We spent an enjoyable New Years Eve at Club Auto Colorado at a party for enthusiasts hosted by our long term sponsor Hagerty. In their typical impeccable fashion The Hagerty staff greeted us on arrival warmly and helped us wheel the dirty cars into the clubhouse, laying out sheeting to catch melting snow, helping us set up displays and providing us refreshments. They were in the midst of finishing decorations and setting up bar and catering.
When the 40 or so guests arrived the DJ kicked off music and we all began to mingle while looking at the amazing cars belonging to members in the club. I gave brief remarks about the museum, why we and NAIAS were doing the drive, the importance of our members and sponsors and the like. I also made a presentation to Cherie Eagen in memory of our good friend Rick who died several months ago. I also presented Derek with a commemorative magnum of our Drive Home ACM wine–courtesy of Hedges Family Estate. Guests asked lots of questions and several indicated they have been to ACM and love it. All in all we had a wonderful time and made new friends thanks to Hagerty.
After a SHORT night we departed club auto joined by several couples from the evening before who had returned to wish us well and four cars escorted us for the first 50 miles or so on our way to Kansas. Once again we experienced real welcome from people we did not know but who were enthusiastic about what we are doing on The Drive Home.
The 375 mile drive was uneventful as we drove seemingly in a straight line till the final exit. I remember the GPS indicating 300 miles to our hotel and the first turn at mile 298!
We joked about how different the landscape and driving was from all before. Virtually all one could see in every direction were blue sky and ‘Amber waves of grain’. Periodically windmill energy farms, irrigation systems, silos , feed lots with cattle and small towns dotted the landscape. Driving alone I slowly became aware of the beauty around me–which intellectually I had dismissed in advance as boring. I understood that while some love purple mountains others love big skies and amber fields of grain. One’s perspective is shaped by experience of life.
Tonight we are in rural Kansas in a Fairfield Inn having had dinner at the Golden Corral buffet a parking lot walk away. Back to the hotel for a night off of rest after experiencing a world so different from ours at home yet every bit as much a part of America. Driving I-70 today we called out license plates from Maine to New Mexico and Florida to North Dakota. And I was aware why I love road trips and cars far more than airplanes and mass transit. By auto I drive in and through the vast diversity of our country and its peoples. I meet kind folks at gas stations and restaurants who smile, chat briefly and wish you ‘godspeed’. I see, feel and smell changing landscapes and air. I taste salmon on the west coast, lamb in Colorado and barbecue in Kansas. I stop for coffee, to see an historic landmark or explore a small town when I want to not at a predetermined stop set by some corporate accountant for efficiency’s sake.
We loved the auto in the heady 50s and 60s for it brought us freedom and the ability to experience America. Many of us love it today for the same reason. A flight over the country is sterile and homogenous by comparison.
I hope as we are pushed into robotic cars so we can work on our computers or play video games as we travel that the bureaucrats in government and among the OEMs remember that many of us still want to drive and experience America in all its diversity and wonder.
Tomorrow on to Kansas City and barbecue!