Vancouver Mini Club

"Dedicated to Preserving and Enjoying the Mini Automobile"


by Rick and Elaine Higgs

June 22nd to July 18th

(After A. A. Milne's 'Christopher Robin Leads an Expotition to the North Pole', in which Pooh discovers the North Pole.)

TO MME 2000

Follow Pooh through his 100 aker wood. Click on days for detail.

DSC00009Pooh is a 1980 Mini that Rick & Elaine Higgs of Pitt Meadows, B.C. are driving across Canada to attend Mini Meet East 2000 in Mt. Orford Park, Quebec. MME is an annual gathering of Mini owners from Central and Eastern Canada and the United States.

There have been 21 previous MME's and 4 continental 'East Meets West' events since 1975. There is also an annual Mini Meet West, held at venues like Whistler, Vancouver, Richmond, Squaw Valley, Santa Barbara and Mount Hood, with the 2000 MMW (the 23rd meet) to be held in Flagstaff, Arizona.

DSC00008MME will he held from June 30th - July 3rd, with the Resort Hotel Cheribourg, at Orford in Quebec's Eastern Townships, hosting the gathering. A "Concourse D'elegance", Rallye with picnic and Panoramic Photo at the Arpents De Neige vineyard, Autocross (slalom racing), convoy to Canada Day fireworks and Awards Banquet will highlight the meet.

Traveling East on Hwy. 1 to Ottawa, Montreal and Orford, Pooh will log some 4,800 kilometres. With Meet driving, a post-meet excursion to Quebec City and returning via Thousand Islands, Niagara Falls, Chicago and America's Great Plains, Pooh will cover some 10,500 kilometres before arriving home.


CBC Radio Interview Audio File:

Day 1 - June 22 - Thursday

Day 1 - June 22nd

Route: Pitt Meadows to Kamloops, B.C.
Highways 7,11,1,5 and 1 (out of the Fraser Valley to Hope, over the Coquihalla Hwy. through Merritt to Kamloops)
Kilometres: 344
Time: 4 hours (estimated)
Notes: These pages will be updated daily (hopefully) as Rick & Elaine send information back here to Pooh central
Driving Tip: Remember to remind yourself that vehicles at any speed can injure, maim and kill people... before you turn on the ignition. Sobering thought isn't it!
Service Tip: Tires require air - some 24psi up front, 26psi at back with 165x70x10 radials. I know, you can actually drive with a flat rear and not know it. Ruin the tire (and maybe the wheel) of course!
For those who have "tuned in" to see what happened with Pooh on Day 1, Thursday, June 22nd. Sadly, not much. Elaine's Dad passed away on Father's Day, which led us 500 kilometres south to his home in Vancouver, Washington for the Memorial Service on Wednesday afternoon and the family's private interment service this morning. The Church was packed, the weather was glorious and Mom Curry received a huge outpouring of love from the assembly.

Elaine's Dad had wanted to RV east this summer and find Curry Hill Park, which is apparently in Lancaster, Ontario, close to the border with Quebec. The Curry family came to Canada as United Empire Loyalists in 1782. It was Elaine's Grandfather who brought his family west and…back into the United States in the early 20th century. The Currys are of Scottish ancestry, which Elaine's kilt clad, brother Martin honoured yesterday with wonderful renditions of 'Amazing Grace' and 'Scotland the Brave' during the service.

We have promised Elaine's Mother that we will locate the graves of the original Curry family members to live in Lancaster and photograph the memorial, erected in 1933, to them and the other UEL settlers buried there. As it happens, Lancaster is on our intended route up the St. Lawrence River from Quebec City to Thousand Islands (July 6th?).

However, I did doodle a couple of notes earlier about the final preparations of Pooh. Our Mini was given a very close, visual inspection by Craig Maguire, Craig's Automotive in Mission, B.C. He has a reputation for being picky, but why not before a long trip at significant distances, from time to time, to any realistic parts or service support?

He also has years of experience with Minis. So, when he referred to the rare occasions when the earlier two piece crank pulley has separated (with grenade like effect on things as fundamental as the radiator and fan), a cast, damper pulley was installed. Craig also noted incipient cracks in one inner CV boot, so it was replaced.

He also offered up an elegant solution to failed spot welds, which had retained the bonnet steady rod bracket. Neat plug welding solved an annoying problem, which was touched up with some 10-year old russet brown paint from his stocks. Good suppliers, like Craig, are most important and appreciated.

John Goolevitch, our (as in yours and mine) Web Master, offered friendly almost Fatherly help through the inspection. John's assistance will also be vital in relaying words and pictures from Pooh's Millennium 'Expotition' to you via the Web site.

However, starting Friday morning July 23rd it is up to Elaine and I to bring Pooh back safe and sound and bring a little joy to others, especially the "hospital patients and shut-ins", who can't get away for a holiday. We will be rolling in the morning for Kamloops, Roger's Pass, and the Rockies. We'll see how far we get towards Calgary and should catch up to the schedule by Saturday night in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.



Day 2 - June 23 - Friday

Day 2 - June 23rd

Route: Kamloops to Calgary, Alberta
Highway 1 (via Revelstoke, Golden, through the Rocky Mountains and Banff National Park)
Kilometres: 620
Time: 8.5 hours (estimated)
Notes: We left Pitt Meadows at 12:10 PDT on Friday, June 23rd, one day late after the services for Elaine's Father in Vancouver Washington. The Church was packed, the weather was marvelous and it was most supportive for Elaine's Mother. Her brother Martin donned his kilt and played Amazing Grace in the service and Scotland the Brave to close it...superb!

Elaine's maiden name is Curry of Scottish heritage. Her family is descendant from James Curry who entered Canada in 1782 as a United Empire Loyalist and settled at Curry Hill Park in Lancaster Ontario. Elaine's Grandfather Curry reentered the U.S. and settled in Washington in the early 20th century.

We will visit Lancaster on the Expotition and bring back photographs of the memorial erected in 1933 to James Curry, his immediate family and other Loyalists in the old burial grounds.

Our travels ended in Golden at 9:10 PDT (10:10 MDT) after 720 kilometres/450 miles. We averaged 80 kph/50 mph including all stops. We averaged just over 40 mpg pulling over the Coquihalla Hwy. Incidentally, we used 3rd gear only twice on the Coquihalla - on the snow shed hill and for the last few hundred metres to the summit north of Merritt. The little 998 cc engine pulled very well (especially since I weighed the loaded and refueled Mini at 940 kgs./2,068 lbs.).

For those that don't know the Coquihalla, it is a high speed divided highway crossing two heights of land from Hope to Kamloops, B.C. It has long uphill climbs in several sections, where horsepower counts. We held 110 kmh (the limit) most of the way in 4th gear.

We hit rain climbing over the Roger's Pass from Revelstoke to Golden and it has rained since.

Some minor embarrassments...I forgot the spark plug socket, my race helmet and Elaine forgot the first aid kit. However, misjudging the load has meant using the rear wheel flares as bump stops. Must lengthen the trumpets when it stops raining.

We each drove, Elaine took the middle shift from Merritt to Salmon Arm. I don't think she has ever thought about driving that many kilometres (on the Coquihalla) with the gas pedal pinned to the floor.

Easy watching the gauges though, as the temperature never closed on N, let alone exceeded it. The 13 row oil cooler obviously helped. However we can't judge that fully until we get some hotter weather. None yet in sight!

Have a big day tomorrow running through Calgary, Medicine Hat, Swift Current and on to Moose Jaw. We will hook up with Colin Cook there. He lives at Cold Lake Alberta and has just finished a 1275 cc powered Countryman and wants to run with us to Quebec.

We are not able to send pictures today - the library can not do and local business wants $60 per hour. The money is for wheel chairs!

Driving Tip: Give your vehicle a visual check... before you get in to drive. Tire low or flat? Is oil or other fluids leaking? If you don't look, you will never notice in time to avoid a blown tire, blown engine or brake failure. That could hurt!
Service Tip: SU carburetor dashpots require a regular oil level check. Fill to top of cylinder with engine oil. if you overfill, the excess will blow out anyway.

Day 3 - June 24 - Saturday


Calgary to Moose Jaw, Sask.

Highway 1 (via Medicine Hat, Gull Lake, and Swift Current)

Kilometres: 694
Time: 8.5 hours (estimated)
Notes: Awoke to cloud and rain in Golden.  After gassing up we headed for the      Kicking Horse Pass.  It rained constantly as we moved through the mountains.  However we did a short and delightful tour of Field.  A      considerable sum, for a small town, has been spent on updating roadways, sidewalks etc. The ambience is terrific, when combined with the restoration      done on older homes.  In the photos, you will see the water tower, a reminder of Field's vital role in getting CPR trains up and over the hill,      and a couple of nifty signs.       Got into Banff in time for the heaviest rains that I have ever seen in the      Canadian Rockies.  Wanted to treat Elaine to a Canadian Bagel Co. breakfast, only to find the outlet closed/out of business.  Had  breakfast      instead at JOE BFTSPLKS, a 50's style diner on Banff Avenue.  Great decor,      okay food.  Did NOT linger in the wet.

Hit the highway for Calgary to realize the limitation of 10" wheels on a      badly rutted highway with standing water.  Imagine pulling out to pass at 100kmh, hitting a water filled trench in the fast lane and have your left      front wheel spin after punching the water.  Quick note - the Trans Canada Hwy. is a disgrace to publics works management!  Standing and flowing water      on the highway was a problem, on and off, all the way to Medicine Hat.

Calgary merited only a fuel stop.  Hwy. 1 via NW 16th Avenue is just plain      awful!  I must reset the rear suspension height to provide more clearance.      This became painfully obvious when we stopped (in the rain, what else?) at      the highways weigh scale.  Fully loaded and with both of us in the car, we      hit 940 kilograms/2,068 lbs.

Stopped in Medicine Hat and E-mailed you from the public library.  Nice      town, must go back for more than an hour.  After fueling, we switched on the Cell because Colin Cook from Cold Lake, Alberta could be looking to      make contact with us, in preparation for meeting in Moose Jaw...some 4 hours plus to the east.  Colin's military training and career led to the      call at 1800 hours as agreed.  He was in Moose Jaw, had left Cold Lake at 5:30 a.m.  We pulled into Moose Jaw at 22:30 local time after 1,016      kilometres!  Met Colin, who has a very nicely done 67 Austin Mini Countryman, with a 1330 cc      Austin America build up.  Grabbed a quick cold one with Colin and gratefully hit the sack.

I have not checked the Mini's performance yet.  Enough to say that Pooh      loves the open road and has eaten up the miles without pause or complaint.      Elaine drove the middle stint on the day, while I drew the morning through      the Mountains and the haul to Moose Jaw.

The photo of Rick under the umbrella has him pointing through the rain in      the direction of Banff's Upper Hot Springs.  If we had stayed, we would have needed wet suits!  Look for the photo of The Little Outhouse on the      Prairie (also known as The House at Pooh Corner).  Look for the Where's Waldo photo taken in Gull Lake, Sask. at 2000 hours (we crossed the border      at 18:40).

After connecting with Colin it's..."Hallo Halloo and now we are two!" 

Driving Tip: Be alert for Speed Zone changes, both up and, more importantly, down.  Lack of attention leads to speeding tickets, unsafe driving and accidents!      Yield means YIELD.
Service Tip: Swollen hoses, both oil and pressure gauge and water, portend imminent      demise of same tubular structures. Hast thou spares?

Day 4 - June 25 - Sunday

Route: Moose Jaw to Winnipeg, Man.
Highway 1 (via Regina, Moosomin and Brandon)
Kilometres: 643
Time: 8 hours (estimated)
Notes: I was up at 6 a.m. (in sunshine!) and had the rear suspension reset, with Colin's help before breakfast. Colin's Mini looked great in the daylight. Pooh looked dirty and unloved (this is not all true1).

After gassing Colin, we headed out to the Trans Canada and east to Winnipeg. Weather was very much better, had only one thunder shower with hail. Saskatchewan and Manitoba were both green and not at all the flat, boring places most people claim.

Trans Canada Hwy. is still deplorable but worst of all are the other drivers. We have cruised at the limit or just above...and are the slowest cars on the road. several scary incidents of ordinary folks passing on curves up hills over double solid lines and one "professional trucker who forced Colin onto the shoulder as he met oncoming traffic while passing with his rig.

Colin suffered increasing gremlin problems with his ignition (though fueling was not eliminated as a cause). We slowed to 95-100 kmh and brought both cars into CFB Winnipeg for the overnight. Could not find an internet cafe (ofb) or other connection. promised to sort out Colin's car in the morning.

Driving Tip: Use your turn signals every time, just like you close the bathroom door every time. That way, you never forget... and are never embarrassed or, worse, hurt!
Service Tip: Brake and Clutch master cylinder fluid levels should be topped up. Or, you could be down on your luck. Hydraulic leaks require immediate attention!

Day 5 - June 26 - Monday

Route: Winnipeg to Thunder Bay, Ont.
Highway 1 (via Lake of the Woods, Kenora, Dryden and English River)
Kilometres: 692
Time: 9 hours (estimated)
Phone call:
Notes: Colin and I attacked his Mini first thing (I must brag that I was up, out of the lav and ready before Colin woke up!) Old guys sleep less.

We could not trouble shoot Colin's difficulties because a little bit of everything was short of the mark. So into the spares box I dove and we refitted his ignition. New plugs, new points, new condenser, new rotor and new cap. Guess what...the engine said thank you. So we are now off to Thunder Bay, an hour or two late, but working.

After leaving CFB Winnipeg, Colin led the way onto the South loop of the ring highway as we started for Thunder Bay. Yes, we were late after the morning at 'Voxair', the CF 17 Wing newspaper offices. However, we welcomed their interest in facilitating our internet needs for text and photos. And publicly acknowledge our appreciation.

Much to our distress, a single vehicle accident, slightly ahead of me and alongside Colin, saw a vehicle go out of control, swerve wildly, leap the concrete curb careen across the oncoming divided highway lanes, roll over and land upright 15 feet below the highway in the ditch. Colin and I both moved over to the shoulder, to get out of the way, stop and race to offer assistance.

Colin got to the young driver as he was attempting to exit the car, dazed, and got him up, out of the wet ground and onto the shoulder where he was covered with a horse blanket to await an ambulance. I dove into the car to shut of the motor...sacre' bleu...there was no ignition switch. The car was stolen and hot wired. I suggested calling the police, as well, because someone had just lost a "totaled" Chrysler sedan and the police might be interested.

Fortunately, no one other than the driver was injured, although a high speed head-on collision with west bound traffic had been a possibility. Good luck for all others. Reminds one that car thieves rarely check the mechanical condition, tires etc. of cars they boost. The young driver's actions did not help the image of died hair, ear-ringed and tear-away clad youth.

We got back on the road some 30 minutes later just as a big thunderstorm struck. And, in the ensuing deluge, Colin took the Hwy. 1 exit, while we continued to circle Winnipeg, until we were diverted by a highway closure because of a pickup truck/jet fuel tanker crash. Eastbound on Hwy. 15, we needed to go cross country to find Hwy. 1. By this time Colin was out front and separated by some distance. This caused Elaine to pen, "Hallo Hallay, it's a very sad day! We're not having fun, for now we are one!"

Stopped for lunch, turned on the cell (should Colin call)and asked a departing trucker to advise Colin (if he saw him) that we were behind but following. Several hour later, there was Colin beside the highway at the split outside Kenora, Ontario. The trucker had told him our news...and had eaten the sandwiches Colin had made for us! This set
Elaine's pen to work, "Hurray, hurray it's a very good day. We're united again with our new found friend!"

Together again we made our way through northwestern Ontario to Thunder Bay, arriving well after dark, but in good spirits. Colin was so happy with the performance of his Mini, that he thought he might pull out and cover the distance to Sudbury (approx. 1,000 kms.) enroute to visit five of his (seven) brothers in Barrie. So he over-nighted at the Terry Fox Memorial east of Thunder Bay, while we hunkered down in town.

Our early plans for traveling from early morning until 6 p.m. have not worked out. Nonetheless, we are covering the ground. Pooh is just eating up the miles, hour after hour, at 70 psi oil pressure and normal engine temperature. The weather was good for a long haul trip, bright, high scattered cloud and coolish for late June. Only a little stormy as we left Manitoba.

We welcomed the fresh pavement in Ontario and had to put up with construction zones (the trade-off) which slowed all. Elaine spotted four moose, after dusk, near the highway before Thunder Bay. The highways are well marked by NIGHT DANGER signs. In a Mini a moose is a danger at all hours! A big broad of Canada Geese is no slouch at threatening a Mini either as Colin discovered when they decided to cross the highway.

Have logged 3,207 kilometres, so far, from home. We are well, comfortable (on 25 year old seats) and enjoying the ride. The images of the prairies and the great lakes region are all blown away by the reality in 2000. There is an abundance of moisture every where as a result of the precipitation, temperatures are below normal and
everything is green.

The remarkable image that lingers is of a city like Regina appearing like a futuristic spaceport from the land stretching out to the horizon...hazy and imprecise at first but not of Mother Nature's doing.

Message for Rick & Elaine:
If Rick and Elaine are traveling through Toronto and if they require any
assistance I wouldn't mind helping out. Please call Pooh central for phone numbers.
Nuno Aguiar

Driving Tip: Check the front wheels of all approaching vehicles on undivided roadways. You will know quickly whether they are under control or not. Head on accidents kill!
Service Tip: A Mini Radiator should not be filled above the core. The top of the radiator is the expansion tank! Spewing steamy fluids on the roadways is not done.

Day 6 - June 27 - Tuesday

Route: Thunder Bay to Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.
Highway 1 (via Lake Superior, Nipigon, White River, Wawa and Batchawana Bay)
Kilometres: 699
Time: 9 hours (estimated)
Notes: poohtreeWith the cell on and messages indicated, Rick was reviewing calls from Colin...and his wife, Cynthia, in Cold Lake, Alberta...when a green bodied, white roofed Mini accompanied by a leaping human was spotted at the Tim Horton's in the Soo. Together yet again, we agreed to travel to Sudbury together tomorrow.

Colin is a Tim Horton's fanatic. I had only bought a big batch of doughnuts from Tim Horton's for the Pitt Meadows Day Parade each year.  I have to admit, it's good coffee and, now, I can spot a Horton's every time. For those from far away (and other sports), Tim Horton was an outstanding defenceman with the Stanley Cup Champion Toronto Maple Leaf ice hockey teams of the mid-60's...a time when Minis were winning consecutive Monte Carlo Rallies. So, there's a fit...two of the best ever!

Hopefully, you will get a kick out of my photo while engaging in the little known Wawa sport of Moose Tossing, from the porch of Young's General Store. Seriously, Young's in Wawa (Ojibway for "wild goose") has an incredible inventory. Go visit! Incidentally, that is a littlemoose.

Another great day for Pooh. The Mini is running strong, like a tank. On the last long hill, I pinned the gas pedal and was still accelerating (if slowly), at more than 70 miles an hour, when a new Dodge 4x4 gradually overtook us. Just have to love the little 998 Series A.

Message from Rick's cousin in Australia.
Congrats on your trip. We are following your trip on the net.
Love to all
Patricia and Darryl

Driving Tip: Always come to a complete stop at the line for both traffic lights and stop signs. Creepers give other drivers the creeps and cause unnecessary slowdowns because of driver reactions in the through traffic, and... accidents.
Service Tip: Funniest thing. The Minis rear trailing arms are the most readily available piece for servicing on any car - no hoists, jackstands, crawlers or coveralls required. Why are they so easily forgotten?

Day 7 - June 28 - Wednesday

Route: Sault Ste. Marie to Ottawa, Ont.
Highway 1 (via Sudbury, North Bay and Petawawa)
Kilometres: 793
Time: 10.5 hours (estimated)
Notes: This is to be the "longest day". It is also Rick's birthday! Old enough to know better, young enough to do it again!

Not just another birthday. I am 57 years old today, feel like I'm 27, and am not afraid of 87! Always remember - life is too important to take too seriously!

The folks next door at the Ambassador Motel in the Soo - John and Virginia McDonald from Wawa (enroute to Michigan) - had also heard Basic Black, asked for pictures (granted) and made a generous, unexpected financial donation for wheelchairs in Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows. Elaine caught John for the digital photo file. Note to Pooh Central - how are Ridge Meadows residents getting behind our hospital's need?

After a quick T.H breakfast, Colin led the way to Sudbury. He is traveling quickly and with confidence. In fact, he slowly draws away so I must put in a sustained 120 kph burst to catch up (the only time I am not being passed by every other vehicle on the road!).

Blind River was a great coffee stop...and led to the news that a Mini in a field was ours for the taking. Sounded like a typical, rusted out shell (no floors, etc.). Unfortunately, there was no one home to admit us to the field. Colin may follow up on the way home. However, while in town, a young fellow in a typical, rusting Camaro (Ontario's winter salt not GM) asked if we had been to Quebec? He too had listened to Basic Black and would like a Mini. Told him to sniff around town as there was one he might be able to start with!

On getting to Sudbury, halfway at about 400 kms., Colin headed south to visit family, while we forged eastward to the Ottawa Valley. He will connect with his twin, David, in Kingston, Ontario and both will proceed with their Minis to Mt. Orford Park in two days.

We drove straight into town and up to the famous 35 foot Nickel. Norther Ontario is mining country, gold, uranium, copper, nickel etc. and Sudbury is a world-class mining camp. Then it was on to North Bay, home of Canada's national (secret) electronic sleuths, Chalk River, home of Atomic Energy's laboratories, Petawawa, home of Canada's (sadly tarnished) Airborne Regiment, and on into Ottawa. [Our son Tyler qualified as a parachute reservist with the Royal Westminster Regiment. His training took place in part at Colin's home town...Cold Lake, Alberta! Small world.)

We were delayed frequently today by highway construction, including blasting. However, we reached Ottawa before dark and Cliff and Andrea's home for a late supper.

Pooh has covered almost 4,800 kms. so far. We have used 2.5 litres of oil total (remember original, circa 1979 bottom end, and I think it's the tranny shifter too!), no coolant, no air in tires, no repairs...whew. Will change oil/filter tomorrow and bathe the little thing. Pooh is filthy with construction dust etc. but just as loveable and reliable.

Driving Tip: Look around and check your mirrors frequently. Like Wayne Gretzky on the ice, as a driver, you are only as good (and safe) as what you are aware of on the road.
Service Tip: Drum brakes need regular adjustment to work well, and they do, up to about 90mph (145km/h). Get to know those six little protuberances! Rear brakes are adjusted clockwise. Front brake adjusters are turned... towards the front of the car. Who said the brakes had to be in the same time zone?



Day 8 - June 29 - Thursday

Route: In Ottawa, Canada's Capital
Local driving to Museum of Man, National Gallery, Rideau Canal, Parliament and Peace Tower, Gatineau
Kilometres: we'll see
Time: all day
Phone Call:
Notes: We relaxed this morning, actually slept in, did laundry, composed E-mail, etc. Nice not to be looking at another 800-1,000 km. day for awhile.

Got underway for the "Hill" after noon and loafed around downtown, the Byward Market and visited the National Gallery. Prime Minister Jean Chretien and Mrs. Chretien (Aline) came into the gallery with private guests to see the Coleville Exhibit, which also led us there. I had a few words with the "Boss" and shook hands while his party awaited its transport.

Scooted back out along the Parkway, picked up some wine, crackers etc. for the dinner our hosts had planned. After which, a birthday cake appeared as did a goofy gift "BIG MOUTH BILLY BASS", which is a remarkably real looking mounted bass (a sports fish). The trick is that Billy sings, and wiggles on his wall mounting (which thankfully is too big for the Mini dash) when the button is pushed. Batteries included! It was great fun to spend the evening with special friends.

I did not get a chance to wash up Pooh today. However that did not stop Japanese tourists from taking Pooh over as a photo backdrop on Parliament Hill. We also received a very kind donation, for Ridge Meadows wheel chairs from Miss Sonia Roy, a summer student Guide with the National Capital Commission.

When I parked downtown, the first two people to happen by had both heard the Basic Black interview. One gentleman had driven a Cooper S over the rally route to Monte Carlo more than 30 years before. CBC Radio is obviously important to Canadians and Basic Black is produced in the CBC's Vancouver studios.

Tomorrow we will spend a little more time in Ottawa, Museum of Civilization, tour the Parliament buildings (Commons and Senate), and take a look at the Rideau Canal, where I first canoed in 1963! In the early afternoon we will head off to Montreal and Mt. Orford Park, towards Sherbrooke in Quebec's eastern townships.

MINI MEET EAST will be gathering Friday night in preparation for the opening day on Saturday, July 1st with the Concourse de Elegance (it sounds a little uppity for Mini owners I know), vendors swap meet and convoy to Canada Day fireworks.

Colin and his twin David should arrive from Kingston, Ontario with two Minis, to be joined by a friend coming from Newfoundland.

So, that will be it for tonight. Next message will come from the Hotel Cheribourg in Mt. Orford Park and, access being available, lots of Mini and Mini folk photos!

Cheers! RICK (and Elaine, of course)

Driving Tip: Tailgating is for numeric morons. Speed, time and vehicular mass, yield unhappy consequences for more fragile human components unless vehicular spacing is respected. Protect your rear!
Service Tip: Front drum brake adjustments can be made easier. The next time you clean up and paint the backing plates, weld 9/16th nuts onto the four adjusters. No more round and round you go... without results. Much cheaper than buying new backing plates!

Day 9 - June 30 - Friday

Route: In Ottawa, then to Orford, P.Q. via Montreal
Then to Orford, P.Q. Finish touring Ottawa, Hwy 1/17,1/40,10
Kilometres: 332
Time: all day
Notes: Pooh got a much deserved bath early this morning, including cleanup under bonnet. Then it's off to Byward Market to park for shopping and stroll to the "Hill".

We join a francophone tour of the Parliament Buildings as the 1st available anglo tour is four hours off. Elaine sees suite of offices used by Sen. Ray Perrault, for whom Rick worked as chief of staff 20 years ago when he was in Trudeau's last cabinet (my how time flies when you are having fun).

The Hill is crowded before Canada Day. Chantal and Roc are testing the sound systems for the big show.

After dropping off a thank you gift to our hosts, we light out for Montreal and Magog. But first a coffee break at Pauline's in Chute-a-Blundeau and a look at Provinciale Road, in Point Fortune, which divides the town into Ontario and Quebec halves. Imagine long distance phone calls across the street!

Traffic is relatively light heading into Montreal but grinds to a halt approaching Pont Champlain to cross the St. Lawrence River. All other crossings are clear but ours, due to a broken down transport truck.

Clear of the bridge we move in quick traffic towards Magog on hwy. 10 to be greeted by a spectacular thunder storm with forked lightning and heavy rain. Many cars pull off the road to wait out the storm. We soldier on and soon see the hills among which is Mt. Orford (3,800 feet).

Alas, alack and gosh darn...on the last, long, uphill pull we seem to have shed a piece of an exhaust valve after more than 5,000 kms. of trouble free motoring. Will complete diagnosis and remedy among friends!

We are into hotel at 7:45 p.m., register for the meet and enjoy a late supper.

POOH has logged 5,188 kilometres from Pitt Meadows, including a few local kms. enroute to Quebec.

RICK (and Elaine of course!)

Driving Tip: Keep two hands on the wheel. The left arms/ hands of drivers should not be propped up on the door or worse, holding it closed or the roof up. Infantile! Leaving your right hand on the gear knob means that it can't help steer the car. Simple really, especially at speed... and a blown tire, broken steering linkage, a deer, a child or ?
Service Tip: The cheapest insurance for every motor... change the oil and filter regularly. Because the Mini engine and transmission share the same oil, change it after every 1,500 kms. (1,000 miles) of hard driving. For those who don't know the Mini transmission provides the engine with a sump!

Day 10 - July 1 - Saturday

Route: As per Mini Meet Ease Instructions
Kilometres: don't know
Time: all day
Phone Call:
Mini Meet Notes: 1st Day - Mini Meet East 2000

There are more Minis than I have ever seen in one place...some perfect, others pure whimsy, some prosaic, others wild. We will let the photos do the talking.

The Concourse Day provides enjoyment from carwash to car ogling, to vender visits, to story and myth swapping. Jeff Smith (VMC Prime MINIster and Leanne are here (left Vancouver on Tuesday and arrived Friday night late - towing their Mini). Colin and his twin, David and family are here from Kingston. David is off to Bosnia shortly so he did not bring his Mini.

A Floridian seeks us out as contenders for 'Mini driven farthest to the meet'. He even took in some of Northern Ontario and got a damaged windscreen for his mileage "padding"!

There are folks we met at Vallejo, California (MMW1997) and Colorado springs last year (E Meets W 1999). A special couple are Frank Smeets and Peggy Ponson from the Netherlands. They own three Minis belong to a large national club at home and a small German club. Big International Mini Meet fans and attendees (up to 2,500-3,000 cars), they were at Silverstone last year (15,000 Minis). Mt. Orford is small potatoes for them but terrific for us. Their flight from Brussels to Montreal was shorter than our drive (and may have cost less, at $800 return, than our trip - thinking of head work).

We dined in town, where the owner took up the guitar for English and French country songs and ballads, with Minis blasting up and down the roadway off the veranda. Just after 9:00 p.m. the whole meet fires up and convoys over hill and dale to the Canada Day fireworks. What a sight, with more than 200 vehicles strung out single file over country roads.

Fireworks were a great, small town show of love for Canada in Quebec!

And, maybe a good omen. Elaine and I saw our first fireflies, though the little delights must have suffered a sensory shock from the pyro display.

Tomorrow is Rallye Day, ending in the vineyard with a picnic and group photo1 We will skip the rallye and get to the vineyard on three cylinders as we have full oil pressure, normal engine temp. and no other signs of distress. No one had a compression guage yesterday, however Denis Boisvert will bring one in today. Then I'll tuck into fault diagnosis and repair plan! Not a big deal, only a valve.

RICK (and Elaine of course!)

Driving Tip: Tell other drivers about the deficiencies of their cars a.s.a.p. Some idiots can't tell that a tire is very low on air, that the steam out back indicates a cooling or head gasket problem, etc. They could hurt their vehicle or worse, somebody else - you or someone you love!
Service Tip: 'Rainaway' (proprietary brand name) reduces the need to wear out your Lucas wiper motor as quickly. Applied to the windshield, it caused water to bead and flow off the glass... very effectively. Worked for Rick strapped into a Mini at Mission Raceway in the wet. Good thing too... since he couldn't reach the wiper switch!

Day 11 - July 2 - Sunday

Route: As per Mini Meet Ease Instructions
Kilometres: don't know
Time: all day
Phone Call:
Mini Meet Notes: 2nd Day -Mini Meet East 2000

Meet planning is first rate with nothing scheduled before 10:00 a.m., recognizing that all are on holidays. However, there were a few glitches in kicking of the Rallye (drivers/navigators not ready). A big field got away on a good day for enjoying the countryside.

We skipped the Rallye being down on power with (I'm sure) part of the number 3 exhaust valve somewhere to the west on Hwy. 10. We opted for the scenic route to the 'Snow Fields' Vineyard. The sole pass enroute to Cowansville was but a hiccup for a 3 cylinder 998.

The Vineyard field was quite a sight with all the cars set out for the group photo, including the Mini Van which was painted as an activity for the younger children. Took the typical panoramic photos, cars only, people with cars. Picnic lunch was terrific although breeze blown tablecloths led to unexpected upsets of all sorts of platters, wine glasses etc.

Back at the hotel, the vendors were open and the lots packed with the Minis. Jeff, Leanne, Jeff's Mom, Elaine and I went into Magog proper for dinner. Had a pleasant walkabout and enjoyed the patio until rain fell, which was quite heavy overnight and into the next day.

Tucked in early with slalom racing on the mind for the morrow.

Driving Tip: Look a long way down the road you are driving. Why rush up to a traffic light? It wears out your brakes unnecessarily. Why not let your "long look" into a curve help you steer correctly? Why not?
Service Tip: 'Aircare' is a unique southwestern B.C. driving experience. Imagine this... the law says you must pay money and present your vehicle once a year for an emissions test, on a rolling road dyno, with no air directed towards your cooling system (as it would actually be flowing while you were driving)! This is important for Minis with their cramped engine bays. Open your hood to aid cooling, before entering the testing station, and... leave it open! Good idea to first replace the points, condenser, rotor, cap, spark plugs, adjust the rockers and check the timing too!

Day 12 - July 4 - Monday

Route: As per Mini Meet Ease Instructions
Kilometres: don't know
Time: all day, every day
Phone Call:
Mini Meet Notes: 3rd Day -Mini Meet East 2000

With the Slalom racing/Autocross and Funkhama set in a large Mall parking lot in Magog, everyone was up early to clear the buffet breakfast and get down the hill by 10 a.m. and we were no exception, even though I would not be entering Pooh.

In fact, I had finally got my hands on a compression guage late yesterday and confirmed that number 3 had lost part of a valve. We will go in to Montreal to Keith Degauque's on Tuesday to pull the head and install a new valve. There is no indication of other trouble and I hope my first look at the piston crown and combustion chamber confirms that guess.

Keith is famous for the Silver Bullet, which the club champion climbed into at the end of the day and knocked off a single 26+ second run almost fastest on the day - against everything including a mid-engine, Porsche powered screamer. Most entrants had difficulty getting to 30 seconds. There were a few spins, burnouts, and lots of tire smoke, hot exhaust fumes, cheers and laughs.

After watching and driving on slalom courses I still can not believe the number of entrants who fail to fix the course in their minds - wandering off between gates, missing clear directions, totally losing their way. Some go in too hot and over shoot, others just don't shoot straight.

The Funkhana ended the day and in the rain yet again. Early runners were up to seven minutes on the course, later entrants got down to 3 minutes. All drove the same car with reversed steering and pedals/tranny operated by the passenger. A back seat safety passenger held the kill switch in the event the car got out of control. There were "events".

Jeff and Leanne did reasonably well timewise after an "event" (hurtling towards a concrete wall). Leanne knew that she should steer from the bottom of the wheel, pulling the wheel to the right to go right etc. However when Jeff gave the car too much gas, Leanne's hands spung to the top of the wheel, turning to the left, sending the car to the right and concrete wall. (The best laid plans....)

Keith Calver spent the weekend telling people their fans were on backwards. So many were that he is considering printing a card that says "p.s. your fan is on backwards" Engine side"

With all back to the hotel, many attempted a personal cleanup before the banquet at 6 for 7 p.m. The ballroom was full with Mini enthusiasts of all ages from stroller occupants on up to full blown nodders. That is an interesting aspect to this meet...a full range of ages, interests and experiences with and or about the Mini.

Keith Dodd got off lightly as the speaker. Awards went on forever and Jeff achieved a 2nd place in Mk III unrestored. Elaine, Pooh and I took longest driven distance. We told the truth...Canada is a marvelous it and enjoy as we did in our Mini. The good part is that almost everyone won something!

Closing meet notes...the new $21,000 (US) Countryman hybrid was purchased by Canadians. Full leather etc. etc. It will never see the rain (after it gets home).

There were 23 classes in the Concourse, we might want to look at their standard rules for our next meet.

Received a generous donation for 'Wheels' from an Illinois entrant whose wife has MS and needs a wheel chair on "bad" days. He was really encouraged by what we are trying to do for the Ridge Meadows Hospital. In fact, we were invited to his club meeting next saturday afternoon in Dekalb, Illinois. We may not get there from Quebec City, assuming repairs go as planned.

Driving Tip: We know to slow down and back off for snow and ice, especially in the shaded portion of otherwise dry roads during cold snaps (don't we?). Slow down and back off after a rain following a warm, dry spell too! The accumulated oil floats on the water, making roads more slippery. Ouch!
Service Tip: When at 'Aircare' you will be escorted into a sound deadened booth. Watch to see that the operator does not stall your engine, because the CO2 level will spike on the restart... failing the test. Don't allow yourself to be taxed twice for an engine in good operating condition.

Day 13 - July 5 - Tuesday

Route: Orford to Quebec City, P.Q.
Hwy. 10, 55, and 116 (via Sherbrooke, Richmond, Plessisville and Levis)
Kilometres: 256
Time: all day, touring
Phone Call:

It is almost sad to hear the joyous bark of A Series engines as they come to life this morning. After all it is time to move on and head home. Mini Meet East 2000 has been a wonderful event, well organized, friendly, low-key but with exciting events and...great people! For example, Andy Vanko of DeKalb, Illinois sought us out to make a donation to 'Wheels for Wheels'. His wife has MS and needs a wheel chair on not so good days and he wants to help too!

We have business to attend to in Montreal, almost certainly the #3 exhaust valve has burned out. So we limp into the Montreal island suburb of Ile Bizard and the home of Mainly Minis and MME 2000 leaders Debbie Bolton-Degauque and Keith Degauque to effect repairs. Although he must have been tired, Keith D. jumps to moving various Minis, including the Silver Bullet, and gets Pooh into his shop. There, nose to nose with Keith's GT5 race car, off comes the head. Everything looks good except #3 exhaust valve, which is burned out.

A special Mini Meet guest and at Debbie and Keith's home is Keith 'The Knowledge' Calver of Mini Magazine, Mini Spares and Mintec. He too pitches in as a commentator as the head work proceeds. Keith C. is a pleasure to visit with as Keith D. quickly laps in a new valve and reassembles the head and ancillaries. Elaine settles accounts with Debbie. Happy to be on our way, Debbie and Keith can resume their well deserved wind down from the Meet's responsibilities and time with guests.

We are off to Quebec City by the north shore of the St. Lawrence River on Hwy. 40, arriving late to Au Petit Hotel inside the walled upper town. The delightful little hotel provides an excellent room and welcome bed after a long day

Driving Tip: When someone is following you too closely, leave braking room (space, distance) for yourself and the idiot behind you. That's one car length for each 10 mph (16km/h) for you. Then, double the space for the idiot!
Service Tip: Fuel filters are not expensive and work effectively to ensure clean fuel at the carburetor. Since clean fuel also reduces wear in the carb itself, change filters annually.

Day 14 - July 6 - Wednsday

Route: In Quebec City, Capital of Quebec
on foot to Musee du Quebec and Plains of Abraham National Battlefield, local driving to Ile d'Orleans, Montmorency Falls.
Kilometres: we'll see
Time: all day
Phone Call:
Notes: Must get a bowl of blueberries, heavy cream and brown sugar on the Ile d'Orleans!

Today we enjoyed Old Quebec on foot under blue skies with puffs of white cloud and a pleasant breeze. I have "done" Quebec City before, however Elaine has not and she delights in shopping the craft tents. As a result, room must be found in Pooh for a "one of a kind", dressy knit wrap. Later Pooh is fired up for an excursion around the Ile d Orleans and Montmorency Falls (where General Wolfe's Highlanders attempted but failed with an amphibious landing in 1759). On the island, I secured a dish of fresh berries (strawberries are in season), heavy cream and maple sugar. Elaine, who had heard often about this quest objective, quickly followed suit.

Dinner followed our return to Old Quebec, in whatelse but a Spanish restaurant, on Rue St. Louis!

Driving Tip: When the roadway goes from two lanes into one, look ahead, check your mirrors, adjust your speed (down or up) to merge safely. Treating such a transition zone as a passing zone is just plain stupid. So is stopping!
Service Tip: Keeping your fuel tank topped up in cold weather limits water accumulation from condensation inside the tank and, possibly an ice blocked fuel line. In hot weather the fuel tank vent line is important because of increased fuel evaporation. On older cars, the vent pipe to the carburetor can sometimes be blocked by rust. Disconnect both ends and test the pipe with compressed air.

Day 15 - July 7 - Thursday


July 6th Quebec City to Watertown, New York
Route Hwy. 40, 401, 81 via North Shore of St. Lawrence, Montreal, Thousand Islands

Kilometres: 571
Time: all day, touring
Notes: Time now to head west and home. We have traveled almost 6,000 kilometres and face at least the same over the next 10 days.

First, I'm off to a nearby Internet Cafe to ship text and, hopefully, photos to Pooh Central (AKA John G.). The experience did not cost a dime and was worth less...nothing. Not only did not one of the employees have any knowledge about their computers, they were all different and differently configured, all in the French language (not a basic problem as icons are icons) but more than a challenge for this Anglo when the (previously) badly beaten up keyboard yelled ouch! Another hour of life sucked into the illusionary world of internet service and communication...not.

Before we leave it's off to Monsiour Lub (Mr. Lube) for an oil and filter change and lubrication ($1.99 for less than 10 nipples...we have 8). Promised in 15 minutes, it takes more than 45, including their insistence that the Mini was full with 5 litres of oil (just happens to be the volume specified in their advertising). All Mini owners know that an oil change with filter needs 5.5 litres of oil. Monsiour Lub could not wrap its mind around the fact that I might know this well from many, personal oil/filter changes...go figure!

Retracing our steps, we head for Lancaster County in eastern Ontario. This time we use Hwy. 138 along the St. Lawrence river and not the green tunnel of the divided Highway 40. The sights of villages, farms and their people, bring back fond memories from 1967 (remember the undertaker's big yellow Monarch Ralph?).

In late afternoon, not far into Ontario up pops the 4th LINE ROAD (formerly Curry Hill Road) exit from Hwy. 401 which we take enroute to learning about Elaine's family roots in Central Canada. Almost instantly we locate the Curry "mansion", built after the United Empire Loyalist arrival of James Curry from Albany, N.Y. in 1782. We determine to overnight and press on with the "research" in the morning.

Driving Tip: Highway or through road posted speeds may fool you. In Montana, for example, the Interstate posted speed is 75 mph (120 km/h), but towns are 25 mph (40 km/h).  Do you know any people who respect 50 km/h posted speeds in B.C.? If you do, they should be your friends for life!
Service Tip: Make sure that your clutch adjustment provides for disengagement with the pedal off the floor. Otherwise you will have excessive release bearing and clutch plate wear, because a low pedal is like riding the clutch…it can not completely engage!

Day 16 - July 8 - Friday


Watertown to Niagara Falls
Hwy. 81, 104 via Oswego, Mexico, Rochester to Lewiston

Kilometres: 371
Time: all day, touring
Phone Call:
Notes: Up early, I'm into the motel's restaurant for coffee and...information. Keenly interested in questions about their history, one fellow disappears to return with an out-of-print copy of 'The Gravestones of Glengarry' and quickly matches our tattered photo of a memorial stone (in the mason's yard more than 60 years before) with a photo of the same stone, erected in the Second Concession Burying Ground around 1933.

We are off to an absolutely serene country churchyard, resting on a knoll, surrounded by acreages under the plow, broken by woods, as far as the eye can see. Here we photograph each Curry headstone before retreating to the "mansion" and a walkabout with the camera. Locals advise that at least two families have thrown big dollars at restoration efforts, which remain incomplete. We are also told that the last Curry vanished with a meal on the table and a fire in the hearth!

With a friendly and helpful visit early in the day at the Township office, we return to South Glengarry and Mario's Pizza because...there is a computer business located inside the restaurant. True, and Jaques LeBlanc (who also builds the pizzas) is a saviour. Soon (Rick's perspective) the digital photos are loaded up, zipped and sent to Pooh Central. During the hours this took, Elaine is off about town and into the library to uncover source material, where I find her between thunderstorm "drops".

At 4 p.m. we are off for Thousand Islands and the crossing at Rockport into New York State. The Parkway offers visually stunning and intimate views of the islands, cottages, boatsheds...a world unlike any other we have known. Soon Rockport appears and at 6 p.m. we cross quickly through customs and immigration into the United States. Free from stormy weather, Sackett's Harbour lures us off the highway, for supper and a walkabout at the war of 1812-14 battlefield (U.S. fleet destroyed). An early indication of a spectacular sunset draws the 35mm camera out...we'll see later.

Very pleasantly surprised by the 'country lane' aspects of Hwy. 3, we stay off the major route and head west around Lake Ontario. It is a beautiful evening, with motel vacancies, darkens, we run out of motels and the night wears on. You will just have to believe that the south shore of Lake Ontario can be driven comfortably on Hwy. 3 from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. We did stop and look in Rochester about midnight...very few motels, vacancies in vastly overpriced or seedy and overpriced. We pressed on to nearly Lewiston, opposite Queenston Heights in Ontario, before resting our heads in the clean, affordable Paterson's Motel, with an owner-manager happy to do business at 2:30 a.m.

During the night-time run, I noticed a slight misfire, which I originally ascribed to bad fuel from a brand outlet that did NOT accept brand credit card! Pooh will get a look in the morning.

Driving Tip: Use your headlights at all times.  They are a terrific warning to other drivers (and protection for your sweet body).  Notice the dummies with the daytime lights at night? They can’t see worth a dam and their rear end is not in sight.
Service Tip: An inside hood release can be easily obtained on a Mini by reversing the bonnet latch mechanism.  Simply unbolt the latch, turn it around and note how much to file or grind off the “round part” so that it bolts back into the apron. Cut off the horizontal tang on the lever. Drill a small hole in the vertical lever arm for your cable. Reverse the latch spring attachment to the apron on the reinstallation. Install the cable from the dash to the front apron and, presto…you have an inside release!

Day 17 - July 9 - Saturday

Route: Around Niagara, to Cleveland, Ohio
I 90 via Buffalo and Erie
Kilometres: 400
Time: 5 hrs (from Niagara) estimated
Notes: Since we have very nearly caught up to the "plan", a slow Saturday morning is in order. I turn to Pooh, pull the spark plugs, disassemble the distributor and conclude that a new cap ought to cure the misfire as the contacts seem to be chewed up just a little. Pooh also got new plugs for the run home. Then it was off to the motel restaurant, where I disappeared into conversations with the local a.m. coffee crowd. When Elaine found me she thought I'd eaten only to discover a coffee and refill on the tab.

Within a few minutes we enter the realm of Niagara Falls disembark and approach the American and Horseshoe Falls from the US side. Elaine enjoys the cooling spray which envelopes the gorge in the vicinity of the falls. Pooh Central gets a quick phone call from the pedestrian bridge over the river to see if the photos arrived. They did. The best news.

We power up Pooh for a cross border visit to Niagara-on-the-Lake and Queenston Heights. Reversing the Sackett's Harbour experience, we see the site of Fort George which the Americans pummeled into submission nearly 200 years ago. Lunch in Niagara-on-the-Lake is a contest for those wishing to be seated...the town overflows with cheery tourists. A bench in a quiet alley provides our respite. Having seen the long line-up (+1 hour wait) at the Rainbow Bridge to cross into New York, we seek one of the other two lesser known bridges downstream and arrive at the US border crossing to await the passage of only one vehicle ahead of us. In fact, the uniformed Customs and Immigration crew have so little to do that they break into cheers as Pooh lights out for upstate New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

It's 4:30 p.m. when we leave Niagara Falls after fueling Pooh. Taking secondary roads we head for Buffalo, pass Tonawanda (home of the carousel) and into the city to avoid the toll highway, we think. Wrong, after losing our way, we pass over $2.10 at the toll booth and are on I90 headed for the Keystone State. Not much of Pennsylvania gets in the way here,we do stop for dinner near Erie before pressing on to Ashtabula, Ohio (the name alone focused our set down point) 55 miles east of Cleveland. Like a few other stops, summertime road work/road closures lead us to getting lost in town, wandering down to the harbour on Lake Erie, and pulling over beside a Police Officer to be set straight.

Driving Tip: Check to the rear before you back up.  Sounds simple, works well!
Service Tip: Bonnet latches wear out and bonnets pop up at the most inappropriate times…for example, at speed on a concrete freeway (during a rough whap, whap, whap crossing of the concrete joints).  The latch lets go because the “knife edge” on the latch plate dulls with use.  Remove the latch mechanism from the apron and use a suitable round file to “sharpen” the latch “knife edge”.  (The filing can be done carefully without removing the latch.)  Voila, the bonnet stays closed!

Day 18 - July 10 - Sunday

Route: Cleveland to Joliet, Illinois
I 90 via Toledo, South Bend, Ind. and Chicago
Kilometres: 607
Time: 7.5 hours (estimated)
Phone Call:
Notes: Pooh vacates Ashtabula at 9 a.m. on a gorgeous Sunday morning, we hit Cleveland at 10:30 and proceed west on I90. Coincidentally 16,000 km. turns over on Pooh's speedo (7,606 kms.into the 'Expotition' so readers are not confused) at the Old Woman Creek bridge in Ohio. At 11:40 am we are off the interstate near Sandusky and onto Hwy. 6, judging that, like Hwy. 3 in NY, the "ride" will be more enjoyable. Hwy. 3 had hinted at driving down America's 'Main Street'.

We are not disappointed by the secondary highway selection, it proves that we were right in New York. Get off the interstate, see the country, face fewer hurried vehicles and enjoy! In the populous northeast, houses, farms, businesses and towns, all seemingly languorous, are passed briskly at the posted speed of 55 mph. There is nothing like it in Western Canada that comes to mind, except the Old Island Highway on Vancouver Island.

Noon brings Fremont and's the home of a Heinz ketchup factory. At 3:15 p.m. Elaine takes over, 20 minutes before we enter Indiana...The Crossroads of America. Two hours later, Elaine is just another frustrated driver on, you guessed Interstate 80/90, as the Sunday afternoon crowds try to return through Gary, Indiana to Chicago, Illinois. After miles of stop, go, stop, we exit the interstate, head south, and pick up Hwy. 30, another secondary route, for a straight through shot to Joliet. Chicago Heights is one tough looking neighborhood, with a sharp contrast between broken down buildings, weeds, poor folks and the "regal one" in a Mercedes Kompressor roadster. Nonetheless, we have moved while others stewed. Unfortunately, we are 45 miles from the Windy City's lakeshore and will not see it this time. Elaine is disappointed (and with the next morning's deluge, does not see downtown Joliet and the canals either).

We stay at our first Motel 6, well maintained and fairly priced premises.

During the night a violent thunderstorm erupts, with a continuous, rolling, crashing cannonade and lightning to rent the heavens. Elaine gets full credit for entering the downpour to ensure that Pooh's windows are closed (the 1/2 inch crack admitted a fair bit of water first). Not necessarily a bright move in bare feet, which is easy for me to say.

Driving Tip: Been in to fill up? Gas cap on?  Flap closed? It’s surprising how many people forget to check.  They were more concerned about the lottery. Conflagrations are not a pretty sight!
Service Tip: Attach a spring from your dipstick handle to the distributor bracket to reduce oil plash from that source. Helps keep engine and tranny clean so you can better spot serious leaks!

Day 19 - July 11 - Monday

Route: Joliet to Des Moines, Iowa 
80 via Ottawa, Peru, Davenport and Iowa City
Kilometres: 530
Time: 7 hours (estimated)
Phone Call:
Notes: On checking Pooh (in the continuing rain), engine oil is off some 3/4 litre...say what. There are no apparent leaks, deposits, indications of burning etc. Could it be the rod change seal?? I add oil, fuel up and vow to check regularly.

Back on I80, we push westward to the Mississippi River and Iowa, intending to overnight in Des Moines. The trip is uneventful, the engine oil stays up after 200, then 300 kms., ditches and farm fields are full of water from the overnight deluge and Elaine dips into the Mississippi River at Moline near Rock Island (terminus of the famous Rock Island RR Line) a US Arsenal. I could swim the river here...and that is before I notice the sandbar at mid-river.

Elaine takes the wheel at 2:15 p.m. for the run to the Amana Colonies and a meal break. If you have heard the name Amana associated with refrigeration and appliances (who has not), the foundations arose from within the unique immigrant colony. We visit Homestead for a meal and walkabout, leaving to arrive at Des Moines by 6:30 p.m. Another good value Motel 6 provides the accommodation, while a run south into town provides a patio meal. Our waitress, from Wisconsin to attend Drake University, tells us her father calls Iowa "The Great Corn Desert". The truth is we have passed thousands upon thousands of hectares of cornfields through Indiana and Iowa. Most apparently is to feed cattle and hogs!

After supper I chat with a catfisherman on an almost unused 6 lane bridge over the Raccoon River. Apparently, 35 lb. Catfish, as well as large Northern Pike and Walleye (introduced from Canada) are regularly caught here. Our fisherman uses 20 lb. test line and is happy not to be able to hoist a "big one" to the bridge deck.

This night continues to be more domestic, with laundry done in the motel self-serve facility. Now we are resupplied for the last week!

Driving Tip: Know anyone with a dangly thingy under the rearview mirror?  Should be cut down and mounted over the mantelpiece, where it belongs!  Who needs an unnecessary, inanimate object in the forward viewing area?  Space cadets?
Service Tip: After using gasket adhesive to attach a new gasket to a non-flanged, alloy valve cover, a light application of wheel bearing grease on the head side of the valve cover gasket will help reduce oil leakage from this source.

Day 20 - July 12 - Tuesday

Route: Des Moines To Pickstown, South Dakota.
I 80, I 29, 50, 46 via Omaha, Sioux City and Yankton
Kilometres: 574
Time: all day, touring up Missouri River
Phone Call:
Notes: We awake to a grey smoke sky that turns to a pervasive mist with dawn. Most unusual, unless one has experienced coastal sea fogs in late July and August in British Columbia. We learn that very high humidity as well as air/ground temperature convergence leads to these fogs. We set off for the Missouri River near Council Bluffs/Omaha. Elaine takes the wheel for the run north on I29 to Sioux City, Iowa and another oil change before heading west to South Dakota.

At the Jiffy Lube, a similar (to Monsiour Lub) mindset popped up with the insistence that 5 litres of oil will do sir, thank you sir! Fortunately, I had first caught the young fellow after only 3 litres had been put in, including the new filter case. He was totally unaware of the possibilities with a Mini and its shared engine/tranny oil supply, and would have been greatly surprised following the usual engine turnover to have seen a bare dipstick! Language is not a barrier to understanding, it's the mind's set!

At Floyd's Bluff, we pulled in to the memorial to both Sgt. Floyd and Lewis and Clark's Corps of Discovery. Young Sgt. Floyd was the only member of the 1804-1806 expedition across the recent Louisiana Purchase to lose his life...likely from appendicitis. The bluff affords a good view of the Missouri, the monument a reminder of an heroic journey.

Leaving the Interstate behind, we press on over Hwy. 50 to Yankton, South Dakota and Elaine's date with the Missouri River. As she wades, very large fish surface nearby for gulps of air and a snapping turtle, 1/2 again the size of a dinner plate, puts on a float and swim exhibit while heading downstream.

We complete the day's travel upriver at Pickston, adjacent to the Ft. Randall Dam and Reservoir. Here at the Dakota Inn we receive our best value for dollar spent, dine at Bryndy's Steakhouse, visit the Ft. Randall chapel and graveyard (from time of the 'Plains Indian Wars') across the river. While on the dam, we experience a 180 degree sunset and, to the east, see a 90 degree lightning storm (can not hear the thunder at distance). I try 35mm exposures of both. We'll see.

Driving Tip: Don’t you love those who forget to shave or apply makeup?  They should go home and start over.  Better yet, buy an alarm clock.  Drivers wanted!
Service Tip: The next time you drain the coolant also drain and remove the heater.  Disassemble the heater so that you can clean the radiator gills.  They get clogged over the years by feathers, dust, grit, paper bits and whatever else gets sucked in.  After re-assembly, your heater should actually give off heat.  This is very good in the Winter and at dissipating extra engine heat in the Summer!

Day 21 - July 13 - Wednsday

Route: Pickstown to Hot Springs
Hwy. 18 via Mission and Wounded Knee
Kilometres: 500
Time: 8 hours (stopping at Wounded Knee Creek, Pine Ridge, I.R.)
Phone Call:
Notes: At breakfast, as fishermen collect nightcrawlers and live bait at Abby's (yes, we are eating in a combined bait shop, garage, restaurant), we learn that the largest Catfish caught in the 1999 Derby was a whopping 54 pounds!!! We saw the picture too...mouth big enough to swallow small children whole.

Secondary highway 18 beckons as we cross the Missouri River towards Wounded Knee and Hot Springs across the state. At Wounded Knee, Rick walks the area, takes a 180 panoramic set of photos over the flat where Chief Big Foot's band was camped after surrendering to the US Calvary the day before. In July, it is very hard to imagine the late December cold, two weeks after Sitting Bull was killed at Standing Rock on December 15, 1890.

Harder still to imagine the US 7th Calvary (with infantry), outnumbering, surrounding and outgunning the Sioux, losing control and massacring fleeing Indians (over two miles of terrain) after one shot rang out. These were tired, hungry, cold Indians with hatchets and some pistols - 146 men, women and children died, 20 troopers that day and 16 more from wounds (most from their own crossfire). Fortunately, it was the last in a string of infamous conduct including the Washita and Sand Creek "battles".

By contrast Custer, who has been immortalized, stupidly and stubbornly led his men to their death at the Little Bighorn, when readily available evidence of a very large Indian gathering and military orders not to engage, until his "hammer" could concert with the larger "anvil" of infantry moving up the Little Bighorn from the Missouri, were in his hands. The irony today is that the Custer Battlefield is in a lush valley in the Crow Indian Reservation (neither Custer "white" nor Sioux "red").

At 6 p.m. we reached Hot Springs found the little Wayside Motel, walked the main street, checked out the "springs" (only 87 degrees), dined at the Elkhorn and crashed. Looking forward to the morning, the Mammoth Site and the Crazy Horse Memorial.

Pooh performed faultlessly, but disclosed another big oil loss at mid-day, after steady 55-60 mph travel on an empty highway, nothing unusual but the opposite of a stop/go crawl on the bumper to bumper interstate. We topped up the oil (and it never happened again before home). We are 114 kms. short of 10,000 on the 'Expotition' at day's end.

Driving Tip: Ashtrays are for ashes and butts.  Mother Nature does a perfectly good job of igniting wildfires…with lightning!
Service Tip: Graphite powder is a marvelous lubricant for throttle and choke cables.  Sprinkle it into the empty cable sheath and draw the bare cable through some in the palm of your hand, before installation.

Day 22 - July 14 - Thursday

Route: Hot Springs to Spearfish
Hwy. 385, I 90 via Crazy Horse, Mt. Rushmore, Deadwood
Kilometres: 200
Time: all day, touring / sightseeing
Phone Call:
Notes: Yesterday, we "completed" the Oyate (O-YAH-te)Trail or trail of nations across southern South Dakota to the Black Hills (heavily timbered by pine unlike lower elevations). The Black Hills did loom almost ominously as we had approached, but offered cooler, more refreshing topography than the plains to the east. We are in the "Hills" and happy to be in higher relief terrain.

Day 22 quickly becomes a very busy one when we are engrossed with the preserved wonders at the Hot Springs Mammoth Site. The Site is an ongoing scientific dig into the "cemented" remains of Columbian (bigger) and Woolly (smaller) mammoths which are found in an old sinkhole (a few tens of thousands of years ago). The sinkhole formed when an underlying limestone cavern collapsed. It then filled with debris, and, fed by underground, warm spring water, created a lush environment, which was particularly attractive to voluminous plant-eaters like the mammoths during colder weather. Some entered to eat, drink, swim or ?, but could not get out because of the steep, slippery sides. They likely drowned. Their remains were covered by other debris including windblown dust and chemically treated by the spring waters, which also rendered the drying sinkhole harder than the surrounding soil and rock.

The sinkhole was found by a bulldozer operator, who was cutting a "hill" for a real estate developer. He stopped, a dig was organized and the site was acquired for scientific purposes. Excellent tours of a working dig. One is also reminded that there is little new under the sun. ALL THE MAMMOTH REMAINS found to date ARE OF YOUNG MALES. No female remains have been uncovered. Could it be that young males of all species are more likely to engage in risky behaviour? to know the answers before the questions are asked? to revolt against the wise advice of elders, especially Mothers and Aunts? Mammoths lived to about 65 years on average. The male remains are aged between 10 and 29 years of age.

Next, it's the Fall County History Museum in a very impressive, old 3 story stone school building, sited on the town's prominent ridge. Usual old stuff, but some great little stories among it. Delightfully eccentric volunteer, who claims a personal 100,000 artifact collection, adds spice to the visit.

At mid-day we are off to the north to Crazy Horse Monument, Mt. Rushmore and Custer Park's bison herd. The Crazy Horse project boggles the mind. Look closely at the photo of the mountain and note the tunnel to the right of the face (beneath what will be the extended arm). The tunnel could hold a 10 story office building! When completed the mountain carving will be the largest monumental work completed by mankind...bigger than the Great Pyramid. Of course it helps that gravity will aid in the removal of rock...many millions of tons. Look at the artist's model (in white) to get a view of the intended product. This is a privately funded project, led by a foundation which has a very broad plan for a Native University and Medical School and now offers arts, crafts and other cultural exhibits and sales.

Hours go by at Crazy Horse, so we relegate Rushmore (having never seen it) to drive by status. Fine carvings but all four heads would fit within the reach of Crazy Horse's arm. At Keystone, while being refueled, Pooh becomes the focus of "Pooh Bear", who will open a motorcycle shop called Pooh's Corner. "Pooh Bear" is in the photos, viewers choice! 

Then it's Deadwood, where Wild Bill (James Butler) Hickok was shot in the back holding the Black Aces and Eights and Jack of Diamonds, at 39 years of age in 1876, the same year that Custer fell at the last stand. Hickok would be interested in three things today in Deadwood. Mining and murder take no lives, yet Casinos flourish for the gambler! And, Corvettes come to town. They have in fact flooded the old miners' gulch and will block the one main street for tomorrow's Show & Shine.

We get Pooh up Mount Moriah, with a little verbal urging, to the Cemetery which has Calamity Jane (Mary Jane Canary) buried next to Wild Bill...her last wish in 1903 (at 51 years). We take the walking tour and note the bold commitment and tragedy in 19th century lives. Among the graves are several of civil war veterans, who have government issue headstones (on request), including one "Curry" whose vitals are noted.

In Spearfish, we bunk down next to a 1980 Corvette from Minnesota, yellow and black, echoing Pooh's accents, but with seriously built-up horsepower under the bonnet, er hood. A fine dinner on the porch at the 11th Hour Bistro, in somewhat drier air, closes the day before tucking in.

Driving Tip: Drivers using cell phones must be hard of hearing.  Telemarketing should be done from the home or office.  Redial, dammmit redial…crash!
Service Tip: Installing new brake hoses can sometimes be frustrating, especially from the front sub-frame to the caliper or wheel cylinder.  Loosen off the joint at the sub-frame and connect the hose to the caliper/cylinder first.  Then re-tighten the sub-frame joint so that the hose forms a smooth “u-shape”.

Day 23 - July 15 - Friday

Route: Spearfish to Whitehall, Montana.
I 90 via Buffalo, Wyoming
Kilometres: 750
Time: 10 hours (estimated)
Phone Call:
Notes: We are now on the closing leg - the mission is to move. Elaine has noted, "Today is for covering ground, no sightseeing." So, we are off to Gillette, Wyoming for breakfast, then Buffalo and Sheridan enroute to Montana. On leaving our motel unit, Elaine chats with a couple heading for Rendezvous in Casper, Wyoming to the south. He is an historian. She tosses tomahawks competitively. Elaine notes that they carry tent poles cut from trees and that they insulate their cooler with woolen blankets. [We don't have room for branches or coolers (I think)!]

Enroute to Gillette, we cross into Wyoming at 7:05 a.m., when it's still relatively cool and comfortable. Breakfast unfolds as it should and Elaine takes the wheel to Buffalo. We enter Sheridan less than one hour after the big rodeo parade, complete with a Custer lookalike drum major with a 19th century, Cavalry-uniformed drum and bugle band. Ah tortured fame! We have a walkabout, enjoy ice-cream and I find my new Wyoming t-shirt (the old one is worn out and I love that word Wyoming).

Leaving Sheridan behind we cross the rolling hills of northeast Wyoming into the like Montana countryside. And, the temperature rises quickly to "It's hot outside". We are barely through the bottom land of the Little Bighorn Valley, after crossing Custer's fateful route of march, when human oriented environmental solutions are in order. So we dive off the interstate into Lodge Grass on the Crow Reservation to purchase the simple plastic dishpan and one big bag of cubed ice. Passenger feet go on the ice with the obligation to offer the driver an iced rag for a necktie! This gets us to Billings, Montana but it is clearly too warm to continue. Pooh is surviving with slightly elevated engine temperature and slightly lower oil pressure. We are not so compliant. Pooh is parked in the shade at 3:30 p.m. in downtown Billings for all to slow down and, hopefully cool off.

At 6:30 p.m. after dinner, it is 103 degrees in Billings but we must be off for Bozeman to gain a few miles to ease Elaine's concern to visit our handicapped son Richard in Penticton, B.C. before a care review meeting up the Okanagan Valley in Kelowna on Monday morning next. The offset is that temperatures should drop through the evening, and they do as we cross Bozeman Pass in 4th gear. Unfortunately, Bozeman, the northern gateway to Yellowstone National Park, also has 115 softball teams in town for a tournament. All accommodation is booked. With another "long night" looming, we leave for Three Forks, Amsterdam/Belgrade et al. Three Forks is sold out. So are Belgrade (north of I90) and adjacent Amsterdam (south of I90).

I'm losing enthusiasm for the long run even though it is much more comfortable. Pooh is holding up well and showing nothing other than very modest oil loss (tranny shifter?!?!?). I too must tough it out and wheel west towards Whitehall. Pushing hard we get to Whitehall's Super 8 moments before a biker and claim the last room. There are nights when one must not only finish the sprint but finish first! What a blessing cool sheets are this night.

Driving Tip: Check traffic as you near a controlled intersection.  Is following traffic slowing?  Speeding?  Check side traffic that is approaching the intersection. Is it slowing, stopping, running the sign or light?  Good thing you looked!
Service Tip: Readily available vinyl dyes, in spray can applications, can be purchased at most automotive stores.  Clean your old soiled seats, door panels and headliner thoroughly.  You will have removed the seats and panels.  And, you will need to carefully mask off the headliner.  Spray away…but not in direct sunlight!  The dyes dry in about an hour or so, refreshing your car’s interior in an afternoon.

Day 24 - July 16 - Saturday

Route: Whitehall to Kettle Falls
I 90 via Missoula, and Spokane Washington.
Kilometres: 800
Time: 10.5 hours (estimated)
Notes: Whitehall is not big or fancy but we slept well and pulled out early for the Continental Divide east of Butte. At 6,393 feet the divide offered steeper ascents and Pooh pulled 3rd gear to over 4,000rpm to haul us across the upper portion at 9:08 a.m. Past Butte, we closed on the Idaho panhandle and Lookout Pass. Lookout too was steeper in its ascents to the 4,800+ feet pass and Pooh pulled again in 3rd to lift us over the summit. Thereafter, it was an uneventful run past Wallace, Kellogg and Coeur d Alene and into Washington State and Spokane, before turning north to Canada.

We had enjoyed a break in St. Regis, Montana, Rosie and Ben (the English Springer Spaniels), the trout fry in the river and the mule deer doe the dogs spooked from the opposing bank. We paid our "voluntary" fine to the Spokane firemen who had choked all major routes in the city for charity. Every US coin went in the extended boot!

The day closed in Kettle Falls with a tavern dinner of codfish and a brew followed by a drive to the shore of F.D. Roosevelt Lake, behind the Bonneville Dam. We have closed the distance and have only one relatively short leg to Penticton and a visit with Richard.

Driving Tip: The SURPRISE tip for today, based on our ‘Expotition’ experiences:

Hunker down in the "slow" lane with your lights on and regularly scan the rearview mirror for drivers who are going too fast to stay in their lanes or to pass cleanly.  The Mini is more highly and safely maneuverable, so you can vacate dangerous situations quickly.  Do not tailgate!  75 mph means 90 and 100 mph to some idiots.

Service Tip: The SURPRISE tip for today based on Pooh’s performance:

The most practical parts to carry as spares are ignition bits. They wear at continuous high revs, hour after hour. Points sets, condensers, caps, rotors and plugs (note plurals) are likely to be needed! Pack them!

The most useful part to install before leaving is an oil cooler. There is no question it helped keep oil temps down compared to the I5 run to Vallejo, California in 1997 without one!


Day 25 - July 17 - Sunday

Route: Kettle Falls to Penticton
Via Highway 97 and 3
Kilometres: 100
Time: 2.5 hours (estimated)
Notes: The Little Gallea Restaurant in Kettle Falls is bursting with a seemingly never ending supply of local residents (and visitors) looking for the best breakfast in town. We are not disappointed...a good start for our return to Canada. We cross the FDR reservoir and climb into the hills on Hwy. 20. The countryside is hilly, the roadway twisty as we climb to Sherman Pass (5,300+ feet). I notice the slight misfire as per the New York all nighter and stop just below the summit to look at plugs, distributor etc. Numbers 1 and 4 plugs look like lean burning, while 2 and 3 look richer. Number 3 has a little carbon on the core, including a distinct pimple. It gets replaced, while the others are cleaned up. The cap is cleaned up and a new rotor is popped on. Presto, Pooh runs smoothly once again and pulls strongly over the top.

The rest is anti-climactic. We lunch in Oroville, pass muster at Canada Customs and Immigration, and head north through Osoyoos, Oliver, Okanagan Falls and Kaleden to Skaha Lake and Penticton beyond. We have a few pictures of this lovely, arid valley (just above Canada's only true desert) which hosts world renowned orchards, vineyards and an Iron Man Triathlon.

We meet Richard and enjoy the balance of the day with him including dinner at Tiki Shores on Penticton's busy summer waterfront. Richard likes the waterfront cruise with Dad in Pooh, among the other classic (read muscle) cars, none of which have turned 10,000 kilometres in the past year! Pooh hit 10,000 kms. just north of Keystone, Montana on this trip.

We bunk down in Penticton, with a spurt to Kelowna in the morning ahead.

Driving Tip: The SURPRISE tip for today, based on our ‘Expotition’ experiences:

Look for the good secondary highway routes, especially in highly populated areas. They can offer excellent roadbeds, lighter traffic volumes and an "enjoyable ride", while you can experience the people, their homes, lives and communities. Dedicated interstate/major highways are frequently higher volume "tunnels", tiring drivers and requiring more roadwork!

Service Tip: The SURPRISE tip for today based on Pooh’s performance:

Head assembly tolerances will be vital in ensuring valve survival. Failure is nasty if you do not have spares or are remote from service. You could pack a set of exhaust valves and guides in case.


Day 26 - July 18 - Monday

Route: Penticton to HOME
Hwy. 3, 1, 15 and 7 via Princeton, Hope and Mission
Kilometres: 450
Time: 5.5 hours (estimated)
Notes: Coffee fires up the day for the "Peach Shoot", with Pooh, Driver and Co-driver, on the waterfront sidewalk before the Gendarmes Royale du Canada begin the day's patrols. Then it's off to Kelowna for a positive meeting with Richard's primary and supervising support.

I am worried about Pooh's weight and the stress of a fully loaded assault on the long climb to the Coquihalla Connector summit (+5,700 feet) from Okanagan Lake near Kelowna, so we opt to return to Penticton and the Crowsnest Hwy. This also affords some fruit shopping in Keremeos and the always enjoyable passing of the Similkameen River into Princeton. From Princeton, it is only 140 kms. (80 miles) to Hope and another 140 kms. (80 miles) to home. We take the steep Ingerbelle Mine hill in 3rd gear and momentarily pull away from a 190 hp Jeep on the curve, only to be blasted by it's flat out exhaust as it pulls ahead on the straight climb.

Thereafter, the all too familiar scenery floats by too slowly as we pass Manning Park, the Hope Slide, Hope itself and rejoin our outbound route in the upper Fraser River Valley. Thankfully, we exit the Trans Canada Abbotsford, clear Mission, Ruskin and Whonnock, with 12,500 'Expotition' kilometres turning at the former Dave's World in eastern Maple Ridge.

We are home, safe and sound. Pooh settles over the drip tray and the load is quickly lightened. There are gifts and fruit for neighbours and Pooh Central, aka John Goolevitch, who stops with a smile to reclaim the digital camera and disks for this internet journal. John's technical savvy has made this journal of words and photographs possible. Our appreciation is heartfelt. John's plans for a laptop computer next time is...forward thinking.

We have never publicized a holiday, or any day of our lives, before. It took an effort we gladly made to salute the humble Mini and, more importantly, to aid 'Wheels for Wheels' to buy some needed wheelchairs for Ridge Meadows Hospital and Healthcare Centre. We live in Pitt Meadows. John Goolevitch and his family live in Maple Ridge. We hope that the need for wheelchairs can be at least partially met by the commonsense generosity of our neighbours...this summer.

Please, if you are moved by a very real and practical need at our local hospital, act today and in Pooh's words send "a little something" to the Ridge Meadows Hospital Foundation c/o the hospital on Laity Street in Maple Ridge. To those who generously pledged before we began, your pledges are called with thanks at just 10,000 kilometres - 1/4 cent equals $25, 1/2 cent equals $50 and 1 cent equals $100. I am doubling the unsolicited donations made by people we met during the trip. Thank you! 

Driving Tip: We are home safely by now.  How about You?  ‘Wheels for Wheels’ is raising money for wheelchairs!  Who wants to drive into one?
Service Tip: Give your Mini a good clean up under the bonnet, the suspension, wheel arches and floor pan at least once a year.  Not only do clean cars run better, but you can actually see what might need attention.  And, clean cars are much more enjoyable to work on!

We hope that you have enjoyed the opportunity to travel along with us to Mini Meet East 2000 in Quebec and home again in a tough little spud, we call Pooh. We hope, too, that if you live in Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows that you will have sent “a little something” along to the Hospital Foundation so that new wheel chairs can be purchased. If you haven’t done so yet, please do it.

Elaine and I offer our deeply felt appreciation to John Goolevitch of Maple Ridge, who is the WebMINIster for the Vancouver Mini Club Web-site.  Without John’s help this electronic trip diary would not have been available to those who are helping ‘Wheels for Wheels’. We know that John has been helping his son Adam to finish the rebuild of his Mini, between the tasks of receiving our input for posting. When we return John’s digital camera and custom battery pack, you will be able to see Adam’s fresh Mini in great detail.

Thank you John and thanks to all who have followed and supported us on our trek through the 100 aker wood.

Signing off, Rick and Elaine Higgs.