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Deals Gap/Tail of the Dragon 2024

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  • kishy
    replied
    Originally posted by gadget73 View Post
    Lucy the Elephant
    Some interesting (maybe inconsequential) trivia that came to light. Maybe you knew, maybe you didn't:

    Lucy the Elephant is modeled after/inspired by Jumbo, which was a real living elephant in the latter half of the 1800s.
    Jumbo became (for a rather short time) a Barnum & Bailey circus elephant.
    Jumbo met his demise being hit by a train in a railyard, in St. Thomas, Ontario (yes, the same), which happens to be only about 2 hours away from me.
    There is a statue of Jumbo in St. Thomas, although not of the proportions as Lucy, and you can't go inside the statue.

    Lucy was built prior to Jumbo's death, whereas the status in St. Thomas came one hundred years later.

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  • Mainemantom
    replied
    Thanks for the trip details and pictures. Seems like a nice trip with your car running well.

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  • Tiggie
    replied
    Apologizes for the Virginia drivers. Really speaks volumes about your maintenance/prep, and the platform in general, that a 1991 could make that trip with no hiccups.

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  • gadget73
    replied
    Only bad part with you rolling through on Monday, most of the decent places are closed. Diners are kinda whatever. Its food but generally nothing remarkable. We have a pretty good Italian place in the area that does a pretty big lunch for not dumb money. There is also a really good barbecue joint.

    Unfortunately the old timey hamburger stand closed down. They lost the lease on the place because whoever owned the property sold it to some warehouse project. The people who were running it also run a butcher shop so all the meats were fresh and high quality. Easily the best burgers in the county, and their pulled pork was very good too.

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  • 87gtVIC
    replied
    Excellent to hear all went well on your trip and that you had a good time.

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  • kishy
    replied
    I am home. Everything went quite well.

    Thursday May 9: group met in Taylor, MI, had breakfast, and started the drive down. We got moving from breakfast about an hour earlier than last year, and we were quicker at the Tesla charging stops (which coincided with gas car fueling and stops for snacks), so we arrived to dinner over an hour earlier than last year. Dinner was once again at Pancho's Mexican Restaurant in Maryville, TN, which was quite good. We headed out from dinner quicker this year as well, making a stop at a Wal Mart for a few needed items before hitting US 129 towards Robbinsville.

    Given the car this year being my highest mileage one, and recognizing I may have harmed the wagon with some of how hard I was on it last year, I went in at the back of the pack and drove more consistently with the recommended speeds as per signage. The car did well, and the tires despite their age were remarkably grippy, even in the wet, as it had rained earlier in the day. Once again, United Pacific LED headlights have proven themselves as well. We checked into the hotel at a far more reasonable time than last year and good sleep was had.

    Friday - caught the early morning sunrise in the mountains, hidden by low clouds and fog (not called the Smoky Mountains for nothing), and returned to the hotel for breakfast. After that, we got some driving in, covering the Dragon northbound, some regional highways, and the Cherohala Skyway from Tellico Plains, TN back to Robbinsville, NC. Nothing particularly new from last year, and that's OK. Not all pro photographers were out on my first pass through, so later in the afternoon I made two more - NC to TN and back again - to ensure I'd have some photos to pick from. I haven't made any purchases or decisions at this time and will drop links where possible shortly.



    Saturday - drove some different roads, went on a brief hike, group became fragmented and went all over doing a bunch of random stuff so no group aerial photo this year. Dan, Sarah, and I went to Cherokee, NC, a little east of where we were, checked into a motel, and then went to Clingman's Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains park. Clingman's Dome is the highest point of the Smoky Mountains, and is accessible via a paved walking trail and features a concrete viewing tower at the top, which is perhaps the "dome" itself, by a loose definition. We saw what of the sunset was visible through the clouds and headed back to the motel for the night. It's a nice spot, but you need to go dressed for much colder than whatever it was at the bottom of the mountain for sure.



    Sunday - the three of us had breakfast, and from there Dan went to rejoin the rest of the group for their drive north. Sarah and I got on the Blue Ridge Parkway heading for Asheville, NC, setting off earlier than last year to hopefully buy us some more time (either for travel or social whatever) on the tail end of the day.
    We did not specifically intend to eat lunch at the same spot, but we were hungry when we got to Asheville, and the sushi place (Udon Sushi & Noodle) opened in minutes from when we were arriving in the area, and we were hungry, so we returned. It was fantastic again this year as it was last year.



    The plan had been to try to maximize time on the Blue Ridge Parkway, but it just doesn't go in the right direction out of Asheville to get me where I needed to be, so we hopped on interstates, stopping at Towson, MD. Towson was further along than Owings Mills where we stopped last year, which would reduce drive time the next morning, and the hotel was cheaper this way too. But, checking in at around 10pm definitely did not allow for any social activities.

    Monday - drove towards NJ. Stopped at the Conowingo Dam on the Susquehanna River, looked at that for a few minutes, looked at some birds, then hopped back on the road. Had lunch with gadget73 at a diner in Deepwater (maybe technically Carneys Point) NJ. The meal was decent and the company was good, thank you for making the time.





    Sarah and I continued across NJ to Absecon, we collected my friend Matt and went to see Lucy the Elephant in Margate City, which as best I can tell is basically part of Atlantic City - not even a suburb really, more of a neighbourhood. Lucy was closed as an actual attraction, but we were there at least. I can't tell you much about it, other than it's a large building made out of probably concrete shaped like an elephant which you can go inside of. Perhaps a diner at some point in its past, or maybe just a novelty for the sake of existing. I dunno, the tours closed at 4pm and we were there at 5:30, so I blame their weird business hours for my lack of context.

    Last year, we had dinner and then parted Monday night, driving partway into PA to find a hotel. However, despite arriving home Tuesday, I was super burnt out and had to take Wednesday off anyway to sleep. This year, I had suggested that we "add a day" to the trip (still taking Wednesday off, but using it to drive to break it up some more), so we stayed at a hotel in Atlantic City.

    This is the sort of thing I mean when I tell people my life is like a Seinfeld episode.
    I asked Sarah for hotel ideas that would be on the beach with a view of the ocean for the sunrise.
    We agreed that the Tropicana casino resort had a great view of the ocean over the beach (could see plain as day just looking at it), so we booked a room and asked for an ocean view room.
    We were given key cards to a room on the 12th floor with an "ocean view", and went up to it, which entailed going through the casino gaming floor and covering a lot of distance.
    The room was already sold to someone else, and was full of their belongings when we opened the door, which represented the first Seinfeldism of the night.
    The next was when I picked up the help phone in the hallway and was connected to an overseas call centre agent rather than someone in the building.
    I hung up and we walked all the way back to the hotel check-in counter, where being a nice, polite, and understanding person, I was only upset enough to get a $50 credit towards restaurants on the property. Better than nothing I suppose.

    We went up to our new room, found that the "ocean view" was a bit misleading as the building faced sideways (looking down the beach rather than over the ocean), but decided this would be fine and we'd go down to the beach in the morning for sunrise. The three of us went downstairs and had dinner at Chickie's & Pete's inside the casino. The bill for the 3 of us was $69, so the $50 didn't quite do it, but at least it served as a substantial discount.

    After that, Sarah and I decided to do some gambling, being the high rollers that we are, with Matt watching and commenting as appropriate.
    Each of us started with one dollar.
    Sarah turned hers into 10 cents in the span of about 8 seconds.
    I managed to keep mine going, turning it into 5 cents and a glass of cranberry juice in the span of about 20 minutes.
    I'm evidently a natural and am completely convinced that if I pull that handle enough times, I will win big and get to retire. Certainly.

    We dropped Matt off at home and returned to the casino hotel for the night.

    Tuesday, I somehow managed to wake up at 5:15AM as intended to be able to catch the 5:44 sunrise on the beach. We went downstairs and walked out on the beach, at which point we realized our next Seinfeldism: the Atlantic City oceanfront beach does not face east, it faces very nearly south, and the sun rises out of the northeast. Our view, accordingly, was blocked by a collection of piers, casinos, hotels and billboards. But hey, I did get to see the sun rise above all that, so that's something. We went back to bed, knowing there was no rush on precisely how far we'd make it before stopping for the night.



    As we checked out of the hotel, we each put an additional dollar in slot machines - me using the same one from the night prior. Sarah turned her dollar into zero in about a minute this time, whereas I kept mine going for however long was necessary to earn another glass of cranberry juice. This time, I ended up at zero as well, but at least I got the juice and I have the $0.05 voucher from the night before as a souvenir of sorts.

    We drove across NJ and into PA, encountering some nasty traffic near Philly. We headed for Sarah's friends place in a pretty rural area near Parker, PA (north of Pittsburgh) where we had dinner and caught up for a while. While there, we decided Cleveland, OH was a good goal for the night, and I booked a hotel room there. We set off on the highway and we were in our room by 10pm, which was perfect.

    Come this morning, Wednesday, we had the hotel breakfast (surprisingly complete and decent despite being the cheapest hotel I've yet stayed in) and hit the road. Ohio's low speed limits and heavy-handed enforcement kept us at a slower pace, but we made it home by about 2PM which was very reasonable. Actually being awake today has been a big upgrade over how last year's trip ended, so I'm glad we added the stop in Cleveland.

    As I did last year, some stats of note:
    States visited or driven through: MI, OH, KY, TN, NC, VA, briefly WV, MD, DE, NJ, PA.
    Worst drivers found in: VA once again! They found new ways to be annoying this time, but they were still the worst in really obnoxious ways.
    Tolls paid: about 10 USD but one of the booths was bill-by-plate only so a bill may or may not appear in the mail for an amount I will not know until/unless it does
    Distance driven: 2403.5 miles or 3868.1 km per trip odometer
    Fuel consumed: 125.8 US gallons per actual fuel station pumps
    Fuel economy: 18.91 US MPG average across trip per actual calculation of actual fuel vs odometer in each leg of the trip. Low 14.4, high 22.4
    Highest elevation reached in the car was 6320 ft at Clingman's Dome parking lot (where we proceeded on foot to 6641 ft at Clingman's Dome itself​).
    Lowest elevation would be essentially zero in Atlantic City.

    Definitely intending to do this again, so watch out for another thread for 2025.
    Last edited by kishy; 05-16-2024, 12:00 AM.

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  • gadget73
    replied
    Depends on what I'm driving. The Conti does not like life at 70 or above. The Towncar is happy in the 75-80 range, the Mark VII is happy around 70. The truck likes either 65 or 80. For some reason it just doesn't seem to naturally sit between those points.

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  • DerekTheGreat
    replied
    Originally posted by kishy View Post
    ...I have another set of HPPs in far poorer condition, which I plan to try to strip and clean up when I have some time. Those are likely getting the black webbing treatment.

    What's my rush? What isn't yours? Don't you like to actually get places and do things?
    Maybe an ironic question given my destination was fundamentally a road and my activity itinerary is all just driving, but like...not stupid interstates. That was a long drive south and spending an extra less-than-an-hours-pay on getting to the hotel early enough to not have to immediately crash into bed was well worth it.

    I am really surprised by the fuel economy. At the end of the trip I'll try to verify if the odometer/s is/are actually counting accurately. Speedo seemed about right when I checked it before the trip, and we know the odometers aren't losing mileage or the MPG would look awful instead of great.
    I love the bright wheel lip of the HPP's. I'd do exactly that, make the webbing black and keep everything else bright.

    Haha. When I was a younger man I was always in a hurry. Got it from my dad, I think. Hell, when I bought the Town Car I put my Valentine 1 in it and modified it such that it was a permanent installation. It's still there, as sort of a memory of things past. What I learned was that for daily driving, you really don't save that much time when you speed. Long distance? There is value to speeding if you want to get there. But with all the frustration of having to slow down before I can pass (usually), stressing over where police are, how much harder it is on the vehicle and then missing out on the enjoyment of the drive, I changed my ways. Actually, the slow ass Lincoln made that change for me. I began to set the cruise at 60 or 65 and noticed how much quieter it was inside the car and how much more relaxed I was and that best of all, I didn't get frustrated with slow people or indignant people who were going ultra slow, yet didn't like being passed and then saw that as an opportunity for road range.

    We're going to South Carolina, leave Wednesday evening. I'm looking forward most to the drive. Destination is nice, but behind the wheel is where I get the biggest boost.

    Leave a comment:


  • Lutrova
    replied
    That's just as well. We're having a later Mother's Day and by the time you'll be rolling through here I suspect it'll be bedtime for the kids.

    But there's always next year.

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  • kishy
    replied
    The move from Robbinsville to Cherokee went as expected. Rather than camping we stayed in a motel, and had time in the evening to climb to Clingman's Dome, the highest point in the Smoky Mountains.

    This morning, Sarah and I parted from Dan and we're presently in Asheville. We'll be heading north after lunch. Still on track for MD tonight and NJ tomorrow. Towson, MD is about 8 hours away, so if we leave from lunch at noon we'll be there around 9pm. Giving some thought to just powering on a little further based on tiredness levels, in which case Lutrova I'd be bypassing you again.

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  • sly
    replied
    I found gaps in the clouds... saw nothing. Drove out into the country at midnight 30 and saw nothing. raining tonight. Oh well.

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  • gadget73
    replied
    Was cloudy here, saw nothing. Maybe I'll have better luck tonight. Apparently big solar storm going on causing all that.

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  • Tiggie
    replied
    I'm in Virginia and saw the northern lights last night for the first time in my 37 year life. Pretty nice. Thanks for bringing them down with ya.

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  • kishy
    replied
    The weather has been great since arriving, despite parts of the south not so far away getting kinda beat up by the sounds of it.
    Aurora Borealis was visible here last night, which seems to be a pretty infrequent occurrence. This is, of course, pretty far south to be seeing the northern lights.

    The car is turning heads and earning thumbs up everywhere it goes. I walked out to it to find a couple guys of similar age to me nerding out over it, which was a surprise but appreciated.

    Drove the Skyway and Dragon. Aside from the transmission being a bit stupid, it did it just fine.

    Checking out of the hotel in Robbinsville this morning, moving on to a hotel in Cherokee, about 45 minutes to the east. That will be the point of departure for the drive to MD, and hopefully setting off early enough to enjoy a good chunk of the Blue Ridge Parkway. But there's a whole day ahead of us still today, so I'm going to go do some things.

    Originally posted by Tiggie View Post
    Heck ya. Sounds like that car is glad to stretch is legs.
    I'll say! The best MPG I ever cleared on this car was 17 with 14 as typical in-city (and 14 jives with the other cars for city). Who'da thought the answer to this was to drive faster?

    Originally posted by DerekTheGreat View Post
    Looks sharp on the road (Minus the LED's & smoker vents). Can't remember the last time I saw black Mercury or Ford sedan (box). Wheels look good, but I suspect you'll kick it up an notch if you dark out or black out the centers and leave the lips, lug nuts and center caps bright.

    Great MPG for those speeds. The Town Car will pull 24+ if I keep it 60 to 65. What's your rush?? Surprised you pulled 17.5 at those other crazy speeds. Don't think my Lincoln would do that well. What's your oil consumption like? How's that trans holdin' up?
    I have another set of HPPs in far poorer condition, which I plan to try to strip and clean up when I have some time. Those are likely getting the black webbing treatment.

    What's my rush? What isn't yours? Don't you like to actually get places and do things?
    Maybe an ironic question given my destination was fundamentally a road and my activity itinerary is all just driving, but like...not stupid interstates. That was a long drive south and spending an extra less-than-an-hours-pay on getting to the hotel early enough to not have to immediately crash into bed was well worth it.

    I am really surprised by the fuel economy. At the end of the trip I'll try to verify if the odometer/s is/are actually counting accurately. Speedo seemed about right when I checked it before the trip, and we know the odometers aren't losing mileage or the MPG would look awful instead of great.

    Leave a comment:


  • DerekTheGreat
    replied
    Looks sharp on the road (Minus the LED's & smoker vents). Can't remember the last time I saw black Mercury or Ford sedan (box). Wheels look good, but I suspect you'll kick it up an notch if you dark out or black out the centers and leave the lips, lug nuts and center caps bright.

    Great MPG for those speeds. The Town Car will pull 24+ if I keep it 60 to 65. What's your rush?? Surprised you pulled 17.5 at those other crazy speeds. Don't think my Lincoln would do that well. What's your oil consumption like? How's that trans holdin' up?

    Leave a comment:

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