The Better Vacation, Steaming

by Pat Farell

As we crested the steep grade in the early morning's fresh sunlight, the steady chuff, chuff of the steam
engine became silent as we started a long coast down hill on the other side of the mountain. A whole new world came into view. The lonely screech of an adult red tail hawk echoed above us as we stealthily rolled along the tarmac roadbed, which twisted along through the evergreen lined rolling foot hills just above Estes Park, Colorado.

We had just began another stimulating week long steam tour of fun and adventure. With no particular schedule to keep, we fine tuned our steamer for our best performance, while also finding time to stop and see the interesting sights along the way.

This is the way it was at the "Steamin' Thru The Rockies II 1998 Steam Car Tour". If you were invited on a week's vacation of affordable adventure, no schedule, a good defined tour map, renewing old friendships, everyone with a common interest, and a chance to build your knowledge of your favorite hobby, would you be interested?

As I am writing this from the sun deck aboard a Caribbean cruise ship, my mind reflects on the differences in vacations available to us by choice. The Caribbean vacation is very unlike the steam car tour just described. With it's high costs, tight schedules, strangers with no appreciable common interests, and a confined tour route, it makes me wonder why more people don't do steam car tours and forget the cruise ships. The steam car, when properly cared for will appreciate annually in value, far in excess of the costs of the tours attended. There are no tight schedules to keep as only lunch and dinner times need to be kept track of. For after all, we do have some scheduled priorities don't we? 

Steam cars are interesting to everyone and people seem to "relate" to them very well. Most all people tell us that their grandfather or possibly their neighbor had once owned one of these mysterious machines. Peoples interests are genuine. When you have to stop for water, neighbors rush with their hoses to be the first one to be to satisfy your steamer's thirst.

The Stanley Steamer is very life like in that it can move silently about with only the stored steam in the boiler, pushing the car along very swiftly. It's available speed far exceeded the performance of the contemporary cars of it's day. Today, for most Stanley models, they still keep pace with modern speed limits quite easily.

The only noises the Stanley makes when it rolls along, is the swish and clicks of the water pump checks, and an occasional eerie howl when steam is automatically being brewed up in it's boiler. Simple to drive, there are only three controls to attend to while driving: the steering wheel, the throttle lever, and the brake pedal. The steamer is more like a spouse's temperament with good days and bad days. The reason why of this is caused by the fuel blend, air temperatures, humidity, and the spare time general maintenance that has been accomplished.

The most gratifying thing of a steam car tour for me is the sharing of the touring experience with family and friends. I know of no other vacation experience that can be as intimate and be as enjoyable as a journey through ever changing scenery in a "steam car tour".

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