Sunday, June 19, 2016

Getting Home: June 18-19, Kansas City, KS to Orlando, FL (1,266 miles)

I can't believe how quickly the week went by.  As long and hot as the days were, they still passed too fast.  We planned to hit the road home early with Chattanooga, TN as our goal for the day.  The day started off with the hotel elevator being out of order, so we had to use the stairs.  Not a big deal, but not my first choice either.

We picked up Contest Winner Bruce at his hotel since his car had been loaded onto the Pilot transport truck and was on its way home.  His other option had something come up and he had the choice of riding in the back of the Acadian or Scott's Nova without A/C.  He opted for A/C.  

Our two car Power Tour caravan departed Kansas City, but was shortly joined by the rest of our Orlando group at our first gas stop.  We drove as a group for the first half of the day until we decided to hit lunch. 

Crossing the Mighty Mississippi

Tara, Bruce, my parents and I wanted a respite from driving and the rest of the group was anxious to keep moving and decided for a quick lunch.  For us, Tara found an amazing bakery and restaurant in Marion, Illinois called Honeybakers.  It was in a dying strip mall next to a place that sold janitorial equipment and flags.  Go figure.

Regardless of location, the food was simple, but amazing.  The sandwiches were served on their fresh baked bread and Bruce's BLT had at least 2 inches of bacon stacked on it.  The real kicker was dessert.  The hostess explained that they are known for their Saturday Cinnamon rolls and usually are sold out by the time we had arrived.  Fortunately for us, that was not the case today.  The thing was nearly as big as my head.  It was far and away the best cinnamon roll I have ever eaten.  We also got an apple dumpling that was nearly as good.  Somehow, Tara had never had an apple dumpling before and she became very territorial over this one. We'll be stopping there again on the way back out Kansas City for next year's Power Tour.
Best ever!!!
The afternoon passed smoothly and we were making decent time. Just as the drive began to really feel tedious, we hit the mountains of Tennessee.  There's nothing like driving up and down sweeping mountain highways to wake you up.  Plus, the oppressive heat was a thing of the past.  In fact, the rest of our drive home was in cooler weather. 

Tennessee mountain lake

We finally checked into our hotel in Chattanooga, or so we thought.  When Tara and I got to our room and opened the door, we scared the heck out of the family that was already staying in that room.  It turns out that their room had a problem and they were relocated, but the front desk did not note it in the computer.  I felt badly for the girl at the front desk because the other people were not understanding of her mistake.   We threw the bags down and went to grab a bite to eat.  We noticed three other Corvettes (all of them Z06s) with Texas plates in the parking lot and none of them had Power Tour decals.  They had decided to escape the heat and were driving the Blue Ridge Parkway for the week. 
The one on the left was seriously modified and sounded evil

Dinner was quick and light as none of us were super hungry after our lunch and dessert earlier that day.  We had a table outside on the patio and it was nice to enjoy a cool breeze for once. 

On Sunday morning, we woke up bright and early and hit the road. 

Another Corvette made the drive interesting.

We cruised through Atlanta and thought we would be clear of Georgia traffic.  I guess that was optimistic.  We got caught in a 3 mile traffic jam outside Tifton. Once through it, we stopped at the Smokin' Pig in Valdosta for barbecue. 

From there, it was smooth sailing home.  We got to town around 5:00.  My parents loaded up their car and left for their additional 2 and a half hour drive home and Tara left to take Bruce and the Acadian home.  I did a speed wash of the Corvette to get the bugs off and then put it away for the night.

In total, over 10 days, we drove more than 3,500 miles and passed through 12 states (some twice).  It was a great trip.  We saw old friends and made some new ones.  We can't wait for next year.  Rumor has it, we are heading north and east from Kansas City.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Day 7: June 17, Wichita, KS to Kansas City, KS (224.8 miles)

We knew today was going to be a hot and long day because the Long Hauler ceremony was at the end of the day instead of tomorrow morning.  So, we planned to sleep in a little.  Unfortunately, the A/C cooling tower on our side of the hotel died overnight and it was nearly 80 degrees in our hotel room by 6:00 am.  We had breakfast and left around 8:00.  The rest of our Florida crew left a bit later.

The route was another good one.  At the beginning, it was like the road was reserved for the Power Tour.  There were no other cars on it for miles. 

We wended our way along the road until we hit Power Tour induced traffic in two small towns.  These were pretty awful because it was triple digit heat.  The first one, was partially due to a long freight train that had the road blocked.  However, the major cause was a burnout box some locals created after a curve in the road that caused a huge bottleneck.  They had a hose and wet down the road.  Each car that was able, would pull up, stop, load up the motor and do a smoky burnout.  Then the next car would wait for the smoke to clear and do the same thing.  With hundreds of cars, that 10-20 seconds creates a massive traffic blockage. Many cars were pulling off the side of the road overheated. 

The second traffic jam was on the way to a stop sign.  Tara thought she found a short cut down a farm road and to another road that paralleled the one we were on.  We, my parents, Scott in the Challenger and Jacob all turned down what ended up being a dirt road.  At first, we thought it might be worth it if we got through the traffic.  Then the dirt gave way to tractor rutted gulleys.  Finally when we got the parallel road, I was never so happy to see gravel in my life.  Eventually, our shortcut took us back to the Route where we ended up 1 car in front of the car we were originally behind.  Except, we had to wait for the Corvette and the other two cars.  We ended up 25 cars further back and with extremely dirty cars.

Scott is from Kansas and is a big Mopar guy.  We passed a '71 Hemi 'Cuda and a 70 Superbird on a hill watching the Tour roll by.  Scott knew them.
Kansans love their Mopars

He told us about his buddy, Jerry, who has a great collection of Mopars and lives 6 blocks off of today's Route, so Scott arranged for Jerry to show us his cars.  When I saw the giant gold Pentastar on his garage, I knew I was in for a show.  He had an impressive collection, including a 1967 Hemi GTX, a 1968 Hemi Charger (his brother's), a Hemi Superbird (originally a 440 car), and a beautiful blue 1970 Charger R/T.  Plus the building was full of Mopar Memorabillia.

Scott knows people (Jerry's Place)

1967 Hemi GTX
Love the hood ornament

1967 440 GTX

Hemi Superbird!!

1968 Hemi Charger

After drooling over the cars, we had to grab Kansas City BBQ, so, at Scott's recommendation and with him in the lead, we went to Joe's Kansas City.  It was excellent. 
Scott knows food, too.

We next went to a car wash to remove any traces of Tara's shortcut and the bugs we hit along the way.  We hit one massive bug dead center of the windshield.  I also somehow missed a cardinal that veered into my path by a feather (that would have really been messy).

The venue was at the Kansas Speedway and we arrived around 4:00.  Our luck held up and we found another spot right up front near a shade tree.  We were close enough to hear Clarence and the folks on stage.  Tara sat and watched the cars roll in as Jacob and I went and clocked in and got our final magnets and shirts. My parents decided to hit the hotel first and then come to the venue closer to the Long Haul awards. 

You may need to zoom in to see the cars, but it was the only perspective to try and show the magnitude of the Tour.  This is only about 1/2 of the showfield.  It is endless. 

It wouldn't be Power Tour without Hollywood Howard.

Even replica Auburns are breathtaking

While we were watching the cars, the folks in an Edsel wagon a few cars down left their tent unsecured and a strong gust of wind blew it up and onto two Camaros.  I've never seen Tara run so fast.  She caught the tent before it blew into the second row of cars.  We folded the tent and I left notes for the Camaro guys (I originally thought it was their tent since it was orange and so were the Camaros).   They got back to the cars and saw the notes and exchanged information with the Edsel.

Even though the Long Hauler awards were supposed to run from 6:30-8:00, they started giving out the certificates and signs a little before 6.  We got our final swag and decided to watch the cars leave because the breeze was pretty good and it was not as bad as it had been at the last few venues (as long as we stayed under our shade.  

Once we left the venue, we had another BBQ dinner at Famous Dave's across from our hotel.  There were people in our parking lot enjoying the last night of the Tour which was reasonably cool.  Some folks from Illinois did a burnout in their stock 1970 Monte Carlo.  Since the weather was finally good, Tara and I went for a drive to look at cars at other hotels, but got distracted by a frozen custard shop.  We decided to pick up some custardy goodness and head back to our hotel.

Reminds me of the Play Doh extruder I had as a kid.

We were hanging out in the parking lot talking with Jim we had met in Crown Point a few years ago (he had a nice black Nova with an LT1).  This year he rode with a friend who had a rat rod truck with a Chevrolet LS motor built to look like an old Ford motor.  While we were outside, the heat and beer got to two guys who nearly came to blows over open exhaust cutouts.  We all thought the exhaust sounded pretty badass, but after he went upstairs, another guy took exception and told the guy's daughter to tell her dad to "shut the fucking cutouts."  Her father came back downstairs pissed that someone cussed at his daughter.  They got really hot and no one seemed to want to do anything, so I stepped in and managed to talk them both down.  It was a near thing, but it would have been bad if I hadn't stepped in.  Later, both guys came up and thanked me for getting in the middle.

Tomorrow we begin the long trek back home. I'll do my final blog post about the, hopefully uneventful return trip either Sunday or Monday.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Day 6: June 16-Oklahoma City, OK to Wichita, KS (176.8 miles)

Somehow, despite the sweltering heat of yesterday, this morning was beautiful and fairly cool.  We also finally had a nice route.  Our group added two people from Texas, Ted and Lori (Silver late model GTO with some performance upgrades), who were staying at our hotel.  We meandered along Oklahoma's country roads, some of which were lined with trees and snaked along a river.  It was good for the guys who had never been on the Tour to experience a good route.   It even took us through Orlando, Oklahoma.
All this way and we end up in Orlando.

The town of Blackwell, OK went all out.  The fire department was giving out cookies and waters and many people were sitting along the street watching and waving as the cars rolled down the main street.  We had lunch at "Bob's Grill" in town. The cook was an old woman and to get to the bathroom, you followed a yellow line painted on the floor through the kitchen.   It was still breakfast, so we scarfed down some good eggs and hash browns.  Tara had a sour cream raisin pie, which at first sounds disgusting, but it was phenomenal.  It tasted like a spice cake with a custardy consistency.  We talked to the owner who was not Bob.  Apparently, Bob is 102 yrs old and the new owner bought the place from him. 
Blackwell was almost like time travel with their old buildings and our old cars
1963 Split Window at the lunch stop.

By the end of lunch, the heat was already oppressive.  On the way out of town, we had to take a slight detour because a battery truck/trailer wrecked and spilled batteries and acid all over the road.  The police closed the road.  I can't imagine thousands of show cars driving down an acid covered road.
Hardly a replacement for a Trans Am, but Tour On!!!

we picked up the route a few miles down and kept on cruising. Hot Rod offered two alternative routes for the last bit of today's run.  Half our group elected one way which included mostly toll road highway and the other half (led by Tara and I) kept to the country roads. 

Our venue was the Kansas Pavilions, it's kind of an auditorium with huge parking lot.  It was mostly asphalt parking, but we still managed to find a great spot in grass with a shade tree and a little pond behind us.  It was at least 15 degrees cooler in the shade.  Too bad, I had to walk a pretty good distance in the sun and heat to get clocked in, pick up today's shirt and magnet.  I didn't take many pictures today, it was just too hot.  We spent the better part of the afternoon sitting in the shade talking cars.  One guy started asking Tara about the Acadian and then asked if she had been on TV. It turns out, he had seen the "100 Years of Chevrolet" documentary and recognized Tara from it.  Pretty impressive since that was from 2011. 
Beautiful '59 Impala

Chopped Ranchero

By 4:00, I had all the heat I could take and we went to our hotel aptly named: "Hotel at Old Town."  It's in a historic downtown part of Wichita.  The hotel is an old "Keen Kutter" tool warehouse and is beautiful.  It's walking distance to many gastropubs and great restaurants.  They also were having a Hot Rod Power Tour street party with the cars and we got a great spot in the thick of it all.
Every floor of the hotel has a museum case of antique tools or
other Wichita antiquities.

We had dinner at Public at the Brickyard and it was pretty cool.  It was in a basement and had a little speakeasy feel to it.  The service took a while, but there were 12 of us at the table. 

Buffalo Cauliflower

We had hoped that the weather would cool off enough to be bearable for the street party.  It didn't really.  Nevertheless, the street party was pretty packed with spectators and cars.  I couldn't help but laugh that we were hundreds of miles from home and at a car show on the brick streets of Old Town. There was an awesome Viper ACR, a black Ford GT, several 1969 Camaros (including a pea green on pea green 1969 RS that Tara loved).  The weather cooled off some, but it was still hot.

We met a couple who asked about the Acadian and were Mopar people, even though they were driving a 1965 Chevelle on the Tour. They showed us a picture of their 1970 340  'Cuda, so I showed them pictures of our 'Cudas.  They then tried to top that by showing a picture of their 1970 Roadrunner and  I matched it by showing them my 1969 GTX.  They out-Mopared us with a 1969 Satellite Convertible.  They also had a Rambler convertible, whatever the larger one of those is. After a few hours at the street party, we called it a night.

I can't believe that tomorrow is our last day of Power Tour.  The week blew by.  We head from Wichita to Kansas City, Missouri. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Day 5: June 15, Grand Prairie, TX to Oklahoma City, OK (242.1 miles)

Our group of 9 cars left the hotel at 7:00 this morning since the route was one of the longer ones this Tour.  We hit a little Dallas traffic on our way out of town, but once we left the city, it was smooth sailing.  The route itself, was fairly mundane.  It was mainly a straight shot on 4 lane "rural roads" with 75 mph speed limits.  You gotta love Texas!! However, when we got to a school zone, the speed did slow to a more moderate 55 mph.  The road we were on was certainly one of the less traveled ones.  Except for the occasional tractor trailer, virtually all of the cars were Power Tour cars. 

We stopped for lunch at Mama Carol's restaurant in Chikasha (pronounced Chick-a-shay), Oklahoma.  Lori called ahead and they set up tables for the 14 of us.  The place was empty when we got there, but within minutes was packed full of locals.  You know it's a good place when the cops eat there.  I had the best chicken fried steak, I have ever eaten.  They even subbed in brown gravy for me.  

Scott's daughter Cody took some video of the Acadian

After lunch we gassed up and headed to the venue, Remington Park (a horse track and casino-not a real one though, only slots).  It was brutally hot again.  WeatherBug showed 95 degrees, but "feels like 110."  There was a strong wind, but it was more like a hair dryer than anything refreshing.  Tara spotted a lone shade tree and we parked on the curb in front of it.  The downside was that it was a long walk to the stage and sponsor's midway to get clocked in and pick up my magnets and T-shirt.  My parents headed for the hotel and Jacob and I went to clock everyone in.  No reason we all need to suffer. 
Feels like 110

Parking lot Panorama

It's only 95 in the shade.

While I was at the sponsor's midway, I spoke with the guys from Edelbrock and got the part number for their Stage 2 supercharger kit for the Corvette.  They also gave me a certificate for a jacket if I buy the kit.  I went ahead and ordered it from Summit Racing while I was sitting back at the car.  Z06 power, here we come!

We stayed at the venue for as long as we could stand the heat.  I made some quick trips to look at a 440 6-pack 1970 'Cuda and a few other cars.   A gorgeous 1963 Split Window Corvette drove by us.
Numbers Matching

I think I'm in love.

The headers make the engine look like as spider

Vanity plates aplenty on the Tour

The Viper's plate was "TRAK IT"

This thing's plate said "ITSADIO" which helps answer everyone's question

 In the "just because you can, doesn't mean you should" category, there was a Thunderbird convertible that someone cobbled into a "Batmobile" and a 1970 Roadrunner convertible that was transformed into a Superbird. 


It actually looks better in the picture than real life.

We met our friends Rick and Lisa (Dart Sport) at Pop's on Route 66 in Arcadia for dinner.  It was one of the roadside landmarks and had a giant soda bottle sculpture in front.  We weren't expecting it to be a gas station.  To our surprise, they had a diner section with pretty good food.  The big deal was that they had a soda cooler with 500+ flavors of soda.  Each section was organized by flavor and you could mix and match a 6 pack.  We bought butterscotch cream soda, peach cider, mango, raspberry, lemon, and some kind of berry flavored soda named for a hot rod shop in Torrance, CA (I bought that one solely on the label).  So much for cutting back on soda, but we're on vacation.

Attention grabber

They have pop and soda here.
Hot Rod soda.

We passed the Hot Rod Power Tour bus on the way home from dinner

Henry J Hot Rod

After dinner, we all met back up at the hotel.  I took Bryson for a spin in the Corvette.  I did a couple rolling accelerations up to 70 mph before I was finally first at a traffic light.  The light went green and I punched it.  The tires spun a little and once I hit 55 mph, a black Crown Victoria with "police hubcaps" turned left a few hundred feet in front of me.  I let off the accelerator and held my breath.  I've watched enough Street Outlaws to know that the OKC Police don't take kindly to racing and I'm sure they definitely don't want any out of town yahoos without a film crew and national TV show accelerating all around town.  He kept on driving and we were in the clear.

I got back to the hotel and Lori had the porta-bar out and was mixing drinks.  Finally, around 9:00 the weather finally felt cool.   We walked the parking lot which was packed full of show cars.  For the first time, people were out socializing.  Several people stopped Tara to ask her what an Acadian was.  We also met a couple from Texas in a modern GTO.  Turns out, they collect vintage tractors and so does Jake.  They spent quite some time talking tractors. 

Perhaps it was the bourbon, but I realized my shorts camouflage into the hotel floor.

Tomorrow we head to Wichita and it's supposed to be 110 degrees and not a drop of shade at the venue.