MAY 18-19: Heading Home & Afterthoughts

Like most of our days on this quest, May 18 had a mixture of unexpected disappointment and fantastic-ness. Our appearance at the Santa Monica/ LA Children’s Hospital Walk & Play event didn’t happen, for logistical reasons. When that appearance fell through, we changed gears and decided to head home a couple of hours earlier than anticipated. Mitch and his son Jonathan headed out for Hoover Dam, Las Vegas, and other sights-to-be-seen on the way back to Ohio. I bummed another night’s stay in Phoenix from Mike and his wife Karla. First, I followed Mike carefully out of the wretched Los Angeles traffic circus until we could relax a little and motor together (mostly over I-10) back to his Phoenix home. Mike is a master navigator, knows his way around the American Southwest, and has successfully led us around all over the place on this Route 66 tour, so we should ALWAYS include him on any future road trips in that area of the country! Turns out, when I arrived at Mike’s Phoenix home, I was almost exactly at 3,000 miles driving from the odometer reading of 1,000, when we left Chicago from Allison’s house. So, that’s how much Aardvark has driven since our trip formally began. It’ll be fun to see how many total miles I’ve driven when I make it back to Waynesville, NC.

Mike and I had time to reassemble a headlight on my Aardvark Cobra which had apparently shaken loose during the trip. I’ll still try to finish my trip home during daylight hours, but now have some trustworthy nighttime illumination in a pinch. I also installed the cheesy “ROUTE 66 END SANTA MONICA PIER” sticker on my windshield. Karla made us a wonderful supper, we got to lavish some attention on Lewis, the most wonderful dog you could wish for, and then catch F1 qualifying on TV for the Italian Grand Prix. Great ending to a day of hard driving from Santa Monica.

I left Phoenix early Sunday, May 19, hoping for Amarillo, TX,  before dark. Mike routed me over some incredibly scenic roads between Phoenix, Flagstaff, and the I-10 highway heading East to Amarillo. . We’d driven one of these roads last week, AZ highway 87, but today, doing it solo and in the opposite direction, was eye-opening. Awesome mesa, butte, and Saguaro Cactus scenery all over the place. Plus, fun-driving twisty climbs and descents on the well-maintained roadways. No photos though: I was too busy driving, and the Cobra demands full driver attention at all times. Maybe refer to Mitch’s pics from our earlier visit to this area.

Once i made it to I-10, I just had to hammer down for a few hundred miles with all my new highway friends. EVERYONE seems to like the Aardvark, they wave or take photos on the road, and folks talk endlessly at gas stops. I gave away dozens of our swag items today to anyone who expressed interest in the car, or our charities. We decided that our campaign for donations will continue until May 31…no slowing down til then. The most fun conversations happened at two separate gas stops, where I was approached by guys who knew my car was a Factory Five Racing Roadster! I’d already passed one guy on the road, and he’d exclaimed to his co-worker “Hey, that’s my dream car, i want to build one of those!”. Then, we stopped at the same place for gasoline and long car-talk ensued. The next stop, two motorcycle guys came over, and one guy said, “Thats a Factory Five, isn’t it?” I gave ’em all everything I had, and now I hope both sets of guys either buy a FFR or donate to our charities…or BOTH! 


Lynn called ahead and got me a motel room in Amarillo, where i arrived just at dusk. Before checking in, the desk clerk was excited about the Aardvark, so wanted to photo it for his internet buddies. I got him to sit in the cockpit, too. He is too young to have understood the significance of the car in sportscar history, but was excited about the V8, the shape, the paint, and the wheels. Me too! 

Food was needed after a long driving day, so I went next door to “Big Texan Steak Ranch”, a Western ranch/circus-atmosphere kind of place. It’s the home of the 72 ounce steak challenge. Apparently, if you eat the whole 72 oz  steak supper with no help, it’s free. Are you kidding me?! I ordered an 8 oz. steak and couldn’t finish it! 

Afterthoughts: I miss being home after three weeks on the road. I miss Lynn and the dogs and our usual humdrum of daily life. BUT I also love the things we saw and did, and the people we met, on this three week driving quest. You can’t have trip experiences without putting yourself out there, so I’m glad we did. Everything did NOT go according to plan, affording us many adventures, and meetings with people we otherwise wouldn’t have come in contact with. The swag items from our sponsors and our charities were invaluable for sparking conversations, and showing appreciation. The cool printed handouts Mike and his daughter Allison invented were super-helpful in describing our mission, and giving info for encouraging easy donations. Of course, we all agreed it was really helpful having the FFR Aardvark along on the trip, as it grabbed LOTS of attention for our charities. We’ll take it along on all future epic road quests! 

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