I have just spent 45 non-stop, fast and furious days doing training in the bi-polar climate(s) that is Oklahoma. As nice(?) as Oklahoma is, it was time to go back to TEXAS! Houston to be exact.
It is now April 1st and I am on the first day of my four day pass. I am up early in the morning at the airport (if that's what you want to call it.) in Lawton and I decide to call my father so he can arrange my transportation for my little four day jaunt. Little did I know, he had already had something reserved. There was Dodge Challenger SE waiting for me just on the other side of my $235.23 plant ticket. And luckily, I had the foresight to deprive myself of sleep the night before, so I basically just slept from Lawton, OK to Dallas, TX and had myself primed for my landing in Houston, TX.
After some shuffling and some waiting and the little luncheon with my sister, it was time. I tossed some cash to my sister and told her to have a great weekend. She was going to see very little of me for the next few days.
I got a ride out to the drop yard where my dad has his rig. Amidst the baby powder-fine dust, the hustle and bustle of Ashley emblazoned Volvo Tractors and the cloudy smell of diesel, awaited my father. And in his possession was the strange lego-esque key fob that acted as a key. Not only to a metallic black Dodge Challenger SE, but to a super awesome weekend.
The time is about 1320 (01:30 pm for you civilians.) and my dad has just given me the 'talk' about how and why to not be crazy on the road and being responsible and yada yada yada. I am 22, pocket full of money and he had just given me the key-thingy to a Chally. I guess it was just standard procedure at that point.
So I hop in and before I crank her up, I take some time to scope out the interior. And thankfully, it is nothing like the Sebring. Whew.
I adjust my seat, acquaint myself with which side the gas tank opening is on, I adjust my mirrors, i do a head swivel to see how well i can see out of the glasshouse, i find out what each knob does and where all my storage areas are. And in doing all of this, I pick-up on some neat little features:
the armrest can slide back and forth. the cup holders have ample space to hold realistically-sized drinks and even light up to boot. the headlamp knob is somewhere off to the left separately, which keeps "overly busy steering column stalk syndrome" down. The driver seat is electric but the passenger seat is not (sucks to be you passenger!). There is even a power outlet in the center storage bin. And now the last thing to do is plug my iPod up via AUX cable and hit the 610 Loop, i had ground to cover.
First song played in the Chally: "Don't Want Drama" by 8-Ball and MJG. And for those who can tolerate rap music, i think this song is actually very appropriate. But i digress...
A shake hands and hug my father, get in the car, crank and I roll onto the feeder road, going through a few lights, eager to let loose on the on-ramp. After what felt like years waiting through red lights, I was finally ascending up the ramp towards 610 N.
Talk about a beautiful thing. As I go up, I feel the nose of the car lift up as it leads the way up, and with a bit of prodding of the throttle, the 3.5L RWD drivetrain defies the incline and as I level out and merge, the gravitational forces at play within the realm of the incline releases it's grip and the car sort of grunts as I mash the pedal in more. What once was a pretty timid sound coming from the V6 was now a raucous under the hood and the power was near instantaneous, much akin to twisting the throttle on a sport bike. The first real experience with the torque of a V engine in awhile. With my sister in tow driving my dad's 2002 TRD V6 Toyota Tacoma, the once-thought spirited sport truck only seemed to be getting smaller the longer i stayed on the gas. The 4WD/V6 combo wasn't enough to keep up with the Chally. Not with me standing on the gas anyway.
For about a mile at a time, I would just harass the throttle body. WOT, 121 mph, then slam shut. WOT, 115 mph, then slam shut. And the ignorant yet encouraging rap music just fueling my own ignorance. If say "Honeysuckle Breeze" was playing, I would have probably been more tame, but with lyrics professing about shootin' clubs up, my id was ruling my better person.
So about 10 miles and an exit later, I am now in the laid-back suburb that is Kingwood. Negatives of Kingwood: Very pretentious populace, eerily quiet, large beautiful trees being swapped out for strip malls and starbucks at an alarming rate. Postives of Kingwood: Very small populace and the roads are of Road & Track test drive quality. Beautifully shaded and nice and twisty.
So needless to say, with the ESP button poked in and that little 'curvy car' light turned off, it was time to express my love of RWD to the pavement that was holding all 430mm of grip those stock tires afforded me. With all my feint turning power, I would do a slight left and cut hard right with a generous application of gas. And of course, the tires would transgress upon the pavement, but the street being as cool as it is, would just let it SLIDE! I did this quite a few times to get to my dad's property amongst Kingwood's remaining foliage.
By the time I got to the house, my body was just a mess of nerves from my body telling me I shouldn't be doing what I was doing. And it felt so damn'd good. I could have used a cigarette. As I lifted myself out of the giant slab of awesome, I noticed I hadn't even used the Autostick. Didn't matter, the sideways motion the stick looked like it moved in looked as though it'd throw me off anyway.
About 10 min. later, my sister rolls up in the Taco and we get me sorted out. I play with the dog, Izzy a bit, take her for a walk and then I am off to the SW side of Houston. It's still a nice bit of cushy time before the rush hour(s), so I boot scoot all the way down HWY 59 S. In about 30 min, time, I have traversed about 30 miles clean across Houston and I arrive at my friend Matt's place of residence. We get re-aquainted, seeing how I haven't seen him in about 8 months, and just shoot the sh... stuff for about 30 min. And during all of this talk, I am thinking of things to do to get back out on the road. ROAD TRIP!
Like a thunder clap, it's obvious. I haven't seen Niem, a good friend I have known since 2nd Grade, in about a year. And he just happens to live in San Antonio. That's a approx. 280 miles East. It all fits together. Again, I am a 22 year old with a pocket full of a money, and now I have a Chally at my disposal. After a brief talk with my own father of my intentions and a even briefer convincing of Matt's significant other to let him off the chain (you can't argue a Chally!), we get geared up to blaze a MOPAR trail to SA!
To be continued...
Good times! *substitute a Corona y limon por favor!*