Tag Archives: dallas

1,500+ Mile Road Trip from Pennsylvania to Texas in a Ford Crown Victoria

I was getting ready to leave for a short 500 mile road trip to Watkins Glen for their Motorsport Safety Seminar training when a friend messaged me for a favor. He’s currently working/living in China as an expat but every time he comes home to Texas he tends to buy a cheap eBay find to tinker with during his time off. This time it was a Ford Crown Victoria from Pennsylvania which he arranged to get delivered via uShip for like a ton of money, but they were dicking him around and he asked if I can drive it down for him instead.

I said SURE!

I had driven cars for Wes before, last time more than ten years ago. First was a Mustang GT from Miami to Houston, then a Crown Vic from Salem, Oregon to Houston. It was a fantastic way to see the country and he generously paid my way including flights, fuel, food, etc. So this time I jumped on the opportunity to organize an impromptu foodie tour of the south paying special attention to the BBQ offerings in Tennessee and Alabama as well as Cajun cooking in Louisiana and Texas. Boy was that a fantastic experience! I wrote a separate blog post just about food.

But what about the car? Buying something on eBay is tough. You never know what you’re going to get. Sure it may look good in pictures but there’s no way of knowing if there’s a major mechanical problem that the seller fails to mention.

Luckily with this 2011 Ford Crown Victoria LX model, there was no issues. The only thing that didn’t work was the A/C but since there was a cold front in the south, the drive was totally manageable. And being it was an LX model, the ride was very soft thanks to it’s suspension and leather seats inside. Very different from my Miata Road Trips that I’ve grown used to.

Naturally same principles applied to driving someone else’s car as I do with my own. So I only used brand name fuel along the way, and I tried to work out the best gas mileage I could get planning my fuel stops based on the Gas Buddy app. Though I owned ten Crown Vics of my own in the past, I couldn’t really remember what to expect. The first low fuel light came on shortly after I picked up the car, so I figured after the first fill up I’ll have a baseline. It only took 14.5 gallons which surprised me, I knew it had a nearly 20 gallon tank which is double of the Miata’s. But compared to the Mazda 2.0L inline 4, the Crown Vic had double the engine size: 4.6L V8. And despite early readings of 30mpg’s which is really respectable, the mileage just kept on leveling off into a lower figure rather than climbing. It went down to 29mpg after the second fill up, then 28mpg the next day, down to 27mpg before climbing back up to 28mpg on Texas flat roads.

Driving into Alabama was a bit of a worry too. There were severe storms on the forecast with Tornado warnings in affect when I drove in. Crap! I didn’t want to sustain any damage to the car especially since it’s not mine. Luckily I managed to escape unscathed. I didn’t even hit any rain along the way. But after checking into a hotel in Tuscaloosa and turning on the News, they reported baseball size hail that hit the same Interstate highway I had just driven through an hour before. Holly Shit!

Besides the threat of weather I had no other surprises along the way. Generally I lucked out with traffic too. Missing most of the rush hour hold ups, spending only a few minutes bumper to bumper in Baton Rouge because of an accident that just happened at the junction of Interstate 12 and Interstate 10. That was it.

Overall it was a super relaxing trip and I’m very grateful for the opportunity it happened.

The seller replaced the Crown Vic with a Police Package Taurus.

Popped the hood, checked to make sure it had an engine and I was off on my two day, 1,500+ mile adventure.

I was sticking to brand name gas stations along the way. Shell seemed to be the cheapest most of the time. But I also used BP and Exxon Mobil where Shell wasn’t the most economical option.

The Travelodge in Winchester, VA where I spent the night really surprised me. The quality of the hotel room you get for the price was way better than I expected. And just a few dollars more than Motel 6 where I stayed on other occasions the rooms were night and day difference. So props to them!

Though I’ve flown through Nashville a few times this was my first time driving through Tennessee.

On the highway to HELL… 666…

When the fuel consumption gauge started leveling off.

Rolling into threatening weather. Luckily the clouds is all I saw, no rain, no tornadoes and best of all no hail that I hit.

Didn’t even realize I’d slice through the edge of Georgia.

Home Sweet Home… Alabama!

The Gas Buddy app fooled me a few times. The price of fuel would be shown at $1.99 a gallon but $2.09 by the time I showed up. Either they changed the price for the higher or someone reported BS price.

Hello Missy Pissy!

That’s another state I didn’t realize I’d hit on this trip. But sure enough the Interstate sliced right through it.

And finally Lone Star State!

Watching the sun set over Texas.

Next day once one road trip ended another one started. My buddy invited me to a club event he was going to with another one of his vehicles. A Ford Power Stroke Diesel retreat north of Dallas. So we switched cars and hit the road again.

The car wash before the trip was a bit unnecessary because… bugs!

Shortly after arrival a few trucks, a convoy of F250’s and Excursions rolled out for their traditional dinner at Sonic.

It was cool as hell to be a part of yet another car community, a group of enthusiasts that had a ton of passion for their wheels. People brought family… their pets:

And just like that it was over way too quickly… next day flight home!

What an amazing trip!

through ten states:

  • Pennsylvania
  • Maryland
  • West Virginia
  • Virginia
  • Tennessee
  • Georgia
  • Alabama
  • Mississippi
  • Louisiana
  • Texas

Foodie Tour: Texas Style Checking Out Slovacek’s Kolaches and Little Czech Bakery in West, TX

You know the feeling…. see something cool and you gotta try it! Well, I get that feeling a lot. It feels like a major accomplishment when you finally do have an opportunity to “have it!”

Czech Stop and Slovacek’s, two Czech enclaves in the middle of Central Texas, conveniently located at exit 353 between Dallas and Austin were the place I wanted to visit since the first time I spotted the unique restaurants/bakeries out of the window of my speeding bus. You see this year, I traveled to COTA three times via Dallas. But what was different about the last trip is the fact that I managed to find the opportunity to finally stop and see what the fuzz was all about… and so glad I did!

My COTA buddy Joaquin offered to drive me to the airport which was hugely appreciated… I hate taking the bus even when it saves me a fortune. One of the perks of being in a car and able to stop along the way was me being able to talk him into visiting Slovacek’s. Turns out he grew up in the town of West, Texas which is home to a nice size Czech community that has been there since the fifties (1950’s that is). You see car dealerships waving the Czech flag along with a number of other businesses, but the one that caught my attention was a restaurant/deli/bakery with two cuddling pigs on the logo… Slovacek’s. So our plan was to stop there for lunch and sample some of their meat products before going across the highway to the Little Czech Bakery for some deserts in the form of fresh kolachek’s.

First stop:

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The place is very clean and modern with a big souvenir store up front, a deli to one side, and a hot food section to the other with lots of places to sit down and have your delicious meal. I went for the two meat sandwich with brisket and kielbasa while Joaquin had a kielbasa and turkey sandwich. Both were finger licking good and were especially tasty washed down by a big cup of root beer.

Then off for desert on the other side of the highway… while Slovacek’s has a huge Exxon fuel station in their lot, Czech Stop features a Shell gas station… so it’s really a full service stop for you and your vehicle.

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I love the decor of the place, lots of traditional dress photos which brings back some memories. Both Czech’s and Ukrainians are Slavic people and share similar culture especially in their folklore, music, food and dress. I remember dancing traditional dances growing up wearing a similar style “costume” myself.

I love that Texas fully embraces this culture, the overpass on the highway featured the traditional dancers on both sides. Cool!

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For anyone driving i35 between Dallas and Austin or other points in Texas in beyond on this road, do go ahead and plan a pit stop here. You’ll absolutely love it… at the very least it’s “something a little different” for you to enjoy.

Na Zdorovie!

Last Minute Trip to Marshal MotoGP at the Circuit of the Americas

Fucking Hell! If I put this much effort into job seeking or a real career as I do into my Motorsport volunteering I’d be a millionaire by now… but I am still one good idea away from being successful.

Lucky for me, things seem to be working out for this weekend.

I had committed to the idea of attending the NASCAR track services training (MSS: the Motorsport Safety Seminar) at Watkins Glen but the weather isn’t looking so pretty. It probably wouldn’t have been a big deal had I still used a Ford Explorer or a Jeep to get around, but with Spring-like weather for the past few weeks and me changing to my Summer-tires already on the Miata driving in freezing temps is not my idea of fun… or “safe” for that matter.

But I was determined to be at a race track this weekend, so what did I do?  I booked a freaking flight to TEXAS!

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Where I had failed to participate in MotoGP at COTA last year I will succeed this year! Thankfully Jeanie Caulfied replied to my urgent e-mail and I’ll get to volunteer in some capacity at the track this weekend, not quite sure what it’ll be… whether waving flags, picking up bikes, recoveries, or delivering lunches. I’m up for it!

To my biggest surprise the airfare between here and Texas wasn’t that ridiculous considering I booked a flight one day before departure! I am finanging a little bit with my routing, departing from Philadelphia on Wednesday morning on a direct flight to Dallas, and returning from Dallas to New York’s LaGuardia via Houston Intercontinental on Monday… which should get me home in time for a few hours of sleep before my departure for California (via Chicago). I am very excited thought. I still haven’t found a way to get from Dallas to Austin yet, and I’m not sure whether I’ll be camping or CouchSurfing yet, but those details I’ll iron out on the fly.

The most important thing is: I’m volunteering for MotoGP at COTA!

Fuck Yeah!