Sunday, April 17, 2011

The First Mini Road Trip (A Big one!)

MapA great two weeks vacation is almost over, and a new MINI Cooper S convertible waits in the driveway... ready to take its first road trip!

We're Off!

Up at 5:00AM a quick breakfast and the final touches on the closing up of my parent's Arizona place for the summer. Shut off the electricity, water and lock up the last door before hitting the road for the 3 day 1840 mile trek to the likely still snow bound north lands of Minnesota.

Cloudy skies and light traffic at that time of the morning, as we whizzed north in the speedy go-cart like little Mini Cooper.


imageThe little Cooper is a fast car. It likes to drive 80 in 6th gear and has no trouble at all keeping up with the bigger cars in the fast lane on the high speed Interstates.

Just outside of Phoenix we saw a funny sign. Winter driving conditions? What the hell? It’s summer. It was 95 yesterday. This must be a test or a mistake! Onward!

About an hour later as we approached 7000 feet in Flagstaff the sign began to make sense.

There was blowing crystals of snow whipping across the road. No worries we just have a few miles before we turn left onto Interstate 40 east and go down hill from Flagstaff, AZ towards Albuquerque, NM where I’m quite certain there is no snow.


Just a couple of more miles before that left turn. Seems like the snow is getting a bit heavier!


Wow! The Mini does quite well in the snow. Who would have thought that! Did you know that Mini Coopers drive pretty well in a blizzard?


At last 4 or 5 miles west of Flagstaff the wind blown snow lets up and there is clear skies!


The front that was causing the blizzard in Flagstaff sure was windy. Looks like its starting to pick up some dust!


First a blizzard, now a full blown sandstorm this was suppose to be a road trip not an adventure trip!


After stopping in Winslow, AZ for fuel and a bathroom break we learned that the roads in and out off Flagstaff had just been closed. Seems like we made it just in the nick of time.

We did see lots of Motor-homes pulled off to the side of the road waiting out the wind. The little Cooper with it low profile wasn’t really affected that much by the wind.

Well things did eventually start to get better as we moved further east towards Albuquerque,NM. The wind did get a little less violent and now with some ground cover in the fields it’s at least not blowing sand anymore.


Santa FeSanta Fe was the stop for the night at The Hampton Inn. We checked in around 4:00 with about 560 miles under our belts and 8 1/2 hours of driving. Looks like we thankfully left the snow and sand storms back in Arizona.

However the little car is a mess and has to be cleaned so it’s off to find a car wash to clean up the Cooper before tomorrow's ride. Then of course a stiff happy hour drink.

About a half hour of milling about asking questions and running up and down side streets produced a good old fashion high pressure wash bay where the Cooper got its first bath.


None the worse for wear from the snow and sand after cleaning it up the Cooper looks good as new again. All shinny and sparkly!



Up and on the road at 6:30 again after a free Hampton Inn breakfast the intrepid road trippers zoom north towards the Raton pass and another 7000 foot high Interstate experience.

Fortunately this time there is no snow, and we have a pleasant drive into Southern Colorado. Heading toward Colorado Springs and our old stomping grounds we can see Pikes Peak in the distance.

Ten years ago our home was in beautiful Colorado Springs for a couple of years!

After not having seen the big mountain for some time I had forgotten how beautiful the mountain was against the blue skies when it was capped with snow.


Just for giggles we went up to see our old house in Colorado Springs. This was the view we looked at all the time from that house. Tell me again why we moved back to Minnesota from here?


The longest and most boring road on the planet is the section of Interstate 76 from Denver to Nebraska. Even this boring road was exciting in the MINI Cooper! We did eventually make it to Nebraska along with a few insect friends on the windshield.


The Hampton Inn in North Platte Nebraska is where we washed the bugs off the front of the little Cooper tonight.


Up again at 6:30 and on towards:


Traveling through downtown Omaha around 11:00 in heavy heavy traffic and whack! The Cooper takes a rock to the windshield


Seems like the first ding on a new car is always the worst.


East across Iowa stopping to pee along a gravel road because Iowa has a road sign every 20 feet, but no wayside rests on their Interstates. North at Des Moines and soon we find ourselves in Minnesota. WOW! No Snow!


Three days of driving the New Mini Cooper. 1846 miles and it found its way to Minneapolis. Stay tuned for more MINI Cooper Convertible "ROAD TRIPS"!

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