Scheduled trip: NC - Tupelo, MS
Actual trip: : Burlington - Lexington, NC - Burlington (130 miles)

Crash and burn!
May 15 had finally arrived. This was the first day of our continent-crisscrossing trip, which marked the end of the exchange experience. Barbara D'Anna, our exchange coordinator and chaperone, had received a rough itinerary so she had an idea where to find us.

That morning we met at Dave's house and loaded the remaining luggage. The CB-radios were checked, and the police detector was installed. Everything was set. We were ready to go.

After a rainy start to the day, the sun appeared once in a while as we moved westwards. The CBs were used extensively. Chitchat and nonsense filled the airwaves. Every time a car overtook the other, four fingers were displayed forming a 'W', Wezz Coazz't, or even a middle finger in a friendly salute. The spirit was high - even downright ecstatic. Nothing but open road stood between the Pacific and us.

The traffic on I-40 was moderate and soon Greensboro popped up in the horizon. We drove onto I-85 and continued towards Charlotte. The initial radio frenzy had died down a little; the novelty of the CBs was replaced by normal conversation in the two cars. Marco and Manuel in the Mustang were taking the lead when suddenly a strange oily smell appeared in the trailing Camaro. Dave and Niels looked at each other hoping the smell didn't emanate from their car. It wasn't. Ahead of them the Mustang seemed to lose momentum and Manuel appeared on the CB. Trouble! The leading car drove onto the shoulder of the road and the Camaro followed suit. Marco soon declared that he had lost the gears. The gearbox was one big mess. In an act of frustration the hood was popped, naturally, to no avail. This was a mild setback to say the least. Less than 60 miles had been traveled. The entire trip now seemed to be over before it even began.

Dave and Niels drove off the Interstate at the nearest exit and found a gas station where Dave managed to organize a tow truck. Meanwhile, back at the Mustang a state trooper had pulled up to see what was going down.

Some time passed before the tow truck arrived. In a matter of minutes the Mustang was loaded onto the bed of the truck and we all drove to a Chevron station outside Lexington.

Two friendly mechanics had a quick look at the damage. The diagnosis was disappointing. Marco phoned his host family who promised to come and pick him up. The wait was spent in quiet contemplation. Dave McCusker arrived in his Ford LTD and had a brief conversation with the mechanics. It would be at least 24 hours before the Mustang could be driven again so we headed back to Burlington. Needless to say our host families were quite surprised to see us return so soon.



Day 00: Prelude
Day 01: Leaving NC
Day 02: Tupelo, MS
Day 03: Henryetta, OH
Day 04: Roswell, NM
Day 05: Flagstaff, AZ
Day 06: Las Vegas, NV
Day 07: Victorville, CA
Day 08: Long Beach, CA
Day 09: Los Angeles, CA
Day 10: Thousand Oakes, CA
Day 11: Malibu, CA
Day 12: Lompoc, CA
Day 13: Lompoc, CA
Day 14: Palo Alto, CA
Day 15: Palo Alto, CA
Day 16: Fallon, NV
Day 17: Escalante, UT
Day 18: Grand Junction, CO
Day 19: Lafayette, CO
Day 20: Colby, KS
Day 21: St. Louis, MO
Day 22: Knoxville, TN
Day 23: Burlington, NC
Epilogue: Author's notes




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