This month, during the run-up to Monterey Car Week, we’ll be reliving one of BimmerLife’s most epic adventures: the Celebrate BMW Tour Presented by Michelin. The Tour, made possibly by support from the BMW CCA, Shell, Sony, IHG Rewards Club, and of course Michelin, was a mammoth road trip from Boston (the founding city of the BMW CCA) to Monterey, California to celebrate BMW’s centenary alongside thousands of fellow enthusiasts. Hosting the drive were BimmerLife co-editors David Rose and Nick Parente; join us in following their video and photo updates from the road! Check out the rest of the tour’s content here. [This article was originally published on BimmerLife in August 2016]
Our second day on Route 66, though the longer of the two by mileage and hours, was the one that will last most strongly in my memory. It was a day of seemingly endless discovery, and gave us a feel for the road as it’s often known now—a melancholy reminder of the past, one painted by the faded signs and abandoned sites along the route.
As we had anticipated, this section of the route—St. Louis into Oklahoma City yesterday, and Oklahoma City to Albuquerque today—was the most introspective. It was a day to encounter the other wanderers on the road, whether traveling east to west or the inverse, or a combination of routes across the US. The car helped , of course—as usual, dozens of people came up to the car to ask about the trip and livery. We met people from California, Chicago, St. Louis, and a number of locals from all the states we visited, and one notable driver who said he was on his way back across the country. His Scion FR-S bore Hawaii plates.
Everyone had story to tell, and that’s what makes Route 66 so magical. It’s a coming together of solitary journeys, and they all meet at quiet and bizarre locations: service stations, abandoned towns, plus famous landmarks like Cadillac Ranch, where on the side of a highway families, college students, retirees, and visitors from abroad stopped to honor the famous landmark and apply another layer of spray paint to the aged tail fins. [Editor’s Note: There is currently a campaign going on to create a National Historic Trail designation for Route 66. Learn more about it here.
As we jumped back on the Interstate after Cadillac Ranch—already eight hours into the trip and four hours out from the Staybridge Suites in Albuquerque—it seemed like the bulk of the scenery was behind us. We were wrong.
I’d always entered New Mexico from the more arid northwestern area. While that is certainly beautiful, the descent into the state through the red rocks and rich vegetation of the eastern side, through spots of rain and a setting sun, was one of the most stunning locations we’d encountered in our travels, on this trip or otherwise.
We hopped back onto Route 66 one last unscheduled time, to grab a few shots as we made our finally approach into Albuquerque. The vision of the 640i convertible, a steady and refined machine that had proven itself an incredibly capable hauler, grand-tourer, and sports car over the first 2,000 miles, backlit by the setting New Mexico sun, will stay in my mind for a long time to come.
We made another late arrival into the Staybridge Suites and unpacked. The Staybridge Suites is an IHG® hotel designed around long-term stays—people who need a home away from home for several weeks (like the film crew for the upcoming Wolverine film, whom we met while unloading the car), and as we settled into our home for the night and reflect on the day, we certainly wanted nothing more than to stay and reflect on the Mother Road. It was our longest day, pushing 550 miles, but we’re excited for tomorrow—a meeting with another group of BMW enthusiasts, the Drive 4 Corners tour, and a ride through the scenery of Colorado. Time will tell how the canyons and peaks of Colorado compare to the sunset beauty of New Mexico, but we can’t wait to find out.—David Rose