Porsche Pilgrimage, Kalamazoo to Boulder: Days 16, 17, & 18 

The worst part of any road trip: the plains states.

Bradley Brownell

After two weeks away from home, and thousands of miles of interstate highways covered, I can tell my brain is starting to emulsify from exhaustion and sleep deprivation. A few good days of rest in Michigan were welcomed, but no amount of mental preparation can get someone ready for the long drive across Iowa and Nebraska. This trip has crested its halfway point, the car and I are on the downward slope, unfortunately only in a metaphorical manner. Not only will we be going from sea level up to over 10,000 feet above sea level, but this is the emotional trudge upward. You can't take the plains in small bites, stopping every few hours for a walk around and a snack. To avoid spending any more time there than you might have to, you press on as quickly as you dare. 

Day 16 

I actually didn't do any driving on this day, choosing instead to spend the day with my mother and step-father. One down day in a three week trip makes sense, 

Day 17

I didn't make the leap into this leg of the trip until mid-day, banking on late afternoon traffic in Chicago not being too bad. I-94 to I-80 and head west. Ever westward the little yellow Porsche and I stabbed. I rolled into Chicago and met my good friend Eric for a slice or three of deep dish. I'd never had proper Chicago deep pizza, so we ordered up a pie. It was mostly cheese. Holy crap, it was so much cheese. I loved it, but it probably wasn't the wisest food choice for an 8-hour driving day. YOLO, I guess?

Pizza stop over, I resumed driving. Most of my midwestern drive was quite hot, and the humidity was a brutal killer as well. Windows down on the highway made it reasonably comfortable, but the back sweat struggle is real. When there are so few interesting views on the road to take your mind off of things the mind wanders. I've had wild car projects on my mind for days, but the Chicago-to-Iowa stint was probably the worst of it. I'd gone from reasonable projects like putting a big block in my 1968 Mustang fastback, through the more eclectic like a Ford 302 swap into my 1978 Toyota Pickup complete with 90s-era mini-truck graphics and a full air-ride system, into the inane weirdo stuff of pill-fueled fever dreams like a Volkswagen Passat TDi engine swapped into the middle of 986-generation Boxster with big boost and suspension set up to run in four-cylinder dirt circle track races in NorCal. Oh man, I really need some sleep. 

When I rolled into my Iowa camping space for the night, just down the street from Iowa speedway, everything was looking pretty great. Aside from the fact that I was basically the only camper in the campgrounds, and that the temperature had dropped to the upper 50s, I was feeling okay. Even the WiFi worked well enough to get some work done. Around 11PM I called it a night and crawled inside the tent for a good nights sleep. And then the rain came. 

Day 18

Bradley Brownell

Having slept in fits and starts all night due to the rain's pelting on my tent's waterproof cover. The rain seemed to come in waves, and at its peak it was a roaring thunderous cacophony of rain drops on tent. 

This was the most miserable day I have experienced in a very long time. The plan was to press on for a 12 hour drive from middle-of-Iowa to the high elevations of Estes Park, Colorado. I'd rented a cabin for the night, being that all of my stuff was wet and the expected overnight low temperature was about 29 degrees. I just have to make it through this day of boring driving and I'd be rewarded with breathtaking sunrise views from the top of a mountain. 

For the majority of those 12 hours, the rain continued to fall. I think there was about 2 hours of respite around mid-day. There are some slight leaks in the Porsche's windshield seal that sees a steady drip drip drip of water out of the bottom of the dashboard. The drops that don't collect on my pant leg or in my left shoe get the carpet soaking wet in just a couple of hours. I wasn't really able to use the car's minimal heating system, because it would just fog the windshield. Cold, wet, and miserable, I rolled into Colorado no longer caring about my own well being. I ate fast food that night. 

Bradley Brownell

There was a pretty spectacular little road leading up to Estes Park above Boulder, but I didn't even have enough enthusiasm left to properly enjoy it. Tomorrow is a new day, and it has got to be better than this one.