New York to Missouri, and Back

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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-Dan

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