Monday, December 20, 2010

Pre-holiday trip to Maine

Alex and I decided to travel to Ogunquit, Maine for a little 4-day getaway before the holidays. We both needed a bit of a vacation and this is one of our favourite spots. Of course, this gave us an excuse to take our first road trip in the BMW. The hotels are much more affordable in winter, and the seafood tastes just as good. Walking on the beach is still fun in the cold, if you bundle up a little.

Here are a couple of pictures of Alex at the beach.

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Although it is only a couple of degrees warmer than Montreal, we were happily surprised to see that there was no snow on the ground at all. This motivated me to take the car to a car wash, as I realized that we had the dirtiest car in Maine shortly after our arrival.

Here is the car when we first arrived in Ogunquit:
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Here it is at our hotel after a car wash:
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The car has been a joy to drive. The check engine light came on the other day, I believe because the fuel door was opened with the engine still running. My friend Rob lent me his code reader/reset tool to shut it off. Also, I got royally stuck in the alley behind my building when I beached the car on a mound of snow (as I pushed the car while my neighbour gunned the gas, I noted that the Magnaflow exhaust sounded pretty sweet!). Despite these small issues, I am very happy with the car's winter abilities now that I have winter tires on it.

As I hoped (and expected), the car is great for road trips: super comfortable and supportive seats, cruise control and a nice sound system make for a relaxing journey. Alex is enjoying it as well. We are still debating whether to remove the tint from all the exterior lights. I like the stock look, while Alex finds the all-black look to be distinctive. I told her I am willing to wait a bit before making my final decision.

Both of us have to put in a last burst of work before the holidays, which I suspect will be over in a flash. I suppose my next post will be a 2010 retrospective of some sort... Stay tuned!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Busy week

Although there were no basketball games in the past week, it was a busy one for me. On Tuesday, I went to Quebec City to look at, inspect and buy this BMW M3:

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It's a 2003 six-speed M3 with 103 000 km that had never been winter driven. It's fully loaded (except for the navigation system) and features aftermarket 19" Beyern wheels, a Magnaflow exhaust, Eibach Pro Kit springs and a K&N induction kit. It also features tinted corner lights, tail lights and windows, all of which I am not too fond. The dealer inspection turned up very few issues and I bought the car. It also came with the OEM 18" wheels.

What can I say about this car: it's simply amazing. I remember thinking the first time I drove one of these cars that if you had to have one car to do everything, this would be the one. The level of luxury is better than any car I have ever owned (which is unsurprising, as I've never really owned a luxury car) and the performance is amazing. Also, the comfort level is surprisingly high, despite the stiff suspension and chassis. The quality of the interior is better than on the 2006 325 I went to look at a couple of days ago. For roughly the same price as a 325i of the 2006 and up generation, I got an older generation M3. I think it was worth it to go a bit older to get the car I really wanted. Besides, the mileage is the same as the 2006 and newer cars I was looking at.

My first priority was obviously to winterize the car. After finding out that many wheel-tire combinations that I was considering would not fit, I decided to simply buy four similar tires and use the 18-inch OEM wheels. I lucked out by picking up some slightly used 245-40-18 Gislaved winter tires yesterday and got them installed. I actually prefer the look of the OEM wheels to the Beyern's. The car seems as if it will be easy to drive in winter, thanks to the great weight distribution, the Dynamic Stability Control and these cool tires. Alex is excited, even though she hasn't seen the car yet.

On the first night I brought the car home, I realized one of the two remote keys did not work. Fortunately, I found information on the web about how to reprogram a key which allowed me to fix it myself. Today, I installed some nice Rubbermaid winter mats. I had to cut the driver side one to accommodate the floor-hinged gas pedal, and, if I do say so myself, it looks pretty sharp. The final step will be to get an anti-rust treatment done in the next few days.

In other news, I participated in the "Noel du Pauvre" charity run in Trois-Rivières on Friday. Last year, I ran the whole day without taking any breathers in the bus that follows the runners (for those who need a break) to run a total of 72 km. This year, I was not able to go the distance. By lunch time, we had run 31 km. After lunch, I had pain on the side of my knee that would simply not go away (actually, it went away for a while after I tightened up the laces on my right shoe, as recommended by Nolin). By then, I had realized that there was no way the group was going to beat the mark of 72 km set last year, as there was too much time being spent stopping to raise funds (which, of course, is the whole point of the event!). I ended up quitting at the 43 km mark and sitting in the bus for the final two hours. The group managed 12 more kilometers, to reach a total of 55. Our little group of 20 or so runners raised 17 000 $ to fight poverty (compared to 18 000 $ last year). The day was fun, but not as fun as last year, when Alex was very efficiently driving the sweeper vehicle and the group managed more periods of serious running. I regret not being able to finish, but I don't regret stopping when I did, as my knee feels almost 100 % only two days after the event.

News of Alex:
Alex will be back for good on Wednesday! I can't wait! A guy can only spend so much time alone watching TV and eating pizza.

Cool cars spotted:
Maybach 57S
Nissan GTR
Audi R8
AMG C63
AMG G55