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MAA Stories: A 40th Anniversary Travelogue!

By Randi Briggs - Continued Page 2

April 16, 2021

Our second day in Nashville, our hotel is spectacular. The Gaylord Opryland Hotel is huge. We overlook the gardens and the water falls – inside the hotel.
Rick and Bob went over to get their cars cleaned up and registered in the show early this morning. Our car is still running great and looking great.
Today was another rest up day for me. I spent the day checking this place out. It reminds me a little of Disneyland. They have done so much landscaping inside the building. There is even a boat ride that takes people around on tours inside here.
Besides the shops, one of my first stops was the cyber café. Unfortunately, it was also everyone else in the buildings first stop too. Not as fast as the broadband at the Ontario La Quinta, but still pretty nice once I got a space. I’m so depressed to know that I have to go back to the stone ages as far as access is concerned when I get home J
I’m sitting here listening to the waterfall outside the room, looking forward to the car show tomorrow. We’ve already seen so many great Mustangs on the road. I look forward to seeing them cleaned and shined. It’s fun to see how much people love and take pride in their old cars, and how much other people enjoy seeing them.

April 17, 2021

The judging in the car show took place today. We already knew we wouldn’t win anything (although sometimes we get surprised and DO win). We didn’t have the money right now to get a new first rate paint job, so although we had a friend at Rolly’s do a touch up on the few chips we had, we still need a complete paint job from metal up.

The show had between 3500 and 4000 cars there, from 1964 ½ to 2005 models. Some beautiful horse flesh. It was about 60 percent old cars and 40 percent new cars at this show. In the recent past the division would have been more like 80 percent old and 20 percent new. There were GTs, fastbacks, convertibles, coupes, Roush, Saleen, your lowly 6 cylinder base mustang to the 69 and 70 boss 429s. Of course this also included CA. specials, Shelbys, boss 302s and boss 351s.
There were about a dozen of the mustang IIs there this time which you didn’t see much of at shows in the past. It has earned its place by being the car that carried the mustang over into the new generations, bridging the gap between the first generation to the fox body.
The biggest disappointment for all was that the show was held in an area adjacent to the track that was gravel and dirt, making it impossible to keep the cars clean. The concourse show was held under the bleachers with one big drawback. Some of the people in the stands watching the racing, apparently found it necessary to – um – spit. Said spit of course rained down on the tops of cars whose wheels never touch the ground except to be judged. Needless to say, car mommy and daddy’s were not too happy about that. But despite any problems, the show was a big success and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.

If we had the money that was just invested in paint jobs on these cars, we’d be very rich!
This evening, we got tickets to the Grand Ole Opry. Apparently it was an unusual night, some said the best show of the year. We saw Travis Tritt, Pam Tillis, Vince Gill, Wynonna and Naomi Judd. It was a great show, however we wondered how we’d do without oxygen masks where our seats were located. Talk about nosebleed section…. We were in the very topmost seats on the very furthest right hand side. We were glad that they announced who the performers were, because without our binoculars, we sure couldn’t tell! But we still had a great time.

April 18, 2021

The last day of the show and everyone is preparing to start home. We went later in the morning and at least half of the cars were already gone. The vendors are starting to show some wear and tear. Still got a chance to see the 2005 mustang. It’s awesome. This car should carry the mustang on for another ten years. Also saw the latest Roush and Saleen. Nice!
The Charley Daniels band was there to play at 1:30 and the music was terrific. But so many people had left the car show that there wasn’t much of an audience – not the audience that Charley’s music deserved. After that it was back to the hotel to begin packing up for the trip home.
Tonight we attended the Mustangs Across America banquet. Wow! The food was great! No rubber chickens here. Art Hyde of Ford and formerly of Team Mustang was there to talk to us. He was originally tasked with killing the Mustang project, but he instead brought the Mustang back to life with new concepts. All fans of Mustang have him to thank for keeping the Mustang alive. Although I believe those people who own old and new Mustangs can receive part of the credit. America (and many other countries) love this car. No other car has a following like this.
We’ve made so many new friends on this drive, and renewed friendships with many old friends. It will be hard to part with them tonight. The goodbyes after the banquet lasted a long time.

April 19, 2021

It’s Monday morning, and time to start home. Some will travel together and some will go it alone. We have been passing other Mustangs all day, some of them are people we met, others we don’t recognize. We are taking a side trip to Graceland. The people who have been there say it’s well worth the stop. We took the house, museum and car collection tour, and it really was interesting. What a life Elvis led. It’s too bad how it ended. Ended today back in Little Rock.

April 20, 2021

As we came onto the road this morning, we were passed by the Shelby truck that was also returning to Ca. We talked for a short time – nice people. We saw a couple of small groups of Mustangs along the way, but no one we knew.
Stopped again at the Route 66 museum in Clinton, Ok. And really enjoyed the place this time. We had it all to ourselves.
No matter where we stop, this old car is like honey to a bunch of ants! People just love it and always want to tell us about their Mustangs, or a Mustang that they once owned. Cars we pass or that pass us on the highway are always rubber necking, smiling and giving us a thumbs up. Somehow this car is a great ice breaker. I guess that’s part of the fun of having it.

April 21, 2021

We continued to travel towards home. Texas is pretty boring scenery wise, so we didn’t spare the ponies. We chatted with some of the truckers to see if they’d seen any of the groups of Mustangs driving by. Coming into New Mexico, somehow the scenery abruptly changes and there are mesas and red hills. We took a short detour in Tucumcari to pick up some things, and what a side trip it turned out to be. We fell in love with the place. It sits directly upon old Route 66, and there is much restoration going on there. Some of the old hotels were newly restored, and others were under construction. The houses (also many of which are restored) are straight out of the 40s and 50s. We found a half dozen great photo op spots for the Mustang, and met several of the towns people who are very proud of the projects that they are working on. I would recommend this spot for a short stop, you wouldn’t be sorry.

As I talked to some of the people, I mentioned that we were part of the large group of Mustang cars that had driven by last Monday. Many of them knew we were coming through on I-40 which is directly parallel to them and had tried to determine when, so that they could all go out to the road to watch us pass, but they couldn’t figure out when, and they missed us. They have left a standing invitation for us to come through their town next time we cross the country with Mustangs Across America.

Stopped tonight at Gallup NM. And are staying at the historical El Rancho motel. The stars often stayed here while filming westerns and other films requiring a desert location. The rooms are named according to stars who stayed in the rooms. We got the John Wayne room this time.

April 22, 2021

If you do stay at the El Rancho hotel, you’d better really love trains! I’ll say no more J
We drove probably the furthest today of the whole trip. Broke it up with a few fun stops though.
There are a lot of places where I-40 and Route 66 cross, and we tried to visit some of them. The biggest stop we made were at Kingman and Lake Havasu where the London Bridge is. Kingman is a lot like Tucumcari. There is much restoration going on. It is charming and very worth a visit. If you do stop, make sure you find “Mr. Ds” restaurant. We saw it on the Travel channel a few nights earlier and decided to try to find it. The food is terrific, the décor is very 50s, and the people very friendly. Across the street is a fairly recent renovation of a poser station. It was turned into a Route 66 museum and information center. We didn’t have as much time as we wanted to spend there, but we gave ourselves a whirlwind tour. If you have the time, it’s worth the $3.00 admission.
Lake Havasu is beautiful, and the London Bridge is pretty awesome. It’s actually drivable. We only had about an hour there. By this time we were getting pretty tired and it was hot there, but we did get several good pictures. For those who can spend more time, there are boat rides, shops to visit, and even gondola rides.
After that, it was a long hot ride across the Mohave. We wanted to make Bakersville before we stopped.

April 23, 2021

Only five hours to go to get home. The drive home was made more interesting by the occasional stop, but we are both ready to get home. I-5 doesn’t offer much in the way of diversion.
Three hours out from home, the unthinkable happened. Traffic was dense with cars and trucks in both lanes. I spotted brakes several cars ahead, and hit mine, but was too late. The truck several slots ahead shed an alligator half the size of our car. There was nowhere to go and nothing to do. The truck directly ahead kicked the thing up towards our hood, but I was able to slow enough that it started down to the pavement before we hit it. We centered over it, and were really lucky because it only took out our front valance. Not the best way to end the trip, but better than it could have been.
The trip was a great adventure. Very tiring and challenging at times, but we already know we’d do it again. We have so many new friends from all over the world, and we already miss our old friends that we renewed friendships with. Thanks Sam and Tony for organizing this. Tell me what I can do to help for the next one. The memories we have from this drive are priceless.

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