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Thread: Open Roads International 2002: A Journal

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    Yoda Michael Oritt's Avatar
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    Open Roads International 2002: A Journal

    JUNE 11, 2002--St. Leonard, MD to Rock Hall, MD via Ocean City, MD

    Well, after a year's planning it comes down to this: It's time to leave for Tahoe! Today I am heading from my home in St. Leonard, MD to Ocean City, MD, the East Coast terminus of US Highway 50, to meet a bunch of other Healey drivers. There will be about six cars starting out from here for Tahoe and some other folks from the Capital Area Austin-Healey Club (We're the guys who will be putting on Conclave in DC next year) will be showing up to lend support. Our route goes through Louisville, KY where on Friday the Bluegrass club is is giving us a welcome reception and we arrive in St. Louis, MO on Saturday where we will join up with another 20-25 cars for the trip west. I look forward to seeing and meeting lots of you in Tahoe, and for those who are driving--Have a great, safe and adventurous journey.

    Those of us doing the drive plus the several supporting members of the Capital Area AHC, met at a predetermined spot on the Eastern Shore side of the Bay Bridge for the drive to Ocean City, the Eastern terminus of Highway 50, from where the journey west commences. David and Joyce Stonely (of London to Peking fame), who live in Rock Hall, MD hosted the drivers of three cars that had been shipped over from the UK a few weeks ago: Peter and Ann Hunt ("Around the World in 80 Days"); Julian Bowen and Laurence MacDowell, (both parties in two BT7 Rallye cars); plus Clive Randall in a 1948 Westland Healey. Just before this group departed David and Joyce's home to meet the rest of us enroute to Ocean City they were paid a surprise visit by "The Bob's"--Bob Brown of Chicago and Bob McElwee of St. Louis, who did all of the logistic planning for the tour and flew into BWI to hook up for our departure west.

    From this assembly point we proceeded to Ocean City where a photo-op of the departure west had been arranged. The highway sign showing the distance to the west coast terminus in Sacramento CA had been taken down due to road maintenance, so Ocean City's Finest held it over the grouped Healeys for the photo-op. There were many bikini-clad young girls ogling the cars and many Healey drivers ogling them in the process, but around 3:00 PM we tore ourselves away and set out west-bound on Route 50--those who lent their support returning home in DC while we drivers headed back to the Stonely's home for a banquet, and from where we will begin our journey in the morning.

    Best--Michael Oritt
    1954 Austin-Healey 100 Le Mans
    1959 Elva MK IV Sports Racer
    1961 Ginetta G4

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    Jedi Warrior Bob McElwee's Avatar
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    Re: Open Roads International 2002: A Journal

    Thanks Michael, this is going to bring back some wonderful memories.
    Bob McElwee
    '62 AH Tri-Carb(sold)
    Miss BT

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    Yoda Michael Oritt's Avatar
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    Re: Open Roads International 2002: A Journal

    June 12,2002--Rock Hall, MD to Winchester, VA

    Last night the Stonely's hosted the entire crew to a traditional Maryland Crab Feast consisting of steamed crabs and beer. Here in Chesapeake country the Blue Crab (Callinectes Sapidus-or "Beautiful Savory Swimmer") is the local delicacy anf they are normally served whole, steamed and well-seasoned with Old Bay or the like, piled high on a platter. Wooden mallets and perhaps a small paring knife are the only implements of destruction normally given out, and it is high entertainment for the crab cognoscenti to watch novitiates try to deal with a hard crab for the first time. Details on how to open and eat a steamer are beyond the scope of this article, but suffice it to say that we locals watched out of the corners of our eyes, laughing silently at the efforts of the UK visitors whose previous experience handling crustacea seemed limited to stabbing crab balls with toothpicks at cocktail parties. Lots of laughs were had by all except, of course, the crabs.

    This morning I, along with the Hunt/Hunt and Bowen/MacDowell car, left Rock Hall bound for Winchester, VA., a modest journey of less than 200 miles. By prearrangement we met Steve Byers of North Carolina just north of Annapolis, then swung up towards I-70 to run west past Frederick, MD and then drop down to Harper's Ferry, WV and on to Winchester. This was one of several planned diversions from US 50 which runs through the heart of DC. What with today's forecast of 95 degree temperatures and 50's route through "sketchy" neighborhoods, the group opted for a less-challenging route for our first day's travels.

    We arrived in Winchester without incident around 3:00 PM and look forward to tomorrow's travels on 50, out through WV to Athens, OH. A front is supposed to push through tonight bringing, it is hoped, more moderate temperatures.

    Best--Michael Oritt
    1954 Austin-Healey 100 Le Mans
    1959 Elva MK IV Sports Racer
    1961 Ginetta G4

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    Re: Open Roads International 2002: A Journal

    enjoying the articles... please go on.

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    Re: Open Roads International 2002: A Journal

    June 13, 2002: Winchester VA-Athens, OH

    Today's drive from Winchester, VA to Athens, OH was pure route 50. Most of the route through WV was two-laned, passing through small down-on-their-heels towns of Appalachia. Many closed mills, car junk yards and BIG satellite dishes along the way.

    I set out early hoping to get ahead of the rain but the weather was as advertised, and I drove the first 125 mile stretch on a two-lane road in a moderate downpour. FACTOIDS: Mother's Day was devised in Grafton, WV and Father's day in Fairmont, WV. (This is Hallmark country!). In Clarksburg the road divided, the ceiling began to lift and by the time I got to Ohio the rain had stopped and the driving was great.

    We're stopped for the night in Athens, OH, home of Ohio University (Go Buckeyes!). Tomorrow is Ann Hunt's birthday and Julian and Lawrence and I went into town to find a gift for her, something significant of her US Tour. We found just the thing: A Labrador Retriever toilet paper dispenser where the dog holds the roll between his paws. I'm sure she will love it!

    Tomorrow we are off to Clarksburg, Indiana, just across the Ohio River from Louisville, KY. The Bluegrass AHC has cooked up some big doings and I believe we will be picking up a few more cars who will join in our odyssey . The forecast looks good and everyone's cars seem to be running well.

    Best--Michael Oritt
    1954 Austin-Healey 100 Le Mans
    1959 Elva MK IV Sports Racer
    1961 Ginetta G4

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    Re: Open Roads International 2002: A Journal

    I remember reading this on the list back in the day. Enjoying it again.

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    Re: Open Roads International 2002: A Journal

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Oritt View Post
    June 13, 2002: Winchester VA-Athens, OH



    We're stopped for the night in Athens, OH, home of Ohio University (Go Buckeyes!).\
    Yes, thanks for re-posting this Michael. So how much abuse did you get for mistaking OU for OSU?

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    Yoda Michael Oritt's Avatar
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    Re: Open Roads International 2002: A Journal

    June 12, 2002--Athens, OH To Clarksburg, IN (a`cross the Ohio River from Louisville, KY)

    As usual we left the hotel in dribs and drabs and I chose to travel alone this morning.

    Shortly after leaving Athens I ran through a detour and mistakenly turned onto Ohio 32--the "wrong road"--which turned out to be a wonderful road, and shortly I figured out that it more or less parallelled 50, and would take me to Cincinnati. So I stay on 32, enjoying what it had to offer until it led me to the beltway around Cincinnati, nipping through Kentucky and rejoining route 50 just over the Indiana border.

    I had identified a scenic route (Ohio 56) that tracks southwest along the north bank of the Ohio River through some wonderful old riverfront towns with quaint names such as Aurora, Rising Sun and Patriot, all perched on the river's northern floodplain. Many other villages were but placenames on a map, victims no doubt to the demise of the riverboat and past floodings, or both. There were, however, many towboats with large rafts of barges bound both up and down river. (NOTE: What we often think of as "tugboats" are properly called "Towboats" regardless of whether they are in fact towing or pushing "on the hip" one or more barges.)

    The road passed through Historic Madison, IN where I stopped for lunch on the main street for "Hinkie's Hamburgers" founded around 1937. It's one of those great places that makes those little killer-burgers fried on the skillet-top, so I ordered uo two with a chocolate shake to boot and watched the world go by from a table in front of the restaurant. From there I dropped down into Clarkesville via SR 62.

    Almost immediately upon entering Indiana the country and roads became more pleasant and I was increasingly called upon to share the road with large pieces of farm equipment, often being driven by what seemed like school-aged children. No doubt the family farm is a reality out here. Barn construction has changed and where simple shed roofs were thus far the common sight they have now been replaced by the gambrill roof, perhaps reflecting a higher level of pride of ownership or simply a more durable and attractive if more demanding method of construction. Silos abound and "Hoosier Country" seems as pleasant as Chamber of Commerce literature promises. The crops seem healthy and the corn is high.

    I finally reached Clarksville, bringing a wonderful day's drive to an end. Julian and Lawrence pulled into the hotel parking lot shortly after my arrival and others will no doubt be appearing as the day winds on. As said, the Bluegrass AHC will be holding a banquet in our honor tonight.
    Last edited by Michael Oritt; 05-14-2020 at 02:02 PM.

    Best--Michael Oritt
    1954 Austin-Healey 100 Le Mans
    1959 Elva MK IV Sports Racer
    1961 Ginetta G4

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    Re: Open Roads International 2002: A Journal

    June 13, 2002--Clarksville IN to Sunset Hills (St. Louis) MO

    I ran with Julian Bowen and Lawrence McDowell who were travelling in one of the UK Rallye cars. From I-66 we took Indiana State Road 60 west, then joined back into US 50 near Shoals, IN. (There is a watermelon-eating contest here coming up on July 8th), then stayed on 50 the rest of the day. Driving in Indiana is truly beautiful--many day-lillies volunteering along the edges of the cornfields and all the nice stuff I noted yesterday.

    Road signage today was most interesting:

    1. Next to the Black Owl Motel was a sign stating "Forbidden Fruit Makes For a Bad Jam"
    2. Below the sign for the Indiana Correctional Institute was another saying "Do Not Pick Up Hitchhikers" (That makes sense)
    3. My day's favorite: An industry-sponsored billboard saying "Beef Makes Meals More Satisfactory"
    4. Several times during the drive I was admonished from the sides of barns to "Chew Mail Pouch" . I wonder what is the story behind that brand name?

    Throughout the day the group was joined by several more cars: Chuck and Edie Anderson and Dave and Carrie Caudle of North Carolina, Sonny Moore and his son Ben who were trailering a Bugeye Sprite, and I'm sure I am leaving out some others. Marion Brantley from Florida and Gary Palsgrove and Allen Feldman from my Capital Area (DC) AHC also arrived later this afternoon.

    We passed through Olney, IL ("Home of the White Squirrels") and in the pretty little town of Salem had a picnic in William Jennings Bryant Park, named after a hometown boy made good. We continued on to the St. Louis Beltway which coincides with Route 50 and took it over the Mississippi River, which looks pretty muddy, around to the suburb of Sunset Hills. The Gateway Austin-Healey Club is hosting us to dinner tonight at an eatery next to our motel and I'm signing off to get the road grime off of me.

    I'll post more tomorrow--we are taking a lay day here before Monday's departure and Keith Bestor has graciously made his garage available to anyone needing to do work on his or her car and I have a few small tasks that will require a jack and stands.
    Last edited by Michael Oritt; 05-15-2020 at 03:11 PM.

    Best--Michael Oritt
    1954 Austin-Healey 100 Le Mans
    1959 Elva MK IV Sports Racer
    1961 Ginetta G4

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    Yoda Michael Oritt's Avatar
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    Re: Open Roads International 2002: A Journal

    June 14, 2002: A Layday in Sunset Hills, (St. Louis), MO

    An informal display of the Highway 50 group and the Gateway AHC folks' cars took place this morning in front of the hotel and as a result of an announcement in the "St. Louis Post-Dispatch" many other LBC's showed up along with lots of the general public. Around 10:00 AM any of us who cared to go were transported in BJ9's to the Gateway Arch down on the river while guards supplied by the GAHC were left posted around our cars.

    The Mississippi River is apparently at a fairly high stage as the street along the waterfront has disappeared underwater and reappears intermittently, making it look something like the back of the Loch Ness Monster. The Arch is an experience not to be missed and one takes an inclined elevator up one side, then walks across the enclosed more-or-less level middle section at the peak of the arch to take another elevator back down the other side of the arch. In Michelin Guide parlance, definitely "Worth a Journey".

    This afternoon I took the opportunity to make use of Keith Bester's garage which apparently doubles as the GAHC clubhouse. He has a great setup with a hydraulic lift not to mention an oriental rug on the floor and chandelier! I had been told by several folks that the fiberglass lagging tape which I have wrapped around the Denis Welch tubular exhaust pipes will cause premature corrosion of the mild steel tubes. About an hour's work under the car and it "Off like Prom Dress" as my daughter always used to say. Keith also provided a washer-dryer so I am fresh for the road.

    Keith's home was the venue for this afternoon's sendoff BBQ hosted by GAHC. At least 25-30 members came out with their cars and at this point I have lost track of how many additional cars will be joining in and departing tomorrow for the run to Olathe, KS. The hit of the day was Ron Varley's Ace-Bristol (Poor Ron had shipped his 100 to Tahoe by truck and was reduced to driving non-Healey iron). We all drooled over his car--a rare gem in perfect condition.

    I've got a number of great photos that I will try to photos.com but that will involve my first reading the instructions for both the site and my camera. If I am successful I will provide information on where to view them in tomorrow's post. In the meantime thanks to the many of you who have expressed interest in and support for my daily notes--I'll continue them as we go along.

    Best--Michael Oritt
    1954 Austin-Healey 100 Le Mans
    1959 Elva MK IV Sports Racer
    1961 Ginetta G4

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    Re: Open Roads International 2002: A Journal

    June 15, 2002--Sunset Hills (St. Louis), MO to Olathe, KS

    Along with my UK companions I got an early start today and diverted off of US 50 in Villa Ridge, MO onto SR 100 through Washington, MO along the south shore of the Missouri River, and through a number of towns that had been settled by German immigrants. We stopped in Hermann, MO at the local fishing tackle emporium perched rather precariously on the river bank. Many photos of large carp, catfish and "buffalos" dotted the walls--the proprietor apparently did not take us for prospective customers and simply walked out of the store, not bothering to tell us to lock the door on our way out!

    After crossing over to the north bank of the river we took Scenic Route 94 (The Lewis & Clark Trail) which runs along the river's flood plain--lots of corn growing on what must be very rich soil. Judging by the lack of any buildings anywhere near the river the Missouri must be awesome when in flood stage and I can only imagine the hardships endured by those early settlers who travelled and occasionally put down roots along and up the river's course. William Least Heat Moon, the author of Blue Highways, recently wrote another book entitled River Horse, a recounting of his coast-to-coast travels via small boat, and the section describing the Missouri is a tribute to the river's staggering power, influence and enormity.

    Terry Ganey is a former Healey owner who lives in Jefferson City, MO, the State Capital an through Terry's efforts the Governor declared today to be "Austin-Healey Day" statewide. Per prearrangement a good number of us met at Terry's lovely home and proceeded to the Capital where we parked our Healeys in front and went inside to meet the Governor's representative who read his boss's Proclamation and afterward delivered it to Bob Brown. The local media were present to record it all for tonight's TV broadcasts. Following a tour of the building we departed and proceeded west along Route 50.

    Healey owner Larry Dickstein of Lone Jack, MO (pop 540) had extended an invitation for all to drop in on his place, and most everyone did--and what a place it is out on the rolling countryside complete with old-fashioned windmill! His garage was State-Of-the-Art and contained his BJ8 and pristine white AN5 along with a vintage Norton and a couple of MG's. Larry was in the process of loading up his Harley which is being towed to Tahoe. From there we skirted south of Kansas City, MO and crossed into Kansas and on to the motel for the night.

    BTW Peter and Ann Hunt ("ATW 80"), with whom I am often in company, are posting daily commentaries and photos to their website: www.easterton.com. (Author's Note: The site and trip commentaries along with photos still still exists 18 years later.). And Clive Randall, another visitor from the UK who is driving a Healey Westland is similarly posting his observations to, I believe, "www.8000miles.com, and I am sure their perspectives are most interesting

    Best--Michael Oritt
    1954 Austin-Healey 100 Le Mans
    1959 Elva MK IV Sports Racer
    1961 Ginetta G4

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    Re: Open Roads International 2002: A Journal

    June 16, 2002--Olathe, KS to Dodge City,

    We shoved off this morning around 7:30 into a threatening sky--the forecast was somewhat iffy with some strong cells and possible hail predicted. After a short run on I-35 to clear the 'burbs we jumped off the Interstate and onto Route 50, then connected to US 58 (the original US 50 alignment and known then as the Santa Fe Trail). Weather seems to happen rather quickly out here--rain fell out of a seemingly clear sky, then stopped, but as we approached McPherson the sky suddenly became a dull leaden color and unusual lightning bolts danced down from and between the clouds. Inasmuch as we were all running sans hoods we were not prepared for the heavy downpour that seemed to be unavoidable, but our luck held and after about 25 miles of moderate rain we slid out from under the low ceiling. By the time we stopped for a picnic lunch at Great Bend the temps had come up at least 20 degrees and a hot, dry wind was blowing 20-25 mph out of the south.

    Everything I have read and heard about Kansas includes the word "flat" though I am told that the locals prefer the term "level" which does somehow seem less one-dimensional. And since I am a transplanted South Floridian I can report that to my eye at least there seems to be some contour, esp. in the eastern part of the state. The fields are much like a checkerboard: dark green corn, tan and golden wheat and other grains (What is a milo anyway?) made for a very attractive countryside, and with the air being so clean it seemed like the visibility was somehow greater than what I am used to, particularly as we progressed west. After Great Bend most towns become visible as the grain elevators first break the horizon followed by trees, and as each came up the previous ville would disappear out of the rearview--usually about ten miles apart.

    We ran along the tracks of the ATSF ("Atcheson, Topeka and Santa Fe" as the song went) intro Dodge City, and after being welcomed by local Healeyist Melvin Dale and his wife we were ushered to "Boot Hill"for a photo-op. BTW with all the hospitality we have experienced I am tempted to call this trip "The Great Mooch Across America". Healey owners are nothing if not great hosts!

    I have received a few inquiries about what if any problems have been experienced thus far and seeing as how yesterday we passed the halfway point on the Route 50 trip a report is appropriate.

    --Probably the most serious issue was Bob McElwee's bad starter, which he solved with a diversion today to Victoria British's Kansas headquarters somewhere near our route.
    --Allen Feldman had a punctured tire for breakfast today which caused him to get a late start.
    --My ignition switch developed some internal point of resistance which was beginning to melt the insulation on the wires running to it. Pending a proper replacement there is now a simple SPST toggle switch in its place. Otherwise I have run over 1500 miles from the starting point and have had to add one quart of oil--with most of what has been consumed winding up on my right knee as the result of the tachometer cable seal's slow failure.
    --Bob Brown had a slight leak from an oil cooler line which has been replaced.

    That's all that I am aware of and so much for our cars not being dependable! Tomorrow is, I am told, the "worst" day and I have visions of steer skulls alongside the road. We're getting an early start so I'll say "Chow For Now".

    Best--Michael Oritt
    1954 Austin-Healey 100 Le Mans
    1959 Elva MK IV Sports Racer
    1961 Ginetta G4

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    Re: Open Roads International 2002: A Journal

    June 17, 2002: Dodge City, KS--Colorado Springs, CO


    During today's run we finally made it out of Kansas! No offense to any Jayhawks but the state does seem to go on forever.and I cannot say that eastern Colorado was very different until the last 50 or so miles of today's run when the mountains came into view and we began to climb just a bit more noticeably.

    I ran today with the three UK cars, passing innumerable feed lots where cattle stand around eating. I haven't quite figured out why it is more economical to carry the cows to the food rather than vica versa (Of course you could not then use the term "Western Fed" could you?) but I'm sure I am missing something. Thanks, BTW, to the several folks who filled me in on what is milo, apparently a version of sorghum which we do have back East.

    Passing through Lamar, CO.I saw a sign pointing south for "Amache: Japanese/American Settlement Camp", referring no doubt to one of the internment sites where US citizens of Japanese extraction were forced to reside during WWII. What a rough area: most of the small towns and isolated farms seem to be on the north side of the highway, with almost all houses and buildings facing southeast, their backs turned to the brutal northwest winter winds even if that means they are exposed to an otherwise hot, dry and relentless summer wind coming from the south. More than a few homes are half-buried with substantial earthen berms against their north walls--winter must be a brutal experience on the Western Desert.

    Our only diversion from US 50 today was near Las Animas where we transferred onto SR 194 and visited "Bent's Old Fort", an early 1840's vintage fortification built by trader William Bent and his brother where the Arkansas River intersected with the Santa Fe Trail, right on what was then the USA-Mexican border. It was apparently the only show in town for hundreds of miles and Kit Carson was a resident buffalo hunter here. The US Park Service runs things and we had a great interpretive tour from one of the rangers dressed, of course, in period costume.

    After the customary picnic lunch at La Junta we drove off across the high desert--temperatures had to have been in excess of 100 degrees and I could not push the car much beyond 70 mph for any length of time without the needle creeping up to 212 degrees. As it was, Clive Randall's Westland Healey is the most temperature-challenged so we let him set the pace and we spent considerable periods travelling 55 to 60 mph despite the 75 mph speed limit--making for a long day.

    At Pueblo CO we diverted from 50 and took I-25 to Colorado Springs. We are poised for an assault on nearby Pike's Peak in the morning. Steve Byers is also with us and the only consideration is our proximity to the nearby forest fires. We met Bob Gilleland from Texas who drove up with his wife Stella trailering his 100. Apparently we are having dinner with a local Healey owner and I am sure we will get an update on the fires and how they might affect our plans. After the Pike's Peak ascent (I am doing it ONLY for the reportedly-great ice cream sold at the summit) we are supposed to rejoin route 50 near Poncha Springs tomorrow morning and then catch up with the main group of Route 50 travellers tomorrow night in Grand Junction. We'll see what we are dealt....

    That's it for me and thanks for the many words of encouragement I have received from readers. As usual, I am tired after a long, hot day.
    Last edited by Michael Oritt; 05-19-2020 at 07:33 PM.

    Best--Michael Oritt
    1954 Austin-Healey 100 Le Mans
    1959 Elva MK IV Sports Racer
    1961 Ginetta G4

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    Re: Open Roads International 2002: A Journal

    June 18, 2002: Colorado Springs, CO to Grand Junction, CO--via Pike's Peak Toll Road


    Note--When I originally wrote this journal in 2002 as the trip progressed I posted it daily via email to the autox Healey site amd also copied a number of friends and family. A few months ago one of the original recipients ran across his paper copies and sent a printout of them to me, and thus far I have been transcribing each day's journey from those emails. Unfortunately the message for this day's travels is missing and what follows is a brief summary of the day's highlights, written from memory 18 years later.

    The reason for yesterday's diversion from Route 50 to Colorado Springs was because a number of us wanted to drive up the Pike's Peak Toll Road, and that was today's goal! We left the hotel early to get to the Toll Road entrance just as it opened for business. We wanted to be the first cars up in the morning so we would not have to worry about meeting any "downhill traffic" which would allow us to cut the apex of uphill corners and thus permit us to "straighten the corners" and drive a bit more vigorously.

    I believe I was first through the gate, followed by the Hunts, Bowen/McDowell and Steve Byers--perhaps there were others, I cannot now recall. At that point in time the summit road was paved up to about 12,000 feet after which it was hard-packed with a fair amount of loose gravel, and once we reached this line of demarcation driving became more difficult and dangerous with no guards on the outboard shoulder in most cases, and a long way down....

    Thus far on the trip I had neglected to change my carbs' mixtures to compensate for thinner air and as we climbed through and past the tree line up what seemed to be an increasingly-steep grade my car's power began to fall off noticeably, and I was driving in first gear, occasionally slipping the clutch in tight bends to keep revs up. In order to reach the summit Julian Bowen had to stop about 1,000 feet short of the terminus to lighten his load by ejecting his passenger Lawrence MacDowell who was forced to unceremoniously walk the final section!

    In the end we all made it to the top and enjoyed the fantastic vistas as well as the famous ice cream. I recall having a self-congratulatory feeling having driven to the top of this plus-14,000 foot peak whereas most visitors are consigned to arrive via cog railway. The trip down was exhilarating to say the least--a challenge to the brakes as it was necessary to keep speeds down in order to negotiate the tight turns and loose surface.

    From the Toll Road's entrance I drove west on highway 24, then took a left and worked my way down to Salida where I rejoined Highway 50. Not too much further west was Monarch Pass, elevation 11,312--and I recall the ascent to it being a test of my car's cooling system. The day ended in grand Junction, CO, and from here I can return to written notes tomorrow.

    Best--Michael Oritt
    1954 Austin-Healey 100 Le Mans
    1959 Elva MK IV Sports Racer
    1961 Ginetta G4

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    Re: Open Roads International 2002: A Journal

    June 19, 2002: Grand Junction Co to Toelle (TWIH-luh) UT

    It is time I put in a plug for Mike Lempert's 3.54 differential: 3K rpm's is right about 70 mph on my car and this setup is a delight for cruising. Should Mike ever offer another run of gear sets I would recommend to anyone that they jump on the opportunity to buy. Figuring approximately 2500 engine revolutions per mile (2500 rpm's=60 mph or one mile per minute) times 3500 miles gives me 8,750,000 total revolutions for the trip projected, so Mike has thus far saved me approximately 1,000,000 engine revolutions).

    We have decided upon a new strategy to somewhat beat the heat of desert driving and departed Grand Junction about 5:00 AM. We drove across the Uncompangre Plateau and passed through Crescent Springs as the sun came up behind us, then on through Green River--a literal oasis in the desert--and just past there diverted onto SR 5 heading northwest for Provo, UT. We stopped for fuel at Helper and, looking for some breakfast, were sent to the "Helper Emporium", just about as typical an American roadside hash house you could hope to find.
    Thus far all of our breakfasts have been of the complimentary kind that came with the hotel room and Brits Clive and Lawrence have been unable to fulfill their wish to say "I'll have my eggs sunny-side up". They got their chance today and were not disappointed.

    Helper got is name because it was a stop on the Rio Grande Railroad line where the eastbound trains would pick up "helper" engines for the push across the Rockies--and assumedly there was a similar spot along the eastern slope--but with the advent of the diesel locomotive Helper lost its purpose and pretty much exists in name only.

    This is coal country and as we drove west out of Helper we could see black strata in the sandstone where the road right-of-way was cut into the mountain. Frankly I am at a bit of a loss in describing the experience of driving out here: The air is very clear and the horizons seem distant--it's almost like watching an Imax movie. As we approach Provo the scenery begins to change, the barren landscape giving way to greenery with Pines and Aspens dotting the slopes.

    After passing through town which straggles along the shore of Utah Lake we picked up SR 73 and ran west to meet up with SR 36 and so into Tooelle. Just past Provo I saw a billboard saying "Plural Marriage--Our Pioneer Heritage" and was referred to www.polygamy.com. A WWII German Tiger tank has somehow found its way here and is parked rather menacingly alongside the road in desert camo. Worms are $1.00 per dozen and dust devils swirl their way across the plain near Silver City.

    Just short of our destination we came upon the "Deseret Chemical Depot", set quite far back from the road and looking rather institutional. A roadside flagger told me "They burn stuff over there--don't know what" and mentioned something about monitoring sites as she urged us along. After checking into the hotel tonight and speaking with some locals who were driving a US Government van I learned that in fact they burn nerve gas at the site, and the folks to whom I spoke were "observers"--a Finn, a couple of Russians and another guy who didn't talk very much. They said they have been here for six weeks and were leaving tomorrow to be replaced by another team of "observers". They seemed happy to be leaving.

    Bob Wirken's 100 is experiencing some brake problems and as I write this adjustments are being made. Not too much else to tell except I went to a movie after arriving and saw "Minority Report". Tomorrow it's across the Great Salt Lake Desert, which sounds inviting, and on through the Bonneville Salt Flats area into Nevada, with a stop at Wendover to observer Mark Bradakis running his Healey atr a vintage race.

    Two more days to Tahoe!

    Best--Michael Oritt
    1954 Austin-Healey 100 Le Mans
    1959 Elva MK IV Sports Racer
    1961 Ginetta G4

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    Re: Open Roads International 2002: A Journal

    June 20, 2002: Toelle, UT to Ely, NV


    My apologies, readers, but the notes from this day's travels are also missing from what was sent to me and I can only flesh out from my memories the bare skeleton of the day. Here goes:

    If anyone wonders why we diverted yesterday from Highway 50 and came a considerable way north to Toelle (just outside Salt Lake City) it is the draw of the "Bonneville Salt Flats". I and a number of others, including the UK contingent, had never been there before, and beyond the flats' place in Healey history it just seemed like a required stop.

    Our day started in Toelle and we skirted around SLC to get onto I-80 which runs arrow-straight west--with a few bends tossed in--to Wendover, UT, whose claim to fame is the site of a USAAF base from which the B-29 "Enola Gay" took off to fly to Tinian Island in the Marianas and on into history when it bombed Hiroshima. But before we got there we pulled off onto "The Salt" for a group photo of six or so cars parked shoulder-to-shoulder on the short dead-end road leading out into the white barrens. There were no speed trials or anything going on, and as I remember the surrounding flats were awash in a couple of inches of briny soup. From there we drove the short distance to the site of the base and after watching some vintage racing taking place on the tarmac we headed for Wendover.

    There are two Wendovers: The Utah Wendover and the Nevada Wendover. The first Wendover isn't much and it conforms to the dictates of the (Mormon) "Church of the LDS"--no bars and in fact no nothing, as I recall. Then there is the other town just across the border of West Wendover, NV, brought to you by the people who gave you Las Vegas, with a number of casinos and topless bars along the main drag through town--maybe more.... Rumor was that lots of folks parked their morals at the State Line, but I think it best to avoid such speculation.

    After clearing through town we took a hard left and got onto SR 93 ALT--which certainly lived up to its moniker of "The Loneliest Road". It was 119 miles from West Wendover to Ely and as I recall there was exactly one gas station/cafe between the two towns. The two-lane road was more or less straight with minimal shoulders, well-ditched on either side, and a departure from it at speed would certainly be an event.

    In a scene that was reminiscent of the mid-desert toll gate in the movie "Blazing Saddles" we were driving along at highway speeds when all of a sudden we came up on a bunch of State Police and were flagged to the shoulder so that about ten cars participating in the "Cannonball Run" could intermittently race by northbound at speeds well over 100 mph, with each car trailing a number of support vehicles and camp followers from all over the nation, driving at high speeds as well. It seemed like an act of total insanity and we later heard that one racer was killed when his car left the road, subsequently causing the closure of the event.

    Eventually we arrived in Ely and checked into our lodging to prepare for the next day's drive to our ultimate destination: Lake Tahoe.

    Best--Michael Oritt
    1954 Austin-Healey 100 Le Mans
    1959 Elva MK IV Sports Racer
    1961 Ginetta G4

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    Re: Open Roads International 2002: A Journal

    Michael,

    Again, thank you for doing the work to re-post this. I am enjoying reading each episode.

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    Re: Open Roads International 2002: A Journal

    Sunday--June 23, 2002: Ely, NV to South Lake Tahoe, CA (ARRIVAL!)


    Knowing that today was going to be a long one (370 miles) we got our usual "Desert Start" and hit the road at 5:00 AM. Clive Randall in the Westland Healey had removed his grille yesterday which relieved his chronic overheating problem somewhat, and we are thus able to travel a bit faster, at least until it warms up later in the day.

    Due to our having crossed into Nevada yesterday we were now in the Pacific time zone and light was just breaking as we headed west on 50. By the time the Sun was high enough to light up the valleys we had crossed the Eagan Range and we made our first gas stop in Eureka. I think the town fathers selected the name to reflect that in the middle of nowhere people will pay for gas what the traffic will bear: $2.10 for 89 octane. From there it was about 100 miles to Fallon, NV, our predetermined breakfast destination, and we zipped across successive mountain ranges and valleys. Things got particularly attractive as we progressed west beyond Austin and the Shoshone Mountains. There were several US Navy installations along the route which struck me as curious, but I later learned that the Top Gun fighter school had been relocated to this area.

    I avoided hitting a large Jack Rabbit who chose to cross the road ahead of me and shortly thereafter had a bird strike on the windshield./. Luckily for me he hit just below the top of the frame and the glass did not break, but I am afraid the bird did not fare as well. BTW I had gotten a star chip a few days earlier back in Kansas from an oncoming gravel truck, but I don't plan to deal with this until i complete the trip and return to MD.

    After we finished breakfast in Fallon Peter and Ann Hunt, who had gotten a late start, caught up with us and I, along with the three UK cars spent the balance of the day crossing this rather barren area of western Nevada. What color the land lacked was made up for by some of the place names: Silver Springs; Stagecoach; Silver City; Mound House; Carson City, until we drew near to the California State Line and Tahoe.

    Julian Bowen has been carrying a 3' by 5' Union Jack set up to attach by a collapsible pole to his rear bumper and just before entering Tahoe we pulled over so he could erect the pole and run up the Colors. Though we felt we were making a grand entry into town so apparently did several hundred other Healeys. There was no Brass Band to welcome us and we were rather unceremoniously directed to the rear parking lot of the headquarters Horizon Hotel which was a veritable sea of Healeys. Folks continued to reach throughout the afternoon and despite the crowds both the hotel and event staffs processed registration very efficiently and 30 minutes after parking I was checked in and officially an attendee of Open Roads 2002.

    So, that's it! As far as I know everyone in the Highway 50 contingent made it with little or no problem and great aplomb. My small difficulty with the ignition key switch may have been the result of an undersized wire running from it to the MSD Blaster coil and the lack of a ballast resistor in the line to reduce current. All the talk about our cars' fragility and undependability notwithstanding, I continue to remain another satisfied Healey customer.

    I'll leave it to others to write about Open Roads--I'm here to enjoy and participate. My wife is joining me in a few days and after the event concludes we are travelling down the PCH to Los Angeles where my son and daughter live. I am hopeful that my daughter will join me for the first couple of days of the return trip which I will complete alone, which really is how I like to travel.

    In Blue Highways William Least Heat Moon referred to Travels With Charlie, John Steinbeck's famous book about driving around the US in a van with his dog (Charlie) and renders his opinion that being on the road with no companion, either human or animal, makes one a better observer and a bit more apt to engage with people along the way. Much of the detail about which I have reported caught my notice because I was not distracted by a passenger, and I often jawed with the locals about what was up, etc. simply because I was a bit hungry for contact. So, unless something of particular interest comes up I'll sign off for a while and resume my posts when my limited powers of observation are made greater during solitary travel.

    Best--Michael Oritt
    1954 Austin-Healey 100 Le Mans
    1959 Elva MK IV Sports Racer
    1961 Ginetta G4

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    Re: Open Roads International 2002: A Journal

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Oritt View Post
    JUNE 11, 2002--St. Leonard, MD to Rock Hall, MD via Ocean City, MD


    Those of us doing the drive plus the several supporting members of the Capital Area AHC, met at a predetermined spot on the Eastern Shore side of the Bay Bridge for the drive to Ocean City, the Eastern terminus of Highway 50, from where the journey west commences. the tour and flew into BWI to hook up for our departure west.
    Needs a few photo illustrations.......
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    Re: Open Roads International 2002: A Journal

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Oritt View Post
    JUNE 11, 2002--St. Leonard, MD to Rock Hall, MD via Ocean City, MD

    From this assembly point we proceeded to Ocean City where a photo-op of the departure west had been arranged. The highway sign showing the distance to the west coast terminus in Sacramento CA had been taken down due to road maintenance, so Ocean City's Finest held it over the grouped Healeys for the photo-op. There were many bikini-clad young girls ogling the cars and many Healey drivers ogling them in the process,
    On the boardwalk, down by the sea-e-e-e.....
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