August 2007 Archives

Day 3: Fort Wayne, IN to Home!

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Greetings from home sweet home! I decided to hoof it through yesterday, and arrived home at around 1:30am. I couldn't justify spending $150 on a hotel in St. Louis, especially when it's only 4.5 hours from home. So, I slapped myself a few times, sprinkled water on my forehead, and toughed it out.

Let's look back at Thursday and see how things played out...


First things first - I had to leave the Fort Wayne, Indiana Hyatt Place. I can't say enough good things about this hotel - it was absolutely fabulous.

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From there, I drove about 20 miles north, back to Auburn, Indiana so that I could check out the museum and car show. Auburn is a beautiful little town, with a picturesque downtown area. As I was driving through, I noticed a lone car sitting near a diner, so I pulled in behind it and snapped a picture.

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I chatted with the owner of the car for a bit, and then headed for the musuem, which was starting to get busy with folks. I flashed one of my old press badges, got in for free (hehe), and had free reign of whatever I wanted to take pictures of. Suckers... :-)

Here are a few of the cooler pieces that were on display at the museum, which is the old showroom for Auburn-Cord. The showroom has been restored to reflect what it looked like in the 30's - art deco and all. It was really a beautiful place.

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These cars were truly impressive, and were "top of the line" back in there day. In a time when the average teacher's salary was $1,100 and the average government executive made $1,700 a year, these cars cost between $4,000 - $10,000. They really were beautiful, and I felt bad about stiffing them on the admission, so I made a donation before I left.

I also vowed not to take any interstate roads on the way home. It was going to be all backroads from here on out... and while on my way out of town, via Main Street, I spotted this cool sign on the backside of one of the old Auburn assembly buildings:

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From then on, it was corn, corn, and more corn. I encountered the occasional tractor and farmhouse, but other than that, the scenery was rather drab.

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After spending 4+ hours on backroads, making my way to Indianapolis (which would've been 1.5 hours by interstate from Auburn), I stumbled across an AMAZING find - a Culver's Restaurant, just outside of Indy in a city called "Carmel" (which, by the way is an awesome city). I ordered some cheese curds, a cheeseburger, and a concrete. It was delightful!

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From there, I motored over to the Indianapolis 500 Speedway and took a run through the musuem. I've been there before, but when you're so close to it, you just have to stop in and say "hi." My old press badge was useless here, so I forked over the $3 to get in.

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I only spent about 20 minutes at the museum, as I was trying to get to St. Louis in time to meet my friend for dinner. It was already 4pm, and St. Louis was a good 4 hours away by interstate, so I had no choice but to hop onto the old 4-lane and crank it up a bit.

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You can see my little Garmin GPS - I love that thing. It was spot on for the entire trip. I was also averaging 46-mpg while going 75-ish... not bad...

Just outside of St. Louis, I had to stop for my 2nd round of fuel. I went 650 miles on the last tank and put in just a tad over 13 gallons of diesel. Not bad!

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I rolled into St. Louis at about 8:30pm, but Forrest was already busy, so he took a raincheck on the meal. I decided to stop in at O'Connells anyway and enjoy a burger and fries. They have fantastic burgers and are located in this tiny little building downtown. The place seats about 40 people and is always packed. I grabbed a seat at the bar and watched the Rams/Chiefs game while I munched away at my burger.

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From there, I hit the highway and drove home. Snuck into bed at around 1:30am, and just woke up. I'll probably wash the car, then go for a run... Oh, and in case you're curious - the trip was 1,612 miles, and I used 33.1 gallons of diesel, for an average of 48.7 mpg. I filled-up twice, and still have a 3/4-full tank of fuel. :-) I love it!

Hope you enjoyed the trip as much as I did!

Day 2: Hershey to Fort Wayne, IN

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Well today was a good day. I put on about 560 miles and burned exactly 10.8 gallons of fuel, for a total cost of $31. The car now has about 1000 miles on it, which means I can start using the cruise control (I've been varrying my speed as much as possible to aid the break-in process).

I've spent nearly all of those 1000 miles laughing to myself - the car has a "multifunction display center" that shows all sorts of info, including average and "actual" miles per gallon, and I consistently show 50-70mpg while crusing on level highway... but more on that in a bit.

So I spent last night at a "Scottish Inn" just outside of Hershey, and it wasn't anything spectacular. $97/night just doesn't get you much these days, I guess. There wasn't a gym or excercise equipment, the rooms were noisy, and the place could've used a little "touch up" work. I was really disappointed in the place; but now that I think about it, "neat," "tidy," and "hospitable," aren't words that I would freely associate with the Scotts... (mental note: don't stay at any more Scottish-themed hotels)

Anywho, after fleeing - or rather, "checking out" - of the hotel this morning, I hit the road fully intent on trucking straight through to Fort Wayne. But, on my way out of town I stumbled across an interesting building - the big sign out front read, "American Antique Car Museum" - I just had to take a look.

The place didn't open until 9am, so I decided to grab a bite to eat and to see the sights. My GPS told me that the nearest diner was located at the "Hotel Hershey," so I drove over to check it out. The place was quite fancy, and nothing looked too good on the menu, so I took a quick picture and moved on.

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I eventually wound-up eating at a small diner just outside of Hershey. I wasn't anything fantastic, so I didn't take any pictures. I then drove around Hershey a bit, and snapped a few photos:

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Again, sorry for the crummy photos - I really miss my Photoshop... it does a much better job of resizing photos than this crummy free program does.

The clock finally showed 9:00am, so I zipped back out to the museum, and waited for the doors to open.

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Once inside, I was pleased to find a pretty impressive collection - there was everything from Packards to Duesenbergs to AMX's and race cars. All of the cars were in fantastic condition, and the museum was extremely easy to navigate. My only complaint was the lighting - it was rather dark inside, which made picture-taking difficult.

here are a few quick photos:

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I got trapped by the curator of the "commercial busses" section of the museum, and after talking to him for about 2 hours, I hit the highways. The Pennsylvania mountains were beautiful - there was a slight haze in the sky, traffic was light, and the roads were fantastic. No potholes, or blemmishes - just perfect pavement. The Jetta cruised along, and the miles passed quickly.


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As mentioned earlier, I did eventually stop for fuel... once... but more often than not, the Jetta simply watched from afar as other cars filled-up with gasoline. :-)


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A quick "mileage" shot:

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I also stopped by to meet some folks that have a new line of motor oils and fuel additives - they're all plant-based, rather than petroleum-based, and are getting rave reviews from oil experts from around the world. I picked-up a few products from them, and spent another 2-3 hours chatting with them about oil, cars, and the automotive world. They were extremely friendly and informative, and I got to take an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look into their operation. I might do a story on it at some point...

I crossed the Indiana/Ohio border at around 8pm, and stumbled across a town called "Angola," which had an awesome "town square." The photo is dark, but hopefully you can see some of the shops and buildings around the "square" - it was really a neat place.

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I finally arrived in Fort Wayne, and I'm staying at a Hyatt Place. What an awesome hotel - waaaaaaay better than the one from last night. It's $149/night, but worth every penny. 46" LCD, a comfy bed, and clean everything - I'll take it!

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And so, with that, I'm off to bed. I plan to get up at around 6:30 tomorrow morning, go for a run (I need to - I've been eating like a pig this entire trip), and then I'll head over to Auburn, Indiana to visit the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg museum (another car museum).

As luck would have it, this weekend is the annual convention for Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg owners... the place should be a zoo... but it'll be fun.

I'm staying in St. Louis tomorrow night, and hope to visit my old pal, Forrest. Stay tuned!

Day 1: The pick-up

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Picked-up my new car today, and after driving 120 miles, I'm pretty confident I'll love it for quite some time. I averaged 51.2mpg for my first 120 miles -- not too shabby...

I woke-up at 3:50am this morning, stumbled into the shower, cursed life for about 30 minutes, and then drove to the Bank, where Nat's dad met me so that we could drive the Element to Tulsa together. Nat's dad graciously accepted the challenge of rising far too early and braving Tulsa traffic just so I could make a 8:00am flight on Southwest.

We drove the Element (sniff, sniff!) and admired the lunar eclipse for the entire drive - it was quite a thing of beauty. I caught my Southwest flight with plenty of time to spare, and proceeded to "hop" from Tulsa to Kansas City to Chicago to Columbus to Philadelphia. I guess when you're paying $99 (instead of $450 from XNA) you can't complain too much about the stops.

I arrived at the dealership and met my sales guy, Chris. Chris was absolutely fantastic and deserves a giant medal for his help in finding this car - they're nearly impossible to obtain. In fact, he had moved my car around back as too many people kept asking if it was for sale.

So, here's how I first "met" my car:

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We gave it a test drive, signed the papers, and chit-chatted a bit. Then it was time for me to hit the road. But not before grabbing a quick bite to eat...

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That's right - Philly Cheesesteak! Oh, it was so tasty. I wolfed it down (didn't eat anything all day) and hit the road.

I did about 125 miles, and am spending the night just outside of Hershey, PA. Found a nice little hotel:

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Sorry for the crummy photo - I just snapped a quick pic and then went inside... I'm tired. The bad news is that this hotel doesn't have a gym of any sorts, so I can't run tomorrow AM... I'll have to run tomorrow night.

Tomorrow, I'll hit the road and head out toward Cleveland, then down toward Fort Wayne, Indiana. I might hit the Austin-Cord museum, per Bret's suggestion... we'll see what happens.

Oh, and I hate this laptop - using the Bank's Dell... ick. No photoshop, so I'm using some crummy photo tool that's horrible as well.

Good night!

Good-bye to the Element

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Detailed the Element last night, as it's sold and will be going to a new home this week. It was a great vehicle - did everything I ever could've asked it to, and more, and never without a problem or complaint. I wish it had a touch more power, but other than that, there were no complaints. Here are a few final pictures - took them this morning:

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I'm off to Philadelpiha on Tuesday to pick-up the Jetta. I'll take pictures and post from along the way.

T-shirts rule

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I just had to buy this t-shirt tonight. Saw it online and couldn't help it. It kills me!

(the overlapping part says, "Music I used to like.")

Oh, and Happy Birthday to my old pal Dan T! Best wishes!

Squid had some surgery

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Monica (aka "Squid") had some surgery this past week. She had a lump on her leg that kept growing, and we feared it might be a tumor of some sort, so the vet removed it and sent it off to be tested. Here she is, at home, recovering from the surgery:

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And here's a close-up of the stiches - it's pretty gnarly:

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Riley was more worried about the kittens that are living in our bathroom right now (we have a Mommy cat & four kittens living in the bathroom):

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Big didn't really care much - he barely openned his eyes from his nap:

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And Regis had too much depression to care much about anything:

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In other news, fantasy football is gearing up - had a mock draft on Friday. I also bought a new car - I have to pick it up on August 28. It's a 2006.5 Volkswagen Jetta TDI (diesel). It should get about 45-50mpg in everyday driving, which will be awesome. I have to pick it up in Philadelphia, as there are only a handful of them left in the country. Flying up there on the 28th and will drive it back- stay tuned for some roving blog entries!