Just over a week ago, I returned from a my solo road trip. I drove from Rochester, New York, to Springfield, Missouri, and back. It’s a 16 hour drive each way, which I spread over two days each way. A lot of time spent in a car, but it was worth it for the time I spent with friends there.
This was my setup in my car for the drive. Two GoPros, one pointed out the windshield taking a timelapse, and another pointed at me in case I wanted to do any other recording. On the passenger seat is my Chromebook for playing music and viewing directions, which I also had printed out. On the passenger floor was a bag of important stuff: snacks and Mountain Dew.
The biggest event of the drive to Missouri was my car, a 1997 Honda Civic, finally hit 200,000 miles. It happened at about 12:22 pm central time on I-70 west about a half hour east of St. Louis. First time I’ve gotten to see an analog odometer do a full six-digit rollover.
My coworkers had taken bets on when my car would break down, because, unlike me, they didn’t have much faith in my car enduring a long trip. I almost completely proved them wrong by making it all the way to Springfield before my car broke down. I was turning into a parking lot when I heard a clunk and pressing the gas wouldn’t make me move, so I just coasted into the lot, pushed my car into a parking spot, and called AAA.
I had brought tools with me, but I didn’t bring a real jack, jack stands, or an axle nut socket, or I could’ve attempted to do the repair on my own in the parking lot. Buying those probably would’ve cost about the same as having a shop fix it, and I was with a friend, so as much as I hate having to hand my car over to someone else to work on, it was the better option. I called a local Honda dealership, but they were closed, so I chose to be taken to a Firestone that was next to the local mall, giving us something to do while we waited.
As I had quickly deduced, my left front outer CV axle joint had blown. It was not at all what I expected might fail me on this trip. If anything, the main possibility was the timing belt might go, because it’s due for a change now at 200,000 miles. I’m really lucky that this happened when I was in a city and not out on the open highway. I’m going to replace my right axle soon just to be safe.
The drive home was equally uneventful, except for some heavy rains after dark leaving me driving by the taillights of the semi in front of me. On the second day I paid a visit to the Summit Racing store in Akron, Ohio.
I’d never been around most of these kinds of parts, so I just spent a couple hours looking around and taking it all in. I really want an old project car. Maybe next year.
If I can leave you with two tips for taking road trips, here they are. Get AAA. If you break down and are close to a repair shop, you can get a free or cheaper tow. You can also get free paper road maps, which I did use a couple times when my directions failed me. The other advice I would give is skip the fast food chains and find the local diners. I got some great food for the same price and didn’t have to go far out of my way, and I didn’t eat any hamburgers.
Overall this was a long drive, but it was fun and well worth it. I won’t take another drive this long soon, but I do want to go on another trip next year.
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