Diary: 24 Hours in a Porshe, My Record-Setting Drive

BISMARK, N.D.--After traveling almost 8900 miles, two dusty Porsche Carrera 4's rolled across the border into Tijuana, Mexico two Fridays ago, thereby setting a record for covering all of North America-Alaska, Canada, the lower 48, and Mexico--in less than a week. My name won't show up in any record books, but I spent 24 hours driving one of those cars from Spokane, Wash. to Bismarck, N.D.

That was 24 hours, straight through, 24 hours, stopping only for gas and to switch seats with my co-driver. Driving a Porsche, nevertheless, this seemingly inane quest was for chairty. Porsche dubbed it "The Drive for Hope" and it raised $70,000 for the Hope Foundation, a clinical cancer research charity.

It also tested the limits of one of Porsche's sportier models--and its "lucky" drivers.

The phone woke me up at 4 a.m. on Sunday morning in my Spokane hotel room. I thought I should be grateful that daylight savings' time had ended a few hours earlier, but I was in no condition to do any math.

Half an hour later the cars stopped outside, just long enough for me to relieve one of the drivers and continue on our way. Though our ultimate destination was North Dakota, we took off to the south, just down to the Oregon border. (Back-hitting all 48 contiguous states calls for a rather circuitous route.) But after a tour of the Pacific coastline, we finally headed East.

The sun was up by the time we made it to Idaho, and we couldn't have asked for a better combination of car and road. Route 12 winds along a ravine. Looking down to the Middle Fork Lochsa River, the road appears in its numerous switchbacks and then climbs back up the other side into the distance. The guardrails along many sections of the road were apparently removed to allow for more breathtaking vistas--as well as shorter routes straight down if you didn't make it around a turn.

For some reason, the guardrails returned in Montana--perhaps for aesthetic purposes. I-90 runs straight through the state and across the continental divide, nothing to fear here.

The six-speed Carrera 4 proved to be worth its $72,000 base price, gripping the curves and accelerating through 300 horsepower--enough to blow past any car in our way, though more than a few tried to put up a fight.