Mustang Challenge | An Overnight Flight to LA


Can a 2016 S550 Mustang GT compete with Boeing’s and Airbus’ non-stop long haul flight operations? We’re about to find out. Austin -> Log Angeles, direct.

[You’re reading part of the Mustang Challenge series, a loosely bound concept that was created to inspire others to get out and explore the country in their cars. In this Mustang Challenge, two Canadians are touring the USA for the first time, traveling for 26 days through 13 different US cities while traversing over 8,000 miles behind the wheel of a 2016 Mustang GT. This is one post in a series of many. To read the previous articles and to follow the series, jump to the bottom of this page.]

Before discussing LA itself, I want to talk about the infamous stretch of road that brought us to Los Angeles. I use the term “infamous”, as the drive included: massive rain storms, constant loss of cell reception (which became increasingly frustrating and caused many swearing outbursts on both our parts), an uncomfortable sleep and a couple surprise stowaway checks.

To preface the rest of the article I must mention that all these aforementioned occurrences happened during the drive from Austin, TX to LA, which totaled an approximate 21 hours behind the wheel (in short it was a hellishly long drive). The original plan was to stop over in Phoenix but as we were only going to stay the night (6-7 hours), we both agreed to bypass Phoenix (save some moolah) and pound out the long drive. The drive itself can be best described using words such as terrible, awful, trash, horrible, brutal and cruel – any combinations thereof is apt to describe our 21 hour of cruise-control stint.

Now what made it a such horrible drive is based off aspects such as no cellular service/data capabilities. For example, we would be jamming out to a couple of quality tunes when all of a sudden it would cut out and we would be faced with another stretch of highway solely accompanied by the constant rumble of the new MMD exhaust system. Although the MMD side pipes do sound great, they just do not compare to the euphoric feeling of a radio blasting some Madonna. (Nothing does, for that matter).

Yet the cell coverage, or lack thereof, really reached a peak when we were in desperate need of gas, and when I say desperate, I  truly mean it.  In terms of fuel economy, the ‘Stang does fairly well, averaging 22-23 mpg between 70-80 mph. Typically, we tend to look for gas station when we hit 50 miles to empty, which in theory is still a pretty long distance in which to find a service station (in Canadian units, it’s nearly 80 km). Realistically, as we found out, 50 miles is considered a stone’s throw in the middle of western Texas.

From Joker to Bingo in 30 Minutes

Soon 30 miles to empty pops up, and we still haven’t found a gas station. 15 miles rolls around, and then we drop to under 10. Still nothing. The resulting lack of service station means we were sweating mentally and physically (physically as we turned off the A/C for optimal fuel efficiency). We check our phones – no reception (like what the hell T-Mobile) now we can’t use our mapping apps. No need to worry though because we brought a standalone GPS, we bust it out and what do we get? A message reading “Cannot Connect To Satellites” even though there was not a cloud in the sky, honestly they were probably busy being used to spy on North Korea anyway.

Our only option was to pull off to the shoulder for further situational consideration. Ultimately we decided to pull off to the service road, as Connor thought he spotted something further down it. To get to the service road though, we’d have to cross a semi grassy/rocky median that screamed “flat tire!” (the thought of another tire issue did cross our minds. Could you image needing another Focus rescue in Western Texas? No thanks!). We gingerly eased the Mustang over the embankment and just as we reach the service road, cherries light up our rear view. Caught by Texas’ finest, we promptly pull over. Asked why we pulled over, we explain we have about as much fuel needed to fill up a shot glass, and had no clue as to where we were or where the next gas station was. Luckily, the state trooper explains there is a gas station just 1.5 miles down the service road of which we had just illegally pulled on to (talk about a lucky break). We thanked him profusely and peeled out, giving him a glimpse of the power we possessed. Well, the former is true. Rather, we nursed the ‘Stang over to the Chevron ahead, happy that; 1) we made it to the station; and 2) did not receive a citation for our off roading adventure.

Looking back it, the real culprit of this whole fuel fiasco would be Connor and his lead filled right foot. As we departed Austin the GPS brought us onto a state highway two lanes wide with nobody in sight in both directions thus the natural  option was too give the Mustang his own proper performance test. A couple quick and heavy shifts later we had ‘ol Ruby galloping down the tarmac, dropping the average miles per gallon to under 19. But we did cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time.(Everything comes at a price)

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Jesus Takes the Wheel

Furthermore on this road trip we have been blessed in so far with excellent weather. Yet that all changed in a 30 minute window along our drive somewhere in New Mexico. It seemed that as soon as we crossed state borders from TX to NM mother nature’s disposition took a turn for the worst. The evening drive started with a whole host of  blue-purplish lighting strikes which had us on edge, but what really pushed us over the cliff was perhaps the single greatest rain storm we have ever had the displeasure of experiencing. The rain did not even start with a drizzle – it burst down like machine gun fire. In a matter of seconds the sides of the roads were flush with water, our windshield resembled being stuck in waterfall and even with the wipers reaching supersonic speed, visibility was no more than forty feet. Connor was white knuckling the steering wheel so hard that he probably left his grip imprint, and it did not help that at the same time we were being passed by truckers just steaming ahead, oblivious to the rain. The spray caused by said truckers was so massive that we could have surfed on it. On the plus side it did wash the car free of charge, so cheers to that mother nature.

Around 4am we had been driving for a solid 14 hours. Both pretty weary from the long straight stretches of freeway and coupled with the exicitement of the rain,  we pulled off into a rest area for a quick recharge. After sleeping in it for two hours I am utterly confident in stating that the Mustang does not make a good hotel. It;s small, cramped and hot,  although the worst part was that it does not even offer a free continental breakfast. All jokes aside sleeping in there is akin to being a chicken stuck in a rotisserie oven, outside it was 85F, inside, probably closer to 95F. At the end of our two hour nap it looked like we jumped into a pool fully clothed and we had to be peeled off the seat akin to a couple of pieces of velcro. To further our frustration we still had 6 hours before we hit our destination in LA – the city better be as good as those Kardashians make it look.

Follow The Series

Be sure to check back to the blog on Tuesdays and Fridays for updates. You can also follow Connor and Alex on their adventure by checking in on Twitter and Instagram @MustangMounties

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