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Question Driving 944 from Cali to Washington DC - Advice please!

After 33 years of waiting Im finally in a position to buy my first 944. After searching for countless hours and talking with many folks on this forum and others, Im hopeful Ive found a great car that will provide many years of enjoyment, and that the previous owner can feel good about passing on.
As luck would have it, this car is on the completely opposite side of the country. The car is in the Bay area of California, and the destination will be the Washington DC metro area - almost 3000 miles away. So whats one to do when faced with this issue? Plan a road trip to bring the car back east of course! One of my lifelong friends and I will be flying out making the trip back together. Well be sure and post pictures along the way!
Having never undertaken a road trip of this magnitude, Id like to gather some advice and recommendations from the folks on the forum. A few areas that come to mind include:

1) Does the route make sense?
Dates: March 11th - 15th (estimated)
Well be heading down from the Bay area south to catch I-40 east. This will take us through Bakersfield, Flagstaff, Albuquerque, Amarillo, Oklahoma City, Little Rock, Memphis and Nashville. After that well catch 81 North which will take us up through Blacksburg, Roanoke and up to the DC Metro area.

2) Lodging / Dining Recommendations
Any hotels / motels / AirBNB / Couch Surfing spots on that route that we should look at staying at?
Also looking for unique / great restaurants to try on the route.

3) Shop Recommendations / The Car
Id be very interested in shop recommendations along the route. While crossing my fingers and preparing as best we can for no major issues, I think having a good list would be very helpful in case we need some assistance.

The car is a 1991 944 S2, with close to 200k miles and a good amount of recent maintenance:

-rebuilt top end and front end of engine 16 valve cylinder head with valve job, resurface, new seals
-fresh top end gasket set wide fire ring head gasket, new cam chain tensioner pads and chain. Sprockets on cams timed with dial indicator
-new water pump, belts and rollers. New spark plug wires and plugs, new filters and fresh oil change
-new K&N air filter and oem coolant expansion tank
-torque tube / clutch replacement in 2009

4) What to bring
Thanks to everyone who has made many useful suggestions so far. Heres the list that we have come up with and are open to additional thoughts:

-Water (to drink and for the car)
-Food and Snacks
-Extra coolant
-Duct Tape
-Spare hose
-Spare DME Relay
-Spare DME (Thanks John Graves!!)
-Fix-A-Flat
-Porsche Toolkit / Extra tools
-Flashlight
-CB Radio / Ham radio
-GPS (iPad + 3 iPhones)
-Cell phones (3 iPhones, ATT & T-Mobile)

5) Attractions? Meet-ups?
While well plan on making the trip back in 4-5 days, were looking forward to stoping off and doing some sightseeing along the way. Also, if anyone is local to the route and wants to meet up along the way, please let us know and wed love to try and coordinate.

Thanks everyone and looking forward to the trip!
Old 02-19-2017, 04:49 PM
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welcome to the 944 world. I have been on Pelican for a while and gone thru my share of 911's. Pelican is mostly a air cooled forum. The 944 are becomming a bit more popular. I have 6 different kins of 944 including a 91 S2. These are great cars. Great for road trip. what I would do is move over to rennlist Forum and star a road trip thread. if you have a tablet or laptop you can post and everyone will enjoy the trip . Rennlist is great. You can pay the $20 or not to become a member. one thing that I always have is a bypass wire for the DME that is a pig tail with 3 male spade connectors. That way you know if power is availible at reley it will jump the fuel pump and ignition part of DME.
924/931/944/951/968 Forum - Rennlist Discussion Forums
944 & 944S2 Forum - Rennlist Discussion Forums
Old 02-20-2017, 10:14 AM
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Old 02-20-2017, 10:16 AM
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Old 02-20-2017, 10:19 AM
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I drove my 944 Turbo from Buffalo to Central Illinois, and then a few years later from Central Illinois to Austin, TX. I had zero issues on either trip.

I'd add a multimeter to your list. Many of the issues I had with my 944s were electrical (mostly due to age or corrosion).
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Old 02-20-2017, 10:26 AM
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I'd definitely recommend you reroute that trip
No one here would think you'd flipped
If you go to LA via Omaha.

Sorry, I couldn't resist. I these enlightened times I think your trip sounds great and your route makes sense. A can of fix a flat, a roll of duct tape, a credit card and cell phone will get you across the country just fine. The toolkit you've assembled above should get you to the moon and back. Drive reasonably in the desert, don't overheat it and you should be fine.

One of my favorite dinners of all time was in the restaurant at the top of the Albuquerque tram. https://www.visitalbuquerque.org/abq365/blog/post/2016/2/Taking-a-Ride-on-the-Sandia-Peak-Aerial-Tramway-in-Albuquerque/23/ It was a special night with a rainstorm just ending and the clouds whipping up and down the mountains (as you look DOWN on the clouds from the mountain peak), but the views are tremendous regardless of the weather. If you can make it there areound sunset you won't be disappointed. I highly recommend the tramway even if you don't have time to eat or if it's not sundown.
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Last edited by MRM; 02-20-2017 at 10:45 AM..
Old 02-20-2017, 10:37 AM
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Watch , but don't obsess over, the engine temp.

When you get the car, make sure to check the fuel supply/ return lines that go from the passenger side shock tower over the exhaust manifold to the fuel rail on top of the engine. Easy to check. make sure they aren't damp with fuel.

Get out on the open road.
Rain-x on windshield.
Fire extinguisher.
Don't fidget too much with stuff, or overthink things. You will drive yourself crazy.
Until you get it home, let ignorance and bliss be your co-pilot. Enjoy the trip! If you break down, contact rennlist or here for further instructions.
If you start trying to top off stuff-
Brake fluid goes in the power steering - not power steering fluid.

that's all I got!
Old 02-20-2017, 10:40 AM
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....
 
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I did a 2,200 mile road trip before new years.
Bring extra fluids, normal tool kit and a good flash light. Never know when you're going to be changing out a steering box in the middle of the night. Haha

I think the biggest issue for long trip on a 944 would be belts, rollers, and cooling system. Listen to the idle for any bad rollers, or a whine. Bring an extra alternator belt.

You should set realistic driving goals (miles /hours) per day. With adequate stops to rest.
Drive safe.
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Old 02-20-2017, 11:06 AM
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I wish I was doing the same thing!

Five days will be pushing it since you may not get an early start on the 11th. Hard to get six days away, but try.

Unless you know California well, I'd head south on 101 from the Bay Area and skip I5 for as long as possible. It will take longer but there are portions of this trip that will enable you folks to make up time. There are fairly cheap hotles this time of year in Pismo Beach with great views.

Cut over to Bakersfield just north of Santa Maria on Rte 166.

I40 will be a bit tiresome. If you want some blue highways, take Rte 287 just east of Amarillo. In Memphis, TX, take Rte 256 east to Rte 62 east to Cache, OK. Drive through the Wichita Mountains to Medicine Park then up I44 to Norman. I do this every time since my favorite history book is Empire of the Summer Moon. A lot of the book centers around the areas you will drive through.

Norman is a great college town and worth it is driving by the stadium, etc.

The rest of the trip is pretty standard and the best way home for you guys given your timeline.

The quick side routes I mentioned are well traveled. I could suggest more but the roads get lonely.

My wife swears by Hampton Inn Historic Hotels. Not sure how many are out west.

The Peabody in Memphis is a good stop. They don't do the duck parade anymore, unfortunately.

The Hermitage in Nashville is another old southern hotel. I have only stayed there a looong time ago.

You will be getting close to home but if staying in Lexington, Va is doable, do it. Great place with an Historic Hampton I have stayed at many time.

Enjoy!
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Last edited by Seahawk; 02-20-2017 at 12:33 PM..
Old 02-20-2017, 12:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seahawk View Post
Norman is a great college town and worth it is driving by the stadium, etc.
Except for Stillwater!

- Dad's an "Okie-Aggie"

For the OP, that is a good route. We had a lot of family in the Oklahoma/North Texas panhandle. From upstate NY, the "winter" route was down I-81 to I-40. It was also my route to College in Texas, except I'd cut down I-30 to US59 (now being turned into I-69).
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Old 02-20-2017, 12:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChesapeakeTeche View Post
After 33 years of waiting Im finally in a position to buy my first 944. After searching for countless hours and talking with many folks on this forum and others, Im hopeful Ive found a great car that will provide many years of enjoyment, and that the previous owner can feel good about passing on.
As luck would have it, this car is on the completely opposite side of the country. The car is in the Bay area of California, and the destination will be the Washington DC metro area - almost 3000 miles away. So whats one to do when faced with this issue? Plan a road trip to bring the car back east of course! One of my lifelong friends and I will be flying out making the trip back together. Well be sure and post pictures along the way!
Having never undertaken a road trip of this magnitude, Id like to gather some advice and recommendations from the folks on the forum. A few areas that come to mind include:

1) Does the route make sense?
Dates: March 11th - 15th (estimated)
Well be heading down from the Bay area south to catch I-40 east. This will take us through Bakersfield, Flagstaff, Albuquerque, Amarillo, Oklahoma City, Little Rock, Memphis and Nashville. After that well catch 81 North which will take us up through Blacksburg, Roanoke and up to the DC Metro area.

2) Lodging / Dining Recommendations
Any hotels / motels / AirBNB / Couch Surfing spots on that route that we should look at staying at?
Also looking for unique / great restaurants to try on the route.

3) Shop Recommendations / The Car
Id be very interested in shop recommendations along the route. While crossing my fingers and preparing as best we can for no major issues, I think having a good list would be very helpful in case we need some assistance.

The car is a 1991 944 S2, with close to 200k miles and a good amount of recent maintenance:

-rebuilt top end and front end of engine 16 valve cylinder head with valve job, resurface, new seals
-fresh top end gasket set wide fire ring head gasket, new cam chain tensioner pads and chain. Sprockets on cams timed with dial indicator
-new water pump, belts and rollers. New spark plug wires and plugs, new filters and fresh oil change
-new K&N air filter and oem coolant expansion tank
-torque tube / clutch replacement in 2009

4) What to bring
Thanks to everyone who has made many useful suggestions so far. Heres the list that we have come up with and are open to additional thoughts:

-Water (to drink and for the car)
-Food and Snacks
-Extra coolant
-Duct Tape
-Spare hose
-Spare DME Relay
-Spare DME (Thanks John Graves!!)
-Fix-A-Flat
-Porsche Toolkit / Extra tools
-Flashlight
-CB Radio / Ham radio
-GPS (iPad + 3 iPhones)
-Cell phones (3 iPhones, ATT & T-Mobile)

5) Attractions? Meet-ups?
While well plan on making the trip back in 4-5 days, were looking forward to stoping off and doing some sightseeing along the way. Also, if anyone is local to the route and wants to meet up along the way, please let us know and wed love to try and coordinate.

Thanks everyone and looking forward to the trip!
Good luck on your trip,have you checked the age of the tires,no place to have a blow out on the inter state.All the best,Bill
Old 02-20-2017, 01:42 PM
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Old 02-20-2017, 03:53 PM
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One thing you might want to do is post this thread in the 944 forum, and see if you can get the contact info of 944 owners along your route, just in case. There may be a whole box of potentially unobtainable parts sitting in someone's garage, and you could be broke down 10 miles away and never know it.

I bought my 944s2 last year in NJ, went over and over all the scenarios of flying out and driving it back, and finally ended up having it shipped. Wound up costing about as much as the flight out and gas + tolls back, but I did miss the experience.

Good luck.
Old 02-20-2017, 04:08 PM
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Old 02-20-2017, 05:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mocha07 View Post
Good luck on your trip,have you checked the age of the tires,no place to have a blow out on the inter state.All the best,Bill
Age and condition of the tires are a definite concern. Make sure you have a spare, jack and all the tools. Also, check to see if there are wheel locks, double check for the key and that it works for your locks.

Bring bail money...just in case.
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Old 02-20-2017, 10:00 PM
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The trip over to Bakersfield area is a part of Californian that is NOT what most people think of when they hear the word California. From Bakersfield over to Needles is a strange part of the planet. Be glad you are not going through in the middle of summer like I did when it was 116 degrees.

Once you get out of that part of California the scenery gets to looking cool. Like the background in the animated Cars movies.



Flagstaff, AZ is a cool town. If you get to Oklahoma City and have time I would love to meet you with you for lunch or dinner at a neat Route66 restaurant. From Amarillo on east to the end of I-40 is heavy truck traffic not really much great scenery. I have been from the beginning of I-40 near Bakersfield to the last few miles of it going east more than once.

When I make road trips now I use an app on my phone, Booking.com to book a hotel room. They have an easy way to do it from your cell phone, you can see the motel on a map to be sure it is close to the highway you plan to be on and not right next to the RR tracks or airport. Most places let you cancel a reservation with no fee if you do it before check in time. When you check in you just show ID and they hand you a receipt and the room key. Super fast and easy.

Just send me a PM if you are interested in eating lunch or dinner at a neat Rt66 place. Most important, relax, enjoy the trip and if you feel yourself getting sleepy switch drivers or pull over and get a nap. Don't drive sleepy it is as deadly as drunk driving.
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Old 02-21-2017, 05:37 AM
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Congrats on the 944. There's some cool stuff along I40 (pretty much next to the old Route 66). I liked staying at the old 1940s motels in N Arizona/N New Mexico. Not comfortable and not clean but it's a really cool experience. The painted desert and petrified forest are along the interstate near Winslow, AZ (yes, that Winslow). Amarillo has the world famous Big Texan Steakhouse and the Cadillac ranch / Cadillac Stonehenge is a worthwhile stop too.


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Old 02-21-2017, 07:12 AM
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Wow! I'm in awe at all of the great advice and responses so far. Thanks very much for the items to double check I'll also do a cross post on the 944 forums to see if anyone is near our route. Regarding getting off I-40 for a bit, sounds like a good plan.
How is cell phone service on most of I-40 out west? From the coverage maps it looks decent, but I'll also bring along the radios just in case.
Old 02-21-2017, 08:09 AM
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in cali, avoid Bakersfield, use CA 221 through Arvin, then 58 to Barstow. You can make Tehachapi in a day. Tucumcari has some really nice mid-century modern motels. Once you make OK, just foot down and go
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Old 02-21-2017, 08:09 AM
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i know very little about the 944. is that year subjected to the failed coolant/oil "thing" that gets the two to mix?

EVERYTIME i drive the length of CA, i use I-5. it saves a lot of time. and that is a good thing.

the BAY AREA is currently crushed with the recent rain event. biblical proportions. i highly recommend you research what highways are closed. you mention bay area..but not exactly where. but major traffic arteries are currently closed.
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Old 02-21-2017, 08:31 AM
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