Lotus Elan

The LOUTS, LOTUS and the Great River

PostPost by: Ross Robbins » Wed May 27, 2015 11:37 pm

A number of years ago, after finishing a trip to Gettysburg and back in my Lotus 7 and Elan, when asked if I?d ever do it again I made the comment I have now come to regret;
Would I do it again? Probably not such a big trip and probably not on such big roads. Maybe I?ll take a jaunt down the Mississippi river road from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico with lots of time and an ace Lincoln Lotus Centre riding mechanic along. Yeah, that?s the ticket.


As I get older, I realize that doing is better than having, and memories are the by far the best things we create. The fond memories of the trip out to Gettysburg with the LOUTS (That?s Lotus Owners Up To Something) and back with my wife Ann left me vulnerable when the rest of the LOUTS made their plans to come to Colorado for the 35th Lotus Owners Gathering in August 2015. Geoff Cole reminded me of my comment and said we should do that, and Rod Thonger immediately chimed in as he is a big blues music fan and thought it would be great to visit the home of the blues. When the last of the three who had been with me before, Brian Green (ace Lincoln Lotus Centre riding mechanic) said he, too, was in, it was ?Game On!?

In searching maps, I found numerous ways of connecting disparate highways into a cross country network that defined a route, to and from Colorado Springs and the relatively well defined ?Great River Road? . The hard part will be getting to the source of the Mississippi at Itasca, MN and returning from New Orleans across Texas and the west.

Once we reach the Mississippi though things look much better. Now we?re talking about a Lotus road. Other than getting through several major cities such as Minneapolis, St. Louis, and Memphis as well as the end point in New Orleans, all the rest is small towns and rural charm. The route is now clear, so all we need do is figure out how long it will take and when to start. Using some of the distances per day we were comfortable with on our last LOUTS trip, we thought about three weeks should do it. So the lads planned their plane reservations to be here in plenty of time for LOG 35 and allow a few days of car prep after LOG plus the three weeks plus a few recovery/delay days and the return trip dates were set and flights booked. So, Brian and Geoff and Rod arrive mid-August and go home on the first day of fall. I?ve termed it the British invasion; hopefully the colonies can withstand it!

On Day 1 and 2 we need to make steady progress across Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota so that we can reach Minnesota on the third day. While these will be long days of about 500 miles each, there isn?t much to make it worth dallying across the plains and on day 3 we will stop at Trout Lake in northern Minnesota where my relatives have an idyllic lake cabin. On day 4 we?ll do a little boating and explore the chain of lakes then have cookout and a brew while watching the sun go down. We can then start bright and early the next day. I call this the pre-trip to get to the source of the river.

Day 1 of the Great River Road Trip, we will get to Lake Itasca step across the Mighty Mississippi and then spend the next hours to get to Grand Rapids. Dinner is at the ?Big Fish Supper Club? in Bena as seen in the National Lampoon Vacation movie.

Day 2 GRRT takes us from Grand Rapids to Sartell with a stop at Charles Lindbergh?s boyhood home in Little Falls. This is a typical mileage day at about 175 miles. While that may not seem like much, we will be stopping at overlooks, scenic and historical attractions about every two hours so it will take us most of a day to do that mileage.

The Day 3 highlights will include a lunch stop to visit my 100 year old Dad in Minneapolis as we traverse the big city on our way from Sartell to Red Wing. I hope my dad will be able to understand these limey accents with his diminished hearing.

Day 4 takes us from Red Wing to Prairie Du Chien, WI as we cross to the east side of the river and drive the high bluffs of the driftless zone. This is the part of Wisconsin that the glaciers missed so the bluff tower over the river here.

Day 5 is all about driving as we do about 250 miles from Prairie Du Chien to Burlington, IA after traversing the quad cities of Rock Island, Moline, Bettendorf and Davenport. There is a Mississippi River museum which deserves a visit but that?s about it.

On Day 6 we make it to St. Louis and a stop to see Chuck Berry perhaps. Rod has made it clear we must find the music wherever we go so that is our mission!

Day 7 takes us from St. Louis to Fulton, KY. We cross several tributaries of Big Muddy including the Illinois and Ohio rivers today. Water world!

Day 8 means we make it to Beale St and Graceland?two ends of the Memphis music scene. Add in Sun records and we will need two nights to get it all in.

Day 10 take us from Graceland to Vicksburg, MS with stops in Clarksdale and Greenwood, MS where some of the greats of the Delta blues originated with a small deviation to catch a bit of the Natchez Trace Parkway just to say we did it.

The next day, day 11 we drive from Vicksburg, MS to Baton Rouge, LA after visiting a few of the antebellum mansions of the area. And maybe getting a Po? Boy for supper!

Day 12, Baton Rouge, LA to New Orleans, brings us to the end of the Great River Road officially. Now we could go on a barge to the actual Mississippi delta on the Gulf Coast but we?d rather spend another day (13) enjoying the French Quarter before the dash home.

Days 1-3 of the mad dash across the southwest will take us through Shreveport, LA, Fairfield, Wichita Falls and Amarillo, TX, Raton NM and on into Colorado Springs. At the end of the third day we shall rest, for we will have earned it.

At the end of the trip we will have driven over 4,200 miles in each of two cars that are almost 50 years old, which I guess translates into 420,000 old car year/miles, much as dog years are seven times that of ours. Or, looking at it another way, the combined revolutions of the two engines will be more than twenty eight million and the spark plugs will have fired over fifty six million times before we pull in the driveway. So, what could possibly go wrong? Actually, I expect both the Seven and Elan to run fine and expect no stops for anything but fuel and oil and the occasional photo opportunity. The pool for the exact time and place of the breakdown is now open at http://www.betonthebreakdown.com for you cynics out there.No it doesn't really exist :D

So, we shall see you in Colorado Spring in August at LOG 35 where you can wish us well or simply shake your head at our stupidity, or let me know if you reside somewhere on our proposed route so we can make arrangements to meet up, and will file a trip report after the return. Tally Ho!
Ross Robbins
Third Gear
Third Gear
 
Posts: 493
Joined: 03 Apr 2006
Location: Colorado, USA

PostPost by: kpcseven » Thu May 28, 2015 3:56 am

One word only - Awesome!
kpcseven
First Gear
First Gear
 
Posts: 26
Joined: 10 Feb 2012

PostPost by: trw99 » Thu May 28, 2015 7:24 am

Ross, it's going to take you three weeks to travel around your country, 4000+ miles.

I've got a long journey planned for next month. I too shall be travelling the length of my country, passing through iconic counties, defining countryside and big cities. My music will be Fleetwood Mac, Cream, maybe even some Elton John! This mammoth trip is a grand total of 411 miles and I reckon it will take me oh, eight whole hours all told.

But rural Essex to the West Scottish coast is nothing compared to your wonderful sounding trip. I'm looking forward to reading the full report!

Tim
User avatar
trw99
Coveted Fifth Gear
Coveted Fifth Gear
 
Posts: 2834
Joined: 31 Dec 2003
Location: Essex/Herts border, UK

PostPost by: StressCraxx » Thu May 28, 2015 7:40 am

Sir,
To you and your Squadron, I salute you!

Regards,
Dan Wise
There is no cure for Lotus, only treatment.
User avatar
StressCraxx
Coveted Fifth Gear
Coveted Fifth Gear
 
Posts: 1035
Joined: 26 Sep 2003
Location: San Francisco Bay Area, California

PostPost by: gjz30075 » Thu May 28, 2015 9:48 am

Ross, I'm looking forward to another book :D
Greg Z
45/0243K Sprint
36/5727 pre airflow coupe
User avatar
gjz30075
Coveted Fifth Gear
Coveted Fifth Gear
 
Posts: 2973
Joined: 12 Sep 2003
Location: Roswell, Georgia, USA

PostPost by: Ross Robbins » Thu May 28, 2015 9:39 pm

Tim: Don't forget some Beatles, especially "A day in the life" for your road music. I'd love to do your trip as well!

Dan: It's not too late to come to LOG and then join us for the trip...then I would salute You!

Greg: Whether or not there will be enough material for another book I cannot say...but there will be a story!
Ross Robbins
Third Gear
Third Gear
 
Posts: 493
Joined: 03 Apr 2006
Location: Colorado, USA

PostPost by: Sea Ranch » Mon Jun 15, 2015 4:41 pm

Very nice, Ross. My wife Patti commented that "it looks like they have fun along the way; not just driving."

I'm sure of that. :mrgreen: Looking forward to those kinds of trips myself!

Randy
User avatar
Sea Ranch
Coveted Fifth Gear
Coveted Fifth Gear
 
Posts: 1153
Joined: 07 Mar 2011
Location: West Coast, Canada (Surrey, BC)

PostPost by: nomad » Mon Jun 15, 2015 9:00 pm

Ross, in general I would chime in with a recommendation for " Highway 61 Revisited" and an offer to buy dinner if you get close to eastern South Dakota. Very familiar with the Mississippi scenery as well.

PM sent as well.

Kurt
26/3754
nomad
Fourth Gear
Fourth Gear
 
Posts: 940
Joined: 05 May 2012
Location: South Dakota, USA

PostPost by: nomad » Sat Aug 29, 2015 11:23 pm

Officially confirming " Signs of Life" from Ross and the accompanying LOUTS! They've made it through the wilds of Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and now South East South Dakota.
I've had the pleasure of guiding them and trying to convince them that there really is something to see here! I think they believe we took the only "Lotus" roads in these parts but there are more.....just not going in their direction!

Anyway, LOUTS, I enjoyed the visit and envy the trip!

Bon Voyage!!

Kurt
26/3754
nomad
Fourth Gear
Fourth Gear
 
Posts: 940
Joined: 05 May 2012
Location: South Dakota, USA

PostPost by: elansprint71 » Sun Aug 30, 2015 6:14 am

Fabulous stuff!

Here is some encouragement from the UK:




Image
elansprint71
Coveted Fifth Gear
Coveted Fifth Gear
 
Posts: 4092
Joined: 16 Sep 2003
Location: Cheshire, UK.

PostPost by: Ross Robbins » Mon Aug 31, 2015 8:33 pm

Well the LOUTs are safe and lazy at my relatives cabin on Trout Lake in Minnesota. For those curious it is located between the towns of Pine River and Cross Lake just north of Brainerd MN.We have done about 1,300 miles now with no ill effects other than a starter that is reluctant when heat soaked on the Elan. Each car has used about a half pint of oil so far and all other systems look good. We are taking a rest day to just sit and watch the eagle that nests above us in a 70 foot pine go fishing, listen to the loons and watch the lake change in the sun. We went for a boat ride in my nephews 1947 Chris Craft last night then took the pontoon boat across several lakes in the chain for dinner. Coming back as the sun set on the lake was priceless!

Huge thanks to Kurt for showing us his hospitality and 20 of the 22 miles of winding roads in eastern South Dakota. He showed us one of the few stretches of the Missouri River that runs wild and even had Park Rangers at the overlook to explain the geology and the history to us. He took us all the way into Minnesota to make sure we didn't get lost. Kurt you are always welcome at my place in Colorado. Having never met before but talking on this forum, I couldn't have been more impressed with how we were treated by a true gentleman.Many thanks from all of us.

The real adventure starts tomorrow morning when we leave our refuge and head off for Itasca and the source of the Mississippi. Tally Ho!
Ross Robbins
Third Gear
Third Gear
 
Posts: 493
Joined: 03 Apr 2006
Location: Colorado, USA

PostPost by: kpcseven » Mon Aug 31, 2015 9:58 pm

Ross and Company,
Safe travels. You are an inspiration to all of us!
Envious,
Ken
kpcseven
First Gear
First Gear
 
Posts: 26
Joined: 10 Feb 2012

PostPost by: nomad » Tue Sep 01, 2015 12:11 pm

Well, Ross, if I could have persuaded the LOUTS to explore the Missouri I could have gotten you on more 'Lotus' road's but the north easterly direction doesn't offer much!

The folks we used to impose upon in Siverthorn just moved to Portland sooo...

Kurt
26/3754
nomad
Fourth Gear
Fourth Gear
 
Posts: 940
Joined: 05 May 2012
Location: South Dakota, USA

PostPost by: dougweall » Wed Sep 02, 2015 4:45 pm

Ross and the Lincy Louts we are watching over here.

Look forward to a few more reports, safe trip and I will see BG and GC when they return.

Doug.
User avatar
dougweall
Third Gear
Third Gear
 
Posts: 278
Joined: 12 Sep 2003
Location: Darfield, S.Yorkshire

PostPost by: Ross Robbins » Tue Sep 08, 2015 3:05 am

Well we have made it 2,500 miles and are into Tennessee and both cars are still running will with a few hiccups. The Elan has a duff starter so we have to bump start it each time we stop for anything like food or fuel or sleep, and the latch on the driver's side door has failed but at least in the closed and locked position so we jump over the door to get in. The Seven has a problem in the ignition switch that manifests itself as a very hot switch and key as well as a power drain but we have made it better by cleaning all the contacts and re crimping the leads. I'll get a starter shipped to a shop I know in Memphis and hope it will be installed Thursday.

All in all the trip is going well. The biggest disappointment to me is that we may as well be on any road through the heartland as we can only see the Mississippi about 10 percent of the time. Some roads have been right by the river especially in Minnesota and Wisconsin, through Dubuque Iowa and south of St. Louis where we also found some wonderful twisty roads into Kentucky. We also unfortunately found the clearance on an Elan and Seven is no match for a dead skunk swollen in the summer heat. The stench was truly awful, perhaps the worst smell I have ever experienced in my life. And worse, it stayed with us throughout the day and even the next morning. It seems to have ameliorated a bit today.

I do have to say that my original quote about a simpler trip was horribly misplaced. We are just over halfway and I am worn out more than the cars are. But then I am more than 20 years older as well :D
Ross Robbins
Third Gear
Third Gear
 
Posts: 493
Joined: 03 Apr 2006
Location: Colorado, USA
Next

Total Online:

Users browsing this forum: mark030358 and 9 guests