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Old 10th July 2008, 09:02   #1
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Default 5 States, 3 days, 1500 miles and a Mazda 3 ... Part 1

Since the day I brought home my Mazda 3, I had been planning for a long drive. I was waiting for the running-in period to be over, which has been mentioned in the manual as 600 miles. However, I was gradually getting impatient to complete the 600 miles and could not wait further.

It was the 4th of July long weekend nearing and I was not ready to let that go. Hence, started planning for a drive which should be considerably long, allow the Mazda to stretch its legs and offer something for its occupants.

Browsing the net, I came to know that the Independence Day fireworks held at New Orleans, over the mighty Mississippi river, is ranked as the 5th best in US, by American Pyrotechnics Association.

Started the detailed planning. It would be a trip from the state of S Carolina to Louisiana, crossing 5 states in the process. My journey would start from Greenville, S Carolina, cross the states of Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and then into New Orleans, Louisiana. The primary objective was to see the 4th July fireworks and also the famed Mardi Gras world and the French Quarters of New Orleans. To add a little more fun to the trip, we planned to tuck in a cruise and a day trip to an island called Ship Island, off the city of Gulfport, about 70 miles from New Orleans. We would have to cover a total distance of around 1450miles and I was the only driver. This was a matter of concern, but, we brushed it aside.

July 4, 1:45 AM
Left my apartment at Greenville and picked up a couple of my friends. Soon, we were on the I-85 travelling towards Atlanta. The target was to drive through the night and reach New Orleans by 12 noon and take some rest, before we catch up on the fireworks at 9pm, by the New Orleans riverfront. The route would be I-85, I-65 and I-10.

5 States, 3 days, 1500 miles and a Mazda 3 ... Part 1-p7040003.jpg

Being the sole driver, we decided to take frequent breaks and the first one came up after crossing Atlanta, about 180 miles from Greenville. The Mazda seemed to be giving good mileage and we decided to fuel-up after about 300 miles from start.

The first fuel stop came up around day break. The sky was gradually lighting up and we stopped at a pump.

5 States, 3 days, 1500 miles and a Mazda 3 ... Part 1-p7040004.jpg

5 States, 3 days, 1500 miles and a Mazda 3 ... Part 1-p7040005.jpg

Calculated the mileage, it was a whopping 34mpg. We were 4 adults and the boot full of luggage. All this while, I had been doing around 80mph. Indeed, it was good mileage, considering the new engine.

As we returned back to the Interstate, there was a thick veil of fog. Had to slow down, but still managed to do around 70mph, as the visibility was not that bad.

5 States, 3 days, 1500 miles and a Mazda 3 ... Part 1-p7040009.jpg

5 States, 3 days, 1500 miles and a Mazda 3 ... Part 1-p7040014.jpg

On the way, there was an accident and we were held back for some time. Gradually, the road cleared up and traffic was sparse in the early morning hours. The Mazda behaved very well at high speeds, extremely planted on the road. Occasionally took it up to 95mph, and everytime, I was amazed by its handling.

5 States, 3 days, 1500 miles and a Mazda 3 ... Part 1-p7040006.jpg

It may not be the fastest car off the block but, the mid range is awesome. A slight tap on the accelerator and the car zooms from 70 to 95mph in no time, without needing to downshift.

July 4, 9:00 AM

We stopped at a rest area for breakfast. It was bright and sunny. Took a break of around 30mins and started off again. On the way, we decided to checkout the town of Gulfport, to find out about the details of the cruise for the next day. Hence took a detour to Gulfport.

5 States, 3 days, 1500 miles and a Mazda 3 ... Part 1-p7040047.jpg

Its a small port with a nice little beach. We would have to take a ferry out of this place on 5th to the Ship Island. After gathering all the information, we were back on the I-10. Had another fuel stop in between and reached New Orleans by 11:30am.

The evening fireworks were good, but only lasted for 15 mins.

July 5, 6:30 AM

Left for Gulfport. Had to start early as the ferry leaves by 9am and we should get the tickets by 8:00am. It was a frantic rush along the I-10 to reach Gulfport on time. Rarely did the speedo come down below 90mph. After a brief ferry ride of 50mins, reached the small Ship Island. This island was devastated during Hurricane Katrina and was actually split into two. The ferry takes you to the West Ship Island, which is about 8miles long and 1 mile wide. We spent the rest of day on the beach and returned by 6:00pm.

July 6, 10:00 AM

Checked out of the hotel and took a trip of Downtown New Orleans, exploring the old French Quarters and other sights, We were finally ready to leave New Orleans by 1:30 am. Had the looong drive of 620 miles ahead and we were a bit worried about the homebound traffic that we might face, for all the guys returning home, after a long weekend. Fortunately, did not get held up in much traffic and after a continuous drive, with a couple of stops in between, finally reached Greenville by 2:00 am.

It was a tiring drive, but we enjoyed it thoroughly. As for the Mazda, hats off to it. Amazing ride quality, stability and handling and an engine which is always eager to be revved hard.

The odo reads around 2000 miles and I cannot wait for my next trip..

5 States, 3 days, 1500 miles and a Mazda 3 ... Part 1-p7040053.jpg
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Old 10th July 2008, 09:18   #2
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Wow! That's amazing.
Nice, simple and well worded travelogue with some good pictures as well.
The drive back to greenville took more than 24 hours? And you did this alone without any sleep in between?
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Old 10th July 2008, 09:36   #3
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Neat Report with excellent pics. Congrats too on your ride and it looks damn nice.
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Old 10th July 2008, 09:39   #4
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@speedzak: we stayed overnight at New Orleans and started the return journey on 6th morning, reaching Greemville at late in the night.
Had to do this alone as the other passengers could not drive. No sleep in between but it was fun.
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Old 10th July 2008, 09:55   #5
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Saurabh, It's a nice, small and concise writeup and above all your Mazda - 3 sparkling like platinum.

How do you maintain that ?
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Old 10th July 2008, 10:49   #6
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Saurabh your Mazda 3 is a very very nice looking car. And how is it that even after so much of travel its still shining?! Out here, on Indian highways, you do 50 km of highway driving, and your car is covered with an inch thick layer of dust
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Old 10th July 2008, 12:31   #7
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Great write-up!!

The highway pictures looked straight out of 'Smokey and the Bandit'?

Cheers
Jagan
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Old 10th July 2008, 12:56   #8
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Great travelogue! Lovely pics, and a fabulous car! I wanna own one, but alas I am in India
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Old 10th July 2008, 13:39   #9
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Nice write-up, Saurabh. Your Mazda looks cool.
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Old 10th July 2008, 14:30   #10
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Nice Travelogue and photos Saurabh M !

One question - how could you manage speeds upto 90 Mph, is the speed limit not 65 Mph on the interstates ?
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Old 10th July 2008, 21:12   #11
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@anuj: Its a new car and still has the good shine. However, every Sunday, I shampoo the car with a 'washnwax' solution and then give it a polish with liquid wax from Turtlewax.

@jagan: the highways around Alabama are really very scenic

@phrozenFire: it did not rain during the onward journey and the air is generally very clean.

Quote:
how could you manage speeds upto 90 Mph, is the speed limit not 65 Mph on the interstates ?
All the 3 interstates we took had 70mph as the speed limit. However, most cars were doing 80-85. I was myself quite surprised with that. Moreover, there were no cops around during the early morning hours and easily managed to do 90 mph. During the night drives, I kept the car at around 75-80 mph, to be on the safe side.
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Old 10th July 2008, 21:55   #12
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dada (ok Saurabh), nice report man! how come you never came up with your travelogues when you were in Kolkata?

Not missing the black beauty eh? he is taking care of her - so chill and drive safe and have a great time. waiting to see more pics.
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Old 10th July 2008, 22:00   #13
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Excellent. I first thought that its Kms, but then realized its miles!

However, i think that most roads have a speed limit lower than 80 mph you were doing. Isnt that risky in US ?

The Mazda-3 is simply a great car with a great engine. 34mpg is good for the speed and new engine. Goes to show how much engineering went in.
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Old 10th July 2008, 22:32   #14
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Quote:
how come you never came up with your travelogues when you were in Kolkata?
Saurabh is better, no 'dada'. Yes, there are quite a few travelogues that I could have written when I was in Kolkata. Missing my black beauty a lot, the handling of this car is comparable to the Palio, though I never took the black beauty beyond 145kph. I am sure she is being taken good care of.

Quote:
However, i think that most roads have a speed limit lower than 80 mph you were doing. Isnt that risky in US ?
Agreed that its risky doing such overspeeding in US. However, if the cops are in good mood, a +10 speeding is normally allowed . You really have to watch out for the cops when doing such high speeds.

All said and done, the Indian in me urged me to do those speeds, given the fantastic roads and an equally sporty car.
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Old 11th July 2008, 02:04   #15
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The car look very good in this color...and pretty good mileage too....
What was the rev count when you reached 95 mph?
And whats the company claimed top speed?

Btw...1500 miles in 3 days with solo driver is not a joke. Kudos on managing the feat!

We drove from Ann Arbor, MI to Princeton, NJ on 6th July. And were quite frustrated at the end even if we were two drivers. Its a different story that we crawled at 20 mph on PA turnpike for quite some time, which, I guess, was the major reason for frustration.
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