Cars


Cannonball 911

 

While rebuilding (and sinking way too much money into) my Mini I've been putting up with my old pickup as my daily driver. With the start of a new job I decided it was time to buy another car. Sadly there are no new cars on the market that interest me - at least not for the prices they're asking. I decided to go used, preferably something practical enough to do commuting and long drives for occasional business trips but a car that still interested me. I finally stumbled across the perfect car: the Porsche 996! These were the first series of 911's with water cooling and designed to lower maintenance costs a fair bit over previous generations. Reliable, practical, comfortable, fast, fun, and currently what I consider to be a great price. I found a number of them for sale but the list got shorter when I excluded examples that were wrecked, heavily modified, poorly maintained, or had too much mileage. When I realized I really wanted a black interior and a limited-slip differential the list almost went to zero. I finally found exactly what I was looking for - a silver/black '99 in great condition with only 60,000 miles and a LSD. Only one problem - the car was located in Long Island, New York. Since I still had a week and a half before I started my new job I decided I would just drive it back home. I love road trips.

 

The only real problem with my plan was the fact that it was the middle of winter and the drive would commence right when a series of nasty storms were drowning California and dumping snow across much of the Rockies. The solution then was to immediately head south, below the snowstorms, before heading due west. How far south? Interstate 80, arguably the quickest route from NY to SF, was out, but so was I-70 (Vail Pass was covered in snow and black ice). Even I-40 was a no-go as several feet of snow would be dumped on Flagstaff, Arizona right as I would reach it. The only safe path appeared to be I-20 followed by I-10. Any further south and I would need my passport.

Interstate Routes

 

It helped that I had a co-driver of sorts there to route me in real-time around bad weather and any other issues that might arrive. Sitting in Dallas, my father volunteered to keep an eye on the weather and road conditions, updating me by phone a few times throughout each day. Due to a few complications, I wasn't able to take delivery of the car in Long Island until noon on Wednesday. My new job would start the next Monday and I felt it was important to not miss my first day.

 

Four and a half days to drive ~3,400 miles is certainly do-able provided there were no significant delays. Mechanical break-downs, detours due to weather, or a night in the klink for excessive speed would mean certain failure. Even long stops for meals or photo-taking could ruin it. Since it would just be me doing the driving, I would have to stop for only two things: fuel and sleep. Of course, I couldn't not take photos so I ended up taking almost all of them from the driver's seat. Yes, I found a way to make my photos worse, as you are about to see. But that's ok, because the story isn't that interesting either. Win/win!

 

Cannonball 911

Here she is. Exactly as described. A couple hours to sign all the documents and handle the paperwork at the local DMV and I was on my way by 12:30pm.

 

Cannonball 911

I was fortunate to have a professional brokering the deal. He assisted with every aspect of the purchase, even giving me specific instructions on how to get off of Long Island the quickest way possible.

 

Cannonball 911

 

Cannonball 911

Too bad I can't follow directions. I certainly tried. Must have missed a turn somewhere because the next thing I knew I was driving down Park Avenue in Manhattan. At the first stoplight I witnessed this Porsche Boxster being flatbedded away. I did not take that as a good omen.

 

Cannonball 911

Look kids, Big Ben!

 

Cannonball 911

Fueling up somewhere in Pennsylvania. It was almost as exciting as it sounds.

 

Shortly after this picture was taken I spotted what looked like a railroad tie in-between the number 1 and 2 lane of the freeway. Fortunately I was not changing lanes at the time but if I had been it would not have been pretty. No sooner had that thought occurred to me than I noticed a new SUV on the side of the road with their left front suspension nearly ripped off. Youch.

 

Cannonball 911

Somewhere in Virginia the rain started and the temperature started dropping (notice the outside temp readout at bottom center). Eventually there were light snow flurries. A quick call to my father showed that I had to make it almost to Tennessee before stopping for the night. Where I was at the moment was going to receive ice storms in just a few hours and would not be easily passable the next day. Thankfully the temps stayed just about freezing as I went past Marion, VA.

 

Cannonball 911

Shortly after that I ran into fog. It confirmed what I had already noticed - the previous owner had adjusted the headlights to explore the infinite beauty of outer space. To the 14,000+ people who flashed their high beams at me I do apologize. My attempts to adjust the lights when I got to the hotel that night went nowhere as I lacked the tool needed for the job. I made it as far as Bristol, Virginia before turning in for the night.

 

Day 1: 660 miles and 10 hours. Long Island, NY to Bristol, VA.

 

Forward to Day 2

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