Two Fridays ago on August 30th, with the blessing of my wonderful wife, I began an adventure. As I have always loved driving long distances, from my Chrysler driving salesman days, I decided to drive from Charlotte, NC to Napa, CA and back. For what reasons you might ask:
1. I needed to drive my new M5 to really see what it was all about
2. To attend a dog training seminar on Protection sports for my 2 year old German Shepherd, Pasha.
3. To spend some quality time for myself away from the kids, demands of life, etc. and to recalibrate.
I knew that this trip would require focus as I was on a timeline. The distance from my house to Napa was roughly 2700 miles. My car had 3363 miles on it. I had to drive to Napa so I would be there for class on Monday morning, then attend 5 days of class, start driving back Friday after five to get to see my kids come home from school on Monday the 12th of September. This meant I had to do 2700 miles in 3 days there and 2700 in 3 days back, with my dog in the back seat. A daunting task with the promise of not speeding to my wife (I am so sorry, honey and I love you very much)!!! My plan was to take I-40 from Statesville, NC to California, hoping to have enough time to drive up the PCH to Napa (I did not and had to take the I-5 up). The way back was by I-80 cutting across to Louisville and then taking I-64 to I-77 back home. Here is the summary of how the drive played out:
1. Friday August 30th: Charlotte NC– Little Rock AR ~ 850 miles
2. Saturday August 31: Little Rock AR- Sedona AZ ~ 1250 miles
3. Sunday, Sept 1: Sedona, AZ to Fairfield CA ~ 800 miles
4. Friday Sept 6: Napa, CA – Reno, NV ~ 200 miles
5. Saturday Sept 7: Reno, NV – Cheyenne, WY ~ 950 miles
6. Sunday, Sept 8: Cheyenne WY – Louisville KY ~ 1150 miles
7. Monday, Sept 9: Louisville, KY – Charlotte, NC ~ 500 miles
Now, sprinkled in my story I have included realizations, discoveries, and points about my F10 M5. If you feel like you don’t want to read this long winded mish-mosh go to the end and I will have a bulleted list.
I had been preparing for this trip for a couple of months. I like to be prepared so tried to think of everything I would need, which included 4 quarts of oil, Rain X, dog hammock (to keep the dog from ruining my beautiful back seat), windex, and of course my Valentine 1.
1. Friday, August 30th:
Started my drive in the morning with the highlight being the drive through the Appalachian Mountains from North Carolina, to Tennessee. Beautiful Interstate curvy drive, which made me discover the first of many great features of my mighty M5 – Cruise Control. The cruise control is amazing. Set it and forget it! I don’t care how steep the pitch, it will hold the speed. Loved watching cars looking like they are going to tip over going down hill and me passing them on the left, on my walk in the park. Awesome! The lowlight of the drive was having to do research to find hotels that allowed dogs, along with being safe for my M5. I failed miserably the first night as my hotel was next to a big trucking center in Little Rock. Parked the car in the back of the parking lot under a light and was glad that Pasha was with me. Thankfully, the car was OK in the morning but I got up awfully early to be on the road with my Starbucks in my hand at 6:00 AM.
2. Saturday, August 31
I knew I had to get pumped up for this day in order to make it to Sedona, as I had already booked a nice hotel, so I had a goal.
a. Little Rock to Oklahoma City – Noticed that Oklahoma City was bigger than I thought. Nice city with a great basketball team, home of KD.
b. OKC to Amarillo: Keep driving
c. Amarillo to Albuquerque: One of the highlights of the trip was driving through New Mexico. I used to live in Albuquerque through middle and high school but did not venture outside of the city much. When you drive east to west in New Mexico it looks like the sky meets the beautiful earth and somehow they touch. It is absolutely breathtaking. The hardest part was that when the sky feels that close, it causes the sun to be right in your eyes at sunset. So much so that my corneas still could see the sun way into the night. I stopped in Santa Rosa to see the “official” route 66 car museum. Did not have much time, so I did not go in, but the dog had to go to the bathroom. This did not happen, as unknowingly my dog is conditioned to peeing on grass as we have plenty of that at home. She was dumbfounded when I told her to go pee in the desert, rocky, dust of New Mexico . . . she told me she would hold it. Suit yourself but don’t f’n pee in my car!
d. Albuquerque to Sedona;
At this point I enter Arizona and it is 9 at night and I am getting tired. I slap myself in the face, tell myself to Cowboy up as I am in Arizona, and down a Starbucks refresher for more Caffeine. Turn on the butt massagers, and the lane departure warning. These are two of the greatest things invented by BMW if you are driving 1200 miles a day. The butt massager, although at first a bit intrusive, really help you ease the soreness in the back and keep you fresh. After an hour or so, you feel a bit violated but good. The lane departure warning is also very helpful and keeps you focused if it only has to work once. I tell myself Lets go, the end is in sight. Around 12 AM, I exit off of 40 to I-17 South and then to a small road called 89A. I am like where am I and why is it so foggy in Arizona? I am so tired and driving through dense fog . . . then I roll down the window and realize that this is not fog but smoke! I am scared now but I see other cars on the road and they seem to be fine in either direction. I am not sure why I hadn’t looked at this before but the road started getting really curvy with a speed limit of 15 mph. Any other day and I would have had a big smile on my face driving the beast, but not at 2:00 AM Central time, after 1230 miles, in smoke, with cars behind me so needless to say I was fried. After 40 minutes of driving slower than a bicycle, I arrived at my destination and thank the lord for that. The front desk asked me how I liked the drive and I said that the last 20 miles was hell, and if there was a better way to get out of there in the morning, and he looked at me, laughed and said that most people love that road (Hmmm)! Hit the room, passed out and thank god for the Pacific time Zone.
3. Sunday September 1, 2013
a. Sedona to Fairfied, CA
I woke up a bit late, but had a chance to go out for breakfast and look around with Pasha. Realized that Sedona is stunning. Took some pics, hopped in the car and drove back to the interstate using the same road I had been on the night before . . . which was a totally different experience. What a road, beautiful, curvy, traction control off, butt sliding out, power on, . . . amazing, and the view was nice too at which time I realized what the hotel guy was laughing about. I was feeling good and came out of the mountains of Arizona, which I really did not know existed, into much flatter and straighter I-40. The car was in limp mode (efficient, comfort, comfort) but it cruises so nice in that mode. Set the cruise control and you can do 500 miles easy with a full tank of gas. I am really amazed by the fuel consumption. I am so used to having everything in Sport +, so I usually virtually see the gas tank emptying, but in this mode it seems like the gas tank is always full. I also realize that the car can pick up and drop speed using the cruise control toggle quickly. On one stretch of road I kept toggling up, and the cruise kept increasing to lets say . . . not wife approved limits of decimal points which was way cool! I also realized that with the driver package you are restricted to 68 mph and no more!!! After entering California, I hit I-5 and started traveling North. I do not mean any disrespect to my California friends but everyone drives badly in that State. There is very little room left between you and the Honda CRV tailgating you at 20 mph over the speed limit, while you are in the right lane. Along my trip I ran into two E-92 M3s that stayed along with me and gave me thumps ups. We were the only cars that were cautious, prudent, and following state laws. Finally, I arrive in Fairfield (adjacent to Napa) at sunset. I am happy that I have arrived safely, and on time with no tickets, yet!
4. Monday September 2, 2013 – Friday Sept 6, 2013
a. Started class for Pasha at the Michael Ellis School. I had heard that Michael Ellis was a great instructor in the working dog circles and for those interested in dog protections sports. I have been training my German Shephard for possible participation in these sports but wanted to further my education and her training. After a week of class, I realized that I had stumbled upon one of the most interesting classes that I had ever taken. Michael is like Cesar Milan times 100. Although Cesar understands dog behavior, Michael is able to understand their behavior and communicate the behavior to you so you can train your dog in his reward based system. This is based on operant conditioning training methods, and gives you the ability to make your dog do just about anything (Getting a beer from the fridge and making a 5 course dinner for you and 9 friends). I was wowed, enlightened, and had a great time. (Pics below)
b. On Thursday Sept 5, I woke up early and headed for a drive to Napa with an insider tip from my morning server at breakfast. I had checked into the Carneros Inn, in Napa so I hopped on Old Sonoma rd. to Buhman Ave, to Redwood Rd and up Mt. Veeder road. This road was pure exhiliration as it was an “M” road up a mountain through wine country. There were no other cars around except for an M3 in front of me, who obviously had the same idea. I drove hard, and the car was amazingly beastly, always wanting to devour the M3 in front of me. When I got to the top of the mountain I pulled over to enjoy the beautiful view. Actually that is a lie, I had to pull over, so I would not vomit on the HUD. I am not sure if it was the curvy road and the hard driving , or the 8 glasses of wine the night before, anyway, I wasn’t complaining but had to drink some water.
5. Friday, September 6
a. Started my drive back following Interstate 80 to Reno. It was only 200 miles through Yosemite, but the Friday afternoon traffic and construction put the drive at over 4 hours. I was glad to have that behind me as it would have really slowed me down on Saturday.
6. Saturday, September 7
a. Originally had planned on a big day but could not find anywhere to stay between Cheyenne, and somewhere in Nebraska, so I decided to stay in Cheyenne for the night. Meanwhile, I drove through Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming. Now this is God’s country. Very little traffic and not many cars. It was just me, the open road, semi trucks here and there, and an ever watchful eye for wildlife, as I was in the middle of nowhere. While in Utah I decided to exercise Pasha at the Bonneville salt flats. Very martian environment (pics below), and they were flooded. I had wanted to see if you could drive on it, but after a bit of research, I realized that it is very corrosive on your car, and you need good conditions. After my romp through Nevada and Utah, I really did not need to prove anything else to myself and felt very content about what I had done with my car. Wyoming was cool, but you just hoped that you would not break down, as the service stations were usually 50 miles apart and analog phone service was the status quo. At least Sirius radio makes you feel like you are still part of civilization. Also I noticed that there were no Billboards, which made it that much more beautiful. I thought about Billy the kidd, Buffalo Bill, Wyatt Earp, and the like, a lot on this drive. This is a great country!
7. Sunday, September 8
a. I had to get pumped up again for this drive, as I knew it was going to be a long one. I had booked a room in Louisville, KY as I had heard of a boutique hotel that has a contemporary art museum within it, and they took dogs so I was there. Early morning stop at Starbucks was nice and I saw the sun rise over Cheyenne. I proceeded through Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and finally arrived in Louisville at Midnight. I had to explain how to turn off the car to the Valet as he had no idea and actually left my car out for a couple of hours. The interior of the car at this point in the trip is quite a mess, and the outside is an art piece to itself. The mass killing of bugs by my car should be referred to the United Nations or WWF. The mere mass of the atrocity had weighed my car down to probably over 10000 pounds, but I was not going to wash it off till I got home . . . I liked it that way as it gave her Character. An M5 that was driven and not just garaged, the way it was meant to be . . . 1150 miles in a day, check!
8. Monday, September 9
a. I slept in till eight. Got up and went for a walk with Pasha in downtown Louisville. Pasha scared the pants off of a bum sleeping on park bench, which I felt bad about! I had a great breakfast at the hotel and got on the road. I drove slow, and enjoyed the beautiful mountainous drive through Kentucky, and West Virginia. Cruise control is King when driving long distances. The only way you can cover consistent mileage! Arrived at Interstate 77 in West Virginia, and knew that I was getting close to home. Another 250 miles and I arrive in my long lost garage. I feel exhilarated and alive, but not tired. I feel like I pushed myself, my car, and my dog, and we accomplished. I am content and feel privileged to have had the opportunity to drive the best car in the world in the best country in the world. Everybody wants to drive their M5 on the Autobahn, but have you tried Wyoming??
Summary of things M5 related:
1. Gas Tank: The gas tank is huge and I could easily do 500 miles on a tank, if I did not push it, and kept it in limp mode. Very nice feature when you are driving 6000 mile.
2. Exhaust: So I am always drooling when I hear everyone’s Eisenmann exhaust sounds on the internet as I am stock. After driving such a long distance, I realized that I would go crazy if the exhaust was any louder. I am not sure if this is noise from the speakers or the mufflers, but it would wear on you. There was a significant difference between 80 and 85 mph even in efficient and comfort settings in 7th gear. I passed through a couple of tunnels on my trip, and I would pull the windows down, hit Thor mode, and drop the hammer. The exhaust note in the tunnel was amazing and would itch the lack of sound craving. I am totally cool with stock!
3. Oil Usage: Between my 1200 miles service, and 3300 miles when I started my journey, I had to add a quart of oil. I had bought 4 quarts to take with me on the trip, as I was expecting to add a minimum of 2 quarts, but surprisingly did not have to add any. I asked the service advisor about it when I returned from my trip and he said that in Europe the cars do not use as much oil, as the Europeans drive their cars much harder! As I had driven the car pretty hard, he concluded was the reason that I did not need any more oil
4. Butt massagers: A great feature for long distances, although difficult to leave on for a long time. After a few minutes of TSA style groping, you start forgetting that they are there and you realize that they help considerably with fatigue. Like them so much more now!
5. Collision Avoidance: This is much cooler than I originally thought. My previous experience was that if you brake too close to the car in front of you, a red indicator in the shape of a car would flash on the HUD warning you to slow down. On my trip in one instance on a straight road, I noticed a truck way ahead of me, but suddenly the collision avoidance indictor flashed on, and it confused me as the truck was very far ahead. I realized shortly after, that the truck was actually moving at a very slow pace and that I was coming up on it very quickly. The indicator had noticed this way before me and had warned me!!! Another instance was actually when I was almost home and was turning out of the highway to the exit ramp. While looking in my blindside, I heard a screeching sound coming from the inside of the car and slammed my brakes. The car in front of me had come to a sudden stop and my car was warning me with an audible sound! Awesome.
6. HUD: Indispensable! Do not know how I ever lived without it. Getting very bad at reading manual tachs and speed. Great to have the cruising speed on the HUD so you know exactly where you are at all times.
7. Cruise Control: As I mentioned, a must for long trips. It is very exact and easily used.
8. Speedometer: I also noticed that the speed that the car displays is exactly 4 miles an hour less than what police “how fast you are going” radar indictors would display. This never failed as I measured it a minimum 4 times and each time the speed on the radar showed 4 miles slower than my speedometer, which I adjusted for in my cruising speed.
9. Lane Departure: What a great feature when you are tired. The steering wheel shakes even if you come toward the dotted line in the middle of the road without using your signal. Very nice safety feature.
10. Cavity behind the pedals: I did not know that this was there but there is a considerable amount of room behind those pedals giving you the opportunity to stretch your legs once in a while.
11. Valentine 1: I was not sure how my V1 would work on this trip. It had a learning curve but once I tuned off All Bogey mode it was Accurate and precise. In this mode it would cut out the annoying Wal-Mart and the like door alarms and would focus on the real threats. It would warn me sometimes 2 miles ahead and it was spot on every time. I drove 6000 miles and only came close once. The reason for that one was that there were no other cars to be seen anywhere, and the cop was in the median behind some large bushes. The warning came on quick and hard, and I double toggled down on the cruise. Passed by him at only 3 over and kept driving. V1 is the best 400 bucks I have ever spent. 6000 miles with no tickets in an M5 . . . what an accomplishment.
List of Pics and description:
1. Trip Meter at Start
2. Start of the Trip
3. Mountains of NC
5. Route 66 OKlahoma
6. New Mexico
7. Route 66 car museum
8. Storms over New Mexico
9. Rainbow in the desert
10. Corneas Searing
11. Pasha and me Sedona
12. Pasha Sedona
13. The Beasts
15. Beautiful M3 on the I-5 in Cali
16. Beasts at the Carneros Inn, Napa
17. Top of Mr. Veeder in Napa
18. Get you some, Michael Ellis dog training seminar
19. Shepards Rule, ME Seminar
20. Pasha bearing Teeth
21. Pi, the baddest dog in the world
22. Don't you move
23. Told you not to
25. Time to get it on
26. Bonneville Salt Flats
27. The Wolf and the GR8WHITE
28. Ice in the summer
29. Storms over Wyoming
30. The Beasts in WV
31. Sunset over Lake Norman, NC/ Almost Home
32. The Atrocity
33. We made it
34. Final Trip Meter