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  • Pre-GoatRun: Day 3

    Posted on September 26th, 2011 tcorzett No comments

    Today was a short day of driving, and as a result I stayed up late last night watching Metallica perform “Live” (via the web) at Rock in Rio. They played a really great set, so despite wanting to get some extra sleep… I just couldn’t do it.

    In the morning I slept-in until almost 10am and slowly got myself out of the hotel. After a quick breakfast I headed-out onto the road.

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    Yesterday I talked about how Oklahoma didn’t seem like a “Dust Bowl” type of place… well, today I saw how it could happen. As I drove West the grass started to thin, and at one point for as far as I could see was nothing but red dirt. I guess all the farmers have harvested their crops, because I couldn’t see anything growing.

    Today I spent much of my time on or around Route 66. Since I didn’t have a long drive, when I saw a Rt66 Museum I pulled over to check it out. The first museum I stopped at was the Oklahoma State Route 66 Museum. For the most part I just wanted to get some swag, but there were all sorts of other cool things to see.

    Shortly after walking through the Oklahoma Rt66 Museum, I saw a sign on the interstate for the National Route 66 Museum… so again, I pulled-over to check it out.

    After browsing the gift shops at both museums, I was able to get all sorts of great swag. I also realized that I’ve driven the G8 on Rt66 in each state that it travels through… except Kansas. It’s too late to go back to drive there now, but I’m going to have to do it on the way to GONE next year.

    Unfortunately, when visiting the National Rt66 Museum my car started to act-up with “Limp Mode” again. On the way down “Main Street USA”, just as I was debating stopping for gas, I saw the dreaded “Power Reduced” logo on my dash. Then, just as I had pulled back onto I-40, the car again went into limp mode. Fortunately I was able to exit the freeway without incident, as I just can’t seem to get the car to want to return to normal while driving. Thankfully these were the only times it happened today, and I was able to cover some ground.

    Driving through Texas has so far been a fun experience. The first thing I noticed was that there are different speed limits for day and night. I really like the idea, but I don’t think that it would ever work in California.

    Texas seems like a very flat place with lots of land. A nice thing about flat land is that is allows one “room to stretch your legs”. After letting a windmill ahead of me through a construction zone… yes, a nacelle for a large windmill… I found myself with an empty stretch of I-40.

    So, I’m on a straight, flat, empty stretch of I-40… and what should come-up along side me? A Mustang! At this point I was compelled to put my foot to the floor, but I knew better than to do that. If I had the stock hood on my car I might have given it a go, but I don’t want to be the first person to test the speed rating for the Maverick Man CF hood! It was also fortunate that I didn’t try anything, as just around the corner there were three LEO’s on the side of the interstate searching a pick-up truck!

    I pulled into Amarillo and found my hotel, but since the sun was still up decided to head over to the Cadillac Ranch for some fun. For those who doesn’t know… the Cadillac Ranch is NOT a whore house!

    The Cadillac Ranch is a series of cars buried in the ground, and is a classic piece of Route 66 history. People are even encouraged to visit the site and “tag” the cars… unfortunately I didn’t happen to bring and spray paint (‘Doh!). Maybe I can find a rattle-can and swing by tomorrow before continuing my drive West.

  • Pre-GoatRun: Day 2

    Posted on September 25th, 2011 tcorzett No comments

    I’ve decided to take things easy for the next two days, and I’m trying to catch-up on some sleep. Like yesterday, today was another day of driving on the I-40.

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    As I drove through Western Arkansas I passed a lake that was very different than what we have in California. The first thing that I spotted was a whole bunch of white stork-like birds wading in the water. The thing that I thought was really cool were all the trees growing out of the middle of the water. I couldn’t figure out if they were growing on rocks, or if it was just a really shallow lake, but either way… it was scenic.

    Something I’ve also found intriguing about driving in Arkansas is that they have signs with a phone number for report people littering. Over the past week I’ve been taking notice of the various state signs for littering… Virginia talks about a maximum of $25,000 in fines… Missouri has a $1,000 fine and/or a YEAR in jail… but Arkansas is the only one that actually has a way for people to “self-police” the law.

    The most “exciting” part of the day was when my car turned 30… that’s right, I’ve driven the G8 30,000 miles!

    I’ve known that this milestone was coming for a while, and I didn’t want to miss it. I set an alarm on my phone for ~10 minutes before it was going to happen. I setup the camera on my cell phone to take a photo or two (I wanted one of 29999 and another of 30000). I started watching the miles tick higher and higher… 29995… 29996… 29997… and then my cell phone froze! Seriously!?! Now!?!

    There wasn’t anyone behind me so I slowed way down while my phone rebooted… 29998… 29999… 30000… ‘sigh, stupid phone! Thankfully I’m good at Photoshop (yes, that image is not “real”).

    Entering Oklahoma I was surprised to see that it wasn’t a “Dust Bowl” like I imagined… heck, compared to this time of the year in California, it’s lush! There were fewer trees and more prairie than the neighboring states, with lots of grazing cattle. It also seemed that at every other exit there was a different Indian tribe’s casino.

    The drive through Eastern Oklahoma went by quickly, as I was able to team-up with a pair of cars who were “moving along well” (all three of us had radar detectors, and knew how to use them). The lead car was a new (bright orange) Dodge Challenger SRT8… and the trailing car was a PT Cruiser. I let the SRT8 get out in front of me, and with a “rabbit” (aka. the SRT8) and someone covering my back door… we “made good time”. Unfortunately the SRT8 had some troubles and pulled-off onto the side of the interstate (for what I couldn’t tell), but I’d say we trimmed at least 15 minutes off the drive.

    As I entered Oklahoma City I started looking for photogenic places for today’s image. I noticed Tinker Air Force Base, and pulled-off I-40 to try and find someplace for a great photo with an airplane.

    I drove along the side of the base, but everything of interest was behind gates/fences… so I wasn’t able to get anywhere that allow me to take the photo I wanted. Darn!

    I found my hotel and decided to go looking for a place for today’s photo. I drove along a road that passed several big-rig dealerships, but none were really photogenic. The road continued past the Oklahoma State Fair… a large bulldozer… a strip joint… but nothing was jumping out at me. I continued until I reached a point where I didn’t really feel comfortable getting out of my car with an expensive looking camera (I’ve lived such a sheltered life, I know).

    On the way back towards my hotel I found a place that I figured I could get a decent photo at…

    After some work in Photoshop, I think the resulting image is acceptable.

    One thing that was absent from today’s drive was “Limp Mode”! Hopefully this trend continues…

  • Pre-GoatRun: Day 1

    Posted on September 24th, 2011 tcorzett No comments

    Today was occupied by 8 hours of driving on Interstate 40 across Tennessee… and about two minutes in Georgia.

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    The scenery wasn’t bad, but compared to the past few days… it was crap. The driving wasn’t like I-80 through Nebraska, but compared to the past few days… it was crap. The only historical site I contemplated visiting was the Jack Daniels Distillery, but it would have required an hour detour… In hindsight I probably should have gone.

    For some reason, today there were a whole bunch of big rigs on the road… don’t they know it’s Saturday!?! For the most part I was able to work my way past them, but there were a few times it became tricky. Fortunately early on in the day I let a truck in ahead of me, so my “trucker karma” was high. While most trucks were nothing special, there were a few that I needed to get past quickly!

    While the trucks in Tennessee weren’t a problem, the drivers of cars/trucks were. I’ve driven in many places before (including with cabbies in New York City), but these guys were nuts! I was just trying to drive at my own pace, but I was getting run over left and right… by guys towing trailers… and I was still going 10 mph over the speed limit!

    To make things even worse, just as I was entering Memphis on I-40 my car decided to go into “Limp Mode”. Now, the new tune doesn’t throw a DTC that needs to be cleared, but for some reason I wasn’t able to get the car out of Limp Mode while under motion. At this point I was forced to pull-off this 5-lane intersection and beat my head against the steering wheel until my car wanted to run properly. Fortunately the merge back onto the freeway was easy… as my 0-65 mph only takes a couple of seconds!

    I only had the one issue with Limp Mode, and the rest of the drive went smoothly. After checking into my hotel and relaxing for a little while, I headed-out to find some dinner. I also spent some time driving around trying to find a decent photo location… as when I don’t include photos from the road I get complaints.

    For dinner I went to the Whole Hog Cafe for some World Championship Barbeque. I had an awesome pulled pork sandwich (with their #5 sauce) and some tasty potato salad. I was very tempted to get some more BBQ for the road, but I don’t think eating it for breakfast would be a good idea.

    Tomorrow is another day of boring driving along I-40, but I hope to make the best of it. Worst case I should be a couple hundred miles closer to GoatRun!

    Update: At one point just outside of Memphis a Gold Porsche 911 came past me. A little farther down the road I noticed him pulling off into a rest stop with his hand out of his sunroof… and it almost looked like he was flipping me off. I didn’t think I did anything stupid, but maybe it was because I was driving like a slowpoke? Well, it turns out the driver of the 911 owns a GTO, noticed my GoatRun stickers, and was trying to get me to pull into the rest stop! It would have been cool to talk with an Arkansas GOAT owner… I think there needs to be an international “GTO owner hand signal” or something!

  • Post-GONE: Day 12

    Posted on September 23rd, 2011 tcorzett No comments

    Today I was able to drive some of the most well known roads in the Country… The Tail of the Dragon and the Cherohala Skyway. I’ve been looking forward to conquering these roads for the longest time… as people online always claim they are the best driving roads in the Nation. While the roads were wet, the air was foggy, and my car has been throwing codes… nothing was going to keep me from driving these roads!

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    When I woke-up I looked out the window to find a soaked parking lot and very dark skies. I would have loved to gone back to bed, but with over 7 hours of driving planned… I needed to get started early. Also, I was trying to avoid the rain that was forecasted to increase in the afternoon.

    After a short drive on the Great Smoky Mountains Expressway (US-74) I pulled off the main drag onto NC-28 (aka. the Moonshiner 28). I would have loved to drive the entire Moonshiner, but my goal was to drive the Tail of the Dragon… maybe I can do it next time! The Moonshiner followed a river, and the morning fog was quite dense.

    After taking some photos, I got back onto the road to tackle the fog. I was a little concerned that I would need to drive the rest of the morning in the fog, but fortunately it was mostly concentrated around the river. It didn’t take long for me to reach the Tail of the Dragon, and there was nearly no fog!

    The Tail of the Dragon is in Deals Gap, NC and is famous for having 318 turns in an 11 mile stretch of road.

    Before driving The Tail, I needed to stop at the various shops to get some swag. I purchased a few T-shirts, some “I Survived…” stickers, and a few other odds-and-ends. I know it was poor taste to buy “I Survived” items before driving the road, but my planned route didn’t take me back through this area. I guess I better make it through!

    I programming my GPS with the route… I wasn’t going to get lost, but the GPS makes things almost like a video game with a “Track Map”. I turned on my headlights and started out to conquer the Tail of the Dragon. I was pumped, and just as I rounded the first corner… my car went into “limp mode”! ARGH… seriously, why now!?!

    I quickly pulled-off the road and re-started my car. The new tune that I have loaded doesn’t produce the P2135 DTCs, but the car still goes into limp mode when the DTC would have been generated. The benefit is that I don’t have a code to clear… and I think I could actually restart the car without stopping. I wasn’t delayed long, but it was enough to kill my buzz.

    So after being knocked-down a peg or two from the car troubles… I felt like I just wanted to take a relaxing drive. The Tail has a posted 30 mph speed limit (seriously!?!), so I took things easy for a while… being stuck behind some slow motorcycles didn’t help either. Fortunately I was able to get past the slower traffic and into some clean air. The farther I drove… the more my confidence came back… and it wasn’t long until I was pushing the G8 through the curves!

    The corners on The Tail are fairly tight, but I’ve driven tighter. Most of them had banking and were well marked (people have even painted “SLO” onto the ground before a few of the corners). The roads started out fairly wet, but farther down The Tail things started to dry out a bit. As I’ve done previously, I kept mostly in 3rd gear… but many of the corners wanted me in 2nd gear. Not to leave The Tail of the Dragon wanting more, I had to oblige and drop down into 2nd a couple times… but the faster pace wasn’t something I wanted to do so far from home.

    Along The Tail there were a few photographers taking pictures of the cars and bikes as they went by. I’ve normally not one to want photos of myself, but I hope that one of them got a couple cool photos. Unfortunately I’ll have to wait a few days to see…

    Update: Two of the photographers ( and US129 Photos) were able to get some good shots of me while I was driving the Tail of the Dragon!

    I’ve heard mixed reviews from people who have driven The Tail of the Dragon… and I think I’m one of those who doesn’t think it is the best driving roads in the Country. I did my run down The Tail on a Friday morning, and while traffic was low… there were still quite a few people on the road. I can only imagine how much of a traffic jam that place could be on a weekend when the weather is good! Fortunately there were no LEO’s (Sheriff/Troopers) out this morning, but I’ve heard that the 30 mph speed limit and many cops combine for lots of tickets. In the end, I’m really glad that I drove The Tail… and I still think it ranks in my Top 10 favorite roads.

    After driving The Tail of the Dragon, I drove North on a loop to return to where I started the morning. Part of this loop took me into the Smoky Mountains National Park.

    While the drive was very scenic, the roads were extremely slow and crowded with people. I spent over an hour crawling through the woods staring at the bumper of a Subaru Outback. To make things even worse, the XM Radio coverage in the area was crap… so I couldn’t even sing along to songs from the 80’s and 90’s!

    The reason for making the loop was so that I could drive the Cherohala Skyway.

    Unlike the Tail of the Dragon, the Cherohala Skyway is long (~60 miles), has a 45 mph speed limit, and was nearly deserted. Sure, there are fewer corners per mile… but I found it quite enjoyable. Another thing that the Cherohala Skyway has going for it, is changes in elevation. I kinda like to think of it as the Blue Ridge Parkway on steroids. Unfortunately by the time I was half-way through the drive the forecasted rain arrived. It didn’t lessen the drive at all, just made it wet.

    Well, my trip through the Appalachian Mountains is officially over. Tomorrow I drive West… towards Las Vegas and GoatRun!

  • Post-GONE: Day 11

    Posted on September 22nd, 2011 tcorzett No comments

    This morning there was no rain, but a dense fog alert didn’t give me any reason to rush out of the hotel. I didn’t doddle too long, as I had a full day of driving ahead of me.

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    The morning was full of very scenic roads. I spent quite some time actually driving slower than the speed limit, as I checked out the old buildings. Some of the homes and barns looked very old… I’m sure my Mother would have enjoyed them all. I also learned that there are tons of Christmas Tree farms in this area!

    The first fun section of road was on the way from Tennessee into North Carolina. At one point I thought about short cutting this section of road (just driving direct on US-19), but I’m really glad I didn’t. I was originally disappointed with the 40 mph speed limit, but once the first climb started… it was more than enough.

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    The turns were tight and the climb was steep… much like the other drives in this area. Crossing from Tennessee into North Carolina the speed limit increased to 55 mph, at the perfect time for the descent!

    While winding through the mountains, I found a spot to pull over to take a few photos.

    While climbing around my car, the guard rail, etc. I determined that I really needed to use the restroom… unfortunately, I was in the middle of no where (with all the trees at the bottom of a cliff). At this point, I was yet again happy to have a 4-door car (I will spare you the details). Eventually it didn’t matter, as there were no passers-by. Given the empty roads, I decided to take some additional photos.

    After the photos I got back onto the road and headed down the mountain and out onto the Blue Ridge Parkway.

    Much like the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway is a very scenic road that slowly winds itself through the forest. There are many scenic outlooks, but today the view was completely fogged-in. The fog was actually quite thick in many places… so much that I needed to slow down just to see the road.

    Yesterday I loaded a “new” tune onto my car with the attempt to stop the P2135 DTCs that I’ve been getting… well, it didn’t work. I was driving along and just like before had the car go into “limp mode”. I pulled-off into an outlook point to rest the code and to stretch my legs.

    When I got out of my car I heard two guys on motorcycles start to comment (positively) on the G8. They came over to check-out the car and talk shop. One of the guys asked if it had the 6.0L V8… and his eyes grew when I said it was supercharged. The other guy mentioned that his son has been asking him to get a G8. We shared some storied from the road, and talked about great roads to drive (they kept mentioning US-421, aka. “The Snake“)

    I continued to get periodic P2135 DTCs as I drove, so after lunch I decided to load another new tune onto my car. I don’t know specifically what is different with this tune, but my mechanic suggested I give it a shot. Right now we’re thinking more and more that there is something physically wrong with a sensor. I’m going to need to have things checked-out, but hopefully it can wait until I return home.

    After lunch I headed back out towards the Blue Ridge Parkway. The road that I was driving on had a detour (stupid bridge closure), but I’m glad I didn’t get lost as the subsequent road was a great drive.

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    This was a very technical section of road, and many of the corners were just begging for me to use 2nd gear… but again, with wet roads (and a lack of traction) 3rd gear was my only option.

    Back on the Blue Ridge Parkway I found myself at it’s highest point.

    I didn’t stop to take a photo (the above image was something I found on the web) because I didn’t want to wait for the group of bikers to disperse from their photo.

    Today was a long day, but I decided to take my last “optional” loop. The first part was a little bumpy, but the turns were challenging. Unfortunately, I quickly found myself stuck behind a pair of motorcycles. I can understand not wanting your woman to fall-off the back of your bike, but going 15 mph under the 45 mph speed limit is just not acceptable!

    The second leg of the loop was not a fun one, as the road was covered with gravel and “fresh tar”. I had to slow down, but there were a few times where I wanted to play rally driver and drift around the corners!

    Yet again I had a really lucky day when it came to the weather. While there was fog, and the roads were fairly damp, I never got caught in the rain. Hopefully tomorrow the rain will hold out long enough for me to drive one of the most iconic roads in America!

  • Post-GONE: Day 10

    Posted on September 21st, 2011 tcorzett No comments

    For the first time, in a long time, I took a day-off to relax and recover. The rain that was foretasted showed-up, so I didn’t miss much by sleeping in. Around 10:00 am my package arrived at the hotel, so I got myself out of bed and by butt into gear.

    Before I left for my road trip I had my mechanic order me a copy of HP Tuners. This is the same software that he used to build the tune for my car, and gives me complete access to retune my car. Add-in a connection to the Internet and I have access to my tuner wherever I am… like in the middle of Tennessee! With the HP Tuners hardware and software in hand, I have the chance to try and deal with this pesky P2135 DTCs that have been plaguing me lately.

    My mechanic sent me a few different files for my car… and I loaded the first onto the car.

    This “new” tune is actually the old one I was using before I left for my Cross Country trip. Before leaving there were a few little tweaks made to my tune to help with a long distance drive. While I’m unsure exactly what is causing the P2135 DTCs at this point (hardware, electrical, tune, long-term trim tables, etc.), it was never something I had seen with the old tune… so by reloading the old tune, we’re isolating at least one of the variables.

    After loading the “new” tune I fired-up the G8 and everything sounded great. I gave it a little gas… and it sounded even better! After a short drive around the parking lot I found a nice dead end road to play in. I only did a little “testing”, but the car seems a bit more “peppy”.

    The bulk of the rest of the day was spent doing laundry and catching-up on being a couch potato. After my laundry was done, I felt like getting back behind the wheel to “test” the car a bit more.

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    The drive was short and sweet, but it was just what I needed to get back into the mood for my roadtrip. The curves were gentile, but that was also a good thing since the road was wet. In a few places, the sun found it’s way through the clouds and steam was rising from the roads… which never gets old. While I didn’t receive any DTCs, the drive was too short for a definitive “it’s fixed” answer.

    Today I saw my first bicyclist! I’ve been really shocked that in the previous 5354 miles of my roadtrip I’ve not seen a single bicyclist on the twisty roads. This has been quite a (positive) surprise for me… if this was California, most of these roads would be crawling with spandex clad riders. While I still keep an eye-out for cyclists, not having to deal with them has allowed me to have a more enjoyable experience.

    When I started back towards my hotel the skies opened up and the rain started to fall. It wasn’t anything too crazy, but it definitely made me want to get off the road. Fortunately my hotel was close, and the rain even decided to stop when I arrived (so I didn’t get wet walking in).

    Recently I contemplated jumping ahead to drive a few select portions of road… then returning home early. I still need to double-check the maps, but I think my roadtrip will continue on as planned tomorrow.

  • Post-GONE: Day 9

    Posted on September 20th, 2011 tcorzett No comments

    Today was a strange day… it started with the best drives of my trip, and ended with the lowest feelings (by far) of the trip.

    When I woke-up I looked out the window to see that the parking lot was completely soaked, but by the time I made it down to my car the rain had stopped. I wanted to clear my windshield of dirt/bugs, so turned-on my wipers… but there was no fluid! So my first trip ended-up being to an auto parts store to get some windshield wiper fluid. After the pit stop I headed out onto the road for my drive.

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    The first roads that I drove on today were fun, but as I was driving the GPS told me to turn down a “road” that was definitely unacceptable for my vehicle… especially in the wet. I’ve double checked the route and it wasn’t a GPS error, so I guess I didn’t do all my homework on this one. The detour wasn’t too complicated, and I was able to join-up with my planned route rather quickly.

    Yesterday I didn’t really see anything that I felt was photogenic enough to warrant stopping for photos. Today when I was driving around Hungry Mother Lake, I knew that I needed to stop to take some.

    After the photo shoot, it was time to get into the twisty stuff! I think the best word to describe this section of road is “WOW”! When starting on the road you are greeted by a great sign saying, “Trucks over 35 feet long prohibited”… and a few feet later another saying, “Trucks last chance to turn around”. When you see something like that, you know you are in for a fun section of road!

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    I’m going to break this section into four parts… The first part was a very steep climb up the first mountain. The roads were freshly paved and perfectly smooth (I know I sound like a broken record on this, but it’s true). The corners started out as gradual sweepers, but quickly became tighter. There were several hairpins that really wanted to be driven in 2nd gear, but due to the wet roads… and a lack of traction… I had to stick to 3rd (and with traction control on). The combination of torque and wet roads resulted in some very fun corners!

    The second section was a tight and technical descent of nearly 1600′ (at between -5% and -10% grade). Most of the corners really should have been tackled in 2nd gear, but that was absolutely out of the question. Being on the inside for most of the corners was a little tricky, as sight lines were obstructed, but everything turned-out OK. This section had a posted speed limit of “only” 40 mph, but trying to maintain that speed was impossible.

    I was still decompressing from the first two sections of the road when I was slammed with the third… another intense uphill climb. This time the posted speed limit was up to 55 mph, but trying to go that fast would have been insane. The asphalt here wasn’t great, but there were no times when I was worried about bumps. At this point I found myself driving through some low clouds, making things a little more challenging… the gravel on the road in a few of the corners didn’t help either.

    The final section of the drive was another thrilling descent. The corners were more “sweeping” than the previous one, resulting in higher speeds… making it quite fun. After both of these descents I was really glad to have a strong set of brakes!

    To make the drive even better… I didn’t have any slower traffic. None at all! The only distraction was a low flying Turkey Vulture that decided to bounce off my hood (seriously). After finishing this drive, I’m honestly questioning how other roads (eg. Tail of the Dragon) are going to compete with this one. If all of the roads driving over the Appalachian Mountains are like these (and the ones yesterday), I think I might need to start looking for a summer home/garage in this area!

    Unfortunately, this was the last of the fun that I had today. Shortly after coming out of the mountains, my car decided to start throwing the P2135 DTCs again. After clearing the first DTC, I tried to continue, but didn’t make it far before another code was thrown. Unlike before, today I had a difficult time clearing the codes and taking the car out of “limp mode”.

    At this point I gave-up and pulled into a scenic view point and tried to think about what to do next. One thing I had not tried yet was a “battery reset” to clear-out long term adjustments/tables within the car’s computer. I figured it couldn’t hurt, so disconnected the battery and let things sit for 30 minutes. (Note: when going on a long road trip, one should bring at least basic tools… fortunately I had a Leatherman, but a crescent wrench would have made removing the battery terminals much easier).

    While I was waiting on the battery reset I disconnected the cables into the throttle body and the MAF, just to make sure everything is connected properly. I also removed my air intake to inspect the insides of the throttle body… and everything looked “normal” to me (not that I really know what I’m looking at). I also took a look in my catch can and found another ~1 teaspoon of oil (I think it’s just leftovers from yesterday). Everything with the car seemed OK, so after the reset I got back onto the road.

    While I would have loved to completed my planned route, I just didn’t feel into it. I decided that I was going to take the most direct route to my hotel for the night. While I never received another DTC, I honestly have to say that this was one of the first times I’ve ever had where I just didn’t want to be driving my car.

    My schedule has me staying in the same hotel for two nights, so fortunately I don’t need to cover any ground tomorrow. I had planned to make a 4 hour loop, but I think tomorrow will be a recovery day. My mechanic has shipped me some hardware/software, so hopefully tomorrow I can get this issue figured-out.

  • Post-GONE: Day 8

    Posted on September 19th, 2011 tcorzett No comments

    I’ve had really awesome luck so far when it has come to weather and road conditions, and today was no different. There were showers forecast for this afternoon, but other than a few little drops on the windshield, there was no rain to spoil the drive.

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    This morning I started a little slow, and was actually having a difficult time wanting to get going in the twisties. Fortunately I was awake enough to avoid the group of turkeys foraging along the side of the road… and the family of bears (Mamma and three cubs) crossing the road. Seeing all of the wild animals has been very cool… especially the things that I don’t normally see in California.

    By far my favorite part of today’s drive was on Highway 311 between West Virginia and Virginia.

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    The best this about this part of the drive was that I had a completely empty road for the ascent and decent. Paired with the 55 mph speed limit… I was able to fly through the corners! Most were sweepers, but there were also a few tighter corners and even a hairpin or two.

    The G8 really performed perfectly through the corners, going both up and down the mountains. The torque from the TVS1900 supercharger was great out of the corners, and holding 4th gear (due to the 3.45 ratio) made maintaining 55 mph on the decent easy. The Bridgestone RE-11’s worked very well, despite cooler temperatures (~60°F), and I had zero traction issues… even with some gravel on the road.

    After Highway 311 the driving went down-hill (not literally), as I ran into a whole bunch of road construction. I guess being Monday all of the road crews are back out, and I think I hit a half-dozen areas that were reduced to one lane controlled by a flagger or stop light.

    To make things worse, after one of the construction zones my car threw another P2135 DTC. I was able to quickly pull off to clear the code, but getting back on the road I completely bottomed-out on my sub-chassis braces… I seriously doubt that there is any paint left them. Fortunately, that was the only DTC that I received today.

    I think I’m getting an idea of when the DTCs tend to happen, and I was actually was anticipating the one that occurred. It has always happened when the car is being driven near idle, especially after longer stretches behind slower cars. Today I took some care to keep the RPMs higher, run in a lower gear, blip the throttle every so often, etc. I believe it made a difference, but I’ll see over the next few days.

    Just to make sure there wasn’t something “stupid” causing the DTCs, when I stopped for gas I spent some time looking under the hood for any problems. I also took some time to check the oil level (everything was good) and to empty my catch can (for the first time). I’ve driven quite a while without looking in my catch can, and was shocked to see almost 1/4 cup of oil in it! Normally all of that oil would “spit” into the intake to be burned-off in the engine, so I’m really glad that I installed the catch can.

    Towards the end of the day I ran into another issue with the roads my GPS was telling me to drive on. After turning onto Virginia 785 (aka. Blacksburg Rd.) I had a feeling like I was not on my originally planned route… when it turned into a one-lane road I knew I needed to turn around. After spending some time checking maps, I decided that I should just head directly to my hotel on the interstate.

    Tomorrow there is a very high likely-hood of rain. No matter how lucky I have been so far, I don’t think I’ll be able to dodge all the thundershowers tomorrow. The weather for the rest of the week doesn’t look so great either, but hopefully that will keep the “tourists” off the roads.

  • Post-GONE: Day 7

    Posted on September 18th, 2011 tcorzett No comments

    Today I traveled to the Shenandoah National Park for a trip down Skyline Drive! The drive went by quite quickly… I don’t really know what it was, but it didn’t seem like I was on the road for 7 Hours.

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    I’ve been trying for weeks to obtain an “America the Beautiful” Annual Pass, and I was finally able to get one! It really wasn’t as big of a deal as I was making it out to be… just paid the person at the gate on the way into the park, signed the card, and away I went. Now I’ll be prepared for then I get to my next park (there will be a couple around Las Vegas for sure).

    The weather this morning was very cloudy and grey, and that resulted in many of the scenic views from Skyline Drive being obstructed. However, I wasn’t disappointed, as the low clouds were lots of fun to drive through.

    As the day went on the sun started to break through the clouds, and the views from the outlooks became much more scenic. Fortunately I think the weather also kept the people away, as most areas within the park were empty… allowing for some great photo opportunities.

    The other great thing about having few people in the park was all the wildlife that I saw. Driving along the road, I rounded a corner to find two black bears standing in the middle of the road… a mother and her cub! Further down the road there was a SUV stopped watching a large buck eating breakfast. A little ways from there I spotted a smaller buck and jumped out of the car to get a photo (boy do I wish I had brought a longer lens with me).

    Cruising on Skyline Drive is not something you do to make good time, as there is a 35 mph speed limit. I was having some difficulties maintaining the speed, without going too fast, so decided to turn on the cruise control. It was definitely different driving along twisty roads with cruise control engaged… your car doesn’t slow down in the corners!

    The roads in Shenandoah National Park were pristine, and I noticed several signs talking about “your recovery money at work”. I guess I did get something for my tax dollars… a smooth ride! It would be great if California took the hint and repaved some of the back roads, but I’m not going to hold my breath.

    The best part of my day was the drive on US-33 through the George Washington National Forest.

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    This wonderful stretch of road was full of twists and turns, as well as a very steep climb and decent. To make it even better, I had fun chasing down a “local” 4×4 had impatiently passed me before the climb. I was relaxing behind several slower vehicles when the 4×4 blew past me (and the others)… while still on the flat I passed the slow vehicles and charged up the mountain. Each time I caught the 4×4 I would slow down… then catch him again. Having a large piece of empty road to myself (between the 4×4 and the slower cars) made the drive very enjoyable.

    The past two days have been free from the P2135 DTC, but towards the end of today it popped back up again… and in the worst times. I think it happened 4 times in an hour, and twice I had to stop in the middle of the road, as there was no place to turn-off and “limp mode” made driving (at any pace) impossible. Fortunately I was able to get the codes cleared quickly, but I’m starting to get frustrated with it. I’m actually finding myself not wanting to pass people (especially on two lane roads), just in case I get the DTC a little while later (now with someone behind me). ‘Sigh, hopefully it decides to behave… I’m still a long ways from home, with a bunch of diving to do!

    Tomorrow I drive back over the Appalachian Mountains, and based on the drive from today I’m really looking forward to it. Hopefully the forecaster rain holds-off for most of the day so I can enjoy the twisty roads a bit more.

  • Post-GONE: Day 6

    Posted on September 17th, 2011 tcorzett No comments

    Last night I made the decision that I was going to drive a shorter route today than I originally planned. While I’d love to drive every twisty road I can, there is only so much time in the driver’s seat that I can take in one day (and over 9 hours was just too much). Even though I decided to take the “direct route”, it was far from boring.

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    While I was driving on the interstate I couldn’t help but compare it to I-80 through Nebraska… compared to that, these roads are like the Nürburgring (Nordschleife)!

    For the last few days, I’ve been chomping on Atomic Fireballs while I’m driving. They are a great piece of candy to keep my mouth/mind occupied during less exciting stretches of road. I typically chew on hard candy, but these are too hot if I do that… so I’m forced to eat them slowly. The bag that I bought in Wyoming was running dangerously low, and I couldn’t find more in a couple grocery stores, so I got to the point of rationing them. Today I stopped to get gas and noticed they had 50¢ bags… so I bought as many as I could carry!

    Tomorrow I’m going to the Shenandoah National Park, so I really need to get my hands on an “American the Beautiful” Annual Pass.

    One of the nice things about the direct route I drove today was that it brought me past three different places where I should have been able to get the pass… unfortunately, the only one that was open didn’t have any passes… Ug! How difficult is it to give people money!?!

    At least when I visited the Senica Rocks Discovery Center I was able to take a photo of the beautiful scenery.

    I’ve started to notice something when I enter the small towns in West Virginia… they are very proud of their high school sports. Under each of the “Welcome to” signs, there are lists of the State Championships. Just how into their high school football are these guys? Last night I was searching for a radio station in my hotel and I found the same high school football game being broadcasted on two different stations, with two different commentators!

    Today I entered the radar detector unfriendly state of Virginia!

    I feel it’s a little unfair that they are allowed to determine my speed with radar, but it’s illegal for me to determine if they are determining my speed with radar. Oh well, it’s not like I’m speeding… but it just felt weird driving down the road without the “beeping” from my Valentine 1. Just to make sure there was no question if I was using my radar detector, I removed it from my rear view mirror and put it into my trunk.

    Shortly after checking into my hotel I received a phone call from my Uncle who lives in Virginia. I was only an hour away from his home, so made the trip out there for a visit. After turning off the interstate I traveled through lush green pastures… and wow there were some nice estates out that way! It was great to see my Uncle again, and the conversation over a home cooked meal sure was better than sitting alone in a hotel eating food from the “deli” at Walmart!

    Tomorrow will be the first day of my return trip, as this is the farthest East I will venture on this Cross Country drive. So far I have racked-up 4578 miles and seen many new places. I’ve had a blast so far, and I’m looking forward for the rest of my trip back towards the West Coast!