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'Vettes on the Rockies - 2006
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Early in 2006 I saw a flyer for the 33rd Annual 'Vettes on the Rockies Corvette event.  It caught my attention because it was held in Breckenridge, CO.  I have gone to Breckenridge each year for about 20 years.  I love the area.  The skiing is great, the town is neat, and the people are friendly.  Being the owner of a 1962 Corvette, my thoughts immediately went to bringing my ‘Vette to the town I enjoy for an “all Corvettes” gathering.  What an idea!  So, I wrote the organizing club and asked to get on the mailing list when the event became finalized.

March arrives, and with it the invitation.  Now it’s time to be serious about this.  Do I do it?  Keep in mind I live in Los Angeles, CA.  I’m looking at a 1,000 mile drive, in a 44 year old car, across the desert, alone, without air conditioning, in the dead of summer!  Could there be a worse combination?  Would the car make it?  Would I? Well, fill out the form, send in the money.  1st formal commitment – the money’s not coming back!

Now it’s time to get the car ready.  This is a solid running car.  I drive her around a lot.  No “trailer queen” for sure.  But she is 44 years old.   Most of my concerns are about heat.  I have not had any over-heating issues, but I don’t spend much time at 115 degrees!  One key issue was “tunnel/console heat”.   This car, as is the case with most Corvettes, has a tremendous amount of heat along the center console.  I had some “insulation” installed under the car in an attempt to reduce the heat.  It helps, but still warm.

In June I see a 115 degree day coming up in Palms Springs.  Good test day.  So out I go.  The car performed excellent.  No significant over heating issues.  But I can’t say the same for me!  I was dying!!!!  I stood in a gas station food mart, chugging water, asking myself “why am I doing this?  Maybe a trailer behind the Escalade is not a bad idea!”   By the time I got back home I knew I had to find some solutions to cool me or this trip could not happen.

It’s amazing what you can find on the Internet.  I found cooling neck bands, wrist bands, ankle bands, head bands, hats, and personal “misters”; stuff to cool any part of your body!  Even full “cool suits” if you like.

I did invest in many of these products.  And they did help to get across the desert.  But the best item was a cooling product from Polar Products that is advertised as a “pet pad”.  Same technology as the neck bands, etc., but in a pad form that your dog or cat would lay on to keep cool in a warm climate.  I placed one of these pads along the side of the console, from the gas pedal to and around the shifter, and blocked all heat from the tunnel.  I was able to rest my leg on this pad all across the desert, and keep my leg cool.  Awesome.

The Vette Set
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The Vette Set - Boating
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The trip began with a Corvette weekend in Big Bear, CA.  This is basically a 3 day "party" organized by Corvettes West.  The trip up to Big Bear was Hot!!!  On the way to Big Bear it got up to 108 degrees.  Even though I had prepared for a hot trip across the desert, I did not have any of my “cool down” stuff ready for the trip to Big Bear!  I needed to have treated this day just like the days to Las Vegas would be and have the top up and my cooling stuff on.  Oh well.  First lesson learned

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Sunday morning  I took off for Las Vegas about at 9:30.  Cool and comfortable coming down the mountain with the roof down.  But once I got to the bottom of the hill into Barstow, it was hot.  I continued with the top down until Baker where I stopped for fuel.  Here I got under canopy of the gas station, let the car cool down, and put the top up.  I hung out inside the store of the station for about hour, consuming a complete liter of water.

 

There is no question it’s cooler (a bit) driving with the top up, getting myself out of the direct sunlight.  Also, the “cool down” stuff really helped.  Neck band worked well.  The “Personal Mister” was also very good.  The best, however, were the “pads”.  One was on the seat behind me, controlling overall body temperature.  The other I put over the drive tunnel/console.  It stopped the heat coming in from the tunnel, and avoided burning my leg on the shifter!  That was likely the best tool of all.  I got to North Las Vegas about 2:30, glad to get out of the heat.  This was my planned 1st stop.

Sunrise in SW Utah
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Gorgeous!

On Monday morning, I got on the road at 4 AM.  Even at that hour Las Vegas was 97 degrees!  The only advantage was no sun.  I began the trip with the top down, enjoying whatever breeze I could get, even if hot air.  My plan was to drive about 225 miles on Monday, then stop in Beaver, UT.  Well, 13 hours later, I’m in Breckenridge!

 

I got to Beaver, UT about 7 AM that morning; far too early in the day to stop.  It had been quite cool coming through the high points of Utah.  In fact, it was so cold through parts of SW Utah I almost put the heater on!!  But it didn’t last!

 

It was “comfortable” in Beaver, probable about 80 degrees, which felt nice and gave me energy to go on.

 

Now, let me comment about the scenery!  The Mesa and Butte formations of SW Utah are spectacular!  Not really mountains like Colorado.  But rises and drops in the dry washes in the desert.  Sunrise was beautiful.  I did get a picture through the windshield.    I did take some pictures along the way.  I even stopped a couple of times at view points.  Spectacular!!!

Move of UT Scenery
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Around every turn, more beauty!

More UT Scenery
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On continuing from Beaver, UT my thought was to get to Grand Junction, CO.  That would have cut one day off the overall trip.  I got to Grand Junction about noon, and it was 97 degrees.  Not exactly cool!!!!

 

Grand Junction is less than 200 miles from Breckenridge.  It’s hot, so I’m not about to stay and “play tourist”.  So, I decided to proceed and see how far I got.  Well, I got all the way to the Breckenridge. 

 

Weather overall (not temperature) was good.  I encountered very little rain after the thunderstorms of Big Bear.  Every once in a while, a bunch of large rain drops would come down, and then stop.  The worse was as I approached Glenwood Springs, CO.  Through that pass it rained about 2 minutes.

 

When I got to Glenwood Springs, it was nice.  With 80 miles to go, and late afternoon, I put the top down!  It just felt most appropriate for me to arrive in Breckenridge in my “normal” look!  Well, that was not necessarily a good idea.  There was road work along the way where the crews had wet down the road.  Then, they ran street sweepers on the dry portions after the wet sections.  So, through the water, truck in front of you throwing up water, then through a dust storm!  What a mess!!!!  I could hardly see through the windshield (wipers work but washers do not).  I had work to do when I arrived!  However, I have time because I arrived in Breckenridge 2 days ahead of schedule!

'Vettes on the Rockies - Page 2