Friday, October 3, 2014

Road Trip: Conclusion (Cross Country Road Trip Ep. 7)

With most of the country behind them, our intrepid travelers power through the home stretch, passing through Lake Las Vegas as a final stop before completing the final leg to Southern California. Missed their last adventure? Click here to read all about it.

The excitement of the trip rose to a crescendo with our stay in Moab. The reality that the trip was coming to an end finally hit home as we packed up the car the following morning and made our way to the final stop. Along the way, we ran into a little trouble with the Thule bike rack, resulting in the need to do a little roadside repair and a whole lot of anxiety about whether or not we would manage to make it back to Southern California with both bikes intact. I will save the gory details for our full review of the Thule rack, but to put it mildly, I would seriously think twice before purchasing another Thule product because of this experience, especially with the subsequent terrible customer service.

The trip encompassed 18 days and kept us behind the wheel for some 4,643 miles through 21 different states. We actually stopped and properly visited locations in 17 different cities and saw nearly two dozen friends and a dozen family. The trip required 10 fuel stops and the TSX turned in great fuel economy at around 27.16 mpg, frequently going over 500 miles between fuel stops, despite the regular stints at 75 mph on the interstates. We were fortunate enough not to experience any major problems along the way and aside from running out of fuel in Nashville, we encountered no problems at all.

The TSX was an impeccable travel companion. Despite carrying all of our luggage and the bikes, it drove well no matter what we threw at it. Even as the air thinned climbing up to the heights of Denver and beyond, while the performance suffered as is expected of naturally aspirated engines, the balanced chassis, clean handling, and excellent manual transmission make the TSX a joy to drive. However, it is not entirely without its faults. The cabin noise, for instance, can reach slightly irritating levels, especially on surfaces that were anything but perfectly smooth. Also, the dated electronics, especially for a car built in 2012, meant we were supplementing the in-car systems with a portable GPS unit and our cellphones. An inconvenience that Acura thought drivers of manual transmissions were okay with as the 2012 model year TSX was only offered in a single trim with the excellent 6-speed manual.

All told, this trip was an amazing opportunity to see parts of the country we might never have otherwise spent much time in. Having grown up on the west coast and spent my last decade on the east coast, the middle of the country has largely been flyover territory. This trip changed that and for me personally illuminated some amazing places that I would like to return to in the future. This trip was also an opportunity for both my wife and me to experience the cycling culture of various cities and see just how much progress cycling has made in returning to the limelight as a mode of transportation. Most cities in the US are still a long ways from becoming paradise for cycle commuters, but at least things continue to advance in the right direction as cities start to realize the value and importance of having infrastructure for cyclists.

This was an extraordinary trip and we feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to do it and to share our experience. It may be another decade or more before we can do it again, but it would be fantastic to take an even more extended period to try to reach the remainder of the lower 48 states we have not yet visited. But for now, we are going to enjoy our time in Southern California with friends and family.

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