Did you guess why the trip home was no fun? If you live in the Pacific Northwest, I'll bet you figured it out.
In the year 2050, when children gather around my feet and ask, “Grampaw, where were you during the Great Storm of Oh Eight?” I’ll answer, “I was driving a high-mileage sports car from California to Oregon, and even in that weather I got about 60 miles to the gallon.” And I'll show them this picture, of what the world looked like from MAX's driver's seat.
Photo by Jack McCornack
Depending on how things go between now and 2050, they'll reply, “Sixty mpg? They called that high mileage back then? Ha ha ha ho ho tee hee,” or they’ll ask, “What's a car?”
Then I'll tell them that even though I was dressed for foul weather, it was a challenging trip. And even with a top, MAX was really only good for nine months of the year back then. And there were times during that trip I'd wished I'd been somewhere else and doing something more sensible, such as running with the bulls in Pamplona.
To maximize fuel economy, MAX needs a fully enclosed cabin. There's just too much drag from the wind coming in, noodling around the driver and passenger, and wandering off again. We aren't going to get 100 mpg without separating the moving air in the inside of the car from the non-moving air on the outside of the car (or vice-versa, depending on where you're standing). But now I have another motive: I’m not going to drive through another storm without a weather barrier between me and the elements.
I don't mind driving in light rain — in Oregon, that's what we call “humidity.” But I'll never plan another unprotected road trip when the weather station is predicting Industrial Strength Humidity — Now Available in Chunky Style. My second biggest problem was that the windshield wiper couldn't keep up with the snow. My biggest problem was that when the road got slushy and trucks zoomed by, their wheels would throw buckets of slush through MAX's doorless doorway, drenching me from face to floorboard. When I had to stop to buy chains — chains! I had to buy chains for MAX! — even guys with snowmobiles were saying, “Man, you're hard core!”
So I won't have to embellish much to entertain the kids, And in 2050, when they say...
“Grampaw, I did the math, that makes you 102. That's really old.” I’ll then say, “Yes, and if I hadn't met your grandmother in 2009, I might not have made it this long.” So keep those cards and letters coming.