 around, so I had to stop and break the tip to get around it. Now that’s backroading in my 69 Econoline.
Arriving at Trudeau Park in Tweed I was greeted by so many friends I had not seen in so long. Not only a beautiful array of people but an amazing variety of custom vans. C’old School’s Custom Van Show Vanamania was a fun weekend spent with ooh’s, ahh’s, and a lot of laughs. Check out the show on my YouTube channel.
Tweed Ontario is a cute little town with fire hydrants painted like little people and rumours Elvis lives in town. It also boasts the smallest jail in North America. It was pretty tiny.
Just as I was about to leave the park after a fun-filled weekend, I noticed my front passenger tire was flat. Luckily my friend Jano and Maddy had a tire repair kit and kindly fixed my tire for me. Little did I know that would be the beginning of an adventure in van repair.
Leaving the park and still wanting to tour, I had heard of the Brockville Tunnel but had never been. An old railway tunnel that they have made into a colourful, lighted musical experience. It was fun to walk through a tunnel built in the 1800s, experiencing the fun of the music and lights. Be careful when you start to dance. The floor is a little slippery. There is also a train you can take to tour interesting parts of Brockville.
Looking at the map, I noticed a place called Long Sault Parkway. A Parkway that spanned 11 Islands along the St. Lawrence River was created purposely by flooding the land. An interesting story and a beautiful place. I had to go and see. What I found was a little island paradise. As you drove the Parkway, you passed over causeways from one island to another. There are three campgrounds on the islands. It was a wonderful evening listening to the waves of the river splash on shore. Check out the story on my blog post, Eastern Ontario: A Gem Around Every Corner
Back to southern Ontario to prepare for my next adventure. I pulled into a roadside picnic area to make a coffee and went to start her and nothing. She was absolutely dead. Oh, my stars!!! I put out a call on Facebook to see if any of my friends were in the area. Jano to the rescue again. Not sure what the exact problem was we called other friends Karl and Sue. Karl said to bring it over and he would have a look. They found a loose wire on the back of the alternator. With the fix, she started right up. Woohoo! She is fixed! Or was she????
Where to go in July? Ohio. Hahaha! Only if a thousand of my friends are going too. The 49th National Truck-in is a once-a-year week-long event featuring the best of the best in custom vans. Every year the event is held in a different state throughout the United States.
In 2022, the National Truck-in was held at Jasper County Fairgrounds in Old Washington, Ohio. I have been to this park before. Ohio in July is hot and the weather, well, it can be unpredictable. I decided to take the van without the AC because, it is a van show and I like to show her off, plus all my friends will have their toys and I will miss mine when I got there. Little did I know that what should have been an eight-hour tour would turn into an adventure I would be ok not to live again.
Everything was moving along nicely. A smooth border crossing, then breakfast at Cracker Barrel in Erie, Pennsylvania. I came out, turned the key, and nothing. The battery was completely dead. Oh, ugg! A call to AAA, a nice gentleman came out to boost my van. He attached the cable to the battery, and the van began to try to start. He told me not to turn the key, and I got out of the van with my keys in my hand. Oh, that is not right. Fortunately, his boss knew about older vehicles and said to lightly tap the starter solenoid. It worked. The engine started. But something was still wrong.
Maybe the solenoid needs to be replaced? I headed over to O’Reilly’s Auto Parts and they were extremely helpful. They took my battery and fully charged it while I attempted to change the starter solenoid. It did not help. I was not impressed. It was close to 90 degrees, in a hot parking lot and I still had an issue.
Back on the road, I knew I had a full battery, but I did not know if it was charging. I was only three hours away from the park. The 69 Econoline is a mechanical engine. What I mean by that is that it takes very little electrical power to make it run. The power is needed to start the van, and run lights and wipers. It was still light out and a clear sky. I should be able to make it. Until Mother Nature decided that she was going to make it a challenge. I saw the dark skies ahead. Oh no…I will have to put my lights and wipers on.
Before I could even reach for my wipers, I drove into a wall of water. It seemed to come out of nowhere. Intense winds mixed with a severe downpour, and the next thing I knew I was hydroplaning. I felt the van lift onto the water as I started to float toward the side of the road. I put on my four-way flashers, put the van in neutral, and began to slightly move the steering wheel from side to side, hoping to get the tires to cut into the water. If I can get the van slowed down enough she will cut through the water and touch the pavement. As it happened, the people around me slowed and let the van slide. As we hit the shoulder, I felt the pavement under my tires. Pulling over when it was safe to do, I breathed a big sigh of relief.
A stop at a Pilot Truckstop meant a good night’s sleep and a warm shower. The next morning I crossed all my fingers and toes and she started right up. With a pat on the dash and a good girl we headed the last 30 minutes and arrived at the 49th Nationals.
What a wonderful week it was. Although it was very hot, and another storm blew through. This fairground is the only fairground I have ever been to where you always seem to be walking uphill. Even though the weather did not cooperate, the party and show were not to be outdone. It was so nice to see some old friends and meet some new ones. I was thrilled to hug Kirsten and her husband Uwe from Germany. People come from all over the world to come to experience a Nationals experience. It was wonderful to finally meet them in person.
The vans and the show were amazing. Such creativity and imagination are all put into these custom vans. It was a wonderful week spent with wonderful people.
After a smooth trip back to Canada, thankfully, it was time to change vans and get ready for my next adventure.
That is another story for next week’s blog. Thank you for coming along and taking a walk back into the first part of 2022 with me.
See you next week.