US Road Trip Travelog: 11th April 2005

At the Firestone place in the morning the diagnosis is worn U-joints on the driveshaft (propshaft) and numerous small leaks in the cooling system. Unfortunately they can't get all the bits to fix it for two or three days, so I decide to head off.

The plan is to drive down to near St. Louis and leave the car stored at the place I bought it from. After 20 miles, however, it's clear that I've made a mistake. The driveshaft rumble is getting worse and I really don't want to drive another 60 miles like this, let alone then needing to think about getting it fixed at some point in the future. Time for a serious rethink.

A phone call back to the Firestone place tells me that they can get the U-joints and will try to fit them that day. Back to Springfield it is then, a not particularly pleasant drive in a car that's running about as smooth as a cement mixer. As ever, even when sick the Riviera gets me back to civilisation and doesn't leave me stranded.

The second part of the rethink involves where to leave the car when I go back to the UK. Springfield has a few long-term car parking places near the centre of town. There's also an Amtrak train service to Chicago three times a day. My adopted home town appears to be coming up trumps again.

With the car at the Firestone place I'm free to wander around for the afternoon. There are a lot of Abraham Lincoln historic sites in Springfield but the only one I'm really interested in, the new The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, doesn't open for another week. That'll have to wait until next time then. Rumour has it that the President will open the new building. I wonder if he thinks that Lincoln is some guy who used to build luxury cars?

View from the Renaissance Hotel
View from the Renaissance Hotel.

I decide to book myself a luxury downtown hotel for the evening. The Renaissance Hotel appears to fit the bill. The cost for a night is $130. Plus another $5 for parking. Plus, as I only found out later, the internet access costs another $10 a night. They should really tell you about these extras up front. The first room they gives me smells of something horrible but the second one is better. Still not worth the extra money though, over a Drury or Quality Inn. The only big advantage is that it's right in the middle of downtown. When I get back to the room later I find that I'm "The Guest of the Day" and so get a bowl of fruit and some mineral water. Whoop-de-doo!

At 6:30 the car is finally ready and, on the brief drive back to the hotel, the vibration appears to have gone. The real test will be once things have warmed and loosened up, which will have to wait until tomorrow. Time for me to play to play wealthy person and use the bar and restaurant in the hotel, neither of which are actually that expensive or that bad. This is not like supposedly up-market hotels in England, where the food is over-priced and poor and the drinks extortionate.

US Road Trip Travelog: 12th April 2005 >