07th Oct2016

The Best Worst Trip

by Michael Chandler

ronda-lotto-tickets

It was cold and dark last night.  In the darkness, surrounded by storage units filled with other people’s stuff, Scott, myself, and a man named Cody pushed Big Ronda onto a U-Haul trailer.  As they were ratcheting the car onto the trailer, I began thinking about something I found the day before.  I went down to the storage unit on Tuesday, and began cleaning it out the refuse that had accumulated in the three years I owned the car.  While cleaning out the glove box I found a receipt and some lotto tickets that never made it across the counter of the convenience store in Franklin, Idaho.

The Powerball jackpot was rather high, but not historic in August 2013.  Being the sort of fellow who thinks that having ridiculous amounts of money would allow me to pursue many of the endeavors I’d like to, and having a GT car in need of a test of its grand touring prowess, the decision was made to head to Idaho and grab some lotto tickets.  I called up Dave, and we made plans to run to the land of Russets.  But first we needed to address one big problem the car had: the lack of speakers.

When I test drove the car, it had a speaker box in the back and some semi-functional door speakers.  When I picked it up, the speaker box was gone.  Dave and I went to a junkyard, harvested some door speakers from a GS300, and proceeded to install them while parked on the street in front of his house.  While installing the speakers, we also plumbed in a fully functional boost gauge.  One that went up to 25psi.  With those installed, we made our way to Tommy’s family’s restaurant: Thai Drift.  We rolled in, showed off the car to Tommy and Trent (who happened to be down there) then made our way back to the freeway.  On that short drive we noticed something: Ronda was making more whoosh pcha noises than before.  While I stepped on it, Dave looked at the boost gauge and let out an excited laugh when the needle hit 15psi and the car hit fuel cut.  That was an issue we’d deal with later, because we were on our way to prosperity!

We stopped at 7-11 in Kaysville before making the final push through Logan and into Idaho.  The clutch felt weird while getting off the freeway, but I just attributed it to the heat.  We grabbed some drinks, popped the targa top off, and got back on the road.  Everything was fine, until we got off I-15.  While merging onto US-91, the clutch pedal stopped doing anything.  It would sink to the floor, and stay there.  I managed to keep the car going, but we ran into some construction on 89 and I killed the car.  I had only ever driven it with a full functional clutch pedal, I could blip the throttle on downshifts, but I had no idea how to drive the car without using the clutch pedal entirely.

It was at this point that I began rethinking every decision I made for the last few months: why did I buy this car?  I didn’t want a mk3, I wanted a mk2.  Something I could slam on tiny wheels, and live out my new found dreams that I saw on Instagram feeds like All That Low, DOHC Research, and Liberty Walk.  Why did I not test the car out on a different drive?  What happens if this car can’t get going again?  Why am I here?  Who am I?  What is this?  Through all of the self-doubt, Dave’s voice came through. He coached me through, and while it was stressful, we made it to the L Tienda.

The radio took a dump on us at some point, so we just had our conversational skills to get us through. So while I went in and spent way too much on lotto tickets, Dave contorted himself and got the radio kicking again.  We then faced an important decision: Head back the way we came, which would take us back through Logan and Brigham City at rush hour; OR stay on the 91 until it ran into I-15.  After some brief discussion, and realizing that there would be a lot less shifting required, we stuck to the 91.  We got on the road, and Dave found what would end up being our soundtrack for the rest of the drive: Sports by Huey Lewis and the News.  The 1983 classic went into the tape deck, and never came out.  The damn thing ate the tape, but kept playing it.  It played both sides, on constant repeat, but refused to eject the tape.  It was on the third play through that I decided to uncork Ronda, and see how 100+mph felt without a roof.

We weren’t stopping until we got to my house, where we would grab the Subaru, and take Dave home.  A friend of mine in Farmington wanted to see the car, and us, but I did my best to convey to her that we could not stop, despite how much we wanted to.  We soldiered southward, and prepared for our final test: the stretch of road between the freeway exit and my driveway.  A harrowing 1.1 mile stretch of surface streets, filled with stop lights, traffic, and people who don’t understand how traffic laws or courtesy work.  Would we have to face each battle, or would luck smile upon us?  Mercifully, we had a favorable drive over that stretch.  We made it to my driveway, where we abandoned Ronda for the Subaru, and made our way back to Dave’s.

That was the first, and only big drive Ronda ever went on.  It was the best drive it could have been.  If it was completely uneventful, it would have been boring, and I wouldn’t have remembered the details three years on.  If it was an abject failure, then Ronda would’ve been gone long ago.  It was exciting, it had danger, humor, drama, no romance though.  I could not have scripted it better, nor would I have wanted it to be any different.

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