Touring the US in a 1929 Ford Model A ‘a doable adventure’ for 83-year-old
Brother of Alexandria resident takes a pit stop in Douglas County on his third road trip across the country
Heads turn, eyes widen and jaws drop when David Egee, 83, rolls up to each pit stop along his journey.
Egee drives a 1929 Ford Model A car across the country, and he drove through Alexandria on his third road trip last week.
After he retired, his wife died and his kids were grown, Egee decided he wanted to do something with the extra time and resources on his hands.
“I refer to myself as being very unmoored,” Egee said. “A ship that’s just not moored to anything.”
The top speed Egee is willing to drive is 40 miles per hour, so he tries to avoid interstates whenever possible. His vehicle averages between 12 and 15 miles per gallon.
Although Egee prepares his route based on which states he wants to visit, he doesn’t limit himself to a set schedule. Instead, he stays in each place as long or as little as he feels while trying to find cheap hotels and motels as he goes.
His friends tell him driving around in such a unique car is a performance, but Egee prefers to think of it as a conversation starter, or “the personality of the trip.”
When he encounters problems along the way, finding someone to help him out becomes part of the adventure.
On one occasion when his tire blew in Pennsylvania, he had to get one shipped from Missouri. Egee said it proves challenging to find spare parts for a 91-year-old vehicle.
For his first journey, Egee took U.S. Route 6, also known as the Grand Army of the Republic Highway. Starting in Massachusetts and finishing in California, this trek stretches over 3,000 miles.
“It’s a doable adventure,” he said. “I can’t climb Mount Everest, and I don’t want to go into the jungles, but this is something I can do.”
On Egee’s second trip, he traveled around the New England states in the northeast corner of the U.S.
This marks his third adventure. Egee headed out from Connecticut and wants to continue on through Montana and Wyoming.
He stopped in Alexandria to visit his sister, Leslie Woolery, so this has been one of his longer stops on the route. Egee first mentioned his possible visit to Woolery in July.
“At first, I told him he couldn’t come because of the pandemic,” Woolery said.
She called him again a month later to see where he was. Egee left Connecticut Aug. 15, and he told Woolery he was in Indiana.
“He’s a character, but I love him dearly, and I was delighted when he arrived,” Woolery said.
Egee hadn’t visited Minnesota since Woolery lived in Glenwood in the 1970s. She moved there with her husband, who had ties to a family farm.
“I came to Minnesota, I’m never going to leave it,” Woolery said. “I’m a Midwesterner now and watch the rest of my family go wherever they so please.”
Egee and Woolery were two of five children born and raised in Newtown, Conn.
As a teenager, Egee drove his siblings to school in a Ford Model A. He and one of his friends would “monkey around” with their vehicles together, so Egee decided to buy another Model A when he started doing his road trips.
Egee left the U.S. in 1968 and worked in international health care in the Middle East, northern Africa and Europe. Now, he lives in London, England, and has a vacation house in Connecticut, which he stays at for three months out of the year.
The road ahead
Egee continues to ask himself one question: Once he finishes this trip, then what?
He said he would like to go on at least one tour through the southern states. After that, he’s considering driving through parts of Canada.
Egee keeps a journal along the way to document the stories he hears from people, the times he’s been helped by strangers and the occasions he’s helped others.
“You’re given this space,” he said. “How are you going to fill it?”
Egee said some people are content with just sitting, but it doesn’t suit him. Instead, he’s been writing about his experiences. Eventually, he plans to publish a book called “Seeing America at 35 miles an hour,” which is his average speed.
“I feel that when people retire, it’s sometimes hard for them to have a purpose, particularly widowers and widows,” he said. “This fulfills that need for me.”