“It was an Elan. A delightful little thing famously made of Kleenex and unicorn farts.” ~ Sam Smith
DAY TWENTY ONE – What a long and weird day!
I got an early start from Marysville KS with the intent of making it home tonight. I had a clear road with no school traffic and very few trucks as it was Saturday, so I just sailed along. The wind was moderate for the first few hours so it was quite pleasant and smooth sailing. I know it seems as though I have an obsession with how windy it is or is not though it is not just a fixation on something irritating. The wind plays havoc with the car, tossing it about like a leaf in a hurricane. And when the wind is from the left quadrant as it was throughout the middle part of the day, each time a big rig comes by in the other lane it is though a giant hand has pushed the car sideways and the air blast is prodigious. While an SUV weighing 4,500-5,000 pounds may barely feel the effects of the wind my little 1,400 pound chip of a car reacts intensely. This means I can never relax as the car is as nervous as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.
But today I experienced something for the first time ever in my many thousands of miles in the Elan. The soft top collapsed on me, not once but three times! I think it was the way I had the side windows set partly open along with the direction and gusting of the wind. The front bar lifted out of its holes and that left enough slack in the top for the rear bar, whose job is to stretch the fabric and pop into a position that keeps things taut, to rotate down and smack me in the back of the neck. The first time I just pushed the front bar into its hole and rotated the rear bar to make things taut again. When it happened the third time, I stopped and redid everything and changed the windows to one up and one on the leeward side down and it never happened again.
The big news item for the day is this: I reached the Geographic Center of the Continental United States! It was really kind of neat in an understated way, almost evocative of the spirit of this drive with a less fancy more analog presentation. No 3D graphics or surround sound to immerse oneself in the center. Rather it was soft and understated as things were when the Elan was brand new in 1965. Even the little chapel was appropriate as it asked visitors to “center” themselves with a personal prayer so that our country can stay centered. I thought I would be the only person there but another guy named Doug from Washington DC, who will be running a marathon in Nebraska tomorrow, wanted to see this point and was nice enough to take a photo of me with the car to prove we were both here.
But the good news, maybe even bigger than that claimed above, is that I made it all the way home. My odometer shows a grand total of 6,547.9 miles but I think that is understated. The one time I checked my odometer against the distance to a city that was 50 miles on the signage; it registered 48.8, so it is 2.4% low. Applying that correction factor, the actual (or at least close to actual) mileage would be 6,708.9. That seems about right as the trip distance per Google maps was about 6,500 and I added several detours and chances to that planned mileage.
The Elan is running great and she never missed a beat, though she is filthy and needs a little TLC. I plan to do a few things before starting the second loop to the west so no posts will be forthcoming for a few days unless I get a thought that just has to be posted. Cheers and thanks for riding along with me so far.
Impressions from the twenty first day:
• A nice lady at a convenience store remarked that the Elan was “Cute.” I took umbrage as I think that means soft and cuddly, and this is one tough little car! I think it is more like Mighty Mouse, punching above its weight.
• People have been helpful and friendly throughout the trip but even more so in Kansas. It must be a middle America thing.
• I passed a number of feedlots that were upwind of the highway. The smell was offal!
• I need to recharge, take care of Ann and the car and lose the road buzz so I can tackle the second loop which I expect to be less difficult than the first one out east. It certainly will be shorter by 1,500 miles or so.
Hi, I’m Ross and I’m a tripoholic. I love driving especially in my old cars and then writing about the adventure that always follows. I’m old enough to know better but that doesn’t stop me. If you like stories of the road, every word true no matter how far fetched it may seem, then grab a beer or a cup of coffee and join me!
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