2002 author/driver Alyce Cornyn-Selby climbed into a very topless "open
cockpit" roadster and drove from one side of America to the other.
And you thought owning a convertible was impractical! Consider driving
a vehicle with no top at all (retractable or otherwise), no doors, no heat,
no windows, and no windshield wipers.
"This trip is about
SOME Day," declares Alyce. "People say 'Some day I'm gonna write
a book, some day I'm gonna go to Vienna, some day I'm gonna lose weight.'
Your SOME day might be yesterday."
Alyce is her
own inspiration: she has authored books, she has been to Vienna and
she has lost 100 pounds.
her age might settle for a cruise or a nice tour of the Europe. "Done
it," says Alyce whose international speaking engagements have taken her
to all 50 states and 30 foreign countries. A researcher and expert
on the baffling behavioral phenomenon called Self Sabotage (shooting one's
goals and one's self in the foot), Alyce has addressed conferences and
conventions from Honolulu to London, speaking to such diverse groups as
Boeing, Microsoft, the New York Times and the FBI. She is
the author of What's
Your Sabotage? and Why Winners
"You never see
a roadster parked outside of a psychiatrist's office," says Alyce, "There's
a reason for that."
most people would question the "why" of such an undertaking, many say,
"She's living my dream." Alyce may be the one person in the country
who could ignite the American fascination with travel.
typically go against the grain," says former director of the Oregon Historical
Society, Chet Orloff. "Early Oregonians took the road less traveled
just getting here."
The car is as
basic as a car can get. With a 4 cylinder, 1600 single port engine,
the little car can cruise at 65 with a good tail wind. A strong head
wind, however, can slow the 57 horsepower roadster considerably because
of the very flat, very counter-aerodynamic front. "It's like pushing
a turkey platter through water," says Alyce who has bucked some of the
country's strongest winds in the country on a test drive up the Columbia
River Gorge, revered internationally by windsurfers.
"Did you come out of the
same gene pool as
Ken Kesey?" asked
the spokesman from AAA.
Like most old
cars, the roadster's past is a mystery. Records aren't kept of car
ownership. Alyce bought the car in 1997 from Matthew's
Memory Lane Motors in her home town of Portland, Oregon. They
bought it from a man who said he was Tanya Tucker's uncle who was headed
back to Oklahoma. The roadster, built probably 35 years ago in someone's
garage, is a fair replica of a 1927 Bugatti. If you see the car you'll
know it; the new purple paint is intense and the wheels are fire engine
red. Alyce spent 18 months preparing the car and herself for the
8,548 mile trek coast to coast across America. She took advanced
driving courses in SkidCars, replaced parts and updated the car, does daily
strengthening yoga exercises and interviewed women who ride motorcycles
across the country.
"This trip also
commemorates the first time America was officially connected--the first
year you could drive coast to coast was 1927," explains Alyce.
City on the Oregon coast to Atlantic City on the East coast, Alyce saw
plenty of what she calls "The Kitschiest Country on the Planet--America!"
Alyce visited 30 states and went through more truck stop coffee than most
of us will consume in a lifetime.
Oregon is great
but the call of the seductress known as the Open Road calls to many Americans
...and Alyce couldn't ignore it any longer.
But why would
a woman with a comfortable historic
home and a great career launch herself across the country in a topless
Kuralt and Kerouac, Alyce is not out in search of America. "Note
to guys," quips Alyce, "it's called a map. I know right where America
is. And I'm not looking for myself either. I know who I am--I'm
a person who wants to drive--a lot!"
A sign in Alyce's office
reads: Rand McNally School of Problem-solving ("Hit the Road!").
Devouring "road trip"
books as part of her preparation, Alyce agrees that there wasn't a precedent
for her adventure.
"My book about
this trip could be titled, 'Don't Go' because that's what everybody has
told me. Advice has been consistent and emphatic. But I was
fascinated with the idea. Could I make it? Would I get
too worn out? Too scared? Would the car make it that far?"
title for her journey is appropriate: "HIT THE ROAD, Across America
in a Topless Car."
She made it,
she learned 23 Roadster Lessons, and discovered the unwritten code by people
who help strangers (they want no pay, they expect something else.)
Read all about
it by clicking this link here.
Alyce obeys the speed limit at the
Salt Flats in Utah
Alyce at the Salt Flats in Utah