Monday, June 13, 2016

Day 3: June 13- Baytown, TX to Austin, TX (175.8 miles)

Today's route was a short one, and mostly highway. We left the hotel at 6:30 to beat the Houston traffic.  Our group managed to unintentionally run at least one toll.   The signage for the Texas toll roads is terrible and for parts of the road, they don't take cash. you have to be enrolled in "Pay by Plate."  Hopefully, we just get a bill for the toll and a small processing fee and not some stupid fine.  Towards the end of the first highway stretch, our group got divided when some of us managed to make it to the cash toll lane and the others ran yet another toll.  Even though we were hung up for 5 minutes in the cash lane, we were able to regroup at a gas station a few miles down the way. 

The highlight of today's drive was the town of Round Top- population: 90.  It was a tiny town that restored all of its old buildings and relocated them along the main road through town.  It was like going back in time.  Many of the buildings dated back to the 1800's. While most our group kept on the Route, we and my parents drove through town and took in the scenery and made a few photo ops.

 There was one place called "Gasoline Hill" owned by a man who collected and sold vintage gas signs and other fuel related antiquities, plus vintage metal lunch boxes.  He told us "Everything's for sale, except my wife and daughter, even the property."

After Round Top, we stopped for lunch in LaGrange at the Riverside Café.  It was a very homey restaurant and we were still in time for breakfast.  The service was a bit slow, but the food was tasty.

It was then time to get the 4 days of rain and dirt off of the Corvette at a car wash down the road and not too far from our final destination. 

Back on the road, we caught up with a line of Power Tour cars and ran with them for a while.  We all got caught in traffic caused by a single traffic light where they were repaving a highway bridge.  It's what I call "Power Tour Induced Traffic."  On any normal day, the light would be no big deal.  Today, it took 15 minutes to get through it. 

We got to the destination: Circuit of the Americas at about 1:30.  It was HOT!!!!! We first parked where they told us, while Tara scouted out a better option closer to the activity.  She found an end spot with a "shade tree" (in reality a 3 foot tall sapling) right up front.  Orlando car photographer Chet found us and took a great shot of the Acadian.  THANKS CHET!

Thanks Chet!

From a logistical standpoint as a Power Tour venue, the Circuit of the Americas was probably the worst we have had in 5 and a half years of Long Hauling.  To get to the sponsor midway and time clocks to punch in, we had to walk through the grandstands, and across the main straightaway through a single narrow gate at each side.  The gate was barely wide enough for one person, let alone people trying to go each way.  To further compound the mess, they closed the gate to allow the cars who paid $50 for a "parade lap" to go by.  This created one hell of a traffic jam when they reopened it.  One guy even started yelling at the track employee manning the gate because they wouldn't stop the cars and let HIM across.  Even though it sucked as a venue, the Circuit is a seriously cool race track.  Tara rode in the G8 with Jacob on his "parade lap."

When she got back to the car, it was too hot to walk around and take pictures of the showfield.  Instead, we drove up and down the rows of show cars with the windows up and the A/C blasting.  We managed to find one of the rarest cars on the Tour, a Australian Ford Falcon (kind of like a Torino, but not).  Not only was it rare, it had a blower.  My favorite car of the day, was a 1959 Cadillac El Dorado with a CTS-V supercharged motor.  It had a "for sale" sign, but there was no price and no area code for the phone number.  That was probably a good thing because, in my delirium from the heat, I would have tried to buy it.

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oy, Oy, Oy.

Monster Fins

Monster Motor

Other than driving and looking at cars, the main thing we do on the Power Tour is eat.  Tonight's dinner spot has been on my dad's radar ever since he saw a show about it on the Food Network 7 years ago.  We drove to the Salt Lick BBQ restaurant in Driftwood. The road to get there was a great driving road.  It was hilly and full of curves.  Too bad it wasn't part of the Route for everyone else to experience.

The Salt Lick is an amazing place.  First, it's huge.  They have a garden area, a vineyard, a "kid's area" and a massive bbq pit.  We stuffed our faces with the best BBQ I have had in Texas, then strolled through the garden to walk off the food coma.

My friend Steve, an Austin local, navigated us back to the Hampton Inn.  We laughed at him pretty hard when it was the wrong one.  That one's parking lot was also packed full of show cars.  We took a lap around the parking lot and then drove to the right Hampton Inn.  Disappointingly, even though the night was much cooler than this afternoon, no one was out in the parking lot, so we called it a night.

Tomorrow we leave for Grand Prairie, TX, basically Dallas.  It's going to be a jammed day as we are going to try and hit Gas Monkey Garage along the way to the venue.

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