Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Cross Country Road Trip: Cali to Carolina

All my life, I've wanted to drive across the country, and finally my wish came true. My sister, who is currently serving in the United States Navy, is stationed in a little bodunk town in South Carolina called Goose Creek. Because she has such a busy schedule with her schooling and work, she asked me to find her a car in California with specific characteristics in mind, and then drive it to her from California. My budget was thin, and time was short, so I started right away looking for an automatic, four-door, air-conditioned economy car that she could depend on to get her where she needed to go. Because fuel efficient cars are all the rage right now, finding one that was in good enough shape to pass my standards seemed like quite the daunting task. However, working at a car lot has its advantages, and our inventory had exactly what she was looking for. I eventually made a deal with a woman who was selling her 1999 Nissan Altima GXE with under 100k miles. It certainly wasn't perfect, but because it was enough under budget, I could afford to fix the few problems it did have.
After the car had been updated with fresh parts and a new stereo, I began preparations for the journey across America with my co-driver, who also happened to be my better half. When planning a long road trip through large expanses of open road, you must make sure to bring proper supplies. A couple quarts of oil, some coolant, and lots of water are an absolute must in situations where you will be traveling with unknown variables. Keep in mind that weather is unpredictable, and cars are not indestructible. The longer the trip, the more likely something will fail. Luckily for me I didn't run into anything scary the entire trip. After you take care of the important things, you can focus on having fun. 
We began our trip in San Jose, CA, and snaked our way through the Midwest in some of the hottest weather you could imagine. For those of us who live on the West Coast, perfect weather is something of a commonplace, but once you get out of the Bay Area, it's very, very hot. I don't think we experienced temperatures under 90 degrees anywhere except Arizona, where it was raining so hard, we couldn't see the front of the giant semi's we were passing at eighty mph. Which was only slightly unnerving from the passengers seat. Throughout the trip we came across some seriously cool rides, and some that simply make you question the human race. However, I realize that not everyone's taste is as good as mine, so I had to become slightly more open-minded to the, ahem, more "creative" cars we came across. So here they are, the crazy cars of America, and some of my slightly twisted thoughts on them.
What we have here is what looks like a completely unmolested Buick Grand National. At first glance, the untrained eye would look right through this bad boy, but to those who know what lurks beneath the hood, this is an automotive treasure rarely seen on the road. Back in the day, Buick was having fantastic luck with the 3.8L turbo-6 in NASCAR, so in 1982 they dubbed the updated version of the Buick Regal, the Grand National for the racing series. It went on to compete and win several different races throughout the early eighties with this potent little motor. Unfortunately, there are very few of these cars left around to drool on, but this ones owner seems to know what they are doing. 
AND, this is where it gets weird. This car is obviously a DONK'D Ford Crown Victoria. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, DONKS are the most useless cars in existence. Anytime you have to cut out the fender wall to accommodate your over-the-top wheels, you're doing it wrong. Unless of course you live down south and your "rep" depends on creating obnoxious, ugly, rides that a Prius could out-handle. Seriously, I'm positive that a Prius would be faster round a track than this thing.
Now here's something I never thought I'd see in the states. Remember the article I wrote about those crazy Japanese cars that were all thunder, no lightning? Well this is just like that, except worse. Whoever owns this thing obviously doesn't care about performance, or else they wouldn't have done this to their car. Not that it really matters, seeing as its not very performance oriented anyway. Although I must say, if you want something that's cheap, fun, and gaudy, this is the way to go. There is no better way to express ones personality than through their car, and I can only imagine what the owner of this thing is like. Believe it or not, it was parked in same Navy school parking lot my sister goes to. Those crazy kids.
And last but certainly not least, my personal favorite from the entire trip is this custom bike with Super Mario Brothers themed paint. I suppose it's the nerd in me, but because I've never seen anything on a chopper even remotely close to this, I give the man props. It takes a lot of cojones to rock that paint job, but he pulls it off pretty well without a helmet and his biker girlfriend riding behind him. I wish I had taken a better picture, but it was a spur of the moment kind of thing, and I was lucky I got to snap one at all. When the time came that I had to head towards the airport, I experienced mixed feelings. I felt accomplished that I got to check off something on my bucket list, and I was excited to head home. In the end, my sister was happy with the car, I enjoyed the sights, sounds, and heat of the South, and I can say I've done something few other Americans have had the opportunity to do. If ever you get the chance to go on a cross country road trip, do it. It was one of the most fun experiences of my life, and I'm crossing my fingers that I get to do it again. If you have any questions, comments, or stories to share, leave a comment in the box below. Be sure to subscribe for future Wheels and Deals news and info!

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