Well … after a day of nearly 700 miles of driving, I called it a night at Mile 1131.1 while discussing the qualities of coffee beers with Jeremy Phillips in Davenport, IA. I should be able to sit back and regale you with the great stories of a long day crossing Big Ten Football country behind the wheel but I tell you what … it was kind of boring for the most part (kind of like Big Ten Football).
I did make the mistake on Tuesday of taking in too much coffee in the final hours of the first drive. So even after a good meal outside of Buffalo, I was only to really sleep for a couple of hours. By 1AM, I was rolling around on the bed. By 2:30AM I was trying to shut my brain down to get some sleep. I did, but I was up by 4:00AM, and something needed to happen. So I just decided to get going. By 5:00AM, we were on the road, and running down the day ahead. I skipped breakfast at the hotel, so I started to think where to grab something on the road … a hundred and fifty miles later I stopped. Same thing happened for lunch. By the time I was passing the Strugglebus captial of the world (aka Princeton, IL) I was realizing that for a really long day, it was going by in a flash.
The weather was good. Mostly overcast in that depressing winter way that cold overcast skies can be. Along the Great Lakes, I had a head wind to fight. But that only meant bad fuel milage.
Probably the biggest issue of the day was the loss of innocence of that trip. I used to love going down the IN-OH Turnpike, with all their great travel plazas and rest areas. The Ohio ones are alright, I guess, but were generally empty and boring. And they tore down nearly all the Indiana ones. Those Sunoco signs that lit up the midnight roads in my grand road trips across Indiana are now minor broken forms that don’t even show the prices of gas. It just seemed over rated and boring — kind of like Big Ten Football.
Davenport had been the plan for most of the day; simply because my old friend Jeremy kept waving a beer in front of my eyes. Likely, I could have pulled off a couple hundred more miles before the day was done, but seeing as I am about a day ahead of schedule, this was just fine.
So, let’s recap … the route was and still is:
I-90 across NY and Northern OH & IN; — DONE
I-80 at Chicago, across IL, IA & NE. — Halfway Done
I-76 in Western NE into CO.
I-70 at Denver then across CO into UT.
I-15 through UT, NV, through Las Vegas, and then into CA.
CA-210 to Burbank.
Having some planning to do overnight, I laid out what I think the trip will be the rest of the way. For those in conversation with me, this is what we called ‘Plan B’. The route remains the same, the stops are what change.
First of all – as a reminder – the trick to this is playing the ‘per diem’ game; meaning my relocation expenses are covered based on a minimum of 350 miles a day along the most direct route. Which means, now I have to feather in the finish. The main part of that is the last night on the road is going to be in St George, UT (where I intend to meet up with an old colleague, Bob Lehnan, anyway); it’s just when exactly I would get there is the question. The question would be to make it the night of Day 4 (Friday night) or Day 5 (Saturday night). Turns out Day 3 is going to be the telling day of that. You see, Denver is another good stopping point, since I have some friends out that way to say hi to as well. St George is about 600 miles from Denver, a good day’s drive; but to make it to Denver, today (Day 3) would be a 900 mile day. Since I am typing this up at 8AM local, you can guess the start will be late … meaning a Denver arrival will be later. The only way I can make this work then is to split the difference, but in a way that keeps that 350 minimum intact.
So in all likelihood — it is Grand Island, NE tonight.
The weather should continue to be good. The sun is out. There was snow in Colorado yesterday, but that stayed south and is already east of me. Expecting 450 miles today, or there about, getting me in sometime around dinner time. A good night sleep and it is onward to Denver tomorrow, Utah the day after, and then California.