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Chapter Four - A DRIVE HOME: LeMay Museum, Tacoma To Detroit Auto Show- - On The Road With Steve Purdy

Steve Purdy and Chevrolet Nomad

A DRIVE HOME – A road trip in the dead of winter, three old cars from LeMay Museum, Tacoma To 2016 Detroit Auto Show

Chapter Four - Salt Lake City to Grand Junction, CO
By Steve Purdy
Senior Editor
The Auto Channel
Michigan Bureau
Photos By Bob Giles

To recap: Three vintage cars – a ’57 Chevy Nomad, a ’61 Chrysler 300G and a ’66 Mustang left their safe haven in the LeMay, America’s Car Museum in Tacoma, WA for a 2400-mile cross-country drive to help open the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The project, called “A Drive Home,” will promote the museum and the auto show while showing these great examples of Detroit iron are still competent. A few journalists join the drive at different points along the route.

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Getting away from Salt Lake City this morning was no easy task. I was back in the Nomad with Val navigating as we exited the hotel garage in the lead. The others got stuck at the card-activated exit gate and did not see us turn left. They turned right. The support truck with big trailer started out from a different side of the building and had to circle a bit to find us waiting on State Street. Val was on the walkie-talkie trying to keep track of the other cars as we headed to the Shell station a few miles away.

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After a great deal of consternation we finally reassembled, got fueled, and headed for the freeway. We were in the lead again as David struggled to keep the Mustang running. She seemed to be particularly temperamental this morning as it seemed to take longer than usual for her to get warmed up, stalling often and balking at Dave’s attempts to restart.

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Finally onto the wet, salty freeway with other traffic throwing up spray to coat our windshields we headed south. The skies started out a bit foggy but no new snow was falling. Our sad-sack wipers could not keep up with the constant salty spray. It was like trying to wipe a runny nose with wax paper. Not being able to read the freeway signs through the salt I led us right off a multi-lane exit where a median prevented getting right back on. My leadership skills were beginning to be called into question.

Back onto the highway we all caught up and the wet pavement slowly dried. The sun began peeking through occasionally as we got off onto two-lane U.S. Highway 6 headed southeast. That route provided some of the most glorious scenery yet as we passed through canyons and low passes and swept through rolling desert terrain with endless big vistas. The morning light lit the surrounding mesas with a soft golden hue. David was in the lead with the Mustang running beautifully, as she usually does on the open highway where she has her head. Bill in the big Chrysler filled the rocking chair as we loped along in the rear in the rumbling old Nomad.

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We stopped for a short break about an hour into the two-lane drive and had a chance to try to clean the windshields. The salt had dried on and seemed to have soaked right into the glass. Our stopping place was an isolated little gas station and store with a huge parking area. We could see miles and miles to the south making for some great photos. Bill decided that in the spirit of competition we should see who had accumulated the longest icicles hanging from the bodywork. I think Bill won with 4.5 inches.

Traffic continued to be light as we fueled up at a little town down the road. Again we tried to clear off the salt from the windshield but could do only a poor job. Perhaps it has to do with a thick coat of RainX applied before the drive began. RainX is great for rain but not sure about salt.

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Wherever we stop, as you might imagine, we draw a great deal of attention from just about everyone. They want to know where we’re going and then all about the project. At this stop a fellow came up to make those inquiries then couldn’t wait to show us pictures of his ’55 Ford Crown Victoria. We invited him to go get it and follow us along the route.

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[When we get to Detroit, by the way, we’ll be inviting everyone to join us with their special cars along a winter Woodward Avenue cruise as part of the final leg.]

Our road mate Derek is part of the event documenting it on video. He has all the greatest equipment including GoPros and a drone. Derek decided he would zoom ahead plant the GoPro in the center of the traffic lane and let us all straddle it as we passed making for a cool shot. By that time a lot of traffic had built up behind us including a bunch of big trucks. He decided to go ahead with the shot and hope no one ran over the camera. He nearly got away with it. All the traffic, including the trucks, straddled the GoPro until the little Honda a the back of the pack crushed it to death. Bummer!

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One more stop at an I-70 rest area on top of a mesa had us again waxing eloquent about the beauty of our surroundings. We could see for miles and miles in all directions where intriguing geological formations were unmarred by any sign of man.

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A final gas stop at suburban Grand Junction put us back in the lead getting onto I-70. We missed the entrance off a roundabout and caused everyone to go down the road to find a good place to turn around. We led the caravan astray again. Darn. Now I’ll be seen as a leader as incompetent as a politician.

We had an exceptional dinner that bears mention. Val had made reservations at a recommended eatery called Bin Foodbar 707. Somehow that reservation never got recorded and they were packed saying we could not be seated for some time. A bit of negotiation got us in in a timely fashion and the food turned out to be unusual and great. On the menu were bone marrow, local trout, and odd combinations of high-end grub.

Tomorrow we drive to Lakewood, CO near Denver where we will celebrate New Year’s Eve with our friends from Hagerty at one of the LeMay Museum’s satellite enthusiasts sites called Club Auto. More on that later.

Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved

On The Road With Steve Purdy - From Lemay Museum Tacoma To 2016 Detroit Auto Show
Chapter One - December 28, 2015
Chapter Two - December 29, 2015
Chapter Three - December 30, 2015
Chapter Four - December 31, 2015
Chapter Five - January 2, 2016
Chapter Six Final Chapter - January 10, 2016

SEE ALSO: Official NAIAS Drive Home Coverage +VIDEO