First, an apology and an update. In an earlier post I noted that details pertaining to a small contest with the grand prize being a signed copy of my latest book, Ghost Towns of the Southwest, would be posted this weekend.
Obviously that didn’t happen. To be honest I played hooky. Perhaps it was the realization that the planned vacation, a cruise east on Route 66, will be put on hold until next spring. At least that is the excuse used to justify my irresponsible behavior.
So, lets just keep this simple. On March 15, 2010, after making a list of all who are registered as followers of this blog my dearest friend will draw one name from my old hat. I will then notify the winner via email and request a mailing address. The book will be mailed within ten days of receipt of address.
To sweeten the pot I will also include a detailed list of insider secrets about certain locations in the book. This will include recommended lodging, restaurants, short side trips of note, and notes pertaining to the location of historic events.
Now an explanation for the odd title to this post that is also an explanation of my weekend spent playing hooky. It started innocently enough, my dearest friend suggested suggest we take advantage of the delightful weather on Saturday afternoon by a small adventure into the Black Mountains. Photos from this excursion were posted on Saturday.
At some point this morphed into a full weekend spent playing hooky and pretending we were on vacation. My column for Cars & Parts, The Independent Thinker, due next Saturday never progressed beyond finding an appropriate photo in my archives, an original shot of Buffalo Bill at the wheel of a 1904 Michigan. All of the other things demanding my attention were also shoved to the back burner.
Last night, long after dark as we were rolling through the Black Mountains on the pre 1953 alignment of Route 66 it dawned on me that love was in the air. I am not referring to my wife as we recently celebrated twenty six years of honeymooning, but our ’98 Cherokee.
As with most all of our vehicle purchases careful deliberation went into the decision of what vehicle would replace the family truckster, a tried and true 1988 Crown Victoria station wagon. We settled on the Cherokee after noting a multitude were still on the road even though many were more than a decade old. I also noted that they seldom were used as trade ins and they did not frequent the Chrysler repair facilities very often. The final incentive was finding a good example within our established price range.
Now, after more than four months and almost five thousand miles driven on roads as diverse as the four lane super slab and abandoned traces that required us to make a road I have found but one minor flaw. That is maintaining speeds in excess of sixty five miles per hour on steep grades pushes the motor to higher RPM’s than seems prudent.
This past weekend exemplifies how the Cherokee is utilized. Friday night it was grocery shopping for my mother as well as our household. Saturday morning I drove to work. That afternoon we drove to the far side of the Sacramento Valley and did some back road exploration that included abandoned highways, steep gravel and rock strewn power line roads, sand washes, and four lane super slab.
Sunday morning we drove out to Fort Beale for a long morning hike in the Cerbat Mountains. Later in the afternoon we battled traffic and drove to Laughlin, Nevada, to take in the new 3D version of Charles Dickens classic story of Ebenezer Scrooge and returned through Oatman and over the Black Mountains on Route 66. Under these diverse conditions we averaged over twenty miles per gallon in relative comfort that included use of the ac in Laughlin as the temperatures were pushing ninety
As an added bonus the Cherrokee feels heavy and well built reminding me a great deal of the older Chevy trucks of the 1950s. In short my opinion, for what that is worth, is this generation Cherokee is a near perfect blending of the old and the new. This is a vehicle worth keeping. This is a vehicle for all occasions.
Yes, love is in the air here on Route 66. We are really falling for the little black work horse that takes half the space in the driveway of the 1973 Olds.