Google+ Two-Wheeled Tourist: Cagin' it to Salt Lake

3.10.2012

Cagin' it to Salt Lake

I'm out for the weekend with Matt in Salt Lake City, UT for a friend's wedding. We took an unusual (at least for us) method of transportation to get there due to time constraints: our 1999 BMW 528i wagon.

In nerdy fashion, here's the list of all the electronics we took with us for anti-boredom, navigation, and car maintenance.
  • Garmin Zumo 550 GPS with built-in MP3 player, car cradle, and audio output. This is the same GPS unit that's off my motorcycle.
  • Cassette tape adapter for audio - the car doesn't have a CD player and this is much cheaper than an audio input integration
  • Toshiba NB255 netbook with built-in SD card reader for easy transfer of over 9000 MP3s from my personal collection for on-the-fly uploading to the Garmin Zumo 550
  • 150W power inverter for charging the laptop
  • Automobile fault code reader - for interpreting check engine lights (a must have for any car)

Here's the Zumo 550 mounted next to the BMW's shift lever.  A cassette to stereo adapter is playing in the tape player. Its easy-to-adjust cradle neck made it easy to tilt it toward the driver or the passenger for reading or just changing the songs.
We left on Thursday about 1AM and drove continuously across I-70, I-74, and I-80, driving the first 1500 miles by alternating drivers, only stopping at gas stations to fill up. One person would nap while the other would take the wheel. To help with sleeping, we had the "Cubby Hole," a makeshift bed using the small seat partition laid down and sticking one's legs into the trunk section. Add sleeping bag and two pillows and you're set for several hours of naptime. Privacy screens built into the passenger doors add to incognito snoozing.

Matt demonstrates usage of the "Cubby Hole" sleeping option.
Our longest stop was to take a 4-hour nap in Wyoming, and we made it to Salt Lake by 10AM on Friday. There wasn't really much to report en route to Utah, except for rain showers between Dayton, OH and Kickapoo, IL. We were met with clear skies and sun across the middle of the United States.

We stopped at a scenic lookout in Wyoming to check out this lake, or rather, giant natural ice-rink.
I-80 toward Salt Lake City offered some of the most beautiful snow-covered mountains. I would've expected nothing less from the same route I had taken for my Iron Butt Saddlesore 2000 in June 2011.
In terms of gas consumption, we didn't have the luxury of motorcycles to save gas, so we traveled at a cruise-controlled 65MPH for the entire journey. Thanks to that, we were able to score close to 30MPG on average and about 500 miles on a full tank on our 6-cylinder wagon. That speed was quite appropriate, as speed limits didn't exceed 70 MPH until we made it to Wyoming.

Slow and steady wins the race...and saves $ as well.
I was quite excited about finally making it to Utah, as it was the first western state on our route that contained the only restaurant that is mandatory to eat at first availability: In-N-Out Burger. We were gorging on Double-Doubles and Animal Style fries right after a quick stop at an IKEA.

IKEA looks epic with a mountainous backdrop. Then again, anything looks awesome with mountains  in the background.
The picture explains it all.
The BMW ran just fine across the six states we crossed. However, we dealt with some engine hesitation and the check engine light turning on once we made it to Sandy, UT (south of Salt Lake City). The car fault code reader read a misfire on two engine cylinders. After Matt checked it out in depth, the problem seemed to have corrected itself. We'll be watching it on the way back to see if it happens again.

I love my live-in mechanic.
Alright...now to continue enjoying the sights and sounds of Utah. More to come soon in a following post.