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S&H Torino Drives the USA Coast to Coast!
Well, not all at once - but we still think this is pretty cool.

Overview

In 2005, we (John and Penny Q., owners of this Web site) drove our Limited Production 1976 "Starsky & Hutch" Ford Gran Torino from Central Wisconsin to Woods Hole, Massachusetts on the East Coast of the USA. We took the ferry from there to Martha's Vineyard to visit JAWS movie sites, but left the Torino on the mainland for the day. On the way back to Wisconsin, we drove south to Washington, D.C., then west through the Allegheny Mountains, through West Virginia and Kentucky, and finally back home. All told, we drove over 3,000 miles through 15 states in about 7 days, spending over 50 hours driving. We didn't have air conditioning or cruise control at that time, but it was a great trip!

On May 31, 2007, we got back in the Torino and headed west to visit other S&H Torino owners in California. We drove almost 200 hours in 18 days, spending the night in 17 different places, and covering over 6,500 miles and 16 states.

We drove through the South Dakota Badlands and Black Hills, camped at Devil's Tower, toured Yellowstone, cruised among Giant Redwoods, drove along the Pacific Ocean, across the Golden Gate Bridge, stopped at the Grand Canyon and the "Starman" meteor crater, moseyed on through the great state of Texas, drove on parts of Historic Route 66 in each state that it goes through, stopped in my home town in Illinois, and then made it safely back home to Wisconsin.

It was a fantastic trip! Every couple of days, we were able to post pictures and information here so our friends, family, and anyone else could keep track of us. You can read those updates and see the pictures on the next three pages. Maybe they will inspire you to take your S&H Torino on a similar trip someday!

The links in the story will take you to the web sites of the various places and sites we visited. After you read all 3 pages about our trip, you can go back through them and and click the links to visit those sites to get more information if you want it.
 

May 31, 2007 - Day 1

We left Wisconsin at 6:00 am, and crossed the Mississippi River into Minnesota at about 8:00 am. In Minnesota, we drove by the Hormel Foods Plant, home of the SPAM Museum (we did not stop, but we've been there before), and a lot of green fields (yawn). We then crossed into South Dakota, and at some point stopped at a place called "1880 Town," where we saw props from the movie "Dances With Wolves" including the mechanical buffalo built by Howard Berger (who I met years ago) and the real live horse who played John Dunbar's horse, "Cisco" in the movie. He's 34 years old! We also stopped and took a picture in front of a place called "Hutch's Motel" in Presho, SD.

In the late afternoon, we drove through
South Dakota's Badlands, an awesome display of God's creative power. We were glad we took the time to see it even though we thought we might have been late to our campground that night. At the end of the Badlands loop road, we found ourselves at the infamous Wall Drug, where we got homemade ice cream and free glasses of ice water. Finally, at 9:00 pm mountain time, we arrived at Devil's Tower National Monument in Wyoming where we spent the night in a cute little cabin (instead of a tent, because of the rain) at the Devil's Tower KOA. They did not show the movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" outside (like they usually do) because of the weather, but we watched it in our cabin on DVD!

All told, we were on the road 16 hours (including stops), and we traveled 873 miles through 4 states in one day! The car ran great and we had a fantastic time!
 


Penny in front of Devil's Tower

 

June 1, 2007 - Day 2

We left Devil's Tower, Wyoming, in a drizzling rain this morning (see above) and drove through some rain off and on for the first half of the day, but our spirits weren't dampened any. When we approached Buffalo, Wyoming, we could see the Rocky Mountains in the distance and decided to take an extra day to drive through Yellowstone National Park. I had previously decided not to because I thought the roads would be too steep for the car - but that wasn't the case at all.

We took Highway 16 from Buffalo to Yellowstone and saw some of the most incredible scenery imaginable. The Bighorn Mountains were fabulous - our elevation got as high as 9,500+ feet and we were up in territory were there was still snow on the ground. Between the Bighorn Mountains and Yellowstone is a long patch of rolling hills and wide open road. It was a very nice drive.

Yellowstone was a lot of fun. We saw a grizzly bear and a wolf fighting for some kind of food (from quite a distance), and we saw hares, elk, buffalo, antelope, and a mule deer. We saw sulfur springs, a mud volcano, incredible waterfalls, and ended the day watching
Old Faithful doing its thing right on time at 9:10 pm (it erupts many times each day).

All told, we were on the road 13 hours (including stops) today. We have traveled 1,309 miles through 4 states since we left home! The car is running great and we are still amazed by God's creation!
 


Old Faithfuls
(I mean the car and the geyser,
not Penny - she's not old.)

     

 

June 2, 2007 - Day 3

We left Yellowstone this morning and drove through the Grand Teton mountains as the sun rose - they were absolutely stunning. We saw quite a bit of wonderful scenery all morning.

Around 2:00, we arrived in Preston, Idaho for lunch (burgers, tots, and shakes) at Big J.'s. If you've seen the movie, "Napoleon Dynamite" you know the place. We drove around Preston and took pictures in front of Napoleon's house, Pedro's house, the High School, the bowling alley, and even found the playground with the infamous "wanna play me?" tetherball pole (no ball attached).

Then we drove for six weeks on the longest, loneliest, most desolate road on the planet. Okay, maybe it was only a couple of hours, but if you ever get the chance to drive highway 30 through Utah, don't do it! Stay on Interstate 80 - the scenery there is fantastic.

All told, we were on the road 14 hours (including stops) today. We have traveled 1,932 miles through 7 states since we left home! Sunday we drive to Sacramento, have lunch with an old friend at In and Out Burger, then end up in the redwood forests north of Leggett, California!


Penny and John in front of the Grand Tetons.
(The Torino is holding the camera. Honestly!)

June 3, 2007 - Day 4

We left Battle Mountain, Nevada this morning at 6:00 am (a good mistake - we didn't know we were in the pacific time zone) and took a very, very nice long cruise to Sacramento, California. It was a beautiful day and we drove the whole way with the windows up, the air conditioning on, and the Audiovox CCS100 Cruise Control handling the car. There were mountains all around us but we drove on mostly flat, smooth highway (Interstate 80) until we got to the Lake Tahoe area where we were back in some mountains (but small compared to what we've been through already).

We stopped in Sacramento right on schedule at noon, for lunch at "
In and Out Burger" with an old friend from Wisconsin named Kyle Drefcinski. Kyle moved to Sacramento in 2001 and it was great to spend a little time with him again!
     

Even through the hottest time of day (2-4 pm) and through more mountains, the car ran great and the A/C kept the temp inside bearable until we got to Leggett, California and drove right into a tree ...


Chandelier Tree, Leggett, CA

... then out the other side! After purchasing some stuff at the gift shop, we headed north through the Avenue of the Giants - a winding, rolling, beautiful two-lane blacktop drive right through the Humboldt Redwoods State Park, home of the biggest trees in the country. It was phenomenal! Remember the planet Endor where the Ewoks lived in the movie, "Return of the Jedi?" That's where we were (seriously, those scenes were filmed around here).

We were on the road 15 hours (including stops) today. We've driven 2,529 miles from our driveway to the hotel where I wrote this (in Rio Dell). We've seen so many incredible things, we can hardly believe it's really happening. We're thankful beyond words for the car running so well, our health and safety, and the opportunity to experience all of this. As we sang in the car this morning, "Our God is an Awesome God."

 


Avenue of the Giants
Old Hwy. 101
Humboldt Redwoods State Park
You can't even see the tops!

 

June 4, 2007 - Day 5

After a quick jaunt down Highway 101 back to Leggett where we drove through the tree yesterday (see above), we got on Highway 1 at its northernmost point at about 8 am. The next hour was incredibly fun driving up and down hills and around hairpins turns through redwood forests (at about 30 mph average). At 9:00 am, we saw a corner coming up that had no trees behind it, and when we reached it - there was the Pacific Ocean greeting us, about 2,619 miles from home. It was a beautiful site!

We have now officially driven this car Coast to Coast!

I can't explain how much fun driving the rest of the day was. If you've never driven down Highway 1, make it a point to do it someday. You've got hills on your left, cliffs and ocean on your right, and almost constant hills and twists and turns all day (with just a few miles here and there where the road leaves the coast and goes through nice hilly areas and farmland).

When you get to Mendocino, stop and have the best burger you'll ever eat at "
Mendo Burger" behind the Mendo bakery. Try the bleu cheese, but believe me a single is enough burger for you!

We drove about 30 mph all day, and stopped dozens and dozens of times to take photos and video of the ocean, and to walk on beaches (all of which are a long walk from the road along this section of Highway 1). We saw a whale at one stop, and also saw deer, squirrels, horses, a jackrabbit the size of a dog, and cows (several of which were in or on the edge of the road) throughout the day.

At about 7:00 pm, we realized we could reach San Francisco's outskirts and find a hotel with Internet access if we hurried, so we did. We drove as fast as 55 for the first time all day, but it was okay to rush because that stretch of the highway was mostly through farmland. Just as it got dark and we were real close to Frisco, though, we got into some very heavy fog - and then the driving got real slow (severe twists and turns again) but REALLY exciting! Our
GPS told us there was a pretty steep drop on our right side, but we couldn't see it!


John in front of the Pacific Ocean
Monday morning, June 4

 


Somewhere on Highway 1,
north of San Francisco

We've driven approximately 2,892 miles in 5 days through 8 states. We've been to elevations as high as 9,500 feet and as low as 50 feet below sea level (don't ask me how that works, but that's what the GPS said). We've seen the South Dakota Badlands, Wall Drug, Devil's Tower, Yellowstone, Old Faithful, the Grand Tetons, the Continental Divide, Napoleon Dynamite's House, Salt Lake Deserts, Giant Redwoods, and the Pacific Ocean - and we've got about 13 more days of this coming! This trip has been an incredible blessing so far.

 

See Page 2 - Driving Down the California Coast
(including our S&H Torino Owners Reunion in LA)

 

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