One of my favorite parts of Projects Coupes is the great excuse for an M Coupe road trip. As I mentioned in my previous article, my wife got to join me for this trip. After saying our goodbyes to Rick and Lizete, Jenn and I hit the road. But instead of heading west to Colorado, we headed east. Maine was the only one of the 48 states in the continental U.S. that I hadn't visited before, and it was only 50 miles away. We crossed the border, headed to the coast, and found a great local sea food restaurant for dinner. We even managed to snag a prime table by the ocean-side window. We then finally headed the correct direction. Yep, it was worth it.
Our destination for the next day was another tourist site we had yet to visit, Niagara Falls. We arrived just after lunch, and I can tell you now that I wouldn't recommend visiting the falls on Memorial Day weekend. Lesson learned. After our mile plus hike from the closest parking spot we could find, I was pleasantly surprised that my high expectations were more than met. Niagara Falls is definitely worth the trip. We walked to all the overlooks, crossed the bridge to Canada, paid the Canadian toll to get back into the U.S. (seriously), hiked back to the coupe, then got back on the road.
Our goal was Chicago, but we had spent more time at Niagara Falls than expected, so we stopped a couple hours short in South Bend, IN. The next morning after grabbing the wife-promised Starbucks coffee, we drove through the beautiful Notre Dame campus and snapped a couple shots in front of the football stadium. I could have spent a lot more time wandering the campus, but it was time to get back on the road.
Heading towards Chicago, we excited I-90 once we were in view of Lake Michigan in hopes of having a scenic drive into the city. Instead it ended up being a lot of traffic, stop lights, and occasional glimpses of water through run-down industrial buildings. We eventually made it to the city, found the underground parking garage I had reserved a spot in, and went to see the sights. We first stopped at the Cloud Gate sculpture (shiny bean) to do the requisite selfies then explored the rest of Millenium Park. Afterwards we walked along the canals then up the Magnificent Mile to find some kid souvenirs (it was also great for car watching). On the way back to the coupe, I managed to find the same Chicago pizza restaurant (Giordano's) I remembered eating at when I was 5. It was just as good as I remembered.
Around 11 PM that night we arrived in Ankeny, IA where I grew up. The town was pretty dead by that time of night, but I enjoyed living my childhood fantasies of driving a cool car down the street I used to live on. I also proudly showed my wife the very baseball fields where my 8 year-old AAU baseball team won the state championship. Sadly we were too late to grab a Tasty Taco. Next time. We reserved a hotel in nearby Des Moines, but when we arrived we were informed that the hotel was brand new and was not open yet. They generously put us up for free in a hotel up the street. Score!
The next day we made it home. I'd tell you everything exciting that happened, but it was mostly Nebraska, so... In the end, we made it 2200 miles and saw the sights in 3.5 days without an issue. What surprises a lot of people is how great of a road trip car an M Coupe makes. We had a hatch full of luggage, computers and spare parts from the seller, and made it home in comfort and ~25 mpg. We even pulled out my old cassette adapter to stream music on my phone. Who needs Bluetooth? I'm already looking forward to the next trip.