Supercar Road Trip: Part 4

Supercar Migration Part 4

Supercar Road Trip: Part 4

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 5: Washington DC to New England

The plan for our final day’s 350-mile drive was quite a bit different from prior days. For the first time we would be splitting up. Mrs. SSO had arranged to meet a friend for lunch in northern New Jersey. To get there on time she needed to leave about an hour and a half ahead of when I was planning on setting out. We would also be driving slightly different routes as Mrs. SSO would be going through Morristown, New Jersey and then across the Tappan Zee Bridge to get to Connecticut. I would be going the more direct route up I95 to the New Jersey Turnpike and then across the George Washington Bridge, skirting across the north side of Manhattan before taking the Cross County Parkway up towards Connecticut.
While Mrs. SSO’s departure was in the middle of a heavy rainstorm, the sky had mostly cleared by the time I headed out. Breaking out of Washington DC is always an adventure of navigating multiple highway intersections, construction zones, and a fair amount of truly insane other drivers. By waiting until rush hour had long passed, I at least cut down significantly on the last of those challenges. One of the great things about the McLaren 650S Spider is the instant acceleration which comes in very handy when needing to slot quickly into spaces while navigating multiple junctions. This ability made my escape from the capital area much easier.
Once free of the DC area, it was a short 10 minutes to the Maryland border. I immediately pulled into the first rest area and remounted the radar detector on the windshield. Other than a few passing rain showers, the drive through both Maryland and Delaware was uneventful. Once over the Delaware Bridge and onto the New Jersey Turnpike, things got a bit more interesting. Traffic, almost immediately, thickened and with it came quite a few people who felt the need to get both a closer look at the 650S Spider and take pictures. Normally I’m either pretty oblivious to the picture taking or don’t mind when I do notice, but some of the driving on the NJT to get pictures was pretty obnoxious.
The rest of the long slog up through New Jersey was unmemorable. I was able to successfully navigate the maze of highways near New York City and get across the Hudson River via the George Washington Bridge on the lower (Martha) deck. The exit off of the GW Bridge onto the Henry Hudson Parkway had a few bomb size craters in it and I did get honked at by the car behind me for slowing to near walking speed as I gently steered the McLaren around the obstacles. Three quick interchanges later, I was on the Hutchinson River Parkway and headed to Connecticut. From there it would be a short drive to our final destination where I would rendezvous with Mrs. SSO.
Mrs. SSO arrived at our destination about 15 minutes after I had. I was still outside checking fluid levels and tire pressures when she drove up. One look at the Maserati Granturismo and I knew something was not quite right as I could see a line extending across part of the windshield on the passenger’s side. As soon as Mrs. SSO emerged from the car, I asked her what happened. After we finished the “I hate driving through New Jersey” declaration, it turns out there were two separate attacks on the poor Maserati Granturismo Sport Cabriolet. The first was a large rock which flew off the back of a truck on I78 and left the large scar on the windshield, the second was a nasty pothole on I287 which curbed one of the wheels quite badly. Mrs. SSO was quite upset and rightfully so. This would also be the second very expensive windshield we replaced in two months due to rocks flying off the backs of trucks. On the positive side, all the “Jersey” damage was easy to fix and it did not leave any lasting marks on the Maserati.
Over a period of five days, we drove 1,879 miles in a wide variety of conditions and both cars performed flawlessly. Both the Maserati & McLaren consumed zero oil or coolant, and the only drama was the one key fob battery. Not a single warning light came on in either car and both actually seemed to be running better the longer we were on the road. I’ve always found the McLaren 650S Spider to be quite comfortable on my daily commute and that didn’t change during the long drive. Mrs. SSO’s appreciation for her Maserati continued to grow throughout the trip and I was really impressed on how the Maserati kept pace with the McLaren on the few occasions we had the opportunity to open things up a bit.

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Supercar Road Trip: Part 3

Supercar Migration Part 3

Supercar Road Trip: Part 3

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

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Rating on:

Wine Collector’s Manor

Addresss: Need to Know Only Basis

Karenable rating: 🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾

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Supercar Road Trip: Part 2

Supercar Migration Part 2

Supercar Road Trip: Part 2

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 2: Memphis to Asheville

After a wonderful night’s sleep at The River Inn, we were up early as we had 510 miles to cover on day 2. Mrs. SSO headed down to breakfast while I went out to check on the cars quickly. By the time I got to the breakfast room, she was in deep conversation with the woman at the next table who turned out to be a hard core petrolhead. After getting a quick bite to eat, I was volunteered to take Mrs. SSO’s new friend out to take a quick look at the two cars. As we approached the McLaren 650S Spider, I pulled the spare key fob out of my pocket and pressed the unlock button. The 650S Spider remained in total slumber. Crap. I quickly ran up to the hotel room to grab the other key fob, confirming my initial suspension that it was a dead battery in the spare fob. If nothing else, this brief crisis certainly had me fully awake now. With the situation now under control we loaded up the cars, checked out, and plugged in the routing for the day in Waze and both car’s satnavs.
As it was Saturday, I expected a fairly fast transit to Asheville. Our plan called for one petrol stop both mid-morning and mid-afternoon with lunch just outside of Nashville. If all went well, this would put us in Asheville between 4-5pm. Our departure out of Memphis and back onto I40 was both smooth and quick. We settled into a good pace that Mrs. SSO was evidently quite happy with as there were no instances of her zooming past and giving me the “pick it up” sign as per day 1. With little to no traffic, we made very good time to our first pit stop. Coming out of the gas station, I noticed that the routing on Waze had changed and we were now being told to get off the highway at the next exit about 10 miles down the road. I checked with Mrs. SSO and she had same change on her Waze but no change on the Maserati’s build in Satnav which was consistent with the McLaren’s. I looked at google maps quickly and could not see any traffic between us and Nashville, so we decided to ignore Waze and stay the course. All seemed fine as we cruised past the exit Waze wanted to divert us down. Another 10 miles past beneath our tires before all the Satnavs suddenly warned of heavy traffic ahead. Two minutes later we came to a complete stop. After 10 minutes of not moving, I stopped the engine, got out of the McLaren and walked over to a trucker to see if he knew what was going on. Turns out there had been a major accident about 5 miles up the road involving a tractor trailer and two cars. The debris was blocking both lanes and the State Police had closed the highway. All traffic was being directed off I40 at the next exit onto a small country road.
I walked over to the Maserati and updated Mrs. SSO on the situation. After a short discussion and a mutual agreement to never doubt Waze again, it was back to the McLaren 650S Spider. After another 10 minutes of sitting, all of a sudden traffic started moving again. This lasted for about a mile before we stopped and sat again for another 15 minutes. This sequence repeated three more times before we reached the next exit off and were able to head off into the countryside to loop around the accident site. All in we lost just over an hour on the highway and about another 45 minutes on the detours. We eventually made it back onto I40 about 30 miles west of Nashville. Our lunch plans were now completely out the window as we had close to two hours to make up.
Once we had finally cleared most of the remaining traffic, Mrs. SSO and I got on the walkie talkies to discuss a revised plan for the remainder of the day. Lunch would now be a quick stop on the east side of Nashville after which we would see if we could push straight through to Asheville. I called the Inn we had booked in Asheville to let them know we would now be arriving after 6PM. They gave me the instructions for late arrivals and confirmed that there was plenty of parking behind the house.
Navigating through Nashville turned out to be easy as the highway interchanges were all well marked. Once we had passed the airport on the east side of the city, we began the search for a quick place to eat. This was not a small challenge as all the usual fast food outlets were all deemed not “karenable” long ago. In fact, Mrs. SSO and I have only been to one McDonalds together, ever. It was in France many years ago and I still have a picture of the historic, never to be repeated again, occasion. Thanks to Yelp, I was able to find a small Italian sandwich shop that was only a short distance off the highway. Mrs. SSO had her first meatball grinder and after a quick run to the Starbucks across the street for expresso, we were back on road.
The next two hundred miles passed quickly as we made up time in very light traffic. I kept checking the remaining range on the 650S Spider display and it was clear we would not be able to make it to Asheville without one more pit stop. One the very few complaints that I have with the 650S Spider is the relatively small 16 gallon fuel tank. The Maserati Granturismo Cabrio has a 20 gallon tank and on long trips, the extra range is helpful. We pulled off the highway about 50 miles east of Knoxville and found a gas station that had a bit too much rural flavor to be comfortable for us arriving in two European sports cars. We filled up quickly, ignored a few uncomfortable stares, and got right back on the highway.
The rest of the drive to Asheville was brilliant. Shortly before you get to the North Carolina state line, I40 enters the Smoky Mountains National Park and winds alongside the Pigeon River for around 40 miles. This stretch of interstate highway has to be one of the top 10 highways to drive in the US. The combination of lots of elevation changes and quick corners make it both a challenge and a delight to navigate. As we entered this section of I40, I closed up on a Porsche 911 Turbo. As soon as the 911’s driver saw the McLaren 650S Spider in his rearview mirror, the 911 took off like a sculled cat. This was a perfect situation, a great road, no traffic, and a lead blocker out front. I dropped back slightly and held at a distance where I was able to keep the Porsche just in slight as we wound down through the canyon. Mrs. SSO kept pace nicely and seemed to be enjoying herself. This section of the drive was brilliant and quickly erased all memories of the morning’s challenges. In no time we were on the outskirts of Asheville. At this point I did close up and pull alongside the 911 Turbo. I thanked the driver and gave him a big thumbs up right before we headed down our exit.

Our shelter for the night was provided by the Black Walnut B&B Inn in Asheville.  I had chosen it based on a few reviews that rated it as one of the top Inns in Asheville.  If you are into Victorian décor and lots of tea pots, the Black Walnut is nirvana. We aren’t and the bed was not that comfortable, so our experience was pretty average.  What was brilliant was the restaurant we found for dinner.  The Nine Mile is arguably the best Caribbean restaurant I have ever been to.  It’s almost worth a trip back to Asheville just to go have dinner their again.  Breakfast the next morning at the Black Walnut was a French Toast Brulee that was so sweet you risked diabetes just looking at it. 

So, after two days and 1000 miles, the Maserati & McLaren had consumed about 50 gallons of gas each, zero oil or other fluids, and not lost a single psi of tire pressure. Both cars had run flawlessly in a range of conditions and actually seemed to be running better the longer we were on the road. Not a single warning light had come on in either car and the only car related drama was an easy to replace dead battery in one of the McLaren 650S Spider key fobs. Supercars have certainly come a very long way in the last couple of decades.

…….to be continued……with a long drive through heavily patrolled Virginia coming up

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Details on:

The Black Walnut B&B Inn

288 Montford Avenue

Asheville, NC 28801

Karenable rating: 🍾🍾🍾

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Supercar Road Trip: Part 1

Supercar Migration Part 1

Supercar Road Trip: Part 1

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 1: Dallas to Memphis

With 450 miles ahead of us on the first day, we left Dallas at 7AM to get ahead of rush hour traffic. Our path out of the city took us down and around the south of the city center and through a series of highway interchanges that I can only guess where designed to permanently trap and confuse any attacking foreign army. Thanks to a pair of long-range walkie talkies we were able to stay in contact and navigate our way successfully through the labyrinth. It took about an hour to finally break free of Dallas traffic. At this point it was a straight shot up I 30 to the Arkansas border. With radar detectors in each car, we set the cruise control to a responsible speed for the conditions. The road from Dallas to the Arkansas border is about as interesting as flat and featureless get. Fortunately, the 180 miles disappeared fairly quickly, and we made our first petrol stop right after crossing into Arkansas.
After our double stack pit stop with really bad coffee, it was back on the road again. We still had 270 miles to run to get to our hotel in Memphis. After a bit of negotiating via walkie talkie, we agreed to run for another 120 miles and then stop for lunch on the near side of Little Rock. About 10 minutes into our second stint, the heavens opened up and a fairly steady rain started to fall. Both the McLaren 650S Spider and Maserati Granturismo Cabrio are so planted on the road that this had no effect on our forward progress. Once into Arkansas I also noticed that the radar detectors fell mostly silent and the number of alerts decreased dramatically, to the extent that I actually turned it off and then back on just to make sure it was still working properly. This was a welcome change from the plethora of speed traps in Texas. Mrs. SSO kept pace nicely and every so often would be zooming past in a not so subtle “go faster” nudge.
Lunch was at a family owned Pizza Restaurant just south of Little Rock. Only thing memorable about it was Mrs. SSO got introduced to her first all you can eat Pizza buffet. Eatable is how I would characterize the experience, but it was fun to watch a number of the other patrons go out and take pictures of themselves with the two cars. Lunch was followed by another quick petrol stop before getting back on the highway for the final 150 miles to Memphis. In Little Rock we finally left I30 and joined I40 for the final push to our nights lodging. I did have a small bit of excitement on the ring road around Little Rock when a police cruiser pulled in right behind me a sat there for few minutes before pulling up alongside and giving me a big thumbs up. I think he might have signaled that I could take off but given that being in Arkansas in a McLaren isn’t quite the same as being in Italy in a Ferrari, I politely declined.

The rest of journey was uneventful as the rain had stopped well before our lunch stop.  The scenery in Arkansas was a bit more interesting than Northeast Texas and the majority of the other drivers were also moving along at a pretty good pace. By midafternoon we were on the Hernando de Soto bridge crossing the Mississippi into Memphis, Tennessee.  Our hotel, The River Inn of Harbor Town (River Inn), was right on Mud Island, which is almost directly under the bridge, on the eastern side.  A couple of quick turns after exiting the highway dropped us right in front of the hotel.  Before leaving the cars for the day, I checked all the fluid levels and tire pressures.  All were spot on.   Net net, both the Maserati Granturismo Cabrio and McLaren 650S Spider had turned in 450 flawless miles.  A very helpful porter was on hand to help us unload both cars.  Check in was quick, painless, and we were pampered with wine, water and cookies.  In fact, the service at the River Inn was flawless throughout our brief stay.  

The River Inn turned out to be a great find. I had picked it off a list on the Amex travel site as it looked highly karenable. Our room was a good size with several bottles of complimentary chilled water, cookies, and excellent fresh coffee. We had a lovely view over the Mississippi which also allowed plenty of natural light into the room. As it was still relatively early, we went for a walk around the Harbor Town area before heading back to the Hotel for a drink at the bar and an early dinner. Dinner was at Tugs, the most casual of the several restaurants in the hotel. While neither one of us can remember what our main courses were, the Gumbo I had as a starter was outstanding. After dinner we went for another walk around the block to digest before heading off to bed early as we had planned an early start again for the next day.

…….to be continued……with plenty of drama on day 2

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Details on The River Inn of Harbor Town:

Website: https://riverinnmemphis.com

50 Harbor Town Square 

Memphis, TN 38103

Telephone: 1-901-260-3333

Email: reservation@riverinnmemphis.com

Karenable rating: 🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾

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