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Chippewa Lake Ice Track

Outside my car it was seven degrees.  Inside it was 72 degrees.

Greetings from Chippewa Lake, Michigan

 

 

From the travels and adventures of the 

“World’s #1 Trackchaser”

 

 

Chippewa Lake Ice Track –

Lifetime Track #1,520

HighlightsPhotos

 

2010 mexican cruise

DAYS 1-9 – “IS MEXICO ON THE WAY TO DETROIT?” TRACKCHASING TOUR

 

 

EDITOR’S NOTE #1

My website address has changed. My new site address is now:

 

www.randylewis.org

 

I changed to this domain name so that people I meet during my trackchasing public appearances might be able to remember the address better.  Please take note and use the new address. Thanks!!

 

 

EDITOR’S NOTE #2 

My Trackchaser Report guidelines only allow me to describe activity from the time I LEAVE my house on the way to a trackchasing trip until the time I RETURN to my house following the trip. That is why you will see me describing every adventure that comes our way from the time we leave our driveway on a trackchasing trip until the time we pull back into the world’s shortest driveway after the trip is finished.

 

 

RANLAY RACING SPECIAL FEATURE

 

No one said life was going to be easy.

As expected, I have taken three weeks off from trackchasing. It has been a relaxing time but not without the “difficulties of life”. Of course some difficulties are, er’ more “difficult” than others are. I don’t know where these stack up in the overall “problems of life” but I didn’t like the experiences.

 

 

Winter is a b#$%h!

If you’ve read the papers or listened to TV, you know California has been experiencing some harsh winter weather. You’re not going to believe this, but our high temperatures for the day have dipped to as low as 59 degrees. With the wind, it made it feel like it was 57 degrees. Brrrr! How can somebody be expected to play golf in temps like that? I hope that we will return to seasonal temperatures soon. I have a golf goal to play a certain number of rounds for the year and this weather is not helping.

 

 

Non-HDTV is a b#$%h!

I do virtually all of my TV watching on a pre-recorded basis. This way I can watch most one-hour programs in 44 minutes. It’s similar to the strategy of buying a $130 hotel room on Priceline.com for $50. I learned a long time ago that a series of “small wins” really adds up in the long run.

 

 

Somehow, I recorded a UCLA basketball game on a channel that does not broadcast in “High Definition”. Ouch! Do you remember when TV moved from Black & White to color broadcast? For me, it happened when I was about ten years old (somewhere around1960). My first color TV remembrances were when this “rich lady” would invite our family over to her big house to watch “Bonanza” on Sunday nights. That was special.

 

 

Lots of people I talk too say they “don’t watch much TV”. People say they don’t eat sweets very much either, but America is getting fatter every year. I suspect that many folks have TV on in their home much more than they might think they do. I just hope that everyone reading this has “High Definition TV” (HDTV). It’s as big of a jump is quality as the change was from black & white to color.

 

 

Anyway, I had to struggle through the first half of watching the UCLA game the “old way”. Man, I’m tellin’ you life can be hard. Nevertheless, we must struggle on.

  

 

Rain is a b#$%h!

I don’t like rain. There, I’ve said it. Fortunately, I hardly ever see any rain. When I go trackchasing, one of my primary objectives is to avoid the wet stuff. With the internet and an iPhone that isn’t hard to do. In 2009, I trackchased successfully (weather-wise) on 100 days and had just two rained-out days.

 

 

I live in San Clemente, California. We average about 12 inches of rain each year. That is not very much rain. During April to October (7 months), we get less than two inches of rain. That means that during our “rainy season” we get about 10 inches of rain in five months. By the way, during this same five-month period (Nov-Mar) these cities get this amount of precipitation: Washington, D.C. -16”, Chicago – 13” and Atlanta – 23”. I’ve never heard of these cities having a “winter rainy season”. What gives?

 

 

I travel away from home about 50% of the nights in a given year (167 in 2009). That means I will miss, on average, about half of the winter rain we get in SoCal. I will not see virtually any rain during my trackchasing travels. Maybe that’s why I dislike it so much when I’m home and we get the rains we’ve gotten this week. It canceled golf all of my golf!

  

 

Chores are a b#$%h!

Long-time readers know that I don’t do chores. No, I don’t do chores of any kind. I don’t think of myself as lazy. I’ve got a few reasons why chores “don’t suit me”. First, I have Carol. I consider Carol to have “A.D.D.” when it comes to chores. She just can’t stop doing chores! I’m not talking out of school on this. She and I have discussed her affection for chores. It’s so bad I have to drag her out of the house just to take her to dinner and a movie.

 

 

Maybe I am intimidated by watching her work from “sunup to sundown”. Sometimes it tuckers me out just watching her. All I know is that she gets up at 6 a.m. every morning to cook me a hot breakfast. Then she’s off to aerobics to burn off her “excess energy”. Then if I’m working in my office, she will come over the intercom with, “I suppose you want lunch. I’ll bring it down in a few minutes”. How can someone say no to an offer like that? It wouldn’t be fair to refuse her would it?

 

 

If I were living alone, I would handle “chores” the same way I was taught to do work at Procter & Gamble. Our mantra was “Eliminate, Simplify and Mechanize”. It would be easy to eliminate about 70% of the chores by simply not doing them. I’m sure I could “simplify” whatever chores remained by just doing a “half-assed” job with them. Then I would try to “mechanize” the rest by using the internet. I wouldn’t have to move a muscle.

 

 

Alas, since I don’t do any chores I don’t have to worry about eliminating, simplifying or mechanizing anything. On that front, I’m a pretty lucky fellow. Having Carol available to do everything is a “pretty good deal”. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that I have absolutely no “innate talent” for doing chores either. I guess it might be different if I had some great “chore talent” and didn’t WANT to do chores. As it is, I have no talent for this stuff and it doesn’t bother me in the least.

 

 

However……isn’t there always a “however”. Carol had two “chore” requests of me during my three-week break from trackchasing. First, she wanted me to order a part for a broken bathroom faucet. Secondly, she wanted me to fix a leaking window in my office.

 

 

My initial reaction to her requests was to “beg off” and make excuses hoping she would forget. However, that didn’t work this time. I guess I was just home too much during this period for her to forget. Uncharacteristically, I agreed to help her out. It seemed like a fair trade for a couple hundred hot breakfasts.

 

 

I have a very good filing system in my office. I’m more of an organizer than a worker. I quickly went to the “plumbing” file and found the company that sold us our faucets when we build our house back in 2002. I called the plumbing supply house.  In a flash, the customer service agent was telling me she would have the small part sent to us immediately….and at no charge. Wow! This “chore stuff” wasn’t as bad as I thought.

 

 

However, getting my leaking office window fixed would turn out to be a different matter. I’ve had a long time strategy with this problem. When it’s not raining, why do I need to fix the window…..it’s not leaking. When it is raining and the window IS leaking, I can’t fix the problem because it’s raining outside. This strategy has worked well for a number of years.

 

 

However when the top of the windowsill began to leak at a level that rivals a Motel 6 showerhead, something had to be done. It was Randy Lewis Racing to the rescue! I figured the water must have been coming in from the outside. Yes, it’s important to figure out the cause of the problem first!

 

 

I had a solution. Duck tape! Yes, duck tape can fix almost anything. The only duck tape we had in the house was silver in color. Our home’s exterior is sort of a beige color on stucco. Since I was considering duck tape to be my “long-term” solution, I headed down to the local hardware store. I hadn’t been in there in years.

 

 

I was looking for some duck tape that might come close to matching the outside color of our house. Although I grew up in a small (13,000 people) Midwestern town, I am sometimes thought of as a “city slicker”. My mother always used the term “con artist”. I don’t know how that came about. However, when I walked into the hardware store, I encountered an overweight bearded man who was wearing suspenders. He sized me up and “city slicker” seemed to pop into his head.

 

 

His lack of physical movement seemed to justify his size. I had a hard time remembering what I had come into the store to buy. Remember, I don’t do this very often. While I was searching for the word “duck tape”, the phrase “200 M.P.H. tape” came out of my mouth. In the racing world, duck tape is often referred to as “200 M.P.H. tape” since it can be put on a racecar in a few seconds to repair a problem quickly.

 

 

Luckily, my bearded hardware store clerk was assisted by an older but more energetic man. He didn’t think my problem was with the window frame. He figured we had a leaking roof that was manifesting itself in a leaking window frame. This is why I don’t like to do chores. Nothing is ever simple!

 

 

They “up sold” me from duck tape to some outdoor caulking material. Of course that meant I needed a “caulking gun”. I don’t care much for guns but this one seemed safe enough. Wrong! Soon I was out the door with a $7.52 receipt in my pocket and some “hardware goods” in my hand.

 

 

You’re going to have to trust me on this. I’m just no damned good with chores. I don’t have any tools and if I had them, I wouldn’t know how to use them. They say a “poor carpenter blames his tools”. It’s true!

 

 

When I try to do chores, I also try to involve Carol. I figure she will see how hopelessly unprepared I am and then volunteer to take over the project. Quite frequently this works. I also try to impress upon her that I’m about ready to do a really crappy job and she has only minutes to intervene. This works pretty well too.

 

 

We have an aluminum extendable ladder. We keep it in our garage on the ground between our two cars. Its primary use is to bang our car doors into just about every day. I think it’s a safe ladder. Why do I say that? Carol has never fallen off it yet.

 

 

Our driveway is situated about 20-25 feet above the ground level of our house. The only way to get to the ground level outside of our house is to go through one of the secondary bedrooms. There was no way a 20’ ladder would make that trip. That meant I had to lower the ladder over a wrought iron railing at the driveway level down to the ground level. I don’t have much “luck” with chores either. The ladder was about two feet short of what I needed. That meant I had to “drop” the ladder the last two feet onto our brick ground level patio. I’m glad Carol wasn’t there to see that!

 

 

I maneuvered the ladder around to the offending window on the ocean side of our home.  I guess I don’t have too much to worry about in life.  I have an “ocean side” to my house. Then I discovered that I needed something to open the caulking container. I figured a long nail would do the trick. By now Carol was home and I could have her help me find such a nail. Despite getting her “involved”, she still was not volunteering to take over this chore. Rats!

 

 

We couldn’t find a nail longer than two inches. Finally, I resorted to using a screwdriver. Now I was ready to caulk. I figured that since no one (except Carol) would ever see this window from the outside, I didn’t have to be very neat. I wasn’t.

 

 

My hands are calloused….from playing golf. Nevertheless, I didn’t want to “rough up” my hands by handling a ladder and a caulking gun. I decided to use my good UCLA winter gloves I use to keep my hands warm on colder golfing days.

 

 

Up I went on the ladder. Up, up, up. I was now some 15 feet off the ground. If I fell off now, I might not ever be found until spring time. We live just 100 yards from the lapping waves of the Pacific Ocean. The wind always blows directly in off the water. It was cold (about 59 degrees) and the strong wind was now being supplemented by rain.

 

 

Here I was 15 feet up in the air, with the wind blowing at about 20 M.P.H. and it was beginning to rain. Luckily, (not really) I had thought ahead. I was wearing my $300 golf rain jacket that had been specifically purchased for my expected bad weather golfing trip to Scotland a few years ago. Since I never see much rain, it doesn’t get used much for its original purpose.

 

 

I was also wearing my Crocs. Yes, I have a pair of those ugly looking, but extremely comfortable shoes. I bought Carol a pair a few Christmases back. To my knowledge, she’s never worn them. The Crocs seemed to work well on the slippery aluminum ladder.

 

 

I was also wearing blue jeans. I have only one pair of jeans. I had worn them specifically to impress the guys down at the hardware store. How could anyone be considered a “city slicker” if they wore blue jeans. However, blue jeans are not the pant of choice in a driving rainstorm.

 

 

It was raining hard by now. I was caulking as fast as I could. The Crocs were starting to slip on the ladder a bit. My blue jeans felt like they weighed about 20 pounds as they soaked up every bit of moisture from the drenching downpour.

 

 

I seemed to be making some progress with creating a better seal around the exterior window frame. However, I was getting as much caulking material on me as I was on the house. My blue and gold UCLA gloves were beginning to turn white with caulk. What really p#$%^d me off was that I was getting some caulk on my expensive golfing rain suit. How could seven bucks worth of caulk ruin more than $300 worth of clothes?

 

 

Finally, I did as much caulking as I could. If the real problem was a leaking roof, all of my “chore work” would be of zero value. With the rain coming down as hard as it was I didn’t have the energy to wrestle with the ladder and put it back in the garage. That’s another part of how I do chores….I never put anything back where I got it…..at least that’s what Carol says. I left the ladder leaning against the house. Only a few hours later when a strong wind blew it over while I was working in my office, did I remember I would have to meet up with that ladder again. It’s a few days later now and that ladder hasn’t moved itself.

 

 

One of the reasons I enjoy trackchasing so much is it gets me out of doing chores. The rains continued in SoCal this week. As you might have guessed my office window still leaks! None of the work I did meant a hill of beans. Now we had our biggest bath towels and a couple of plastic buckets by the window as a stopgap solution. I think my days of even “attempting” to complete a chore are just about over. I just don’t “have it”.

 

 

However…………….when life gives you lemons make yourself some lemonade. My three-week exile was about ready to end. I had a simple plan in mind.

 

los angeles cruise terminal 

We would drive up to San Pedro, California (about 45 miles from home), and hop on a ship bound for Mexico. From there we would just cruise around in the warm waters off the coast of southern Baja California for seven days. The ship’s windows wouldn’t be leaking. That’s because it wouldn’t be raining! We would eat and drink until our bellies couldn’t take it anymore. Then we would return back to SoCal. Before heading back to San Clemente and that ladder that needed to be put away, I would jump on an airplane to Michigan. There I would stand out on a frozen lake and watch some automobile ice racing. That was a lot better than standing 15 feet above the ground in a driving rainstorm getting seven dollars worth of caulking material all over my good clothes.

 

 

Yes, chores really do suck!

 

 

GREETINGS FROM CHIPPEWA LAKE, MICHIGAN

 

 

TODAY’S HEADLINES  

Why would I go to Michigan so quickly after returning from a Mexican vacation? …………..details in “The Objective”.

 

What is just as good as trackchasing………………more in “The Trip”.

 

What were the two highlights of our Trackchasing Tourist Attraction? …………..details in “Trackchasing Tourist Attraction”.

 

 

THE OBJECTIVE, THE TRIP, THE PEOPLE…AND A WHOLE LOT MORE

 

The Objective  

 

Don’t be at the airport when your ship comes in. 

I had just returned from a weeklong Mexican cruise. Why would I have Carol drive me directly from the cruise ship terminal to the Los Angeles International Airport? The answer was simple. There was “unfinished trackchasing business” to be done.

 

This proves the "feels like" temperature was seven degrees at 11:59 a.m. 

It’s ice racing time, baby! 

You see, I had never seen ice racing in Michigan. “But, Randy, you just got back from a cruise. Couldn’t you wait a week or two to go to Michigan”, the curious reader might ask. There was no time to wait. The ice won’t be thick enough to race on for that many more weeks in Michigan. What if “global warming” really is true? Then….there won’t be any ice racing anywhere! Moreover,…..I am ever mindful of those “Dreaded East Coast Trackchasers”. They would give their “I” teeth to make a dent in my trackchasing lead.

 

 

Although I have the capability, I don’t have the motivation to take over the all-time “ice track” trackchasing lead right now.  However that could change at any minutes. As we speak Guy Smith from Pennsylvania has seen 51 ice tracks. With today’s Michigan venue added to my list, I have seen 28 ice tracks.

 

 

However, I wasn’t going to Michigan to add to my overall total. I was here to add to my geographical ice track total. Today I would add my 11th different state, province and/or individual country to my ice track racing resume. Here is where I’ve seen ice racing:

 

Andorra

Alberta, Canada

British Columbia, Canada

Ontario, Canada

Quebec, Canada

Maine

Michigan

Minnesota

New Hampshire

New York

Wisconsin

 

What is somewhat remarkable about going to all of these ice racing locations is the distance they are from sunny Southern California. British Columbia is the closest and it’s more than 1,000 miles from my home. All of those northeastern locations are nearly 3,000 miles from my driveway. Of course, Andorra is located in the Pyrenees Mountains between France and Spain.

 

 

I got a very late start in life with ice racing. Ice racing dates are very tentative. When there isn’t enough ice the race organizers will often cancel the event on less than 24 hours notice. That’s what happened when Carol and I went to Chippewa Lake in February, 2008. I never would have become a trackchasing factor in ice racing without my “any time/anywhere” airline sponsorships. 

 

 

The Trip 

 

This was my kind of trackchasing trip. 

Carol and I left early on this trackchasing trip. Although she was with me for eight of the nine days the trip would take, she didn’t get any “ice racing track credit”. We left our home on my birthday, (in case you were planning to send a card or gift….it’s not too late). Now I am 61 years old. Someone told me that “61 is the new 59”. If so, I’ll take it.

 

 

Anyway…..Carol and I left San Clemente, California for San Pedro, California on January 23. The bylaws that I must abide by when writing a Randy Lewis Racing Trackchaser Report are quite simple. When discussing a “trip” I can only cover things that happened after I left the house on the way to the track and until I returned home from the trip.

  

cruise 2010 mexico 

Cruising is just as good as trackchasing.

Once in San Pedro, Carol and I boarded a Princess Cruise ship for a seven-day Mexican Riviera cruise. Carol and I are big “cruise fans”. We’ve done about twenty of them. I’ll tell you much more about our cruise experience in the “Trackchaser Tourist Attraction” section of this report. We did sail from San Pedro to first Puerto Vallarta, then Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas.

 

 

I would trade warm weather for ice cold weather.

On Saturday morning, January 30 we were back in San Pedro where our cruise had begun. We were off the ship before 9 a.m. I had scheduled an 11:45 a.m. flight from Los Angeles to Detroit. Before I could board that flight I had to check my iPhone. There were no phone messages from the ice race organizers saying anything about cancellations. My iPhone “weather app” told me it had been well below freezing for the last several days in Chippewa Lake, Michigan. Finally, a check of the group’s website, http://www.michiganiceracingassociation.com/html/index.php, told me they were racing. Everything was a go. We headed to the airport.

 

 

Saturday is normally the slowest day of the week at our nation’s airports. Maybe that’s why I got a first class seat on the way to Detroit. Once in Detroit, I was looking at a 199-mile one-way drive up to Chippewa Lake. 

 

 

The People

 

2010 Mexican cruise w friends 

Carla and Paul rocked.

A highlight of this nine-day trip would turn out to be our Princess Cruise dining companions, Carla and Paul. I’ll tell you more about them in the “Trackchasing Tourist Attraction” section of this report.

 

 

At the ice track, I spent some time with Nancy, the “Ice Queen” of the Michigan Ice Racing Association. She gave me some good background on the “M.I.R.A.” racing group. She told me they have an “insurance problem”. If anybody has any good ideas on buying “auto racing on ice insurance” please get in touch with me.

 

 

I also exchanged several emails with Bob Rosinski. I think Bob might have been a little skeptical about a guy willing to come from California all the way to a small town in Central Michigan just to see ice racing. Ya, Bob, a lot of folks feel that way at first! I think after we met, Bob was more assured that I truly was on the up and up.

 

 

TRACKCHASING TOURIST ATTRACTION

I very much enjoy the racing when I go on trackchasing trips. However, I am not the type of person who would feel the trip was complete if I simply left home, went to the race and came back home.

 

I do a good deal of traveling. I want to do my best to see the local area when I come for a visit. There are usually unusual attractions that one area is noted for more than any other locale. I want to see those places. I want to touch them and feel them. When I leave an area, I want to have memories of these special places that I call Trackchasing Tourist Attractions. I will remember those experiences long after the checkered flag has fallen on whatever race I have seen that day.

 

carol cruise mexico 2010

Mexican Riviera Cruise, Baja California, Mexico

Have you ever taken a vacation on a cruise ship? Carol and I think that cruising is a wonderful vacation. Maybe that is why we’ve done it about 20 times. This cruise would depart from San Pedro, California. We’d be gone for seven wonderful days touring the Mexican Riviera. One of the advantages of this itinerary was that we could simply drive to the ship terminal. It was only 40 miles or so from our house. I get enough of airports, so the embarkation point for this trip was a real plus.

 

 

There were two noteworthy aspects of this cruise. One was the food. Outstanding food is served 24/7 aboard a Princess cruise. You can eat at buffets, formal dining rooms, specialty restaurants as well as burger bars and pizzerias. If that doesn’t meet your needs there is 24-hour room service and servers walking around the decks serving warm chocolate chip cookies and milk! No, this did not meet my WeightWatchers eating guidelines….but hey I was on vacation.

 

cruise companions mexico 2010 

The second special aspect of this cruise turned out to be our dinner companions, Carla and Paul from Illinois. We like to have dinner on the cruise ship in the formal dining room. Cruise ship dining is changing to an “anytime/anywhere” schedule. That might fit some people’s tastes but we still like the old-fashioned way of doing it. We were seated at a table of eight, but Carla and Paul were the only people originally assigned to our late seating (8:15 p.m. each night) dining table who showed up.

 

 

We really hit it off well with our dining companions.   How often do you have dinner with the same people (who are not part of your family) for seven straight nights? Trust me, getting the right people are your dinner table can be the difference between a good cruise and a great one. EVERY night of the cruise, we “closed the dining room”. Each multi-course meal would last about two hours, including non-stop fun conversation. We would look up from our table to find just the four of us in a dining room that seated four hundred! By the time we finished eating and talking, everyone else had left. We did this for seven straight nights. This was a major highlight of our cruise. It was similar to our cruises with the Bloch’s and Powell’s, folks we have stayed friends with over the years.

 

 

Our cruise would stop at three ports in the Mexican state of Baja, California. These included Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas. We didn’t take this cruise for the ports selection. We’ve been on this itinerary a few times in the past. Frankly, the ports are only so-so.

 

 

I will mention a few things you might find interesting about this type of vacation. By the way, if you’ve never cruised you might think it’s an expensive way to travel. Nothing could be further from the truth. When you consider you’re getting 24/7 dining of high quality delicious food, seven night’s accommodation and lots of on-board professional entertainment, cruising is a real bargain. Since we could drive to this cruise, there was no airfare expense or rental car needed. We really looked at this cruise as a “long weekend”.

 

 

I am a big Diet Coke drinker. Liquor and soft drinks are served at an extra charge on most cruise ships. On the first day of this cruise, I bought a special offer that provided unlimited soft drinks, milkshakes and hot chocolate. I only had one milkshake during the cruise (it was the very best) and one hot chocolate (it wasn’t very good). The “drink card” cost nine dollars per day. An individual Diet Coke was about $2.25 including tip. Therefore, if I drank 4-5 DCs a day I would break even. Since I am addicted to diet soda, this was not hard to do. I actually came out ahead.

 

randy carol mexico cruise 2010 

Some folks might think there “wouldn’t be anything to do” while on board the ship. That line of thinking couldn’t be further from the truth. There is actually so much to do, some of the activities conflict with each other. There was an excellent golf pro onboard. His name was Rob Bernard and he is the author of the “Center of Gravity” golf program (http://www.cogolf.ca/). I enjoyed the three seminars he put on during the cruise in front of about 150 people.

 

 

The ship had several pools, a full casino and a theatre that offered professional singing and dancing productions, comedians and illusionists. There were lots of “classes”. One could learn line dancing, mixing martinis, wine tasting and lots more. There were art auctions (we furnished all of the art we have in our new home from a cruise ship a few year ago), bingo, exercise classes, a full gym and spa as well as a running track and paddle tennis.

 

 

Then there was, again, the food. We ate breakfast and lunch at the ship’s buffet. It was so easy and fast and we could go anytime we wanted. I would estimate the buffet had more than 100 items every time we visited it any time of day. The food was delicious.

 

 

At dinner, the meal started with appetizers, and progressed through soups and salads before the entrée and dessert was served. An interesting aspect about cruise ship dining is that you can have as much of you want or EVERYTHING! If lobster is being served you can eat as much lobster as you want. You can order one of every offering on the entire menu if you that is your desire. There is no extra charge. All of your meals are included in the price of the cruise. When you board the ship, you are issued a cruise card. This is a combination stateroom key, credit card and identification. No cash is used on a cruise. Adult beverages are reasonably priced and available all over the ship.

 

 mexico stateroom 2010

Our stateroom was on deck 12. The formal dining room was on deck 7 and the buffet was on deck 14. Most of the other key areas for us, lounges, library, computer area, etc were around decks 5-7. The ship had several elevators, but in an effort to burn a few calories, Carol and I make it a policy to never use the ship’s elevators. I only gained 1.5 pounds on this cruise and taking the steps probably helped out a great deal.

 

 

Since we’ve done many of the onshore tours, we didn’t have many “new” things to try. One activity we had never done was the “hiking expedition”. This was billed as a “five-mile” hike. I figured the “Disneyland grandmother” rule would likely apply to this hike. That rule simply says that nobody could offer a ride/adventure that your grandmother couldn’t handle for fear of being sued if something went wrong.

 

 

I was incorrect on that one! This was an extremely treacherous hike up and down a heavily-wooded mountain on a very narrow trail. I don’t sweat that much when I exercise but I was sweating “like a stuck pig” on this hike. It was especially difficult going downhill with loose rock and dirt making the footing just about impossible to keep upright. There were 13 hikers in our group. We even had an armed Mexican policeman accompany us. I wasn’t sure if that made me feel more or less safe! One of the members in our group was an older gentleman. Before I knew his age, I would have guessed he was in his early 70s. He was keeping up on the hike just as well as anyone else, many of which were in his or her thirties. Later in the day, I came to find out this man was 87 years old!! I want to drink what he drinks!!

 

 

Cruising is a “no-brainer” vacation. You don’t have to move your stuff every day. There’s a lot to do during the day. The evening entertainment is very good. As mentioned, the food is outstanding. Every other day, you’re visiting a new port so you can get off the ship and “stretch your legs”. You get to meet as many interesting people as you want. We’ve made lifelong friends from cruising.

 

 

If you’re interested in any more details about cruising the open seas, just give me a call. You might want to check out the website, www.vacationstogo.com. This site will allow you to put in your own parameters (length of cruise, geographical location, etc) and see what your options might be.

 

  

 

RACE REVIEW

 

CHIPPEWA LAKE ICE TRACK, CHIPPEWA LAKE, MICHIGAN

  

 

This was good ol’ basic ice racing.

The ice racing at Chippewa Lake was basic. Heck, most ice racing is basic. In order to qualify (in most instances) the ice racing is done on frozen lakes. That means there is no banking as water seeks its own level. Most of the time there is no formal seating, no P.A. system or creature comforts of any kind. That was the case today.

 

This is the entrance onto Chippewa Lake. 

It was a long drive, about a mile from the entrance to the lake, to where the Michigan Ice Racing Association was holding their racing. The racecourse was about ¾-mile long and oval shaped. This group races on most Saturdays AND Sundays during January and February. Often there isn’t enough ice to begin racing until the second or third week of January. 

 

 

Chippewa Lake got the best of us last year.  

Carol and I visited Chippewa Lake during the first week of February last year. We showed up at the lake on Sunday. However, unbeknownst to us, the group had raced on Saturday and then cancelled their Sunday events because of warm weather. They didn’t post anything on their website about the last minute cancellation. I guess they figured that everybody who needed to know what was going down had heard it at the track at the Saturday race. That meant a return trip for me today to Chippewa Lake. However, Carol isn’t as forgiving and chose not to make a return trip.

 

 

This group normally starts their races at about noon on Saturdays and at 10 a.m. on Sundays. That was a good thing. This would allow me to catch a Sunday night flight back to Los Angeles. After being gone for eight straight nights that WAS a good thing. 

 

 

It’s winter time in Michigan.  

It was cold today. The ambient temperature was 21 degrees Fahrenheit. However, with a 16 M.P.H. wind the “wind chill” temperature made it feel like just seven degrees. After temperatures in the mid 80s in Mexico, seven degrees felt like……well seven degrees!

 

Outside my car it was seven degrees.  Inside it was 72 degrees. 

Luckily, I wasn’t out in seven degree temperatures for very long. I attended the driver’s meeting and watched the rest of the event from the track’s infield in my car. There were only about ten racecars in attendance today. Yes, traveling more than 7,000 miles (more than 4,000 in the air) to see ten crazy ice racers do “their thing” shows the level of addiction I have. Don’t worry, it can’t be cured.

 

 

There were 5-7 cars in most races. The two classes were for studded tires and “rubber to ice” racers. All of the cars were front wheel drive. I was told that five “rear wheel drive” cars showed up to race yesterday, Saturday. I would have thought more people would be ready to race on Sunday than Saturday but that was not the case.

  

 

The racing program was a little unclear to me.  

Without a P.A. system or announcer, I was unsure as to who was racing when. I did see that several of the cars raced for five laps and received the checkered flag. Then those same cars would race repeatedly. Nancy, the “Ice Queen” who has been working with this group since 1982 told me this allowed cars to be raced by two different drivers. However, I didn’t see many cars switching drivers. I was at the track for about three hours. During this time, I saw about ten races.

  

Every track has one of these.....the driver's meeting. 

Don’t miss the pictures.  

I was most pleased at finally being able to see ice racing in Michigan. That was the main reason I chose to attend the Chippewa Lake ice races today. This will not be my last ice race of the season. I still have ice races planned for some very unusual locations before the “spring thaw” comes about. Stay tuned! In the meantime, I’m getting that “international itch”.

   

 

STATE COMPARISONS

 

michigan map

Michigan  

This afternoon I saw my 69th lifetime Michigan auto racing track. This moves me into a tie for fifth place with P.J. Hollebrand. It also provides my very first lifetime NGD point gain in the 2010 season. I won’t get very many of those this year, so getting this one position gain was special. Allan Brown leads in his home state with a cool 160 Michigan tracks.

 

 

I’ve still got some 98 tracks to see in Michigan. Most of those are county fair operations that run once or twice a year. Only about ten tracks in this group race on a regularly scheduled basis. Since I can fly into Detroit easily with my airline sponsors, I might try more Michigan tracks this year.

 

 

Coming Soon – RANLAY Racing Exclusive Features!

 

Trackchasing politics revealed….they’re about ready to kill each other.

 

Should we be concerned about Guy Smith, trackchasing’s “Founding Father”.

 

 

Thanks for reading about my trackchasing,

 

Randy Lewis

Alberta’s #1 Trackchaser

It’s not for me to judge whether a person is whining for a good reason. My job is simply to listen to it or not.

 

 

 

TRAVEL DETAILS

 

 

CRUISE SHIP

San Pedro, CA – Puerto Vallarta, Mexico – 1,102 nautical miles

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico – Mazatlan, Mexico – 182 nautical miles

Mazatlan, Mexico – Cabo San Lucas, Mexico – 188 nautical miles

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico – San Pedro – 804 nautical miles

 

 

AIRPLANE

Los Angeles, CA – Detroit, MI – 2,169 miles

 

 

RENTAL CAR #1 

Detroit Metropolitan Airport – trip begins

Chippewa Lake, Michigan – 199 miles

Detroit Metropolitan Airport – 394 miles – trip ends

 

 

AIRPLANE

Detroit, MI – Los Angeles, CA – 2,169 miles

 

Total air miles – 4,338 (2 flights)

Total sailing nautical miles – 2,276 (4 ports) = 2,619 statute miles

Total rental car miles – 394

 

Total miles traveled on this trip – 7,331 miles

 

 

TRACK ADMSSION PRICES: 

Chippewa Lake Ice Track – No charge! 

 

Total racetrack admissions for the trip – Zero!

 

 

COMPARISONS

 

 

LIFETIME NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC DIVERSITY UPDATE

 

Final 2009 NGD results are posted at www.randylewis.org

 

 

LIFETIME TRACKCHASER COMPARISONS  

 

There are no trackchasers currently within 200 tracks of my lifetime total.  Don’t blame me.

 

  1. Randy Lewis, San Clemente, California – 1,520

 

 

 

 

Official end of RANLAY Racing Trackchaser Report

 

 

 

I saw about ten race today.

Click on the link below to view today’s photo album:

 

Chippewa Lake Ice Racing

 

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2010 Mexican cruise w friends

 

Click on the link below to view today’s photo album:

 

Cruising down to Mexico…..cruising the best way to vacation!

 

 


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