Just a quick post to report that we pulled in yesterday around 3:00PM. Some quick stats from the trip:
3325.15 Miles (from NJ)
48:56 Drive time
67.9 MPH Driving average
1291 APRS Packets
123 Gallons of gas
$215 on gas card
I will have a full update with pictures, etc, later
tonight three weeks from now.
Texas once again disappointed me this morning. For years I’ve been telling people this cute story about how they have shamrock shakes YEAR ROUND at the McDonald’s in Shamrock Texas. Lies. Damn lies…
We pull into the drive-through. I desperately scan the board for the little plaque that reads – (Shamrock shakes served year round!) – that I remember seeing only four or so years ago. I know if I was the manager of this silly little McDees in a town called Shamrock – well – you’d bet your ass we’d have Shamrock Shakes whenever you wanted.
The rest of the story goes like this:
“Two Shamrock shakes please!”
“You fail, please drive around.”
Total Miles: 2548.28
Weather: Warm with gas fumes
States: OK, TX, NM
In New Mexico we headed to Roswell. Smelled like cows. We moved on.
Made it to Las Cruces, NM – now we only have a short hop to Phoenix tomorrow.
Total Miles: 1894.28
Weather: Clear and cold
States: TN, AR, OK
The extra hour from CST that got us to TN last night helped get us going at a decent time this morning. New years day on the I-40! Another 600+ miles under foot. The highlight of the day would be the guy in the Tahoe that drove off from the gas station without a brain… *KaChunk! I turned around to see the truck 10 feet away with the nozzle and the hose still attached to the car, but no longer attached to the pump. Break away hoses for the win.
For those of you just joining us, the rally car can be tracked here or on APRS.fi by searching for KI6IUC-9.
Total Miles: 1215.89
Weather: Stupid Windy
States: MD, WV, VA, TN
Felt a lot better and got going around 10:00AM from our friends Valerie & Bill’s house in Maryland. We took the slow way around DC and got on the Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway. What fantastic driving roads! They have tarmac rally written all over them. New Year’s Eve was certainly a great choice of day to go briskly down some of the twisty sections. I think we saw less then a dozen oncoming cars all day, and we were on it for more then 160 miles. Much more fun then the grind on the I-95 or the I-81. It does add to the miles and I winced as our average trip speed plummeted, but such a sweet drive in the country.
Got back to business on the highway around 5:00PM. We set our sights on Knoxville and were very, very pleased to see that Tennessee has a 70MPH speed limit. We used this and light traffic to make a run for Nashville around 8:00PM. We booked the hotel en’route, checked in, bought champagne and celebrated the EST New Year with about 10 minutes to spare. Then when our hotel clock hit 12:00 we celebrated again! Happy New Year everyone! On track for OK City tomorrow – Thanks for the emails, comments, etc.
Weather: Cold and sunny
States: NJ, DE, MD
Christine and I both got the flu. First she had it at my parent’s house, then I got it at her parent’s house.
This morning was rough. It took a lot of effort to climb into the rally car and ride down to Baltimore. Christine drove the first shift, while I pulled my knees up to my chest in the co-drivers seat. I would have been in that position had we not gone anywhere.
A few hours later I felt good enough to drive and we made our first contact! N3TEE called on our frequency as we hit traffic in Delaware. He confirmed that staying on the state route 40 would be better then getting on I-95 at 5:00PM. Thanks for the contact and the comment!
We’re feeling a lot better.
Tomorrow is the big push to Tennessee. We’re hoping for 700 miles.
See you on the road!
Even though other transportation was offered, we stayed firm to our decision to drive the rally car to and from my parents house in Maine. This gave us a chance to test out systems and see how the car will be set up for the USA trip. On Saturday I took it to the car wash to prep it for the sticker cover up. It was still very dirty from Intl’ Rally New York. I was able to tweak the APRS configuration and hopefully we’ll have a better track on the way home. I now have a monitored frequency programmed into the APRS packet – 146.550 We’ll see if we make any contacts with that.
I got out the white vinyl we brought and now have the trunk, numbers, and reflective stickers covered up. Much more subdued from the back – a little less identifiable. If 10 was a rally car in full sticker trim with a giant 761 on the side and 1 was a stock white Dodge Neon… We’re right around a 9.8 now.
We’re heading out in a little bit back to NJ. We’ll be stopping in New Hampshire to meet up with friends. We’re now out our furthest North Eastern point – and it’s all West and South from here. I’ll try to get some more pictures posted when we get to Jersey.
Before the Neon went to NY I flushed the radiator with some antifreeze. As it does ‘freeze’ there. Well there was some hesitation to the mix of antifreeze to water. Panic danced in my head: “Yeah – I have antifreeze in there.” “Umm… Well I flushed it and added at least a half gallon of it.” “At least 1/3 of a bottle.” “Was it 50/50 mixed already?” “I topped it off with water only at the rally…” “Crap…” “Trying to replace freeze plugs on Christmas Eve will be fun.”
When we touched down in Newark there was clumps of frozen ice firmly attached to the runway. Our friend Ray who picked us up at the airport reports to us: “Yeah – it was down in the teens last weekend.” This is very bad. This is a frozen and cracked block bad. At 3:00AM (local time) I tear off the car cover and reveal the engine. I open the radiator cap. No fluid at the top. I peek in and see some green residue. I grab the lower radiator hose and don’t feel anything at all after squeezing. It looks like the back of the engine is wet.
It’s time once again for road trip USA. Similar to RTUSA-II we’ll be driving the Dodge Neon Rally Car across the country from Maine to California. Only this time we’ll have as much equipment as possible to make the journey safer and go by faster. We stopped by AAA and got our trip-tic + maps + tour books. For ham stuff, I’m planning APRS tracking and we’ll have the 2 Meter 60W mobile ICOM, my FT-60 hand-held and a GPS receiver (that hopefully we can get to display APRS data). Instead of GPS on the laptop (we’ll take that as a backup) we’ll have a smaller stand alone unit. I’m going to try to log some mobile contacts and will be polling received APRS data for local repeaters and frequencies. As usual the rally car will be KI6IUC-9 and can be tracked here or on APRS.fi. For tunes, we’ll have some AC powered PC speakers zip-tied to the dash board, hooked up to a new XM Radio receiver.
For the route we’re going to attempt an I-40 crossing. Sure, it’s safer to travel on the I-10, but I just hate that drive across Texas. “Hey, we made it to Texas!” (next day) “I guess we’ll stop in Midland… Texas…” (next day) “Why are we still in Texas?!” The pan-handle is the length of NJ, so it’s as much TX as I want to see this year. We’ll be swinging up to Maine to visit my parents the weekend after Christmas. Skip back to NJ for a night or two, pack the car and then head out. Stopping first in Baltimore to see friends. We have planned to do some travel on the Blue Ridge Parkway. We’re hoping for Nashville or Memphis for New Years Eve, which either way should be fun. A stop in Phoenix to see friends, then a final push for Southern California. Five days maybe. Here’s what the route looks like in Google Maps. 3,315 miles We’ll try to chew off 700-800 miles a day, which would not be a grueling pace were it not in a car setup for stage rally.
We’ll be blogging from the road as much as possible this time. Hotels now routinely have free wifi, and we’re war-driving professionals should it come to that. Look for posts tagged with the new RTUSA-III logo. I also make a new category called “Road Trip“.