Monday, January 5, 2009

ROAD TRIP! (Looking Back on 2008 - Looking Forward to 2009, New Year's Resolutions...)

I own a business. I love what I do. At times owning a business can be stressful. Sometimes I just need to relax. I don't meditate, I don't work out, I don't play video games, I (infamously) don't watch movies, I don't smoke weed, I don't drink a lot... To relax I drive. For years one of the destinations I'd drive to was the Yankee Candle Car Museum. It was about an hour drive from where I live. In the summer I'd put the top down on my Alfa and take a ride (always using the back-roads) to the museum and then spend an hour or so looking at the cars (usually over and over again). It got to a point where some of the people who worked there knew me by name.

What made the Yankee Candle Car Museum so cool was the cars. (Duh.) You wouldn't find a 3-million-dollar Bugatti there. There were no Bertone one-offs. There were no prototypes... Nope, what the museum had were more common cars. Austin Healeys, Sunbeams, Lotus', Jaguars, American muscle cars... Real cars that real people bought new and real people own now.

I'd look at those cars and wonder about their history. Was it bought by a young person or was it someones retirement car? Why did they choose an Olds 442 over a GTO? Why a Healey over a Jag? A Fiat over an Alfa? Did they commute to work in it? How long did they own it? Did they love it or hate it? How proud were they to drive it home that day they bought it? Did they order the options or just pick a car on the lot? Is it still owned by the original owner? If not, does the original owner have any idea that their car is now in a museum? (Yep. I'm weird. I go through the same thought process when I see an old building. Who lived there? Who worked there? Births? Deaths? - I really do need a time machine... Or maybe just a good psychologist.) It took my mind off of work and it was just plain fun.

The Yankee Candle Car Museum closed in 2001. It was like losing a friend. I missed it.

I mentioned in my first post that what inspired this blog was a thing I used to do called Car Geek Breaks. The person I was sending these to was not the type person that you could just send a picture of a car and some text that said "beautiful car, huh?" She was too smart, too interested in cars and too intolerant for that. If I sent a link to a website it had better have had a lot of info. I would spend a ton of time on the internet looking for the best sites available about any of the cars I was sending. That's what made it so much fun.

While doing the research on whatever it was I was going to send her, I would sometimes stumble on an unrelated site that looked really interesting. A car museum, a dealership, a repair shop, a car show, whatever. If they were within a day's or weekend's driving distance, I'd make a note of it and think, I'll have to check that out someday.


Things got weird for me starting in the fall of 2007. I moved my business. Things didn't go as I expected them to. I became, for all intents and purposes, a shut in. I was at my business from 9AM until 9PM, home and in bed by 11. 7 days a week. I had no time (or money, for that matter) to go anywhere. I was as stressed as I've ever been in my life.

In January, 2008, I ran into an old girlfriend who was looking to buy a new car. She asked if I would help her. Remembering a car show I had attended in Hartford, CT, a year earlier, one that featured just new cars and dealers, I said "sure" and took her to the show the following Sunday. She talked to a dealer who had an 06 BMW 3-Series on his lot. When we left the show we drove to the dealership and looked at the car. She bought it a few days later. While with her that day I realized how relaxed I was. I thought maybe, just maybe, I should start dating this woman again. We went out a few more times (including an old car show in Vermont), but things were no better than they were when we dated many, many years ago (except she now had a BMW instead of a Maxima!). I realized that the relaxation I felt that Sunday at that car show had nothing to do with the person I was with, it had to do with being at a car show.

That day in January made me realize how much I missed going to the Yankee Candle Car Museum and to car shows in general. I started to go to more shows. I started taking drives to dealerships that sold old or interesting cars. I'd just walk around the lot and look at what they had. By the time the fall of 2008 rolled around I was back to being me. The stress of 2007 was almost gone. Sure, part of that had to do with business being better, but so much of that had to do with the relaxation a long drive and looking at cars brings me. It's therapy.

What brought this all to mind was the recent post I did about the Matra Murena for sale on eBay. The seller mentioned the Lane Motor Museum in Tennessee. I had never heard of it so I googled it. This is my kind of place! It reminded me of the Yankee Candle Car Museum. It also reminded me of all those promises I made to myself while doing the Car Geek Breaks; all the places I wanted to see, all the events I wanted to attend.

I never make New Year's resolutions (OK, I promise myself each year that I'm going to quit smoking... That hasn't happened yet), but this year will be different. I resolve to finally take those day trips / road trips. If it means losing a bit of business, so be it. If it means a relationship fails, so be it. If it means I have to quit smoking in order to pay for these trips, then that may be the inspiration I need.

Happy (belated) New Year!

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