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2000 Miles in an S2000 – Montana to Texas

Preface

     This is the (partial) account of an adventure my friend Andrew and I went on recently to pick up an ’02, 36k mile, Sebring Silver S2000 that I was purchasing from the original owner in Montana. The trip took us from June 30th until July 4th, 2018, covering roughly 2000 miles in Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas. Over the course of the trip we scythed through the Rockies in multiple states, rose to 12,000 feet above sea level, probably set a record time for an S2000 crossing the state of Wyoming, were bored to tears in New Mexico, and upper Texas, but luckily made it home in one piece. Enjoy!

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 – Bailey Brewer

June 30th, 1:08pm

Finally, 2 flights and 5 hours later, Andrew and I had made it to Bozeman, Montana. We disembarked the plane and made our way through the airport to meet the owner, who we’ll call K, who had kindly agreed to give us a ride. K was a warm and friendly man in his 70’s, a Vietnam War veteran and retired Engineer. We puttered our way to his daughter’s house in his Rav4, marveling the entire time at the gorgeous Montana landscape. The beautiful, snow-capped mountains in the distance had a very demanding presence among the flowing landscape before us. Being from Texas, Andrew and I almost never get the chance to see something like that. We continued along, making small talk, mostly about how beautiful Montana was, and K’s life story. Eventually we pulled into the neighborhood where the S2000 came into view, glittering in the driveway under the sun after having been freshly washed. “There she is!” K exclaimed. He sounded excited, and yet, had a tinge of sadness in his voice. I could tell he was a little upset to see the car go.

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We pulled up to K’s daughter’s house, a nice 2 story affair on a generously sized corner lot. After exiting the Rav4, we had the pleasure of meeting K’s lovely wife, daughter, and son in law. His son in law, who we’ll call J, talked about the history and condition of the car with K and I as Andrew busied himself taking photos of their handsome German Shepherd, Patton. The car was exactly as described –  clean as a whistle underneath, the interior and exterior only having very minor cosmetic niggles. Each body panel retained the original VIN tag, excluding the hood, which had been replaced after the car was caught in some hail. After a short time, J and I took off to take a ride in the car and swing by the family’s storage unit in search of the tonneau cover. We barreled down the road, the hum of the engine in our ears, wind in our hair, and sun on our faces. The car felt tight as a drum, obviously having been driven very gently by K during his ownership. Quick and responsive steering with just the right amount of feel, tight brakes, a slick shifter, and of course, VTEC yo! Needless to say, I was hooked.

After giving up quickly on the tonneau cover, as it was in sight but behind a hundred pieces of furniture, J and I headed back to the house to complete the transaction with K. A short time later, I was the proud owner of a beautiful S2000! J had been kind enough to tell Andrew and I about a place on the far Eastern side of Yellowstone National Park, our overnight halt, called Beartooth Highway. Supposedly, it was the most beautiful stretch of road we would ever see. Having heard that before, I wasn’t quite sure what to think, but man – I had no idea yet how right he was. Andrew and I cued up the John Denver, and hit I-90 headed East towards Columbus at an excellent pace, stopping along the way in Livingston to have probably the best Taco Bell either of us had ever had.

Concluding our fine dining experience, we continued on I-90, eventually switching over to highway 78 headed towards Red Lodge. 78 itself was an excellent road, just due East of the Custer Gallatin National Forest, offering long, fast sweepers and excellent elevation changes – it seemed to be a sea of perfectly planned tarmac, of which we were riding the waves. Once the fun ran out, we rolled into Red Lodge, Montana, and what a lovely town! We stopped for a moment to fill up the car, get a cup of coffee, and stretch. To the lovely blonde girl I was exchanging looks with at the pump, if you’re reading this – howdy, ma’am. After leaving my future wife at the pump, Andrew and I rolled down Red Lodge’s vibrant main street and headed due south down 212, straight down the Beartooth. Breath taking sights were around every single bend, and over every hill on the way down as we cut our way through the valley. The real sights started as we began to climb, however. Switch back after switch back, straight after straight, I rowed through the gears heading up the hill. I’d say I slayed the rest of the road and enjoyed every single switchback to the best of my ability, but that’d be a lie. Simply put – it was entirely too beautiful for us to not stop every other corner for a long look, and a photo.

After spending the better part of 4 hours dilly-dallying on Beartooth, we made our way further down the ever winding 212, constantly criss-crossing between Montana and Wyoming. Darkness had fallen and we finally stopped, exhausted and hungry, in tiny town called Cooke City, Montana for a bite to eat. We ate at the (apparently) world famous Beartooth Café, which was very tasty, and had some excellent beer. I, like an idiot, made the mistake of eating a Bison steak and mashed potatoes, with three hours left to go before we hit our overnight halt near Jackson Lake, in Yellowstone. That’s 3 hours, 110 miles, in the pitch black, surrounded by gigantic trees and unpredictable wildlife, in a car about the size of an infant’s shoe, after eating enough red meat and potatoes to tranquilize even the largest man. At least the lights on the S2000 were actually very good, unlike my previous R32 GTR that I drove home from Toronto almost a year ago to the day before this trip – that, however, is a story for another time.

As we went to leave, noticing the gas gauge was rather low, we attempted to stop at the gas station in town before leaving, since out there, you don’t really know when the next one will present itself. “Pay Inside” the pump read. Little did we know, this would be the going trend for every single gas station between there and our hotel. Along the way we didn’t run into much trouble, although the constant anxiety of having a deer, or other large animal, come through the windshield and kill us at any moment was rather unsettling. That anxiety was well founded, we discovered, as we came around one medium bend doing around 45-50 miles an hour, only to come face to face with a massive bison that must have weighed 2,000 pounds. I laid into the brakes and dove to the left, missing him by a few feet. I suppose it was karma for me eating a piece of one of his brothers about an hour earlier, but all I can say is, thank God there was no oncoming traffic at that time. What a waste of an S2000 that would have been! We were much more careful after this, not that we hadn’t been, to watch for wildlife. Not ten minutes later either, we were going around a left hand sweeper only to see off to the left, stood majestically atop a butte showered in moonlight, a beautiful wolf. I wasn’t sure at the time that the forest could’ve been any more terrifyingly poetic.

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Town after town, station after station, there was our least favorite instruction, “Pay Inside.” Nearing our destination, the gas gauge made it down to two bars, further raising the anxiety in the cabin – between exhaustion, the threat of wildlife, and the possibility of having to sleep in the car on the side of the road, in the middle of BFE, we were more than ready to be off the road. Much to our relief, we finally rolled into the grounds of the lodge we were staying at overnight. A quick glance at my watch told me it was 1:30am – we had left Bozeman at around 3pm. The trip, had we come directly from Bozeman to our hotel, would’ve taken us about three and a half hours. But I’ll tell you this – the detour was worth every second, and then some. I don’t care about the awful sunburn, I don’t care about the time, I don’t care about the extra money. It was worth every second and every cent, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Montana – you sparked my imagination, stirred my curiosity, and captivated my mind. To say I can’t wait to come back is the truest form of an understatement.

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July 1st, 2018

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The next morning, Andrew and I awoke to a very different sight than what we arrived to. Out the window of our cabin the darkness had gone, and instead what greeted us was sunshine, with a flowing, green landscape and thick, lush trees as far as the eye could see. We took a moment to savor the view before heading to the main building for breakfast and gas before hitting the road. Funnily enough, while paying for my gas inside, I (naturally) was making small talk with the nice girl at the register about how beautiful the area was, and how I wasn’t used to it at all. She laughed and said, “Yeah, well I’m from Atlanta, about all I’m used to is drive by shootings.”

Small talk and breakfast sorted, Andrew and I piled in the S2000 and hit the road due South via 191, then on to 26. For a while the road was simple – nicely paved with sweeping curves, between the never ending fir trees. Eventually though, there was a break in the trees, and we came upon Jackson Lake. The road was on the East side of the lake, giving you a perfect view across to the West. The rocky shores gave way to perfect, crystal clear water, across which were the massive snow-capped mountains that flowed to the South-West.

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Once we were finished gazing upon the awesome mountain range before us, we hopped back in the car and were headed due South on 26 yet again, getting further and further into Wyoming. For the remainder of the day, we would be rocketing across Wyoming at an incredible pace, bound for Fort Collins. Our incredible pace was inspired by the fact that central Wyoming is so incredibly boring. Also, so damn windy! I could’ve sworn I was in a truck in those 60 mile an hour gusts, not a low slung, aerodynamic sports car. However, the arrow straight, boring roads ran out eventually and we made it into Fort Collins. It’s a beautiful college town, home to Colorado State University, with a vibrant night life in its Old Town area, which Andrew and I experienced first-hand. Also, if you’re reading this, hello Sammy from 415! Hope you’re well. After a long day of tearing across Wyoming, Andrew and I were both exhausted, so we turned in for the night, getting plenty of sleep in preparation for the following day in the Rockies.

 

July 2nd, 2018

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Andrew and I woke up refreshed, and went on to snag some breakfast at a great place called Snooze, an A.M. Eatery. After a delicious gluten free (I’m intolerant) cinnamon roll pancake, we headed over to a car wash and cleaned off all the bugs and debris from the day before, then setting off towards the mountains on 34. After a frustrating drive through some beautiful roads that were ruined by nervous drivers doing 10 miles an hour under the limit, we made it to a beautiful town called Estes Park, situated in a valley, just before the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. The cruise up, and then down the mountain on 34 was incredible, however a close second to Beartooth in my opinion. It did however, take us ages to get through, as traffic was slow, and Andrew had to stop to take photos of every single damn Moose.

After we made it out of the park, we found ourselves stopping for a bite at a place called the Roadhouse Bar and Grill. The grill man whipped us up a couple of seriously good hamburgers, and some sad soul at the end of the bar bought everyone a round of shots. Living dangerously, I had Fireball. After our meal, we wound up stopping a few miles down the road at an establishment called Igadl. For the uninitiated, it’s a Marijuana dispensary that features the largest viewable grow operation in the U.S. It was truly an impressive facility, and showcased the best jazz lettuce Colorado had to offer. After not having bought anything, we were on the road again. We immediately encountered one that was criminally underrated, a stretch of highway 40 in between Winter Park and Berthoud Falls. It was so good, in fact, that I turned around and did it again. Fast sweepers, on camber hairpins, long straights. It was like a mountain touge of everyone’s favorite racing anime. After that, unfortunately, the fun roads ran out.

With the mountains sadly at our back, Andrew and I made our way down highway 25, stopping off for the night in Trinidad. Word to the wise folks – don’t stop in Trinidad. The following two days were filled with mindless highway driving, and a pit stop in Lubbock, Texas, where my Red Raider brother has an apartment we stayed in for the night. I won’t waste your time by writing about it because well, to be frank, it was very boring.

July 4th, 2018

Finally, 5 days and the better part of 2000 miles later, we had made it back home to Houston. we were both ready to be out of the car, and get some well needed rest. The S2000 had performed flawlessly – I can’t wait to see what I do with this car, and how far I take it. Hope to see you back here for the next chapter, whatever that may be!

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Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed the story, and the photos. What follows with this car will be documented here, as well as my experiences with other cool cars, such as my ’91 GTR, and other cars I’ve had the pleasure of driving such as the Jaguar F-Type R.

Special thanks to my best friend, Andrew Foshea for taking, and editing the photos you see in this article.

Pupper Tax

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