Guest Blog – The Long Overdue Road Trip

Please welcome Stoly, my first guest blogger here on revlimiter.net. He’s doing a circuit from Texas to Denver with a couple stops in NM on the way. Geoff is a great friend and excellent writer. This should be quite an adventure to follow.

Expect a few posts from me as well as another guest blogger in the coming weeks. And please treat Stoly and Flipper with as much kindness as you show me and Sharka.

thanks!

rev
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Prelude

For as long as Adam and I have known each other we’ve always found our conversations turning to how we need to get together with our Miatas and do some spirited drives around the ABQ area.  That time is finally upon us!  The stars have aligned and these next two weeks are going to be a whirlwind of adventures concluding with two of my best friends finally shaking hands.  But that’s not my story to tell so I’ll just leave it at that.  This blog will be updated as the adventures unfold.

Time to drive!

Day One (532 miles)

I had several theories about how to tackle the first day.  In the end, I slept in and spent time with my wife before heading out.  That put me in the high desert of I-10 west just after 1PM.  I’d probably recommend getting up a tad earlier and trying to get out of south Texas before the sun makes its daily 40-mile-from-the-surface-of-the-Earth self known.  2 gallons of Gatorade and 1 gallon of water kept me hydrated as I became my own swamp cooler.  My sun tan, however, is never going to be the same.  My arms look like they should belong to two seperate people.

I-10 is beyond brutal and by 3PM I was thankful to be in Ft. Stockton and stopped to refill Flipper and myself.  The obligitory filling-up-with-petrol photo.

Ft. Stockton Petrol Stop

Ft. Stockton Petrol Stop

My route was relatively simple.  Go left on the map until you get to Highway 285, turn right and head north to Roswell.  Simply put, boring.  At just over 100 degrees, I didn’t stop much along the way but there were a few incidents along 285 that had me testing the worth of the middle pedal.

Incident One – For the most part the Texas section of 285 is one lane in each direction.  Other than several rolling hills you can see ahead of you and behind you for miles and miles.  I ran all day with the cruise control set at 4K which is around 77MPH according to GPS so getting passed was a big part of the trip, especially on I-10 where the speed limit is 80.  I digress.  What appeared to be a nice old lady (I looked over as she passed me and she was smiling) in a Sante Fe passed me and just as she got a few car lengths in front of me a Dodge 2500 crested a rise in the road.  I’m gonna guess he was nearly a mile out when I spotted him.  The nice old lady had apparently forgotten that this is just a two lane highway…  Now, I don’t know if this is common along 285 but I gotta tip my hat to the driver of the truck.  As they near each other he doesn’t swerve nor flash his lights.  I, of course, have come to nearly a complete stop and am slowing pulling onto the shoulder to give him as much room as he might need and also to jot down our coordinates via GPS for the helicopter I’m certain is about to be dispatched.  At the last second the driver of the truck moved over to his shoulder and they passed without so much as a scrape.  I was stunned.  Half a mile later she seemed to realize that the oncoming lane was really tiny and finally moved back over.  With so little traffic I putted for a few miles and let her go.

Incident Two – I too managed to get some passing in along the way.  Mainly RVs, semis, and Ford Tempos belching smoke.  One such RV was cresting a long left hand corner and then we had a good mile or so of straight away.  Two trucks are heading our way so I keep my distance to start the calculations for a safe pass.  Truck one zips by and I engage the passing protocol and begin speeding up so I can get around the RV as quickly as possible.  Just as I get in position to go I hear, “ppsssssttttt!!”.  Figuring I’d just taken something in a tire I immediately back off and let the car slow down.  I’d figured wrong.  Wasn’t my tire that was about to go, it was one of the tires on the RV trailer.  And it didn’t just go, it exploded!  After the violent explosition of rubber, the remaining pieces went up through the floor of the RV and started dumping parts and pieces all over the road.  There were pieces of tire, plastic, insulation, and I think feathers flying all over the place.

Spent the rest of the trip wondering what was next…  seems things like this happen in 3s.  Thankfully the rest of the trip was uneventful.  The scorching sun did finally hide behind several storms brewing from the west which made the late afternoon drive much more pleasant than the mid-day portion.  I dropped the top at the state line.

NM Border

NM Border

Made one final stop in Loving, NM to reload on Gatorade.  If you ever hear the words, “You’ve won a three night stay in Loving, NM!”, yeah, just pass on that.  Did provide a chance to take a picture showing the storms that seemed to be chasing me into NM.

Loving, NM

Loving, NM

And 532 miles later I arrive in one piece in Roswell, NM!  Flipper ran like a champ but did run a tick high in the water department during the hotest part of the day.  Fluids are fine and it was primarily during long uphill portions of the drive.  Cruise control and the much more comfortable 10AE seats allowed me to drive bare foot and stretch out for most of the drive.

In for the night!  Started sprinkling about ten minutes after I got Flipper all buttoned up for the night.  Normally I’d find reason to complain about the rain.  Today it felt like a reward to  a long hot day in the sun.

Roswell, NM

Roswell, NM

Random Thoughts

Didn’t see another Miata all day.  I usually see at least one on any trip but today I didn’t see another nor did I see any cops.  I take that back; there was a Trooper on the side of the road about five miles before Ft. Stockton but he was helping a stranded driver.  Not a single police car on patrol the entire trip.

Waze is really cool.  If you have an iSomething, I’d highly recommend it.  It’s a social media interactive GPS system.  Yes, it’s lacking in little ways but is a great road trip GPS.  If you’re using Waze you can post hazards, police (hidden or visible), disabled cars, traffic, etc.  You can also see what other’s have posted.

Finally, I can’t thank Adam enough for opening his blog up to an amateur like me.

 

– Geoff –

Day Two, Part One. (A measly 287 miles)

Captain’s Log.  17 June 2012.  Roswell, NM.  A party palace by anyone’s standards.  That notwithstanding, I have a 10 year old to shop for.  I’m on a mission.  A mission I cannot refuse.

Roswell UFO Museum

Roswell UFO Museum

Bobble Head Alien?  Check.  10 year old happy?  Check.  Time to hit the road!

Since I spent most of yesterday touring the available condo’s on the fourth floor of the surface of the Sun, I thought today I’d kick back and take it easy.  Less than 300 miles to ABQ and a fully charged iPod.  30 Seconds to Mars help keep the miles clicking by.

Just North of Roswell, NM

Just North of Roswell, NM

There is more scenery in the reflection of my sunglasses then ahead.  Look!

500 Miles.  Of this.

500 Miles. Of this.

All kidding aside, the drive from Roswell to Albuquerque went off without a hitch.  Well, almost.  I’m a huge Gatorade fan.  I figured out post haste that my favourite flavour, Grape, is the least tempting at 107 degrees ambient temperature.  Cold?  Perfect.  Slightly warm?  Awkward.  Starting to bubble?  I will lick a scorpion’s tail.  Sideways.  Twice.  Orange is the only flavour that seems to hold up to temperature.  The car held up perfectly.  Mankind’s desire to space apart small towns by 300 miles might need to be evaluated.  But in the end, I found salvation!

ABQ!

ABQ!

1/3-ish of my journey is complete!  I rolled into ABQ around 2PM and that’s when the fun really began…

 

Day Two, Part Two.

What fun would a road trip be without having some fun?!?  I got into ABQ and quickly dropped off my luggage and checked into my hotel.  10 minutes later and I’m on my way to Adam’s for some relaxation, tinkering, and of course, photos!  I desperately needed to wash off all the murdered bugs as well as fill up so the gauge install would be easier.  4 miles out from the Revlimiter Laboratory I finally took my very first car wash photo!

At the Car Wash

At the Car Wash

Our first task was to tackle my lack of a belly pan in hopes of addressing my tick-high-in-high-heat water temp situation.  Oops, I lie.  First up was a much needed cocktail and a little relaxation as we sat around and caught up on our lives and laying out a strategy to squeeze every ounce of fun out of the next two weeks.  If Day Two is any indication, the next two weeks will be talked about for years to come.  Especially when the third amigo makes it to ABQ!  Can’t wait!  Adam has several political ad signs which are perfect for fabricating a belly pan.  I get the feeling he’s done this a time or two…

Man With The Plan

Man With The Plan

Chill!

Chill!

Did I mention I got to drool all over Sharka?!?  Pan was a quick endeavour and thank you again, Adam, for not only making it but also for the free installation!  Before we could take advantage of the early evening we needed to finally complete the gauge cluster and get my new gauges in.  I’d actually planned on coming out last month and bringin the pod with me; however, my flight got cancelled so we decided to just do it once I got to ABQ.

For everyone that has ever wondered what the Revlimiter Laboratory looks like, here you go.

The Lab

The Lab

The gauge process was…  well, for me, facinating.  I volunteered to watch before we went down the path of drawing straws.  And I took a lot of mental notes as well as some photos of the process as I’ll have another set to tackle once Scrat is back home.  Granted he’s done 10’s of them, but that notwithstanding, I was really impressed with how easy it appears and how quickly he was able to make the swap.

OEM Out!

OEM Out!

Neat little needle removal tool that I’ll defer to Adam for details about.  I don’t even know what it is technically named.  I just know it made quick work of removing the needles and was picture worthy.  After removing all the OEM gauges it was time to tackle the needle stoppers.  Now this was the portion that made me the most nervous from afar.  Seeing the process in the Lab still makes this the portion of the process I’m still most nervous about.  Basically, yeah, nothing has changed but it was fun watching him utilize the newly developed tester!  A quick swipe with an X-Acto knife and the needles are free.

For a Noble Cause

For a Noble Cause

Practice Makes Perfect

Practice Makes Perfect

Perfection

Perfection

With the hard part accomplished it was time to reassemble and install so we could head out for some photos and food.

Three Clicks to Completion

Three Clicks to Completion

Needle Time!

Needle Time!

So Much Awesome

So Much Awesome

I had to laugh as I was going through my photos last night.  I think Flipper is the Lindsey Lohan of the Miata Community.  It was once pretty, got smashed, went through rehab, and now gets photographed on every outing!  Adam took me to a few of his favourite spots before heading into town for some much needed nourishment.

Broken Glass

Broken Glass

Sun Burst

Sun Burst

Where The Road Ends

Where The Road Ends

Flipper's Good Side

Flipper’s Good Side

Exterior Shot of Adam Working on Interior Shots

Exterior Shot of Adam Working on Interior Shots

Who would’ve thought finding food in ABQ on a Sunday evening would prove to be so difficult.  Third time was a charm and the burger at High Noon was worth the wait.  With our tummys full it was time to head back and time for me to let Adam remind himself what a normally aspirated 1.6L feels like vs. his 1.8L turbo.  I don’t think he’ll ever go back.

Chasing the Sunset

Chasing the Sunset

Flipper at Dusk

Flipper at Dusk

Cooler Temps are Nearly Here!

Cooler Temps are Nearly Here!

Kids, don’t try this at home!

Action Shot!

Action Shot!

All in all, it was an awesome day and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to hang out with Adam and his family today.  Much more to come!  I was pretty whipped by the time I got back to my hotel so for now an iPhone photo of the gauges will have to suffice.

Gauges at Night

Gauges at Night

Day 2 Addendum

The lengths we go to for a photo...

The lengths we go to for a photo…

Rev here. I had to step in quickly and add just a small bit to this blog. That small bit is the photo above.

We were cruising along my favorite backroad when I hear a seatbelt unsnap. I look over and Stoly is sort of slowly rising out of his seat with camera in hand. He leeeaaannnnnns over the door and starts snapping. I laughed and kept the car straight. The product of this hard work is that rolling wheel shot above.

A man and his car.

A man and his car.

I also have to add this. This shot is from my Flipper Spotlight post, but it really needs to be in here as well. It is one of the finest car shots I’ve ever taken. Totally spontaneous. No second chance. I didn’t need it.

-Adam

Day Three

First and foremost, thanks for the addendum Adam!  Looking forward to more shots and stories from you as this trip unfolds.  Full disclosure; part of this trip is work related so there will, unfortunately, be days where I’m in a rental car and not enjoying Flipper.  Today was a bit of both and after a full day of work I decided to head out for a quick drive to unwind from the toils of work.  A quick look at the map and I decided to pick a route I’d done before, albeit in a rental car.  The Plan became clear as day…  Scouting Mission!  Decided to head up to Sandia Crest and hit up the Monte Carlo for dinner.  Both will be repeated this trip but I needed to make sure the road was good and that the food was still up to our standards.  That’s just the kind of friend I am.

Dropped the top and headed east on Route 66 (Central Ave. in ABQ) and managed to make it about 10 miles before running into another roadster.

Family Resemblance?

Family Resemblance?

Having owned a slew of old English cars I had to stop and see what the issue was.  As I pulled up he was just sitting there cranking it over.  Not sure what the theory was but it wasn’t panning out well for him.  I asked him to kindly stop draining the battery and tell me what the issue is.  “Starving for gas”, he replied.  My inside voice, “then why sit there and simply drain the battery when that isn’t going to help?!?”  My outside voice asked him to pop the fuel cap and let the fuel system stabilize to the new altitude.  He did and I took the opportunity to snap a few shots.

'77 MG

’77 MG

His mid-life crisis

His mid-life crisis

Guarding the Wounded

Guarding the Wounded

In the end it was the typical SU carb vapour locking issue and he was soon running and on his way.  And so was I.

Base Camp

Base Camp

And a fun 14 miles it is!  I’ll definitely be making this drive again once my wife gets here this weekend.  There are lots of great roads in the greater ABQ area but I’ve not found one with the vista of Sandia Crest.

The Sign That Designed the Smile

The Sign That Designed the Smile

The View

The View

Sandia Crest

Sandia Crest

I Do What I Want!

I Do What I Want!

I’m happy to report that the road is in great shape with no major potholes, construction, or other hazards.  With that mission accomplished it was time to ensure one of our watering holes is still alive and kicking.

The Monte Carlo is pseudo-famous and has been featured on Diner’s, Drive-In’s, and Dives on The Food Network.  It’s a funky old place on Route 66 that is run by a Greek family.  I admire them for not only running a great restaurant but also for combining a liquor store with a steakhouse.  How awesome is that?!?  You can enter through the rear of the building or you can go through the liquor store through the front.  I always choose the front.  There is always a group of guys sitting around watching TV and smoking and there is usually some good banter.  Through the arched doorway and you’re in the steakhouse where they cook all their steaks over open flame.  Delicious.  Such a funky old motif but I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Definately worth checking out!

The Monte Carlo

The Monte Carlo

Day Five (Over 1000 miles!  And under the car.  Again.)

The tick-high-water-temp issues revolving around Flipper seemed to point toward a bad radiator cap.  Easy peasy.  Swapped that out, however, never got the chance to drive him again on Day Four (hence no update).  Day five was again a blend of work and fun and started out perfectly.

My Awesome Wife is Somewhere on This Plane

My Awesome Wife is Somewhere on This Plane

WOOT!  My wife was able to come out for some time in ABQ and we’ll be heading up to Denver this weekend.  A quick nod to the SWA pilots for a smooth landing and we’re off to Adam’s place to hang out with him and his awesome family.  This has been a moment Adam and I have been looking forward to for a long time.  Despite our many gatherings we’ve never had the opportunity to break bread as families.  Finally!  Our spouses finally got to meet the “other guy” that exists behind the computer screen.

Thank you again for a great meal and especially for allowing us to be a part of your nightly ‘dinner and a show’.  In a word, amazing.  In two words; amazing and overdue.  Very thankful we were all finally sitting at one table and really can’t thank you enough for inviting us into your home.  Mrs. revlimiter was kind enough to cook us up a “Dave’s Pizza”.  We owe you a homecooked meal and look forward to doing just that.  With the three girls in our lives getting along so well Adam and I thought we’d do what we were designed to do.  Hunt and gather for the next meal.  Fastest way to the berries is through the garage and off we went.

Or so the story goes.

Rorschach Ink Blot

Rorschach Ink Blot

What’s the first thing that pops in your mind when you look at that ink blot?

Jack stands?!?  Good answer!

This is Getting Old...

This is Getting Old…

To recap my running hot issue…  No belly pan?  Check and corrected.  Might be the radiator cap?  Check and replaced.  Might be the fluids?  Seemed okay to me.  How about the actual OEM radiator?  Hmmm.  Hadn’t thought of that until it yelled at me.

OEM Crack

OEM Crack

Karma is a goddess.  I’m just a tick over 1000 miles into this journey and have had my wife with me for just over an hour.  I’ve driven over 600 of those miles in the middle of nowhere.  I’d even had thoughts during some of the long stretches on what I would do if something went terribly wrong.  Flipper is a trooper and never let me down and held on to the bitter end [of Adam’s street].  I made it to ABQ in 100+ degree heat with…

No belly pan, bad radiator cap, timing that WAS 10+ degrees out, and radiator fluid that looked like

Poo

Poo

What?!?

What?!?

If Life gives you one time to break down at a friends house whilst in the midst of a 2500ish mile roadtrip, Life did me well.  Guess what Adam has in his garage?

Dear Sharka, I Love You.  ~Flipper~

Dear Sharka, I Love You. ~Flipper~

What doesn’t translate into text, in any language, is the appreciation you have for another.  The reality that could have been is quickly replaced with the reality of what is.  Bad radiator?  Yup.  A great friend that just happens to have another laying around?  Yup.  That is reality.  That is what life should be all about.  My wife and I will forever talk about how lucky blessed we are to have the friends we have.  And now it’s time to have some fun!

Laugh, Shit, or go Blind!

Laugh, Shit, or go Blind!

"Tastes sweet.  Just like Death."

“Tastes sweet. Just like Death.”

Lefty Loosey!

Lefty Loosey!

I Think I'll Just Stand Here and Observe

I Think I’ll Just Stand Here and Observe

AKA – Thank god I don’t own this thing!!!

30 Minute Job = 4 Hands

30 Minute Job = 4 Hands

Revisiting the Belly Pan Theory

Revisiting the Belly Pan Theory

Deja Vu

Deja Vu

Burp Funnel!

Burp Funnel!

There was one other consideration I would be remiss to not mention in this hot mess (no pun intended).  A couple of bugs may, or may not have, had an impact (pun intended) to the cooling issues.

Bugs?  What bugs?!?

Bugs? What bugs?!?

Done!

Done!

Well, almost.  About that timing issue…  Thankfully Adam has a timing light and he was able to get Flipper running the way I’ve never experienced.  These things really are bullet-proof and I’m thankful he was able to get Flipper 10 degrees back from the ledge.  Can’t thank him enough for his help and especially his friendship.

We ended the night with a quick drive on Adam’s favourite little road where we took pictures a few days ago and I got to have a relaxing evening with my wife in the hotel room.  In a word, amazing.

Random Thoughts

Funny thing; this thing called Life.  We had an amazing time hanging out with Mr. and Mrs. revlimiter (+1!!!) tonight.  It felt like we’d all known each other for years and that we just lived down the block.  The car situation was just another reminder that if you live your life on the right side of karma, instead of the wrong, things “just have a way of working out”.

There are no ‘safe havens’ on this trip sans the 1000 square feet in front of their house.  Flipper must’ve known.  I think he knew there was an almost disposed of radiator 60′ from him.  Thank god Mrs. revlimiter told him to not throw out the radiator with the bath water.

Finally, another thank you.  To the revlimiter family, thank you.  Thank you for your hospitality and your friendship.  Friends are a rare commodity these days and our friendship will outlast all the days.

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  • revlimiter says:

    (day 1 comment)
    You’re gonna see another Miata today! Can’t wait to hang out and shoot some pix.

    Too crazy about the tire. On a past road trip, I was following a Toyota truck (beige, big tires, burned into my brain) when a huge sheet of something suddenly flew out of the bed in a direct path for my windshield. I couldn’t do anything in the time allowed. Couldn’t swerve or anything. I remember flinching as the huge, flat sheet of what I thought was wood hit my windshield… AND SHATTERED INTO A MILLION PIECES.

    The sheet, not the windshield.

    It turned out to only be a sheet of black styrofoam (BLACK?!?!). No damage. Well… my heart rate was up for about a half hour after the impact.

  • Gregg says:

    Adam – Be sure to take him up the crest road. One of my fav’s in the Evo. Man, I’ve gotta find a job in ABQ…

  • r2limited says:

    Getting excited over here…

  • Lime-Light says:

    Looks like it’s going to be an awesome trip! So weird that I was in Roswell two weeks ago on a bike. It was an 800-mile day from Salt Lake City to Roswell…wouldn’t recommend that, even in the cushy confines of a roadster 😉

  • revlimiter says:

    (day 2 comment)

    OMG, I’m a huge dork. LOL! Me under the car. Too much. I should try to contain my joy while working on cars. 🙂

    I’m gonna add a quick addendum to day 2 I think…

  • mx5 2nr says:

    It’s been years since I’ve done an epic road trip and reading this makes me wish I could call out for the next few weeks and hit the road. Lovin’ it, great read… and I’m more than a bit jelly of Flipper’s gauges…

  • Stoly says:

    Thanks for all the well wishes! And Independence Pass is on the official ‘to-do’ list for sure.

    Addendum is awesome, Adam.

  • r2limited says:

    I’m glad I replaced my crusty, brown radiator not long ago! I’m still going to pack up an emergency kit full of fix-a-flat, ZIP ties and a few choice hand tools. You never know….

  • Vash says:

    This serves as a cautionary Tale for me to take care of Yukimura’s leaky, cheap Rad installed by the PO, and those improperly cut-to-fit hoses asap, I too, experienced a couple slight over heat situations(220 degree+ on VDO temp gauge) under the brutal Texas sun, with mostly the ineffective rad to blame.

    Again, Glad to see You guys get flipper back up and running in no time, Best wishes for the rest of your stay!

  • Stoly says:

    Thanks, Vash! We’re still amazed at how lucky we were to have the only issue so far happen in front of rev’s place. And that he had a spare radiator is beyond the pale.

    And I’d definately suggest a small investment in the Cooling Department! I will be shopping for a large radiator in the near future for sure.

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