Doc Lightning
GOLD Member since May 2001

Doc Lightning

HOP Mad Doctor
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA

Total posts: 13920
Posted:Remember my trip that I took? Well, I got in on Tuesday night. Here are my logs from my three days of driving. They're long, so read them at your peril!

Day 1:
LOCATION: Clive, IA
BEGINNING ODOMETER: 0
ENDING ODOMETER: 599.5 miles
DISTANCE TODAY: 599.5 miles
TOTAL DISTANCE TO DATE: 599.5 miles
START TIME: 10:00 AM EDT
END TIME: 8:00 PM CDT
TIME EN ROUTE (INCLUDING STOPS): 11 hours
AVERAGE SPEED: 54.5 MPH
GASOLINE CONSUMPTION TODAY: 26.8 Gallons
GASOLINE CONSUMPTION TO DATE: 26.8 Gallons
FUEL ECONOMY TODAY: 22.37 MPG
AVERAGE FUEL ECONOMY TO DATE: 22.37 MPG
TODAYS MUSIC: Beyond 2001 by Trance[]Control

COMMENTS:

Uneventful trip. I didnt make it as far as I wanted because of my late start (10:00 AM) and because for some inexplicable reason, Indiana, which bills itself as the Crossroads of America, has a speed limit of 55 MPH. I would have liked to drive for another hour, but there is no place to sleep for the next 110 miles, so I had to stop here. Iowa is pretty, if not monotonous, and has a more reasonable speed limit of 65 MPH. Traffic has been surprisingly light for Memorial Day weekend. Probably because there arent many trucks on the road this weekend.

There was certainly a feeling of euphoria in crossing the Mississippi River. It was the Go West, Young Man call being realized, I guess.

Ok, tomorrow, I will leave the rolling hills of the Midwest for the flat expanse of the Plains of Nebraska. Then, the Rockies! And then, the trip gets fun. My goal is to get going by 7:00 AM and hit Scotts by nightfall.


-Mike )'(
Certified Mad Doctor and HoP High Priest of Nutella

"A buckuht 'n a hooze!" -Valura

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Doc Lightning
GOLD Member since May 2001

Doc Lightning

HOP Mad Doctor
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA

Total posts: 13920
Posted:Day 2:
LOCATION: Snowmass, CO
BEGINNING ODOMETER: 599.5 miles
ENDING ODOMETER: 1439.4
DISTANCE TODAY: 838.9 miles
TOTAL DISTANCE TO DATE: 1439.4 miles
START TIME: 6:47 AM CDT
END TIME: 7:49 PM MDT
TIME EN ROUTE (INCLUDING STOPS): 13 hours, 2 minutes
TOTAL TIME EN ROUTE (INCLUDING DAY STOPS, BUT NOT NIGHT STOPS): 24 hours, 2 minutes
AVERAGE SPEED TODAY: 64.4 MPH
AVERAGE SPEED TO DATE: 60.0 MPH
GASOLINE CONSUMPTION TODAY: 45.4 Gallons
GASOLINE CONSUMPTION TO DATE: 72.2 Gallons
FUEL ECONOMY TODAY: 18.48 MPG
AVERAGE FUEL ECONOMY TO DATE: 19.94 MPG
TODAYS MUSIC: Last Exit: Trance by Nostrum until Denver and then Tranceport by Oakenfold through the Rockies, except on the Independence Pass where I sometimes shut the music off.

Comments:
While uneventful in that there were no mishaps, it was a long and interesting trip. I started off in the gently rolling countryside of Iowa and crossed into Nebraska. Mercifully, the speed limit in Nebraska increases to 75 MPH. With 350 miles of Nebraska to cross, faster is better. Traffic was again pretty light with not too many trucks. There was one unfortunate incident where I came onto an on-ramp after a gas stop right into a gaggle of about ten trucks all trying to pass each other.

The Eastern part of Nebraska is somewhat similar to that of Iowa with gently rolling hills, but past Lincoln, everything becomes so flat that it is possible to see a good 10 or 15 miles to either side, due to the fact that the freeway is raised about 10 feet above the surrounding farmland.

Just before the border, I-80 splits off I-76, which enters Colorado about 3 miles after its birth. The change is striking. Although Colorado is a perfect rectangle, it seems as if the gentle rolling hills and scrub that are the foothills of the Rockies started right on the border. When I crossed into Colorado, I started looking for the Rockies, but I could not see them, of course. It was not until I was about 30 miles outside Denver that I came over a rise and as if by magic the eastern wall of the Rockies, a herd of majestic black triangles tipped with white snow, suddenly dominated the Western horizon. It must have been a minute after their abrupt appearance before I realized that I wasnt breathing.

I-76 slowed to 55 MPH at Denver, much to my frustration, but when it merged with I-70 the speed limit increased to 65 and the freeway and I journeyed into the mountains. My car has an interesting relationship with mountains and cruise control. First, I have no way to shut off my overdrive, which was a bit annoying. Second, when the car is really pushing hard to get up a mountain, it does something strange with the climate control. Its as if the valves that control the air flow lose whatever pressure holds them in place and all the air goes to the defrost vents. Once the engine stops working so hard, the vents start acting normally again. I think the designers of the car want me to feel hot and sweaty in sympathy for the feelings of the car when its working hard.

Independence Pass is a shortcut to Aspen. The alternative is to go past Aspen on I-70 (crowded with traffic) and then to backtrack on Colorado 82 (which is the other end of the Independence Pass). But Independence Pass normally doesnt open until June on account of snow. It opened early this year, so I left I-70 at Copper Mountain and got on Colorado-91. Colorado-91 meets US-24 at Leadville, and US-24 meets Colorado-82 (the Independence Pass end) in the middle of nowhere. Independence Pass is a two-lane road with a speed limit of 35 or below for most of the route. It snakes high through the mountains and crosses the continental divide at some 12,000 feet. Here, I made my only two sightseeing day stops on the trip. The first lasted ten seconds when I stopped the car on the deserted road, rolled down the window, and killed the engine. Deafening silence. The second was at the continental divide when I got out of the car, put on my fleece sweater (I was wearing shorts, T-shirt, and sandals) and walked through a few patches of snow to the lookout point. When I got there, I realized that I was a bit dizzy and that my vision was going a bit grey around the edges. Although I was not out of breath, a brief stroll at 12,000 feet certainly had me feeling the altitude. But the view! No photograph could ever capture the view, so I took no camera.

I continued my slow and tortuous journey through this otherworldly beauty, this tundra in the middle of the U.S.A. the day before Memorial Day. Liberty Pass ended and not long after, a sign welcomed me to Aspen. The next sign warned me that the speed limit in the City of Aspen is 25 MPH unless otherwise posted. And then a police car with lights on (first cop Id seen since Nebraska) came chasing another car that was coming my way. Right. 25 MPH it was.

I got to Scotts and Deborahs just as they were finishing dinner, but still at the table (they had two other families over) and I was hungry, so dinner was good.

Finally, a few comments on fuel economy and average speed. Todays average speed was faster than I expected. First, average speed includes the time that I am stopped at a gas station or eating lunch or something like that. Second, while the speed limit across Nebraska is 75 and I was going about 77 for most of the time, I only enjoyed that speed limit for about 450-500 miles of the trip. It was 65 for most of the rest of the trip, but it was actually below 35 for most of the Independence Pass portion. So how my average speed was almost 65 is a mystery. The drop in fuel economy makes sense. Aspen is at about 7,000 feet above sea level. Iowa cant be more than 500 or 600 feet above sea level.


-Mike )'(
Certified Mad Doctor and HoP High Priest of Nutella

"A buckuht 'n a hooze!" -Valura

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Doc Lightning
GOLD Member since May 2001

Doc Lightning

HOP Mad Doctor
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA

Total posts: 13920
Posted:Day 3

LOCATION: Snowmass, CO
BEGINNING ODOMETER: 1439.4 miles
ENDING ODOMETER: 1442.0 miles
DISTANCE TODAY: 2.6 miles (taking my nephew to the bus stop and coming back)
TOTAL DISTANCE TO DATE: 1442.0
START TIME: Never!
END TIME: Never!
TIME EN ROUTE (INCLUDING STOPS): Zip. I wasnt en route
TOTAL TIME EN ROUTE (INCLUDING DAY STOPS, BUT NOT NIGHT STOPS): Same as yesterday (doesnt change because I wasnt en route)
AVERAGE SPEED: Who cares?
GASOLINE CONSUMPTION TODAY: Negligible
GASOLINE CONSUMPTION TO DATE: Whatever it was yesterday
FUEL ECONOMY TODAY: Who cares?
AVERAGE FUEL ECONOMY TO DATE: Whatever it was yesterday
TODAYS MUSIC: Deborahs singing (she sings with a few bands)

Comments:

A restful Memorial Day spent at my brothers. Memorial Day is a horrible day to be on the road, anyways. Everyone and his brother are trying to get home. The morning started at about 7:30 when I woke up of my own volition. We lazed around until just a bit after 9 when I took my nephew to the bus stop so that he could go skateboarding in the skateboarding park. At 11:30 we went to a birthday party for my nieces friend (he turns five tomorrow) and then at 1:30, Deborah and I hiked up the Ute trail on Aspen Mountain. It was only a 30-minute hike, but at least it was some exercise. Last time, Scott, Deborah, and I hiked all the way to the top of the mountain, but its an hour-and-a-half hike and the Gondola shuts down at 3:00, so we would have had to hike back down, totaling some 3 hour if we had gone all the way to the top. Then we came home, lazed in the hot tub, watched the dog and kids play in the grass, and now Im writing this while Deborah showers.

I love Colorado! Its so different from Michigan. In Michigan, 70% of the adult population is overweight, 50% is obese and some 30% are morbidly obese. Up here in the mountains, everyone is an athlete. They hike, they kayak, they ski, they rock climb, they dont watch so much TV, the kids are almost completely uninterested in video games (my nephew would rather play paintball and do the real thing than a simulation), and then theres the view. If there were a major medical research university up here, the world would be perfect. Except if there were a major medical research university up here, it would ruin everything.

Yet there is something about Aspen that makes me nuts. Deborah and Scott both started out here as poor ski instructors and they live here out of a passion for the place. They moved away so that Scott could go to school, but they came back. They feel drawn to this place like I do to San Francisco. Although Scott is now a banker and quite well to do, Scott and Deborah, like most of the locals, have higher priorities in life than money. In the summer, Aspen is populated by outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen who love nature and its beauty. But in the winter, it is populated by people who care only for money and stature. They ski because they enjoy it, of course, but also because their friends ski and because they can show off their multi-thousand dollar skis and ski suits and multi-million dollar vacation homes. They would never dream of skiing anywhere else, not because they have a vacation home here, but because this is a place to see and be seen! Im ashamed that I came from the same community as many of these people and I am afraid that fact will haunt me for the rest of my life. Wealthy people do not bother me; people who live only to accumulate stature (in the form of wealth) at the expense of all other values bother me, even when they arent yet wealthy. The only reason I ski in Aspen in the winter is because Scott and Deborah live here. That and the skiing here, unfortunately, is arguably the best in the country.

Tomorrow, I continue my journey into the West. This is the same terrain in which Burning Man is held. Red, hot, inhospitable, and indescribably beautiful, this is Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner territory! Ill pass down through Utah and clip the northwest corner of Arizona. I might stop there for the night because I will not, under any circumstances, make the mistake of staying in Las Vegas again. Alternatively, I might pass through Las Vegas and get closer to Los Angeles and stop there. I dont think I can make it all the way to Santa Barbara in the one trip, but I will leave here early and I will gain an hour when/if I cross into Pacific Time, so anything is possible. Nobody thought Id make Snowmass from Iowa in one day, either, especially not before nightfall! Having looked at the map, it looks possible, although grueling, to make it to Santa Barbara by nightfall. But Ill probably just stop in a random Super-8 Motel (or throw up my tent in a KOA campground) when I get sick of driving.


-Mike )'(
Certified Mad Doctor and HoP High Priest of Nutella

"A buckuht 'n a hooze!" -Valura

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Doc Lightning
GOLD Member since May 2001

Doc Lightning

HOP Mad Doctor
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA

Total posts: 13920
Posted:Day 4:

LOCATION: Santa Barbara, CA
BEGINNING ODOMETER: 1442.0 miles
ENDING ODOMETER: 2425.7 miles
DISTANCE TODAY: 983.7 miles
TOTAL DISTANCE TO DATE: 2425.7 miles
START TIME: 7:50 AM MDT
END TIME: 10:58 PM PDT
TIME EN ROUTE (INCLUDING STOPS): 16 hours, 8 minutes
TOTAL TIME EN ROUTE (INCLUDING DAY STOPS, BUT NOT NIGHT STOPS): 40 hours, 10 minutes
AVERAGE SPEED: 61.0 MPH
AVERAGE SPEED TO DATE: 60.4 MPH
GASOLINE CONSUMPTION TODAY: 43.6 Gallons
GASOLINE CONSUMPTION TO DATE: 115.8 Gallons
FUEL ECONOMY TODAY: 22.6 MPG
AVERAGE FUEL ECONOMY TO DATE: 20.95 MPG
TODAYS MUSIC: Dreamland by Robert Miles until dusk at Victorville, CA and then Summerbreeze by Tisto.

Comments:
I can hardly believe I did it! Snowmass to Santa Barbara in one, grueling day! But what a day! I started off by seeing my nephew off to school and my brother off to work and then I followed them out the driveway. I made it to Grand Junction, CO in rapid time because the morning rush goes up the valley and I was going down the valley.

My first gas stop was at a little tiny place that is the last gas for some 50 miles (I needed to pee more than I needed gas) but I remembered the place from my last cross-country trip because its actually the town deli/grocery store/gas station/watering hole. Welcome to Mack, CO. But the bathroom is really clean and they keep a guest book of people who pass through.

Utah...what a place! Such beautiful landscape! I played Robert Miless Dreamland CD through most of the trip because I believe that this is the landscape he had in mind. It was rocky and mountainous, but what struck me was the gradual change in the color from green in Colorado to tan in Utah to red in Arizona and on into California. I cant describe in words what it looks like out there. You have to drive it yourself to understand.

I made three stops in Utah. The first was my only sightseeing stop for the day where I pulled off at a scenic overlook and hiked up a small hill to look over this gorgeous desolation. No sign of humans as far as the eye could see (except, of course, the freeway). Then, I continued out of the valley that I was in and back into the mountains. It was hot, we were at high altitude, and I had a heavily laden car. But she performed beautifully. However, at one point when I was about 30 miles past a sign telling me that there were no services for the next 105 miles I thought I saw smoke in my exhaust. I slowed down, shut off the air conditioning and couldnt see any more smoke. But it really ruined a lot of beautiful scenery because I kept looking in my rearview mirror looking for smoke that I kept imagining I could see. Turns out that it was a trick of the light reflecting off the road, off my rearview mirror, and then through my polarized sunglasses. The smoke was not visible in the side mirrors, when I took off my sunglasses, or when I was no longer on a Utah road. But car trouble 30 miles from the nearest help in the middle of a 110-degree desert is not a pleasant thought!

My second stop in Utah was to fill both my stomach and the cars tank at the town of Salina. Much to my frustration, there was no water in the windshield squeegee buckets, so I had to drive on without being able to clean the bugs off my windshield. You get a lot of bugs on your windshield driving across country. My last stop was to pee at a rest stop on I-15 some 100 miles from Arizona.

As beautiful as Utah is, I dont like it. When I got out of the car there was always at least one large, blonde-haired, blue-eyed family with about seven kids. And it felt like everybody, the gas station attendant, the women behind the counter at Subway, the two guys at the next table, the guy cleaning the restroom at the rest stop everybody! was looking at me. They knew I was not a Mormon (Semitic-looking guy with dark hair and wearing a hemp necklace) and while they were perfectly friendly, I felt like an outsider. Although it is interesting to see caffeine-free Diet Coke offered on the soda machines in Subway.

Arizona was dramatic. The bulk of the passage on I-15 across the northwest corner of the state cuts through some high mountains. The freeway seems to be more bridge than normal road, but that is a testament to the landscape. The red rock mountains were made of strata pointing off at crazy angles. Pity that I had to watch the road.

I stopped twice in Nevada. I hadnt intended to stop at all, but Nevada is between Arizona and California and there was no place to stop in the 30 miles of Arizona and gas prices in California are outrageous. Because gambling is legal in Nevada, every freeway that enters the state has sprouted a town just inside the border complete with chintzy casinos and flashing lights. The gas stations have slot machines in the restrooms (in the restrooms of all places!). So I stopped in Mesquite and tanked up. I meant to take a quarter with me when I went to the bathroom just so that I could say that I had done it (hey, maybe Id hit the jackpot!), but I forgot.

I would like to say that I did not stop in Las Vegas, but I did. I never left the freeway and I never got out of the car, but I stopped. Never hit Las Vegas at 4:30 PM on a weekday. Rush hour there is not pretty. In fact, there is little that is pretty about the town if you pass through. The landscape that it is in is gorgeous, but Las Vegas is a sprawling mess of industrial sites, tangled freeways, and hazy smog in the middle of it. It looked like the picture of Mos Eisley from Star Wars, but less idyllic. And, paradoxically, there are vast expanses of green golf courses sitting around. It looks ludicrous to have this lush green grass sitting in the middle of all the red rock at 120 degrees.

Leaving Las Vegas, I patiently obeyed a ludicrous speed limit through an even more ludicrous 23 miles of construction on the one highway that links L.A. and Vegas. Not too bright to have that much construction on such a road. Better to do it in shorter segments. My second stop was in Nevada Landing, right at the California border. Here, I saw the most bizarre sight ever. There were two Buddhist monks (shaved heads, brown robes, etc.) sitting at the slot machines in the gas station! Go figure. Again, I forgot my quarter.

I think I let out a whoop of joy when I crossed into California. I was home! The first thing that the freeway does when it enters California is that it crosses a playa, just like the one where Burning Man is held, but smaller. Ah, flashbacks to good times. Then, the road went back into the mountains for a mountain pass at some 5,000 feet. My car rode that like an old pro. I stopped in Baker for dinner at a not-so-little mom-and-pop joint called Mad Greek. They had billboards all over the highway, so I figured that they must be pretty good if they could afford all the signs. Baker is proudly home of the Worlds Tallest Thermometer which read 102 degrees, so I sat outside in the shade and ate my Greek Salad, which was quite good. The temperature actually wasnt so bad. If you sit in the shade and there is no humidity, such a temperature is actually kind of pleasant. This was at 6:30 PM and I knew that I was less than four hours from Santa Barbara. I will not stop driving until at least 8:00 (except on the first day when I got forced into it) and so I kept going. But at 8:00 I was less than three hours from my goal, so it seemed silly for me to pay for a night in a hotel.

I passed through Barstow, which is famous from the opening line to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: We were fifteen miles outside of Barstow when the drugs began to take effect. Then, I hit Victorville at sunset. From Victorville on, the civilization density slowly increases until suddenly I was in San Bernardino.

Like Detroit, Los Angeles sneaks up on you, starting as the occasional strip mall and office building out seemingly in the middle of nowhere until you are suddenly in the thick of it. I obey the speed limit, which makes me the second slowest driver in Southern California (I passed the slowest driver, who was going 2 under, somewhere around Pasadena). Even at 9:30 at night, the traffic is dense with people racing by at 90 miles on the twelve-lane freeways. I somehow managed to navigate my way through the freeway system (California has an annoying habit of not using mile markers on the freeways) from I-15 to I-10 to I-210 to CA-134 to US-101 and finally I was on my way to Santa Barbara. It was night, so I couldnt really see the ocean, but I saw the oil rigs out there and I knew I was there. In three days of driving I had made it from the heart of the Midwest to the Pacific Coast.

My last trip cross-country, going the other direction, was a very different experience. I had my mother with me and we took five days of driving plus two days of rest to get from Santa Barbara to Detroit. But we stopped for a night in Vegas, where I discovered that I hate the place, and we spent a night at my sisters in Chicago. This time, I skipped Chicago because my sister was out of town and I skipped Vegas because Id rather rub cow dung in my hair than spend a night there.

And it wasnt that terrible, either. It was like meditation, in fact. After about an hour and a half on the road, I just put my brain on idle and left it there. Im certainly not ready to drop medical school and become a truck driver by any means, but now I know I can do it alone. I gained a lot of respect for the interstate system last time. I gained a lot of respect for myself this time.


-Mike )'(
Certified Mad Doctor and HoP High Priest of Nutella

"A buckuht 'n a hooze!" -Valura

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SickpuPpy


SickpuPpy

Ninja Rockstar!
Location: Denver, Co. U.S.A.

Total posts: 1100
Posted:quote: Yet there is something about Aspen that makes me nuts There is something about Aspen that makes everyone nuts, unless of course you happen to be disgustinly rich.

Co, is a great place to be, well Denver at least. I'd much rather be here than anywhere else. Glad you enjoyed it.

Cheers,

Sick


Jesus helps me trick people.

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Kinudin (Soul Fyre)


veteran
Location: San Diego, California, USA

Total posts: 1325
Posted:Congratulations Mike! And glad you made it home safely. The descriptions were quite impressive and interesting to read. I enjoyed it much.

Just enough to make me want to make a cross country. (actually my mom and I agreed to let me do it when I'm 21 )


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Kyrian


Dreamer
Location: York, England

Total posts: 4308
Posted:heh, i've made taht trip.... three days, Lansing to Orland (ok, so Orland's not the coast.... sue me.) and... i haev a worse tirp this fall.. ( ihope...) Deep River Ct to Santa Cruz Cali..... ohhhh man.... four days if we're lucky.... *shivers* ...well... i guess you coudl do it in three.... if you tried.... chicago first dya, utah second, cali third... but the family that did it is nuts...

neways, much fun mike! enjoy cali! perhaps we'll pass unknowningly when you head back out to MI in teh fall.


Keep your dream alive
Dreamin is still how the strong survive

Shalom VeAhavah

New Hampshire has a point....

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Doc Lightning
GOLD Member since May 2001

Doc Lightning

HOP Mad Doctor
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA

Total posts: 13920
Posted:Kyrian, if you have more than one driver, you can go almost non-stop if you want. And there's conversation. That is, if you don't mind sleeping in the car. Me personally, I need to stretch out. And I don't like driving at night for a long time. That's what's great about this time of year, nothing but daylight from 6 AM to 8:30 or so PM.

Let me know when you are heading out west. Maybe we'll get together and jam.


-Mike )'(
Certified Mad Doctor and HoP High Priest of Nutella

"A buckuht 'n a hooze!" -Valura

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