Pre-Fest Road Trip: 5000 Miles...

Stealth TDI

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Joined
Feb 13, 1998
Location
Newport News, VA
TDI
2017 GTI APR Stage 3 (395 hp/376 lb-ft)
Hello,

I am about two weeks from departing on a 5000 mile road trip. I'm taking care of some minor maintenance items and getting the car cleaned up between now and my departure date. My primary goals during this trip are to visit family in Texas and then hit the TDIFest in Lexington on the way back. Side trips along the way include another run of the Cherohala Skyway and Tail of the Dragon (I want new photos and my daughter wants a new t-shirt), a stop near Nashville to visit my daughter's friend, a visit to White Sands National Monument, a tour of Carlsbad Caverns (including the "bat flight"), and a visit to Houston for my 25 year high school reunion (never been to one). My route will look something like this:



I have fairly ambitious goals regarding the amount of miles I'd like to cover each day so I can maximize my time with family (shooting for a seven day stay). Therefore, I'm not sure how much "touristy stuff" I plan to do. Can anyone think of any "must see" places I should consider along the route? Is Roswell, NM worth a small deviation? I don't see anything online that screams, "See this!" ;) What about a visit to the new VW plant in Chattanooga? Do they even open to the public? Other ideas within close proximity to my planned route? What about in Oklahoma? I've never driven there before. Most of my driving will be on Interstates. Are there "side" highways I should consider for the scenery which aren't terribly slow?

I'll post plenty of photos of the car (we like those), scenery, and photos from the driver's seat. I also post more photos as I prep the car for travel and then as I post along the route. In the mean time, please feel free to suggest points of interest or route changes. You're also welcome to check out the last road trip I documented HERE. I had limited myself to posting one or two photos per day since most readers were on dial-up at the time. But I'll post a lot of photos this time, making this thread a blog of sorts. :)

Take Care,

Scott
 

Stealth TDI

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Feb 13, 1998
Location
Newport News, VA
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2017 GTI APR Stage 3 (395 hp/376 lb-ft)
I made contact with the media relations person at the plant in Chattanooga. It turns out they're not opening for tours until the plant is running at full production in "late fall." So no deviation from my route there. Someone at VWVortex turned me on to www.Byways.org for routing possibilities. Oklahoma's Rt 66 is right along my expected route. So I think I'll pay the historic road a visit. :)
 

Stealth TDI

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Joined
Feb 13, 1998
Location
Newport News, VA
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2017 GTI APR Stage 3 (395 hp/376 lb-ft)
Hello,

VERY CLOSE to departure. I have an unexpected duty to perform at work the day I plan to depart. It sucks that I'll be hitting the road six hours later than planned. But I think I can still make my entire first leg, shooting for Knoxville in a day (hopefully on the road by noon). The good news is leaving from work makes it better to leave the area on a more southern route. As a result, it looks like very little of my path will overlap, giving me all-unique roads/views:



Thanks to a tip at VWVortex, I've also found a spot in OK where I will cruise Rt66 and stop at a cool spot. More on that later.

Scott
 

deegingerkid

Beware the Ginger! Vendor
Joined
Mar 9, 2011
Location
The Left Coast
TDI
"Blurple" 2000 New Beetle 5M 2006 Jetta has been SOLD
RE: Oklahoma.

Hi Scott!
I lived in Oklahoma for a short time. The highway speed limit is 70. The turnpike (I-44 btwn MO and OKC) is 75. The two-lane highway speed is 65 unless things have changed. The views along the highway are brutally boring. If you take a state or national highway you may see some farms or trees or something other than the occasional gas station.

If I remember your route, you go through the east central part of oklahoma. The ouachita nat'l forest is gorgeous.
 

Stealth TDI

Pre-Forum Veteran Member
Joined
Feb 13, 1998
Location
Newport News, VA
TDI
2017 GTI APR Stage 3 (395 hp/376 lb-ft)
Okay - Progress...

Day 1 – The plan changed fairly quickly as noted above in the maps. I had hoped to leave early in the morning, making a drive to Knoxville a cinch. However, there was a rather large and important task to accomplish at work. So Diana and I packed up the car and headed in to the office.

Diana and me...


The Great Dismal Swamp continues to burn...


The task at hand was the retirement of my Branch Chief. He had served in the Coast Guard for over 36 years. There was no missing this ceremony. So I changed my plans and hoped to hit the road by noon. That didn’t work out so well. Thirty-six years of service means a lot of sharing. It was a big ceremony. He deserved the send-off! But it was after 2:00 before I was finally able to hit the road.

Here’s a photo from the reception...


It didn’t take long for me to figure out I wasn’t going to make it to Knoxville. So I set my sights for Asheville, NC. I stopped for a few photos along the way. This was a bit of a schedule-killer. But I’m happy with the way they turned out:

Diana crashed soon...


Some sort of plant... I didn't care... I wanted the backdrop...


Not a lot of photo opportunities when much of the first day is under a canopy like this...


An abandoned fuel station which once pumped $0.39 gasoline...



Dinner at Sonic...


Nighty-night...


Nearly a full work day followed by seven hours on the road wore me out in short order. So I found a hotel and called it a night. More to follow...

Scott
 

Stealth TDI

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Joined
Feb 13, 1998
Location
Newport News, VA
TDI
2017 GTI APR Stage 3 (395 hp/376 lb-ft)
Day 2

We slept in just a tad, but still managed to be on the road by 7:30. Right away we found a problem with the voltage inverter. It appears it's not getting power since my position encoder is dead, too. No time to troubleshoot. So I stopped by Walmart and got another one. I'll chase down the cause when I'm at my folks' place in Texas. We stopped at a "TA" travel center for fuel after a couple of hours. That place was like a black hole... I couldn't escape! I had to fuel with the big rigs. That's not normally a problem. But it took a really long time to get payment and the pumps turned on. And then the attendant only cleared me for $15! I wasn't starting over again. Fifteen bucks will take me over 100 miles. "I'm outta here," or so I thought. It turned out the headphones I bought there were broken. I course, I didn't see that until I was on the highway. I had to drive three miles up a mountain, three miles back, exchange, get back on the road... The whole affair sucked an hour out of my morning. I should've held out for a station with payment at the pump. On a humorous note, I have no idea how I survived driving before the days of paying at the pump. Then again, back then you could pump first and pay after... having to wait in line just once. Okay, I'm babbling...

It took about four hours to get to the base of the Tail of the Dragon (TOTD) in Robbinsville, NC. Yesterday’s setback, this morning's blunder, and a plan to take Diana to meet her friend near Nashville, TN meant there wasn’t enough time to drive both the TOTD and the Cherohala Skyway as planned. So I cut the Skyway and headed for the TOTD. Knowing the car would be photographed along the TOTD, I opted to stop and get it cleaned:



This was a rare treat for Diana. I normally don’t use these kinds of washes. So she had never seen one in action. With the car as shiny as it was going to get, we continued along the way. Oddly enough, I learned there’s a regular car wash in Robbinsville. So don’t worry about showing up at the TOTD with a dirty car. There’s an easy opportunity to clean up before getting in front of the camera. :) Here are some photos from that drive:

Several miles of coasting down a mountain dropped fuel consumption to zero and EGTs were minimal...


I was going to share a photo of every MKIII I encountered during this trip. But I haven't seen any! I'm snapping aircooled cars... but still hoping to find a MKIII...


A scenic bridge...


We were hit by a brief shower as we entered Robbinsville. I stopped to dry off and took this photo...


Here's a view of a dam. Crossing this bridge is the mark of when the road is about to get interesting...



It immediately turns and climbs to the top of the dam...


And eventually snakes its way to an overlook of the river behind the dam...


Click this panoramic for a larger view...


Here's a life-flight helo awaiting the latest Darwin Award recipient... details below...


continued next post...
 

Stealth TDI

Pre-Forum Veteran Member
Joined
Feb 13, 1998
Location
Newport News, VA
TDI
2017 GTI APR Stage 3 (395 hp/376 lb-ft)
Pulled pork sandwiches... Yummy!


Ahhh... the things which can amuse kids if left unattended. She has no idea this will apply to her one day. HAHA!


There were at least two crashes that afternoon, both within 15 minutes of my arrival. One may have been a fatality. The ambulance went in with lights and sirens, but came out silent. Still, that didn’t keep at least one person from riding like an absolute jackass just minutes past the first crash. He rushed up behind me, was on my bumper for all of 10 seconds, and then passed me through a completely blind “S” turn. He rode in the center of the oncoming lane and was met by a pickup truck… all right in front of me. We all stopped without incident. The biker sped off to avoid further humiliation. I was recording on my Droid at the time. But the incident was not captured because the turns were too steep to see everything. I should post his license plate somewhere to see if anyone can chastize him. ;) Oddly enough, I was diligent about using the pull-offs to let faster traffic pass. This guy would’ve had a clean pass just a few seconds later. I guess his life isn’t worth the wait. Darwin will get him one day. ;) We ate lunch at the top of the TOTD and then continued on to Fort Campbell, KY. Diana had plenty of fun with her friend:

Just before exiting for Fort Campbell...



They could hardly stand still long enough for the photo...


Continued next post...
 
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Stealth TDI

Pre-Forum Veteran Member
Joined
Feb 13, 1998
Location
Newport News, VA
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2017 GTI APR Stage 3 (395 hp/376 lb-ft)
Here are the photos taken by the crew at Killboy.com:















We spent the night in Clarksville, TN. Keep in mind that I’m a very “scheduled” driver. So, in my head, we’re still behind track and have a lot of ground to make up. My next “appointment” is to make it to White Sands National Monument before sunset in two days. That means we HAVE to make it to Oklahoma City tomorrow. This will be two long days of driving…

Take Care,

Scott
 

Stealth TDI

Pre-Forum Veteran Member
Joined
Feb 13, 1998
Location
Newport News, VA
TDI
2017 GTI APR Stage 3 (395 hp/376 lb-ft)
Day 3

Still worn out, we slept in just a little again. We hit the road before 7:00 and let ‘er rip. I wanted to make up some time today by NOT making a lot of stops or messing around. I hoped to not be too tired to push on to OKC. We stopped briefly at a Starbucks in Jackson, TN to meet a friend from high school for coffee. It was good to catch up. Neither of us could stay long. That was good for making up time. I continued on and made it a point to stop at the Welcome Center in Memphis. I wanted to show Diana the “Birthplace of Rock ‘n’ Roll” displays. I didn’t find it right away. But I did manage to slip onto the small Coast Guard base to get directions and take a few photos. Here are the photos from today:

The thunderstorms last night were nothing short of incredible! We're starting off on wet roads...


It was good to run without AC for a while. The fuel economy was pretty good while it lasted...


Still no MKIIIs sighted. So here's another aircooled bug...


A little "foreign travel" today... ;)


Diana took a few photos from the back seat today...



Another bug... These are tough to get on a quick-draw at highway speeds! ;)


Continued in next post...
 

Stealth TDI

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Joined
Feb 13, 1998
Location
Newport News, VA
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2017 GTI APR Stage 3 (395 hp/376 lb-ft)
My friend from high school... How many of you thought it would be a crusty old guy from my woodshop class? :D


More dollars than sense...



Diana's doing her reading assignment...


More rain...


The pyramid in Memphis...


From the Coast Guard base...


The Welcome Center...


The King...


Continued in next post...
 
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Stealth TDI

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Joined
Feb 13, 1998
Location
Newport News, VA
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2017 GTI APR Stage 3 (395 hp/376 lb-ft)
B.B. King...


I like seeing the American Flag flying from atop unexpected places...



We stopped in London... We're exotic travelers now! :rolleyes:


My TDI spent the night with a much younger TDI with a big rear end! :p


You might notice that Diana and I visited London AND Paris today. She was not impressed, even when I told her we were eating “Parisian cuisine” and listening to “Parisian music.” In reality, we were eating ice cream at a Sonic and they were playing country music (which is “foreign” to both of us). ;)

We DID manage to make it to OKC. In fact, I went a few miles past OKC to ensure we didn't get stuck in rush hour traffic the following morning. I guess I can say we "on schedule," for now anyway... :cool:

Until next time...

Scott
 
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Stealth TDI

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Feb 13, 1998
Location
Newport News, VA
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2017 GTI APR Stage 3 (395 hp/376 lb-ft)
Day 4

Today was another long day. But we got up much earlier and hit the road before the sun came up. The police were up, too:


We stopped at a couple of Route 66 attractions along the way. So far, Route 66 hasn’t been what I expected. I hadn’t realized it was essentially a “retired” road with no real “US 66” signs (the highway has new numbers). Finding a road sign with the famous “66” to photograph was a challenge! But we did visit a couple of Route 66 attractions. The first we visited was a mock-up of a town in Oklahoma. It was cool, but (again) not what I expected. The next place was a section of old downtown Amarillo where the businesses were still going. The area had been run down a bit. Diana and I had lunch at Smokey Joe’s. It was nice to relax. Here are some Route 66 photos:

I don't think this was on Rt 66. But it took me back to a time when more of these were around. I'd like to get better photos of a drive-in movie theater and perhaps take Diana to one...


Starting to see more oil derricks...


The Route 66 Museum in Elk City, OK...


Parked at someone's home behind the museum...


Diana: "What is THAT?" :D


Continued in next post...
 

Stealth TDI

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Newport News, VA
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2017 GTI APR Stage 3 (395 hp/376 lb-ft)
Random museum photos...







Who remembers waiving at the caboose as it went by?






In another town along Route 66...



Continued in next post...
 

Stealth TDI

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Newport News, VA
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2017 GTI APR Stage 3 (395 hp/376 lb-ft)
Lunch in Amarillo...



We got back on the road after an hour so we could make it to White Sands before sunset. My stereo decided to crap out. So the next couple of hours were without music. There was no 3G coverage out there; so streaming Pandora wasn’t happening, either. :( We were off the Interstate for the rest of the day after leaving Amarillo and driving four lane highways with the occasional two-laner:

Diana's choice of fashion items is starting to develop...


That's A LOT of cows!


We decided to deviate just a hair to see Roswell. The town is MUCH larger than I expected. I was expecting a small town of less and 10,000; not a city of 50,000! The place quite busy. It took a while to cut through town. It’s cool to be able to say I visited Roswell. But, to me, it wasn’t worth it… not with the crowds. Next time, I’ll take the bypass around it. :) I took just three photos:


Still no MKIII's... But I found another Bug...


Continued in next post...
 

Stealth TDI

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Newport News, VA
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2017 GTI APR Stage 3 (395 hp/376 lb-ft)
NO MORE STOPS! We pressed on to White Sands! Here are some shots along the way:

Cool sky photo...


The sky is looking ominous as I approach Alamogordo. I hope the photos at White Sands aren't rained out... :(


I stopped to wash the car in Alamogordo and saw this:


Getting close...


We're there!




I had taken some photos of the Jetta there about 10 years ago… back before my first digital camera. This was a chance to retake those photos in better quality as well as with the updated wheels. We just made it. I started shooting like a madman about 20 minutes before sunset. Diana had a camera as well and took photos from atop the dunes. I was hoping for that one really good shot. I’m not sure if I got it. What do you think?
2001's photos:



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Stealth TDI

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Newport News, VA
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2017 GTI APR Stage 3 (395 hp/376 lb-ft)
Today's photos:






Overdone HDR...


Panoramic (click for larger view)...


After sunset...



I think I caught a meteorite in this photo. This blemish is not in the other photos on either side of this frame...


Continued in next post...
 

Stealth TDI

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Newport News, VA
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2017 GTI APR Stage 3 (395 hp/376 lb-ft)
There were lots more, with and without flash. I goofed and forgot to experiment with flash photos during the sunset as I was busy with manual bracketing. Regardless of whether my photography wins any awards, I’m VERY pleased with the results. Getting these updated photos was well worth the time, effort, and expense of coming out here again. :)


As I left the park, I noticed I lost a high-beam and the high-beam indicator. Headlight bulbs are easy to source and replace. I really don’t use the high-beams much, anyway. The dash lamp is another story. Hopefully, I don’t need to have a functional high-beam indicator to pass inspection in Texas. We’ll see. The good news is the stereo works. I hadn't removed the key from the ignition all day until now. This somehow "reset" the old radio and brought it back to life. :cool: Diana had hoped to sled down the dunes. But we just didn't get there early enough. We'll come back in the morning before heading off to Carlsbad Caverns. She and I were able to turn in at a reasonable hour. :)

Until tomorrow...


Scott
 

kooyajerms

grocery getter
Joined
May 5, 2004
Location
Pomona, Southern California
TDI
97 B4V (mine), 11 x5 35d (hers) 04 V10 (that one you want), 2014 Q7 (mom's) 74 Shasta 1400
Great job Scott. I'm amazed that your daughter can handle a roadtrip like that. Cheers!

Too bad you don't have a mount, videoing the Tail of the Dragon woulda been nice.
 

paramedick

TDIClub Enthusiast, Vendor
Joined
Jul 29, 2001
Location
Versailles, Kentucky
TDI
2015 Audi Q5 TDI, 2000 New Beetle
Rachel sez "WHEN IS THAT GIRL GETTING HERE?? YOU KNOW, THE ONE YOU'VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT FOR YEARS....."

Wow, Diana isn't so little anymore. Strange how that happens when you haven't seen her since the Boston fest.

Have fun. Be careful.
 

Lug_Nut

TDIClub Enthusiast, Pre-Forum Veteran Member
Joined
Jun 20, 1998
Location
Sterling, Massachusetts. USA
TDI
idi: 1988 Bolens DGT1700H
Dorian Gray?





The car, at least, looks to be getting better with age.
How about a photo of the owner from then and now? :p
 

Stealth TDI

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Joined
Feb 13, 1998
Location
Newport News, VA
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2017 GTI APR Stage 3 (395 hp/376 lb-ft)
Hello,

that pano pic is great
Bring some rain to Texas if you can....nice trip and pictures.;)
Great job Scott. I'm amazed that your daughter can handle a roadtrip like that. Cheers! Too bad you don't have a mount, videoing the Tail of the Dragon woulda been nice.
Thanks for the comments, everyone. I don't think the rain will follow me to Texas. :( Diana's very comfortable in the car. I do have a mount of sorts. I took a video through my Droid. It's not ALL of the Dragon... about 18 minutes.

Rachel sez "WHEN IS THAT GIRL GETTING HERE?? YOU KNOW, THE ONE YOU'VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT FOR YEARS....." Wow, Diana isn't so little anymore. Strange how that happens when you haven't seen her since the Boston fest. Have fun. Be careful.
We'll be there Friday... but probably late. But we'll be there the rest of the weekend and through the Banquet.

The car, at least, looks to be getting better with age. How about a photo of the owner from then and now? :p
Not a lot of photos of me from 1998. But here's one from 2000 when Diana was born and another from earlier this year:


:)

New update in a few minutes...
 

Stealth TDI

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Joined
Feb 13, 1998
Location
Newport News, VA
TDI
2017 GTI APR Stage 3 (395 hp/376 lb-ft)
Day 5

Today’s drive is short, just 150 miles from Alamogordo to Carlsbad. Since we got to White Sands so late yesterday, I promised Diana we’d return in the morning so she could slide on the dunes. The park opened late due to missile testing. But we were in by 9:30.

Diana played for about an hour before grabbing a quick shower and then heading off to Carlsbad:




Panoramic... click for larger version...


The rest of the 360-degrees... (click)




Yeah, sand all in the floor and in Diana's seat from her wipe-out...


The drive from White Sands included 4300 feet of climbing to Cloudcroft in Lincoln National Forest...




Continued in next post...
 

Stealth TDI

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Joined
Feb 13, 1998
Location
Newport News, VA
TDI
2017 GTI APR Stage 3 (395 hp/376 lb-ft)
We stopped for lunch in Cloudcroft (8600 feet) before continuing on to Carlsbad...




REALLY high MPGs coming down the mountain from Cloudcroft...


A potty break...



So I decided to seek out a drive-in theater for Diana. I followed the directions and came to this. WTH kind of "drive-in theater" is THIS? They're "closed until further notice." I can see why...


Still no MKIIIs... here's another Bug...


Shouldn't this read, "Road Repairs Ahead?"


Unfortunately, our time at White Sands and Cloudcroft pushed our arrival time to the point to where we were too late to enter the caverns today. Instead, we checked into our hotel early and enjoyed a swim...


We went to the cavern for the evening “bat flight” where the Mexican Freetail bats leave the cave each evening at sunset for a night of feeding on insects. It was cool to see, especially for Diana. But since the bat population is down to about 1000, the exodus wasn’t nearly as dramatic as it was ten years ago when 300,000 bats flew out. We returned to our hotel for our second early turn-in and plan to visit the caverns in the morning before heading to my parents’ place.

Until tomorrow...

Scott
 

TDIMeister

Phd of TDIClub Enthusiast, Moderator at Large
Joined
May 1, 1999
Location
Canada
TDI
TDI
Greetings to you, Scott and Diana. I also last saw Diana at the Boston Fest. Unfortunately I won't be able to make it to Lexington. :(
 
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