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Emerald Empire Sports Car Club
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Featured Article

Where Are We Today??
By Ruben Cruz

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** Only 2015, 2010 and 2005 **
**** Snell 2005 will be legal until 2021 ****

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Where Are We Today??
By Ruben Cruz

This is a recap of our cross country trip to retrieve an antique vanity that my wife left behind 27 years ago, thinking it wasn't a good idea to move it around with us while we were in the Military. Planning for the trip started about a year and a half ago with the search for an SUV that could tow a small trailer, be comfortable enough to travel in, and reliable enough to drive cross country without a hiccup. In came my wife's ML350, (we kinda splurged a bit). Next was the search for a trailer that I could buy close to our destination, and I found that in Indiana near the manufacturing plant at a great price.

Planning the trip itself was easy because the only thing we set was a departure date and dinner in Springfield Illinois on day 3. This trip was going to be made using paper maps and the route would be decided as we went along. I know that sounds crazy to all you smart phone and planning addicts, but I wanted to go back to the unplanned trips we took in Germany, when the kids were young and we wandered the countryside looking for fun stuff. I did however, join AAA for discounts, free maps and travel guides as we crossed the country, pretty sure I saved more than my membership cost. 

The trip started Sat morning with a planned stop in Klamath Falls, but we never made it. We decided to take a back road to Lakeview instead. I quickly realized that I would need to be more prepared whenever I left main roads, because there was nothing on this road to Lakeview in the way of traveler services. We also found out that the road to Winnemucca was about as desolate as a road can be; we only saw 4 cars on that stretch of road.

On our first day we got to see the salt flats in Wendover, too bad speed week was the week before our trip. We got to Park City late and pretty much had time to eat and plan the next day’s route, which would surely be abandoned once we got going, but I wanted to have an idea of where we wanted to drive.

The next morning we headed out and then quickly abandoned the route and headed south on some road in Colorado that took us into Fort Collins. After lunch we continued our trip that ended in Wakeeney, Kansas. I actually ran out of washer fluid (6 liters) between Denver and Wakeeney, as I tried to wash off the thousands of GIANT bugs that tried to break my windshield. I also saw the biggest raindrops in my life while driving through Kansas, glad we don't have that in Oregon. 

Day 3 was my favorite day. We had dinner in Springfield, Illinois with friends we had not seen since 1997. This is where having navigation would have been nice, but I managed to find the hotel and restaurant using my "ruby homing skills", as my wife put it. Dinner was great and we got to talking as if we had only been apart a short time. We talked about old friends, Army stuff, kids and random crap that popped into our heads. The place had been closed almost an hour when we realized we were the only ones there but the waitress didn't seem to mind us catching up on almost 20 years of life, and I was thankful they stayed. This day alone was well worth the trip.

Day 4 took us into Indiana through back roads to pick up the trailer. My wife saw many yard sales along the way and quickly wanted to fill the trailer, go figure. I had other things in mind since Indianapolis Motor Speedway was conveniently nearby. We spent a while at the museum as the staff kept an eye on me because I couldn't keep my hands off the displays. We had a great lunch nearby and continued on our trip, except this time we stayed on the interstate since we had spent too much time in Indianapolis. We drove into Pittsburgh after dark, and were glad we did, as we got to enjoy the big city lights as we exited the Fort Pitt Tunnel. 

Our stay in PA was great fun as usual. It was filled with the usual trips to the hoagie shop, Dairy Queen, and visiting family and friends. This year I added making a sturdy shipping box for the antique mirror off the vanity. And as always, I did get plenty of naps, since I was on vacation after all. 

Our return trip took much longer, and this is when we kept forgetting where we were at, or had been, or what day it was. We took time to drive through Amish country in Ohio and Indiana. We made a lengthy stop at the Studebaker Museum in South Bend. Our first night landed us in Kenosha, WI just north of Chicago. From here our trip was pretty much anyone's call. We did stop in Wisconsin Dells, kinda a big deal in Wisconsin for some reason. It was about this time that we realized that we needed more time for this trip. The farther we drove west the more we wanted to stop and see the sights. We stopped often going through the Dakota's and we're planning a trip just for this area. Who would have thought there was so much history in this part of the country. We did make a stop at the Badlands in South Dakota, and visited Craters of the Moon National Park in Utah. The landscape at the Craters of the Moon looked as if we were on another planet, as we were surrounded by lava beds and lava flows as far as we could see.

Our final leg of the trip brought us back through The Gorge, and of course, the rain was there to greet us. After traveling thousands of miles we realized that we really missed the weather and scenery of Oregon. It also made us think of how many great places there are all over the country, and that a trip like this is something that everyone should take at least once in their lifetime. We are already looking forward to another trip.

I know most car peeps want to go fast but I encourage everyone to slow it down a bit and jump in their favorite ride and take a trip. Maybe you want to take Old Route 66 or just drive across country to visit National Parks, whatever it is get out and enjoy yourself as you travel. Just don't forget that getting there is part of the adventure.  


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