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      07-11-2021, 11:04 PM   #1
F8SEVEN
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M2C Mountain West - North Dakota Road Trip - 4000 miles in 8 days ***pic heavy***

Well, it’s summer and that means it was time for a proper road trip in the M2C. I actually was mulling a fall trip, but then said f*** it and planned everything in about a week and booked all 2 days out. The target destination/turnaround point was Bowman, ND. Why? Because North Dakota was the only state I hadn’t been to! Sought out mostly 2-lane roads and avoided interstates to the extent possible. Departed LA on July 2 and returned on July 9.

Nightly stays were:

July 2: Flagstaff, AZ
July 3: Durango, CO
July 4: Steamboat Springs, CO
July 5: Spearfish, SD (Miles City, MT)
July 6: Red Lodge, MT
July 7: Idaho Falls, ID
July 8: Tahoe City, CA (Squaw Valley)

Some of the passes by elevation:

7,000+
Rio Blanco Hill (CO 13)
Kingman Pass (Yellowstone Grand Loop Rd – US 89)
Luther Pass (CA 89)

8,000+
Monitor Pass (CA 89)
Conway Summit (Eastern Sierra Scenic Byway – US 395)
Mount Rose Highway (NV 431)

9,000+
Rabbit Ears Pass (US 40)

10,000+
Coal Bank Pass (MDH – US 550)
Molas Pass (MDH – US 550)
Grand Mesa Summit (Grand Mesa Scenic Byway – CO 65)
Beartooth Pass (Beartooth Hwy, US 212)

11,000+
Red Mountain Pass (MDH – US 550)

The cover shot!

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Last edited by F8SEVEN; 07-13-2021 at 10:33 PM..
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      07-11-2021, 11:15 PM   #2
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Day 1: LA to Flagstaff via Oatman and Prescott

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Didn’t rush out the door because I figured traffic wouldn’t be terrible…I was right! Mostly. 15/40 junction out of Barstow got crowded.

Car and road to Barstow.

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I made a couple major detours today. The first was intentional on Oatman Highway which is the original Route 66. There were literally jackasses, err mules, everywhere. Also known as Sitgreaves Pass. Gloriously beautiful drive, but road surface could use some help.

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Rejoined I40 outside Kingman and after stopping for quick lunch I hit the road to find out that there’s a massive accident with a 170 minute to Flagstaff time at 125 miles out. I bail just before at US 93 and head south for the end-around through Prescott. This is an inadvertent kill two birds with one stone, as I have two sets of Aunts/Uncles that have retired to Prescott and I’d only seen one's new digs. So, I get the benefit of the beautiful drive along US 93 and then up the winding AZ 89 (done before in the dark in my M4, reverse direction) and then seeing both of them. Some slow poke that won’t pull out ruins a good chunk of it, but still fun.

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Then it’s AZs 89, 69 and 169 back to I17 for the drive up the mountain to Flagstaff. Why not do 89A and go through Sedona, right? I wished I had but it was late and I was hungry and tired and 11 hours of travel didn’t need to be 11.5 or 12 given the Sedona Friday night buzz that was inevitable. So, what was supposed to be under 500 miles was over 600, but oh well! Finished off with amazing burger, brews and ice cream!

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Last edited by F8SEVEN; 07-17-2021 at 07:54 PM..
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      07-11-2021, 11:25 PM   #3
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Day 2: Flagstaff to Durango via Monument Valley

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Morning run on Flagstaff’s great urban trail system.

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Then, left around 9 am for Durango via Monument Valley. What an incredible drive...and so satisfying that it was relatively empty!

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I went on to Mexican Hat (see the rock formation below) and this tiny two lane road called Ismay Trading Post Road in Utah and County Road G in Colorado. Starts just around Aneth, UT and ends at the outskirts of Cortez, CO. Both were incredible, aside from not great road surface for the first 10 miles of the Colorado portion.

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Driving this far without lunch means it’s time for a sugar-caffeine bomb at the Cortez Starbucks. Then, a quick jaunt into Mesa Verde National Park for a picture…park pass makes useless 10 minute detours easy, plus Ilse ticked over 10,000 miles in the park!

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I’ve done the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde before, so didn’t need a ton of time. Also have done Monument Valley before, but wanted the pics…I’m not old, but old enough that the prior trip had actual photograph pics and I don’t have them! Get into Durango with time to wander around a bit and have an early dinner at the hotel’s beer garden on the Animas River. Durango is home to the very, very narrow gauged Durango-Silverton railway (3 feet tracks). It's fun if not done before (I've also done this). Aside from one truck that sprayed some stuff on her, Ilse wasn’t harmed and is so-far without issues…fingers crossed.

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      07-11-2021, 11:39 PM   #4
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Day 3: Durango to Steamboat Springs via the Million Dollar Highway

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So, for the second time in three days, I’ve had to alter the route because of the lovely Glenwood Canyon in Colorado. I70 closed for a mudslide. Morning starts with a great run along the Animas.

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My youngest brother is Bob, so this was just great to me!

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I left Durango around 9 am and headed up US 550 or the Million Dollar Highway…and boy was it. One of the prettiest drives I’ve ever done, totally worth it. Saw both the Durango Silverton trains leaving town when I did. I rode that as a kid, so it was cool to see it again.

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The MDH part of US 550 ends in Ouray and that’s an awesome little town, but appeared to be a total circus on 4th of July…albeit I’m sure a blast.

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Got some lunch in Montrose and then went up to CO 65 or the Grand Mesa Scenic Byway…this was also just purely incredible and also a faster, less trafficked road than MDH, so more fun.

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At the bottom the car found a shortcut over to I70 on what is called “45 ½ Road” and it was also purely stunning. Total change from up on Grand Mesa. Went from , cottonwoods, aspens and conifers to rock canyon and desert shrubs and brush in a matter of minutes…insane! Got off I70 at Rifle to take CO 13 up to US 40 into Steamboat. I’ve done this road before, so I was a little bummed I didn’t have a new road into the Boat, but it was still a great drive…another fun, fast sweeping road with a decent surface. There was a guy in a modded BRZ charging hard behind me and passing everyone I did...pretty sure it may have been turbocharged given how hard it was pulling!

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Got into town in time for an excellent dinner at Sauvage…great French style food on a prefix menu. Early to bed but ended up with only 3 hours of sleep for whatever reason, not the least of which was the concern about tomorrow’s rerouting due to potential hail!

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Last edited by F8SEVEN; 07-12-2021 at 11:04 PM..
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      07-11-2021, 11:48 PM   #5
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Day 4: Steamboat Springs to Miles City, MT

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We’re supposed to be going to Spearfish, SD today. However, we changed that yesterday morning before leaving Durango because of the potential for hail in the Black Hills and surrounding areas. So, no picture of Ilse with George’s granite profile at Mt. Rushmore…bummer. This also turns what was a 420-450 mile drive to a 600+ mile drive. Fun times! Nevertheless, we start with the usual morning run, this time along the Yampa River. Also great when you have a nice parking spot!

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The drive was US 40 to CO 14 to CO 125 to WY 230 to WY 130 to US 30 to WY 487 to WY 220 to I25 to I90 to MT 47 to I94! All this was a positioning dance to both avoid much of the storming and get me close enough for the jaunt to North Dakota the following morning! Turned out to be a fantastic drive though. The high country of Northern Colorado is insanely beautiful, as was Southern Wyoming. I just have this feeling these are roads very few people ever experience, so I’m glad I got to.

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Lunch was in Casper, WY and then it was into bits of thunderstorm and some lightning…not sure I got a capture of any lightning. It was quite sparse, but amazing. Thankfully, no hail! I was all excited at first because the car got a decent bath and the very light traffic meant not a lot of road spray either. Then we crossed into Montana where it warmed up again and the bugs returned in force! How do some bugs have white guts that literally look just like bird shit but aren’t?! By happenstance this route gave me a bit of Déjà vu. When I was a kid, my late father took me, one of my brothers and my best friend on a 41-state road trip and we went to the Battle of Little Bighorn site. I was pleasantly surprised when I drove by it, as I hadn’t thought about it being on the route. Then, I got off for MT 47 and about a half mile in was the KOA campground we stayed at that night. It put me right back in the moment. Very cool. Stopped just down the road for some shots.

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Last little exciting thing…on I94 I was booking it…recalling the days of “reasonable and prudent” and see a suspicious pickup truck just as the radar KA starts to go bonkers. I hit the brakes and he lights up his light bar…then turns them off and never turns around. The guy I met at the bar said…yup they do that up here…guess I got the warning?! I’ll take it! Great dinner at the local bar and grill – Buffalo Burger.

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      07-11-2021, 11:54 PM   #6
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Day 5: Miles City, MT to Red Lodge, MT via NORTH DAKOTA!!!

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Headed east this morning for the North Dakota border via US 12 out of Miles City, MT. Very nice drive, despite a handful of sketchy gravel trucks. Snapped some pics a the North Dakota border sign and the made sure to drive about 2 miles in to take the shoes off and make sure my feet hit the soil so it counts. Interestingly enough, the parking at the border sign is not actually in North Dakota!

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Headed back west on I94 and then I90, some quick lunch in Billings and then down to Red Lodge. The very end of the drive into Red Lodge was really nice. It’s always better when the best part of the drive is at the end vs the beginning! Pulling into the hotel there was one of those self-car washes, so I went and gave her a good blasting so the pictures would stay nice. I couldn’t actually wash because I didn’t have he materials, so it was just pressure spray, pressure soap and then pressure spray again followed by blasting up the road at high-ish speeds to air dry. Worked fairly well for all but the front…man those bugs were caked on. Went for a short little run outside Red Lodge...some beautiful pics. Average pizza tonight with good Red Lodge Bent Nail IPA.

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      07-12-2021, 12:02 AM   #7
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Day 6: Red Lodge, MT to Idaho Falls, ID via Beartooth Pass, Yellowstone National Park

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Today wasn’t necessarily a long mileage drive, but it felt so. The day started with an almost no traffic cresting of Beartooth Pass, an epic, Alp-esque pass that leads to the Northeast entrance to Yellowstone, or as I affectionately call it, Jellystone!

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Right as I entered, I encountered the usual morning traffic…three mildly grumpy (I believe male) bison! Once they had moved, I made my way into the Lamar Valley. Just picture it. A serene misty morning in the Lamar Valley. Sun trying to peek through the clouds. Bison along the river. Tourists on horseback. And along comes a bright orange BMW...vrrmmmm...POP POP POP POP POP POP POP, vrrmmmm...POP POP POP POP POP POP POP! No speeding, just MDM popping the whole way! Snapped some great shots of the car and the valley before returning to the mission of getting through the park.

Then, all of a sudden, there’s massive congestion people everywhere staring apparently toward the sky with binoculars. I’m like wtf, is it a bird, a plane? Turns out, there was a black wolf up on the ridge to the north…now I’m pissed I don’t have binoculars. However, I did get to see it, the little black dog scampering up the ridge. So, hey, I saw a wolf in Yellowstone…check that one off the bucket list!

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Made my way through the park with some storming, some more bison and some incredible views and then headed for the Grand Teton Scenic Byway through Teton Valley, ID. Didn’t disappoint! The Tetons were a ways off, but still got a great view of them and some decent, albeit harried, side-of-the-road shots.

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Had a nice little lunch at the Victor Valley Market and Deli before heading down ID 31 to US 26, or the Swan Valley road – apparently one of the best drives in Idaho. Aside from the shoddy road surface on the state highway, it was sure an amazing drive. Some incredible yellow flower fields…I think mustard. Gorgeous! Pull into Idaho Falls just in time for a rain shower followed by dust inducing winds…ugh!

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Last edited by F8SEVEN; 07-13-2021 at 10:39 PM..
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      07-12-2021, 12:07 AM   #8
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Day 7: Idaho Falls, ID to Lake Tahoe, CA (Village at Squaw Valley)

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Wow…what a long day! Start with sunrise run in Idaho Falls along the river trail.

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Then 665 miles according to the navigation. I did go the longish way as I wanted to hit Mount Rose Highway vs just all I80. Stunning scenery all the way. Got to see both Southern Idaho and all of Northern Nevada for the first time. Today’s the day you’re glad you saved emergency lunch at “The Bell” for last. The Basin and Range province of the US (basically Nevada) is far more incredible than it gets credit for. Topography is wonderful. Some of the trucks, not so much! More on that later.

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Made it into the Tahoe basin just around 5 and got an amazing drive along the lake and down the west shore just past Zuck's place for a dip at the beach in Hurricane Bay and then reverse back up CA 89 for overnight at Squaw Valley. Between this and Mount Rose I probably added 30 very, very worthwhile minutes. The dip in the 65-67 degree water totally restored me physically and mentally!

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Had an amazing dinner at Plumpjack Cafe…probably the best pork chop I’ve ever had and then drank too much with the locals at the bar…red wine followed by shots with the staff!

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Last edited by F8SEVEN; 07-12-2021 at 11:22 PM..
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      07-12-2021, 12:18 AM   #9
F8SEVEN
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Day 8: Lake Tahoe, CA to Home

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Another audible today. After a serious, albeit short, crash of sleep I’m up and at ‘em, despite not feeling great. Surprisingly not hungover, but that ate too much feeling. In any event, I’m done with being on the road and going for it. Starts with CA 89, one of my absolute favorite roads. While 89 runs from I5 at nearly the Oregon border to US 395 just below the Nevada border, I’d argue the primo stretch is from Truckee to the US 395 junction. Driving into Tahoe City along the Truckee exposes you to the densest forest smell. It’s so hard to describe. The forest smell in all mountains is great, but the forest on the front side of the Sierras, particularly in the Tahoe basin, is so, so dense. It’s as if the smell has been electrically supercharged, then turbocharged and then force fed through two atomizers to the nostrils. 89 then wraps around the west shore of Lake Tahoe as it winds south, culminating above Emerald Bay with a top of the world meets Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride ending before heading away from the lake’s southern end.

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Finally, after some beautiful forest stretches, including Luther Pass and the eastern side of Carson pass, it turns off for Markleeville and then eventually, Monitor Pass. Starts as a canyon and then climbs up to dramatic sierra views before a mile plus gentle saddle straight on a wide meadow before another gentle climb and windy descent. Phenomenal road, great surface, incredible views and lightly trafficked…hits all the marks! The drive wasn’t all downhill from there either. The Eastern Sierra Scenic Byway, or US 395, from there to almost the junction of CA 14 is an incredible drive and well worth it for those who haven’t done it.

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For me though, it’s same old thing, as I drive to Mammoth nearly a dozen times every winter. The Walker River section and Bridgeport Valley are particularly beautiful. Get back in LA at just around 2:30 and it’s Friday afternoon on the 405…welcome home!

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Still home around 4 and had time to wash her…Chemical Guys Bug and Tar stuff is excellent. Was very happy that basically no damage…EXCEPT to the hood of course. A rock must have hit so hard that it basically went through the clear bra and lifted it like a flap while also digging into the paint. I pushed the flap down into the little gouge and heated it and hoping it holds as it’s nowhere near as unsightly this way. It’s literally about 2mm in diameter, so not large, but very unsightly. Not sure if it was the trucks in Nevada or in North Dakota, but I’m thinking it was later on because I don’t remember seeing it during my pressure washing in Montana. Honestly, I love that the clear bra seems to provide protection, but once it’s damaged, I think it may be worse than not having it. Also, if I’d have been just 2 feet closer the rock probably would have hit the windshield…as frustrating as that is…that’s more easily replaced!

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Last edited by F8SEVEN; 07-12-2021 at 11:26 PM..
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      07-12-2021, 12:21 AM   #10
F8SEVEN
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Final Thoughts

The M2/M2C/M2CS is just the best platform BMW has made in a long time. It’s fun and silly but just serious enough. Comfortable enough for a road trip but not enough to get used to it. Gets okay but not great economy. I did a total of right around 3900 miles and averaged 22.74 mpg. Over two dozen passes, lots of high altitude driving and lots of high-speed cruising means I’m pretty impressed with this no less. Gets mad looks from all kinds of people of all ages. It’s just likeable.

As for the drive…incredible. I love doing road trips, especially ones like this where I spend the vast majority off of the interstates. The west is just so incredible and dramatic, no wonder people come from all over the world to do road trips here. That said, what most people don't do are road trips in fun cars. You could cruise the interstate in an SUV, stopping at every nice hotel, you can camp out the back of your Subaru, you can clean out your own toilet in a dreadfully slow RV as you watch semis blast by you, you can get sick literally swallowing bugs as your ass goes numb on a bike, or you could hit the backroads in a phenomenal machine, throwing caution to the wind and trying to forget you have no spare and nobody to service your car within 500 miles. There's only one way to do it!

As for the roads...I think the MDH takes it!

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Last edited by F8SEVEN; 07-12-2021 at 11:27 PM..
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      07-12-2021, 01:40 PM   #11
nearwater4me
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Kudos for enjoying the car & the scenery.
I love road trips, just didn't have much time recently to go on a long one.
Thanks for sharing the pics!
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      07-12-2021, 01:47 PM   #12
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Amazing trip, looks like you and the M2 had a blast!

A few years ago I did a trip from Kalispell, MT up to Calgary, Canada in a rented Altima. Beautiful scenery and weather but I would have killed for some of the passing power and handling of the M2 on some of those roads.
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      07-12-2021, 07:30 PM   #13
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Great pics and thanks for the write-up. I've got a few names to add to the list for my road trip next summer. You mentioned "Comfortable enough for a road trip but not enough to get used to it" --- would you do a multi-week roadtrip (fewer miles per day, perhaps)?
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      07-12-2021, 07:55 PM   #14
Foggins
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Wow, epic post and road trip. Thanks for sharing!
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      07-12-2021, 08:16 PM   #15
F8SEVEN
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nearwater4me View Post
Kudos for enjoying the car & the scenery.
I love road trips, just didn't have much time recently to go on a long one.
Thanks for sharing the pics!
Thx!

Quote:
Originally Posted by (K) View Post
Amazing trip, looks like you and the M2 had a blast!

A few years ago I did a trip from Kalispell, MT up to Calgary, Canada in a rented Altima. Beautiful scenery and weather but I would have killed for some of the passing power and handling of the M2 on some of those roads.
Thx! Definitely worth road tripping a good car! A neighbor said you took teh BMW and I was like yea, what's the point if you don't use it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kriegersson View Post
Great pics and thanks for the write-up. I've got a few names to add to the list for my road trip next summer. You mentioned "Comfortable enough for a road trip but not enough to get used to it" --- would you do a multi-week roadtrip (fewer miles per day, perhaps)?
Thx! That was just me trying to come up with a stupid expression. It's no 5 or 7 on the open road, however. I'd have no problem driving it for 2-3 weeks in one go, especially at shorter distances. Remember though, this was just me...not a family or an elderly couple. I think it truly depends on the individual. I did try to get a buddy to tag along with his M4...but he couldn't (and likely wouldn't).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Foggins View Post
Wow, epic post and road trip. Thanks for sharing!
Thx!
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