Wednesday, November 30, 2016

2,466 Miles of Adventure!

Camry = 114,000 miles and counting

I hope you had a good Thanksgiving, ate some great food, and spent some time with family and friends! To accomplish all of those things I probably could have stayed home, BUT, what kind of boring NMS blog would that be? So, the NMS-North team loaded up the trusty 2011 Toyota Camry, and headed out on a multi-state 11-day trip. We covered a lot of Interstate and non-Interstate, and saw some unusual things along the way, but honestly, mostly had a great time with family and friends! That's my way of saying that family and friends come first, and doing all the fun car stuff in the world comes second.

Driving for hours every day is fun if you're into it, and staying safe is what it's all about. I really enjoyed the drive from Virginia into the hills of West Virginia and Kentucky. After that it was a bit flatter going through Cincinnati, but thank goodness for a well timed lunch stop at my favorite restaurant in the world, Skyline Chili in Cincinnati. From there we drove a lot of cornfields through Indiana to get to Chicago, so the main highlight there was the huge number of windmills in a wind energy farm in northwestern Indiana along I-65. You can read more about the Meadow Lake Wind Farm on their website: Meadowlake Wind Farm

First off, the things we DIDN'T stop and see but drove right past included the Chicago Bears game last Sunday as we cruised by Soldier Field in Chicago. Then on the way back to Virginia, on the Ohio Turnpike I-80, we cruised right by the Lordstown Ohio Chevrolet Cruze factory. This place has built over 16 MILLION vehicles since opening in 1966! Since they weren't giving away any free samples we just kept going, and you can read about Lordstown GM plant at Lordstown.

Cruze plant from the Ohio Turnpike

Believe it or not, the same thing happened on the Indiana Turnpike when we went right by the home of Tire Rack: no free samples! They also didn't ask me to test some tires on their track, NOTHING! That's OK, we still like Tire Rack for getting the tires you need delivered right to your door! If you find yourself up there in the northeast part of Indiana, you might also detour down I-69 and check out the Auburn, Cord, and Duisenberg Museum in Auburn Indiana of all places!

We also didn't stop in South Bend Indiana for the Studebaker Museum, but you can check out their website: Studebaker Museum  I hear they play a game called football in South Bend too, maybe you've heard of Notre Dame University?

Unfortunately, we saw the end result of some very bad looking accidents, so let me just remind you that it's never worth driving in unsafe conditions, and it's worth being late once in a while when the roads just aren't safe. Just off the Interstate near the Ohio-Pennsylvania border we saw a pick up truck that had somehow gone off the road and went straight on in to a tree. Even with air bags and seat belts, I don't know how it turned out since we were just driving past the accident scene that had a lot of emergency crews on site. Drive safe!

Later, on the stretch of I-70 south of Breezewood on the PA Turnpike, we hit some very thick fog. I mean it was super thick! We slowed down when the visibility dropped to only a few car lengths, so I'm glad to report that we soon dropped in elevation and the fog lifted. I've been driving a few decades, but the thickness level of that fog was off the charts, and I think next time I see anything like it I'll get off the road. Drive safe!

Along I-81 in the little bit of it that goes into West Virginia, we were cruising at speed when the traffic ahead slowed a bit, which at first I thought was due to an oversize load ahead. Well, that was part of it, but just then we saw fire trucks on the other side of the divided highway, and they were shooting water on to a burning semi-truck that pretty much had the cab already totally burned up. Needless to say the traffic north bound was totally stopped. We got by the oversize swimming pool load, which believe it or not we would then pass two more times later in Virginia! Drive safe!

On one stretch of road off of the Interstate in Virginia, we saw a guy that had parked his pickup in the median, and he was on the side of the road pulling something heavy with a rope. Not sure what that was until we got close and drove by, but it sure looked like he was dragging a big old black bear that probably had been hit by a vehicle. Believe it or not, just a few days before this we had dinner in Grayling Michigan at a restaurant named "Dead Bear Brewing." True story, and if you're up there in the middle of the upper lower peninsula of Michigan, I can recommend their food and their Hefeweizen beer!  Dead Bear Brewing

One related safety tip I've gathered over the years is that if you are about to hit a large wild animal, that you should probably just go ahead and hit it, since you'll have more control over your vehicle than the many people that try to steer around an animal and end up losing control as they over-correct and then crash. Nothing against the animals out there on the roads, but we kind of favor the safety of the human drivers a bit more if that's our only choice. Drive safe!

So in total, about 2,466 miles on the ol' Camry, no issues at all, and thanks to having tires that are in good shape, the miles of hilly roads, snow in MI, the PA Turnpike, several days of rain, and all the rest were a piece of cake. Drive safe!

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