Driving Vs Flying, and Magic, Every Day

The wife and I recently completed a three-day trip to New Mexico, where we found and (hopefully) settled on our next house.  It was a 729-mile trip each way, which Google Maps calculates to be 12 hours and 42 minutes.  On the way down, we accomplished it in about twelve hours.  On the way back, we turned it up…to eleven.  Eleven hours. That’s an average of 66.27–repeating, of course–miles per hour, including time stopped for gas, restrooms, and food.

Quick stats: the Porsche averaged over 26 miles per gallon on the trip with a highway cruising speed of over 80 mph.  Check out the numbers from the last tank of gas, which took us from Holbrook, NM all the way home to Las Vegas:

The average speed HAD been over 80, but an accident on I-95 in Henderson
crushed our numbers right at the end of the trip.

There was plenty of space for the two of us and our gear (the rear seats in the 911 are often derided or overlooked in the press, but owners will tell you they are incredibly useful), there was always an excess of power available for passing even at elevations as high as 7,797 feet, and as always the ease of outward visibility in the 911 made it easy to maintain awareness of nearby traffic.  Are there better long-distance cruising cars out there?  Certainly, but the Porsche would crush them on a track.  When it is said that the 911 is the world’s best, and perhaps only, go-every-day do-everything supercar, it is said with very good reason.

While all this is impressive–or at least I think it is–you might be saying, ugh, that’s a lot of driving.  And you’d be right.  But you can’t put a price on freedom, flexibility, and memorable experiences, and those are things that cars have always given their owners.

In this case, the plan was to make the trip from December 28 through December 31.  To fly commercial, we’d have had to shoehorn our schedules (and wallets, no doubt) into whatever allowed us to get into and out of El Paso around those dates.  Once in El Paso, we’d have had to rent a (crappy) car and drive two hours to our small-town destination.  As it turned out, we finished house-hunting early and were ready to leave on the 30th.  If we’d been bound by airline tickets, there’d have been no sense paying fees to change everything last-minute.  We’d have lost a whole day that we were instead able to spend at home (on New Year’s Eve, no less), plus spent extra money on an extra twenty-four hours of hotel and car rental.  Since we’d driven, it was simple: call the front desk the night before to notify them of our planned early check-out, hop in the car the next morning, and vanish toward the horizon.

Among the memorable experiences on our journey:

1) What looked to be a wolf sprinting across the road about a hundred yards in front of us

2) Our discovering that gasoline is wicked cheap in New Mexico at just $2.95 or so per gallon for regular, or about $3.19/gal for premium

3) Noting that the police in Springville, Arizona drive brand-new Ford Explorers which are no doubt paid for in part by the 10% effective tax rate on soft ice cream


4) Finding a surplus military deuce-and-a-half truck with a “For Sale” sign in the front window at that same McDonald’s

5) And lastly, our passing by the National Radio Astronomy Laboratory’s Very Large Array.

Those dishes may look small from the road, but each one is 82 feet in diameter.
Each one is rendered in 3D on Google Earth at coordinates 34.076266,-107.621469.

You don’t get any of that stuff when packed into an aluminum tube with a hundred strangers all gasping on shared recycled air.  Unless it’s just entirely too far and entirely unfeasible, I will always take a long drive in my Porsche over a date with TSA.

Oh, and the next day, I hand-washed the Porsche from top to bottom until it gleamed, then had it valet-parked at the MGM Signature for New Year’s Eve in downtown Las Vegas.  Engineered for magic every day indeed.

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