If you’ve read Part 1 you know I made it to Colorado.
If you haven’t – click the link and get up to speed.
And I got to see Avery compete in her Jiu-Jitsu competition.
It was a special time bonding with my niece.
There’s also something special about driving an old car and bonding with it.
If you listen to any car, they’ll start communicating to you.
You’ve just got to listen.
What’s normal and what’s not?
Every car is different.
When you bond with a car you learn all of its noises, nuances and vibrations.
And after a while, if there’s anything that that sounds, smells or feels differently than what’s normal, you start to focus on it to see if it goes away or gets worse.
And when you’re on a road trip you’ve got a lot of time to listen to your car.
When I was coming down Vail Pass I started to feel a weird vibration.
I had looked the car over as much as I could but I didn’t have a jack & jack stands to get under it and give it a once over.
This is how I found the garage I took The 55 to.
I remembered Hot Rod Magazine did an article on a bone-yard in Denver called Colorado Auto and Parts that put a radial engine in an old pickup truck.
So I gave ‘em a call.
They referred me to a place called The Garage, but when I looked ‘em up it said they’re a BMW specialist.
Feeling a little sceptical I waited until Monday morning, called ‘em up and the guy who answered the phone said to come on in – the guy who works on those kind of things will be here by the time you get here.
I felt a little better when I pulled up next to a 66 LeMans wagon.
And I felt a lot better when I went inside the garage and saw a 56 Chevy Bel Air.
Jim dove in and spent a couple of hours going over The 55 but couldn’t find anything that would cause a vibration.
He told me it was an honor to work on a car like mine and that since he couldn’t find anything wrong with the car he couldn’t charge me.
I was blown away.
If you’re in Colorado and you need a good, honest mechanic in the Denver area go to The Garage and ask for Jim.
I took his card and gave it to my brother & sister-in-law.
They’ve got my old 69 Corvette and it needs a good mechanic.
Maybe it was me, but the vibration seemed to subside just a little bit after Jim looked it over.
On Tuesday I went up to Ft. Collins and met with one of my favorite people ever for lunch – Dr. Ann Gill.
After lunch, I drove over to Windsor and caught up with a friend I know from LA.
The vibration was still there.
On Wednesday I stopped into the Air Force Academy on my way down to Colorado Springs.
That’s “Diamond Lil” a 1957 B-52D Stratofortress in the background.
Then I drove The 55 up to the top of Pikes Peak.
Pike’s Peak summit – 14,115 ft. above sea level.
The 55 drove like a champ the entire 19 miles to the summit.
Check out this video I shot at the summit.
The Redline Gaugeworks / Speedhut speedometer had the elevation at 14,133 ft.
Still above timberline in The Devil’s Playground.
The sign to the left of The 55 reads:
“So named because of the way the lightning jumps from rock to rock during a thunderstorm”
After Pike’s Peak I went to the Garden of the God’s in Colorado Springs.
Then for my favorite pizza in all the land – Fargo’s.
The Mattson’s Cooling Module worked flawlessly and kept the engine and transmission nice and cool.
And the Wilwood brakes didn’t fade a bit the whole way down.
But that vibration was still there.
And to add insult to injury, there was a new noise coming from The 55 – a rattle!
I noticed the rattle only when I was off throttle.
The vibration only at certain RPM’s and the rattle off throttle.
They were driving me nuts.
So I called up Jim at The Garage again.
He told me to come on by and he’d take me down and introduce me to Jeff at Key’s Transmission & Gear.
Ya know how your car acts normal when you’re driving it?
But when you want it to make those weird sounds to someone who knows more than you about cars and it won’t make the same sounds?
This time it made both the vibration and the sound while Jeff was driving it!
We put it up on the lift and found the driver’s side rear exhaust hanger had come off causing the rattle.
And upon further inspection we found out it was a U-Joint in the driveshaft.
I don’t think U-Joints are supposed to look like that.
The guy at the driveshaft shop said we caught it with about 150-200 miles to go before it would’ve grenaded!
I drove up to the top of Pikes Peak with a busted U-Joint!
I drove down Pike’s Peak with a busted U-Joint!!
With the new U-Joint The 55 was running smooth as silk!
It’s incredible what a difference a balanced driveshaft makes.
Thanks to Jeff at Key’s Transmission I got everything taken care of.
He doesn’t advertise – he’s a referral only business and he’s the only transmission shop in Colorado with a 5-star rating on Yelp.
And thanks to Front Range Driveline for the balancing my driveshaft and installing two new lovely U-Joints.
Then I gotta text from my agent.
AAA wants me for another voice-over.
What day do you want to do it?
And without even thinking about it I texted back next Friday.
Alright – I’ll get back to you.
So I settled into life as Uncle Jeff, which is a pretty good gig.
My voice-over got scheduled for the following Friday so I planned to leave Denver early on Monday morning.
Until my nieces talked me out of it so I could walk them to school.
And I went with my sister-in-law and took my nephew the Monkey-Boy to school that morning too.
When we got back to their house, I packed up The 55 and headed back to LA.
The odometer read 20,257.
I did a full-tilt boogie from Denver all the way out to Green River, Utah.
The speed limit in Colorado is 75 mph.
The speed limit in Utah is 80 mph.
I had The 55 cruising at just over 3000 rpms just humming along eating up the open road.
We did 337 non-stop miles up Eisenhower & Vail Passes and got over 17mpg.
While I was fueling up in Green River, a guy pulls up to the pump next to me in a 2016 CTS-V coupe.
He was just coming back from the Silverstate Challenge which is a sanctioned open road race by the Nevada Highway Patrol.
It’s held a couple of times a year with different classes from 100mph all the way up to and unlimited class.
I’ve been wanting to do it ever since I heard about it years ago.
After Green River we turned off onto Highway 24 and headed south to Hanksville.
Utah is amazing.
This is just off the side of the road:
Just less than an hour past Hanksville is National Park Number 4:
Capitol Reef National Park.
I love the reds in Utah.
I had to stop and get a picture next to the “Old Wagon Trail” trailhead.
I was getting hungry and it was getting late ish especially since I didn’t know where I was gonna sleep for the night.
A little over 10 miles outside of Capitol Reef National Park on Highway 24 I saw a bright pink neon sign that read: Rim Rock Inn & Restaurant.
I walked in the door and the bus boy said: “Hey man! I really like your car!”
I went in and had a great burger and an ice cold beer.
It was heaven.
Then I got back on the road.
After the Rim Rock Inn & Restaurant and before Torrey turn off onto Highway 12.
I know it’s a bold statement but Highway 12 in Utah is up there in my Top 5 Roads of All Time List.
At one point, I’m driving along and there’s a white canyon to my left.
Then a half a mile later there’s a big white canyon to my right.
Then a half a mile later both sides open up to massive with canyons on either side of me while I’m driving down a backbone with no guardrails.
It was awesome!
I passed by a bunch of camp sites but continued on for some reason.
Until I came to Calf Creek in the Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument.
I pulled in to a virtually empty campground and got to work covering up the windows in The 55.
I slept like a rock that night.
I woke up once and I couldn’t see a thing.
It was pitch black outside and we were surrounded by red rock cliffs on two sides.
My hotel for the night.
The next morning we were on our way to National Park Number 5:
Bryce Canyon National Park
The Hood Bird and some hoodoo’s:
From Bryce Canyon I followed the 12 until I hit highway 89.
I took 89 south through Kanab, Fredonia and Jacob Lake where I turned off on to highway 67 – the North Rim Parkway.
National Park Number 6:
the north rim of the Grand Canyon
I love the remoteness of the north rim of the Grand Canyon.
And the roads are fun too.
I left the way I came in and decided to fill up in Kanab.
As I was leaving I ran into an old friend who recognized my car and came over to say hi.
Great seeing you Brando!!!!
She said Zion was only 45 minutes away.
Just take highway 9 and you can’t miss National Park Number 7:
Zion National Park
The Hole in the Rock tunnel:
And there’s another longer tunnel in Zion.
Coming south on the 9 out of the tunnel it’s like a scene out of a cartoon movie.
It doesn’t look real.
I’m still in awe of the raw beauty of Zion.
I continued down the 9 until I hit I-15 and took that into Las Vegas where I stopped off at the Gold Coast and indulged in some Ping Pang Pong.
Best Chinese food in town.
After filling my belly we were off to Pahrump, Nevada where I spent the night.
I got up a little after sunrise, fueled up and crossed into California.
I was on my way to National Park Number 8:
Death Valley National Park.
Then made the turnoff to Badwater Basin.
The topography is pretty nuts out there in Death Valley.
Badwater Basin -282 ft. below sea level – the lowest point in North America.
Here’s the video to sum up the trip.
Devils Golf Course:
We hit the Devil’s Playground on Pike’s Peak and the Devil’s Golf Course in Death Valley.
The Devil sure knows how to party.
Leaving Death Valley makes it clear why it got its name.
It’s an unforgiving place.
Come prepared or don’t come at all.
I got sad leaving Death Valley.
It was the end of my road trip adventure in The 55.
In two weeks I had driven over 3500 miles.
Been through six states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah.
And seen eight National Parks: Grand Canyon – North & South rims, Mesa Verde, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, Zion and Death Valley.
All in a 1955 Chevy 210 station wagon.
And during our road trip adventure we averaged about 15-17 mpg.
So with a 29 gallon gas tank we’ve got an effective range of somewhere between 430-490 miles.
Looks like I won’t be seeing Barstow any time soon.
I do regret not stopping at the Sea Level sign in Death Valley.
And I regret not getting the Zion National Park sign.
Otherwise I’m thrilled with The 55’s performance and the fact that I got to see a part of the USA in my Chevrolet.
Thank’s for reading.
Now get out there and go drive it!