Road Trips: Part Two
“It is not down in any map; true places never are.” ~Herman Melville
Today’s modern life consists of multifarious activities that sometimes pull us toward monotony. Think about it. The hours spent on your phone browsing pictures of cats wearing hats or videos of guys talking about dead bodies they found in the desert. Maybe even this past week you accomplished every task set before you and while the boss wasn’t looking you hopped on the ole phone to check Facebook, Twitter, or boom-boom-swiped 100 people on Tinder. How many hours every week do you sit in traffic just to go to that job you’re so bored at? Maybe you’re lucky and have an amazing career that challenges you, excites your intellect, and you love your commute to work…but that isn’t most people.
On my most recent road-trip, I headed to Potter County Pennsylvania to celebrate a graduation from High School with my family. It’s that same family that would be along for the ride on many road-trips in that old Chevy Camper. There are some new additions and some loses to this family. The ones we lost are those who taught us the beauty of family while getting lost in Penn’s Woods. The ones we gained are now the reasons why I continue to travel through Pennsylvania’s rolling hills, forests, cornfields and towns. Those lessons of love and life translate not just toward family of blood, but family of spirit.
What do you call someone who loves the machines that drive us? A motor-head? How about a grease-monkey? Some like to be called “Automotive Enthusiasts”. No matter what nomenclature you call it, the love of hitting the open-road usually begins with family. To the racing-minded (whether driver or fan), driving hundreds of miles to the track is part of the fun…unless you’re sitting in traffic of course. They go to be with people they might only see a few times a year but when they embrace, it is of fealty and a sense of family.
To those just looking to enjoy the most out of summer, hitting the road early to beat traffic was crucial. That’s why Grandmom would yank us out of bed at 4 a.m. to hit the road in order to be the first on the Boardwalk of Wildwood New Jersey…120 miles away. A short trip to us.
“WHOA, what was that?” I said to the steering wheel. I was just on the out-skirts of Coudy (that’s Coudersport to you flat-landers) and saw something that in 38 years I never knew existed. Well, two things…
When you’re on a road-trip, it’s good advice to obey the speed limit while you’re going through small towns. You’ll have a greater opportunity to see hidden gems as well as keep those Smokies off your tail (remember…don’t get corn-holed). As the Tundra made it’s u-turn, the feeling of being turned back through time came over me.
It was that time of the night where in Potter County the only thing up are the possums. It’s the exact time when the Summer dew starts to gather on a car.
The bygone era (and generation) that is responsible for art such as this diner or the hand-crafted Nash styling was crying out to me from the dark. This was the reward for turning the phone and radio off. It was the prize for trying to get to more in-tune with the World.
The trip had to continue. It was 3:15 in the morning and the Crescent Moon was staring at me. When I finally arrived at Aunt Dee’s, it looked like a parking lot. Everyone was asleep. It was 3:30 a.m. so I decided to let sleeping dogs lay (no really, the hounds will go bananas). The Tundra now became my bedroom.
The details of what happens after you arrive at your destination are what those details mean to YOU. The point of a road trip is not just where you’re going, it’s how you got there, where you were…AND how you got home.
After a nice golf outing, fireworks, food, and more laughs than you could imagine, it’s time to leave your family and friends, new and old. What’s the first thing you have to do before you leave a dust cloud behind you on your way home? Get gas of course! The Tundra makes for a great vehicle for road trips but she drinks a lot. The requisite fill-up at the Coudy Sheetz was first on the docket. After she had her fill, the Tundra pulled out behind this:
To some this is an ordinary 1962 Corvette in Honduras Maroon. Sure, it’s immaculate. It’s also 1700 miles away from it’s home in Colorado. Now, count the tail lights. This is a popular period modification known as the “California Conversion”. Although Corvette never produced the six-light version, there were a few concept vehicles that had six lights, the first of these being the 1959 Sting Ray Racer. In the 1960’s, Americans wanted to hit the newly-laid roads and what better way to do that than in a convertible? Well, it’s better if yours isn’t like the other guys out there. Just like gear-heads today, putting your own personal touch on your machine is what defines you as an automotive enthusiast.
Have you ever been behind a car in traffic or on a winding road through the countryside but could not wait until a passing area comes up or pray that the slow-poke turns? When you set out on a long trip, seeing a rare car is great. What’s better is to drive behind moving art through that countryside. It is one thing to encounter a pristine Corvette like this at a car show or on a sunny afternoon. It’s a horse of a different color when it’s raining. Most Corvette owners are afraid to get their car wet let-alone drive a 56 year old car for hundreds of miles.
Eventually, the Corvette with the six tails left the purview of the “lone-trip” and the 70 MPH highway hummed under the Tundra.
Mansfield to Williamsport…not such a bad way to see the valleys and rolling hills of Pennsylvania. It’s like seeing it from the top down. Those valleys have a way with playing with you, though. That rain that came to Potter County the night before must have had a party of it’s own near Bloomsburg .
“Ok, where am I now?” “180 to 80…where’s 80?” “Ok, there’s 80…last highway stretch for awhile, let’s make up some time.”
“Shit.” One word that works so well in so many places. This time it was a 2-hour backup on RT80. Any good time can be ruined by rain. Any good driver can hydroplane in a downpour. It can sober the mind sitting in a car for two hours on the highway. Try to use that opportunity to realize that it’s dangerous out there. Take the time to see what is around you that you wouldn’t see at 70 or 80 miles per hour. Also, pray to the Great Spaghetti Monster in the Sky for those who might not be going home that day. But also keep your eyes peeled for those machines that make this country great.
This is the kind of wanted distraction that car-people want in a massive traffic jam. Seeing something like this invokes questions and emotions. “Where are they going?” “Who is weird enough to transport 3 classics on an open trailer?”
None of that matters because you now see why you were sitting in traffic. The flashing red lights ruin your trip and the jack-knifed tractor trailer up ahead gives you a solemn feeling.
“Time for a pit-stop.” The truck doesn’t answer but instead falls-in behind the line of traffic which was being diverted by the local fire-police. Then I saw a group of Infidels.
The Weirdo of the Night…err…the Rain…couldn’t let the opportunity to meet some more motor-heads pass-by.
On any long trip, it’s good advice to make some stops. Getting out helps keep the blood flowing in your legs, it can keep you alert, and you’ll also see some wicked machines.
The Infidel Jeepers made the pilgrimage from Delaware all the way out to Butler, PA. They told me that they were out at the Bantam Jeep Festival. American Austin Car Company was formed in Butler in 1929 but due to the Great Depression, the company went Bankrupt 15 years later. It then turned into American Bantam. In 1940, American Bantam decided to “switch gears” and hired Karl Probst to try to win a Government Contract for a new reconnaissance vehicle. The contract proved difficult to fulfill and companies like Willys and Ford took over production to meet demand throughout World War II.
The Infidel Jeepers didn’t mind the rain. They all seemed to be still rolling in the joy and adulation that their road trip was bringing them. I wonder if Karl Probst had any idea his design would bring people together such as this. They were kind enough to let The Weirdo snap some shots but were just as happy to hop in their rigs to fly south to Delaware.
The daylight was starting to fade and the skies opened up. At 70 mils per hour, and in driving rain, the Tundra decided to split out it’s 3-month-old windshield wiper. Not the entire thing, just the rubber blade. With no GPS to holler at me to get off the right exit, I decided to hunt-down a new wiper. After two exits a chance encounter at a truck stop in Mifflinville saved the day. “Do you have any maps? I’m trying to get to the Bloomsburg Fairground.” I asked the millennial behind the register. “No, we got rid of those awhile back. Don’t you have a cellphone”, the kid replied in a confused manner. After looking up and down the random parts I found my wiper blade as well as a road Atlas.
The Tundra and I were on our way. Ok, the Burger King across from the truck stop called to me like the Burning Bush to Moses. At this point, many would be frustrated or panicked. Best advice is to grab your Bacon Double Cheeseburger and park for a few minutes. The road isn’t going anywhere. Enjoy yourself. It’s your Lone-Trip.
Stay safe out there!
Article and Photography by Matt Graham
Photo Editing done with GIMP by goats