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MAA Stories: A Recollection from the road.

By Doug Gompertz


How do you put the experience of a lifetime down on one sheet of paper – you don’t. So sit back, put on your reading glasses, and hopefully enjoy my story.

For some time I have wanted a collector car – didn’t know which one but always said I would know it when I saw it. Well. . . at the Cool September Days Show at South Shore I finally found it. I bought my 67 Acapulco Blue Mustang Convertible on September 28th of 2003.

Immediately I immersed myself in everything Mustang that I could find, including several monthly magazines. In November I became aware of the Mustangs Across America drive from Southern California to Nashville for the Mustang Club of America’s 40th Anniversary Celebration and decided that I must participate in this drive, and the MCA event, so, we registered for both events.

Now, we had a plan, a commitment, a timeline. Next, we needed to execute the repairs necessary to get this old car ready for “the road trip”. I spent most of the winter converting Manual Drum Brakes to Power Disc, totally updating the suspension, new wheels and tires, adding AC, new windshield, top and interior. Somewhere along the way, the budget we had set aside for the project got lost, changed or forgotten – it ended up costing us twice what we had planned, but, we were ready.

In talking with Ken at the Mustang Parts House in Dublin, I knew that there were several cars from this area planning on joining up with MAA in Barstow, and since I hate the LA area anyway, I thought that this sounded like a good plan.

We (myself, wife Linda and our 10 year old grandson, Austin) left on Saturday morning, April 10th. Upon waking that morning, my grandson said it was cold and could we drive with the top up? (the plan had been to drive top down) So. . . up went the top. We wanted to be on the road at 8AM, so we could meet up with everyone at the rest stop on I 5, at 9:15AM, however, that was not to be. For various reasons (the top being one) we didn’t get going until 9AM, so we missed out on traveling with the group. Not a fine start to our trip.

As we made our way out of town, I was thinking about the old Anthony Newley song “What Kind Of Fool Am I”. Here we are, two people in their 60’s, driving an almost 40 year old car, across country.

On the chance that everyone else was running late we pulled in at the first rest stop on I 5. There was one Mustang there – a fastback from the Sacramento area looking for someone going to Ontario that he could travel with. Like us, he was running late and all the others had left a long time ago. We left him there, waiting for an Ontario bound car and we continued on. At lunch we did meet up with some other Mustang’s at the first In-N-Out on I 5. They, us, and about 400 kids going on a mission to Mexico, all stood in line waiting to get our lunch so we could get going again. I had the thought, as I waited in line, that this was the way it was going to be for the next week at each of our meal stops, and I wasn’t far from wrong. Every Mustang at the In N Out was headed for Ontario, so, we, by ourselves, headed for Barstow. The trip was uneventful, with the exception of 6 raindrops on our windshield as we went over the pass from the valley to the desert. That was to be the only rain we would see for our entire trip.

Our plan for Day Two was to drive 28 miles east on I 40 to the rest stop and meet up with the group from Ontario. Mustang One, Sam Haymart, planned a stop there so those in Barstow could meet up with the group. When we arrived, everyone was there already. First people we saw were Frank and Esther Rowland, and we quickly got to chatting with them. While we were talking, Mustang One and the MAA group saddled up and left the rest stop – we almost missed leaving with them. Had to jump in the car and fall into the end of the caravan, headed for Flagstaff.

Needles was our gas and lunch stop. Mid grade only cost $2.69 per gallon there! Once again, I found myself standing in a long line at some fast food restaurant, (Carl’s Jr.) waiting to place my order. Service was slow, as they did not expect 100+ cars (200+people) to come in, all at one time. When we were done, Mustang One announced (over the CB) that he wanted us to wait a few minutes, as there were 2 film crews traveling with us and they needed to get set up down the road to take pictures of us as we went by, as a group. We quickly became accustomed to seeing these film crews taking our pictures all along the way. One crew was filming for a documentary to be shown on the History Channel called “Mustang – King of the Highway”, one crew was from Australia doing an article for a magazine and one crew from Mustang Magazine.

In addition to us and Frank & Esther, there were couple’s from Alamo and Livermore along as well as quite an international group. We had one car from Australia, 2 cars from New Zealand, a couple of Canadian cars and even a couple from Sweden along with us.

As we galloped our way east, the caravan soon evolved into 3 groups: the newer faster cars that wanted to (or could) travel 80+, the older cars that traveled at 70 (this was our group) and the older people who preferred to travel at 60-65.

As you motor east towards Flagstaff the elevation changes. Flagstaff is at 7000’ but the climb is so gradual you don’t realize you are climbing – until you figure your gas mileage. We were fighting a headwind, climbing, and managed to average 12.5MPG. We used about a quart of Mobil One also on this segment.

Our afternoon rest stop was at Seligman, AZ. a town on old Route 66. This town is “restored” to the 40’s era and is really neat – the old whore house even had “the girls” out on the roof all decked out in their finery. Wish we could have stayed there longer.

Once in Flagstaff we were pleased to find a Cracker Barrel Restaurant, where we enjoyed diner before turning in.

Day three found us late for the drivers meeting. We got in on the tail end of the meeting – really didn’t hear any of the road work instructions or rest stop information – and had not yet had breakfast, so after the meeting ended, we went to McDonalds for a quick Egg McMuffin before leaving town. This put us behind the group, and we managed to stay behind them all day.

When you travel with a 10 year old, you play games. Grandson Austin counted state license plates each day, (averaged 26 – 32 each day) and the number of cars (all of them over 100 cars long) on each train we saw –in this Part of the country you see lots of trains.

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