Every year, Julie and I try to take a week long road trip connecting with great places and great people across the country.
Typically the past five years driving all electric cars, we would trade our electric car with a family member and drive their gas car for a long trip or, we would rent a car for these long vacations.
This year, we drive our new BMW i8 on an epic road trip to some of the most picturesque scenery in the American Southwest.
Friday March 6th
Packing. Two “i” bags, a camera, a tech case with two laptops and an ipad plus assorted cords and one small carry on. The two “i” bags fit perfectly in the rear storage area under the parcel hatch. The rest of the gear, on the passenger side rear behind the front seat.
Day one, 7.5 hours in the i8 driving 450 miles from Carlsbad Ca, to Sedona Arizona. Average speed 80 mph, 32mpg, significantly above the EPA rating of 28. The i8 is a super comfortable grand touring car with very agreeable seats, soft and comfortable riding in comfort mode across the desert.
Funny Story, Pull up to the border patrol check point, the office ask if I could launch it off the line so he could see what it could do. This is a law enforcement officer asking me to be a hooligan and drive fast. It’s not going to be a normal road trip. I left the line in silent electric mode with Julie laughing! I had his permission to be Michael Schumacher and I choose to be an electronaut. Julie says I should of punched it in sport mode.
On the way to Yuma, Julie leans over and snaps a pic of the HUD. Speed, cruise control and navigation pictured.
When you open the gull wing doors of the BMW i8, it’s like opening an invitation to conversations about the future. Gas stations and Starbucks, empty out to come see the car.
A sweet little 5 year old girl ask “Are you from the future” we respond by saying the future is here and you are looking at it. Big smile and love from the little girl.
Dang, that really sucks big time… Huge dried dirt clods come off of the SUV in front of us, bounce on the road…splatters across the front of our car and windshield. A couple of very small pits in the windshield and a small nick in the drivers side mirror. Should buff out.
Pit stop at BMW dealership in Phoenix to wash the car (lots of bugs) Julie and I have lunch at the nearby irish pub while dozens at the dealership come out to look at a dirty car.
It finally gets hand-washed, thanks BMW of Phoenix!
Sedona. Amazingly beautiful place. We stop for a photo of the BMW i8 and the Red Rocks. We’re not alone as there are about two dozen other photog’s getting pictures of the red rocks at sunset. You guessed it, soon they are all taking pictures of the BMW i8 with the rocks in the background as well. It was like a super model arrived on the catwalk and they were all potogs for a glamour magazine. Julie says we need to leave as we are meeting our daughter and her boyfriend in Sedona.
The BMW i8 is safely put to bed at the Los Abrigados Resort.
Shopping and dinner at Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts
Rest for tomorrows adventures…..
Saturday March 7th
Special vehicles for special uses.
8:00 am and we take the i8 to downtown Sedona for a two hour Red Rock Jeep tour.
Even though the i8 is all wheel drive, probably best to use the Jeep off road!
Now on to driving up through picturesque Oak Creek Canyon on the way to Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon. Will be driving that stretch in sport mode.
Everywhere you go the i8 draws a crowd and you need to plan for time to talk to folks.
I had worked up a full complement of EV range by driving up Oak Creek Canyon in sport mode, carving up 15 miles of twistie’s in the most epic of driving experiences. The snow was melting so the road was a combination of wet and dry. The i8 in all wheel drive sport mode just ate it up absolutely planted …ear to ear grin.
On the 50 mile drive drive from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon, the drive was desolate and super quiet. I put it in EV mode for about 20 miles and the experience was one of soaring. The only noise was from the wind passing over the cockpit. The road was asphalt and in exceptional condition, no road noise at all.
Gliding, 20+ miles with no noise or music, only the sound of the wind.
On this drive, at one of our stops, we met a very famous automotive designer with one of his collectable cars. Loved the 20 inch rims!
The gull wing doors of the BMW i8 make beautiful picture frames.
She is admiring the curves :)
620 miles, 31mpg. Loving the i8 and appreciating the all wheel drive and 370 horses driving up Oak Creek Canyon as well as the silence of electric drive in desolate spaces.
A glider or a jet fighter, your choice.
Car is put away for the night at the El Tovar Hotel. Tomorrow we drive the rim of the Grand Canyon.
Sunday March 8th
The heated seats and preconditioning were put to great use this morning as we left the El Tovar to see the sunrise over the Grand Canyon.
Temperature was 24 degrees. Walking to the car in below freezing weather and then getting in a prewarmed car is a special treat :)
Awe inspiring morning, just wonderful cruising the south rim in the BMW i8 stopping at several spots for viewing. Breakfast at the El Tovar following the mornings outing.
The rear seats (where we are storing half our gear) are surprisingly, very easy to get to. Much easier than in the ActiveE. In the ActiveE, the seats would not stay in the folded forward position so you always had to use a hand or other body part to keep the seats forward while at the same time unloading. In the BMW i8, the doors are longer thus more access to the back, and the seats stay folded forward.
It’s been a nice surprise, the ease of use of the back seat area.
We’re hitting the road again on a 5 hour drive east to the Acoma Pueblo. The i8 is doing great and is just a wonderful road-trip car. Plenty of space with gear for two.
What a great day road tripping in the BMW i8, Julie took the wheel for most of the drive. We left the Grand Canyon at 11am and decided to take a more leisurely pace filled with historic places between the Grand Canyon and the Acoma Pueblo. What a magical and blessed 8 hours on one of the greatest roads in the world.
“Standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona, such a fine site to see, it’s a girl oh my in a BMW i, slowing down to take a look at me” Cmon Baby, take it easy”
Do you think Jackson Brown would mind the changed lyrics?
Hwy 40 through Arizona and New Mexico replaced Route 66 known as “The Mother Road.”
Historic Route 66 meets the BMW i8, a drivers paradise.
Gallup New Mexico
And so did Kodak… poor Kodak…Technology moves on for both cameras and cars.
The Painted Desert, something wonderful about the combination of nature and the BMW i8.
The Petrified Forrest and TeePee formations.
After a great day beginning before sunset on the rim of the Grand Canyon, we arrived at the Sky City Hotel and Casino in Acoma New Mexico at 8pm. We’re at 1024 miles for the trip and averaging 31mpg. There is a surprising amount of electricity being generated by braking and coasting as well as our occasional flick to the left, sport mode driving, more on that later.
The i8 is tucked away for the night.
Tomorrow, we look for a car wash and then we visit the oldest city in America, the Acoma Pueblo. After that we begin the two day trek home.
During the two day drive, I’ll have lots of time to reflect on driving notes, likes and dislikes (the seatbelts are beautiful but watch out for seatbelt burns on the neck if you are a tall guy.) This and other BMW i related thoughts.
…so far, the trip of a lifetime!
Monday March 10th
Monday’s itinerary began with a morning trip to the Acoma Pueblo, America’s oldest continually inhabited city at over 1000 years old.
After the visit and lunch it was time to start heading home, and here is where the day got really interesting.
What was supposed to be a 6-10 hour drive to somewhere around Kingman Arizona turned into a “hey honey, lets go spend the night on the Vegas strip” Next stop, Vegas please!
The complete flexibility of the BMW i8 to go anywhere at anytime, without a plan, on a whim, allowed us go to Vegas.
What an amazing light show outside the car! Inside the BMW i8 there is also an amazing light show going on. Inspired by the strip we begin playing with the cabin lights of the i8. There are three color settings, White, blue and orange, with the intensity and brightness selected by the user. This light experience was also on the BMW Mini-E and the drivers loved it. Just a beautiful and fun cabin to be driving around the Southwest.
About the trip stats to date.
1500 miles at 31.4 mpg.
Yes, a lot of cars can road trip America’s great sights getting 31+mpg…that alone does not distinguish the BMW i8 over other cars.
Yes, a rare few cars can go 0-60 in 3.6 seconds…that alone does not set the i8 apart
Yes, a few cars can drive electric only for shorter daily commutes to work and back, as well as for around town and out for dinner…that alone does not set the i8 apart.
Yes, some cars are comfortable road touring cars refined in luxury, cradling their owners with an incredibly vibration and road noise free cabin at 85 mph… that does not set the i8 apart.
Yes, some cars are just so beautiful, they can draw from the observer and the driver alike, an emotional response of lust and desire… that does not set the i8 apart.
Yes, some cars can drive like a beast from hell, hurling their occupants around the cabin, to the back of their seats with great force, in full throated roar with a voice that seams to challenge the asphalt in a “I’m gonna kick your butt” mentality, and do so lap after lap at the track…that does not set the i8 apart.
Yes, some cars are made out of carbon fiber and feature gull wing doors… that does not set the i8 apart.
Yes, some cars are both a machine to get from point A to point B, as well as a work of industrial artistry…that alone does not set the i8 apart.
Yes, some cars are all wheel drive, combining the horsepower and torque of a gasoline engine and electric motor…that alone does not set the i8 apart.
What sets the BMW i8 apart….?
What sets the BMW i8 apart, what makes it in this owners opinion, one of the greatest values in the automotive world, is that is does all of the above in an amazing combination of qualities heretofore unseen.
Sometimes Bocelli’s on the Harmon Kardon, soothing when driving around the spiritual vortexes of Sedona in electric mode. Sometimes it’s Pink, swearing at you though the speakers as you flick the lever into beast mode and attack the twisty’s.
Never have I seen a car with such a dynamic range of personalities as the BMW i8. It has been described by many journalist as having twin personalities; being able to drive in stealth mode as well as being driven as a supercar.
I say it has dynamic wide ranging personalities and capabilities.
Truly an amazing car and worthy of it’s premium price.
As a two EV owner the past five years with no gasoline cars in the family, I guess you could say this trip is a little over the top with it’s gasoline use. Perhaps overcompensating for 5 years of range limitations!
It is, but it also is a reminder that driving and exploring this great country of ours, connecting with people from all walks of life is very enjoyable and a part of the driving experience. We’re getting close to being able to do that in an all electric fashion and I look forward to being able to do so in a package like the i8 in the future.
We are witnessing the early stages of most amazing transition in the history of transportation.
Julie and I are blessed, have worked very hard, and made the choices required to to be able to have BMW i3’s as our daily drivers racking up over 20,000 miles a year with electricity provided by sunshine.
It is an indulgence and special treat to also own the BMW i8 for special trips such as this.
We realize our good fortune and we share it with our community robustly.
There is room in life for the indulgences, emotions and passions that when in balance with other life values, makes life so worth living.
The last 5 hour drive from Vegas to home begins in one hour.
Tuesday March 10th
There are many unexpected and unscripted moments on a trip like ours. Some of us are trip planners and plan every detail and every hour, some of us are adventurers and pioneers enjoying the spontaneous that emerges when in the moment wherever that might take you.
I ride with the latter :)
Our trip today was supposed to be anticlimactic, a mundane 5 hour jaunt to home from Las Vegas to Carlsbad.
What it turned out to be in reality was the perfect “frame” for the meaning of the trip. I’ll try to explain.
Julie and I stopped half way at Calico ghost-town. This abandon ghost-town brought into sharp focus how disruptive change can be. In Calico, a rare and valuable commodity, silver, was no longer profitable to mine and the town folded up.
This ghost-town, along with the Kodak billboard earlier in the post, brings truth to the fact that our world is forever in a state of change advancing ever forward. Old technology and commodities that were once the pinnacle of the world can crumble in the face of disruptive change.
BMW and other automakers are increasingly understanding that the world of transportation is changing.
What was one day a valuable commodity, silver or oil, could on some future day, be a relic and unprofitable to produce or extract.
Electric mobility is here. It is already present in great degree in our cities and dense population centers. In the near future, it will also be prevalent in all parts of this country.
When that day comes and come it will, new ghost-towns will emerge and stalwart companies similar to kodak but in the automotive space, will cease to exist.
In this near future, it’s not all bleak for future ghost-towns similar to Calico.
Adaptation and flexibility for cities is key. In today’s Calico, they have turned their past into a valuable tourist attraction and their vision for their present, towards solar energy.
It’s as if the ghost-town expended of its resource and dead, has reemerged with a new resource and a new energy from the sun.
Calico proves, you can un-ghost a city.
What’s the future for you and for the city you live in…
Ghost-town or adaptation towards the future?
Four States in four days, California, New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada. 1900 miles on the open road in the BMW i8 discovering the Great American Southwest, connecting with the places and people in this great corner of our country.
In large part, our trip was on what is a potion of Historic Route 66 known as Interstate 40 today.
Sedona, Grand Canyon, Meteor Crater, Flagstaff, (we did not forget) Winona, Petrified Forest, Painted Desert, Winslow Arizona, Gallup New Mexico, Acoma Pueblo, Las Vegas, Kingman, Barstow, Calico and San Bernardino…
Charles Kuralt of CBS fame, once said,
“Thanks to the great Interstate transportation system it is now possible to drive from one end of the country to the other, without seeing a thing” Our goal was to get off the path of “Generica” and onto the path of “Authentic” communities, their history and people.
One day, and it’s a bucket list dream, but I would love to be able to take a couple of months with Julie and drive the whole length to Chicago exploring all the treasures and towns along the way.
America is a great country with great people, and it’s Mother Road is Historic Route 66.
The BMW i8 was a dream to drive, a beautiful Grand Touring sports car. I could add several more paragraphs of platitudes for the i8, but suffice it to say, along with the previous comments of this post as prelude…
We had a trip of a lifetime in a truly great car. The i8 is safely back in it’s garage in Carlsbad.
The future of the automobile as we transition to electric, is something to look forward to.
Que up Nat King Cole, America is beautiful and we have a very bright future ahead.
Thanks for reading and riding shotgun on this epic adventure.