1994 – 125 mph from Arkansas to Oregon

It was 1994 and I had moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas which was like moving to a whole different country for me.  We moved there because my ex-wife’s father and his 2nd wife lived there.  As with every place I have traveled, I found people with fears of others that look and worshiped differently, love of friends and family, love of the community in which they live and desire to make the world they knew a better place.  It did not take long for us to realize that we did not fit so we decided to head back to the Northwest.

At the time I worked for a distributor of Coke products and she worked for UPS.  We had decided that she should go back early allowing her time to get signed up for flight school, and I would drive back after passing my CDL test so I could truck drive when back in Oregon.  She had left for Oregon and I stayed behind waiting for the day I had signed up to take my test.  The company I worked for cancelled my driving test out of the blue on the day I was supposed to take it.  Maybe they knew I was hitting the road or maybe it was dumb luck, but it did not matter, in my youthful haste I gave notice letting them know I would leave immediately to Oregon.

My 1984 Volvo 765 Turbo wagon, affectionately known was Marie, was packed and ready to hit the road.  Though I never got along with my ex-father-in-law, I did grow to really appreciate and like my his 2nd wife and their children.  Around 10 am I stopped by their house to say my goodbyes then hit the road.  My trip was to take me through Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and then California.

I was super excited and energized as I climbed into into the inviting maroon, heated leather seats on the cold October day.  It snowed the day before and it was still really cold so the air was dry, crisp and smelled clean.  Putting in my new favorite cassette, The Best of Earth Wind and Fire, and cranking the sound up just added to my high energy level.  The car was not very full as most of our stuff was sent via UPS or put on the roof, leaving room for a sleeping bag and pillow to sleep on.   My goal was to drive through the southern states to avoid as much snow as possible and it paid off.

I drove all day and into the night often exceeding 100 mph along the way.  As I came upon California the Triptik map from AAA had me going through 2 lane highways with farms on each side.  For those that are to young to remember Triptiks from AAA, they where a custom made flip-page book put together by AAA that gave directions for your trip.  Every few hundred miles or so you would change the page to see where you would drive next.  The country roads I was on had zero cars on them so I put my foot all the way to the floor, driving my old Volvo to the limit of 125 mph for hours and hours.  By 6:00 am the next day, I had driven approximately 1600 miles in 20 hours, only stopping at gas stations for food and gas.  Yes, I went from Fayetteville, Arkansas to Grapevine, California in 20 hours, averaging 80 mph, at a time when the most Interstates still had a maximum speed limit of 55 to 65 mph.

I called my Mom, using a payphone, to let her know I was OK and likely to sleep a little bit before heading north.  I slept for 8 hours in the back of Marie, got and headed out.  Once on I-5 I put my foot back to the floor keeping my speeds over 100 mph through most of California, then slowing way down once getting in to Oregon.  Even then Oregon police had little tolerance for high speeds and I knew better.  I made it back driving on my own from Fayetteville to Eugene, Oregon without a ticket, driving speeds beyond anything I would even consider today.

Upon entering Oregon there was sigh of relief that I made it “home”.  I quickly smiled and cranked up the music even louder as I enjoyed the familiar acres upon acres of large trees and big mountains.  Within miles I saw my first “honor diversity” sticker on the back of a car just adding to my positive emotional feelings, as I believe my car was the only one in Arkansas to have such a sticker, even though I met many people who believed it, just not any who would state it on the back of their car.

Have you ever done something in your youth that you realized was stupid, yet you would likely do it all over again given the chance and knowing the outcome?  I can tell you this was not the fastest I ever drove on the interstate highways, but the longest period I ever drove this fast.  Have you ever made great timing on a road trip without breaking the speed limit in the way I did?

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