Chasing the sun 🌞
How long is too long to sit behind the wheel of a motor vehicle?
As readers of the last issue may recall, a few days ago I declared that I was going to make a beeline across the big western states because “the speed limits are high and the gas cheap.” File that one under famous last words. 😅
Yes, the speed limits are high, 75-80 miles per hour for long stretches. But that doesn’t do you much good when there’s construction every 10 miles slowing things down to 45.
It also doesn’t help to have to fight a 24 mile per hour headwind across the entirety of North Dakota, leading to the worst gas mileage of the entire trip (8.9 mpg!). And that gas? Turns out it’s not all that cheap! 💸
Nevertheless, I managed to make it from the western edge of Michigan, across Wisconsin, Minnesota, and North Dakota plus half an hour into Montana in one epic, 15-hour, 780 mile day of driving on Saturday.
I made so much progress that I had space the next day for an unplanned side quest in the form of a dip into Wyoming to see Devils Tower. If you’re at all into geology or mashed potatoes (as Bill quipped in the comments of my IG post from there), it is well worth the visit. 👽
Hurtling across the hills of North Dakota and Montana, I felt like the little bird in Tiny Wings. For those unfamiliar, Tiny Wings is a game where you play as a bird with—not surprisingly—tiny wings who is trying to make it as far as possible over a hilly landscape before the sun catches up with them and they have to sleep.
So many of my mornings on this trip have started with me setting out around 6am (or earlier!) for the day’s drive. A very practical benefit of driving west is that you’re not staring into the rising sun at that hour.
Another benefit of westerly navigation is every so often you cross a time zone boundary and gain an extra hour that you can use to drive even more, woohoo!
You can probably tell I’m ready to be home because I’m willing to spend 10-15 hours at a time sitting behind the wheel staring at the oncoming asphalt. 😂
My reward for 3 days of mega-driving was today for the first time in a month and a half to see both the Cascade Mountains and the Columbia River. I am officially back on home turf!
Next, I’ll swing through my sister’s place in Bremerton for a couple of nights before heading up and around the Olympic Peninsula for one last night of camping before rolling into Portlandia on Friday afternoon. If you’re local, my plan is to land at PayDirt around when they open. Join me for more stories from the road!
Days on the road: 45
so far(this is it, no more!): 28 (added Wisconsin, North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, and Washington)
so far: 6
Miles driven: 12,251.1
Gallons of gas used: 880.2
Average miles per gallon: 13.9 (dropped by 0.2 thanks to the North Dakota headwind and the Rocky Mountains)
Average gas price: $5.17/gallon (down 7 cents, I should really break this out into U.S. and Canada prices)
Animals seen since last issue: buffaloes, antelopes, magpies, golden eagle? (whatever it was, it was a very large bird of prey that was not a bald eagle)