03 November 2013

Rediscovering the Road - Iowa to Texas

I've rediscovered a few things in the last few days:

  • It's weirdly fun to notice superstores at the boundaries of states and cities - leaving Iowa you pass the Adults superstore, and entering Missouri, you get fireworks!  Wichita has the largest gun store in Kansas.
  • country and western music, classic rock, and a lot of static - and I find myself singing along to the lot
  • I really do know how to pack (but it's still somewhat irritating)!  Our 4x8 trailer is stuffed - no tie-downs required.  And we loaded it in a couple of hours.  Friend Tom said I really am an engineer - I said I really am my father's daughter :-).
  • It really is OK to drive in the slow lane.  Towing a trailer, I'm stuck at 55 mph (OK sometimes I push it to *almost* 60).  When the limit is 75, you start out feeling like a real snail.  But after a while, you realize that you don't have to worry about passing anyone!  Passing is the other guy's problem!  I have had a time or two when I've had to shift towards the shoulder or brake a bit to let the passer in, but that's just another way to stay alert, right?
  • It's very different driving on secondary roads than the major freeways.  My first day, I stayed on freeways - they are populated, have rest stops, easy on/off for services, and have plenty of lanes for those passers.  But they are also a bit boring, and *very* fast (and remember, I can't go fast - I lose 20 miles every hour).  Secondary roads are slower (but still not 55), and much more interesting.  You get a better estimate of actual drive times, and there are few other cars.  But, those few other cars are now passing on a two-lane road with no shoulder.  There are no rest stops, and often, the small towns along the route are slightly bypassed - so finding a good place for a break is difficult.  And occasionally, I think about what the heck I would do if my car broke down out in the middle of ranch country.
  • Towing a trailer makes it even harder to make quick stops to see the countryside and monuments.  I missed a stop at Lake Mead in Kansas (or was that Oklahoma?), I likewise missed the first view of mesa country :-(.  I did see the monument where Coronado passed  in 1541 :-).
  • Proper driving hygiene (like sleep hygiene) is important.  Some of what I am remembering:  
    • keep your shoulder blades against the seatback (posture)
    • keep your abdomen muscles taut but not tense (posture and alertness)
    • flex your ankles occasionally (when you have cruise control on :-) )
    • keep both hands resting lightly on the wheel - avoid resting elbows on the door, as this makes you sit crooked 
    • drink enough water to stay hydrated, but keep it moderate - you don't want to have to stop every half hour to get rid of it!

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