2016 – USA (week 3)

Screen Shot 2016-08-12 at 23.57.01

24th September 2016

Today I go to Monument Valley. It is somewhere that I have always wanted to visit. In fact, it is one of the main inspirations for this adventure. The first thing I booked was a room at the amazing Monument Valley View Hotel. Everything else spread out from this initial booking. I really hope it is worth it. I’ll come to that later…

The car had been running rather rough yesterday so I thought I better take a look this morning. It was reluctant to start but after a few minutes I found that the tip of one of the spark plugs was loose so I decided to change it as I have a couple of spares with me. After changing the plug the car started quickly and ran more smoothly. My knowledge of engines is very limited so I was extremely glad to have resolved this problem. Had it been almost anything else I would have been struggling.

Pleased with myself I treated myself to breakfast in the Moab Diner before a walk round the town and checking out of the Red Stone Lodge. It was sunny but chilly this morning and as I had one of my shorter driving days today I took my time as I motored towards Monument Valley. I was probably the slowest thing on the road today. I could have gone a lot faster but I want to soak up my surroundings as much as possible rather than turn it all into a blur.

My first stop was at Wilson Arch. I have seen some of these arches before but never climbed up to one. Great views from the top.

I continued on my way and eventually came to a place called twin rocks. There was a lovely cafe and after talking to an Australian couple by the car, they told me that the food was great and so I decided it was lunch time. The beef stew was sensational as was the apple pie. An excellent decision to stop here.

I continued on to Mexican Hat where I filled up the car knowing that the filling stations are few and far between out here and drove the last 25 miles. The scenery was amazing as I got closer to Monument Valley. Difficult to describe but absolutely magnificent. I would need to be a poet rather than an engineer to describe it so I’ll leave that to the photographs.

Monument valley really has lived up to my expectations entirely. The view from my room is stunning. You must come here one day if you can.

img_6970

Time lapse from my balcony taken on my GoPro….

25th September 2016

I was up early this morning to catch the sunrise. It was so calm and quiet this morning apart from a few other early risers looking over the valley. I just sat on my balcony drinking coffee as the sun slowly lit up the horizon.

I got my things together, had another coffee and lingered this morning not wanting to rush away from the best view I have ever had at a hotel.

Eventually I had to check out and get back on the road again. My route today was very simple heading directly for the southern rim of the Grand Canyon. Again I didn’t rush and dawdled my way to the entrance to the Grand Canyon Park. I paid my entrance fee and called in at every viewpoint along the way to the Grand Canyon Village.

Photos, photos, photos. Thats how I spent the next 2-3 hours as I walked each overlook for the best views. It is a pretty awesome sight. I finally arrive at the Grand Canyon Visitor Centre where I watch the film and take in the last view point.

img_2293

My room tonight is at the Yavapai Lodge which is very nice indeed and is just 2 minutes from the visitor centre.

Tomorrow, Route 66!

26th September 2016

You can’t drive across America without doing at least a little bit of Route 66 so after a brief stop at the Lodge Coffee Shop I made my way through Grand Canyon Village and out of the park. I stopped at Williams which, I was told was the last town on Route 66 to be bypassed by the interstate. It is also where you can catch a train to the Grand Canyon. It is full of Route 66 gift shops and cafes so I bought something for the office and indulged in coffee and cherry pie.

I stayed on Route 66 as much as I could for the remainder of the day. I loved Seligman with all the Route 66 shops and museums. Really quirky and fun – is it really the town featured un ‘Cars’? I just had to buy a route 66 Shirt from here. The Morgan was the centre of attention here again. I don’t think anyone had seen anything like it before. I was waved off on my way again as usual.

My next stop had to be at the Hackberry General Store. What a cool place with as much Route 66 stuff as you can imagine. Old cars, gas pumps a shop – just as you would imagine. I just had to stop for a coke here.

The last stretch of my journey today was to Needles. I took the Oatman Highway over the Sitgreaves Pass between Oatman and Kingman at 3,556 ft. This pass was legendary, especially for motorists on the early days of Route 66, who were forced to hire local people to drive their Ford T in reverse, so that the fuel reached the carburetor on this particularly steep section.

Oatman is a former mining town, restored as a tourist town and has donkeys wandering around. it is also known for being where Clark Gable spent his wedding night.

The last few miles were hard work directly into the low and very hot sun. I have a red nose despite putting sun cream on 3 times today!

27th September 2016

Today my car is due in for a service at Morgan West in Santa Monica. The only problem with that is that Morgan West is 280 miles away and I have to negotiate the LA traffic to get there. There is only one thing for it – a very early start.

I’m up at 4.00 a.m. and ready to go by 4.30. It is still quite warm and nothing more than a shirt and light jumper is needed. Now it is rather difficult to be quiet starting up and driving away in a 3-wheeler with a stage 1 kit fitted so I apologise to the other guests at the hotel for waking you.

Driving at night was not bad at all. The cats eyes lit up the way clearly and the stars were very bright indeed. The sun gradually came up behind me and I continued pushing west- racing the huge trains running parallel the road. I knew that the traffic would be difficult but I didn’t expect it to start 50 miles out! The last 50 miles took ages and it was getting very hot. I found Morgan West much to my relief and Stephan took charge of getting the car serviced.

I met Dennis, the owner of Morgan West and had a look round his cars and his collection of Morgan things. I have only had my 3-wheeler Morgan but the more I look at the 4-wheelers, the more I would like one. Thanks Dennis for looking after my car and for the advice and recommendations. It was great to meet such an enthusiast and I hope you can get the cars you want soon.

It was only a few minutes to my hotel from Morgan West but I was glad to get there. I walked the last few yards to the coast. I have actually driven my little car from the Atlantic to the Pacific right across the USA!

img_2455

I walked out for the evening down to Santa Monica Pier. I ate Mexican tonight. Not because I am a big fan of Mexican food but the restaurant at the end of the pier has a rather good position for the sunset.

sunset

The last phase of my journey starts tomorrow. The Pacific Coast Highway heading North to San Francisco.

28th September 2016

I took my time this morning and walked out to a coffee shop for breakfast. I sorted my car out a bit stowing some spares and getting rid of some rubbish following the service and living in the car for the last 17 days. There is only one route today. Highway 1. Just keep the ocean on the left and I can’t go too far wrong.

IMG_7038.JPG

Things don’t always go to plan and so it was today. This afternoon Whilst driving I could hear an unusual rattle. My car makes many varied noises but this was a new one. I stopped at a gas station and discovered what it was. One of the fixings for the passenger side mud guard had completed broken. The mudguard could now easily flex and touch the tyre. Not good.

img_7044

I strongly believe that most people are good and will help someone out when they can and so it proved to be again today. A young man (sorry I forget his name) was admiring the car and we got chatting. I explained the problem and he not only told me where there was a shop that should be able to help, he drove there with me following. What a nice chap. I hope he reads this – thank you.

IMG_7047.JPG

Another chap on a motorised 3-wheeled bicycle also offered help and gave me his number and invited me to his house where he had a welder just in cast the other shop couldn’t fix things.

I turned up at Hot Rod Alley and they whipped off the mudguard, welded it up, painted and refitted it in half an hour and only charged me just $20. Thanks Sean – great job.

I was soon on my way again to Morro Bay. Unfortunately, even though I had been driving in sunshine all day, Morro hay was in fog. 1 mile from my hotel I was under a beautiful blue sky. At my hotel I can hardly see a thing. Oh well. I made up for it with a great seafood meal at Dutchman’s. Let’s hope I can see the sea tomorrow. I can hear sea lions from my room but can’t see them!

29th September 2016

What an excellent day I have had today. I started off in fog from Morro Bay but soon climbed above it. The views were extraordinary looking down at fog where the sea should be.

img_2549

I continued on in and out of fog to Hearst Castle. What an amazing and strange place this is. It feels like it shouldn’t be there but what an interesting place. The views again were spectacular. A very enjoyable stop and a change from driving.

I continued on and the fog gradually cleared to reveal superb views from highway 1. This really is a truly brilliant road along a beautiful piece of coastline. it is a great driving road in itself as it sweeps up and down with plenty of interesting curves to keep you busy. Not much more to write – the photos say it better than I can.

img_2567

I made it to Carmel by early evening. I have been here before and it is a place I really like. I found my hotel and made it down to the beach for sunset.

img_2593

30th September 2016

Today is my last real driving day for this trip. Carmel is one of my favourite places and I did see a nice little place there for just £3.25 million but didn’t put an offer in. I leave and take in the famous 17 mile drive. Unfortunately it is largely foggy but it is a beautiful area with some amazing scenery and some fabulous properties.

I continue my journey north on highway 1. This really is a great road past beaches, headlands and a lighthouse. The section north of Monterey is a faster more sweeping road and I soon get to what I have always been considering the finish line for this trip – the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

img_2618img_2644

I continue over the bridge and push further to Bodega to visit the longest standing Morgan dealership in the USA. I am provided with a lovely (late – my fault, sorry) lunch and shown round including looking at the very first Plus 8. Thanks to Tcherek for the invitation. I loved following that plus 8 to the Bodega shop.

Spartacus in the shop was also extremely friendly and had prepared a few things that he gave me for my wife. If you don’t know Bodega was where ‘The Birds’ was filmed and Josephine is a big fan. I bought a few things as well and visited Bodega Bay for a few photos before heading back to San Francisco.

I made it to my final hotel just before dark. This is my 20th hotel of this trip!

My last drive tomorrow is out the the warehouse for my shipping agent. Not looking forward to that one so much.

1st October 2016

Oh well, after an epic 4445 miles across the USA I have left my car at the shipping warehouse for its final journey home. I drove the 45 miles or so through the heart of San Francisco over to Fremont where they will put the car in the container for the voyage back to the UK. I wish I was continuing up highway 1 all the way to Seattle and up into Alaska but this will have to wait for another day.

After dropping the car off I had to find my way back to my hotel in San Francisco where I am to stay for another night. Thanks to Google Maps it takes me a 35 minute walk, a bus, two trains a ride on the San Francisco Cable Car and another 30 minute walk to get back to the Marina District where my hotel is located. Phew.

Without the car I am no longer a celebrity! I am just another anonymous tourist doing the tourist things in San Francisco. I’m ready to go home now.

img_7116

That’s it for this blog then apart from one more post when I get the car back. That won’t be for about 5 weeks though. It really has been a great adventure. I have collected so many memories that I will never forget, made some new friends and just seen so much. Some people thought I was mad to attempt this trip. The Morgan is certainly not the most reliable means of transport I could have chosen but as a solo traveller I can not think of anything I would rather have used. With the Morgan you don’t just observe the world from a sterile air-conditioned box, you see, hear, smell and feel it as you go along and every time you stop, people are eager to talk and learn learn about the car and the trip. Without exception, everyone I have met personally or messaged through this blog or the TalkMorgan forum have been great. It was great to meet in person when I could and I wish I could have taken up every offer that was given. Thanks to everyone who has contacted me.

I know I am very lucky to be able to do a trip like this but I would encourage anyone considering anything like it to stop thinking about it and start planning it. Once you start, the excitement grows and a plan soon becomes reality. This started as a daft idea as I wondered what to do for my 50th birthday. In the end I couldn’t wait and it all started on my 49th birthday! So, what can I do next year – this will be difficult to top.

 

16 thoughts on “2016 – USA (week 3)

  1. I agree Monument Valley is stunning when I was there we had the most amazing electrical storm in the evening with lightning striking the tops off the buttes.

    Like

  2. Hi Richard,
    I’ve thoroughly enjoyed your journey across the US. Your very hard work, dedication and courage to do this is commendable! I was considering a M3W this summer and Robert Stennett’s blog helped me make the decision. Now your excellent blog reinforces my decision. Thanks so much for sharing your fantastic journey with us!

    Todd Kindler
    High Noon Speed Shop
    Baltic, Ohio

    Like

  3. Lots of folks feel that a M3W is not suited for anything more than a Sunday morning cruise in absolutely dry weather!! Kudos for proving them wrong!!

    Roland Smith
    Wrightwood, Ca

    Like

  4. Those wing fittings, where they slide into each other, are notorious for poor fit and eventual rusting. If that’s the worst mechanical “event” in this epic trip I’d say you did well. Route 1 is so beautiful. Glad you’re safe and having fun.

    Like

  5. I have really enjoyed following you trip, it must have been a great adventure and goes to show that the M3W is now reliable and can be used on long trips. My longest trip to date is 2300 miles UK to Italy and back likewise with no issues.

    Like

  6. Richard…your SUPERB journey has,for the past 3wks,been a vital part of my morning routine!!!…shall miss it.Stunning photos…have followed every inch of the way on the map.SO envious in the nicest possible way!….esp that you seem to have such a reliable M3W..unlike many of us poor b*****s! Where to next?

    Like

  7. Congratulations for completing your fantastic journey across the USA!! Thanks again for sharing with all of us. Your photos were breathtaking too!!

    Here is my ongoing blog that hopefully a M3W will be part of next year thanks to you and Robert Stennett.

    https://ontheroadtonowhereville.wordpress.com/

    Todd Kindler
    High Noon Speed Shop
    Baltic, Ohio

    Like

  8. It sounds like your trip was really trouble free, even considering the spark plug and the fender. We will have to do 17 mile drive in the Morgan next time we are in Carmel/Pacific Grove. So glad you enjoyed the experience and took all of us US owners with you.

    Roland

    Like

  9. Richard,yr SUPERB journey has been part of my mornin routine for 3wks…shall miss it!!
    Stunning photos throughout,have followed yr route inch by inch on the map .SO envious in the nicest possible way!!!!esp that U have such a reliable M3W…unlike some of us poor bu****ers!! WHERE TO NEXT???Cant wait!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s