On July 4, 2013, I backed out of my driveway in Pacifica CA. Very shortly after that I started driving forward.
I next pulled back into that driveway on July 26, having happily seen dozens of friends and as many roadside attractions in seventeen US states.
Throughout the trip I took some photos and posted some updates, some of which have already shown up on this blog (generally collected here) and on various other social media channels. As of this writing I’m still compiling the more considered photographs.
In the meantime, here are some facts and figures about the sojourn:
- Total miles driven (reported by Klaus’ odometer): 7,021
- Most miles driven in a single day: 910
- Fewest miles driven in a single day: 2.3
- Miles driven per gallon of (diesel) fuel burned (reported by Klaus’ computer): 32.2
- Gallons of fuel consumed (derived from above): 218.0
- Lowest price paid for a gallon of diesel fuel: $3.56 (in Butte MT)
- Highest price paid for a gallon of disel fuel: $4.18 (in Anaheim CA)
- Average speed (reported by car computer): 52 mph
- Highest speed (as noticed by me, with a bit of horror): 110 mph (passing a truck on a two-lane highway in rural Missouri)
- Speeding tickets earned: 1 (for 79 mph in a 55 zone, on a two-lane highway between Casper and Rapid City – apparently they do enforce laws in Wyoming – who knew?)
While driving, I considered the following hypothesis more than any other:
- High ‘n’ Dry is Def Leppard’s most overrated album, while Euphoria their most underrated. Each has one other album in between it and Hysteria, the band’s undisputed magnum opus. Does this mean we incorporate (retroactively) artistic trajectory when evaluating creative work? When we know in hindsight that artists were on the way up, do we overrate the work on that slope – then compensate the other direction after we know they were in decline? And if so, do we overcompensate equally based on the work’s relative position to an apex? (This theory was undermined by the fact that Euphoria is actually the third album post-Hysteria, not the second, ruining the beautiful symmetry of the base case.)
And will finish this retrospective with some observations on hotels:
- There is indeed great retro-style romance to America’s back roads and the accompanying roadside attractions. But do not let this appeal extend to the old school motels of the type where your parents stopped on childhood vacations. No matter how charming they appear, even if they seem to have kept their signs in repair, these mid-century monstrosities are invariably dirty, scary, and otherwise unpleasant. Yes, you will enjoy such trips much more if you avoid modern fast food and even interstate highways where possible, but you should absolutely seek out the most recently-built chain hotels around.
- Free hotel wifi is a fiction, no matter how new or “nice” your $69/night hotel is. Yes, something is apparently free. Your devices may even pick up an SSID from somewhere if you wave them in just the right direction and chant the correct mantra. But they will never sustain a connection at a rate sufficient even for the most mundane modern online activity, such as mapping the next day’s journey. And yes, I am keenly aware of the irony that cheap hotels give wifi “free”, while fancy business hotels charge through the nose for a similar service that is only barely more usable. But come on – let’s just end the charade that hotel wifi even exists.
- And as Jim Gaffigan says, the “complimentary” hotel breakfasts offered by our nation’s chains compliment neither the hotels nor the breakfasts. They are manifestly inedible and should be avoided at all costs. Even the little yogurts that hold two bites. Come on – how smug can you feel about having eaten yogurt when getting a full serving’s worth requires opening and then throwing away a cubic meter of plastic packaging?