“It was an Elan. A delightful little thing famously made of Kleenex and unicorn farts.” ~ Sam Smith
Today I am staying over with Tom and Polly Bungay as it is raining steadily and I am cumulatively tired. Their generous offer was too appealing to refuse and soldier on so here I stay. I will get a real post of the segment from Naples to Jacksonville later today. In the meantime, a couple of thoughts have been rambling around my head over the length of the first leg to the tip of Florida, so I thought it would be useful to address and explain some of these things I have been mulling.
Automotive Progress and Our Adaptation
While I intellectually knew that a 56 year old car would be more demanding, it has really come home to me how far we have progressed in automobile design and build. Things may be far more complicated in a modern car but also far more capable. What is even more interesting to me is that we have forgotten that we used to drive without all the modern features, taking long trips as a matter of routine course.
An example of this was a trip my family took with Mom, Dad and four kids in the late fifties from Minneapolis to Daytona Beach FL. Though the family Buick had an automatic transmission, radio and heater – that was it. Dad drove on two lane roads all the way with AAA maps and a Trip Tik which was a book with a page for the exact planned route each page of which covered about a hundred miles. We had no cruise control, no air conditioning and music came over a static filled AM radio whose station faded out at about the same rate as a Trip Tik page. We were freezing in the back seat in Minnesota even though the front seat was warm and then got hot and sweaty in Florida no matter what seat we were in. Tires blew out, oil was added, some belt or hose needed to be replaced while we all waited in a dirty waiting room at Dexter’s Fix All.
Now, we get on the Interstate as soon as we can find an on ramp, set the climate control so we are comfortable whether it is hot or cold, raining or snowing, windy or calm. Then we set the cruise control and start some tunes or a book on tape (Old term still used) and arrive pretty stress free exactly as planned.
My trip has been much closer to that old Buick trip with a few small differences. Tires are better so I don’t worry about them but my car is much smaller than a Buick and I have had several people pull onto the road when I am much too close requiring me to brake hard. I think their perception is of a bigger car much further away than I really am. The speeds around me are far higher than the delta of the speeds in the Buick’s era. Everyone drove about 50-55 then, my Dad included. Now, I get passed even driving about 3-5 over the limit. When I think of what I drove in the ‘60’s, my Elan is far superior to most of the cars then. Yet today it really is an anachronism.
The Plan and Adherence to Same
I confess to making a key assumption in my planning that may have been wrong. Using my past trips as a guide I planned what I thought were comfortable, perhaps even easy days at 350 miles each. The truth is that even this moderate chunk of mileage per day is taking a cumulative toll. While I assumed that I would get to my end point around 4 or 4:30 each day and have time to take a walk around the little town where I stopped, maybe do laundry or take in a movie, and still post to my blog, the reality has been different.
I seem to take longer than the Google estimates for the route even though I feel as though I am moving well. Then the occasional screw up in routing adds time and distance and the result is I arrive around 5 or 5:30. By the time I have posted to the blog, had a shower and dinner, I am done. I have been going to bed around 9:30 and falling right asleep. I guess I’m not as full of energy as I thought I was!
What it means is that a rethink may be in order. I will need a recharge day about once a week to tend to myself a bit.
Hi, I’m Ross and I’m a tripoholic. I love driving especially in my old cars and then writing about the adventure that always follows. I’m old enough to know better but that doesn’t stop me. If you like stories of the road, every word true no matter how far fetched it may seem, then grab a beer or a cup of coffee and join me!
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