Monday, March 14, 2016

LA to Phoenix in an RWB

January 20, 2016

What would you do when your friend tells you that he will be taking his RWB out for a drive from LA to Phoenix? And what if the trip was for another RWB build at a shop renowned for their turbo work on Porsches? That's right, you immediately go online and check for airfare prices! Luckily, I scored some fairly affordable plane tickets from Houston to LA, which would only be half of the journey for the latest addition to the RWB family. 

Upon arrival in LA, my friend JM picked me up from the airport. We wasted no time and headed straight to a mom-and-pop breakfast joint in Anaheim. The service at that restaurant wasn't the quickest, but it was good in a way because we both got to chat a bit and catch up with each other's lives and future plans. 

Next stop was his house so we could switch vehicles because he did not want to get stuck in LA traffic with the RWB. A car guy's home is usually pretty interesting, and JM's was no exception. At one time, JM had two 70's Mercedes Benz sedans, but I had to snatch the other one from him last year. Shown here is a 1972 280SE. It hasn't been running since my last visit, but it is in such a good shape that a little attention would do wonders. 

The weather wasn't the most promising that morning. Some dark clouds were rolling in and it seemed like rain was inevitable. So, we tried to leave in a hurry. We probably left at around 10:30 AM, which was only a few minutes behind of our target departure time. Our goal was to reach Phoenix before sun down, and to take as many pictures along the way. 

The mountainous terrain along CA-91 is beautiful. It is a great departure from the flat regions of Texas where I have lived for 10 years. So, I just had to take a lot of photos of the scenery and make the most out of being in the passenger's seat. 

An hour into the drive and we start seeing this vast field of wind turbines - Palm Springs. We stopped at the exact same spot where I took photos of the W123 during our road trip from LA to Houston last year. The place still looked pretty much the same, only this time with a different light. Some photos were in order and some leg stretching, too.

California definitely has one of the most beautiful variety of landscapes - beaches, lakes, forests, ice-capped mountains, and deserts. Although the desert topography runs through the southwest from California to Texas, this stretch on the California side has a unique feel.

We initially planned to drive into Joshua Tree National Park but with the time constraints and losing an hour driving into Arizona's time zone, we decided to just spend more time exploring different areas around the wind turbine field. So, looking at Google maps, we found an interesting road that leads up to the hills. Unfortunately, after a minute or two of driving on that road we found out that the asphalt ended abruptly and a dirt road was the only option to get to the top of the hill. That option wasn't feasible at all. The area did not look too bad, so we spent some time there taking even more photos.

By the time we wrapped up it was already about 20 minutes past noon. The plan for Joshua Tree National Park was pretty much finally dead from then on. So, we got back on the road and aimed our sight for the Arizona border. 

About 200 miles from our starting point in Anaheim, Medusa started to run low on gas and we, too, were running low on energy. The inner car guys in us told us to refill Medusa's fuel tank first before filling up our tummies. So we did. 

Medusa received a full tank of gas, then we crossed the interstate to get to McDonald's and ordered some replenishments. We made sure we had full view of the car while eating. Interestingly, a varied bunch of people stopped by Medusa to admire her. Some homeless people checked her out, a retired couple ogled her, and numerous motorists slowed down while driving right behind her.

Our stop was only about 5 or 6 miles away from the California-Arizona border. Just a few minutes of driving after getting back on the interstate, we finally saw the welcome sign in Arizona. 

We had 2 GoPro's that we forgot to mount during our fuel and food stop. So, I tried to set them up. You all have to know though that I don't have extensive experience working with GoPro cameras. I have probably only used it three to four times before this trip. As you could imagine, I was struggling to put both the GoPro's in time-lapse mode. It took me a while but I figured it out. The next problem for me was mounting them. During the process of adjusting the mounting arms, I accidentally dropped a nut that holds and tightens the folding arm of the mount. We had to make an emergency stop only to realize that it was unretrievable and it was lost in the depths under the carpet. So, we were left with one GoPro dangling on a mount with only a bolt securing the arm. 

A few minutes was wasted, and our goal of arriving at the shop before sunset was now unachievable. We hit the road again and decided to drive without any more stops. We were on a mission to get to the shop as soon as possible. 

The sun was barely on the horizon when we drove into Phoenix. It was my impression that the shop was in Phoenix, but we had to drive a few more minutes to get to the shop because it was actually in Mesa. It wasn't far from Phoenix though, and with the beautiful sky all around us we couldn't complain at all. It was my first time in the city and have only been there for a few minutes on the freeway, but I immediately understood why the Phoenix metro is called the Valley of the Sun. 

370 miles and a few rock chips later, we were at Turbo Kraft at 7:30 PM. We chatted for a while with Chris and his gang, and with John (owner of El Hefe), then parked Medusa inside the shop. 

Medusa wasn't alone at Turbo Kraft. It so happened that RWB Atlanta's Clermont was also there spending a couple of days for some engine work. So, we called it a day and left the two RWB's in the company of other air-cooled Porsches in the shop. We needed some rest for the next day to pick-up Nakai-san from the airport and to begin the build soon after. 

It was most definitely a wonderful experience to take the RWB on a short road trip. I was both surprised and impressed with the car's relatively comfortable ride quality on the Bilstein coil-over system. Also, the GT2 Recaro bucket seats helped a lot with the comfort.

Stay tuned for the photos from John's RWB El Hefe build and for some photos of the shop!

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