Wednesday, June 24, 2020

[M3] Road trip!!

[note: this post, like an air-cooled 911, is back-dated to when these events occurred] 

[also note: I have condensed multiple forum posts into this entry, please forgive awkward transitions]

Last weekend we ventured outdoors for the first time in 3 months to visit some friends in Kirkwood. For some people the exciting part of the trip is what you do when you get there, but I know how nice the roads and scenery are, so I was excited to take the M3!

We went out via 88, and came home the 'long way' on 4. It's always a lovely drive across the Sierras and I think we got the timing perfect in terms of weather and conditions, as you'll see.

Just a couple minutes on the road and we were cruising through the 135k milestone. Unfortunately the start of the trip was a total drag... traffic has mostly vanished with Covid but we managed to find it, sitting for the first two hours in crawling traffic all the way out to Tracy. The M3 was loaded up with road trip essentials as well as our weekend bags and a bunch of things that our friends wanted us to bring out to them (they've been in Kirkwood since shelter-in-place started). The M3 swallowed it up without any complaint.

Things started to pick up once we got past Stockton and hit 88. We stopped for fuel, Red Bull, and beef jerky in Jackson.

As the sun came down and we climbed our way toward Kirkwood, the views became irresistible. We pulled over once...

...and then again. My DSLR was buried deep in my overnight bag and we were keeping our hosts waiting for dinner, so all the photo duties were left to the iPhone.

After 4+ hours on the road, the M3 delivered us to Kirkwood safe and sound, no worse for wear except for a bug slaughter.

The M3 relaxed on Saturday while we enjoyed the great outdoors. I took a few DSLR snaps.

I love this detail on our cars: where the surfaces invert just ahead of and behind the doors.

I did step away from the car long enough to enjoy what Kirkwood has to offer. I've been around Tahoe a few times but never down to Kirkwood, and it was wonderful. There isn't much in the way of a village and it was just quiet and peaceful. There are tons of hikes, bike trails, and small lakes to enjoy.

My friend loaned me his spare mountain bike and took me around the trails, most of which cut across and along the ski runs. I am extremely amateur at mountain biking (second time out ever) but it's starting to win me over. 

I am thankful that he didn't tell me how much this bike was worth until after the ride. It's easy to geek out on all the tech these things have, and it added a layer of learning curve as I attempted to adjust my dampers, drop the seat post, and swap into the right gear all at the right times. Thankfully I didn't go over the handlebars at any point and by the end of the ride I was really learning to trust the bike. There are definite similarities with high-performance driving... keep your eyes up, look through the curve where you want to go, and the faster you go, the better the suspension works and the more you can trust the machine...

On Saturday evening we had some down-time before dinner so I went out again with the car and DSLR to try to get some nice snaps in the dusk lighting.

Sunday afternoon we hiked and then made our way home. Highway 4 was lovely, but apparently not lovely enough to stop and take photos. Both 88 and 4 were nice and smooth (88 I believe was repaved just recently), 4 cut through some nice towns and along a nice river for a bit before climbing up and over the hills via tight switchbacks with no center line. We stopped for gas at an extremely overpriced but charming old-fashioned Chevron station in Camp Connell. 

Unfortunately there was a long, straight, hot drag between Copperopolis and Stockton with nothing but wheat and corn for company. We wrapped up our California road trip in the quintessential way, at In-n-Out.

400+ miles and the car didn't skip a beat. The A/C and cruise control kept things comfortable, the motor was a bit wheezy at 8000 feet but otherwise no complaints! It has earned a bit of rest and a nice wash that it will receive this weekend.

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