Some of you may have seen my posts a few months ago about insurance in the US for my Australian Elise. As the end of 2010 draws near, I thought I would provide an update on my trip to the US and Canada in early 2012. My car cannot leave Australia before May 2011 because I am on the organising committee of the National Biennial Australian Lotus Meet to be held in Queensland at Easter 2011, and as I need to be well on the road in the US before May in order to hit the right weather, that means the trip cannot be started till 2012. However, that leaves me time to perpare the car (and myself !) properly, even though it is a bit frustrating !
First of all you need to know my car. A 1999 standard S1 Elise, bought new from Bell & Colvill in the UK after a 2 year wait (that was standard in 1997 !). Car christened Elsie after dyslexic family misread her name when new, and Elsie she has stayed. Lived in Scotland for 3 years, during which time drove all over Europe, tracked it, enjoyed it. Shipped it back to Perth, Australia in 2004, sprinted and autocrossed it, then moved to Queensland, driving the car across from Perth. I had throat cancer in 2007 (3 years out and still clear
) and while sick had all sorts of engine mods done in search of more power. Once back on track, took most of them off again (except suspension, bigger valves and cams) as it ruined the car for me, and didn't make me much slower ! More tracking and hill climbing, long drives all over Eastern Australia (2 weeks ago did some 5000 kilometres in 6 days down in the Victorian high country). Currently having a very good 2010 - Am 2010 Queensland Hill Climb champ in my class (Marque Sports Cars 1601 - 2000 cc), and currently hold the class record at two hill climbs and a sprint circuit in Queensland. But after some 45 years of racing, and being 63 years young, have decided I need a different challenge, so next Sat / Sun is my last hill climb when hopefully I can close out the local title for the year, and now I have decided to drive Elsie to Alaska. Why ? Because, thats why ! I have also been involved in the Australian Elise community, being in at the start up of Aussie Elises when 3 of us Aussies who all knew each other in Europe all shipped our cars back to Aus at about the same time in 2004, and found no existing Elise fraternity here, so we were the foundation members of Aussie Elises. I try to meet up with other Aussie Elisers whenever I travel interstate. So that is me and my car. Now the trip.
My route is slowly coming together, and is currently pencilled in as follows (note, changes will
be made en route - I do not intend to have a strict schedule or route - I am retired, can spend 10 years on this if I need to (!), and expect to meet people through Lotus and on the way who will suggest good roads (which do not need to be the shortest, of course - Just the most interesting !) :-
Ship car to San Francisco, to arrive +/- early April 2012.
Drive to Monterey - Looking for a possible track day, or at least a drive on, Laguna Seca. Dates when I can do this will eventually determine my start date. (I love driving different tracks - Done many european ones including about 100 laps of 'Ring, plus many Australian ones (including Bathurst), all in my car.
Monterey to Vegas (how many roads east are there ? !!)
Vegas to Colorado Springs .
Drive Pikes Peak.
Laramie, Casper, Greybull Wyoming, Yellowstone, Butte, Spokane, and out to Anacortes where my sister lives.
1 week break to spend time with sister, and wash car !
Then Seattle to Anchorage up the Alaska Highway, and "do" Alaska ! I have specific aims while up there which I will mention nearer the time !
Returning south I intend to island hop down from Haines, including Sitka, Ketchikan etc - That bit to be developed.
Then, assuming all still well with me and car, intend to drive across Canada - Kamloops, Banff Jasper, Calgary, Winnipeg, Great Lakes and on to the East Coast, from where I will ship the car to the UK. By that time it may need a rebuild !!
So that is where I am at present. Will be working on the car during 2011 - new clutch, radiator, and general refurb, but nothing major at this stage. She is a great little car that I can happily drive 8 hours a day in, with the music on high. One primary aim is to try to do most of the trip without the roof on - I am fairly well known here for not putting the roof on unless a) the rain is torrential and b) the car is not moving. If both the aforementioned are not true, roof stays off !! Why have a convertible ??!!
So, anyone has any good ideas for fleshing out any of those routes, or picking better ones that head in the same general direction, then I would welcome your input. Oh - I have lived and worked in the US for years. Driven across I10 from San Francisco all the way through the South and up to Boston several times, worked in Louisiana and Texas (old oilfield hand !) and been up in Wyoming and all over California. So I am not a totally stranger ! Anyway, this should give you all some food for thought, and I will flesh this thread out over the coming months as preparations continue. I look forward to meeting as many US Elises en route, and running in convoy wherever possible, if only for 5 miles !