2013 Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet: Road Trip to L.A., Change of Plans
April 24, 2013
I am the polar opposite of Erin Riches. She plans things like road trips very thoroughly. She looks at maps, sets goals and hits them. I sort of assume I'm supposed to be heading roughly west and figure out the rest on the fly. So when managed 1,016 miles on day 1, I was pleasantly surprised.
When I sat down to dinner that night, I texted Kurt and asked if we'd ever done a 1,000-mile day during our Jaguar XF Supercharged Road Trip to Alaska. He confirmed that we hadn't, I blamed the slow photographer.
Not only did I feel smug at my small accomplishment. I felt great. I was awake, alert, and had absolutely zero butt/back/leg/hip/whatever pain from sitting in a car for 14-ish hours.
It's almost like they design these things for endurance racing.
Over my Styrofoam box of takeout, I decided to take a page from Erin's book and do some planning. Good thing, too.
The idea was to head slightly north out of Indiana and hit a BBQ joint I'd heard of as I made my way towards South Dakota and Wall Drug. The following day was Easter Sunday in the off-season and all of my stops were either closed, or would be closed by the time I'd roll through town. Drats.
Time for a new plan.
Highway 80 isn't the most fun road in the world, but it's fast and, bolstered by my 1,000-mile triumph, I was kind of into making time. Also, Riches said she thought the car could do 500 miles on a single tank of fuel and I was kind of into breaking that barrier. I woke up naturally at about 5:30 am and got a move on.
In Iowa, a California license plate apparently says "Hey, come talk to me!" (I'd later find this is also the message in Colorado and Nebraska.) The first guy who approaches me at Iowa 80, the world's largest truckstop, asks if I drove it all the way out here. I hadn't found a cup of coffee yet, and had little patience to explain the story, so I just said yes. He was impressed, thought my car was "sharp" and told me to have a good day.
Guy #2 grabbed me on my way back to the Porsche. He was tall, willowy and weathered and probably the nicest human being on the face of the earth. We talked about farming and food and he said he loved San Francisco.
Our chat was eating into my goal of making time, but doing anything but continuing it felt rude. Finally, he broke away, told me to enjoy the weather on this unseasonably warm March day. It was 37 degrees.
If the old guy says it's nice, I guess I have to put the top down.
That's my face. That's what my hair looks like after doing 300 miles with the top down. What you can't see here is that, in this photo, I'm deaf.
Thankfully, it started to rain. Sideways. So I got to put the top back up.
When I pulled back onto the roadway, cruise control was working again.
Until now, we've only discussed the good parts about the Pirelli SottoZero winter tires: the low-temp performance, the good grip in snow and the amount of abuse they can take on rough roads. Now let's take a moment to talk about one of the annoying parts of these tires courtesy of a Nebraska Highway Patrolman.
"Do you know why I pulled you over?"
(Don't say "California plates?" Don't say "California plates?" Don't say "California plates?") "No sir."
"Well, you were kind of wiggling around in your lane. Are you drowsy? You're clearly not drunk."
"Nope. To both. It's noon. I'm good. But I've got to tell you, these tires HATE the grooved surface here. They're huge winter tires with crazy tread blocks. They're a little loud. They follow every rain groove and rut and I've got to actually steer it in a straight line. And?"
"Okay. Okay. Boy, wow, did you drive this all the way from California?"
"Looks fun. Be safe."
At this point, I'd been hit by two delays by super-nice Midwesterners and figured I'd add another one and hit a(nother) BBQ joint. I saw the sign on the highway and figured it'd be great. It was. I should have ordered a cup of sauce instead of an iced tea.
Full of meat, the next few hours passed quickly. Speed limits in that part of the world are mercifully high, 75 mph, and the traffic flows faster. Once again, 75 is simply too fast to drive with the top down on the 911 and I put it up on this 72-degree Nebraska day.
Welcome to the Midwest. Trucks get two lanes.
Colorado popped up sooner than I'd expected and, considering it was still light out, I figured I could do the 200 miles to Denver without a yawn. At this point I hadn't even cracked open a can of RealTree Brand camouflaged energy drink. (I now have this can in five shades of camo. Two from the Alaska trip, three from today.)
Like I assumed at the border, I coasted into Denver wide awake and feeling great. I can't stress enough how good the driving position is in the 911. Because the wheel doesn't extend terribly far, you need to sit quite upright and your arms just fall naturally into a perfect bend with hands at 10-and-2. The pedals, too, are deep in the footwell and require a firm foot.
The driving position isn't "relaxed." It's comfortable and active and keeps the blood a-flowin'.
I pulled in to get dinner just on the other side of Denver and saw the trip odometer reading 1,007 miles. After never having done a 1,000-mile day in my life, I'd now done two in a row.
There was a hotel next to the fast-food chain I'd picked for dinner. I'd done good. Might as well camp out for the night.
Mike Magrath Features Editor @ 9,115 miles