02Pilot UberDork
6/23/22 12:09 p.m.

I just returned from a long-sought solo road trip, and I figured it might be of interest here, so I'll write a bit, as well as posting some photos.

Basically, I had two weeks, a general idea of what I wanted to see, and a Miata RF. It took two days on each end to reach the Mississippi River, which was my symbolic boundary between normal (east) and new (west). Though I've traveled a fair bit in the West before, I've always flown close to my destination. I've always wanted to see the country unfold in front of me, and this was my chance.

I'm still sort of processing the whole experience, so this will likely be a slightly disjointed, occasionally stream-of-consciousness sort of a thing, but in the meantime I can at least report on the car and show some pictures. The Miata (2021 ND RF GT 6spd) did very well. Just before I left, I installed a set of FM sway bars, which should frankly be mandatory on these cars; I knew they rolled a lot from the factory, but with the FM bars in I realized just how much. On full stiff they make the car feel a lot closer to what it should. Other than that, it's stock. Aside from needing to move my legs from time to time (cruise control to the rescue), the car was pretty comfortable, and I did numerous 500 mile days without any serious issues. Importantly, given current gas prices, I saw a trip average of 37.9mpg, with a best tank of 41.5 (pure highway in flat areas). I really have no complaints about the car at all; sure, it's not an ideal highway cruiser, but it didn't bother me enough to notice. Most of the time was spent with the top closed, as I was in the middle of a huge heat dome that saw temps over 100F for days on end, but it was nice to have the option to open it when the scenery called for it.

Anyway, here's a few more photos. I'll write a little more as it comes to me.


cdowd (Forum Supporter)
cdowd (Forum Supporter) Dork
6/23/22 12:17 p.m.

Awesome!  I have done a few road trips over the years and always enjoy them.  Great mpg and photos!

Advan046 UberDork
6/23/22 1:26 p.m.

I hope to see more photos! I drove the entirety of I94 westbound back in 1999. In a Neon sport with some ACR parts on it. I was supposed to go all the way to Seattle but started to get a flu and so had to pause then cut it short and came back East on I80. 

No digital pics back then but got some nice views in my brain of "Big Sky", empty freeway, long trains, and interesting mega truckstops, and a super cool diner in a logging town.  

02Pilot UberDork
6/23/22 7:24 p.m.

So let's start at the beginning. I left NY with the intention of making it across the Mississippi in two days, which I managed to accomplish, arriving in Iowa at the end of Day Two. After that, my loose plan was to get to Mt. Rushmore and the Little Bighorn battlefield, and to see what I could see in the general vicinity before I had to start heading back east.

I don't have a lot of photos from the first few days - I was intent on covering ground, not documenting it. I stayed in a cool old motel in Ohio (the trains go by so often you won't even notice). Iowa was more interesting and less flat than expected. It's actually fairly picturesque, in a bucolic rural sort of way. Other than that, it was just a lot of miles on the highway, dodging trucks and looking forward to getting west.

I headed into Nebraska, intent on breaking off the interstate at North Platte and working my way up the Platte River. North Platte was the first of many towns and cities I encountered that seemed strangely devoid of people. I don't know if this was just my timing, or the reality of smaller population centers in the middle of the country, but it was both odd and refreshing (coming from the overpopulated Northeast).

I worked my way up to Scottsbluff, an interesting rock formation that was along the Oregon Trail. I did not die of dysentery along the way, for those of a certain age who might be wondering. Annoyingly, I missed the Guernsey Ruts and Register Rock, but I did stop at Fort Laramie on my way north and west. The Platte River valley was clearly an important component of the route west, and of exactly the sort of historical relevance I was interested in experiencing. It was fascinating to think about how both of these sites would have appeared to the migrants moving west along the trail amid a harsh and alien landscape.

More to come....

6/23/22 7:29 p.m.

My first drive in my 90 Miata was Tampa FL to Devil's tower WY. Flyover states are the best driving states.

TJL (Forum Supporter)
TJL (Forum Supporter) Dork
6/23/22 7:33 p.m.

Fantastic. You saw some of the best sights in the country. I was lucky enough to get sent out in that area for work, and i ALWAYS made sure i had some time to go explore.  I bet it was a blast in a tight miata. 

Datsun310Guy MegaDork
6/23/22 8:48 p.m.

I've driven out west from Chicago many times.  The first time was in 1980 and I had this album on an 8-track tape and for some reason these trips always trigger this song in my head......."they were hiding behind haybales".....



johndej SuperDork
6/23/22 9:01 p.m.

A branch of in-laws still out in Iowa and growing up in the foothills of the blue ridge mountains can definitely see some familiarity to the landscapes, just lacking the mountains in the background. Been out there several times and took a train last year Chicago to Seattle. Totally see the appeal to visiting that part of the country. To do it in a Miata, you did it right!

CrustyRedXpress GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
6/23/22 10:50 p.m.

Love the pics-is that a filter or...?

kb58 SuperDork
6/23/22 11:08 p.m.

I remember many years ago visiting Yellowstone National Park, and as we were walking through the parking lot towards Old Faithful, saw a very attractive girl offloading  a pack from the trucklid of her Miata (I assume the trunk was already full). I got the definite impression that she was on her own and was very impressed by that. Good on her for deciding, who needs a guy, and heading off on a solo car odyssey.

I thought of doing that myself in Midlana, but all these "solo" car trips we see (I'm looking at you, Top Gear), we all know that they have an entire support team. Driving a Miata solo is a good compromise because if it breaks, it's pretty straightforward what to do, head to any repair shop. With a fully custom one-off, coasting to the side of the road could be the start of a completely different journey, and one that could many days to a trip. Whether that's a good thing depends upon one's character!

kb58 SuperDork
6/23/22 11:17 p.m.

To the OP, any chance you got to see Ship Rock? It's an extremely impressive formation and from a distance, there's no question why it got its name. One can only wonder how many thousands of passersbys have gazed at it. It actually makes an appearance in one of Tom Hank's most recent movies, "Finch."


02Pilot UberDork
6/24/22 9:28 a.m.

Thanks for all the comments. As to the questions, no Ship Rock on this trip - I've been to New Mexico, but never got that far west. I have a plan to do Monument Valley one of these days, and I'll probably wrap it into that trip. Most of the photos were taken with a Fuji X100F (there are a couple of phone pictures of dubious quality in there as well) and given a very gentle round of processing just to get the balance right. I also took a bunch of photos on film (TriX), but those haven't been developed yet, and I experimented with the still photo feature of the dashcam I installed; this was mostly a failure for a variety of reasons, but there were a few shots that were at least vaguely interesting, if of poor resolution.

MiniDave New Reader
6/24/22 12:36 p.m.

I bought a classic Mini wagon sight unseen from a guy in Baltimore and drove it home to KC - 1100 miles in 2 days. Stopped overnight in Columbus Ohio to borrow a friend's shop to adjust the valves and carb, then drove home the rest of the way, all at 60-65 mph!

Don't be afraid to drive your cars guys! That's what they were made to do......

02Pilot UberDork
6/24/22 2:22 p.m.

After arriving in Wyoming and getting settled, my first planned stop was to shoot up the road into Montana to visit the Little Bighorn battlefield, site of Custer's Last Stand. This was also the first day of the Yellowstone flooding and closure, so there were a lot of people who would have been in Yellowstone, but instead were jamming up the places I was (I never intended to go to Yellowstone, simply to avoid the crowds. Instead the crowds came to me.).

I've done quite a few battlefields, including some iconic ones (Normandy, Saratoga), and I have to say that the Little Bighorn is very well done and quite helpful in understanding the battle, as well as being powerful. I didn't have time to walk the whole site (it's four miles long) but the road is laid out in such a way that it follows the course of the battle pretty well (much like Saratoga). The open terrain, likely very much as it was in 1876, allows you to see how the fight evolved, and why it ended as it did. It's a tremendously evocative place, and it really was one of the highlights of the trip. Here's just a few photos.


AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter)
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
6/24/22 10:23 p.m.

Thank you for the update!

Floating Doc (Forum Supporter)
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
6/25/22 12:44 a.m.

You had mentioned you were on a road trip. I've been waiting, and hoping for this thread.

grover GRM+ Memberand Dork
6/25/22 12:48 p.m.

Very cool. Thank you for sharing. I'd love to have a 911 for a couple of weeks to drive with the wife around. Looks like my sequoia will have to suffice. 

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