Driving for Kids 2016

Day One, Saturday September 24th: When we all met at Hagerty Insurance offices at about nine on Saturday morning, we were strangers for the most part. We handed out the windscreen headers and goodie bags and, surprisingly, met with some resistance from a couple of drivers who feared the letters on the top of the windscreen would make for unsafe driving. Fortunately, nobody who put them on suffered any problem. Departing from the Hagerty office in Golden a bit after 10:00 we took a leisurely pace up Highway 6 up through Clear Creek then a short stint on I-70 turning off on US 40 over Berthoud pass. It was cold and gray but we stayed warm on the way up the pass with some spirited driving up the switchbacks which generated plenty of engine heat. At the summit, we hit snow flurries and on the way down the pass without the sun or engine warming us it was genuinely cold for those with their tops down. Motoring west we passed through Winter Park, Fraser and Tabernash and on to Granby for lunch. Even with this short drive we had some stragglers but finally all assembled for great food at the Brickhouse 40.

After a delightful lunch break, we drove west on US 40 through Byers Canyon to Kremmling and a fuel stop, and then turned onto CO 134 over Gore Pass. Here we encountered the first of what was to be an outstanding display of Mother Nature’s handiwork with iridescent aspen leaves whenever the intermittent sun deigned to shine. Gore pass is a favorite sports car road with its smooth paved twists and turns, and the glow of the aspen trees just made it better.

We’d had some moisture, though not a lot, so we discussed whether we should take the treated but unpaved road along the Colorado River once we reached the bottom of Gore Pass. The vast majority said yes, so on we drove to the high point of the day; a visit to the Roundup River Ranch and to meet the kids there. It would have been perfect, too, except for one thing.

It is said that great disasters like the Exxon Valdez spill occur not from one colossal mistake, but rather from a series of little decisions or errors any one of which done differently would have avoided the catastrophe. Our minor catastrophe happened like this: Jeff Krueger was alone without a navigator in his car. Trying to both drive and read route instructions, he became concerned when he found nothing regarding the road he was on. This was because only one of all the Routebooks, the book he got, had one page out of order. You guessed it; that was the page he needed. Then he remembered that I had reminded the group when we stopped at the bottom of Gore Pass that when we pass under a railroad bridge 12 miles past Burns the road to the Ranch will be on the immediate right. When he passed under a railroad bridge and saw the road to the right, he was sure that he had missed the turn. The further he went the more certain he became. So he stopped and convinced all the remaining cars to turn back, including the dually sweep truck with the fifth wheel enclosed trailer. There was just one thing wrong: they had only gone about three miles past Burns. Jeff remembered the bridge but not the 12 miles.

If Jeff had a navigator who could have spent a bit of time looking through the book while he was driving, or if the pages had been in the right order, or if the others had not been swayed by his insistence that the camp had been passed, or if there had been only one railroad bridge…well you get the idea. After a while, someone with the right page noted the 12 mile instruction, spoke up and prevailed on the group to turn back around and proceed the whole 12 miles. They arrived at the Ranch just about 30 minutes later than Chuck and I who had been in the lead.

The kids were excited with all the cool cars and we let them sit in and ask questions about our cars and even honk the horn on Chuck’s Morgan about fifty times. We presented an oversized check to the ranch, having raised nearly $30,000. We were touched by the kids and the staff was touched with the donation. It was an emotional moment, indeed. After our visit we proceed west through gorgeous Glenwood Canyon to our dinner and overnight lodging in Glenwood Springs.

Day Two, Sunday September 25th: We departed about 9:00 to Carbondale and turned southwest on CO 133 to a short stop in Redstone. Many of our group had never been here. A lovely little company town founded as an experiment in "enlightened industrial paternalism," John Cleveland Osgood constructed 84 cottages and a 40-room inn, all with indoor plumbing and electricity, for his coal miners and cokers, as well as modern bathhouse facilities, a club house with a library and a theatre, and a school. Most of these Craftsman-era Swiss-style cottages are still used as homes. We took a group photo both of cars and people, then headed over McClure pass and down through Paonia and Hotchkiss. On this segment, we must have said “WOW” about ninety times. The combination of the cobalt blue sky, snowcapped peaks, dark green evergreen forest and the shimmering gold aspen trees was amazing. On to lunch in Crawford where we found a very special place, the Old Mad Dog Café, established in the 80’s by Joe Cocker and his wife Pam to have a place to entertain and kick back far away from the madding crowd. What a neat vibe. After lunch we took CO 92 along the north rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison on what may be the best sports car road in Colorado and the most scenic as well. Again we were gob smacked with the beauty and the fun road. Turning east on US 50 we drove past the Blue Mesa Reservoir’s sparkling water to the Gunnison Pioneer Museum and our dinner and overnight lodging in Gunnison, CO.

Day Three, Monday September 26th: We woke to subfreezing temperatures and frost on all the cars, including the interiors of several who had left their tops down overnight. Soon the scraping and the sun made travel possible and we departed about 9:00 on US 50. We stopped at the base of Monarch Pass, to let Steve Thomton go ahead and find a place to shoot a video of the cars coming up the pass. It cannot possibly look as good as it felt going by his camera! At our rest stop at Poncha Springs, Chuck and Emma Shinn left to get back to Denver directly while the rest of us continued on US 50 along the Arkansas River to CO 9 and the best county roads you’ve ever seen through Teller county. The show by mother nature continued all the way to lunch with warming temperatures to make it even sweeter and these roads felt even more fun though less dramatic than CO 92. They took us to our lunch stop and awards presentation in Divide, CO.

Speaking of awards, we gave out three: The first was to Rod Tompkins who, with his navigator Bruce Jansen, raised the most money for the Ranch by the end of the event. The second was to Larry Jackson who was kind enough to loan us the truck and trailer for sweep duty. Like having an umbrella so it doesn’t rain, we had the truck and Ted Ax our master mechanic, and nobody needed help or a ride. Best of all, when we took up a collection to buy fuel for the truck, Larry declined it, added fifty bucks and donated it to the camp. What a group! And, finally, the 2016 Leadership award went to Jeff Krueger, a wildly popular decision.

After lunch, we headed east to Woodland Park then up CO 67 through Deckers, Pine Junction and east on US 285 back to Denver. That finished the inaugural Driving for Kids British Reliability Run. We got lots of rave reviews and, due to a matching grant, we raised nearly $30,000 for the kids. Great cars, great roads and a great cause! All of us can be proud that we were the pioneers for this terrific event. See you next year!

An ode to Driving for Kids- September 24-26, 2016

Day 1

On September 24, we started our tour,
with a Golden breakfast just to make sure
That 11 LBC’s and one wannabe ‘Stang,
had gathered the DF Kids inaugural gang.

2 Jags, 4 Lotuses, or was that Loti?
A Morgan, 2 Triumphs all were wondering why
with Austin Healeys around, nowhere did we see
All these LBC’s, but not one MG!

Up Clear Creek Canyon and beautiful sights,
On to Berthoud Pass, where we’d reach new heights.
Our first winter snow had dropped to the ground,
But we must first back up to Empire town.

You see, everyone wondered when Rod showed legs bare,
Would he hold up with top down in the chilly fall air?
So the first stop was made in Empire junction,
When Rod dropped his shorts- a “wardrobe malfunction”!

But onwards to Granby for a Brickhouse lunch,
Where we started to mingle with a really nice bunch.
On to Kremmling “Kum and Go” for a gasoline pump,
Or a bathroom stop and the “oil dump”!

Then on to Gore Pass dressed with spectacular hues,
The oranges and reds creating breathtaking views,
The aspen groves singing in singular voice:
“One of God’s greatest splendors, in Creation rejoice!”

At the 131 Junction, we gathered once more,
To check all our maps and see what was in store.
But for Mark and Rod there were just no trees,
So the dirt piles did fine- man they just had to pee!

Then down through Burns on the Old River Road
With views of the Colorado brilliantly bestowed
on the eyes of 12 teams at nature’s behest,
From driving on interstates, a pastoral rest!

About halfway past Burns, one driver raised alert.
He said we missed turns, too long were on dirt.
So we then doubled back, not once would suffice,
The views were so good- we did them twice!

But a poet does not tell who makes up such gaffes,
Even though afterwards, it makes for good laughs!
So we followed our “Leader”, who it was I’ll not say,
But the guy who screwed up, his initials are “Jeff K”!

Finally we made it to the Ranch at Roundup River,
Just an hour late for our check to deliver.
But just so you know Ross, check directions, you see,
There’s not just one train trestle, instead there are three!

So the staff gave us tours, but right from the start,
For them, it’s not just a place, they care from the heart!
And for the children they serve, it’s not just a camp,
It’s “re-creation” for kids, and re-lighted lamps!

While we gave them a check, they gave us much more,
A ranch with a vision, into kids do they pour
Their hearts and their lives to give kids a break
Changing lives and futures, that’s what’s at stake.

Now day one has ended; an inspirational day,
But before we retire, we just have to say
Thanks to Ross and Ann Robbins for all of the fun,
And for planning the Inaugural D for K Run.


Day 2

On day 2 we gathered all hearty and hale
Fresh from a good night in the Glenwood Springs vale
Still laughing aloud at jokes from Ted Ax
He tells such good stories, he makes all relax!

Like “placebo inspections” and “stapling his son”,
But we all laughed out loud when he continued the fun
By asking us all: “What’s the Lotus position”?
“Up on four carjacks” and we laughed with derision!

And I promised his son that he’d be in this poem.
But rhyming with Adrian? I’ve been wracking my dome.
So I just have to say for putting up with old folks,
And listening to all your dad’s very bad jokes,
Adrian, you’re amazing, and while it is lame,
Even though you are awesome, you’re still “really a pain”!
And even while you might say this trip was “just BAD!”
I know you’ll remember these days with your Dad! (-:

After a short stop in Redstone where we admired “Beehives”
And more spectacular views than we’ve seen in our lives,
On the road to McClure in the distance we saw
The snow covered Bells, inspiring awe!

But the climax of our day was on McClure Pass
With incredible vistas as we stepped on the gas,
And put cars through their paces through breath-taking miles.
All could see what we felt from our ear to ear smiles.

But Mark, there’s a question on all of our hearts
“Do you work for ReMax or did you just start
This unusual habit- do you think it’s just fine?
To stop your TR at EVERY road sign?

Then lunch at Mag Dog, were we off of our rocker,
Or did we hear in the walls the voice of Joe Cocker?
Then off to the majestic Black Canyon’s north rim,
With more pictures to see that inspire each limb.
And all stuck together-not one car was laggin’
As we serpentined down through our “Tail of the Dragon.”

So how do you capture a view beyond words?
A Gunnison chasm with lines never heard?
How do you write about a 2000 foot drop?
But we know what we saw- so I will just stop

To simply just say what film cannot capture,
A view in our souls that inspires rapture
of images and memories we’ll carry forever,
A weekend of sights that I’ll forget never!

In Gunnison we ended with dinner at Ol’ Miner.
An excellent menu…why, it could not be finer.
But we did have one problem when we ordered our food,
So Ann, were you just not in a “deciding” mood?

Was it trout or just salmon, salmon or trout?
Or did you want steak, we were ready to shout!
Or maybe you’d have the waitress decide,
The group at our table was ready to hide!
But that’s ok, Ann, just make up your mind,
We really weren’t hungry and we can be kind.
If you cannot order with the speed of a Lotus,
We’ll eat before, if you give advance notice!

And that is how the second day ends,
Another day of making new friends,
Another day of incredible sights,
We eagerly anticipate Day 3 delights!


Day 3

This poem has grown lengthy, so I’ll keep this day short,
This day was not views, the car roads held court!
Over Monarch and Poncha, we traveled great roads
Trying to follow Wind in Willows “Mr. Toads”!

Along the Arkansas River and then a road named High Park,
Around hairpins and winders, the pace made its mark.
With Lotuses in front showing off they could drive,
And Mike in “Team Twink” asking: “Will this pace they survive”?

And the Shelby in front was just toying with us all,
And the Austins were cruising, in the group standing tall!
But this Rookie driver in Rod Tomkins’ TR
Was hanging on for dear life- in the distance quite far!

You guys were doing 60 through 30 mile turns
And rounding tight corners with tires that burned
And while you were flying I looked up ahead
There was Ola taking pictures turned backwards instead!

If on this trip, nothing else have I learned,
Is that you owners of Brit cars are not to be spurned.
I know from driving and living these three days of noise,
You guys are just crazy- a bunch of cowboys!

But the question to ask as over roads did we fly,
Is not a question of when or even of why.
Rather the question to ask- on this I am stuck:
How the hell did Ted Ax keep up in that TRUCK?

But one experience I’ll remember and you all will agree,
When we raced up a steep hill, and all we could see,
As we crested the hill was a sky of deep blue
Our cars felt like wings as over we flew!

Lunch was McGinty’s Wood Oven for lunch
And some more time to mingle with this really great bunch.
And then we split up; on our ways we did go,
But with memories we’ll treasure because together we know
that we were part of a vision that Ann and Ross dreamed
to harness our passions for 3 days that seemed
like a perfect blending of beauty and cause,
To raise money for a Ranch that makes us all pause.

Driving for Kids was not just a long trip,
Rather a moment for people out of routine once to slip
Into something of meaning- 3 days to care,
And raise money for kids- of our hearts could we share.
And we hope with this start – a new event born
To support its continuance I hope we’re all sworn.
An annual event for the little Brit cars,
That’s a dream now to cherish and help it go far.

Thanks again for your work, Annie and Ross.
Setting this whole thing up – why you two- you’re the Boss!
Now treasure all that we saw; and all that we did,
On the Inaugural Run of Driving for Kids!

Bruce Jansen September, 2016


A Driving for Kids Commemorative

(With humble apologies to the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) Sung to the tune of NGDB’s Colorado Christmas

Looking out the window of this Gunnison hotel,
You’d never know it’s Autumn with this freeze.
The Jaguars and the Lotus look uncomfortable as hell,
And the temperature is 29 degrees.
I can hear them warming in the parking lot below
As the Bosler’s scrape the frost off their windscreen.
But everyone is wiping and grinding starters slow
To make it to theTeller County scene.


Chorus
And all along the Rockies you can feel it in the air
From Roundup Ranch to Gunnison it’s told.
The closest thing to heaven on this planet anywhere
is running an old British car on Colorado roads


I remember Chuck and Emma waiting there with me
at the side of Colorado River Road.
And so we asked a trucker if he’d seen some other cars
And wondering if he knew why they had slowed.
He said, “Slowed? No they went the other way”
So we headed off to meet the kids at camp.
While the others followed Jeff as only Lemmings can
and missed arrival pomp and circumstance.


Chorus


Amazing Tim Haas bundled up with top down all the way
While Ted Ax took the trailer everywhere
Tweety’s Paul was always seen smiling, wearing shorts
As folks wimped out from coldness of the air
Steve and Mrs. Thomton, they were snug in their Mustang
While others shivered over Monarch Pass
But then we came down to the warmth of Poncha Springs
So the open cars all enjoyed the last laugh.

Chorus