Welcome to the Monty Wolf Blog!
Here you will find random bits of me

Sunday, March 30, 2008

road trip: b&n modified roadster --- part 1

i’m delivering this story in 3 parts - acts, if you will.

when i was a kid, in the 1960s. . . back when i first started going out to the bonneville salt flats, the baddest of modified roadsters (usually, a 1927 model-t body that has been streamlined ahead of the windshield. you can do anything you want as long as you don’t cover the tires and wheels. the cockpit can also have a tonneau cover and roll cage faring.) was the b&n automotive #120 modified.

a brief bio:

after several years in and around the world of drag racing, in its pioneering years, northern californians bert peterson and noel black came together to form b&n automotive and started racing on the salt flats.

after success with a blown gas hiboy, they wanted higher speeds and therefore built, what would become, the world’s fastest roadster.

a few weeks ago, while talking on the phone with my dad, i learned that our partner, jim lattin, had rick peterson (no relation to bert peterson), a veritable magician when it comes to fabrication, restore the historic modified and would be inducting it into his antique race car museum in encinitas, california with a reception at the museum.

after receiving further details from jim and b&n automotive archivist, john sprenger (later a partner with bert following noel’s death in 1970), i decided i needed to be there for the ceremony.

john sprenger

the year noel was killed was my first year to become a part of what would be known as “the b&n bad guys.” i was just a kid shagging parts and receiving melvins from bert’s son, steve, and steve’s friend, frank “jive-ass” silva as we ran the motion 1 streamliner, which was hoped to break the wheel-driven land speed record of 354 mph.

frank "jive ass" silva

it was the greatest time of my youth!

mee sook and i left pebble beach on friday, march 14 at around 1030 hours under a cloud of clouds and intermittent showers on the day prior to the roadster’s induction. we were going to take rt. 1 down to santa maria, then cut over to i-5, but with such a late start we headed east to salinas and jumped on hwy. 101 going south. by the time we reached soledad, the sun was shining and the wildflowers were beginning to open.

i drove east on 46 from paso robles for the most scenic stretch of the day’s drive. the mostly ag-country was bright and green after a fairly moist spring and speckled with fields of mustard blooms and california poppies that were so brilliant the fields looked like they were ablaze.

a quick stop at a fruit and nut stand, alleged to be james dean’s last stop before being killed just west of there, we were on i-5 and heading over the grapevine.

after jumping off of i-5 and onto i-210, it wasn’t long (now approaching 1600 hours) before we were knee deep in traffic as we headed east out of pasadena.

i cannot believe ron wants to move us down to this mess!

before heading down to our hotel in san marcos, we were on our way to my old neighborhood in west covina to visit some very dear friends; popsie and leo, whom i have not seen since june, 1981. before going to their house, however, we stopped by the old thriftimart, now some other small chain grocery store, to grab a bouquet of flowers for popsie (we picked up some chili and lime pistachio nuts at james dean’s last stop for leo). as the automatic door opened to allow us entry, i passed an old mexican man on his way out who was looking at me like he knew me. i’m sure i looked like i was looking at him like i knew him, too.

“is that you, greg?” the old mexican asked.

it was leo!

what are the odds of that?

he had run down the road to grab some avocados for guacamole and was on his way out as we were on our way in.


after hugs in the doorway, leo split to get the avocados to popsie while mee sook and i, the only non-spanish speaking people in the market, grabbed a bunch of flowers and headed over to the old neighborhood.

i first met popsie and leo around 1972, not long after they moved into the neighborhood. they quickly became the big brother and sister i never had! i did a lot of growing up at their house. i learned about jazz, how to cook real mexican food and more things than i can mention in this blog. i have missed them dearly and i am so happy to be back in-touch with them after all these years!

it was like i had been over there only a week ago! except that we were all older (gj, their son, who was born after i first became a part of the family, is now the age popsie and leo were when i first started hanging out with them) and leo had remodeled the house, nothing has changed; popsie is still as beautiful as she was when we were young and leo is still the short mexican with big arms and a heart to match.

just like in the old days, we listened to music, ate enchiladas (with popsie’s special sauce) and talked, talked, talked!

i have never loved two people so much, who are not a part of my family, as i do them.

they are the family i have chosen to compliment my family.

their oldest daughter, yvette, whom i used to baby-sit along with her sister nicky, now lives in, of all places, reno and has been there for the past 5-years, or so. i cannot believe it! there’s a good chance yvette used to listen to me on the radio and never knew it was me, since i don’t use my real name on the air.

small world!

far too soon, we had to leave to drive the rest of the way down to san marcos.

the ride down was bittersweet, having seen my good friends and missing them already! i love them dearly!

not-so-bright and not-so-early the next morning mee sook (a little hungover from the wine at popsie and leo’s and the jack daniels and mota in the hotel room) and i headed down to carlsbad to have breakfast with “the gunslinger”, a friend whom, up to that morning, i had not yet met.

i have known of bill for several years and have been carrying on a phone relationship with him since july, but this was the first time we were to meet face-to-face.

again, it was a great time with a great friend! the food, pretty good and satisfying, was not nearly as close to my heart as popsie’s enchiladas. still, i would be willing to return for another meal. it’s just a tough one to top popsie’s cooking! sorry, al!

after breakfast we drove down the coast another couple of miles and up the hill to find jim’s museum. after making sure of its locat, which was not as easy as googlemaps lead me to believe, we went to the hotel for a brief nap before coming back for the festivities.

upon our return, jim’s museum was all i expected and more! what a great collection of historic race cars and antique motorcycles. i had seen several of the cars and bikes at jim’s old museum in pomona, but it was not as extensive as the new locat here in encinitas; indy cars, including ralph de palma’s 2-man miller roadster (besides building winning cars, harry miller designed the engine that would later be known as the offenhausser, which ruled indy in the 40s and 50s), sprinters, midgets (in all variations) and several cars i have been fortunate enough to have driven over the years, including, of course, the redhead streamliner!

mee sook, who knew absolutely nothing about any of the cars, or the places where they raced, for that matter, was completely captivated by all the vehicles, especially the more exotic cars, like the redhead.

but, it was the b&n modified we were all there to see!

and what a great job rick did recreating the look of the car from its heydays back in the mid-60s! the paint (ice blue and midnight blue accents with black cobwebbing in the lighter color) matched the 1967 paint job with the lettering it had in 1965.

i was also able to visit with more friends i have not seen in years! too many to name, but they all asked if my dad was there. when i said “no” they all wanted me to tell him hi, which i would do in two days time.

i was able, of course, to spend time with jim and his son, bill, and john sprenger and frank “jive ass” silva from the b&n bad guys.

damn, we’re all getting old!

when the time seemed right, mee sook and i slipped quietly out and took a short drive down to san diego before returning to the hotel room in san marcos.

it was a wonderful day, but we had more driving to do the next day!

road trip: b&n modified roadster --- part 2

we did get to bed a little earlier saturday night than on the previous night, but we were still pretty ragged when we awoke on sunday for our next stretch of the trip.

neither of us yet ready for breakfast, we checked out of the hotel and headed east toward anza borrego state park. by the time we reached ramona, we were ready for something to eat. we found a grocery store with a starbucks and, while mee sook shopped for mobile breakfast food items, i ordered coffee for me and tea for her. it was at this time that i realized that i did not have my visa card with me.

i had used it earlier, back in san marcos, when i walked across the street to get coffee at that starbucks, but it was not in my bundle of ids and other essentials.

back to san marcos!

i got a key to our room before housekeeping entered and, there it was, sitting on top of the entertainment center.

well, that put us back about an hour. but, at least i got my card back!

on our way to anza borrego we passed several cars topped with snow that were coming in our direction. later, when we arrived in mojave to spend the night, the news would have several stories about the snow in san diego county.

it had been years since i had been to anza borrego and didn’t remember too much about the trip i took with my grandmother and great-aunt jo-jo back when i was about 15. so, i had no idea where we were to go to see the wildflower bloom, which was supposed to be just falling off of peak from a few days earlier.

the original plan was to hookup with one of my geocaching friends, fossillady, who lives there and works for the california state park system. but, since we were so late getting there, having had to turn around to go back and get my visa card, there was no time to visit with her and get the bird’s-eye-low-down (a firesign theatre reference) on where to look. so, i just trusted my judgment and instincts.

i drove north out of borrego springs until i noticed about a dozen cars parked on the side of the road.

this must be the place. or, at least, one of the places!

and it was!

we were a little too early for the cacti to be in full bloom, although we did see a couple of beaver tail cacti and one cholla sporting flowers, but the desert floor was alive with orange, yellow, purple and white flowers. not being a horticulturalist, i cannot tell you what they were except: beautiful!

we made two huge loops through the desert, stopped for a few minutes in a shallow wash for a motabreak and to get close to some of the little belly-flowers and headed back to the car.

as we drove toward the salton sea, we came upon another group of cars; this time about 50 of them parked along the road. i think this was what is called henderson canyon.

again, we were treated with orange and purple and, this time, a type of primrose (i only know this because we get an evening primrose in northern nevada that smells lovely when they open at night).

another quick loop into the des and we were back on the road again!

we worked our way around the western shore of the salton sea and over to i-10 and drove up to san bernardino before heading east on i-15, over cajon pass and onto the mojave desert; my old stomping grounds and friend!

it was full-on dark by the time we reached our hotel room in the town of mojave.

slumber came quickly that night. unfortunately, even though we slept-in a little later than we had the two previous mornings, so did morning!

road trip: b&n modified roadster --- part 3

there is no coffee suitable for drinking in mojave!

so, we (mostly myself) bit the big one and headed west to the “mountain spirit” korean buddhist temple, which is in a lone canyon outside of tehachapi.

mee sook had been talking about this temple for about two weeks as we began planning our trip. it was built by an american who is a korean buddhist monk.

and what a job he did in creating the wonderful site.

unlike the other buddhist temples i had visited with mee sook, this one looked like what i would expect!

unfortunately for mee sook, the monk she was hoping to meet was not there. we did, however, meet a very charismatic monk who, despite not speaking much english, could have convinced me to do just about anything!

he did teach me some very basic techniques for meditating and totally entranced mee sook. he was all she talked about for the next several hours after leaving.

before we did leave, however, we were invited to join him for lunch. since we did not have breakfast, it was quite welcome and very tasty.

but, i could not wait to get down to rosamond to find a place where i could buy a cup of coffee. i attempted to find the starbucks, which i was told by david heavener, who has a home and movie studio in tehachapi, does exist in tehachapi. but, i was not successful in finding its locat.

by the time we got coffee (even mee sook was ready for a cup at this point) and was back in mojave, heading north on 395, it was after 1300 hours.

it was still another 6-hours to fallon, nevada and my father, brother and best friend willy, where we would spend that night.

it was about mid-trip that mee sook pulled the rug from under me: she told me that she had decided to ask the monk that we met to be her “master.” this meant that there was no room for me in her life!


not an hour earlier, she was telling me how she wanted to live with me and build a life that would, eventually, take us to moab, utah.

now, she’s telling me that it’s been great but it’s all over!

all very clinical!

all very oriental!

great! not only do i have to deal with the feelings of a broken heart, i’ve got to do it while trying to see my brother, father (whom i have not seen since i left nevada last july) and best friend (whom i have not seen since he made his ill-fated move to colorado in 2006) willy of “the adventures of monty and willy”!

maybe i can just drive off of one of the cliffs along walker lake!

# # # # #

so, i didn’t drive off of the cliff.

it was about 2030 by the time we pulled into fallon for a quick stop to see my dad and brother before heading over to willy’s to spend the night in his spare bedroom.

we hung out for an hour or so before we all hit the sack.

i was up early the next morning so i could spend some more time with willy before he had to go to work then it was back to my dad’s to visit with him before he went to the doctor for a checkup, which gave me a little time to hang with mark before loading a few boxes of cd’s in the back of the taurus and heading back to california.

after a brief stop at mustang (home of the infamous “mustang ranch” brothel) to visit with my friends jim and gerri for a few minutes we were back on the road and heading to the monterey peninsula.

appropriately enough, i suppose, i loaded mee sook’s luggage into her car as the sun was setting; the end of a weekend that took my emotions from one extreme to another.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

whata weekend!

i had another amazingly wonderful weekend with mee sook!

you may notice that i have changed the spelling of her name. i was confused as to how to spell her name from when i first met her. the reason: when she first came to the united states in 1978, immigration misspelled her name. knowing how people can be prejudiced-jerks, i assumed they misspelled it: mesuk, as in: me suck. they did, however, misspell it misuk.

mee sook tells me that her name translates the following way:

mee = beautiful me.

sook = clearly.

clearly, she is!

we attempted to begin friday night with a view of the sunset, but the sun was not to be seen. so, we went over to allegro at the barnyard in the mouth of carmel valley for vittles.

following a mediocre italian dinner we drove out to “our beach” (mine and ron’s), wrapped up in a blanket and watched the waves for an hour or so.

on saturday we went hiking for the third time in garrapata state park between carmel-by-the-sea and big sur. we hiked up the canyon into the redwoods, ate berries and sourdough bread next to soberanes creek sitting on a fallen redwood and hiked up to our “secret spot.” i’d tell you where it is, but it is a secret spot!

we returned to the peninsula in time to watch the sunset at “our beach.”

today, mee sook called me to say that she needed to run up to santa clara to pick up some items for a friend whose mother is dying of cancer.

while we were in korea town we stopped by the buddhist temple then went over to one of the korean barbeque house. i thoroughly enjoyed a beef dish, which name i cannot remember and mee sook had a cold buckwheat noodle dish with beef strips. the dishes came with a variety of peripheral dishes, which included: 3 types of kimchi (napa cabbage, turnip and cooked napa cabbage), soy beans, steamed spinach, dried anchovies, fish cakes, some kind of soufflé and green tea. my dish also came with steamed rice. the meals were brought to a close with cups of rice water that is similar to mexican horchata, but without the condensed milk.

i enjoyed most of the meal completely. i was not all that into the dried anchovies and the turnip kimchi. but, i really enjoyed the shredded beef, the fish cakes, napa cabbage kimchi and the soufflé!

on our way back we needed to stop in gilroy. since, we took her car (i drove), we needed to go back to watsonville, where i left my car. so, i drove over hwy. 152 up into the redwoods.

as we reached the crest i saw a sign for mt. madonna county park, onto which i quickly turned.

we hadn’t been in the park for 10-minutes before a bobcat ran up the road in front of us.

we parked overlooking gilroy for several minutes, watched a banana slug, then drove to one of the hiking trails and strolled amongst the redwoods for about 90-minutes.

we left the park from the west side of the mountain and arrived into watsonville through a very scenic area.

the perfect ending to a perfect weekend!