trip: Tupelo, MS - Oklahoma City, OK
Actual trip: Tupelo, MS - Henryetta, OK (480 miles)
It wasn't a breakdown!
We rose as early as we could, knowing all too well that
we had to travel in the vicinity of 500 miles that day.
However, the morning was to be dedicated to Elvis Presley.
As any self-respecting Elvis fan knows Tupelo is the birthplace
of the King. Neither of us was fan of the guy but when has
a little sightseeing hurt anyone?
It was a nice morning. The sun was shining from a clear
blue sky. The work of the previous night was inspected.
It seemed as though the rear of the car had been raised
enough to avoid contact with the right tire. Niels discovered
a large crack in the front window of the Camaro. Obviously
this had happened during our nightly overhaul of the car.
A jack must have been placed at a sensitive spot, buckling
the car and thus cracking the window. It was too bad but
didn't have any influence on the performance of the car.
As we loaded our luggage a friendly black man approached
Dave and Niels, asking for a ride to the nearest bus depot.
He asked us where we came from and we told him we were from
North Carolina. He knew the Burlington area well, he said.
After a brief conversation he changed his mind. Suddenly
he didn't need a lift at all. The guy's behavior was somewhat
First stop of the day was the Elvis Presley Museum located
in a Tupelo residential area. The admission fee was outrageous
taken into consideration that the museum only had one room
filled with various Elvis memorabilia. On the other hand
the true Elvis fan must have felt something like religious
awe when confronted by all the authentic stuff the room
contained. Imagine seeing Elvis's first guitar, toothbrush,
or whatever so close you could touch it, if it hadn't been
because of an inch of bulletproof glass.
Some bucks were spent in the gift (a.k.a. poison) shop.
Quick hellos and messages were scribbled down on postcards
and mailed back to NC or Europe.
Heading through the light traffic of downtown Tupelo we
stopped at a red light. Suddenly strange noises emerged
from the engine of the Chevy and we pulled over and popped
the hood. The engine coolant was boiling hard, so hard in
fact that the lid of the tank shot a few feet in the air
and landed under the car. This time Manuel and Marco went
to look for help while the Camaro cooled down. This wasn't
exactly what we needed. Car trouble had already cost us
The Mustang returned and fresh water was added to the coolant
of the overheated engine. We had a lengthy argument about
this incident should be classified as a breakdown. Niels
argued that the car could move by its own power, hence this
wasn't a breakdown. This sentiment met massive opposition
Marco lead the way as the crippled Camaro made its way to
the nearest mechanic. At a gas station a rather apathetic
looking mechanic turned us down; he didn't have the necessary
equipment to repair the car. However, he gave us directions
to "Tupelo's best mechanic." The directions turned out to
be bogus so Dave and Niels agreed to stay behind until the
repair shop was found. Some time went by and finally we
arrived at this alleged "mother of all mechanics."
Wonderboy turned out to be a sympathetic, talkative old-timer.
He threw down whatever he was working on and looked the
car over. Faulty wiring had caused the overheating; the
fan simply didn't get enough juice to function properly.
The mechanic removed the melted wire while we bought sodas
in a vending machine across the street. The old guy had
noticed the "California or Bust"-sign in the rear window
of the Chevy and we had a pleasant talk about the Golden
State. He'd been there in the 1940s, in San Francisco it
turned out. He gave us the advice never to call it "Frisco"
if a native of the city heard it. Apparently it seems to
be some sort of derogatory word... Within an hour we were
back on the road. The operation had come to a measly 20
bucks. If only we would be spared any further car misfortunes
it would be okay!
We joined I-40 again at Memphis, Tennessee, crossed the
mighty Mississippi River, and entered Arkansas, "Home of
President Clinton." Still, we were behind schedule so we
blasted through the state, only making the occasional pit
stop. During the evening we found a motel just off I-40
at Henryetta, Oklahoma (hometown of quarterback Troy Aikman,
Dallas Cowboys) and we decided to call it quits for the
day despite not reaching the designated goal: Oklahoma City.
Day 01: Leaving
Day 02: Tupelo,
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