First of all the Evolution is such a great car to have for a road trip, my only regret is the miles it will add to the odometer.
I took off at 6:30 this morning and headed to Sevierville, TN. It was pretty nice out so I left my windows rolled down. I stopped around 7:00 for a simple breakfast and then only stopped for fuel once. The car averaged a little over 23 miles per gallon.
It was good to have the windows down. I probably would have improved my mileage by keeping them up but the temperature was pleasant and you really notice the countryside more with them down. I could tell when I hit a a low spot on the highway that crossed over a stream because I would feel the temperature drop and then rise again as the elevation rose.
When I got further into the western part of North Carolina I would catch the smells of the farms even if I couldn’t see them through the thick trees. In one valley there was the distincitve smell of wood burning even though the smoke was barely perceptable. There are so many different shades of green in the forests that fill the sides of the road and you notice the variety as you change elevation and the species change. It is a great time of year to do this.
The Muscle Car Museum
I arrived at the Muscle Car Museum prior to noon and spent well over an hour exploring the 90 plus cars on display. Most were roped off, but you could get right up to them anyway. There were some great examples of the era starting in the fifties and ending at the end of the sixties.
The 1969 Camero is a favorite. It was from Rodger Penske’s car dealership in Pennsylvania and is one of 69 that were built. Very few folks were lucky enough to own one of these rockets.
There was an exhibit of the Dodge Challengers used in the 1996 re-make of “Vanishing Point”. One was used as the stunt car and has beeen left with all the dirt and scars on it while the other was the “pretty” car for all the important close ups.
I would have like to have seen a car from the original version of the film, but I understand that they destroyed all of those cars by the end of that film.
Johnny Rutherford’s ride from his stock car days was outside of any ropes, so I was able to get some interesting photos of that car.
It was interesting to see how much fender clearance was given to these cars. Many of them had fender bulges, but the tires never came withing six inches of the limits of the fender capacity. When you compare thing to today’s cars where you often see people roll the fenders to get tire clearance – well you have to wonder why they never took advantage of all that room.
These are only a sample. There were lots of Mopar, Chevy, Pontiac, Ford, etc. examples of muscle cars. Admission was $9 and I certainly don’t feel cheated.
After taking my time looking and re-looking at the cars there I decided that I had better find some lunch. After all, it was well after noon. As I exited the museum I asked if they had any recommendations for lunch. A patron that had just entered suggested “The Diner” just up the road because they were having a car show of the rides of the local hot rodders. I drove down the road and sure enough, there was the diner and there were the cars. It was a real mix of late model Mustangs and true hot rods where a Ford from the forties was warmed over with a big block Chevy and new running gear. Some were executed better than others, but everyone was enjoying the heat and the attention.
One guy pulled up in a ’32 roadster that looked like it had recently been completed. It was clean and sharp with no fenders – it was a classic. I watched as he backed it into place and complemented him on its good looks. He told me that he had had cancer a couple of years prior and that he used the car as his therapy while undergoing treatment. He said that at first he could only work for about 45 minutes a day, but it was a great place for him to put his focus. His wife was very understanding although she apparantly did inspire him to get it completed so she could have some garage space back. It was something that he could concentrate on and dedicate his time to so that he wouldn’t get overwhelmed by the spectre of his own cancer. The car turned out beautifully and he certainly looked like someone who had learned to appreciate life and was happy to be here. I wish I had been able to take a photo of his car, but my camera’s battery was dead at that point.
Some Extra Travel Time
It was still early in the afternoon so I decided to take advantage of that fact and head to tomorrow’s museum. I knew that I would only put in a couple of more hours, but I just didn’t feel like quitting the road that early in the day.
So off I went on a truely scenic route. Traveling through the Great Smokey Mountains was a delight. The roads snaked their way next to every mountain stream so that you were blessed with scenary and the cool shade of the trees drinking from the rivers. The elevation of the road changed with the mountains and every once in a while you were treated to a spectacular view.
With the windows still down I could catch the smell of brakes as some cars were having a tough time negociating the steep, curvy mountain roads. Not a problem for the Brembos on the Evolution. I ended up on part of Route 129 and that brought back memories of when I stayed at Fontana Village and drove the “Tail of the Dragon” for a weekend.
End of Day One
Tomorrow I will head for Alabama, but tonight I will enjoy sitting in a rocking chair at this hotel, reading a book, and from time to time stealing a peek at the view of the mountains.