Hackworth, Al & Vickie

Never Say There Are No Choices

July 2015 offered COTV members a multitude of choices of things to do in and with their Corvettes.

There was a dinner meeting at the beginning of the month, then Cruisin’ Grand and a Social Breakfast in the middle and to finish things off, two choices for the last Sunday with either a Day at Del Mar or a Mystery Lunch Run to attend.

 Here we will talk about the Mystery Lunch Run on a very warm Sunday. A somewhat smaller group than usual of 30 people and 16 cars met at Kohl’s at 9am with a 9:20 departure and the promise of a longer run by the organizers, Al and Vickie Hackworth. They are so good at all this organizing stuff, maybe we can have them stay on in that role forever! LOL, Vickie!

Joining in for this MLR were Harry Finch and Bill Watson, Skip Hipp, Mike and Debbie Homan, Chuck and Terri Isenberg, Manny and Diane Macedo, Mike and Cyndee O’Brien, Bob Smith and Rose Streets, Jim and Diane Sommars, Bill Stedfield, Layne and Mary Norby, Larry and Joan Thackwell, Ken and Heather Kaufmann, Tim and Linda Vilgiate, Steve Glenore with Marilyn as co-pilot (they left Doug at home!) & Daryl and Rob Weber, all led by Al and Vickie.

We haven’t seen much of Heather Kaufmann lately, but she must have forgotten how an MLR runs as she “accidentally” opened up her instructions before we even got rolling – bad girl, bad girl! Those of us without new C-7s are beginning to get jealous of all those pretty Vettes, but Marilyn said that this week is build week for their new one, so they will be in C-7 Heaven soon enough.

 The group formed up and headed east on Highway 79. We passed the Incident Base at Vail Lake, which was set up for the Palomar Fire which broke out on Saturday. There was certainly a lot of equipment on view and we saw the helicopters coming and going as they sucked water from the Lake to help douse the flames. Let’s hope they get it under control quickly, although it is supposedly in very rugged terrain.

Instead of heading toward the fire with most of the other traffic, we turned left onto Sage Road/ Hwy R3, and found ourselves almost completely alone on fantastic Corvette roads, twisting and turning our way through the hilly country. The only issue that had changed since Al and Vickie did their run- through was that we had a weekend of rain which brought a lot of sand and gravel into the road in a number of places. As someone said over the radio, “well, we know what we will be doing tomorrow – washing our cars!”

 Our first and only potty stop was in Hemet at the RAAB or Ryan Air Attack Base at the Hemet-Ryan Airport. Al and Vickie had arranged for a tour of the Cal Fire facilities, which seemed appropriate considering our recent spate of So Cal fires. Our primary guide was Johnny Valenzuela, who is a relatively new member of the team and told us this was part of his initiation. He was assisted by 3 other firefighters from the air wing and they took us around and explained how the tankers are filled with the retardant. They then showed us the command helicopter which tells the tankers where to dump the retardant. Finally, we saw the Huey which carries a team of 2 captains and 5 firefighters and their gear directly to the fire and drops them where most needed and the “Bomb”, the heli-tender which carries 1000 gallons of jet fuel to on-site refuel the helicopter so it can continue to do its job for a longer period during a fire emergency. Cyndee O’Brien got to climb into the helicopter and check out the fire team seating and also to try to lift the pack they carry into a fire. We also got to “shop” in their gift store, so if you see some Cal Fire t-shirts or Jim Sommars’ newest hat, you will know where they came from.

 We want to thank all of the firefighters at the Base for their work keeping both themselves and the equipment in a state of constant readiness to protect us from wildfires and also to participate in rescue missions when required. These guys get up and hike 12 miles up hills every morning and sometimes again later in the day so that they can fight uphill in horrible heat to keep us safe. In case you couldn’t figure it out, they are both younger and in better shape than any of us!

 After spending about an hour on the base, we drove a short 10 minutes into downtown Hemet and had a big lunch at Angie’s Diner, which has a huge menu and is also decorated with both car and movie art all over the walls. They had a separate room for us and a dedicated waitress and no one left hungry. Oh, there we go again, talking about food – well, it was a Mystery LUNCH Run after all! Start planning for August’s MLR now as it promises to be both interesting and appetizing.