On pies, soup, and yoga

by Bethany M. Dunbar, November 26, 2011

In the darkest time of the year, we celebrate.

As November settles in, I soon begin to think about December 21.  After that date, the days will stop getting shorter and start to get longer again.

Meanwhile we have Thanksgiving and Christmas to think about.  We celebrate our family and friends and buy or make gifts for each other.

One way to celebrate and be thankful is to help others.  The Center for an Agricultural Economy does this by taking extra squash grown by High Mowing Seeds, pureed by Pete’s Greens, and making it into soup and pies for food shelves, schools, and nursing homes.

Last week I went to the Sterling College kitchen to do a story for the Chronicle and a video for the Chronicle’s web site.  Check it out at www.bartonchronicle.com.

Another way to get through the dark times is to take care of yourself with yoga.  I started taking yoga classes from my friend Bethany Knight this past summer at IROC.  I found it to be a tremendous help for what has become chronic lower back pain.  This might have SOMETHING to do with sitting in front of a computer for so many hours each day.

Plus it must be said that it’s just not as easy to maintain flexibility as we age.

Yoga is incredibly relaxing and invigorating depending on which way you breathe, and Bethany Knight is an excellent teacher who encourages everyone without making anyone feel like a failure for not being able to manage all the hardest moves right away.

I started thinking how nice it would be to have a DVD to do yoga at home, and I asked her if she had one for sale.  She said she didn’t, but people had been asking her for one.  She had been thinking about trying to put one together.  I suggested she and I could make a video and give it to IROC as a fund-raiser.

So we did!  The DVD is available at the IROC front desk.  There’s an idea for a Christmas present that won’t cost much, will help a good cause, and will help whoever uses it with holiday and winter stress at the same time.

I did something else to be thankful for on Thursday.  It’s become a holiday tradition for me — the Turkey Trot in Barton.  This was the tenth annual race.  I’m working on a story about the race for this week’s Chronicle.

Among the participants was Phil White, the executive director of IROC who has done so much to keep the place going.  It was his very first race.  Quite an accomplishment.  Congratulations!

The days are wicked short right now, but there’s beauty to be enjoyed and appreciated in the low light.

Sunrise in the swamp. Photo by Bethany M. Dunbar

Parker Pie show of Kingdom’s Bounty photos

by Bethany M. Dunbar, November 6, 2011

Yesterday I hung my photo show at Parker Pie.  I hope all of you within driving range will come take a look.  It turns out to be a preview of coming attractions as the publication of my book, Kingdom’s Bounty, is postponed until spring.  This will no doubt be better timing for marketing, and for many of the farmers and seasonal businesses that are featured and listed.

Kingdom’s Bounty will be a guidebook — a collection of photos, stories, maps and basic information about the Northeast Kingdom.   The publisher is Umbrage Editions in Brooklyn.  Many of you know Nan Richardson who has a home in Barton; she is the publisher.  We’re wicked excited about this project.  Here’s a chance for everyone to take a sneak peek.  I’m not sure that all of these particular photos are going to appear in the book, but most of them are.

You can buy a copy of Kingdom’s Bounty ahead of time on the Umbrage web site:  www.umbragebooks.com.  Meanwhile I hope you will come take a look at the show, and let me know what you think.  While you are there try some delicious pizza with local ingredients.  The Hill Farmstead beer is always on tap. Maybe I will see you there.  The show will be up through Christmas time.

Thanks to Elizabeth Nelson who does a wonderful job as curator at the Pie.

Featured here are Jay Peak, Claire's, Hill Farmstead, Ploughgate, Too Little Farm, Vermont Highland Cattle Company, Pete's Green's, and the Lazy Lady.

On this wall are Too Little Farm, Peak View, Eden Ice Cider, a big trout, and the Zipper at the fair.

On this wall are Monica Aldrich leading Isabel Karsch at a horse show at the fair, Taylor's maple syrup, Good Life Valley Farm, and Mountain Foot Farm.

Pond skimming at Burke and prize-winning onions at the fair.

Butterworks Farm and Dennis Gibson at the Old Stone House.


Learning on the job

by Bethany M. Dunbar, August 25, 2011

Barton was styling for the first day of the Orleans County Fair on Wednesday, August 17.  It was the day of the Cadillac parade, and it must be said that Lorie Seadale and all the other volunteers should be feeling pretty proud of their accomplishments right now.

Great job.  It was a lovely day and brought lots of people to town who probably never would have found us without this wonderful event to bring them here.  We have already heard from some Cadillac aficionados who are planning to come back next year and bring all their friends.

A new Guinness Book of World Records for the longest Cadillac parade ever was set with 298 cars wending their way through town and into the fairgrounds.  It was something to see.

I made my first video ever.  You can see it at the Chronicle’s web site:  www.bartonchronicle.com.  I feel pretty happy about it considering I really didn’t know what I was doing.  So far I have learned absolutely everything I know about journalism on the job.

Oh, not everything.  I already knew how to type.

But when I first started selling stories to the Hardwick Gazette I was in high school.  I must have had some kind of camera because I remember buying some film to take a photo to go with my stories.

I went to college (first the University of Vermont and later Lyndon State College) with the idea firmly in mind that no one actually makes a living by writing, so I’d better have a back-up plan.  That was to teach, and therefore my degree is in education.

After a year of substitute teaching I found myself being drawn back magnetically to journalism.

My first day of work at the Chronicle, the owner and founder of the newspaper, Chris Braithwaite, showed me how to use a single-lens reflex camera and explained in some fairly deep detail the principles of how it works.  I didn’t understand much more than about half of his explanation, but that was enough.  Off I went to my first parade where I was shooting away in my glory, wondering why I wasn’t running out of film.  Turns out I had forgotten to put film in the camera.  Wait!  Parade, come back!


I didn’t get fired.

I tried again, and another time I got some nice photos, then learned how to use the darkroom to develop them.  I learned how to write a decent lead on an article, take notes quickly, listen for the good quotes, ask good questions and put it all into a format that someone might hopefully want to read.

I learned that you should basically never write in the first person.  News is objective.


As I write this I’m still not fired — stay tuned.

The first computers were awful things that constantly erased all your work for no apparent reason.  I learned that, and then along came digital cameras and another thing to learn.  Hey at least you can’t forget the film in these things.

But there is so much more that can go wrong.  The battery can die, you can run out of room on your memory card, start erasing photos and erase a photo by mistake.  I did that last week — you know who you are.  I’m sorry.  Thanks for coming back and doing it over.

Now we have the Internet, web sites, blogs, and video.  It’s fairly mind-boggling when you think about how much has changed in journalism.

Some things are the same, though.  A great parade is a great parade.  I hope you will take a look at my first video and send me a comment to tell me what you think.

At least I didn’t forget the film this time.

On sock drawers, Cadillac parades, and high milk prices

On sock drawers, Cadillac parades, and high milk prices

by Bethany M. Dunbar, July 28, 2011

My dog has figured out the significance of the sock drawer in his life.

Yesterday I was getting ready to take him for a walk and went upstairs to the bedroom to grab some socks, so I could put my sneakers on.  As soon as I put my hand on the drawer, Ullr, a 96-pound male yellow Lab, (two years old) began leaping around the room with joy.

I stood there with socks in hand wondering, what the heck has got into him?

Then it dawned on me (humans are slow sometimes) that I don’t wear my sneakers to work in the summer.  I wear sandals with no socks.  So if I’m reaching for socks, it means we are going for a walk.  Thus all that happiness and joy.

A walk in the morning is almost as joyful for me as it is for him.  I love seeing the young marsh hawks learning to fly, the deer tracks, and smelling new-mown hay.  The crickets have started chirping and the Orleans County Fair is only three weeks away.  Can’t believe it.

Tell everyone you know about the Cadillac parade at the fair August 17.  Bruce Springsteen is invited.  It’s going to be a hoot and a half.  If you are bringing a Cadillac, make sure to let Lorie Seadale at the Parson’s Corner restaurant know about it because she is trying to break a world record.  To see a You Tube video on it, look here:

This summer I have the best vegetable garden I’ve ever had.  The plants are bursting with life, and the garden is so full there’s barely room for me to get in between the veggie plants to weed them.

From my house I can hear one neighbor farmer mowing, and another one putting in hay.  These guys work all the time.  I saw a headline in Time magazine that caught my eye and generated a rather sharp reaction:

“Want to get rich?  Be a farmer.”

I have known one or two well-to-do farmers but haven’t known any who didn’t work their buttocks off to get there.  It’s true that there are corporate farms in other parts of the country that have milked the federal tax subsidies to the point to the point where they might just dry up.

The article talks about how food prices are rising and more of the world is buying food from the U.S.  True, but when did high food prices lead to more profits for farmers?  I have seen many times when high milk prices created high profits for processors of dairy products while the farmers still continued to struggle financially to pay the bills.

There are farmers making money, absolutely no question about it.  But to suggest farming in general as a way to get rich seems outrageous on its face.

Instead farming can be a way to be close to your land, family, and community and to be proud of the quality healthy food you are providing.  It can be rewarding in so many ways.

To illustrate my point I will post here a story I did about the milk prices, which are up, and Donna and Brad Gray.

We see Donna and Brad fairly often at the Chronicle because they come to the office to pick up our old newspapers.  They take them back to the farm and chop them up for bedding for the cows.

Really, truly, happy cows sleep comfortably on chopped up Chronicles. Photo by Bethany M. Dunbar

On another subject, if you get a chance, take a look at the Chronicle’s web site where I have posted an NEK Alumni Note about my former sister-in-law Heather Dunbar Kresser who has won yet another championship in Cowboy Action Shooting competitions.  A lot of people remember her as the first woman Game Warden in Vermont — just a few short years ago, right Heather?

Chickory catches the sun along the roadside in West Glover. Photo by Bethany M. Dunbar

Milk prices rise along with cost of production

by Bethany M. Dunbar, the Chronicle, June 22, 2011

Milk prices are higher than they have been for a long time, and one industry analyst says there’s a good chance they might remain on the high side.

It should be good news for dairy farmers who sell to the non-organic commercial market.

But their expenses have gone up drastically at the same time.  The average cost of production is still higher than the pay price.

And it has been a difficult spring as farmers struggled to get crops planted and make hay in the wet spring weather.

Economist Bob Wellington of Agri-Mark said in a telephone interview that a lot of the reason the milk price is higher is more exports.  About 15 percent of the dairy products made in the United States are being sold out of the country.  That’s higher than it has been for a long time, he said.  In 2007 the U.S. was exporting 13 to 14 percent, but exports dropped, and the milk price dropped too.

The milk price for non-organic dairy farmers is set by the federal government — the Milk Market Administrator.  It is established based on sales, and regional prices are adjusted around the country.  When the nation’s dairy farmers produce more than 2 percent over the amount consumed, the farm price often drops much more than 2 percent, Mr. Wellington said.

He said milk production in the United States in May was 1.5 percent higher than last year, based on indications from 23 major dairy states.  That increase is lower than the amount the population and market increases in general, which might mean the higher prices will hold.

According to a report from the Milk Market Administrator, the statistical uniform price of milk (an average price received by non-organic farmers in northern Vermont) was $19.94 for a hundred pounds, or $1.71 a gallon.  Organic Valley’s advertised average pay price for March 2011 was $27.80 for a hundred pounds or $2.39 a gallon.

According to the Economic Research Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average cost of milk production in Vermont is $24.57 a hundredweight or $2.11 a gallon.

“They need a profitable year,” said Mr. Wellington about the dairy farmers.  He said 2009 was farmers’ worst year ever.

In 2009 farmers got about 95 cents a gallon, about 50 cents less than the average cost of production.

Sometimes when the milk price goes up, farmers increase production too much too soon.

“Given feed prices and availability of feed, it’s going to be very difficult for that to happen,” Mr. Wellington said, especially with so much flooding in other parts of the country and around the world.

As of June 2011 Vermont has 993 cow dairies left, according to Kelly Loftus of the Agency of Agriculture.  Two years ago there were 1,100.

Demand from overseas is strong from several countries, Mr. Wellington said, including China, South America, New Zealand, Australia and even India, which is the largest milk producing country in the world but consumes more than it produces at this point.

“We need a way to manage it,” Mr. Wellington said.  There is a bill in front of Congress that would establish a supply management system of sorts — not exactly a Canadian quota plan, but a system that would discourage excess production with financial disincentives, so that it would not be worth making the surplus.

Organic farmers have a supply management system within their industry, and for a time the market required less production.  Existing farmers were restricted and new ones were not added.  But 2010 saw double-digit growth for the organic dairy market, according to Ed Maltby of the Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance.

At Gray’s Hilltop Farm in Charleston, Brad and Donna Gray are happy to be able to pay the bills this year, but they aren’t getting ahead or even caught back up from the devastating milk price situation of two years ago.

Some of their biggest expenses are grain and corn, which has gone up due to the use of ethanol for fuel, they said.

Mr. Maltby reported the price of feed corn is up by 36 percent.

Two of the Grays’ other main expenses are fuel for tractors and plastic for round hay bales.  Both are costing more, and prices are climbing.  Mr. Gray said he got a price locked in for $75 for one load of the plastic, which will wrap about 30 bales.  Since then the price has gone up to $90, which means it will cost $3 for plastic for each bale.

The Grays also make dry square bales.  They used to make all dry bales but found the food value was not as good and they had to buy feed.  Once they started making round bales and wrapping them they had plenty for their herd.

The Grays have 35 milkers, about 80 cows in all, and they ship milk to St. Albans Cooperative Creamery.  They were honored recently with an award for making exceptional quality milk, and their farm is a Dairy of Distinction, which means it’s been judged to be well-kept and beautiful.

Mr. Gray grew up on a farm.  When he went to Vietnam in 1972 for nine months he remembers calling home and telling his parents he wanted to come home and farm.

He did.  He married his high school sweetheart, Donna Limlaw, and the two raised two children there.  These days their 16-year-old grandson, Jordan, helps with the farm and thinks he might like to be a farmer.

“For a year he’s been milking with me,” said Mrs. Gray.  She said farming is not for everyone, but suits them.  Anyone thinking of going into it should think long and hard, she said.  They have never taken a vacation; they only leave the farm for day trips.

Donna and Brad Gray at their dairy farm, a Dairy of Distinction. Photo by Bethany M. Dunbar

NEK Alumni Notes is a feature about you



by Bethany M Dunbar, June 11, 2011

It’s summer time and the living is, well, hectic.  There’s something about the early sunrise and long gorgeous evenings that drives us to try to get even more done each day.

Although it’s not technically summer yet, it’s feeling a lot like it with close to 90 degree temperatures, wild hail and thunderstorms and lots of green leaves, bird songs, and fireflies at night.  My gosh things happen fast around here.

My vegetables garden is up.  I’ve planted lots of jalapeño pepper plants for my boyfriend Jim’s son Rob who built the terraces for us.  My daughter is all graduated from college and headed to San Francisco to research raptors.

It doesn’t seem very long ago that I was digging my mailbox out of what seemed an impossibly huge snowbank.

If you’re here you know what I’m talking about — the incredible speed at which spring has sprung and the world seems to be just bursting with life.  If you’re not, why not?  This is the time of year to come home or visit.

Whether you are here or not, I’m hoping you will take a look at a new feature on the Chronicle’s web site called NEK Alumni Notes.  It’s an idea I had some time ago and have just now put into place — a section of the site devoted to news and notes from all over by people who used to live here or visit often.  We already have posted a bunch and my hope is that it will do nothing but grow.

Where are you now?  What are you up to?  Do you have a good Kingdom story about your time here?  Are you looking for someone or wondering what ever happened to someone you knew here?  We can post notes from people just trying to reconnect too.  Post a note in the comment box on the site:  http://www.bartonchronicle.com, or post it here, or e-mail your note to me:  bethany@bartonchronicle.com.

You don’t have to graduate from anything, it’s just for fun.  For those who have sent me something already, thank you!  Some of it appeared in the newspaper this week.  The rest is on the site and I have a few others promised to me, coming soon.

Also on the site this week is an article about a new museum in town:  The Museum of Everyday Life.  Clare Dolan has started a museum in her barn in Glover.  Tena Starr wrote about it.  The first featured exhibit is matches, including a banjo made out of matches and glue, stained with coffee.  It’s completely amazing.

Joseph Gresser has started taking videos sometimes when he’s out covering the news.  He posted a video on the site this week of the North Country Union High School Pops Concert.  A row of boys singing in harmony about organic vegetables.  Priceless.

Take a look, let us know what you think.

Thanks again for all your contributions and feedback.

A penny for your thoughts….

We're listening....

by Bethany M. Dunbar, May 18, 2011

This was my first Wednesday of not delivering the Chronicle to stores in Orleans, Irasburg, Albany, Craftsbury, Hardwick and Greensboro.  Instead my plan is to spend part of the day each Wednesday — which is a down day for my editor job — working on getting more interest in the Chronicle’s web site www.bartonchronicle.com and selling some advertising there.

I’ve never sold much before, except for Labrador retriever puppies.  They are pretty easy to sell.  I kind of think this might be too.  People already love the Chronicle or maybe sometimes they hate it, but they definitely care about it.  I get a lot of feedback, and most recently a lot of it is from people online.

So my hope is that I can get people to care about the Chronicle’s web site too.  It can be a useful tool for us to connect with people in a different way — or at least we hope it will be.

We’ve started one part of this effort today.  We posted this week’s editorial about our in-depth, award-winning series on the abuse program called Safe Choices.  Included is a header we’re calling “a penny for your thoughts.”  This is to try to encourage people to give us feedback in the comment box.

If you haven’t looked at the Chronicle’s free web site for a while you might be surprised how much you will find there.  We post the week’s calendar events which includes ongoing information about galleries, libraries, museums, support groups and so on.

We put up all the obituaries and keep them there, so it’s a great resource for people looking into their family’s histories.

We have put up a pretty extended collection of archives, including the entire Safe Choices series and our coverage of the wind projects in the area, food venture feature stories, sports schedules, all our classifieds and everyone who bought a Who’s Who in business ad gets their few moments in the spotlight on the front page.

There are also lots of photos, a map of the Kingdom, Town Meeting reports, even recipes in the Chronicle Cupboard.

This is embarrassing, but I did not know until today that Jeannine Young’s recipe for Christmas Berry Mocha Fudge is on there!  Holy Cow!  Does that ever sound delicious.

I say “we” and I can just see Loudon Young with that look on his face, saying, okay, who’s we?  You and the mouse in your pocket?  That’s what he used to say to our founder and publisher Chris Braithwaite when he used the editorial “we.”

In this case it’s Joseph Gresser who put the web site together and adds stuff each week.  It’s pretty darn awesome already and pretty soon it’s going to be even cooler and more fun.

So how about it?  A penny for your thoughts?  Take a look and let us know what you think, or send us a recipe, or a story idea or tell us what you’d like to see on the site.  We just really want to hear from you.

Meanwhile, how about that green grass?  Now how about a little sunshine to go with it?  Is that too much to ask?

Make rash decisions when appropriate

Dan Breitmeyer (left) gives a tug on Furious Anger's pull start as fellow pilot Ron Dupcak looks on. The pull start, like the light bar on top, are purely decorative. The two men plan to drive the car from the Big Apple to the Big Easy — from New York to New Orleans — in the Baberally to raise money for the Glover Volunteer Fire Department. Photo by Richard Creaser

by Bethany M. Dunbar, May 3, 2011

This is a great time of year to make rash decisions.  So when I heard that two Glover firefighters had decided to drive from New York City to New Orleans in a $500 Ford car with no air conditioning, I thought, good for them.

It’s a fundraiser called Furious-Anger BABE rally.

Yes it’s a strange name.  When I got a Facebook request from the Glover librarian, Toni Eubanks, about this, I assumed she had been hacked.  Would I like to be friends with Furious-Anger BABE rally?  I don’t think so.

Then I ran into Toni and she explained it.  Okay, that’s a good story.  Intrepid Chronicle reporter Richard Creaser took it on and did a wonderful job (as usual) capturing the impulsive zeal of the two friends with spring fever getting ready to do something kind of crazy for a good cause.

Luckily, later in the week my horse Daisy did not decide to make a rash decision to walk over a non-existent fence and run away into the green grasses.  She is a good horse and she’s pretty used to her fence.

My neighbor moose came through in the night and the fence was down.  It’s only one strand of electric fence, which does a great job keeping the horse in but not such a great job keeping the moose out.

I wish the moose would just step or jump over it like the deer do.  But no.  They seem to feel obliged to drag a quarter of a mile of fence wire as far as they possibly can.  So there was Daisy, looking longingly at the delicious green grass from her muddy winter pasture while I frantically strung new wire.

About half way through I was pretty sure she had it figured out.  She looked at the place the fence had been and leaned forward and started running back and forth along the edge of it.  I began yelling and waving my arms.  This bought me a few minutes, and that turned out to be long enough to get the rest of the wire up.

Next week the grass in the summer pasture will be tall enough.  Over the weekend Jim and I fixed that fence, and this coming weekend I will let her in there.  She will run around like a crazy horse, and that will be fun to watch.  I will attempt to photograph the event.

But for now her spring fever is still living on dry old boring hay.

Visions of moose steak and stew are dancing in my head.  But I’ve never shot any living thing — and even though I’m slightly tempted to try for a moose permit, I’m more likely to make a less rash decision to just try to photograph them instead.

Here’s Richard’s story.  There’s lots more stories and photos etc. on the Chronicle’s web site when you get a chance.

Furious Anger is the 1992 Ford Festiva that Ron Dupcak (foreground) and Dan Breitmeyer plan to drive from New York City to New Orleans from June 6 to June 10. Photos by Richard Creaser

Big men in little car plan long trip to support Glover Fire Department, the Chronicle, April 20, 2011, by Richard Creaser

GLOVER —  Her name is Furious Anger but there is little that is overtly threatening about the 1992 Ford Festiva.  The name applies to the fire engine red color of her body.  This little car is expected to haul Ron Dupcak and Dan Breitmeyer at least 1,800 miles from Glover to Staten Island and onward to New Orleans starting on June 6.  Ideally it would run for twice that distance, getting the pair of Glover volunteer firefighters back home as well.

“I’m making sure I bring enough money for a plane ticket,” Mr. Breitmeyer admitted.

“We want the whole thing to come back, but at the very least we need to save the light bar and the stereo,” Mr. Dupcak added.

The men are participating in the Baberally rally car event.  The name notwithstanding, the rally has nothing to do with bikini carwashes.

“That’s been one of the hardest things to deal with,” Mr. Dupcak said.  “You tell people to check out the Baberally website and they’re like ‘Uh, no thanks.'”

Baberally is actually an acronym for Big Apple to Big Easy Rally.  It’s organized by Street Safari, an organization that operates road rallies in Europe.  This rally is not the usual get there as quick as you can race.  Rather it is a five-day photo scavenger hunt that carries the rally car teams across the country the short way.  Making it to the end is more important than making it there first.

Simply finishing a race doesn’t seem like much of an accomplishment, no matter how many photos you take along the way.  Consider then that Furious Anger is one of the nicer looking cars in the race.  A condition of the race is that the cars must be 1996 or older, must be safe to operate and cannot have cost more than $500.

“I bought the car last August thinking I would just drive it around on my land,” Mr. Dupcak said.  “Then a friend of mine who was looking for a specific make and model of car saw baberally.com spray painted on the side of a car posted on e-Bay.  He decided to check out the website and then contacted me.”

What followed was a short conversation that led Mr. Dupcak to contact Mr. Breitmeyer.

“As soon as he said ‘car trip’ I said ‘shotgun,'” Mr. Breitmeyer recalls.  “I didn’t even really know what he was talking about.  I didn’t want this but….”

It seems that the phrase “I didn’t want this but…” frequently when Mr. Dupcak and Mr. Breitmeyer join forces.  The circumstances are often bizarre and difficult to explain, even though the outcomes are amusing, bordering on tragic.  Driving a $500 car to New Orleans and back is par for the course, Mr. Breitmeyer explained.

What makes this trip a little different from their norm is the fact that the men will be raising awareness of the service provided by firefighters and raising money for the Glover Volunteer Fire Department.  How that money is raised is entirely determined by whomever makes the pledge, Mr. Dupcak said.

“We’re open to pretty much anything,” he said.  “People can pledge by the number of miles we actually drive, by the number of stages we manage to complete, or whether or not we actually finish.  If people pledge money to have us drive with the heat on for three hours in Alabama, we’d be open to that too.”

In the event that Furious Anger does win a prize, her prize money will be donated back to the Glover Fire Department, Mr. Dupcak said.  The top prize for the race is $1,500, with a second prize of $350 and a third prize of $150.  All the funds raised through pledges will also go to the fire department, Mr. Dupcak said.  Though the men expect to incur expenses along the way for food and lodging as well as gas, they will bear those costs on their own.

“I think we have a good shot of winning,” Mr. Dupcak said.  “This car actually needed very little work to pass inspection.  Some work on the brakes and the E-brake and some bodywork and it’s good to go.”

Interestingly enough, inserting the stereo system appears to be the only concession to creature comfort in the car.  The stereo is of suitable vintage, though not factory equipment, Mr. Dupcak said.  Opening up the hatchback, he revealed that the speaker system takes up the entirety of the admittedly tiny cargo space.

“It’s loud and it’s probably excessive,” he said.  “But you need to have tunes.  When it’s going, the car doesn’t lose power, really, but the dashboard lights dim a little.”

Driving south in the heat of early summer is a complication the men have given some thought.  Though the 1992 Festiva comes factory equipped with air conditioning, Furious Anger’s AC is inoperable.

“We thought about fixing it, but decided it was probably against the spirit of the race,” Mr. Dupcak said.  “So our only rule is we must take showers.  I can just imagine crawling back in there every morning with the seats still soaked with sweat from the day before….”

“I might put something together to make a wind scoop to get air into the car,” Mr. Breitmeyer said.  “But it would probably slow us down.”

Given the length of the drive and the age of the car, roadside mechanic’s skills are expected to come in handy.  The car appears sound, Mr. Dupcak said.  If anything goes, it would be features such as the starter or alternator, he said.

“If we have duct tape, we’ll be fine,” Mr. Breitmeyer assured him.

Mr. Dupcak is the fountain of bubbling energy to Mr. Breitmeyer’s stony calm.  Their complementary demeanors will probably serve them well during the five days of the race, and likely five or six days back.

“I’m really glad to have Dan along for this,” Mr. Dupcak said.  “I wouldn’t want to do this with another me.”

Mr. Breitmeyer said that he would try to keep the folks back home updated about their progress south.  As the event is broken up into five stages, the men expect to have a nightly opportunity to post updates or pictures to Furious Anger’s Facebook profile, assuming they can find a wi-fi connection.

One thing the men do want to do is try to visit the local fire station in the town hosting the daily checkpoint.  Not only will it be their way to raise awareness of fire departments around the country, it will also be their chance to meet and bond with fellow firefighters.

“We might swap hats or T-shirts, and we’ll definitely try to get pictures for a scrapbook back here at the department,” Mr. Dupcak said.  “This rally is going to be a lot of fun and silliness for Dan and I, but we are also representing this department and firefighters everywhere, so we might need to tone own the hijinks.”

The hijinks might be toned down, but the image will remain of two tall men folding themselves like origami cranes into their tiny car.  Low to the ground and in close quarters, the men do not appear uncomfortable in spite of appearances.

“Yeah, it looks like a clown car and we probably would have a hard time picking up a fellow racer if they need a lift,” Mr. Dupcak conceded.  “But silliness is part of the attraction of the race to us and the people we’ve talked to.  I just hope people check out the website and decide to support the department however they want to.”

Donations or pledges to the Glover Volunteer Fire Department on behalf of Baberally can be made by contacting Mr. Dupcak or Mr. Breitmeyer via their Facebook page, by contacting the fire department directly, or via the Glover Town Clerk’s office.  For more information on the rally itself, check out http://www.baberally.com


Furious Anger crew

Furious Anger is the 1992 Ford Festiva that Ron Dupcak (foreground) and Dan Breitmeyer plan to drive from New York City to New Orleans from June 6 to June 10.  The men will compete in the Big Apple to Big Easy Baberally while raising money for the Glover Volunteer Fire Department.  Lacking in creature comforts such as a working air conditioner and even head room, Furious Anger comes equipped with a kickass stereo system that will help fuel the men to the Deep South and, hopefully, back again.  Photos by Richard Creaser

Furious Anger pullstart

Dan Breitmeyer (left) gives a tug on Furious Anger’s pull start as fellow pilot Ron Dupcak looks on.  The pull start, like the light bar on top, are purely decorative.  The two men plan to drive the car from the Big Apple to the Big Easy — from New York to New Orleans — in the Baberally to raise money for the Glover Volunteer Fire Department.  Photo by Richard Creaser