corvette at the New Mexico state line along I-10 east

Cross country road trip day 1: San Diego, CA to Deming, NM

01. Introduction: Cross country road trip in a 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
02: Day 1: San Diego, CA to Deming, NM
03: Day 2: Deming, NM to Amarillo, TX
04: Day 3: Amarillo, TX to Maumelle, AR
05: Day 4: Maumelle, AR to Knoxville, TN
06: Day 5 part A: Driving the Tail of the Dragon
07: Day 5 part B: Knoxville, TN to Salem, VA
08. Day 6: Salem, VA to Dulles, VA
09. Trip summary and final thoughts
10: Review: 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

driving from San Diego to New Mexico
my driving route from San Diego to Deming, New Mexico

I was up bright and early on the morning of departure, feeling super anxious to set off on the biggest road trip of my life. I was also excited about the possibility of being handed keys to a Corvette – a car that I haven’t had much experience with up until this point in my life.

The only Corvette I’ve ever driven up until now was a 2005 C6 in October of 2004 – that was right when the C6’s first came out and a friend of mine was lucky enough to have scored one of the first ones here in San Diego. I don’t remember much from that brief drive other than the feeling of the Corvette not being like any other car I had driven before. I was low and wide, with loads of power under it’s belt. I liked it a lot, and it really made my then-new 350z feel woefully inadequate.

Anyway, you’ve probably noticed that I said I was “excited about the possibility of being handed keys to a Corvette”. Yes, I was still highly skeptical that Avis was going to rent a car like that to a local like me who had plans to put 3,000 miles on it in 6 days, but there was only one way to find out…

waiting for the taxi to arrive
Waiting for the taxi to take me to the Avis rental car lot at San Diego International Airport – and no, that’s not my Fit.

After a 15 minute taxi ride down to the Avis lot at San Diego International Airport, my eyes nearly popped out of my head when I saw two brand new C7’s sitting front and center on display in the glistening morning sun (a red one with black wheels, and a yellow one with chrome wheels).

Never in a million years would I have thought they would have C7’s available to rent, as up until this point I was expecting “rental Corvette’s” to be well-worn C6’s with tons of miles on them. Holy crap. Am I going to get a brand new C7 for this cross-country road trip??

velocity yellow C7 corvette stingray
Brand new 2015 Corvette Stingray at the Avis rental car lot in San Diego

Long story short: yes. After what seemed like an eternity of typing and paperwork by the friendly Avis agent, I was handed the key fob to that Velocity Yellow Stingray that I saw as I pulled into the lot. Wow. I could barely contain my excitement, but I think I played it cool enough not to look like a hyper little boy on Christmas morning. I was slightly disappointed that they gave me the yellow one though – I don’t like yellow cars much, and the fact that it stood out like crazy in a sea of normal cars didn’t help.

I’m not an attention-seeking person at all (I prefer to stay out of the spotlight and blend into the background), so I was a bit apprehensive thinking about how out of my element I was going to be all week. No matter though – I was still super stoked to have this car.

the corvette stingray I drove all across the country
I couldn’t believe that I was about to drive this Stingray all the way across the country!

This Stingray smelled brand new inside although it had 5,300 miles on it already, and I was in utter disbelief as I pressed the “Start” button and fired that car to life (with a glorious deep V8 rumble, I might add). After the gate agent at the Avis lot wished me well on my journey east, I drove away feeling like I had just won the lottery.

Well, I should point out that I paid dearly for the privilege of having this car for a week – almost $2000 when all the taxes and fees were applied, so it’s not like this was a freebie upgrade from a $39 Cobalt or something. But still. Wow!

Before getting too far, I pulled into an empty parking spot along the Embarcadero to take a moment and get settled before heading out of San Diego. I took a ton of pics, organized my backpack a bit, and set up the GoPro that I would be using to document my trip. I also tried to figure out some of the gadgets in the car, but my mind was too excited to focus on anything for more than a few seconds.

C7 Corvette in San Diego
Parked along the embarcadero on San Diego Bay
velocity yellow 2015 corvette stingray
Such a good looking car, though the yellow is a bit too bright for my tastes.
c7 corvette and palm trees
Sadly, these will be the last palm trees this car will see for a while

And then it happened. I noticed that joggers were stopping to take pics of the car as they ran by. Great. For a shy introverted person like me, that was a bit weird and I was starting to dread being the center of attention for the next week. Oh well, there was no way I was going to give this car back now, so I mentally accepted the challenge.

Once settled, I drove through downtown San Diego on my way to I-8 east. The horrific blind spots of the Corvette quickly became apparent as I was navigating around the city, and I made a mental note to PAY ATTENTION before making any lane changes.

I pulled onto the I-5 north before merging carefully (darn blind spots!) on interstate 8, and within 5 minutes I started to settle in a bit and let the reality of what I was about to do soak in. I had a long day ahead of me, so it was time to sit back, relax, and just cruise.

GoPro camera in the C7 corvette
Here you can see my GoPro setup in the rear view mirror, which I mounted to the glass roof panel (with the suction cup mount).
Cruising on I-8 east out of San Diego
Cruising on I-8 east out of San Diego

I made several stops in the first couple of hours to try and get some nice pics of the car before it got too dirty. The bugs had already started to splatter the windshield once I descended the eastern range of the mountains surrounding San Diego, and having clean pics of this Corvette would come in handy for the review I planned to write later on.

velocity yellow corvette stingray
Trying to get as many pictures as I could of this Vette before it got dirty
rugged terrain along I-8 east out of San Diego
Back on the road, along the backside of the mountains right before dropping out on the desert floor just east of San Diego
taking pictures of the corvette in the desert
Another stop for pictures just off the freeway
corvette in the southern california desert
This car is right at home here in Southern California, and I admit that I felt bad for taking it out of it’s element!
coming out of the san diego mountains along I-8 east
Moments before entering the desert just west of El Centro
Winterhaven sand dunes
Sand dunes just west of Winterhaven

My first stop for gas was at a Chevron station in Winterhaven, CA, even though I still had more than a half of tank of gas left. More than anything, I just needed to stretch my legs, use the bathroom, and unpack the sack lunch my wife was kind enough to prepare for me before I left.

filling up the corvette in Winterhaven
Quick stop for gas in Winterhaven, CA

Back on the road, I ate while I drove and turned on the stereo for the first time so that I could listen to the road-trip playlist I had created for this trip several nights before. Life was good right about this point! I was driving a brand new Corvette Stingray along a straight stretch of American highway in the desert southwest, nothing but open land in front of me, with good tunes pumping through the stereo. So far, this trip was turning out to be every bit as cool as I imagined it was going to be.

listening to the stereo in the C7 corvette
Rockin’ out to a bit of “Running on Empty” by Jackson Browne
driving through the mountains east of Yuma
More mountains just east of Yuma, AZ
the desert just east of Yuma
The mountains didn’t last long, however. More desert straight ahead!

My next stop was several hours down I-8 at a rest stop in Buckeye, Arizona. Once again I felt the need to stretch my legs and use the bathroom, and I came back to the Corvette to find an older gentleman giving it a pretty good look-over. We started talking, and it turns out that he was a Corvette owner himself.

We talked for a bit, and I realized that this was probably going to happen a lot during this trip – and suddenly I didn’t really mind all that much. It’s always fun to meet people who share a passion with cars!

the arizona desert
The desolate view from the rest stop along I-8 in Buckeye, AZ
trees in the desert in Arizona
There were some trees though. Simply beautiful country out here.

Within the next hour or so I realized that my original goal of reaching Deming, NM was slightly aggressive. I was still west of Tucson at this point and was already feeling like I had enough for the day. But I had a schedule to keep, so I pushed on.

I-8 just west of Gila Bend, AZ
The view along I-8 just west of Gila Bend, AZ
overstacked pickup truck in Arizona
I thought this sort of thing only happened in LA…
Tucson, Arizona from the window of a corvette
Welcome to Tucson!

East of Tucson, I started to think seriously about finding a hotel and calling it a day. I passed some decent roadside hotels on I-10 between 4-5pm that had me tempted to stop, but I knew that the more driving I did now would make the next day much easier.

That still didn’t stop me from pulling off the highway shortly thereafter to check out a hotel I saw a billboard advertisement for a few miles back. Long story short, it was a sketchy area with a lot of abandoned buildings around and I didn’t feel safe parking the Corvette there overnight. So I pushed on, committed to make it all the way to Deming as I had planned.

scenery along I-10 east of Benson, AZ
Beautiful landscape just east of Benson, AZ

The final hour of driving this day brought a beautiful sunset, “bonding” time with the in-car navigation system (the voice-command feature didn’t work so well, and I ended up arguing with it – lol!), and the realization that I was definitely overambitious in my plans to make it to DC in less than a week. I was tired, and thrilled to death when I finally started seeing exit signs for Deming, NM around 8pm.

me driving a C7 corvette stingray
Yours truly, getting tired now. It’s been a full day of driving and I’m ready for a break.
corvette at the New Mexico state line along I-10 east
New Mexico state line
C7 corvette POV from the drivers seat
Are we there yet?
New Mexico landscape at sunset
The landscape suddenly turned bright red at sunset
corvette rear view mirror
Just a few miles out of Deming, NM now
sunset with corvette interior
Spectacular sunset just as I rolled into Deming

It was only when I pulled off the highway that I realized that the headlights weren’t on (oops!), but I quickly found a decent looking hotel and promptly checked in. After settling into my room, I hopped back in the Vette to drive to a nearby Subway restaurant that I found while searching Google maps. This turned out to be an adventure, as a pretty scary looking dude approached me as I was walking out of Subway and back to the car in the dark parking lot.

“Yo man, nice car!”, he yelled to me as he was walking up. Ugh. He seemed cool though, so I opened the door for him so he could have a look inside. I thought that was the end of it, but I could see something click in his head like I was rich or something (because of the car), and he asked if I could “help him out”.

Ugh. But like I said, he seemed cool (and I just wanted to get away), so I gave him the $5 change I had in my pocket. He looked disappointed, then said “thanks” in a low voice and walked away. Weird.

I got out of there fast and went back to my hotel room to eat before calling it a night. Day one complete!

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