An impromptu solo mini-cannonball. (Part One)

My brain is fogged. I’ve been driving for two days straight with minimal sleep, after two previous days of driving as well. I’m only ~250 miles from my journey’s end, but I really felt the need to get out of the car.

So here I am, sitting in a Burger King somewhere west of Boise, Idaho, sipping on a cold coke zero, munching on some terrible onion rings, and scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed to just give my brain a rest. How did I get here?

About a year and a half ago Testa Rossa and I visited my parents in Houston and my dad picked us up at IAH in his relatively new BMW 5 series. I’m driving, dad is in the passenger seat, and she’s in the back seat and says “Charlie, I *really* like your car. If you ever decide to sell it I’d love to buy it from you.”

My father passed away early this summer and our family has been sorting out the thousands of big and little details that an event like this requires. My older sister has shouldered the vast majority of that burden, but my little sister and I have helped where we could. A few weeks ago my older sister called me and asked for some help with a some things for my mom, and so we decided to fly down, help out, and pick up the car to drive it home to Oregon.

Flying from PDX to IAH on a stormy day.
The visitor tag issued to me at my mom’s assisted living facility. The night staff thought I was my dad!

My sister and mom provided me with a long “to-do” list of things and I was able to knock out the entire list in just over two days. The last day was just me picking various dad things into the car, and Testa Rossa helping mom sort out her costume jewelry into a new hanging container, a sort of girly bonding ritual I think…

Female Bonding Ritual

Dad’s car has been stored in a garage adjacent to an active construction zone and is filthy. I’m never a stickler for car cleanliness, but this is now HER car so we stop a famous truck stop west of Houston called “Buc-ees” which has non-ethanol gasoline, an amazing car wash, and lets just call it the most tourist-trap “convenience store” since Wall Drug.

Abstract art? Or Filthy Five Series?
Testa Rossa and her clean Bimmer
Route of Day One

Our day’s journey is pretty relaxed, and is in fact a repeat of day one of our 2017 road trip in the 280se we sold on BAT. Just a leisurely jaunt through central Texas on one of their excellent state highways. We’re heading to Brownwood where she has family and a place that is very special to her from her days in Veterinary school at Texas A&M. The car itself is phenomenally comfortable. I can see why Testa Rossa wanted to buy it. The interior is as good or better than her killed-by-collision-with-a-big-mule-deer-buck Lexus she was driving when I met her. From a driving perspective I’m not pushing any limits, so no report yet, though it has an overwhelming amount of technology onboard. It is the polar opposite of my M Roadster, which is a tad luxurious but is mostly a stripped down minimal analog sports car. This is anything but. More on that later. The most surprising thing about the car is it achieving over 30 MPG for the day’s drive. Pretty astounding for an immense luxe-barge!

We arrive in Brownwood, head to the farm, and then have a wonderful dinner at a small bistro in town called “The Turtle.” They have an amazing wine list, incredible food, and excellent service. I highly recommend it if you ever find yourself in Brownwood, Texas.

Route: Day Two

Day two is a bit longer, our goal is to reach Albuquerque, NM. I hope to catch up with former digital.forest client and current Facebook employee Ben Stanfield. Our plan is head west from there, visit the Grand Canyon (which Testa Rossa has never seen) and then on to SoCal to visit friends of ours there over a few days before we head north to home. Winter has started to arrive in the Rockies so we’re taking the southern route. The weather even here is taking a strong cold turn as temps are around the freezing level all day long, of course accompanied by those “soft Lubbock breezes” I remember from college days… meaning it is blowing so hard the wind power turbines are all turned OFF to prevent damage. Cold, windy, occasional precipitation. I drove. She knitted. We talked. The miles rolled by.

Best. Sign. Ever.
West Texas
Aardvark in Clovis NM

While the drive is uneventful, life back in Portland is anything but. Her sister is ill and it sounds pretty serious, perhaps pneumonia. We discuss getting a ticket back to PDX for her to be with her sister… we check on flights from both Lubbock and Albuquerque. After several calls over several hours we find a non-stop flight from ABQ to PDX that evening and book it. The timing is perfect as we arrive in the city just a few hours prior to the flight departure, book a hotel where she can re-pack luggage and I can stay the night. I drop her off at the airport and head to my dinner with Ben.

Dinner with Ben

(more coming soon)