Friday, April 9, 2010

Road tripping

I love road trips -long road trips. Right now I'm planning for a little trip that'll be over 3000 miles. That's a good distance for a couple of reasons. For highway travel, I figure about 50 miles every hour, for up to 24 hours. Doing the math, that works out to 1200/day. Of course I'm traveling faster than that, say somewhere between 60 - 70 mph. No speeding involved. Averaging 50 mph allows plenty of time for breaks. It might just be a leg stretch, a bathroom break, or a quick coffee. Those short breaks keep me alert. I may even take an hour nap along the way.

The other magic thing about a 3000 mile trip is that's how much fuel I can carry. If I take the truck, I can haul about 200 gallons of waste veggie oil for fuel. If I take the car with a trailer, it handles about 100 gallons. The car gets close to 30 mpg. The truck gets at least 15 mpg. Sometimes it gets more, but if I engage the 4 wheel drive, it only gets about 10. 15 is a conservative estimate. It's always good to have some slack in the plan.

Of course, should I run out of veggie, there's the option of burning diesel.

At one time I could count of fueling up from restaurants along the road. That's gotten more difficult so I don't count on it. Waste veggie haulers have signed contracts with restaurants where they won't let anyone but them take the waste veggie. Another thing that dried up my supply is there's biodiesel plants paying money for waste veggie. Guys were buying tank trucks to haul veggie, then stealing it from other people's waste bins. That was the sort of action I did not want to get into the middle of. Getting arrested or shot is something I like to avoid when traveling.

If we can squeeze in the time, I'd love to travel a few two lane highways. It's one way to see what's really happening out in the country. 7 years ago I noticed all the tent cities popping up around the country. They weren't making the news at all. They'd be off behind truck stops, behind strip malls, or even in junk yards. Traveling back roads shows a part of America that most people don't see.

Another common sight is towns that have lost their only industry. Outside of town there would be a boarded up factory of some sort. The downtown would have few stores open, maybe a used clothing store, and a fast food joint. Men would be hanging around corners or sitting on porches. Lots of towns like that around. My lovely wife and I like to wander off the main roads in search of local restaurants. One year we might find a good place to eat. The next year the parking lot would be empty and the windows smashed out. Not every town is like this of course, but there are more of them out there than you'd think.

The thing that would drive me nuts is towns that have no services in them. It's impossible to buy a loaf of bread or a gallon of gas. However, the town would have 3 churches and they'd be building a fourth. It's like the only thing the had left was Jesus. That's fine and all, but I can't help but think of the parallels with Easter Island. As things began to circle the drain there, they used up their dwindling resources to build more of those stupid statues.

There have only been a few times in history when people could travel long distances in relative safety. I've a feeling that those days may be coming to an end. It could be stupid things like more internal checkpoints. Perhaps just the price of travel, fuel shortages, or bad roads will do it in.

I am excited to be on the road again. Right now I'm getting the vehicle ready. Planning what to take along. Not sure exactly when we will be leaving. Hope to keep the blog running while we are gone.

I'm going to enjoy this trip and try not to worry about all that. Can't wait to see new things and meet interesting people.


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