Updated 11/28/2013 (Click on pictures to enlarge)
Wednesday, October 9th, 2013:
Day Zero was the night we all joined together in San Diego before the official start of the Sea-to-Sea Safari. It was a miserable drive for most of us, driving through the worst rainstorm we had seen in years. It didn’t dampen our spirits, however, enjoying each other’s company for hours at the La Piñata Restaurant in Old Town, where we joined together to toast the adventure that lay ahead. Oh, and Rod Walters completely disassembled his rear axle in the hotel parking lot to try and get his rear brakes to “un-stick” and cooperate with his brake pedal. Fortunately, Bob Hunter decided that the Felipe Award would NOT apply since the run had not yet technically started.
Thursday, October 10th, 2013 – Day 1: We left the hotel early to begin the run from Ocean Beach Pier at 6:30am where a reporter from the San Diego Tribune met us to cover the official start. At 8:00 am we headed out on Interstate 8 through 41 degree weather through the pass towards El Centro. It was raining off and on, foggy, and dark. We left the beach with 16 buggies and lost 2 of them at the first stop just east of El Cajon. This was intentional, however, as they were just following us to the edge of San Diego as a sendoff. Unfortunately, that quick gas stop stretched out to 44 minutes as we all waited for the one unisex bathroom line to subside. Onward over the pass, to our first set of problems: Andrew and Eileen Westwood (one set of Aussie friends) had fuel tank problems and carburetor jetting issues that reduced the speed of their Tow’d to a crawl, Bob Kornoff lost his shifter coupling screw and was stuck in second gear, and Rod Walters had deflated air shocks. We threw the Westwood’s Tow’d on a tow bar behind Roy Robin’s Lexus, while Bob and Rod were able to quickly repair their buggies and rejoin us on the route.
With gas and a hearty crew, we bid farewell to the liquid sunshine of San Diego. Quickly encountering mist, fog, and a cold, wet welcome to the desert floor. Roy got the limping Tow’d into the Love’s Truck Stop in El Centro where Andrew blew some compressed air into the tank and cleaned out who-knows-what to get the lines clear and the Towd hopping again. The Tow’d was still running lean as evidenced by the tell-tale light smoke that trailed him down the road, but he and Eileen pushed forward towards Arizona, figuring they could re-jet it in Tucson.
Everything and everyone continued smoothly until mile-marker 354, where Bruce & Winnie’s yellow Kickout SS began to falter. Bruce felt that the car was surging and overheating. Rather than continue to drive it, we decided it would be best to get it up on a lift and see what was going on with the mechanicals. Fortunately, Chirco Performance, our final destination for the night, was only an hour up the road. Butch and Mimi Myers came to the rescue, removing their yellow Manx from their fifth wheel, replacing it with Bruce’s ailing kickout, and headed into Tucson to drop it off. When we exited the highway, Lemorris Harris was waiting and led a procession of VW Beetles and buggies over city streets through town all the way over to Chirco. Lemorris and Joe Chirco even went so far as to host a welcome reception for us at the store complete with local guests, pizza and drinks.
Once the Kickout was on the lift, we determined that we simply failed to completely fill the transaxle with gear oil, which led to a possible bearing failure. At that point, we decided it would be best to get the Kickout back to Valley Center before we did some real damage to the car. I have to say at this point, that we owe a debt of gratitude to Joe Chirco and Lemorris Harris for staging such a spectacular reception for the Sea-to-Sea Safari. Not only that, Joe offered to personally drill out some carburetor jets to get Andrew’s tow’d from being fuel starved. THANK YOU CHIRCO PERFORMANCE!!!!! At the end of day one, we now had 14 buggies traveling to Nags Head, North Carolina. Daily distance traveled: 433.6 miles
Friday, October 11th, 2013 – Day 2: Friday morning we left the hotel in Tucson, returning to Chirco Performance so Andrew could pick up the carb jets Joe Chirco was drilling out for his Tow’d. Once they were installed, we gathered together and started the trek on to New Mexico. This day was different . . . We had an absolutely wonderful drive covering 463 miles in 8 hours and 54 minutes. Unfortunately, Andrew’s Tow’d ended up being towed by Roy Robinson (again) when his loose axle nuts allowed the inner hub splines to be grounded down to the point where they had no grip on the axle. While the chase cars were hooking Andrew up for the tow into Las Cruces, I was busy losing about half the buggies in the Land Of Enchantment because they failed to see me take an offramp. Fortunately, Bob Kornoff figured out pretty quickly that he had become the Lone Ranger of the group and quickly exited the freeway a couple of offramps beyond the designated stop. Even though he quickly recovered, it still took us about forty minutes to get everyone herded together again. Other than that, the drive was through some beautiful country with great weather and no other breakdowns. It was a long drive however, and the late afternoon climb up to Ruidoso Downs (a small town with an elevation of 6,500 ft. where late afternoon temperatures fall below 46 degrees) quickly became a cold and dark race to the hotel in downtown Roswell, New Mexico.
It was in Roswell that we first encountered an alien that would accompany us for the rest of the trip. Actually, LaVern was the first to make a close encounter and the thing seems to be quite attached to him, only appearing when he happens to be in the area. Daily distance traveled: 458.6 miles. Cumulative distance traveled: 892.2 miles
Saturday, October 12th, 2013 – Day 3: We left Roswell, New Mexico at 7am, knowing that our second full day of driving would be about the same as our first. 462.7 miles to be exact. Pulling out of Roswell, we remembered dinner at the Cattle Baron, nothing like good beef and bourbon to help one to sleep the night before. The restaurant even had a cowboy picture from 1890 bore a striking resemblance to Robert Duval. Heading for Clovis, New Mexico, we were without cell coverage and truly in the wilderness. We passed lots of abandoned homes and dreams on the New Mexico and Oklahoma prairie. But, overall, as a group, we did a pretty good job holding it together. Yes, Aussies Paul and Kate Brandt broke down momentarily in their blue tow’d, related (we think) to a venting or clogging issue with the fuel tank. They pulled over, messed with it, and were back on the road within a few minutes. Soon thereafter, we arrived in Clovis, New Mexico, and staged a massive buggy and participant photo shoot on an abandoned road. We intended to get a group pic that included chase vehicle drivers Mike and Shirley Madril, as this would be the end of their run with us. Just as we lined up the buggies and support vehicles, two large diesel haulers filled with scrap metal bore down on us from both directions on the road we were blocking! Fortunately, the buggies were perched on a grassy hill, so we just drove them forward onto the grass and out of the way. Those pics had to be taken quickly, however, so I know we missed some faces as everyone scrambled to move their buggies out of the way of the haulers.
Next stop: Amarillo, Texas, home of the Big Texan, Cadillac Ranch, and, well, everything BIG. On US60 to Amarillo, we were hauling to make up time. We quickly (thankfully) passed through Hereford, Texas, “The Beef Capital of the World” (and it smelled like it) with breathtaking views of cattle for as far as the eye could see. The fuel stop this day was in Erick, Oklahoma, exit number 7 of Highway 40 just past Rodger Miller Drive, and the museum curated in his honor. The Oklahoma Lamon rest stop looked very nice, but we had time to make up so we didn’t stop there. The blue tow’d once again called it quits, this time running out of gas a mere couple of miles from the fuel stop.
Summary of our problems:
1. The green tow’d had both axle nuts loosen, allowing the rotating axels to quickly grind away the internal splines, rendering the drums useless. With their tow’d safely secured inside the Landon’s toy hauler, Andrew & Eileen, our other Australian couple, do the cross-country “cruise of shame” in a Lexus SUV (for crying out loud), for a short time until the parts could be rounded up.
2. The blue tow’d (also built quickly by our Aussies Paul & Kate) experienced another gas tank related fuel blockage that they quickly fixed.
3. Rod Walters discovered that his rear tires had worn down to the warning bars in just 800 miles. He quickly discovered that the bolts holding the axles into the swing plates had come loose and the axles were just sliding around freely in the elongated slots of the arm. He’ll need to get new tires in Nags Head, but, for now, he’s gotten the buggy back on the road.
4. Member #1, Nelson Sparks, posted a request for type 3 rear drums on the internet on behalf of Andrew and his green tow’d. By the time we hit Oklahoma City, a brand new pair of these drums (which are not easy to find) were waiting for him at the hotel. This is truly what a run like this is all about . . . friends helping friends. Once at the hotel, Andrew and a million helpers quickly tore off the old drums and had the new ones installed.
To sum it all up . . . Day 3 was a wonderful day, propelling us down the road with very few problems and turning out remarkably uneventful. Daily distance traveled: 462.7 miles. Cumulative distance traveled: 1,354.9 miles.
Sunday, October 13th, 2013 – Day 4: We left Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, intent on ending the day in Little Rock, Arkansas. Our first stop was the Oklahoma City Memorial built to honor the victims, survivors, rescuers, and everyone impacted by the senseless bombing of the former Federal Building on April 19th, 1995. A very moving and special place, although it saddened all of us to think that such a place ever needed to exist.
From there, we headed east to Little Rock, with just two fuel stops and absolutely no breakdowns! The buggies were dialed in and absolutely flew down the road. But other things were happening as well . . . all of us were really coming together as a close-knit group of friends. Instead of 36 people independently following each other down the road, we became a well-coordinated machine that was not only concerned about our own ability to make it to the next stop, but equally focused on helping everyone around us make it there, too. Communication between cars was nearly constant, with messages relayed between cars via CB Radio, cell phone, or by holding up a sign and driving quickly up the left lane for everyone to see. Bruce continued his vow to complete his goal of traveling the entire route in a buggy. It was an honor, of course, to have him in the passenger seat, talking about everything from his years as a merchant marine, to the Navy and gunner years, and his involvement in designing the Meyers Manx.
We were joined at the hotel in Little Rock by some great new additions – Ron & Sue Richeson of Waterloo, Illinois, in their original gelcoat gold buggy who would accompany us on to Memphis, Tennessee; and Mel Folkertsma of Alaska in his green Meyers Tow’d who drove in from Texas with plans to make it to Nags Head and back home again. Most of us ate dinner that night as a huge group at Saddle Creek Woodfired Grill which somehow managed to serve at least 30 of us with amazing steaks and seafood. Rod Walters (and two others who have requested anonymity) somehow made a wrong turn and ended up at Hooters – as evidenced by photos of the wait staff standing around Rod’s buggy. Frankly though, none of us have actually seen the buggy in the photos.
From there, things went slightly further south as LaVern Brock decided that he had to go back to a county park we passed just on the outskirts of town. He and Lori Ann Dario went off to (and I am not making this up) “Toad Suck Park” to see if they could find some memento to attach to one of the Aussie Towds before they came out to their car the next day. Fortunately, the park is in a pretty remote area well off the highway on some dark and confusing dirt roads, so they came back empty handed.
Monday, October 14th, 2013 – Day 5: Leaving Little Rock for Nashville, Tennessee early on Monday morning was our first encounter with rush hour traffic. We somehow managed to stay somewhat together even though our caravan was stretched out over five miles with a lot of non-buggy type vehicles in between. All of the higher profile cars and trucks made visual contact difficult with the herd, so we relied heavily on CB radios and cell phones to keep connected and tracking through the right interchanges. I learned here that we should always find lodging past the center of major cities as this will not be the first time we get bogged down trying to leave town. Rush hour traffic was light, however, given the Columbus Day observance, so we were quickly moving towards our lunch stop in Memphis, Tennessee.
First stop was the home of Elvis Presley. Not to take the actual tour, but more as a quick side trip with an opportunity to have the buggies lined up in front of Graceland. Once there, we made our mark on the front wall, then moved on to a fuel stop at a Shell station up the street, and since we were off the highway and all still tightly together, it seemed like this would be a good place for a lunch stop, too. A quick scan on the iPad showed we were just 5 miles from a highly-rated local restaurant recently reviewed by Guy Fieri on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives on the Food Network. Tom’s Bar-B-Q did not disappoint, not only was the food incredible, but it was fast. I’ve never seen so many people working so quickly in such a small area. We loved Tom’s!
After lunch we jumped back on the I-40, which would be the route we’d stick to from this day forward. Since today was a shorter driving day, John Marcinka and Keith Dusharme offered to lead a group of safarians to Antique Archaeology, the Nashville store owned by Mike Wolfe of the American Pickers reality series. The entire group pulled off at a beautiful rest stop 10 miles before Nashville to split into groups of those heading to the hotel and those wanting to visit the antique store. While staging the groups we heard over the radio that Joseph Sellars’ beautiful dual sport Manxter had an outward CV boot significant damaged by a loose speedometer sensor. Always resourceful, and knowing that finding a Porsche 930 CV boot wouldn’t be easy at 5 pm, Joseph began to make a temporary repair using high strength tape. Joseph called to waive us all ahead feeling he could get the car going again quickly. Soon we were all on the road again. I was thankful we had split into two groups, as downtown Nashville is surrounded by a highly confusing beltway that circles the city. There were no fewer than four rapid interchange transitions that we needed to make in less than five miles, during dusk and in the middle of rush hour. All we could do was concentrate on staying close together, and making sure we didn’t miss an offramp. Soon, however, we arrived at our hotel. A short time later the second group showed up and we were all together again. Another great day of driving with only the one breakdown and a quick temporary fix. Daily distance traveled: 353.9 miles. Cumulative distance traveled: 2,047.1 miles
Tuesday, October 15th, 2013 – Day 6: We knew Tuesday was going to be a long day. The day-to-day routes were laid out to have the longer driving days purposely (while we were still fresh) right at the beginning, while at the same time, quickly moving us though the more remote and desolate areas. There were consequences however: on day two we lost an hour as we passed through the Mountain time zone into New Mexico, followed by day three and the loss of another hour when we crossed the Central time zone in Oklahoma City. Dinner at 9- pm became our new norm. We followed those two grueling days with shorter drives on days four and five, each an hour-and-a-half shorter (about 100 miles less) than previous drives.
Day 6, however, was another 400-plus mile day which added an hour in driving time, compounded by the loss of an additional hour when we crossed into the Eastern time zone in Knoxville, Tennessee. For this reason, we moved our departure time up to 7:30AM. Fortunately, our hotel was past downtown Nashville allowing us to avoid rush hour traffic, and so we set our sights 150 miles down the road for our first gas stop. Traveling through the Great Smokey Mountains, and just short of our first stop, we got word that one of the fifth wheel haulers was pulled over on the side of the road. We pulled off at a Pilot Truck Stop and waited to see what needed to be done. It turned out a hose to the turbo had come loose on Butch and Mimi Myers Ford truck, but he felt he could fix it pretty quickly. Mark and Donna Landon, our other fifth wheel haulers, were behind Butch when it happened, so they stopped to assist. About forty-five minutes later they rejoined the group, only to notice that we had no idea what happened to Winnie Meyers and LaVern Brock. It turns out they were in front of the group and had kept driving to the “right” fuel stop. Another hour or so later and we caught up with them, and once again began moving down the road. Somewhere soon after we left the Pilot station, we were joined by Adam Hostetler and his beautiful turbo-Subaru Orange Sherbet Manxter. From that point forward it was smooth sailing into Winston-Salem without further breakdowns.
That evening we walked across the parking lot to Mario’s Pizza where it seems most of the safarians had gathered. We had a great night there sharing stories and pizza, before heading back to the hotel to get ready for our final day of driving into Nags Head. A little later I heard there was another alien sighting in the parking lot of the Holiday Inn Express. This time it was apparently scared off by the Manager of the hotel. The few members of the safari that witnessed the expulsion said this must have been the first time anyone got thrown out of the outside of an establishment. I thought about that a minute, then realizing it was LaVern who was in the center of the controversy, I’m pretty certain this happens all of the time! Daily distance traveled: 427.2 miles. Cumulative distance traveled: 2,474.3 miles
Wednesday, October 16th, 2013 – Day 7: Everyone was really looking forward to today, but there was also some realization that this great time we were having was going to change into something different. Our Sea-to-Sea event was ending, but the Manx on the Banx event was just beginning. We left early again this morning, not because the drive was long, but because we wanted to get to Nags Head and meet up with the Mid-Atlantic Chapter. Our first stop today would be Raleigh, North Carolina, where we would be packing up the Towd’s driven by Paul and Kate Brandt and Andrew and Eileen Westwood for shipment back to Valley Center, CA. The buggies needed to be on the transporter to reach San Diego at the same time Andrew & Eileen flew back from the Manx on the Banx Event. Andrew is shipping the buggy back to Australia, but it cannot be sent as a complete car. So, once they get back to the West Coast, Andrew will disassemble the Towd and get it packed for shipment home. Bob Hunter made the presentation of the Phillipe Award (A title and trophy awarded to recognize the car that broke down the most during a run) to Andrew Westwood a day ahead of schedule to order to ensure the trophy made it over to Australia with his Towd.
No breakdowns at all on this day and every stop we planned were reached without issue. We did have an exciting start however, jumping into the morning traffic in Winston-Salem and quickly losing three buggies and three chase vehicles in the first ten minutes of some really confusing highway interchanges. Apparently, the I40 is also the I-440, and the US-64E and the use of these numbers are used interchangeably from highway sign to highway sign. I was able to keep moving through the correct offramps thanks to a Garmin GPS I had on board, but before I even made the second exit I was hearing from Bob Hunter that he saw us turn off but couldn’t get over in time to make the exit. Behind him were two other buggies, two toy haulers and a van. Since they were all following him, I talked him through the twists and turns and slowed the caravan down until they could catch up. Twenty-five miles later . . . we were back in formation. Soon after we were underway, we came across a pleasant surprise; Vincent and France Parisien were waiting for us in France’s gun metal gray Kickout SS on the side of the road. They quickly jumped into the pack, joining us at our lunch stop about 100 miles before Nags Head. After our stop, John Marcinka graciously provided his Porsche-powered original Manx to Bruce and Winnie so they would have a buggy to drive into Nags Head. It was a wonderful gesture that was appreciated by both Bruce and Winnie as evidenced by their broad smiles as they pointed the buggy down the road and into town. Further down the road, about fifteen miles out of town we came across all of the buggies who had arrived thus far and they, too, joined into the caravan, in all, fifty–something buggies pulled in together at Jeanette’s Pier in Nags Head, North Carolina. What a great kickoff for the Manx on the Banx event! Daily distance traveled: 305.4 miles. Cumulative distance traveled: 2,779.7 miles