Moving Squirrel

The Squirrel's Excellent Adventure! (from Oregon to Texas, that is...)

revised May 21, 2002

Well, circumstances dictated that I move lock, stock and barrel from Oregon to Texas in late April of 2002. I decided to get my airplane in shape for the move, so I put it on its gear (temporarily, just for the trip) and hung the engine (again, just temporarily). My friend Steve Dixon brought his shop hoist over and we got the VW hung, none the less for skinned knuckles and a bump on the head (mine). This shot was taken a while after Steve left and I was admiring the handsome little beast. I've since decided to leave the engine and mount in place; this is a great time to go ahead and build my cowling. Nothing on the airplane is final-finished, so some resin and goo on it won't hurt a thing. After doing the cowling I'll remove the engine and mount and continue with finishing the fuselage. The gear will come back off, too. (And hey- notice that the building table, tools, workbench, and all that JUNK are all gone from the garage? My wife was dizzy with excitement at seeing that we really did have a 2-car garage under there somewhere after all!)

Another angle. I'm still thinking about how I'll mount the oil cooler down at the bottom of the cowling, and how to fair it in with the air intake to the carb which will be hung underneath. The pink foam shape leaning in the corner is the belly section, yet to be installed, sanded, and glassed.

Here's how the thing looked the day before I hit the road, parked right out front of my house. I rented a U-haul "vehicle transport", 12'x6' trailer, and she fit just right. You talk about stopping traffic! Every car and pedestrian (and a few birds) that passed by would slow down or stop, gawking and pointing. It's fun catching people's attention that way! The airplane's belly is not installed at this time and neither is the rear windshield/windows, so the lines look a little angular. It will take better shape later.

This was my first stop to see how everything was riding, just at the top of the Siskiyou Summit at the Oregon-California border, about 1/2 hour into the trip on a beautiful Monday afternoon. The weather was gorgeous almost all the way across the West and Southwest. Oh, and traffic slowed to gawk at the Squirrel through the Summit pass when I stopped for the check/photo shoot, too. I almost felt like I was creating a traffic hazard.

Notice that the plastic sheeting is all fairly nice as I started out, and there is only a modest amount of duct tape holding everything in place. Only one and one-half rolls at this point. This will change as the trip wears on! My wing spar material is all blocked together, plastic-wrapped, and snugged in under the airplane (wood is visible near the front of the trailer). It is considerably longer than the airplane, so a bit hung out both the front and back of the trailer.

Day two. Rounding a corner in downtown Goldfield, Nevada (population maybe 100) I spotted this sad bird out front. Somebody help this airplane, please! By the way, I believe I saw more military activity in the wide-open spaces in Nevada than in many action-adventure movies I've seen. There were training ops everywhere; on the ground, in the air, and everywhere. Hmmm... Nevada sure looks a lot like Afghanistan, doesn't it?

Crossing into Arizona, late afternoon of Day 2. Arizona is beautiful, and has really varied landscape. It ain't all desert and cactus! I did have a bit of a time when I drove out of Las Vegas to get to Arizona. Remember 9-11? Remember the deal where only passenger cars can take the direct route through Hoover Dam? Well, pickups with trailers have to take the narrow, busy, hot highway detour down through Laughlin... so I added some unplanned miles and some major glare and heat making this little side trip. Oh, well; I'm as patriotic as the next non-terrorist.

Crossing into New Mexico, the afternoon of Day 3. Now we're starting to talk about your hot, windy, and dusty. I do like New Mexico, but it was quite warm at this point. Hmmm... do I detect a bit more duct tape lashed around the bird, and maybe some road grime starting to build up here and there, with maybe some flapping and torn pieces of plastic there? The miles take their toll! And notice that green-and-yellow tool/tackle box bungeed onto the back corner of the trailer, behind the wheel well. That's my electrical tool box, and there is more to the story on it later.

...and here we are, returning home to roost in Texas (that's a capital "T"). Actually, this is just as I crossed the state line, and it's a BIG state to cross! Very windy out here by El Paso, but no rain and no problems... yet. I was to arrive at my final destination, San Antonio, the following day. While only a couple of hours from there, the trailer (tandem axle) blew a tire and flung rubber everywhere. Also knocked loose that green and yellow electrical tool box that was lashed to the side of the trailer, pitching it into the weeds at the roadside at 70 MPH. Box rolled and tumbled and I lost a few little things, but I recovered it mostly intact. Can I get some sort of endorsement money from Rubbermaid for that? Heck, how about endorsement money from Radio Shack, since my $8 "Realistic" VOM was in the box and survived the tumble. Anyway, I limped into the nearest town, Junction, and there was a U-Haul agent there who had me back in business pronto... at no charge. I guess paying the extra $40 insurance was worth it in this case!

New temporary home... a "U-Stor-It" in San Antonio, 10'x20'. Wow! Where did all that duct tape come from?? Actually, that's what 4+ rolls looks like when you randomly wrap a homebuilt with it and drive it 2,050 miles through several Western states ;o) Dusty, grimy, but it will all go away when I peel off the tape and plastic. Guess I'd better do that before the heat makes it into a gooey, sticky mess, eh? At this point, the plane is easy for one person to handle and roll around, and it balances nicely in the takeoff attitude.

Here's how she fits in temporary storage... like a glove. But N2069Z is home, and home sure looks like Texas. First order of the day: make a mesquite fire and start grilling some steaks!

Well, well, well! What have we here! Right under my nose, at my cousin's house (where I'm temporarily holed up till we get our own house) happens to be a shop of some sort. Happens to have power, lights, windows, a nice big doorway, table saw, radial arm saw, air compressor, router table, and a whole bunch of other goodies. Could it be that this will be the Squirrel's new nest? Stay tuned, as I try to convince my uncle and cousin that I will only take up a teeny-tiny corner of the shop...!

Return to Oscar Zuniga's M-19 Project