road trip Archives

The Dynamic Duo

(Posted 12:56:07 on 14th February 2009 by Rag)
I guess Owen gave a little away to the background of this trip on his Oblog “has it really been over 4 months?” so I guess it's my time to add a little flavor to the story. Indeed, before there were four, there were two. We originally started as Batman and Robin before the onset of the A-Team status.

As with Mr O, I'm not going to go back and fill in all the gaps since 1990 or even talk about various Formula 1 or other motor racing events that we've ended up at. As he pointed out, there had been some talk about road trip and I guess we did potentially look to do something last year. One thing after another and we ended up looking for something the other side of Christmas.


(Do I hear a groan yet? It's going to get worse!)

Friday the 13th part 42

(Posted 09:02:17 on 14th February 2009 by Mr O)
Luckily I didn’t encounter Jason at Camp Crystal Lake so on a day that could have spelt disaster (d-i-s-a-s-t-e-r there, that spells disaster), the superstitions of Friday the 13th failed to hit. I did have a near miss at the ticket collection window at Daytona when I went to collect my ticket which they had previously assured my that they hadn’t posted to me, when they checked and couldn’t find it they decided they had posted it, so they had to print another one off for me, so all was fine.

After a morning of pootling around I decided to head for Daytona just after 2, fortunately the hotel I’d booked was ideally placed for getting to Daytona, literally one turn and then onto the interstate and then head in the direction of Daytona for 40 miles. The biggest problem with doing the journey solo is that you have to read the directions whilst doing (ahem) 70 in the outside lane, which meant I missed the suggested route into the circuit, but I knew that I was still heading in roughly the right direction, and in the end I reckon I had a smoother journey in than most.

Being a veteran of motor racing, I was a little surprised at the set-up for the parking but I reckon it worked. Basically the general parking was about 2-3 miles from the circuit and they’d opened up a cross country dirt-track route for courtesy buses to take to avoid the traffic. Fine except the drop off point was still about a ¼ of a mile from the circuit on the other side of a 4 lane highway, so we had to trudge our way over the bridge.

Daytona is big, but then for a 2.5 mile tri-oval what do you expect? I found the ticket collection window, ¼ of a mile in the wrong direction from my seat, I found my seat (after over shooting and climbing too many stairs for my liking) and I found the merchandising area another ¼ of a mile past the ticket collection window, so did a fair bit of walking, but I guess that’s not a bad thing.

The one thing I hadn’t properly accounted for was the drop in temperature when it got dark. The race itself didn’t start until 8 pm, so when I left for the race in the afternoon it was in the mid 20s and t-shirt weather, by 8 o’clock it wasn’t. Fortunately there were a lot of people in the stands and we were a bit crammed in, and the girl next to me had a fleece so at least my left arm was slightly warmer.

The race itself was pretty spectacular, two major incidents and some extremely close racing with both the first two finishers having fought their way through the field to get to the front.

The journey back was a lot smoother than expected, after using some pretty impressive drafting and overtaking manoeuvres to get back to the bus queue and spotting a new line opening up just as I got there, I must have been in the first set of buses to get back to the car park. As the numbers of people getting back to the car park was regulated the queues to get out were non-existent so was back at the hotel within an hour of getting on the bus, which compared to most motor racing events is a minor miracle.

When I got back Rag had arrived so we had a chat and we bought some beers for him and toasted the journey to come.

Today is another chilled start with the fun to come later when the final two arrive and I have the task of trying to get a bigger vehicle.

Unorthodox picnic

(Posted 09:19:08 on 13th February 2009 by Mr O)
Seeing as my hotel room has a fridge in it and I was going to be staying for a few days I decided to venture out and get some supplies. Strange things American supermarkets, 4 billion sq ft in size, 2 aisles of grocery items.

So I bought my self some spread (they don’t call it margarine here) and some rolls and some processed cheese. To say it’s processed is an understatement, since when have you ever since cheese with a 9 month shelf life. Of course, the spread is white, in the UK we must add something to turn it yellow to at least make it look like butter, in fact I can’t believe the stuff they call I can’t believe it’s not butter, is in fact not butter and the stuff they call I can’t believe it’s not I can’t believe it’s not butter is also in fact not butter (spot the TV reference folks).

Of course what I forgot to do was steal any of the plastic cutlery from the breakfasst room, so here I am spreading spread with my fingers onto my buns for the cheese to follow.

I'll let you know how it goes.
Noxious Maverick
13th February 2009
.... not forgetting of course that ’Buns’ can mean something entirely different in your current location - mind where you sit!!
Dave R
13th February 2009
I was thinking of another reference to buns to be honest. Probably not the best ever thought I’ve had in my life. Sorry Owen.

Dilemma time

(Posted 04:59:28 on 13th February 2009 by Mr O)
Not that I know anyone called Emma, and even if I did I wouldn’t call from here, think of the cost! (sorry it’s the law, at least one bad pun per post)

Quandary number one is all about this, blogging, how much to blog. I am already conscious that I’m saying too much (especially after my constipation thread) but then isn’t that the point? I guess it’s getting the balance between verbal, sorry textual diarrhoea and not saying anything informative. I don’t want these entries to become Twitter like and have me enter every two minutes “I’m in a queue”, “I’m still in a queue”, or “I’m glowing”, followed by “I’m gently perspiring” to “I’m sweating buckets here, where’s the nearest shower?” And although I also use Facebook, I don’t want this to be an extension of the status updates, although strictly speaking my status update on Facebook should always read “Owen is updating his Facebook status”. Then if you are on both Facebook and Twitter, you end up in an endless loop stating that you are either just updating itself or the other. See textual diarrhoea.

Onto the real dilemma, who to support in the race this weekend. Following up on Rag’s question last week, will he forget something, well I did, I own two NASCAR related baseball caps (not something to be proud of as a UK resident, but fortunately I’ve not been out in the sun long enough to turn my neck the requisite colour yet) but I left them both behind. So I need to decide who to support so as i can buy the correct baseball cap. With the list of 40+ drivers you’d have thought that it would be easy to pick someone out, but as I’ve only heard of one of them, Juan Pablo Montoya, and Rag has already bagged him, it’s not so easy. I thought about going on numbers, but Montoya drives the 42 car, so that is out of the window, so it comes down to glory hunting. I could pick the three time champion Jimmie Johnson in the 48 car, but that’d be like picking Man Utd. I could pick Carl Edwards in the 99 car, he always comes across as genuine in interviews, and did a good job when he came over to Wembley last December for the race of champions. But at the moment I’m being swayed to Kyle Busch, he’s from Las Vegas, my spiritual home, he takes risks and won a load of races at the start of the season only to fade away towards the end, very much like my beloved Liverpool. Plus he is sponsored by M&Ms, so it can’t be bad.

It’s an early blog today as the jet lag has kicked in and I can’t force myself to sleep any more. It’ll be a nice leisurely day before I head off in the afternoon. After doing some research, the pick up race doesn’t start until 8 pm here, so I doubt that I’ll be back in the hotel until the early hours which means I ought to try and nap around lunch time. So I’m going to leave it at that for now, leave you to ponder both dilemmas and tell me whether to shut up and stop writing so much and whether I should be a Bush man or not.

Back to earth with a dump

(Posted 18:08:47 on 12th February 2009 by Mr O)
I don't know what it is about long haul flights but they don't half make you constipated. Good news is that I've checked and we've got an all clear.

However talk about coming back down to earth with a bump, let's just say my experiences after landing in Orlando were less than upper class.

Before I go into that, let me tell you, you've got to try upper class at least once in your life, jeez, food you can eat, served on proper crockery with metal cutlery, none of this plastic trays and plastic forks and plastic food business. Plus the leg room and the fact that they take time to learn your name, ok so there were only the 14 of us in upper class, but it's a nice touch.

I do have a couple of disadvantages being a lone traveller and a shy one at that, I rarely get engaged in conversations with anyone. Obviously it's easier if you are in a couple as you can talk to other couples. Anyway, I have to make do with listening in on other people's conversations to get my entertainment. Funnily the guy behind me came up with a corker of a Freudian slip, he was in upper but his travelling companion was in economy, he referred to her first as his girlfriend and then quickly corrected himself and said daughter. I think he was on the level and it was his daughter, but that's one hell of a Freudian slip. (And yes Dan, you would have)

Anyway, the flight itself was uneventful, just 9 hours of tedium interrupted by food. It was when we landed at Orlando that the problems begin. It didn’t help that it was 28 degrees and humid out when we landed, always makes for frayed tempers. So we pull up to the gate, get up and head for the door and nothing happens. I look out of the window and there’s the sky bridge thing, not quite bridging across the sky. It was stuck, a guy comes out with a hammer and taps a few things and it starts to move up and down but not forwards towards the plane. Another guy comes out and takes a look and shakes his head, it was only when the third guy came along and kicked something did it jerk into life and connect up, for a short while I thought we were going to have to jump for it. That was a nice 15 minutes standing in a humid plane when the last place you wanted to be was on a plane.

Next came my favourite part of travel to the US, immigration, made worse by the two groups in front of me being extended families, it took bloody ages in the non air-conditioned immigration hall to clear. Fine I thought, not knowing the set-up at Orlando, I quickly grab a trolley and identify my bags (another advantage of upper class, a separate conveyor belt) head through customs only to be greeted by a set of escalators and a couple of old Doris’s telling you that trolleys stopped there. Apparently we were in terminal B and the baggage pick up was in terminal A, so I had to dump them on another conveyor belt and wave them goodbye whilst I got the unmanned train to the main terminal.

After searching for 10 minutes to find the right carousel (fortunately near the car hire desks) another 10 minute delay whilst I waited for a second time for my bags. By this stage I’m pissed off, tired and gently perspiring. So I queue for the car hire, and I queue and I queue. I had enough time to switch on the blackberry and wade through all of my e-mails and then some before getting served. Of course they didn’t have the car I’d booked and tried fobbing my off with something much smaller to which I pointed out that there’d be 4 adults with luggage to last all 4 adults for nearly 3 weeks and I’d need something bigger. So the guy calls up and arranges a Chevy Aspen which he told me was much bigger. Well it was, it had a step to get up into the drivers seat. The only problem was that there wasn’t enough room in the back for my luggage let alone that of anyone else’s, my case ended up on the back row (of three rows) of seats. The car is perfect if you’ve a family of two parents and 5 kids and are just heading to Disney, it’s not going to suffice for four big blokes for 3 weeks doing a road trip. Plus it has a 5.7 litre engine which will be a tad thirsty methinks. So I am discounting this vehicle as the Muppet-mobile or the mystery wagon depending on what we decide to call it. I don’t think we can call it the mystery machine only because I wouldn’t like to assign the four characters out of Scooby-Doo (excluding the dog) to the four of us, so the muppet-mobile will have to suffice for now. I’m hoping that when I pick up John and Ivan and add them onto the car hire, we can exchange for something more suitable.

To top that I had the fun task of trying to find the hotel from the airport with no map and only a two line description of how to get there. Amazingly I managed it, otherwise from reading the first line of this entry I may be faced with an unwanted cleaning bill.

I can say that the hotel is not the best I’ve stayed in, but not the worst either, and the reviews on trip-advisor were a little harsh, however I did turn up at night and things could look very different in the morning.

Plans are for an early night, breakfast and shopping in the morning. A polite conversation with the rental company and then a mission to Daytona to see if my ticket for the trucks really is at the pick up window, if so an evening of motor racing is on the cards, by which time intrepid traveller number 2, Rag himself will have arrived on scene.

Happy reading.

T-Minus 2 and counting

(Posted 04:07:38 on 12th February 2009 by Mr O)
I don't think we can really say the road trip has started officially until the 4 muppetteers are united, in fact I am the first intrepid traveller to commence their journey.

So here I am sitting in the Clubhouse at Gatwick airport having polished off my second free bacon sarnie contemplating the fact that I am about to become an ambi-turner. If you've not seen the film Zoolander I recommend it, however the title character was a male model who an inability to turn left, and until today I also had the same problem when it came to boarding aircraft. Not an inability as such just never had the permission to turn left.

Well among many firsts on this trip, it'll be my first in Upper Class. I have to thank Virgin for reducing the flight costs by 70% to make this possible, but possible it is.

I guess the next chance to blog will probaly once I've checked in tonight having picked up the muppet-mobile.

Happy days - oh no that's a completely different TV show and I don't think any of the four of us fit the Fonz bill.

If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire .....

(Posted 11:36:55 on 7th February 2009 by Rag)
..... four blokes in a Dodge Durango traveling across the the US. I suppose that's a little less dramatic than a crack commando unit being tried for a crime they didn't commit and surviving as soldiers of fortune in the Los Angeles underground after escaping from a maximum security stockade. But anyway, The A Team is definitively the best TV show ever and we're just four regular people. Well, maybe the best TV show ever except for Star Trek, Stargate, Red Dwarf and a whole host of others.

So, we can say that The A Team is definitively the best TV show ever except for those TV shows that are better. Which brings me to the four muppeteers that are going to embark on this road trip an about a week. Which ones of us represent which member of the A Team? Well, given that I'm writing this and that I've done a lot of the planning, I guess my character is pretty well defined. I also don't think there's any doubt that Dad fills the “Howling Mad” position, which leaves Faceman and B.A.

Initially I had Mr O down as B.A. given that he's likely to be doing most of the driving, however, I've just found out that Hog has had to get tranquilizers for the flight. If that doesn't tie Hog into bein B.A. then I don't know what does. Only difference being that he'll take the tranqs voluntarily as opposed to someone going - here hoggy boy, drink this nice glass of milk. Which in turn would probably have to be adapted to - here hoggy boy, drink this bucket of beer. “I love beer, fool!”

So that leaves Mr O as Faceman. I initially had a hard time with this as I just couldn't picture Mr O with a nurse on each arm, but then I got to thinking about the scamming and I'm getting more and more used to this idea. Particularly given Mr O's poker playing, I think I can see him walking into somewhere with a clipboard pretending to be an inspector, then walking out with fork lift truck or something similar.

I guess the worrying part is that, if we follow this scenario, our B.A. is not the most reliable of mechanics. The last trip I did with Hog in one of his automobiles, it broke down before we got out of the car park - a total distance of about 10 feet. Lets hope we don't get captured and put in a barn with some welding gear and an old tractor as we may not be able to fashion it into a potato throwing tank.

I suppose it's time to break the old man out of the asylum (a.k.a. The Stag). I love it when a plan comes together!
Colonel Decker
9th February 2009
Very amusing!
Dave Rayment
13th February 2009
That’s flippin good. Looking forward to reading more about the scrapes you get into.

Sights and Sounds Along The Way

(Posted 18:52:27 on 29th January 2009 by Rag)
One of the things I'm looking forward to (and I think the rest of the group are also looking forward to) is to meet some interesting people and see some fun things along the way. I was provided the linked document as some things to look for:


... Lets hope we see some of these.

Road Trip Blogs

(Posted 17:42:52 on 29th January 2009 by Rag)
Welcome to the road trip blogs! The blogs on this page are to document the road trip the Mr O and myself are taking across the country, accompanied by my dad and brother. This trip is due to take place between February 16th to February 27th and take us from Daytona Beach, Florida to Las Vegas, Nevada. The start is the Daytona 500 NASCAR race on February 15th and the end is the Shelby 427 NASCAR race on March 1st just in case you were wondering.

Now, first things first. If you're reading this by clicking on a link from the weekly email, you probably want to click this next link to take you to the Road Trip Blogs so you can now see what I'm going to talk about.

Now, second things second. If you clicked that link and read the stuff on the page on the way down to this article, then most of what comes next is pretty redundant - but I'm going to say it anyway. This page has three maps above. The first shows our planned route. The second map shows my current position. The third map shows our actual route along with some photos tagged to the route. Pretty cool eh?

Now for the smart ones amongst you ... I seem to be pausing as that probably doesn't account for many does it now? Anyway, the point I was going to make was that if you're looking at this before February 16th, the actual route map will be showing whatever map I've plugged in there and the current location will be showing the last location I've made public from my GPS recording. If you're looking after March 1st then the actual map should be good, but the current location will still keep updating for the last location I've made public.

OK - now that's that out of the way. In preparation for the trip I've also created a Road Trip America Photos Page that you may want to look at for more photos than are recorded on the map above.

That's about it for the boring stuff. Now to put a few blogs together for the trip planning and wait for the next two weeks to zip by.