The romance (and reality) of a road trip | Column

After the past year and a half, Margie and I just needed a break–time to get away. While some would consider cross-country road trips hateful, we love them dearly. 

Taking primarily back roads allows us to truly see America. Plus, our hectic schedule seldom allows us to have this much quality time together, so we value these journeys even more.

The purpose of our latest trip was three-fold. First, we needed to–or, perhaps more accurately, wanted to–drag home a 1952 Morgan that a California reader had sold us at a bargain price because he wanted to see it go to a good home. The chassis came with three engines, none of which were in the car, and many boxes of parts. Shipping this mess would have been a nightmare. 

[Aerovault and Brock Racing Enterprises visit | Cross-Country Morgan Retrieval]

We also needed to pre-run our Golden State Tour, new on the schedule for 2021. Maybe it’s the search for perfection, maybe it’s because delegation is not what we do best, but Margie and I like to pre-run all of our classic sports car tours ourselves.

The third reason for our road trip: The romance of the road can be intoxicating. It’s just you, yours and all that space. 

For this trip, I concocted a convoluted plan that, at least in my head, sounded perfect. First, we’d ship our new tow pig, a used Ford Expedition, from our Florida base out to Las Vegas. Once there, we’d borrow one of those cool, revolutionary Aerovault trailers from Peter and Gayle Brock. 

Then we’d head north through the eastern side of the Sierras and drop down through Yosemite so we could pick up that Morgan in Stockton, California. 

Then we’d embark on our second mission, leaving the whole rig in Stockton for a few days to pre-run our tour through Napa Valley in a new M4 borrowed from the BMW press pool. 

Then we’d get back into our rig and head east through the Sierra Nevada mountains. A couple of days off in Durango and Santa Fe would help make the whole thing feel more like a vacation than an ordeal. Less than two weeks after our initial departure, we’d be back in Florida with our little Morgan. 

We had it all perfectly nailed down, including plane flights, the shipping broker, meetings, hotels and more. It all seemed to come together. 

And it was perfect–until the shipping agent couldn’t find someone to haul our truck out to Vegas. Then, just a few days before our flight out, the agent totally ghosted us. No tow vehicle meant no road trip.

I just didn’t have the energy to drive out to Vegas, so I panicked and did what everyone does when they panic these days: I posted a plea for help on social media.

Within minutes, I got a note from a friend in South Florida. He had purchased a Chevy Suburban out West and needed to get it home from Las Vegas. 

Not sure if it was dumb luck or clean living, but I called him and eagerly volunteered for the mission. Only later did I find out that he didn’t really know the vehicle that well and it was 20 years old. Once we saw the truck in person, it seemed to be in good shape despite its age. Even with the smaller engine, it towed the Aerovault just fine. 

We did encounter some perils along the way that reminded us how dangerous the road can be. We saw an SUV that had just burst into flames as well as a roll-over accident that left some occupants in body bags. 

We also faced hail–twice–that made us grateful for the Suburban’s four-wheel drive. We passed through some severe storms, but the Aerovault trailer stayed remarkably well planted through the high winds and rains.

Our trip took us from Death Valley to the highest mountain passes. We saw the wealth of the Napa Valley and the destitute poverty of the American Indian reservations.

This trip out of our little bubble reminded us that not everyone has the same reality or perspective that we do. That farmer in west Texas probably sees the world a bit differently than those strolling the lawn at Pebble Beach. 

And I think that’s the beauty of a road trip: It opens our eyes to this reality and helps us walk a mile in others’ shoes, perhaps making us a little more understanding and patient with others.

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alfabeach New Reader
11/17/21 2:15 p.m.

My best road was two years ago going to SEMA Show. Started Jacksonville Fl. to Charlotte N.C. for several days. Then Bowling Green Ky., Springfield Mo., Tulsa Ok. Good luck trying to find the National Rod & Custom Car Museum. Then Albuquerque N.M. for several days. Then on to Las Vegas. Coming home stopped in Roswell N.M., Midland TX then wandered home. It was only a two week trip, but I saw a lot America that I did not know was there. Made an excel spreadsheet of all places I wanted to see. Only made about third of them, so next year I will have to try again.

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