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Road Trips Discussions about road trips you have made with your TDI.

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Old November 5th, 2017, 01:09   #1
ttcheung
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Default Oakland CA to Boston MA

Quite a long read, but I suppose that's what this forum section is for.

Last year we sold our 2005 Legacy GT wagon 5MT and replaced it with a JSW that had 136k miles on it. Although 300hp and boxer rumble from an AWD was very fun, the JSW got close to double the MPG as the Legacy. I had invested some items into the vehicle, and the JSW has Koni Yellows, Neuspeed Race Springs, GTI rear sway bar, ADVAN RS wheels, a Diesel Geek Short Shifter kit, and a KermaTDI tune.

Fast forward to September of this year; it was time for me to head out to the East Coast for a new job. Rather than fly and ship the car, I decided to pack what I could into the car and take a solid drive across the country. Three crates, some boxes, cooler, minor roadside tools, sleeping bag, bike, roof rack, and away I went. Initially I had thought of mounting the racks and bike on top, but through some local freeway testing, the wind noise and efficiency losses were too much for such a long drive.

After finally weaving out of the Bay Area morning traffic one more time, I passed Lake Tahoe and my first stop was Carson City Nevada, to visit my old college roommate. After that, I continued on US HWY50 (Loneliest Road in America) through the Great Basin; it was nothing short of expansive. Straight roads as far as the eyes can see, solitude for up to 30 minutes at a time. Middlegate and Shoe Tree were one of the few landmarks along the way. Prior to the trip I had just taken the car to VW for the emissions recall, and was running on the OEM tune. The car was still able to go 120mph with room to spare. Even at 7000+ft elevation and curvy mountain roads, the car's low-end torque and tight body controls made it feel light on its feet. I spent the night in Ely, and with so little light pollution, I could literally see all the stars in the sky.

The next morning I continued on HWY50. East of Ely, I decided to step outside of the car with the engine off, and the surroundings were so quiet that my ears were literally ringing. Entering Utah and joining Hwy50 with I-70 it was about 100 miles of no phone/roadside services. The desolate surroundings truly makes one feel so small. Leaving the Great Basin, I could start seeing crazy rock formations take place, and after going through the San Rafael Swell, I was driving into Arches National Park. After driving along the Colorado River back onto HWY50/I-70, I crossed into Colorado and stopped by Flyin' Miata. From there I starting to climb into the Rockies and onto I-70's elevated skyways (awesome awesome engineering feat). At Vail I turned into the KermaTDI office, and then back onto I-70 and into the 11000+ft Johnson Tunnel, which exited me out to Denver. The elevation noticeably reduced power, but a quick downshift to 5th was all that was needed.

I spent two nights in Denver at friends' place, and then it was eastward, shaking off the last bit of the Rockies and into the Kansas Great Plains. What everyone have said about the corn fields are so true, miles and miles of maize. Our society consumes so much of this product, and it's changed agriculture so much.

Having claim to "I drove in Kansas," I then took non-interstate roads to see rural America, and then headed north into Nebraska I-80 and went through (literally straight) for an entire afternoon and evening, and into Des Moines. All this was so different than the concrete jungle lifestyle I've been immersed all my life, and I really got a sense of "simple life" out there. There's also a deja vu feeling of being on a familiarly-named freeway, but in other parts of the country, as I was used to the traffic-ridden version of I-80 back in the Bay Area.

From Des Moines, I stopped by the World's Largest Truck Stop in eastern Iowa, and then passed through the southern part of the Greater Chicago metro. The cornfields have started disappearing and were being replaced with more and more forests and rivers. I noticed that I-80/I-90 junction was a HUGE trucking corridor, with more big rigs surrounding me than cars. I stopped in Ann Arbor that evening. I also noticed that my tires were taking a huge beating with respect to camber wear, and the cupping effects were audible at anything below 70mph. My camber was not that high, and I wonder if the accelerated wear was due to long straight stints.

From Ann Arbor, I chose to go through Ontario, the Falls, and into upstate NY. The drive from Ann Arbor into Boston would be the longest, about 780 miles, but seeing the last bits of summer green was yet another welcoming change in scenery. As I crossed into the Massachusetts border with another easy two hours left to the Atlantic, I took one more picture of the car next to the state welcome sign.

Inside I felt, "wow, really did it. a little tired, but my body is still comfortable." Averaging an honest 80mph, I was getting easily 580 miles per tank. The car was rock solid (even if not built in Deutschland) and wind noise was minimal. The front of the car had collected so many bugs along the way. Finding diesel stations were not difficult, and it was a somewhat peculiar sight to have my car parked next to groups of big rigs, filling up the tank.

This is seriously the best way to see and absorb America, while we still can. Not getting into any politics, but who knows what our volatile future will bring? This was my second time doing a cross-country trip, with my first going through the southern U.S. with some friends in an older Maxima, also ending up in Boston. Many things are put into perspective as I see just how large our country is; however, what's even crazier is that as expansive as the Great Plains are, most, if not all of it, has been turned into agriculture, including the drier, western parts. While people might say this part of the drive was boring, I used the solitude to help cleanse the mindset in preparation for the next chapter in our family's lives.

The only complaint, as mentioned, was the absurd tire wear. 36PSI, alignment done back in January, car tracked straight, -1.4deg camber front, -2.0deg rear, yet the fronts took a huge beating.
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Last edited by ttcheung; November 6th, 2017 at 07:00. Reason: typo
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Old November 7th, 2017, 15:49   #2
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Nice trip report, thanks for posting. Welcome to New England!
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Old November 11th, 2017, 12:23   #3
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Such a great road trip, especially your first time in some areas. Thanks for sharing.
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Old November 11th, 2017, 12:44   #4
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Welcome to Massachusetts! People here say that San Francisco is the West Coast city most like Boston. I'm not sure I see it, but perhaps you do. At any rate, welcome.
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Old November 12th, 2017, 17:05   #5
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Friends and co-workers have always looked at me with their heads tilted off vertical when I explain the 2,000 mile drive my wife and I will do from Florida to Maine on vacation. I commonly hear: "You know, they have these things called airplanes..."

Airports and airplanes do not deprogram my brain from the frenetic pace of South Florida living the way a long drive, and winding through the mountains on a two-lane road will.

I totally understood the deprogramming that occurred on your drive through the open expanses of America. Enjoy the change of scenery and the new home...
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Old November 12th, 2017, 17:50   #6
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I get that question about planes, too. But I spent so much time on planes that driving long distances is a very positive change. Every time I go to California to visit family I seriously consider driving. But it takes too much time.
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Old November 13th, 2017, 10:01   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IndigoBlueWagon View Post
Welcome to Massachusetts! People here say that San Francisco is the West Coast city most like Boston. I'm not sure I see it, but perhaps you do. At any rate, welcome.

That's because of the traffic and smugness
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Old November 13th, 2017, 10:12   #8
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There was a time when I'd have said the traffic in the Bay Area was far worse than in metro Boston, but these days I'm not so sure.
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Old November 13th, 2017, 11:43   #9
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Just gotta stay west of 495, then it’s tolerable.
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Old November 13th, 2017, 12:34   #10
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Then you're not in metro Boston. My son lives in Northampton and I enjoy driving out there, although the eastbound Pike between Palmer and Sturbridge can be a problem.
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Old November 13th, 2017, 13:45   #11
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Thank you for the comments and compliments. I had never made the connection wrt Boston Metro and SF Bay Area, but taking a step back I can definitely see the similarities. Yes, the traffic was definitely a surprise, I didn't expect the flow into Boston during the morning hours be that red.

I mentioned it briefly in my last post, but what's so crazy is that between Ely NV and Delta UT on HWY50 is about 160 miles, and there are only two fueling stations in that stretch. That's how desolate that whole area is, and yet there are people who "choose" to live in those areas. It's just really cool seeing how we learn to adapt to so much.

I think a good car contributes to a good road trip; 80+mph w/out any fuss, quiet, stable, and lower RPMs. We have a Nissan Cube that's still in CA, and when it comes time to move everything to MA, my friends have suggested taking the Cube on a road trip. However, from experience I know it won't be good; going up and down California and Oregon in that made me appreciate lower CGs, longer wheelbases, torque, and lower side profiles.

If I could improve on this trip, I think it would be to have more time. However, I was starting to getting burned out towards the end, so perhaps this 6-day jaunt was ideal.
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Old November 19th, 2017, 21:51   #12
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Originally coming from Kansas, I've always noticed how most people from the Coasts (especially the East Coast) don't really "understand" how big this country really is. I've been in practically every state east of the Mississippi ( a few exceptions in the North), but not so much west of Colorado - it's a bucket list of mine to drive and or ride a motorcycle in every state of the union. You can spend ALL of a day crossing Kansas - I once did Boston to Jacksonville FL in less than 24 hours by myself.
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Old November 29th, 2017, 15:00   #13
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Nice trip report.

IBW - All your comments are making me long for New England again.

To the guy that drives from Florida to Maine. We go from the Chicago area to Maine every other year, which beats an airplane when taking beach gear.
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Old December 1st, 2017, 08:53   #14
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Reading your post makes me remember some of where you had driven and I had as well some time ago myself.
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