Sunday, 16 October 2016

Charlie Jaguar has completed the Pan American Friendship Rally

Well we have finished the longest rally we have ever attempted the Pan American Friendship Rally.
We have driven 10,333 miles through 27 states of America, in our XK120 FHC
We have been as high as 14,114 feet at Pikes Peak and as low as 200 feet below sea level in Death Valley. It's been as hot as 114  (average outside temperature ) and cold enough to snow.
Over the whole trip we have had about 2 hours light rain,
one morning of thick fog, the rest of the time we have had clear blue skies. We have also been chased up the east coast by a hurricane.
Half the rally have been stopped for speeding, most getting off with a  nice little chat others having to cough up. The record for the event was 3 stops for 1 crew.
Some of us didn't get stopped at all; )
We stayed at 36 different hotels of varying standards, some like the Venetian in Las Vegas (everything was completely over the top) to bed and breakfast in the middle of beautiful countryside in Vermont. I am well known for being a tiny bit fussy over hotel rooms, but we only had to change rooms 3 times, which for me is very good.
The classic cars have covered circa 200,000 miles between them. The oldest (our XK120) being 63 years old and the youngest a 1972 Bristol. All but 1 classic made it to the end. One of the Jaguar XK140s had a major clutch problem on the penultimate day. Such a shame.
The petrol in the USA has ethanol added to it, this is meant to clean the internal workings of the engine. But for our old engines it's a disaster. It can eat its way through our rubber hoses and it affects the tuning of the car. One of the challenges of the rally was to find ethanol free petrol. Really very challenging and in the end we just had to put up with poorly running engines.
The rally was non competitive but because of the distance and varying climate it is still one of the toughest we have attempted.
The rally is called a friendship rally and the friendship was apparent throughout the 7 weeks. Whoever had a problem there was always lots of willing helpers on hand. Some even knew what they were doing :)
Some of the lasting memories of the USA will be how friendly the people were,  how clean the whole country was and how generous the meal portions were.
It is a huge country and each state is different, the people of each state fiercely protective of their part of America. There are American flags flying everywhere you go. We don't seem to have the same patriotism in the UK. The states are all different but there is only 1 USA and everyone seems to get behind that flag. Just don't talk to anyone about the election. On our drive the Trump banners outnumbered the Clinton ones by about 30 to 1. But that does not seem to reflect the overall view. We will see.
We have really enjoyed our American adventure. We would go back and see most of it again but not in one big hit, you need to savour each separate part.
Highlight of the rally was when Charlie started every morning and we set off into the great unknown.
All of the rally was awesome :) USA we will be back if you'll have us.
Thanks for following us,
David Julie and Charlie Jaguar.

Below are some of our photos, some taken by us, and some by complete strangers who sent them into us. Thanks.

Jaguar XK120 FHC
This was taken by a motorist stuck in a traffic jam with us.

1953 XK120 FHC in USA
Charlie warming up by the fire in White Fish 

XK120 crossing the continental divide
Crossing the Continental Divide

XK120 FHC and XK140 convertable
XK120 FHC and XK140 drop head 

Jaguar XK120 in Monument Valley
One of America's most iconic landscapes. Monument Valley

XK120 is very small in size compared to USA truck
Just shows how small an XK120 is compared to an American truck.

Jaguar XK120 at the top of Pikes Peak
Perhaps the only XK120 FHC SE to climb the amazing Pikes Peak

1953 Jaguar XK120 FHC coming down Pikes Peak
Charlie on the way down from Pikes Peak. Hard to look at the road with views like that.

The sign says 318 curves in 11 miles. It doesn't say how much fun we had in the XK120

XK150 DHC and XK120 FHC on the Blue Ridge Highway
XK150 DHC and XK120 FHC kissing on the Blue Ridge Highway.

XK120 FHC with police protection.
Armed guard at Oxford (USA)

XK120 outside one of USA oldest houses.
Outside one of USA oldest houses, and we were very lucky it was our hotel for two nights.

Jaguar XK120 with USA flag
Everything in one photo. The amazing Fall colours, USA flag and Charlie Jaguar.

Jaguar XK120 FHC on the Blue Ridge Park Way
Now you can see why its called Blue Ridge Passway along the Blue Ridge Mountains

XK120 FHC finishes the Pan American Rally

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Only 1 more day to go :(

The quickest way to drive across the USA from Los Angeles to Boston  takes 44 hours, and is 2983 miles.

We have taken a little longer taking 50 days and 10,333 miles with an average milage of 295 miles per day. In that time we have crossed 27 states been as high as 14,140 feet and as low as 282 feet below sea level in Death Valley.
We have had it as hot as 115 and yesterday we had snow.
19 cars and crews will have done the whole route that's 196327 miles. It looks like they will all make it tomorrow which is a stunning achievement for the cars and the crews.
Some are in better shape than others but thanks to our fantastic mechanic Paul they are still going.
Today was another easy drive along the coast from August to Portland Maine stopping off for a lobster lunch in a wonderful harbour called Camden. We have had clear blue skies all day, think we will be in for a bit of a shock when we arrive back in the UK.

Tomorrow is the last day of the pan American Friendship Rally. It's hard to believe that it is nearly over and even harder to express our thoughts on all the amazing, sorry, awesome,  things, people and places we have seen, felt, tasted  and smelt.
The USA is an awesome :) country,  just wish we had discovered it 20 years ago.
The people have been genuinely interested and pleased to meet us. We have at least 50 relatives of our new American friends,  that we must pop in and see, after all they live in London, so we must know them:)
There is a different atmosphere amongst the crews I think we have all relaxed and know that tomorrow we will have driven across the USA in some style:)
Till tomorrow :)

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Day 44 of Pan American Friendship Rally, it's nearly all over. Where did the time Go?
The time went driving 10,000 miles across the USA in 44 days, we still have 333 miles to do and a few days left to do it in.
We have passed through Oxford, Cambridge, Norfolk, Berlin, Paris, Montpelier, Geneva, Dundee, York, Lincoln, Preston, Manchester, to name a few interesting places.
I am writing this sitting on a porch of beautiful new england style house built in 1769 overlooking rolling countryside and the trees are just beginning to turn a stunning hue of reds, orange and greens.
Jaguar xk120

The whole of this rally has been planned to arrive in Boston in the fall. This we have timed to perfection.
The rally has become quite famous as we have passed through the USA we have even been on the local TV, have a quick look on the link below.

A lot of the driving we have done in recent days has been on what are know as Parkways, these are narrow roads ( by USA standards) and are limited to 55 miles per hour. They are beautifully maintained and usually offer fantastic views. The best bit is that the huge trucks are not allowed. This is good news for Charlie Jaguar as he struggles to keep up with some of them and they overtake us when you least expect it, mainly going up hill or on hairpin bends. We followed one yesterday and at 80mph let him go !!
So, what happens next ?????

We have visited Amish country and driven around a very large area that they farm. Fascinating stuff. They don't believe in electricity or mechanical devices. All the fields are farmed by horses and household appliances are run on gas. No phones and no newspapers. They are really not interested in anything outside of their world.
The Amish people that we saw were all smiling, they seem to have got something right.

which destination do you think is the most popular??:)

This is an Amish covered bridge, decorated ready for Halloween 

We have also visited Gettysburgh, where Lincoln gave his famous address. While we were there we got the thumbs up from a certain Mr Trump:)
Doing a straw poll of banners across the USA the Trump signs out number the Clinton ones at least 20 to one. We will wait and see what happens.

Julie quite likes America and has already been house hunting.  Estate agents can never stop working :)
Charlie Jaguar XK120 looking for a new home
Charlie Jaguar looking for a new home.

All our driving days are short now, which takes the pressure off a little but we still have some amazing roads to drive, places to see and adventures to have.
Pan american rally

We are now on the very far right of this map and heading up to the top right hand corner, right on the border of Canada, we then drop down to the finish in Boston, can't quite believe I am saying that.
All the cars are still going and all the crews still talking to one another. A terrific event.
Now where next ????

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Day 39 on the pan American Friendship Rally. We arrive on the east coast

We have now arrived on the east coast of America, can't quite believe that we have driven all the way across this huge amazing country.
What's even more amazing is we only have 7 more driving days left. Where did all the time go.
Williamsburg is a beautiful town. There is an area where everything is as life would have been in the late eighteenth century, really well done and interesting. We are next door to Jamestown which is where there was the first permanent English colony in 1607.
History lesson over.

In the last 2 days we have travelled along the stunning Blue Ridge Mountain Parkway. Incredible scenery on both sides of the road, and not such good scenery in the rear view mirror, as a number of crews where pulled over for speeding. The question is will anyone get to the end without a little chat with the boys in blue??
All the cars are going well and we are meeting some great new friends along the way.

America continues to impress with its friendly people and cleanliness.
But we have learnt not to mention the election :)
Tomorrow we drive to Oxford USA not UK.
Only 264 miles in lovely barmy autumn weather.
Useless fact, we have only had 2 hours light rain the whole trip :)

Sunday, 2 October 2016

The Dragons Tale and the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia

Sorry about missing a day or two again but we have been to New Orleans and then Nashville. Both involve a lot of music which takes place mainly in bars. And as we all know it's rude not to have a beer in each bar you visit. The last couple of days have been a bit hazy :)
BB King club in Nashville, some great music

The Hotel lobby, not good if you don't like heights 

Today  (day 37) has been a simple stunning driving day. We have driven 323 miles from Nashville to Asheville this was along the Great Smokey Mountains and included one of the world's all time great /fun roads The Tail of the Dragon. It's 318, curves up and down, 11 miles long. No police, hundreds of motor bikes and every form of fast car you can imagine.
At special corners there are professional photographers taking pictures of you in action.
We set off with a clear road and a view to going steady. Approx 300 yards into our 'run' and the red mist came down and we were off. Charlie Jaguar excelled himself and we had a seriously spirited drive for the whole 11 miles.
At the end my arms and legs were shot and the heart rate was more than a serious session at the gym. Absolutely brilliant.

Charlie Jaguar and crew drove the Dragons Tale in fine style

Julie has found a motor bike to go with Molly Porsche 
Some of the other cars on the run !!!!!

Julie with the Dragon who's name happens to be Captain Davenport. 

Some of the bikes on the run.

The rest of the drive to the hotel was a little more sedate.
We have arrived in Asheville on gay pride weekend, which is providing some local colour to the evening :)
All the cars and crews are still going strong.
Tomorrow 272 miles along the Blue Ridge Parkway another of America's greatest roads.
Day 39

We have now arrived in a town called Roanoke, which apparently is in the state of Virginia. If this is getting a little confusing for you, you should try driving it all and then trying to remember where you have been :)
To get to Roanoke we had to drive 272 miles, most of it on the Blue Ridge Mountains. Yes of the song fame by Laurel and Hardy:)
The scenery on the Parkway was stunning every direction you looked there was a blue haze which we recommend guessing gave the area it's name.
the road was not as exciting as the Dragons Tale of yesterday but just as tiring being over 200 miles of Alpine type roads and scenery. A truly great drive and one not to be missed.
Great view over the Blue Ridge Mountains

Great name:)

Rather grand overnight Hotel

We have now crossed into our final time zone and have been on the road for 5 weeks. Only 2 weeks left :(
Tomorrow is day 40 and we go from Roanoke to Williamsburg only 280 miles, with more of the Blue Ridge Mountain Parkway :)

Friday, 30 September 2016

Ain't nothing but a hound dog:)

We have arrived in downtown Nashville Tennessee the home of the blues. To get here we have driven nearly all of an amazing road called the Natchez Trace Parkway. This road is 444 miles long, has a speed limit of 50 mph and does not allow any commercial vehicles on it. It is immaculately kept and is more like driving up a stately home driveway than a public roadway. It has beautifully kept verges and in the whole 2 day drive we didn't see any litter and very few cars. If it wasn't for the speed limit it would have been terrific fun. Even with the speed limit it was an unforgettable drive.

 A lone Aston Martin driving along the amazing Natchez Trace Parkway.
Every rally drives motto :)

This morning (day 36) we started off by visiting the birthplace of the one and only Elvis Presley. Elvis was born in a small town called Tupelo. His parents house still exists and there is quite a big museum dedicated to him. We had time to look at the house and Gardens but not the museum, perhaps another day.

                                       The tiny house where Elvis Presley was born.
Elvis as a boy.

Charlie Jaguar meets up with Elvis old car.

 On from Elvis's house to Nashville famous home of the blues. On route we stopped off in a tiny village at the only coffee shop. Had the best coffee so far and then the owner turned up. He said his favourite car was a Jaguar XK 120 and he couldn't believe there was one parked outside his shop. 
We could not b elieve the next bit, his name was David Harrison, amazing. His father then turned up and his name was Charles my middle name. So we had David Charles Harrison, David Harrison and Charles Harrison all standing round a car called Charlie in the middle of America. Quite extraordinary:)

The other David Harrison with Julie and Charlie Jaguar
This is David's dad, Charles Harrison

The Harrison shop out in the middle of nowhere.

Tomorrow is day 37 and we drive 323 miles from Nashville to Asheville and drive one of America's most famous roads the Tail of the Dragon  with 318 bends in 11 miles. Good job we have had a bit of an arm work out on Pikes Peak:)