Putting on the Miles

During my two weeks of vacation I think we put about 1,500 miles on the car and never strayed more than four hours from home. Yep, that's a pretty serious amount of driving.

It adds up quick though.

We took a trip to the coast, to Newport, to visit the aquarium (more on that later) and see the beach - that's 135 miles each way. More if, like us, you drive north up the coast and come back home through Lincoln City instead of going straight back to I-5 through Corvallis.

Seattle was another trip, 190 miles each way. Then we drove all over the entire city, east to the University of Washington area and then west all the way out to West Seattle - which is on somewhat of an island.

I think about 7-8 times we ended up in downtown Portland and out on the east side of the city, which is a minimum of 30 miles each way. We also went southwest to the Newberg area for wine tasting a couple of days, which is probably roughly the same mileage as downtown.

Obviously the biggest trip was to Crater Lake, which is something like 250 miles each way. I'd give you a better number, but apparently Google Maps has no concept of a north entrance to the park (but since we used it, and paid there, I know it exists, so if you rely on Google and want to go to Crater Laker, just keep that in mind). The fastest route from Portland is to go to Eugene, head east, and basically follow the signs.

So yeah, that's a lot of miles. I like driving though - it's peaceful, usually. Heck, when you leave home at 5am like when we went to Crater Lake there isn't much to make it unpeaceful. When you are out of Eugene by 7am you never have to deal with any traffic, even on busy Interstate 5.

It's funny - I lived in Eugene for three years and never once went east of the city. Driving that way now I was saddened by the fact I never did that. The forests in that area are spectacular, with lakes and rivers and hiking trails...what was I thinking?! Literally, about 20 minutes from Eugene you are in a different world, with no people or civilization at all. And hey, no cars either - so apparently I'm not the only person who lived in Eugene who isn't making the trek.

When you drive a lot - and when you drive like I do - you start to notice things, mostly about other drivers. When I say drive like I do... I'm usually the guy who is in the left lane passing. I use my blinkers (which, apparently, is rare). I try for the most part to be courteous, but I'll tailgate a bit if someone isn't going the speed limit, and I will pass on the right (in a legal lane) on the freeway if there are too many fools in my way.

So here's a couple things I'd like to talk about.

1 - If you aren't passing anyone, move to the right. On the freeway I tend to stick to a middle lane unless I'm passing, but nothing, to me, is crazier than me going faster than the cars in front of me in the left lane, and having to move to the right to pass because some people get in the left lane and park there. The absolute funniest part of this is when one person who does this comes up behind another person who does this; neither one of them will move over, either to pass or to allow the other to pass. Here's the deal: If there is a car behind you and space in the lane to the right, move over. Simple as that. Most people do this, even if they then move back left after getting passed. Some don't. Those people need to change.

2 - This is more for rural highways, mostly two-lane highways that have the occasional passing lane. Oregon has a lot of those between I-5 and the beach and in the Eastern interior. If you are in a line of cars what almost always happens - no matter what speed you are going in the single lane - is the ENTIRE line speeds up when a passing lane is available. For example, say I'm third in a line of five cars, moving at 50 mph on a 55 mph rural highway. If a passing lane comes up, I guarantee everyone speeds up to 65 mph for the duration of the passing lane, then drops back down to 50. For me this is insane, because I'm wanting to go 65 the entire time. That means I have to push it up to 75 mph for the passing lane to get around fools so they don't hold me back the rest of the time. It would be comical if it weren't so frustrating. Why do people do this? Why do drivers who go under the speed limit suddenly find their gas pedal when a passing lane appears, then lose it again? Boggles the mind...

You see a lot of crazy things when you log this many miles: the exiting the freeway from the left across three lanes of traffic, passing in the breakdown lanes, the drag racing... Heck, when we drove north from Roseburg after Crater Lake (which, yes, made the trip longer - whoops) we saw plenty of deer just feet from the edge of the freeway. Which, frankly, freaks me the hell out after I hit one just after I got out of college and did $1200 in damage to my old Honda. Seeing those things while I'm driving puts my nerves on edge now...which, I suppose, is probably understandable.

Our car gets decent gas mileage - high 20s - but not anything to write home about. So yeah, on a 1,500 mile vacation it adds up, but I wouldn't trade the freedom of driving my car for much of anything. Do they pollute? Do I wish there was an affordable alternative fuel source? Sure I do....but I also love the freedom behind the wheel, the options to turn wherever I want, and the ability to explore to my heart's content.

Ford and GM, no electric car will ever allow people to do this...unless you start putting charging stations all through the interior. I suppose it could happen...

No comments:

Post a Comment