Thursday, May 30, 2019

FROM THE ARCHIVES--HRPT 2012 - Detroit, MI to Arlington (Dallas), TX

Travel Days Monday, May 28 - Wednesday, May 30, 2012

We had to get the cars to Detroit in order to even begin the adventure. We decided to ship the Acadian to Detroit and drive up in my Challenger. After all, the Challenger is a brand new car and will be able to handle the miles without issue. Needless to say, as tedious as driving from Orlando to Detroit might sound, it was not without its share of excitement.

We met up with Tim and Lori (91 Blazer) and Fred and Kim (49 Sedan Delivery) as we planned to run together until Tara and I were to split off in Atlanta. Shortly after passing Ocala (in a tropical depression), we had our first part failure and it wasn't on the older cars that were on their maiden voyages. Instead, the driver's side wiper blade on my Challenger fell off the arm and was hanging limply. Fortunately, the windshield had a good coating of RainX and we made it to breakfast in Gainesville where I was able to put the blade back on the arm and we were off again.

In Georgia, Fred decided it was necessary to confirm that his fuel gauge was reading accurately. It was, and E meant E. We coasted to a stop on I-75 about 1/2 mile from the planned exit. Tim and Lori were well prepared for this contingency (I saw a picture of them on the side of the road putting fuel in Fred's car during last year's power tour). They tapped into the spare gas cans and we made it to the nearest station. After that, we drove through off and on rainstorms.

The next day, we left Atlanta for Columbus, OH. The trip was uneventful (for us anyway), but punctuated by more rain. Then, today, it was up early and on to Detroit.

We checked into our room (427-which we took as a good omen) and saw posters of a '57 Bel Air and a first generation Corvette, both of which made Tara feel right at home. We all washed the cars and are ready to explore the Museums of Detroit and hit Woodward for a night cruise.

Day 1 Pre Tour - Detroit Tourism Day

We met up with Central Florida car show regulars Don B and Dwight at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn. We got there before it opened and stayed until they practically threw us out. The Henry Ford is not a car museum, but it certainly has its share of cars. I would best describe it as a "Museum of American Industrial History."

There was a Titanic exhibit that was very impressive. They gave us boarding cards with actual passenger names on them and at the end, we could look our people up and see whether they survived.

The Museum's collection of cars included the First Mustang off the line, which was
accidentally sold by a dealer and Ford had to buy it back from the owner by promising him the 1,000,000th Mustang custom built to his own specs, plus an undisclosed amount of cash. There was also an early RED Model T (apparently before the assembly line got to full speed and again in the last 2 years of production, you could actually get a Model T in a color other than black). Many other interesting milestone cars (Dusenberg, Bugatti, Chrysler turbine, 1955 Corvette, Ford Lotus race car) and some uninteresting ones (Taurus, Honda Accord, Toyota Prius, Dodge Caravan) and Don B's favorite, a mid/late 1970s Chrysler Newport were also on display.

We ate lunch at Lamy's Diner an authentic old fashioned roadside diner which was INSIDE the museum, but continues to function as a diner. After Lunch, we toured the section of trains, including a monstrous Allegheny class Locomotive that dwarfed Tara and I. There were also many milestone airplanes, including a Ford Tri-Motor, Ford Flivver (Henry Ford's vision for a Model T of Airplanes-they built 3 and stopped when the test pilot died in a crash), Sikorsky's first helicopter and replicas of the Wright Flyer, Spirit of St. Louis. We also got to check out many industrial revolution era steam engines, power plants and mechanical marvels.

After the museum, we took the Acadian out for a spin and headed over to famed Woodward Avenue for a night time car cruise. Unfortunately, the weather decided not to cooperate. Although the rain only lasted for a little bit and was mainly a cold mist, it chased many of the less die hard cruisers away. There were some great cars, including an AMC Marlin, the Dodge ACR Challenger concept car, complete with Manufacturers' license plates, and a beautiful 56 Chevy wagon, also from Florida.

On the driving portion of the cruise we got to be entertained by Detroit's finest having a $364 chat with a Mustangs who decided to get a little frisky.

Tomorrow we hit the Chrysler Museum, pick up some more long haulers (my parents) at the airport, and then head to Warren to get our registrations for the Tour. Then the real fun will begin.

Day 2 Pre Tour - Chrysler Museum and Kickoff / Cruise

The day started out cold and rainy. We dropped the Acadian off at our new hotel in Warren, Michigan and hit the road to the Walter P. Chrysler Museum. The museum was impressive, but as the tour guides pointed out, "this is a car museum, unlike the Henry Ford Museum, you won't find any tomato pickers or sewing machines." What they did have was pretty cool. We saw a 30 cylinder tank engine which was made up of 5 Chrysler 6 cylinder motors with a common crankcase. There were also a number of milestone Chrysler products (the 1st Chrysler, a turbine car, Hudson Hornet, and, of course, a Hemi Cuda).

After the Chrysler Museum, we ate at a diner called Lucas Coney Island. The food was pretty good (gotta love the Yelp App for iPhone). We then took a scenic route through Birmingham, MI to the Airport. We had some fun when two traffic lights at a 4-way intersecting went on the fritz. It was the wild wild west. Somehow, no one crashed and we got out of there as fast as could be.

Next, we were off to Warren to pick up our Power Tour registration packets and meet the rest of our group for an early Italian dinner. Then on to Downtown Mount Clemens for the Kickoff Car Cruise. There were over 100 cars at the cruise and there was certainly something for everyone. A Packard Sedan converted into a sleek boattail racer, lots of hot rods, a 50s Rat Rod with a fresh VIPER V10 Motor under the rust and a real Buick GNX (#488). The night was capped with a pro-street 69 Camaro who chose to do a nice burnout and accelerate to 80 or so right in front of 3 sheriff's cars. Needless to say, they took exception to such a display and pulled him over "to discuss his inappropriate, and likely expensive application of throttle." The temperature was in the low to mid-50s with a ton of wind and we hit the road back to the hotel before anyone turned to popsicles.

Tomorrow starts the Power Tour off in earnest with the opening day event at the GM Proving Grounds in Milford, MI.

Power Tour Day 1 - Detroit, MI

GM Proving Grounds The Power Tour officially started today at the General Motors Proving Grounds in Milford, Michigan. Despite some fairly pessimistic weather reports, the day ended up with nearly perfect mid-high 60s and a gentle breeze. There were probably close to 3,000 cars of every shape and size. As with most power tours, tricked out wagons were prevalent. There were a significant number of classic muscle cars with present day muscle under the hood in the form of the various LS motors. GM performance had their concept Hot Wheels Camaro (it's the real life version of the toy with Green Chrome paint).

We punched our credentials at the official time clock and picked up our freebie stuff (Mothers' Quik Detailer, GM Performance hats and shirts, and the ever popular daily cruise magnets offered by Royal Purple, MSD and Stabil). At the Royal Purple tent, we caught up with our friend Scott Shanks from Kansas with his 1971 Challenger convertible powered by a modern 6.1L Hemi and 6-speed Tremec transmission. He's one of their feature cars. He was featured in last year's Hot Rod magazine and was again singled out for a photo shoot.

Tara spent a while explaining her Acadian to tons of inquisitive people, right until she met up with an Acadian guru who brought his wife's 1965 Acadian Beaumont with a 4 speed transmission and ultra rare L79 350 hp 327. They only made 23 of them that way (this couple had 2, plus a few other GM of Canada cars). He and Tara talked Canadian for quite a while.

Though it was a newer car, my Challenger garnered a lot of interest, including the
attention of a former SRT engineer with who was impressed with my shaker hood (they tried to convince Dodge to make a factory shaker, but couldn't get the budget). In his opinion, the hood and other tweaks I had made to the car were "right."

After spending nearly a full day going into sensory overload checking out all of the cars, we headed out of the Proving Grounds. BUT, we did not just drive out the door. Instead, they set up a special exit path which took us through the Proving Grounds' straight away test area and down into part of the road course which included a pretty steep banked turn and several other twisties along the way.

We returned to Warren just in time to catch a post-show cruise in right next to the hotel, but when the weather began to look ominous, we grabbed dinner at an excellent local Thai restaurant. Then it was back to the hotel lobby where we met Lori and Tim and the rest of our group of friends for drinks, witty (and sometimes not-so-witty) banter and tales of Power Tours past. I learned that car detail bags make excellent portable bars when they are not filled with car polish and cleaners.

To my knowledge, everyone made it to Milford and back without any issues. Well....except for our buddy Scott who managed to run out of gas on the way back from his Hot Rod Magazine photo shoot. Fortunately, he was able to rely upon his roadside assistance program (his son-in-law, James, who ran 1/2 a mile to and from the nearest gas station). We were all mature enough not to pick on him relentlessly.

Next stop- Downtown Muskegon, Michigan!!!

Power Tour Day 2  - Detroit, MI to Muskegon, MI (215.4 miles)

At 8:00 a.m. we met 100s of other cars at the Warren City hall for the opening drivers' meeting. They give information about the route and get participants psyched up (as if we needed it). This is a Power Tour must for anyone who hasn't experienced the Tour, not so much for the information, but more for the experience of traveling in an almost endless caravan of muscle cars, hot rods, and specialty vehicles. The Warren Police shut off the cross streets and waved us through red lights to keep us all flowing together.

One would think that 215 miles in a day is no big deal. The Power Tour route is a mix of highway and 2 lane rural roads through many small towns. Most of the time, it's 60-70 mph, but when we hit a one small town traffic light or rural stop sign, traffic tends to back up quite a bit. This is especially so when everyone chooses to use the stop sign as an impromptu cue for smoky burnouts. We certainly saw our share in the nearly 7 hours of driving. The experience is certainly something to see.

Residents of every town line the streets and parking lots or sit at the ends of their driveways and wave as the cars stream past. Many locals with hot rods and muscle cars either have their own mini shows along the way or just drive the cars to the foot of the driveway to give the rest of us some fun scenery. At one point, Tara wanted to turn around and look at a 1980 something Olds 442 that was for sale on the side of the road. After it was brought to her attention that she would have to be the one to drive it all the way back to Florida if she bought it, we decided to keep on driving.

 The Acadian drove great. The new suspension parts Don put on the car were a major improvement over the way the car rode last year. The tires aren't wearing prematurely and the car is almost nimble. We started out as a group of two cars, but a 2008 Charger R/T decided to stick with us all the way from the Drivers' Meeting to Muskegon. We picked up and lost some other cars along the way as everyone made different pit stops.

It's hard to describe the scene in downtown Muskegon, but the WHOLE City is car crazy. They shut down the entire downtown area and every field, side street, and parking lot for over a mile is jammed up with amazing cars. It's impossible to even attempt to see all the cars. Relying on our knowledge from last year's Muskegon stop, we were able to sneak into two prime spots to park the cars. While Tara jumped to wiping off the day's collection of dust and bugs, My dad and I made sure to get our credentials punched to make our arrival official.

After the show, we checked into the historic Shoreline Hotel. The hotel is amazing and the decor is late 19th/early 20th Century. It feels like traveling back in time...until you look and see Vic Edelbrock's Z06 Corvette parked under the awning directly in front of the lobby.

As with all stops, the hotel parking lot becomes its own self-contained nighttime show. Lori broke out the mobile bar and we had a great sunset tailgate party.

It was in the hotel parking lot where we discovered the most amazing Power Tour story so far. As we pulled in to the hotel, we saw a 1970 Chevy C10 pickup truck which was being feverishly worked on. Apparently, as they were driving along at 50 mph, a deer jumped in front of the truck and they hit it head on. The owners had a sense of humor and wrote "the buck stopped here" on the massive dent in the hood. The fact that the truck was driveable is amazing, but what was more amazing is that at 10:00 p.m., they were installing a new hood!!! In an incredible stroke of luck, a random guy on a motorcycle came by, saw the damage and told the truck owners that he had a hood for their truck and only lived 10 minutes from the hotel. Needless to say, the owners of the truck went and got their "new" hood. They described the guy's place as similar to a scene from American Pickers- rusty cars and car parts everywhere. Sure enough, he had a hood for their truck. Using the lights of the hotel's main driveway, they had the hood swapped out in 20 minutes.

 Tomorrow, we are off to Champaign, Illinois.

Power Tour Day 3 - Muskegon to Champaign, IL (317.4 miles)

We hit the road at about 7:15 for one of the longer distances of the Tour. The weather couldn't have been better. Cool temperatures and bright blue skies. Tara and I led the group in the Acadian. Along the route, there was a "hospitality stop" at Lane Automotive. Lane is a huge speed shop in a tiny Michigan Town. They had an open house and the parking lot was packed with hundreds of show cars. After a quick pit stop, and a few minutes of Tara and I explaining the Acadian to many curious people, we were back on the road to the destination at the University of Illinois.

When it got close to lunch time, Lori (whose first rule of Power Tour is "no chain restaurants") used her GPS to find an "old school" drive in restaurant in Kentwood Illinois called Don's Drive In. The place probably hasn't changed in 50 years. We had to order with the speakers and chose to eat at picnic tables rather than the cars.

After lunch we continued on our way to Champaign. The trip was going smoothly until one of the roads was blocked due to an accident. You really haven't seen anything until you see 15 cars do 3 point turns on a two lane road all at once. Using some quick GPS work (and following the other Power Tour cars) we got back on track and, despite catching a little rain, we made it to the show stop without any further delays. One car we followed for a bit of time was a convertible transformed into a Radio Flyer red wagon. We laughed when it hit its brakes to slow down for a concealed trooper. I couldn't help but imagine what that radio call would have been:

Officer: "Dispatch, I just pulled over a Radio Flyer Wagon doing 90 mph." Dispatcher: "And how fast was the little boy that was pulling the wagon going?"

We also laughed hysterically at a billboard claiming one small town as "home of the cornjerkers" in honor of the local high school's mascot. In fact, as we left town, there was a sign that said "now leaving cornjerker country."

The Acadian drove great and we pulled into the almost completely full show. The show venue was at the University of Illinois' basketball arena. There was a gigantic parking lot which surrounded the whole arena and nearly every space was filled. Two intrepid builders built hot rods to resemble an F-117 stealth fighter and an old WWII fighter plane. There was also a 2010 SRT Challenger with one of the most incredible paint jobs I have ever seen. My pictures don't do it justice. The owner told me it was originally Hemi orange like Tara's car, but he ran into it with a golf cart and decided to repaint it. The paint job took 6 months.

The weather was so nice, we stayed at the show for hours before going across the street to our hotel parking lot and watching the cars do burnouts as they left the show. As a side note, I now have video of Don B's 1975 Caddy doing a burnout in his hotel parking lot last night. Apparently the hotel management gave the cruisers a hose and bottle of bleach, and the fun was on.

We all got together in the hotel restaurant for dinner and drinks. Tara had a HUUUGE peach flavored tea from Long Island. Then it was back to the parking lot for a bit more socializing and car talk before everyone turned in for the night. I even ran into Vic Edelbrock and his family in the hotel elevator. Too cool!!!

Tomorrow we head for Madison, Illinois (basically St. Louis, MO).

Power Tour Day 4 - Champaign, IL to Madison, IL (174 miles)

Today was the shortest of the driving legs. Even so, we got a bright and early start to the day. Of the 174 miles, Hot Rod's recommended route included only 30 highway miles. The rest of the trip was rural 2 lane roads through several small towns and down part of Old Route 66. Tara and I lead the way for our little group.

In Sigel, Illinois, we found an old gas station/hot rod shop that advertised itself as a "Power Tour photo op." We doubled back and got some cool pictures of the Acadian at the pump with our friend Scott's 71 Challenger behind it. Hot Rod Magazine even took a few pictures of the cars (they are featuring Scott's car, so who knows, maybe we'll make the Magazine by association). While we were at the little gas station a friend of the owner pulled up with his twin 4 cylinder dragster, appropriately named "Eight the Hard Way."

Mid-America Corvettes in Effington, IL hosted a hopsitality stop and their massive facility was overrun by cruisers. We met up with two of Scott's friends (a SRT10 Viper and a 1970 Satellite convertible with a Superbird nose and wing grafted on). Being mostly Mopars, we elected to head a little farther down the way and stop at a Mopar shop for some great hospitality and BBQ. We were one of 2 GM vehicles in the parking lot, which was jam packed with drool inducing Mopars, including a true 1970 Hemi GTX.

After leaving the hospitality stops, we continued to our destination and were entertained by Scott and the SRT10 Viper racing down the highway. My parents left a bit after us, but caught up while we were at a fuel stop. We picked up some other cars in our caravan and finally arrived at Gateway Motorsports Park (a big oval track and drag strip). The Acadian is holding up great and we are really enjoying all of the attention that little blue car brings.

When we got to the track, we parked near the end of the 1/4 mile and watched cars rip it up on free fun runs. I always get a kick of seeing the empty parking space full of luggage, chairs, and anything else that can be dumped out of the cars in order to take their cars drag racing. Some people even ran their cars with passengers in them. A green street rod ran 11's and Scott's convertible ran 13.3 with a speed well over 110mph. Then we moved further into the showfield. Once we got our credentials punched and collected all the additional giveaway stuff, we decided to head to the hotel in downtown St. Louis.

Our hotel is directly across the street from the Gateway Arch, so Tara and I dumped our bags and rode the tram all the way to the top (630 feet up). The tram cars looked like they were straight out of a science fiction movie and are not for the claustrophobic.

Finally, we ended the day at our hotel's happy hour and dined on a smorgasbord of delight from Pappy's Barbecue (featured on Man vs. Food). Lori called in and picked up the monstrous Order and we made short work of some of the best brisket, ribs, pork, beans, and slaw anywhere. It's worth a trip to St. Louis just for Pappy's.

Tomorrow is the longest leg: St. Louis to Miami, Oklahoma. Due to the length of the route, it's going to be a bright and early departure, but should be full of interesting sights. The route is going to take us down more of Route 66!!!

Power Tour Day 5 - Madison, IL to Miami, OK (355 miles)

Today was the longest run of the tour so we started out extra early. Due to the distance, the Route was mostly highway today. Since we were trying to keep the Acadian's speed reasonable, Tara and I led our group again. Two of our friends ended up forging ahead in their 2001 Z06 Vette since "his comfort speed is 86 mph," but we picked up Scott's friend in the lime green Satellite convertible with the Superbird treatment and he stayed with us until lunch.

For lunch, we stopped at Lambert's "Home of the Throwed Rolls" in Ozark, Missouri. The place was great!! It was founded in 1942 and serves southern comfort food. In addition to your meal, which comes with two side vegetables, they throw rolls and have "pass arounds" that the staff just brings to the table and piles on your plate. Today's pass arounds were: macaroni and tomatoes; fried okra; black eyed peas; and potatoes and onions. The portions were huge and everyone stuffed their faces. Tara even took some okra for the road.

After lunch we made a detour down historic Route 66. There was a minor navigation mutiny between Tara and Lori over whether to go right (Tara) or left (Lori)[We went with the mutineers- turned left then made a U-turn-thus taking back control of the ship.] Some of the fun stopping points on Route 66 were the Route 66 Drive In theater in Carthage, MO and a small old gas station in Galena, KS that was the inspiration for Tow-Mater and Radiator Springs in the Pixar movie "Cars." In fact, the little gas station is in the movie. We took pictures in front of the pumps and met the guy with the 11 second green street rod I mentioned in yesterday's post. (he told us the car usually runs 9.90s, but he didn't push it yesterday). He rode along with us all the way to our destination: the Buffalo Run Casino and Hotel in Miami, OK.

At the venue, we wiped down the cars. It was brutally hot, but the chore was necessary. Both cars were dusty and caught some "fallout" from a cow trailer that was in front of us on the highway. The Challenger also managed to take a direct hit from the only sprinkler in 800 miles. As usual, I finished cleaning the Challenger first because, as soon as Tara got out of the Acadian, she began fielding questions from all of the quizzical spectators. We punched in at the time clocks and then, since it was pretty hot and toasty outside, kicked back took a look at the cars that were either near us, or drove by. If anyone knows the couple with the yellow and black mid-70's Nova hatchback that goes to Old Town, let them know I found an original tent for it!!! The only catch is that they have to buy the car that comes with it ('74 Nova 6 cylinder w/3 on the tree). Based on what little I know about the rarity and limited numbers of surviving tents, it may still be a good deal.

The day is not quite over, but I decided to write this post early since I plan to play some blackjack tonight and, if the cards run well, it may be a late night.

Tomorrow we head to Stillwater, Oklahoma down a scenic Route along the Ozarks!

Power Tour Day 6 - Miami, OK to Stillwater, OK (237.6 miles)

During yesterday's show, we were informed that due to the torrential rain that hit Oklahoma, the venue for today was being changed from Kicker Audio's headquarters to Oklahoma State University a few miles down the road.

We got up bright and early and hit the road to meet up with over 30 power Tourers at a local breakfast place down the road from the hotel. Pulling into the restaurant, was like a time warp back to the 1950s-60s especially after we packed the parking lot full of Power Tour Cars. Our friend Bruce (another Central Florida car show regular) made reservations for 30+. The restaurant was ready for us and had a special dining room set aside for the Power Tour.
After breakfast, we backtracked to the Hot Rod route. Oklahoma has one of the oddest toll systems I have ever seen. Even though we were only going a few exits, we had to pay the full toll as though we went the entire way. Then, when we exited, we presented the tollbooth with our receipt and received a refund for the portion of the toll we didn't use.

Our timing was perfect and we hit the Route along with the cars which were coming from the drivers' meeting. Today's route took us up into the hills and then down a scenic, winding and, extremely curvy road that followed the Illinois River. I once heard that fun in a car begins at the limit of the tires' ability to hold the road. In a supercar like a Ferrari or McLaren, that's somewhere around 150 mph. In the Acadian, on this particular road, it was 40-50 mph. We had tons of fun. For a little blue box, the Acadian was surprisingly nimble (likely due to the new suspension components installed since last year's Power Tour). The rest of the route consisted of rural roads that took us through Muskogee, some small towns and many cattle ranches.

When we arrived at our destination at Oklahoma State University, we found the entire campus had been appropriated for the Power Tour. Every parking lot, side street, and "no parking zone" was full of cars and people kept coming in. The weather was perfect and we saw some more great cars, including a Hudson with the Twin H Carburetors and a fully custom interior.

We left the show early and, in accordance with Lori's "no chain restaurant" rule, Tara hit the Yelp! and Urban Spoon apps to find a place for dinner. Boy, did she find something fun. It was a tiny restaurant called Tokyo Pot. It was a Japanese restaurant that featured a Chinese style of cooking called Shabu Shabu. The style was invented by Ghengis Khan's army. Our table had several camping stoves set into it and pots of heated broth. We dumped in vegetables and cooked thinly sliced pieces of meat and dipped them in various sauces. Tara even took a stab (literally) at eating with chopsticks. The food was very good and it was certainly a unique experience, made more unique by the vivacious owner of the restaurant who entertained us throughout the meal as he demonstrated how to eat the meal.

After dinner, we went back to the hotel and watched the cars cruise up and down the street. There were spectators in lawn chairs on the corners coercing drivers to do burnouts. Unfortunately for the owner of a 1969 Buick GS, he chose to do his burnout just as a police officer was passing him in the opposite direction. They had a little chat on the side of the road.

Tomorrow we head out for the last stop on the Tour- Arlington, TX.

Power Tour Day 7 - Stillwater, OK to Arlington, TX (267.2 miles)

It was another early morning and we were on the road to Arlington. Covercraft (manufacturer of car and seat covers) hosted a hospitality stop at their headquarters in Paul's Valley, OK. They provided us with lunch, where I had my first casualty of the trip- my sneakers. Apparently, they were inundated with 6" of rain in less than 2 days and the field where the food was went from firm grass to soggy swamp in one step. I barefooted it over to Wal-Mart and bought an emergency pair of shoes and we were back on track.

Just as Tara began to comment on how flat and boring the Route seemed to be, we climbed another fun twisting road up into the Arbuckle Mountains and passed by Turner Falls, the highest waterfall in Oklahoma. We found a great place with a scenic overlook to stop and take a few pictures of the car before heading on to Quick-Trip Stadium in Arlington. As we neared Arlington, we hit some traffic and finally kicked on the A/C to avoid melting to the seats.
When we arrived at the venue, we got parked and I went to get our credentials stamped. Little did I know that the vendor area and main stage where the time clocks were located was a mile away. Once I finished my hike, I later learned that there were air conditioned trolleys to shuttle people to and from. The highlight of today's show was the burnout competition. It started off slow, our friend Scott gave it a shot in his 70 Challenger, but the burnout plate wasn't hot/soapy enough for him to really smoke the tires. BUT, after Scott, the real fireworks started. A guy in an 86 Buick T-Type utterly roasted his tires in a beautiful spectacle of billowing white smoke. He was followed closely by a '55 Chevy and an early Suburban with a supercharged 6.0L motor.

After the burnout contest, we decided to head back to the hotel and get out of the heat.

It's hard to believe that this week is almost over. Tomorrow is the Long Hauler's ceremony and the long drive back home.

Power Tour Final Day

Long Hauler Ceremony and trip home Saturday started off fairly well. We arrived at Quiktrip Park and got our long hauler gifts-Hot Rod Power Tour backpacks! We said our goodbyes to our friends, old and new, and left the ballpark to start the 1,100 mile trip home. But first...breakfast. My mom found a place on Yelp that was a few miles from the ballpark. Little did we know that it was featured in Paula Dean's magazine. While my dad and I were parking the cars, Tara went in to get a table. She asked another customer "whether it was seat yourself or wait" and he seemed shocked she had never been to the place. She explained that we were from Florida and were in town for the Power Tour. Breakfast was great and to our surprise, the guy Tara spoke with secretly paid our check. The waitress simply said "He told me to tell you, 'welcome to Texas.'"

The drive home started off fairly uneventful. We were making decent time heading east and planned to stay overnight in Biloxi. Tara and I killed time talking about how great it was that the cars made the tour without any issues. We even came up with a list of "Rules/Adivce for Power Tour" based upon our experiences in the last two years:

1. Avoid chain restaurants- find a local joint and explore 2. Don't rush to the Venue- driving there is just as much a part of the tour. 3. Bring lots of spare parts- if you have them, you won't need them. 4. Pack light- I bought each day's "participant" shirt to wear the next day. 5. Put sunscreen on your driving arm (the one that hangs out the window) 6. Give the car a good shakedown cruise before the tour. 7.Just because it's new, doesn't mean it won't break (thinking of the wiper on the Challenger).

For dinner, my Mother found another neat restaurant in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. My dad managed to book two hotel rooms at the Grand Casino in Biloxi and we were back on the road.

At about 9:30 pm, we were 80 miles east of Biloxi when one of the cars lost motor, and it wasn't the Acadian. In confirmation of Rule 7 above, the 2010 Challenger shut down at 70 mph. I called AAA and had to have the car towed to the hotel. To say the least, everyone was completely dumbfounded.
Sunday morning, Tim and Lori met up with us at the hotel to take a look at the Challenger. By then, Lori had had 9 hours to stop laughing. I arranged to have the car towed to the local Dodge dealer near Biloxi first thing Monday and my dad volunteered to stay in Biloxi with the car in hopes that it could be fixed that day and he would drive it home. I would later learn that the timing belt tensioner failed and one of the timing belt links snapped in two. [Fortunately, I have a lifetime warranty and the repairs are covered- I am still awaiting a final determination on the extent of the repairs].

Tara, my mom, and I piled into the Acadian and, with Tim and Lori blazing the trail (sorry, couldn't resist the bad pun), we continued our arduous journey home. Had I known what type of weather we were going to drive through, we would have stayed in Biloxi. We drove through about 5 hours of torrential rain. Tropical Depression Beryl had nothing on the weather we hit in the Panhandle and then at night on the turnpike and to my house in Orlando. But, we all got home safely (three of us by car and my dad by airplane).

In all, despite the difficult journey home, the trip was great and everyone really enjoyed themselves. I'm counting down the weeks until Next Year's Power Tour!!! Arlington to ?????

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