During September and October last year Christie and I spend just under four weeks completing a fascinating motoring trip following the great Mississippi River from its beginnings near Minneapolis in the very north of the USA to where it flows into the sea at New Orleans in the deep south.
This was an organised tour with nine couples. It was organised by Sam Murray who owns and operates Gilligans Tours Limited. He is based out of Waimate in the South Island of New Zealand. This was the same tour company that did the Route 66 tour we did three years ago. As with the Route 66 tour, this was well organised and we had a lot of fun. Sam is a great tour leader, and everybody on the tour was from various parts of New Zealand.
Why the Mississippi? Before the railways the Mississippi was a vital arterial route in opening up America. Even today the river is important for the transportation of goods, and is full of American history. You are following in the footsteps of Mark Twain’s fictional characters, “Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn”. You travel through nine states, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana. Each state is different and shows the diversity of the USA. As you head further south, Civil War history becomes evident, and the climate changes as well.
The tour is a self drive trip, we rented a Mitsubishi Outlander which was ideal. We were provided with a detailed GPS system but we still got lost but not for long. All of us had done Route 66 prior to this trip so we were experienced with driving in the USA.
We started in Minneapolis, in the North of the USA on 26 September 2022, and were all surprised at just how cold it was there. During the night temperatures just about dropped to zero degrees. For the next seven days we drove through a number of small towns and cities until we reached St Louis, the second largest city in Missouri behind Chicago. Towns such as La Grosse, which was a French fur trading settlement, Galena, an old lead mining town, where General Ulysses S Grant called home and where he become the 18th President of the USA, Savanna which had a strong Indian presence and Hannibal, the home town of Mark Twain, where a lot of his two famous novels were based. All the time we crisscrossed the Mississippi River.
We followed the Mississippi through Cairo, virtually a ghost town now, left the Mississippi and detoured to Nashville. This was to look at the current music scene and to go to a concert. I enjoyed Nashville. Following this we travelled to Memphis, a declining city, the main purpose was to see the Elvis Presley Museum and his house at Gracelands.
By this time, we were in Tennessee which is a former Confederate State and part of the American South. We now cross over and go to Clarksdale which is in the State of Mississippi. Here we start to see numerous plantations and cotton growing for the first time. We stayed at Vicksburg, scene of a famous battle in the Civil War. Our next place to stay was Natchez, a trading town firstly developed by the French, and it later became an important slave trading town. Along the Mississippi, a lot of the early development was done by French traders and settlers. As a result, there are a lot of French named towns and geographical features. Our next stop was Baton Rouge in Louisiana.
The last city of our Tour was New Orleans. This is an interesting city on the Bayous of the Mississippi. It is one American town that you can get good food, has its own cuisine and a thriving music scene. It is also a very old city with a strong French influence which can still be seen today.
Each day began with a meeting after breakfast about the forthcoming day. We would generally meet at a few of places of interest, like museums or points of historical interest and for lunch. The rest of the time you could drive at your leisure. You were free to stop and explore various places that interested you. The tour takes 23 days which means the distance travelled each day is not onerous. We drove 3,515 kms which equates to 153 Kms per day. A few days we rested but we seldom did more than 200 kms in a day, we were on both main highways but a lot of our travelling was on secondary roads.
The cost was $NZ 28,495 per couple. This included all accommodation with breakfast, car hire, car insurance and economy plane fares from Auckland to the USA. Additional costs for you include personal health insurance, fuel (less than half in price compared to NZ), museum admissions, meals etc. Since travelling to the USA three years previously prices have gone up by about 60%. Previously our exchange rate was at 70 cents, during this trip it was around 55 cents, which made things more expensive, although our exchange rate has recovered to 64 cents since then. Prices may look expensive but what you see and do, is good value and it is a trip of a lifetime. We had a fantastic time and all the couples on the tour were a most relaxing and enjoyable group. We really enjoyed all their company, and there were a great many conversations over drinks.
The highlights of the trip for me were many and varied. I enjoyed driving from north to south seeing the changing geography and climate of the USA. Minneapolis was cold autumnal weather, New Orleans was warm and humid. It was great to gain an understanding of how important the Mississippi River was and is to the transportation in the USA. It is historically and culturally important, is the soul of the country and it had a huge influence on the opening up of America. I enjoyed seeing the differences of each state, the south being quite different to their northern counterparts. I have an interest in the Civil War so it was interesting to travel to various places that you knew as names, but now they were places. I really enjoyed the musical aspect of Nashville, Memphis and New Orleans. This is a bucket list trip.
Hello everyone, this is Wayne Sullivan with a short story of this years Beachhop.
Beachhop always delivers, even when the weather does not. Waihi and Thames coped a bit of the rain but for most of the day the skies were blue with fluffy white clouds. At Onemana on Friday it was fine but a bit windy and on Saturday at Whangamata it was fine all day and perfect for the night cruising on the evenings which I did on Thurs, Friday and Saturday nights.
So good to be a part of it.
The array of vehicles is mind blowing from original to the highly modified and all worthy of respect for the effort put into them. I was able to catch up with some fellow club members at the various venues and must say they represented our club very well. And a special mention for all the bands, they really do make Beachhop the festival that it is, well done Mr. Roper.
Also I managed to consume vast quantities of fossil fuel, ha ha.
My only senior moment came on my way to Beachhop on Tuesday afternoon , as I rounded a corner on SH25A I came across a SUV that had stopped in my lane. What the driver was doing I don't know, but they weren't thinking road sense, that's for sure. They did not appear to have spun out. As soon as they saw me , the SUV moved at a slow pace to the edge of the road where it should have been. I had already made the decision to go around him rather than trying to brake too hard as I was going downhill. And with my luck a car was coming from the opposite direction but the gap was big enough .
From my first sighting of the SUV to when I passed by was only about 3 seconds from watching it on my camera later on. I have posted a video of it on YouTube .
As the saying goes, expect the unexpected.
Had some great accommodation , a lovely B&B in Whangamata at a good price so will be back next March.
Please enjoy these photos.
Saturday the 8th of Oct dawned overcast and still. I knew from an earlier discussionwith one of the show organisers that they were all on tenterhooks regarding rain as the grounds at the Mid Northern Rugby Club in Domain Rd, the venue, had suffered badly from recent deluges.
However, by the time our group had departed the gathering point at 8:45 am the sun was out and it was a lovely day and so it remained. Led off by our intrepid President in his very tidy Fairmont we processed up SH1 for a relatively short drive to the site just past the Hukerenui pub. Thankfully given current petrol prices.
Today was the 1st “run” for our latest “toy,” a pretty much immaculate 1988 Pontiac Fiero. And what a joy it is to drive. On arrival a well organised team took our entrance fee, a gold coin for the local Volunteer Fire Brigade I believe, and directed us to DRY parking. And what a turn out. I had expected....well, not much, but so help me there was oodles and oodles of all sorts. There were 3 full rows of side by side vehicles the entire length of the footy field & a 4th row filling up fast already at our arrival.
We all checked in for the prize giving and raffles and began to wander around the fairly limited displays for the swap meet part of proceedings and on to the car displays. There would have been several examples of just about anything to satisfy the tastes of anyone I’m sure. We strolled and nattered and photographed and critiqued as one does at such events eventually making our way to the food and drink. The footy club’s bar was in operation for those inclined to imbibe.
A bacon & egg roll with chips & a coffee hit the spot. Val & I then got out the folding chairs, joined some of our group gathered at the rear of the Fairmont and proceeded to swap yarns etc as one does in such circumstances. All the while more and more vehicles continued to stream into the venue. I have no idea how many in the end but I’d hazard a guess around the 300 or so at least.
A really great turnout for what I had thought might be a modest, rustic affair. How wrong I was!
What were the chances, too? It had not even occurred to me to look. However, my eagle-eyed PA, she who must be obeyed, tapped me on the shoulder while browsing another display of otherwise rusty junk pointing to a box of manuals. And lo! Amongst them she had spotted a mint copy of Haynes “1994 – 1998 Pontiac Fiero”. Really! Best of all after that it was only $10. That put the icing on the cake for the trip. Val insists we don’t actually need it, it’s just a good luck talisman.
All in all it was a good day and one we look forward to reprising many times.
The upcoming show at Kerikeri in Feb next year is next on the list for us.
Plenty of Classic Car shows to go to here. I think I have been a ‘car guy’ all my life. I just love the old petrol burning things. Not P.C. in this modern age but I can’t help it. So this week we were off to MUDGEERABA. (Where do they get these Australian place names?).
This one is a regular, beside a Pub, farmers market type thing, food, play areas for the kiddies and good luck if you can find a car park.
Not for your Classic of course, easy parking right there. There they were, all shapes and sizes. Yes there were Cadillacs with air bags, and Hot Rods with dump pipes.
A very original XU1. Bathurst petrol tank, correct cylinder head, long 1st gear.
It was owned by a Guy in Hellensvale who bought it off his best friend who had it for 40 years. WOW!
Are there any of you Mustang ‘historians’ who know about this one. I never knew that. All sorts of stories about cars in this world.
I was interested to compare the size of a ’66 compared to the newer ones as I wait for my new one to arrive from Ford, and sit beside our ’66 fastback in the garage!
Fine weather, car people, fresh coffee, full house of cars- what more do you want?
I don’t remember these! So there you have it . Another fabulous day in the Gold Coast Car Country.
By Rodger and Lola Anderson.
Cobra for sale
Lola and Rodger were offered by Cam, their son who lives in Queensland, his 1962 Pillar-less Chev Impala for the day.
A climb out of the sunny Gold Coast up to the cooler Tamborine Mountains and we arrive at Tamborine Mountain Sports Centre. Usual coffee vans, a band, several stalls selling trinkets and cars, cars, cars and everyone talking about adventures that have involved cars.
Being in Australia a mat black Holden station wagon seemed to attract more than its share of attention. A bit of everything and all models from GM to Ford and back again. A couple of very nice Mercedes caught my eye and a Honda NSX. You don’t see many of those on a Sunday drive. The Ford Model ‘A’ looked the part with the static model posing-great stuff.
The Chev ran faultlessly and the run down the mountain turned up a surprise. We stumbled across the Gold Coast Car Museum and it should not be missed if you are a car person on holiday here. Everything including a De Lorean laid out perfectly and then lunch at the Restaurant adjoining. A big field for the kids to play and ponies, alpacas, roosters for them to look at.
Photos below and includes a 1957 Bel Air sport that totes the same Number Plate that our NZ one had (Lola is always reminding me about her favourite car that I sold on her.)
The ACCCA’s involvement in the new monthly breakfast car meet – the Meguiars Coffee & Cars - started right back at the beginning, when club member Alex Ross mooted the idea and asked if we – among several other Auckland based car clubs, might like to assist him getting it up and running, and in particular, operations on the actual event days.
Long story short, Alex approached Auckland Stadiums for a suitable venue - the excellent and slightly underused Mt Smart Stadium – and they were immediately enthused. Another chat, this time to Meguiars, to see if they may be keen to come on board as naming-right sponsors netting a similarly enthusiastic response.
And after a couple of ‘false starts’ as a result of the frankly infuriating Covid lockdowns and daft ‘Traffic-Light’ system we’ve had to endure for months now, the Net result of hours of planning and meetings had it all came together rather spectacularly on Anzac Sunday, April 24th, 2022.
Alex and his small but passionate team of helpers can feel justifiably proud of their efforts, as can Stadium Auckland & Meguiars, as over 800 cars attended during the 3-plus hours of Sunday morning (the event officially ran from 9am till 12 noon) and what must have been at least 2000 people spent the vast majority of that time enjoying the autumn sun and an absolute cracker of a show, with so much variety it was mind numbing! The comparisons to the former Caffeine & Classics event at Smales Farm are not necessarily coincidental! They also kept Lilyworld café staff and the various other Coffee vendors around the stadium rather busy! And a healthy sum was also raised by way of gold coin donations, the takings going on this occasion to the Prostate Cancer Foundation.
Here is a small selection of pics – for more on this event, see Coffee & Cars - Auckland | Facebook
Everything has to begin someplace. ..
CAR TUNES Radios are so much a part of the driving experience, it seems like cars have always had them. But they didn’t. Here’s the story.
SUNDOWN One evening in 1929 two young men named William Lear and Elmer Wavering drove their girlfriends to a lookout point high above the Mississippi River town of Q uincy , Illinois , to watch the sunset. It was a romantic night to be sure, but one of the women observed that it would be even nicer if they could listen to music in the car.
Lear and Wavering liked the idea. Both men had tinkered with radios – Lear had served as a radio operator in the U. S. Navy during World War I – and it wasn’t long before they were taking apart a home radio and trying to get it to work in a car. But it wasn’t as easy as it sounds: automobiles have ignition switches, generators, spark plugs, and other electrical equipment that generate noisy static interference, making it nearly impossible to listen to the radio when the engine was running.
SIGNING ON One by one, Lear and Wavering identified and eliminated each source of electrical interference. When they finally got their radio to work, they took it to a radio convention in Chicago . There they met Paul Galvin, owner of Galvin Manufacturing Corporation. He made a product called a “battery eliminator” a device that allowed battery-powered radios to run on household AC current. But as more homes were wired for electricity, more radio manufacturers made AC-powered radios. Galvin needed a new product to manufacture. When he met Lear and Wavering at the radio convention, he found it. He believed that mass-produced, affordable car radios had the potential to become a huge business.
Lear and Wavering set up shop in Galvin’s factory, and when they perfected their first radio, they installed it in his Studebaker. Then Galvin went to a local banker to apply for a loan. Thinking it might sweeten the deal, he had his men install a radio in the banker’s Packard. Good idea, but it didn’t work – half an hour after the installation, the banker’s Packard caught on fire. (They didn’t get the loan.)
Galvin didn’t give up. He drove his Studebaker nearly 800 miles to Atlantic City to show off the radio at the 1930 Radio Manufacturers Association convention. Too broke to afford a booth, he parked the car outside the convention hall and cranked up the radio so that passing conventioneers could hear it. That idea worked – he got enough orders to put the radio into production.
WHAT’S IN A NAME
That first production model was called the 5T71. Galvin decided he needed to come up with something a little catchier. In those days many companies in the phonograph and radio businesses used the suffix “ola” for their names – Radiola, Columbiola, and Victrola were three of the biggest.Galvin decided to do the same thing, and since his radio was intended for use in a motor vehicle, he decided to call it the Motorola. But even with the name change, the radio still had problems:
When Motorola went on sale in 1930, it cost about $110 uninstalled, at a time when you could buy a brand-new car for $650, and the country was sliding into the Great Depression. (By that measure, a radio for a new car would cost about $3,000 today.)
In 1930 it took two men several days to put in a car radio – the dashboard had to be taken apart so that the receiver and a single speaker could be installed, and the ceiling had to be cut open to install the antenna.
These early radios ran on their own batteries, not on the car battery, so holes had to be cut into the floorboard to accommodate them. The installation manual had eight complete diagrams and 28 pages of instructions.
HIT THE ROAD Selling complicated car radios that cost 20 percent of the price of a brand-new car wouldn’t have been easy in the best of times, let alone during the Great Depression – Galvin lost money in 1930 and struggled for a couple of years after that. But things picked up in 1933 when Ford began offering Motorolas pre-installed at the factory. In 1934 they got another boost when Galvin struck a deal with B. F. Goodrich tire company to sell and install them in its chain of tire stores. By then the price of the radio, installation included, had dropped to $55. The Motorola car radio was off and running. (The name of the company would be officially changed from Galvin Manufacturing to “Motorola” in 1947.)
In the meantime, Galvin continued to develop new uses for car radios. In 1936, the same year that it introduced push-button tuning, it also introduced the Motorola Police Cruiser, a standard car radio that was factory preset to a single frequency to pick up police broadcasts. In 1940 he developed with the first handheld two-way radio – the Handie-Talkie – for the U. S. Army. A lot of the communications technologies that we take for granted today were born in Motorola labs in the years that followed World War II.
In 1947 they came out with the first television to sell under $200. In 1956 the company introduced the world’s first pager; in 1969 it supplied the radio and television equipment that was used to televise Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the Moon. In 1973 it invented the world’s first handheld cellular phone.
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO….
The two men who installed the first radio in Paul Galvin’s car, Elmer Wavering and William Lear, ended up taking very different paths in life. Wavering stayed with Motorola. In the 1950’s he helped change the automobile experience again when he developed the first automotive alternator, replacing inefficient and unreliable generators. The invention lead to such luxuries as power windows, power seats, and, eventually, air-conditioning.
Lear also continued inventing. He holds more than 150 patents. Remember eight-track tape players? Lear invented that. But what he’s really famous for are his contributions to the field of aviation. He invented radio direction finders for planes, aided in the invention of the autopilot, designed the first fully automatic aircraft landing system, and in 1963 introduced his most famous invention of all, the Lear Jet, the world’s first mass-produced, affordable business jet.
(Not bad for a guy who dropped out of school after the eighth grade.)