Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Great Darby Road Trip - Day 4

Mike Darby, well-known British car restorer and SABCC'er is on the road his newly-restored 1959 MGA roadster with daughter Stella, undertaking the dream trip of a lifetime. The Darby duo will be traveling from their Alabama Gulf Coast home to Southern California, then up the Pacific Coast to Oregon and then back to the Heart of Dixie. 

Stella has kindly agreed to send along a daily report of their progress as well as observations of the people and places that make up our nation.

After falling short of yesterday’s destination, today we focussed on covering miles – some 441, to be exact.  Our dash through the Texas panhandle left us feeling a bit desolate, much like the countryside: we didn’t encounter much appreciation for the MGA there, but people were friendly, as ever.  We got a flurry of attention as soon as we entered New Mexico, although one fellow Alabama resident insisted the car was a Karmann Ghia, made by MG, of course.  To make a rough extrapolation from a small but random sample, based on the numbers of “I used to have one…” comments, we feel confident that there were at least 6 million MGAs imported into the USA.  There may be other explanations, but in our road-weary state we aren’t up to much figuring.

Before beginning the trip we resolved to eat at local or independent places wherever possible (to avoid getting bored of the same chain restaurants across the whole country!).  It’s been a pleasant surprise to eat so well - and affordably. 

Moving straight on… Higher elevations today made the MGA struggle: power was definitely down.  Efforts to compensate with the right foot necessitated using the heater on ‘max’ to stabilise water temperature at 212°F.  Thankfully the demister vents blew the hot air up and out, as we felt roasted already by the desert sun!  The engine worked hard; it never overheated; and oil pressure remained a steady 60psi.  (That last-minute oil cooler installation proves a wise move.)  Overall we’re impressed with the car’s coping and performance so far.

In line with our preference for independent eateries, we’re relaxing now in the once-illustrious Sands Motel on Route 66, after passing up the standard interstate hotel options.  Having powered through beyond Albuquerque we find ourselves at 6,047 feet in Grants, a town of 9,000 people which appeared ‘dead’ at first glance.  During a (very slow indeed at this altitude!) jog, Stella found Grants, in fact, full of character and business – and scoped out the restaurant where we had a tasty meal. 

Having run due west into the setting sun, the sight of the full moon rising over the mountains upon turning back was absolutely stunning.  Tomorrow we’ll cross the Continental Divide, and we hope to take shelter from midday sun in a national forest which looks promising on the map.  

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment