Tuesday, November 4, 2008

What I Learned Driving 2850 Miles Across the U.S.

As most of you already know I just completed a move from the Washington, DC area to the Seattle, WA area, which involved what turned out to be a 2850 mile westward trek across this great nation of ours. It was a quick drive (4 1/2 days) so I didn't have a lot of time to stop and see the sights, but I did learn a few things on the journey.

  • 2850 miles is a long-ass drive no matter how you look at it.

  • The Prius is a damn comfortable car, and even loaded down going 80 mph it gets about 45 mpg.

  • Minnesota has serious work to do on their stretch of I-90. Guh-DUNK guh-DUNK guh-DUNK for hundreds of miles can drive even the most sane person a bit batty.

  • Quality Inn tends to take pets, and tend to be of fairly good, um, quality.

  • You do not want to be in Sioux Falls, South Dakota in late October when the wind's blowing 60 miles per hour. I haven't been that cold in a very long time.

  • Most of what you will see driving through South Dakota is signs for Wall Drug, even when it's about 6 hours away.

  • Driving through the barren part of South Dakota and then coming to the crest of a large hill to be greeted by the Missouri River on the other side was truly a sight to behold.

  • The South Dakota badlands are very cool, and I now understand why bikers make a trek to Sturgis every year.

  • Gas was only $2.29 in Wyoming

  • There's a "Crazy Woman Creek" in Wyoming, and a "Crazy Woman Liquor Store" to go with it. I like to think the creek was named after the liquor store, and I'd like to meet the crazy woman behind the name. Unfortunately the sandwich shop I stopped at for lunch had a much more mundane name. (I mean isn't "Crazy Woman Sandwiches" marketing gold?)

  • There was a sign for "Toe Service" at a gas station in Wyoming. I think I know what they meant ...

  • Montana is absolutely breathtakingly beautiful. Think of the most idyllic mountain stream scene you can, and it's in Montana in mass quantities.

  • If you stop at a Quality Inn in Billings, Montana, you might just be lucky enough to have Pantera staying there the same night you are. (No, I did not seek them out and attempt to party with them.)

  • Cell phone service is really amazingly good even in the middle of nowhere. There were very few points at which I had no cell signal, and usually it was when I was in the mountains.

  • When I crossed the Continental Divide at 6300 feet elevation, I realized I didn't know what the Continental Divide was and felt really stupid.

  • Northern North Dakota is almost as pretty as Montana.

  • I really need to go hang out in the Columbia Basin in central Washington at some point--another amazingly beautiful spot.

  • I now see signs for cities in Canada on the highway, and I get one channel of the Canadian Broadcasting Company on cable. It's funny to hear the Canadians refer to America as "south of the border." Don't they know that's Mexico?

So I'm now happily in Seattle and will have to get to know the CFers in the area!


Thanks for the fun write-up. You have me sold on Montana based on your description:

Montana is absolutely breathtakingly beautiful. Think of the most idyllic mountain stream scene you can, and it's in Montana in mass quantities.

Enjoy Seattle!


I would have stopped in Sturgis :) Great report and a trip I hope to make one day!!

Welcome to the Pacific Northwest. It's a great place to live. And if you though Montana was beautiful, there is much you'll enjoy in Washington and Oregon as well. Um, and come visit Alaska some time, OK?

Travelling is so "meatspace." While you're out driving around the middle of B.F.E., the rest of us are coding and actually participating in what really matters.

Glad to see you're back online, hope you don't leave us anytime soon.

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