Just picked up my new Interceptor! Maxime and I took a train from San Francisco to Redding, CA to pick him up.
Its a total overbuilt and over modified beast, with diamond plating and rhino coating (what they put on pickup truck beds, looks like powder coating) for no other reason than, as it was explained to me, so if someone slams their door into it, their door will dent and the Interceptor will be fine. It looks pretty cool but isn’t quite my style. Those big chrome mag wheels on the other hand…
Its a ’99, was previously harassing parkers in San Francisco, and has only 17,000 miles on the odometer. Its pretty insane how much the previous owner restored everything, the engine looks brand new, has all new hoses and wires, and you could literally eat off the valve cover. There’s all sorts of modifications to the brackets in the engine, new aluminum struts everywhere, I’ll try to post some pictures if anyone’s interested.
One thing he did that I love is beefed up the front forks and put wipers on them, which are new to me but apparently standard on motorcycles, they keep dust from going down the fork. And he added aux fans to cool the buried and suffocating engine.
As I type I’m in a hotel in Redding, CA, where Maxime and I just bought it. We took an Amtrak up here and will be driving it slowly back to San Francisco (about 250 miles) over the next few days, vehicle and police willing.
Read about days 2 and 3 after the jump.
A few notes about roadtripping by metermaid buggy:
R2D2 *can* drive on I-5, but its a little scary having an 18 wheeler pass our absurd little selves. So in general we’ve been driving down “Historic Route 99”, which I guess is/was the north-south Route 66. An interesting road, when it leaves the interstate its kind of frozen in the mid 60’s when all the traffic was re-routed down I5. So its got all the old hotel signs that look like props from the Jetsons, all in much better shape than their hotels. Lots of quality Americana like the hotel with the big “Know Jesus, Know Peace!” signs all over it (we came pretty close to staying there), and thriftshops everywhere, all thoroughly picked over. Then it’ll head back to I5 for a mile or two and we’ll be awash in McDonalds again. But the fun thing about travelling by Interceptor is that you see all of it, or at least much more than I’m used to seeing from my RV.
I’m a little offended that no one thinks I’m a metermaid, it would be nice to scare at least *someone*. But the usual reaction to R2D2 is “what the hell is that thing?” Most people don’t even notice us, which is also a problem, but all the fellow goofballs figure the whole thing out at a glance. For example earlier today we were driving down some particularly farm-road type section of the old 99, where it does lots of right-angle turns around farms then turns to dirt for a minute and then back, and suddenly there was the shortest train I’ve ever seen driving towards us. Literally one engine car and one cargo car, both fullsize, coming our way. He was watching us curiously, we were watching him curiously, and when he got close enough he gave us a big smile and a bunch of toots.
Today we left the Central Valley, driving down Route 20 towards Clear Lake and Napa. Much more traffic driving much faster, but R2 was up to it, even over the hills. In general its one of those situations where I have to watch the speedo to make sure I keep it under 55. If I’m not careful it’ll get up around 65 without even knowing it, and it feels fine, but it also feels like if we hit the wrong bump we might wind up testing those roll bars…
Driving into Harbin Hot Springs tonight was priceless, I’m pretty sure we’re the only ones to ever arrive by metermaid buggy. Tomorrow going through wine country should be pretty fun too. I guess I should probably spit the wine back into that spitoon or whatever they call it since I basically have a bumper sticker that says “I’m probably drunk!”.
Well ok, as we sip margaritas looking over the bay in Tiberon, a quick update:
Lots and lots of backroads since we left the flat Central Valley. We’ll take pretty much any road as long as its brown or grey on our map, we don’t mind big looping out of the way routes as long as they *generally* make southward progress and don’t violate our cardinal rule, which is Thou Shalt Not Backtrack. We’re willing to do a shocking amount of driving to avoid even the slightest amount of backtracking.
In the last few days we’ve done yoga at Harbin Hotsprings, drank wine in Napa Valley (served by a somalier!), gotten ridiculously drunk at the Russian River Brewery, eaten oysters at Tomales Bay, eaten cheese in Point Reyes while looking at cows, and on the off chance we needed more style points we even ate Cowgirl Creamery’s Mt. Tam cheese on top of Mt. Tam. We tried to smoke a joint in Bolinas but didn’t have the heart to beg for it.
Our only encounter with the police was in the redwoods above Bolinas. We’d just finished a pee break and a police jeep came out of nowhere, missing a glimpse of Maxime’s bare butt by like 10 seconds. The poor guy. He rolled down his window and called me over and said “what the hell is that thing?” (meaning my car, not Maxime’s butt). I’m used to the question at this point so gave him my spiel about it being a “rehabilitated metermaid buggy” that we’d driven from Mt. Shasta and then we were all best friends. One funny note: when he asked how much it cost I said “34” and didn’t realize until a good few minutes later that he’d been thinking I paid $34,000 for my silly little car. When he realized it was $3400 he no longer thought I was insane and we may have some off-duty police driving around in Cushmans soon.
We’ve now driven far enough that when we tell people what we’re doing their eyes light up and we get the VIP treatment wherever we go. Turns out a roadtrip with a gimmick is a great way to meet people. So after the bartender at Russian River Brewery (my vote for best brewery in America) sees our cellphone pics, our glasses are never empty and we’re getting a guided tour of all their spectacular Belgian style beers. Without going into too much detail I’ll just say that a bottomless glass of their Consecration Sour Ale with its 10% alcohol can definitely get you into some trouble… And when we stop at the sole proprietor type thriftshops or antique shops everything gets really cheap once they see R2D2 and hear our goofy stories. Seriously, I bet you could drive one of these things across the country and never have to stay in a hotel if you didn’t want to.
Over the 500 or so backroad miles of our trip we’ve been getting between 28 and 40 mpg, I guess depending on how heavy my led foot gets. I do love hearing that engine growl through its custom chrome tipped exhaust system… And today was absolutely pouring rain but we stayed dry and even warm. Really the biggest source of wear during this trip has been to our butts, which have been sharing a narrow seat all this time, and my right knee is a bit sore from the weird angle it has to bend for my foot to reach the gas pedal. But R2 is a champ, about the worst I could say about him is his defroster doesn’t work very well, but I’m sure all the stuff we pile onto his dashboard doesn’t help. And he even has an “intermittent” setting on his windshield wiper! I haven’t had a car with that feature since the last millenium.
Here’s a few more pics:
ps- couldn’t send the email from the restaurant so you get a postscript: the bridge was insanely windy but no problem, the best part being when we went through the tollbooth and the lady asked “is that thing legal to drive on the highway?” “Yeah, pretty much”.
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