It was starting to get embarrassing-the last time I showed up at a major national Corvette event in a Corvette was four years ago, at Mid America Designs' Funfest in 1999, and the Vette was a new coupe that the regional zone office was kind enough to lend to me for a few days. I spout off about driving your Corvette, then make an appearance at the NCM, Carlisle, or Funfest in a Grand Am or whatever comparable transportation module Avis is passing off as an "intermediate" sedan. It becomes both frustrating and humiliating to be an enthusiast, owner, and (fer cryin' out loud!) editor of VETTE Magazine and not show up once in a while in a Corvette.

After buying a used C5 coupe last fall, I knew I'd have to make a road trip at least once, if for no other reason than to get it out of my system. Plus, a road trip would be a great opportunity to see parts of the country I've only viewed through a dinky window from 30,000 feet up.

I gave some serious thought to participating in one of the 50th Anniversary caravans but finally decided against it for multiple reasons. The whole caravan thing looked like a logistical nightmare when, first and foremost, Nashville was to be a working trip. It would also cost me more time away from VETTE's palatial world headquarters (I'm being just a wee bit sarcastic) than I felt I could spare at that time. Plus, I'm not a good follower; I don't have herd instincts. When I'm on the road, I want to go where I want, when I want, at whatever speed I feel like (or feel I can get away with), and stop when I want-and those aren't good traits if you're spending five or so days in a pack of several hundred cars. So, we (Rob and I) flew to Nashville, were ferried to the various activities by General Motors (thanks guys!), then rented a car (a baby Buick this time) for the 50th finale in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

As time drew near for making travel arrangements for the 2003 Funfest, it began to look feasible to drive-rather than fly-to Effingham. The C5 had very fresh rubber on the ground, and a trip two-thirds of the way across the country would be a good test for the Wilwood "Big Brakes." A little preventative maintenance and some slightly-ahead-of-scheduled services, a few pieces of precautionary gear, and a batch of maps and tour books from the SoCal AAA affiliate and we'd be good to go.

I didn't want to head out on a multi-thousand-mile trip without changing the oil in the LS1, so I got a K&N Performance Gold oil filter (it's a personal thing, but the only oil filters I'll put on an LS1-the C5, my '99 1LE Firebird, or next year the C5 Shark-are either the original equipment AC PF44 or K&N's HP1007, and the "wrench nut" on the end of the K&N filter simplifies filter changes so it gets the nod) and picked up eight quarts of Mobil1 5W30 oil, 6.5 quarts for the engine and the extra "just in case." I also checked and topped off all the fluids, inspected the car pretty thoroughly and, since the coupe is no longer equipped with run-flat tires, bought a couple cans of the largest size "flat-fix" aerosol stuff I could find, as well as a dinky air compressor that's powered off the cigarette lighter. One thing I didn't do and definitely should have (more on this later) was replace the windshield wiper blades-if you're taking a road trip and the wiper blades have been on your car for more than about six months, replace them.

The rear storage compartments on C5s hold a lot of small stuff-I was able to stow a fairly large assortment of hand tools, the extra oil, two jugs of Dex-Cool coolant, a spare serpentine belt, all sorts of car-care and car-cleaning products, a large bottle of Windex and two rolls of paper towels, a load of soft cloth towels, and the cans of flat-fix and mini-compressor-all in the three compartments.