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Model T Touring with TPN
Bonnie Sjoberg, HPN Consumer
Bonnie and her husband Warren Sjoberg, of Milaca, Minnesota, took a once-in-a-lifetime vacation in the summer of 1996, touring around the upper midwestern United States in a 1926 Model “T” Ford they had rebuilt themselves. Diagnosed with pseudo obstruction, Bonnie had been on TPN for a year and a half and was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to travel when on nutritional support therapy. As Bonnie so aptly put it, “The trip is just one example that TPN needn’t hold us back, but rather allows us to enjoy life much more fully.”
This summer my husband and I enjoyed a trip of a lifetime that combined the technology of today with the nostalgia of days gone by. We traveled over 2,000 miles in a 1926 Model “T” Ford bringing with us a sense of adventure and my daily supply of TPN.
The car is a touring model with four doors, a convertible top and curtains where windows would be on the sides. My husband, Warren, carefully reconstructed the car from parts he had collected over the years, and I sewed the roof, seat upholstery and curtains. Now that the car was finally together, it was time to fulfill a second dream: to take it on a two-week vacation tour.
Before the trip I bought a 34-quart cooler that fit on the floor of the car’s back seat. Inside the cooler, I was able to store eight bags of TPN with two ice packs between each bag. This meant we only needed to “refuel” once on the trip. The ice packs were purchased from T.K. Industries for about 15 cents each, and measured 3” wide by 14” long and 3/8” thick. They are segmented every 1-1/4” inches which makes fitting them into a cooler a lot easier. I also placed a piece of Thinsalite fabric between the pile of TPN/ice packs and the cooler cover, to help further insulate the TPN from the outside heat. Without a fan, much less air conditioning, we’d cool the inside of the car by opening the side curtains. Between the breeze, cooler and ice packs, the TPN stayed plenty cool - even on the hottest day when it was 108°F in the shade.
At night the TPN went into the motel’s refrigerator and the ice packs into the freezer. We found the managers at the motels we visited very accommodating. At one motel in Sundance, Wyoming, the woman cleaned out her own refrigerator to accommodate the whole second week’s supply of TPN which arrived before we did. With the TPN and ice packs cooled, we’d be all set the next morning to go along our merry way.
Since the car goes no faster than 30 miles per hour, we were happily restricted to the back roads. At the slower pace we could see all the things missed when speeding down the freeways. We could smell fresh cut hay, the morning dew and hundreds of acres of yellow clover in bloom. Our ears were treated to the hoot of the owl, the barking of prairie dogs and the sweet song of the meadowlark. Not only could we see out for many miles, but we could also see things close up, like ducklings following Mama duck, antelope frolicking in the meadows and a big bull elk laying in the grass less than 20 feet away!
The leisurely pace was mixed with many wonderful highlights, including sightseeing at the Painted Canyon in Medora, North Dakota, a trip through open range country in Montana where we weaved in and out of 200 cattle on a gravel road, and walking around Devil’s Tower in Wyoming. Once in South Dakota, we were treated to the indescribable beauty of the Black Hills and toured a scenic route through the Badlands before heading home.
Just 40 miles into our last day’s journey, we heard an awful noise from under the hood. A valve had broken and gone through a piston. Fortunately we were able to keep going for another 30 miles before stopping for good at a gas station. Although the car was trailered home for the last 60 miles, it wasn’t long before my husband had it up and running again. And I must admit, is wasn’t long before I starting thinking of a next possible trip to take in a year or so, probably down to Kentucky and Tennessee. This was the most relaxing trip I’ve taken anywhere - something I’d recommend that everyone enjoy - even with TPN.
Copyright © 1995 The Oley Foundation
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