Cincy To Georgia
Gotta say, Great American is a beautiful yard, right on the banks of the Ohio River. It’s immaculate, colorful, and there doesn’t seem to be a bad seat in the house. Good hot dogs, too! It replaced Riverfront Stadium, one of the old circular multipurpose sports stadiums that have almost all been knocked down. From our seats behind home plate you could see the river and Kentucky on the other side.
After we departed, some of the more entertaining parts of our ride happened. Not long after we entered Kentucky after the game, we exited I-75 after filling the Camaro’s fuel tank (again!) and hopped on Route 25, also known as the Dixie Highway. This road runs parallel to the Interstate, but through scenic countryside. Once we cleared traffic, we were treated to lots of switchbacks, roller coaster ups-and-downs, blind corners—it was just a fun driver’s road, especially with the top down. Eventually, some rains came so we pulled over, put up the lined canvas top, and made our way back to the interstate. We had a lot of mileage to cover if we wanted to get close to Atlanta that night.
About that fuel economy—or lack thereof. The 6L80E-equipped F-body with a supercharged powerplant is a thirsty beast. It’s EPA-rated at 12 mpg city, 18 highway and that’s about what we got. With a heavy foot we were able to get about 18.5 mpg at cruising speeds of 80, but in the city it’s like there’s a hole in the tank. Twelve mpg is what we saw around town. Even babying it didn’t really help.
What was great about this leg of the trip was that I-75 through Kentucky and Tennessee was like the American Autobahn. Everyone around me was cruising at 85-90 mph and police presence was next to zero—who am I to argue? I tried to blend in. Unlike the interstates in most places, there were some actually some curves in the road as it wound through the hills.
Entering Tennessee reminded me a lot of crossing the Delaware Water Gap in from west New Jersey into Pennsylvania. It was quite beautiful. Eventually we got into Georgia. Not much to see here. We called it a night at around 10:30 in Cartersville.
Atlanta To Tampa
With a night game ahead of us, we were able to sleep in. We grabbed a quick breakfast at the Mickey D’s, then head out on the road again. With not a lot on the schedule, we tried sightseeing: Stone Mountain Park and the world’s largest high relief sculpture. Think Mount Rushmore as a memorial to the Confederate States of America and the men who served it during the Civil War. More than 400 feet above the ground, it measures 90x190-feet and is recessed 42 feet into the mountain. It depicts President Jefferson Davis and Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. The project began in 1923 and wasn’t completely finished until 1972. It’s quite remarkable, but probably never would get done in this politically correct age.
After this we were off to Atlanta. We stopped at Turner Field to buy tickets. The parking lot sat on the site of the old Fulton County Stadium, and we were able to pose for pictures at the location marked where Henry Aaron’s 715th home run landed. We dined at the Hard Rock Café downtown, then headed back to the yard for the game. People were a little shocked to see two guys in Mets attire—we were enemy territory for sure—but their barbs were all in good fun and the verbal jousting never got heated. To tell the truth, the folks in the seats around us loved hearing about our baseball journey and were happy to take pictures of us for our scrapbook. Baseball fans are good people.
Naturally, the Mets wasted a good pitching performance by leaving their bats in New York—a familiar story for them in ’13. On the plus side, I knocked off park number 36 (12 for Sam). Turner Field is a nice enough place, but it couldn’t compare to Comerica or Great American Ballpark. It was a little too big and lacked the intimacy of the other two stadiums. On the plus side, there was a Hot Wheels Edition Camaro convertible on display. Its $51,100 stick price was a lot more appealing than the $66,630 of our test ZL1, though still a lot of cabbage.
Even though Turner Field is built right next to I-75, it took nearly an hour to get out of the parking lot. There was plenty of traffic for about an hour after that, but once that cleared I kicked in the afterburners. The Camaro’s excellent GPS/infotainment system said we’d be getting home around 5:45. Ouch. Taking full advantage of the ZL1’s dual nature, we pulled in the driveway at 4:45. Fueled by sugar-free NOS and the Camaro’s magnificent road manners, I never felt like I was nodding off. This is one hell of a fine automobile and it help facilitate one of the great father-son bonding experiences ever. These are memories that we’ll have forever and you can’t put a price tag on that.
The big question was would we take in a game at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, home of the Tampa Bay Rays. I wish I could say yes, but we’d been there a couple of times already this season and this trip had already cost me enough. It would have been anti-climatic. We watched them on TV from the comfort of our couch. In keeping with our theme, I celebrated with some apple pie-flavored moonshine. Tastes great and it’s less filling than the sugar-laden dessert.
Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and ZL1, indeed.