Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Great Darby Road Trip - Days 6 & 7

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.

Yesterday’s run took us from Flagstaff to Kingman – a distance of just 165 miles.  Planning to get an early start across the Mojave Desert for today’s push to the California coast, we relaxed for an afternoon and got an early night.  Our attempts at adventure – we hoped to access the Grand Canyon from a back road along our way down Route 66 – were thwarted when the road turned to pot-holed gravel after a mile or two.  Grit blasting the underside of the car for 20 miles didn’t seem a good idea…and we’ve both been to the Grand Canyon before!  The 87-mile section of Route 66 we travelled yesterday was, frankly, boring.  But it did enable us to travel at speed without fighting big trucks.  An enduring memory of the journey through Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and the California desert will the heavy cross winds sweeping over the plains and the battering gusts from each truck that passed.
This morning we were on the road at 7:00am – slightly later than planned but still cool.  The trip across the desert on the interstate was windy and punishing, but we made it to Barstow before the midday heat.  Some of our fellow drivers appeared to be suffering from heatstroke, judging by their madness on the road.  It seems like a fever takes hold of people on the California interstates.  Or perhaps they are just irritated at having to go back to work tomorrow – we might be too; not everyone is lucky enough to be on a month-long road trip! 

We lunched in Barstow (you know you’re in California when the calories are itemised for every menu item), did our navigation studies, and pushed on relentlessly until we saw the Pacific Ocean at Santa Barbara.  The section of highway from Santa Paula to Carpinteria, through the Ojai Valley, was particularly enjoyable to drive.  After Mike had driven for nearly 9 hours through blazing heat, Stella felt a bit guilty for taking over just before this bit – the best part!  Nevermind, there will be plenty of California coastline to go at.  We finally stopped in Goleta, where we’ll meet Stu from Moss Motors tomorrow.  That makes 420 miles covered today.

The car (tentatively named Madge – what do you think?) is holding up pretty well.  It is suffering from mild altitude sickness, necessitating adjustments to the carburettors to keep the fuel mixture appropriate.  As a result, the carbs are no longer tuned to perfection and the idle speed is erratic.  This will receive some careful attention in the morning.  The next few days’ driving will take us up the California coast, so hopefully we’ll not have any more elevation issues. 

 Madge(?) has shown that despite her 54 years, she can still cover the distance.  We may not be as fast as most others, but we travel in a lot more style!  (Note:  this assessment excludes Stella’s new hat, which she insists is purely functional.)


  1. Enjoying every days postings. So glad you both are having such an awesome adventure. My thoughts and prayers are with you.


  2. Katharine McDonnellMay 28, 2013 at 3:33 PM

    I love the hat Stella, functional or not, and I'm getting used to seeing Mike without his moustache!

    And I'm loving the blog. So jealous, but at least I get to be with you in spirit :)

    Looking forward to the next installment.
    Love to you both xx

  3. Mike & Stella -

    Congrats on progress to date. Good luck on the rest of your journey.

    Les Farmer

  4. My name is Brian Odom and I grew up in Foley Alabama. I passed you this afternoon in a white Tahoe on my way to Vandenberg AFB just after you exited US 101 onto CA 1 toward Lompoc, CA. I was surprised when I saw the Baldwin County 5A tag so I snapped a picture and posted it on my Facebook page. One of my Facebook friends remembered the news article about your trip and posted a link to it for me. If you post your email address, I will send you the picture I took as I passed you.

  5. wow! you guys are famous! cool! charlotte x

  6. Thanks everybody for reading and for the well wishes!! Brian - will look you up on facebook! How cool!


Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment