In April, I had the good fortune to partake in a reunion of sorts. Some good mates from parts Down Under visited me and my family in Oceanside, California, for four days of reminiscing and making new memories.
Many years ago, the summer of '88, to be specific, while riding the Madrid, Spain, subway system in transit to the Madrid train station, I met these two Kiwis (a nickname for New Zealanders). The guys, Carl and Mark, were on an extended adventure from their remote South Pacific home to discover other parts of the world. Spending several months in the western part of the U.S., their travels continued through Western Europe, until I met them in Spain. As karma would have it, we were all en route to catch the same train from Madrid to Lisbon, Portugal.
Over the seven-hour train ride to Lisbon, we discovered we had much in common. Our travel itineraries included the same European countries, cities and villages. With me being a bit older, we were all in our 20s. Mark and I had an affinity for playing chess. Carl and I enjoyed being athletic and liked to read novels. But the strongest bond we learned about that day was that we were all gearheads.
On a three-month sabbatical from work, I'd started my European vacation in July of that year. I was traveling solo on a Brit Rail pass and Euro Rail pass. Though I didn't wear a dashing-looking hat or own a ragged leather jacket, Indiana Jones had nothing on me. In the six weeks I toured England, Scotland and Spain, I met people from many different countries and shared experiences I hope to remember into my old age.
When these two Kiwi blokes asked if I'd like to travel with them for a while and see how it goes, I said sure. Rather than spend our days in ancient European castles and churches, we visited the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany, the BMW Museum in Munich, The Schlumpf Collection at the National Motorcar Museum (filled with Bugattis) in Mulhouse, France, the Museum of Transport in Munich, and even sat in the Porsche 962 that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the early '70s, at the Porsche Museum formerly in Zindelfingen, Germany. I should add that throughout these three weeks of primarily European automotive nirvana, my dad joined us from SoCal. We were the Four Automotive Amigos from Down Under and the USA, tearing up Europe in search of the next cool vintage car and truck.
What I took away from those travels, I wouldn't trade for anything. Some of the money that financed the three-month holiday was originally intended for my first house. Had I gotten into California real estate back then, I might be some fat cat rich dude rollin' the streets of SoCal in a modern Mercedes or Bimmer. But no, I get to build vintage trucks and cars, write about and photograph them. Better still, I have buddies like Mark and Carl, who are more like brothers than simply good mates.
Oh, in case you're wondering how they're doing, Carl met and married an American on an Amtrak train from Southern California to Colorado. He and his wife Jennifer, son Cameron and daughter Elektra now live in Massachusetts. He's a physical therapist by profession. Mark is a marketing whiz and energy expert. The wanderlust in him is strongest. He's currently touring around France for two months via bicycle.
You may also be curious about what we did when they visited me this year. With my girlfriend Linda gregariously joining in on the reunion, we spent a long time lusting over the in-progress '34 Ford roadster pickup in the garage, went on a nice leisurely beach bike ride, and visited a vintage car museum in San Diego. Ahh, we might have also patronized a few bars, but we didn't drink and drive (too much, at least).
Until next time, make some memories with your family, friends and custom classic trucks.