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The latest update as of September 29, 2015
Where did the last eight months go?
The older you get, the quicker the time goes. I've been hearing that refrain for years, but now I'm truly living it. It seems like there's just not enough time in each day to get everything - some days anything - done. People think that retirement gives you all the time in the world to relax and watch the days slip by. WRONG! Every one of them seems filled with more tasks than I can do, and I keep wondering how the heck I ever got anything accomplished when I was still working.
That all changes today as we start a 25-day cruise from Vancouver to Australia. You might think that sounds like a slow, boring way to travel. Au contraire; with some nicely spaced port calls, and a walking track around the Promenade Deck that never ends, the time will quickly slip into the wake that follows the ship across the Pacific. Then the real fun starts, with three weeks jaunting around the south end of Australia, seven weeks in north Queensland, and finally, a few weeks in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand.
Updates will be as sporadic as ever, but I will try to get something posted on here on at least a semi-regular basis.
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The latest update as of November 3, 2014
Where did the last week and a half go?
It's difficult to comprehend where the last ten days went. While I was on that epic road trip, the days all seemed to blur one into the next, but as soon as I got home, everything quickly ramped up to warp speed. Especially after a two-month absence. Back to work, back to the normal day-to-day routine, and the days just flashed past, like road signs on the freeway at 85 mph.
There's still lots of blanks in the (MORE) Xcellent Adventures blog, but it's roughed in now and the pictures will be coming shortly. Once I sort through sort approximately 1000 shots snapped in-car, out of the car, on the bus, on the street, and in the hotels. Lots of variety and even a few decent ones to look at. Then, the words to go with them. All I have to do is dredge up the details from the old memory banks and fill in the gaps on the adventures page.
With the drag racing season drawing to a close - or at least winding down until next spring - in the northern hemisphere, there will be time to get into the 20,000 plus pics from the six races I attended on the road trip. While they can't really be posted online without permission from NHRA or on the website that used my services, ie. SpeedZone Magazine, at least a few shots may show up in the Daily Pic section and other places on Northern Thunder.
The latest update as of October 23, 2014
In the homestretch
Today is the final day of my trip around America, and it starts with an early ferry ride from Port Angeles, WA to Victoria, BC. Then it's another ferry over to the mainland and a drive through the city to home in North Vancouver. A total of 61 days on the road, nearly 22,000 kms driven, and a really large pile of credit card receipts to go through. Plus a lifetime of great - no, fabulous - memories to sustain me through the winter and get me thinking about where the next year(s) will take me. All the updates on the More Xcellent Adventures page will be done over the weekend, after I get home and unpacked.
The latest update as of October 20, 2014
The (not so) long road home
It's Monday already and the California Hot Rod Reunion is over and done. Now all that remains is to head north along the coast and get back to beeautiful, sunny Vancouver on Thursday. It's been quite a roadtrip; nearly two months already, more than 20,000 kms when I finally get home, and some experiences and sights that will last a lifetime. Again, I apologize for the lack of updates on here, especially to the Adventures page, but it's just going to take some time to get everything wrapped up after I get home. As an example, I've still got to write a story about the PDRA race in Rockingham, and that was six weeks ago!
The latest update as of October 17, 2014
Nearing the promised land
Today will be a very long drive from Amarillo to Kingman, Arizona. MapQuest says it's nearly 12 hours, and it could be all of that and more as I'll be driving a preserved section of the orgiinal Route 66 from Seligman to Kingman, through Peach Springs and a few ghost towns. Should be fun, but it's going to be a long day. At least the weather looks good. More news tonight or tomorrow.
The latest update as of October 15, 2014
Following the trail that was blazed 88 years ago - Route 66
Sorry for the lack of updates on the Adventures page, but long days behind the wheel and short nights have taken all the energy out of me. The last two days were pretty intense, with two detours along the original Route 66 in Arizona, and I could only shake my head in wonder at what the early days on that highway were like. No cruise control, no air conditioning, no GPS...
Yesterday afternoon I reached the end of the road at the intersection of Santa Monica Boulevard and Ocean Avenue in beautiful downtown Santa Monica. This time I had no trouble finding the marker plaque that showed the terminus of Route 66 (unlike my start in Chicago) and after a quick view of the ocean and the lovely promenade, it was back in the car, out on the freeway, heading north. To Bakersfield, where I'll be attending the 23rd annual California Hot Rod Reunion for the next three days, starting this morning.
The latest update as of October 14, 2014
Route 66 from Chicago to L.A.
It's a cliche that "into each life, a little rain must fall", but when it's a LOT of rain, and it's falling HARD and FAST at 75 mph on a freeway full of white vehicles, it's really no fun at all. That was what faced me all the way from Chicago to St. Louis yesterday. It did stop for a few minutes while I had lunch in Dwight, Illinois, and posed "Big Red" for a picture in front of one of the historic Route 66 filling stations. Today's agenda is simple: down through Missouri, to Oklahoma City, on to Tulsa, and finish in Amarillo. At least the weather forecast is getting better as I head west. Next update this evening from the great state of Texas.
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The latest update as of October 13, 2014
Escape from New York and other adventures
If this is Monday.... hang on, let's check the phone and see if that's right.... Yes, it is indeed Monday, which is Thanksgiving Day in Canada and Columbus Day in America. So where are we? Gail is home safe and sound in North Vancouver after a terrible day flying the "friendly" skies of modern air travel, while I'm in.... somewhere in Indiana. It's so small that when I arrived last night, the traffic lights shut off as I cruised through town at 10 pm. So small, in fact, that you have to zoom in 8X on Mapquest just to see it appear on the map.
But it was the right place to stop last night as it would have been past midnight before I hit Chicago; the starting point of my Route 66 adventure, on the way to the California Hot Rod Reunion in Bakersfield. Today's agenda includes a quick stop at the Route 66 starting point near Lakeshore Blvd. in the Windy City, then down to St. Louis, and further into Missouri. Let's hope the weather cooperates like it did yesterday as I cruised through the beautiful countryside of Pennsylvania after escaping New York, and battling my way through New Jersey. In fact, the day's journey covered five states, as I zipped through Ohio and into Indiana after Pennsylvania. Today is just three states: Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri.
If my cold doesn't get any worse and I get stopped for the night early enough, there will be some updates from New York on the Xcellent Adventures page. In the meantime, enjoy the holiday(s) and check back later for more news as the cruise around the continent continues. By the way, the odometer passed the 15,000 km (nearly 10,000 miles) mark on the trip last night.
The latest update as of October 8, 2014
SHOCKING News from the New York subway
Rats have been discovered living in the subways of New York. Amazing, but true, as Gail and I saw them yesterday scurrying about feeding on the leavings of the million or so people that pass through the MTA system daily. As a bonus, Gail contracted a nasty cold that is trying to put a damper on our Big Apple Experience. But she's fighting through it as we managed to make it to our Broadway show (Kinky Boots) last night and for a change, didn't get lost in the underground. More news later. Possibility as late as Chicago on Sunday night.
The latest update as of October 5, 2014
New York City is about to be invaded....
A very quick update from Herkimer, New York (halfway between Syracuse and Albany) to say that we (Gail and I) are on our way to New York City today. It's going to be a leisurely drive down the Hudson River valley most of the day, and end with our arrival at the Paper Factory Hotel in Long Island City. That's just across the East River from Manhattan and barely five minutes away on the subway. Big Apple here we come!
The latest update as of September 29, 2014
On Vacation - back in two weeks
The five races in five weeks tour is over and now the real vacation begins. I stopped in Terre Haute, Indiana last night after finishing up at the Midwest Nationals near St. Louis, and today it's onward to Peterborough, Ontario. Just a little 1100 km jaunt through a few states, an international boundary, and rush hour traffic going through Toronto. A piece of cake.
For the next two weeks I'll be visiting with my girlfriend's relatives, then spending a week with her in New York city. We'll be having some great adventures there but she's not going to let me spend much time on the computer updating the travel blog or any other pages on the site, so this will possibly be the last update for two weeks.
Don't worry though as we'll have plenty of stuff to show and tell about after she flies home and I start the long drive from New York to Bakersfield for the California Hot Rod Reunion. Until then: happy trails!
The latest update as of September 28, 2014
All good things must come to an end... sooner or later
It's the final day of my final NHRA national event... for at least this year, and possibly permanently. The past five weeks have been quite a ride, starting with the 60th U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis, followed by the PDRA race at Rockingham, then the ill-fated Carolina Nationals at Charlotte, the Texas FallNationals at Dallas, and finally, here in St. Louis for the Midwest Nationals.
Now it's time for some real vacation, as I'm heading north immediately after the race concludes this afternoon, and the GPS is set for Terre Haute, Indiana for a waypoint tonight. Then it's north by northeast as I cross the border into Canada and travel a few hours east of Toronto to meet up with my girlfriend and visit her relatives. That interlude is followed by a full week in New York City - our first visit to the BIG city - and then it's a cannonball run across the country to Bakersfield for the 23rd annual California Hot Rod Reunion. Then reality sets in as I make the long drive up the coast to North Vancouver and home and back to work.
But today is eliminations day at Gateway Motorsports Park; the weather is fine, and the racing action is going to be hot and heavy. Check out the reports and pictures at SpeedZone Magazine.
The latest update as of September 27, 2014
Highlights of the first day of the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals
The on-track action at the Midwest Nationals was hot and heavy, and for a change, the weather was almost comfortable. After the humidity of Indianapolis, the heat and thunderstorms at Rockingham, more of the same at Charlotte, and the blast furnace conditions at Dallas, the relatively mild (only mid-80's) temperatures and moderate humidity made yesterday a walk in the park by comparison. Except the park in question had some very fast traffic, not much grass or shade, and a lot of people.
Here's a few teasers of what we witnessed on Friday. To see any more you'll just have to break down and visit the MORE Xcellent Adventures page. Sorry, but there's no way around it. And to see all the pictures and reports from the NHRA Midwest Nationals, visit the Northwest's source for drag racing: SpeedZone Magazine.
The latest update as of September 26, 2014
Opening day at the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals
From the "better late than never" department: we've got the photos from New Orleans and Memphis posted on the MORE Xcellent Adventures page. There's no text to go with them yet, and they're just thrown on there without arranging them properly. But at least they are available for viewing. I still have to work on yesterday's pics of the drive up from Memphis to the St. Louis area, and heaps and heaps more stuff to finish. But there just isn't enough time. Now it's time to hustle down the highway to Gateway Motorsports Park and the first day of the AAA Insurance Midwest Nationals.
The latest update as of September 25, 2014
Another day on the road. This time to St. Louis
Time, as always, is the ultimate enemy. As in just not enough of it to go around. I'm running late, as usual, and there's no time to update the last two days (New Orleans and Memphis) before hitting the road to St. Louis. I have to be there this afternoon to get set up for the start of the AAA Midwest Nationals tomorrow, so I'd better get moving. There's - hold on, just checked on Mapquest - only four and a half hours to the track and another 20 minutes to the hotel. But the day will fly by, as they always do, so it's time to get moving. Maybe tonight for the update. Almost certainly. I promise.....
The latest update as of September 24, 2014
Great day to explore the French Quarter in New Orleans
Spent a fabulous day yesterday exploring the French Quarter and surrounds in New Orleans. The great sunny weather had the streets filled with people and jazz bands were playing all over the area. Lots and lots of great restaurants, bars, shops, and galleries to explore.... but so little time to do so. I can't believe that 36 hours could by so fast in this city, but it was over in a flash. Now it's time to pack my bags and head north along the Mississippi to Memphis tonight, then on to St. Louis tomorrow. Look for some great pictures on the MORE Xcellent Adventures page tonight.
The latest update as of September 23, 2014
Ready to live it up in the "Big Easy"
Another long day on the road yesterday; and it certainly wasn't helped by a very late start, as in just past noon when I left the Brick Street BBQ. A stop there for "road supplies" (a full rack of St. Louis-style ribs, barbecue sauce, and a pound of coleslaw) was mandatory. Also on the "must-do" list was to process and upload at least a few photos from the winners circle ceremonies at the Texas FallNationals on Sunday afternoon.
Factoring in the late start, in retrospect it would have made more sense to bypass my detour through Shreveport, and gone south right away to leave more time to hit the Gulf Coast on the way into New Orleans. By the time I left Opelousas (you can look it up on Mapquest), it was nearly sunset and a two-hour drive through the bayous in the dark wasn't really at the top of the day's agenda. So I just hit good old Interstate 10, set the cruise at 80 mph, and blew into New Orleans just before 9:00. Warm and humid, as in 80% and 80 degrees at that time of night. Good thing it isn't summer any longer.
A few pics from yesterday are on the More Xcellent Adventures page.
The latest update as of September 22, 2014
On the road again
Monday already, and that means moving day, as in moving down the road again. This time the destination is the "Big Easy" - New Orleans. Instead of taking the easy way there on the quicker interstates, I'm weaving my way east to Shreveport, then following the Red River down to Lafayette, and finally, looping along the Gulf Coast on Highway 90 to my destination in downtown New Orleans. My accomodation there for the next two nights is a rather generic hotel in the business district, but it's just two blocks from the French Quarter and three blocks to Bourbon Street.
My first visit to New Orleans should be a fun time, and for a change, it looks like the weather won't ruin the drive. But it's time to start packing and hit the road east and south. Next update from New Orleans tomorrow. First stop though is at the Brick Street BBQ to pick up some ribs 'n slaw for lunch. Yummy!
The latest update as of September 20, 2014
From the front lines to the cheap seats
It's amazing how quickly three days in Corsicana can go by. The drive up from Galveston on Wednesday only took a few hours, then a couple of hours wandering around the Texas Motorplex to get the lay of the land, and finally, checking in to the Holiday Inn in beautiful suburban Corsicana. Then two days at the Motorplex for the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals and here we are for day three of the race. For a change I'll be observing the on-track action from the farthest reaches of the grandstands as my starting line access has been curtailed a day early due to "insurance and legal considerations". C'est la vie.
The latest update as of September 18, 2014
Deep in the heart of Texas
"Getting there is half the fun?" Don't believe it, at least not on this trip, as yesterday was another of those on and off weather days. It started out fine in Galveston with bright sunny skies, then in half an hour, as I approached Houston, went from great to godawful. Driving in four lanes of heavy traffic at 70 mph in yet another torrential downpour made for a really lousy morning. Thankfully it cleared up as I neared Dallas and by the time I arrived at the Texas Motorplex, the temperature had climbed to 93 F (34 C) and the sun was clearly dominating the sky.
During this weekend's AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals, I'll be staying well south of the track in Corsicana. It's major claium to fame is it being the site of the first oil well in Texas, in a field that is still producing to this day. But we're more concerned with refined lubricating oil this week, the kind that stays inside engines and NOT spread on the race track. It's going to be a hot weekend - with possible thunder showers (which seem to be following me from race to race) - and the less down time there is at the track, the better.
I've got piles of photos from the past week for the More Xcellent Adventures page and will try to get them all posted before I leave for the track this morning. LATE NOTE: As you can see, that didn't happen, but I'm working on it.
The latest update as of September 16, 2014
Galveston on my mind.....
Remember the old Bob Dylan song about being "stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis blues again..."? Well, I'm in Mobile, but I'm certainly not stuck as the credentials for my next race on the NHRA tour came through and I'm heading west on Interstate 10 this morning. As for the blues... well I could sing a few sad songs about the troubles I've seen lately, but no one's listening anyway, so I'll just keep looking ahead for better days.
I'm almost jealous every time I receive a weather report from home and compare it to the series of cloudy and/or rainy days I've had since starting this tour in Indianapolis nearly three weeks ago. There have been some sunny ones, but not a solid stretch of vacation-type days since I arrived in Indy. Yesterday was more of the same, with clouds all day until just before sunset in Montgomery (Alabama), when the sky let loose with a huge lightning storm and torrential rain for nearly an hour. Fun driving? I think NOT!
The one weather-related complaint that I can't make is about being cold. When I arrived here last night at 10:30 it was still in the low 80's (28 C) and the jacket I brought with me on the trip is still wadded up in a corner of the trunk. Looks like more of the same today as I head along the Gulf Coast on my way to Galveston, Texas, then north to the Dallas area tomorrow. More adventures to be sure.
The latest update as of September 15, 2014
Goodbye Sweet Charlotte....
If it's Monday, then I must be on the road west to Dallas and the next event on my NHRA national event tour. Of course that's in a perfect world, and mine has been far from perfect lately. Starting with the camera breaking down in Indianapolis, to dropping the new one and breaking my only lens in Rockingham, and now car trouble in Charlotte. It never rains... it just snows on me.
Instead of being on the road to Mobile, Alabama, I'm sitting at Keffer Dodge in Charlotte, North Carolina, waiting for the technicians to finish putting in new rear axle seals. Not a big job, eh? Just don't ask how much it's costing. There is no alternative, unless you consider hitchhiking across North America in the 21st century as a viable mode of transport.
What about the Pep Boys NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMax Dragway? How did that turn out? After three days of iffy weather and dire forecasts, the sky let loose yesterday afternoon while they were cleaning up the remains of a crashed Pro Stock car (driver uninjured), and that put a merciful end to an ill-fated event. The balance of eliminations (they got the 1st round of Top Fuel and Funny Car completed and half a round of Pro Stock) will be completed during qualifying on Friday and Saturday at the Texas Motorplex during the AAA Texas Fall Nationals. Westward ho... once the car comes down off the hoist and I bail it out of "service jail", that is.
The latest update as of August 28, 2014
We're in Indy baby!
Not knowing my way around the Lucas Raceway Park facility, I arrived very early this morning, got my credentials, found the media parking lot, and made my way to the media center on the ground floor of the Wally Parks tower. Since I'd missed the first day of sportsman racing, I immediately headed to the starting line and proceeded to observe and photograph the third round of Stock eliminator qualifying. 75 minutes later - with minimal downtime - it was over as 187 cars paired up and ran.
I can hardly wait until they run Super Stock this afternoon, as "only" 174 cars ran in that eliminator yesterday, including 26 of the legendary 1968 Hemi Darts and 'Cudas. Out of that group, just ten cars qualified for the 128-car field as the bump spot after their second session was -.632 under the index, and even Lloyd Wofford's 8.67 in his Barracuda wasn't quick enough. Wofford and 15 of his hemi compatriots were in the same boat going into today's final qualifying session.
The only saving grace for the pachyderm-powdered Chryslers is the "Hemi Challenge" that will be one of the features of tomorrow's show. It should be well worth the price of admission to watch these very exotic 8-second 160-mph cars go through their paces. Later today we've got the first two rounds of Competition Eliminator qualifying and the "Factory Stock Showdown" for all the late-model Mustangs, Camaros, Chargers (yes, there is one entered), and Challengers.
It's time to get back to work, checking things out in the pits and getting ready for another session on the starting line before the real work begins with all the photo-editing and writing back at the hotel. More news later and much more news at SpeedZone Magazine.
The latest update as of August 27, 2014
One more leg - from Sioux City to Indianapolis
Day four of this epic roadtrip begins in Sioux City, Iowa, the largest and most modern place I've seen since passing through Spokane. It's uniquely situated against the Missouri river and borders on three states: Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota. But it's time to hit the road and keep heading east to that big motorsports mecca known as Indianapolis. We'll arrive there this evening, missing the first day of sportsman qualifying at the "Big Go", but that was unavoidable unless I wanted to drive 1000 miles a day from Vancouver to Indy.
Our next update will be tonight from Indianapolis. We'll also be adding more text and pictures to the travel blog on the "Bob's MORE Xcellent Adventures" page.
LATE UPDATE: We've arrived in Indianapolis but time constraints (ie. lack of) prevents anything more than today's pictures being posted. Maybe tomorrow? You've certainly heard that one before, haven't you?
The latest update as of August 26, 2014
On the road - in Sheridan, Wyoming
No time for an update this morning as we're running late as usual, but here's a (very bad) snap of what Mapquest thinks of my roadtrip routing. It looks like an itinerary designed by a three-year old with ADHD, doesn't it? But that's partly due to drag race scheduling, partly due to my home base location, and partly due to wanting to see even more of the U.S.A. in one big trip.
There is a "MORE Xcellent Adventures" page started in the FEATURES section, but it`s blank until tonight`s pit-stop in Sioux City, IA. Until then, there`s another 1100 kms of hard driving on the schedule. Time to fire up "Big Red" and head out on the highway...
The latest update as of August 25, 2014
On the road
What possesses people to do strange things? Ask a mountain climber why they risk their lives climbing up the side of a large rock and the answer is invariably "because it's there!" Similarly, why would someone jump out of a perfectly safe airplane and hope their parachute opens before they collide with the earth? "It seemed like a good idea at the time" is the obvious time. So how do you explain why someone would decide to hop in their car and drive across America, zigzag back to the midwest, head north to Canada, drive back to the east coast of the U.S.A., then for kicks - WARNING - bad pun ahead - drive Route 66 all the way to California and then up the west coast to home.
If anyone has an answer to that question, let me know, as two days into my latest "Xcellent Adventure" I'm just starting to doubt the wisdom of this journey. There's all sorts of good reasons to do it: attend the 60th anniversary U.S. Nationals, see a PDRA race in the heart of Pro Mod country (Rockingham), see one of eight wonders of the drag racing world, The Texas Motorplex, check out the social scene in St. Louis and join in one of the true happenings of dragdom: the California Hot Rod Reunion.
All good reasons, but when you start connecting the dots the reality of the task become evident. Let's start with 2500 miles from North Vancouver to Indianapolis and just three and a half days to do it. Do-able, but that leaves me with just a few hours to recharge my batteries before the tour-de-force known as Indy will keep me going full-tilt for nearly a week. After that, the races are much closer together and the long days behind the wheel get much shorter.
Until the leg from New York to Bakersfield that is. But I've got five whole days to cover the 3000 miles between the coasts while traversing as much of the original Route 66 as I can find and for as long as I can handle the slow pace on ancient roadways. There are a few respites along the way though, like four days between the Rockingham and Charlotte races and just 70 miles between them. Plus 12 days off the circuit, with a sidetrip to Peterborough, Ontario to connect with my girlfriend who's flying out from Vancouver, so we can spend some time visiting her relatives, and then a full week in New York City before the banzai charge to Bakersfield.
The travel "blog" isn't set up yet but there should be enough time to do it tonight when we get to Sheridan, Wyoming at the end of the second leg of this roadtrip to remember. Tune in regularly for daily - we're really going to try to stick to that schedule - updates. For all the drag racing news from this trip, as always go to the Northwest's source for drag racing news SpeedZone Magazine.
The latest update as of June 9, 2014
Two updates this year... and counting
It's late, and it's been a long day at work - doing my day job and editing most of the photos from the 27th annual Langley Loafers nostalgia drags at Ashcroft's Eagle Motorplex. There's a gallery of shots on the SpeedZone Magazine website, but here's a peek at one of my favourite shots from the weekend. More to come in the following days. Words and pictures.
The latest update as of June 6, 2014
Of all the places and times to come out of hibernation and put something on this site...
We've let more than a year elapse with nothing but a few national event reports on SpeedZone - and absolutely nothing here - but it's the first, and possibly only, drag race of the season at the venerable Eagle Motorplex in Ashcroft and here I am up in the desert for the first time in about 20 years. This weekend was to be the first big race of the season at Mission Raceway (the LODRS regional) but the ongoing issues with the new concrete racing surface have put that event off until after Labor Day.
So we've traveled up through the Fraser Canyon to the 27th annual Langley Loafers B.C. Old Time Drags at the Motorplex. With the additional features of some late-model Pro Mods and the Blown Alcohol Thunder circuit (Pro Mods, Altereds, Dragsters, Funny Cars), along with a host of nostalgia-themed events throughout the weekend in and around Ashcroft and Cache Creek, it's going to be one big three-day party.
Tomorrow evening there's a burnout contest in Cache Creek, a Poker Run into Ashcroft in the afternoon, a show and shine, a sock hop, and literally
something for almost everyone. The weather looks good, the pits were well stocked with nearly 200 race cars as of last night, and the staging lanes will
be filling up in an hour's time. Let's go racing!
To see previous updates, go to the What's Old page
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