Geoff pointed out in an earlier blog entry that I drove 20 hours just to hang out for 16 hours. To be honest, the math kinda surprised me…I didn’t think to think of it that way. On the surface it’s true. But to me the 10 hours there and back (each way) was a part of the adventure. Especially the drive back…but more about that coming soon.
If you want to see what the drive out was like, that’s already been covered. There is one thing that I feel like I left out of that post, though, and that’s the fact that I owe my wife a huge debt of gratitude for her part in this trip. She really wanted to come out with me, but due to the kid situation it just wasn’t in the cards. She bit the bullet and one-manned the kids for three days, which is no small task considering they’re 3 years and 10 months old, respectively. All that work so that I could have fun with a couple of car guys she barely knows. Thanks, my love!
Ok. On to the fun stuff.
7:00am – my alarm goes off. I roll out of bed exhausted and excited. Exhausted from the 10+ hours on the road the day before followed by dinner, driving and blogging well into the “a.m.” hours. Excited because I knew I was about to have the most fun I’ve had in a Miata since I first drove one.
I scarfed a cup of free coffee from the hotel’s breakfast offering and met Stoly out at the cars. After a brief systems check and warm-up, we hit the road. The drive out to Adam’s house was straight, smooth and beautiful. The air was cool and having the top down was an experience nothing like anything I’ll feel in Dallas between now and November.
As we pulled up to revlimiter.net HQ the garage door opened. Without much fanfare we were on the road. The morning route is detailed in Adam’s second “Drive” post. Check out the nitty gritty and additional awesome photos there.
The drive up the mountain was a stark contrast to the driving I did the day before. I can’t remember a boring minute of time flicking by on the screen of my MSSS radio. Every instant between fingering the “Start” button where my cigarette lighter used to be and pulling to a stop at the Los Ojos Restaurant & Saloon assaulted my senses with new and exciting feelings. The warm sun combined with the cool, thin air was itself a treat and worth the drive from TX to NM. The generous cloud coverage and even some fleeting rain drops with the top down were as welcome as the scenic, twisty roads that are so unfamiliar to anyone living in Dallas.
We frequently stopped to take pictures. Here are a few of mine.
Our third stop was at the soda dam pictured in Stoly’s blog post and elsewhere on the travelogue of this journey. I didn’t get any good pictures of it because before I had a chance we got mobbed by onlookers who wanted to chat about our rides.
They came over asking what the cars were. They gestured at Rooster and said they were really trying to figure out what he was….as if they thought he was different than the other two. “Here’s a hint: they’re all the same.” was my reply. After some discourse about what “Eunos” is they summed up their impression by saying that the cars really aren’t recognizable as Miatas. I replied that it was probably the biggest compliment they could have given us. Not because we’re ashamed of the cars to the point we want it to be unrecognizable, but rather because – personally – I’ve put a lot of effort into making the car unique and it’s nice for it to be recognized as such.
By the way, major props go out to Project-G and their G-String that Sharka was wearing. I was super jealous of it and it looks so. damn. cool on the road. Not to mention it was uber functional this sunny day. No doubt it contributed to the what-the-heck-is-that-badass-car effect.
I thought this shot was kinda fun. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face as Sharka exploded out of corners in front of me on many, many miles of twisties. Appropriate sign is appropriate. That was also our 4th stop of the morning jaunt.
Stop 5 of the morning was right near a huge volcanic crater called Valles Caldera. There’s a small pull-off from the road that is prime real-estate to see the vast valley below with peaks all around itsÂ perimeter. It was like nothing I’ve seen since I was near the base of Kilimanjaro in Kenya several years ago. And back then we were riding around in a 4WD Toyota van. This time I had my Rooster with me.
We stopped for lunch, crashed at revHQ for a couple hours, generally took it easy and then headed back out for the Sandia Crest drive.
Holy crap. This was some driving. I’ve driven some impressive mountain roads and this took the cake. The rather extreme elevation change in such a short distance made for some seriously wicked switchbacks.
Bear in mind that at this elevation a stock Miata has what feels like around 50 horsepower….at the crank. Going up the mountain was less an exercise in driving skill and more a test of how tolerant you are of keeping the RPM’sÂ consistentlyÂ above 5k. Rev-matching downshifts so that you can get the car into 1st for a really tight corner exit was a handy skill.
We paused at one location prime for panning photos.
Just a few turns above where we took those panning shots was the top of Sandia Crest and the scenic overlook of a lifetime. If you’ve seen the movie “Cars” and recall the part where Sally took Lightening McQueen up to the scenic overlook above Radiator Springs – the look on his face when he first peeks over the edge is exactly the look you’d have on your face. Gorgeous.
Above is the last photo I took of any cars that day. I wish I had the skill to capture the true feeling of seeing the cars, still panting from their extended uphill sprint, basking in the orange glow and cool air.
At the end of a day that flew by, 20 hours behind the wheel of my Rooster is a small price to pay for memories that will last a lifetime.
Stay tuned for a brief “part 2” to this post summing up the drive home with Stoly.
Many moons ago,I was once told ” For those who truly love their cars, a journal is not absolutely necessary, as it’s already been written- in every mile driven, ever project completed, and every smile the car puts on the person behind the wheel.”(Translated from indigenous Chinese)by someone wiser than I. Back then, I kept a tight log of every tidbit thing that happened in my small world of motoring(mostly for the peers to see), and almost lost interest in the hobby due to the perceived pointlessness of modding just for the sake of doing so, but the above words made me revise the reason behind my likeliness of cars( truly for myself, not to impress others) and, ultimately,re-lit the flame of my automotive passion that’s unlikely to ever go out again.
Sorry for making this “To moon and back” kinda detour to make a point, but all I am trying to say is, congrats on your newly regained fondness for Rooster! And, welcome home!
Oh yeah, and, how did you guys pull off getting it into 1st @5000r/min? I am genuinely curious. I found it difficult to downshift into 1st at pretty much any reasonable rpm,above 3000 or so. So I usually just heel &toe into 2nd before entry and keep it there until corner exit. But granted I am rather inexperienced compared to all of you. Any tips are appreciated, lol!
I think the heel-and-toe downshifts to 1st gear probably occurred at closer to 3k-4k RPM when I found myself looking up a steep run-out from a turn and I knew I’d be lugging it on corner exit in 2nd. In those cases a heel-and-toe wasn’t really necessary as I was mid-corner either already under engine braking or about to accelerate out.
I did rather enjoy the sound of my exhaust echoing off the mountains as I heel-toed every corner entrance that required it.
Thanks for your kind words on the sentiment of my journal. If it inspired you to rekindle your automotive passion, that’s more than I ever hoped would come out of it.
If I may be so bold: autocross. That’s how you learn downshifting into first. You don’t often do it, but you come up to a pivot cone and there’s really not much better way to get around it.
Healthy throttle blip, then into first, then release the clutch and pray. 🙂
Awesome shots and awesome blog! I like the one with Sharka and the explosives sign. I think you were the only one to snag a shot from that angle.
FANTASTIC POST! Holy crap. And that explosive photo… perfect!
I’d type more, but all I can hear is crying. Crying from the garage. Sharka apparently wants to go play some more.