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Entries in driving (3)

Friday
May202011

Route 66: Chicago to L.A. - Day 1

Chicago, IL to Springfield, IL

After more than a year of planning, Cathy and I and a group of our friends are living a dream by driving Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles.  We left San Diego on May 14 and drove to Chicago over four days.  We spent two nights in Chicago where we enjoyed fabulous deep-dish pizza and a genuine Chicago dog. Then, on May 19, 2011, we began our adventure back to California.

Our first day on The Mother Road was an outstanding one.  To beat the crazy Chicago traffic we left town at 5:30 a.m.  It was amazing just how many other vehicles were already on the road at that early hour.  And, as it turned out, we needed the extra time because, as we pulled into Springfield, it was already dinnertime.

While there were a lot of great sights to see, the thing that made the biggest impression on me was the friendliness of the people we encountered along the Route.  Everyone seemed genuinely interested in sharing their experiences and listening to ours.  Vernette at the Wilmington House Family Restaurant and Betty and Alice at the Atlanta Museum made particularly strong impressions.  I hope this trend continues over the coming two weeks.

Starting at the Beginning

Westbound Route 66 starts at Lake Shore Drive and Jackson Boulevard, right next to Lake Michigan.  However, for whatever reason, the "Begin" Route 66 sign is located on Adams Avenue a couple of blocks from the actual start point.

The Westbound Start of Route 66 in Downtown Chicago (click image to expand)

Blog and Photo Site for the Full Story

I originally planned to post all of my Route 66 road trip photos here in my blog.  But it's very time consuming to insert the photos one at a time and write a story about each one.  Instead, I am going to use a mix of my blog and my photo site.  That will allow me to share more photos and do it in a more time-efficient manner.

Click >>HERE<< for the Day 1 Photos!

Sunday
May082011

The Bucket List

We all dream of things we'd like to do before we exit this world.  Contrary to what some people think, the term bucket list existed long before the movie of the same name (2007's The Bucket Lista good movie by the way).  I remember my parents talking about their bucket list.  For the most part, I think they lived their dreams.  They were realistic and didn't dream too big.  But that didn't make their dreams any less significant.  They liked to travel, so—in their retirement years—they sold their house and purchased a motor home.  They joined a couple of camping associations which gave them dozens of places around the country where they could hook up their motor home to enjoy its creature comforts yet still be parked next to a lake or other scenic spot.  They traveled the length and breadth of the USA and made new friends along the way.  They were having fun!

Having fun is one of the most important things you can do in life.  Having fun is better for your heart and soul than any health food or vitamin pill.  If you don't believe me, just Google it.

Fun is not an option, it is important!

Although you may have priorities in life, it is essential that you make room for at least some of the activities that you enjoy.

Fun is essential.  In our complicated lives, finding the right balance can be challenging.  But we simply must strive for that balance.  Fun and a bucket list go hand-in-hand.  It is fun to dream but it is even more fun to live those dreams.

Route 66 is More than the Road

As I mentioned in my review of the EZ66 Guide For Travelers, Cathy and I "discovered" Route 66 in 2007.  Before the end of that May 2007 trip, the dream of traveling the entire length of Route 66 was on our bucket list. To start in Chicago and take at least a couple of weeks to get to Los Angeles.  Stay at old motor court motels wherever possible.  Eat at restaurants that have been visited by Guy Fieri (Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives).  Drive top-down in the Miata through the dozens of small towns that are missed if you are on the super slab.  Meet the people and wave hello to fellow Route 66 travelers going in the other direction.  Maybe be joined by some Miata friends that have the same dream.  It all sounded like a lot of fun to us.

We've flirted with Route 66 a few more times since 2007, but the dream remains unfulfilled.  That's about to change.  In less than two weeks we will begin our ultimate road trip adventure.  Chicago to L.A in the company of like-minded friends.  I predict there will be an immeasurable amount of fun and laughter.  Our friendships and our love and appreciation for each other—as well as for our beautiful country—will grow stronger.  Our hearts and our souls will be nourished.

And a check mark will be added to our bucket list.

The Mother Road Awaits

Tuesday
Apr192011

Sports cars are supposed to be red!

A story that my buddy VBob related to me back in the early '90s:  He was at the Monterey Historic Automobile Races and it was the first year that Mazda was making a big push to populate the infield with a bunch of their new sports car, the Miata.  It had been prearranged that all of the Miata owners would meet outside the gates to Laguna Seca Raceway, and then all drive to the infield in parade style.  VBob was standing on a hill inside the track as this long line of over 300 Miatas snaked into the infield.  Standing near VBob, also watching the long procession of jellybean-colored cars, were a couple of MG owners.  VBob overheard a bit of their conversation.  As best I remember VBob's telling, the conversation went something like this:  MG owner #1 said, "They supposedly don't leak oil or have electrical problems.  So what do you think the owners talk about?"  To which MG owner #2 replied, "The color of their car?"

Bingo!  Miata owners have been debating car color since the car was introduced.

Really, though, there's nothing to debate.  Sports cars are supposed to be red.  Sure, I'll take a Miata in almost any color versus some lesser car in red.  The Miata is too much fun to drive to let car color stop me from enjoying the experience.  But sports cars are supposed to be red.  This is a known fact.  Even those that choose to drive a yellow one or blue one are doing it just to be different.  They're making a statement that they are an individual.  That they make their own decisions, instead of following the herd.  But deep down inside, even they know sports cars are supposed to be red.  If they won the lottery tomorrow and found themselves shopping for a Ferrari, they'd buy a red one.

When Mazda introduced the Miata in 1989, it was available in just three colors.  Classic Red, Crystal White, and Mariner Blue.  For the first several years, over 70% of the Miatas sold were red. Granted, that had a lot to do with Mazda's production numbers.  Mazda made more red ones because they knew... sports cars are supposed to be red.   But Mazda's decision was also influenced by the demand.  The Miata-hungry public wanted red ones.  The public knew.

Fortunately, Mazda picked the correct shade of red from the start.  Classic Red is the perfect red for a sports car.  Not too purple and not too orange.  A nice, deep, paint-is-two-inches-thick red.  Then, in 2004, Mazda got it right again with the Velocity Red on the Mazdaspeed Miata.  Velocity Red is, basically, an ever-so-slightly deeper Classic Red plus metal flake.  It's a gorgeous color for a sports car.  Both Classic Red and Velocity Red are true sports car colors.  Sadly, even Mazda eventually screwed up sports car red.

For 2006, when Mazda released the redesigned Miata, they replaced Classic Red with True Red.  True Red is a sad example of sports car red.  True Red is too orange.  Next to Classic Red or Velocity Red, a True Red Miata looks like a pumpkin.  The True Red models apparently don''t sell all that well, either.  I see very few of them on the road.  The much darker Copper Red is more popular.  You'd think Mazda would figure it out and bring back Classic Red.

There are many owners of early Miatas that might be swayed to upgrade to a newer model if Mazda was offering a proper shade of red for their uber-popular sports car.  Some of these older models are getting long in the tooth.  It seems to me that Mazda is missing out on some sales.  Yet, Mazda keeps going completely in the wrong direction by offering different shades of blue.  That's certainly not the answer.  As we all know, sports cars are supposed to be red!