The Longest Day

 Tuesday, August 19

I manage to get the girls up even earlier than yesterday. The weather is a nice change - according to the TV, the local temp is 57F! A real break after yesterday's trip through KC's 105F heat. I walk over to the 24-hr WalMart at 7am to get a fire extinguisher - I don't like driving an older car without one. But the only one they sell is huge. Have to get one later. But I do get 2 bottles of Techron to help with the miss in the engine.

We again take advantage of the Holiday Inn Express very nice breakfast bar and we get on the road before 9:00am. We've got about 800 miles left on this trip, and we wanted to finish it today. Let's see - 800 miles divided by 70 MPH - that's about 12 hours - seems do-able. Gas up the car - 152 miles since the last fill up, but the stop and go traffic in St Louis killed the MPG - 18.5 on this tank - and on the road again!
We drive to Richmond, Indiana, and gas up at the "Love's" truck stop. We get lunch here too at Hardees. Hey - if we're going to do all this fast food, we're at least trying to hit the fast food chains that we don't have back in NJ. It's not as hot today - probably barely 90 - which seems cool after the last 2 days. This leg was 196.2 miles and we got 23.6 mpg.

Next stop was Quaker City, Ohio - near the WV border. It's been 185 miles and we got 25.5 mpg this time. Maybe the 2 cans of Techron helped.

After crossing into WV we stop at a McD's because the girls want McFlurrys again. It's dinner time, but none of us is really hungry enough for dinner yet - Hardees filled us up. A guy in a brand new Mini Cooper gives up the thumbs up at exactly the same time I was doing the same to him!

So we continue on into PA - the sun is setting and it's cooling off, and the car is running fine. We get onto the PA turnpike and start the long boring drive across PA - it's going to be tough because we're tired and it's dark too. But there are a few tunnels we'll be passing through on the PA turnpike which will hopefully wake us up a little. The PA turnpike is always under construction, and tonight is no exception. Traffic is fairly heavy all the way from Pittsburgh to Philly, even though it's a Tuesday night. Next gas stop on the PA turnpike was after 163 miles. We got 23.2 mpg on that tank. It's late and we're still not hungry, I guess we're too tired to eat. My wife and I discuss the game plan - should we just keep driving or find a hotel? She really doesn't care either way, so I decide to keep driving. By the next stop for gas it's after midnight and we're outside King of Prussia, PA. Now I know we're within striking distance of home, so despite how tired we are, we decide we're committed to going all the way now - what's the point of stopping 2 hours from home? This leg was 163 miles and we got almost exactly the same fuel economy as last time - 23.4 mpg.
  We drive down to the Philly Airport and get the other car (our 2001 Saturn wagon) that we left there just shy of 3 days ago. My wife gets in the Saturn and we "caravan" from there back to the house. It's around 1:30am. I try to "play around" a little while driving from here to keep us both awake. I pass her, let her pass me - this also gives Nancy a chance to see her "new" 1800ES as I drive it down the highway. As we cross into NJ and start to see more familiar sights, it's easier to stay awake. At just about 3am, the same time we left the house Saturday morning, we finally pull into the driveway. BTW - Nancy was up at 6:30am (three and a half hours after getting home) to go into work.
  We just drove about 1800 miles in a car we didn't know existed 2 weeks earlier. I think the fact that the car made it home without any mechanical breakdown says a lot about the quality of these old Volvos.
  The story doesn't really end here - because 2 days later we took both this car and our 1971 Volvo 1800E to the International Volvo Expo in Niagara Falls, Ontario Canada. That was also a fun trip, driving both Volvos together, keeping in touch with 2-way radios. That trip proved I have work to do on the ES though - because my Volvo was getting 32-33 mpg while the ES got 22-23 mpg - both cars driving the exact same trip, same speed, etc. We'll start with a tune-up and go from there.

 I have to put in some thanks here:

  • Thanks to Bill and Pam, who sold us the car, for being so accommodating about the various sale details.
  • A BIG thanks to Carl Johnson, without whose help this would have never happened. I don't think I would have bought the car without your thorough description of it's condition. And opening up your house to strangers that Saturday night, helping us fix the car up a little, and then feeding us dinner was truly generous of you. I cannot thank you enough.
  • Thanks to my wife, Nancy, and my daughter Nicole. They were really great on this whole trip. Sure we got hot and cranky and tired at times and possibly got on each others nerves a little, but overall they really put up with a lot on this trip without really complaining or whining much at all.
  • Lastly, thanks to our neighbors who watched the house and took care of our dog while we were gone.

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