Attending the Limitless Ghost Town Road Rally
This last weekend I attended my first road rally.
I had planned on going for weeks, so it was
exciting to finally take the new (to me) Z06 Corvette out for a few hundred miles. The rally started at 9am on Saturday morning, so I decided to drive up close to the starting point and stay the night. I left about 4:30pm on Friday and made it to the hotel a little after 7pm. No issues on the trip up, and I got some sleep before the next morning.
I postponed buying gas for the Corvette until Saturday morning, and stopped during the drive to
the starting point. There were around 40 cars at the start point of the rally at 9am, and we promptly left on time at 9:30am. I made a few mistakes preparing for the rally, which I will cover in a separate writing. This mistake was about the waypoints and not preparing for them. I’m not familiar with the areas we drive through, and I didn’t know anyone on the rally. I stared the rally at the back of the group, and followed a black truck that I could make out in traffic. Redmond is becoming a big city, and I immediately got lost in traffic as everyone was separated. I didn’t take the time to plot my route via GPS on my navigation or on my phone, and that was a major problem.
I was able to keep my eyes on the black truck in front of me in the rally, although I was clearly not keeping up the pace of everyone else. The first waypoint was driving past a campground, and I really don’t remember seeing one at any point before jumping on the highway as waypoint #2.
Eventually I found the route and made it up to the stop in Shaniko, Oregon. That was item 3 on the first stages of the day. I saw two other rally cars headed back out of Shaniko as I was headed in, so I stopped off the side of the road and snapped a picture and a little video of an older Texaco station. Shaniko is a small town with a handful of stores and a haunted hotel that sits empty.
Leaving out of Shaniko, and heading back down the hills, I was stopped by the black truck that I had been following. Apparently we were somehow far ahead of the group because one of the cars in the larger group lost a coolant hose and had to stop for repairs. I met them down in Antelope as they were coming through town, and jumped into the back of the group headed back to Shaniko. We all stopped for a break in Shaniko as coolant needed to be added to the car that lost the hose, and another had a gas cap that was stuck. I had brought some tools, but not enough or the right ones to be helpful. Yet another mistake that I’ll cover separately.
The last stop for the early stages of the day were in Condon, Oregon. There was a gas station to
grab some fuel and a small diner called ‘The Drive-In’ to grab a burger and shake. We all made it to town and ate lunch until 2pm before heading out. The next stops were in stage 3 & 4 of day 1, and they went through Heppner, Monument, and finished for gas and a break in Long Creek. There wasn’t really anything in Heppner to speak of, and from there my GPS was lost. I had tried to set each of the next stops into my phone GPS to make things easier, but my phone couldn’t find how to get to Monument. I was able to pull over to the side of the road and manually scroll through the GPS and determine how to get there. As I was driving in to town to the Boyer Cash Store (the stop on the list), everyone else was leaving. I stopped briefly to check the route to Long Creek and headed on. Long Creek wasn’t too far away, and I arrived as everyone was taking a break for gas and a snack.
We completed stages 3 and 4 in long Creek, and the last few stops were before La Grande. At this point it was 5pm, and it would be dark within an hour or so. The Corvette headlights aren’t great, and I decided to call it a day and just go to La Grande. I was getting tired, my phone GPS couldn’t find the next stop 9nor could I find it on the map), and I was ready to be out of the car. It was still a 2 hour drive straight to La Grande from there. I saw plenty of deer and one elk along the way, and thankfully didn’t meet them too closely. I made it into to La Grande after 7pm, checked into the hotel, and grabbed some gas and fast food. I was beat for the day and, also skipped the meet that night. It was cold and windy, and I was just ready for some sleep.
Day 2 was a somewhat shorter trip home on the rally, but followed some of the same stops. I had talked to my wife the night before at the hotel and rain / snow was predicted for Sunday evening. I made the decision to go a faster route home along the interstate and state highways rather than join the rally. The rally would have put me back into Redmond in the late afternoon or early evening, which would have left me with a 2.5 hour drive home down to south central Oregon. I would be taking the chance to just beat the weather in the dark, and I wasn’t excited for that.
The fastest route home, which was still planned as 7 hours, was along I-84 from La Grande to Biggs Junction, then down OR-97. Simple and pretty easy to navigate. I stopped at McDonald’s somewhere off I-84 for breakfast, hit an ear of corn on the interstate, and made it to OR-97 to turn and head south. I had wrapped the Corvette in Hexis Bodyfence X PPF (paint protection film) prior to the rally, so the ear of corn was comical without causing any damage. The trip down OR-97 was uneventful, but I did see two different Ferraris and a new C8 Corvette along the way. I stopped for some takeout Chinese food in Bend, OR for lunch, then finished the trip home. I got home around 4pm, and beat the rain at 7pm. In total I drove 932 miles on the trip in 48 hours. I learned a couple new things about the Z06 Corvette also, which will give me some winter projects to work on.
Leading up to the rally, the only thing I kept hearing is that you should do it. Attend a rally and get out and drive. I 100% agree with that. Although it was kinda lonely on the rally driving by myself, I did see some parts of Oregon that I probably never would have otherwise. One of the biggest reasons I wanted the Corvette was to take longer drives in a sports car. That was definitely the case in 900 miles. I hope to do more of that in 2022 with the Corvette. I am keeping my eyes open for other rallies to join. They are becoming popular and there are plenty being organized on the West Coast. We’ll see what we can get to next year.