…..due to this year’s Copperstate being so much fun, with longer driving days and more conversational nights, my plan to blog during the event disappeared almost as soon as we arrived at the Tempe stadium on Saturday afternoon. However, knowing the cat and Auntie Colleen are still expecting an update, I’ll be playing apologetic catch-up over the upcoming days!
Familiar faces, another collection of impressive cars eager to hit the road, smiles, handshakes and welcomes to the newbies. As this year’s rally number was added to the Egg, my cousin and I found ourselves enjoying the realization of what was to come. We spent the afternoon wandering the field and taking in the combination of vehicles we’d be sharing the roads with; before heading off to dinner.
Yet again, the event started with a wonderful evening at the Phoenix Art museum, where the successful exhibition “Hollywood Costume” was on display and available for us to enjoy at a leisurely pace; before dinner and happy reconnections with fellow Copperstaters. Although I’ve worked in the film business for over two decades, I still appreciate the elements involved to create that wonderful make-believe world, and the selection of costumes on show bought back some great cinematic memories.
Our co-chairmen for this year’s event gave an overview of the upcoming few days. As ever, the driving routes promised to give us plenty of switchbacks, undulating curves, spectacular scenery and FUN! The Highway Patrol officers who keep a quiet eye on us and the roads we’ll be enjoying were introduced, and I could sense everyone slipping into Copperstate mode as smiles grew more apparent. It was going to be another great event.
The team involved to give us this amazing opportunity, are truly fantastic. The Men’s Arts Council pulls together an extraordinary group of volunteers – mechanics, luggage transport & tow drivers – some at least we all hope we’re not going to need the support of, but are so grateful to have! A team of enthusiasts, who help to remind all of us how lucky we are to be able to enjoy Arizona in such a unique way.
Happy to confirm my navigationally challenged cousin made it through immigration and was lucky enough to add the delightfully slow combination of a super shuttle and the 405 freeway to his LA experience. Better still, he discovered the delights of our newfound sponsorship as soon as he reached his bedroom! Yes, you read correctly, ’S-P-O-N-S-O-R’. I’m moving into the big leagues and finally being taken almost seriously in my driving ability.
This momentous occasion was actually the pinnacle to an already excellent adventure I had a couple of weeks ago. Due to the retirement of my previous Egg Doctor, another one was necessary to seek out. Luckily for me, they may be rare but not completely extinct; and I have to say this one could be more of a surgeon than GP. Down behind the Orange Curtain, yet remarkably accessible thanks to the LA Underground from North Hollywood – Redondo Beach, I discovered KLASSE 356, and Doctor Rutherford. Although I can call him, Ed!
Ed Rutherford has been working on 356’s since his teenage years, and probably knows them better than the back of his hand. He has a sense of humour that could be mistaken for English (another big plus in this Brit’s book), and was not only intent on ensuring the Egg would pass the safety check with flying colours, but wanted to ensure I had a full understanding of her overall condition. Waiting at my final station for him to collect me, it was only a couple of minutes before I heard the familiar sound of the Egg’s engine. On the way back to his workshop, Ed explained how the car had been factory fitted with a larger sized gas tank, and happily demonstrated the cornering advantages I have with my 911 wheels!
His overall prognosis was reasonably positive. Unsurprisingly for the age, there are three areas of rust we need to address. Not extremely serious, but the kind of maintenance to pay dividends. Additionally , there are rubber sills and boots that have reached expiration; and he’s determined to give me a horn that works consistently!! Options such as a vintage style radio, with modern innards, is something to consider in future, and he’s prepared a list of longer term remediations to ensure plenty of road trips in our future. I love the fact this car is clean enough to warrant a second look a we pootle along the road, but not so shiny I worry about driving her. For me, it’s mechanics over cosmetics…we’re about the same age, and I believe diet, exercise and a smile is a far healthier option than plastic surgery, for both of us, at this point.
About to leave, I spotted the supercool Klasse hats that are for sale. Requesting a couple of those to be added to my bill, I was extremely appreciative when Ed decided to supply us with not only the hats, but matching t-shirts to wear on the event. I may not have the most competent navigator, but at least I know he’ll look good!
February 2014, and we’ve been accepted to take part in the Copperstate 1000, again. My navigationally challenged mechanical cousin will be resurrecting his role of co-driver, and I’m optimistic my Christmas gift of “Map Reading for Dummies” was both appreciated and studied. Third year in a row and the event feels like a favourite leather jacket; becoming more comfortable as time passes.
There were a number of high points from last year; but the best aspect was being locked in a small metal container with a family member. Although we’ve known each other my entire life, I left England in the mid 90’s; so our time together has been limited. Without question, my initial excitement was replaced with a nervous tinge of “What have I done?” as his arrival date loomed. Biology only gets you so far, and can’t guarantee you’ll actually like each other. I still thought of him as my slightly eccentric teenage touchstone of grown-upness; but our reality was going to be two relative (pardon the pun) strangers singing “getting to know you” under possibly stressful circumstances.
Fortunately, what we both discovered, much to our amusement; was just how similar we are. I score more points on the style and navigation scale; but the eerily familiar twisted sense of humour and occasional sentence finishing couldn’t be ignored. Being able to fill in the blanks of our respective lives over the past twenty years since I moved from England ended up being an absolute gift; and allowed us both to be extremely honest about the good and bad experiences that inevitably come with growing up.
And then of course, there’s….the ears!
Please don’t laugh but, I have ridiculous ears. They are far too small to be effective as a permanent hair hook, and seriously limited my piercing options in the 80’s due to the size of the lobes. Apparently they were supposed to continue growing, but clearly mine never received the memo. I realise on an important list of things to change, I maybe score a 2.5/100, but nevertheless – they’ve been a source of embarrassment and teasing at numerous times. The only marginally good news on my auditory horizon, I have one on each side; better news – he ended up with the same model! Clearly there was a bulk purchasing deal somewhere in the 18 months between the two of us being born, as our lugs could be identical twins.
Anyway, I digress. Back-ish to the original topic…..
I’d planned to try Autocross with the Egg after Copperstate 2012. An idea that never came to fruition, but still remains on the bucket list. Post 2103, my mind switched to the concept of endless road trips. Discovering how easy the car could deal with 1000 miles meant CA is really nothing more than a combination of Google maps and willing participants.
The high spot of this plan came last summer, when I persuaded a friend to come with me for a quick backroads trip to Santa Barbara. Inspired by the route book we have for each event, I spent a couple of day meandering my marker along different roads on Google, paying particular attention to the windier and smaller options. By the time I’d finished, my spiders web was a thing of beauty, matched only by my excitement to show off this newfound prowess of “Routemaster”. Or would that be Route mistress?
We headed out early, as the journey was to include Santa Paula, Ojai and Lake Casitas. Turning off the 118 towards Moorpark, I couldn’t help but notice how impressed my passenger seemed to be as he reviewed my detailed and very specific directions. Smiling, I confirmed two rights and a left would have us heading towards the 118 and fabulous switchbacks of Grimes Canyon in no time!
Except….the second right was a cul-de-sac, and clearly taking us nowhere. At this point, I had to also admit I’d forgotten to grab the back-up Thomas Guide, last seen sitting on the dining room table (such a rookie mistake). It’s a behemoth map book, about the size of War & Peace, and covers all routes available in LA (to my English friends, it’s our equivalent of London’s A-Z, but on way on more steroids than even Lance Armstrong could imagine taking, evah!). Realistically you’ll only use 10 -15 pages regularly, but it’s always useful to have the other 300 plus available in case you are lost somewhere in the inner or outer limits of Los Angeles.
There was only one option, a quick duelling of technology – Iphone versus Android. I’m still not really sure who won, but it was certainly interesting listening to Suri and her Samsung cousin giving directions in stereo. Minor hiccup soon overcome, and we headed in the correct direction towards our final destination. Snagging the Grimes Canyon section for my own driving pleasure, once we were back to more pastoral vistas I handed the keys over, and settled into the navigator’s chair.
There’s nothing quite like watching the Egg waving her magic on another unsuspecting victim. Sure enough; it was only a matter of revs before the irresistible combination of smooth gear shift and perfect handling as we headed around Lake Castaic, produced that slightly idiotic grin I’ve seen only too often on my own face. By the time we reached Ojai, he was completely smitten and I felt almost unkind when I suggested “Maybe, I could drive for a bit?”
So…as I start preparations for 2014, I’m confident that it’s going to be another great adventure!!
(Editors note: Suri = Tom’s Cruise’s daughter. Siri = Apple Voice Recognition. Apologies to Mr. C for any confusion that may have ensued)