Two Months and 10 000 Miles Later...

As some of you may know, I just went on a long Road Trip for my last free summer. It was a really great trip. It is more or less over now, except for my travel back to Dallas. If you want to see pictures and various anecdotes related to the pictures, check out my flickr.

The basic outline of the trip was as follows: Fly to PA for a Flaming Lips concert and some fast visiting. Go back to MS and pack for the trip. Leave on Monday and get to OR in time for GOAT’s wedding on Friday (I was in the wedding so I had to get there before Thursday; I got there at like, 2:00am Thursday.) After that spend a little over a week with KT in Portland area. Then go to the Grand Canyon (via plane) with the rest of the family for a quick family vacation. Return to Oregon only to leave immediately for Spokane WA to visit Sarah for a few days. Return to OR yet again for KT’s wedding. Go to Seattle to visit Cassaundra and her grandma. Leave to go to MT/WY for Yellowstone and all that’s in between. BONUS: do some interesting things in South Dakota. BONUS: meet GOAT and Becci in Minneapolis for a free night’s stay and delicious dinner. Go to WI for a week of fun, and end on Darry’s wedding. Return home after the wedding (ca. 8 pm) and arrive the next day (ca. noon.) That is me driving all but 1.5 hours on the way back.

All in all it was an excellent trip. I learned a number of things. I’ll start with the mundane ones.

Camping is not as romantic as it sounds. I mean, sure, sleeping under the stars is great. You can see shooting stars and stuff like that. But I like to take showers in the morning. I like to sleep on flat surfaces. I don’t like having to scour the earth for land where you won’t get shot or eaten for camping where you did.

Real (up-to-date) maps beat electronic ones by a large margin. The main reason for this is that paper is so much higher resolution that you can easily see what’s going on without losing the detail that you want. If I use my phone as a map I get 320x320 pixels. On a printed page that’s less than a square inch of information.

Money helps trips like this a lot. If I had had the money that I planned on having (I did not have it entirely because of a mistake on my part) we would have gone to restaurants a lot more and eaten sandwiches a lot less.

Using Synthetic oil, high quality gas (Chevron, BP, Mobil, and ConocoPhilips,) and driving a constant 55 (which makes the biggest difference) are the best way to “go green” (aka save money) without forking over a bundle of cash on a new car (which is a little backwards.) I got about %18 more out of my gas by using those tricks. If you are a person who wants the world to go green, but you don’t do all of those things, you are a hypocrite.

A good power inverter is a lifesaver. I never had to worry about my cell phone dying in the middle of the desert or anything like that because I could charge up in the car. Also there were a couple times I burned CD’s in the car. That was nice too. So having all your music at your fingertips with a huge hard drive is nice too.

Bookstores are great places to loiter. They are almost everywhere and they often contain or are near to a good cafe. Sometimes they have nice chairs you can sink into and just read in the AC for hours. That’s really great when you didn’t plan enough things to do and you don’t have a hotel. On the other hand, if you are like me you may end up buying more books than you originally planned on.

Don’t expect cell phone reception everywhere. I was generally surprised on how good it actually was though. I don’t think we ever stayed somewhere where I had no reception at all. But when I was actually on the go I lost a lot of calls. Wyoming, am I right?

It’s great to visit friends on a vacation. They know where the cool spots are and sometimes they will even feed you. Isolation gets boring (or worse) pretty quick so seeing friends can be really nice. On the other hand, it helps not to stay more than a week. After that things might start to degrade.

Another thing that I learned on my trip, and this happened because I saw same friends from ancient times, is that the past has nothing left to offer. You may need to deal with issues from your past, but that doesn’t mean that you will profit from this deal. You will probably break even or worse.

Anyway, take what you want from this “wisdom.” I cannot ensure truth or beauty.

Posted Sun, Jul 27, 2008