That wasn’t a vacation, it was an adventure

hot-rod-power-tour

Well, that was quite the “vacation”.  Actually, I wouldn’t call it a vacation.  I’d call it an adventure.  My typical vacation usually consists of going to some island and generally relaxing.  I’ll sleep until I feel like getting up, maybe take in a few tourist sites, definitely a lot of beach time, and go to sleep whenever.  This vacation was quite different.

The Route

The Hot Rod Power Tour is an annual traveling car show, visiting 7 cities in 7 days, and the route changes every year.  This year was:
Madison, WI
Champaign, IL
St. Louis, MO
Memphis, TN
Birmingham, AL
Gulfport, MS
Baton Rouge, LA

The official route was about 1500 miles, driving about 200-300 miles per day.  Getting to/from the starting and stopping points is up to you and was another 1500 miles in my case.  The standard routine is:  you get up in the morning, drive 200-300 miles, attend a car show in the next town, have dinner, check out the cars in your hotel parking lot, get some sleep, and repeat.  Sounds pretty simple, and pretty interesting to be in a new town every day.

gto-new-vs-oldGTO:  New versus Old

Starting with the first evening, my buddy and I got into a late-night wrenching session (more work on the car).  Even though I sunk over $4000 preparing the car for the 3000 mile trip, Continue Reading →

Take the Road Less Traveled

power-tour

There are a couple reasons why I choose to be relatively frugal.  One of them is that I like to skimp in areas such that I can spend in others.  After all, there’s only a finite money supply coming into my pockets, so I choose to spend it wisely.  And one of the best ways to spend wisely is to value experiences over material possessions.  For me, and I’m thinking a lot of others, travel is one such way to enjoy new experiences.  Memories (and photos) of a trip last far longer than that new cellphone or gadget.

Power Tour

I have spent a lot of time (and unfortunately, money) preparing for an upcoming trip.  Most of my past trips involved an airplane ride to some far away destination, usually outside of the USA.  This trip is a little different.  It’s a good old-fashioned road trip.  And it’s a road trip like no other.  It’s the Hot Rod Magazine Power Tour.  It’s packed with approximately 3000 cars that travel from town to town over the course of a week.  Seven cities in seven days, covering over 1500 miles.  As you can see in the first picture, it’s quite a parade!  There’s a lot of new cars, old cars, hot rods, big loud roaring engines, burn outs and very unique cars!  And they trigger old memories of a car once owned.  A snapshot of their previous life:  Illegal street racing, going to the (real) drive-through, sneaking friends in the gigantic trunk into the drive-in theater, first dates, shenanigans in the back seat, or previous road trips taken.

One thing that’s nice about the Power Tour is that they try to avoid using interstates and drive a lot of the state highways and local roads.  It’s a great way to see Americana, which you don’t get to see whizzing by at 75 MPH on the interstates.  It’s something I love doing whenever I do a road trip.  Take a new path to get to a frequent destination.  Stop by some mom and pop store or awesome homemade cooking restaurant.

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You get to slow down and enjoy the view.  And the locals enjoy the business, the temporary excitement in town, and maybe even a new friendship.

power-tour-3

 

My Memories

As I mentioned, I’ve been quite busy lately trying to get my car ready.  After all, I’m a little concerned about it’s road-worthiness, as it’s nearly 50 years old.  And it’s been 24 years since it was restored.  You see, this trip isn’t all about what lies ahead.  It’s also about remembering the past memories.  My father and I bought this car 24 years ago, and restored it together.  It’s what my dad and I did together.  We worked on cars.  We went to car shows.  He’d relive his past and tell me stories.  It was the together time that I cherished, as he didn’t have much time while working a full-time job plus a part-time job trying to provide for his family.  But we worked on cars.  We worked on his cars.  And when I got old enough, we worked on my cars.  But our last car together has sat nearly silent for the last seven years, when he passed away.  I would still visit once a year and take it to the Midwest’s largest car show, the Iola Old Car Show.  But it’s not right to have this memory (car) sit 363 days a year and only drive it 30 miles, only to sit another 363 days to be awoken again.  So last summer I bought it to its new home…my home.  And I got this crazy idea to go on the Hot Rod Power Tour.

What was I thinking?  This was nearly 3000 miles!  In the last 7 years, the car has only seen around 300 miles total!  In the last 24 years, the car has only seen 6000 miles.  And I want to put on 3000 in a week?  I couldn’t help but think that dad might roll over in his grave.  But then, maybe he’d be proud that I’d be out enjoying the car, showing it to others to enjoy, and not rotting away hidden in a garage.  Maybe it’s a great way to relive some of my memories with my dad.  Maybe dad would “ride along” with me and enjoy it too?

It’s not an inexpensive trip.  Getting the car ready, just doing some maintenance and replacing some old parts (like 24 year old tires!) cost $4000.  (That’s a fraction of what the car is worth, so it’s not a ton in the big picture…not like sinking $2000 of repairs into a car that’s only worth $2500 when fixed.)  The trip itself won’t be cheap either.  3000 miles at around 12 MPG and it has to burn premium fuel is about $800 in gasoline, plus 7 nights in hotels (mostly budget hotels….Super 8, except one night on crazy Beale St. in Memphis) and 7 days of dining out.  This trip will be more expensive than most of my international trips!

I know that a frugal lifestyle shuns car ownership due to the costs.  I still like to think that being frugal allows us to be able to spend money wisely elsewhere.  This car, this hobby, and this road trip is one of those places I choose to spend wisely.  It’s a way for me to keep my father’s memory alive, and to make new memories of my own.  How do you assign value to that?  One more thing.  This isn’t the typical car where you lose nearly 20% of it’s value just by driving it off the dealer’s lot, or losing nearly 90% of it’s value in 10 years or less.  Since we’ve owned this car, it has tripled in value.  So while there is some maintenance, storage and insurance costs, one could consider it an investment.  As such, I’ve actually included it’s value in my net worth, because it’s a fairly large number.

Here’s a picture of my(our) car…  a 1966 Pontiac GTO Convertible, with the original 389 c.i. engine.  Vrooom.

GTO