SALINA, Kan. — When Fred and Susan Patterson flew toward Salina on Monday, they got to see the solar eclipse from 35,000 feet.

But their trip home promises to be even more memorable, The Salina Journal reports.

The Kodiak, Alaska, couple will be driving the 2,000-mile way home in a sea foam green 1950 Chevrolet pickup truck with “character dents” and a top speed of about 50 miles an hour.

They intend to take back roads, wave at people and stop at every little brewery along the way for a photo with their truck, which has Alaskan Brewing Co. logos on the doors because that’s where one of their daughters works.

“It will be a good adventure,” Susan said. “Our daughter loves to research airbnb’s, so she’s gotten us places to stay.”

Waited for summer

Fred, who regularly visits his cousin Dianne Collicott, of Salina, and her husband, Olin, bought the pickup in Salina about a year ago. It was winter, and to avoid the treacherous weather, he and Susan, who are both 78, planned to return this summer to drive their pickup home.

The truck, which they purchased from Salinan Tim Pestinger, has only about 48,000 miles on its original engine.

Pestinger said he thought the truck was pretty cool and bought it “on a whim” at an estate sale in White City. After fixing the brakes and a few leaks, Pestinger said he decided he’d better stick to working on restoring a 1949 vehicle he’d already begun and put the truck up for sale.

When Olin Collicott saw the truck, he thought of Fred. Olin had been lured to Alaska with the promise of silver salmon and halibut fishing, and while there, helped Fred restore Susan’s father’s 1953 Chevrolet pickup for Fred’s daughter to drive.

He thought Fred and Susan might be interested in having their own classic truck, and he didn’t think the retired Coast Guard rescue pilot would see the 2,000-mile drive through the northern United States and Canada as an obstacle. Afterall, Fred and Susan had previously purchased an airplane in Independence, Mo., and flown it back to Alaska, and they lived in a house in bear country that didn’t have electricity until 1985. They were the adventurous sort.

“He came down and looked at it and said, ‘I’ll take it,'” Pestinger said. “He wanted a run-around truck, and that’s what he got.”

Olin Collicott and Pestinger stored the truck in Salina for about a year before the Pattersons were able to retrieve it. In the meantime, Collicott, with the help of neighbor John Duerr, put in a new clutch, rewired the headlights and taillights and installed windshield wipers and seat belts.

“We did quite a few things to make it road worthy to go as far as they’re going,” he said.

Fred said when Olin noticed something wrong with the truck, he’d call Alaska.

“I’d go find the part, send it to them, and they’d put it in,” he said.

“He had the easy job,” Olin said. “The only trouble is he had to pay for it.”

The Collicotts plan to give the Pattersons a day’s headstart when they leave Saturday. Then they’ll head out to meet them at Mount Rushmore.

“They’ll catch up with us,” Susan said. “They may even pass us.”

Susan said the trip will take about a month, including four or five days of ferry rides to make it to Kodiak Island. She said they expect to drive an average of 40 miles an hour and cover about 250 miles a day.

Pestinger said he hopes they keep a diary of the trip.

“It’s going to be an adventure,” Pestinger said. “The truck will make it. They just need to bring plenty of the right tools, a couple spares, water and antifreeze. They’re going to have to take their sweet, sweet time getting there.”


Information from: The Salina (Kan.) Journal, http://www.salina.com

This is an AP Member Exchange shared by The Salina Journal.

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ERIN MATHEWS
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