X-Country Drive Observations

We have been on the road delivering the 12-year-old family car to a relative in Florida. The drive prompted a bunch of observations worth sharing from the 3,000 drive.

–Speed limits have increased to the point there is little risk of a ticket. The old 55 mph has been replaced with 70 m.p.h. on state highways in Nevada and Texas. Interstate speed limits in Utah, Idaho, and much of the 800 miles of Texas I-10 are up to 80 m.p.h.

–Trucks out number cars on many of the highways. Amazing how much is shipped by truck.
–Big “unit trains” of nothing but containers are the order of the day and the volume of freight is staggering.

–Arizona and Texas seem to have more money than they know how to spend. Huge freeways, bridges, and interchanges abound in Phoenix and Houston. It seems like Boise is seeking an “impossible dream” to attract more people, cars, and businesses and attempt to preserve the small town feel along with being bike friendly. Urban sprawl and small town just don’t mix.

–New Orleans seems seedier than we recall from past visits.

–America is really really BIG! The vast open spaces of Nevada and Arizona offer a sense of freedom and serve to make us realize just how small we are in the big scheme of things. We went from the mountains to the desert, across fields of cotton and through orange groves over a five day journey.

–Part of the Florida panhandle is actually in the Central Time Zone.

–Southern pecan candy is pronounced PRAW-LEEN rather than PRAY-LEEN. Mississippi has lots of local candy stores.

–A chain of convenience stores in Texas called Buck-ees has locations with 60,000 square feet, 60 gas pumps and 40 urinals in the men’s restroom. They sell all kinds of jerky and locally produced candy and snacks.

–New Mexico has spectacular sunsets!

Comments & Discussion

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  1. It’s good to “get out” from time to time, to get your perspective properly aligned. I’m jealous! Thanks for sharing your observations. (I’ve been across the USA farther north… that south passage is on the Bucket List. I’d love it if I had to deliver a car to Key West, Florida… preferably in the spring or autumn.)

    Question about the huge convenience stores along Texas highways, and “all kinds of jerky.” You mean, like… beef… and pork, and deer, possum, squirrel, raccoon, armadillo? And if so, do they scrape it up themselves? (-;

    EDITOR NOTE–check out the “convenience store

  2. I am constantly reminded of the vast beauty that we have in this country, and many of us take it for granted.

    Good piece, Dave!!!

    I thank Frank Church and Cecil Andrus, Harriman, and a host of others for helping to protect our vast gifts.

    Our Gem of the Mountains is exceptional in its beauty, and its offer of solitude, quiet, and its breathtaking vastness.

    I recently spent two weeks in the Boulders north of Ketchum. I went many days without seeing bipeds. Five horsemen and women rode three hours to reach where I had backpacked to, over the razorback ridges. Slept at 10,600 ft on the razorback one night, visited by mountain goats.

    Listened to herd bulls grunting into the night.

    What wonderful gifts we have been given!!

  3. My advice to you if you are still in Florida is stay there for a while… Winter is in Idaho

    EDITOR NOTE–Drove a new car back from Phoenix (much cheaper than Boise prices) Tuesday.

  4. Foothills Rider
    Nov 12, 2014, 5:43 pm

    Great photo!!


    Thoughts on gas prices? Traveling family member says even including CA (with required additional taxes) most expensive gas per gallon was right here in ID. What did you note?

    How many Waffle House restaurants did you pass/eat at?

    In Florida, are many of the high rise and vacation condo/hotels closed up for “off season?” My memory is that many FL summer towns are fully ghost-towns now.

    Agreed on New Orleans – but I also found it seedy.

    Sounds like a great adventure no matter.

    EDITOR NOTE–I did forget to mention gas prices. Idaho was by far the highest. Even in Ely, Nevada in the precise middle of Nowhere the gas was about $2.89. In Florida it was as low as $2.69. While it is off season, there are more old folks coming south earlier these days.

  5. Grumpy ole Guy
    Nov 13, 2014, 3:14 am

    Great photo and nice bit of reflectivity. Thanks.

  6. Isn’t it amazing that two of the states that allow the 80 mph speed limit has something to do with oil production and the last state has the highest prices AND its Governor is very well invested in Koch Industries.

    I am curious to know if any of the other states have the nightmarish overpasses like we do at ten mile, vista, Chubbuck off-ramp, and soon Meridian and Broadway.

    Which state had the best roads and which had the least construction. Did anything stand out as a place to avoid? Anything stand out as a place to revisit?

    EDITOR NOTE–Your overpasses can actually be sweet dreams once you learn them. They are the “new deal” along with round a bouts in highway design. No really bad roads, Gulf Coast and N. Orleans still recovering from Katrina devastation.

  7. The gas prices in Hailey have been 10 or 20 cents lower than Boise all summer. So much for the “It’s expensive to get gas to Boise” argument. We need Jim Jones back to threaten an AG investigation.

    EDITOR NOTE–But remember, “regular” in Wood River Valley is only 85 octane, not 87. If you buy 87 in Hailey, it costs the same or more than Boise.

  8. As far as gas prices, it has mostly to do with logistics, economics, and virtually no new refineries in many decades.

    No Keystone Pipeline! Lib and Obama ideology.

    No refineries? EPA out of control and more Lib failed policies.

    Heavy impediments to oil drillers, cracking, and efficient pipeline transport?? Higher prices at the pump, especially in out of the way places such as Idaho.

    Lib attempts to dismiss economic principles never work!!!!!

  9. As for pipelines and safer and more efficient transport of petroleum, permit me to inform you of these facts:

    In July 2013, an oil unit train, originated along the proposed Keystone XL pathway, derailed and burned in Lac Megantec, Quebec. 47 were killed, burned up, and the town leveled!!!

    Because, at least in part, Obama has blocked the Keystone XL!!!!

    These are FACTS, not mere supposition!
    More misplaced and failed LIB policies!!

    And, I may add, not, I repeat, NOT reported by the mainstream media!

    And, for those of you so interested:

    Warren Buffet, the Omaha Bazillionaire who endorsed Obama in 2008, owns the railroad system which transports some 80 percent of the oil out of North Dakota!!

    Do you Libs get it just yet????

  10. Steve, you are an archetypal short-view Republican – grateful for the natural “gifts” we have, but eager to destroy/harm them by willfully ignoring the environmental impacts of expanding the harvest of natural resources.

    I think most base voters, like yourself, fail to see that there really is little difference between both sides. The biggest similarity being the cycle of credit and blame. For example, your claim gas prices are high because “EPA out of control and more Lib failed policies.” You don’t seem to have a problem with the way state republicans are handling things in spite of the fact that Idaho is defying national trends on fuel prices.

    I suspect that you would love the ACA if it were a Republican law (as most Republicans did when it actually was a Republican idea).

    It’s sad to see someone so closed minded, but as I’ve seen with my parents and others, older people care less about the message and more about who’s delivering it.

  11. BoiseB:

    What would the 47 and their loved ones say???

  12. Mr. Guardian… I went back and reviewed your observations, and I didn’t note anything that was “political”! Yet alas, some of your readers seem to see everything through their political glasses.

    I agree with BoiseB: “… there really is little difference between both sides. The biggest similarity being the cycle of credit and blame.” Or as Michael Savage once said, “Vote for the Demican or Republocrat – it really doesn’t matter.” (And I believe that’s why voter turnout has become low – does it make a difference? It’s hard not to get cynical.)

    Since the topic of politics has arisen, I must ask… were you on the road on Election Day? And if so, did you notice America getting measurably better or worse, after the “GOP Mandate”?

    EDITOR NOTE–Bikeboy, for the record, I voted early. I was indeed on the road election day and the biggest difference in the country was summed up by a Florida TV station which ran a “moody” commercial of the seashore and gentle waves with sound. The message said, “RELAX! NO MORE POLITICAL ADS.”

  13. BoiseB:

    Did you get name calling (archetypal short…..) from Saul Alinsky’s book, or did you come up with that all by yourself?

    Let me just guess:

    Either you don’t even live in Idaho, or you are a California (or other liberal state) transplant, escaping from the human pollutants there, and all the while attempting to transform my Gem of the Mountains into the People’s Republic of CA!

    EDITOR NOTE–You boys play nice or I am gonna stop the car and come back there!

  14. Steve,

    I hadn’t heard of Saul Alinsky until your post, so I guess I came up with it myself. However, I never would have labeled you as such without the perspective of your rants.

    Regarding my background (as if it has a logical bearing on my opinion), I was born and raised in Boise in 1979. I got my undergrad at U of I and my engineering degree at the University of Colorado. Hope that qualifies me.

    Interesting aside, in reading Alinsky’s wiki, I found the following, which I find appropriate: When asked during an interview whether he ever considered becoming a Communist party member, he replied:

    Not at any time. I’ve never joined any organization—not even the ones I’ve organized myself. I prize my own independence too much. And philosophically, I could never accept any rigid dogma or ideology, whether it’s Christianity or Marxism. One of the most important things in life is what Judge Learned Hand described as ‘that ever-gnawing inner doubt as to whether you’re right.’ If you don’t have that, if you think you’ve got an inside track to absolute truth, you become doctrinaire, humorless and intellectually constipated. The greatest crimes in history have been perpetrated by such religious and political and racial fanatics …

  15. BoiseB:

    Well enough.

    However, rather than substantively addressing the facts about the environmental and loss of life disasters exacerbated by the unintended consequences of Obama’s blocking of the safer and more efficient pipeline transport, greasedby Warren Buffet’s endorsement of Obama, you chose to label me and name call, correct???

  16. Further, Alinsky’s quote is pointedly self-serving!!

  17. Steve,
    I go back to my comment in the older post.
    A good example of the failure of our educational system.

    EDITOR NOTE–This post was about travel and the size of America. You guys are so far off topic, we had to close comments.

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