Dash Cam

Given how bad the ‘imports’ are these days – and by import I mean someone from out of state who decided Colorado is the place to be – a dash cam is pretty much a necessity.

So, I got myself a cheap little Garmin camera, hacked some 5volt USB from the 12volt power running my auto-dimming mirror, and presto! Dash Cam.

The 300 has a steeply raked windshield and I have tint on it now, so gluing a camera to it wasn’t going to work. Ultimately I stuck the camera to the plastic housing for the sensor suite above the rear view mirror – which is the black thing at the top of the picture.

Given what I see daily on the roads now, this should not only offer some insurance protection, but also provide an endless stream of ‘people being dumb in cars’ for entertainment.

Listening to "Ship of Fools" by Robert Plant

Tint

Just got the 300 back from the tint shop, and they did an amazing job.

Xpel 15% ceramic tint all the way around. From inside it’s a bit like wearing sunglasses – which is nice as I wear glasses and don’t normally see a reason to invest in prescription shades. The tint is polarized as well, so headlights no longer make me squint.

It rained buckets this afternoon, so the car was delayed a couple of hours from the shop having to play car Tetris with everything they’re working on… It looked like hail, so they got everything indoors asap.

But they put in some O/T to get the 300 done this evening, and I got it home no problem… I was a bit worried about the standing water everywhere, but the car did pretty good; no hydroplaning to speak of, even with no-season racing radials on it.

So, I can check off ‘exterior’ now. Next on the list? Exhaust.

Listening to "Magic Power" by Triumph

Thirsty

Been a couple of days now with the 300, and just passed 100 miles – and had the first trip to the gas station…

One quarter of a tank of 91 octane: $27.76.

Basically I spent more in gas in two days than the Kicks cost in two weeks, but the 300 is infinitely more fun to tool around in.

I’ll be in the break-in period until 500 miles, so I’m taking it relatively easy on the car (no real digs from a stop, nothing over 55-60, only short bursts of acceleration, etc) – which is pretty easy as it’s such a nice cruiser and it’s just a nice place to spend some time.

After 500 miles I need to do another hundred miles or so in manual mode to run the engine in the upper RPM bands to properly seat the rings. But after that things should be suitably worn a bit and more fun can be had.

I drove down to Parker this morning to get a quote on window tint: 15% limo tint, the ceramic 3M stuff, all the way around – $800. But the place I’m having it done at does all of the rare and expensive cars in Denver, so it’s probably a fair price for the best work possible.

I’m having the windshield done as well, which isn’t exactly ‘legal’ here in Colorado, but with the rest of the windows tinted you won’t really be able to tell – which is why everyone does it. And if I get pulled over for some reason it will undoubtedly be for something more impressive than a tinted windshield. 😀

Car-wise I’m really, really happy with the 300 and as you can tell by the hundred miles in two days; I’ve been looking for reasons to drive somewhere. I have all of the tech in the car set up and configured, so my phone has a constant readout of the car’s situation (fuel, oil condition, systems checks, etc.) and all of the creature comforts work (weather reports, live traffic on the map, etc).

My CFO gave me a little guff over buying it, as he always does when I pick up a new car. He’s a real-estate mogul and buys houses like I buy sandwiches – and keeps telling me I need to save my breadline chits and buy a house. I keep mentioning that whatever car I just bought is less than the required down payment on a house right now, and when I shuffle off this mortal coil I don’t have anyone to give the house to – so the gub’mint gets a free house and that kinda sucks.

He has millions, and sweats every penny (which is probably why he has millions)… A mattress stuffed full of money is nice, but it’s not as fun as a fire-breathing muscle-barge, and I’d rather have fun with my money.

No matter what you do, no one gets to take the money with them. So have a good time while you can!

At least that’s my take on it. 🙂

Listening to "Avalanche" by The Midnight

300

For about a year now, the local Chrysler dealership has been pestering me to come buy this 300 sedan they’ve had on the lot since fall of last year; it’s the “S” model, white with black leather interior, has all of the bells and whistles, and it’s powered by a huge gas-guzzling hemi V8.

See, right before I bought the Kicks, I’d gone and test drove the car thinking I might buy it. But that the time the dealer markup was too much and I just couldn’t justify the cost… So I instead went with the super cheap Kicks to hold me over until the new Z came out.

Well, here we are about a year later, the 2023 Z is nowhere to be found – even in Japan – and Chrysler kept offering me better and better deals on the 300 and more and more money for the Kicks… For some weird reason, there just isn’t much market for a car that gets 16MPG down hill with a tail wind, so anyone who shows interest gets pestered.

After my mountain drive in the Kicks I was really jonesing for a car with more hustle, and this morning I caved and drove over to the dealership to look at the 300 again…

The car had acquired a whopping 18 miles on the odometer, and I added another two on the test drive – and decided to take it home.

So, yeah – another 300, though this one is ten years newer than the last one.

This is basically a mafia staff car; it’s full of top-grain leather and lots of technology – including a dozen speakers and a huge amp… So it’s very ‘adult’… But lurking under the hood is a massive slab of Detroit iron that really just wants to have fun.

And I’m pretty happy. 🙂

Listening to "Drive" by The Cars

Drive

Yesterday I decided to play hooky from work and go for a drive… My year old Nissan only has about 2000 miles on it, and with gas being “cheap” at $3.99 a gallon right now it seemed like a good idea.

Up front, I have to say that road trips would be immeasurably more entertaining without all of the people.

The route I took was roughly 350 miles:

  1. Parker Rd. south to C-470
  2. C-470 around to I-70
  3. I-70 west to Avon
  4. Avon to Eagle-Vail for lunch
  5. Eagle-Vail to Leadville via US-24
  6. Leadville to I-70 via US-91
  7. I-70 east to C-470
  8. C-470 to Parker Rd.
  9. Parker Rd. back to the house

I left at about 9am, and got back at about 5pm; eight hours. Of this about three hours was creeping along C-470, a six-lane super highway, because of the bumper-to-bumper traffic…

Once I got up I-70 a ways, past Idaho Springs, things got much better because there’s a lot less people up there. Sure, there’s still slow moving RVs and even slower moving semis to contend with. But with the dramatic reduction in people it’s not so bad.

My car did far better than I assumed it would. See, the Kicks is a ‘city car’ – it’s designed for stop and go traffic in dense urban centers with narrow roads and tight parking… Accordingly it’s got like a hundred horsepower, a CVT transmission, and a 0-60 time of about 10 seconds.

If you turn the A/C on, the 0-60 time rises to an impressive 15-ish seconds, which is slow enough to get you killed merging onto the 75mph highways we have around here.

The tradeoff for this lackadaisical performance is the thing gets an average of 33MPG in town, and will push close to 50MPG on the highway. Just try to never be in a hurry because the car has zero hustle.

Anyway, given this I assumed taking the Kicks up into the realm of 6% grades for 5-10 miles at a shot would be, at best, comical… But the car did pretty good! Once it’s up to speed, the infinite gearing of the CVT can keep the car at 60-65 at pretty much any angle.

I did worry a bit on the long hill out of Georgetown to the Eisenhower Tunnel, because the engine in the car stayed at 4000RPM for a good ten minutes. But it seems no worse for it.

Eventually I pulled off I-70 just west of Vail and took US-6 into Avon… I drove by where the Pawnshop used to be, some of my favorite hangouts around town that are long gone, and drove past the old house on Deer Blvd… The house is really run down; few people take care of things anymore.

Satisfied with the sight-seeing, and the fact it was approaching noon, I wandered back down US-6 to where Paddy O’Days used to be… Used to – it’s now the Route 6 Cafe. The Route 6 Cafe used to be a mile east on US-6, and was a breakfast / brunch place with really good food that I ate at fairly often – so I decided to try out the new incarnation in the building that used to be my favorite burger joint…

It was weird to sit in my usual booth in the back corner of the bar section (near the bathrooms), with the old booths, bar, and stuff on the walls – but not be at Paddy’s.

Looking towards the bar from the main door. My booth is to the left in the back, and the space on the other side of the bar used to be an in-house pizzaria

The pizza side of the place is now a half dozen pool tables, but overall the vibe is the same – which is good.

I got the patty-melt to check if things were still of a quality to drag people up here for lunch, and yeah – they still make an amazing burger.

On they way out I got a chance to talk to Ollie, the owner, for a couple of minutes. Apparently the head cook is still the same guy from my years in the valley, which explains the continuation of quality.

Having been fed, watered, and relieved, I headed west on US-24 though Minturn and past Redcliff…

I stopped at a few of my favorite places to sit and read a good book. One of which is a big flat boulder south of the Gilman mine a bit and across the valley from a huge series of waterfalls…

From Battle Mountain, looking west

It’s hard to see the falls because they are about two miles away – but see that big pine tree in the foreground? Just to the right of its top you can see the silvery line of water.

Photos simply can’t do scenes like this justice, because there’s no sense of depth. For example, those power poles on the left are about two hundred yards away. But if you look really close on the right side you can see more power poles, and those are probably a mile away.

I sat here and watched the storm roll in as the temperature dropped from 65 to about 50 degrees, and then drove down from Tennessee Pass under leaden skies. By the time I hit Leadville it was raining, and by the time I made it to the Climax mine, it was a biblical downpour.

The rain continued to fall in buckets all the way back down I-70 until I reached the Denver side of Floyd Hill where, as usual, the rain shut off like someone turning a valve, and it went from 65 to about 100 degrees.

Denver is literally cursed.

Listening to "Dropping Anchor" by Jimmie's Chicken Shack