04 May, 2006

The joy of business travel

well, I might make it to Billings in with enough time to do the demo and hop back on a plane hope I make it back to SMF before midnight Friday, as it is I’m spending the night in SLC as a guest of Delta – got two $7 meal chits – after all the airport concessions have shut down for the evening.

But for once I happened to have 2 large Guinness in my bag so I’ll manage to survive the evening

as a CalifKid, reality is that one of the most important part of one’s identity most everywhere in CALI is your car.

Exposed at an early age to the likes of my Dad’s MG TC, ’63 T-bird convertible, ’64 Mustang, (– back story follows below)

Folks who grew up in areas where local transportation is available or distances are walk able have no clue what wheels mean to a California kid, there is little in the way of public transport in most areas and the geographical area of Ca is large.

Another early influence was Dr. SI Hayakawa’s The sexual symbolism of the American automobile from the early ‘60

One of the few perks of my life is I get to drive a lot of different (rental) cars – in the last month I’ve driven a mustang convertible, a Ford focus, Ford 500, Ford F-150 (hey, it was Houston, OK? I fit right in) Mazda MX3, Toyota Avalon.

The mustang was my ride for a mendoland to palm Desert and return a few days after the rain finally stopped in CA – but as it was a mostly a straight blast down I5, it did not inspire enough confidence to push it on the twisty parts of Hwy 20 – other than some dermal inflammation due to excess solar radiation I have little to say about it except that after 40+ years they should be able to get rid of the ‘enk-enk’ of the front suspension when breaking, the top went up and down with only a touch of a button but took a few minutes to complete a full cycle – far longer than any stop light, the exhaust made a, well, interesting I guess is appropriate word, not the note of a big V8 but more of a 6 with some acoustic trickery, the acceleration and handling were nothing to get excited about and the gas mileage was only about 22 mpg – abet during long blasts at somewhat more than the posted 70Mph speed limit.

the 500 was an interesting ride, it's not a crown vic, you will only get one normal sized goomba in the trunk and there is a disconcerting lack of ommph at mid speeds with discrete throttle input - mash it and it wakes up and the speedo spools to the right nicely but it's not subtle, the sun roof gave just enough air/noise at 70mph to be interesting but not obtrusive, handled like a smaller car and was light and responsive to steering input with good feedback, did not push it to breaking but handled nicely, averaged 26mph over the trip

The focus and MX3 are just what they are ecconno boxes that when new work rather well but the most impressive car I have driven in several years is the new Toyota Avalon – while not my favorite type of ride I must admit it was not only was the most comfortable, best behaved vehicle I’ve driven some time (both on I5 and over the twisty parts of Hwy 20. It got decent (+/-30Mpg) gas mileage as well.

Back story on the Mustang, when my Mom separated from my Dad, she not only took us 4 kids but his new ’64 Mustang, black with white convertible top, biggest FoMoCo V8 and a 4 speed Hurst shifter, I will remember that ride for the rest of my life – but then, Dad was a binge alcoholic and Mom was a diagnosed Bi Polar Manic Depressive, life was a lot of thing going up but it was never boring

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