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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Destination: Route 66 in our '67 - the adventure begins

Starting time: 11:47 AM, EST, Southampton.
Starting mileage: 56640. 

I love road trips.

Packed and ready to go!
This dates to my childhood when our family vacations were always treks from our Southern California home back to the Midwest to visit our relatives. My mother and father, who had relocated to Southern California from Illinois and Kansas respectively, were the Western outposts of family that rarely traveled more than a few hundred miles. So every couple of years, we loaded up Dad's GMC truck with the jerry-rigged heating system into the camper shell, packed up the sleeping bags (for warmth) and munchies and prepared to set out. We always left at o'dark thirty in order to get over the Cajon Pass and through the high desert and Las Vegas before temperatures got too warm. None of us except Dad were morning people, but armed with a thermos of coffee for my parents and a box of warm freshly-made doughnuts as incentive for the rest of us, we pulled out of the driveway at about four AM and headed towards the rising sun.

Today, Chris and I left shortly after our full house of guests checked out at the far more civilized hour of noon, hoping to beat the traffic heading home fromThanksgiving weekend at Grandma's house. The Duchess has been packed since yesterday.We've been tracking ten-day weather forecasts overlaid on interstate highway maps (I love the Internet!) for days now. We're definitely heading more south than we've traveled in previous years.

The weather was a glorious 50 degrees as we cruised Sunrise Highway, then Southern State Parkway towards Manhattan. A contingent five hundred Harleys (a Rolling Thunder excursion?) complete with police escort passed us in Sayville, heading east. I tried to look it up on the iPad; no luck.

The leaping cat leads us westward!
Our goal today was Baltimore, and theoretically it would be a journey of about five hours. Uh-huh. Note to self: don't travel on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. And especially don't travel south on I-95. What was I thinking?! We didn't pass the New Jersey state line until well after four PM. All those Thanksgiving travelers were headed home after the holidays, and we were stuck in the crush with them.

The Duchess performed brilliantly in her first full day of touring, purring along at 70 MPH in the slow lane without the slightest rise in oil pressure or temperature as impatient drivers swerved aound us. We plugged old music mix tapes into the cassette deck and sang along with Heart and Prince and Pink Floyd and Juice Newton. We checked the traffic situation on the map function of the iPad, plugged in through a cigarette-lighter gadget bought at Radio Shack that allows two USBs to charge while driving. The contrast between modern and late 1960s design and technology is extensive and amusing. I love the wind wings windows but wonder at the design flaw that places their handles right where you need to see past them to the wing mirrors. Huh?

So...a long day, not too long a distance. So glad to reach our friend Andrew's house and enjoy catching up over a great meal at City Cafe. And now to bed.

Arrival: 7:41 PM, Baltimore

Friday, November 21, 2014

Will we get kicked on Route 66 in our '67? -- the backstory

Our original Duchess, East Hampton, circa 1995
A little background: In California shortly after we were married, we needed a second car. Almost as a lark, we called on a Pennysaver ad for a 1967 Jaguar 420 sedan.

Jaguar built the 420 model for only two years -- 1967 and 1968 -- and of that run, only a very small percentage were built for the American (e.g., left hand drive) market. The owner had backed the car into the garage so that the first thing we saw as the garage door rolled open was the car's Rolls Royce-like grille. One look, and we were hooked. We bought the car, named her the Duchess and three years later when we relocated to the end of Long Island, we shipped her out to join us.

For the first four years, we drove the Duchess during the temperate months and garaged her all winter with Chris's employers. Then Chris switched jobs and we lost the winter storage facility. Build a garage at our East Hampton house, or sell the car? Chris's vote, of course, was to build a garage, but neither that nor paying for storage was in the budget. So with great reluctance, we sold the car, assuring each other than someday we'd be in a position to own another classic Jag. (Like when we had a garage.)

Chris has mourned the loss of that car for almost twenty years. And for at least fifteen of them, he's been plugged into search engines, watching to see when other Jag 420s came on the market and tracking sales. Twice, he's been excited enough about a listing to visit a car in person, but found they needed too much work or were mechanically unsound.

And then, in September, he found it...and I knew I would lose any argument against purchasing the car. Because while we still don't have a garage, we do have a winter retreat. And we need a car while there.
Our "new" Dutchess, before her new vanity plates

Enter the Duchess, redux.

She's painted a curious color called Alpine Green (I call it Lederhosen), her cream interior is original and in excellent shape. As is the rest of her. She has only 56,000 original miles on her.

She's about to get 3,000 miles more, because we are driving her cross country to California, where she'll never suffer road salt damage and where we have family who have garages where we can store her when we're not around.

To say Chris is nervous as a cat about driving his baby across the country would understate it.

But I think it will be an adventure, one I plan to blog about as we make our weeklong journey from East Coast to West Coast, watching the weather closely and planning our route accordingly. (This, alas, will NOT be the year we stop for Starbucks in Vail.)

Will we make it intact, without calling AAA or, worse, having to rent a UHaul and tow a flagging Duchess behind?

Watch this space for news....