Journey to the Midwest and Back
Andy van Dalsem made a unique journey from California to Illinois and back in his Pacer. He recorded his
journey in pictures.
I grew up in California but moved to Chicago in April 2000 because I got a job in animation. I left a '78
Pacer behind but eventually in October of 2001 flew back to California so I could drive the Pacer back to
Illinois and drive it for as long as I was there. Well, from that point that turned out to be 3 weeks because
almost as soon as I got back, the studio where I worked closed down. The trip was a total waste. So no sooner
did the Pacer complete its non-stop 2000 mile trip that it had turn around and do it all over again.
Click on a thumbnail to view the full-sized image.
The trip from California to Illinois went off with only one hitch: the one thing we didn't change before leaving, the
tires, fell apart on us at stateline Nevada. The tread came off effectively destroying the passenger side
rear wheel well and ripping out the gas-filler hose. It was 107 degrees outside but we managed to unload the
back of the Pacer enough to get to the spare out and limp in to town. We bought new tires at CostCo and made
it the rest of the way without a single problem.
This is the responsible tire.
Here's a close-up of the damage. Its still hard for me to look at this . :)
The guilty tire went home like this, as luggage on an airplane. We sent it home because we thought we
might have a claim with Winston Tire. We didn't.
This was my first stop from Illinois back to California. It was the first state I came to after leaving
Illinois. If I weren't so lazy I'd go and check a map to see just what state that was but I figure I'll
never go back there so what difference does it make? All I know is that the sun hadn't been up for very
long at the time this picture was taken and caffeine was necessary. Note the Back to the Future-esque crap
strapped to roof.
This was also taken at the same McDonald's to show that I had literally crammed every single item I owned
in to the car. If you look in the box that says "MAIL" on it you can make out the box of the 1978 Pacer X
model kit I bought on e-bay for 10 bucks! Car still had personalized California plates at that point.
They read "ODD CAR".
Still at McDonald's. This is how the inside was loaded. Comfy! And yes, that's a Power Puff Girl hanging
from the visor. I'm not ashamed. :)
This last one is the Pacer in a more artistic arrangement. I filled up at this gas station in Colorado,
the only state I've ever been in where Nature's achievements are more impressive than Man's. It'd be hard
to live in surroundings like that and still deny the existence of God. It's that pretty. Like I said, the
rest of the trip was uneventful which is why there aren't more pictures. I didn't pass anything else along
the way that I felt was worth taking a picture of. Especially in Nebraska. Driving through that state was
like walking on a freaking treadmill. You can walk 'til your legs fall off but the scenery isn't gonna change.
Anyway, by the time I got home the Pacer had been running at about 70 m.p.h. for almost 48 hours straight.
It's kind of a testament to AMC. It's too bad they didn't last as long as their cars do.