Following the Lewis and Clark Trail
Days 8, 9, and 10

From: (Michael Sands)
Date: Wed, 18 Sep 1996 07:54:57 -0500
Subject: [NSX] day eight and nine in an NSX

Well, I am in Missoula. Have been for two days. And I apologize, yet one more time, if I do not make any sense. I write these diary entries in the evening, and I am usually tired. Tonight is no exception.

I forgot to mention the Pioneer Car Museum in Murdo, South Dakota. You must stop here and see it. There are over 250 cars, none restored but all running and in great condition. They have muscle cars, old cars, and a bunch of stuff for the rest of the family. The highlights were a Chevy V8 from 1923(!), a Trabant (I have never seen one), and a bunch of old American cars. There was one sports car, a Sunbeam Alpine! I guess I will have to donate my NSX when I am done with it. Of course, Jay Leno and other notable famous people interested in cars have visited. It is in the middle of nowhere!

I got snowed on today! And I got to drive fast. And I made no headway! The trip from Billings to Missoula was wonderful, with a light show put on by nature. The cloud formations in the sunrise were spectular. The driving was great as the roads are wide, smooth, and twisty. And there continues to be only a prudent speed limit. I saw only one highway patrol man in over 200 miles. And he did not have radar on.

NSX at high altitude

I got hail and sleet coming across the central part of Montana. I could see the sleet combining and doing a nice dimple job on the aluminium hood. I keep reminding myself these cars are meant to be enjoyed. Drive it!

Today I made a 400 mile loop. I started in Missoula, drove South on 93, split off on 43 because of constuction, went further South on 278, and went farther South to Dillon, and finally returned home on 15 and 90. The important part was doing 100+ mph for almost 40 minutes! The road rises and goes through a couple of mountain passes. The snow level is low, around 6000 feet, and I could see fluries as I turned on to 43. The road goes through the pass and then is straight until it reaches the other pass. There was no traffic and I have the road to myself. Realize, the side roads have the same speed limit as the Interstate! This is getting to be really fun!

Speaking of speed, I continue to research what the speed limit is here in Montana. And I quote:

Whoa, Dude, there is a speed limit. It is called the basic rule and it's the law in these parts.

It means driving in a "reasonable and prudent" manner, based on weather, roads, vehicles, and traffic conditions. You be the judge. If you don't take responsibility, the Hightway Patrol will. Fines ranging from $75 to $500 will appear on your record.

(errors probably mine...)

And there are funny stories about the Mercedes bring in 40 cars to drive quickly (also seen in C&D), Pierce Brosnin (SP?) getting a $350 fine, also John Travolta and others. There seem to be many celebs in this area and they like to drive quickly.

I tried driving at 80 mph for an hour. I found 80% driving slower, around 75 mph. The rest were driving around 90-95mph. I was passed by two that were doing 100+. I think you should be careful and safe driving here. It is the speed differential that kills. Emergency response teams are trained to not exceed a 15 mph differential. I try to do the same when I drive. So most of my really high speed stuff is done when there is no traffic.

And finally, a comment to Honda. Cattle guards confuse the Traction Control System! Honda should put a couple of these in their proving grounds. For those of you in the East, cattle guards are metal girders, like 4x4s across the road, with gaps. The fence comes right up to this grid. The cows are intimidated and afraid to get their hooves caught. The TCS finds the metal grids smooth, and when taken at speed and with any cornering force, the slipping engages the system. You can tell how aggressive I drive as the ABS pumps up every morning when I start off.

Tomorrow I complete the Lewis and Clark trail to my home town, Pullman, Washington. And then, depending on where the wind blows....

From: (Michael Sands)
Date: Fri, 20 Sep 1996 05:24:18 -0500
Subject: [NSX] day ten in an NSX

I just got comfortable in my motel room and was going to write this days events, when I noticed I have Speedvision! (I get it on 306, DSS, at home. ) The British Touring Car Championships are on! If you do not have Speedvision, you must go out and buy either the 1994 or 1995 videos of the BTCC. It is racing like it should be, close, bumping, like NASCAR, but high tech. And Honda is involved.

Lotus Elise

This is a picture of my Elise, after I finally got one!

Now let me digress. There is one car I want more than the NSX. It is the new Lotus Elise, with the new Lotus V8 engine minus two cylinders and the turbos, and a sequential gear box. I will trade my NSX and my Seven for this new mid-engined rocket. The BTCC cars, regular Honda Accords, BMW 300 series, Vaxhauls and Renaults have high technology chassis, engines and gear boxes. They can eat a stock NSX alive. I know, this is flame bait and I will respond upon my return.

Sorry, back to the NSX. Today was another great day! You all should be here! Today I was up at 6:00 am to drive a windy two lane road. I was told it is impossible to pass on it and I decided to get started before others. I did not have to worry.

NSX in mountains

Imagine 44 miles of smooth, wide, winding and straight highway in Montana, going up.. Then connect it with 77 miles of winding, not so wide, but smooth road in Idaho, going down. Heaven! I followed 12 from Missoula to Lewiston, down the Lochia River valley. This is heavily wooded mountain pass that follows the river as it winds down. It was rainy with clouds sitting in the pockets, a bit cold. And I only met two trucks on the road for the entire trip. I had a blast, going up and down through the gears, cornering hard, and accelerating!

NSX by the creek side

Later, I noticed a funny sound coming from the right rear. My car has 48,000 miles on it now and I have not replaced the brake pads. I thought it was about time and I should have checked before leaving. Sure enough the symptoms sounded like the squealer was rubbing on the disc. I got into Lewiston and decided to see if I could get replacement shoes in a little town.

I approached Midas and they were so excited to see an NSX! A regular worker approached me and asked if he could help. From our conversation, it was obvious he knew about the car, but had never worked on one. He looked all over for a set of rear pads. They have the fronts! And they found rears at a sister store in Spokane, Washington. Fronts are $89, including surfacing the discs, the rears are $107. They could have had the pads there by 1:00 if I arrived before 10:00, shipped by bus!

So I arranged to get the pads installed in Spokane tomorrow, and headed out to Pullman, Washington, my home town. This is the home of Washington State University. I thought I would cruise the campus and relive old memories. Can you imagine the embrassment when the squealer decided to be on the whole time. The squealer makes this grinding, metal-on-metal sound. Every where I went, there was this loud grrrrr sound. Yes, I got a lot of looks, but not the appreciative kind! I stopped to get some cheese (this is the cow college of the state) and headed for Spokane.

This is amazing, using only one set of pads. The fronts still have almost 6mm and the rears wore out first. I am easy on the brakes on the track, but I have used them and used them hard at times. And they are organic, not metallic. So now I have replaced the battery, the air cleaner and the rear pads, and the car is six years old with 48,000 miles. Time to sell.

I am headed for another great sports car highway, Idaho 200 out of Sandpoint. I spent summers on Lake Pend Orielle in Northern, Idaho and have fond memories of this road. Yes I am off the beaten track of the Lewis and Clark expedition, but I will return to it on the way back to California.

at end of Columbia River

(The pace car just came out, it is a Miata!)