How it began
Prior to January 2020, I had never driven across the country or really been on a road trip longer than 10 hours. When my Fiance sent me a Facebook message asking if we could fly to Los Angeles in four days to pick up a Lotus Evora he found online, the answer was simple: duh. I’ve been told I’m an enabler of last-minute car purchases, and I have to admit truly I am.
Just like that, we were off on an adventure
We left our home in Cocoa Beach, Florida at about 3 am and set out on an adventure that would start at the Orlando International Airport and, if everything went as planned, would bring us all the way back around by the weekend. So Friday morning we hopped on a plane. If I didn’t mention it before, we had never seen this car before in person and we were about to drive it almost 3,000 miles nonstop across the United States.
We landed in LAX at a time I can’t quite remember – honestly, most of the weekend felt like one really, really long day. We had a few hours before we needed to meet the seller in Santa Clarita so we decided to kill some time with what, for some reason, happens to be the most controversial part of the story. We went to Denny’s. Yes, we flew all the way to California and had Denny’s for breakfast. Am I proud of that? No. But that didn’t stop us from eating at Denny’s several times more before the trip would end.
Coming from a small town in Florida, I had no idea what we would be in for when it came to Los Angeles traffic, but I didn’t seem to mind it as we spent an hour watching Lamborghinis, Mercedes AMG GTs, and Ferraris drive past casually. I knew the traffic would be horrendous, but no one told me I would be stuck in traffic with supercars. I can’t say I seemed to mind. We made it up to Santa Clarita in what seemed like no time. There it was for the first time: the Lotus Evora I was about to either die in or spend the next three-ish days in – there, of course, could not be any in-between option.
We met with the owner and took a quick test drive, everything turned out as expected, and it became very real to us that we were about to drive this Evora home with no second gear and no cruise control. Granted, the seller was very upfront about these issues and we were well aware before we even began this crazy adventure, but sometimes things sound worse in person than they do on paper. Whatever, we didn’t need second gear anyway.
The Angeles Crest Highway
You didn’t think we were just going to get the car and drive straight home, did you? Of course not. We just flew across the country and we were excited to see something Florida absolutely does not have – mountains. It’s only natural that we chose to spend two hours driving up and down the Angeles Crest Highway, after all, what is a few more hours in the car? We knew it would be a long time before we got the opportunity to take this designed-to-corner car through such a beautiful stretch of roads. You may not have been so inclined to drive a car you just bought upwards of 100mph through the mountains, but after all, we were about to drive it across the country in one straight-through trip.
Everything between Los Angeles and the Florida Panhandle was a blur…well, except for several stops at Denny’s. We weren’t out to beat any Cannonball records so besides testing the car on safe, uninhabited stretches of the highway at early hours of the morning, we didn’t have an impressive top speed or high average speed by any stretch of the imagination.
Now, if you aren’t familiar with Florida geography I will point out two things: First, that I said the trip was relatively unmemorable until we got to the Florida Panhandle, and second that our home in Cocoa Beach, was still very far from the Panhandle. At about the 39-hour mark, we made it to Florida, and after driving through Texas for 881 miles I was unenthusiastic and tired of co-driving and being smushed into this tiny exotic car with no cruise control or second gear.
It was around 10 am and traffic was heavy – as you might expect on a Sunday morning, and we happened to be boxed in by a group of trucks, this is of course where something inevitable but unexpected happened: a piece of firewood came off of the back of the trailer a few cars ahead, bounced around between the trucks and of course, made it’s way right into the front end of the Evora. It wasn’t the end of the world, but it was still pretty soul-crushing.
We made it home in 42 hours and 31 minutes just to get out and stare at our new Lotus Evora and the damage to an otherwise fine car.