The goal was to see a live timber wolf. You know, one with teeth snarling, tail quivering, lips curling, and hair raised — a blood-thirsting animal on the prowl. Bonus if we spotted other predatory animals, caught a few pristine canyon spires in a wooded vista, ate fresh pancakes for breakfast, and maybe took a quick trip to see the original Monuments Men.
That's right: I was taking my family to the Black Hills of South Dakota, a 1040-mile round-trip. And our car would be the 2014 Infiniti Q50S, which provides an amazing array of trip-planning features.
In our current age of the connected car, the first step with any family vacation is not to fill up with gas or check the oil. Instead, it's to sit down at a computer and fire up your browser. The Infiniti Connection service let me create a detailed itinerary.
The site is a bit wonky: You have to select your vehicle — you know, if you own more than one Infiniti — click Infiniti Connection, and browse to the trip-planning options. I already had a hunch about the wolf. I clicked on Destination Send-To-Vehicle and typed in Bear Country USA in Rapid City, South Dakota.
Boom, up came an address, phone, a web link, and a map. I clicked Send Destination Set. For fun, I looked up pancake houses, state parks, gas stations, and Mt. Rushmore, and sent those as destinations to the car as well.
There's a nifty Journey Planner that works only with exact addresses (no search functions) that let me set my home address as a starting point and the address of Custer State Park and my camper cabin as the final destination. Only 520 miles to go! I sent the Journey Planner to the car, and I even linked to my Google Calendar. I felt exceedingly prepared.
In my calendar, I scheduled the drive time (about nine hours), the morning visit to Bear Country, and various other stops, including the all-important Perkins visit. We were set.
Unfortunately, the trunk on the Q50S is roughly the size of two bear cubs. We had to stuff pillows behind the rear-seat headrests and fit pots and pans carefully into available nooks and crannies.
In my driveway, I went to Infiniti Connection on the car's touchscreen. The Q50S has two stacked screens: The top one is mostly for showing the navigation route, and the bottom screen is for running apps and controlling music. Up popped my Journey Planner route and the destinations I had sent.
After a rough night of sleep — wild buffalo moved through our campground, snorting like they were standing next to my mattress — we jumped back into the Q50S. I selected the Bear Country USA destination on the touchscreen.
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