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MOON Space Agency Pan's USA Rocket Trip

MSA Staff Pan's MOON ILLUSTRATED Vol.9 Rocket Trip Report!!

One night on the way home in March, fellow staff "Ah-Nakano" said to me, "Come to think of it, you'll be heading for USA next week right?" My response was, "Well, yeah but it will just be for 2 or 3 days so it will be like a weekend it will be OK. If it's just a few days tops, no problem!."

The work I do in my department, MOON SPACE AGENCY, March is always a really busy month because we are making MOON ILLUSTRATED Magazine (MIM) (Vol. 9 will release in April!!). When we start. I can look out of the office window and see the Cherry Blossom buds just starting to show up on the trees that line Honmoku street. By the time the major rush is over and we have gone through all 6 gears at full throttle, the Cherry Blossoms have already passed full bloom and are starting to fall from the trees.

This time around, it felt like immediately after making a schedule and plan for MIM, I was heading for the USA. Normally, the anxiety of going to the states builds up so much my legs won't stop shaking. I get excited but nervous at the same time. That's how it's always been for me since I was a kid. But maybe since this was a short trip, it wasn't like that at all which is good for me. A lightning fast "bullet trip" to the states.

Day of Departure
For this trip, Goshu whom I have grown used to traveling to the USA with is not going. Neither is Steve, who was with me on my last trip (to GNRS) in January. I'd be traveling alone... and with that, during my bus ride from Yokohama to the airport in Narita and just about the entire flight to LAX, I got caught up on some sleep! My snoring woke me up a few times along the way though, the last being just before I landed in LAX. As I was walking through the terminal, I could see the construction going on. I wondered to myself just when will LAX be completed? But I guess that's California... Making my way outside, the blue sunny skies and palm trees are a welcome tree to see! As I left the arrival gate, it was already around lunch time and it was unbelievably warm outside so I removed my hoodie that I was wearing, took a deep breath and exhaled a silent fighting scream! For some reason I felt thankful for my parents raising me to be able to sleep anywhere and eat anything. I was ready to go.
Once I arrived at MOONEYES USA, my brain functioning kicked in for that extremely limited English language drawer I have tucked away somewhere and my Japanese gesture movement skills which I believe to be effective, and checked the day's agenda. What was scheduled for the day had suddenly changed (good thing I checked). Last year when Goshu was on a trip here in September, the same thing happened to him. So I guess it wasn't much of a shocker... I figured, "In that case, we'll do something else." So I headed over to the Machine Shop.

While I was taking photographs for catalog content I ran into Tim. "Hey, Tim-san! Long time no see!" Of course, it didn't come out verbally like that. He was busy working on the current MOONEYES Project '40 Ford Pickup! He was in the middle of boxing the frame to build up strength. He kindly explained to me while using gestures, "This frame, that Hemi engine, together!" Then added, "This frame now, too weak for that engine, very powerful. Must box frame, make strong!" I understood completely. Sounded simple enough but actually doing the job takes a lot of skill I'm sure. Later on, I confirmed the schedule for tomorrow and soon after it was night so Chico, Time and I went out for steak dinner! This is when I discovered a problem with my camera! I couldn't take close up shots. Again, something always happens on my trips. By this time, I'm used to some kind of trouble happening so I wasn't worried. I'll figure something out! Actually, getting used to these situations could be a good thing. It will make me find a better way of doing things. On that note it was time for bed so it was off to sleep.
Second Day
I was up and out of bed before dawn! Being on my own and having to drive to the meeting place by myself, I had no margin for error. "The slow lane is on the right, the center line is on my left." These were some of the things going through my head while I was driving. Gradually, I could feel the mental strain building up in my head. I turned on the radio. The darkness of early morning began to fade and daylight started to show the scenery. I started feeling better. While enjoying the moment, I missed my on ramp. I was supposed to be on the Freeway but was driving on the street. I turned around and went back. Next thing I knew, I was arriving safe at the meeting place and linked up with everyone else. We were about to begin the first session of photo and data collection. In spite of my bad habits, I hoped for good weather and each day, from the morning to the night, was excellent! I couldn't be more pleased!
On this day, the entire day was dedicated to MOON ILLUSTRATED Magazine Vol. 9 (MIM#9) photography and data collection. For complete details, be sure to check out MIM#9 when it is released at the end of April! "There are people with this kind of lifestyle?" "What? This person built that?!" These are just a couple of thoughts that will cross your mind when you see the next issue. Without any doubt, we'll showcase people that choose to do what they love and naturally have fun doing it. From here to there and all over.
On the way we made a stop, introduced by Hideki, a Japanese descendant, who's been enjoying customizing in the USA for the passed ten years. Active in the drag racing scene, Hideki introduced us to another Japanese descendant, drag racer Mark Miyashiro. I had no idea what was going on at first as this was not a planned stop. I was just along for the ride. We drove into a back alley and what seemed to appear out of nowhere was this Altered Dragster. I was blown away. Next thing I knew, Mark got in the cockpit and started up the engine. He backed up about 10 feet. Then I recorded what happened next on video.
My first thought was he was out of his mind, but in a good way. To see it move right in front of my eyes and in such a tight space was wild. I also laughed uncontrollably too. An unscheduled stop and being welcomed by a group of very good people was truly a great experience. Even with a language barrier, a good time is a good time no matter how you look at it. From morning to night, we kept moving around and going places. By the time I made it to the motel is was after 12.

At this point, I realized something else. "Tomorrow Daylight Saving Time begins." That meant it's one hour earlier, which I understood but looking at my phone, I wondered if it was correct. Is it one hour behind? How many hours can I sleep? Should I be safe and wake up an hour early? What time should I set my alarm? I was confused...

Third Day
Ugh... normally I can sleep under any condition but I couldn't sleep at all... In the darkness of the early morning, I stuffed my face with donuts for breakfast and made my way towards Long Beach. Along the way, all the people I could see in my field of vision, I thought to myself, had lost one extra hour of sleep... When I arrived at my destination, it was still dark. I wasn't even sure at this point if it was actually morning, it was so early... It was totally different than when I came in January too. Plus it was dark. There were a lot of people already in line waiting for the gates to open. Alright, let's collect some data for MIM#9! Once the sun comes up, we'll go to another location for photos! When we're finished at that location, and if we have time before our next stop, we'll think of something. Shop Tour.
First we stopped at Nostalgia Speed & Cycle. When I saw the shop when we arrived, Hot Rod Shop was the first thing that came to mind however this was no ordinary Hot Rod Shop. CB after CB after CB, the number of Honda CB's was crazy... and the number of Ford Model A reproduction steel bodies and parts were incredible, plus the completely filled shop and machine shop display was awesome. It's a brand new shop so the next time you are in the area, be sure to stop in for a visit. It's well worth it! It was another unexpected stop and visit but the owner was very happy to welcome us in and show us around. Thank you Carpy!
Our next stop was at Cycle Lodge. Cycle Lodge is managed by Mike Davis, Grant Peterson and Harpoon. Mike and Grant are the two responsible for the motorcycle event "Born Free" which is also a very popular event with people here in Japan. Born Free 4 will be held June 30, 2012 at Oak Canyon Ranch, California. Mike runs the website Born Loser, Harpoon and Grant share Freedom Machine & Accessories. It can be confusing at first especially when you are taking photographs and don't understand English... I was here last year to collect data for HCS guest car that Harpoon painted. However, when I came to take photos of the Chevy, I only came to one side of the shop and had no idea what was behind door number 2... until now. I wanted to do some shopping, some browsing, I wanted to stay for a while and look at all the things that were here. It was amazing to see. This place is highly recommended to come and visit. But be sure to allow yourself a lot of time because it deserves it. By the way, they were selling raffle tickets for the Born Free 4 event. You can win a Shovelhead if you are at the event on June 30! They are giving away not one, but two bikes! One is a chopper and the other is a stock dresser. Also, the Best of Show from Born Free 4 will be a guest bike at HCS2012 in December!

After we left, we had extra time before our next stop. Alright, let's go somewhere! I am still tired because of lack of sleep but so excited with every stop.

We made a visit to artist Larry "Quicksilver" Fator's Studio. OH! I remember seeing this car at the Grand National Roadster Show in January! How can you miss a gasser like this... well of course, I also have a soft spot for panels. It was tucked in the back but I could spot it from a mile away! Within these wall of Larry's studio is his collection of things that can literally become a museum, as is. There was so much stuff, so many things to see, I was speechless. Everything was captivating, I was lost in amazement looking at each item, there was no way I could see it all... not enough time in a day. Dizzy by the array of stuff, my eyes were drawn towards a display of some sort. It was setup behind glass, well preserved and orderly. Scale slot drag racers. I never even knew something like this existed back then. Superb craftsmanship. Just mind blowing.
...and here we take a moment for lunch. Let's give a BANZAI for my rocket trip!

Just before leaving on this trip, it was confirmed as one of the HCS2012 guest cars, this Mercury Comet "the Rocket". For the purpose of collecting data, we headed to the owner of the car, Dale Snoke's garage. With a quick glance the car stands out among the others, "the Rocket" is stopped in front of the garage. With the sun in the right place and the car at the right angle, the setting was great so I started to take photos. As we are proceeding, my eyes got hooked on what Dale had prepared before we arrived. BBQ Plates. I don't know what you may have head but I have been on a diet since the beginning of the year. However, there was no way I was going to pass up something like this, it was just too good. You can't get this in Japan... I was in heaven.

After we ate, I took my time looking at Dale's Rocket and all the other cars that were there. There were various cars to see but one thing was common in all of them. I bet they are all fast. Next to me was Chico in all smiles, "That's nice, that one is cool..." Car after car. I wasn't sure if he was saying it to me or just talking to himself, he was in a daze. When I got back, out of nowhere Shige said, "Gassers aren't usually for younger ones. They are heaven for old guys." But from what I saw through my viewfinder of my camera, I can definitely say what I saw was cool. I understood what he meant from seeing Dale's Rocket. I also understood Chico and Shige's "strike zone" for sure. Even when the "Rocket" was stopped still, it drew attention. So cool. This car will be at HCS2012! Of course, the owner Dale and a few of his friends will be here in Japan this December too! Seeing this can and feeling its impact in person is the only way to go as the pictures don't do it justice. You have to see it!! Thank you Dale for your hospitality. See you at HCS2012!
Last Day
Wow, I slept good last night. Today I head back to Japan. Packed my bags, cleaned the car, did some cleaning and thanked everyone for helping me on my trip... I still have time. I'll take some more photographs for catalog content!
Flight leaves in 30 minutes. There's one more thing I have to do. Every time I come to the states, I make a stop next door to MOONEYES USA at Hungry Boy and have a Pastrami Sandwich!! To me, this has to be the world's most delicious Pastrami Sandwich! I waited until the very last minute but I'm happy I was able to eat one again... We Love Good Food in America!! That's my slogan. This trip was solely for articles that will be published in MOON ILLUSTRATED Magazine Vol. 9 (MIM#9) which will be release at the end of April 2012. I hope you will pick up a copy when it is released and enjoy the full featured articles. Thank you for reading my report and I hope you enjoyed my photos. Thank you very much.

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by Shige Suganuma
MOONEYES 代表 Shige Suganuma が毎週土曜に配信する MOONEYES EXPRESS
1年中世界各国を飛び回る Shige Suganuma の出来事を豊富な話題でお届け致します。

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