Wednesday, October 16, 2019

If you plan it they will come... day nineteen

Tuesday October 15th

Frosty morning in Buffalo WY
It was quite chilly when we woke up this morning, chilly enough that I had to scrape the windows before we left the campground. Noticed on the way into town for breakfast that it was only 35ºF/+2ºC! Our dining choice for this last day of the road trip was the Busy Bee Diner attached to the Occidental Hotel on Main Street. The Busy Bee has a long history in the town as does the hotel.

Monday, October 14, 2019

If you plan it they will come... day eighteen

Monday October 14th

Monday morning moon-rise over the Rocky Mountains.

Part of our original plan for today was to leave the RV at Bass Pro and take a run up Pikes Peak which would have taken about four hours. This has been on my bucket list for quite some time. But.... we learned from Stewart yesterday that due to construction of a new visitor center at the top the road was open only part way up and you had to take a shuttle from that point on. So with that in mind and considering that the car wasn't running that well we decided not to go and came up with a new plan. 

First things first... we went for breakfast at a great little place called C&C Coffee Kitchen not too far from our overnight spot. The place was clean, the staff cheery and helpful and the food was very good; highly recommended!

Our breakfast provider..

Breakfast done, we refuelled the vehicles and headed north to Denver. Our destination, Hammond's Candies. Hammond's started as a small family business about 100 years ago  with a loyal local following, it has now grown into an iconic brand with international distribution. We arrived about ten minutes before one of their scheduled tours which we joined. Learned about the history of the company, watched candy being made, watched it being packaged, then received a sample as we exited the tour into the gift shop! 
At Hammond's Candies.

Some of Hammond's Candies....

We continued northward on I-25 stopping in Loveland CO to pick up groceries and gas. Andrew had to slow his pace in the RV a bit because this stretch of highway was very windy.
Our stop at the Southeast Wyoming Welcome Centre just south of Cheyenne WY was a welcome stretch of legs and quick check on e-mail etc. 

Phyllis braving the wind at the Southeast Wyoming Welcome Center
We turned off the interstate just north of Cheyenne WY to make our way to the Fort Laramie National Historic Site. The same weather system that brought the cooler temperatures had dumped quite a bit of snow here a few days earlier. It was a bit of surprise to still see some of that snow on the side of the road! 

Fort Laramie was originally established as a private fur trading fort in 1834, which evolved into the largest and best known military post on the Northern Plains. It was abandoned in 1890 and nearly succumbed to the ravages of time. In 1938 it became part of the National Park Service and restoration projects have been going on since.

At Fort Laramie
Sharon, Andrew and Phyllis enjoying a windy lunch.
After a picnic lunch we took a walk around the buildings, some of which have been restored, others left mere shells of their original. One building that really portrayed the life of the soldiers that were stationed here was the Cavalry Barracks. Rows of single beds lined the outside walls of the upper floor either side of the central stairwell. There was no privacy and very little space for personal items, just a simple box at the foot of each bed and a couple of hooks to hang coats and guns!

Upper floor of the Cavalry Barracks... not much in the way of privacy.
Cavalry Barracks at Fort Laramie.

We headed west to rejoin the interstate then headed north to our next overnight at the KOA in Buffalo WY. It was still fairly windy so that held Andrew up a bit. The Festiva continues to have a miss but we are still maintaining highway speeds.

Heading north
We arrived at the campground just after dark, made our supper then went over our plans for the next day, which was going to be a long one!

Approximate route for today's drive.

Thanks for following along! Please let us know your favorite things about Wyoming in the comments section below.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

If you plan they will come... day seventeen

Sunday October 13th

Amarillo by morning, up from San Antone
Everything that I've got, is just what I've got on...

Started humming that one yesterday and it's still in my head! Another sunny day and we're looking forward to what the day has in store for us. If ten Cadillac's partially buried nose down in the middle of a field sounds odd you'd be correct. But Cadillac Ranch  as it's call is an iconic Route 66 landmark, only twenty minutes from our overnight spot and on our route. It's just a short walk off the highway across a field... if it's been raining prepare to get muddy or wear some good boots! What makes this even odder is that you are allowed to spray paint the cars to your hearts content so that even if you go regularly it will never be the same twice.

Cadillac Ranch from the road side.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

If you plan it they will come... day sixteen

Saturday October 12th

Woke up to another chilly morning, at least by San Antonio standards, as the effects of the cold front that came through yesterday are still being felt. Had our breakfast, met up with Andrew and Phyllis, stopped to fuel up both vehicles and hit the road... this time heading northward toward Amarillo TX.

Really cool VW bus spotted on the way out of San Antonio

Friday, October 11, 2019

If you plan it they will come... day fifteen

Friday October 11th

What a contrast!!! It was about 30ºC/86ºF when we went to bed last night but when we woke up this morning it was only 11ºC/52ºF and breezy. A cold front had rolled in from the north overnight!

After breakfast we all piled into the Festiva and headed into central San Antonio and the Alamo. With it being cold and breezy we just picked a parking lot close to the Alamo to reduce our walking times... paid about $25.00 for the day. 
First view....

Thursday, October 10, 2019

If you plan it they will come... day fourteen

Thursday October 10th

Rather than make our own breakfast we decided to try out the ubiquitous Waffle House. The nearest one was about 30 minutes west of our starting point so we didn't have to wait too long.

On the way to Waffle House... renovation debris in front of a lot of houses!
The drive was uneventful but we did notice that in one stretch of the highway there were piles of what appeared to be garbage stacked in front of a lot of houses, some of which looked like remnants of renovation projects. Got us wondering if there was some kind of incentive to do renovations at this time of year or if there had been some kind of garbage strike. We learned that there this was the aftermath of a severe storm causing widespread flooding that had passed through the area a couple of weeks prior to our visit.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

If you plan it they will come... day thirteen

Wednesday October 9th

One of the things we were concerned about for our visit to New Orleans was parking. We had decided to purchase tickets for the City Sightseeing Hop-on Hop-off tour bus and discovered that there was a parking lot right next to the Basin Street Station on the edge of the French Quarter. We took advantage of the discounted tickets available at the campground, plugged the address into our Garmins and headed into the city.
Our spot at the New Orleans KOA
The twenty five minute drive in took us past the Mercedes Benz Superdome, home of the NFL's New Orleans Saints. Once parked, we checked the payment booth and discovered there were three rates posted: cars, 12 hours, $5.00; cars 24 hours, $10.00; and RVs 24 hours $35. Seeing as we were parking less than twelve hours we picked the $5.00 option for both the car and the RV.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

If you plan it they will come... day twelve

Tuesday October 8th

We enjoyed the it so much yesterday we decided to get up early, head back to the beach and watch the sunrise. It was a beautiful morning with a light breeze and just a few clouds in the sky. Again, we were surprised by the number people out and about, some walking their dog, others just enjoying the dawn of a new day.


Here comes the sun.....
Sharon on the beach just after sunrise

One last look before we get on our way.

We made our way back to the RV Park, had breakfast, packed up and headed westward along highway US 98 before turning north to rejoin I-10.

Monday, October 7, 2019

If you plan it they will come... day eleven

Monday October 7th

It's beach day! It's also Andrew and Phyllis' wedding anniversary! Our KOA had a complimentary breakfast so we took advantage of that before heading off for the day. 

Anniversary breakfast for Andrew and Phyllis!
Our first stop would be Jacksonville Beach, about an hour away. Our route took us over the Napoleon Bonaparte Broward Bridge, one of the largest cable stay bridges in the USA.It's also know as the Dames Point Bridge.

A soggy morning drive.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

If you plan it they will come... day ten

Sunday October 6th

Our previous road trips have been quite structured in that we had hotels booked for every night so that we knew where we had to be and when. 

This trip is different... we only had hotels booked for our three nights is Washington DC and for another two nights upcoming in San Antonio, TX. Our original destination for this day was the Montgomery AL area then Pensacola FL the next. Andrew said that he'd like to head to a beach on the Atlantic so that meant an adjustment.

This is where travelling with an RV is an advantage as we rejigged our route so that we would end up close Jacksonville FL and start our next day at the beach.

Getting ready to say goodbye on Sunday morning.
We bid farewell to the Madness crew and made our way to to I-95 via I-440 and I-40. The drive south was fairly uneventful with no planned stops other than for fuel and refreshment.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

If you plan it they will come... day nine

Saturday October 5th: Festiva Madness XIII

Madness Central was already abuzz with activity when we got up this morning. Cars were being worked on, final preparations for the meet itself not to mention feeding a hungry pile of guests! There were a large number of people staying overnight and they were spread out front and back of the house....
Looking like a used car lot behind the house!!

Here's a few shots from the meet itself...

Friday, October 4, 2019

If you plan it they will come... day eight

Friday October 4th

Early in the planning for this trip we were going to spend the morning in DC before heading on the four and a half hour drive to Raleigh NC and our rendezvous with the Festiva Madness crew. Instead we decided to leave after breakfast and spend a bit of time in Richmond Virginia. After breakfast we left the hotel, filled up with gas and headed out on I-495, joining I-95 at Springfield VA. 

Crossing the state line into Virginia.

From there we headed south and other than the expected weekday morning commuter traffic it was as pleasant a drive as can be expected on a major highway. Our first pit stop was at the Virginia Welcome Center near Fredericksburg.

At the Virginian Welcome Center, Fredericksburg, VA.

We got separated from Phyllis and Andrew at some point after that but weren't too worried about it as we had both entered the same end point address into our GPS's.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

If you plan it they will come... days 6 & 7

Welcome to Washington DC! Sharon and I were here on our first big road trip in 2011 but we only allowed for one full day. We realized rather quickly that much more time is needed to fully enjoy everything this city has to offer. 

Parking spot for the second day. Check out the map towards the end of this post.

We have booked the hotel for three nights which gives us two full days to enjoy and explore. Another thing we recalled from our first trip is that parking can be expensive. There are a number of places where parking is free but limited to a couple of hours and we didn't want to have to return to the car and move it three or four times during the day. Some research led us to a couple of spots where you can park all day for free. I'll get to that later on in this post along with some tips on getting around.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

If you plan it they will come... day five

Tuesday October 1st

Our day started with cloudy skies but fortunately the rain had stopped. I don't think we've had a day yet when we haven't had to use the windshield wipers! Today's drive will take us off the turnpike and away from the tolls that go along with it. We continued eastward for fifteen minutes and turned off at exit 180. 

Ready for another day on the road at the Sideling Hill Service Plaza

Once we left the turnpike the driving became less stressful and more enjoyable. We were now on a rolling two lane diving through valleys and climbing over passes. The clouds hadn't lifted and the fog lingered. And yes, we had to use the wipers. 

On highway 30 east of Mcconnellsburg PA

Our destination this morning was the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum.

Monday, September 30, 2019

If you plan it they will come... day four

Monday September 30th

Foggy start to our day....

Woke up to a foggy, muggy morning at the Knute Rockne Travel Plaza. Other than driving there wasn't much planned for the day. After our breakfast we hopped back on the turnpike with the plan to stop for a break at the Wyandot Service Plaza in Ohio. The drive was fairly uneventful for us but Andrew discovered that he hadn't closed the outside cover for the RV's fridge properly and it decided it wanted to stay in Indiana.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

If you plan it they will come... day three

Sunday September 29th.

Sunday morning dawned cool and crisp after a night of rain. As we were planning the trip from the comfort of home we had decided that 7:30 would be a great time to hit the road. We have quickly learned that 8:30 is much more realistic! 

Almost ready to hit the road
Today is to be another long day of driving with only one tourist type stop. That stop is the Field of Dreams movie site just outside of Dyersville IA. But before we reached Dyersville we took a break at the Top of Iowa Visitor Center just across the state line near Northwood. It's very clean and well maintained and the staff we met were very knowledgeable.
At the Top of Iowa Visitor Center near Northwood IA

If you've followed our past road trips you may remember this map with the yellow states being ones we've been in or through...

Saturday, September 28, 2019

If you plan it they will come... day two.

Saturday September 28th

Frosty morning in Moose Jaw SK

We woke up on Saturday morning cold and a bit of fog. In fact we had to scrape the frost off the car windows! Funny thing is though, we didn't have a scraper in the car so had to use a credit card!

"Fuelled" up, plugged in and ready to hit the road!

After a quick breakfast at Tim Horton's we headed east and south on highway passing  through Rouleau, Weyburn and Estevan before reaching the border at North Portal.

Friday, September 27, 2019

If you plan it they will come... day one.

Friday September 27th.

The day started out a little chilly with the Calgary weather forecast calling for snow!!!!

Fluids topped off, luggage, tools and parts all packed. Ready to go!!
The roads were familiar as we have done this route a number of times in the past. It was raining on and off for the whole drive to Moose Jaw.

Alberta prairie views

Welcome to Saskatchewan
We made a detour to Gravelbourg SK. This prairie town is renowned for its brick  homes, the Our Lady of Assumption Cathedral and its Francophone heritage.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

If you plan it they will come.... day zero

We are about to embark on will most likely be our longest road trip to date! It's been a bit of an adventure already with a number of mechanical issues that needed looking after with the car... new head gasket and valve seals, replaced the turbo, and a new front crank seal to name a couple. I also had the wheels rotated and balanced and did an oil change.

This trip will be a little different than our previous ones in that we will be travelling with Sharon's sister and her husband. We will be in the Festiva and they will be in their class C motor home. This allows us a bit more flexibility as we don't have to rely on hotels for our accommodations! We do have a few hotel nights booked though.

Here's a general overview of our trip:
  • 2 provinces
  • 22 states, 12 of which we haven't been in before
  • approximately 11,000km / 6,800 miles
  • 20 days
  • 1 Festiva meet!
Approximate route
A few of things we're looking forward to:
  • Time in Amish country
  • Two full days in Washington DC
  • A return to Festiva Madness! Our last visit was back in 2011
  • visiting the towns where a couple of our favorite HGTV shows are based
  • New Orleans
  • Pikes Peak
I'm going to try and post updates daily but it might end up being weekly, that will depend on access to wi-fi.

What are your favorite road-tripping hacks? We'd love to hear from you so leave your comments below.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

WESTIVA... now and then

Westiva, the annual Festiva meet in Alberta's Kananaskis Country, continues with new hosts and a new date. It's being held on Saturday, August 24th. Search google maps for Wedge Pond, Kananaskis, AB for directions to the venue.

Sharon and I decided that 2018 would be our last year as hosts and we're glad to see Ryan Prins take on the project. Automotive writer Greg Williams has written several articles about this event and this year is no exception. Here's the link to the latest.

Over the years there have been as few as four cars to as many as ten. This year looks like it might have the largest attendance yet with Festiva owners coming from as far away as San Jose, California. Others are coming from Idaho, Montana, BC, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

What if....

... Kia were to reintroduce the Pride for 2020?

Top Gear Philippines recently posted an article on just that subject. After sharing the article to the Ford Festiva community one member decided to take it a step further.

From the Top Gear Philippines article

Considering that the Kia Pride, Mazda 121DA and Ford Festiva are essentially the same car with different trim it wasn't too much of a stretch to reimagine the Kia as a 2020 Ford Festiva!

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Community support

With the econoboxes of the 80's and 90's getting on in years it's great to see members of the community reaching out to support its members. One example is Ben Rogers and his store121 Apparel.
One of many designs in the 121 Apparel store
His initial offerings featured the Festiva, Mazda 121 and Kia Pride. He included other vehicles that were in some way connected to the Festiva/121/Pride trio such as the Mazda 323 family, the Capri XR2 of the time, and Ford Escort GT. The response has been so positive he was encouraged to include quite a number of other marques of the same era. Follow the link above to see his latest offerings!

If you know of anyone supporting their car community in a similar fashion let us know in the comments below. We'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Finding parts

Even the "newest" Festiva is now over 25 years old and parts are getting increasingly harder to find.  The local franchise parts stores are hit and miss on most parts but RockAuto continues to be a fairly good source. 

One owner '91 Ford Festiva GL. Picture taken July '18

Automobile manufacturers have been equipping their offerings with larger and larger tires. Econoboxes from the 80's and 90's were sold with mostly 13" tires and some, including all years of Festiva in the North American market, were shod with 12" diameter wheels and tires!!

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Following up...

In my first econobox to hot hatch evolution post I featured the Renault 5 and its Turbo and Turbo2 variants. One of my favorite YouTube channels is Jay Leno's Garage and his April 22nd post featured the same car so I thought I'd share that video for your enjoyment.

I did a bit of digging around and found another Petrolicious video...

We'd love to hear from you. What would you suggest for another econobox to hot hatch evolution post? See you next week!

Thursday, April 4, 2019

When econoboxes evolve into hot hatches... part 2.

For this post we'll return to North America and have a look at the Dodge Omni/Plymouth Horizon twins from Chrysler Corp. Introduced in 1978 the Omni/Horizon was a five door subcompact produced in Belvedere, Illinois. Loosely based on the European Simca Horizon this hatchback was the first North American built front wheel drive vehicle to sell in large numbers.
88 Dodge Omni, source in properties

Friday, January 25, 2019

When econoboxes evolve into hot hatches

The focus of this blog has been econoboxes, regular run of the mill vehicles that got you from 'A' to 'B'  in reasonable comfort while consuming as little fuel as possible. However, some manufacturers, and the car community in general, chose to take things to the next level and turn these vehicles into hot hatches! 

The obvious one for a Festiva enthusiast is the Ford Shogun, not a factory build but one  done by Chuck Beck and Rick Titus who created a "compact econobox with a bonkers drivetrain mounted behind the driver" (quoted from the Grassroots Motorsports article featured in this post.)

Photo from the Grassroots Motorsports article linked above