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Looks like a nice sunny day tomorrow - albeit it a little chilly!

Carmen, Robert, Michel and I are heading to Ottawa and will be there for brunch around noon.

We will be meeting Mark, Bohdan and Jonathan. Andy is out of town.

Anyone up for the ride is more than welcome to join us at Stoneface Dolly's, 416 Preston Street.

We'll post some pics when we get home.
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It was damn cold when I awoke. As I stumbled to the bathroom I cracked open the blinds and saw a cold, dark "almost winter" morning. I wasn’t all that surprised. It is November and we do live in Montreal, after all.

I searched the sky for a spot of blue, but none existed. Overcast with dark clouds. The SUVs in the driveway were covered with cold mist.

The bed looked inviting – so I called Carmen and tried to bail. He had been up for hours and was in the cat on his way for his second coffee. I mentioned my disappointment with the weather, hoping to join my wife and dog still fast asleep in the nice warm bed, but he wouldn’t have any of it.

I packed the tools and wipers - and gloves and a jacket just in case I ended up being outside longer than expected. I am an experienced Pantera owner and always expect the unexpected.

I headed out to our meeting spot at the PetroCan station and saw two beautiful black cats reflecting the sun as it finally cracked through the clouds. Carmen and Michel already had a crowd around them as I got gas and added octane booster. While we waited for Robert to arrive the sun came out strong. The sky cleared and it was to stay blue and beautiful the rest of the day.

Robert’s red GTS growled into the stop and after he fueled up we rolled onto the highway. The traffic parted and as usual all the passengers in the cars we passed were hanging out their windows shooting digital pics and videos of our roaring train as we disappeared into the sunny horizon. There are not going to be many nice days left for us to ride together. So I kicked myself for even considering going back to bed and missing this.

I shot some video and stills as we played with each other on the road. I also played with my heater controls and even had time to experiment with my awesome stereo. I rarely want to listen to any sound other than the orchestra behind my ears, but killing time and watching for smokey everywhere, I had a chance to play around with my Kenwood system. With the NAV giving me exact speed readings and leading us to lunch at great Italian joint in Ottawa, I also had great music filling that tight cockpit. Pretty damn cool. It was embarrassing how sophisticated and comfortable the ride was.

So, before I got too comfortable, I turned it off and put the hammer down. Michel tucked in behind me and Carmen followed. We traded places weaving thru traffic and found a few stretches where we opened it up a bit. "Stupid Grin” disease hit us all for a while and then we hid behind some traffic and waited for radar cops who never appeared.

Suddenly there was a flash of fire out of Carmen's pipes. First the left side, then the right then right again. He pulled off quickly. Not good. We braked and got off with him onto the shoulder. It was a bad backfire, three in a row so he shut it down. A carb backfire. After a while we figured it was either the timing chain, MSD or carb power valve. Neither was getting fixed there.

While Carmen ordered a flatbed I called Mark and Bohdan who were ready with another Holley and a distributor and were prepared to come meet us. But Carmen decided to take it back to the shop. We waited, and waited, and waited until the flatbed finally showed. A real bummer in a beautiful day. After we got his black beauty loaded up he and his son Lorenzo got into the truck. As they headed home, we started out for Ottawa again.

Now over an hour late we really kicked butt the rest of the way. We cancelled our nice lunch plans and instead met Mark, Bohdan and Jonathan at our usual Tim Hortons. As Panteras always seem to do, we created a big fuss in the parking lot.

It was really great to see everyone again. I love these cars and the friendships they have created.

We hung out for while, bench racing, viewing emails from our other Canadian Pantera buddies, looking at photos of new cars and engines being purchased. We talked about our booming CDN dollar, XBOX vs Playstation racing games, made plans to go to Pocono together in the spring and regretted not buying Goggle, Apple and all the other great stocks that took off without us.

After a long goodbye we got back in the cats and stretched out on the way home. I led the way for a while setting ever higher “max speed” recordings on my navigation data and then slowed.

A few seconds later, Robert and Michel blasted into view. We rolled home as the traffic cheered us through and waved goodbye as we took our respective exits off the expressway. As I rolled into my hood - and called the wife to tell her I was still alive - some kids pulled up beside me and asked if there was some car show going on as they had “…just seen 5 of these cars on the 417!” Actually it was only 3 or 4 together but hey, these cats make a great impression.

It’s good to be home and I'm glad I made it in time to watch the Colts and Patriots game.

As I sit here on the couch I can smell the warm Cleveland wafting up from the garage. A great day - except for Carmen’s little problem. I’m sure he will back on the road in a few days. As soon as he is, I can’t wait to do it again.
I just spoke to Carmen and was relieved to hear it was a simple shear pin on his distributor. No permanent damage (we hope) and all should be back to normal tomorrow.

We missed him but it was a great day to get together. I particularly enjoyed it since it was my back injury that cancelled it a few weeks ago and I was grateful to see my buddies again for one last gathering before the horrible Canadian winter sets in.

It was great to see Jonathan enjoying his car more than ever and to see Michel's new Pantera in Ottawa for the first time. As always, catching up with Robert, Bohdan & David was like a family reunion. Sorry that Andy was away this weekend. We had extra donuts & coffee in your & Carmen's honour!


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