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College friends repeat cross-country trek

Friends reliving 8,000-mile journey

Posted: June 10, 2012 - 12:07am  |  Updated: June 11, 2012 - 8:07am
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Brock and Cumby say one change from their earlier trip is that this time they'll sleep on air mattresses, not the ground.
Brock and Cumby say one change from their earlier trip is that this time they'll sleep on air mattresses, not the ground.

Twitter @JennaNMartin

Two college roommates threw caution to the wind 25 years ago for a cross-country road trip.

David Brock and Patrick Cumby set off May 31 to repeat the experience with a five-week trek from Evans to the California coast.

They’re making the voyage in the same 1960 Triumph TR3 roadster, which barely held together on the first trip. This time, the men are being followed by a four-person documentary crew hoping to capture each blunder along the way.

The British roadster, affectionately named Lord Percival, will take Brock and Cumby nearly 8,000 miles across 13 states. The longtime friends will travel down the Pacific Coast Highway, through Western deserts, and into 22 national parks.

“We’re a little worried,” said Cumby, of Edenton, N.C., before departure. “That car doesn’t like hot weather. It was built for England.

“I’m not sure how we’re going to handle 133-degree weather, either.”

The idea for the first road trip came about in 1987 when two 24-year-olds were deciding what was next in their young lives.

Bored and restless after graduating from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Brock was having trouble finding a job using his mechanical engineering degree. Cumby, meanwhile, had dropped out of Georgia Tech and was working at a video store.

Cumby had recently bought the 1960 Triumph and a map hanging in the friends’ apartment became the jumping point.

“We went to the map on the wall and just took a magic marker and drew a line across it,” said Brock, of Evans. “We looked for every national park in between here and the coast of California and just connected the dots.”

Camping on the side of the road and eating meals in convenience stores, the thrill-seekers made it to the West coast in five weeks. They had run out of money, couldn’t find jobs and realized Lord Percival was on its last leg.

“We weren’t just completely out of money,” Cumby said. “The car had disintegrated, too.

“Pieces had literally fallen off of that car in every state we passed through.”

While the friends made it back to Georgia and moved forward in their lives, they never gave up hope of making the trip again.

Both men, now 49, felt the 25th anniversary of their first adventure was perfect timing.

Cumby is in the process of changing careers from corporate executive to author.

“This is my mid-life crisis trip,” he said.

As news of the trip spread, Cumby said British car owners from throughout the nation offered their support, including throwing them a send-off party in Atlanta.

A film crew, led by a Savannah College of Art and Design graduate, is taping the pair for a documentary titled “Dangerous Crosswinds.”

They hope to show their work at national film festivals and are seeking to raise money for production costs through the entrepreneurial Web site, www.kickstarter.com.

While not much about their journey is expected to change from the original, there is one thing Brock plans to do differently.

“To accommodate our aging bodies, we are (taking) air mattresses this time instead of sleeping directly on the ground,” he said.

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