Sunday, June 16, 2019

HRPT 2019- Gettin' Home: June 14-16-Norwalk, OH to Orlando, FL (1,051 miles)

Regardless of how near or how far the endpoint is, it's always hard to leave the last Power Tour venue and begin the trek home.  After over a thousand miles of driving surrounded by hot rods, muscle cars, performance cars of all makes and models, it's strange to be on the highway alone surrounded by the mundanity of normal highway traffic.  To be fair, I wasn't completely alone, we were a group of 3 cars.  Occasionally, we'd pick up a Power Tour departee for a small stretch, but otherwise, it was a vast wasteland of SUVs, crossovers and meh cars.
Not a Power Tour car, but it helped break up the monotony
Actually, the trip home out of Ohio and down the West Virginia Turnpike and through North Carolina was a nice drive.  The roads still had plenty of curves and bends.  On Friday, we got a few hours of the return drive out of the way.  We took backroads from Norwalk down to Lancaster Ohio and it was like our own private Power Tour route.

The next morning, we headed out for our next waypoint, Columbia South Carolina.  We went down some more backroads until we picked up I-77 which includes the West Virginia Turnpike.  We found out it took 54 years and cost $1.5 million dollars PER MILE to build the 88 mile stretch that is the West Virginia Turnpike.  Based on the tolls they charged, they're trying to get it all back in a hurry.

Tara continued her streak finding interesting lunch stops and found the Log House in Blytheville, VA.  The restaurant was in a log house that was begun in 1776 and the last addition was made in 1898.  It was an eclectic place and the food was really good.  Tara enjoyed a brief stroll through their garden before we got back in the cars and resumed the drive south.

The Log House in Blytheville, VA

I probably could have left Tara here and she'd be perfectly happy
We made decent time and got to Columbia, South Carolina a little before 6 pm.  After checking into the hotel, we all decided we were done driving for the day and took an Uber to Midwood Barbecue restaurant for dinner.  It was some of the best barbecue I've had.  The best part was one of the specials was "Massive Beef Rib."  I had to order it and, sure enough, it looked like a brontosaurus rib Fred Flintstone would get.  The meat was tender and had a great bark on it.  Everyone else ordered something different and no one was disappointed.

This morning, we left bright and early for the final stretch home to Orlando.  We had breakfast in Georgia and then it was back in the cars and onward.  We hit some fairly heavy rain around Jacksonville, but the drive home was, for the most part, uneventful.  We made it home around 3:30 this afternoon.  All told, it was another great Power Tour and we can't wait for next year.

Finally, to the woman in the white Lexus on I-4 near Deltona, I have to say: "Thank you for hearing my horn, stopping your ill-advised lane change, and getting back into your lane before running me completely off the road.  You paid for the mirrors on your car, please use them."

Saturday, June 15, 2019

HRPT 2019- Day 7: June 14- Fort Wayne, IN to Norwalk, OH (165.2 miles)

The torrential rain cleared out late yesterday and left us with beautiful blue skies and cool, crisp temperatures.  The weather app said it was 52 out, but it felt warmer in the sun.  Today was the shortest route and we left at 7:30 with the plan to get to the venue by early afternoon.  After all, it's only about three and a half hours driving time.
Great morning for a drive
But, you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice.  18 miles into the route, we arrived at the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum.  Tara called yesterday and asked if they were opening early for the Power Tour.  She was told they were not and would open at 9 am as usual.  We arrived a little before 8 and figured we'd just opt for a picture in front of the museum before continuing on.  
Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum

It was a good thing we stopped, the person Tara talked to was flat wrong.  The museum decided to open at 8 am (how convenient).  We parked the cars and the lot was already starting to look like a car show in its own right.  
Bringing cars to a car museum is kind of like bringing sand to the beach, but way better

My mom is a big fan of this era of car, and Duesenbergs in particular, so this stop was one of the highlights of her trip.   We spent about an hour checking out the amazing cars and history of the museum.  My  It's in the original headquarters for the ACD company and it was restored to original condition.  They even have several offices of the various executives.  It's a little like stepping back in time.
Welcome to the 1930's

Our next long haul vehicle

Finally, we got back in the cars and headed on.  We took an hour and a half to go 18 miles, but we were on the way now.  We were cruising through the route with people still along the way waving as the Power Tour rolled through small towns.  As we came around a curve, there was "Ken's Car Wash."  Since we were driving with Ken, who wanted to wash his car, we took that as an omen and made another quick stop to clean the road grime and dirt off the cars.  The Corvette really needed it.  It was a pretty uniform shade of gray.  While we were cleaning the cars, Russ got a good opportunity to take pictures from the roadside.

With the cars now clean and gleaming in the sun, we got back on the route.  We hit some traffic caused by road work in the middle of nowhere and, using a farmer's circular driveway to turn around, Tara found a detour that got us by it.  

Good thing we washed the car.  Maybe we'll be in the Magazine

Just about every gas station is full of show cars

We followed Highway 6 around Bowling Green and into Freemont, Ohio where we planned to stop for lunch.  There was another big traffic snarl for an accident and Tara worked another farm road detour and we skirted it without much delay.
Along the Route

We met the Texans (Ted, Lori, Kyle and Bob) for lunch at the Tackle Box 2 on the river in Freemont.  It was an unusual place.  Every inch of the place was filled with weird advertising, signs, lights or other oddities.  They had a "service dog" that I think may have been the manager.  He followed the various wait staff around and would walk out onto the patio to make sure everything was ok.  The food was simple, but great.  We had fried walleye sandwiches.  I got a side of Tater Kegs, which I had thought was just a name for tater tots.  It's not.  The ones I got were the "spicy" flavor.  They were about 3 times the size and were filled with buffalo chicken, sauce and cheese.  Ted got lobster ones which he said were really good too.
Riverfront parking

Inside the Tackle Box 2

Tater Kegs

We finally arrived at the Summit Motorsports Park dragstrip at about 3:30.  We heard they were giving out the Long Hauler signs early this year and were afraid no one would still be at the venue when we arrived.  We couldn't have been more wrong.  This was the busiest and most full of any venue we've seen on this trip.  Maybe it was the rainout from yesterday, maybe people were enjoying the weather, or maybe they just didn't want the Power Tour to be over.
It started to thin when I took this picture, but every spot was full and this was less than a quarter of the parking lot

The Motor Medics- these guys fixed 175 cars on Tour this year

We went to get clocked in and get our Long Hauler signs and pick up our magnets for today and yesterday.  To our disappointment, Holley had given away all of yesterday's magnets.  They used to stamp or mark each credential and give one magnet per credential, but midway through this Tour, they ran out of ink and just started handing them out.  As a result, people took more than one or non-Long Haulers took some.  It wouldn't be a huge deal except that the magnets all come together to make a single image.   They are going to post the artwork for the magnet online so we can print our own. It's not exactly the same, but I'll make it work.

After punching in and getting our signs, we walked the vendor midway one last time, strolled through the hundreds of cars between the midway and our parking spots. There was a pretty good traffic jam of cars leaving the venue and we were in prime position to watch them slowly roll by.
We made it, again.

Once traffic had thinned out, Tara and I, my parents and Russ hit the road and started the drive home.  We decided to put a few hours under our belts today and stopped south of Columbus, Ohio.  We had dinner with Tara's mom's friends Becky and Jerry who live in the area and then headed to the hotel for the night.  By that point, I was done and decided this blog post could wait until this morning.

Here are some more pictures from our last day:

Thursday, June 13, 2019

HRPT 2019- Day 6: June 13- Indianapolis, IN to Ft. Wayne, IN (204 miles)

We woke up this morning to 50 degree temperatures, heavy clouds and strong winds.  It's hard to believe it's the middle of June when we are experiencing what is clearly Florida winter.  Regardless of the weather, as Robert Frost so eloquently put it: we've got miles to go and promises to keep.  

Fort Rain, Indiana
Given the grim forecast, which was absolutely dead on point, Tara and I, my parents and Ken and Kathy decided to leave a bit later than the rest of our group.  Traffic was heavy on the Interstate, so Tara found a back route that kept us moving, except for when a flock of geese decided to jaywalk single file across the street.


Once on the highway, a 1960s Thunderbird had a tire come apart on him.  We saw some of the tread come away and honked at him (as if he didn't realize something happened).  We held back so he could change lanes in front of us and get onto the shoulder.  We started to pull over to help, when 2 other cars he was traveling with stopped.

It was a rough morning for cars.  On the way out of town, Russ called and told us he felt a vibration in the Grand Prix round 60 mph and it seemed to be getting worse.  Tara directed him to a repair shop in Pendleton, the first town we were heading through on the route.  Too bad, that shop was full and told Russ they couldn't even look at his car until Tuesday.  But, time and Power Tour wait for no man, so we found another shop: Falls River Tire and Auto in Falls River, the next town up, who bumped him to the front of the line.  We stuck around until we were certain he wouldn't be stranded.  It wasn't a waste, there was a cool 1969 Mach 1 in the shop so we gawked at it for a bit.   They diagnosed the problem as a bad U-joint as we had suspected.  With the Grand Prix being sorted out, the rest of us headed back to the route.
Car down!

Pendleton was a cool old town with lots of old houses.  A lot of today's route took us through towns like that.  It was much different than the routes of the first 5 days.  This was predominantly straight roads.  

A collector along the route

We passed a "bowstring" suspension bridge that was built in the early 1900s.  As we drove, the temperature kept dropping and the clouds became more ominous.  The rain held off for the first few hours. 
Photobombing a bridge

Our lunch stop was a place called Trusty Woods in Fort Recovery, Ohio.  It was one of the best lunches of the trip.  We got a laugh when the waiter told us that they didn't have any chicken because the delivery truck was delayed by "some car thing going on."   
We weren't the only ones to stop in Fort Recovery
After lunch, we got back on the road and the rain really hit.  To add to the weather, there was road construction which required an extra 20 minute detour.  We slogged our way through the rain and, worse, the high winds that blew the cars all over the road.  But, we saw some cool towns like Celina, Ohio on the Grand Lake and St. Henry's. For memorial day (I think), St. Henry's hung banners from each light post with the name, picture and service dates for the veterans from the town. 

If you squint, the raindrops go away

Lighthouse for a lake
Great tribute to the men who fought for the country
Rolling down Main Street
After being on the road for 8 hours (including stops), and getting caught in plenty of traffic, we finally arrived at the venue, the War Memorial Coliseum.  The weather was even worse.  When we arrived, the vendor midway was virtually completely shut down and there were maybe 40 cars arriving to punch in.  No one stuck around.  The staff didn't even bother parking the cars in the designated lots.  Instead, we practically drove right up to the stage, jumped out, punched our tickets and bought the daily shirt.  To our amazement, Clarence and the other MC, Jeff, were still doing their thing on the stage.  There was one lunatic sitting in his chair with an umbrella and garbage bags looking completely miserable.  I went to say hi to Clarence and realized that the lunatic was , Harry, a friend of a friend.   He must have been determined to win some of the giveaways.  Clarence tried to convince Tara and I to play "Clarence Says" for tires, but with the weather we opted for the comfort of the hotel bar instead.

Drive thru and punch in.  You can see Harry's umbrella behind the golf cart.

View of an empty venue from the comfort of our hotel.  

For dinner, we went to Hideout125, a speakeasy themed steakhouse that claimed to have been in existence since 1933.  I was over driving for the day, so we took an Uber.  Ken and Bryson met us there.  This was definitely the best meal we've had on the whole trip. 

Ending the day on a positive note
Finally, once we had finished dinner, the sun came out (it's 9:30 and only now beginning to get dark).  Tomorrow is our shortest run and the forecast is for perfect weather.  The only cool car picture I got today was of an awesome blue hot rod in our hotel parking lot and a really bad attempt at a panoramic of a 1970 GTX next to me at the light (it was too close to take a normal picture).

Custom paint and copper fuel lines
This might have worked if I didn't have to rush the shot because the light went green.  
Instead, I present the stretch GTX limo

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

HRPT 2019-Day 5: June 12- Sparta, KY to Indianapolis, IN (213 miles)

Half our group took off extra early because the Power Tour was providing free lunch to Gold VIP members.  Tara and I, Russ, and Ken and Kathy planned to leave at 8 am and Lori from Texas met us and rode in the back of the Acadian.  A wheel bearing in their 1973 'Cuda failed 40 miles into yesterday's trip.  They took the 'Cuda to a local shop, diagnosed it and had to order a new spindle and have it overnighted.  All 4 Texans piled into the GTO and drove to Sparta to clock in.  This morning, Ted, Kyle and Bob drove back to Bristol to fix and pick up the 'Cuda, so Lori rode with us. My parents decided to sleep in and have breakfast at the casino buffet and getting a much later start.
Would the last one to leave town please turn out the lights?
Within the first 10 minutes of leaving the hotel, Ken's car died and we were on the side of the road.  Luckily, the problem was a fuse that wasn't stamped properly and didn't lock into place.  We were able to trim it and pop it back in and were back on the road in no time.  
A great start to the day
Today's weather was absolutely perfect (mostly cool with a high of 76) and the route was another great one.  We drove through the quaint town of Madison, Indiana and wound through open farm country.  It's not a Power Tour without gratuitous cornfields.  

Firehouse in Madison, IN

We thought we had traded trees and mountains for rural farmland.  But then hit The Indiana Scenic Byway (State Route 136) which was a great driving road.  It wound along some state forests, had some curves, twists and elevation changes that made it a blast to drive.  On a few of the of the more open curves, it was easy to confirm there was no oncoming traffic and clip the corners.

The sign says "fun ahead."

Along the way, we came across a church where everyone in town had parked their hot rods and encouraged people to light their tires.  I guess the sign a few days ago was right, Jesus loves burnouts.  There was more than one kind of burnout on this leg of the Tour, we also came around a corner into a thick cloud of weed smoke.  Ironically, it was just as we were passing the local jail.

In front of the Church of the Holy Burnout

We had lunch at the Hob Nob Corner Restaurant in Nashville, Indiana.  Nashville is a cute little village with lots of old buildings and shops that have been kept up and was a great stop.  I had pepper steak soup that was unbelievably good.  After lunch, Tara and Kathy grabbed some homemade ice cream from the shop next door and then it was back on the road to Indy.
Hob Nob Corner Restaurant
The new 1966 models are out in Nashville, IN
Not the Grand Ole Opry, but I guess you could still claim to have headlined in Nashville

The second leg of the route also had some good roads with twists and turns and only a handful of traffic lights and about 20 miles of interstate driving.   We got to the venue, Lucas Oil Raceway about 3:15.  Unlike yesterday, there was no traffic or problems getting into the venue and we got a space right up front near the vendors.
Premium Parking
Tara started her ritual of cleaning the car while Lori and I went to punch our credentials and pick up our magnets.  I also stopped by the stage to say hi to Clarence, one of the MCs that year in and year out entertain the crowd of long haulers that set up in front of the stage.  He suggested I come back to try my luck at "Clarence Says" later that afternoon and try and win a set of tires (see below).  On my way back to the car, I came across a familiar yellow Challenger convertible that was not supposed to be on the Power Tour.   Our really good friend Scott from Kansas with whom  we have done many long hauls, told us he was not going to be able to make the Tour this year.  Well, after reading my blog and seeing everyone's pictures, he and his daughter Cody decided to drop what they were doing and make the 700 mile drive from Kansas to Kentucky.  They caught up with and ran with Tim and Lori earlier, but it was a complete surprise to me to see them.  
Premium-er Parking
We also heard from Larry and his father who confirmed that the G8 was "fixed" and they made it to Indy too.   Tour on!!
Looks like a boxer who lost the fight
My parents also made it to the venue around 4:30.  I guess if you are the last to leave, you don't get caught in as much Power Tour traffic.  Shortly before they got there, a BMW pulled into our row and we had to tell him he had been in a head-on crash with a bird.  He looked at his grille and said "Someone asked me if the skunk on the front of my car was real and I had no idea what they were talking about-now I do."

We looked the bird up on Google it's called a "German Bumper Diver." Scientific name: Beemerus Dusplaticus
We all went to the stage for me to play "Clarence Says" and before that started, I answered some easy Mopar trivia and won a hat.  Then he pulled me up to the stage as well as several others.  The best part was he twisted Tara's arm into playing too.  I was quickly eliminated.  Tara lasted for a while longer, but eventually everyone lost to a 3 year old whose dad was moving him like a puppet.  
"Clarence Says put your hands on your head"
The weather was so nice, we stuck around the venue for a while before all of us, joined by Scott and Cody and Larry and his dad , headed to dinner at the Mug n Bun.  It's a drive-in restaurant that is nearly 50 years old.  The food was so-so, but they make their own root beer which was really good and the overall experience was pretty cool.

Premium-er-er parking
With dinner done, we gassed up the Acadian and checked into the hotel where we began a large, boisterous game of Left, Center, Right (a fun dice/gambling game). Our group was joined by a couple that Tim and Lori met while drinking in the lobby.  They had just finished working at the US Embassy in Peru and were living at the hotel until they could close on their house.  Finally, it was time to call it a night.  

Tomorrow we head to Ft. Wayne and there's a cold storm coming through.  The high is supposed to be 62 and, they are predicting that, with the windchill and rain, it's going to feel like the 40s.  Here are some other pictures from the day:

Souped up 1962 Corvette

No hotel required.

Hellcat powered "Police" Cruiser (a crowd favorite)
The best looking generation Pontiac Trans Am.