One of the best parts about going on a summer road trip is the folks you meet along the way. This year I decided to ride the old Harley-Davidson down to the Lake Tahoe Concours in California, a 1,300 mile journey each way. Whenever possible, I always try to avoid riding on Interstate Highways because I feel that riding along the back roads of America is much more enjoyable on a motorcycle and enhances the experience of the journey…
Riding across the high plains of Oregon is a wonderful experience, you can ride for miles and miles without seeing another car on the road, or anything for that matter. I came across a roadside hotel that looked interesting, and with the next hotel well down the road, I thought I would check it out… The Shaniko Hotel.
I parked my ride by the old hitchin’ post and as I was about to enter the hotel I noticed a couple old fellows sitting on a bench along the boardwalk… I immediately noticed the Hagerty Marine Insurance bag and I overheard them talking about what else – Old Wooden Boats! They were talking about restoring an old Chris-Craft cruiser they found…
I walked over and introduced myself and the first thought that popped into my melon was, “Could these guys be some of the old original Woody Boaters we read about?” Once they learned that I was interested in wooden boats, they began to tell me stories from back in the day when they first began working on wooden boats in the mid-west. They were very friendly like most Woody Boaters, and we spent hours just sitting on the bench talkin’ boats. It was great…
Then one of the old fellows asked me with a crooked look on his face, “Hey Texx, I remember meeting a fellow back then who was one of the most knowledgeable guys we ever spoke to about building and fixing old wooden boats… (back then the word restoration did not yet apply to wooden boats) He wrote a book a few years ago… His name was… It will come to me in a minute” he said as he scratched his head trying to remember the mans name.
I said “Are you thinking about Don Danenberg from Danenburg Boatworks in Michigan?” He jumped up and shouted “That’s the guy! – We first met Don D. back in the late 1930’s and still refer to his book today when we get stumped.”
After a while they invited me over to their shop because they wanted to show me an old photo they had saved of “Miss Liberty IV” fresh from the Ramaley Boat Company work shop in Lake Minnetonka. They were proud of that boat.
I asked them what wooden boat they were planning to restore next, and they said “Come with us Texx”… And there it was, an old Chris-Craft Cruiser they had found and were planning to restore as a retirement project… when they retired some day.
Stories from the road, this is why I prefer to ride the back roads and secondary highways through the magnificent countryside of the Western United States.
We Will Never Forget September 11th, 2001