"I Used To Own An Austin-Healey" (Conclusion
By Loreen Wilhelmy
[...continued from last month]
Our plan was to drive down Hwy 280 to Hwy 85 and then south to Hwy 17. Warren almost got run off of the road by a woman driving a M(y) B(onnet) near the junction to Hwy 85 South. By the time he got peeled off to Hwy 85 North, got turned around and headed south on Hwy 85, he couldnít reach us on the walkie-talkie. We were out of range.

When we realized that Warren was not behind us, we pulled into an emergency lane off of the freeway and waited 10 min-utes for him. No Warren. Then we decided it would be safer to get off of the road where it stopped being freeway at Hwy. 17. We waited there another 15 minutes. Still no Warren. We kept calling on the FRS walkie-talkie, but with a 2 mile range, we never got together by radio.

Later, after many hours, when we finally got back together with Warren at our motel in San Luis Obispo, we realized that we really should have exchanged cell phone numbers and turned on our cell phones when we realized that we were out of range on the FRSs.

The day turned out to be very memorable for us and for War-ren, even though we didnít share the activities. We had dis-cussed earlier on the trip about visiting Nepenthe Restaurant, an old historic hang-out for members of the Beat Generation in Big Sur. We felt sure that we would finally meet up with Warren there if not before. Roland and I stopped and enjoyed the view, had coffee and a snack, visited the gift shop, and still no Warren. (There was some discussion earlier at breakfast in Palo Alto about the possibility of driving straight through to San Diego without a stop in San Luis Obispo overnight. After 2 hours, we began to think that Warren may have just gone home and would leave a message for us at the motel. We called the motel in SLO and asked if there were any messages for us. No messages, yet.)

Warrenís day started badly, but it turned out to be one of the most fun days heís ever spent. (See his article in the Septem-ber, 2000 Healey Hearsay). By 5:00 Monday afternoon, when Roland and I arrived at the motel in San Luis Obispo, we were quite concerned about Warren and decided to call his home to find out if he had called there. We didnít want to alarm Lynn, his wife, but we needed to know if we could stop worrying! No, Lynn had not heard from Warren.

You can imagine the kind of reception Warren received when we finally got together! After calling home to reassure his wife that he was safe and back together with us, we all had a good laugh and lots of stories to tell about our adventuresome day. We celebrated our reunion with a fabulous Cajun dinner at Bon Temps Creole Café, next door to our motel. After a long day of sitting in cars and a big delicious dinner of fried catfish, crawfish etouffe, gumbo ya-ya, red beans and rice, and cornbread to die for, we needed some exercise. We walked for a mile or so before returning to our rooms for a good nightís sleep. (We tried to walk every evening after dinner while trav-eling, to clear our heads as well as to flex some new muscles.)

Tuesday, August 1, was our last day on the road. We had breakfast and fueled up the cars and left San Luis Obispo by 8:15 a.m. and Roland and I arrived at our house at 3:15 p.m. Now thatís the kind of precision driving that we experienced most days!

Around 11:15 a.m. we were driving through Thousand Oaks in 100+ degrees of heat. The water temperature in our engines was climbing ñ ours was 190 degrees, Warrenís was 200 de-grees! We were in bumper to bumper traffic; we couldnít stop for fear of a vapor lock; the batteries in our little walkie-talkies were going dead ñ Time for a Coke!

Finally, by 12:30 p.m., we were on the Toll Road from Hwy 405 to Hwy 5 in Orange County. With a fuel stop and a de-lightful lunch at Cedar Creek Inn in San Juan Capistrano, we and our cars were refreshed once again to make that last 1 to 2 hours drive to HOME. (Warren received the award at Rendez-vous 2000 for driving the greatest distance to the meet!)

We learned many things from this trip:

  1. Preparation takes at least as long as the trip. There is al-ways at least one more thing to do than you have time to get done.
  2. If you have the tools and parts to fix a certain problem, then you wonít need them. If you decide that something is too unlikely to break or too expensive to tote, watch out!
  3. Two (or more) Healeys are a heck of a lot better than one on a long trip. But decide what speed you are going to try to maintain.
  4. Have radio communication between/among the cars ñ CB, FRS, ham radio. And cell phones are helpful if you get sepa-rated, providing that you have each otherís cell phone num-bers and the phones are turned on.
  5. Have a ìdrop deadî plan for where to meet or whom to contact if you get separated and or broken down alone. Five minutes of separation on an urban freeway can mean that it will be impossible to find the car that was just six miles back behind you.
  6. When a breakdown occurs, try to get your head on straight before grabbing the tool bag and diving under the hood. Give your brain time to feed you some suggestions, and re-hydration couldnít hurt the process. Most of the time if it happens fast it can be fixed fast ñ if you can figure out what the problem is.
  7. In hot weather, a zip-out rear window is the best thing since clouds were invented.
  8. Six to seven hours driving time per day appears to be the sustainable maximum for ëmatureí drivers in Healeys. Eight to ten hours on a single day trip might be OK, but you arenít going to be feeling as strong on the second or the fifth day, so plan accordingly and cut yourself some slack. Stop for a few minutes every hour if you can, and take an hour for lunch.
  9. Car covers are a definite maybe. We used ours overnight while traveling, except when the weather was too wet. The problems are: putting a cover over a dirty car and storing a wet car cover while driving. An advantage: a cover keeps the idly curious from exploring a car which has no door locks.
  10. Keep a good sense of humor.