On the Road – driving to Texas

Today was a driving day.  Stops for gas, food, and relief, but no museums.  Tulsa to the Texas border was just under four hours.  Then I drove over five more hours to get to my hotel in Midland, TX.

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Plenty of time to watch the countryside go by and think about the past seven days.

It started out just a little too humid to run with the windows down.  Plus I had a lot of directions coming from the MS Streets & Trips that I had to pay attention to.

I thought about the folks in Tulsa.  They would be continuing their festivities the rest of this weekend.  More cars shows and events to celebrate the fact that fifty years has past since the last time they celebrated the fact that fifty years had past.

Tulsa grew as an oil town.  You can still see old oil well pumps that no longer pump.  You can also see a refinery and plenty of railroad tracks.  Railroads were a huge infrastructure investment and so there had to be a lot of transportation going on to justify their existence. 

The oil wells have dried up I guess.  There might still be plenty of oil there, it just needs much higher prices to make it worth pumping out of the ground.  That may happen some day. 

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Here in oil country the highest octane rating I can purchase is 91.  That is very frustrating.  Since I have a turbocharged engine to feed the 91 octane forces it to pull timing.  It would much rather be inhaling the 93 octane gasoline that I can purchase east of the Mississippi River.  My mileage is starting to suffer as well.  It is down to 21 mpg.

The road takes on a different look as I get closer to Texas. 

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It has been described to me as flat.  Nothing is flat.  Not even the ocean.  There are still high spots and low spots, but the horizon certainly does appear to stretch out farther and farther.

I wonder why there are so few trees and so many grassy fields.  Its not like armies of tractors are mowing the fields.  Then I notice that the trees pack themselves around the rivers. 

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The Evolution is humming along.  When I need power there is plenty, even with 91 octane fuel.  When I need brakes the Brembos do their magic.  The Recaro seats are comfortable and I have lots of technology at my finger tips.  To my right is the mount with the laptop in it.  That runs MS Street & Trips to guide me to my destination.  Then I have an Ericsson hands-free blue tooth that connects with my cell phone.  It works through the car’s audio system so that when a call comes in the music is muted and the caller’s voice comes through the car’s speakers.  My voice is picked up by a small microphone in the ceiling.  The road is monitored by a stealthy version of an Escort radar and laser detector.  This one has the sensors hidden and the display panel discreetly situated.  What did I ever do without these things?  What will the future bring?

So I have a modest amount of protection from electronic devices that the constabulary uses to monitor speeds and I can have conversations with friends and family while keeping my hands on the wheel and my eyes on the road.  The directions for my navigation needs are spoken to me via the laptop.  Could the Jetson’s have lived any better?  Probably.

I was driving through the Texas countryside when a sign warned me of a historical marker coming up a mile ahead.  I slowed and pulled over to capture it in a photograph.

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Then I noticed across the road was something equally interesting.  It was a black Plymouth just sitting there waiting for a collector to discover it.  Being that I was in Texas there was no sign of rust. 

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Later, as I drove deeper into Texas, the panorama allowed me to see that there was some very stormy weather off to my right and my left.  On the left I could even make out the start of funnel clouds.  The weather stayed pretty much at my 10 and 2 o’clock positions except when the road would turn and rotate me toward one or the other system. 

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For many miles I was able to avoid them, but eventually I did have to drive through some rain storms.  Fortunately there was no lightening nor was there a tornado to deal with.

A few miles out from my destination I came up on another Evolution.  This one was a 2006 Evolution IX MR edition.  I pulled up next to the driver and waved and he followed me to my exit and pulled off with me so we could chat.  No technology to facilitate that – yet.

He liked my rear aero diffuser and wondered what I had done other than that.  I told him about a couple of things and then he told me of all the modifications he had performed.  He was now wrestling with a stand-alone engine management system by AEM.  These can be very effective, but they also require a lot of skill that a normal ECU does not.  It is like having to program your own operating system for your PC.

Tomorrow I will visit the Petroleum Museum and, in particular, the Chaparral exhibit. 

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5 Responses to On the Road – driving to Texas

  1. Lauri Shaw says:

    Did the person in the Evolution mention what he was putting in his tank and how his vehicle ran on it? I have no idea when you’re going to hit a town with 93 octane again. I haven’t seen that here in Las Cruces, but maybe the “importer guys” at the local garage will know.

  2. Noel says:

    You sure are having a fine trip. I’m a little surprised you can’t find 93 octane gas. But then, when I’m out west I’m always in a U-Wreck-Em., so I don’t think about putting anything other than regular in it.

    I guess I’m a little surprised that you are getting only 21 mpg. I’d think you’d be in the upper 20’s on the highway. But then maybe you’re taking advantage of the fact you can usually drive pretty quickly out there. I know my Saab gets about 28 mpg running 80, but takes a real hit if there’s a crosswind or headwind. Mine doesn’t care what octane it has, it just dials back the power with the cheap stuff in the tank. And you definitely notice the lack of poke with lower octane push juice. But it also has 200 HP versus your what, 300? And I think you have AWD, right?

    Keep on having fun. I love getting these reports, as most of my travel lately involves airplanes and short runs in bland U-Wreck-Ems or being toted around with a group of people to meetings. Yawn.

  3. kristasphere says:

    Jim I just thought , you know Oprah was recently on a cross-country trip with her best friend Gayle. You should send your blog to her…maybe you’ll be on the show!

  4. Kevin says:

    Re the Plymouth – I found the attached site trying to find out whatthe model it was. Some nice pictures and some great links to good sites at the bottom.

  5. Kevin says:

    John MacDonald of oldcarandtruckpictures.com says of the old black Plymouth,
    “It looks like a 1949 Plymouth. The picture I have says it’s a Special Deluxe.
    The back fender on your’s look like it’s missing a chrome strip but that could happen over time quite easily.

    John”
    Also sent a picture of what a mint condition one would look like but I don’t know how to add that.

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