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Road Trip! Cross-Country Transporting

Getting the most out of a cross-country journey

Clarence Cornwell
Apr 2, 2008
The ad might as well have read: "Heavily modified 1969 Porsche 911 Targa with a 1974 RSR body. One hundred thousand miles, driven only on Sundays on 2.5-mile loop. Currently located 2500 miles from where you are. Ready to sell for a steal if willing to transport. Contact TRE Motorsports, North Hollywood, California;"
What do you do when a few states and several hundred miles stand between you and a great deal? Dust off the atlas, inspect your brakes and tires, and calibrate that electric brake controller--it's time to hit the road!
The cross-country adventure revolved around the delivery of a 1969 Porsche 911 race car (purchased from TRE Motorsports) from North Hollywood, California, to Charlotte, North Carolina. The journey involved passing through nine states, burning $800 in gasoline, and covering over 3000 miles.
Over a period of six days, we made stops in Arizona at the Grand Canyon; Grants, New Mexico, at the Uranium Museum; Amarillo, Texas, at the Cadillac Ranch; the Oklahoma City memorial; the Museum of Automobiles in Morrilton, Arkansas; the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tennessee; the 26th Annual Ford F-100 Supernationals Truck and Car Show in Knoxville, Tennessee; and back home to Charlotte, North Carolina.
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On The Road
Road maneuvers are a challenge in any large city, even for the most experienced truck driver. On congested multilane highways, large vehicles constantly have to deal with braking distances shortened by lane-cutters.
The best strategy is to stay alert, keeping your eyes active by routinely scanning all vision points. Mirror placement is paramount in heavy traffic, especially when approaching multi-Interstate junctions. Navigating these freeways at the height of rush hour and quickly crossing five lanes of L.A. traffic safely, while towing a 20-foot trailer, was quite an accomplishment. Sadly, we tagged the front-left corner of the Golden Gait trailer on the concrete base of a gasoline pump.
Busy Hollywood boulevards, roads narrowed by streetside parking, crowned cross-streets that more resembled jumping ramps than roadways, and traffic lights located on steep hills added spice to this adventure.
All Well-Laid Plans
However carefully you plan, setbacks always happen. The start of our trip was delayed 24 hours, due to technical issues with the Porsche. Instead of towing the car to Hurricane, Utah, and picking up the Golden Gait trailer specially built for this trip, we drove to Hurricane for the enclosed unit and doubled back to California for the car. Then, just as things were beginning to realign themselves, a rock cracked the front windshield of the 2005 Ford F-250 Super Duty on Highway 15 near the Nevada/Arizona border. You can't foresee every possible problem, but preparing for the unknown can be the difference between a small issue and a big one.
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Leaving California
Crossing Nevada in the middle of the night was a strange experience. Although not visible, steep grades and sweeping curves were evidence that sheer cliffs lay just beyond the ancient-looking, flimsy guardrails. Perhaps it was best that these deep, rocky cliffs and valleys remained cloaked by the night. Once back on level ground, the divided highway seemed to disappear into pitch-black darkness.
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Another Bump In The Road
At 7:00 on Sunday morning, the second day of travel, we awoke to a dead battery two hours west of Flagstaff, Arizona. If it weren't for the jumpstart from Dale Mayes from Big D Tire service, who just happened to be in the area, the wait would've been a long one.
When you're prepared for traffic and other possible issues, and the schedule isn't rushed, things like cracked windshields, blown tires, and dead batteries are less likely to become major obstacles. If you're under pressure to keep a tight schedule, be sure to carefully weigh the cost of time and speed.
Weather Bulletins
Depending on the stretch of highway and time of year, weather delays also can be an issue. For instance, on the I-40 East in New Mexico, near the Texas border, a flashing sign warned that the Interstate was subject to closures. These can sometimes be due to traffic accidents, but are primarily because of icy conditions or blowing snow--you don't want to be stuck on a highway during a snowstorm.
Mountain-Climbing In Arkansas
Having a two-term president and vice- president seemed to have paid off for Arkansas and Tennessee, because those states had some of the smoothest, best-maintained stretches of Interstate on the entire trip. Visiting the Museum of Automobiles on Petit Jean Mountain in Morrilton, Arkansas, however, proved a challenge. According to the mileage from I-40, the departure seemed an easy-in, easy-out diversion. But the numbers are an indication of its level of difficulty.
In just 2.79 miles, AR-154/AR-247 rises over 600 feet and throws in 12 turns, including a switchback to make things interesting. From 300 feet, AR-154/AR-247 climbs to 400 and then 600--in 0.27 mile. Then, during the U-turn-like switchback, the road leaps to 750 feet in just over half a mile.
The F-250's 362-horsepower, 30-valve powerplant felt good as it ascended Petit Jean Mountain and worked equally well coming down the narrow two-lane road. The F-250's integrated trailer-brake system and tow/haul mode combined for a smooth, controlled descent. And, in case you were wondering, the Museum of Automobiles was worth the trip.
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Overall, the shorter-wheelbase F-250 Super Duty crew cab and short bed, along with the 20-foot tag-along trailer, had a more confident posture than expected, especially considering that this setup didn't include a weight-distribution system, anti-roll bar, or any other control-enhancement apparatuses. However, the heavy-duty suspension and short wheelbase were tough over rough and uneven roads, and the smooth 6.8-liter V-10 pulled strong at an average of 65 mph and 2100 rpm for most of the trip.
Long road trips can be nightmares that never seem to end, or they can be wonderful, memorable journeys. They're real-life adventures that can be enjoyed with friends and family--or alone. Sometimes, circumstances out of your control will determine how such an excursion is remembered. But it's how a trip's approached, prepared for, and executed that'll have the greatest effect on its outcome. There's nothing quite like a road trip--days on end full of exploration, visits to new cities, stops at unique roadside attractions, and meeting new friends. You gotta love it!
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2005 Ford F-250 Super Cab Super Duty 4x4
Price $38,245 (includes D&D of $795)
Weight, lb 6202
Wheelbase, in 142
Fuel tank capacity, gal 29
Avg fuel economy, mpg 6.5 to 7.5
Range, miles 190 to 220
2005 Golden Gait Shadow Trailer
Price $7950
Weight, lb 3530
Gross max capacity, lb 7000
Width 8 feet
Length 20 feet



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