2013 Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet: Road Trip to L.A., 2,995 Miles To Go
April 23, 2013
There are good ways to start a road trip and there are not so good ways.
I spent the night in Cambridge, MA before leaving on my route back to Los Angeles in our 2013 Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet. The apartment was 2ish miles from the Mass Pike and had ample, safe street parking. Perfect.
Except that there's an invisible line somewhere on this street that separates the towns of Cambridge and Somerville and, with my Cambridge parking permit, I was on the wrong side of that line in the mist.
I loaded my luggage into the frunk and, as my carry-on is exactly the same size as Erin's, it fit exactly the same with no room for my briefcase. I set that down on the curb, took pictures of every street sign within 200 feet (none said Somerville, two said Cambridge), got back in the car, set the nav and started my 2,995-mile drive.
I thought the trip was starting out on only one bad note. You, dear reader, via reading it a week after it happened, have noticed that the trip actually started out on two bad notes.
The trip to the Mass Pike took the 911 through some of Boston's worst streets. Like on the first day when I was tearing through Manhattan, the Pirelli SottoZero winter tires on their 19-inch wheels proved their worth. No punctures. No warped rims. No back-snapping impact on the myriad potholes. It's not snowing, but it's definitely below freezing and these tires have plenty of grip.
"Dollah twenty-five." The toll-taker says. Adam Sandler bits from the early '90s rush through my mind as I stifle a giggle. As anyone who's driven the mass-pike can confirm, this was the most exciting part of the next few hours.
The Massachusetts Turnpike, Interstate 90, is a phenomenally boring 138-mile stretch of road with an infuriatingly low 65-mph speed limit (more mind-bogglingly, it's 55 at the start) and drivers on this horrible road set cruise control to 64 mph. Oh, and there are cops. Everywhere. Marked. Unmarked. Anything they can do to get an extra buck out of the citizenry, they'll do. It's a nightmare and being back on it makes me glad I moved.
But because this road is so painfully slow for a modern, relatively straight freeway with good sight lines, it gave me the opportunity for some top-down motoring. I pulled off at a service plaza somewhere near the middle and kept the top down into New York. The toll taker in NY was not an Adam Sandler bit but he was extremely interested to know why I was driving with the top down in the winter.
It was during this drive that I realized A) I didn't bring enough sunblock and B) that the 911's base stereo is not up to the task of cancelling out wind noise. For only $2,120, we could've upgraded to a 445-watt 12-speaker Bose stereo. Or spent $5,290 on an 821-watt Burmester kit. Either is surely better than the 9-speaker, 235-watt stock system which gets extremely tinny at the high volumes required for actually hearing it. Even with the treble set to its lowest level, it was still sub-par.
Thankfully, speed limits increased in New York (or at least people started driving faster) and the top went back up.
And then my radar detector crapped out.
The radar detector dying and the annoying stereo were quickly forgotten somewhere around Utica (I remember thinking about steamed hams) when I realized that I'd left my nice Tumi briefcase — filled with computer, iPad, iPod, digital camera, hard drives, headphones and more — on a curb in what may-or-may-not have been Cambridge.
I tested the Pirelli's stopping ability as I pulled off of the freeway as fast as possible. Screaming at myself at highway speeds didn't seem safe.
Thankfully, that 'hood is full of very nice people and my stuff was still exactly where I left it. The next day it would be safely in the hands of FedEx.
I drove the next few hundred miles in a bit of a funk and I put the top down again because being deaf seemed better than being mad.
And then, something like 800 miles into the first day's drive, cruise control died.
Our 911 doesn't have some fancy (helpful) radar-based cruise control. Just the normal kind, but still, it was helpful. The 911 has a heavy throttle pedal and holding a steady 70+ mph speed requires deliberate effort.
This additional effort turned out to be a blessing. Having to pay just a little bit more attention kept me in the game. My head was fresh and I wasn't the least bit drowsy when I pulled into a hotel in Illinois, 1,016 miles from where I started earlier in the day.