Thumb Drives – Notes from the Road

The boys and I are on vacation for my sister’s wedding (which now makes me the only unmarried sibling, but really, who’s counting?).  And as I was desperately trying to keep myself awake during the 16.5 hour drive, I thought of many things I could write about.

1- Pricechopper is not Publix.  Or Harmon’s.  And that’s a shame.  But it is less than a mile from the house, while Walmart is 15.

2- Planning the perfect road trip takes some effort, but I think I finally have it down.  The only things we have to stop for:  fuel and potty breaks for puppies and people.  Food for the perfect road trip:  samiches, Pringles (original), red grapes, apple slices (did you know an apple is just as effective as a cup of coffee for driving away the sleepies?), cheese (American or string), baby carrots, sugar snap peas, Bolthouse Farms assorted beverages (or Naked or Odwalla… whichever is on sale), Gatorade, water, Twizzler cherry bites (or Nibs), Atomic Fireballs (great for when you need to wake up a little… Hot Tamales also work, but you have to eat more), and sometimes Mountain Dew (or some other caffeinated beverage, although it’s pretty rare for me to resort to those tactics).

Perfect Road Trip Food

3- LaQuinta Inns are the most pet friendly places on the planet, I think.  They don’t bat an eye when you say you are traveling with two fur-ocious dogs.  They don’t make you place a deposit.  They don’t make you sign a waiver.  In fact, sometimes they offer you special sheets for the bed if you want your furry friends to sleep with you.  My boys don’t sleep on furniture, but it’s nice to know the option is there if they did (Which they won’t.  Ever.).  They do seem to like putting all pet owners in the same hallway (and frequently on the third floor away from any exits which makes exactly zero sense at all).  On the one hand, I understand, because we are all more likely to be forgiving of noisy pets… on the other, the dogs all like to bark greetings to each other through the doors and walls which increases the likelihood of noisy pets.  The boys love it because each room offers a smorgasbord of smells from previous four-legged tenants.  They don’t love it because they think they have to remain on constant alert all night and let me know every time someone opens a door.

Joe  on alert at LaQuinta
Marty on alert at LaQuinta

4- Most interstates have a 75 MPH speed limit.  Most urban areas have a 65 MPH speed limit.  Why in the world is 55 MPH still the most economical use of fuel in every car manufactured in the US (and probably the world)?  It was during the 1970s fuel crisis that 55 MPH was instituted as the nationwide speed limit in order to capitalize on the fuel economy.  The 1970s.  I wasn’t even born in 1970.  Or during any part of that particular decade.  Yet somehow my car is still subject to the engineering feats of that day.  Pretty sure engineers could adjust that economical sweet spot to reflect today’s traffic limits.  Considering my brother-in-law and some folks designed a 100 MPG Hummer engine, this minor adjustment seems like child’s play.

5- Even on a road trip, Joe is all about keeping a regular schedule.  When it’s time to go, it’s time to go.  Marty, on the other hand, gets a little overwhelmed by the “public puppy restrooms” and has to thoroughly smell every single blade of grass (twice) in order to identify the perfect place to go potty.

6- Professional golf would be a lot more fun to watch if they added obstacles akin to miniature golf courses.  I would love to see Tiger Woods or Jack Niklaus (the only two professional golfers I know) time their shots through a revolving windmill.  It would be epic.

Orange Barrel (Courtesy of Google Images)

7- It isn’t I-80 if there isn’t active construction going on.  If you travel more than 100 miles without seeing an orange barrel, you may want to check your GPS because you probably took a wrong turn.

8- Cruise control is useless once you cross the Wyoming-Utah border.  Utah drivers have no idea how to “set it and forget it” and you’ll just find yourself changing lanes to let someone pass only to pass them two minutes later… after which they will speed up because you had the audacity to pass them, so you will move out of the way (again) even though you’ve maintained your constant speed all along.  Once they pass you, they will slow down to the point that you have to reduce your speed, so you may as well just shut off the cruise control and play along.  Remember, when you see that “Utah – Life Elevated” sign… it’s a friendly reminder that driving in Utah is considered an extreme sport.

9- Enjoy the scenery in Utah, if not the drivers.  Wyoming along I-80 is really nothing to brag about, and Nebraska would be much improved if it were rotated 90 degrees and if the wind ever stopped blowing; however, once you pass that “Welcome to Utah” sign, you’ll immediately notice the beautiful trees, mountains, and lakes.  It’s bizarre how much nicer it is.

10- Every time I hear Garth Brooks “Much Too Young (To Feel this Damn Old)” and he sings about “the white lines getting longer” I think about their actual length.  How long do you think they are?  Most people think they are about a yard or less.  Most people would be wrong.  They are actually 10 feet (roughly three meters).  It’s your relative speed that makes them appear shorter.

11- Sirius/XM satellite radio is better than using my iPod or CDs like road trips of yesteryear (which both beat playing the alphabet billboard game by yourself).  My radio allows me to preset 50 favorite artists and 50 favorite songs and then alerts me every time they come on (no matter which station).  It’s the perfect cure for the fear-that-I-might-be-missing-a-better-song channel surfing from which I suffer.  The only drawback is the display.  I can have the navigation map and route showing, or I can see the artist and song.  There is no way to split the screen.  You must choose:  you can know where you are, or you can know who you’re listening to… but not both.  I dated a guy who had the split option on his truck.  His was primarily XM where mine is primarily Sirius… you’d think after the merge they’d make them uniformly awesome.  But no.

12- For those curious (and really, who isn’t?)… my preset stations are:  Top 20 on 2 (although why I have that preset, I have no idea, as I’ve never yet opted to listen to an entire song), 50s on 5 (I think I was born in the wrong decade), 60s on 6 (they play a lot of The Monkees – WIN!), 70s on 7 (classic!), 80s on 8 (arguably one of the best decades ever), 90s on 9 (are you seeing a trend?), The Pulse (at which point I stop using the presets and advance through channel 15 which plays all disco all the time… because sometimes you need a little “Hot Stuff,” “Macho Man,” “YMCA,” and “Funkytown” to get you through; channel 16 The Blend which has a decent array of artists, and 17… which brings us back to the presets), Love (yeah, I’m not afraid to admit that I’m a sap), The Bridge (classic, folksy stuff), Prime Country (because everyone knows the prime of country ran from approximately 1988 to 2000), Siriusly Sinatra (who doesn’t love a little Jazz/Swing?… totally born in the wrong decade), and finally finishing up with Broadway (so I like musicals).

13- It’s Father’s Day, so my dad and I are going to walk the boys.


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7 Responses to Thumb Drives – Notes from the Road

  1. Joshua Peel says:

    I remember Virginia’s first day out of her crate and in a hotel room. She wouldn’t just sleep and my mom had to wake me up in the middle of the night and told me Virginia chewed the carpet base trimming off the wall.

    • stubbs says:

      Oh my! I’m glad we haven’t had anything like that happen. Yet (knock on wood). The boys have been pretty good out of their crates. I usually just give them the “bed” command and they sleep on their blankets. It’s just the alert barking every time they hear anything. That makes for a lot less sleep for me. I did have a few “couldn’t make it to the door” accidents last year when we road tripped. Poor guys. I seriously considered buying stock in Nature’s Miracle. Probably still should.

  2. Having driven through Utah, and having learned to drive there, the comment about driving being an extreme sport is very apropos. I’ve found through driving in approximately 45 of the 50 states though that nobody knows how to drive. Every state has it’s own foibles and weaknesses, but one thing is abundantly clear, people are prideful and the same everywhere. Whenever I pass somebody that’s in the left lane on the right, inevitably their speed nudges up 5 -10 mph until I have the audacity to actually pass them. At that point they either slink ashamedly over to the right lane, or, they follow the program you outlined for Utahans and speed up, pass you, get in front of you and slow down so you can’t use your cruise control. My wife and I have made a game of pointing out the unconscious things that people do while driving. Take the time to start noticing and it’s pretty funny. Human ignorance of their own pride and subconscious decisions is definitely amusing.

    • stubbs says:

      That is certainly something to think about and consider on the next trip. I agree, mostly, that the majority of states have their fair share (or more) of poor drivers… although Utah and Florida seem to be about the worst I’ve seen anywhere. I really didn’t encounter any poor driving until I hit the Utah borders on this road trip (or the last three), but I might have just been lucky. I definitely do see some quirkiness on the road from time to time though. I was thoroughly impressed with the semi drivers through the construction zones… it seems like people usually wind up going about 40-45 MPH, but the drivers all kept their speed around 55-65 MPH depending on the posted limit. It was nice.

  3. Hey there,

    I don’t think we ever traveled with our animals. You and the boys do make it look pretty cool and easy. Then again, our current four-legged, furry bouncer, Black Lab (age 11) probably wouldn’t take to a long day of travel. She loves being in the car, but not for long periods of time. Maybe the next furry addition would be up for long rides and road trips.

    Have fun and be safe. Great story as usual. If you are up for it, how about a guest post on my blog?


    • stubbs says:

      Marty hates the car altogether. Let alone for long distances. I give him some Dramamine and he sleeps right through it. He gets a little carsick otherwise.

      I would love to guest post. How about a swap? Do you have a general topic you’d like me to address?


      • Dramamine is good stuff. Joe doesn’t need it? Hmmm… curious….

        As far as swapping, cool by me. What topic? I have no idea, we can work on that. I was going to ask you the same thing. Ha ha ha….

        We will figure it out. We can email it out or something. No worries. It does sound cool though!

        Chat with you later.


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