80 in 40: The Modern American Road Trip

I'm writing this from the passenger seat of Alex Roy's 2000 BMW M5 after my four-hour stint behind the wheel. Despite the 5er's luxurious confines, I'm contorted into the front seat, shoehorned between four sat-navs, two night-vision screens and one streaming video camera beaming it to you live. When Roy called last Thursday to offer up one of two co-pilot slots on a cross-country jaunt from New York to Monterey, he didn't have to lay it on thick to get me on a plane to NYC. There are very few people I'd consider joining on such a journey, and Alex is on the top of that list -- his M5 seals the deal.

The plan was to leave Monday evening, but weather and technological issues forced us to delay our departure until around 11 AM EST this morning. With every conceivable cranny filled with equipment, cables, drinks and snacks, we headed out of NYC and made our way onto I-80.

You'd figure with a half dozen navigation systems guiding us along a single road that spans the entire country, the chances of us getting turned around would be next to impossible. Not quite. Two wrong turns lead to an hour detour through eastern Pennsylvania. It was beautiful, but an unnecessary setback at the beginning of a 40-hour journey.

So far, we've run into two fans and eight cops, gone through two and half tanks of 93 octane and consumed more fast food than I've eaten in over a year. We're currently south of Chicago traveling at legal speeds, listening to the musical stylings of Beatallica and laughing at inside jokes that would make anyone outside the car cringe uncomfortably. Davey G. and I are trying to keep both live video feeds streaming away -- with varying levels of success -- and Alex is his typical self: a bald ball of condensed guarana.

Check back tomorrow for a rundown on all the tech aiding us on our way west (hint: sell Garmin, invest in Dash), and be sure to check out the live stream of our journey -- when it's actually working.

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