Monday, December 19, 2011

What's next?

It's been a while since I last posted but I haven't forgotten about you! The next econo-box on the list is the Dodge Colt. I'm gathering some info and will post shortly. Can you say twin stick transmission?

85 Dodge Colt

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Inquiring minds want to know....

How did we get all of us and all of our stuff in the Festiva!

We've been asked quite a few times how we managed to take our road trip without a trailer or roof top carrier. Our answer has been that we travelled very light! Sharon did an excellent job figuring out the packing... here's how it was done.

Rather than have each person pack a bag and bring five or more bags into the hotel each night Sharon set up one bag with swim gear for the hotels that had pools, another with toiletries and PJ's and a third with a  pair of shorts for each of us.  A couple of larger bags contained the rest of our clothing but these stayed in the back of the car. What Sharon did is pack one small grocery bag for each day with a change of clothes, except pants, for everyone. When we got to our hotel all we would have to grab is the toiletry bag, the swim bag if needed and the small bag with the next days clothes in it. That small bag would become the laundry bag for the clothes we were changing out of and that bag would go back in the car the following morning.

In addition to the bags we had a sleeping bag, a collapsible cot and a pillow. Why you ask? Well I'll tell you. Most of the hotel rooms had only two queen or double beds so we brought along the cot etc and B, E and I rotated turns on it each night. Some snack type food items, an umbrella or two and our jackets rounded out the stuff we stuffed in the car.

All packed up and ready to head out!
We didn't carry too much up front, just a couple of smaller bags for maps and snacks etc. Those in back seat where a little cozy but didn't have a lot of "stuff" in with them. We borrowed a DVD player with two screens which allowed them to pass some of the time away. We had decided who was sitting where before we left Calgary so there was no discussion each morning!

B, I, and E in the back seat on the morning of Day 3.
All of us in the car ready to head out from Raleigh NC on Day 9.
You asked and now you know... five in a Festiva for more than five thousand miles can be done!!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

More on the Metro/Swift..

Check out this link from one of my favorite small car blogs...  Nostalgic Subcompact: 1989-1994 Suzuki Swift GT

We're not the only ones taking big trips in small cars!! While reading through some of the older posts on the same blog I came across this one asking "what's the smallest car you've taken on a long road trip"?

Friday, October 21, 2011

What other econoboxes are in the Café?

Another popular econobox from the CAFE era is the Geo Metro. This car came in several guises such as the Pontiac Firefly, Chevrolet Sprint, Suzuki Swift and Forsa. First introduced to North America in 1988 it was available until the 2000 model year (2001 for the Metro). Here's an interesting discussion on the merits of the Metro compared to the Festiva.

We did notice at least one Metro on our Festiva Madness trip. It was a 3rd generation hatchback that we spotted in North Platte NE. Didn't get a chance to talk to the owner but did notice the car had Florida license plates. So assuming that he was from the Orlando area (just a wild guess) he was about 2670 km / 1660 miles from home. Was he perhaps on a Metro Madness trip? Who knows?

This is similar to the one we spotted in North Platte.
Photo is linked to source

The Metro and its kin came in several formats over the years. They included a four door sedan, four door hatch and a convertible. Engine options ranged from a 1.0l 3 cylinder up to a 1.6l 16 valve 4 cylinder. I still see lots of these cars around my area, even more so than the Festiva. That's probably due to the fact that they were produced for a lot longer.

Watch this space for more info and photos!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Festiva Madness trip... day 14. Homeward bound

This is the last day of our road trip. In a way it's a bit sad but we are all looking forward to getting home.

Our drive took us from Billings Montana, through Great Falls, across the border at Sweetgrass and then home via Lethbridge and Fort Macleod. Billings was cold and and a bit overcast when we left and the weather got slowly worse as we headed north. Hit rain at Great Falls and it didn't stop until we got close to home. Thankfully it stopped just before we arrived at the house so we were able to unload in the dry.

Montana scenery

Contrast of the times: a roadside cattle drive past a wind farm. Boy was it windy!

Rain up ahead!

The drivers' side wiper decided to succumb to the wind, go off the side of the windshield and get hung up on the antenna! Stopped  just over the border and fixed it... sort of.

In line, in the rain, at the border.

Welcome back to Alberta.

You know you're back in Canada when...

Here's some info for the statistically minded:

5 people and their luggage
14 days

18 states, DC and 2 provinces
Distance traveled: 10167 km / 6317 miles
Lowest elevation: At first I thought it was sea level at Virginia Beach but my youngest reminded me that we went through a tunnel under a shipping channel to get to the beach. Checked it out and we were actually at 33 meters / 108 feet below sea level!
Highest elevation: 2946m / 9666 feet at Powder River Pass WY
Fuel consumed: 671.3 litres / 177.3 US gallons
Average fuel economy: 6.6 per 100km /  35.6 miles per US gallon
Lowest price paid for gas in the US: 79.2¢ per litre / $2.999 per US gallon in Troy Missouri
Highest price paid for gas in the US: 108.3¢ per litre / $4.099 per US gallon in Washington DC
Average price paid for gas in the US: 90.7¢ per litre / $3.433 per US gallon
Total fuel costs for the trip: $609.12
Total tolls paid: $1.00
Least expensive hotel per night: Travelodge in Williamsburg approx: $45.00
Most expensive hotel per night: Channel Inn in Washington DC approx. $142.00 per night (only hotel without an included breakfast). Surprisingly the next most expensive was in Bismarck ND at about $114.00
Average hotel per night: $81.00

So there you go... a nineteen year old well maintained econobox can make a big trip! I hope you have enjoyed following our journey as much as we enjoyed making it! We thank the Lord that we were able to make this trip and do so safely. Looking forward to our next adventure!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Festiva Madness trip... day 13

After a hearty breakfast we headed out to Mount Rushmore. On our way out of Rapid City we spotted another Festiva! It was a white GL Sport and of course we waved.

Festiva spotting...

Had a very pleasant drive out to Mount Rushmore not knowing exactly what to expect. What an amazing accomplishment! The photos I'd seen before do not adequately convey the scale of the place... we were all just blown away. We took one of the "Ranger Walks" which took about 30 minutes and our Ranger, Charlie, was very knowledgeable and injected a great sense of humor into his presentation. Took a look at the artist's studio and a very well done video presentation while we there too.

Not too far to go.

Modern version of the wooden bridge. I just thought it was really cool.

Early sighting

We're here!!!
B, E, and I having a look from afar.

The presidents and us. Thanks to the lady who literally got on her knees to take this photo!

I, B and E enjoying a rest at the end of our visit.

After spending the morning with George, Thomas, Teddy and Abe we headed off on the next leg of our trip. Destination... Worland Wyoming to visit Jeff (gottafesty) and his daughter, C. Little did we know that this was going to be quite a drive! Headed out on Highway 16 to Moorcroft WY where we turned on to I-90. Headed west to Buffalo where we left the interstate and back on to Highway 16. This is where the real fun began. We hadn't noticed until this time that our route was to take us over the Powder River Pass which is up at 9666 feet! The Festiva performed admirably but we had to be a little cautious on the way down because of the warped brake rotor we had developed earlier in the trip. If I could summarize the drive across Wyoming in one word I would have to pick spectacular.

Follow the yellow brick road.... wait a minute... it's red!

Entering Buffalo Wyoming

On the uphill side of Powder River Pass

At the top....

... with all of us!
On the way down

Onto the flats and away to Worland.
 We met Jeff in Worland then followed him out to his home. We had a great time and another awesome home cooked meal. Thanks for the hospitality.

C and B hadn't seen each other for a couple of years!

We left Worland just after 7:30pm and headed off to our hotel in Billings Montana. No photos on this stage as it was dark. There was quite a stretch where we couldn't see any lights off to either side, none behind us nor any in front! It felt quite literally that we were in the middle of nowhere. After two hours, forty five minutes and one deer sighting we made it safely to Billings and headed straight to the room and off to bed. Next stop... home!

Festiva Madness trip... day 12. Ian goes for a ride in a police car!

When we were first planning the trip our intended route was straight north from St Joseph on I-29 to Sioux Falls Iowa and then straight west from there on I-90 across South Dakota to Rapid City. Earlier in the summer the Missouri River had flooded which resulted in some damage to I-29. Portions of that Interstate where still closed and others under repair so we decided to change our route.

We left St Joseph and headed directly west across to Belleville, Kansas then north to York, Nebraska. From York we heading west on I-80 to North Platte. We then headed north again to join I-90 at Murdo, South Dakota. From Murdo we made the run into Rapid City, arriving just before 10:00pm.

Kansas was pretty much as expected... flat. Stopped in Marysville which had some very nice old buildings and from there on to Belleville.

Entering Kansas

Kansas vista.
Into Nebraska
Our first stop in Nebraska was York where we had our lunch.

Colorful water tower

I think it's that way.

Still smiling after twelve days on the road.

The drive from York to North Platte took us on I-80 west across the state. This was by far the busiest stretch of highway we experienced with most of the extra traffic being semis. To make things even more "interesting" it was very hot, around 88°F (31°C), and there was a very strong cross wind coming from the south. Before reaching North Platte we stopped in Gothenburg to stretch our legs and visit one of the Pony Express stations that had been preserved.

E, B and I at the station

Visited a couple of spots in North Platte. The first was the Buffalo Bill Cody museum.

E and I joining in the conversation.

We had just enough time to head over to the Golden Spike Tower and Visitor Center. If you are a train enthusiast then this is a must see! It's the largest yard of it's kind with over 300 miles of track and over 15,000 train cars being move around.

The visitor center

Train cars everywhere

The Festiva in the Golden Spike parking lot.
We filled up the gas tank in North Platte and headed north. There was a very large grass fire burning west of the highway that made things a little interesting. We were fortunate in that our trip wasn't interrupted at all. We did see a lot of fire fighters making their way to help.

The rest of the drive was relatively uneventful. Hit I-90 just after dark and made our way to Rapid City. Traffic on this stretch of Interstate was much lighter than on I-80 but we still had the cross wind though not as strong.

As mentioned earlier we filled up in North Platte... 10 US gallon tank getting about 34 miles per US gallon which gives us a range of 340 miles. However the distance to the gas station in Rapid City was 340.2 miles. Yes, we, or should I say I, ran out of gas on the off-ramp. Fortunately a State Trooper stopped behind us and offered me a ride to the gas station and back. He stayed with us and made sure we got started and on our way. A big thank you goes out to State Trooper Jake of the Rapid City SD detachment!

Off to Mount Rushmore and Wyoming tomorrow!!!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Festiva Madness trip... day eleven. Happy Birthday E!

Had a great breakfast at the Super 8 in Troy and then hit the road for our drive across the state of Missouri.  Filled up with gas before we headed out and paid to lowest price so far... $2.999 per gallon, which works out to only 73.9 cents per liter!!! Our route took us west along I-70 and it turned out to be a very busy road. A lot more traffic that what we'd seen on most of the trip so far and the truck traffic seemed to be very heavy, no pun intended. Other than that the drive was uneventful. We stopped in at the Hallmark Visitor Center in Kansas City... yes the Hallmark that marks all those cards. Also went to "Kaleidoscope" next door to the visitor center. Here the you can make all kinds of cards and puzzles and other things. It's geared for younger kids but even I made a birthday card!

Arriving in Kansas City passing the home of the Kansas City Royals baseball team.

The visitor center was very informative and you could watch some of the work being done in the card making process. We watched a short video that was put together a couple of years ago on the 100th anniversary of the company. It is still owned and operated by the same family!!

Happy Birthday E!!!

Here's a couple of shots of in Kaleidoscope...

After we'd done our masterpieces here we headed into the Crown Centre to find a bite to eat and picked up some bagels at "Einstein Brothers"... very tasty. Stopped in at the Crayola store as well...

The birthday boy and a color wheel made of crayons.
Next stop was at Marcus and Dee's in Dearborn MO. Marcus is a fellow Festiva fanatic and it just happens to be his birthday today as well. He has had as many as twelve Festivas but currently has "only" seven, six of which are licensed and insured! The seventh is a parts car. E & I were eager to climb Marcus' tree house which reaches up about 30 feet in an oak tree. I can't get the photos rotated on this computer so I won't post them but will try at the next stop.

In the shop. There's four Festivas in here, two white ones and two red.

Happy Birthday boys!!!
Thanks to Marcus and Dee for their hospitality. We really appreciated the home cooked meal. Our only regret is that we didn't have enough time to explore the property. Maybe next time!

Now sitting in St Joseph MO and it's getting late. Off to bed and up and on the road again in the morning. Interstate 29 is closed north of here so we're going to head west first into Kansas and then up through Nebraska before getting to our next destination, Rapid City SD.