2009 Ford Flex Road Trip, Stage 5: Bend to Reno, Nevada
August 19, 2009
It's been something like 10 days since we left home for parts north in the 2009 Ford Flex. We've seen a lot of cool stuff, but today's run from Bend to Reno is proving to be the least scenic so far.
That's not to say the route down highway 97 through Alturas to highway 395 is ugly -- it isn't. This mostly striaght two-lane rises and falls as the scenery gradually changes from pine forest to desert. It's just that there aren't many interesting landmarks on this lonely road.
Until we come to the Shoe Tree, that is.
Known to the scientific community as Conversii Odiferous, this rare tree blooms year-'round, but only alongside rarely-travelled highways.
You'd think that months in the sun and a bit of rain and snow would somehow bleach out the smell. I'm here to tell you that this is *cough* not true. Handy Hint: Stay upwind of the branch with the orange ankle cast.
A few dozen miles past the shoe tree, highway 395 crosses into Nevada and -- no surprise here -- exit 1 leads to the Borderline Casino.
In no time we're in downtown Reno. We almost instantly wish we'd chosen a hotel in the suburbs.
Right next door to the Civic Center (and presumably the mayor's office) is an ovoid concrete plaza. By day, the skateboarders and panhandlers have dibs on the space.
But by night, the local girls' roller derby club comes out to play. That's right, roller derby.
What's this, you want to hear more about the Flex?
As I said, the route was straight and the road was empty, so the driving was fairly simple and the Flex cruised easily at our 65 to 70 mph target speed.
I suppose I can say that the cruise control works fairly well. I'm not too enamored with the steering buttons that control it, and I'd like it a lot more if it had a genuine 'cancel' button.
The second tank from Alturas to Reno was nearly all downhill, so the in-car average fuel economy meter went up and up until it reached 25.7 mpg. But as we got to Reno, more city driving crept in and the alleged average fell to 24.3 mpg by the time we refuelled.
I say 'alleged' because the actual calculated value, miles driven divided by gallons added, was not nearly as impressive. Our actual fuel economy came out to just 21.8 mpg.
This has been a trip-long trend. The on-board mpg meter varies from the calclated value, and it's read higher on every tank except one. On average, it has over-reported mpg by 5.6% -- about 1.2 mpg.
Tank 6, Bend to Alturas: 298.7 miles, 12.81 gallons, 23.3 mpg
Tank 7, Alturas to Reno: 218.4 miles, 10.04 gallons, 21.8 mpg
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 31,111 miles