Murilee Martin and his merry band of adventurers have already weaved a fascinating tale of a harrowing escape from the vile Super storm Sandy after the Lemons Halloween Hooptiefest in New Hampshire. I have a much less exciting tale, but along the same ilk.
Between deployments, I jumped at the chance to take the helm of the Three Pedal Mafia’s infamous 72 Sea Sprite. After an exceptional weekend, we had the trailer pointed south to Philadelphia. Halfway back, Southwest Air (the one with the on-board comedians) lets me know my flight to OKC has been cancelled. No problem, I was staying the night with team hotshoe Chris and gorgeous girlfriend/team/mate Chrissy. My hosts agreed to put me up an additional night. Monday was lackadaisical and included a trip to the Liberty Taproom for dinner.
Over a few beers, Chris casually mentioned he was selling his 1999 Land Rover Discovery. This was his race support/tow pig since his team invited me to co-drive the mighty Wartburg in 2009.
He had owned the Disco(very) for years, after a long search for exactly the right Disco. Loved and meticulously maintained by the original owner, all the most common problems of these vehicles, including the nasty head gasket and front axle, had already been addressed. He was letting it go to make room for the upgraded tow pig, a Yukon 3500 Denali.
With no other words from SW, I presumed my flight was as scheduled. After a proper Philly cheesesteak lunch I was deposited 2 hours early at Philadelphia International. The Southwest counter was unlit and unoccupied. I called and was told all flights from that airport were cancelled. I was offered another delayed flight home late on Halloween the next day. No thank you, I can rent a car and be home 2 hours before that one would land.
I called every freaking rental agency that had a kiosk. All of them silently praised the clowns at Southwest, and openly wanted in excess of $600 for a tiny wheezing crapcan one way to Oklahoma. I then made what should have been my dumbest decision since refusing to go to the ER when a pneumatic cutoff wheel launched a chunk into my neck.
“Hello? Chris? Yeah, you just sold a Land Rover.”
I sincerely figured at the price I was offered, I could drive the truck home, sell it and maybe makeup the gas money. My wife was less than confident;
“Just take the flight tomorrow.”
“What?!? Dangit Woman! I know how to get home. It’s a 13 year old British SUV with slightly less than 200,000 miles. What could possibly go wrong? “
By 6 PM EST I was rolling east in my new (to me) Land Rover, signed title and a freshly printed insurance card in the glove box.
I have to confess I knew almost nothing about Land Rovers , but having raced with Chris, I knew he was a stickler for maintenance and always very researched in his purchases. I have experience with British cars, so 187,000 miles scared me a bit. My teammate assured me he would never send me off across this great land of ours in a vehicle he didn’t trust.
In addition to being strict with maintenance, Chris also is particular about his modifications. My little Birmingham hottie was equipped with a 110 power inverter under the passenger seat which allowed me to keep my iPhone charged. The iPhone (the map was still by Google) informed me I had slightly less than 1,400 miles spread over 7 states to cover.
My parents had a vague inkling of where I was, so they were a tad worried. They called to check up on me. My plan induced laughter.
“You bought a car to drive home?”
“Um, no Dad, I bought a Land Rover. Cars are for peasants; this is quite simply the finest off road vehicle ever made.”
More laughter. Apparently the over under from my family after the first flight cancellation was on me trying something like this. My Dad knew better.
Yeah, I was quickly smitten with my new purchase. I texted Chris; not only would I not be selling her, but she now had a name. In a nod to her golden color and the circumstances, she was now “Sandy.”
Sweeter than Pedro’s bike were Sandy’s official Land Rover bush grill guard and safari rack. Attached to both was a pair of Hella 700FF aux lights along with a pair of 550s mounted in the place of the original fogs. I could actually illuminate my home in Oklahoma from PA with all of these powered up.
Will Sandy destroy Mental’s marriage? Will it make good on a Land Rover’s reputation and die at the most inopportune moment? Will it duly serve Mental, even in the boring stretches between Columbus and Indianoplace? Tune in tomorrow for part two of the great Southwest Escape.