We recently moved from Texas back to near where I grew up in New England. As part of the move, Mrs. SSO and I decided to drive the Maserati Granturismo Cabrio and the McLaren 650S Spider respectively the 1,800 miles northeast. This would be the first time Mrs. SSO and I had done a road trip driving in tandem. As long-distance driving is not one of Mrs. SSO’s favorite things to do, the agreed criteria for the trip was we would keep the driving each day to around 500 miles and our nights’ lodgings had to be karenable.
Day 3: Asheville to Charlotte
Day 3 was a very easy day in terms of the driving. We only had 120 miles to cover as we had decided to take a short detour to go meet “Bad Driver (Bad Driver: 650S Spider vs. 720S)” in Charlotte. After very lightly indulging in the sugar festival called breakfast at the Black Walnut B&B Inn in Asheville, we packed up the cars and headed out. The drive itself took around two hours and was notable only for the really crappy road conditions in the multiple construction zones we had to drive through. Charlotte is a fairly easy city to navigate, especially on a Sunday morning. We went immediately to the Hilton Hotel where we would be spending the night and dropped off our bags. The Hilton was well a Hilton and it could have been located anywhere. The hotel was completely unmemorable while being pleasant and comfortable enough, so everything was just “fine”.
“Bad Driver” met us at the hotel and we went out for a quick lunch at Fork, a local Farm to Table restaurant about 20 minutes outside the city. I’m a bit jaded when it comes to the whole “Farm to Table” craze, last I checked, everything was “Farm to Table” it’s just a matter of from which farm and where. However, it is a good marketing ploy as slapping “Farm to Table” on the menu does give you the ability to raise prices significantly. In any event the food was good, and the bill reflected the marketing claim. After lunch Mrs. SSO headed off to do a bit of shopping while “Bad Driver” and I took the McLaren 650S Spider out into the countryside for a run.
As “Bad Driver” had spent the summer as an indentured servant (intern) at an investment bank working 70-hour weeks, this was the first time he had been back in the driver’s seat of the 650S Spider in close to a year. It was interesting watching him slowly get comfortable back behind the wheel of the 650S Spider. The first 15 minutes were cautious as “Bad Driver” was recalibrating performance from his Audi A4 to the McLaren. After that the pace picked up and he started to corner with a lot more conviction. It was impressive at how fast “Bad Driver” picked it all back up. Within 20 minutes I was fully comfortable in the passenger seat and stopped giving input on turn in, acceleration, and braking points. The rest of the drive was then spent just enjoying being in a magnificent supercar cruising empty back country roads on a sunny day.
The rest of the stay in Charlotte was uneventful. We had dinner with “Bad Driver” and a number of his friends at a decent seafood place down on one of the lakes just north of Charlotte. The restaurant was one of their preferred places which meant portions were large, prices reasonable, and the quality of the food was pretty good, by college standards. After that we headed back to the Hilton as we needed to be up early to get ahead of rush hour traffic as we had a long 400-mile drive ahead of us the next day.
Day 4: Charlotte to Washington DC
To get ahead of traffic, we got up early, skipped breakfast, loaded up the Maserati & McLaren and hit the road with only a couple of cups of coffee between the two of us. The 400 miles from Charlotte to the “Wine Collectors” (Wine Collector: Senna vs 720S Spider) house in Washington DC were split into two very different parts. The first 110 miles from Charlotte to the Virginia border went by quickly with light traffic. The radar detectors in both cars did not go off once and other than a few construction zones, the roads were in pretty decent shape. We made a fuel and caffeine stop after about 90 miles. There was a police car parked outside the service station when we pulled in and I ran into one of the officers inside. He couldn’t have been friendlier and asked me what the car was and where we were going. I told him we were driving from Dallas to Boston which he seemed quite impressed by. He did ask me how fast the McLaren 650S Spider could go to which I replied 70 mph which got a good laugh. I did offer to give him a tour of the car which he had to decline as a call came in that he needed to go investigate.
About 15 minutes after leaving the service station we crossed the state line into Virginia. Hence began the second, and far less enjoyable, part of the drive. Virginia is the only US State that has banned radar detectors. I heard enough unpleasant stories about what happens if you get caught with one to make the risk highly unpalatable. We immediately pulled into the first rest area and unplugged the radar detectors. We put both detectors back into their cases and buried them in the bottom of a couple of duffle bags in the boot. My understanding of the Virginia law is you are allowed to possess a radar detector, just not allowed to have it in the passenger cabin of a car. Net net, we were now legal.
With the radar detectors now safely stowed away, we got back on I81. Traffic was surprisingly heavy for a Monday morning and was moving at a rate of speed just under the posted limit. I was really shocked by the number of speed traps on I81, it seemed like there was one every 30-40 miles. Mrs. SSO also noted the plethora of speed traps and did not push me to pick up the pace even once. Switzerland seems lightly patrolled in contrast. Needless to say, progress was neither swift nor particularly pleasant. I81 also appeared to be a favorite route for quite a few truckers. At certain points in the drive, 18-wheel trucks outnumbered cars. While most of the truckers stayed to the right and would let us through, we did run into a few that would block both lanes on the highway for extended periods just to hold us up.
Lunch was a quick stop at a Starbucks about halfway up I81. Overall it took us about four hours to get from the state line on I81 to the turn off onto I66 which would then take us East into Washington DC. I66 was an immediate improvement over I81 and within less than an hour we were on the outskirts of Washington DC. We arrived just ahead of rush hour traffic but traffic in this area is heavy even at the best of times. With six lanes of traffic and several highway interchanges that we needed to successfully navigate, Mrs. SSO and I decided after a quick back and forth on the walkie talkies that we would not worry about staying within sight of each other and we would just meet up at the “Wine Collectors” house. Given we both had Waze and a Satnav running, this wasn’t a major issue and took the stress off of having to push through traffic to remain in close contact.
In less than half an hour both the McLaren and Maserati were parked up on the “Wine Collectors” driveway. A couple of my nephews immediately came out to welcome us and got pressed into duty as porters. The rest of the afternoon was spent catching up before we headed out to meet our eldest son, who now lives and works in the DC area, for dinner. He took us to a place very near his office. The atmosphere was lively, and the ribs were quite good. After dinner we all went back to the “Wine Collectors” and helped him reduce a bit of his large cellar‘s inventory.
…….to be continued……with New Jersey and just one more example of why it is my least favorite state to drive through…..coming up
Wine Collector’s Manor
Addresss: Need to Know Only Basis
Karenable rating: 🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾
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