This past weekend, I made the long drive from Old Home to New Home.
It is practically halfway across the country by the time one is done, approximately 1800 miles (1802 miles, to be exact) and right at 30 hours. The drive conveniently breaks itself into two equal mileage portions at about 900 miles. One day took 16 hours, the next day took 14 hours.
Why would I drive so far when one can fly, you might ask? My parents have a car they are no longer using, and Nighean Dhonn could use a car (instead of borrowing The Ravishing Mrs. TB's). For the price of gasoline, both problems could be solved.
My time in driving - besides paying attention to the road - was well spent: I finished out a podcast lecture of Classical Greek History by Donald Kagan of Yale (18 hours or so) and spent the rest of the time listening to audio dramas, a combination of H.P. Lovecraft and post-apocalyptic fiction.
Some general observations about the drive:
1) This country is big. We, who have - for the most part - compressed our travel into short air burst of 3 to 5 hours - forget that. It is big beyond our imagining, and one can understanding the disbelief of the Native Americans that anyone could "own" such a thing and the awe of the European immigrants as they just kept going and going and still found emptiness.
2) Outside of cities, there seem to be almost as many big rigs on the road as there are cars. That might be a slight exaggeration, but only slight. For all of the problems of the supply chain, it is not because the big rigs are not out there.
3) I really saw only two kinds of freight trains: container car trains, empty and full, and (once) a car carrier train. No tankers, no ore cars, no boxcars. Yet another marker of my childhood, gone.
4) I made a total of 8 fuel stops. The difference between the highest and the lowest was $1.80 (really $1.50, but only after I had filled did I realize I was in the position of having a "credit card" surcharge applied). I probably could have driven farther, but with an unfamiliar car and not fully knowing the mileage range, I tend to panic easily at less than half a tank.
5) A matter I will write on tomorrow - but only mention now - is that most of the crops, refuse disposal, energy generation, and resource extraction I passed was nowhere near the urban centers which consume them.
6) The country is littered with historical sties, those funny brown or blue signs with national or state park notices. One could spend an entire trip pleasantly just stopping at the places everyone else does not.
7) The smaller towns beyond the urban core - the between towns - are to almost a full extent dependent not just on tourist traffic, but on the aforementioned big rig traffic. Thus, anything impacting that network impacts not just the ability of urban areas to get their supplies (and thus, their economies) but these smaller places as well.
8) As mentioned in item 1, this country is big - so big, the concept that 68 miles of square territory should being dictating to everyone else how to run their lives is ludicrous at best.
9) Even with all of the issues going on, this country remains stunningly beautiful.