Ending trip mileage: 3,742.7 (6023.3km). Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, (Oregon again), California, Nevada, Utah, (Wyoming and Colorado again).
Trip average: 31.8 miles per gallon, although I reached 33.7 on the outbound half (the 1100-mile section that did not include Seattle and Sacramento). The car is rated for 19 city, 26 highway. It's a manual, so I have some control over mileage through my driving style, and I think I'm getting the feel of the transmission down pretty well. On last year's similar trip, the overall average was a bit under 30 m.p.g.
Most mornings, I drove enjoying the sound of the air through the open windows. Especially when I was traveling two-lane asphalt, those times were reminiscent of road trips in the '50s and '60s. (I drove interstates when necessary, but logged a lot of miles on well-paved now-secondary highways.)
As the heat increased and the day (and my energy) wore on, I tended to close the windows, turn on the air conditioning (highest registered outside temperature was 101 F / 38 C), and listen to a book or some music.
There's still a long list of holds at the library for the regular books, but I was second in line for the audio version and it was returned just in time for the trip. Perfect!
I especially enjoyed the chapter on wildlife, in which she talks about lab science versus field science. She mentions a discussion she had with her dissertation adviser about experiments without controls. She contended that they could be valuable, and that careful field observation studies the subject in its natural environment where behaviors are not distorted as they are in a lab. He contended that control groups are essential for real science, and that careful observation is insufficient. She countered that astronomy is considered a real science, and all of its methods are based on observation. Often her straightforward logic, part of the way her mind works because of her brain's particular neurology, quickly slices to the core of a question. There's more in the chapter that intrigued me. I'd like to read or listen to the book again.
I wish I could listen to music when I work, but I concentrate so hard that I rarely can. It's nice to have some drive time because I do love music. I haven't figured out how to feed the iPod's sound through the car's speakers (I know it can be done), so I grabbed CDs. It's interesting to try to grab a collection of what I might want to listen to on a particular trip. What would I be in the mood for, given the likely landscapes and events, for the next three weeks?
I didn't have time to listen to everything I took with me, mostly because I do like quiet, and there were lots of good options I left at home. Here's some of what I listened to, a whole bunch of proven favorites (often several albums by an artist or group) and a couple of new discoveries:
- The Wild Tchoupitoulas (ongoing thanks to my brother-in-law for introducing me to this album years ago)
- The Rankin Family
- Linda Ronstadt (including one album with Aaron Neville, a nice follow-up to Wild Tchoupitoulas)
- Wolfe Tones
- Anonymous 4
- Grand Dérangement
- Dixie Chicks
- Ken Woodard
- Golden Bough
- Paul Simon
- Sweethearts of the Rodeo
- O Sister 2
- Kathy Mattea
I took, but didn't listen to, a couple of albums of Andean music and several shape note collections. I listen to those relatively frequently when I'm at home. No classical music in the CD set: not great for staying awake while driving. I had some on my iPod and listened to it during non-driving times.
Nevada and Utah, as I've mentioned, were not great spots for vegetarian food for the traveler. Neither was western Wyoming. So toward the end of the trip, I hoped to encounter a particular location in Laramie, Wyoming, at a time when it was open:
It was Monday, a day when many restaurants at home close, and a few minutes after 11. It looked pretty quiet on the street.
They'd just opened for the day. Whew. I rarely have room for dessert, but I think a couple of days of short rations left space. I made it through the peach-raspberry cobbler, after a veggie reuben and delicious kale slaw. I ordered a slice of vegan chocolate cake to go, to share with my daughter, because by this time I was about an hour from home. It was all worth waiting for.
If you're ever in Laramie and need healthy food, check out Sweet Melissa. Downtown, by the railroad tracks. No website.