We recently returned from a 6300 mile, multi-state road trip taken to visit family and friends, attend a high school reunion, and at times play tourist. It was a wonderful trip!
The yellow-highlighted map above provides a general idea of our route. We drove from Livermore to Illinois to see family and friends, then to Michigan to see more family, then to Ohio for the reunion and more friends, then back to Missouri to see family, and then to New Mexico for one more family visit. We left New Mexico to venture north into Colorado, enjoyed a ride on the Durango-Silverton narrow gauge railroad, and then spent a couple days in Arizona at Grand Canyon before heading home. We scheduled this trip tightly: the drive from Livermore to the Chicago area took three days and the drive home from Grand Canyon was 750 miles in one day. And we averaged 28 mpg in our minivan, driving up hill and down dale on interstate highways and back roads alike.
Now that we are home and (mostly) unpacked, a few notes and observations seem worth sharing.
First, a drive across the United States is educational. You can’t help but notice the size of the country, and how richly we have been blessed with beauty and natural resources. Yes, you see some junkyards and trashy places, but you also see awesome mountains, productive farms, wildlife, different weather, and many sorts of communities. People we met were almost always friendly and easy to visit with. Granted, we did not spend time in any big cities, but the country we saw was nothing like the murder and mayhem seen on the news over the past few years.
Second, we discovered that gasoline outside of California usually cost about two dollars per gallon less than what we pay in the Bay Area. This was no surprise. Folks in California are so used to paying more that they don’t often ask why, but it can be healthy to question California policies that drive energy prices. We also noticed a dearth of charging stations for electric vehicles, not only in remote areas but along interstate highways as well. In theory, this trip would be feasible with an electric vehicle, but only by careful pre-planning to avoid remote areas, allowing extra time for one or two mid-day charging stops, and allowing more extra time in case the charging station is already in use when you arrive. I don’t think an electric vehicle could have kept our pace or easily visited all the places we stopped.
Third, we took the opportunity to join some of our brothers and sisters in Christ for worship at Calvary Lutheran Church in Elgin, Illinois; Redeemer Lutheran Church (where we were married almost 47 years ago) in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio; and Christ Lutheran Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Each worship service had its own style, but they were all steeped in the Word, founded on Christ, and blessed by God’s grace. In two out of the three we were able to worship with family and friends; icing on the cake, so to speak.
Fourth, we saw a country and a people (yes, I refer to Americans as a people rather than using the politically preferred descriptions of us as warring tribes) that are very different from what we hear on the news, in opinion pieces and editorials, and from our politicians. This was both refreshing and reassuring. Frankly, I think our politicians, news reporters, and editorial writers all need to get out more. Traveling up and down the coast between Massachusetts, New York City, and Washington DC doesn’t count. They need to get out of their familiar haunts, out of their complacent bubbles, and out of their echo chambers, and get in touch with the populace they claim to know but so plainly don’t. It would do them good, and it would definitely improve their work if they are open to a dose of reality.
Finally, and as noted above, driving across the country is educational and enjoyable. Very different from flying over it, to be sure. If you get the chance to try it and don’t mind the time behind the wheel, go for it!
One thought on “Ruminating on a Roadtrip”
Another excellent article. The powers that be haven’t thought the whole electric car routine through to driving across the country which I think everyone should do as opposed to flying across it. And speaking of flying doesn’t that involve fossil fuel? Haven’t heard about electric planes and charging station for them!!!!!!