Day 22 Port Allen to New Orleans
Had a wonderful day today. Have arrived in New Orleans, a life-time ambition achieved!
Will write detailed blog later as I am sure you will understand – I’ve just got to go out and get my fill of trad. Jazz.
Day 22 Pineville to Port Allen
I couldn’t believe my eyes when I looked out of the window this morning – clear blue sky, sun shining – looked like a perfect day for veteran car motoring in Louisiana. The wind was still a bit chilly and wind-proof clothing was needed. It can sure make a difference to one’s mood when the sky is blue!
There was a lot of traffic when Jim and I set off at 9.40 and the road-works for a few miles made the situation worse. When we cleared the urban area about 45 minutes later the traffic seemed to practically disappear. I was enjoying the smooth road for miles, the fresh greenery and then we started to notice small sugar cane plants for miles and miles. The wetlands at the side of the road seemed to attract a variety of fish eating birds. I noticed many herons and their small families paddling in the water.
I started to think how lucky I am to be travelling at just 25 mph as there is time to notice the wild-life and in a way observe their behaviour which wouldn’t be possible if we were whizzing past at 70 mph.
A few miles from a town called Cheneyville I was suddenly brought back to reality! The road had completely deteriorated with water damage and neglect. I had to slow the Olds down to 14/15 mph and try to avoid the whopping big pot-holes and ruts but that was impossible. I was convinced that the bad road would only last for a short distance but it went on and on for at least 12 miles. Then suddenly a wonderful smooth raised road appeared and went on for miles. It was wonderful with the much larger wetlands and wild-life on both sides of the road. What more could one ask for?
During our lunch stop by the side of the road, David our film man stopped and said he had been waiting for us in Bunkie about an hour back as he had found a classic car show and thought it would be good to visit. He tried to contact us by radio but unfortunately the radios failed to communicate. He was disappointed and so was I – it would have been great to see some American classics at a Show.
About 20 miles from our destination for the night David was travelling just in front of me when we happened to pass a Drag Raceway, and it looked like a meeting was in progress. He indicated to pull in to the entrance. We could hear the roar of the cars going up the strip. David asked the Clerk of the Course if we could go in and he invited the Oldsmobile to run up the track. I couldn’t resist the offer! We didn’t do any burn-outs going up to the start but I was asked to run up the drag strip and then back again. Wow!! I didn’t do a 4.18secs like the fastest fuel car there, more like 4 minutes but we sure received quite a big applause.
Thanks guys, for the opportunity today!!
Day 21 Shreveport to Pineville
Another cold day today, in fact, very cold – the strong wind felt icy – I had to find another layer of clothing before starting out. The dark clouds were gathering on the horizon – I really wasn’t looking forward to driving today AND it was going to be a long day of 125 miles or more.
Mark and I were almost ready to leave on time at 9 am then the very friendly Hotel Manager had spoken to a local journalist and she wanted to interview us. She arrived in just a few minutes and then we eventually got away by 10.
The highway 1, was relatively quiet, just a few big trucks and once we had left the urban area behind, there were plenty of trees and surprisingly by the roadside large areas of swamp. I kept thinking that it was going to rain but it hadn’t by the first 20 mile stop BUT it sure was cold and I was almost shivering. The next 20 mile stop was quite a surprise as I was just exiting Coushatta I saw Jim rushing out to wave me down. He was at a Hamburger Diner. I pulled in and was met by the owner who informed me in his quaint Louisiana accent that he cooked the best hamburgers in Louisiana. I can’t argue with him as I haven’t much experience in that delicacy BUT it tasted fantastic. When we left the sun was trying to shine through and the temperature had risen a few degrees so the rest of the 80 mile trip, although still cold, was more bearable.
Along the way another mudguard bracket decided it was time to break and so we have another welding job for tomorrow. With the amount of vibration and rough roads the Olds has encountered I’m surprised that all of the mudguard brackets haven’t broken.
She is an amazing car!
Arrived at Pineville, appropriately named, at 6.15.
Day 20 Mineola to Shreveport
I thought it would be a relative easy day today – just 103 miles, cross the State line from Texas into Louisiana before arriving at Shreveport for our night’s stay.
When I looked out of the window first thing this morning there was no blue sky as usual but grey clouds AND it was raining. I ventured outside and as well as being wet it felt cold. Had to find the winter woollies, waterproofs, boots and socks again! Thought it was always warm in this part of Texas, particularly at this time of the year.
By the time Nick and I started out the rain had stopped but the clouds looked threatening.
The highway 380 was extremely busy with huge trucks thundering past us so after ten miles we decided to take a more minor road and this took us through much more interesting countryside and woodlands. I’m not an expert on types of trees but there appeared to be a number of oak trees for miles.
With 50 miles to go Nick noticed that the rear mudguard stay had broken and at the next stop with the support car we noticed a crash repair shop opposite and they kindly welded the stay back in place.
We set off again and before long rain started. It reminded me of the last London to Brighton Veteran Car Run when we had torrential rain for the first half of the event. The Texas rain today was not torrential but heavy enough to soak everything. I need a pair of glasses with windscreen wipers as it is difficult to see with rain-drops all over the lenses. The rain lasted about half an hour and I was hoping the sun would come out. No such luck! The drops started again near the State Line and continued until we reached Shreveport.
In spite of the weather the Olds didn’t miss a beat. The driver was pleased to reach the hotel and try to get warm!
Day 19 Denton to Mineola
Left Denton almost on time. Took the correct road this time! As we went within a mile of my Aussie friend Pete Pohlman’s house we arranged to meet so he could have the opportunity to accompany me in the Olds for about ten miles. The road wasn’t that suitable for an introduction to veteran car motoring seated high up with exposure to the elements. It was a busy highway with big trucks whizzing by at speed while chuffed chuffed along at a steady 25mph. Pete seemed to enjoy his new experience and my Australian accent has now been restored after a couple of days in the company of an Aussie.
Jim continued on as my passenger for the rest of the day. The road was busy until we reached McKinney thirty miles on. The traffic died down a lot as we passed through acres and acres of corn crops. After we started heading south on the 69 the drive became more enjoyable with fewer trucks thundering past and the fields and verges were lush green. Nearing Mineola we started to see more trees with leaves showing that spring had certainly arrived here in this part of Texas.
About a mile from the Hotel where we are staying I saw someone on the footpath taking photos of us. Then I recognised Stuart Barnes who competes in a 500cc racing car with Mark. A few minutes later Stuart arrived at the Hotel. Tonight another celebration!
AND to finish – the Olds never missed a beat today, as usual.
Day 17 Graham to Denton
Headed off from Graham almost on time again but in the wrong direction! We didn’t progress far before the GPS started going wild again and we turned around!
The roads were wide and at first not a lot of traffic – I was certainly enjoying myself going up rises and down again, the Olds behaving magnificently as we progressed through verdant forests with wild flowers of every colour growing beside the road. The State of Texas is certainly offering us considerable variety in just three days from dry almost desert type terrain to the lush greenery of today.
Near Decatur, a city of 6000 plus people, the roads became much busier with big trucks overtaking us on the dual carriageway. Mark, my passenger for the day suddenly said to me that I had better pull up on the shoulder as there was a car with flashing lights right behind us. It was the local policeman. He walked up to the back of the car and Mark hopped out and was asked for his licence. “I’m not driving,” said Mark. The policeman then came round to my side and asked what we were doing. I explained to him that we were driving from coast to coast to raise funds for Cancer Research and so on. I gave him my International Drivers’ Licence and my British one then he took them back to the police car to check up. When he returned he told us that he was going in the opposite direction when he spotted us going much slower than the other traffic that was over-taking us. He wanted to check up to see if we had lights and a triangle on the back of the vehicle (we have) but as he was following us he noticed that the driver (he thought Mark was the pilot) spent a lot of the time looking behind, so how could anyone who wasn’t looking ahead, drive properly! He let us continue and wished us luck. I think he was surprised that we had already travelled so far!
About fifteen miles from Denton we took a diversion to avoid the heavy traffic. The road was much rougher but at least there were no big trucks whizzing past at speed.
Arrived at Denton well ahead of schedule at 3.45pm.
Looking forward to an Aussie barbecue this evening! My friend Peter Pohlman, from my hometown Geelong, Australia just happens to live three miles away and has invited us to come over.
No blog tomorrow – it’s maintenance day.
Day 16 Aspermont to Graham
Nick and I set out on time this morning at 9am, a very unusual occurrence! The Motel we were staying in did not provide breakfast and while the rest of the Team went off to the one local café to look for their bacon and egg fix we went about our duties, to drive to Graham.
After about 7 miles down the road Nick mentioned that the GPS was not working as it was trying to get us to turn around and the miles to our destination seemed to be increasing, not decreasing. Stupid GPS!! After another mile or so we both realised we were heading south, not east YES we were on the wrong road. I should have realised that the sun was not shining in my eyes as it usually does every morning heading east. We then turned around and headed back – it was going to be a long day and now it was going to be even longer!! Fifty minutes later we arrived back to where we had started from and the rest of the team had just set off on the right road, their bacon, egg, sausage, coffee fix all completely taken care of. I felt envious!
The terrain seemed to change as we headed east and the roads went for such a long way without any turns. The driver felt like she was having an easy day as we progressed near cattle ranches, agricultural farms with massive irrigation systems AND the roads so well-maintained. The further east we went the terrain became greener, even the road-side verges were green, miles from anywhere, which seems to indicate that there was recent rainfall. So glad it wasn’t today! David Winstanley, the film man, wants us to experience heavy rainfall just to give him variety for the film. I DON’T. I’m enjoying the sunshine.
About 30 miles from our destination we started to see quite steep hills and the Olds climbed magnificently, not missing a beat or losing much speed.
Near Graham there were trees with green leaves – the first for some time and there were a couple of lakes. Seems as if we have left the desert and isolation behind us.
This is such a wonderful adventure; I’m enjoying every second of it. I’m so grateful to my team – Mark and Nick for their excellent maintenance, Jim and David and Eni.
AND the surprise! We arrived in Graham at 3.45 pm. Could probably have done another 40 miles or so!
Day 15 Lubbock to Aspermont
Arrived in Aspermont just after 4 p.m. today AND the temperature is 30C. What a difference to two days ago when it was below freezing.
This morning we travelled through flat countryside, not much vegetation but the red ochre fields were ploughed ready for the cotton to be planted. A number of ‘nodding donkeys’ were doing their work drilling for oil, the smell of crude oil quite strong as we drove along. Mile after mile the scenery did not change much then just before we arrived at Post, a small town we climbed a rise and once over the crest we could see green grass and a few trees.
Turning off the main highway we headed towards our day’s destination and amazingly we started to climb again. The road had little traffic, was well maintained, there was green vegetation and it felt like we were in a different state again. But this is Texas and in this part it certainly isn’t flat and uninteresting.
After some miles of climbing – the Olds certainly pulling well without losing much speed – I could see some mountains in the distance and up ahead I saw a specially built picnic area with a Union Jack and Stars and Stripes flying on the roof. It was the rest of Team setting up lunch!
Jim was my passenger today and I think he managed to go to sleep as he was quiet for some time.
Tomorrow another 100 miles plus.
Day 14 Clovis to Lubbock
Dressed in winter woollies this morning before leaving Clovis, it wasn’t long before I starting shedding the layers. The weather was definitely warmer. It’s extraordinary to think that yesterday we were freezing and today we are warm.
Soon we left New Mexico and entered into Texas and what a change of scenery! Fairly straight roads that followed the railway and the land flat as we passed through cattle country. I’ve often said that when seated in the Olds, without being encased in a box like a modern car, you can smell the pleasant aromas of the plants and blossom as we drive along but it sure was not pleasant driving near to the cattle farms today! Oh for that wonderful aroma of the orange blossom on our first day in California!
The Olds kept chugging along as usual without missing a beat. She sure causes a sensation along the road when people wave and take photographs from their cars. I’ve noticed that when a big freight train appears beside us, some with two, three or four engines pulling up to two miles of carriages, when I wave the train drivers always blow their very loud horns in acknowledgement. ( Well………I have to find something to keep my mind occupied).
Mark was my passenger today. He noticed that a truck that passed us had yellow flashing lights which is different to the red, usually seen. Just shows the scenery wasn’t interesting enough to keep him captivated as usual!
Have to admit, the driver felt as if she had an easy day today. It was about 120 miles but on the flat without rises and dips, mountains to climb or descend, we made excellent time arriving in Lubbock at 4.30 Texas time, but to us it was 3.30 NM time.
Day 13 Vaughn to Clovis
It was so cold this morning that I had to find another layer of clothing before starting out at 9am.
The road was straight: you could see it for miles into the distance as it went over rises on the vast plateau that was still more than, 6500 feet above sea-level. It was straight for more than 30 miles.
Nick was my passenger for the day and he was well wrapped up in Mark’s padded overalls, gloves and mittens, then he said he wished he had bought his warm boots. After 10 miles we stopped to check the oil level and I had to get all my joints moving because it sure was so cold I could hardly move. AND, it didn’t help when Mark and Jim commented about how hot it was in the support car with the heating on full! I’ll get even one day!!!!
The Olds kept running smoothly as usual but we have encountered a problem which is only minor. I’ll be more specific in tomorrow’s blog.
At our 25 mile stop the weather started to get warmer but it still felt cold with the wind in our faces.
We arrived in Clovis at 5.15pm, having completed 120 miles.
I’m still feeling cold. Going to have a hot shower.