Second long trip, now in progress... - Mercedes Benz SLK Forum

Fall & Winter RoadTrips Planning for cold weather travel and discoveries for fall travel

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#1 Old 11-24-2017
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Second long trip, now in progress...

So ... I decided to drive from my home near San Jose, California to my cousin's home near Houston, Texas to celebrate Thanksgiving with her and her family, and my uncle. I took four days driving on the way out, stopping through old scenic terriority like Needles, CA, Winslow, AZ, Albuquerque, NM, and other points of call. It was mostly pretty chilly on the way out so top up and environmental control humming along.

The Stealth Spaceship has worked flawlessly. The high-output OSRAM H7 Headlamp bulbs have added a big measure of safety to night driving, as has adjusting the headlights properly. But a note of wry humor there... I kept stopping and tweaking the adjustment up and down, up and down, to get it just right. I've come to the conclusion that it's actually perfect ... and that it's my creaky old eyes that need an update. My last long road trip like this was in 2006 so it's been 11 years of aging and degradation on my eyes throwing off my sense of great vision at night. I'm 63 now and the inevitable is occurring: on a busy two-lane at night, lights from the oncoming line of traffic simply obliterates my dark vision and I have to make a serious effort to see the right edge of the road. Once I understood that, I changed how I drove small roads at night and became more comfortable at it. Sigh ... you can do a lot to become and stay fit as you age, but some things slowly degrade anyway and there's nothing you can do about them. So I changed my homeward bound driving plan to take more advantage of well-lit roads after sunset ... and I'm happy.

T-Day was great with the folks, so I'm now on the westward journey home. I'm taking the more southerly route across I-10 today and the weather is beautiful: about 70° right now. So I put the top down for about a half hour blast and enjoyed the sunshine. I stopped for fuel in that time and at least three folks took a moment to walk by the SLK and compliment me on what a beautiful car it was. And the last of them stuck around while I put the top up, readying myself for a good long distance stretch ... And got so excited by how the top worked that I had to lower and raise it again for a nice little audience of his family and the carload of another family that had pulled up. It was fun.

Rolling west of San Antonio now, keeping up with and a little ahead of traffic in general. It's an easy drive on this leg of the route, and the Stealth Spaceship just sails along purring out the miles. I'll need new rear tires when I arrive home ... including them, the total cost for the trip will have equaled about what a decent plane fare would have been, and the joy of being out on the road, meeting folks and having fun with them and with the car, is worth so so much more than that.

Onwards! Ever onwards!
G
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#2 Old 11-24-2017
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Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
So ... I decided to drive from my home near San Jose, California to my cousin's home near Houston, Texas to celebrate Thanksgiving with her and her family, and my uncle. I took four days driving on the way out, stopping through old scenic terriority like Needles, CA, Winslow, AZ, Albuquerque, NM, and other points of call. It was mostly pretty chilly on the way out so top up and environmental control humming along.

The Stealth Spaceship has worked flawlessly. The high-output OSRAM H7 Headlamp bulbs have added a big measure of safety to night driving, as has adjusting the headlights properly. But a note of wry humor there... I kept stopping and tweaking the adjustment up and down, up and down, to get it just right. I've come to the conclusion that it's actually perfect ... and that it's my creaky old eyes that need an update. My last long road trip like this was in 2006 so it's been 11 years of aging and degradation on my eyes throwing off my sense of great vision at night. I'm 63 now and the inevitable is occurring: on a busy two-lane at night, lights from the oncoming line of traffic simply obliterates my dark vision and I have to make a serious effort to see the right edge of the road. Once I understood that, I changed how I drove small roads at night and became more comfortable at it. Sigh ... you can do a lot to become and stay fit as you age, but some things slowly degrade anyway and there's nothing you can do about them. So I changed my homeward bound driving plan to take more advantage of well-lit roads after sunset ... and I'm happy.

T-Day was great with the folks, so I'm now on the westward journey home. I'm taking the more southerly route across I-10 today and the weather is beautiful: about 70° right now. So I put the top down for about a half hour blast and enjoyed the sunshine. I stopped for fuel in that time and at least three folks took a moment to walk by the SLK and compliment me on what a beautiful car it was. And the last of them stuck around while I put the top up, readying myself for a good long distance stretch ... And got so excited by how the top worked that I had to lower and raise it again for a nice little audience of his family and the carload of another family that had pulled up. It was fun.

Rolling west of San Antonio now, keeping up with and a little ahead of traffic in general. It's an easy drive on this leg of the route, and the Stealth Spaceship just sails along purring out the miles. I'll need new rear tires when I arrive home ... including them, the total cost for the trip will have equaled about what a decent plane fare would have been, and the joy of being out on the road, meeting folks and having fun with them and with the car, is worth so so much more than that.

Onwards! Ever onwards!
G
I forget, is it 80 or 85 mph speed limit from there to Houston?
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#3 Old 11-24-2017
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" stopping and tweaking the adjustment up and down" did it happen to coincide with fuel stops ? US SLK has no load levelers and a full tank is about 130 lbs in the tail.

ps my informal garage door testing has the Phiips Extreme Vision +130s as the brightest 55w of all. Think I'll put one in the passenger side and keep an Ultra in the driver's and see what it is like.


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#4 Old 11-24-2017
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I forget, is it 80 or 85 mph speed limit from there to Houston?
80 MPH posted from San Antonio westwards. Mostly 70-75 going east to Houston; some 65.

It sure feels weird passing a highway patrol car at 80 mph...

G
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#5 Old 11-24-2017
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" stopping and tweaking the adjustment up and down" did it happen to coincide with fuel stops ? US SLK has no load levelers and a full tank is about 130 lbs in the tail. ...
No, not at all. I was just feeling unsatisfied I'd gotten it right and kept stopping to adjust it on the second night out. Partially because NM interstate and state hwy roads are very poorly lit compared to Arizona interstate. The difference was striking. Once I realized what was really going on, I just adjusted my expectations and driving habits: they're really just fine.

I actually measured the change in low beam cutoff with full and empty tank at a gas stop, however, just because there was a brick wall in front of me at the gas stop. It's negligible, I think because the fuel tank is within the wheelbase on the
SLK. On a trip like this, I tend to run the tank down to about 3/8 full, rather than 1/8 full when I'm running around town at home too. At over 100 miles per quarter tank, stopping at 290-325 miles for fuel seems perfect reasonable. So about 12 gallons ... that's only about 72 lbs between full and ready to refuel.
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#6 Old 11-26-2017
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A couple of amusing moments today ... I suspect SLKs are pretty rare out in the rural parts of New Mexico!

Zooming up Hwy 285 from Texas to NM, all of a sudden there's a little sign "Bump". What that mean was that the road was missing for the NEXT 15 MILES on the northbound side. In its place was a 16" thick mound of calicchi mud and gravel ... obviously preparing a new road bed. It was rough and rutted ... and if I wasn't happy about it, you can only imagine what the drive of the tractor trailer towing a load in front of me was saying as I watched it sway side to side and nearly shake itself into a ditch at 20 mph. Once behind me, I pulled around the truck and kept on into Carlsbad. Stopped at a burger joint and got out of the car ... and then saw that it was covered from one end to the other with that calicchi mud. Yuck.

So I hunted up a car wash and ran it through ... that stuff can be very corrosive ...
First the gal who checks me in and takes my money: "What happened to the rest of your car?" I guess they get mostly trucks and SUVs in Carlsbad. Then the guys who normally dry and do interior stuff (I only did exterior) come ambling over to where I pulled over after the cleaning: "Dang, that's a pretty little thing! How fast is it? ..." Et cetera. I amused the heck out of them by putting the top down too.

It was a nice day so I did an hour or two with the top down, most of the way to Roswell.

Later, I drove through another little town further north on 285 and these two young guys were walking down the street as I rolled by at 30mph. They glanced, did a double take, and then came running after me desperate to see the car. I stopped to chat for a moment: "Yeah, it's a Mercedes. Yup, it's pretty fast. Well, plenty of room for me and my stuff when I travel. ..." and on. They were so excited to see something a little different from an SUV or a pickup truck, it was amazing. I felt like I was some kind of royalty driving an exotic car through town...

Come to think of it, maybe I was.



Onwards!
G
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#7 Old 11-27-2017
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Yesterday was a long blast across I-40, for the most part, starting in Gallup, NM and reading Kingman, AZ before heading north to Las Vegas, NV. Absolutely beautiful weather and light traffic—I basically set the cruise control to 80mph (posted speed is 75) and just managed my place in traffic as needed, slowing down for lower posted speed and road work areas. The MFD showed my average fuel mileage running at 31-32 MPG all the way, the Stealth Spaceship just purred along brilliantly. Stayed overnight in Henderson, NV, just south of Las Vegas. I run the rest of the way home today.

I took a nice stop at Meteor Crater just east of Flagstaff, AZ. If you've never been and have the opportunity, do stop. It is a fascinating place. The weather was very nice: I drove the loop to and from the Meteor Crater visitors' center top down, just tootling along at the speed limit and listening to some nice music.

Attached a pano made with the iPhone...

I arrived in Las Vegas just as sunset descended into twilight and dusk. All the big casinos lit up: it was a wild sight and fun to drive around the downtown, but that's nowhere I like to be without a guide of some sort. I prefer the open road.

Onwards!
G
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#8 Old 11-28-2017
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And all things in their Time come to an end...

Rolled into my garage last evening at 8:30pm. What a last day!

- Rose early, to a bit of overcast and cold temperatures in Henderson, NV.
- On the road at 8:15, filled the fuel tank, hmm: a bit of headwind and gusty conditions.
- Down I-15 into California, headwinds increasing...
- Necessary Art Stop at the Bagdhad Cafe on old Route 66 for a photo ... OMG! Raging wind/sand storm blowing!

I mean a storm! for many miles, the prevailing wind was 30-40 mph with gusts up to about 60 mph. Off the interstate, dust and sand was so thick at times I had to slow to a walking pace because I couldn't see more than 10-20 feet in front of the car. My Curb Alert Pro alarm was getting triggered ... It thought there was an opaque wall in front of me. But I got my photo...

- Up to Bakersfield via I-40, I-15, and Hwy 58. Left the wind and sand storm behind me finally. Beautiful sunny afternoon at a fabulous cafe, sitting at an outside table with an Americano and a bagel.
- Shunt over for the last leg home ... fueled up at I-5, west at 152 and over—omg!—Pacheco Pass at night. Heavy, heavy traffic over the pass. Then up Hwy 101 at insane speeds, just to keep up with traffic mind you, and home.
- Final top off the tank in Santa Clara on arrival.

The Stealth Spaceship performed brilliantly throughout the entire 4,050 mile/9 day trip. I'll have more specifics on fuel mileage, etc, as soon as I enter all the numbers recorded, but I know the range was between 27 and 32 MPG, average tank was about 11-12 US gallons of fuel at fill up and over 320 miles per tank, filling the tank usually with about 3/8 remaining on the gauge. As expected, the rear tires (Conti ExtremeContact DW) are worn right down past the wear bars, front tires will last through another set of rears; they never needed any air. Used no oil, used no coolant, brakes are fine, I think I ran through an entire gallon of windshield wash fluid. The comm/nav/entertainment system worked flawlessly throughout. It needs a serious wash (both top and bottom), vacuuming, polish and wax to undo what all that calicchi mud and the wind/sand storm did. The headlights are likely set a bit on the high side, but no one is flashing me that I'm getting in their eyes so I'm leaving them as is for the present.

I did okay too, for a 'getting older' guy. The 800-900 mile days of my youth are behind me: I get too tired after about 8-10 hours driving now to be safe, even with a lot of rest stops. My night vision is degraded too—busy two-lane after dark renders me blinded by oncoming cars too easily. So I'll arrange my road trips to be mostly daylight driving with a daily target down in the 450-500 mile range at best. I can live with that ... literally.

But one thing remains constant and has been reinforced yet again. I LOVE being out on the open road! Interstate, fast two-lanes, wiggly bits in the hills, places to stop and see, new people to talk to and discover their stories, kids seeing things for the first time, old folks revisiting the world they remember ... Just Love It ALL!

onwards!
G

"A true journey, no matter how long the travel takes, has no end."
- William Least Heat Moon
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#9 Old 11-28-2017
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BTW for all around use I like the Continental DWS06s. (any more buy only Conti, BFG, or Michelin whichever is the best price when needed). Tried some Orientals but do not care for them.

Have heard very good reports for Barum times (Continental "value" brand) for maximum dry performance.


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#10 Old 11-28-2017
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While driving back from Houston, I stopped to see Meteor Crater in Arizona. While there, I saw a guy who had a nice Nikon camera and looked like he knew what he was doing with it. So I set up my camera for focus and exposure and asked him to snap my picture. It worked! :-)



[i]Godfrey On Travel - Meteor Crater 2017
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#11 Old 11-28-2017
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BTW for all around use I like the Continental DWS06s. (any more buy only Conti, BFG, or Michelin whichever is the best price when needed). Tried some Orientals but do not care for them....
I've heard excellent things about the Conti ExtremeContact DWS tires too. Around where I live, I don't need the "Snow" part of their capabilities and am willing to sacrifice a bit of longevity for a bit more Dry and Wet grip and braking. That's why I get the DW model. I also like their steering response: less 'nervous' than some of the others I've tried. When new, they have a very plush-feeling ride.

17,000 miles out of the rears seems pretty decent mileage for such a good handling/braking tire and the amount of abuse I've put them to. I imagine that the fronts will run about 30,000 miles: when they wear out, I'll buy a new set of four tires.

G
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#12 Old 11-29-2017
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And the follow up...

That calicchi mud/gravel crap I rolled across for 12 miles in New Mexico and the wind/sand storm at the Nevada/California border on Monday took their toll on the Stealth Spaceship. Given the intensity of both events, I knew there would be damage to take care of.

The whole car had a fine peppering of silt on it, everywhere, and a ton of dust/dirt under the hood. I brought it down to the local detailer ... first order of business to wash the under-carriage and get the last of that calicchi mud off things, and then address the damage to the paint work (as well as vacuum/clean the rugs in the interior and trunk). I also asked them to clean out the engine compartment as best they could, but I could tell they were uncomfortable with that ... they don't do any mechanical work at this place so working in the engine compartment seemed to scare them. They did a terrific job with the paint: it actually looks better now than it did before the trip because they used the low speed polisher with the "magic mud" polish and have removed all of the cheapo detailer paint swirls that the folks I bought it from had put into the paint.

They waxed and attempted to polish the windshield. Unfortunately, they were unsuccessful at removing the 'salt and pepper' damage caused by the sand storm. It's bad enough to cause problems with oncoming headlights and the sun so over to the auto glass place I went. This one came recommended highly ... big ratings ... and I think I understand why. He noticed immediately that it was not the original windshield and lacked the durability hardening of the OEM windshield. "Yeah, the original would likely not have been damaged. Mercedes uses a much tougher glass for a car like this because they assume that whomever is buying it is going to drive fast..." Ach, the things you learn. Anyway, an OEM-spec replacement windshield with all the labor is less than my deductible (and not too expensive) so I'll just have a windshield done tomorrow or the next day, presuming they can get the parts in fast.

I've already talked to my mechanic about the headlights ... Of course, they were a bit peppered with the sand too, although the coating that I had put on them is very very durable. He's already told me he'll re-polish them back to perfect, no charge.

As expected, the trip used up the rear tires too, so new rear tires are on the way to the folks who do my mount/balance work. Presumably, they'll get in tomorrow and I'll get them installed on Friday.

Hmm. Call it $1000 worth of damage caused by the mud and the wind storm. Pretty bad. But it was still an amazing trip so ... eh? It's a car. When you drive it, things get worn. You fix and keep on going...

onwards,
G
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#13 Old 11-29-2017
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Did a 6200 mile trip from south west Florida to Las Vegas, back through Utah and Colorado, down to Roswell and back to I-10. Was wonderful, did it two years ago in a Buick Encore (1.4 L Turbo), ran flawless even in the mountains.
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My last long road trip like this was in 2006 so it's been 11 years of aging and degradation on my eyes throwing off my sense of great vision at night. I'm 63 now and the inevitable is occurring: on a busy two-lane at night, lights from the oncoming line of traffic simply obliterates my dark vision and I have to make a serious effort to see the right edge of the road. Once I understood that, I changed how I drove small roads at night and became more comfortable at it. Sigh ... you can do a lot to become and stay fit as you age, but some things slowly degrade anyway and there's nothing you can do about them. So I changed my homeward bound driving plan to take more advantage of well-lit roads after sunset ... and I'm happy.
I started noticing this a few years ago so asked the "optimist" about it. He allowed, "Yew old people come in here... Dang it, everyone's vision dims with age. You're OLD! Now get out, I have a kid in the lobby with a railroad spike in his eye and you're complaining. Sheesh." Said there was no treatment, maybe carry a flashlight. The flare problem is most likely cataracts, brightness is another matter. IAE, I'd see an optimist right away. A friend had his cataracts fixed and now everything is much brighter to boot. Worth a shot.
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Have found my eyes tend to get tired and dry in the late afternoon so always carry good eye drops. If not cost sensitive Restasis works best for me and I live in a humid climate.


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I started noticing this a few years ago so asked the "optimist" about it. He allowed, "Yew old people come in here... Dang it, everyone's vision dims with age. You're OLD! Now get out, I have a kid in the lobby with a railroad spike in his eye and you're complaining. Sheesh." Said there was no treatment, maybe carry a flashlight. The flare problem is most likely cataracts, brightness is another matter. IAE, I'd see an optimist right away. A friend had his cataracts fixed and now everything is much brighter to boot. Worth a shot.
I see my ophthalmologist regularly, have my next appointment with him next week in fact.
I don't seem to have much in the way of cataracts at present but I'm certainly going to mention this issue to him. :-)

G
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#17 Old 11-29-2017
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Have found my eyes tend to get tired and dry in the late afternoon so always carry good eye drops. If not cost sensitive Restasis works best for me and I live in a humid climate.
I have a condition called "map dot dystrophy" which is an affliction of the conjunctiva and the cornea: the conjunctiva tends to come loose from the cornea with this problem, particularly when it is overly humid. I normally have to use opthalmic saline drops (essentially, very pure water with 0.05% salt content) to keep my eyes happy. Moisturizers make the problems worse for me.

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Did a 6200 mile trip from south west Florida to Las Vegas, back through Utah and Colorado, down to Roswell and back to I-10. Was wonderful, did it two years ago in a Buick Encore (1.4 L Turbo), ran flawless even in the mountains.
That's nice. What does it have to do with driving an SLK280 around the country? Did you drive your Buick on a 12-20 mile long stretch of calicchi mud? or driven through a wind/sand storm?

The SLK280 ran flawlessly throughout the trip. The fact that a couple of ferociously crappy environmental incidents did a good bit of damage to it has nothing to do with how well it ran. I've driven cross the USA many times in the past with other cars and had no damage ... but I haven't before had two nasty and unavoidable environmental events like these to deal with.

G
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Ever see the "Gumball Rally" ? One of the great automotive movies. What happened to the Rolls sounds similar.

Love the Merc for normal stuff but obviously you were not travelling with a lady. My Jeep GC (3.6 V6) is the normal trip car, can configure as a 2 seater with A Lot of luggage space while two umbrella chairs and some drinks in a thermal bag are about it with the top down in the SLK. My other cars have much more luggage space but is not why I bought the Merc.

Strange thing is that all of my cars except the Judge get about the same mpg on the road- 24-26 just some only need 87 PON.


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#20 Old 11-30-2017
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Originally Posted by Padgett View Post
Ever see the "Gumball Rally" ? One of the great automotive movies. What happened to the Rolls sounds similar.

Love the Merc for normal stuff but obviously you were not travelling with a lady. My Jeep GC (3.6 V6) is the normal trip car, can configure as a 2 seater with A Lot of luggage space while two umbrella chairs and some drinks in a thermal bag are about it with the top down in the SLK. My other cars have much more luggage space but is not why I bought the Merc.

Strange thing is that all of my cars except the Judge get about the same mpg on the road- 24-26 just some only need 87 PON.
Oh yes, of course! I actually participated in the second real Gumball Rally way back in the day.

I only very very rarely go on long road trips with anyone else. I prefer to travel solo. I also don't really like shuttling people around in my car much, a two-seater suits me fine as an "all the time" vehicle. I rent trucks or larger cars when I need extensive cargo or people capacity; the SLK280 is my only car. (My other vehicles are a monoposto motorcycle and a bicycle... )

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