Porsche Pilgrimage: Day 1 – Reno to Scottsdale
Can this day-one optimism last three weeks?
It's late as I'm writing this, but yet I've pulled into my camping space in Scottsdale, Arizona with at least a positive outlook on tomorrow. I left my house in Reno, Nevada this morning before the sun rose, and I did not arrive here until nearly two hours after dark. It's been a long day at the wheel, made all the longer by a combination of 95-degree temperatures and a lack of air conditioning.
Nevada is a large and gorgeous state, one I'm proud to call home. The downside of those wide open expanses of visually stunning landscapes, the quantity of time it takes to get from one side to the other. You can drive for over an hour from one crest to the next, often seeing no other cars in the meantime. In a forty-year-old German motor with only your own demons to keep you company, it borders on mind-numbing. No matter the car, your right foot's desire to inch ever closer to the carpet is insatiable. With fifty miles of flat open road ahead of you, it's hard not to speed a bit. In a 912E, however, you just do what you can to maintain a speed of around 75 miles per hour. Of course that's a task in frustration with a wildly inaccurate speedometer and a non-existent cruise control system.
I was, if I'm honest, a bit nervous leaving the house this morning. When I first clicked on the ignition at quarter-to-five, there was a big red warning light on the dash I hadn't seen before. Immediately shutting the car down, I deferred to the owners manual for an answer. It turned out to be an alternator light. Oh boy, this trip is over before it'd began. Now informed that the engine wouldn't blow up if I started it up again, I tried it. The alternator light extinguished, and a quick check of the battery showed that it was charging. A temporary crisis, then.
The road from Reno to Vegas is much longer than most would believe. People who have never been to Nevada, and even some who have, assume that the two are practically suburbs of each other. That could not be further from the truth. at a steady-ish 70 miles per hour, the 912E and I made it from the northwest corner of Nevada to the tippy point in Clark County in a not-insubstantial 8 hours. A large 21-gallon fuel tank and a reasonable 33 miles per gallon meant I was able to make that trip without stopping for fuel. One stop for the rest room, and a couple more for various vista points, and I was in Vegas.
Once in the city Casinos built, I met up with a couple of local Porsche nuts for lunch, including John Polnik, mastermind behind the Der Faszination YouTube channel. With minimal time available, we scarfed down a delicious lunch in a hip section of the city adjacent to "Old Vegas". That entire city is surreal, but it is made all the more so riding around in John's Type 181 Volkswagen Thing. I'd intended to make a pit stop in to Gaudin Porsche, the first Porsche Classic Center in the country, but time was of the essence and I needed to get back on the road.
Keeping momentum and rolling through the desert, my mellow yellow Porsche and I just kept trucking along. Continual coats of sunscreen kept me from frying, but not even both windows down at 70 miles per hour could keep me from baking in the heat. The saguaros and Joshua trees laughed at me wilting in heat they have prepared for. Delicate humans, the lot of us. The Porsche, attempting to cool itself with already hot air proved a little difficult, and over the course of a couple of altitude climbs, the 912 had started to point its temperature gauge ever closer to the red. When I found a downhill section, I popped the car out of gear to coast down the other side, and shoved the throttle up to a sustained 4500 RPM. Spinning the cooling fan without a load on the engine helped to quickly lower the temperatures. The sun set soon after and the both of us could breathe easier.
It would seem that having picked the hashtag #ungekühlt now has a double meaning. In addition to not attending Luftgekuhlt 4 this weekend, the phrase also means "uncooled" in German. Without A/C I certainly am uncooled.
The tent is set up, and this adventure will continue tomorrow. Stay tuned. Stay positive.