7 Days after……….
I have been home now for two days and I can’t help but reflect on the incredible journey that we have just finished.
It seems more than a week ago when the Atlantic Ocean first came into view at Ormond Beach, Florida. I have to admit that I was overwhelmed with the sight and the realisation that after 31 days of high concentration, tension and determination that we had actually achieved what we set out to do – drive a 109 year old Oldsmobile from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean – I still can’t believe it!
What is really standing out in my mind is that amazing Oldsmobile – it never missed one beat during the almost 3000 mile journey. It had every excuse considering the conditions it was put through – rough, pot-holed, corrugated, ghastly roads – steep mountain declines, where I gulped on first sight wondering if the brakes would be efficient enough (they were) – the steep mountainous climbs that seemed to go on forever AND the poor Olds keeping at a steady 8 mph in first gear for almost an hour on several occasions. What surprised me also, just how it pulled up those not quite as steep mountains in top gear. That is more than amazing!
Now, I know that R.E Olds back in 1904 designed a brilliant car, but I have to say that the absolute reliability of this particular Olds. was due to Trevor’s brilliant engineering expertise and the care and thought he put into the rebuilt and preparation for this trip that he and I were scheduled for in 2009. He had finished the rebuild just before he was diagnosed with cancer.
One cold day in New Mexico when we were about 8000 feet above sea-level, I came over a crest to view the most incredible panorama of mountains and mesas in the distance – I felt sad that Trevor was not there with me – he would have really wanted to witness such magnificence. Then when the Atlantic Ocean came into view just seven days ago my emotions came to the fore and I remember looking up to the heavens and saying to Trevor, “We did it. Thank you”.
It seems as if I am on an emotional roller-coaster ride at the moment. I’ll try to get back to normality (whatever that is) as soon as possible.
I would also like to mention one more person who had a great influence on my motoring life – my late father, Murray. He brought me up to appreciate mechanical devices and to treat each one with respect – I hope I have pleased the two most important males in my life.
The day after………
The Olds had to be packed into the trailer ready for delivery to the docks tomorrow.
I felt a bit sad as I felt like we should be driving again…….I think it has become an addiction – getting into the Olds everyday for 31 days and travelling through such a magnificent country.
The journey could not have taken place without such an enthusiastic team. Mark and Nick maintained the Oldsmobile and looked after her every whim with such professionalism, Jim was part-sponsor and we are grateful for supplying the GPS systems and setting them up for each day’s run.
The journey was such a lot of fun, although at times it didn’t feel quite that way after spending 8 hours or so in the saddle in the freezing and wet weather. If it had been easy then it would not have felt like a challenge.
I am so grateful to Mark, Nick and Jim, without whom this trip would not have taken place AND I just hope that they enjoyed every minute as much as I did.
Day 31 Astor to Daytona Beach
WE MADE IT! YES, YES, YES, WHOOPEE.
It hasn’t sunk in yet. After 31 days on the road, and I think about 200 hours perched on the Olds holding the tiller steering from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean, we have arrived.
Stopped at Birthplace of Speed Park, Ormond Beach where we were welcomed by John and Maggie Lake of the Oldsmobile Club of Florida, then the biggest surprise of all, we ran the Olds along the sands where motor sport first started many years ago.
Drove the Olds front wheels into the Atlantic Ocean, as we had doused the rear wheels with Pacific Ocean on 13th April to signify that we have completed this amazing journey.
Onto Daytona Beach where we repeated the driving on the sands.
Perhaps tomorrow I will realise that the trip has come to an end. I DON’T WANT IT TO END. Would love to keep driving………………………
Day 30 Cross City to Astor
Another relatively easy driving day for both the driver and Oldsmobile. Mostly on dual carriageway, similar forest to yesterday.
Was met by a more modern Oldsmobile at Ocala and Pat the owner followed for quite a few miles.
Although we just take one day at a time and never talk about the following day or particularly the last day as we do not want to tempt fate. Tomorrow is the day we are due to arrive at Daytona Beach. There are under 40 miles to drive BUT until we get there we have not finished.
We have been invited to call into the Birthplace of Speed Park, Ormond Beach where we will get our first glimpse of the Atlantic Ocean. Then and only then, will I realise that we have achieved our coast to coast journey.
Day 29 Tallahassee to Cross City
Had an easy driving day today – smooth dual carriageway all the way – not much traffic – beautiful scenery and very, very humid. At least the air-conditioning is very efficient in the Olds and it kept Mark and myself cool, until we stopped.
Car still running smoothly.
Sorry this is such a short blog but I have many things to do.
Day 28 Panama City to Tallahassee
A decision was made to leave a half an hour earlier at 8.30 am. We were invited to visit the Tallahassee Motor Museum and it was another 15 miles further from where we were staying for the night. The total miles for the day would then be about 120 miles. When we were about to leave we learned that after we crossed the Eastern line the clocks would go forward – in other words, in real terms, we were leaving an hour later.
Surprisingly after we left the million or so traffic lights from Panama City the road became quite a bit quieter. Today is certainly a record, I have managed not to run even one red light! The record was set a few days ago when it sort of got to ten! Hope, none of the friendly policemen I have met on the way are reading this!
The roads were great as we drove mile after mile through pine forests – I started to think that, at last, I was going to have such an easy day! Never think that way!
We arrived on the outskirts of Tallahassee and I have never seen so many red-lights. They must have been waiting for me. Tallahassee is quite hilly and many of the traffic lights are situated on inclines and of course we seemed to hit the red lights then, which is not really the right situation for the Olds to take off.
Eventually we arrived at the Tallahassee Automotive Museum and were entertained well. I sat in a Batmobile! I didn’t know that was my ambition but the visit created a diversion from the trials and tribulations of our trip.
Day 27Pensacola to Panama City, Florida
Left Pensacola in fine weather, albeit slightly humid. Once rolling along in the Olds with the breeze blowing in one’s face, it felt quite a lot cooler.
Went over a 3 mile length bridge then took the coastal road along the white sands and brilliant blue water. It certainly looked inviting today and I felt like stopping for a swim, but didn’t.
After about 30 miles it was back into civilisation and more traffic. I’m starting to pine for those deserted roads already.
Quite heavy traffic into Panama City AND the Olds keeps chuff, chuffing along.
Arrived at Hotel just before 5.
Day 26 Pascagoula to Pensacola
Weather warm at last. Olds ran well today. We left Mississippi this morning, drove through Alabama and then arrived in Florida this afternoon.
This is a short blog – sorry, I have many things to do. The main bit of information is that the car and driver are well. Probably the driver is feeling slightly nervous. Although we are nearing the end of our epic journey many things could happen but so far everything is proceeding well.
Day 24 New Orleans to Pascaguola
The Olds spent her two night break outside of the centre of New Orleans in the company of one of her slightly older relatives, a 1903 Oldsmobile. Mike Seiderman kindly offered to garage the Olds as space in the French Quarter where we were staying is very limited.
On the way out we decided that it would be a wasted opportunity if the Olds was not photographed in Bourbon Street. At 9 we left with 13 miles to travel to the centre and we parked in the famous street while her photograph was taken. We finally left just before 11 and with 120 miles to drive it was going to be a long day.
Being now on the coast we travelled through the area where Hurricane Katrina devastated vast areas. Near the lakes houses had been built on poles approximately 20 feet high.
As we drove on the Olds was purring her healthy sound. The weather was reasonably cool so the conditions suited her well.
After crossing several long concrete bridges we arrived right on the Gulf coast. The sands are white but the water did not look inviting today. After travelling about 40 miles along Highway 90 beside the beachfront, we arrived at our destination at 5.55 pm.
Day 23 Port Allen to New Orleans
Left Port Allen on time at 9. My passenger for a half an hour was Stuart Barnes from the UK. He had driven 7 hours from Dallas the day before to spend the evening with us, then he had to drive back to Dallas after the run in the Olds.
The weather was still cool and I had to wear a wind-proof jacket. Where is this weather??? I keep hearing that it is never as cold as this in May.
Travelling on Highway 1 seemed to be a good idea with very little traffic but the usual potholes started to appear and the Olds was battered about. Expecting the rough road to go on for the whole day, I was surprised when the tarmac became smooth.
The mighty Mississippi provided a spectacular sight as we crossed over Sunshine Bridge.
Mike Seiderman had offered to garage the Olds with his collection of cars and he met us on road to lead us, driving his bright red Thunderbird.