Given the fact that the previous day had been spent waiting for the car to charge, we had a lot of mileage to catch up on in order to ensure that we would arrive in Austin in time for the National Instruments exhibition just 3 days later. So we set 5.30am our leaving time, and Santa Rosa, a town 420 miles away, our goal. At the crack of dawn, the SRZero rolled silently out of Flagstaff, onto Interstate 40, and east towards Santa Rosa, New Mexico.
There is not much that can be said about driving down the interstate; it’s a fairly monotonous experience, and quite unlike the curvy undulating roads we had become accustomed to for the vast majority of our trip so far. But surprises still do exist, and one came along a few minutes into our journey when we saw a sign saying Meteor Crater Road. This turned out to be a road to the world’s first confirmed meteor crater, and so, curiosity getting the better of us, we turned off the highway to check it out.
The time was before 7am, and we knew that the tour guide facility would still be closed, but nonetheless, given the sheer scale of the site we were expecting that we would still be able to walk up to the crater edge and take a peek. We were wrong. Surrounding the base of the crater was a tall fence enforced with barbed wire; certainly a big enough barrier to stop even the most curious of RGE members from attempting to scale it. So we drove away slightly dejected, but more angry at how such an amazing piece of extraterrestrial nature could so be harnessed for profit, and blocked from those arriving at a non-standard time.
Anyway, back onto the interstate we went, and the 320 miles to the outskirts of Albuquerque went quickly enough. Here we stopped at a very well kept RV park to the west of the city where we charged up for a few hours to enable us to make the dash to Santa Rosa before it got too late. Charging commenced without hassle, with the standard 50 amp plug making our lives very easy. The team took this opportunity to do some laundry, take a swim, and do some interviews for the documentary. But a few hours into our stay, the weather started having other plans for us. The wind suddenly picked up, the clouds thickened, and flashes of lightening started being seen in the distance.
Now, you hear many people saying that a car is one of the safest places to be in a lightning storm, but in the SRZero, we would beg to differ! We only had two choices though; either we could stay in the RV and let the storm come to us, or we could make the 100 mile dash to Santa Rosa and hope the road skirts the storm. We decided to take the latter option, and it was a good choice as the storm stayed hovering just a few miles to north of the road as we headed further east within New Mexico. Lightening lashed down and the thunder followed with immense strength a few seconds later, but for the most part we remained dry and after around 2 hours of driving we arrived safe and sound at the Holiday Inn in Santa Rosa.
Another easy charging setup later and the car was ready to spend the night sucking up its juice. But the team was not entirely ready for bed yet, and so we decided to go out and see what the locals of Santa Rosa get up to on a Friday night. We were told about a local bar and so we drove down and checked it out.
You know in those movies when a bunch of guys walk into a shady bar and the music stops and everybody looks up at them; this was kind of how this felt. The music didn’t stop, but suddenly everyone looked up from their beers and eyed us as we made our way across the room. It wasn’t actually that dramatic, but it did feel semi-Desparado-ish. Anyway, we had a beer there, picked up some food on the way back to the hotel, and headed for bed. It was one of the longest day of driving so far, and the car had performed perfectly through the desert, a lightning storm and a kilometre in vertical elevation change…needless to say, from an engineering point of view, we were very chuffed!