The Last Leg – Part 4 – The end, the beginning….


The Mustang approached New Jersey long before schedule, thanks to a bit of help/luck and the Cape May-Lewes Ferry. My sense of satisfaction evolved into a sense of anticipation as I thought about showing the car to my Parents.

I pulled out of the boat and I had mixed emotions about the trip close to being finished.

And then I got lost in Cape May.

On the Beach in Cape May

Yep, one of the smallest towns in New Jersey, the Garden State Parkway signs are on every corner, and I got lost. How? Well, I called my wife on the phone and was bragging to her about how cool the boat ride was, the people on the boat, the dolphins, and before I knew it I was on the Beach Avenue on the southeastern shore. Please don’t ask how, I just looked at a map and I can’t figure it out.

The houses were very nice, though. Getting lost wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, and I just turned left and started up Beach Avenue. I stopped for a bit and relaxed. I took the picture to the left from across the wide Beach Ave, and posted it on Facebook to let folks know I was nearly home from my trip. Then I got back in the car and made my way to my parents house. I smiled as I contemplated that if I had gone the long route via I-95 through DC and the New Jersey Turnpike, I would still be in Delaware.

Mom and Pop and the Mustang

The ride to Little Egg Harbor from Cape May was a quick one. As I pulled up my Parent’s street and approached their house, my Dad peeked out from his front porch. He no doubt heard the clinking and the clunking of the truck and trailer. He smiled as he walked out while I pulled the 40 foot auto apparatus in front of his house.

My Mom followed not far behind, and they both inspected the car – I think above and beyond everything else, she was glad that the car and I made it safely home.

Their next door neighbor came home and was looking over at us and my Dad said, “This is my brother’s Mustang, my son just brought it up from Florida.”

The Mustang, Pop and I in front of his house

I was hungry, and I wanted to take pictures and then eat something. I had my heart set on a PB&J and after Mom took a picture of Dad and I together in front of the Mustang, we went in to the house. I laughed because my Mom had the peanut butter and bread out on the counter all ready for me. Either it was the Mom Psychic-ness or I had mentioned that I had a hankerin for a PB&J to her from the road.

They had a lot of questions, and while I was making and inhaling I tried to answer all of them – How’s Mary and Doug? Did you see Lea? Nicky? Philly? How are the kids? How old are they now? Did you see Phil? How was the ride? Who were the people that you wrote about on the blog?

We talked a bit about the people on the blog and Pop mentioned that this was a journey. The Mustang, even though it was strapped to a trailer behind me the whole way, was taking me on this journey, and my mind started to wander through some of my other life’s journeys that I have taken – both literally and figuratively and the thought brought a smile to my face. I have much more to experience from life, I hope, but this journey with my Uncle’s Mustang has become more than just me getting it and restoring it. At least right now, it has become therapeutic, healing, and it has at the least brought family together and fueled the fire to bring them together again soon.

In front of our house

I left after about an hour because I was on a schedule. I had to get home. It was getting late, and I wanted to get the car in the garage in Toms River before 10pm. I made it home in a bit more than normal time because I had to get off of the Parkway – no trailers or trucks.

With daylight still lingering, I was able to get a few quick pictures of the car in front of our house. There is no doubt that at this point I was feeling some relief, and I wanted to keep moving. I unpacked the truck and brought my luggage and pile of garbage in the house. Eileen was waiting and was ready to go – but first she took some pictures. I took one of her in the car, me beside it, the one you see here in front of the house – I was feeling a sense of pride and building excitement that the end of my trip was near.

We battened down the Mustang (I always checked the straps and the hitch on the trip) and got back on the road. It was later now and dark, but something told me to call my Uncle Jim whom I mentioned earlier in my blog – he also had a ’66. It was his first car out of the service, so I called and my Aunt Laura answered and gave us an enthusiastic green light to stop by.

Uncle Jim was delighted as were Eileen and I. “Bringing back memories,” was the mantra, and he reflected upon every aspect of the car – so similar to his.

We had to get back on the road, though – it was late and dark now and we still had nearly an hour to drive down to Toms River.

New Home Pro Tem - Safe and Sound

After driving for what seemed like all day, the Mustang was minutes away from the end of the trip. We pulled up to the house. I unlatched the car, and within 20 minutes or so, we had the car in the garage. It took some elbow grease and Eileen’s driving prowess while a sleepy Gary and I pushed the car up the driveway into it’s new home pro tem.

The trip was over, but getting the Mustang here marked a new beginning for the car and hopefully our family.

I’m tired. I have been since I came home – and on Saturday, the path to the car’s restoration begins. A customer of mine who restores cars had a great recommendation and I am going to take it. He recommended that I try to get the engine running. I was going to just pull the engine and tranny to get the heads redone, the transmission tuned and the whole powertrain blasted and painted.

Change of plans. I am going to squirt some Marvel Mystery Oil into the cylinders, pull the carb, rebuild it, and then start the engine if for no other reason, to hear the car run. Chris, the guy who recommended I do this, does this and says that it is a great motivator to hear the engine run and in the case of the Mustang, it would be a nice start – the car hasn’t run in 10 years at least.

So while this marks the end of the trip, it marks the beginning of the restoration – and the lessons continue.

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