2014 Chevrolet Corvette: The Wide West
November 4, 2013
The sun seems brighter than ever. I reckon it's the high altitude and the clear air. Frio reckons it's the tequila.
Coffee at a nearby motel clears us up, but this motel is a little different. It's clean, modern and well appointed. There's no mistaking it for a classic Route 66 job, but it's attractive. Instead of wallowing in nostalgia, it's cleaned up and made something for itself. Naturally Dan and I look, again, at our 2014 Corvette.
Driving through New Mexico, and then Arizona, takes time. These are some wide states, with wide lands and wider skies. It's far from desolate, but it looks impossible. No doubt the buttes wonder why we're in such a hurry, but we're driving to get home. Just passin' through.
Drives like this bring out conversation. Dan and I hit music, cars and society. We power through a box of Fig Newtons. We chase a rattle in the dash to the center air vent slider. We also drive a paved highway through once sacred land. You can't not talk about that. You can't not want to apologize.
More fuel for Number 23 and as Dan disappears into the truck stop, a trucker chats me up. He brings up the C6 and I relate it to the C7. He asks about the trick diff and admires the paint. His big gulp is empty so he leaves to fill it. I have the urge to be a trucker.
Trinkets beckon under a fake, dead horse and a giant teepee. Dan admires the dream catchers and I admire the Corvette. What a difference. Genuinely making a case for previous generations of Corvette used to require some creative denial. This one? This one's good. Go drive one and spread the word.
Don't let the pine trees fool you, we're still in Arizona. Flagstaff sits around 7,000 feet above sea level. The Corvette digs a little deeper and the altitude goes by unnoticed.
Driving into the sun is brutal. And after we stop so I can dodge semi trucks in the name of a border shot, Dan drops the hammer. Barstow and a burger, that's what we want.
Barstow yes, burger no. The fuel stop is quick and I pull away from the pump before Dan shuts the door. Home is two hours away, L.A. traffic be damned. Thankfully, we're reentering L.A.'s orbit after dark, which helps alleviate the shock. At night, the city shimmers instead of the stars. The smog isn't visible and I'd almost like to live here.
We're officially welcomed back with an aggressive invitation to race and garbage blowing across the freeway.
Nostalgia has been lurking through this whole trip. Lurking in the legacy of past Corvettes. Lurking just off the major interstates, mummified by desert heat and lurking in the hearts and minds of the former Corvette owners we'd met along the way. We didn't want any part of it. We were just driving through. But as we stop for a shot at the finish line, it's Frio, me and Number 23. We did it, and we're going to remember it.
Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor