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MAA Stories: A 40th Anniversary Travelogue!

By Randi Briggs

April 9, 2021

We hit our first traffic jam at 8:30 going into the Sacramento split. But it was just a minor hiccup. The weather was beautiful and temperate, with lots of sunshine. Driving down I-5 at the best of times is pretty boring, but when everyone has CBs it can be a lot of fun. When things start getting monotonous, the radio chatter and jokes start. Time can really fly. The next thing we know we are almost to Bakersville. The cars are running great with no breakdowns or problems. I’m a happy camper. The air conditioning is working fine in both cars. Bob and Barbara’s 67 GTA Fastback is newly painted and looking good.

By the time we hit the bottom of the grapevine, I’m missing my cats and starting to obsess about whatever I forgot or left undone. Oh well, I guess there isn’t much I can do about it now anyway. Amelia always looks after our place and pets like they are her own so “stop worrying, Randi”!
About half way through the day, I took over the driving. Rick says my grin went from ear to ear! I love driving this car. I can actually push down on the gas, and the car goes faster!!!! I guess I’m just too used to my ’88 Nissan Sentra – push down on the gas, go slower… Ah! I hope all this power doesn’t go to my head.

Looking forward to getting to Ontario and waiting for the arrival of the other Mustang people.
Oh look, up ahead. What is that black haze? That must be that famous L.A. smog. The weather forecast is always the same – hazy sunshine.
Traffic was predictably deplorable from the time we entered LA till we made it to the hotel.

April 10, 2021

Today is a rest up day. Rick, Bob and Dean are all out polishing their cars – yet again. The chicks – Barbara, Jan and myself went shopping! Much money was spent, and fun was had by all. Lunch was special too. We ate at the Rainforest Café, with rainstorms and raging animatronics elephants entertaining us through the whole thing.

This evening, Rick went to dinner at Crabby Bobs with Sam, Tony and many of the new arrivals. Everyone is preparing for the start of the long journey. With 100 cars leaving from here tomorrow it’s going to be interesting. This is by far the largest number of cars in any drive to date. We also have people who have shipped their cars from Australia, New Zealand and drove their cars from Canada. We had Eric, an Air Force crew chief with us too. He had driven his Mustang from North Carolina to L.A. just so he could join the drive back with all of us. When he returns to North Carolina at the end of this drive, he will be deployed straight to Iraq.

Right now, I’m enjoying the hotels broadband linkup with the internet, and being able to check my email so fast. How will I ever go back to my lousy 28.6K hook-up when this is over! If the other hotels don’t have this I am going to be Sooooo disappointed.

April 11, 2021

We gathered at the Mall parking lot for the drivers meeting at 7:30. Lots and lots of pretty ponies. We have a film crew from London that is documenting this drive and the car show in Nashville.
We’ve met Suzie and Nikki from the film crew, and they are super people Some time in the spring of next year there will be a one hour special on Travel Channel. Although I stay out of the cameras range, Rick has already been interviewed several times, as has Sam Haymart. There are more of the newer cars on this drive, so the older cars like ours get plenty of attention.
By noon the caravan had grown considerably, and the cars stretched out over five miles. Quite a sight to see. And many of the cars passing us were doing just that - site seeing. It’s fun to see the faces in the cars that are passing us as they realize they are seeing mile after mile of classic cars. Almost always guaranteed to bring a smile to even the most weary of faces.
I haven’t crossed the Mohave since I was 13. Cactus and scrub are an interesting change from Pines and Oaks. We were fortunate to see some of the cactus in bloom. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the desert in bloom. The weather has been cool. Tonight Flagstaff is 22 degrees. Glad I brought more than one pair of levis.

April 12, 2021

Everyone is beginning to get the hang of how this all works. The drivers meetings are getting more organized each morning. We pulled out of Flagstaff this morning at 8:00, and managed to keep the convoy together most of the day, which made the whole day that much more fun. It’s a pretty awesome site to see 100 mustangs strung out over several miles, every one with their headlights on.
We passed some beautiful sites today, the painted desert, skirting along the edge of the Grand Canyon, some red rock formations, herds of Elk. We met lots of wonderful people, both in the convoy and at the places we stopped.

Although we have had a few casualties along the way, Fred Foster’s car was struck by an Alligator (a large piece of shredded tire) and it destroyed his hood, but it earned him the new handle of Gator Bait; Gary Hanson left Flagstaff at 4:30 in the morning to get to Albuquerque to have his transmission fixed in time to catch up with the caravan when we stopped there in the late afternoon, everyone has been able to remain part of the group on the continuing journey to Nashville. The more the merrier.
Some of the highlights for today were the small car museum in Santa Rosa, which is family owned and operated, stayed open late to allow us to come by and see a respectable collection of old restored cars and other memorabilia. The other highlight was running our pony up to 105 mph on the open road. That’ll get your heart going.

April 13, 2021

We left Santa Rosa, and traffic was sweet. We were able to convoy up very nicely so that everyone was in line. What a sight! There wasn’t much to see except a few interesting rock formations, but with most of the cars closely spaced, it was easy to keep the conversations going on the CBs. Before we knew it we had rolled into Amarillo. The local Ford dealership and the local mustang club had cleared off the Ford lot for us to park in, and their show room for us to eat in.
We were greeted by news cameras, and some of the nicest people you could hope to meet. It’s a good thing we had all that space to park, because we had about 100 more cars joining up with us. We are getting to be a very large rolling traffic jam. Amarillo has a long history with Mustangs Across America. It’s one of the favorite stops on our trip.

As we left Amarillo, we noticed more and more small groups of people who had come to the edge of the freeway to watch us pass by, and as we neared Oklahoma, there were even greater numbers.
In the late afternoon, we reached Clinton Oklahoma. And the whole rolling mass stopped at the Route 66 Museum. If you ever get the chance to visit there, it’s well worth the stop. The museum is very uniquely done, and very interesting. Our next stop was Mustang Oklahoma.
We had been looking forward to this stop for the whole trip. As Sam Haymart said, it was one of the main reasons for making this journey. A more terrific community of people you could never hope to meet. Exiting the off ramp, there were news helicopters and spectators everywhere. The local police stopped all traffic on the roads to escort this huge convoy to its destination. The people of this town had set up a dinner and blue grass band for us. It was great. Mustang Oklahoma is a place I wouldn’t mind living in.

April 14, 2021

We left the Super 8 in Yukon, Oklahoma this morning, and none too soon. Bob Lamb was the only one who got a hot shower in the morning. Apparently, he used up all of the hot water in the hotel all by himself. “Nice Shower Bob”.

Walter and Lorraine Welsh were about to cancel their trip. There was a minor accident that left two of his rims bent, and his tires flat. Walter is 81 and has owned his orange ’65 coupe for 36 years. This was a much anticipated trip for them. Some of us just couldn’t sit by and let him stay back, so Rick and Larry confiscated two spare tires that would fit, slapped them on the coupe and Walter was back in business! The three of us left the hotel parking lot about 30 minutes after the convoy, but in spite of that, we started to catch up with the end of the convoy in about an hour and began accumulating more cars along the way. By the lunch stop we caught up with the main group. At the local WalMart, Walter was able to get his own rims repaired and was ready for the rest of the trip.

Unfortunately that had some consequences for us. To catch up with the group, we had to keep a speed of 80 mph. We had a brake job gone bad, leaving us with scorched rotors. And the high speeds caused us to burn them faster than we might have done in less stressful circumstances. We had Sam call ahead to the Ford dealership in Little Rock Arkansas which was our next stop, to see if they could prepare for us, and get us fixed up in time to leave with the rest of the convoy on Thursday morning. To their absolute credit, they were ready for us. In an hour, they had the car in the shop, up on the rack, the wheels and brakes removed. They had the rotors delivered personally. The only thing that stopped them from having the car totally done in an hour and a half, was that the rotors that were delivered were the wrong ones. But we give them full credit for trying. Oh well, we still expect to only be behind the main convoy (which will now increase to nearly 250 cars) by about an hour. Without our brakes dragging us down, we should be able to catch up by lunch. Tomorrow we will arrive in Nashville at last.

The Ford dealership and the local mustang club put on a spectacular dinner and a fun show. They hired a Willy Nelson look alike to sing and entertain us. We loved it. This is another warm wonderful community that went out of its way to make us feel welcome.
Our cars and many of the cars that will join us tomorrow were there on display for us and for those in the community that wanted to come and see them.

April 15, 2021

We watched all the other cars pulling out to get on the road early in the morning. Today is the last leg of the journey to Nashville. Getting left behind is so lonely! Even the stragglers have packed up and left. The Ford dealership has gone out of their way to work on our car, even in front of their other scheduled repairs, to get us on the road to Nashville. Getting the correct rotors has been a bit of a problem, but finally they have them and are putting them on. We will be out of here by 10:30 am.

From the dealership to the freeway, we’re off. The car has been handling the 80mph pace we’ve set to try and catch up with the convoy by lunch. This old car is purring.
We just missed the group by about fifteen minutes from the lunch stop, so we hoped to catch up with them before they go into Nashville. But it was not to be. We passed small pockets of cars off the side of the road, and we passed some of the people who must have joined at the Memphis lunch stop, but we never did catch up.

Coming into Nashville, things got a bit humorous. There appeared to be Mustangs in groups going almost every direction. We passed mustangs going west while we were going east; we passed mustangs getting off the freeway as we were getting on; and we passed cars going over the overpasses while we were going under. I think it’s safe to say that everybody was lost beyond all hope. There is a lot of road construction going on in Nashville. Sooner or later – mostly by accident – we all made it to the hotels.

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