April 8, 2007

So here I am back in Madison.

It's Easter. (Happy Easter.) I drove 1235 miles yesterday. Crazy? I set out, as you can see from the last post, thinking it was possible. I was starting at 6 a.m., before dawn, so I'd have a whole long day of sunlight. I'd be way into Iowa before it would get dark again. It would be easy to drive as far as Des Moines. But why stop at a motel in Des Moines, when home is so close? But if you don't stop in Des Moines, you aren't going to see any other good place to stop. And it so annoying to stop, unload, check in, sleep in an unfamiliar place, pack up, pay, load the car back up, when if you just put in a few more hours, you can be sleeping in your own bed.

I kept thinking about the time I drove 1100 miles. If I can do 1100, why not 1200? Of course, the 1100 was a mistake. I'd driven all the way from Madison to Salt Lake City and then made the snap decision to just go as far as the next town, which was remarkably ignorant. Still, I did it, and this time, the end of the drive would be familiar territory -- the push through Dubuque, across the bridge to the southwest corner of Wisconsin, and then the final stretch, which looks horribly desolate at night but is nowhere near as desolate as the Great Salt Lake Desert.

UPDATE: Something in the comments makes me realize that 1100 was not the distance I drove when I went from Madison to Wendover, Nevada. Checking Google Maps, I see it was 1,476 miles! I wish I'd realized that when I was driving 1235 miles on Saturday. I think it would have eased my mind. What a nut I was to drive almost 1500 miles that time! Yes, I think it was about 1100 to Salt Lake, and then I thought I should go a little further, without realizing I was at the edge of a 300 mile desert.

53 comments:

Simon said...

Glad you're home safe. :)

Ruth Anne Adams said...

I wonder if that parenthetical "Happy Easter" will satisfy The Maxine.

Ron said...

Good to have you back, Ann! I've done that 'frazzlizing' driving, and it messes you up for at least a day in a strange place! Still, driving itself give you that tunnel vision.

Ron said...

Did you get to Guerros? Threadgills? Kruez (sp) market?

Dwilkers said...

If you don't drive the 1200 you get a room in Iowa, basically you're paying to sleep 6 hours and have a shower. Its not like you're going to sleep very well in a Motel room. Plus you're facing driving all day Sunday.

This way you get to rest up all day today and you're sleeping in your own bed - meaning you'll actually get some quality rest.

I'm sure you're glad you did it now.

joated said...

Been there, done that. Denver to Morristown, NJ non-stop. (Although my wife did take the wheel for a 2 hour spell around Cincinnatti.) My son drove from Moscow, ID to Morristown solo three years ago. Said it was fine except for the hippos in tu-tus that showed up and danced on the dashboard as he drove across Pennsylvania.

Never again!

Glad to see you made it home safe and sound. From your posts it sounds like you had a great time.

Ann Althouse said...

If I'd had someone to share the driving with, it would have been a snap!

joe shropshire said...

Longest I've ever done was Knoxville to Amarillo (about 1100), which was done in one shot so as not to violate the Never Wake Up in Oklahoma Rule. I was hallucinating like a dogsled driver out on the Iditarod by the time I finally quit. Glad you made it home safe.

Maxine Weiss said...

It's Easter. (Happy Easter.)---Althouse

Yeah, I'm just bowled over by the sincerity. So genuine. Althouse truly wants everyone to have a most joyous Easter.

That's why she's carefully layered each basket with grass, a chocolate bunny, marshmellow and colored eggs.

And, that's just for her readers. Of course the Althouse children get even more extensive Easter baskets.

Later, Althouse will prepare the traditional ham with mint jelly, with a special easter slaw, and hors'deurves of deviled egss etc..

Peace, Maxine

Kev said...

Glad you made it back safely. I've done trips like that before, though never that long on a solo venture.

I wish I'd had more blog-reading time while you were here in Texas, as I'm sure I would've had a few things to say. Hope you enjoyed your stay here.

rhhardin said...

I find that the always-accompanying dog gets tired after 500 miles.

I usually leave at 2am, after the drunks are mostly gone, making sure first that there's no big city rush hour looming at wherever 7am will find you. But it's a more interesting time to drive, if you don't do it often.

It's you and some jaded truckers out there, and not much else traffic-wise.

CDHall said...

Ann, well done! If you'd done it on a motorcycle, you'd have been completing a "SaddleSore 1000," an official ride of the Iron Butt Association. It requires a documented ride of >1000 miles in <24 hours. The next higher difficulty ride is the "Bun Burner Gold," which requires >1500 miles in <24 hours. I know folks probably think it's harder on a motorcycle, but I think it's harder in a car, so again, well done!
Chris

Kevin L. Connors said...

LOL. Thanks for the memories, Ann. In 1984 I did an 18 hour pound (including an hour rest stop on the lovely Merced River) from Tacoma down here to Orange County in my Alfa (1145 mi.). Thanksgiving of 1985, after a fairly "relaxed" day trip from OC, and two days of skiing at Alta, I left Provo, drove through Heber City for a half-day at Park City, hopped in the Alfa and pounded on down to Tonopah. After about a five-hour rest, drove to Mammoth for a half-day - almost all on "Gunslinger". Then I hopped in the Alfa, and drove home (1637 mi. altogether).

Of course, I was MUCH younger then. :)

Peter Palladas said...

1000 miles plus in a day?

Nothing.

You people should try 10 round the M25 in the morning rush hour!

Ann Althouse said...

Kevin: If it wasn't a cool car, it would all have been different, though, right?

I love my car, and it is extremely comfortable. The ergonomics are perfect for me. I didn't feel the least bit uncomfortable the whole time. My only real concerns were: 1. falling asleep and 2. visual fatigue. I was never really sleepy. (I stayed up 2 more hours after I got home.) But periodically I felt unalert. I would turn down the temperature and turn up the radio. The vision was the biggest problem, especially in the end on the dark road where I had to concentrate on the painted lines and the tail lights ahead.

Joe said...

So YOU'RE the one who almost ran me off the road yesterday here in Des Moines! Stop here next time and I'll buy you a cup of coffee for the road.

Glad you made it safely. Happy Easter!

Quadraginta said...

Ha ha, if we're going to compare lengths, so to speak, like the guys in neighboring urinals, then when I was (a lot) younger I drove from Chicago to San Francisco (2200 miles) in one go. I think it was about 36 hours, on account of those wretched 55 MPH speed limits. No big problem, but I do recall being so damned tired of Nebraska that I pulled over when I finally got to the Wyoming state line and took a leak, standing on Wyoming, on Nebraska.

Kevin L. Connors said...

Oops, that was "Shaft", not "Gunslinger".

Kevin L. Connors said...

Yeah Ann, having the right car (or bike) is key. The old Alfa's performance (115 mph top end - which I did most of the way through Nevada) would be mediocre for an econobox today. And, of course, I was on a first name basis with my mechanic. (In fact, on the trip north to Tacoma, I had to call him at home from Petaluma.) But, when everything was running right, it was marvelous - the classic European GT.

Bruce Hayden said...

Ann,

You are definately a better man (ok, person) than I here. Back in my late 20s and early 30s, I would drive nonstop from D.C. to Colorado or the reverse a couple of times a year. That was somewhere around 36 hours - I would leave after work, drive all night, and then through the next day and night, getting in around dawn.

But more recently, I popped back and forth between either Golden or Dillon CO and Phoenix, which is usually between 750 and 800 miles, and have only a couple times been able to do it in one shot - usually, like you this time, coming back. Then, when I start getting back into CO, I think how easy it is from here on in. Then I get a bit closer, and remember how close I am, etc. And, I can keep that up the last 250 miles or so.

But that 800 miles is a fairly hard limit now for me. And I tend to split it up anyway, usually 300 and 500, though sometimes I stay in Durango/Cortez, which is pretty close to half way.

So, welcome back, and congrats on a good trip.

Bruce Hayden said...

Ron,

I spent my five to six years in Austin immediately adjacent to what is now the southern Threadgills (by the Armadillo Headquarters) in the high rise office building next door (One Texas Center). Unfortunately, Threadgills was only there the last couple of years that I was in Austin. And, as with anything that is that close (by far, the closest place to eat to work), I didn't eat there nearly as often as I think I should have.

Beth said...

"The Maxine" -- Ruth Anne, that's priceless.

cdhall, a friend of mine did a Saddlesore 1000 ride back in 2005. He stopped at a Harley shop in central Louisiana to record the event. Imagine the looks on the faces of the guys at the shop when they went outside and got a look at his vehicle -- a Vespa scooter.

Ann, I'm glad you're home safe. So, when faced with a 1300 mile trip, are you going to think back on this and ask "what's another 100?"

Kevin L. Connors said...

Oh, incidentally, I intend to shortly approximate some of the old glories (foolishnesses?) - albeit in a more mature manner. I recently bought a Volvo Turbo Wagon, which shares a lot of characteristics with the old Alfa - save for that it is a hell of a lot more reliable, and hauls a hell of a lot more. And I've been looking at BMW R1150RTs - Although economics might force me into something like a Honda V65 Magna. And I've got relatives who have moved to Tennessee, and old AF buddies in Florida and Georgia.

Peter said...

Good show. I've done over a 1000 miles more than once. Newport, TN to S.Sioux City, IA comes readily to mind.

Daniel said...

That's an amazing trek. The one and only time I have been to Madison was when I stopped there on a North Carolina to Seattle drive. Lexington, NC to Madison was a little over 900 miles, by far the longest I have driven in one day.

Welcome home!

Kruglosutochnik said...

My longest was Orange County, Calif to Dallas, 22 hours and 20 minutes. We showed up at 8:30 am on Monday, and our hosts, expecting us on Monday nite or Tuesday, took Tuesday off. By the time we awoke, they were just getting home, so a nice dinner, sleep, and off to Western Pa. (18 hours and change). The Border Patrol guy in West Texas, after midnite, with a laugh: "I'm not even gonna ask. Have a safe trip."

Jeff said...

Not bad. I did Wichita to San Fransisco (1800 miles) and Wichita to DC (1300 miles) both in one shot by myself in a 91 escort. I did the Wichita to Key West (2600 miles)and back one Thanksgiving weekend in the same Escort, but I cheated and had a co-pilot. Left Wed night, back Sunday morning. I am sure I had good reasons for these drives, but that reason doesn't come to mind.

Jeff said...

Shoot, forgot about when I was engaged to a girl in Dallas and made the Grand Island, Ne to Dallas, Texas run every weekend. Of course, that's only 630 miles each way so maybe it shouldn't count.

Ann Althouse said...

Jeff: Wow! But when there's a second driver, it's entirely different. You can go forever. Why would anyone stop at a roadside motel if they aren't alone? (I can credit one answer: they are overcome with sexual passion. But that seems to be just a lack of creativity.)

Jeff said...

Oh yeah. No doubt. The guy I had as a co-pilot was a long distance driver himself. We switched off back and forth every 3 or 4 hundred miles. We actually picked Key West as the destination because it was Thanksgiving and we were afraid of the weather on the way to Banger, Maine or Seattle, Washington and we had both recently been to San Diego. So Key West it was. I think we spent a total of 2 hours there before heading back. The San Fran run I would not advise anyone to do. Took me 33 hours of non stop driving and I arrived there on a Monday morning and had rush hour traffic to deal with after all that driving. Then the hotel I was working at expected me to start work when I got there. They were disappointed. I don't think I would try that again.

Steve White said...

Just did 990 miles (Outer Banks to Chicago) in ~ 15 hours but with a second driver it really was a snap, and as Anne said we could have gone on for a lot longer. From Toledo to Chicago there's really nowhere to stop, so you might as well come on through to your own bed.

B. Durbin said...

Heh. We drove from Denver to Sacramento (1185 miles) in one day (exactly) once, which would have worked out better had the car not broken down near Laramie. On Labor Day. I'm actually kind of shocked we were able to get back on the road so soon.

I think the hardest endurance slog we ever did was driving down from Spokane to Eugene (~400 miles) and then back the next day... for six weeks running on our days off. We really didn't want to drive a moving van down the Columbia River Gorge.

SMSgt Mac said...

Solo endurance stories eh?
Well then, try 1100 miles in one day from Dallas/Fort Worth to Luke AFB, AZ. I did it in August of 1973. Not too big a deal in a nice air-conditioned car, but I did it on a 1972 Kawasaki H-2. The H-2 is a high-revving two-stroke motorcycle, with a max range of 130 miles betwen fillups including 'reserve' (a challenge when crossing West Texas), and the vibration at speed will put your feet asleep to make those pit stops sporty. Gawd, I was an idiot, young, or both.

Jeff said...

Smsgt mac has me beat. I drive a bike these days, and my Harley vibrates too. The absolute most I will go a day on it is 450 miles. And that's with a lot of stops. Of course, I am pushing 46, maybe in my younger days I would go further. But I doubt it. The guy that co-drove my trip to Florida was a hard core biker though. He would ride one of his bikes to visit his parents in Southern California from Hutchinson, Kansas on a regular basis. And he wouldn't use the interstates. He would drive as the bird flies on state highways, state roads, gravel roads, etc. Of course, HE was nuts.

HawgGuy said...

Reminds me of my 1976 ride from Biloxi to New York non-stop.... on a 400 cc Honda motorcycle ... in the rain. Young & dumb.

Kevin L. Connors said...

I'm not sure many of you get it. I know Ann does, as "Alfa" perked her ears.

There's a difference between a "pound" and a "magic drive." Peter, I pity your trip across the "I" states. But, from what I gather from my correspondents, the trip from Newport to Frankfort should have been pure magic time. Unless, perhaps, you were in the wrong vicuhle, or with the wrong company.

On Nov. 17, 1971, Dan Gurney and Brock Yates rolled into the Portofino Inn, in Redondo Beach, CA, 35 hours and 54 minutes after leaving NYC.

Well, this would normally be just a pound. But who among us wouldn't give up a big portion of their trust fund, just to spend a couple of hours at the wheel of a Ferrari Daytona, or with either Dan Gurney or Brock Yates at their side?

Early one day in October of 1975, one of my Air Force compatriots (whose name I can't recall), and I arrived here in Orange County, Ca, about 24 hrs. after leaving Keesler AFB, in Biloxi MS (about 1960 mi, distant), We had a sleeping palate in the back, a cooler full of food/beverage, and various catheter devices, in his Ford Van. And he was lousy company (likely why I can't recall his name).

That was nothing but a pure pound.

Kevin L. Connors said...

SMSgt Mac: Right with you on that. Early in 1976, with my Suzuki GT 750 down, I made the Friday-after-work pilgrimage home to OC, from Castle AFB, in Merced (about 325 miles), on a friend's 350 Kawi triple. That sucker beat the shit out of me.

Oh, BTW, that was my second GT 750. The first one I ported. And it ate H-2s for lunch. ;)

JimM47 said...

Having driven from Denver to Minneapolis (while hungover) in one shot, I can sympathize with Quadraginta's feelings about Nebraska.

Bill said...

I'm impressed.

I once did 950 from Amarillo to Nashville in one shot - and what made it easy was stopping halfway (Fort Smith, Ark) and going into a restaurant for a sit-down meal (steak). The rest delayed the trip's end by an hour, but made the second have as easy as the first.

I nearly made it from Denver to Nashville once, but made a mistake by going from Denver to Colorado Springs first instead of heading straight east. (I wanted to see Colorado Springs!) Wound up stopping somewhere in souther Illinois not far from the Kentucky border, after I tired of seeing stop signs and giant bunny rabbits in the middle of the interstate. That was about 1,000 miles I think.

Oh, just remembered my longest non-stop car drive: Approximately 1560 miles from Abilene Texas, to San Jose, California, including crossing the Mojave Desert, all without stopping 'cept for gas and food. In a $500 Pontiac Sunbird with no a/c, believe it or not, and we did it it all in reverse a week later, back in 1987. I had a co-pilot, though. Does that count?

(We went from Abilene through Lubbock, Clovis N.M., Tucumcari, Albuquerque, Flagstaff, Kingman, Barstow and Bakersfield. Mapquest shows a slightly shorter route that goes through El Paso, Tucson, Phoenix and LA., but we didn't have Mapquest back in '87.)

I don't think I could do that trip today without it killing me. Back then, I was a college student then, headed to California for spring break.

Bill Hobbs
www.billhobbs.com

Chip Ahoy said...

You're insane.

No mention of coffee. No mention of astronaut Lisa Nowak-like technique.

Happy Easter.

Mr. Forward said...

Yeah, but was it uphill both ways?

Václav Patrik Šulik said...

[Cringe.]

I used to do DC to Tulsa (or Tulsa to DC), pretty regularly -- 1040 miles -- but I had a partner to split the driving time.

I can't imagine doing this distance by myself...

Of course, my father-in-law used to do Las Vegas to San Antonio back when there were no speed limits -- he said he averaged 85 mph. Those were the days.

Kevin L. Connors said...

Bill:

In a $500 Pontiac Sunbird with no a/c, believe it or not, and we did it it all in reverse a week later...

That Sunbird must have one damn good transmission. :))

TMink said...

I listen to podcasts when I roadtrip, less music then when I am in town. Podcasts make the time go by faster for me.

Trey

Alan Kellogg said...

I would like to thank everybody in this thread for confirming my decision to avoid driving like the plague.

Sprite948 said...

In the 60s I used to drive straight through from California to Madison - about 48 hours. Did it three times (and back), and each time I would begin to hallucinate on a certain stretch of road in Iowa. Fun.

Jeff said...

The hallucination stories are no joke. I fully recognize that none of us should have been on the road after being up that long, but we were all young and stupid once. I did a road trip from Chicago to Milwaukee by way of Detroit and over the great lakes a number of years ago with a co-driver. I was up so long that a few hours outside of Thunder Bay I saw the Lincoln Memorial on the side of the road. Just the statue part, not the whole building. Because that would be crazy. I later saw a Moose in the middle of the road. Both seemed real. Possibly neither were. Right when I really needed some caffeine, out of the fog this filling station appeared. Out in the middle of nowhere. It was a large wooden building, we stopped and other than the dead animals hanging from the walls and ceiling it looked like any other gas station, so I got a couple cans of coke and a snickers bar and that got me to Thunder Bay where I gave up the wheel. Several years later I am driving the same roads going the other way. I was well rested and awake and it was daylight and I saw that filling station. On my first visit I was positive it was out in the middle of nowhere. Turns out it is near downtown of a fairly large village. It is amazing what the mind will do to you under sleep deprivation.

CDHall said...

I love all these long-distance driving/riding stories. I'll add that my longest ride was 1525 miles in a little under 22 hours. I left Blacksburg VA at midnight and enjoyed dinner in Santa Rosa NM at about 8 PM. It was on a Honda ST1300 motorcycle. Starting the next morning, I spent 5 days getting from Santa Rosa to South Lake Tahoe for the 2005 Astrodynamics Conference. I made the return trip to Blacksburg in 4 days, one of which was in non-stop torrential downpour from central CO to southern IL.

I'd do it all again tomorrow if I could get the day off.

Jim said...

Oh cool, road trip stories again!

My longest was 1723 miles, from Joliet IL to Las Vegas, NV as part of a move from Canada (via Buffalo) to Vegas. I didn't plan it that way, I did it because I somehow got the idea that it was a day later than it really was, and I wanted to have at least one solid day of sleep before starting the new job in Vegas, to recover. So I skipped the second stop in Denver.

Going through the mountains and rock formations of Colorado and Utah in the dead of night, no one else around for miles (including that 150-mile "no services" stretch of Utah), and a last-quarter moon illuminating it all, was amazing. Doing it in a loaded-beyond-capacity rented Camry (I couldn't afford a proper truck) with a leaky tire and a fresh dusting of snow on the Utah leg, during one of the biggest continent-wide windstorms I'd ever seen, helped add that extra bit of zing that kept me up.

I did stop for an hour or so just after reaching I-15, for a catnap to take the edge off; my body was getting rather insistent on the desire for sleep just as the dawn broke.

I was both mad and glad to get into town only to find it was Saturday morning, not Sunday.

Second longest trip was New Orleans to Canada in 1996. That was a heavenly trip, not so much from the scenery as it was because I was stoked on discovering what I thought were my future career and future wife, all in one Big Easy go. The job in Vegas is the one out of two that I got ;)

TMink said...

Hallucinations huh? OK, we had a coffeehouse at my fraternity every semester. Kind of a satirical skit and occasional talented performance kind of thing that involved lots of fun, frivolity, and intoxication. With a group of friends, I was driving from Chapel Hill to Miami to fly to Jamaica for Spring Break.

I was elected the driver for the first leg when it was ascertained that I, truthfully, had ingested no alcohol. So I drove while the others slept.

At around the South Carolina border I had to pull over. When the guys asked why, I pointed to the doorknobs littering the freeway and said that it was just not safe with all that detritus in the road.

Someone had the good sense to ask if I had perhaps engaged in using some intoxicant other than alcohol, which, sadly, but truthfully, I had, and relegated me to the back seat for several hours.

It was a good call as he was somehow able to drive between all the doorknobs.

Who knew?

Trey

Kevin L. Connors said...

CDHall:

It was on a Honda ST1300 motorcycle...

I'd do it all again tomorrow if I could get the day off.

If I had an ST1300, you'd have to pry me off of it with a wrecking bar. ;)

Ann Althouse said...

Oh, Jim makes me realize I drove almost 1500 miles that one time.

As for hallucinations, well, if I had them, I wouldn't admit it. But my theory is that they aren't like crazy or druggy hallucinations, just a physical reaction on the retina, similar to a flashbulb effect, or, really, the reverse of a flashbulb effect. You're totally concentrated on the central part of your vision, which is what you need to drive. There's that tunnel of light, within which you focus on the painted lines and the tail lights in front of you. You don't care about your peripheral vision, and it's all just dark gray, but after a while you start seeing mountains and bridges and such things. Basically, it's just the unstimulated retinal tissue that you brain is picking up. That's what I would say if it happened to me.

Centinel said...

Dangerang, y'all are good. I was proud of myself for making it from Norman, OK to Los Angeles in under 20 hours (1,348 miles). That's nothing compared to some of these folks.

Well done, Ann.