December 28, 2014

The mental space of a long drive is a very different place. You can't get there by plane.

"Has the good Professor previously revealed a fear of flying?"asks Oso Negro, in "The Blue Sky Café." "Three hours on the plane, no matter how demeaning the screening process, surely beats two days each way in the car in the dead of winter,"

I answer:
It's much more than 3 hours, when you count getting to the airport, parking, slogging with luggage into the terminal, the wait that you have to build in to avoid missing the plane, the possible delays, in Madison and (especially) in Chicago (the only available connection), including the horrible delays that involve getting kicked out of the airport and needing to go to a hotel and then come back 4 hours later. I once had my 3-days-before Christmas flight cancelled, automatically rescheduled a day later, then had that flight cancelled, and found out that they had no flight that could get me to Austin for Christmas. That was the first Christmas I ever spent alone.

Quite aside from the time, it's that you are pushed around and crowded with other people continually. I don't have a fear of flying. I hate the conditions of disorder and complexity and indignity. I don't want to be treated that way.

And I have a car.

A car gives me flexibility about when to leave. I can pick good weather days, or give up on the whole trip at the last minute if I want. With a car, I have control and freedom. Yeah, it probably takes longer, but I am a free citizen in the United States of America. I'm comfortable in my safe and luxurious car (an Audi TT), and I've got satellite radio to fill my quiet space and cause my thoughts to roam.

I listened to a great TED Talk Hour about memory, and then I had an hour-long (hands-free) phone conversation with Meade, which included his stories about walking around Madison, which jogged my memory about the memory show, and we talked about all that for 70 miles.

The mental space of a long drive is a very different place. You can't get there by plane.
UPDATE: Home!

135 comments:

Ann Althouse said...

Enough of this Osceola stopover. This is cutting into my hope of getting home in time for the Packers game.

Gahrie said...

I'm with Althouse on this one. Absent my private Lear, I prefer to drive.

bleh said...

Air travel is much safer than driving, unless you fly over the waters of Southeast Asia.

To me, in general, air travel is preferable for distances exceeding 500 miles. Other factors/variables are at play, of course, including number of connections, price, road quality, traffic, etc. But in general, the time spent getting to and from the airport is more than worth it compared to a 9 hour drive. I enjoy driving, but over long distances I find it even more exhausting than the "disorder and complexity and indignities" of air travel.

If I lived in California, I probably would have a hard time deciding whether to fly between SF and LA (about 500 miles). I guess if I was traveling to LA, I would be more inclined to drive because I would need a car and wouldn't want the hassle and expense of an airport car rental. But traveling to SF, I might prefer to just drive to the airport in LA and then ride BART into the city.

SteveR said...

I understand the conditions which make you prefer to drive vs flying. At this time of year especially. Since you have time its not a bad trip, generally open roads with minimal traffic. So you have adapted and made the best of the flexibility you can't have with air travel.

Original Mike said...

Flying sucks. I, too, will do a long drive over flying.

bleh said...

edit: about 400 miles, not 500

roadgeek said...

Spot on. My wife needed to go to Chicago for a funeral two years ago. Drove from Austin to Chicago in two days. Stopped where we wanted. Ate where we wanted. Had the freedom to move around in Chicago. Left when we wanted. Plenty of room to stretch and move around in a RAV4. Room for snacks and drinks and music and newspapers. Put the seat back and snooze. Oh, yeah. Planes are for dire emergencies.

bleh said...

It's up to Althouse, ultimately, how she receives your bizarre comments. I think they're abusive, and at the very least, creepy.

Original Mike said...

I don't really care about the TSA (unless the line is long), but the seat size is scandalous (and I'm not even that large) and, as Althouse says, the delays, missed connections, and cancellations are nerve racking.

Opinh Bombay said...

Other factors.

Audible books make a drive wonderful. Audible.com

When you get there, you don't have to rent a car to have the freedom to go where you want.

Humperdink said...

As I said earlier, spouse and I refuse to fly.

Back in the late 80's, I had my own plane. Quit flying a few years later. Spouse was encouraging me to take it up again so we could still fly, but avoid the associated issues our good hostess outlined above.

It's very time consuming to get up to speed, plus my flying skills (read: coordination) have eroded, so we drive.

Unknown said...

I'm with the Professor on this one as well.

However, in addition to car travel passenger rail is also sometimes a possibility.

Original Mike said...

I'm puzzled. By my calculation Althouse won't even make it home by the end of the game.

Meade needs to record it for her.

The Cracker Emcee Refulgent said...

I dislike all forms of traveling (except by foot when I'm hiking or hunting). But I want those destinations, so I make the form of locomotion as fast and safe as possible and accept that it may be boring, uncomfortable, and awash with knuckleheads.

traditionalguy said...

And 2 tanks of 93 octane have gone down from $ 130 to $90 in a month. Delta has raised fares and fees. Hmm.

Carol said...

Ah I love a road trip. I used to drive 8-12 hours at at time when I was in music. LA to Jackson Hole, Reno to Albuquerque. No cruise control, no cell phone, no self defense implement.

Good times.

traditionalguy said...

My wife just told her friend that the Cowboys are playing the Indians. The friend had wanted to know the Falcons score, but that game has been kicked over to the late game.

richard mcenroe said...

WHAT?! You would violate the sanctity of Mother Gaia for the mere personal convenience of owning a car?

I DENOUNCE you!

Airplanes are moral and ethical. We know this because green activists use them to fly to global warming conferences and legislators use them to fly to, um, legislating places to benevolently guide our lives.

Selfish people only use cars to selfishly drive to their selfish jobs at selfish businesses and selfishly visit their selfish relatives.

DECENT people either fly like good Greens or never leave home at all!

Original Mike said...

If you had a Tesla, you could take a nap every four hours.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

You can play 99 counties as you drive across Iowa.

Humperdink said...

Greenpeace executive flies 250 miles to work.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/earthnews/10920198/Greenpeace-executive-flies-250-miles-to-work.html

cubanbob said...

I prefer flying. I can drink on the flight, read and sleep. Can't do any of that while driving.

Balfegor said...

I hate driving, so it's airplanes for me. On the other hand, the experience of US airports, with sullen, dull-witted staff delighting in the malicious enforcement of petty rules and harassments, is quite awful. The introduction of services like Global Entry and TSA Pre-✔ allow one to get through screening and immigration feeling like a free man, rather than an East German under the Communist yoke, I suppose, but the common man in the US doesn't get to enjoy such luxuries.

PB said...

agree 100%! If you have the time and a good vehicle and the roads aren't too crowded, then driving is preferable to me if it's 1500 miles or less.

Birches said...

I actually agree with Althouse on this, though I might change my mind if it was just me and a spouse.

The hell of 14 hours in a van with 4 kids could never rival the hell of the whole airport process with 4 kids. My kids do well driving and I don't have the extra anxiety that comes from worrying about what they'll do when trapped in a plane with hundreds of stressed out strangers.

Unknown said...

I'm with the Professor on this. Everything about air travel is a chore. Everything.

Roadtrips are the ultimate in customization.


Last minute planning? check
Multiple routes along the way? check
Can't resist the sign that says "foot high pie"? check

dreams said...

I agree with Althouse.

Ron said...

Emotional Althouse feels like a simulation of human emotions. Like an academic who read a paper about how people "feel" and then read that paper at a conference to convey being down with authenticity somehow.

You're tenured, so go more nuts! I'd believe that more.

Laslo Spatula said...

cubanbob said...
"I prefer flying. I can drink on the flight, read and sleep. Can't do any of that while driving."

I beg to differ.

I am Laslo.

Biff said...

I'm in the same boat, err, car, as the Professor on this one. For all of the reasons she cited, if I'm within a 12-16 hour drive of a destination, and I have a little wiggle room in my schedule, I will choose driving over flying almost 100% of the time. (My most recent trek was New Haven to Nashville and back. A nice trip.)

m stone said...

I also agree with Ann. Given the choices and time, better on the road.

Took Amtrak overnight from DC to Chicago two months ago in a sleeper and was disappointed. The equipment is old and not accommodating to more than one person. Regular delays and the freight track that Amtrak uses on that run is fairly rough, making sleep difficult. Mediocre food of spotty quality.

SteveR said...

Mediocre food of spotty quality.

That's sounds like fun.

Michael said...

I fly a lot. I have Global Entry so go in the lines that don't require taking shoes and coats off. I have done this for so many years that I know exactly how to avoid most obstacles to easy travel. I put my mind in travel gear, I relax, and I get there with a minimum of fuss. If I must I employ the suggestions of the stoics.

I have noise canceling headphones. I have an iPad with hundreds of books. I am lucky enough to be able to afford first class most, not all, of the time. I get to the airports early. I go to the private lounges (although these are often too crowded to be worth the expense). I listen to music. I read. I never rush. If a flight is canceled I get another one. I never feel herded around.

I drive if the drive is less than six hours, which usually equates to a one hour flight or less.

More art than science.

I can understand some of the rationalizations of Althouse but they collapse under the thought of four days driving to avoid eight hours of flying.

Insufficiently Sensitive said...

With a car, I have control and freedom. Yeah, it probably takes longer, but I am a free citizen in the United States of America.

And that is a viewpoint utterly despised by the noble ruling class that wants to 'get us out of our cars' and into mass transportation of their choice.

Maximizing citizen mobility, and enjoying the widest choices of routing and scheduling implicit in that, does not disturb the lofty consciousness of the ruling class.

David Smith said...

During my career as a consultant I more or less lived in airports and rental cars. Since retiring I've only flown very occasionally, and only when driving would have taken more than three days.

The reasons are many - crowded seats, eroded service end-to-end, and while I hate to say it, my fellow travelers' dress and deportment have gone steadily downhill the past twenty years or so. I tested as "Middling" but I guess in some ways I'm a snob.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

Yeah. What she said.

'Sides - they don't let you carry when you fly.

I'm Full of Soup said...

Here is my formula. If I have to be somewhere which requires a plane, I leave the prior morning so I am not exhausted or rushed by the flight schedules delays etc.

During the Xmas break and the summers, the professor has a lot of time to take long drives instead of flying. If I had that extended time, I might opt to drive too for long trips. But to spend 4 days in my car to go 1300 miles is a bit much [for me] if I only have ten days or so off.

Farmer said...

Chicago isn't the only possible connection to Austin. You can fly direct to Dallas, then connect to Austin.

chickelit said...

The Althouse Zone

richard mcenroe said...

m stone I suspect you (we) have been spoiled by modern automobile suspensions and airliners.

I doubt the railroad tracks Amtrak dodders along on these days are not materially worse (certainly not much better) than the ones our doughtier answers rode above on their way to run over some bison... there were giants in those days, and they rode coach.

richard mcenroe said...

Original Mike: Ann needs a "like" button for comments like your Tesla joke.

Sam L. said...

"And I have a car.
A car gives me flexibility..."

WELL!! Aren't YOU the selfish one! Doing what you want, when you want, how you want! In DEFIANCE of all those well-meaning Libs/Dems/Progs/Lefties who ONLY WANT the best for us! ALL of us! Shame on you! SHAME, I say!

(Sang; that was fun.)

nina said...

Just to correct you, Ann -- you do not have to connect in Chicago. I haven't connected in Chicago for over a decade because of the chaos there. There are lovely connections to Austin through MSP (and also DTW, but they take a little longer), where if you miss your early flight, there is another soon after and on the rare occasion you have bad weather you can, if you're in a hurry, skip out and catch the bus home. I fly about 40 flights per year and I have had awful horrible weather issues maybe 1% of the time. It's clear you enjoy driving more and so this isn't to convince you otherwise, but I just want to stack the deck correctly here. Ultimately -- your passion decides, as it does for me, but the reality is a little different than the way you describe it.

The Godfather said...

There was a time when flying was the luxury, now it's driving.

If you have time (and I guess a lawprof between semesters has time), driving is great, but if you don't have time, and you have a far distance to go, you may have to fly.

I practice law partime in DC, and live in NC. I pay for my own travel expenses. There are 2 Amtrak trains a day each way, and that's my preferred mode, if available. But it takes most of the day. If time is more pressing, I fly. Or, if I need to get around the DC area, I drive, rather than fly and rent a car.

There's no "always" best mode.

Whichever mode I choose, I suffer inconvenience, but (not meaning to be offensive to anyone) I don't whine about it. Any mode beats the stage coach.

madAsHell said...

We need hi-speed choo-choo's.

Just kidding.

gadfly said...

Besides, under $2/gallon gas is cheaper than airfare and a rental car at Christmas time. So lets not let social justice get in the way of economic freedom.

n.n said...

An airplane cabin inundated by low-level white noise from an engine can simulate the serene solitude of a drive through an uninhabited or lightly populated natural space.

Anonymous said...

Prof. appreciated your tip about TED radio show on memories. Just listening to it.

As you drive safely, what are your best books for 2014?

Hint: Mine is Hard Choices by HRC - the next POTUS.

James Pawlak said...

The real advantage of a long drive with a spouse is the isolation from family and other distractions. This allows a better "growing together" by such means as: Useful silence; Inventing stories to go with place names; Comments on places and people encountered, Etc..

Michael K said...

I am planning a week in Alaska with my grandkids and their parents this summer. A motorhome, especially with a couple of drivers is going to be a treat. I did it 20 years ago with my kids and it was great. Now, it's the grandkids' turn.

We usually only drive a few hours and then park. It's a rental so I won't tow a car. That means preplanned side trips but that it easy. The last time, I even stayed in Wasilla, possible when Sarah was Mayor.

Of course, we have to fly to get there which is the worst part of the trip. If you have your own camper you can take the ferry from Seattle to Valdez, I think.

rhhardin said...

Morse code makes bicycle trips fly by.

The mental space is different, even though neither one, the conversation or the bike ride, is interesting.

The only problem is short conversations, requiring you to find another one, which takes a hand or so for adjustment.

The best are long conversations, usually retired guys relaying what they used to do, and pile-ups for rare countries, where you get a nice sequence of call letters from the pile which sounds like thousands of baby birds, most call letters telling you where the station is.

You just sort of follow the musicality of it all and soon you're at your destination, say an hour later.

I don't think it would work in a car. The morse takes too much attention that's not necessary on a bike.

Here's Rolf, "near Stuttgart," talking to Phil in Kansas pic.

Rolf used to be a volcano scientist. I forget what Phil was.

From the cornfields of Ohio.

kcom said...

I usually drive because I like to bring my bicycle, which fits neatly in my trunk. It's nice to ride some new territory a few times a year. In an airplane, I've seen transport costs for a bike quoted at $150 each way. (Although I checked a website just now that shows a few carriers with a $50 or $100 fee). Plus you need an expensive bike carrier to partly disassemble and put it in. And you don't get to stop for a ride somewhere interesting along the way.

Secondly, I have lost any desire to give my money to airlines once all the ridiculous nickel and diming started. The single most ridiculous thing I've seen in ages is when they started charging for the FIRST bag. That's just pathetic. I've only done carry-on for years but that's just pathetic. (Maybe restaurants should think about charging for use of their silverware. It's not like it's an integral part of the meal.) And now it's just farcical. Do they have a pillow plumping fee yet? Do they charge you more if they reach to hand your your drink instead of you reaching toward them? How much does it cost to use the restroom? Good riddance whenever possible.

Carl Pham said...

True enough if you're in some built-out population steady or in decline vast open spaces part of the country. But if you have the bad fortune to be, say, trying to drive from DC to Boston, or one side of Los Angeles to another, the nature of driving bumper-to-bumper for hours and hours and hours isn't very different from flying cattle car.

Chance said...

Ok, but where is the driving/flight inflection point? Surely some drives are just too long...

Big Mike said...

Let us know when you get there. Please give us all a "safe arrival" post.

Unknown said...

I still treasure some memories of the ten or twelve drives I took in the 1990s to and from Portland, Oregon and Vancouver BC. MS was starting to really limit my walking very far, and driving like this at high speeds seemed a form of athleticism, which I otherwise greatly missed.

And I sometimes left I-5 and just explored. I found some weird abandoned houses and so on.

Original Mike said...

@richard mcenroe: That was for Gahrie.

Original Mike said...

"I haven't connected in Chicago for over a decade because of the chaos there."

Ditto. I avoid Chicago like the plaque.

Maryland Geezer said...

No need to explain or justify. Different strokes for different folks. Simple.

Biff said...

David Smith wrote: "my fellow travelers' dress and deportment have gone steadily downhill the past twenty years or so."

Definitely another reason to avoid planes and trains. A few years ago, when I was still with megamultinationalmaxicorp, I was flying business class from New York to San Francisco, and the well dressed woman across the aisle from me kicked off her shoes and started clipping her toenails, caring not a whit for where those clippings went! When I politely asked her to take it to the rest room, she gave me the "Who are you to tell me what to do?" routine. Eventually, a flight attendant put an end to the behavior, but the woman was not a happy camper. I mean, wow. Just wow.

Meade said...

@Big Mike: Just spoke to her. She's 40 miles outside of town. Mad City bound.

Original Mike said...

"Just spoke to her. She's 40 miles outside of town. Mad City bound."

So, I still can cipher. I hope you taped the game for her, Meade.

Jess said...

Flying doesn't allow the contemplation about the closed cafe; tucked at the back of a half grown parking lot. Who were the owners? Was the food good? Would a cup of coffee have revealed people that shared your views and lust for life?

Flying brings you "there", wherever "there" is, and doesn't allow you the option of turning around, taking another route, and changing your plans.

Oso Negro said...

Wow! I have scored the coveted Althouse post, plus personal tag! An item is scratched off my bucket list!

I travel so often that I do sometimes forget the simple pleasures of a long drive. But as a long-term Texan, I tend to try to avoid the long winter drives. As an intrepid Wisconsinite, I suppose our hostess has no such concern. Roll on, good Professor, and safe travels to you!

I did once drive from Fairbanks, Alaska to New York City. The first 600 miles of the Alaskan Highway were in blizzard conditions. Perhaps that proved a formative experience.

Original Mike said...

When I was young, most every summer a friend and I went backpacking in the Rockies. We drove there, except one year I drove alone and he flew into Calgary to meet me. He told me that that trip just wasn't the same for him. It took the experience of traveling for hours across the plains to get to the mountains to make the experience real.

Ann Althouse said...

Home!!

Titus said...

I just returned from Madison!

I saw tons of obese people, huge asses, and a Hobby Lobby and Chick fil something-we don't have those out here in the Northeast!

Madison is like 95% white and 75% fat!

I went to Green Acres...in Sauk City-saw the worst costumes imaginable-10 gallon hats-check; hideous Christmas sweaters-check and triple chins!

And you couldn't swing a cat without hitting a "keep christ in christmas" sign.

I went to a lutheran mass in Lodi Wisconsin-they are tall and white and blonde and nordic.

My hubby couldn't find any healthy food in Wisconsin!

We went to my dad's farm in Lodi where they had some dudes from Montello clear out some trees-100k check for my parents!

Lastly, my parents gave me a check for 25k and a $1000.00 Whole Foods Card!

Tomorrow, the hubby and I head to Calcuttta, Darjeeling and New Dehli where I won't find any food I like.

Happy Holidays fellow republicans!

"I stand with Scott Walker"

Kiss Kiss.

chickelit said...

Titus wrote: Tomorrow, the hubby and I head to Calcuttta, Darjeeling and New Dehli where I won't find any food I like.

Try the local Indian food. I hear it's cleansing.

chickelit said...

I forgot: !!!

Yancey Ward said...

The time is coming when you can take the car and let it do the driving. I think this is a bigger danger to the airline business than is generally recognized.

Titus said...

Do you know that every large subsidized welfare queen farmer around Waunakee stands with Walker.

I would do too-they got like 150k for some manure silos that have since been closed because they leaked in the water!

WestVirginiaRebel said...

Flying used to be fun. Now it's like riding the bus with the DMV in charge.

Also, depending on where you live in the US, driving in "the dead of winter" doesn't have to be so bad...

tim maguire said...

Depends on where you're driving. I used to make the trip from NYC to Richmond VA twice a year. If it goes smoothly, you can drive it in under 6 hours, but it rarely goes smoothly. You have New Jersey, Baltimore, and Washington--try doing that on a weekday without hitting rush hour somewhere. Throw in an accident and some road construction...I drove it a couple times and decided, if I can't afford to fly, I can't afford to go. I flew a couple times and decided if I can't afford to fly first class, I can't afford to go.

Eventually I just chucked the whole thing and moved to Canada.

Big Mike said...

She's 40 miles outside of town. Mad City bound.

IMHO close to home at the end of a long and tiring drive is the most dangerous part of the trip.

UPDATE: Home!

Glad to hear it! Thanks to both of you for keeping us up to date.

Guildofcannonballs said...

Overdrive went out in Debuque. That meant 900 miles going no faster than 65 mph @ 3500 rpm.

It prevented getting pulled over for speeding, so that was nice. Beautiful weather too.

We drove because of the low low gas prices and so I could be with my beloved Barnie.

Michael Fitzgerald said...

Titus and his family exchanging checks for Christmas, then bragging about the amount. That's the spirit! That helps to explain why he's such a shallow vapid dickhead. Kiss kiss my ass.

Paddy O said...

I'm a big fan of long drives. For high school graduation, I went with three friends for a 3.5 week road trip around the country, going up to Northern California (starting from LA area), over to Salt Lake City, Mt. Rushmore, Chicago, Washington DC for 4th of July, then south through Arkansas, Memphis, Grand Canyon, home. We hit sites planned and unplanned on the way. Great adventure.

I've always loved a long drive, one the best being a leisurely trip up (or down) Highway 1 in California. Ann, if you've never done that, you need to do that at some point before too long.

That all being said, I'm in Portland area now after a 1000 mile drive before Christmas with a 2.5 year old and an almost 5 month old. That really changes the whole vibe of a long drive, even if they are extremely good travelers considering their age.

C R Krieger said...

I had a three month stint in Valley Forge helping with a proposal.  I commuted.  I drove to the 128 Station outside Boston and took the Acela to Philly.  Then rented a car.  It was great.

Regards  —  Cliff

Christy said...

My absolutely most hated driving is out of the Boston airport.


I used to joke that the fastest way from Baltimore to Knoxville was to drive the hour to Reagan National and fly directly. The second fastest way was to get in my car and drive the nine hours. The third fastest way was to fly out of Baltimore with all the connections.

Ann Althouse said...

To those who are saying I didn't have to connect in Chicago: I checked and rechecked for a month! There was no non-Chicago option for this trip.

cubanbob said...

Laslo Spatula said...

cubanbob said...
"I prefer flying. I can drink on the flight, read and sleep. Can't do any of that while driving."

I beg to differ.

I am Laslo.
12/28/14, 3:04 PM "

Laslo good buddy lets agree that I get drunk in the air and sleep it off a bit and you get drunk at the wheel far, far away from any airport I would get to9 or from.

chickelit said...

Original Mike said...

Ditto. I avoid Chicago like the plaque.

Worse is doing the calculus of driving from Midway to Wisconsin.

Original Mike said...

"Worse is doing the calculus of driving from Midway to Wisconsin."

Minneapolis, Detroit, Milwaukee, Dallas. I do not remember the last time I had to go thru O'Hare. Don't know about Althouse's trip, of course.

Ann Althouse said...

If there had been a flight through Dallas, I would have flown. There wasn't.

Original Mike said...

Last March when I went to Australia, American flew a few flights a day Madison to Dallas. Planning on doing the same thing for my upcoming Oz trip in April.

Donatello Nobody said...

I see what you did there, Chickelit.

chickelit said...

@Donatello: I've had a few brushes with O'Hare as well. ;)

Anonymous said...

Possibly the best post you've ever written. I couldn't agree more.

james conrad said...

Well, I am going with AA on this one.
Had a situation couple years ago where i had to travel back and forth to Dallas Tx 6 or 7 times, did you know that you can't get a direct flight from anywhere in the USA to Love field in Dallas? Thats right kids, if you want to go direct without changing planes, you gotta fly to Ft Worth, 30 miles away from Dallas.
I asked why to A LOT of Texans, no one knew why, one of those is what it is kinda things. Bottom Line? a 1000 mile plane trip is going to take you ALL DAY long, not the 2 or 3 hrs it should. I ended up driving most of the time, just easier in so many ways. Lets face it, air travel SUCKS! BIG TIME!

JAORE said...

Ice and snow put it in the no-go category for me. Cold can be beaten back with heated gear. But motorcycling beats flying or driving a car. Up through 1,000 miles in a day, that is.

To each his or her own.

Anonymous said...

I fly direct to Love Field regularly. You just have to pick the right airline. I fly from cute little Hobby airport in Houston to cute little Love Field in Dallas. They both remind me of the cute little Des Moines airport I still use when I fly to visit relatives, connecting in cute little Midway airport. There is an airline that tends to avoid the big airports to keep their costs down. A byproduct of the experience is to skip the big-airport hassle so many of us don't like.

David said...

Awake, lovebirds. It's a new day.

sinz52 said...

Ann,

your comparison between road travel and flying is unfair.

You're comparing the advantages of *private* road travel (cars) to the disadvantages of the *public* conveyance (airliners) of flying.

But road travel doesn't have to be private--there are buses.

And air travel doesn't have to be public--wealthier folks own their own private planes.

A lot of the difficulties that you have mentioned, Ann, wouldn't be problems for you if you owned one of these:

http://businessaircraft.bombardier.com/en/aircraft/learjet/learjet70.html

http://businessaircraft.bombardier.com/en/aircraft/learjet/learjet70.html#nb_aircraft_6

Curious George said...

After reading the "why I drive" reasoning, I understand the '08 vote.

Hagar said...

Each locality has its own quirks which you have to adjust to if you are going to stay there.

For what it is worth, though it is 40 years ago now, the city I felt the safest in - driving that is - was Chicago, of all places!

Tank said...

Althouse posits the worst possible scenario for air travel. Our trip to Austin this passed summer: Car service to the Newark Airport early morning, arrive in Austin about 1 PM, pick up no-stop Hertz rental (no wait at counter), check in to hotel at about 2 PM. Cocktails and snacks in Austin at 2:30 PM.

Compared to driving 9 hours for two days, we saved a day and a half of vacation at each end of the vacation. While Althouse was gearing up for her second 9 hour driving day, we were enjoying a relaxed breakfast in Austin and walking up Congress Ave, kayaking at the park and strolling through the Sculpture Garden.

Hagar said...

Meadhouse drive a TT, and indication that they like driving.

chickelit said...

As for long road trips -- I enjoyed them as a kid and still do. But not alone. I made several long trips alone to Colorado from Wisconsin and back in the winter. It wasn't much fun. Road trips are much better done and much more fun together with others. Especially with funny people for comic relief.

Laslo Spatula said...

Driving an Audi is like flying First Class.

Also: the act of farting has different ramifications between being in a plane or being in a car.

I am Laslo.

Hagar said...

It is hard to explain to Buick drivers.

Known Unknown said...

If I lived in California, I probably would have a hard time deciding whether to fly between SF and LA (about 500 miles). I guess if I was traveling to LA, I would be more inclined to drive because I would need a car and wouldn't want the hassle and expense of an airport car rental. But traveling to SF, I might prefer to just drive to the airport in LA and then ride BART into the city.

Mythbusters tested the SF>LA drive and fly to see which, all in all, was shorter.

Flying beats driving by at least 20-30 minutes.

But then you have to take the time to rent a car, so it's probably a wash.

Known Unknown said...

I enjoy flying because of the people-watching aspect and I usually spend my in-air time being productive (writing on my iPad mini.)

I only like driving if it's a vacation drive or I'm going someplace unique. It's a drag driving to my parents for the holidays because I've done it a million times before and I'm usually somewhat worn out (at least on the way back.)

Laslo Spatula said...

There is always that moment on a flight where you watch someone leave the tiny cramped bathroom and wonder what fresh hell will now circulate endlessly in the recycled air. God forbid there was a Chipotle in the airport before the flight.

I am Laslo.

Known Unknown said...

Compared to driving 9 hours for two days, we saved a day and a half of vacation at each end of the vacation. While Althouse was gearing up for her second 9 hour driving day, we were enjoying a relaxed breakfast in Austin and walking up Congress Ave, kayaking at the park and strolling through the Sculpture Garden.

Sure, but what's the cost difference? You have to at least consider that. And you really missed out on seeing Nebraska in the dead of winter, didn't you?

bleh said...

I'm sorta surprised there isn't a smugfest direct flight between Austin and Madison. Early on, back when Austin was still a large town and not yet a small city, there were direct flights to San Jose. I think it was because of the tech industry.

Does Madison have any economic base besides the public monies spent on higher education?

'TreHammer said...

I generally enjoy driving over flying, for most of the reasons others' have touched upon with their posts. However, I don't approve of the one hour, hands free cell phone call between yourself and Meade. If you need to talk on the phone that long while driving, pull it over, Missy. :-D

Ann Althouse said...

"Austin this passed summer: Car service to the Newark Airport early morning, arrive in Austin about 1 PM, pick up no-stop Hertz rental (no wait at counter), check in to hotel at about 2 PM. Cocktails and snacks in Austin at 2:30 PM. Compared to driving 9 hours for two days, we saved a day and a half of vacation at each end of the vacation. While Althouse was gearing up for her second 9 hour driving day, we were enjoying a relaxed breakfast in Austin and walking up Congress Ave, kayaking at the park and strolling through the Sculpture Garden."

Believe me, I thought about that A LOT. Before and during the trip. I did not like having to drive that much. I like some driving, but certainly not that much, and not in ugly places or around ugly people.

There are risks of bad experiences either way, and ideas about the risks affect the decision making.

There's also the option of not traveling at all.

You can't get your time back, and you can't undo bad experiences. Bad things happen in all sorts of situations. Avoiding bad is actually more important than getting to something good (assuming your base level, normal life is good, as mine most emphatically is).

gerry said...

Flying is terrible, horrible, disgusting, frustrating, and uncomfortable.

You are very wise to drive.

And I think you linked to this yesterday which explains why the airlines want to make us miserable.

MadisonMan said...

I fly for work about 3 times annually. I'll be on the first flight out of Madison -- before 6 AM -- (But I am a morning person) because if things go awry, there's time during the day to recover. My next flight is Saturday. I'm hoping for smooth flights.

I also avoid OHare at all costs. It's a dirty, overcrowded and expensive nightmare. It's far better IMO to take that first flight to Atlanta and go from there.

Peter said...

"A car gives me flexibility about when to leave."

Captain of her own ship!

Yes, it's great. But not if you want to travel from Chicago to Bangalore. I suppose one could fly to Paris and drive from there (although that might take one through some bad neighborhoods), but I wouldn't even want to think of the consequences of getting involved in an injury-accident in another country.

Although (absent whiteouts, etc.) a long drive in the USA can be relaxing. Is there anyone who doesn't zone out (at least somewhat) on a long Interstate-highway drive?

Humperdink said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MadisonMan said...

The beauty of car travel is the ability to see something interesting and stop to investigate. Impossible with air travel. I appreciate the ability to people-watch in airports, but the cacaphony is wearying.

My limit for car travel is about 850 miles in a day. It used to be more, but I've aged. My wife has knitted entire sweaters on our trips.

Titus said...

I flew into O'Hare and took the Van Galder bus to Madison.

The South Beloit stop is nasty.

And the Janesville stop is surrounded by strip clubs and Hooters!

Bruce Hayden said...

I fly a lot. I have Global Entry so go in the lines that don't require taking shoes and coats off. I have done this for so many years that I know exactly how to avoid most obstacles to easy travel. I put my mind in travel gear, I relax, and I get there with a minimum of fuss. If I must I employ the suggestions of the stoics.

Slowly decompressing over the last couple years from a lot of flying. Through most of my kid growing up, before they went to college, I would fly back to CO every other weekend. That is more than 50 flights a year, for maybe 15 or so years. Then, in my last job, I was flying maybe every other week for business, and so hit 100 flights a couple years. The law firm I was with had offices that all had good Southwest service, and you could do most in one hop. So, I would get a call in the afternoon asking to meet in, say, Las Vegas, at 10 the next day. Runner would pick me up at the airport, and would be at the office in 10 minutes. Back at noon, and in my office by maybe 2.

So, after that, air travel was pretty automatic. Back when I was flying United a lot, I could get from my seat to the curb at DIA (Denver) in less than 20 minutes, waiting for the bus out to the west end of town.

Still is. I fly with an iPad and usually a couple of paperbacks. Security is typically not a problem - I was getting TSA precheck access due to all the flying I was doing before leaving that firm. And, then I spent the $75 or so to get it officially. Well worth the effort - pay the fee, give them fingerprints, and take a 5-10 minute interview. Check on TSA.gov to find out where you can do it - they have offices in a lot of airports, but bring your passport (or a birth certificate plus DL, etc.) Much faster security lines, and you typically don't have to take off your belt and shoes, or sometimes even jackets.

But, I only flew once last year. Maybe twice. My partner prefers driving, so we drive from AZ to MT, to CO, back to MT, etc, every year. We did almost 2,000 miles on the way from MT to CO last month, because we detoured through NV and AZ on the way. I don't find it nearly as relaxing with her in the vehicle than when I do it alone. Alone, there is some sort of freedom, where I can cycle through News, Golden Oldies, and Comedy on XM, can stop to see the histerical markers, etc. If I want to stop at that Navaho Code Talker exhibit at the Burger King, just south of Monument Valley, I can, and usually do - when driving alone.

Trashhauler said...

I routinely drive from near St Louis to northeastern Ohio where my eight brothers and sisters live. Considering the $500 cost of flying and the need to borrow/rent a car while I'm there, it only makes sense to make the 8:30 to 9:00 hour drive each way. Especially given there are no direct flights. Plus, I can take all the luggage I want.

I'm thinking of driving to Florida on an extended visit to my Mom for the same reason.

Original Mike said...

My wife is insisting I fly business class when I go to Australia this spring. What's a guy to do? :)

Michael said...

A final thought from me on this topic. Have you ever had a breakdown in a foreign car in the middle of nowhere?

I can tell you from experience that that is a topic none of our Love_To_Drive commenters let cross theit minds because it is a nightmare beyond their worst New Year's EVe at O'Hare. A thousand trips through TSA in exchange for being released from the horror of riding in the tow truck a hundred miles out of your way discussing the advantages of cream soda with the tow truck driver. And then the nice experience in the dealership where you wait with agony for the news regarding the location of the needed part.

Trashhauler said...

"My wife is insisting I fly business class when I go to Australia this spring."

Good choice. It's a long drive.

Original Mike said...

Well, I do own a canoe.

Original Mike said...

Althouse, we are stating to look at booking my flight to Australia and there are several Madison to Dallas flights a day. Is it that you do not want to change airlines?

CatherineM said...

I am with Ann. My mom was having surgery and my flight delays got me to their city 5 hours late. I get to the car rental counter "oh, we no longer have your full size since you were delayed. We have a sub-compact left." It was 1am and I was near tears with exhaustion (and I had an hours drive ahead of me and had to be up 4 hours later to get my mom to her pre-surgery exam) and told the woman I need a full size to transport my elderly parents. Thankfully a rival rental agent said he had a full size.

The way home was worse. I was delayed to the airport by a car accident ahead of me, but I made it. They were just boarding and this airport is so small, you can see the plane boarding from the lobby. I was so relieved I made it. I get to the airline desk (empty but for me!) and this old biddy behind the counter says you are too late. I said no, I can see they are just boarding. She said it is too late. I said come on! She says are you challenging me??!!!! Do I need to get security?!!? Omg. Crazy.

The "next flight" only an hour later had issues, and so on and so on, and what should have been 3 hrs door to door turned into 12hrs. Because of that ugly awful woman on a power trip. It takes 11 hrs to drive to my folks and I did from then on. I enjoy the drive immensely.

Ann Althouse said...

"Althouse, we are stating to look at booking my flight to Australia and there are several Madison to Dallas flights a day. Is it that you do not want to change airlines?"

During the period when I needed to fly, there was no option that went through Dallas. I checked and rechecked for a month. It was a big deal to me. I don't know what is available now, and I have seen flights through Dallas at other times. I use Travelocity and looked at all the options that came up on the dates I wanted. Perhaps I excluded some that had extremely early leaving times or extremely high prices. But basically, I didn't see a non-Chicago option.

Original Mike said...

I think Travelocity let you down. I'll be taking the same 15:30 flight from Madison to Dallas this April that I took last March. It flys everyday. There's another one early evening.

This is another annoying thing about air travel; booking. If I might suggest, hire a travel agent to find what you want. We did this for our antipodes trip last year. Cost $50 but it was worth it. Not using one this year, but that's because after last year's trip I don't need one. I know what I want.

tim in vermont said...

Just drove from Vermont to Florida. I agree that it gives space to think, space to not think.

tim in vermont said...

I never see any reason for apologizing for preferring to drive. It is not a luxury everybody can afford due to the time.

MadisonMan said...

This is another annoying thing about air travel; booking

When I had to fly out-of-state last month for a funeral, I had 5 different airports I could fly to. The cost to each of the 5 was wildly different, and the cost to rent cars was also wildly different. (Rental cars in Tampa and Orlando are super expensive; they're dirt cheap in Jacksonville). I was tempted to make the 18-hour drive but just didn't have the time. I'm glad I had time to look around at different airports; some airlines make that easy, some don't.

Danno said...

You could fly Madison to Minneapolis-St. Paul and connect on a MSP to AUS flight. I listed the first one out tomorrow morning as an example. (One of my career stints was in the finance area with a large airline, and I was able to obtain retiree travel privileges, so I know a little bit about airline schedules.) I believe commentor, Nina, alluded to this routing also.

Flight 2585 MSN MSP 30Dec 07:00AM 30Dec 08:12AM DL 319

Flight 3524 * MSP AUS 30Dec 09:15AM 30Dec 12:19PM DL CR9

So whoever/travel website is giving you your options out of Madison isn't looking very deep.

OTOH, as I commented yesterday, I like road trips too and I'll bet your Audi TT with SiriusXM would be a great drive.

Meade said...

The TT really is fun to drive but not so much for long hours on the interstate. Driving it for a few hours on Wisconsin back roads though is truly a blast. The state and counties build and maintain country roads at a very high level of quality for the benefit of dairy farmers efficiently getting their product to market 365 days/year. So country roads are kept well-paved and well-plowed.

Ann Althouse said...

Unless you're looking at available flights in the Christmas week that I was looking at, you can't tell me I'm wrong about the lack of nonChicago connections. I'm telling you I looked repeatedly and would have taken a Dallas connection. I might have passed on flights that took me further away and into winter weather, like Minneapolis or Detroit.

Anonymous said...

How about flying out of Milwaukee?

I flew a few times from Moline to Milwaukee and back on Mississippi Valley Airlines some time around 1980. The plane held maybe 12 passengers. The pilots did not pull the curtain behind them completely tight and I could get a partial view through the windshield. Some of the luggage went in a compartment in the plane's nose. The cover reminded me of a car's trunk lid mounted on the side of the plane.

Kate Pitrone said...

Last summer I drove from Cleveland to Salem, Oregon and back, alone. I had my reasons and the ability to leave that destination whenever seemed right was a major one. I drive a Honda Fit, so do not have the excuse of a luxury car to explain my comfort. Once past the Chicago area the driving was almost pure pleasure. I filled my eyes with America and would gladly do it again, but the routes I took or by others.

ndspinelli said...

Being in cocoon makes one obsessively risk averse. It's quite unhealthy to obsess on avoiding the bad. It infringes on living in the moment, and enjoying the good. But, it explains A LOT about this blog.

Meade said...

He wakes. And he bakes.

Danno said...

Ann, I was not trying to irritate you on the flight options out of MSN the other day, unlike some commenters who seemed to digging it in. It is likely the travel website was not showing the flights that were full or did not meet other criteria that it or you put into the queries. Secondly, I would not automatically dismiss either MSP or DTW as transfer points, as MSP is well-equipped for winter weather barring blizzard conditions, and DTW gets much less of this than MSP. O'Hare is the absolute worst airport for any kind of weather delays that I can think of, and I worked and flew out of there for about a year and a half in the mid'90s.

The Madison airport's current list of service options is at the site below.


http://www.msnairport.com/flight_travel/where.aspx

Ann Althouse said...

@Danno

Thanks.

"It is likely the travel website was not showing the flights that were full or did not meet other criteria that it or you put into the queries."

Yes, I understood this. I was traveling around the holiday, but I started looking 2 months early and looked for a month.

"Secondly, I would not automatically dismiss either MSP or DTW as transfer points, as MSP is well-equipped for winter weather barring blizzard conditions, and DTW gets much less of this than MSP."

I realize this but it rubs me the wrong way to travel for hours AWAY from my destination.

When I looked, I looked for Dallas.

I guess being in Madison has exacerbated by antagonism to flying. I had several bad experiences where I was required to leave the airport and go to a hotel for a few hours, then return and go through security again. Just the idea of that happening makes me want to give up.