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  • 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.