TTAC Desert-to-Burning-Desert Eco-Challenge, Days 5, 6, 7: Leaving Las Vegas
When I called Las Vegas home, massive towers were going up, traffic was bad (especially on the Blue Diamond Highway), tourists were annoying and gas was cheap. Now, leaving Las Vegas, massive towers are going up, traffic is bad, tourists are annoying and gas is—once again—cheap. But it’s always worth saving a few gallons. After all, that $1 could win you the $1m payout at the Luxor’s giant slot machine. It’s thinking that makes both Sin City and the VW Jetta diesel so great.
I’ve combined the last few days into a single blog post; I didn’t drive much. Saying that, my personal CO2 levels soared during my stay, as I ascended Frenchman (Sunrise) Mountain. Looking at, and then leaving, the smog choked valley, I headed for Colorado’s ski resorts, resuming TTAC’s one-man, one-car Eco-Challenge. And quite the challenge it is: mountains are to hypermiling what smog pumps are to 70s muscle cars.
Driving north on I-15 towards St. George, Utah, I surmounted and plumbed several familiar passes and canyons. To preserve precious dino juice, I couldn’t deploy my usual technique: mash the throttle to maintain my speed. I had a planet to save, dammit! Well, a pocketbook to protect. And a blog to write. So I followed a simple formula: slow up, coast down.
Local conditions prevented successful implementation. Driving the little Jetta at 60mph in heavy traffic—all of whom were busy ignoring a 75mph speed limit—proved downright dangerous. My law-abiding ways forced all manner of vehicles, from Toyota Corollas to full tractor trailers, to swerve, merge or otherwise move around me. Common sense and TDI torques (just kidding) prevailed.
Upon reaching St. George, I finally replaced the tire I punctured in Kingman, Arizona. I’m not brave (or foolhardy) enough to tempt crossing the San Rafael Swell without a spare; driving 120 miles without a plan B sounds like a fool’s errand to me.
The stretch from I-15 to the I-70 junction was pretty, and pretty mundane. The blast east on the I-70 towards Grand Junction (my stop for the night) was equally uneventful, if more aesthetically intimidating. Bathed in the salmon-colored glow of winter’s setting sun, the snow-topped Rockies are awesome—in the original “standing mute before God” sense of the word (as opposed to “Wow! That’s an awesome sweater!).
My fuel mileage was not quite as spectacular. The mountain driving, higher speeds and a tank of totally bogus diesel torpedoed my mileage figures for this leg of the trip. In fact, I “achieved” the worst mileage to date.
513 miles for this leg of the trip
13.1 gallons of diesel consumed
2 Starbucks Soy Mocha Lattes drunk
1 new Bridgestone Weatherforce tire
1 new pet peeve (matching my speed whilst 5 feet behind me, at night, in a SUV, causing lights to shine in my eyes no matter how fast or slow I go. I hate you Mr. Toyota Sequoia Driver, yes, you, in the blue one on I-70!)
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@ Chuck, My Jetta TDI is an 06 1.8L model with only 100bhp, not the newer one with 130bhp. It uses the old Pump Duse instead of the Direct Inject the newer one has.