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Thread: Godson - 2001 Ducati Monster 900 Dark I.E.

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    Godson - 2001 Ducati Monster 900 Dark I.E.

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    Don't touch the dial.

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    Well I guess I should go ahead and post about my latest purchase (over a year late). But first, a cover story is needed to explain the grandiosity of the whole story. We all know and remember the Big Black Bitch better known as Bertha. For those of you who donít, it was a 1991 Volvo 940 with a supercharged Mustang 5.0 in it. It was fast, it was different, and it was a stupid purchase. I had spent the better part of 40 hours re-wiring the car because the previous numskull who did the wiring in it doesnít know about the reason why grommets are used. But I digress.

    I purchased a 2002 Ducati Monster Dark in April of last year with 6,998 miles on it with a bad fuel pump. The previous owner was tired of investing money into this bike as he just put a new rear tire on it and was looking for a newer and faster bike. I bought the bike with a mere 2400 USD and brought it home. Replaced the fuel pump on it, and put around 4k miles on it before I had a deer play real-life-frogger with me in August of 2012. Bike was totaled; I walked away with a twisted ankle and nothing more. I was heart-broken after only 4k miles of enjoyment, and longed for 2 wheels again.

    Not completely understanding what riding had done to me mentally and physically. I decided it was best that I not ride for a little while for financial and educational reasons. As each week passed, I quickly was becoming restless. I began looking at other motorcycles, pricing them, and even tire kicking a few of them within a month or so of my accident. I was looking from Chicago to Denver on a daily basis. I even started browsing the Ducati.ms classified section looking for various bikes.

    I finally got fed up with the lack of a motorcycle and started progressively working towards the money to buy another bike. After a few weeks, I realized that I couldnít justify purchasing another bike, when I still had The Bitch. I quickly decided to post the car on Craigslist and a few Volvo sites around. I was asking around what I had invested in her at 6500 USD. I had ZERO interest.

    This continued for a few weeks as I was tidying up little odds and ends on the car. Then I got fed up with the weather and not having the out of riding that I once had. I dropped the price to 4500 on Bertha. I had 2 interested parties within a week. This was in November of 2012. One of the parties attempted to trade me a Durango and requested I give him 1500 in cash on top of the trade. Poor guy didnít know what he was getting into so I politely told him that offer would not be accepted under any circumstances. I also said trading him this car would do him no justice for either of us, and that I wish him the best in life.

    The second party was offering a much more usable trade, 2000 Yamaha R1. Bike had a decent amount of miles on it at 32k, but the previous owner told me the actual odometer for it had 25k. I didnít mind as it got the bitch out of my hair and netted me 2 wheels again, even though I took a loss of around 4k USD with the trade. I began riding it to see what I liked and didnít like about the bike. After the transaction, I looked at the title one day out of curiosity and noticed the title was listed at 31k miles. Just great. This bike wasnít going to be as easy to sell as I thought.

    The bike was fast, but it needed work, first thing fixed was the bike was lowered and handling was shit. I replaced the rear triangle link to raise the rear height to stock levels, and then lifted the front back to the stock levels. Bike was so much more comfortable and controllable in the corners. The rear sprocket looked like someone took a dremel to it with the lack of any discernible teeth. This didnít allow me to even roll into the throttle. I got a new counter-sprocket, rear sprocket, and 520-chain. I decided I would ride the bike around to see how I liked it after the work, and decided ultimately, it wasnít what I wanted in a bike. It was big, loud, and very fast. It had no soul or character. I wanted something that expressed who I was, not to be just another ďsport-bike hoon.Ē

    I continued to look around the Ducati forums and craigslist ads out of curiosity as the R1 just wasnít cutting it after 2 gorgeous days hovering in the mid-seventies. I stumble on a 2001 Ducati Monster 900 Dark. This bike was almost exactly like the one I had. The bike however had a lot more money invested into it, from an owner that cared for this thing. It had an aftermarket ECU installed from Ducati, Termignoni oval carbon pipes, CycleCat adjustable rearsets, Carbon rear-seat cover, carbon heat shields, Yoyodyne aftermarket clutch slave cylinder, aluminum clutch and chain cover in anodized purple, lightweight side-stand, triple clamp, clip-ons, rizoma clutch and brake reservoirs, Ohlins rear adjustable shock, STM oil fill plug, STM Vertigo clutch pressure plate, Purple anodized clutch and sprocket cover, and had just received new Michelin 2ct tires front and rear. The guy wanted 3500 for the bike; the parts alone on it could be sold for around that. He was the original owner that loved this bike. I had found my next bike. I HAD to have THIS bike.

    I messaged the seller to see if the bike was still available and just to get an idea about the seller himself. It was located in San Diego, California (1700 miles from home). The owner was very polite and answered all of my questions very quickly and precisely. He was a no BS kinda guy, but would gladly talk about anything. I thanked him and began thinking. The price was perfect; the location wasnít great for me. Hell, I still didnít have the money to spendÖyet.

    I jokingly called a buddy and told him what I was thinking, I telling him ďYeah, wouldnít it be cool to sell my bike, fly down there this week on spring break, and ride the bike back in time for my test on Monday?Ē He laughed and told me to just list my bike to see what I could get as ďit would make a hell of a story only you would attempt.Ē I talked the idea over with my dad and a few others that would be more understanding. Some said I should ship the bike, others said if I donít ride it home I have no spine. Challenge accepted.

    I listed the bike around mid-day that Saturday, and I received some 20 text messages and several phone calls to look at the bike on Monday. I stayed in contact with the guy in San Diego just to maintain contact and show him I was interested. Two parties showed up. One wanted to come back on a day that was a little warmer and talk price and take a ride. I agreed as long as it didnít sell. The other party showed up with 2500 in cash ready to ride home. I told him no, and that I needed to have at minimum 3200. He said he would call tomorrow. Next day comes up, and he calls me. He has the money, and wants to ride the bike home in weather that is 34 degrees. Fine with me.

    The transaction goes through without a single problem.

    I call the guy in San Diego and setup to pick me up from the airport around 2pm San Diego time on Wednesday. I am on the plane the next day to Denver International airport at 0630. Grab a beer and breakfast during my layover of 5 painful hours. Browsing the internet and talking to the bartender with a backpack, motorcycle jacket, and helmet all at my side. Nobody seems to pay any attention to me. Which is great, because enough of my family thinks I am nuts, I donít need the rest of the country judging my adventurous side.

    I hop on the plane, and end up riding next to a cute blonde who is interested in my plans to ride across half the US on a motorcycle for the hell of it. She was going to SD to party with old college friends. Too bad I wasnít going to spend more time there as I am sure I could have a blast with her. During the decent into SD, my memory of the landing was brought back to when I was there in í92. The Pacific Ocean and a sprawling metropolis packed on top of itself.

    The plane lands without a hitch, but I was reminded that sinus pressure and flying donít mix, EVER! I wish the best to the blonde and head out like a man on a mission and call the seller within minutes of getting off the plane. I walk outside into 65 degree weather staring at palm trees and thinking ďI could get used to this.Ē He arrives, and I toss my bag and jacket in the truck and we set off to find a notary and look over the bike. Within 5 minutes of getting on I5 north, we spot a McLaren MP4-12c, stunningly gorgeous. We stop by his office first as a few notaries work for him, talking the whole time about who I am; what I am going to school for, etc.

    The guy was super nice and friendly. We conversed about life, cars (used to participate in the Porsche Cup races), bikes, and guns. We make it to his house and the first thing he does is introduce me to his wife, and 3 daughters (ages escape me but all under 7, and extremely polite and well spoken). All of the vibes are right for the bike and the current owner. He opens his motorcycle garage, which was race decked out (the flooring stuff), has the bike in question, a Panigale, 2 BMW bikes in various levels of assembly. I asked him why he was selling this bike while looking it over ďI need to make room for my ordered S1000RR.Ē Makes sense, as the garage was setup for one car, or 4 bikes.

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    He clicks the key on and starts it up after the fuel pump primes the line. The 900cc air-cooled twin instantly snarls to life, with the distinct Ducati marble-in-a-glass-jar rattle from the dry clutch. The Termiís are very deep and full of a growl that only a Ducati seems to have. With a careful ear I listen for any odd valve noise or any lower end engine noises. Nothing stands out of the ordinary from the robust and almost archaic design of the pantah engine. He looks at the bike with an almost sad smile, makes eye contact with me and asks if I want to ride it.

    Not passing up the chance to ride with a super chill guy, I take him up on his offer and grab my helmet as he grabs the key for his Pani and his riding gear. We map out a quick route through some hand waving and pointing, and set out. He was gitty to be out riding, his body language alone showed it, not to mention he said it 2 or three times. We hop on the road and let everything get up to temp and cruise through some local areas, the bike rides stiff but is very surefooted. The dry clutch had a very fast take-up compared to the 2 wet-clutches I had ridden before. The torque and power delivery was fantastic; it was like driving a big monstrous V8 in a pony car compared to the R1. I was grinning from ear-to-ear with the first blip of the throttle. The noises; from the clatter of the clutch, to the deep grumble of the exhaust, to the growl of the intake, this was MY bike.

    We rode around for probably 20-30 minutes before heading back to handle the paperwork. He grabbed the title and showed me the miles at time of purchase, a whopping 8. This guy was seriously no BS. He grabbed a cardboard box and showed me some parts, which I said I would gladly take the mirrors now, and if he could ship the manual and other stuff I would appreciate it. He seemed happy with that thought as we put the mirrors on for more rear visibility being I would be in places I had no familiarity with.

    During our many conversations he brought up one of the guys that contemplated buying the bike. Oddly enough, he was a nurse, but was living in Los Angeles. He said the guy had come down to SD on Saturday and got cold feet with it, went home and decided he wanted it after-the-fact. Poor guy apparently couldnít find a ride for a 2-hour trip to make it down to buy the bike. The seller joked that here I was coming from Kansas City, and making the purchase some 1700 miles from home like it was no big deal. We talked a little about how the seller was worried about me showing up and not having gear, clothes, etc after dealing with the tire kicker from LA. I surprised him with my background about being an Eagle Scout and how I had my route planned, my stays organized, and fuel stops mapped. That immediately put him at ease.

    I start to put all of my gear back on as his wife and daughters come out to say goodbye to me (and seemingly more saddened the bike was leaving). You could see him reminiscing as I began to go through the start-up procedure. I nodded to him and waved to his daughters before I rolled out of the driveway to where I was going to stay for the night. The place is in Carlsbad, California just up the road by about 7 minutes. It was a cheap place to stay at only 65 USD a night, but had granite countertops, crown molding, and only had one entrance. It was called the Roadway Inn and was off of Pio Pico and Tamarack Avenue. The owner of the place put me in the far corner, which was great, as the bike was not visible from the road that way.
    I take the backpack off, plug in my phone charger and get some much needed battery life before I head out for food and needed toiletries. I call the insurance company, get everything organized and situated to get free towing and full coverage during this time. I also call the parents to let them know everything is in the right direction so far. Following the call, I wash my face off and grab some water before chasing out my route to the nearest Target and plan the route for the morning to get a tank bag and start the ride home.

    As I was roaming around target looking for all the stuff I didnít bring, I was beginning to realize it had been almost 12 hours since I last ate. I hurried up and grabbed the last bits of stuff and headed to the checkout line. While I was there, I explained that I wasnít from around here and was looking for some good cheap grub. He looks at me like I was crazy during the short story, and suggests Dennyís. I told him I didnít want something I could get back home and the deer in headlights look washes over his face. A lady in her mid-20ís quickly jumps in and suggests a place called Terri Cafť, which is conveniently located across the street. I thank them both and head out.
    I wasnít really sure what to expect from the place, but was thinking it would be along the lines of Japanese. I wasnít exactly wrong, or right as it was Pacific Island cuisine; which was exactly what I wanted, something that I couldnít get in KC with the same quality. I sat at the bar and ordered something called a banzai bowl, which was like 7 USD and MASSIVE. I seriously couldnít finish it. There was a nice older lady who was sitting next to me speaking in a language I was not familiar with to the waitress and we quickly strung up a conversation. After her order arrived, she wished me luck on my travels as I paid my tab and we both headed for separate doors.

    Knowing that I should get back to the motel I was staying at to get some much needed sleep, I hopped on the bike and headed out. First thing I do is get on the highway going the wrong direction. This was not obvious to me until after about 10 miles when I realize I am following the route I had planned earlier in the evening for when I start the trek back home. Nice move bonehead. I hop off the first ramp, and turn around in an area that I quickly realize is not the place I want to stay longer than I absolutely need to.

    I arrived back at the motel safe and sound, hop on the bed and go over the route one more time, look at the clock and think that I am only 3 minutes from the beach, and if I donít go and see it before I leave, I wonít forgive myself. Hopping back on the bike and heading out, I quickly arrive and shut the engine off. The crashing waves are beckoning me to come closer. I roll up my jeans and take my boots and socks off, and walk out on the cold sand and sit, listening to the waves pound the sand. At this exact moment is when it all hits me. The thoughts fly through my head faster than the Concorde across the Atlantic. I am 1700 miles away from home staring at the Pacific Ocean, and going to ride a motorcycle home, that I have never seen before. I really am fucking crazy. A tiny bit of panic starts to set in, what if this or that happens, can I actually do this. It all begins to compound when I think that I am going to be riding almost half of the total miles I have ever ridden in the period of 4 days. My self-confidence starts to build up, I canít bitch out now. People are rooting for me on this trip, I canít back down now with all of this prep work. My mom didnít raise a spineless coward. Waves continue to crash on the sand, my thoughts of ill-happenings are quickly quieted as I begin to smile about my crazed idea I have planned out in less than 4 days.

    I calmly put my boots back on, and flick the key on, a soft press of the starter and all I receive on the request is a weak *click* of the starter. ďWell fuck, looks like this boat is sunk before it even hit the water.Ē I call my insurance to get a Tow-Truck, as I am sure the battery is just dead. They tell me itís an hour wait, fine by me as I am just listening to the waves and feeling the cool ocean breeze while I wait.
    Circumstances aside, it was completely serene; so much in fact, I fall asleep on the side of the beach while waiting for the truck to arrive. He arrives about an hour and a half following the call, which is fine with me, I am in no hurry, nor am I going anywhere at the current time. We use a jump box and get the bike going, I thank him, and head back to the motel and crash for the night around 1am local time.

    Day 2 of the adventure starts up a little later than I had planned. I had my alarms set for 7am local time and didnít wake until 830 or so. Not the start I was hoping to have to begin my semi-insane trek through the western United States, but my body apparently needed the rest. I pack my things, brush my teeth, and check over my route and gas stops again that I had scribbled on a piece of paper. First stop is to pick up a tank bag from a local motorcycle shop, which is about 20 minutes away from where I had stayed the night before.

    I do a last minute check over the bike for fluid leaks and various other things like signals and such before throwing my leg over MY bike. Everything checks out well, I set the high idle adjuster, switch on the ignition switch, flick the ignition toggle to run, and press the start button. *click*

    ďFiguresĒ

    I walk to the front desk to ask if they have jumper cables and the lady looks at me like I just asked her for some odd sex act on the side. I kindly apologize for the bother and walk down the street to see if the gas station has any for sale. No dice.
    At this point I am trying to decide on if I call the tow truck again and piss off my insurance company for the free towing service and all, or to continue to look around. I decide that the wait for the tow truck isnít worth the need to get out of SD and that I should be able to find someone in the area that has a pair of cables and is willing to help.

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    I saunter around the area asking people for cables and nobody has them. Coming from the Midwest, thatís like saying you donít wear shoes when you go out for dinner. Starting to get a little frustrated I walk back to the Rodeway Inn and ask the owner if he has any. He quickly tells me he does, but is not liable for any damages to the bike when it is jumped. Fine by me, this isnít my first rodeo with batteries and electricity.

    After a quick hook-up, letting the car idle for a bit, then starting it, I sincerely thank him and towards a battery plus to do a voltage check and nab a battery if needed. I use my trusty phone to locate one on the way to the cycle shop where I am going to grab a tank bag, run inside and borrow a voltmeter. System was charging well and showed 14+ volts at ~5k rpm. I shut the bike of and attempt to restart and get the same old story I had the previous night on the beach and this morning. 75 USD or so later I am on my way towards the cycle shop to choose a decent tank bag to hold the heavier things that I am carrying along so I donít fatigue as quickly.

    I grabbed a Cortech Super 2.0 8-liter magnetic tank bag after talking to the parts guys at North County Yamaha, who were nice enough to let me try it out on my bike before paying for it. This is a big deal as the typical Japanese sportbike has a very flat and long tank; the Monster is super sloped and pretty short. One of them noticed I was shopping for tank bag for a Ducati while at a Yamaha dealership. His peaked interest got my nutcase story of the bike purchase and plan. The guys in the place all stopped and looked at me with jealous envy, though also a touch of judgmental thoughts at the idea of my crazy plan. I chuckled inside.

    I thank them for their time, and head towards the nearest gas station to start this crazy trek home. This is where the Midwestern guy I am gets to deal with those crazy contraptions you Californians call a poor excuse of a gas pump occurs. As I begin to fill the tank, I donít even get a half gallon in before the nozzle shuts off. I give it another attempt, and it wonít even pump. GREEAAAAT. I already hate this state and I havenít even made it 24 hours. I finagle the nozzle and the sniffer tube around enough to get some gas into the tank, but nothing near what the tank can actually hold. After 15minutes of fighting with the damned thing, I managed to get around 2 gallons or so in it, toss my helmet back on after sweating my ass off during the exchange of man vs. machine , and hope on to I15 to head north towards I10.
    A friend of mine who lives in Pheonix, along another buddy in LA suggested that I take I10 and stay the hell away from I8. I was not excited to add miles or time to my trip, but figured they knew the area better than I and take them up on their experience. Some things arenít worth learning the hard way.

    As I hopped onto I10, I was quickly greeted with mountainous hills, and curvy highway roads. The kind of roads that would make you giggle if the traffic wasnít so heavy at 10am, and the cops werenít sitting around like vultures waiting for something to give them any reasons to pull a fool over. I notice the speed limit is 65mph, but ANYTHING that is towing is limited to 55mph. Fine by me as long as they know the left lane is for passing. I am not in the mood to give a driving lesson and pass on the right as it is done all too often back in Missouri. I was shocked to find people passing on the left, moving over, and going a comfortable level above the speed limit. The police seemed very content with this practice; unless you were towing, in which case, you had better not go a single mile an hour over the posted 55 limit. The only people I saw pulled over the entire first day were vehicles towing. I was blown away with this un-explainable situation that was happening in front of my eyes, people where actually commuting with adequate driving ability and brain cell stimulation. I loved every second of it.

    Now that I was finally on the highway trekking along at a limit above the posted speed; keeping up with traffic that was not laden down with trailers, I caught myself smiling and taking in the scenery. It was great, the highway was twisty enough in the beginning to lean the bike a decent amount to keep things interesting, but not so much that a reduction in speed even needed to be thought. I could look ahead enough to see the corners approaching, but not to the point of complete boredom of a vanishing point. I thought to myself that this trip was going to be epic.
    Having planned all of my gas stops according to mileage on Google Maps, and stations nearby certain limits I had arranged to prevent running out of gas I made my first scheduled stop in a station just off I10 in an area called Thousand Palms. As I went to pay the attendant and garb a snack to toss in the tank bag, she told me I needed to pay the center island. Confused I walked outside, and there in the middle of 2 pumps was a station you put money into. Baffled at why you would pay there instead of the attendant or AT THE PUMP like any normal place does it, I placed my money into the machine and went about my fight to fuel the bike with that damned pump. This pump was much more tolerable and did not put up half the fight the one in Escondido did. After fueling I figured I should eat a snack and grab a drink of water. All the while I fueled the bike, people around me were staring at me with an incredulous look like I was bothering them by not getting away from the pump. Whatevs peeps, I donít care about your judgmental thoughts. I snapped a photo of the price of gas and a mountain in the background just to further the point of me not caring about their thoughts.

    I verify my next fuel stop in Blythe California, toss the helmet on and set out. First a short side-story is needed. The friend in Phoenix told me about my route out of San Diego and what to expect. ďThe first hour and a half you are going to feel like this was the coolest and best decision you have ever done. The roads are a blast, the view is nice, and then you realize you are in the middle of the desert.Ē He couldnít have been more correct in that explanation. After leaving Indio California, which is about the last large establishment on I10 until Phoenix, the grass disappears, the road straightens out, and the hills lose their picturesque shapes and turn into gravel piles surrounded by wind farms. Speed limit signs start getting farther and farther apart, while signs telling trucks to turn off A/C to prevent overheating appear more regularly as the occasional hill must be traversed rather than going around them.
    I was in the middle of the desert. A bike I have never seen before was nestled between my legs singing along at 4k rpms in 6th gear. I was finally making good time.
    I start counting the miles, which is never a good thing to do for ones sanity, and notice speed limit signs are non-existent. I bump up the speed from 75 mph to 80. 15 miles or so pass and still no sign. I bump the speed to 85mph. 5 more miles pass and no sign of signage. I settle on a comfortable 90mph with the engine humming along at 5k rpm, and thinking to myself that this trip was the release and experience I needed. I start thinking about how school was stressing me out, and how previous failed relationships were in the past. Everything that was going on right now, this was real; this was my life in the exact second. I felt alive.

    I keep my eyes peeled at the vanishing point looking for anything out of the ordinary like cops or helicopters that may be running radar. I see nothing. No speed limit signs, no cops, no worries in the world. I change lanes to pass another car which was cruising around 80, and notice something catching me in my mirror. I change back over to the right hand lane and keep looking ahead. The car catches me and completes a safe pass on the left side of the road. I glance over to verify nothing odd is going on to notice I was just passed by a Prius, at 90 mile-an-hour. This was a concentration breaker of a moment if you ever have one. I replay the whole situation in my head to verify I wasnít imagining things. The importance of this incident is that in Missouri, these things move slower than a cyclist adjusting the padding in their shorts after clipping in from a stoplight. This stuff doesnít happen. Itís like finding a leprechaun and him giving you a pot of gold.

    I quickly realize that I could continue to make good time, AND get better gas mileage if I bump the speed a touch and tuck in behind him. Engagement of fast travel and good efficiency begins.

    We pass vehicles safely and effectively for the better half of 30 miles at this pace, when an Explorer passes the two of us. I decide that the century mark is a touch too much for me, and maintain the 95mph. Super Prius ahead of me does the same. Perhaps 95mph was all the little engine could muster.

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    We carry this pace on until I need to stop for fuel. In which is a place that is out in the middle of nowhere. It was a truck stop of some sort and had a “Massage Parlor” sign on a door that did not look sturdy. It was REALLY questionable claim of an establishment. I grab some food and fuel, pack some snacks and water into the tank bag (which was a wise decision that I would figure out later on). I hop back on the bike and head into towards Arizona.

    Shortly after filling up with fuel and grub at the “Massage Parlor” I am in Arizona. You can see the mesas and the color of the dirt and sand go from tan to various reds and oranges. It was awesome. The road was straighter than I have ever seen, and I kept the speed around 85-90. The wind was whipping over my body, through my helmet, and through the engine. Things were going very well, and just as described by my friend in Phoenix, it just kinda appears out of nowhere. The time is around 5pm and I was in the middle of rush-hour. The temp was around 80F so it wasn’t unbearable.

    I Drive around for a little while and follow the directions I have laid out on my tank bag. I ended up pulling off the highway and stopping just up the street of the Arizona Diamondbacks stadium. Turn the phone on and start looking for a hotel. I hadn’t thought about this, but spring training was finishing up, and no hotel room with a reasonable price was available. I am talking in the range of 200-500 a night kind of places, but not nearly as nice as some cheaper rooms I have stayed in. I phone my friend who lives in the Southeastern side of Pheonix and he tells me that he is just finishing up work and will me up with me for dinner, and tells me he has a room. Fantastic.

    We grab dinner at The Tilted Kilt, and converse about how each other has been since he moved to Phoenix from KC. During the discussions of life and all, we notice a wedding reception over in the corner of the room. We chuckle about the idea, and don’t pay much attention to it. Just not very often you would go to a place like Hooters for a reception.

    I hop back on the bike and follow him to his place and the guest bedroom. I grab a shower and plan my route for Day 3. After route and gas are planned, I walk out to see what everyone is doing. We all hang out for a little bit talking about cars and weather (family and I used to Auto-X together). We stayed up until midnight or so catching up on everything.

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    I couldn't make one large post (I had 30k characters, max of 10k is allowed per post). I also couldn't upload a docx document for DL. That is up to day 3

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    Very cool so far. Nothing beats an awesome roadtrip, even if it includes getting passed by a Prius.

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