May 13th, 2005
The Amazing Ride From Mass to Moab And Back
You create high expectations when you name a trip “The Amazing Ride”, but for eleven members of the Mass Miata Club, not only was every expectation met, but many were surpassed. This was truly an amazing American adventure.
Six Miatas left on Saturday, May 7th in a drizzling rain. Three weeks later, those Miatas each had an additional 5700 to 7000 miles on their odometers. And with each of those miles came the realization of childhood dreams, a greater appreciation for a beautiful country, and more stories and memories than can ever be effectively shared.
To look objectively at our group, a rational person might suggest that we were too old, our cars were too small, and the trip was too far. They might ask what makes intelligent, mature men and women decide to do such a thing. Of course, a rational person might not buy a Miata to begin with, so we weren’t about to listen to them! But we each had our own reasons for joining this marathon road trip. We had dreams to chase and discoveries to make.
Some of us viewed ourselves as Martin Milner or George Maharis, traveling the American highway in a convertible in search of adventure and enlightenment. We had dreamed of doing this since the 1960s when as youngsters, we watched the adventures of Buzz and Ted on the black and white TV show Route 66.
For others in the group, this trip was about bringing postcards to life. We saw the spacious skies, the purple mountain’s majesty, the amber waves of grain, and much, much more. We took hundreds of pictures and we will tell you hours of stories, but unless you were there, you can’t fully understand the impact of standing in jaw-dropping awe of some of Mother Nature’s most creative handiwork. You can’t imagine the height of the mountains, the depth of the valleys, the color of the rock, the size of the sky, the hue of the sunrise, or the depth of the snow in May! Especially in Utah, every curve brought a sight even more amazing than the last turn. Desert fauna, rock formations that were hundreds of millions of years old, and a snow capped peak in the background. It was every western movie you ever saw, every memorable car ad, and the finest display of American beauty. Could you appreciate the view in the family sedan? Perhaps, but you would be missing so much. The ability to look up and look around put it all into perspective, it’s a big wide, wonderful country; and we are just a small part of it.
This was about more than beautiful country and great weather though, it was also a confirmation that there are some wonderful people across this country. Everywhere we stopped we met friendly, helpful, interesting people who reaffirmed our belief in humanity. Of special note to me personally were the members of the Utah Miata Club who came to my rescue when my windows decided to stop working. It’s been proven again; the Miata brings out good people and the good in people.
I could write volumes more about the scenery, the roads, the food, but if you want a real sense for what a great trip this was, ask one of the eleven brave souls who set out to find America in a two-seater adventure vehicle. Listen to the stories and sense the excitement and appreciation. If you ask, be prepared for a long story and the final realization that you missed out on one of the opportunities of a lifetime. But don’t despair; Miatas in Moab 2007 is only two years away!
Day 1 – Saturday, May 7, 2005
We all met at the Welcome Center just North of Hartford and started our amazing ride a little after nine. Once we got into NY, the interstate deteriorated with lots of pot holes and rough road surfaces. We all hit a pot hole and at our rest stop, everyone checked out the tires. We had two casualties – Art and Curtis. Art had a bubble in his right front tire and Curtis was losing air in his right front tire. We continued on but a tire check was done each time we stopped (which was every 2 hours or so). As we got into PA, the skies cleared and we even had a little sun. We pulled into Clearfield, PA around 4:30 and checked in to our hotel. The buzz in the hotel lobby was about a local restaurant that had been featured on national television because they offered a 17 lb hamburger. The restaurant was called Denny’s but not to be confused with the chain Denny’s. When we asked for places to dine, Clearfield’s Denny’s was on the list. The group decided on another restaurant in town and off we went. We had a great dinner with lots of laughter and sharing before driving back to the hotel and retiring.
Day 2 – Sunday, May 8, 2005
We left Clearfield bright and early headed for Hammond, Indiana. We had clear skies and better roads. Life was great for a while. Then we started sharing the road with lots of tractor trailers. We had a few unpleasant words from two UPS trucks who found out we were on channel 10 and broke in responding to a comment that Bob made about truckers not wanting to use their breaks. Bob was actually defending the truckers but these two took what he said as offensive. That livened up our morning a little bit. We also saw an unusual use of two flat bed tow trucks. (See picture) We had a lot fun with that. As we rolled along, Bob was quite taken by all the farms we passed. Shelly & Bob had brought along books on tape which they shared with all of us. So if we weren’t chatting on the CB, we were listening to stories or music. Except for our truckers, we had a very pleasant ride. We arrived in Hammond around 5:00. We intended to stay at the hotel because there was a lounge and a restaurant there. After checking in, we found out the restaurant was closed for the day. We ended up hanging out in the lounge and ordering out. We spent another night laughing and sharing with the bartender. Brian started having a problem with his windows. Will we make it to Moab without anymore problems???
Day 3 – Monday, May 9, 2005
Bob convinced Art that he needed to get his tire fixed before it blew. So Art inquired about a tire store in the near vicinity. He was lucky enough to ask Joe, who seemed to know everything, and he recommended a tire store right over the IL border. He gave Art directions and off we all went in search of this store. After inspecting the bubble, the mechanic advised Art to replace the tire. There was a slight problem – they didn’t have the same tires that were on the car so Art purchased 4 new tires. When the guy checked out Curtis’ tire, they found that his rim was bent. Since they didn’t have a rim, they fixed the tire and swapped it with the rear tire until he can get a new rim. Brian can’t get his driver’s window up or down and we are still on a toll road. So today, he will have to annoy some more toll takers by opening his door to pay the toll. Since we got a late start, we had to cancel our dinner meeting with some of the Iowa Miata Club members and the Nebraska Club members. The guys from Iowa were going to meet us in Iowa and drive 3 hours with us to Omaha for dinner and then driver 3 hours back home. Makes this trip seem pretty normal. We stopped for lunch in a town in Iowa called Willkommen. It was a town that Art knew about and was part of the Amana Colonies. This area was settled by German Lutherans and they lived in a communal colony. The history was quite interesting and the food was exceptional. We had the best meal on the road at this stop. We did not arrive in Lincoln until around 8:00 that evening. We were tired but we could still stand up straight. After checking in, everyone met over at the Saloon next door for snacks and a nightcap.
Day 4 – Tuesday, May 10, 2005
Today, we are headed for Denver. Art is thrilled with his new tires, Brian is having a problem with the passenger window and we are forging ahead. We had a reasonable day. We continue to stop every 2 hours and have lunch at the halfway mark for the day’s mileage. We are doing about 500 miles a day. Bob has stopped mentioning the farms – probably because that’s all we’ve seen now for the last 3 days. During the afternoon, we start climbing and we enter the Denver area at rush hour time. We manage to get through the rush and find our hotel. The sky in Denver is overcast and dark. Are we in for bad weather? We check into our hotel and find out that the weather forecast for the area is not good – rain, hail, flash flooding. Fortunately it is mostly North of Denver. The Lannins, Gorens and Rust decide to explore the old section of Denver. I have work to do and Donn is keeping me company. After I finished my work, we went into the lounge to have something to eat. We found Art, Priscilla and Curtis there having dinner so we joined them. After dinner Priscilla and I enjoyed the indoor pool and jacuzzi. The group exploring Denver had a good dinner, found the Mint but couldn’t get any money from it and walked along the shops. We have one more day before we get to Moab.
Day 5 – Wednesday, May 11, 2005
We were told by the hotel staff to wait until 9:00 a.m. to leave so that we would miss the rush hour traffic. So we did and managed to find rush hour traffic anyways. Bob and Brian, missed the ramp on to the route we were taking back to the Interstate. They ended up going in the opposite direction and met the Interstate a few miles behind where we met it. Our new plan was for us to stop and they would catch up with us. Once we were all together, we started out again. We were driving in rain and snow flurries to make the morning a little more adventurous. After a while wedidn’t see Bob and Brian behind us; and then we got a call saying that Brian was sick and they had to stop. Bob and Teri were with them. Now, they were going to meet us in Grand Junction. We got off at Grand Junction and waited for them at the Welcome Center. When we walked into the Center, there was a big punch bowl filled with punch and a sheet cake all decorated with a two seat sports car on a winding road. We thought the cake was in honor of us. Were we ever impressed.. We soon found out that the cake, et al was really in celebration of National Tourist Day. That didn’t stop us from sampling the cake and punch. We also were able to check email while we waited for Bob and Brian. We soon got a call from them saying that they had missed the exit and were three exits down having lunch. Our original plan was to stop in Grand Junction for lunch and then drive the 2 ½ hour National Monument Drive from Grand Junction to Fruita (where the guys were not having lunch). So we jumped back into the cars and headed to Fruita where we finally met up the Bob & Brian. After lunch, we did a four mile ride up to the Welcome Center at the end of the National Monument and took some pictures before returning to the Interstate. Oh yes, it wasn’t Brian that was sick, but Sharon. Brian was still able to drive and play with his window which he managed to get stuck part way up. As we drove on towards Richfield, Utah, the skies cleared and we even took the tops down for a while. Off at a distance we could see dark rain clouds so we knew we were driving into some rain. Rain it, did. Poor Sharon had to ride with her window partially open with the cold air and rain coming in. By the time we arrived in Richfield, she was looking pretty “wiped out.” We checked into the hotel and Sharon searched for Madza dealerships while Brian and Curtis try to diagnose the problem with the windows. When the young lady at the desk heard that all Sharon could find was a dealer in Salt Lake City and they would have to make the 3 ½ hour drive up and back, she told Sharon that she would call her car mechanic Mike, who worked nights. Call Mike, she did and he agreed to look at the car. Sharon went off with Bob Goren in tow to find Brian. (Bob volunteered to follow Brian down to the shop and bring him back to the hotel.) While they did that, we went to have dinner and wait for them. By the time we were done with dinner and returned to the hotel, Mike had looked at Brian’s car and managed to get the window up but not fixed. We had come through another mishap. Members from the Utah club called up to Salt Lake City and asked one of their members to pick up a switch for Brian and bring it with him to Moab. So sometime Friday, Brian should have a new switch to really fix his windows.
Day 6 – Thursday, May 12, 2005
We rose early to find that Bob and Art had finally washed their cars. Can you imagine Bob Lannin going 6 days without washing his car? At breakfast we met the members of the Utah Club that were hosting this ride into Moab. We took off with sunny skies but cool. We rode through some spectacular scenery along the Capital Reef. Foss, our leader, made ample stops to view the scenery. We were free to break away from the group if there was something of interest and then join back up with them. By late afternoon we had driven as far as the Natural Bridges. At that point, we were about 85 miles from Moab and we had to leave the group and book it. We had dinner reservations for 7 and were meeting Brenda and Jim at the hotel. With Bob in the lead, we raced for Moab. We did the trip in little over an hour and arrived at our hotel with a hour to spare before our dinner reservation. Needless to say, we spent most of the evening catching Brenda & Jim up on our amazing ride to Moab.