Wednesday, April 21, 2010

post 200. Where I drive the Miata across the state.

WHich was an open cockpit tour of joy and a celebration of life.

This really wasn't the most comfortable thing I have ever done. I do not plan on doing it again, yet it sure was a trip I wouldn't miss.

Old Man Winter had knocked the living hell out of me and the weatherr has broken. It was time for a top down long run of some sort. I wanted to celebrate the passing of winter and it was time to head on back in to spin the wheels of industry and fill the family coffers.

I decided to drive the Miata across the state to work.

Now, you have to realize the Miata is not all about muscle produced speed, it's about handling and ability to stick to the road like glue smeared on sticky stuff.

The suspension of the little car is modified with oversized swaybars, heavy duty shocks and good extreme performance iters. The engine is a small 1.6 liter 4 cylinder; It's somewhat snappy, but not real fast. Hell, the gas sipper gave me 34+ mpg for the trip to work!

While the suspension holdsz the road like super glue, it comes at a cost. The car rides like a brick. You feel every single little pothole, pebble, crack in the pavement and everything else on the road.

Driving the car on the PA turnpike was out of the question for 2 reasons. The pike is a series of slabs aand the expansion joints would beat me to death. It's one of the worst roads in the country and riding the little sports car across the state would leave me urinating blood upon arrival to work.

The other reason is thaat the pike is really pretty boring and sterile.

I opted to take US 30 across the state and I'm glad I did. It was long, slow and top down fun.

One of the things about the interrstate system is that it is fast and efficient. You can go rapidly from A to B in climate controlled comfort and todays automobiles have certainly gotten comfortable. They are self-contained sterile machines that move people in speed, comfort and keep them entertained with blue tooth sattelite radios.They dull the senses and you really miss a lot being in a sterile box like that.

The Miata is the antithisis of this. Mine is even more so.

With the top down, it is windy, a little loud and a sensitive machine. You have to pay attention and DRIVE the thing, as opposed to tool your way across the countryside. It was the machine for the job. You see the sights, feel the feels and smell the smells.

I left Pittsburgh and gassed up, and that part was traffic and routine crap. By the time I got to the Greensburg Pike, the road opened up a bit, and it was pretty nice until I had to pass through Greensburg, which isn't too bad.

Clearing Greensburg, it was a joy all the way into Breezewood.

I saw farms, smelled freshly plowed fields, the aroma of various feeds and the wonderful aroma of cow manure. I passed by heard of cows, and a herd of Buffalo and drove through a couple of wonderful mountain passed.

The twisting corners of the mountain passes were the real fun for the driver in me. I didn't slow down for the corners and the little car stuck like a cocklebur and I never even came close to breaking traction.

I wasn't speeding, in that I didn't go over the speed limit, but I paid little attention to the advisory signs posted at the various curves, I simply tooled through the twisties in complete and total control. It was a joy for an old guy like me.

In Breezewood, I stopped for a cup of coffee and a State trooper followed me in and ccommented in somewhat of an 'I see what you did' tone of voice commented that he had followed me from afar for quite a ways and commented that while I wasn't exactly speeding,I didn't pay much attention to advisory signs alerting me to sharp bends.

When he mentioned something about sliding around corners, I politely told him that I had never even come close to sliding, and that I had modified the suspension system exactly for that reason. The car had held securely.

He advised me to keep it down. I nodded.

I don't think he was really going to push the issue, he didn't and he went in for his coffee.

From Breezewood to Chambersburg was a joy, more farmlands and monntion passes and fun driving.

US 30 is an asphalt highway and is really pretty smooth for the most part, it's the kind of surface the Miata was made for. No expansion joints and it is well maintained.

Chambersburg was a pain to get through and it was pretty good motoring into Gettysburg, where I noticed a lot more than I ever had, being more in tune to my surrpondings as my senses were not dulled by music and air conditioning.

Gettysburg to York was, OK, but I hit York in the middle of rush hour and finally broke through to Lancaster, which wasn't too bad. From Lancaster it was a short hop to the Philly suburbs and beck into the grind.

I parked the little car and boarded my vessel.

I generally make the trip in about 6-7 hours, this trip took about nine.

It was worth it.

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