Mike (from the Buzzfeed team) doing an incredible cover of “Blue Suede Shoes” in no other than Memphis, Tennessee at MINI Takes the States 2014!
Busy day with lots of motoring yesterday! Over 10 hours on the road and 678 miles (according to Google maps). I am in a rush so I don’t have time now to calculate the exact route.
I left Detroit Tuned in the morning and headed for downtown Chicago. I was supposed to meet a friend for a late lunch but his flight was delayed and instead I did a driving tour of downtown Chicago. Chicago is everything I wish Toronto was. The downtown has a mixture of old and new architecture. The waterfront is beautiful, developed, and easily accessible hence why it looks like a popular spot. The traffic flows – I was there from 3-6pm on a holiday and there was a huge volume of cars, but the intersections cleared faster than Toronto (with the exception of the Magnificent Mile in Chicago due to pedestrians slowing down turns). I have some cool video of motoring through Chicago (was rendering and uploading all night – 1080p GoPro footage – hours later it’s not done, ARGH).
After Chicago, I headed back on the interstate towards Austin, MN. There are a lot of miles to cover to reach the Rockies and the West coast so I planned and am prepared for lots of straight driving. It was going well until the sun set. My energy levels were still reasonably high but the animals came out in full force!! I had to dodge full sized deer and coyote roadkill that took up 2/3 of the two lanes. Twice animals ran in front of my MINI and I was terrified of hitting one. Not only because I love animals, but because I love my car. Best case scenario is lots of yuck to wash off, worst case scenario is a collision where my MINI could be totalled or I could die… I’ve seen it before online and cars don’t fare well vs deer. It was also high-beams only with no lights along the road and the occasional cateye along the lanes. I prepared myself for these drives but didn’t fully think about the roadkill/animal aspect. I am rearranging my driving schedule for the next couple days. Hitting the road now and will see how far I make it before sunset but at sunset I am checking into a motel, no exceptions! Safety first
I have a million blog ideas in my head about the contrast of yesterday’s drive (downtown Chicago to the farmlands of Wisconsin in a couple hours), about the states I’ve passed through, about the sights and sounds observed. Right now my main priority is hitting the road, picking up a SIM card, and motoring west!! If all goes well with the SIM, I’ll be checking in at my next rest stop
I am having a BLAST. The absolute time of my life. I have learned so much already, seen so much and it’s only the beginning of day 3!
Happy Motoring, XO LILCOOPR
I just woke up on the first official full day on the road. Technically yesterday was day 1 because I left, but circumstances of the day had me push my departure further and further into the evening… Let me elaborate!
During the day, right after STELL4’s photoshoot with ReStyle It, at I had a very last-minute request to appear on a major news station’s breakfast show. Since I was leaving right then (bags and keys in hand, finalizing my packing), they were going to pre-record the segment to air the next morning. This sounded amazing because the extra press would really help raise awareness and support my fundraising target (Donate to the Children’s Wish Foundation Here!). The problems started when I dropped everything to pop into the location and the full crew didn’t show up until over an hour later, they didn’t know what angle they wanted, and it took 2-3 hours of my midday time originally planned to hit the road! I’m not even sure if they got what they wanted at the end, because it was such an unorganized mess.
I planned to reach Chad at Detroit Tuned by 6pm at the latest, which was totally doable after leaving the media shenanigans, but then hit really horrible traffic. I left Toronto at 2:45pm to arrive in Waterloo region (usually a 45min-1hour drive without traffic) by 6:30pm! Nearly 4 hours! Uncharacteristically bad. Exhausting and very stressful. I was in a rush to reach my Mom because we had to get a new vehicle ownership due to the vinyl wrap creating a full colour change. The ownership change was easier than I thought. Just walk in, tell them your car is pink, they fill out a form, and print you a new ownership. No charge! The colour code is now “pnk”. NICE. Pretty sure I saw that in my dreams years ago…. 😉 From the MINIstry of transportation (sorry I couldn’t resist adding “MINI” in there!), I popped into Costco to pick up new boxes of contact lenses. Pre-ordered and called that they arrived, I thought this would take max 15 minutes. Nope! Turns out they ordered two boxes of right eye lenses and not one box right one box left. It will be an additional week til they arrive and my Mom will FedEx overnight it to me, wherever I am.
After lots of hugs and love, I was on the road. It felt real this time. It was really sinking in that I won’t be back for almost 2 months. I was a little teary eyed to be honest. In the last couple years, as I built my real estate career, there were occasions when I didn’t see my Mom for a month because I was so jam-packed with work, but we talk on the phone daily. Still, to drive away with her waving was the “OMG This is Really Happening” feeling I needed to kickstart the trip!
Because roadblocks seem to be the theme of the trip so far, I hit more traffic and hassles on the way to the border, which is unusual for a normally clear-sailing highway. Ah finally the border! I texted Chad that I will be only a few minutes and he was waiting for me (patiently?? lol).
Oh but the adventure was really about to begin!
My MINI is fully-loaded for the trip with my belongings divided into packed bags arranged like Jenga pieces in the limited MINI Convertible cargo space. The US border guards decided to upset that delicate zen balance of fitting everything in so nicely and asked me to “drive under the canopy” for an inspection. The inspection took over 2 hours and I was standing watching from the window as every single thing in my car was taken out, put on the pavement, then shoved back in without the same care and order I gave while packing. UGH. I felt so powerless watching my belongings being manhandled and shaken up! They even opened ziplock bags and cases where I had things like underwear sorted. At the end, I asked what raised the red flag and it was a combination of 2 things: my story didn’t sound normal (#MINInotnormal) because who wraps a car pink and drives across the country (well I do, thank you very much. I follow my dreams haha, but it was a good thing I provided proof with my trip business cards!) and I was bringing a spoiler across the border to Detroit Tuned for a MINI Club member and it was packed carefully in bubble wrap which raised lots of concern for some reason (not the fact that I was bringing it across but the way it was packed and they were curious to see if something was hidden inside).
Finally through the border just past 1am! I can usually handle myself driving while tired but the events of the day really pulled me too far. I was driving and my eyes were fully open but my brain was just fixating on the road in front in a daze. Hard to explain but it made me so uneasy. Then a deer jumped in front and I came very close to hitting it. That was the whoa wakeup call I needed and I drove the rest of the way with a bit of a quiver keeping me fully alert!
I ordered a SIM card online that was supposed to give me unlimited US talk/text/data for the trip, but it was lost in the mail and didn’t arrive before my departure. The company apparently overnighted a new one, but it didn’t arrive at Detroit Tuned by end of day (tracking says it’s expected July 7 due to the holiday.. long over night!). As a result, I couldn’t get in touch with Chad and showed up at Detroit Tuned HOURS after I was supposed to. As soon as I stopped my car in front of the familiar Detroit Tuned sign, I fell asleep. My body was just so ready to rest. So I slept overnight in STELL4 in the drivers’ seat. Surprisingly not completely uncomfortable, but do note that I usually sleep curled in a ball. The worst part was waking at 5:30am with very cold feet but I was otherwise ok. Oh and I woke up with a deer gently nudging the rear passenger quarter panel of my car. Maybe the pink attracted it? As soon as I woke up and moved, the car adjusted and scared the deer into standing very alert looking right at me. A constant reminder of how close to nature we always are!
So right now I’m at a McDonald’s a few blocks from Detroit Tuned. So much for my diet (which was really a healthy eating plan more than anything) but the bagel combo with large coffee is exactly what I needed to start my day! I’m waiting for Chad to wake up and then see what to do. I have two front tires on my passenger seat because I was planning to have them installed at Detroit Tuned and an alignment done before the trip. The holiday messes with the plans too because Chad is going away and the shop is closed today – along with any dealerships.
Everything always works out and despite these hurdles, I am so excited to continue the trip. I look so forward to the rest of my adventures – good and bad!
I didn’t take a lot of photos so far. Just a couple odometer readings as I set off. I didn’t bother having the GoPro running while motoring at night to the border because it was honestly not an exciting drive!
Alright, Day 2 officially starts now! Back on the road!
Always lots of love,
XO LILCOOPR and a very pink STELL4