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Saturday, December 6, 2014

Route 66 in our '67 -- End of the Line!

Starting time: 7:15 AM MST, Flagstaff, AZ
Starting mileage: 59382
Yesterday's mileage: 617

Whether due to the change in time, an unusual amount of traffic noise, or just anticipation, we were up and out early this morning for our last leg of the seven-day trip.

Some more history: Chris bought the Duchess sight unseen, off eBay, where it was listed through a dealer on behalf of a client. The gentleman had owned the car for 25 years. About 14 years ago, he had shipped her from his home in Northern California to his summer home in Nova Scotia, where she became the "summer driver," until the gentleman grew too old to drive and reluctantly decided to sell her.

No garage, so the Duchess gets a blankie for the night
Chris and he spoke for hours over the phone prior to the conclusion of the sale, and one of the funniest moments was when, at Chris's instruction, the old gentleman and his daughter, armed with an iPhone with Facetime, gave Chris a virtual test drive. ("Okay, now start the car. Zoom in to the oil gauge. I make that about 42, is that right?...Okay, now give her some gas...")

The mountains towering over Flagstaff, first thing in the morning
The Jaguar was shipped from Nova Scotia to Boston, where the dealer was located, and Chris traveled there to bring her home to Southampton. She had about 55,000 original niles on the odometer at the time and came with a suitcase full of pedigree, including original bill of sale and all mechanical records, the original toolkit including a quaint grease gun, and a box the size of an undercounter refrigerator full of spare parts. Chris pored through all the records like an archaeologist, using them to compile his own list of questions for our mechanic in Southampton prior to our journey.

One of the things he found was that when she was made, she was shipped directly to a luxury car dealership in Beverly Hills. The keys were attached to the original leather keyfob with their logo on it, and that dealership is named on the license plate surrounds still on the car.

So, like me, the Duchess is going home. And I swear she knows it. Each day it seems she purrs a little more contentedly, and her ride becomes that much smoother. She is heading back to the sun and warmth where she "grew up" to become our winter driver. I swear her performance increased 1.5 MPG once we hit the state line.

I am a California native and very proud of it, but I have to say, of the entire journey coast to coast, the final approach through the Mojave Desert is the ugliest of all. Okay, you either love the desert or you don't, and I don't; even banked by majestic foothills and mountains, the floor of the desert is flat and featureless, with sand and rocks and scrub and Russian Thistle (tumbleweeds to you). We laughed because when we encountered the California Welcome Center, it was 150 miles from the state line, not the two to five miles that was customary in every other state we'd passed through. I figure that's because until you get to Barstow, CA (and, in my not so humble opinion, not even there), there is certainly nothing welcoming about the landscape.

Except that you can open the wind wings and enjoy the breeze, even in December.

Cresting the long grade of the Cajon Pass on the west side of Victorville, heading into San Bernadino the Duchess took in stride, despite the rotten roadway (Caltrans had apparently added another lane to the existing road while imperfectly scrubbing out the previous lanes). Nine months of the year, I drive in the tiny Hamptons, so my first few days (weeks?) of California driving are an exercise in recovering my nerve, and going over the pass was a bit of a white knuckler. Cars and trucks sped by us on both sides on the 6% downgrade even with the choppy, weather-beaten roadway.
I don't want to live on this street either.

Some observations en route:

-- Descending from the mountains in Flagstaff, we encountered the first instance of skunk as roadkill. This is common out west, but I have never seen or smelled a skunk out east. Maybe they don't grow there?

--Similarly, until we hit the Arizona state line we had not had even a single bug killed on the windscreen. Maybe bugs hibernate in cold climates.


--Sign advertising what food was available off the next exit: "Roadkill 66 Cafe." (Really!!!)

--The smell of eucalyptus as we approached Laguna Canyon!!

And we made it!!!
Safe and sound. Unpacking at our winter home!
Arrival time: 2:35 PM PST (3:35 MST), Laguna Beach, CA
Ending mileage: 59844
Today's mileage: 482

Thanks for coming along for the ride!

1 comment:

  1. YEAH! Now don't you think your Jag deserves a name???
    The amaryllis is blooming..gorgeous!