BMW 335d Fall Foliage Drive

By Jonathan Spira on 26 September 2010
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New England is famous for its autumnal foliage and the start of the fall season on September 22 was the perfect time for a diesel-powered drive in the region, and the BMW 335d continues to be the perfect car for all seasons.

Our destination: Litchfield County, Connecticut, home of the Blackberry River Inn and Lime Rock Park. Litchfield County was established in 1751 and borders New York State (Columbia and Dutchess counties) and Massachusetts (Berkshire and Hampden counties).

We left Bayside, New York on the last day of summer.  The start of autumn marks the transition to winter in North America but the warm temperature (85°F or 29°C) made winter the last thing on my mind.  As I pointed the BMW 335d towards the mainland, I opened the sunroof and enjoyed the bountiful sunshine.

The autumnal equinox marks the arrival of shorter days and I did notice that the sun seemed to set far earlier my first night in Connecticut.  The equinox occurred at 03:09 Coordinated Universal Time  (11:09 p.m. EDT) and it was followed six hours later by a full moon. The last time a harvest moon had accompanied the fall equinox was in 1991 and the next will not occur until 2029.

The first leg of the journey was in built-up areas so there wasn’t much foliage of any kind to see until getting onto Interstate 684.  The green trees that surround the more northerly Interstates were already starting to turn shades of red, brown, yellow, tan, and crimson.  As the days grow shorter and nights grow longer and cooler, biochemical processes in a tree’s leaves cause changes which result in the vivid palate we associate with fall.

THE DRIVE

Starting in Bayside, New York, the 204-kilometer (127-mile) drive took us across the Throgs Neck Bridge and along seven different highways in New York and Connecticut.  As always, we had to be aware of the 425-pound feet of torque under the hood so as not to attract the attention of the local constabulary.  Passing slower traffic, of course, happened in a split second.

The 549 m (1800 foot) Throgs Neck Bridge, which opened in 1961, is a suspension bridge and part of Interstate 295.  It is located where the East River meets the Long Island Sound, connecting the Throgs Neck section of the Bronx with the Bayside section of New York.  It is the newest of the seven New York City bridges that span the East River. The bridge’s daily traffic is ca. 111,000 vehicles.

Exiting the bridge, we continued on I-695.  Interstate 695 in New York connects Interstate 95 with Interstate 295 and the Throgs Neck Bridge. It was originally supposed to be part of Interstate 78, a highway that was to connect major parts of New York City.   When that project was cancelled in 1971, it was designated Spur Interstate 295. This was changed in 1986 to the current name.

Interstate 95 is the main highway on the East Coast of the United States, running in parallel to the Atlantic Ocean from Maine to Florida. At 3098 km (1925 miles) it is the longest north-south Interstate highway in the U.S.

The New England Thruway in New York, a part of I-95,  starts at the terminus of I-695 at the Pelham Parkway interchange in the Bronx and continues to the Connecticut state line where it becomes the Connecticut Turnpike, although we exited near Rye, N.Y.  to continue briefly on Interstate 287, the Cross Westchester Expressway, to get to Interstate 684.

Interstate 684 is a 45.7 km (28.4mile) long highway that was built to connect I-287 with Interstate 84.   We took I-684 from White Plains and then continued on I-84 near Brewster. Interstate 84 runs from Scranton, Pennsylvania to Sturbridge, Massachusetts.  Our route on I-84 took us from Brewster, N.Y. across the Connecticut state line near Danbury, heading towards Waterbury.  Once there, we headed due north on Connecticut Route 8, a four-lane highway we joined via the “Mixmaster” interchange.

Near Winsted, with just 21 km (13 miles) remaining, we turned onto U.S. 44, a two-lane highway in Litchfield County that would bring us directly to our destination, the elegant Blackberry River Inn in Norfolk, Connecticut.

The drive, with no stops, took two hours and nine minutes and covered 204 kilometers (127 miles).  The BMW 335d used 6.4 l/100 km (36.8 mpg) and our average speed was 99.3 km/h (62 mph).

For the return drive, we continued on Connecticut Route 8 all the way down to Bridgeport where we joined I-95 towards the Throgs Neck Bridge.  The two-hour one-minute 194 km (121 mile) drive, with an average speed of 100.7 km/h (63 mph), only used 6.3 l/100 km (37.3 mpg).  In total, the trip consumed 25.27 liters (6.68 gallons) of diesel.  Diesel fuel in Connecticut only cost $2.99 per gallon (compared to prices in New York which ranged from $3.11 to $3.35), so the total cost for fuel turned out to be under $20.