FIRST PERSON TO DRIVE TWO MILLION MILES
NAMES TOP 12 SMALL TOWNS TO VISIT THIS SUMMER
Irv Gordon, owner of the record-breaking 1966 Volvo P1800,
suggests driving to a small town for fun this summer
NEW YORK (May 20, 2003) -- Hitting the highways for this Memorial Day weekend or planning a family vacation? Irv Gordon -- who as the first person to drive two million miles in the same car has taken more road trips than anybody -- suggests you spend some time in America's small towns this summer.
Gordon, a 61-year-old retired science teacher from Long Island, New York, last year clocked his historic two millionth mile in his shiny red 1966 Volvo P1800 while driving down Times Square. Gordon gets his kicks driving his Volvo on Route 66 and just about every other picturesque highway in the United States. He estimates he has stopped at more than 5,000 small towns in this car over the past 37 years for coffee and conversations with the locals.
Gordon's advice to families preparing a summer vacation on the road: ditch the fancy resorts and theme parks and drive to a small town.
"With all that snow and rain the past six months, people have been cooped up, and I know they're anxious to have a relaxing summer vacation under the warm sun," Gordon said. "But why fight with 12,000 other people to sit cramped on one grain of sand on a crowded beach in a bustling city? Get off the grid-locked interstates and take a state highway toward one of our thousands of peaceful small towns.
"You'll find that each small town is a jewel packed with bizarre attractions, important history and plenty of fun," Gordon continued. "Small towns are reflections of where we came from, and we need that from time to time to get us to where we're going."
Gordon suggests 12 great towns to drive to this summer:
- McLean, Texas. (I-40, Exit 141) "Give yourself a treat and visit this old Route 66 town where time has stood still since I-40's construction bypassed it decades ago. A must see is the 'Devil's Rope Museum,' with a fascinating history of the manufacture and use of barbed wire. Great gift shop with lots of Route 66 souvenirs. They even have a picture of me hanging on the wall, but it's not for sale."
- Belle Fourche, S.D. (I-90, Exit 10) "Quaint little open sky town with beautiful parks and friendly people. When you get there, drive 20 minutes north on Highway 85 to what is the 'Geophysical Center of the U.S.' -- contrary to what some New Yorkers would have you think. Take your picture next to the marker to show friends you were there."
- Cave City, Ky. (I-65, Exit 53) "Home of Mammoth Cave National Park, with the largest caves in the United States. One time I stopped there a family was kind enough to invite me to join them on a cave tour. It got really dark in the cave, and one of their kids grabbed my Volvo ball cap and threw it down a cavern. I'm still mad about that."
- Lancaster, Penn. (Highways 30 and 222) "Take a tour of all the covered bridges. Beautiful rolling hills and agriculture, and Pennsylvania Dutch cooking everywhere. My stomach growls just thinking about it."
- Chippewa Falls, Wis. (I-94, Exit 59) "Between Minneapolis and Milwaukee. When you visit this Northwoods town, make sure to get a tour of the Leinenkugel's Brewery. After the tour, ask John the brew master to give you a lesson on hops and wort. Don't leave town without buying fudge at the Glen Loch Candy Shoppe."
- Stein's Ghost Town, N.M. (I-10, Exit 5) "A century ago this was a popular train stop. Guess what happened when the trains stopped stopping? Today, the only two people that live there own the town and will give you a tour of its frozen-in-time buildings, homes and artifacts. There's an old burro that will be your best friend if you give it an apple. There's also a guard turkey at the town entrance. Meanest turkey I've ever seen."
- Montauk, N.Y. (Highway 27) "On the tip of the southern fork of Long Island, Montauk has everything from beautiful hotels, where you're pampered like a baby, to camping areas and a dude ranch. It's far from the big city and all its pressures."
- Opportunity, Mont. (I-90, Exit 208) "Great name for a town and great place to mail a letter or post card. The kids will find the nearby World Museum of Mining interesting."
- Blythe, Calif. (I-10, Exit 232) "Once when driving from Phoenix to L.A., I stopped for gas and discovered what must have been the largest outdoor flea market on the planet. Spent the entire day in Blythe on a lark, looking at everything from rock collections to antiques."
- Florence, Ore. (Highways 101 and 126) "With a breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean, Florence features huge sand dunes and is home of the American Museum of Fly Fishing. If you love water, this is your place. Drive north a few miles to the Sea Lion Caves, where you can walk among hundreds of seals resting on the beach. What a sight!"
- Tupelo, Miss. (Highways 75 and 45) "Visit Elvis Presley's birthplace. Once you see his tiny shotgun house, you'll understand why he once said something like, 'there will never be enough money in the world for me to ever forget what it was like to be poor.' Some great barbeque joints are just down the road, and don't forget to grab a jar or two of Tupelo honey."
- Gothenburg, Neb. (I-80, Exit 211) "Gothenburg, Neb., is the sister-city to Gothenburg, Sweden, where they make Volvos. Swedes settled here several years ago, and its other claim to fame is that it has one of the few Pony Express stations still in existence. Tell the locals you own a Volvo and they'll buy your breakfast. Tell them you've visited Sweden, and they'll buy your lunch. Tell them you've driven your Volvo in Sweden and they'll let you take them to the prom."
Gordon purchased his P1800 in June 1966 from a neighborhood Volvo dealership for $4,150. His 125-mile daily commute to and from work, his passion for driving and his meticulous care for his car enabled him to clock the miles. In 1998, The Guinness Book of World Records honored Gordon's car as the vehicle with the "highest certified mileage driven by the original owner in non-commercial service." Gordon breaks his own world record every time he drives his celebrated car.
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Sören Johansson, Volvo Cars of North America, 949-341-6719, firstname.lastname@example.org. Eric Davis, Haberman & Associates, 612-338-3900, email@example.com.
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